A Found Enemy
Roth’s carriage creaked through the last streets of Bath and finally made its way toward the estate, which was on the outer edge of the city. A couple of minutes later Anne awoke from her melancholy stupor to peer at her new place of residence, and when she did she could not help but open her mouth in marvel at what she saw. Her home with Sebastian was a dirty London lane compared with this dwelling. The house was one of the largest that she had ever seen, yellow, with a grey roof and wide balconies on both sides. Beyond the house the river Avon flowed through green pasturelands, and great enclosures were fixed near a large stable and barns. On either side of the house there were groves of trees and the areas in front of and around the house were spotted with hedges and bushes. A flower garden or two lay on the grass also, watered by small fountains, and a large bath of bubbling water was situated close to the large, black, iron gate that surrounded the entire property. Indeed, Anne was so joyed at the sight that she almost forgot the circumstances in which she was in, but a bellow from her new husband to one of his servants painfully reminded her of where her life had led her.
“Preston, what are you standing over there for? Come and open the gate!” Roth addressed one of his servants, who stood close to the house’s entrance.
“Yes, sir,” the man replied, running forward to unlock the gate and pull it open for the carriage. He glanced inside the vehicle as it rolled past him, smiling cordially when he noted the unfamiliar woman seated there.
The carriage traversed to the barns, where a couple of men walked out to unhitch the horses and take care of the carriage whilst Roth pounced out. The driver, who was named Hewett, climbed down from his seat also to help Anne onto the ground. She turned her eyes toward the mansion and saw four young, excited women rushing toward her with open arms. They stopped immediately before her, aligning themselves and curtsying politely.
“Good day, ma’am,” the woman who was furthest left said. “We are your maids. I am Rose. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Yes, it is,” the next one said. “My name is Hope.”
“How do you do, Mrs. Parnell? I am Kim. It’s wonderful to meet you!”
“I am Clara,” the last one shyly said.
Anne paused, surprised at the friendliness and cordiality that her new servants were displaying toward her. A small smile came upon her lips as she looked at the women. “Thank you very much,” she mumbled.
Roth presently walked over to Anne, his eyes shining with greed and deviance as he stared at her again. He stood beside her. “Anne, I will allow you to become acquainted with this home and its workers now, but tonight I would like to see you in our bedroom, by yourself.” With that, the man strode away with a kingly air.
Anne frowned after him, her expression becoming troubled as she turned to her maids. “Do any of you know why he emphasized his words so?”
The women glanced at each other before Hope answered a bit grimly, “Well, tonight is your wedding night, ma’am.”
Anne’s face kept its manifestation, for she did not know what Hope was saying.
Sebastian had not cared about the day in which he had married her in any way whatsoever. She recalled with a disliking shudder how she had hardly been married to him at all, as he had always treated his various liquors with more love and respect than he had ever done her.
Hope suddenly placed her hand lightly on Anne’s arm. “Never mind,” she said softly. “Kim and I will show you the home and introduce you to the remaining servants, all right?”
Anne looked beyond her at the numbers of manservants standing expectantly by the mansion, looking at their new mistress. “Are they all waiting for me?”
“Yes, indeed,” Hope answered with a smile. “I believe that most of them are quite eager to meet you.”
“Why does he-my husband, I mean-have so many servants?” Anne wondered, her voice covered with innocent awe.
“Oh, Mr. Parnell has spared no expense, ma’am. He comes from a very wealthy family, and besides that he has had nothing less than perfect success in many areas of his life. Lack of money has never been an issue for him. But I fancy that another reason why he has so many is because he would like to be looked at as someone of royalty.” She patted her mistress’s shoulder. “Come now to meet them, ma’am.”
The woman nodded stiffly, glancing over at her husband one last time before falling behind Hope and Kim.
Anne stood in her grand bedroom that night, emptily watching her maids Hope and Clara conclude with placing her belongings in their proper places. Clara now went over to the bed to ensure that it was well made before looking at Anne.
“Everything is where it’s supposed to be, ma’am,” she said sweetly.
Anne nodded, but before she could say anything more Roth swept into the room, and when he saw the maids he stopped short, his face flooding with anger.
“What are the two of you doing here?” he yelled at them, his voice shaking with rage. “I told Anne in your presence that I wanted to spend tonight with her alone, so what makes you think that you can be here against my orders? Are the two of you deaf?”
