Dear Readers,

I have returned with yet another chapter of what seems to be a neverending story. I have been promising more and more material for so very long a time now! But I assure you, whoever readers may be left, that if you continue to an express an interest in this story, I will complete it this summer. I love it too much to completely abandon it if someone else may enjoy it, too.

That being said, I must thank Bad Octopus for her continued support. It is what fuels me to continue writing! I must also thank my dear Nibs, for giving me the motivation to actually write down all the ideas that have been swimming around my head. This chapter is a bit of a deviation in style to what I have thus far written, but I hope it may be a refreshing chapter to bring us back into the story.

My many, many thanks! Please enjoy!

Always,

Margo


Chapter 5 - Revelations

It is a quirky business, this business called relation, primarily when it is transacted between a parent and a child. For even if two persons are not a parent and a child by bond of blood, they may nevertheless benefit (or suffer from) a commingling of each other's interests. For example, the young beauty Saffney Jain as has been said, was abandoned by her birth mother nearly a duodecennium before. And yet, in a place far west of that from whence she sprung, the girl endures the bitter rain and even more biting society of London to be soothed by the maternal love of Concordia Bottomley, a woman of no greater familial connexion to Miss Jain than the Parisians who until lately educated her at Miss Bottomley's expenditure and discretion.

And yet, on the other hand, the business of relations may be called errant when a blood connection is established between a parent (or grandparent, as the case may be) and a child and, what's worse than its being ignored altogether, the connection is highly abused. To see this sorry example, one must traverse ten miles east across London from the great mansion of Terminus Pointe that regales with the other choice properties of Bond Street, to the ramshackle edifice that loiters about Cursitor Street most unremittingly --- the place once known as Krook's Rag and Bottle Warehouse. For while Concordia Bottomley and Saffney Jain lie in peace, wandering about their fantasies at this late hour, their antagonists the Smallweeds yet stir, proving there is indeed no rest to be had for the wicked.

A racking cough can be heard through the rotting walls of the tenement by Judy Smallweed, who rushes immediately down the creaking stairs and into the northernmost room of the house. Her ailing grandfather resides here most evenings, as it is the chamber most accessible to his attenuated body. It was Judy who wrangled the most lively of the knotty furniture at her disposal and arranged it to its best advantage there. It is Judy who despite her tiny frame hoists her Grandfather Smallweed into bed each evening, but not before lugging what firewood she can muster into his quarters and bringing the grate aglow. It is Judy who refuses to sleep until her grandfather is comfortably aslumber, even though the duty oft deprives her of restfulness altogether. It is Judy who is sent reeling by his every cough and moan in the night. It is Judy who vows silently to see him through until the light shines in the morning, whether that glow be earthly or ethereal at long last. It is Judy who does all this because of the business called relation, even though that relation has become so confounded that it is almost as if the roles of the Smallweeds have been reversed, making Judy the parent to the helpless Joshua Smallweed. Follow Judy as she rushes through her grandfather's aperture now, and see the truth of these words for yourself!

"You are up so late, grandfather," Judy observes with a somnolent tinge in both her eyes and her voice. She hurries to smooth the covers about him as he sits upright in bed. "It is nigh onto midnight. What troubles you so this evening?"

Joshua Smallweed observes the concern in his relation's eyes and knows his vexation will soon be resolved by her own suffering. "This business wif the woman in Bareilly is bad, Judy." He turns to her and observes the way the flames from the fireplace reflect upon her aburn hair and bounce off the wall behind her shadow.

"Fie!" She reponds. "I don't know why you worry so. It's all done with. I took care of Concordia Bottomley just 'as you asked me to. And what's more, no one suspects a thing. From what I've heard of Bucket's report, the police'r convinced she was attacked by a man trying to steal her necklace! I took care of 'er, grandfather. Dunnit please you?"

"No!" He snarled in his granddaughter's face, extinguishing the hope of approval that had heretofore lit up her eyes. "You've made a rather haphazard attempt at it. Sure, you slit her throat. Shook 'er up a bit. I wanted you to do'er in! That was the only way to be safe. It still is the only way to be safe. I want 'er dead! Do you understand me? Dead!"

Despite the pain that stabs at her breast, Judy closes in on her grandfather, her concern growing. "Grandfather, I've said it many a time 'afore, but I do believe yer going mad. 'Tis just how grandmother got before she died. How in the world would you want me to kill Concordia Bottomley? She may be the joke of London's elite for being the spinster that runs about the globe for God and country, but she's one of them. She's old money, grandfather. They'd take notice. It'd be like killing a Dedlock."

