Mirror Image

Mirror Image

by Danielle Steel


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To look at one was to see the other. For family, even the girls' own father, it was a constant guessing game. For strangers, the surprise was overwhelming. And for the twins Olivia and Victoria Henderson, two remarkable young women coming of age at the turn of the century, their bond was mysterious, marvelous, and often playful--a secret realm only they inhabited.

Olivia and Victoria were the beloved daughters of a man who never fully recovered from his wife's death bearing them in 1893. Shy, serious Olivia, born eleven minutes before her sister, had taken over the role of mother in their lush New York estate, managing not only a household but her rebellious twin's flights of fancy. Free-spirited Victoria wanted to change the world. She embraced the women's suffrage movement and dreamed of sailing to war-torn Europe. Then, in the girls' twenty-first year, as the first world war escalated overseas, a fateful choice changed their lives forever.

It began when Victoria's life was about to become a public scandal. It led to a painful decision, and brought handsome lawyer Charles Dawson into the Henderson's life and family. Hand-picked by the twins' father to save his daughter's reputation, Charles was still mourning his wife's death aboard the Titanic, struggling to raise his nine year-old son alone, determined never to lose his heart again. Charles wanted to believe that, for the sake of his son, he could make an unwanted marriage work. But in an act of deception that only Olivia and Victoria could manage, the twins took an irrevocable step, which changed both their lives forever; and took one of the twins to the battlefields of France, the other into a marriage she longed for but could not have.

From Manhattan society to the trenches of war-ravaged France, Mirror Image moves elegantly and dramatically through a rich and troubled era. With startling insight, Danielle Steel explores women's choices: between home and adventure, between the love for family and the passion for a cause, between sacrifice and desire. But at the heart of Mirror Image is a fascinating, realistic portrait of identical twins, two vastly different sisters who lead their lives and follow their destinies against a vivid backdrop of a world at war.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440224778
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/02/1999
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 160,839
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.85(h) x 1.17(d)

About the Author

Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world’s most popular authors, with over 650 million copies of her novels sold. Her many international bestsellers include Country, Prodigal Son, Pegasus, A Perfect Life, Power Play, Winners, First Sight, Until the End of Time, The Sins of the Mother, and other highly acclaimed novels. She is also the author of His Bright Light, the story of her son Nick Traina’s life and death; A Gift of Hope, a memoir of her work with the homeless; Pure Joy, about the dogs she and her family have loved; and the children’s book Pretty Minnie in Paris.


San Francisco, California

Date of Birth:

August 14, 1947

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


Educated in France. Also attended Parsons School of Design, 1963, and New York University, 1963-67

Read an Excerpt

The sound of the birds outside was muffled by the heavy brocade curtains  of Henderson Manor, as Olivia Henderson pushed aside a lock of long dark  hair, and continued her careful inventory of her father's china. It was a  warm summer day and, as usual, her sister had gone off somewhere. Her  father, Edward Henderson, was expecting a visit from his lawyers. Nestled  as they were in Croton-on-Hudson, nearly a three-hour drive from New  York, his attorneys came to see him fairly often. Edward Henderson ran  all his investments from here, as well as overseeing the steel mills  which still bore his name, but which he no longer ran himself. He had  retired from business entirely, two years before, in 1911, maintaining all  his holdings, but trusting entirely in his attorneys and the men who ran  the mills for him. With no sons, he no longer had the interest in  business that he once did. His daughters would never run his steel mills.  He was only sixty-five, but his health had begun to fail over the past few years, and he preferred viewing the world from his peaceful perch in  Croton-on-Hudson. Here, he could observe the world quietly, and it was a  healthy, wholesome life for his two daughters. It was not exciting,  admittedly, but they were never bored, and they had friends among all the  grand families up and down the Hudson.

The Van Cortlandt manor was nearby, as were the Shepards on the old  Lyndhurst estate. Helen Shepard's father had been Jay Gould, and he had  died twenty years before, and left the extraordinary property to his  daughter. She and her husband, Finley Shepard, ran it beautifully, and  gave frequent parties for the young people nearby. The Rockefellers had  finished building Kykuit in Tarrytown that year, with its splendid  gardens and magnificent grounds, and a house which rivaled Edward  Henderson's just north of them at Croton-on-Hudson.

Henderson Manor was a handsome home, and one which people came from miles  to see, peering through the gates into the lovely gardens. They could  barely see the house from where they stood, shielded as it was by tall  trees, and little turns in the road which led to the formal driveway. The  house itself sat high on a cliff, looking over the Hudson River. And  Edward liked to sit in his study for hours, watching the world drift by,  remembering times past, old friends, and the days when his life had moved  a great deal more quickly . . . taking over his father's mills in the  1870's . . . being instrumental in the many industrial changes at the end  of the last century. His life had been so busy then. When he was younger,  his life had been so different. Edward Henderson had married when he was  young, and lost a wife and a young son to diphtheria. After that he had  been alone for many years, until Elizabeth came along. She had been  everything any man could ever dream of, a bright shining streak of light, a comet in a summer sky, so ephemeral, so dazzling, so beautiful, and so  much too quickly gone. They were married within the year they met. She  was nineteen, and he was in his early forties. By twenty-one, she was  gone. Much to Edward's horror, she had died in childbed. After her death,  he had worked even harder than usual, driving himself until he was numb.  He had left his daughters to the care of his housekeeper and their  nurses, but finally, he realized that he had a responsibility to them. It  was then that he began building Henderson Manor. He wanted them to have  healthy, wholesome lives, out of the city. New York was no place for  children in 1903. They had been ten when he'd actually moved them, and now  they were twenty. He kept the house in the city and worked there, but he  came up to see them as often as he could. At first only on weekends and  then, as he fell in love with it, he began spending more time on the  Hudson, rather than in New York, or Pittsburgh, or Europe. His heart was there in Croton with his daughters, as he watched them grow, and little  by little his own life began moving more slowly. He loved being with  them, and now he never left them anymore. For the past two years, he had  gone absolutely nowhere. His health had begun to fail three or four years  before. His heart was a problem, but only when he worked too hard, or let  things upset him, or got terribly angry, which he seldom did now. He was  happy in Croton with his daughters.

