I do not own some of the characters, but most of them are my own invention to create a family background for Nanny. The rest have been borrowed. If you have been wondering where Nanny and all of my other inventions of the Figalilly family came from, this story is for you. If not, a continuation of the present storyline will be coming.
Trelawney Rose Figalilly
From the time that Nanny literally dropped into their lives, as if from nowhere, none of them, except the Professor, really thought about where she had come from. She charmed them with her warmth and caring. If Hal had initially been skeptical, her refusal to challenge his notions in like manner, eventually won him over. But his father was more difficult to satisfy. His scientific mind had difficulty embracing her almost mystical, magical presence in their lives.
When asked where she was from, she had simply answered, "All over, really."
When asked to give references, she had dismissively replied, "I think that they are quite meaningless, really."
However, desperate after having lost five housekeepers within the year, each surviving (there was no other word for it) six weeks on the average (as a mathematics professor such numbers mattered to him), he hired her on the spot.
His curiosity never decreased and periodically he would say, "One of these days we're going to have to sit down and have a talk about your background."
But she would just smile and cheerfully change the subject. When told that the odds were against the arrangement working out due to this lack of background information ("The lack of references flattens the probability curve considerably"), she merely smiled and replied, "Well then, we're just going to have to live with a flat probability curve, aren't we?"
After weeks of being bemused (and occasionally amused) by her ability to talk with animals, know who was at the front door before it opened, know others' names before being told, know every guest's favorite meal, and a myriad of other little hints of precognition, he gave up trying to figure her out.
The more he learned, the less he knew. She was a world traveler who had lived many lives in many places. She seemed to have an infinite number of family members whose wisdom she could recall at the drop of the hat (to suit every situation no less), and she had incredible insight into the thoughts and feelings of his children (not to mention himself on once in a while).
It was for this last quality, that he had finally decided that asking questions, aside from being futile, was pretty pointless. The only point was that she had taken his obstreperous (and to quote her "a little bit spoiled and a little bit hostile") children in hand and it became a matter of an important old adage. "If it ain't broke, then you don't fix it."
But everyone has a history and a past. Nanny was no exception, although she was certainly exceptional in many other ways. Early on, she taught them all that the two most important things in the world were love and family. These core values did not pop up out of nowhere. They were very deeply rooted in her own upbringing and culture.
Until she was in her teens, Phoebe Figalilly was an only child brought up in a small village not far from Tintagel in Cornwall, England. Life in the village was simple for those who stayed at home. They lived among family and friends who had been together for centuries. And then there were those that roamed the earth in search of adventure. For most them, life was not very simple.
They were a special race, suspicious of outsiders if they stayed at home. They used their special gifts to protect themselves and their children from those who didn't understand them. If they roamed, they used their special gifts to make the world a better place, for the most part. And they never stayed in one place long enough for anyone to be suspicious of them and their extraordinary abilities.
Among the Figalillys, there were a few of each kind, those who roamed and those who stayed at home. There were also those who worked for the greater good of the human race, and those who worked for the greater good of themselves. It was often hard to tell the difference if you were an outsider. Phoebe was caught in the middle. She wanted to roam and work for the greater good, but she was destined to stay at home. And she never much considered her own greater good. At least that's what she had always thought.
Phoebe came home from school one chilly fall day to find her Mum happily puttering about the small kitchen. She had been rather cheerful the past few days, at times smiling as if she were keeping a very special secret. But she had been scrupulous in guarding her thoughts. Try as she might, her daughter could not penetrate them. Now she invited Phoebe to sit down for a cup of tea and some freshly baked biscuits. Of course, Mum always had a fresh baked treat ready for her when she came home. It was just her way.
It was their custom to sit at the little table and share the details of their day. Phoebe always wanted to know what was going on in the house and with the neighbors. Mum always wanted know how Phoebe's classes were going. But today, she seemed to be more interested in telling some news of her own than listening to Phoebe's. She was fairly bursting with eagerness.
"Phoebe, love," she said joyfully (for that was the only way to describe it). "Come around May, you are going to have a little sister to call your own."
"Really and truly?" cried an astonished Phoebe.
"Really and truly," answered Mum. "I've been to see old Mrs. Pengally today and she confirmed it. A little girl she says. And Mrs. Pengally is never wrong."
Phoebe knew that. Mrs. Pengally was the best mid-wife in the area, and the most wise. She couldn't believe it. After fifteen years, her Mum was finally getting the second child that she had always prayed for. But then Phoebe became worried.
"But, Mum," she said slowly. "Aren't you a little . . . old?"
Mum smiled, clearly amused. "Not too old obviously."
"But isn't it . . . couldn't it be . . . dangerous?"
"Maybe a bit," replied Mum carelessly. "But God wouldn't have sent us this little one if He didn't think that it was safe. I knew that she was coming, that she was even waiting. It just took her a little time is all."
"How did you know?" asked Phoebe curiously.
"I don't know how I knew," she said. "But I know that I knew. That's the way it is with these things."
"Oh," said Phoebe, still a bit perplexed.
"You'll see someday, love," added her mother. "One of these years, Cholmondeley will come home when you're old enough. You'll marry and then have babies of your own. You're going to be a lovely mother."
"Yes, Mum," said Phoebe with an obedience that she really didn't feel.
She was uncomfortable with the idea that she had been betrothed to a man on the day that she was born. Of course he had not been a man then, but a little boy. Once he had told her that he was quite bothered by the betrothal. His father had made him come off the football pitch and go to the church for the ceremony. When he first saw her, he thought that she was an ugly little baby. She would scream and cry whenever he was there, especially when they made him hold her. And the other boys teased him for already having a "wife." After all, he was only seven
Mum was looking at her with sympathy now.
"Don't worry, love," she said. "It will be just fine. Your Papa and I were betrothed and your Auntie Anna and Uncle David as well. Didn't things turn out lovely for us? For your Papa and I, it was love at first sight, it was."
Phoebe was still doubtful. She could never recall feeling "love at first sight" for Cholmondeley, even when she was old enough to feel that emotion. Oh, she liked him well enough. However, truth be told, she would have liked him a lot more if she weren't betrothed to him. And he came from a good family. That was the important thing. Families were the center of their little world.
Duty to family was one of their most dearly held values. It far outweighed the silliness of puppy love and the like. And nearly everyone had an arranged marriage in the village. They worked out, mostly. The older folk always said that a marriage based on infatuation and romantic love had a very weak foundation indeed.
Such foolishness was for the world outside, where they divorced each other without giving it a second thought when they had troubles. It was the troubles that made the marriage strong said the elders who knew best. But when Phoebe looked at her parents, she thought that made, just maybe, that they could be wrong.
