19 September 2016

The Woodhouse Girls | full version | prologue and introduction

I know it's a lot to read, folks, but if you do end up even reading one or two sentences, let me know what you think in the comments below! I'd really appreciate any critique, ideas, advice, or compliments.
Also, even though I have gone through this section of the book about twenty times, there are still going to be typos and things that will change. (I was actually recently thinking that I might change some major stuff, but I am still in the work of processing that ideas.) So . . . beware! :)

-I want to give credit to bestie writer A. R. Key who wrote the plot and background for this prologue and introduction below. You got the story spot on, girlfriend! Thanks for all of you dedication. <3

Stay tuned for more of the book in upcoming posts! I'm hoping to get some last-minute editing done on the following chapters and then I will post them.

INTRODUCTION

A long time ago, there was a town, and in that town there was a street, and on that street there was a house, and in that house there was an unforgettable family with an unforgettable tale that wouldn't have been told without the witnesses. So here you are, my dear reader, about to hear a tale and discover which of the adventurers in this story were figments of our imaginations and which were not. Though, this story is by no means untrue, on the contrary, most every one of these things really happened, only in a more fictional fashion, but that is why you are here today.

--

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

ANNA WOODHOUSE, “the bustling goal-getter” and Cordelia Woodhouse’s twin.

BETHANY (BETH) WOODHOUSE, “ ...” and third eldest of the Woodhouse girls.

CAMILLE PENNY, the well-to-do owner of a boarding school and sister of Frederic Winsor.

CHARLES PENNY,.. .  

COOK, the cook working at the orphanage where Philippe is living in the prologue.

CORDELIA WOODHOUSE, “the comical oddity”, Anna Woodhouse’s twin, and fifth and youngest sister of the Woodhouse girls.

FREDERIC WINSOR,  a mysterious and prosporous young lawyer.

KATHERINE MOORE, the wealthy and fragile mother of Lawrence Moore.

LAWRENCE MOORE, an ambitious aspiring surgeon under Clara Barton in Wisconsin..

PHILEMON WILFRED, the pompous heir living in a castle-like mansion in London with his mother.

PHILIPPE WOODHOUSE, “the clever lioness” and second eldest Woodhouse girl.

MADAME TROWBRIDGE, owner of a dress shop outside the heart of New York City where Beth gets a job.

MRS. BROCKLEBANK, the postmistress.

MR. AND MRS. STEVENS, the couple who adopt Anna and Cordelia.

THEODORE (TEDDY) CLEMENS, the humble german imigrant, formerly a farmer, living in an apartment above the print shop in New York City.

WALTER GREENSHIRE, a friend of the Woodhouse girls’ who is a doctor in the army.

WIDOW E. GOODHILL, an elderly woman who own the house the Woodhouse girls buy.

--

ANTE FACTUM

In a red brick house, with white shutters and a lovely porch, lived the Woodhouse family. Mrs. Evangeline Woodhouse gave birth to her first daughter in 1832. Her name was Rose Merta, and she had light strawberry red hair, pale skin, and was very tall and slender like her mother. She was usually seen with a hair clip in her hair, and had skeptical brown eyes.
The second child was born in 1836. Philippe Belle was her name. She had dark auburn curls, peach skin, full rosy lips, a somewhat pronounced nose, and dusky green eyes that peered through everything and were always darting about on the printed page of a novel. Philippe was almost an exact replica of her father except in that her body type was more like that of her mother’s.
The third child was born in 1837. Bethany Rosamond was her name, but she was always called Beth by her friends and family. She had the loveliest golden locks you have ever seen and and her eyes were a soft chestnut. She was short and petite with perpetually china pink cheeks on pale skin, a button nose and petal lips that she usually kept in a timid smile.
The fourth and fifth were born in 1839. Anna Marie, eleven minutes older than her twin, had glossy midnight black hair framing her round, cheerful face. She was alike to the eldest in that she was slender with pale skin. She had deep blue eyes and her dark hair was often filled with sticks and other unique pieces of nature from climbing trees and playing in the woods.
Cordelia Rayonner, eleven minutes younger than Anna, had silky brown hair and she was tall with long, slim legs that were made for running through bracken filled forests. She shared her mother's fair skin and rosy cheeks, and had hazel eyes that changed colors and with dark green swirling mysteriously in them. Her wide lips turned upward in a sly grin; her knack for causing trouble, and her ultimate friendliness made everyone treasure the youngest Woodhouse girl dearly.
The twins, from the time they were born, were never to be without the other. They would laugh together, fight together, run and play together, steal cookies together, tease their elder sisters together, hold hands together, sleep together, and pounce upon anyone that was unkind with their impertinent tongues and sharp wits.


