Chapter Ninety-Five: Drawing Closer

Moon through a telescope

The whistle blew its loud, piercing warning. I ran back through the station and was helped up the steps by a conductor. Several heads looked up to stare as I rushed to settle myself in a vacant seat. One by one they returned to their own conversations.

Several moments of deep breaths and I regained my composure.

I clutched the overfilled valise to my chest as the train lurched forward.

A black crepe mourning dress was folded up within. It would end up terribly wrinkled by the time I was able to put it on but it would have to do. I would need a bonnet and long veil at the next stop in Leeds.

The brooch, my Recuerdo, would do nicely. I touched it absently, pinned to the bodice my traveling dress. I had carried it with me all these months. I wanted to open it again, to see his woven hair within but I resisted the urge.

Maybe some jet earrings to complete the ensemble?

Not that anyone would be able to tell beneath the veil…

The fatigue began creeping up on me again, but I was afraid to close my eyes, to let down my guard. The hard wooden bench would not offer a bit of comfort and so I willed myself to remain awake, staring at the passing scenery.

I leaned my cheek against the cool glass of the window.


Soon I would see his hand, his fingers. His face itself was dimmed in my mind but I could remember the feel of his hands in great detail. I had spent many hours in the dark of night tracing the nails and callouses and the feel of the knuckles over and over again in my memory, how my hand always seemed to fit perfectly within his as if they were meant for each other from the beginning.

His words whispered into my ear cloaked in blackness in Edinburgh so many years ago, the words that still sent shivers down my spine… Forgive me.


What was love that it could drive a person so mad? Was this love? Or was it something else, something more sinister? How could I really know?

I had thought that Anne would be my consolation, better than a brooch, a living vessel to pour my love into. She was not enough, though. Not when I saw him in her eyes each day, looking back at me.

God forgive me, I had not known. 

If I had it to do over again, what would I choose?


This was the only way to find peace.

What would tomorrow or the next day bring?

I shifted my cheek to a new spot on the cool window glass and closed my eyes for a moment. It was such a chore to focus on the fields of the passing farmland outside with such heavy eyelids.

The color of the red sun filtered through my closed eyelids. The light faded as the train turned, moving my side of the car into the shade, becoming gray and then finally black as we entered into a tunnel…

Chapter Ninety-Four: Running Away

 sunrise through the trees 
We drove hard through the night, never stopping. 

My heart pounded all the while as I cradled my little sleeping Anne. I held her injured hand, the stiff, frozen fingers curled tightly around mine as if they were made of stone.

I did not have much time with her and each second that ticked by softened my resolve. 

How could I do this?


The carriage rumbled to a stop. I could hear the crunch of boots as he hopped down and strode around to the side. His black hat shadowed along the fogged window glass was the only visible part of him until he opened the door and stepped inside, rocking the carriage as it shifted with his weight.

A chill entered with him.

The sun was creeping up over the horizon. A train whistle caused Anne to startle and wake. She smiled up at me. I made a face at her and she giggled back before snuggling up against my chest.

“We have arrived.” He stared at me grimly. “Are you ready?”


He nodded solemnly. “Remember it is the only way to keep her. You wanted me to remind you of this when the time came…”

“So I did.”

“They will be looking for a woman with a child, a baby girl…”


“They will not be looking for me…”

I had not told him the whole truth, though. I was leaving from here to go to Edinburgh to the arms of another man, the man who haunted me even still after all of these years and miles. Why was I drawn to him? What made him special? Had we known each other somehow in another life?

The Reverend held out his arms in order to take Anne.

“She will be well cared for until we can meet again.” 

“I know.”

Leaning over to him, I gave him a peck on a scarred cheek. He reached over and pulled me in closer, kissing me full on the mouth, deeply. My stomach turned. 

His breath… 

I pulled away quickly and smiled at him, whispering, “I love you.” I must maintain the illusion. I still needed him.

He smiled back, his eyes full of hope.

I had not fully planned the lies I would tell to get her back while severing my ties with the Reverend but I knew he was the only person I could trust right now with her well being. I would think of something when the time came.

Resisting the urge to tell him yet again how to properly care for her, I gave her one last kiss on the velvety cheek and whispered softly into her ear of my love for her, how I would see her again soon…

His arms opened again, ready to receive Anne. I handed my daughter to him reluctantly and stepped out of the carriage with my small valise in hand.