And there was nothing wrong with Cholmondeley. He had grown into a kindly lad and was very amusing. They laughed a lot when they were together. It's just that they weren't together very often. Cholmondeley was one of those who liked to roam. But when they got married, then he would have to be one who stayed at home, just like her.
Still, even and that Phoebe wanted to roam as well. Every now and again she could feel the wanderlust creeping into her heart and soul. She wanted to see the world. And something kept tugging at her heart. She always felt as if there was work out there for her to do. She didn't know what, but she knew that it was good work. It was God's work. And when God called, you had to follow. The only higher duty that there was than to family was duty to God. But for now she was only fifteen. There was plenty of time to figure it out.
She looked across at the table at her lovely Mum. Her delicate features, sky blue eyes, and golden hair positively radiated with the glow of the new life growing inside her as they spoke. If she was worried, she gave no hint. Instead, her being was consumed with joy that finally her prayers were answered. There was a new daughter coming to love and cherish. Phoebe met her eyes and smiled back with an inner happiness of her own. She would love and cherish this newest expression of God's greatest blessing with all her heart.
"Push, Meg!" said the doctor sternly. "You're almost there. I can see her head."
Phoebe looked anxiously at her Mum, who looked rather small in the big bed. She had seen home births before, but it was different when it was her own mother. And Mum wasn't a young woman. At forty-five, she was well beyond the age when most women would have a child. Some had suggested that perhaps a hospital was in order, just to be sure. But Papa and Mum would hear none of it.
"My Meggie's not sick," exclaimed Papa. "She's going to have a child. You act as if this were an illness of some kind."
"A child born into a hospital?" asked Mum incredulously. "Why I never heard the like. The child will be born into her family, which is only right and proper."
But she and Papa had always wanted more children. This was their last chance. At this very moment, Mum was very focused on "popping" the little one out. She had a look of intense concentration on her face every time she pushed. It had been a struggle, almost as if the child was trying to remain in the warm, dark environment that had been her home for the last nine months for as long as possible. To a certain extent, Phoebe could sympathize with her. Out here in the bright, cold world, things were much less secure.
And right there beside her, sat Papa beside her, holding her hand through it all. As always, he was her strength. Papa was not a man of many words except where his Meggie was concerned. There never seemed to be enough words or enough ways or enough times to tell her that he loved her. Of course he loved Phoebe too, but his love for Mum was different. They were soul mates and could never bear to be far from one another. Even if Papa were working in his little workshop beside the house, Mum would sometimes wander over because she missed him.
Although now he projected strength and calm, Phoebe knew he was afraid things might go wrong. It had been several hours since he awakened her to go and get the midwife, Mrs. Pengally. But couple of hours later, she had sent Phoebe for the doctor. And while she was at it, added Papa, she should fetch Uncle David and Auntie Anna. Phoebe ran first to the doctor's house and then to Uncle David's.
She had knocked hard on the doctor's door. The man must sleep very lightly because he never failed to answer, no matter what time of the day or night. He took one look at Phoebe and knew why she was there. Then, with a nod he said that he'd be there quick. If Mrs. Pengally was the midwife, and she was looking for help, then it must be serious. Then Phoebe ran to Uncle David's and let herself into the house. No one locked their doors in their little village in Cornwall. It would have been unfriendly.
The Figalilly family was close, and Uncle David knew that Meg's time was near. Though normally she would not have breached their privacy, Phoebe ran directly up to their bedroom. They were awake in an instant. As he and Auntie Anna got up to dress, he told her to wake up her cousin Emmeline.
Em could keep her company and hold her hand through what was bound to be a very long night. No one else would be thinking about sixteen year old Phoebe while her mother was in labor, struggling to bring the little girl into the world. She was already called a miracle child. No woman in anyone's memory had ever had a child so late in life. Of course most women that age had all the children that they wanted, thank you very much.
And of course it was to be a girl. Not a one of them knew how they knew, they just knew. And it wasn't because of any silly tricks anyone played with wedding rings and the like. That was all stuff and nonsense. No, this little girl had been anticipated for years and years. She had even been given her name before anyone even knew that she was actually finally coming, Trelawney Rose, after her Grandmum who had passed away not even a year ago now.
Mum had promised Grandfather Trelawney that her little girl would be named for his dear Rosie. Even then she had known that the child was coming and that it would be a little girl at that. But she would turn the name around so that there would be no confusion. Trelawney Rose would be her own unique self. Although she was trying to be brave, Phoebe was still afraid for Mum and the wee child struggling to get out into the light.
And those adults who were present could not spare a thought for the older girl. There were other, more important, things for them to be concerned with. When Emmeline was dressed, and it was certainly more quickly than Auntie and Uncle, the two girls ran quickly up the lane to Phoebe's house.
It was dark and of course there were no street lamps, but the moon was full and the girls knew every inch of the way by heart. Emmeline was not only Phoebe's cousin; she was her best friend in the whole world. Of course their world was not very large, but it was the only world that they knew nonetheless. Although Emmeline was two years younger than Phoebe, she seemed to be older. She had five older siblings who had "seasoned" her, as her Mum said, to the complexities of life. Phoebe, until this night, had been an only child.
The girls stopped at the gate to catch their breath before they went into the house. It would not do to come running into the bedroom as if they had just finished a race.
"Don't worry, Phoebe," said Emmeline, answering her unspoken concern, once she could speak again. "You'll no longer be an only child in a few hours. Little Trelawney Rose will be here to plague you as I have so often plagued my big brothers and sisters."
But now Phoebe was uncertain. Trelawney Rose might be here, but what about Mum? She felt someone squeeze her hand and turned to look into Emmeline's blue eyes.
"Everything would be alright. Your cousin Em knows these things, then, doesn't she?" they said.
Phoebe and Emmeline did not need words to communicate with each other. They were so close that they knew each other's minds. It was not unusual for those of their race to know the thoughts of others, but it was different with someone you truly loved and trusted as the two girls did each other. Phoebe never had to keep her guard up with Em.
Maybe she did know, but it was only in serious times that a midwife called the doctor for a woman giving birth. The midwives in the village could always handle things quite nicely, thank you, without any help from the medical profession. And old Mrs. Pengally was the best. It was she who brought Phoebe into the world sixteen years ago. But the doctor was also the best and Phoebe knew as well as Emmeline that Mum and the little one would make it through. But the waiting was both terrible and terrifying.
They quietly entered the room. The doctor and the midwife were conferring. Both of their faces were filled with concern. Papa wiped Mum's head with a cloth and gently kissed her. Meg cried out.
"Push, Meg! Push harder!" yelled the doctor.
Phoebe could see that Mum was trying to push, but was now very tired. She fell back, breathing hard.
"It's alright, my sweet," said old Mrs. Pengally softly. "'Tis hard work bringing a new life into the world. And Phoebe here was much more eager to get out and have a look see around. This one here is a stubborn little mite."