One day, they heard news that they would be moving away. The girls were ecstatic, even Beth who seldom was other than serenely placid. They started packing everything right away. Rose owned a carpet bag, and so used that. Philippe had her own bright green suitcase with her name printed on it, Beth, a brown suitcase with her name also printed on it, and the twins, sharing a suitcase that was of light blue, also with their names printed on it. They put every possession that they owned into those suitcases. Everything fit, and so were ready outside with their suitcases, hats and toys on the day they would be moving.
On that day, Mrs. Woodhouse was still in the house, baking up a few treats for the girls along the way, Mr. Woodhouse was in the attic, making sure that he had packed up all of their furniture, and twelve-year-old Rose was in the garden, picking the last of the season’s violets, forget-me-nots, and roses. As Mrs. Woodhouse turned her back on the stove, her apron caught upon the handle, and the stove door swung open and hit her. It was at a temperature that was exceedingly high, and tragically, the house soon burst into quick, devouring flames. Mr. Woodhouse, Mrs. Woodhouse, and the eldest sister Rose died that day. As for the girls this was quite hard to take in.
Philippe, gifted in leadership, immediately took charge. She ordered the girls to keep going, to proceed onward to the place which then had planned. However, this was not to be. A few minutes later, three carriages pulled up along with a horse-drawn fire wagon which Philippe had thoughtfully summoned. Out of each of the three carriages stepped an important looking person; two women and one man. They each walked over to the girls imposingly. Philippe tried desperately to shield her sisters from the reaching arms, for each was trying to take hold of all the girls at once. Instead, each only suceeded in getting one.
"They’re all mine!" the first woman cried in a hoarse voice. "I found them first, so get you're gloved hands off her!"
She tried to grab Philippe's wrist from the man, but he held firm, clenching her soft skin between his sharp nails.
"You found them first? I recall me seeing them hours before you did!" the man retorted, attempting to wrestle Beth's wrist from the first woman.
"I say, we are respectable people! Why can we not each take one? I shall take the two, because I had the idea," she said calmly, taking a firm grasp on the twins.
"An agreeable arrangement," the man said, nodding his head thoughtfully. Philippe was too astonished to do anything and later she regretted this deeply. She could have told them that this wasn't their home, that their parents were out running errands, or that they were just out for a walk, but she said none of these things.
And so here we are, dear reader; with our characters at the brink of separation.
Beth, at this moment, was also astonished, but by nature very timid. She might have said something if grown people, especially the important looking kind, didn't make her feel ever so much more faint-hearted than she usually was. Anna and Cordelia were too young to do much of anything and so they thought it would be the best to let their older sisters take care of the business. When, a few minutes later, they saw that nothing was ever going to be done, they did the only thing they could think of that would get older people's attention. This was, naturally, arguing. Of course, this wasn't truly arguing for they both used it daily as a strategy to get people's attention, only this was a very big moment to get older people's attention so they must try the hardest they ever had. There was an eerie hopelessness about the whole situation that made them seem ever so much more worthless than usual. Anna gave Cordelia a slight tap on her leg. Cordelia, knowing exactly why, screamed dramatically and grasped her leg.
"She kicked me!" she shrieked loudly, letting the rough, rocky ground come near her as her legs collapsed. The woman that had been holding her shoulder, also shrieked and pulled her hands away from both of them.
"Oh, I think the child is bleeding! What utter animals!" she cried, and fainted dead away onto the dirt. Anna and Cordelia both had immense acting skills, and so laughed heartily inside of themselves but kept up the act in spite of the comedy.
"I did not!" Anna protested, pointing an accusing finger at Cordelia, whose knees were truly bleeding at this point from her hard drop to the gravel. "She's making a story!"
She started to pout and mutter words under her breath.
"The little things are fighting! Ugh, what a disturbance if we took them!" The other woman cried, and too would have fainted if it had not been for a little tap on the shoulder from the honest little Beth, who would certainly not have two grown woman faint away in front of her eyes from an act that her two deceiving sisters were putting on. Even if they were doing it with a good reason.
"Excuse me, but may I just point out that they are not actually fighting? I do believe they are just playing. May I be so bold as to say that there is certainly no reason for fainting?" she said decidedly yet still politely enough to be respectful.
"Are you telling me that they are acting?" the man inquired with disgust.
"By all means, sir," Beth replied politely. She shot a quick glare in Anna and Cordelia’s direction. Both girls were now acting completely normal, standing side-by-side quietly as if nothing was the matter.
"Very well, Doris. I well give you the privilege of taking the two . . . twins," he said with enthusiasm, helping the woman who had fainted a few minutes before up and handing her a handkerchief.
"Yes, thank you," said the woman named Doris, quite dazed by the fall and not following one word that was being said. Philippe was by now figuring out what was going to happen in a few moments. They were to be split up and taken to different orphanages, goodness knows where, with strangers, and probably never to see each other again.
"Sir!" Philippe exclaimed desperately, looking up at the man who had now let go of her. "Please, sir, these girls are my sisters and are very troublesome. They will do you no good if they are not properly taken care of. If you would give them to me, I will make sure they behave every day and that no trouble befall anyone on their account." Philippe tried to sound confident and persuasive as she said this, but from every word she knew it was hopeless.
"Certainly not. Why, we only need to discipline them. Problem solved," he stated, shaking his hands, as if he had just touched something drastic. Philippe, realizing what she had done, tried desperately to make her point in a round-about way, then realized that it was no use as her beloved sisters were starting to be taken away.
"Oh, but, sir! I promise that it would be better if you let me take them with us. It would do ever so much good. I beg you."
Philippe was tormented by the image of her harmless sisters being beaten when they had done nothing wrong, and she felt tears run down her cheeks as she was shoved into a separate carriage. Beth too, was weeping silent tears, and wringing her hands in her apron. Anna and Cordelia were struggling with all their might against the strong arms of one of the women, crying out to Philippe and Beth, pulling, biting and tearing. They finally managed to grapple their way out of the woman's arms and charged toward Philippe, pouncing on her and holding her in a tight, desperate hug. They felt Beth's arms around them as well for she had also struggled out of the grasp of one of the interlopers. Hold on as they might, they were soon ripped apart with many screeches of protest and tears on the behalf of the sisters, and pushed into the carriages. Philippe cried out to her sisters, but was too shoved. The horses started to move with the carriages all still lined up side-by-side. Anna and Cordelia were screaming at the top of their lungs, Beth was trying to coax the coachman into stopping, and what was she, Philippe, doing? Philippe thought for a moment of jumping out, but knew she would only be caught once more. Instead, she limply lay her head back on the leather seat, and let hot tears run down her cheeks and make trails through the layer of dirt on her face from the scuffle. Everything in her life that she had ever known and loved was gone. She could never get it back, those careless times when her family was one. Her last thread of hope broke as the carriage was separated on the road from the other two, and she realized she would never again be reunited with her dearest sisters.
She opened her eyes and the carriage was alone on the open country road. Her sisters were gone.

