Victoria enters the ground floor of the Montgomery Trust building in Manhattan and walks to the reception counter. Behind it, a harried young man is trying to field calls and direct visitors.
“Excuse me,” Victoria says.
The man looks at her. “If you’re here for a secretarial position the hiring office is down the hall and to the right.”
“Down the hall to the right.” The man points in the direction she should go then turns his attention to a group of people at the opposite end of the counter.
Victoria wanders away from the counter then goes to look at the directory, hoping for some idea of where she should go.
A man’s voice comes from her right. “Excuse me, miss?” She turns to find a man of medium height, with short-cropped red hair, wearing wire-framed glasses and holding a briefcase. “Can I help you find something?”
“Yes. I have some money I’d like to invest.”
“Do you mean as a sort of Christmas fund?”
“No, long term.”
“Very good.” He extends his hand. “I’m Stanley Reed and I can assist you.”
“Thank-you Mr. Reed. I’m Victoria Wells.”
Reed directs her to his desk.
As they walk, Reed asks, “Is this for you and your husband?”
“I’m not married. I work in the music business and have met with some success.”
“What do you do?”
“I’m a pianist, and I write music.”
“Really? Have you written anything I’d have heard?”
“Have you heard Starlight and Memories?”
Reed stops. “Victoria?” he says to himself. “You’re V. Wells!”
“My wife has been teaching that to our son and daughter lately. I’ve probably heard it a hundred times but never seem to get tired of it.”
They reach his desk and are seated.
“I don’t know if that’s a testament to my writing ability or to their playing. But thanks for the compliment.”
“There’s just something in the melody I find pleasing.” He removes some forms from his desk. “Now, how much are you looking to invest?”
“I’m consolidating several accounts. I’ve recently been transferring my remaining assets from England and I don’t want to stash them in some account that’s going to just sit there.”
“I thought I detected a bit of an accent. How long have you been in America?”
“Not quite ten years. We came here in 1902.”
“You must have come with your parents then. I can’t imagine you were very old when you made the crossing.”
“That’s something we’ll need to discuss. For now, I’d like to start with two hundred and forty thousand dollars.”
Several of the other accountants turn their heads when they hear the amount.
“That’s quite a nest egg.”
“Is that going to present a problem?”
“Oh no,” Reed says. “We are well-equipped to handle a deposit of that size.” He starts to fill out the paperwork then says, “Why don’t we get all your assets here first then I can begin to advise you on prudent ways to make the most of them.”
Several weeks later, Victoria is in the conference room waiting for Stanley Reed. He enters with a file folder and sits across from her.
“Now, Miss Wells, I have confirmed that all your funds have cleared and we’re ready to do business.”
“Wonderful news, Mr. Reed. But first, there’s something you need to know.”
“Understand that I don’t expect you to believe what I’m about to tell you. And that’s why I wanted to wait until the money was all here so you wouldn’t think I’m a crackpot.” She touches his hand. “I also must ask that you not reveal what I’m about to say to anyone. Not your boss, not even your wife.”
He chuckles, nervously. “I have no problem keeping your personal details private.”
She removes from her purse a photo of her with Mrs. Mayfair when they came to America.
“You asked how old I was when we immigrated. This is a photo I took with Mrs. Mayfair, my assistant a few days after we got here.”
Reed takes it and looks from it to Victoria.
“You haven’t changed much.”
“I haven’t changed at all.” She hands him another photo “This is another of me and Mrs. Mayfair taken a few weeks ago.”
Reed notes that while Mrs. Mayfair has obviously aged that Victoria looks pretty much the same.
She removes one final photo and slides it across the desk to him. “This was taken in Paris in 1893.”
“1893?” Reed says as he looks at the sepia-toned photo of Victoria in her party dress. “This can’t be you.”
Victoria checks to be sure no one is around then unbuttons a few buttons on her blouse. “I assure you it is.” She opens her collar to show him her neck. Reed’s eyes widen and he looks once again between the photo and Victoria. She buttons her blouse.
“How is this possible?” he says.
Victoria explains what she knows about herself and her lifespan. Reed listens, but seems not to comprehend or believe most of it.
“This is incredible. I’ll be honest and say that I find much of it very hard to believe.”
“You don’t have to believe it,” she says. “In time you’ll know I’m telling the truth. Right now, all I need you to do is advise me in my finances as best as you can. And we can afford to be a bit aggressive. I have a very long time until I have to worry about retirement.”