It had been twenty years since their mother had died in the spring of  1893, on a warm balmy day that had appeared to him to be God's ultimate  betrayal. He had been waiting outside, filled with such pride, and so  much excitement. He had never dreamed it could happen to him again. His  first wife and infant son had died in an epidemic of diphtheria more than  a dozen years before. But this time, losing Elizabeth had almost killed  him. At forty-five, it was a near mortal blow to him, and he almost  couldn't bear going on without her. She had died in their home in New  York, and at first he felt her presence there. But after a while, he came  to hate the emptiness of it, and he had hated being there. He had  traveled off and on for months after that, but avoiding the house meant  avoiding the two little girls Elizabeth had left him. And he couldn't  bring himself to sell the house his father had built, and that he had  grown up in. A traditionalist to the core, he felt an obligation to maintain it for his children. He had closed it eventually, and it had  been two years since he'd been there. Now that he lived in Croton  full-time, he never missed it. Neither the house, nor New York, nor the  social life he'd left there.

And as the summer sounds droned on, Olivia continued her painstaking  inventory of the china. She had long sheets of paper on which she wrote  in her meticulous hand, making note of what they needed to replace, and  what had to be ordered. Sometimes she sent one of the servants to the  house in town to bring something up to them, but for the most part, the  city house was closed, and they never went there. She knew her father  didn't like it. Her father's health was frail, and, like him, she was  happy here in their quiet life in Croton-on-Hudson. She had actually spent  very little time in New York since she was a child, except for the brief  time two years before, when her father had taken them to New York, to  present them to society and all his friends. She had found it  interesting, but truly exhausting. She was overwhelmed by the parties,  the theater, the constant social demands made on them. She had felt as  though she were onstage the entire time, and she hated the attention. It was Victoria who had thrived on it, and who had been in a state of total  gloom when they returned to Croton at Christmas. Olivia had been relieved  to return to her books, their home, her horses, her peaceful walks high  on the cliff which led her sometimes to neighboring farms. She loved  riding here, and listening to the sounds of spring, watching winter melt  slowly away from them, seeing the splendor of the turning leaves in  October. She loved taking care of her father's house for him, and had  since she was a very young girl, with the help of Alberta Peabody, the  woman who had raised them. She was "Bertie" to them, and the closest to a  mother the Henderson girls had ever known. Her eyes were poor, but her  mind was sharp, and she could have told the two young women apart in the  dark, with her eyes closed.

She came to check on Olivia now, and asked her how far she had gotten.  She didn't have the patience, or the eyes, to do this kind of minute work  anymore, and she was always grateful when Olivia did it for her. Olivia  carefully checked the embroidery, the crystal, the linens. She kept an eye  on everything, and she loved doing it, unlike Victoria, who detested all  things domestic. Victoria was, in every possible way, different from her  sister.

"Well, have they broken all our plates, or will we still be able to  manage Christmas dinner?" Bertie smiled as she held up a glass of  ice-cold lemonade and a plate of gingersnaps fresh out of the oven.  Alberta Peabody had spent twenty years caring for the two girls she had  come to think of as "her children." They had become hers at birth, and  she had never left them for a day, not since their mother had died, and  she had first looked into Olivia's eyes and realized instantly how much  she loved her.

She was a short, round woman, with white hair in a small bun at the back  of her head. She had an ample bosom where Olivia had rested her head  through most of her childhood. She had comforted them whenever they  needed it, and whenever their father wasn't there, which had been often  when they were young. For years, he had grieved silently for their mother  and kept his distance. But he had warmed toward them in recent years, and  softened considerably since his health had begun to fail and he had  retired from business. He had a weak heart, which he attributed to the  shock and grief of losing two young wives, and the aggravations of modern  business. He was far happier now that he was running things from here,  and everything could be filtered for him through his attorneys.

"We need soup plates, Bertie," Olivia reported solemnly, brushing the  long dark hair back again, totally unaware of her startling beauty. She  had creamy white skin, huge dark blue eyes, and thick shining black hair  the color of a raven. "We need fish plates too. I'll order them from  Tiffany next week. We must tell the girls in the kitchen to be more  careful." Bertie nodded, smiling up at her. Olivia could have been  married by now, she could have had her own soup plates to inventory,  instead she was still here, and perfectly at ease, taking care of her  father and his house, and all his people. Olivia had no desire to go  anywhere. She never even thought of it. She was happy right here at  Henderson Manor. Unlike Victoria, who talked constantly about places  halfway around the world, or at the very least in Europe. She glowered  every time she thought of the house they were wasting in New York, and  the fun they might have had there.

Olivia looked down at Bertie then with a childlike grin. She was wearing  a pale blue silk dress, which reached almost to her ankles, and it looked  like a piece of summer sky wrapped around her as she stood there. She had  had the dress copied from a magazine, and made by a local seamstress. It  was a Poiret design, and it looked lovely on her. It was Olivia who  always selected and designed their dresses. Victoria didn't really care.  She let Olivia choose them, particularly, as she put it, since Olivia was  her older sister.

"The cookies are awfully good today, aren't they? Father will love them."  Olivia had ordered them especially for him, and John Watson, his  principal attorney. "I suppose I should organize a tray for them, or have  you already done it?" The two women exchanged a smile, born of years of  sharing responsibilities and duties. And slowly, over the past few years,  Olivia had grown from child to girl, to young woman, and mistress of her  father's home. Olivia was very much in control of her surroundings, and  Bertie knew it. She respected that, and most of the time deferred now to  Olivia's opinions, although she thought nothing of opposing her, or  scolding her, when she went out in the pouring rain, or did something  childishly foolish, which she was still sometimes wont to do even at  twenty. But nowadays Bertie found that less worrisome than refreshing.  Olivia was so serious and responsible, that it did her good sometimes to  forget all that she was supposed to be doing.