Clara stuttered nervously, but Hope spoke up quickly. “Do pardon us, sir. Clara and I did hear what you said earlier today, and we were about to leave Mrs. Parnell. We just wanted to put away all of her possessions and make sure that the room was in proper order.” She bowed her head. “Please have mer…”
“Enough, get out now!” Roth yelled even louder than before, moving to stand beside the open door. The maids curtsied, scampering out without another word. Roth closed the door behind them and then turned toward Anne. They were now alone.
The fury in Roth’s face immediately turned to lustful greed as he grinned at Anne. From across the room the woman did not return the gesture but simply stared back at him, her eyes widening with apprehension as her palms gathered perspiration in anxiety. So I suppose that this is my wedding night, as Hope said it was, she thought. But what did she mean exactly? Roth doesn’t seem like he loves me, but then he couldn’t. We haven’t even spent a whole day with each other.
Roth stepped forward, his hands folded behind his back. “You are very beautiful, Anne,” he crooned. “I think that I will rather enjoy having you as my wife.”
Anne retained her stare at him, her heart pounding louder with every step that Roth took toward her. Suddenly he was before her, caressing her hair gently with his hand. He leaned forward and pressed his lips passionately on her forehead. The woman partially closed her eyes, hoping to like such attention, but she could not help but feel that the motives behind her husband’s actions were to make her do whatever he wanted her to do. He pulled away from her slightly and took her face into both of his hands, the desire in his eyes increasing.
“Dear, you do know how a woman is required to treat her husband, yes? Do you know that she is to love, cherish and honor him above all other creatures, no matter the circumstances?”
Anne nodded slowly, remembering Sebastian saying something similar to her a couple of times during their marriage. Fear began to accumulate in her heart, for she did not yet know Roth well enough to answer the question of what he would say or do next.
He smiled, and then took a few steps back. “Well, then, I guess that you know that you have to treat me better than you treat yourself. So love, cherish and honor me, Anne.” He nodded at her. “Take off your robe.”
Anne started when she heard these words, glancing down at the garment that she wore.
She now knew what Roth wanted to do, but she did not want to have any part in it. She did not love him, but when her brain reverberated with the threats that Madame Button had articulated unto her and her heart swelled with the fear that she was quickly developing of this man, she did not hesitate any longer to slide her arms out of the robe and drape it noiselessly across the bed. When she had done this she looked at Roth for further instruction, her natural pride becoming less every time she observed the mannerisms of his features.
He grinned at her once more. “Perfect.” He peeled off his grey wig, tossed it onto the floor, and took off all of his clothes. Anne’s stomach dropped when she saw him standing naked before her. The only person who she had ever seen unclothed was herself. Her cheeks flushed as the uncomfortable moments slipped by.
After undressing himself, Roth stared at Anne with an acquisitive smirk and then made his way toward their bed. He slowly lay down upon it, his upper back reclining against the soft pillows. “Come here,” he whispered to her a bit gleefully.
Choking down any additional anxieties that she might still have owned, Anne drew a breath and forced her feet to walk to the man who was waiting in the bed. Her steps were measured and almost painful to her, but she finally stood near to her husband. He smiled, taking hold of her hand.
“Now climb up and kneel down before me here.” He patted the area between his legs with his free hand.
Anne pressed her lips together and allowed one hand to be limp in her husband’s whilst she mounted the bed and knelt in the space that had been allotted for her, the front of her shift facing him. Roth released his hold on her hand and gingerly ran his fingers along the article’s neckline.
“What a lovely shift, with such fine trimmings of lace. You look like an absolute diamond in it, dear, but…” He placed both of his hands under the shift and they traveled from her knees to her shoulders, pulling her arms out of the sleeves, bringing the garment over Anne’s head and dropping it carelessly beside her. Anne knelt gloomily in her position with a red face, tears of embarrassment beginning to take form within her eyes. She was now totally naked as well.
Roth grinned heartily, running his eye over her bare figure. “There, now you are better than any diamond in the world.” With that he put his hand behind her neck, brought her close to him, and kissed her with a strength so intense that Anne almost squeaked. His hands coursed down her back and brought her closer. The woman did not return the act but relaxed submissively, afraid to do anything besides what Roth wanted. His lips left hers to trail down her neck, and Anne despised the way that they felt. They were neither tender nor loving; indeed, they literally felt to her like knives continuously scraping against her skin. The man was biting her occasionally as his lips touched her skin, so severe was his lust. When his lips were halfway down her neck, he suddenly turned her over onto the bed and continued his kissing, his passions becoming more pronounced as the moments passed. Underneath him Anne stared upward helplessly, reluctant even to glance at her husband’s face as he acted like Anne was the love of his life. Her breath came out sharply when his attempts were at their most ardent and determined but otherwise she lay where she was, wishing for nothing more than for such an experience to be over with.
