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"Orphan Mollie"


Chapter 1
Mollie May

By Drew Delaney



  
   

 
 A cold draft drifted through a broken windowpane. The bedchamber door squeaked open, then remained silently ajar. Mollie could hear muffled voices. Mrs Jellybe, the Matron's Assistant and Oldman Wigglesmith, the apothecary were up to their secrecy again. Their whispers whistled with the 's' consonant.

'S-sad, t'isn't it?' Oldman Wigglesmith stumbled over his words, but the air of unpleasantry poked at Mollie like a pin to a pincushion. Her heart thumped hard against her chest. She knew she ought not be standing there eavesdropping, but ....

The splashing of water in the wash-basin somehow relieved her anxiety for a brief moment, though she perceived she had fallen upon something dreadful.

'Wat's tat, I 'eer?' Mrs Jellybe's heavy footsteps stamped aloof, her bumbling, uncouth self bending each floorboard with a creak. She trudged toward the door.

Mollie whisked around in a hurry. She dashed straightaway onto the window-seat at the end of the hall, plucking the curtain shut in front of her. The night cold coated the panes with a light frost, her elbows suddenly anchored to them. The blackness of the night arrested her. 

'T'eer better not be anyone 'round and about, or I'll wring t'eer little necks 'til t'eer breath ends and we't no chance of it returnin'!' The footsteps edged nearer.

Mollie held in her breath not making a sound. Her lips trembled. She thought she would die right then, but she knew she would for certain, if the Matron's Assistant caught sight of her. Leaving the dormitory resulted in strictest punishment. First offence, a black leather strap beating within an inch of one's life, while a score of inmates eyed the proceedings.

Mrs Jellybe slapped her hands together creating a fierce, loud clap. Surely, even a mouse would suddenly drop in its tracks at such a hideous sound.

'Jest can't trust t'em brats. T'ey best be settled in f'er the night, or t'eell get it good come day break.'

Oldman Wigglesmith dragged his peg-leg along, scraping the plank flooring while leaning his weight on a bamboo cane.

 
His arm stretched out to her past the doorway. 'Best come back, here! We must decide what to do.'

 His bald head gleamed even in the dim light. Black suspenders secured his trousers above his waistline. The door hinges squealed, then a flat click followed, once he coaxed Mrs Jellybe back inside the bedchamber.
 
Mollie peeked through the narrow slit of the gathered curtain. Soft candlelight seeped in between the floor and chamber door.
Dark shadows inhabited the hallway walls and collided when the figures inside moved close to each other. Again, the voices were subdued. Mollie pressed her ear to the door.

'Ye gave her the wrong medicine? Is t'at w'at did it?' Mrs Jellybe's tone resonated in a high pitch as though somewhat satisfied.

'Not the wrong medicine, my dear Mrs Jellybe. The wrong dosage. She lived but two-years upon this fine earth; just a little mite of a thing she was.'

'Are ye sayin' it was my fault?' Their voices raised.

'I am saying, Mrs Jellybe, you spooned her too much.'

'But it was ye. Ye said a little laudanum would settle her coughing fits. T'at's w'at ye said.'

'I did. I did.' His large nose crinkled as he drew in a long sniff. He swallowed the contents gathered at the back of his throat, then hauled out a handkerchief out of his shirt pocket and wiped his leaky nostrils. 'I remember it quite well.'

Tucking the soiled handkerchief now into his front trouser pocket, his beady eyes glared above his single eyeglass at Mrs Jellybe. 'Tell me, why did you not heed my directions? A drop or two in a spoonful of sugar? Remember? Or was that too difficult for you to comprehend? Now here it is, one week later, and I find the bottle empty. Empty! How could you be so ... so reckless?'

Mrs Jellybe's face flushed red in anger. With hands on her hips, her feet positioned so as not to lose her balance, her right hand let go of her hip, swung back and walloped Oldman Wigglesmith across the left side of his jaw. Blood caked his lips before he knew what struck him.

