125. Only Child

THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF MEREDITH'S engagement was a joyous event, a turning-point loaded with more than the usual significance, marking the end, or so hoped Meredith, of the worst period of her life. The day after the announcement, Meredith's stepmother Margaret marked the occasion by having the following notice published in the Times: Mr and Mrs G. Stonecroft II of Locust Valley, Long Island, have announced the engagement of their daughter, Meredith Stonecroft, to Simon Hugo Davies, a son of Dr and Mrs William J.D. Davies of Hartford, Conn. An August wedding is planned. Miss Stonecroft, 29, is the supervisor of the consignor-account department at Bloomsbury in London. She graduated cum laude from Columbia University. Her father is a managing director of investment banking at Morgan Stanley in New York. Ms Stonecroft is a stepdaughter of Margaret M. Byrnes-McGregor. Mr Davies, 33, is a securities broker in London for Wittner Mulgrave, the securities brokerage. He graduated from Brandeis University. His mother is a child and adolescent psychiatrist in West Hartford. His father is a general surgeon at Hartford Hospital. The morning after the notice was published, Meredith received a call on the office phone she shared with her colleague Eliza. As always, Eliza answered the phone. The caller was Meredith's brother Roger, who explained he'd called Meredith to congratulate her on her engagement. Wait a minute, said Roger, she has told you she's engaged, hasn't she? Of course!, Eliza replied laughingly. The whole office knows. When Eliza suggested he call Meredith's cellphone, he told her he'd tried calling it several times, but without success. I might have the wrong number, he said, I don't usually call her cell. Wait a minute, said Eliza, I can give it to you, I have it on my phone. She read out the ten digits. Yes, that's the number I have, said Roger. He told Eliza he'd try again and thanked her graciously. Meredith arrived at the office less than half an hour later, out of sorts. When Eliza asked her what was the matter, Meredith replied, Oh, it's just my interfering stepmother. She couldn't resist putting in a notice in the Times, and as a result my phone has been ringing all morning - I had to put it on silent. She shot Eliza the kind of anxious smile her colleague knew all too well and held the phone up. Look at that, said Meredith. Twenty-four missed calls, read Eliza. And that's just in the last half hour!, said Meredith. Eliza asked if Roger had managed to get through to her. Roger who?, asked Meredith. Roger, your brother, replied Eliza, he called here earlier and said he couldn't get through to you on your cellphone. But I don't have a brother, replied Meredith, I'm an only child. Her cellphone began vibrating again.