Mum smiled weakly, but Papa's face was filled with concern. Uncle David and Auntie Anna came into the room behind them. Papa nodded to them. Phoebe scarcely noticed, nor did she notice that Emmeline had put her arm around her. Her whole focus was on the bed. She watched as her Mum cried out and pushed several more times.
Some said that in the outside world, they gave women something for the pain of childbirth. But here in the village, the midwives clucked and said that was no good for the baby. It would take longer if the mum couldn't feel the pain and push harder. No, drugs and such things were for those who were sick. Pregnancy was not a sickness. It was a blessing. And if there was a bit of pain involved, then put the blame where it properly lay, with Eve eating the apple.
"Time to push down again, Meg!" said the doctor, turning back to her after a quick word with the midwife. "This time she's coming through."
"Aye, Meggie," said Papa. "We can see her now."
With a loud cry, Mum sat up and pushed down. Phoebe held her breath as the little babe, suddenly, and very easily, slipped out. First came the head, then the shoulders, one first and then the other, and finally the rest of her. As old Mrs. Pengally and Mum herself had predicted, it was a little girl. Little Trelawney Rose Figalilly had entered the world without a whimper. That is until the doctor tied off the umbilical cord and slapped her bottom. Then she squalled, and very loudly at that.
"Quite a set of lungs, I must say," commented the doctor. "Pengally, you take the child to clean up and swaddle, I'll deal with the afterbirth."
But Phoebe couldn't take her eyes off the red, slippery little person, who had just escaped from inside of her Mum. A quick glance at Mum told her that she was exhausted but fine. Papa was still holding her hand.
"There, there, Meggie," he murmured softly. "Now was that so hard? The little one is safely with us. Like them all, she took her time about coming but once she was started, you couldn't stop her."
Mum was no longer breathing heavily, but smiled weakly. Her eyes were on Phoebe. Mrs. Pengally held out the child.
"Will you be wanting to hold your little angel, Meg?"
Mum shook her head.
"Give her to Phoebe," she said, in a voice barely above a whisper.
Mrs. Pengally raised her eyebrows but didn't say a word. It was a most unusual thing for a mum not to want to take her child immediately. But she did as she was told and the next thing that Phoebe knew, she was holding the tiny bundle in her arms.
"She's just a wee little thing," she breathed. "She must weigh less than a cat."
"Aye, she's tiny," affirmed the doctor as he worked. "But with a howl like that, that's a strong, healthy child. It's the lungs that matter, not the size."
The minute the infant was in her arms, she stopped crying. She looked up into Phoebe's blue eyes with her own sky blue eyes. They were filled with trust and wonder. Phoebe bent over and kissed the little forehead.
"Phoebe, love," said her mother, her voice a little stronger now. "Bring her here so we can see her."
"What a little love," said Papa, reaching with his large finger, to gently touch the tiny cheek. "Looks like a little red monkey, she does."
Phoebe was shocked and cuddled the child closer. This precious bundle in her arms was her little sister, the little sister that she had been praying for all her life.
"Your Papa means no offense," said Mum. "All newborn babies look like this. Give her a few days and she'll be as bonny as any in the village."
"Do you want to hold her, Mum?" asked Phoebe reluctantly.
"You don't want to give her up then, do you?" she replied with a smile. "'Tis alright, daughter. I'll be holding her often enough once she's hungry."
"Phoebe, bring the little one over here so we can see her," said Auntie Anna.
Phoebe carried her over so that Uncle David, Auntie Anna, and Emmeline could see the small miracle.
"Sweet little thing," said Uncle David gently. "How's the newest little Figalilly?"
But Emmeline looked ill. It was her first home birth and she was clearly not impressed. Phoebe strongly suspected that it would be her last. At least if she had any say in the matter.
"David, Annabel, Emmeline," said Mum, now having regained some of her strength. "Come over here with Phoebe."
The four walked over and stood at the bedside.
Phoebe looked at her Mum, still cradling the little girl in her arms.
"Phoebe," said Mum seriously. "Your Papa and I not as young as most parents are. I want you to solemnly vow, before your Uncle David, your Aunt Annabel, and your Cousin Emmeline that if anything ever happens to Papa and me that you will raise this little child, your own sister Trelawney Rose, as your own."
"But Mum!" cried Phoebe. "Nothing is going to happen to you and Papa!"
The thought was too terrible to contemplate. Her beloved parents, gone before this little one was old enough to care for herself. But Mum looked back at her seriously and Papa nodded.
"Phoebe," he said with equal gravity. "Your Mum and I have discussed this. It's the only thing that will set her mind to rest. You must vow to take the child if, God forbid, anything should happen to the two of us."
"Yes, Papa. Yes, Mum," she said, still frightened at the thought. "If anything should happen to you, I solemnly vow to raise my baby sister, Trelawney Rose, as my own."
"Good," Mum relaxed back on the pillows. "David, Annabel, Emmeline, you have all witnessed this vow. I hope that I can count on you to help her fulfill it, if she must."
"Yes, of course, Meg, my love," soothed Auntie Anna. "We'll be sure to keep the girls together. Now you need your rest. Before you know it the little one will be hungry and looking for her Mum. Shall you have her then?"
"Let Phoebe hold her for now," she replied. "When the little one starts rooting around then you'll turn her over to me."
"Yes, Mum," said Phoebe. She couldn't take her eyes off the child in her arms. This fragile being was hers to care for, for now. But nothing would happen to Mum and Papa. As usual, Mum was worried and Papa wanted no loose ends. Expect the best and plan for the worst, he always said. That's why the doctor had been called. In the end, Mrs. Pengally could have managed quite well, on her own. But she would never risk a woman's life for a little bit of pride. It was always better to be safe than sorry.
Later, she and Em were sprawled across her bed discussing what they had just witnessed.
"Ugh," said Em. "I can't imagine anything more awful than childbirth. My sisters told me stories, but they didn't do it justice. I'm never going to go through that myself."
"I didn't think it was awful," replied Phoebe. "It was beautiful. It was a new life coming into the world. What a miracle!"
"Oh yes, and your father sitting there, as pleased as punch and saying, 'Now was that so hard?'" she answered with an edge in her voice. "'Twasn't nearly as hard for him as it was for her now was it?"
"I'm sure that it was very hard for him to watch his Meggie working so hard to bring the angel home," objected Phoebe loyally.
"Well, it looked like it hurt anyway," Em replied as she grimaced. "A lot. I'll leave it to the romantics like you and Christabel to repopulate the family. If Dad doesn't find her a husband soon, it's likely that she'll try to 'freelance' on her own, you might say."
"What a lovely way to put it," commented Phoebe. "It's a little harsh on old Christie, isn't it?"