'Ye'er callin' me reckless? From we'er I'm standin', I'd say, ye'er the reckless one. Administering laudanum to a child tender in age such as t'at ? I'll 'ave you know, when the Matron finds this out, ye'er medicine business 'll all be floating down the River Frome.'


to be continued



Time: late November, 1846

Fictional place:

Chadwick's Cottage
Poundbury Rd.
Dorchester
Dorset County
England

Fictional Characters:

Mollie -10 year old orphan

Mrs Jellybe - Matron's Assistant

Oldman Wigglesmith - Apothecary



 


Chapter 2
Molly May I

By Drew Delaney





A red trickle oozed down his unshaven chin. Oldman Wigglesmith smeared his own blood across the lower part of his cheek with the cuff of his whitish shirt sleeve. He studied his cuff momentarily, then shot a condemning sneer at Mrs Jellybe.

'I should have known better than to rely on the likes of you. You ... you wretch!' Once again, he snatched the soiled handkerchief out of his trouser pocket and dabbed at the bloodied sting. 'You carry on like this is some sort of rivalry. A wee child lay eternally at rest all because you have the common sense of a donkey.'

Mrs Jellybe gritted her front teeth together and hissed through the holes the rot left behind. 'I 'ave a mind to call the police. T'is is a crime t'at calls f'er a ,angin' an ye'er trying to lay the blame on t'ee innocent.'

Oldman Wigglesmith shook his head in disbelief. The cold air, blowing into the chamber, sent chills up his spine and down the back of his neck. He buttoned his waistcoat two notches higher, and wrapped his arms around himself, then stood at the foot of the cot, pity pouring out of his dark circled eyes for the poppet.

'You are no more innocent than the tax collector who collects outrageous rates and fills his own pockets with coins from the penniless. Now see here.' He wagged his finger in the air at the cantankerous woman. 'We have to come to terms with what has just occurred. In the eyes of the law, it is possible we could both find a noose strung about our necks. So collect yourself, Mrs Jellybe.'

Mrs Jellybe took on a ghostly shade of white as these words sunk into her brain. 'Ye mean to say, t'ey might consider me f'er a hangin',too?' There was not a comfortable position to place her hands. Sweat collected on the inside of her palms. She attempted to rid the moisture on her apron along with the guilt that had now located a soft spot within her own soul. 'But ye will inform t'em of my innocence, will ye not? I did w'at ye said. I did.'

She paced the floor near the bedside where the ghost of a child lay, all the while wringing her hands feverishly.

'Settle yourself, Mrs Jellybe. Going into hysterics will not remedy the situation.'

'But ye don't understand. I did as ye said.'

A tear lingered on the corner of her one eyelash, but she swiped it before it had a chance to slide down her high cheekbone.

'A drop or two in a spoonful of sugar. Jest as ye 'arped at me. W'en I came in to observe 'er condition, the bottle lay empty beside 'er. And t'ats what 'appended. I swear to it.' Her dark eyes grew large and her face grimaced as she knitted her eyebrows together. 'Do ye t'ink someone else could 'ave done it? Or might it be, she devoured the medicine 'erself?'

Now both Mrs Jellybe and Oldman Wigglesmith took on a look of deep concentration and bewilderment. Oldman Wigglesmith pressed his right forefinger to the top of his upper lip being careful not to lay a finger on the lower lip which by now had swelled out of proportion.

'She would have spit it out had she. Laudanum would likely pucker a sailor-man's lips, never mind a wee child like this.'

His eyes lit up when a curious thought jumped out at him. 'Mind you, I did add a fair amount of lavender to neutralize the bitter taste. And it could possibly be that if she took a swig of the bottle, she might have choked, unable to catch her breath. Poor little Sal. A horrible way to die, choking on something your carers have used to treat your hacking cough.'

'One t'ing is for certain. We cannot leave 'er 'eer. W'at do we do w'it 'er?'

The chamber door all at once flew open. Mollie tumbled to the floor in a heap.




Time: late November, 1846

Fictional place:

Chadwick's Cottage
Poundbury Rd.
Dorchester
Dorset County
England

Fictional Characters:

Mollie -10 year old orphan

Mrs Jellybe - Matron's Assistant

Oldman Wigglesmith - Apothecary















 


Chapter 3
Mollie May

By Drew Delaney





 

  
  









Oldman Wigglesmith's narrow jaw dropped, the whites of his eyes forming the shape of two eggs.

Mrs Jellybe grasped at her heart. It might have stopped beating just for the moment, but when her blatant, gleaming eyes met the urchin's, a surge of energy shot through her veins.

'Looky 'eer, Wigglesmit'. T'ee cat is out of t'ee sack.' She shifted her bulky shoes toward the intruder, eyeballing the child from the top of her head to the soles of her feet.