Anne became more accustomed to her new home through the next couple of days and save for the husband that she had so recently been united to, liked it much better than she had her previous one. More than twenty servants worked under her, some less respectful and friendly than others, but she loved her maids almost immediately after she met them, in spite of herself. She had not been certain before if she could ever come to love and trust another female besides Guinevere, but Kim, Clara, Hope and Rose treated her with great love and respect, placing their mistress before all of their other household tasks, and therefore Anne was obliged to treat her maids the same way. She also quickly found them to be patient and caring, traits that her former maid Eloise had hardly possessed at all.
Anne liked the serene setting of her home as well, and the beautiful arrangements that were cast out about its vast property. The city of Bath could be seen from atop the mansion’s balconies and the building itself was filled with large, decadent rooms that were both comfortable and fashionable. Indeed, her home seemed more heavenly than any that she had ever known, but her quick dislike of Roth spoiled much of her excitement for living in such a place. The man was corrupt and vile, not permitting anyone to do anything other than what he wanted. Anne had somehow persevered through their first night together, but the next morning he had instilled even greater fear in her by saying what would happen if she ever tried to run away or divorce him.
“I would find you and have you killed if you did either,” he had murmured to her in a low, disturbingly voracious tone of voice. “So you had better listen to me carefully and obey. I know of your friend Guinevere and I will allow you to visit her occasionally, but only occasionally. Because,” he added, running a finger across her cheek, “I’m afraid that I could never come to trust someone like you.”
Anne’s spirits had lifted slightly when she had heard about such visits to her dear cousin, but the prospect of living with a fearsome, perverse man like Roth combined with the ghastly promises that he had added on to Madame Button’s dampened her spirits nevertheless. When she had been wed to Sebastian she had constantly hoped that he would take notice of and give her the attention that she had craved for, but now she wished that Roth would stop paying attention to her. She knew that he did not love her at all; lust of the purest kind was simply in control of him and it would not loosen its grip easily. If she did not do what he told her she might lose her life, and therefore in order to protect herself, she had to submit her whole body and soul to a man who would force her to do anything that she feared to do with no regard to her true feelings.
One warm morning Anne read in the great drawing room when one of her servants, Alan, came to the doorway and bowed accordingly. Anne looked up at him, irritated.
“What is it, Alan? You have interrupted me.”
He smiled good-naturedly, standing erect. “Pardon me, Mrs. Parnell, but there is a Miss McFarkley here to see you.”
Anne’s eyes widened as her mouth opened in shock. She stood on her feet, laying the newspaper that she had been reading upon her chair and turning around to face her servant. Bewilderment lifted her eyebrows.
“Miss McFarkley,” the man repeated. “She would like to speak with you.”
Anne nodded uncertainly and Alan stepped aside to allow a woman of middle age and dark hair to enter the room. The moment that she saw Anne she gasped and rushed toward her, but that woman drew back warily, eyeing the newcomer in a way that was nearly malignant. The strange woman stopped promptly, smiling softly, her eyes fixed on Anne’s face.
“Oh, my dear Anne,” she muttered tenderly, her eyes glistening with tears. “You are so beautiful…you look so much like your mother. Except for your eyes.” Her head leaned to one side as she studied her. “Your lovely eyes are your father’s.”
At this unwonted connection with the man who had tried to ruin her, Anne scowled suddenly at her guest. Her eyes ran over the woman unwelcomingly. “Who are you? Or do I not wish to know?”
The woman’s brow turned up in some distress briefly before she smiled, her eyes releasing their stored moisture. She stepped forward.
“Forgive me, dear child. I am your aunt, Maybelle McFarkley. Oh, dear, may I embrace you? I haven’t seen you in years and I have missed you so very much.”
Anne snorted, crossing her arms and turning away from her. “You are not my aunt,” she grumbled. “A true and loving aunt does not leave her niece living desperately in a filthy, crooked city. And may I go on to express just how alone and dejected I was back then?” She made a face. “I wish for you to leave at this moment.”
“No, Anne, please, you must allow me to explain.” Maybelle went forward to take Anne’s hands, but she pushed her arms away. Maybelle sighed. “Anne, please,” she pleaded. She looked around to ensure that no one else was near to them before she leaned forward a bit to speak quite softly. “I escaped from Newgate to find you again.”