"I've set the tray up for you, but I told Cook you'll want to order it  yourself at the last minute," Bertie told her.

"Thank you." Olivia came down the ladder gracefully, and kissed the old  woman's cheek as she wrapped her long, elegant arms around her. Olivia lay  her head on Bertie's shoulder for an instant, like a child, and then,  after kissing her cheek affectionately again, she hurried off to the  kitchen to see to the tray for her father and his lawyer.

She ordered a pitcher of lemonade, a large plate of cookies for both of  them, and small watercress and cucumber sandwiches, with paper-thin  slices of tomatoes from their garden. There was sherry for them as well,  and stronger spirits if they preferred them. Having grown up in her  father's company, Olivia was not a girl who shrank from the thought of  men drinking whiskey, or smoking cigars, in fact she liked the smell of  them, as did her sister.

When she'd approved the linens and the silver tray Bertie had set out,  she left the kitchen, and found her father in the library. The curtains  were drawn to keep the room cool, they were deep red brocade with heavy  fringe, and Olivia adjusted them instinctively as she glanced at her  father over her shoulder.

"How are you feeling today, Father? It's terribly hot, isn't it?"

"I rather like it." He smiled proudly at her, well aware of her  outstanding domestic talents. He often said that if it weren't for  Olivia, he couldn't have run his home, or certainly not as smoothly. He  had even jokingly said that he was afraid one of the Rockefellers might  try and marry her, just so she could run Kykuit. He had been over to see  it recently, and it was a spectacular home that John D. Rockefeller had  built. It had every possible modern amenity, including telephones,  central heating, and a generator in the carriage barn, and Olivia's  father had teased that it made their home look like a bumpkin's cottage,  which was hardly the case, but Kykuit was certainly their grandest  neighbor.

"This heat is good for my old bones," he said comfortably, lighting a  cigar, as he waited for his lawyer. "Where's your sister?" he asked  casually. It was always easy to find Olivia somewhere in the house,  making lists, writing notes to the staff, checking on something that  needed to be fixed, or arranging flowers for her father's table. Victoria  was a great deal more difficult to keep track of.

"I think she went to play tennis at the Astors'," Olivia said vaguely,  with no clear idea of where she was, but only a vague suspicion.

"Typical of her," he said with a rueful grin at his older daughter. "I  believe the Astors are in Maine for the summer," as were most of their  neighbors. The Hendersons had gone to Maine in previous summers too, and  Newport, Rhode Island, but Edward Henderson no longer liked leaving  Croton, even in the hottest of summers.

"I'm sorry, Father." Olivia blushed in embarrassment at the lie she'd  told on behalf of her sister. "I thought perhaps they were back from Bal Harbor."

"I'm sure you did." He looked amused. "And God only knows where your  sister is, or what mischief she's been up to." But they both knew that  her vagaries were fairly harmless. She was an individual, a person on her  own, and full of spirit and determination. She was as independent as  their late mother had been, and in some ways, Edward Henderson had always  suspected that his younger daughter was faintly eccentric. But as long as  she didn't indulge it too excessively, it was something he could  tolerate, and she could come to no great harm here. The worst she could do  was fall out of a tree, get heat prostration walking miles to her nearest  friend's, or swim a little too far down the river. The pleasures were all  quite genteel here. Victoria had no romances in the neighborhood, no  young men in hot pursuit, although several of the young Rockefellers and  Van Cortlandts had certainly shown considerable interest in her. But  everyone was well behaved, and even her father knew that Victoria was actually far more intellectual than romantic.

"I'll look for her after I leave you," Olivia said quietly, but neither  of them were particularly concerned, as the tray from the kitchen was  brought in, and she told the kitchen boy where to put it.

"You'll need another glass, my dear," her father instructed her as he  relit his cigar and thanked the boy whose name he never remembered.

Olivia knew all of the people who worked for them, she knew their names,  their histories, their parents, their sisters, their children. She knew  their foibles and their strengths, and whatever mischief they occasionally  got into. She was indeed the Mistress of Henderson Manor, perhaps even  more than her own mother would have been, had she lived. In some ways,  Olivia suspected that their mother had been far more like her sister.

"Is John bringing someone with him?" Olivia looked surprised. Her  father's attorney usually came alone, except when there was some problem  at the mill, and she had heard nothing about it this time if there was.  Usually, their father shared that kind of information with them. All of  that would be theirs one day, although more than likely, the girls would  sell the mills, unless they married men who were capable of running them,  but Edward considered that less than likely.

Her father sighed over his cigar in answer to her question.  "Unfortunately, my dear, John is bringing someone today. I'm afraid I've  come too far in this world. I've outlived two wives, a son, my doctor  last year, most of my friends in the last decade, and now John Watson  tells me he's thinking of retiring. He's bringing along a man who's  recently joined his firm, and whom he seems to think quite a lot of."

"But John's not that old," Olivia looked surprised, and almost as  disturbed as her father, "and neither are you, so stop talking like  that." She knew he had begun to feel ancient since he'd been unwell, and  even more so since he'd retired.

"I am ancient. You have no idea what it's like when everyone around you  starts disappearing," he said, scowling and thinking of the new attorney  he didn't want to meet that afternoon.

"No one is going anywhere, and neither is John for the moment, I'm sure,"  she said reassuringly, as she poured him a small glass of sherry and  handed it to him, with the plate of fresh ginger cookies. He took one,  and looked extremely pleased as he looked at her.

"Perhaps he won't go after all, after he tastes these cookies. I must  say, Olivia, you get them to make miracles in that kitchen."