Mollie picked herself off the floor in a flurry, tidying her coarse linen nightdress into place. Her bare feet fastened to the spot where she landed.

'Ye'er 'ere to chec' on little Sal, are ye? Right kind of 'ye, don't ye t'ink?'

Mrs Jellybe's repugnant, disdainful gaze and banter crumbled Mollie's delicate disposition, something to which she would never adapt. Tears welled in the inner corners of her tender blue eyes. She mopped them instantly on her ragged garment sleeve.

On the white cot before them lay little Sal. A filthy rag doll remained clutched in her scrawny, dimpled white hand, drooping over the edge. No longer would she be subject to the unappealing brickbat from the likes of Mrs Jellybe, nor the menacing, grating cough nagging her on her death bed.

Mollie raised her quivering chin, anchored her eyes on Mrs Jellybe, then in a resolute, though fragile tone said, 'Must little Sal go to the grave like my Mamma?' A hot tear trickled down her cheek, but she whisked it away promptly.

Oldman Wigglesmith manipulated his peg-leg to balance himself, bent over eye-level to Mollie May, and rested one hand on her shoulder. Then with a gentle back flick of his little finger, swiped away some undetected, lingering drops. 'Now, now child. You must be brave. Rest assured, little Sal is in a much better place at this very moment and so is your Mamma.'

He would have embraced the girl had it not been for the piecing eye observing him, for such tenderness thrived loftily within his unseen spirit. 'You must return to your bed at this very moment, and allow Mrs Jellybe and myself to call on the vicar to take care of little Sal.'

Mollie pecked him on the cheek before anyone knew what just transpired, then whipped around instantly and darted out before Mrs Jellybe could intervene.

Oldman Wigglesmith smoothed his hand where the kiss had been planted. 'See Mrs Jellybe? A waif can be won over with a little kindness.'

'A little kindness is it now? I say, it mign't be more like, fending off risk of a telltale. Ye are a smart gaffer, Mr Wigglesmit'. A smart one alwritty.'

'Aw, go on with you Mrs Jellybe. You're just handing out too much flattery for your own good, now.' Oldman Wigglesmith spread the blanket over the child's face, tucked the green medicine bottle into his waistcoat pocket, and ambled toward the doorway, cane in hand. 'I will stop by the Vicar's on my way home. Her body must lie here until the Vicar has the time to proceed.'

'We'el, tell 'im ta 'urry! T'ee stink will soon settle upon us. Can't 'ave t'at 'ere. T'e Matron would 'ave me 'ead. Now, off w'it ye! And see to it t'at 'ees quick about it.'

to be continued



Time: late November, 1846

Fictional place:

Chadwick's Cottage
Poundbury Rd.
Dorchester
Dorset County
England

Fictional Characters:

Mollie -10 year old orphan

Mrs Jellybe - Matron's Assistant

Oldman Wigglesmith - Apothecary

Little Sal - two-year-old




 


Chapter 4
That Particular Night

By Drew Delaney




'Aw, go on with you, Mrs Jellybe. You're just handing out too much flattery for your own good, now.' Oldman Wigglesmith spread the blanket over the child's face, tucked the green medicine bottle into his waistcoat pocket, and ambled toward the doorway, cane in hand. 'I will stop by the Vicar's on my way home. Her body must lie here until the Vicar has the time to proceed.'

'We'el, tell 'im ta 'urry! T'ee stink will soon settle upon us. Can't 'ave t'at 'ere. T'e Matron would 'ave me 'ead. Now, off w'it ye! And see to it t'at 'ees quick about it.'


Chapter 4

A thick fog hung over Dorchester that particular dark, cold night. Oldman Wigglesmith clung to the clasp of his black metal lantern, his fingers fumbling due to the loathsome, damp temperatures. It squeaked as it swayed when he raised the open-sided object above his shoulders.

He screwed up his eyes straining to see, adjusting the height of the lantern, for a better view. Cloaked shadows stirred ahead, some jostling past him. Lowering the lamp, he resumed his footing on the narrow brick, winding road.

The heavy stench of horses excrement nearby prevented him of an unfortunate incident. Envisioning his new shiny boot landing in the fresh, unpleasant heap, he took a wide enough path around. The very thought created a shudder in the upper half of his body which seemed to exit at the top of his head and through his stovepipe hat.