Joshua Smallweed snickers weakly. "Terrible comparison, Judy. My Lady isn't cold in 'er grave yet and they've already moved on, harlot though she was. They'll forget about Concordia Bottomley even easier. Especially if you make it look like an accident. Or even better yet, if you make it look like her fault. Perhaps make it look like she was at the mercy of nature. No matter how fancy 'er house is on Bond Street, it can still get struck by lightning, eh? That's yer surest bet, Judy. Fire."

Immediately Judy springs up, more horrified of her grandfather than she has ever been in her life. "Grandfather, I will not set fire to the biggest 'ouse on Bond Street! You've abused an awful lot of people in your day and you've made me to help you do it, but here is where I part with you. That lady is completely innocent, and I've got more conscience left than you do. I've caused her pain enough as it is for no good reason at all!"

"No good reason!" He replies, and if paralysis did not grip Mr. Smallweed's legs as tightly as malice clenched his heart, he'd have sprung up and locked his fingers around his granddaughter's throat, in fear and aggravation. For at this moment Joshua Smallweed knows he will either lose his granddaughter as his accomplice, or win her over forevermore. "She's meddling in affairs that ain't hers. That ain't a good reason? She stands to separate me from what is rightfully mine, the money that wouldn't exist without my dabbling and risk-taking. She stands to destroy your grandfather and all the 'ard work he's done over his life. Your grandfather, the only person in the world that cares tuppence for you. The only one that would take you in when every other soul you could lay claim to left this world for the next. You'd let 'er destroy me, would you, Judy?" And here is where Mr. Smallweed suddenly softens his tone and his expression, transforming before his granddaughter's face from a monster to be reviled to an invalid to be pitied. It is how he will snatch her compliance with his plan to do ill as he has all throughout her life: by manipulating the love of a young woman into hatred, the most unforgivable sin of them all. "Do this favor for yer ol' granddad, and I'll give you anything in the world."

His granddaughter raises an eyebrow. "That's rather a hefty promise."

"No matter! Do you accept it or not?"

Judy realizes her grandfather's newly found placidness is waning as she lowers him once again to restfulness, never allowing him to see the tears he has caused to appear at the corners of her eyes. "Allow me to sleep on it, grandfather. Let the burden pass from your mind to mine for the evening. Good night!"

With this, she all but flees from his oppressive presence, though not before stoking the languishing embers in the fireplace.


It is another peculiar facet of relationships, particularly those involving an adult and a youth, that while the older often recognizes the control he exercises over the younger, he often misattributes its source. For Judy Smallweed now dashes up the stairs to her own room, and though far from the physical limitations of her grandfather, though she is free of his presence and his influence, hot tears continue to stream down her little, hardened face. It is not so much that Joshua Smallweed dismissed the attempts of his loving granddaughter to please him as completely futile. Rather, Mr. Smallweed has touched upon the one piece of the young woman's heart that yet remains tender, the one part that he never could completely influence: the part that is deeply in love. "Who else in the world cares for you?" She hears her grandfather ask, the question ringing in her head. Certainly not the young gentleman that has touched her heart so deeply, the fledgling lawyer from Lambeth who she has seen so much of during her efflorescence from a girl into a young woman. No, despite their continued encounters, it does not appear that William Guppy knows of Judy's existence at all. Her tears fall down afresh.

A thousand images tumble through Judy Smallweed's mind. The first of them all contains her grandfather, for he indeed seems to be the root of all her agony. If he did not need her assistance in every task of life, she would never have traversed London in pursuit of a bundle of letters penned by Captain Hawdon. She would never have laid eyes on William Guppy. She would never have had to witness her grandfather belittle the dark, lanky fellow, and consequently her heart would never have lurched behind her stoic face; she would never have realized her affection for him. The kaleidoscope in Judy's mind morphs now. From he grandfather to Guppy it went, and now her primogenitor captures her attention again. Judy sees his yellow teeth shift open and shut within his tight jaw as Grandfather Smallweed coerces her into attacking the lady named Concordia Bottomley for both their sakes. In her mind, Judy travels back through the foggy alleyways of Lambeth. Everywhere she turns, she struggles to catch a glimpse of the woman her father hates and the man she loves in the process. The former is a client to the latter, after all. In London, too, she follows her, making note of her fair hair and honeyed skin. She hears the stories they murmur around her: Concordia is the last of the Bottomleys and she has done their legacy poorly. She hears talk of the little savage girl she brought back with her to do her bidding, the comments that elude that Concordia Bottomley would have done better to bring a monkey from the jungles of Bombay back with her, it would be more useful and less offensive to her society. And suddenly Judy sees Concordia's form again, on the night she tried to kill her. She wraps an arm around the older woman's waist and chokes her, completely guiltlessly, until her victim releases a gentle moan which threatens to break Judy Smallweed's heart as no previous misery has. In that one moment, in that one utterance now relived, Judy realizes the bittersweet truth: virtue exists in the world. She knows this only because she tried to kill it. She could not possibly make the same mistake twice.