"Well it's the truth. And she's obsessed with becoming a Mum," the younger girl retorted. "Besides, I'm going to be one of those that roams. And those that roam do not have to marry and settle down. Of course you don't have that choice."
"No, I don't," replied Phoebe. "Oh dear, I wonder what Cholmondeley will think when he hears of my vow. He really should have been here. It has to do with him too, you know."
"I'm just as glad that he wasn't," said Em. "He's queer fish, he is. I'm glad that I wasn't betrothed to him at birth. But at least he is one who roams, for now. One year you'll be old enough and he'll have to come to claim you. That's your lot, love. I'm glad to be a youngest daughter, none of that family duty for the younger ones. Poor Liam, he'll be stuck now with the same lot as you. I don't think that your Mum will be having any more babies. One day he'll be the oldest son of the oldest son with a son, in the family."
Phoebe was uncomfortable at the mention of her betrothal. She knew that someday she would have to marry and settle in the village, but she was like Em. She wanted to roam as well. Perhaps Cholmondeley wouldn't want to settle down too young. He had picked up several years ago and left for parts unknown. Periodically he returned home to visit, but she was still too young to marry. And she wanted to go to university.
Em was looking at her sympathetically. She could never disguise her thoughts from her. But now she would put Cholmondeley and the betrothal out of her mind. The baby was crying, no doubt hungry again, and she must fetch her from the cradle and bring her to Mum. Papa was out of the house, working in the shop as if it were any other day. So it was left to her to help Mum until she was strong enough to be up and about. She didn't mind a bit. It was good to finally have a little sister to love.
The Last Visit
It was nine years later and Phoebe was enjoying her stay with the family. It would be time to move on soon. The spirit was moving her to her next family, a motherless home in the United States in California. She had never been to California before. It seemed to be rather a dull location after such exciting places as Kashmir, Finland, Africa, and the like. In fact she had returned home a few weeks ago from visiting her cousin Sleeping Lotus in Tibet. After that family of seventeen in Kashmir, she had needed a good long rest.
But although this family was much smaller, in some ways it was a greater challenge. The father was a university professor, a widower who had lost his wife two years ago to a brief illness. His three children were basically running wild, having chased off four housekeepers in the past six months. Housekeeper number five, presently on the edge of a nervous breakdown, was about to depart in a few days.
Her sister Trelawney Rose had grown into a happy little sprite. Mum and Papa were too old to give her too much discipline or curb or mischievous spirit. Instead, they, but mostly Mum, indulged her little whims and fancies. And Phoebe did too. It was hard to say no when she looked at her with her big blue eyes.
That morning, Phoebe had told the family that it was time for her to move on. A new family was waiting for her, even though they didn't know it yet. But Mum was worried.
"America, did you say, love?" she inquired. "But don't they have stricter rules about immigration and work visas and such?"
"I've never had trouble before," replied Phoebe blithely. "If I'm called somewhere then it all works out for the best."
"Of course it does," said Papa. "And you know that we're all proud of you, setting the world to rights one family at a time."
"Must you go so soon, Phoebe?" asked Trelawney, wistfully. "Tansy and Mimsy still have so many stories left to tell."
Phoebe's father had built little Trelawney a lovely Queen Ann style dollhouse several years ago. It even had miniature furniture that must have taken him hours to carve. Mum had made all of the bedding and curtains. It was very realistic, with even a few of the floors carpeted. Living in the house were two sister dolls that Trelawney had named Mimsy and Tansy. Because she had not been able to find what she was looking for locally, Mum had actually gone to London to search for the right size.
The dollhouse had been a "secret Christmas wish." Phoebe had been happy that she had been home for the holiday that year so that she could see her sister's eyes round with delight when she entered the living room on Christmas morning. Because she still believed in Father Christmas, it was even more special. And to this day, Trelawney still believed in magic.
Trelawney was also a wonderful storyteller. She and Phoebe could play for hours with the dolls in the dollhouse and never lose interest. Mum said that of course she played with the house when Phoebe went off on her adventures, but it wasn't the same. She had to play both parts herself. But she would play with no one else. That was just the way that it was.
"Trelawney, dear," Phoebe replied. "You know these jobs never last for very long at all. All that I need to do is go in and get the children settled and the professor married off. He's ready for a wife, but he needs to spend more time with those children. They'll never learn to behave unless he spends more time at home. And if they don't learn to behave then no one will ever want to marry him."
"Well, I wish that you would spend more time at home," replied the girl, pouting.
"There, there, little one," said Papa. "One of these years, Cholmondeley will show up on Phoebe's doorstep and they'll both come back here for the wedding. There will be grandbabies for Mum and me to love and you'll be able to see your Phoebe every day if you like."
But Trelawney looked at him oddly. The thought of Phoebe marrying and returning home did not seem to please her at all. Phoebe had noticed that her sister had been given to these funny bouts recently. She would become very quiet and seem to be retreating into herself.
"May I please be excused, Mum?" she asked politely.
"But, lovey," replied Mum. "You've scarcely eaten a bite."
"I'm sorry, Mummy," she answered. "But I am really not hungry."
Phoebe watched as she left the room. Mum and Papa were looking at each other, their faces filled with concern.
"Is she that upset because I am leaving?" asked Phoebe. "We've had quite a long visit and she knows that I must move on where and when the spirit leads me."
"'Tis not your leaving that's got her in a bother," said Papa. "It's the mention of Cholmondeley and your betrothal. She has taken a sudden dislike to him."
Phoebe was puzzled.
"That's most peculiar," she said. "I thought that she always liked Cholmondeley. After all, he plays along with all of her little games and imaginings. Why, half the time it's almost like he were a big child himself."
"I can't say what turned her," said Mum. "But the last time he was here she told me that he was a horrid person. I think that he teased her a bit too much and hurt her feelings."
"Silly girl," said Phoebe. "Cholmondeley wouldn't hurt a flea. But she does seem more sensitive than ever."
"Yes, dear," replied Mum. "Very sensitive. We must be very careful with her. I fear that she may be a little fey."
"Oh," said Phoebe. She didn't like to hear that. It meant that she would need special protection. They would probably never let her venture outside of the village. The outside world could be cruel to those such as Trelawney.
"I suppose that the gift of music should have been our first tip off," sighed Papa. "'Tis not natural to be able to play such as she does. She has begun to play pieces that she has never heard before. She claims that she hears them in the music of the spheres."
"That's not so unusual," replied Phoebe. "Many of us can hear it."
"Aye," said Mum. "But only if we listen closely. And can any of us play like an angel? I believe that Trelawney hears it all the time. And every day, she grows more and more sensitive to mood and atmosphere. There's times when she has run out of other folks' houses if there is any conflict or unhappiness. We try to keep from worrying here. But we're a happy house, other than missing you if you're gone too long, she's quite content."
"Perhaps I should stay longer, Mum," said Phoebe. "You know there's others to answer the call if need be."