SEVEN YEARS LATER . . .



Fifteen-year-old Philippe Woodhouse sat on the edge of the iron bed she had slept on for the last seven years. She thought about the plan for that night, the plan that meant they would take the chance that they hadn't taken years before. She thought about her suitcase; the one that was green and had her name embroidered on it. The one that held every possession she owned. She thought about her sisters. The ones that she had not seen in seven years. Today was Anna and Cordelia's twelfth birthday. Philippe and Beth had already missed six of them and she couldn't bear to miss one more.
Beth came walking into the room at that moment and she sat down beside Philippe. She thought about how haggard Philippe looked, being fifteen. Beth stroked Philippe's flaming auburn curls and asked if she still felt up for the plan.
"We have nothing to lose if we try. Not anymore," Philippe replied darkly, shrugging her shoulders and fingering her apron straps.
Beth had had the good fortune to come across Philippe in the market, selling fruits. Beth, out doing errands for the Mistress of her orphanage, started to run towards her long lost sister, spilling food from her basket as she did so. They had made up a story for the Headmaster at Philippe's orphanage about how Philippe had come across another orphan and brought her back to the orphanage, and thankfully it had been believed by the unintelligent headmaster. Back at Beth's orphanage, the fact that there was a missing orphan was kept quiet. The mistress of Beth’s orphanage was coming to have tea with the headmaster. Beth was newly named Cook's helper, and so must serve the tea and crackers for the headmaster and mistress. Only, since the mistress was to be served, a plan had to be made. An hour before the scheduled date of Mistress’s arrival, Beth gave herself a slight purposeful temperature by staying out too long in the cold weather when she collected the chicken's eggs. This done, she just had to stay ill until after tea. Racking her brain for ideas, she decided with a bit of guilt to do the exact thing she shouldn't do while she was sick: mend the orphan's clothes. She did this, feeling hot and sour all the time, and successfully stayed quite ill for the necessary amount of time. Taking plenty of rest the next day, she revived quickly, and was a shocking sight to see as she bustled around the orphanage, doing everything normally only a few hours after being so ill. To the younger ones, she told the story over and over again, it being very exciting and having some suspense.
"I promise, Philippe. If this all ends in vain, well, the Lord will help us," Beth said. Her determination amused Philippe greatly, and so she knew must be courageous herself.
"All right, let's go," Philippe said, narrowing her eyes and noting that her voice sounded considerably braver than she felt.
Step one of the plan was to gather food. this was done with help from the kind orphanage cook who furtively gave Beth several loves of bread, butter, a ham, cheese, several flasks of water, and other provisions. She was never really fond of the headmaster, you see, as he was not particularly honest, and treated his servants without any respect. Cook realized that the less orphans he had in his orphanage, the faster he would go ‘out of business’.
The second thing they needed was a diversion; something to get the Headmaster as far away from the dormitories as possible. The escape was to be very swift, so the distraction only had to be minor. One orphan suggested setting the building on fire. But this was most certainly out of the question. Another thought they should free the pigs. This was an option, but Beth didn't want to cause Cook any extra trouble. Philippe suggested they put on a musical. That would surely get his attention. But costumes, music, and actors were needed, and someone had to write it and it must be practiced at least once. This too was impracticable a suggestion.
"Why don't we go and play with the headmaster?" a little girl suggested. "We could pretend we are grown and could make paperwork and such."
"We would need paper and ink for that,” Philippe said as she shook her head sadly. She brought the small girl upon her lap and asked for more suggestions. The boy still insisted on setting the house on fire, and because he couldn't be dismissed, they just ignored him.
Cook soon came in, wiping her hands on her apron, and winked at them. "I’ve many pipes through this house," she said, meaning she could eavesdrop. "And I've got just the thing for you. You just take care of getting out of here, and I'll take care of ol’ mister fancy-pants."
Many thanks were bestowed upon the cook.
"Don't thank me just yet," she said,"for I'll only lose my job after I do it."  
She laughed her cackling laugh as she left the room, closing the door behind her.
"I think she's got it covered." Philippe said slyly, as the room obtained an awkward silence. "All right, step three."
The little girl on her lap bounced off, ready to take any charge.
"Philippe," Beth began timidly, "Are we really going to do this?"
Philippe didn’t reply for a moment, waiting until all the children had left the room.
"It can’t get much worse than this, Beth, and we have almost everything ready," Philippe promised her. “We can't back down now. Everyone is helping us do what we need to."
Philippe thought back to a seven years ago when she had last seen her sisters. They had been so little and helpless, being only just five-years-old. Philippe sighed and left the room. They just had to pack their quilts, food, and other possessions.
Beth soon followed and the room was left absent and still.