Suddenly Judy darts to her scanty wardrobe, leaving behind the collage of memories. What remains with her, however, is the feeling that she has no true life of her own. She is merely a pawn, to her grandfather and to fate. She lives only to do their bidding and to be tormented by them. None of them, not Grandfather Smallweed, not Dame Fortune, and certainly not William Guppy, acknowledge that she is free to do as she pleases --- to live her life as she sees fit, or as proves to be the case, to choose not to live it at all.

"I'll make them all take notice," she spits out the words to the only audience that will presently listen to her: herself. This is not to be lamented, however, as this indicates the size of her audience has grown at least by one as of late. Poor Judy! She acknowledges her freedom now, but plans to use it in the worst way possible.

She tears away her nightdress and cap and begins to replace them with her vibrant purple dress and capote. It is the same outfit she donned when she accompanied her grandfather to the law office in Walcot Square, hoping that William Guppy would catch sight of it. He hadn't been there when Grandfather Smallweed pressured Clamb into aiding him. Judy smirks at the implication. He will certainly see it soon --- just after she throws herself over Westminister Bridge in her finery, and hopefully floats past the place where her great love dwells as she dies. How he will see her then, she knows not, but Judy imagines that by chance, after they pull her body from the freezing waters, Mr. Guppy will muse a little space as she lays dead on the ground. He will pity her lovely face, her finery, and will realize it is Judy Smallweed. His heart will break all at once when he realizes he could have loved that face when it still was animated, and Judy will be even with her love. Then her grandfather will come to realize that the only person in the world he has to help him is Mr. Clamb, which is truly no help at all. And Concordia Bottomley will be safe, Judy thinks as an afterthought, adding a bit more encouragement to her task. In the mind of a young lady as heartsore as Judy Smallweed, the plan is as solid as gold. Dressed in her burial garb, she silently sneaks down Cursitor Street. The way is dark and cold, but no matter. Her heart is like a dowser, steadily guiding her to Lambeth. There she can find William Guppy tucked away in Walcot Square, but more importantly tonight, she will locate Westminister Bridge.


The throbbing pain of Judy Smallweed's heart, it would seem, prevented her from calculating just how long and wet the way to Westminister Bridge would be. Her finery is all besotted, and her lovely face shall be more smeared with grime and rain than she previously anticipated. She is now so cold, tired, and miserable that tossing herself over the rough stones of the bridge into the dark abyss below is a welcome idea. Indeed, the last action Judy performs voluntarily in her life may be the most comforting. Her numb fingers make contact with the side of the bridge as she gazes at the full, golden moon. The breeze carries a few stray wisps of fog into its beams and for a moment Judy almost admits that the world is a beautiful place. "Course it is," she concedes, realizing the ponderance her last words will resonate with. "The world is a beautiful place indeed, but not for me."

Her heart sinks so low within her breast that Judy Smallweed is convinced now is the best time to jump: she feels so heavy that she is bound to sink right to the bottom of the Thames. Heretofore oblivious to any other life as she concentrated on ending her own, she decides to throw a few quick glances over her shoulder to be sure no one is lurking about who could see to ruining her tranquil and tragic death. She tosses a glimpse to her right. Nothing. She tosses a glimpse to her left and her heart nearly stops without being submersed in the icy depths of river. For there, sitting with his back against the bridge, is William Guppy, babbling softly in the twilight.


Mr. William Guppy, Esquire, is clearly inebriated. Judy reaches this conclusion as she crouches down to the young lawyer's side. He no doubt had a lively evening out, for his dress indicates it, and the besmirched state of his tails, and of the kid gloves, cane, and hat now strewn about him, confirm it. What enrages Judy, however, is the thought of the gallant ladies that must have accompanied him while she tended to her grandfather, the ladies that could never love him half as much as she does. Suddenly all thoughts of death vacate the young Smallweed's mind as she begins to berate the tippler.