I could hear her muffled screams and sobs behind me as I moved away. They pierced my heart. I knew I left some part of my humanity behind that day as I kept walking to the train station, leaving my daughter behind.

Somehow I knew it would all be worth it. It must.

Chapter Ninety-Three: Moonlight

 moonlight and clouds 
I grasped the rusted latch and pushed gently. The door did not give. I pushed harder but it still did not budge. Finally, I drove my shoulder into the door and shoved hard, wincing as the warped wood scraped across the rough hewn floor. 

Oh, God!

I froze, heart pounding. Standing still in the dark, I did not dare to even breath. I listened carefully for any movement from inside.

No stirring, only the faint sound of snoring, punctuated now and then by a snort.

My courage returned. 

I must be fast. In and out.

The door was cracked open just enough now to allow me to slip inside and so I did.

Red coals burned in the fire grate, illuminating a shadowy path across the room. Mr. Greer’s thinning hair was visible combed over a balding head as it peeked up over the back of his worn chair. He was the source of the snoring. There was no sign of his wife.

I had practiced walking soundlessly in my shoes for hours. Step. Feel for loose floorboards. Step. Feel again. I made my way carefully across the room behind him.

There were two doors off of this room. I picked the one on the right, the one Anne had been carried off through when I had visited before.

There were six infants in boxes lining the floor and there were four more toddlers sleeping fitfully on mats. 

Now it was clear what was not said before. This was a baby farm. The bare room smelled sour, of vomit and feces. I shuddered.

Quickly, I located Anne in one of the boxes and picked her up, threadbare blankets and all. She felt lighter, even after all this time. She opened her eyes for a moment when she saw me, smiled faintly, then drifted back to sleep. Another child whimpered in the corner, stirring. I slipped out of the room, making my way quickly out of the door. 

As I left, pulling the door shut, I could hear a wailing cry start up. I turned and ran as hard as I could across the yard.

Maybe she would not be missed?

I knew that was impossible. I ran harder, through the gate. My fleeing steps jolted Anne awake but she kept silent. I could see in the moonlight that her eyes were sunken and glazed over. She was listless and malnourished. No wonder she was so quiet. 

Feed them as little food as possible, pocket the money you save…

Those other children were starving, too. A sob caught in my chest. 

You cannot save them all.

I knew there was a carriage waiting for me at the end of the lane. The night was chill but sweat still stung my eyes as I ran toward the soft sound of nickering horses. Their black outline took shape as the moon moved out from behind a cloud again. A dark, shadowy form rose up as I neared, opening the door, strong hands helped me inside. 

I held Anne close against my chest as the carriage lurched forward. 


For now.

Chapter Ninety-Two: Brewing

The warm bitterness of the coffee matched my mood. I took it black now. Black like the darkness looming outside, ominous and harsh. I had missed it terribly. Tea had always seemed weak and patronizing, even more so now that the world had shifted.

I sat down the cup on the small lace covered table beside me. My hands shook a fair bit and there was a slight rattle as the cup came to rest again on the saucer.

A letter lay on my lap. It had arrived the day before, forwarded to the boarding house that was my home for the time being.

I smoothed out the paper again and stared at the flowering script, letting the effect of the coffee and the words wash over me.

The instructions were detailed. I was to meet Mrs. Brierly at the New Calton burial ground in Edinburgh in a fortnight exactly at sunrise. There was an arched gravestone in the far northeast corner where she would be waiting. Bring no one. Tell no one. Wear black, full mourning, complete with veil.

My mind raced.

I would have to wait to purchase the clothing as I got closer to Edinburgh. There was no way to do that here without arousing suspicion. I was too well known. The train tickets to Scotland. Should I purchase early to guarantee passage? Or wait until the last minute to minimize the risk of being found out?

And Anne. 

There was the matter of Anne that must be addressed.

Timing was key. I would not be able to take her with me, at least not yet, but I also could not leave her here in that awful place with the Greers.

I had gone there, begging to see my daughter. The farmhouse was in frightening condition. The red faced woman, rotund woman who answered the door looked puzzled until it dawned on her who I was. I caught a glimpse of Anne being dragged to a back room before the door was slammed shut. There was recognition in her sad eyes. I could hear her screams for me from the other side of the warped wood. Shouting. A slap. Silence.

How could one feel this much hate and not be consumed by it?

No. She would not stay there much longer. I would see just how much love was willing to compromise and sacrifice for the sake of love.