Everything was ready. They had packed all they needed.
Cook was ready with her brilliant plan: she was going to put a little special something in the headmaster’s supper so that he'd be out in a flash.
"It's never let me down. Works like a charm every time," Cook said, though mumbling as she went away. "Well, the last time I used it, it seemed to be safe, though there was that smoke that didn't appear the time before that––."
Philippe thought that this was a most inappropriate thing to do and decided that the young ones shouldn't know about it if they asked. She and Beth shared a concerned look.
"All right, everyone. To your places." The little girl who had sat upon Philippe's lap ordered. Her hands were on her hips and there was a playful scowl on her chubby face, that would every so often break into a grin and fit of giggles at the excitement. Philippe, clearly amused, saluted a bit and marched out of the room.
Beth caught up with her, and they discussed the plan for the tenth time that day, for when you decide to break out of the orphanage you've been stuck in for seven years with a headmaster who treats you cruelly, what else would occupy your mind?
They only had to wait until supper time, but when it came, no one had an appetite except for Cook, and Headmaster, who both sat down at the meal and greedily ate. When the headmaster's eyes closed, Cook jumped up and started a jig, then exploded into a fit of laughter, pointing at the headmaster and screeching with tremendous enthusiasm. She bounced off towards the dormitories and shouted the secret call to tell Philippe and Beth to go.
They stood before the open window, only guessing at what would lay beyond. Only thinking of the things to do. Only wanting the missing piece in their life that had an improbable possibility of returning to them. Their suitcases were beside them, one green and one brown. Both girls shifted a bit, sharing emotions that they could not explain even if they had tried.
The orphans behind them shooed them on towards the open the window. Down below was a pipe they would be crawling down, and below that, the world. A big, scary, dangerous, broken world. The one that their missing sisters might or might not be found in.
"Quickly!" the orphans exclaimed clamorously, giving Beth and Philippe a boost over the sill. "You only has so long before the headmaster will awake."
Petticoats went flying and the girls landed outside the window. They were safe, and slowly made their way down the pipe. Once they were on the ground, they silently waved back to all the orphans they had cared for and loved for so many years.
"Bring me back some sugar cookies and candy!" the little girl cried after them, waving a handkerchief as if her own two daughters were leaving.
"Go on! Go on!" Cook shouted. Big, fat tears welled in her eyes and slipped down her red cheeks. She waved them onward, but when the girls still had not moved from their spots on the gravel walk, her eyes turned serious and she put her hands on her hips.
"Go, you little simpletons! The headmaster will soon awaken and you’ll sure get a good switching from him," she shrieked over the windowsill.
Philippe and Beth exchanged excited, frightened looks, then turned on the building they had lived in for seven years and faced the world before them.
"Well, at least we know one thing," Beth said as they tromped along a dark alleyway. "Whatever we do, we’ll always be together in it."
She smiled a sad smile. Both began thinking about their two youngest sisters whom, at that moment, were at an attic window. The two identical faces were pressed against the dirty panes singing a sad and soulful song. The voices were also identical, singing harmony together as if one voice, making anyone who lie awake that night sigh and think stirring thoughts only wondering whom those two ghostly voices belonged to and why they were wailing such a mournful melody.