"Why, Mr. William Guppy! What on earth are you doing here?" She screeches.

That gentleman is roused not only by the little figure's sudden presence before him, but at the force with which she speaks. For a moment, his eyes protrude confusedly as he attempts to discern just who she is.

"I say! Either I've drinken more 'an I imagined tonight or yer Judy Smallweed! I don't think I ever 'ave heard yer voice before, but yeh look rather like 'er. Or, at least, yer as cross and cold-'earted as she comes off!" His words are even thicker and more difficult to follow than usual, but devotee that Judy is, she interprets them all perfectly. Consequently, she is so stunned to be recognized by Mr. Guppy that she is willing to dismiss the characteristics by which he identified her.

"It is me! Now how long 'ave you been here, Guppy?" She asks as she tries to scrape his dark strands of hair into some semblance of order.

Mr. Guppy incline his head and his eyes toward her most melodramatically as if to express great lucubration in forming an answer to her question. "Ooa! Let us think, let us think. What time be it now? I joined the fellas over at The Feathers for a few drinks. Who was there? Tuke O'Malley, Gray Bailey, Morris Thimbleworth. Tony Jobling stayed for awhile, then went 'ome. After that all hell broke loose. They ganged up on me, they did."

Here the young lawyer grows incredibly melancholy, and resting his head on his knees falls silent. Judy remains unsatisfied with the information he has thus far dispensed.

"What do you mean?" She tugs at his arm and forces him to sit upright "Did they hurt you? Can't you walk?" How like Judy, the unlikely mother! She has so very much practice at it, after all.

"'Corn Laws'll be in place forever,' they says. I says, 'Yer spewing sheer madness. 'Course they'll repeal them! It's the only way the country can survive. But that just enraged 'em all the more. 'No, no, Guppy you dolt. Yer too young. Yeh haven't seen enough of how the law works. If they lift the Corn Laws, the Americans'll be making all the money to feed us.' I says, 'Let 'em! Who's backing most o' their endeavors over there? John Bull! And by liftin' the laws, we won't starve to death when famine strikes.' But no, no, no. They'd have none of it!" He rested his head once again on his knees, with fresh tears streaming from his eyes.

Judy Smallweed was nothing if she wasn't shrewd. Still, all she could make out from Guppy's lament was that his fellow barristers had given him a particularly hard night of heckling.

"But what are you doing here?" She questioned him. "Home's not so far away at all."

Here Guppy emitted a sigh, the eloquence of which almost made him seem sober. "I got to thinking, little Miss Smallweed. I don't really signify much. My colleagues laugh at me, my love goes unrequited. I dunno." He gazes up at the moon in a fashion similar to the one Judy just recently displayed. "Didja ever think of ending it all?"

The only sound heard in reply is the sound of five of Judy's icy fingers flaying against William Guppy's cheek.

"How dare you say something so impertinent, William Guppy! You're the most genteel attorney in Lambeth! You matter more than you will ever understand. And as a matter of fact, you shouldn't be seen like this. C'mon, while we can still sneak you home unnoticed."

Young Judy is rather good at leading the helpless around, and her heartthrob is quite eager to be led. He voices no objection at all as she hoists him to his feet. After delicately redressing him, she gingerly links his arm through hers. Together, they walk in the direction of Walcott Square, Judy feeling light as a feather despite Mr. Guppy's large frame that rests heavily upon her shoulder.


Judy Smallweed knew of Tony Jobling through a vague association. He was good friends with Judy's brother Bart, who as his career as a law clerk took flight, had become aloof from the family business in London. Despite barely knowing the gentleman herself, Judy was quite please to hear him come racing down the back steps of Mr. Guppy's building in reply to her fervent knocking upon the door.

"Tony, we've got trouble," she insisted, addressing the gentleman so familiarly as to take him off guard. What jarred him even more, however, was the state of his good friend and host William Guppy, who was bent on whistling a low and melancholy tune quite audibly.

"I wasn't expecting to see you tonight, Judy Smallweed," he responded good naturedly, drawing his dressing gown tightly around him as he surveyed the condition of Mr. Guppy.

"Well, you'd better be glad of it. I found this one wandering Westminister Bridge in his sorry state."

"Oh, lor!" Came the response as Tony rushed to assume the weight of Guppy's flailing body. It was the one burden in her life that Judy was sorry to give up. Mr. Jobling's attention shifted onto Guppy's savior. "What are you doing in these parts at this hour anyway?"