"Thank you." She leaned over and kissed him, and he looked up at her with  all the pleasure he felt each time he saw her. She looked remarkably  comfortable and cool on such a hot day, and she took one of the  gingersnaps herself and sat down next to him as they waited for John  Watson. "So who's the new man?" she asked curiously after a few minutes.  She knew that Watson was a year or two younger than her father, but it  still seemed young to retire, to her, and he had always seemed very  youthful. But perhaps he was wise, bringing someone new into their affairs  sooner rather than later. "Have you met him before?"

"Not yet. This will be the first time. John says he's extremely good at  what he does, mostly business affairs, and he's done some estate matters  for some of the Astors. He came to John's office from an excellent firm,  with a very good recommendation."

"Why did he change?" she asked, intrigued. She liked hearing about her  father's business. Victoria did too, but she was far more hotheaded in her  opinions. Sometimes the three of them had rare go-arounds about some  issues of politics or point of business, but all three of them thoroughly  enjoyed it. Perhaps because he had no son, Edward Henderson loved  discussing intelligent matters with his daughters.

"According to John, the new man, Dawson, had a hard blow last year.  Actually, it made me feel sorry for him, and I think that's why I let  John bring him . . . it's the sort of thing I'm afraid I understand  rather too well." He smiled sadly at her. "He lost his wife last year on  the Titanic. She was a daughter of Lord Arnsborough's, and I think  she'd gone home to visit her sister. Damn shame she came back on the  Titanic. Nearly lost his boy too. Apparently, they got him off in  one of the last lifeboats. It was already too full, and she put another  child in her place, and said she'd come on the next one. There was no  next one, and she didn't get in the last of the lifeboats. I gather he  left the firm he was with, took the boy, and spent the year in Europe. It  only happened sixteen months ago, and I think he's only been with Watson  since May or June. Poor devil. John says he's very good, but a bit  gloomy. He'll come out of it, we all do. He'll have to, for the boy's  sake." It reminded him all too much of when he'd lost Elizabeth, although  his loss had been due to complications of childbirth and not a disaster  of the magnitude of the Titanic. But still, it had been disastrous  to him, and he knew only too well how the man felt. Edward Henderson sat lost in thought for a moment, as did Olivia, digesting what her father  had said, and both of them looked startled when they looked up and suddenly saw John Watson standing in the doorway.

"Well, how did you get in unannounced? Have you taken to climbing in the  windows?" Edward Henderson laughed at his old friend, as he stood to greet  him, and crossed the room looking extremely healthy. He was in good form  these days, thanks to Olivia's constant care, and in spite of his  complaints about how badly he was aging.

"No one pays any attention to me at all," John Watson laughed. He was  tall, and had a shock of white hair, much like Olivia's father, who was  also tall and aristocratic, and had once had the same shining black hair  as his daughters. The blue eyes were the same too, and they came alive  now as he chatted animatedly with John Watson. The two men had known each  other since school. Edward had actually been the closest friend of John's  slightly older brother. He had been dead for years, and Edward and John  had long since become fast friends, and associates in all of the  Henderson legal matters.

Seeing them engaged in earnest conversation almost at once, Olivia  glanced at the tray again, to see that all was in order, and prepared to  leave the room, and then she turned and was startled to almost walk into  the arms of Charles Dawson. It was odd seeing him there, after they had  just talked about him, and embarrassing to know so much of his loss, and  his grief, without ever having met him. As she looked at him, he seemed  very handsome and somewhat austere, and she thought she had never seen  sadder eyes on anyone. They were like dark pools of green, almost the  color of seawater. But he managed a small smile when her father introduced  them. And as they spoke, she saw something more than just tragedy about  him. There was great kindness in his eyes, and gentleness, it almost made  her want to reach out and console him.

"How do you do," he said politely, shaking her hand, and seeming to take  every inch of her in with interest. He didn't look her over improperly,  although he was certainly aware of how beautiful she was, but he seemed  mostly curious about her.

"May I offer you some lemonade?" she asked, feeling suddenly shy, and  hiding behind her comfortable duties. "Or would you prefer sherry? I'm  afraid Father prefers sherry, even on days as hot as this one."

"Lemonade would be fine." He smiled at her again, and the two older men  went back to their conversation.

She gave John Watson a glass of lemonade as well, and all three men  gladly accepted the gingersnap cookies. And then, having fulfilled her  responsibilities to them, Olivia quietly withdrew and closed the doors  behind her. But as she left the room, something about the look in Charles  Dawson's eyes haunted her, or maybe it was just because she knew his  story from her father. She wondered how old his little boy was, and how  Charles managed without a wife, or perhaps he had someone in his life by  now. She tried to shake off her thoughts of him, it was ridiculous to be  worrying about one of her father's attorneys, and quite inappropriate in  fact, she scolded herself, as she turned quickly to go back to the  kitchen, and nearly collided with her father's under-chauffeur. He was a  boy of sixteen who had worked in the stables for years, but knew a great  deal more about cars than he did about horses. And since her father had a  great love for the modern machines, and had bought one of the earliest cars while they still lived in New York, Petrie, the stable boy, had made  a rapid and pleasing transition.

"What is it, Petrie? What's wrong?" she asked matter-of-factly. He looked  totally disheveled, and completely flustered.

"I have to see your father right away, miss," he said, obviously near  tears, as she tried to lead him away from the library before he disturbed  her father in his meeting.

"I'm afraid you can't. He's busy. Is there something I can help you  with?" she said gently but firmly.

He hesitated, and then looked around, as though afraid someone would hear  him. "It's the Ford." He looked terrified as he told her. "It's been  stolen." His eyes were round with tears, he knew what would happen to him  when word got out. He would lose the best job he could ever have, and he  couldn't understand how it had happened.

"Stolen?" She looked as startled as he did. "How is that possible?  How could someone come on the property and just take it, and no one  notice?"