They walked by day and night. Their sob story was being on their way to a memorial service, or they were on their way back from a funeral. Since these amounted to bascially the same thing, it worked very well and this way they could mix it up a bit.
It was a bit fun for if asked, they told fake identities, birth dates, and so on. Of course, since they were on their way to a memorial service, they must wear black which was difficult because they did not possess much black clothing. However, they had to make do.
During this time, they had no idea where their sisters were. They inquired about it, but it seemed as if no one else knew either. This made them very distraught, for they wanted to see them very badly. They were tempted to go back to the orphanage, but when either Philippe or Beth thought about Anna and Cordelia, they felt both a mixture of determination and sadness, and so they went on.
"Oh Philippe, where and when will we ever find them? Two young ladies aren't supposed to be wandering the world by themselves you know," Beth remarked, looking right and left for any signs of their sisters.
"You are quite right," said an ironic voice that was anyone but Philippe’s. Quite on the contrary, it was a man's voice. They turned around and there beheld a young man. His hair was wavy and light caramel and he had merry and arrogant blue eyes and a charming grin.
"May I be of any assistance?" he said, with a look in his face that hinted he knew they were lost, or at least quite disoriented.
"No, thank you. We’re quite all right," Philippe said a bit coldly. Who did this man think he was?
Beth wanted to step on Philippe's foot terribly, however she knew that that act would make an absolutely lovely impression of their childish manner on him. Instead, she decided to beg pardon for herself and her sister in a sly way.
"Actually," Beth added, sneaking a look at Philippe, "my sister and I would be greatly pleased if you would take us to the nearest inn."
Philippe scowled and hooked arms with her younger sister, knowing it was no use to contradict Beth now. The gentleman pretended to take no notice of the previous strife between the two sisters.
"And if you have seen two little girls wandering about these streets recently, or have heard any news of them . . .," Beth trailed off added hopefully.
"I regret that I have seen no little lost girls wandering these streets, though I would gladly help search for the ones of which you speak," he said kindly, but with a hint of satirical helpfulness.
"Thank you." Beth curtsied a bit and Philippe did the same. Beth picked up her and Philippe’s suitcase in one hand, while holding onto her sister with the other. As they walked down the dark street, the girls took the opportunity of inquiring who he was.
"Frederic Winsor. Pleased to make the acquaintance," he said with a supercilious bow.
"Bethany Woodhouse, and this is my sister––" Beth was obviously planning to introduce her sister, but Philippe declined to this act in the manner of which she cut in.
"––Philippe Woodhouse. It is a great pleasure I’m sure, Mr. Winsor," said Philippe nodding tersely and taking her suitcase bluntly from Beth who looked very displeased, but ignored the action. With a slightly mocking smile, Mr. Winsor took both their suitcases in one hand and smiled enigmatically.
"The inn is right up on the street corner." Mr. Winsor gestured to the South.
The threesome walked along and became greater acquainted when conversation sprung up. They were chatting along like old friends when Mr. Winsor decided to question further about their lost sisters.
"You may think this an impertinent question, however, indulge me. Who are these young girls whom you seek?" he asked, and made as if he didn’t notice the embarrassed looks of Philippe and Beth.
"Forgive me for not making it more clear," Philippe said cautiously and decidedly, "They are our two sisters. When we were very young, we were all split up and . . ."
Philippe was not sure how much she should trust the presumptuous Mr. Winsor, only then she thought for a moment of how he was helping them and how she had been dying to have the information out to someone other than the other orphans and her sisters, so she continued.
"Our parents and eldest sister died in a fire, and so we were taken by separate orphanages. Beth and I had the fortune of being reunited in the market a week ago, though, I must confess we have not shared the same opportunity with our youngest sisters," Philippe finished with a long, half-audible sigh, which no one heard except for a wooden sign hanging above a cart-full of carrots and apples and whom gave its sympathy by swaying gently in the wind.
After an uncomfortable interval of a minute, Mr. Winsor’s reply finally came in a hoarse and choaked voice. Beth looked into his face and saw there a look of utter, desperate sadness. His dark eyes were unfathomable in the gloom of the alley, but Beth knew better that if he had said it himself, that his eyes were filled with unshed tears.
“I am s––so sorry,” he said quietly, then quickly added, “The inn is right up ahead. We’d better get you girls off to bed or you’ll be asleep on your feet.”
In a moment they arrived at the inn; a snug homely-looking place where several horses were hitched in a yard at the west side of the building. Mr. Winsor led the way and opened the inn door, gesturing with a small bow for the two sisters to enter before him. A startling sight met their eyes inside the inn. Rough men with not an ounce of respectability were sitting and standing around tables drinking out of foaming tin mugs and laughing boisterously. Not one of them paid attention to Philippe, Beth, or Mr. Winsor as they entered except for a skinny, bony old man who stared at them with piercing grey-green eyes. His overwhelming personage made them feel quite small and unimportant.
"Hello," said Mr. Winsor firmly, for he could tell that Philippe and Beth did not quite fancy the place and so he took charge. In the end, he managed to secure a suitable room for the girls and stayed for a short minute before taking his leave.
"Thank you for allowing me to assist you. I shall be back on the morrow. Are you in need of anything else?" He stared off into the distance until Philippe broke the silence with her slightly timid tone.
“No, thank you. We are quite suited to our advantage for the evening. Please visit soon, and thank you again kindly.”
“Until the tomorrow, then," said Mr. Winsor with a warm smile to Beth. As he closed the door of the room, he tipped his hat with genial alacrity to Philippe and made a gallant bow. When he was gone, Beth dropped onto the one bed in the room and sighed a long sigh; one that was filled with sorrow, regret, and weary hopelessness. Philippe sat down beside her and let out a long breath of air that she too seemed to have been holding.
It was only after he left that she realized how vulnerable her sister and she had been with no older person to guide them and direct them, and she felt strangely grateful to the presumptuous Mr. Winsor who had inconvenienced himself to assit them so generously.
"Why do I feel so tired?" Beth asked helplessly as her eyes wandered about the room seeking a pretty object on which to rest her sight, yet every object was an eyesore.
"Either we have been traveling too long, or we haven't yet gotten to where we want to be and we almost know our pilgrimage has much further to go," Philippe replied dryly as her thoughts strayed to the look of Mr. Winsor sad eyes. She then knew the most deep secret and feeling they would ever have in common –– the loss of loved ones being taken from right before their eyes and the feeling of desolate loneliness. She banished further thoughts on this subject for she now realized how hungry she was, and mentioning the fact to Beth, they agreed to eat the scant food they had brought in their bags. Both decided it would be wise to stay in their rooms so they didn't have to have to go downstairs into the wretched presence of those awful men. Both girls shuddered at the thought of sleeping in the inn. They almost wished they were back in the orphanage for at least there they would have been safe there.
Nevertheless, they ate the last of their food and went to bed early, slipping on their nightgowns and nightcaps, and with a gentle goodnight to each other, curled up under the ice-cold sheets and found a troubled sleep awaiting them.