Once he reached the corner of Wessex and Whitfield, he shuffled his peg-leg down the chary back alley nearing the Vicar's parsonage. Little Sal's pallid face and limp body loomed on his wearied mind. If only he had not administered laudanum to the fatherless child. Her doleful spirit faulted him until he reached the parsonage door where upon he struck the knocker with a hand of fury.

'Let me in, let me in, I say!' Even he was struck with horror at his own impudence. 

Candlelight flickered against the curtained windowsill. A heavy stench of chimney smoke, curling off the roof, seized his breath. He gagged. Then spat into the air.

The door creeped open a sliver. A small white-haired woman, her hair parted down the center and drawn to the back of her head into a bun, clung to the latch, her fingers gaunt and feeble. Her eyes narrowed as she squinted between the tiny space.

'Is there trouble in the village?' Her tone was stern, though the courage behind it, fainthearted; her frown grim. It broke into a wide Cheshire Cat grin, when she recognized the caller to be the apothecary.

'Come in, Mr Wigglesmith. I was just about to take out a pint of bitter ale for the Vicar. Would you care to accompany him?'

A heaviness that had overpowered Oldman Wigglesmith seemed to lift off his shoulders for the time being. 'Ah, that is most kind of you to ask, but the womenfolk will be holding off with sup until I arrive. Another time. I do have a matter to discuss with the Vicar, nonetheless.'

~~

Mrs Jellybe continued to wash little Sal before she was to dress the poppet in a clean, long garment. She stopped the clock and covered the windows with a dark veil when she entered the chamber at the first.

One more chore needed doing. Placing black ribbons on the entry door. Custom bid that visitors be warned a death had occurred in the house. Mrs Jellybe earned her rank as Matron's Assistant. She did not dilly-dally at the sight of chores no matter how unpleasant they might be.

On her way to the door, it was necessary to pass through the dormitory. The cottage housed thirty girls ranging from infant to twelve years-of-age after which each one would have to find work in a house or factory.

Her foot was light as she timidly strolled between the rows of beds, her thumb snuggled to a brass candle holder lighting the way. The thought of Mollie's eavesdropping roused anew and disgruntlement resurfaced.

'T'at little miss nosey body 'ad better not git on me nerves a'gin or I'll 'ave to give it to 'er good. Else nobody 'ere will mind da rules. I don't care ta lose me job all on account of 'er nosin' 'bout into me affairs.'

Her bottom and top teeth gritted together something like a mad dog's. She heard a sniffle and then another. Edging her bulkiness toward Mollie's bedside, she tipped the candle in Mollie's face. Mollie's eyes grew glassy and wide as saucers.


to be continued


Chapter 5
Will you stay?

By Drew Delaney

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

'T'at little miss nosey body 'ad better not git on me nerves a'gin or I'll 'ave to give it to 'er good. Else nobody 'ere will mind da rules. I don't care ta lose me job all on account of 'er nosin' 'bout into me affairs.'

Her bottom and top teeth gritted together something like a mad dog's. She heard a sniffle and then another. Edging her bulkiness toward Mollie's bedside, she tipped the candle in Mollie's face. Mollie's eyes grew glassy and wide as saucers.


Melted wax spilled over the brim of the candleholder onto Mollie's bare-skinned throat and onto the back of her lean, gaunt hand. Without thought, her other hand stretched out in an instant, attempting to soothe the burning discomfort. She sat up with a lurch, and burst into a wail.

'Stop t'at whinin', little miss nosey! 'ear? Ye'll wake everybody up.' Mrs Jellybe's voice held a raspy, deliberate tone.

She seized Mollie by the ear and pulled at it as if she wished to dislodge the member. Then she grabbed both shoulders, shook the scrawny, tiny boned body and when the sobbing didn't end, she placed the palm of her hand over Mollie's mouth to prevent the sobs from escaping.

'Stop it, rite now.' A hissing sound passed between her lips and teeth. Her eyes filled with a rage that is difficult to suppress once it takes hold. Then a thought passed through her mind, and she clung to it like she would a one-pound sterling had it been handy.