"I don't know, miss. And I seen it just this morning. I was cleaning it.  It was all bright and shiny like the day your father bought it. I just  left the garage door open for a little while, to air the place out,  because it gets so hot, you know, with the sun directly on it, and half  an hour later, it was gone. Just gone." His eyes filled with tears again,  and Olivia put a gentle hand on his shoulder. There was something about  his story which had struck her.

"What time would that have been, Petrie? Do you remember?" Her voice and  her manner were extremely calm, most unusually so for a girl of twenty,  but she was used to handling minor crises on the estate daily. And this  one had a particular ring to it.

"It was eleven-thirty, miss. I know it exactly." Olivia had last seen  her sister at eleven. And the Ford he was so distraught over was the car  her father had bought the year before for staff purposes, errands into  town, missions to be carried out in something other than the Cadillac  Tourer he was driven in whenever he left Henderson Manor.

"You know, Petrie," Olivia said quietly, "I think you ought to let the  dust settle for a moment. It's entirely possible that some member of the  staff might have borrowed it for an errand, without thinking to mention  it to you. Perhaps the gardener, I asked him to look at some rosebushes  for me over at the Shepards', perhaps he forgot to tell you." She was  suddenly certain that the car hadn't been stolen, and she needed to stall  him. If he told her father, then the police would be called, and that  would be terribly embarrassing. She couldn't let that happen.

"But Kittering can't drive, miss. He wouldn't have taken the Ford to go  look at your roses. He'd take one of the horses, or his bicycle, not the  Ford, miss."

"Well, perhaps someone else is driving it, but I don't think we should  tell my father just yet. Besides, he's busy anyway, we'll wait until  dinnertime, shall we? And we'll see if anyone brings it back. I feel sure  they will. Now, would you like some lemonade and cookies in the kitchen?"  She had led him slowly in that direction, and he seemed slightly  mollified, though still very nervous. He was terrified he'd lose his job  when her father found out that he'd let the car get stolen right out of  the garage. But Olivia continued to reassure him as she poured him a  glass of lemonade, and handed him a plate of the irresistible cookies, as  the cook watched them.

She promised to check in with Petrie later in the day, and made him  promise not to whisper a word of it to her father in the meantime, and  then with a wink at the cook, she hurried out of the kitchen, hoping to  avoid Bertie, whom she saw advancing on her from the distance. But Olivia  was faster than all of them. She slipped out a pair of long French doors  into the side garden, and sighed as she felt the crushing heat of the  northern New York summer. This was why people went to Newport and Maine.  It was unbearable here in the summer and no one stayed, if they could  possibly help it. By fall, it would be lovely again. And in spring, when  the endless winter finally came to a close, it was always idyllic. But  winters were brutal, and summers were more so. Most people went to the  city in winter, and the seashore in summer, but not her father anymore.  They stayed here in Croton-on-Hudson all year round now.

Olivia wished she had time to go swimming that afternoon, as she walked  absentmindedly down one of her favorite paths toward the back of the  property, where there was a beautiful, hidden garden. She loved to come  riding here, and there was a narrow gate to their neighbor's property  which she would often slip through in order to enjoy her ride on his  property as well, but no one minded. They all shared these hills like one  happy family, and the good friends they were who had built here.

In spite of the heat, she walked a long way that afternoon, no longer  thinking of the lost car, but oddly enough, she found herself thinking of  Charles Dawson, and the story her father had told her. How awful to lose  your wife so tragically, and so dramatically. He must have been sick with  worry when he first heard. She could just imagine it, and she sat down on  a log finally, still thinking of him, and as she did, she heard the  rumble of a motorcar in the distance. She sat very still for a minute  then, listening, and looked up to see the missing Ford scraping through  the narrow wooden gate at the back of their property, with a sudden  grating noise, as the driver took the rubber and the paint off the side of  the running boards just to get through it. But despite the obviously  tight fit, the car didn't slow for a moment. Olivia watched in  astonishment as the car chugged into full view, and her sister grinned at  her from behind the wheel, and waved. And in the hand that Victoria waved  at her was a  cigarette. She was smoking.

Olivia didn't move from where she sat, she just stared at her and shook  her head, as Victoria stopped the car and continued to smile at her, and  blew a cloud of smoke in her direction.

"Do you realize that Petrie wanted to tell Father that the car was  stolen, and he would have called the police if I'd let him?"

Olivia was not surprised to see her there, but she wasn't happy either.  She was all too familiar with her younger sister's exploits, and the two  women sat looking at each other, the one perfectly calm, and obviously  not pleased, the other greatly amused at her own indiscretion. But the  most remarkable thing of all was that except for the difference of  expression, and the fact that Victoria's hair seemed looser and more  windblown than Olivia's, the two women were totally identical. For each  of them, it was like looking in the mirror. The same eyes, the same  mouths, the same cheekbones and hair, right down to the same gestures.  There were infinitesimal differences about each of them, and there was an  aura of easygoing good nature about Victoria that more than bordered on  mischief, and yet one would have been hard-pressed to tell them apart if  one had to. Their father often made mistakes when coming upon one of them  alone in a room or on the property somewhere, and the servants mistook  them constantly. Their friends in school, when they'd gone and hadn't been  tutored at home, had absolutely never been able to tell them apart, and  their father had eventually decided to have them taught at home, because  they caused so much consternation at school and attracted so much  attention. They switched places whenever they chose, tormented their  teachers mercilessly, or at least Victoria did, or so Olivia claimed.  They had a wonderful time, but their father seriously doubted that they  were getting an education. But being tutored at home had left them  isolated, and with only each other's friendship. They had both missed  going to school, but their father was emphatic about it. He was not going  to have them behaving like circus freaks, and if the school couldn't  control them, Mrs. Peabody and their tutors could. In fact, Mrs. Peabody  was the only living person who unfailingly knew exactly who was who. She  could tell them apart anywhere, back, front, even before they spoke. And  she also knew the single secret from which one could distinguish them, one  small freckle which Olivia had at the top of her right palm, and Victoria  had identically and equally minutely on her left one. Their father knew  about it too, of course, although none of their friends did, but it was  too much trouble to remember to look for it. It was easier to just  question them, and hope they were telling the truth about their  identities, which they usually did, now that they were older. They were  totally identical, mirror twins, and had caused a furor all around them  since birth, right up till the present.

