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Back on the beach, Brenzel stood as Joshua said, “Do not let go of my hand, if you fall, I’ll have trouble finding you.”

Brenzel, swallowing hard, just nodded, feeling excitement, longing, and dread all at the same time.

Remember to breathe

“Remember to breathe,” Joshua said.

Clicking the watch, reality stopped again, the world becoming a picture. Then Traveler put the watch to his chest and the world faded. A vista opened like a dawn, but there was no sun. Brenzel gripped tighter, as her hair floated up around her, then the familiar sliding past came. But instead of a world of things sliding past, it was as if events passed before her eyes, first one event, then another, then another, faster and faster, until they became a blur.

Brenzel inhaled. Spring.

Eyes focusing, blinking, she saw before them a large, ornate door. Looking up, a grand estate. England.

Joshua put the watch in his vest and led her forward towards the open door, which a butler, completely frozen in time, held for them as they entered. Brenzel looked at the old gentleman, staring into space, as she followed Joshua into the stately manor. Inside, Joshua said, “It’s alright, you can let go now, we’re here.”

Brenzel released Joshua’s hand hesitantly, then realized her palm was sweating. She wiped it on her dress. With a start, she discovered she was wearing one of her old dresses from the time before she gave her daughter up that fateful day in the snow.

“Where are we?” she asked, feeling the familiar fabric, flooding memories cascading through her mind. She wiped her hand again, embarrassed by the moisture still on it.

“We’re in England, on an estate a treasurer of Henry VIII built. The Westons. Very wealthy.”

Indeed, except for her German castle visit during the war, Brenzel hadn’t been in any place finer. The hall, with various servants mid stride, completely frozen, rose grandly over the white marble floors, with rows of grey diamond-shaped patterns inlaid in grey marble forming straight rows.

A coat of arms hung above a large fireplace with huge portraits of lords and ladies looming above. To the right, a grand staircase led up to the second floor.


Joshua turned to Brenzel, taking one of her hands back into his, saying, “Iris is here, Brenzel, she is 17 years old now. The Weston’s took her when she was 9 from the abbey.”

“To here? Is she a maid?” To live here, even as servant, would be better life than I ever imagined for her. A proper maid in a grand manor! Brenzel thought with some pride.

“Not quite.”

“What do you mean?” Brenzel asked, “Is she a cook?”

“Let’s just go up and look in on her,” Joshua said. “Come with me.” He led her up the grand staircase.

Years of worry and regret seemed to fall off with each new step she ascended, realizing that Iris was in a good place, hopefully happy. Though people had all kinds of stories about such wealthy families, nobility, it was generally agreed that they treated their servants well as a matter of course. They passed a woman in a servant’s dress carrying linen, coming down the stairs, foot in mid step, giving the impression that she was about to walk on thin air. Her face was set in a frown, her hair tightly pinned back under a maid’s bonnet.

Coming to the upper level, past columns that looked back down at the marble entrance, Joshua led her into a small closet, dark inside, but roomy enough for them both to stand. Brenzel’s heart pounded in her chest as emotions ran wild. My baby! Grown into a woman. I’ve missed you so much, but you’re okay, that’s what’s important. A happy sadness welled within, and fighting back tears, she held onto Traveler’s arm tightly as he directed her to look through the crack in the door.

Holding up his watch, looking at it carefully, he then clicked it once.

Voices from the past


A world started humming, the ambience of life filling her senses as Brenzel waited breathless. My baby!

Across the hallway, a door opened. A tall, freckled faced, red-haired young woman in a stunning green dress falling just above her ankles, ruffled sleeves to her elbows, fine heeled shoes, emerged. A necklace of jewels hung around her porcelain neck, falling down to a stunning red stone, hanging above a darker one, ending with a large pearl above the hint of her small breasts.

Her eyes, blue as Dove’s sky, looked down the hall as she apparently waited, crossing her arms over her chest.

Too shocked to speak or even think, Brenzel put her hands over her mouth and just stared. She’s so beautiful. Tears streamed down her face. She remembered her Iris sleeping peacefully as she laid her on the steps of the abbey. Could it possibly be that she didn’t suffer after all, that she was in such a place and…? Years of guilt spilled out of her heart like dumping dirty water from a wash tub, the terrible weight of regret lifting. She felt lightheaded, feeling Joshua’s arm come around her waist, holding her up. “Be strong,” he whispered in her ear.

The young woman across the hall put her arms down, then began to go back into the room, turned, and came out again, waiting, arms folding more tightly than before.

Brenzel’s stomach churned with compassion, longing to run and hold her, tell her how sorry she was for leaving her on those cold steps. If only Iris could know how much I loved her, maybe….just maybe. She wiped the still streaming tears from her face.


“Angelique,” the young woman shouted in a haughty and commanding voice.

From down the hall, a maid ran towards her, handing her some trifle.

Iris, visibly irate, raised her hand and slapped the older woman hard across her face, yelling, “I told you to bring this to me an hour ago!” The maid, shaken, holding the side of her face, looked down. “I am to meet the count in minutes! If you make me late, I swear I’ll dismiss you without references. Do you hear me!”

The woman nodded, saying meekly, “Yes M’lady, I’m sorry M’lady.”

“Go, get out of my sight before I do worse.”

Brenzel covered her mouth again gasping, “What the…”

Brenzel watched Iris turn abruptly and stare in the direction of their hiding place, then begin to move towards them.

Click…the world outside their closet froze again.

Joshua whispered, “Time to go.”