"No, love," replied Mum. "You have your work to do. But I am going to ask you to promise me again that should anything happen to Papa and me that you will take care of our little girl. There's no one in the world that understands her like you do."
"Mum, Papa," said Phoebe seriously. "I have never forgotten my solemn vow to you and my sister. Wherever I am, the child will always have a home with me."
But Mum still looked worried.
"I won't rest easy on this until you and Cholmondeley are safely married and living right here in the village," she said anxiously. "I don't know what that boy is about, dawdling in the oddest places. He's shirking his duties, he is."
"Now Meggie," said Papa soothingly. "Things always work out for the best, when taken in their proper time and order. You'll see. Before you know it, our Phoebe will be back with us and you'll have those grandbabies that you've always wanted to spoil."
But Mum had only smiled uncertainly. For the rest of Phoebe's visit, she looked worried. Once again, Trelawney withdrew into herself. Phoebe spent every minute that she could with her, but a melancholy seemed to have grabbed hold of her. One night Phoebe was awakened by the sound of her softly crying. Reaching over she gently drew her in her arms to try to comfort her.
"Tis alright, little lamb," she said. "Your Phoebe will be back before you know it."
Trelawney looked back at, her eyes flooded with tears.
"I am afraid that when I see you again it won't be here, Phoebe," replied the child.
"Now that's silly, little one," she answered. "Of course, we'll be here, and so will Mum, and so will Papa."
But the girl shook her head.
"No," she said. "If you go, it will be a very long time before you return. Please don't go."
Her voice was barely a whisper in the darkness. Phoebe knew that some little fancy had caught her and would not let her go. It was true. The child was a little fey. She seemed unable to imagine the world in more than a few days at a time. Her concept of a very long time was certainly relative only to her own experience, which, when you thought about it, was really only a very short time.
"You know that I must go where I am called," she answered. "I'm doing God's work for sure. You cannot imagine how it is out there, little one. It seems sometimes like more families are flying apart than coming together."
But the girl just looked at her reproachfully. Phoebe then realized that by her own departure, Trelawney felt as though their family was flying apart. But no, the scope of the girl's world was simply too limited. But it would be years before she would have the opportunity to go out in the world and travel for herself. But then, perhaps she would not. Those such as she seemed to be were never allowed to roam beyond the village. It wasn't safe.
Two days later, Phoebe took her leave from her family. At the time, she had no sense that this lovely little world could ever be anything other than what it was. As always, Trelawney wept. Her parents said that they loved her and were proud of her. Mum begged her to return home soon, even though she knew that the request was futile.
Phoebe never really had any control over where she went in the world. She went where she was needed, and it was not she who determined where that might be. She was one of life's travelers on a mission to spread love and goodness to all who lacked it. And sadly, in this world, there were many who did.
As she walked down the lane, Phoebe turned and looked back towards the house one last time. Mum was working in the garden and Trelawney was playing with Mum's Corgi, Elspeth, in the garden. She fixed the vision in her mind like an old photograph that she could take out and look at when she was homesick. Then she turned and had the oddest feeling that she was walking towards her destiny.
"Yes, Mum!" cried a sweet little voice.
Meg Figalilly looked up to see a cheerful little face peeking over the banister at her from the top of the stairs. A pair of golden braids swung over her shoulders and her sky blue eyes looked mischievously back at her.
"Trelawney Rose!" she repeated. "It's almost time for us to walk you up to your Auntie Alma's house. Are you ready?"
"Yes, Mum," the little girl, replied dutifully. "My bag is packed and Tessa is ready as well."
"Then come down, little one," answered Meg. "Papa would like to get an early start."
"Yes, Mum," she replied.
Meg waited at the bottom of the stairs as she heard the little feet scampering back to her room, and in a flash, her younger daughter was at her side, bag in one hand and doll in the other. Meg took the bag from her so that she could hold her hand. Trelawney Rose was her butterfly, flitting from place to place as her fancy took her. But when Owen wanted to leave, there would be no time for her little distractions.
As they went out the door, Owen was coming in from his workshop near the back of the garden.
"It's all set, Meggie," he said. "It will be fine until we return on Sunday. Now Trelawney Rose, you be a good girl for your Auntie Alma. There'll be none of your tricks this time."
The little girl smiled charmingly.
"I never mean to play any tricks, Papa," she said earnestly. "It's just that sometimes I have the most lovely ideas and they don't work out as I plan."
"Well, your cousin Emmeline is there visiting, so I know that she will keep you on the straight and narrow," he replied. "Em knows what you're about, little one."
"Yes, Papa," nodded the girl, sagely. "Em knows about lots of things."
"Yes, and you'll also have Elspeth to watch over you," added Meg. "You know our Elspeth, quite a little tattletale, she is. You'll do nothing that she won't tell me."
"Yes, Mum," she replied obediently.
But Meg could see that she was anxious to go. Little Trelawney never liked being between here and there. She only wanted to be here or there.
"Now give your Papa a kiss and a hug and you'll be on your way," said Owen fondly.
Trelawney Rose threw arms around his neck and gave him a big kiss. Then she grasped Meg's hand and they walked down the lane to her Auntie Alma's house with the dog following closely behind them. Alma of course was waiting at the gate. Whenever Owen and Meg were away, the child refused to stay with anyone but old Auntie Alma. One of her maiden aunts, Alma had never had any children herself. She doted on her goddaughter Emmeline, who was twenty-four and of course the younger girl, who was ten.
Meg saw Trelawney Rose looking around for Emmeline, but she wasn't anywhere in sight. Alma noticed too.
"Aye," she greeted her. "So you're more interested in seeing your cousin Em than you are your old Auntie Alma, then? I suppose that I'm second best when your cousin's about."
"Oh, no, Auntie Alma," cried the girl. "You're never second best. But I haven't seen Em in the longest time. One never knows when she'll pop in for a visit. I see you every day, then, don't I?"
"Of course, little one, of course," she said indulgently. "Can't you take a little teasing from your old auntie?"
Meg smiled as the little girl skipped through the gate with her little Corgi Elspeth at her heels. The dog was really hers, but when she and Owen went away, she was tasked with looking after the child. Little Trelawney never looked for trouble, but rather it looked for her. Aunt Alma was getting on in years, but with Elspeth and Emmeline to help, no doubt her daughter would stay out of trouble.
She gave her aunt a big hug and turned back to Meg. But as she turned, the smile faded from her face and her eyes grew large. She was staring at her Mum with her sky blue eyes, which were now clouded grey as if by a summer storm. The January afternoon was mild in the weak sunlight, but beneath her coat Meg felt a chill. Trelawney was looking at something that clearly disturbed her. Meg turned to look behind herself, but saw nothing. When she faced the child again, she realized that she was intently gazing at her.
