Following the party, David, Annabel, Charlie, Catherine, Rob, and Trelawney walked down to Phoebe's with the family and his two sisters. The children had school the next day and the baby was once again asleep. It seemed like every time that she woke up, she was passed from person to person until she cried again for her Mum and then fell asleep.
Now that the festivities were over for the christening, David Figalilly decided that it was time to turn his attention to the little one still in his care. Poor mite. Perhaps knowing that she would be home with her Phoebe for Christmas would make her happy. The schoolgirl crushes were hard for a normal child to bear, but no doubt for one with Trelawney's sensitivities had it even worse.
So after Phoebe had put the baby to bed, he called her, Hal, Rob, Catherine, Annabel, and Trelawney into the living room for a little chat. Charlie, Justine, and Agatha joined them as well. His children and Rob's, with Uncle Alfred (thankfully) in tow, had gone back to the hotel to finish their "celebrating."
"I think that you all have a pretty good idea of what I'm going to say," he began. "So I'll just say it. Trelawney Rose, it's time for you to go home to your Phoebe. Lewis has made all of the legal arrangements. We'll go to the courthouse tomorrow and sign all of the paperwork. Little one, you'll be home for Christmas."
"Thank you, Uncle David," she said politely.
All of the adults in the room stared at her. David had expected a much more enthusiastic response than this. In fact, he had been looking forward to it. Nothing was more endearing than when the little one got all worked up about something. She was very generous with her hugs and kisses. Something was definitely not right with the child and it had to do with than schoolgirl crushes and missing her Mum.
Trelawney's muted response restrained Phoebe's although he could see that she was very clearly overjoyed. Trelawney looked around and then quietly asked to be excused. Before she left, she dutifully gave him a hug and a kiss. He patted her on the back and let her go. She walked out in the direction of the backyard.
"I'll go," said Phoebe.
"No, I will," said Annabel. "I have more experience with this than you do, or you, Catherine."
Catherine Everett had stood up to follow her the minute that she left, but now looked at Rob uncertainly.
"Let Annabel go," he said gently. "She's the only one who seems to know what the problem is."
Annabel nodded and smiled inscrutably. After she left, Agatha suddenly perked up.
"How old is the child now?" she asked.
"Twelve and a half," said Justine with a deep sigh. "Can't you remember anything?"
"Well, with all of these nieces and nephews, sometimes it's hard to keep track," she replied. "But now that I know that, I think that I know what's up with the poor child. But I'll not say anything. Annabel will confirm it."
"Really, Agatha!" exclaimed Justine in frustration. "You can be such a trial at times. I cannot imagine that I have been flying around the world with you for all of these years."
"Me neither," replied Uncle Charlie. "But I can't imagine you flying with anyone else. Don't know what you would have done if she'd decided to stay home with Roger What's-his-name."
But the humorous bantering could not distract David from his primary concern. They all loved the little one and if she couldn't be made happy by finding out that she was going home to her Phoebe, then nothing could make her happy. He wanted to get back to his home in the village in a few days as planned, but he surely couldn't leave her like this.
To his relief, Annabel returned fairly quickly. She was smiling softly to herself.
"It's alright," she said. "Just as I suspected."
"Was it what I suspected?" asked Agatha.
"Yes, it was," she confirmed. "Let me put this delicately. Our little one has become a woman. She hasn't told anyone but her dear friends Francine and Sarah. You know, they're a little older than she is. She just didn't know how to bring up the subject with you. But it explains the moods and the lack of energy. She'll be fine in a few days. You'll see."
"But why didn't she tell us?" asked Catherine, who looked hurt as well as puzzled.
"She didn't want to be a bother," replied Annabel with a smile. "You were all caught up with the christening party and Phoebe was all caught up with being annoyed about it. But she turned to her friends and they helped her out, so it's all turned out right in the end."
"Well, " said David, wanting to get off the topic as quickly as possible. "All's well that ends well. But I think that there's a bit more to it."
"Yes, there is," replied Annabel. "And it's a reminder to us all that she's still a little girl. You see, she's worried about the dollhouse. She's concerned because there isn't really room in Prudence's room for two such houses. She doesn't want to leave it behind at your house, Rob. She missed it terribly when she left it behind when she left it in England. It means more to her than you may realize."
"I know how much it means to her," said Phoebe. "But I have to admit that even I hadn't thought of it."
"Well," said Hal. "I propose this. I know that if we were to put the house in Prudence's room, then she wouldn't be able to stay away from it anyway. And I know how Trelawney feels about anyone touching it other than Phoebe. I suggest that we put it in the nursery. Maisie is almost too large for the cradle anyway and if she was sleeping in there, it would be a deterrent to Prudence's snooping."
"Maybe," said Annabel doubtfully. "I've had three daughters and the snooping of the older sisters by the younger is nearly impossible to deter or stop. But I have another suggestion. I think that it would be better for Trelawney if she shared the room with Maisie rather than Prudence. She doesn't need a desk and she will need the privacy. I've seen the room and there's plenty of room for a bed. And Phoebe, remember that you always shared a room with her once she was out of the cradle."
"Yes, I can see that now," said Phoebe. "Besides, in spite of the age difference, she and Maisie are far more alike than they are different. And something tells me that Maisie will also like the company."
"Then it's settled," said Hal. "Trelawney comes home for Christmas and then she and Maisie move into their new bedroom together."
"And then you get some privacy of your own, Professor," added Agatha suggestively. "Do I see another little Everett there in that twinkle in your eye?"
"Oh, Agatha!" exclaimed Justine.
David shook his head.
"The more things change," he said. "The more they stay the same. But I want this to be a happy Christmas for all."
"It will be," Rob assured him. "I'm going to make sure of it!"
David looked around at his family, the new and the old alike. Phoebe may have married outside of their own, but she had married herself into a family of good and loving people. She would have more children and the little one would grow up safe and secure.
He knew that Meg and Owen could not have wanted more for their daughters in life. In a few days he would be flying back home to be getting ready for the wedding of his oldest son. Then his own line would be assured of continuing. The little one had already assured him of that. And his brother would have wanted that for the family a well. Yes, as Grandmother Figalilly always said, things work out for the best when given time. And Grandmother Figalilly was never wrong.