Anne backed away from her, horrified. “What? Why, I most certainly do not want someone like you in my home a moment longer! Do you mean to tell me that you are an escaped con…?”
Maybelle slapped her hand over Anne’s mouth, glancing around her nervously. “No, Anne, please. You must hear what I have to say before you banish me. I did, after all, do it for you.”
Anne frowned, removing her aunt’s hand from her face. She glared at her. “What exactly did you do for me?”
Maybelle sighed, glancing upward. “I hope that God can forgive me, but I had to do it. I had to…kill her.” She sniffed whilst additional tears fell from her eyes.
Anne started, appearing both incredulous and fearful of the woman standing before her. She stepped back from her again. “Excuse me?” she murmured. “You killed someone? For me?”
The woman nodded, swallowing. Her eyes were downcast as she spoke her next words. “Yes. I killed Madame Button.”
Anne’s mouth opened as the color drained from her face and disbelief, shock, and relief overwhelmed her. She stared at her aunt, horror swimming in her eyes. “What?”
Maybelle sniffed and then looked up at Anne, sighing. “It’s true, my dear. I had to do it. I had been aware of her and knew how she had caused trouble throughout England, France…and she had mistreated you as well. Please, Anne, I have so much to tell you. Won’t you let me sit down and speak with you?”
Curious now, Anne closed her mouth, nodded, and motioned for Maybelle to take a seat while she found hers again. The older woman sighed once more before beginning her discourse.
“Firstly, my sweet Anne, I must ask how much you know about your mother and her family.”
Anne frowned at her uncertainly. “Not very much at all,” she answered in a low voice.
Maybelle nodded. “I thought as much. If you had been more aware of how cold my parents were, you would have a better understanding of why they would not permit me to visit your father and mother when they married.”
“Well, I am somewhat knowledgeable about that part of my parents’ story,” Anne said. She went on in an embittered voice: “Madame Button did tell me about how my grandparents detested my father and broke off contact with my mother when she married him.”
Maybelle nodded sadly. “Indeed they did. They also forbade me from having any kind of communication with my sister, but we had always been so close that I knew I couldn’t just forget about her. So after Elizabeth married I began to write letters to her, letters that I made certain our overbearing parents never discovered. Almost from the day of her wedding, my sister had noticed the woman called Madame Button wandering around her new home; I believe that my sister said the woman prowled around with a sort of bitter air. I could tell that she had been almost frightened by her presence, but no matter how many times William went out and asked her to leave the property, she would not. At first I could not understand how William could persuade Madame Button to leave, but eventually I acquired the notion that the two had once been lovers.”
Anne gasped, revulsion sweeping her face. Maybelle nodded in agreement.
“Quite distasteful, I know. Anyway, after a year had passed, one of your mother’s letters was joyful with the news that she was with child. She wrote that she had probably known such a condition for a couple of months at the least, and when six or seven months had passed and her letters ceased to arrive, I became alarmed, so during the night I crept out of my parents’ house and traveled to where she was. When I arrived, the home seemed so deserted that I knew something terrible must have happened to William, Elizabeth, or you. I approached one of the windows and lifted my lantern to see inside, and what I saw was purely horrid. Your father was staggering around with a cask of whiskey while you, as an infant, lay crying on the floor. You could not have been much more than a week old. I stood outside, stunned at what I saw and wondering where my sister was when William suddenly turned to look through the same window that I was. He quickly limped to the door and opened it with force, glaring at me. I had never seen anyone so sickly. To be honest, the man was so unrecognizable that I had a difficult time believing that he was the same man whom Elizabeth had been united to. He took a drink before asking me who I was and what I was doing there.
“’William, is that you?’ I asked him. ‘What happened to you? Where’s Elizabeth?’ He yelled at me to get off his property, but I looked past him into the house. ‘William, it’s me, Maybelle!’ I told him. ‘Elizabeth’s sister!’
“’Elizabeth is gone!’ he shouted. ‘She’s gone!’ He pulled out a pistol and pointed it at me. ‘And if you don’t go now, then you will be dead next. Go!’
“I was frightened when I learned of my sister’s death, but I knew that I needed to compose myself to convince your father that he needed my help. ‘William, please,’ I pleaded with him, ‘I understand that you are grieving, but please let me help you. And what about that poor child in there? That child needs caring for as well.’