They awoke the next morning to the noise of a loud crack from below. A few bellows of rage followed and many things were heard toppling over. This unfriendly sound made them feel quite giddy in bed. The first thing Philippe did when her eyes shot open at the latter noises was check if all of their possessions were in their proper places. They were, and Philippe sighed thankfully in relief. It had almost never occurred to her they might be robbed.
Beth joined her sister in slipping on petticoats and bloomers along with calico dresses and an apron for Beth. They combed their hair and helped each other style it. In Beth's case this was two braids and in Philippe's case, a loose, becoming bun since she was of the minimum age when girls were permitted to wear their hair up.
As the two girls tied on sunbonnets, they strained their ears for the slightest sound of a knock on the door that would announce the arrival of Mr. Winsor coming to escort them.


The two faces Mr. Winsor saw when he came into the room a few minutes later were not the doleful ones which had accosted him in the street the night before, but ones shining with new radiance and hope. The three new friends were soon on their way, slipping soundlessly down the steps and avoiding eye contact with any of the ruffians that were still drinking and laughing in the dining hall.
Once safely out of doors, the travelers dodged groups of people and smartly dressed men and women. They soon came into view of a tremendously large house, which Mr. Winsor gestured to and said was an orphanage.
"If your sisters are anywhere, they’re here," he said as he herded them towards the big front door.
Inside, their vision was fully taken up by a wonderfully grand room furnished and decorated splendidly. Philippe and Beth noted that it looked more as a mansion than an orphanage.
"They’ve got to be here," Mr. Winsor said reassuringly. His companions however, were farm from reassured. Both were suspicious, for this orphanage seemed more like the place where you left your children along with a fee. More like a boarding school than a city orphanage for parentless children. It wasn't the sort of place that would have such splendor without a cost. I never did see a sign that said orphanage, Philippe thought with skepticism. She soon realized she was right; it was a boarding school for orphans.
Philippe thought back to the day before when she had first met Mr. Winsor. He hadn’t seemed like the kind of man who would lie, but she supposed you never could tell. She rapidly changed her mind when she saw Mr. Winsor chivalrously lead Beth chivalrously toward a large set of double doors around the corner. Her heart softened towards him and she forgot all previous ill-natured feelings as she watched him talking comfortingly to her, reassuring her.
"Right this way," he said, with a nod in Philippe’s direction. She followed the pair through the doors. Inside was an even more wondrous sight than before. Everything was magnificent, with silk curtains and velvet every which way. Philippe could hardly take her eyes off a painting that she thought Anna would love, for her sister had always been the artistically passionate one out of all the Woodhouse girls. Philippe had to admit that she had always been a bit envious of her sister’s talents.
"Good afternoon, Ms. Penny. Would you mind showing us your orphans files?" Mr. Winsor inquired with curt politeness. At a wooden desk in one corner of the room sat a young woman. She was pretty, not at all cruel looking, and was quite young. Her eyes had the special shine in them of someone who usually got what she wanted and Beth immediately felt a certain something against her, although she couldn't name what.
"Of course, Frederic--," she said quietly, bowing her head demurely. Her voice was airy and high pitched. Both Philippe and Beth sensed something pass between the woman and Mr. Winsor.
"The files are right here.” Ms. Penny reached into a drawer of her desk and brought out a stack of yellow paper. “May I be of any particular assistance? Are you looking for someone specific?"
"Two young girls . . . er . . ." Mr. Winsor looked at Beth and Philippe and asked, "What do they look like?"
Philippe burst forward enthusiastically to explain her sisters’ features.
"They’re twins named Anna and Cordelia Woodhouse. One has black hair and the other brown hair. They have the same nose, and their likeness can't be mistaken." Her dusky green eyes, close to tears, pleaded results. Philippe could not help thinking that she might be reunited with her sisters in just a few short minutes.
"Anna and Cordelia . . ." Ms. Penny mumbled, flipping through pages of parchment. "Well, it looks as if they were here, but it seems as if they are now not."
Hot tears trickled down Philippe and Beth’s cheeks, but they gently wiped them away.
"Please excuse my manners, but why exactly are you looking for these two particular girls?" Ms. Penny inquired softly, setting the papers down in a desk drawer with a muffled thump.
"They’re our younger sisters. We were separated when they were only four," Beth said as she bowed her head and shamefully let tears run down her flushed cheeks.
"Oh." Ms. Penny looked incredibly sympathetic and embarrassed. "Is there anything I can do?"
Philippe was struggling against mixed feelings towards her.
"Yes, you could tell us where they might be," Philippe snarled. She snuck a glare at Mr. Winsor, the one who had promised them that if there sisters were anywhere, they would be here. "And when they'll be back."