Mollie couldn't catch a breath. The burns felt like bits of her skin were mottled and cracked over an open flame. When Mrs Jellybe released her, Mollie shrivelled under the cover, taking in a deep, comforting breath, but bearing the burning pain with an unruly shiver. She wished it were possible to melt into the mattress, and then she could slither into a secret, dark corner away from that gruesome, appalling woman. But Mrs Jellybe had other plans.

Once Mollie settled into a hushed whimper, Mrs Jellybe clutched a handful of Mollie's scrubby brown hair, plucked her out of her bed and dragged her in between the row of beds, up the rickety stairs, and down the upstairs hallway until they reached the cold, death room. The door had been left unlatched. Mrs Jellybe flung the door open with the rounded toe of her shoe, then shoved Mollie onto the chair, sitting next to the white framed bed.

'Little Sal's be needing ye rite now.' A sly grin pasted on her upturned lips. A glee danced in her heart. 'Ye must stay 'ere f'er t'e nite and keep 'er company. If ye leave 'er, ye will 'ave me ta contend wit.'

Mollie felt cold air streaming through the broken window. She looked around, but all she could see was blackness. 'Please, Mrs Jellybe. I am afeard of the dark. Please don't leave me here alone.' Though the burn pained her so, nothing could be worse than being abandoned in the death room. Why did Mrs Jellybe hate her to such an extent? 'Will you stay with me?'

Mrs Jellybe broke out into a haughty laugh. She turned around and marched out of the death chamber, lighting her way with the only candle in the room, then turned to Mollie, 'Ye t'ink t'ats all I 'ave ta do is take a 'old of ye little 'and, an spill tears until morn'? Ye are a spoilt brat, I say. Ye are to keep ye'er eyes open until someone else can relieve ye. Otherwise, ye might die yeself.’

The door latch clicked and the sound of heavy footsteps, echoing down the narrow hallway, soon quieted. Stovepipe blackness and utter silence gripped the bedchamber as well as it did Mollie.

A river of tears broke and flooded down her strained cheeks. She kept the sound muffled, her forearm held tight pressed against her mouth and eyes. She yearned for her Mamma hoping she might hear her cries and somehow would get her out of that horrid place.

Wiping her tear-stained face and nose with the sleeve-edge of her nightdress, she opened her swollen, sore eyes. Her forehead and temples ached with a pulsing pain which made her want to keep her eyes closed, but in that brief moment, she could see a stream of light brimming over the windowsill.

to be continued


Time: late November, 1846

Fictional place:

Chadwick's Cottage
Poundbury Rd.
Dorchester
Dorset County
England

Fictional Characters:

Mollie -10 year old orphan

Mrs Jellybe - Matron's Assistant

Oldman Wigglesmith - Apothecary

Little Sal - two-year-old

 

Author Notes I do not intend to copy Dickens' style. The times dictate the choice of words and happenings. Any suggestions are welcome to improve this writing and turn it into a great story.


Chapter 6
The Matron Arrives

By Drew Delaney

















Previously: Wiping her tear-stained face and nose with the sleeve-edge of her nightdress, she opened her swollen, sore eyes. Her forehead and temples ached with a pulsing pain which made her want to keep her eyes closed, but in that brief moment, she could see a stream of light brimming over the windowsill.






The Matron arrived earlier than planned, and unannounced. Black, shabby ribbons hung over the door -- the very thing that troubled her when she took the time to navigate her own affairs.

She hired Mrs Jellybe as a way out of this poverty stricken district when she could no longer bear to hear, smell or taste the remnants of society. These unwanted and discarded children lived to eat the very crumbs she managed to put aside and accumulate.

The only reason she was more considerate and agreeable, in comparison to Mrs Jellybe, was that she passed her responsibilities on to someone else while she involved herself in her own pursuits and pleasures. Oh, she did show a kind streak in her demeanour most times, however, off she would go with her lowly, (most of the time) intoxicated, swain to partake in the realm of night living and all it entailed.

Mrs Peabody looked quite distinquished upon her arrival, with her hair all shiny and coiled, heaps of curls bouncing this way and that. Her bonnet, tied under her chin with blue ribbons, dangled at the back of her neck. Dressed in a hazy blue,velvet dress with a bustle at the back, the low cut style drew attention to her full carriage.

The woman truly appeared a bit out of place in this lowly world of pickpockets, ragged-clad children and dumpy, gray surroundings. The thing that struck Mrs Jellybe more than anything was the odour that penetrated the room once the good woman had entered. You'd have thought she hauled along with her a flower patch of gardenias and lilacs, so refreshing was the aroma.