“’Yes?’ he replied. ‘Well, my wife needed help too, but nobody helped her, and it’s that child’s fault! Go away now!’
“I pleaded with him once more, but he put the gun near my face and told me again to leave, which I did, frightened as I was. But I began to pay visits to your residence to take care of you whenever William was asleep or out of the house. I did this for a couple of years until one day, when I had just laid you down for a rest, he came through the door and upon seeing me, pulled out his pistol and pointed it at me.
‘William, it’s all right,’ I said. ‘It’s only me.’ But he stepped toward me with the weapon pointed and I quickly ran toward him, pushed him aside and went out of the door. I had almost encountered him a few times before that, so I decided that it would be best to stay away from your home for a while. After all, I had figured that you were an intelligent child and could live on your own for a bit. I went back to my parents, and about ten years later I learned of your house being burned down and your father dying, so I went back to your home to assure myself that you were all right. When I saw the house ruins I was afraid that you had perished as well, but then I saw you from afar, looking in the direction of your old home. You appeared healthy to me, and I thought that you would be all right without me in your life-save for the living creatures that might threaten your existence. Right then I strove to think of any such creatures, and my mind came across Madame Button. I knew of her reputation and how she had constantly lingered outside of your home, frightening my sister, so I determined to find and eradicate her. I knew how morally wrong killing was, of course, but I felt that doing so would be the only way to stop her from harming you. It seemed like my search was everlasting, but I finally found her just recently, returning from a store in London. It was early morning and there were few people on the streets otherwise, so when she had almost reached the inn that she had been lodging at, I crept up behind her, threw my arm around her neck and pulled her to the ground. Such a task was more difficult than I would have imagined, for though she was an aging woman she seemed to be quite strong. When I had finally succeeded in this, I noticed the handle of a knife that was protruding from her purse, and without haste I grabbed the weapon and pulled it out. It was a butcher’s knife, and it appeared as if it had never been used before. I placed it against her throat and pulled her to her feet again, whispering in her ear.
“’I know who you are, Madame Button,’ I said. ‘You are one of the most terrible and least liked people in England and France. I am aware of the awful things that you have done to many, both young and old, but you will not harm my Anne any more than you already have. Don’t try to say that you do not know who I am speaking of. You distressed my sister, so I possess every belief that you have somehow distraught her daughter as well. My name is Maybelle McFarkley, and I am the aunt of Anne Falkman-the young lady whom I have reason to believe you have been harassing. Now you will tell me where my niece is and what you have done to her.’
“As I said all of this Madame Button stood quite still, her eyes fixed on the knife. I fancy that she had never looked so afraid in her life. She quickly told me that she had arranged for you to marry a wealthy man who lived near Bath. She said that was the location where you currently were.
“’Why did you force that girl to get married?’ I demanded, and she told about meeting you in London four years ago and taking from you the fortune that you had acquired from the people who had taken care of you. She claimed that she had only done so because she had had no money, but I knew better than to believe such a falsehood as that.
“’Very well’, I said to her then. ‘Now Madame Button, I know that you probably despised my sister Elizabeth and did all that you could to separate her from her husband. What I do not fully understand is why you were so opposed to their being together, so tell me the truth or I promise that I will kill you right here in the midst of these people.’
“She then told me her story, hurriedly, in a cowardly tone. As I had suspected, she and your father had been lovers before he had met your mother, and when he did meet and fall in love with her, Madame Button became very upset, bitter, and jealous. He had stopped courting her a while before he met Elizabeth, but nevertheless she watched your father often, wishing to be with him again. Even back then the woman was notorious with the people in France, but she began to act like a truly horrible person after William left her to be with Elizabeth. She told me that she wanted vengeance for being left alone, for William had been the only man who had ever treated her perfectly and she had loved him unconditionally. Anyway, this was the time that she created a false name for herself. Her true name was Adelaide Edith Bancroft, but she feared to use it because people might discover who she was and she would be put into prison.” Maybelle leaned forward to gently peer at Anne. “So you see, Anne, Madame Button treated you wrongly because she hated Elizabeth. She never had the chance to hurt my sister before she died, so her passion for vengeance had to be passed on to you. When Madame Button had finished telling me her story, I thanked her and told her that she was free to go, but the moment I unwrapped my arms from her and she tried to run from me, I stuck the knife into her back. A quick glance at the shocked witnesses of this incident told me that I had to go away from the scene to avoid being captured, so I pulled out the knife and went as far away as I could from that location, leaving the woman to fall onto the street dead. Thirty minutes hadn’t even passed before a couple of the witnesses reported the happening; I was captured and locked into Newgate Prison.” She bowed her head. “While I sat in the prison with the other convicts, I prayed arduously for forgiveness for what I had done, but I nonetheless knew that I had to escape to find you and make certain that you were all right. That was what I did and that is how I am here now. And so, my dear niece, you now know the truth.”