It had turned their presentation to society in New York into a total  uproar two years before, and it was why their father had insisted on  bringing them home that year even before Christmas. It was just too  difficult having that much attention everywhere they went. He felt they  were being treated as curiosities and it was far too exhausting. Victoria  was crushed to have to come home, although Olivia didn't mind it. She had  been ready to come back to Croton. But Victoria had been chafing at their  life ever since, and all she ever seemed to talk about anymore was how  incredibly boring life was on the Hudson. She wondered how any of them  could bear it.

The only other subject that truly inspired Victoria was that of women's  suffrage. It was the fire with which she burned, the passion which lit her  every moment. And Olivia was sick to death of hearing about it. All  Victoria seemed to talk about anymore was Alice Paul, who had organized  the march in Washington that April, where dozens of women were arrested,  forty were injured, and it took a cavalry troop to restore order. Olivia  had also heard far too much about Emily Davison, who had been killed two  months before, when she ran in front of the King's horse at the derby, in  England; and then there were the Pankhursts, mère et filles,  who were busy wreaking havoc in the name of women's rights in England.  Just talking about them made Victoria's eyes dance, and Olivia roll hers  in boredom. But now Olivia sat waiting for her sister's excuses and  explanations.

"So did they call the police?" Victoria asked, looking amused, and not in  the least apologetic.

"No, they did not call the police," Olivia said sternly. "I bribed Petrie  with lemonade and cookies and told him to wait till dinner. But they  should have. I should have let them. I knew it was you." She tried to look  angry, but something in her eyes said she wasn't, and Victoria knew  it.

"How did you know it was me?" Victoria looked delighted, and not contrite  for a single instant.

"I felt it, you wretch. One of these days they will call the police on  you over something, and I'll let them."

"No, you won't," Victoria said confidently, with a glint in her eyes that  would have reminded their father of their mother. Physically Victoria was  the portrait of Olivia, right down to the blue silk dress she was  wearing.

Olivia laid her sister's clothes out for her every morning, and Victoria  always put them on without question. She loved being a twin, always had,  they both did. It suited them perfectly. And it had gotten Victoria out  of every scrape in her life. Olivia was always either willing to make  excuses for her, or even to trade places with her, either to get her out  of a jam, or when they were children, just because sometimes it was fun  to do it. Their father had often lectured them about being responsible,  and not taking advantage of their unusual circumstances, but sometimes it  was hard not to. Everything about them seemed unusual. They were closer  than two people could ever have been. And sometimes, to each of them, it  almost seemed as though they were the same person. And yet, in so many  ways, deep inside, they each knew they were very different. Victoria was  bolder, and both far more mischievous and more adventuresome. She had  always been the one who'd gotten into trouble. She was so fascinated by a broader world than Olivia was. Olivia was happier to stay at home, and  let her boundaries be those set by family, home, and tradition. Victoria  wanted to fight for women's rights, she wanted to demonstrate and speak.  She thought marriage was barbaric, and unnecessary for truly independent  women. Olivia thought all of that was quite crazy, but she also thought  it was only a passing fancy of her sister's. There had been others,  political movements that had fascinated her, religious ideals,  intellectual concepts she had read about. Olivia was far more down to  earth, and much less willing to ride into battle for obscure causes. Her  world was a great deal smaller. And yet, to the naked eye, and the  uninitiated, they appeared to be one and the same, even to those who knew  them.

"So when did you learn to drive?" Olivia asked, tapping her foot, as  Victoria laughed from the car. She had just tossed the last of her  cigarette into the dirt near where her sister was sitting. Olivia always  played the role of the stern older sister. She was eleven minutes older  than Victoria, but it was those eleven minutes that had made all the  difference. And in sadder moments, when they bared their souls, Victoria  had long since confessed to her twin that she felt she was the one who  had killed their mother.

"You didn't kill her," Olivia had said firmly, when they were only  children. "God did."

"He did not!" Victoria had defended Him, in outrage. And Mrs.  Peabody had been appalled when she discovered what the argument was about,  and later on she had explained that childbirth can be very difficult at  best, and having twins is something superhuman that only angels should  attempt. And clearly, their mother had been an angel, had deposited them  on earth with their father who loved them so much, and had returned to  Heaven. It settled the question of blame, at the time, but Victoria had  always secretly felt that she had in fact killed their mother, and Olivia  knew it, and nothing she had ever said in all their twenty years had ever  changed that.

Neither of them were thinking of that now, as Olivia questioned Victoria  about her driving. "I taught myself last winter." Victoria shrugged in  amusement.

"Taught yourself? How?"

"I just took the keys and tried it. I banged the car up a little the  first few times, but Petrie never figured it out, he kept thinking that  other people had run into him when he'd been in town and left it parked."  She looked pleased with herself and Olivia forced herself to scowl at  her, in order not to laugh, but Victoria knew her better. "Stop looking  at me like that. It's a damn useful thing to know. I can run you into  town anytime you like now."

"Or into a tree more likely." Olivia refused to be mollified. Her sister  could have killed herself tooling around the countryside in a car she  really didn't know how to drive. It was crazy. "And your smoking is  disgusting." But at least that she'd known about it for a while. She had  found a package of Fatimas in their dresser that winter, and been  horrified. But when she mentioned it, Victoria only laughed and shrugged,  and refused to comment.

"Don't be so old-fashioned," Victoria said amiably. "If we lived in  London or Paris, you'd be smoking too, just to be fashionable, and you  know it."

"I know nothing of the sort, Victoria Henderson. It's a revolting habit  for a lady, and you know it. So where were you?"