Trelawney Rose was a little fey. Everyone in the family and the village knew it. However recently, she had begun to show an unusual prescience about those around her. Within their race, they all were able to look below the surface of human feelings and emotions, but Trelawney's powers of perception went beyond the norm. In the past few months, Meg had started to see it more often. Now the child assumed a very straight posture, with her hands neatly folded in front of her.
"I love you, Mum," she said seriously. "I love you more than anyone in the whole world, although only a wee bit more than Papa and Phoebe."
"I love you too, Trelawney Rose," she answered carefully. "What is it you see, love?"
"I see a beautiful white light, Mum," replied the girl quietly. "It's so very lovely, Mum."
Meg looked at her intently. But before her very eyes, the little girl smiled and spoke cheerfully, much more like herself.
"Goodbye, Mum," she said. "You and Papa have fun. I will be waiting right here for you."
"Yes, dear, we will," she replied.
The little girl went skipping off the house, no doubt in search of one of the treats that Auntie Alma always had on hand for her. Alma looked at her nervously.
"Do be careful, Meg," she said. "You know what a white light can mean."
"But who knows exactly what the light was or where?" replied Meg, feeling anxious herself, but now wanting to alarm her aunt. "There's no telling if it was the aura. And you know there's no asking her. She'll never give us a straight answer."
"That's why I'm saying to be careful. Must you go?" she asked.
"Aye," she replied. "Owen's insisting. I really don't want to go myself, but you know how he loves these little trade shows. And it's always lovely to drive across the duchy to the channel on the other side."
Auntie Alma nodded, but her face did not lose its mask of concern. Meg chose to ignore it. Owen was set on the weekend, so there was no discussing the matter. Besides, it had been months since they had had any time to themselves. Owen had been busy in the shop and Trelawney had been taken to wandering off on her own. She would disappear by herself when something upset her and no one could find her. If Emmeline were not also going to be at Aunt Alma's for the weekend there was no way that she would have left her behind. In the end, she was glad that she did.
It was a lovely weekend. Owen enjoyed the trade show and found some new tools that he ordered. There had also been a craft fair in town, so Meg was able to get some ideas for some gifts that she could make at Easter time. And the beach was lovely in wintertime with the waves crashing more powerfully than usual against the rocks. But she was anxious to get back to her little girl. It was foolishness of course, but she couldn't help but be concerned by the white light. The child never lied, even when she was imagining things. If she said that she saw it, then she saw it.
They were driving back later on Sunday night than they expected. Of course it was the darkest time of the year and the night fell early. They were driving around the bend on a hillside when there was a blinding light coming at them. Meg's last conscious thought was of her little Trelawney Rose, waiting patiently at home, who would never see her Mum and Papa again.
It was very quiet in the house when the phone rang. Emmeline had put Trelawney to bed only an hour ago. In a couple of hours, she herself would join her. Auntie Alma was knitting by the cozy fire. Em chafed under the oppression of the homely domesticity. She would be quite happy when Auntie Meg returned and she could safely return her charge. Trelawney had been subdued for most of the weekend. There was no reason why Auntie Alma could not have managed the girl on her own.
The phone rang beside her auntie, who immediately answered it. Emmeline knew that the news was very bad indeed. Quite naturally, Auntie Alma's response was to weep loudly. Em wanted to weep as well, but knew that her first duty was to the child. When she entered the bedroom, the little girl was sitting straight up in the big bed clutching her doll.
"Tell me," she quietly.
Emmeline turned on the light. Trelawney's face was streaked with tears. There was no need to tell her anything. Just like herself, she knew what the call was about, the instant the phone rang.
"Tell me," the girl repeated.
Emmeline sat beside her and grasped her shoulders so that she could look into her eyes.
"Say the words, Em," said Trelawney bravely. "I will not know that it is true unless you say the words out loud."
Emmeline was a very cynical person. But in this case, even one such as she really didn't want to speak the tragic news with her voice. However Trelawney knew and her mind was refusing to accept it. She had no choice.
"Your Mum and Papa will not be returning home to you, little one," she said quietly.
"Not ever," replied Trelawney. It was a statement, not a question.
"Not ever, love," affirmed Emmeline.
"You must take me to Phoebe," said the girl seriously.
"No, not yet," she replied. "There are arrangements to be made."
"I want Phoebe," answered Trelawney. "I want my Phoebe now. The only arrangements that I need are to go to my Phoebe."
Emmeline looked at her. As always, her response was unpredictable. But Emmeline had other concerns. She must tell her father, who was now paterfamilias. No decisions regarding Trelawney could be made by anyone other than him. The rest of the family must, of course, be told, but that was her father's job. The bigger problem would be prying the girl loose from Aunt Alma. She would not go willingly.
For the first time, Emmeline noticed that Elspeth was looking at her. She lifted her nose up in the air and howled. It would have been comical, a funny little Corgi pup howling, if it were not so pathetic.
"Yes, Emmeline, even Elspeth knows," said Trelawney. "I want my Phoebe."
Emmeline looked at the dog and then looked at the girl.
"Elspeth," she said sharply. "Stay with Trelawney, do not leave her side unless I tell you to. It is what Auntie Meg would want."
The dog looked back at her sorrowfully, but agreed. She leapt on the bed and set herself on guard beside Trelawney. Before Emmeline left the room, Trelawney spoke again.
"I want my Phoebe."
Emmeline would not get to bed that night. She went to her father's house to tell him the news. He took it stoically, but Mum began to keen as Auntie Alma had. Just as Dad was Owen's brother, Mum was Auntie Meg's sister. It explained the close resemblance between their children. But now that Dad knew, at least Emmeline would be saved the pain of telling anyone else.
"Go back to Aunt Alma's and get the child," he ordered. "And there'll be none of her nonsense. It's our duty to care for her until Phoebe comes home for her."
"How will we tell Phoebe, Dad?" asked Emmeline.
"We'll send her a telegram of course," he replied. "She'll need to be on the next flight back."
"But Dad, how can you do that?" asked Emmeline. "She'll be all alone and the flight from California is halfway around the world."
"Don't give me any of your cheek, girl," he said sternly. "She's been much too long with that family. Even Agatha and Justine couldn't shake her loose a couple of months ago. Said she was content. Never heard anything so ridiculous. The only place she has any right to be content is here in the village married to Cholmondeley. If that young fool had done his duty, the child would be with her Phoebe at this very moment. She's asking for her as we speak."
Emmeline did not doubt it. She could feel the child's longing as well. There would be no peace for any of them until Trelawney was back in the care of her sister. But she just couldn't stand the thought of Phoebe alone, among strangers, hearing that her beloved Mum and Papa were gone. There had only been a letter from her a week ago. She missed them but her work was still not done.