"Well, ahem, you see, Ms.––"
"––My name is Philippe Woodhouse," said Philippe with uncalled for determination.
"Ms. Woodhouse, once the orphans leave because of adoption, they don’t come back. I’m so sorry."
Ms. Penny put a hand on each of the girls’ shoulders.
"I could try and find the record of their adoption, if you’d like," she offered. Philippe and Beth nodded furiously. "Well them, sit tight for a moment, and I will get you a cup of tea and some crumpets?"
"Crumpets would be delightful, Camille. Many thanks for your hospitality.” Mr. Winsor flipped a penny towards Ms. Penny and she caught it with one hand. Beth thought this show was very unladylike.
Ms. Penny was back in a very short amount of time with a tray of tea things. Philippe was delighted, though she was determined not to show it.
"Thank you," Philippe said curtly.
"Now then, let’s see . . . Anna and Cordelia Woodhouse." Ms. Penny took fifteen minutes to finally find the right paperwork. By that time, the tea was gone and the crumpets were nowhere in sight.
"Here we are. ‘Anna and Cordelia Woodhouse, aged eleven, adopted on the fourteenth of September, 1841, by Eleanor and Thomas Stevens.’ There you go, girls. The Stevens live at 1334 Sandburg, London, England,” Ms. Penny looked up abruptly. "Why, that's only seven blocks away!"
She hustled out the door of the room and ran to a closet, grabbed a shawl and a hat, and came back.
"We must go at once. If we hurry, we'll miss Mr. Stevens. Believe me, he's an absolute nightmare.” Ms. Penny gasped a bit, "I mean, he's not particularly friendly."
She pulled them all out the door and into the street. They walked until they reached a grand neighborhood came to a large house. Ms. Penny knocked loudly on the door three times. It was answered by a scullery maid, who told them the mistress and master were both present, and that they were available for a private audience.
"No need for privacy. This is no secret matter. Please, take us at once and don't bother about tea. Hopefully we won't be staying long. Prepare a carriage to leave here at six o’clock." Ms. Penny ordered, sending the scullery maid out of the room to announce their arrival.
"Mrs. and Mr. Stevens, guests here for you," said the maid, ushering the newcomers through the door of a beautiful parlor. Ms. Penny looked with wide blue eyes at the girls and mouthed the words: “Mr. Stevens.”
"What is it now? I have a busy life you know. Hurry up--spit it out!" Mr. Stevens cried as the four stepped into the room. He did not at all look young, had a wrinkled face much like a prune, and sharp, beady eyes. Ms. Penny got straight to the point.
"We are looking for twins you adopted by you and your wife earlier this year. Their names are Anna and Cordelia. I own the boarding school where you adopted them from which gives me the right to turn them in to some of their recently found relatives. These to young ladies are the twins’ older sisters. By the look of this girl here,” she gestured to the tall, red-headed Philippe, “She is old enough to take care of her sisters. I will give you five minutes to decide whether or not we need use force to remove them from the premises," Ms. Penny said decidedly, not even begging her pardon for her impoliteness.
"Want them back? I will get my lawyer before I give those two back to you! They have been wholly obedient to me and are incredible dusters. If you think you are getting them back, you are quite mistake, ma’am." Mr. Stevens cried dramatically, his face purple with rage,  pounding his fist on the table with every specific point in his speech.
"Please, let me introduce you to my lawyer. Mr. Frederic Winsor, Esq.," Ms. Penny replied coolly, gesturing to the unrestrainedly grinning Mr. Winsor. “Mrs. And Mr. Stevens, he will take care of all the business, you need not worry. In the meantime, please take us to the children. This is a most serious and urgent matter."
"Er . . . well, I suppose we must give them up then, ma’am. Our lawyer is . . .  er . . . currently out of contact," replied Mr. Stevens. He led them from the room, up three flights of stairs, and into a small attic. Philippe and Beth's eyes grew as wide as saucers. There were their sisters, the ones whom they had been separated from for seven years.
Anna and Cordelia, despite the maid’s clothing, and dirt on their stockings, were a lovely sight. Anna's eyes were already shining with tears, her black hair glinting in the sunlight. Cordelia had her hair put up in a silky bun; her eyes were tragic and hurt Philippe and Beth down to their very souls. Just looking at their sisters, Philippe and Beth were filled with the deepest and most profound regret they had ever felt.
During this time, Mrs. and Mr. Stevens looked away to the opposite wall while the scullery maid couldn't take her eyes off the recently reunited sisters. Mr. Winsor and Ms. Penny respected the need for personal space and backed away.
A scream issued from deep inside both Anna and Cordelia. They collapsed in the arms of Philippe and Beth, and burst into tears. Philippe found herself flinging her arms around them in a death-grip. Beth’s hugs turned into into laughs and wails along with her sisters’.
The girls were still hugging and crying, but laughing with relief and thankfulness. Beth hugging Anna and saying a prayer at the same time, and Cordelia was hugging Philippe, both breathing very, very hard.