"Never you mind, " she snapped. "See to him before he catches his death out here."

"Right, right," Tony winked. "Many thanks from both of us. And next time you hear from that brother of yours, tell him to get to Lambeth! I'm all set to become Guppy's partner, and we can use a real clerk instead of that old hag Guppy found in the bone cellar!"

"Good night, Joots!" William Guppy called to the little woman as Tony Jobling tried to shove him into the house. "Thank ye! You're a gentlewoman and a love!"


Judy Smallweed could not recall walking all the way back to Cursitor Street, but she must have merely floated. For she arrived in the old rickety shop just in time to open the curtains to catch a few rays of light in the pallid parlor and to hear her grandfather bark out orders for tea.

"'ave you made up your mind?" He asked as she handed him the hot cup.

"I have," she insists. "You said I can have anything in the world.

"So I did. Now don't be unreasonable with me Judy. There's only so much me old bones can take."

"I want only one thing, grandfather. I won't do anything without it, though."

"And what is that? " He asks, eyeing her warily. But Judy doesn't blink as she makes her response.

"William Guppy."

And its not so impossible a request as either Smallweed might believe. It is true that when that sought-after personage awakes in the morning, he cannot recall just what it is that Judy Smallweed said. He cannot even conjecture what exactly it was that she did. But he feels a warm glow, both on his cheek and in his heart, and William Guppy can very well remember the way Judy Smallweed made him feel.


Back across the city, the sun shines gaily upon Terminus Pointe, though unbeknownst to it, its mornings in the sun may be numbered. Inside, Saffney Jain and Concordia Bottomley are oblivious to the fact that a vixen-in-love has agreed to destroy their home, their peace, and ---if all goes as planned --- their lives. This morning, other concerns are afoot.

"What is it, madame?" Saffney Jain inquires. Her long braid of silken hair caresses one of her linen-clad shoulders as she enters her benefactress's library, where Concordia Bottomley is rummaging through books and papers as if her ill-starred solicitor had schooled her in the craft.

Suddenly she stops, and realizing how absurd she must look to her dear ward, she smiles to spite herself. "I am so sorry, Saffney. You have had such a long night, and here I am like a chicken with its head cut off, disturbing you. Good morning." With this, Concordia Bottomley advances to her young ward and kisses her, leaving Saffney with no doubt that she is already in a very joyous mood. 'She must be planning some great deed for someone,' the girl wonders.

"Did you enjoy the company we hosted yesternight?" The elder inquires. At least four nights a week, Concordia Bottomley opens the doors of Terminus Pointe to an old family friend, a great philanthropist, or someone soliciting funds. The only think remarkable in Saffney's mind about the husband and wife that had dined with them --- whose names she could not recall --- was that they embodied a compilation of all three types.

"They were very civil to me," Saffney offers after recalling another quality which made the previous night's guest unique from the others. "And they had some very interesting stories about their own experiences in China."

"Yes," their hostess replies wistfully. "And that is exactly why I am in a flutter today. I felt certain the Starlings would have crossed paths with Silvestra Much somewhere, or at least heard of her, but nothing. I have no idea how I lost track of such an old acquaintance so easily. I must have some clue around here somewhere that will awaken my memory.

Concordia Bottomley is about to set off like a whirling dervish again, but catching the confused look in Saffney Jain's beautiful emerald eyes stops her.

"You must think me mad by now, Saffney. Surely," she chuckles, catching the girls warm hands in her own.

"No, certainly not," she disagrees as they find their way to the setee. "I merely feel that this is a piece of your story I do not understand, even though I feel it is one I should know." The young girl suddenly bites her lip. "Unless I am overstepping my boundaries, madame."

The benefactress lets forth a peal of laughter. "Certainly not, my dear one! You are correct as always. Here I am flitting about and leaving you in the dark. How wretched of me! I actually intended this to be a great secret, but as you can tell I simply cannot resist telling it."

Concordia Bottomley takes a moment to compose herself before she begins. "Many, many years ago, when I was not much older than yourself, my family --- as you know --- died suddenly. I was abroad with family friends when illness claimed my parents and my sisters. Surely by now you know that I wanted no part of society after that happened. I wanted no memory of the Bottomley family, for surely even before such a tragic death we were not very happy with each other. I defied tradition. I sold our homestead in Lancashire, I went abroad. You know all this, but you don't know the woman who helped me realize I had chosen the right path.