Well, it's done now, she thought grimly. I'll tell Dad that I'll go and get her myself. She needs to be told by a family member in person. She's my dearest friend in the whole world. I cannot let her go through this alone.
Annabel Figalilly had only heard of grief beyond words. She never thought that she would live it. But here she was, grieving for her sister and her brother-in-law, who only days before had sat at her dining room table eating dinner as if they had not a care in the world. And then there was the child. Trelawney Rose had always been a little fey, but now she would swear that she was mad. She seemed not to realize that her parents were dead and gone. She only asked for "her Phoebe."
Since Emmeline had told her, that was all that she would say. When she refused to leave Aunt Alma's house, David had gone over and picked her up and carried her home. She had woken up half the village with her crying. By midnight, everyone knew. There was sorrow in all quarters, but most of all in the home of her father, James Trelawney. Father had always complained that he lived too long. When Mum had passed, he had nearly died of grief himself. But he still had his Meg, the picture of his dear wife Rose. And then little Trelawney Rose was born. And she was the picture of them both.
But now the entire family was in an uproar. While she would normally not be so sentimental as to indulge her daughter's desire to tell Phoebe in person, she had to agree in this case. She couldn't imagine how she would have taken the news in those circumstances. It had been difficult to bear as she had been gently told by young Emmeline and was then surrounded by family for comfort. So she sided with Em. It would be too cruel to send a telegram. Fortunately, her David had his hands full with other matters and allowed himself to be guided by her in this.
The wreck had been cataclysmic. Meg was in no condition to be shown. The local man could do nothing for it. After many a row, it was decided that one could not be viewed without the other. David wanted things done quickly, so that things would not be prolonged for the child. However, Father wanted them waked for several days. In the end the compromise was two days. But David had been right. The wake was far too painful for them all, not just the child, especially with the closed caskets.
And then there was Trelawney Rose. Once she heard that Emmeline was going to America to tell Phoebe to tell her in person, she wanted to go with her. David didn't know what to do, but Father was dead set against it. He didn't want the child out of the village. But Trelawney had other ideas.
She refused to eat. She refused to sleep. And she wept when anyone came near her. When begging to go to Phoebe didn't work, she announced that she would go to her Mum and Papa.
"Do you know where your Mum and Papa are?" Annabel had asked her.
"They are in heaven with the angels," she replied.
"Do you believe that you can go to heaven just like that?"
"Yes," she said. "You can keep me away from my Phoebe, but you cannot keep me away from my Mum and Papa."
Annabel was disturbed by the fact that she spoke the words so matter-of-factly. But she recalled her promise to her sister. She had vowed to make sure that should anything happen to her and Owen, Trelawney Rose should go to Phoebe. In fact, her own promise had been very specific. She had sworn to keep the two girls together. She decided to take the child's side. Her father was furious.
"What kind of a daughter have I raised that would disobey her father so disrespectfully?" he asked in his loudest voice. "The child is fey and anyone with two eyes an see it."
"But Father," replied Annabel. "I promised Meg that I would do everything that I could to keep the two girls together."
"Then we'll send the bloody telegram to Phoebe and she'll be on her way back on the next flight!" he answered. "What does that girl think that she's about staying with that family for so long? The promise to her mother comes first!"
"Father, how can you be so cruel?" cried Annabel, now getting upset. "The poor girl's an orphan now and you want to send a telegram?"
But Father continued to rage on about his disloyal daughter and his irresponsible granddaughter. Then he turned his anger on Trelawney.
"Bring me the child!" he ordered Annabel.
"For you to scare her half to death?" she asked. "I should think not."
"You'll do as you're told or you'll feel the back of my hand," he threatened.
But from behind her, Annabel heard a soft, sad little voice.
"I'm here, Grandfather," she said walking slowly forward. "It's alright Auntie."
The child stood before her grandfather very calmly. He looked at her angrily.
"You'll stay home where you belong, child," he ordered. "There'll be no roaming for you with your Cousin Emmeline. Those such as you are never to leave the village. If your Phoebe cared a wit for you, she would have been home a long time ago. I've never heard of such nonsense. Staying with a family for almost a year. What's in that girl's head?"
"I don't know, Grandfather," answered the child. "Truly, I don't. But I know what is in mine and I want to go to my Phoebe. If I may not go to my Phoebe, then I will go to my Mum and Papa."
"You'll do no such thing," he replied, frustrated by the child's refusal to be intimidated. "You'll eat and you'll sleep as you're told, and there'll be no more of your cheek."
"No, Grandfather," she replied, and quietly walked out.
Annabel watched as her father seethed in rage. But there was nothing that he could do. One could hardly force feed a ten year old. She knew that his anger was rooted in sorrow. Twice death had robbed him and he had been helpless. Trelawney made him feel the same way, but she was alive and well. She was consciously making a decision to harm herself. Yes, thought Annabel, the child is more than a little fey. The grief has turned her mind completely.
When the wake was finally over, Owen and Margaret Figalilly were laid to rest in the small graveyard outside the village walls. It was pouring rain. The mud was thick and there was a chill in the air. Little Trelawney claimed that all the angels in heaven were weeping because her Mum and Papa had left her alone. All she wanted now was her Phoebe.
Emmeline stood beside the grave holding the girl's hand. She would hold no one else's. Earlier in the morning Trelawney had wondered what it would have felt like to be Ophelia's brother, Laertes, who had jumped into the grave to be with her in Shakespeare's play "Hamlet." Looking at the girl, Emmeline was reminded of Ophelia. She grasped her hand firmly. The family surrounding them were all weeping, but the child was all cried out. There were no tears left. She simply looked resigned.
After the pastor said his few words, Emmeline told Trelawney that it was time to toss in the little bit of earth. Obediently, the girl picked up a small clod of mud and tossed it in. At that moment, the sun broke through and a rainbow appeared. Everyone looked up and gasped.
"Surely these are the souls of Meg and Owen ascending to their final reward," cried Auntie Alma.
Emmeline looked down at Trelawney to see her reaction and squeezed her hand. The girl looked back at her solemnly and said, "God keeps His promises."
There was no way of knowing what she meant by that. It was obviously a Biblical reference to Noah and the rainbow at the end of the great flood. But who could even know what the promise was that she was thinking of? Emmeline's plane ticket had been bought and she was due to leave Heathrow that evening. No official decision had been regarding Trelawney, but she had secretly bought a second ticket. If they wouldn't let her use it, Em knew that she could always trade it in for another to go somewhere else. She was constantly on the move.
At last they walked back to the village and went to Dad's house. The will was to be read and the men were going to have a conference with regard to the child. However, the only two who really had anything to say were Dad and Grandfather. All the Figalillys were prepared to accept Dad's decision. All the Trelawneys were prepared to stand behind Grandfather, whether they agreed or not. Emmeline knew that her father was not looking forward to it. Mum had convinced him that Trelawney Rose should go to America with her.
