Chapter 6 – The Engagement
Six months later, everyone heard the rumors of Miss Hildegarde Moncrief’s and Mr. Benjamin Button’s engagement. (I say “rumors” because Hildegarde’s father refused to announce it publicly. He said he would rather fall on a sword than announce it.) There was a feverish excitement in Baltimore, and everyone was talking about the strange couple.
The scandal of Benjamin’s birth had almost been forgotten, but now, the rumors swirled again. This time, however, the stories were even stranger.
“Did you know? They aren’t brothers. Benjamin is older and he is Roger Button’s father!”
“I heard Benjamin Button had been in prison for forty years, and he was just recently released.”
“My friend told me that Benjamin Button is a famous actor in disguise.”
“I heard he has two horns growing out of his head!”
The Sunday newspaper played up the rumors even more. They showed sketches of Benjamin Button as half animals. Half fish. Half snake. Half lizard. He became known as “The Mystery Man of Baltimore.” The true story of Benjamin’s birth was also in the rumors, but it didn’t gain attention.
However, everyone agreed with Hildegarde’s father, General Moncrief – it was terrible for such a lovely girl to throw herself into the arms of a man who was fifty. She could have married any young and wealthy man in Baltimore.
In vain, Mr. Roger Button published his son’s birth certificate in a large ad in the Baltimore newspaper. No one believed it.
But to Benjamin, the rumors didn’t matter because the most important person didn’t believe them – Hildegard. There were so many false rumors that Hildegard refused to believe that even one was true. She had full confidence that Benjamin was just a normal man of fifty.
In vain, General Moncrief lectured her about the health problems of fifty year old men. He told her about the instability of the wholesale hardware business. But Hildegarde had chosen the person that she wanted to marry. And so, she married him.