Anne had sat quite still throughout the entire narrative, listening with honest interest to a bit of Madame Button’s life story and how she had met her end. She was now aware of all that her aunt had done for her through the words that she had spoken, but her heart would not accept the love behind Maybelle’s actions. Instead, it focused on the parts of the story that had seemed neglectful and uncaring. She cleared her throat and moistened her lips.
“Well, I am glad to have heard of what you did, Miss…McFarkley,” she began.
“Oh, you needn’t call me that, Anne!” Maybelle smiled, her eyes full of love. “I am your aunt, after all.”
Anne frowned. “Perhaps so.” She stood up. “I understand about what you did for me, but what I can’t decipher is why you would leave me to live, as a child, by myself in London. I hope you realize that I was quite homeless and in need of more than food and shelter. You left me to live in that state for ten long years, and if my father hadn’t died you probably wouldn’t have thought about me ever again.”
“No, no, Anne, that’s not true at all!” Maybelle jumped up and walked toward Anne, reaching out to her. More tears fell from her eyes. “Please, Anne, you must not believe that. I thought about you every moment of every day through those years. I’m truly sorry that I didn’t come back for you; I probably should have, but that one glance at you near your home after your father died told me that perhaps you were a very independent, strong child who disliked the idea of a strange adult disturbing your way of life. I was also afraid that you wouldn’t understand what I wanted with you. I feared that you would withdraw from me. But Anne, you must understand how much I thought and worried about you.”
“You thought that I wouldn’t want to cease living like that?” Anne almost yelled, her own eyes beginning to moisten. She stepped back from Maybelle again. “Did you seriously think that I didn’t dream of living in a safe, secure home that was vacant of an intoxicated, abusive father and constant risk of starvation and sickness? Would you like to know, Maybelle, how many times I thought I was going to die? Would you like to know how many times the beadle almost caught me? I don’t know how many times I cried during the day and night, wishing for my life to change, and now you tell me that you were never far away. You had a ridiculous fancy that a homeless child would be fine begging on the filthy streets of a city for the rest of her life, so you stayed away. Well, let me tell you something, Maybelle: you should have never come back at all!”
“Anne, please!” The other woman was sobbing now as she went forward to grab Anne’s shoulders. Once again, she pushed her aunt’s arms away. “Anne, please, I love you. You don’t have to stay here.” She lowered her voice to a whisper as she stared pleadingly at Anne. “I know that you loathe the husband that that dastardly woman forced you to marry, so come with me. The two of us can go far away from England where no one can find us, and you can live the life that you always wanted to live. You and I can be truly happy, together. Anne, please, I beg of you.”
Anne narrowed her eyes. The thought of leaving Roth was glorious to her, but she distinctly remembered what he had said if she ever tried to leave, and even if he had not said anything of the matter she was not willing to go anywhere or do anything with her aunt.
What am I supposed to do with this woman? She wondered irritably. I know that she doesn’t mean anything she’s been saying, and if she truly loved me she would have come to me when she saw me as a child in London and taken me with her then. What can I do to persuade her to leave me now?
Suddenly, she thought about how she had convinced George to leave her for Cambridge and a shrewd smile crept along her mouth carefully. She looked up at Maybelle, trying to retain her former expression of denial and hatred.
“All right,” she said softly to her. “I cannot leave with you, Maybelle, but I suppose that if you do love me I can try to become fond of you as well.”
Maybelle let out her breath and covered her mouth with her hand, smiling greatly. “Oh, thank you, Anne!” she cried, walking forward and embracing her, her shoulders shaking with sobs. “Thank you so much, dearest. I love you so.”
Anne nodded in return, her chin resting on her aunt’s shoulder. “Yes, I understand that. But if you truly do love me, then I’m afraid that there is one thing that I would like you to do for me, if you don’t mind.”
Her aunt stepped back to look softly at Anne, her hands caressing her hair. “Oh, I would do anything for you, my dear. Anything.”
Anne nodded, peering at another enemy who had crossed her path. “I would like you to turn yourself in to the authorities.”
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