Victoria hesitated for a long moment, while Olivia waited. She was  expecting an answer, and Victoria always told her the truth. The two had  no secrets, and the few times they did, the other always instinctively  knew the truth. It was as though they each always knew what the other was  thinking.

"Confess," Olivia said sternly, and Victoria suddenly looked much younger  than twenty.

"All right. I went to a meeting of the National American Women's Suffrage  Association in Tarrytown. Alice Paul was there, she came especially to  organize the meeting, and see about setting up a group right here on the  Hudson. The president of NAWSA herself, Anna Howard Shaw, was supposed to  be there, but she couldn't make it."

"Oh for God's sake, Victoria, what are you doing? Father will be calling  the police if you get yourself into demonstrations or anything of the  sort. More than likely, you'll be arrested, and Father will have to bail  you out," she said in sudden outrage, but Victoria did not look  discouraged by the prospect, on the contrary, she seemed to like it.

"It would be worth it, Ollie. She was absolutely inspirational. You  should come next time."

"Next time, I'm tying you to the bedpost. And if you steal the car again  for nonsense like that, I'll let Petrie call the police, and I'll tell  them who did it."

"No, you won't. Come on, hop in. I'll drive you back to the garage."

"Great. Now you'll get us both in trouble. Thank you very much, my  darling sister."

"Don't be such a stiff. This way, no one will know which one of us it  is." As always, their being so totally identical was an excellent cover.  No one ever knew which one did anything, which served Victoria's purposes  better than her sister's, who rarely needed a scapegoat.

"They'd know, if they had any brains," Olivia grumbled as she got in  cautiously, and Victoria roared off across the bumpy back road, while  Olivia complained loudly about her driving. Victoria offered her a  cigarette then, and as Olivia was about to read her the riot act again,  she suddenly started to laugh instead at the absurdity of the situation.  It was hopeless to try and control Victoria, and Olivia knew it, as  Victoria drove the car right into the garage and almost ran over Petrie.  He stared at them with his mouth open, as they both got out in unison,  both thanked him solemnly and Victoria apologized for the minor  damage.

"But I thought . . . I . . . when did you . . . I mean . . . yes, Miss  . . . thank you . . . Miss Olivia . . . Miss Victoria . . . Miss . . ."  He had no idea which was which, who had done what, and had no intention  of trying to find out either. All he had to do was replace the rubber on  the running board and touch up the paint now. At least the car hadn't  been stolen after all. And looking very dignified, the two young women  walked back to the house arm in arm, and up the front steps, as they  began to giggle.

"You really are awful, you know," Olivia scolded her. "The poor thing  thought Dad was going to kill him over it. You're going to end up in jail  one day, I'm sure of it."

"So am I," said Victoria with total unconcern, as she gave her sister a  squeeze. "But maybe you'll switch with me for a month or two and I can go  out and get some air, and go to some meetings. How does that sound?"

"Disgusting. My days of covering for you are over," Olivia said, wagging  a finger at her, but loving her more than ever. She loved being with her.  Her twin was her best friend, and like the other side of her own soul.  They knew each other better than any two people could ever know anyone,  and Olivia was at her happiest, they both were, when they were together.  Although Victoria certainly seemed to spend enough time going off on her  own and getting into mischief.

The two girls were just walking through the main hall, talking and  laughing, as the library door opened and the three men walked into the  hall, still talking about their own plans and decisions. And as they saw  them, the two girls fell silent, and Olivia immediately saw Charles  again, and watched him, as he stared at both of them, totally startled  and confused by what he was seeing. He looked from one to the other  repeatedly, as though trying to derive an explanation in his own mind for  two women so totally identical, and so beautiful, and yet it was as  though he sensed a difference between them. His eyes were riveted on  Victoria, with her hair slightly more windblown than Olivia's, her dress  identical, yet somehow more easily worn, there was something irreverent  and shocking about her. And yet, to the naked eye, one couldn't see how  outrageous she was, but one could sense it.

"Oh my," Edward Henderson said, smiling as he watched Charles' reaction.  "Did I forget to warn you?"

"I'm afraid you did, sir," Charles Dawson said, blushing, peeling his  eyes off of Victoria, and glancing at Olivia again in confusion, and then  back at their father. They were used to it, and were amused, but he  obviously wasn't.

"Merely an optical illusion, don't worry about it," Edward Henderson  teased him. He liked Charles. He seemed to be a good man. And they had  had a very good session, full of bright new ideas, and ways to improve  his businesses, and protect his investments. "It must have been the  sherry." He grinned at the younger man, and Charles Dawson laughed,  suddenly looking boyish. He was thirty-six years old, but in the past  year, he had come to look so serious that his friends said he looked  suddenly much older. And now, he looked like a boy again as he stared in  confused disbelief at the two beauties before him. And even more  confusingly, they moved toward him in unison, unconscious of how totally  their movements mirrored each other. They each shook hands with him, and  Edward introduced Olivia again, and Victoria for the first time, and they  both laughed, and pointed out to their father that he had gotten it wrong,  which made Charles laugh even more.

"Does he do that often?" he asked, feeling more at ease with them than  he had a moment before, though still quite dazzled. It would be impossible  not to.

"All the time, though we don't always tell him," Victoria answered,  meeting his eyes squarely. Charles seemed fascinated by her, as though he  could sense something unusual about her. In the subtlest of ways, she was  more sensual than her sister, yet the clothes, the look, the hair were  the same, but the inner workings weren't.

"When they were very young," Edward explained, "we used to put  different-colored hair ribbons in their hair, to identify them. It worked  perfectly, and then one day, we discovered that the little monsters had  learned to take off their hair ribbons and tie them again, very  carefully, to confuse us. They would trade places that way, and it went  on for months before we discovered it. They were quite dreadful as  children," he said, with obvious pride and affection. Despite his dislike  for the public stir they caused whenever he took them out, he adored  them. They had been the final gift of a woman he had loved with his  entire soul, and he had never loved anyone again after her, except her  daughters.