"Mrs Jellybe? Tell me the truth. It's not catchy, is it?" If she had been informed positively, the thought entered her mind to escape through the back door and hail another cabriolet to take her back to where she had just come.

"No, Mrs Peabody. Nothin' like t'at. Remember Little Sal? How she coughed and gagged continuously?"

Mrs Peabody relaxed her shoulders, and collapsed on a cushioned chair once she felt the strain of worry leave her.

"I 'ad Wigglesmit' come 'eer to examine 'er. Some'ow, t'at wee lass got 'old of the little green bottle and emptied all its contents the good apothecary prescribed 'er. Poor lttle mite! She must 'ave been sorely hungered. Wigglesmit' is at t'is very minute speaking with the Vicar." Mrs Jellybe took on a sad, morbid facial expression and skillfully produced a couple of drops of compassion to show her remorse, although nothing could be farther from the truth.

'We had better prepare for the Vicar and his good wife. I don't want them assuming the child was not properly cared for.'

'Ooo, everyt'ing is in good order, Mrs Peabody. No need to fret and worry yerself. I sponged 'er clean as can be, and dressed 'er in the best we 'ad available. Come. Put ye mind at ease. Ye can see f'er yeself.'

Mrs Peabody followed Mrs Jellybe up the rickety stairs, grabbing onto the wobbly handrail with one hand, the other hand occupied lighting her footsteps with a half-melted, wax-dripping candlestick. Their own shadows accompanied them, but the images appeared to enlarge looking about ready to pounce on them, at any given moment.

The door creaked open as Mrs Jellybe gave it a wee shove once the skeleton key unlocked the latch. All at once, a body came flying through the air at Mrs Peabody. She nigh collapsed at the proceeding thinking the ghost of the dead child had come to claim her to the unseen world. A shrill scream parted the lips of the Matron in horror.

Mrs Jellybe realized her failure at not warning the Matron. Why had she thought anything otherwise might occur? After all, Mollie warned her how afeard she would be once the candlelight disappeared and then to be left alone with little Sal. Not that little Sal would harm her, mind you. Being left in a room alone with Mrs Jellybe would have been more terrifying knowing how mean and bitter the Matron's Assistant was known to be.

Now, once the Matron collected herself and took in a much-needed breath, she glared at Mrs Jellybe with an eye of fury. Words could not be found to inquire the proceedings.

'Wha ... what is this all about?" Twisting and turning to renew her comportment, flicking her garments into proper bearings, and blotting the sweat that accumulated on her brow with the backside of her longish sleeve, the explosion of wrath rose to such a degree, a steam of sorts transpired into the atmosphere like that from a pot of water boiling intensely.

Mrs Jellybe seized Mollie by the arm, yelling and cursing like a man might at the child blaming her for the scene in progress.

'Why is this child in here ... in ... this room? Tell me at once.' She grabbed the trembling arm of the child. 'Come, you must go to bed immediately.' With a slight shove toward the door, Mrs Peabody excused Mollie, and told her to have a good night.

Mollie was beside herself. She made a quick dash out of the room, down the stairs, and hugged the cover she pulled over her head.

What a fine mess Mrs Jellybe had now found herself. All along, Mrs Peabody now concluded the facts respecting the so called, Matron's Assistant, the board had manufactured before her.

She will make a fine Assistant, though an unpleasant nature she does seem to possess. Nevertheless, this is the type of character required to handle a house filled with urchins. They will not perform any kind of underhandedness within her proximity.

Once Mollie vacated the bedchamber, Mrs Jellybe whined and blew the misdemeanour out of proportion.

'T'at gamin is nut'n but a trouble maker, Mrs. I did me best with 'er, but 'er keeps going places w'ere she 'as no business. T'ere was no reason f'er 'er being in t'is chamber, but 'er don't listen at all.' Her talk muddled the Matron's head, for she had not slept enough while away.

'We will talk on that matter when the sun rises anew, but as of for now, it is time to deal with the matter at hand. You must tarry with little Sal until daybreak. Someone is required, as you well know, to remain with the dead until the burial. Can you manage the task, Mrs Jellybe? Or must I have cook take over until I locate another assistant?'




 

Author Notes So sorry to have been away. I hope you remember the beginning of this story.


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