"Silvestra Much was many years older than myself when we shared a berth on the vessel that took me to India for the first time. She had been there for many years, and though she was bound to do work in China, she told me all about her experiences. She, too, had been a lady of society. The stories from that time of her life she was reluctant to tell, but when the sea was rough on many a night, they rolled from her lips.

"When she was my age, she would tell me, she was engaged to a man she loved very much, a man who was rather insensible and rowdy. She herself believed firmly in her religion, in her morality, and she reached a point where she realized her life would end in misery if she joined herself to someone so incongruent with her. She left everything behind for God, to help others who could only dream of having the luxury she possessed, the luxury that never made her happy. She lauded me for my bravery; I was an heiress, whereas she had brothers and sisters beside and would never be missed. She was wrong."

Concordia Bottomley pauses in her narrative and looks steadily in Saffney's eyes, knowing that information she divulges next will make sense of the mysteries that have surrounded Terminus Pointe since both women had arrived there.

"Do you like Mr. Jarndyce, Saffney?" She inquires.

"Why, he is the very best of men!" The girl insists.

"Does he seem very lonely to you?"

Here Saffney hesitates. "I never did consider it, what with him being so very beneficent and happy to please. But yes. I suppose at times it seems as if ---"

Concordia Bottomley is not surprised that her very articulate ward suddenly cannot express herself. The point on which they speak confused her for a very long time as well --- all the while she rested in the Jarndyce home on Oxford Street as her wounds healed, in fact.

"As if," Saffney settles on, "he is looking for something he misplaced, but knows the quest is hopeless."

The elder nods her head in concurrence. "Then we are of the same opinion, and I do not feel so silly anymore. Oftentimes in the night, Saffney, when Silvestra Much would divulge her past to me, I couldn't help but feel as if she held a regret close to her heart. No doubt, she loved what she did, and brought about much good, but it was just a feeling. Even when referring to her fiancée of old, she would often still call him 'My John, My John.' On one occasion she told me his entire name, Saffney. His name was John Jarndyce."

It is all Saffney can do to keep her feminine jaw from dropping. "Can it be the very same? He does not fit Silvestra's description at all!"

"I did not think it possible either, my dear, but I have looked into the matter quite well, and added and subtracted what years from the equation that I could. He is the very same one. And I can't help but think of the solitude of Silvestra and Mr. Jarndyce despite the great lives they have lived. I can't help but think they would love to at least reunite with each other once again, and see how time does change things."

Saffney, however, is skeptical of the proposition. "Are you certain they are unaware of each other's whereabouts?"

"Yes, my dear," comes the reply. "Silvestra Much purposefully traversed abroad to forget the love she could not endure. I imagine that is why it remains so difficult for me to locate her. We exchanged correspondence once or twice since we parted ways on the ship, but I can't seem to locate them. As her solicitor offered me no response, I suppose she is still abroad, or at the very least he is no longer assisting her. But I will find her, no matter what."

"Perhaps someone can help you, Mr. Jarndyce himself, or Inspector Bucket."

"No Saffney," Concordia Bottomley insists. She has been thinking of this for a very long time. "Put your trust in me. We must remain silent. There is nothing better than doing a good deed in stealth, and having it found out by accident. I am not one to mettle, but I hate to see people in situations where they are not completely happy, where they cannot thrive. You know this."

The dark girl smiles bashfully as Concordia runs a finger down her cheek. The way Saffney hides her dark green orbs by casting them downward tells her benefactress what she has long suspected.

"And I know you are not completely happy here, Saffney."

"But I love you!" The girl insists.

The older woman smiles. "I have never doubted that for a moment. But I love you very dearly as well, and that is why I hate to see you suffer. This atmosphere is far too oppressive for your constitution, between the rain and the cold, and the company."

"I have been very blessed to come here," says Saffney Jain. "I have been able to keep company with so many dear souls: yourself, of course. And Mr. Bucket and Jenny, and Miss Carstone, and the Woodcourts. And Mr. Jarndyce, yes. I am so glad to hear of your surprise for him, Madame. He deserves it most assuredly."

Concordia Bottomley smooths her luxurious skirts and smiles to herself before asserting,"He is a lovely, lovely man."

Thus, the morning passes away from Terminus Pointe, and a few more grains of sand seems to run through the hourglass that monitors how long happiness may reside within the place. Beware of fire, Miss Bottomley and Miss Jain, both from warm flames and burning ardor. It seems no home is impervious to both, and yours is no exception!