"Are they better behaved now?" Charles asked, still amused by them, and  the shock they had caused him. He had had absolutely no warning that there  even were twins, neither from Edward Henderson, nor John Watson.

"They're only slightly better now," Edward said grudgingly, and they all  laughed, and then he scowled at both of them, as though issuing a warning.  "But you'd better behave yourselves, you two. These two gentlemen tell me  that it's necessary to go to New York for a month or so, in order to take  care of some of my business, and if you can manage not to turn the town  on its ear this time, I'll take you with me. But any nonsense from either  of you," he said, wishing he could tell which one of them was Victoria,  but he couldn't, "and I'll pack you right back here with Bertie."

"Yes, sir," Olivia said quietly with a smile, knowing that the warning  was not meant for her, but for her sister. Suspecting that he wasn't  quite sure at the moment which of them he was addressing, Olivia could  always tell when he wasn't certain.

But Victoria wasn't making any promises: her eyes were dancing at the  prospect of a month in the city. "Are you serious?" she asked, wide-eyed  with delight.

"About sending you back?" he blustered. "Absolutely."

"No, about New York, I mean." She looked from her father to the lawyers,  and they were all smiling.

"Apparently," her father answered. "It could even be two months, if they  don't do their jobs right, and dally around once we get there."

"Oh please, Daddy," Victoria said, clapping her hands and doing a little  pirouette on one heel and then grabbing her sister by the shoulders.  "Think of it! New York, Ollie! New York!" She was beside herself with joy  and excitement, and it made her father feel guilty when he thought of how  isolated they were here. They were of an age where they belonged in the  city now, meeting people, and finding husbands. But he hated the thought  of them leaving him forever, particularly Olivia. She was so helpful to  him, she did so much for him. What would he ever do without her? But he  was worrying prematurely. They hadn't even packed their bags and gone to  the city yet, and he already imagined them married, and himself  abandoned.

"I hope we'll see more of you, Charles, when we come to the city," Edward  said as he shook his hand finally in the doorway. Victoria was still  talking about New York to Olivia, paying no attention at all to the two  men who had come to visit. And Olivia was quietly watching Charles as he  said good-bye to their father. He assured Mr. Henderson that he would see  a great deal of him at the office, as long as John Watson was willing to  let him handle his business. John assured him that he would, and Edward  urged Charles to come to see them at the house as well, as Charles  thanked him politely for the invitation. And as he left, Charles glanced  over the older man's shoulder and looked into Victoria's eyes again. He  wasn't sure which one she was, but he felt the oddest pull whenever he  looked at her. He couldn't have explained it if someone had asked him to,  it was a kind of electricity he felt from her, and not from her sister.  It was the oddest feeling not knowing which was which, and yet he was fascinated by both of them. He had never met anyone like them.

Edward Henderson walked the men to their car, and as they drove away  Olivia stood watching them at the window. And despite her wild excitement  over New York, Victoria noticed.

"What's that all about?" She had seen Olivia's intense look at the car  driving slowly down their driveway.

"What do you mean?" Olivia asked, turning away to go and check on the  library, and make sure the tray had been removed directly after the  meeting.

"You're looking awfully serious, Ollie," Victoria accused. They knew each  other far too well. It was dangerous sometimes, and at others merely  annoying.

"His wife died on the Titanic last year. Father says he has a  little boy."

"I'm sorry to hear about his wife," Victoria said, sounding unmoved. "But  he looks terribly boring, doesn't he?" she said, dismissing him, in favor  of countless unnamed delights soon to be discovered in New York, among  them political rallies and suffragists' meetings, none of which  interested her sister. "I think he looks incredibly dreary."

Olivia nodded, and made no comment as she walked into the library to  escape her sister. And when she emerged again, satisfied that the tray  was gone, Victoria had gone upstairs to change for dinner. Olivia had  laid her clothes out for her earlier that afternoon. They were both going  to wear a white silk dress, each with an aquamarine pin, a pair that was  their mother's.

And a few minutes later, Olivia went to the kitchen to find Bertie. She  knew instantly that she was Olivia, and not her sister.

"Are you all right?" she asked Olivia, looking worried for a moment. It  had been a terribly hot day and she knew Olivia had been out walking. And  the young woman looked suddenly very pale now.

"I'm fine. Father has just told me we're going to New York at the  beginning of September. We're going to stay for a month or two, while he  does some business." The two women exchanged a smile. They both knew what  that meant. An incredible amount of work and planning to open the house  in New York. "I thought you and I could get together tomorrow morning to  start making plans," she said quietly. She had a great deal to think  about, a lot to do for him, most of which her father was entirely unaware  of.

"You're a good girl," Bertie said softly to her, touching the pale cheek,  as she looked at the huge blue eyes, wondering if something had upset  her. Olivia was feeling something she had never felt before, and she was  finding it unnerving and confusing. Even more so, worrying that Victoria  was going to march right into her thoughts and expose them. "You work so  hard for your father," Bertie praised her. She knew them both so well,  and loved them both with all their similarities and differences. They  were both good girls, as different as they were, beneath the surface.

"I'll meet with you tomorrow morning then," Olivia said quietly, and then  left the kitchen to go upstairs to change. She went up the back stairs  this time, trying to clear her thoughts, so Victoria wouldn't look right  into them like a body of clear, translucent water. It was impossible to  keep secrets from her, impossible for either of them. They had never even  tried to.

But as she tried to think of other things, as she approached their huge  room where they shared the same canopied bed they'd slept in all their  lives, Olivia found she couldn't get her mind off of him. All she could  think of were those green eyes, those deep dark pools that led straight  to the soul of the man who had lost his wife to the Atlantic. She closed  her eyes for a moment then as she turned the knob, and forced herself to  think of more mundane things, like the new sheets she would probably need  to order for New York, and the pillowcases she needed to bring for her  father. She filled her head with banalities, and then she walked briskly  across the room to her sister.

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