Hannibal Prescott fell in love in much the same way he did everything else. Totally. Obsessively. The object of his affection was a young woman named Annabelle Sercombe. They met at a congressional function following President Lincoln's second inauguration. She was courteous and gentle, yet shy and aloof. Her beauty haunted him day and night.
Driven by his obsession, he met with her father later that week, introducing himself as General Sherman's cousin and a congressional aide. He asked permission to call on Annabelle and perhaps invite her for a walk. Her father agreed.
She loved to walk. When they were together, he would talk to her, thrilled and excited about his future, expecting her to reflect his enthusiasm. But her shyness rendered her mute, becoming a fault he longed to sever from her persona.
Eventually he thought of a plan. He would invite her to the theatre. A farce. It couldn't fail. Annabelle, so frail, so timid, so frightened of pandemonium, would relax and trust him at last, laughing at the actors and enjoying their clever energy.
After some coaxing, she agreed to attend. He planned a spectacular evening. First, dinner at a fine restaurant. Then a carriage ride to the Ford Theatre. Balcony seats overlooking the stage. A rented opera glass so she wouldn't miss a thing. He thought of everything. Nothing could ruin this night. The paper said Our American Cousin was the funniest play in years.
She would never forget this date.