As everyone expected, Grandfather roared with displeasure at Dad's pronouncement. But in the end there was nothing that he could do. Trelawney Rose might be half Trelawney, but her father was a Figalilly. Therefore, by their customary laws and rights, she was now in Dad's care. The will was read and it was clearly stated that she was to be raised by her sister Phoebe.
Money was no problem. There was a marriage portion for each and money had been set aside to raise Trelawney. The deed to the house was to be put in Phoebe's name. Dad was the executor of the estate. As such, he was in charge of all decisions regarding his niece until she was placed in her sister's care.
"She'll go with Emmeline to America to tell Phoebe," said Dad. "Then the three of them will return right back here. Someone will have to tell Cholmondeley so that he can come home and finally do his duty. Does anyone know where he is?"
The family all looked at one another. No one knew. No one had even thought of it. In fact, no one even knew if he had ever been told of Phoebe's vow to raise the child in her parents' place. It was a muddle of the first order.
"Well, we'll find the young idiot and he'll make things right with Phoebe," he declared. "They're both old enough to settle and have their babies. Their days of roaming are over."
Emmeline swallowed hard. It would be difficult to tell all this to Phoebe. But it was she who had insisted that she act as personal envoy and to hand over the child into her care herself. Then she noticed that everyone was staring at her.
"Emmeline Figalilly," said her father severely. "I want you to promise right here and now that there will be no lollygagging about in California. You'll tell her and be on the first plane back here. And keep a sharp eye on the child. I don't want anything to happen to her because we allowed her to go outside the village."
"Yes, Dad, I know," replied Emmeline. "I know that I have a responsibility to bring her home safe. But remember that I also promised, when she was born, to make sure that if anything ever happened to Uncle and Auntie that I would help to keep Phoebe and Trelawney together."
"Aye," said Dad. "I forgot that you watched the little one come into the world. Yes, and your Mum too. And she took the same vow. 'Twas a sacred vow that the three of us took upon the birth of the child."
Emmeline was watching, as Grandfather grew more and more restless. He did not like to hear of these vows between Figalillys. It was obvious that he still viewed Auntie Meg as a Trelawney. It was a pity that the child looked so much like her. It certainly increased his desire to keep her.
"James Trelawney," said Dad. "I'm deciding to send Trelawney Rose with Emmeline to collect Phoebe and bring her home. I fear that if our Em leaves without her, the child will do herself real harm before she can get Phoebe to come back here. I don't know how I know that this is so, I simply know it."
Grandfather glared at him and got up to leave. But before he left, he stood before Emmeline.
"You've always been trouble, you have," he said. "You've been a bad influence on Phoebe, encouraging her to roam when she ought to be home. Now you've convinced that fool of a man your father to let that innocent babe out into the world. If anything ill befalls the child, I will hold you personally responsible."
Emmeline looked back into his eyes with a bravery that she didn't feel. The old man was frightening when he talked like this. But she could not back down from her promise to her Aunt and Uncle. And she would not allow them to rip her cousin's heart out with an impersonal piece of paper.
After he left, she went up to her room and found Trelawney packed and ready to go. She was sitting on the bed holding her doll in her lap. Her little bag was neatly set beside her. Despite the fact that the family council below had been almost entirely about her, she had not been permitted to be present. As a child she had no say in the matter.
"I am ready to go to my Phoebe," she said.
Emmeline sat beside her and held her close. After three days of being brave and standing up to her family on behalf of her cousins, she was able to finally let go of the emotional control that had gotten her through. At last she wept.
Trelawney looked out the window curiously as the flight took off. She had never been more than a few miles outside of the village and within a few hours they had taken the train all the way to London and then the bus to the airport. Now they were on an airplane and going to her Phoebe in America. If she were not so sad, then it might be exciting to fly on an airplane. But she would rather have her Mum and Papa than a trip on an airplane. She turned to Emmeline.
"How long will it be until I see my Phoebe?" she asked.
"Many hours on the plane, but not so many on the clock," she replied. "The clocks follow the sun, so they keep turning back as we pass through the time zones."
"Oh," said Trelawney. "What do you know about the family?"
"Probably what you know," replied Emmeline. "Professor Harold Everett is a widower with three children: Hal, Butch, and Prudence. And there is a dog named Waldo."
"What kind of a dog?"
"An English sheepdog," she answered, smiling. "Leave it to you, love, to be more interested in the dog than the family."
"I wonder why Phoebe is still there," said Trelawney. "Uncle Alfred tried to tempt her away with a trip to the South Seas. But he said that she wouldn't budge. She even told him not to stir things up she did. Then Aunts Agatha and Justine had thought that she was in a rut. But then she told them that she was happy and content. Fancy that! Auntie Agatha said that the professor was very handsome."
"Now don't you go connecting the dots in any funny ways and causing your mischief," scolded Emmeline. "You know that Phoebe is betrothed to Cholmondeley. There will be no foolishness on your part to try and do a little stirring up of your own. Uncle Alfred is an old fool he is. Cholmondeley's her man and that's all there is to it!"
"Ha!" she replied. "If Cholmondeley cared so bloody much about Phoebe then where was he for the last few days, I ask? Nobody in the family even knows where he is. Fat lot he cares about her."
"It's not about him caring for her," said Emmeline with a severity she didn't feel. "It's about him marrying her. She'll do as her Mum and Papa wanted. That's how she is."
"Yes, Em," she replied quietly and turned to look out the window. The lights of the British Isles had slipped away and now they were out over the dark ocean. She then closed her mind so that she could think in private, just as her Mum had taught her.
She knew that in her heart, Em didn't want Phoebe to marry Cholmondeley either. But she was in enough trouble with the family for sticking her own nose in where it didn't belong. Emmeline just didn't understand how she felt about Cholmondeley. Nobody did, not even Mum. She really didn't understand either. But he scared her. She never wanted to see him again. She just couldn't let her Phoebe marry him. And perhaps old Auntie Agatha was right. She was a silly old biddy really, but a very jolly auntie.
If Phoebe were staying with Professor Everett and his family because she had fallen in love with him, then perhaps she would marry him. But then maybe she wouldn't want Trelawney. Maybe she would have the new children to love. A tap on her shoulder interrupted her thoughts. She had let down her guard at the last thought because it was so upsetting. She turned to look at Emmeline.
"Your Phoebe loves you more than anyone in the whole world," she said looking into her eyes. "Now that your Mum and Papa are gone, it's just the two of you. She's not going to be leaving you any time soon. She took a solemn vow she did, when you were barely minutes old. It's for the love of you and your Mum and Papa that she will raise you as her own."
Trelawney looked at her hopefully as she concluded,
"Your Cousin Em knows these things, then, doesn't she?"