Mr. Winsor gave them a new start in life by giving a bit of money for Beth was determined to intrude no further on Mr. Winsor’s life. The girls soon bought a small lot of property and with a time, they had a farm complete with animals and garden. Beth got a job as a shop vendor in the market in the nearby town where she sold things she sewed, home goods, embroidery, paintings, flowers, and trinkets of the sort.
Anna painted for business and pleasure, but stayed the rash, flamboyant girl that was always so full of life.
Cordelia made sure her sisters had the best of everything. Though she too was strong minded for her own good, her sisters loved her dearly. She mainly took care of the animals and befriended them all, and was to be found most of the time in the woods behind the cottage.
Philippe was happy. She and her sisters had been reunited and she had nothing left in the whole world to wish for. She tutored some of the town or farmer’s children when needed, though she stayed at home most of the time finishing chores that Beth didn’t have time to do. She also took special care that Cordelia and Anna didn't offend anyone and were kept busy and out of trouble.

Thus Woodhouse Girls’ life was started anew, with more adventures to come. They walked bravely through their trials, arm in arm, hand in hand, forever to be one.



6 comments:

  1. OHMYGOODNESS you are so sweet! My jaws hurt from grinning!! (Literally.)
    Thanks so much girlfriend, I enjoyed it!! Do you remember talking about it so much in New York?? Cannot wait to see you soon!!! (Only a few more weeks!! XDDDDD)

    Amelia xxx
    Your 'bestie' writer
    <3 <3 <3 <3

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    1. Thank you for comment, Milly! So glad you enjoyed it. <3 I do remember that!
      I can't believe we will see you so soon. <3 I miss you guys bunches.

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  2. O_O
    Sophia.... This is SO GOOD!!! ME WANTS MORE! XD This is TOTALLY a book I would read and I can see it being a movie that I would watch over and over! :D
    Since you asked for critique and whatnot, I do have a few thoughts ;)
    It just seemed to move along too quickly. I feel like it was super easy for them to find their sisters and that it should have been more of a challenge. I felt like I wasn't able to feel SUPER happy for their reunion because just a little bit ago they were together and separated and suddenly they were reunited again. I would personally recommend dragging out their search a bit more and just exploring Phillipe and Beth's long to see their sisters some more - and maybe because of how long it's taking - they become doubtful?
    Also, couldn't Anna and Cordelia have been taken to just about anywhere in the world? Why do they think they would be in that particular town/city?
    I also find myself wondering how old Mr. Winsor is? Is he a lot older than Phillipe or around the same age? I am assuming older since he is a lawyer?
    So those were just some thoughts I had. :) I hope this didn't discourage you or anything - I'm truly just trying to be helpful :) This book is going to be AMAZING AND ARE YOU GONNA PUBLISH IT CAUSE I WILL BUY IT!!! XD
    ~Jaclynn~

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    1. Oh my, Jaclynn! I am literally grinning from ear to ear!!! Thank you billions for your comment, girlfriend -- for your critique and inspiring words, and most of all, for taking the time to read my writing and letting me know your thoughts on it. You have encouraged me so much and I don't even know how to thank you!
      Thanks again for every single comment you leave on my little blog. You never fail to inspire me and make my day. <3 <3

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    2. Awe, you are so welcome! I'm so glad that I can make you smile and inspire you! And I'm also honored to help :)
      You inspire ME, Sophia! I'm so glad I found your blog :)
      Oh, and whenever you finish this book and are preparing to publish it, I really hope I can be a beta reader for it! :D
      ~Jaclynn~

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    3. Thanks again!! <3
      Aww, that's really sweet of you to say and it means a lot to me. I am so glad I have made at least a tiny bit of impact on this world! :)
      Haha, don't worry -- I will! And I promise I will not forget! :D

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