Shortly after they had all laid down for the night, they once again heard the planes overhead and felt the shaking of the bombs. Lucy had brought everything that was under her stairs over to their side. She had made a bigger nest of pillows and blankets, big enough for all of them to sit in together. They all huddled together in the nest of bedding under the stairs, against the dividing wall, and prayed. Lucy still felt scared, but it was better not being alone, and she was able to focus on comforting Ruth, rather than the bombs.
The mums came home very late the next morning. Ezra and Lucy were both about to lose their minds with worry by the time they arrived, but trying not to let the little ones know. They all sat down together and discussed what the mums had learned that morning over a lunch that Lucy had prepared.
“The government isn’t letting anyone into the underground.” Mrs. Miller told them sadly. She then turned to Ezra “As you know, I’ve been writing back and forth with your uncle. With the bombing, he finally agreed to let you come stay with him, but Ezra, you will work hard. You will all do what you are told and help out in every way you can. Your uncle does not have room for you, so you will all be staying in the sitting room, but you’ll be safe.”
The kids all looked at her, scared but resolute. “I will take care of the others and earn our keep,” Ezra promised. “Can Lucy come with us?”
“No,” Mrs. Miller answered quietly. “It took a lot to convince him to take you.”
The kids all nodded sadly, wondering what would become of Lucy.
“There is a regional Lord deep in the highlands who has just agreed to take in children from London,” Helen quietly broke in. “I know nothing about him, but we have no choice. I pray you’ll be safe,” she nearly whispered. “Between Ezra leaving and not having a house anymore, you can’t stay here any longer.”
Lucy nodded. What would it be like to stay with a Scottish Lord? Would he be kind? Or cruel? Was he married? Did he have kids?
After a bit of discussion, it was decided that all the kids would leave on the same day. Only two days away. All of the kids were clingier than normal, knowing they would soon be leaving. Who knew how long it would be until they were able to see their mothers again. Hellen spent most of her day snuggling with Lucy, their blond curls also clinging to each other.
The mums tucked in their children and gave them a kiss before leaving for their shifts that night. They both promised to bring home the train tickets in the morning. Both mums were hesitant to leave, knowing they only had one more full day before they put their children on a train and sad goodbye, for who knew how long.
The kids stayed up late talking. Ezra and Ruth were jealous that Lucy would be staying with a Lord on his estate. They had to go stay with an uncle that didn’t want them and didn’t have room for them.
“I wonder if the rationing even applies to him,” Ruth mused. “I mean, being noble and all.”
“I don’t know, but I think it does.” Lucy answered.
“It should,” Ezra argued. “If the king is affected by the rationing, everybody is. No matter who they are.”
“Still,” Ruth argued, “I doubt she’ll have to earn her keep like we do. And Lord whatshisname offered to take kids. Our uncle had to be forced.”
“I hope he’s kind,” Lucy said timidly. “I have no idea what to expect, and I own nothing but the clothes I’m wearing. I hope he isn’t angry. For all I know, he offered to take in kids so he could get free labor. And just because he’s a Lord doesn’t mean he’s rich. He could be a disgraced Lord trying to get favor from King George. I wonder if he has any kids of his own. I hope they’re not horrid spoiled brats if he does.”
“I know my cousins work hard.” Ezra said sadly. “They don’t get anything without working for it. And neither will I. But it beats being shipped off to fight in the war. If the war lasts more than another year, I’ll be deployed.”
All the kids’ hearts sank. Ezra was still too young, but he wouldn’t be for long. That was truly scary.
Mrs. Miller once again arrived late the next day, well after noon, but this time without Helen.
Lucy was in a panic when she saw Mrs. Miller alone. “Where’s mum?” she demanded the moment Mrs. Miller had walked in the door. “Is she alright?”
Mrs. Miller’s eyes looked haunted as she admitted, “I don’t know. The medics took her. She told me to collect her check and make sure you took it with you when I put you on the train. I’m sorry, I don’t know where they took her.”
Lucy burst into tears as the entire Miller family surrounded her in a group hug. It had been just her and her mum for almost a year. On Saturday it would be just her, and she might not even be able to tell her mum goodby.
“I Promise I will get you safely on that train,” Ezra whispered, doing his best to sound confident and grown up. “I swear!”
The kids all packed their stuff that day, so they would be ready to leave as soon as they got up. The Millers gave Lucy a pair of slacks, a jumper, a shirt, and a pair of socks that the almost ten-year-old, Zac, had grown out of, but Ruth hadn’t grown into. It wasn’t much, but Lucy at least had a change of clothes.
Lucy cried herself to sleep that night. It was devastating thinking she might not see her mum before she got on the train, or maybe ever again. Was this what it felt like to be an orphan? She could only hope the Lord would be kind and take care of her. Maybe God would have her back and her father would come home safe, and they could be a family again someday.
Ezra and Ruth curled up with her in her nest of bedding, trying to comfort her. They all knew that after they boarded the train, they may never see each other again. Their entire lives would change forever the next day. They could only hope it would be for the better.
Mrs. Miller met them at the train station the next morning and gave Lucy her mother’s cashed paycheck. She then kissed her on the forehead. “I know your mother would give anything to be here right now. Know that we all love you. Stay safe.”
Lucy nodded, the cash feeling truly strange in her hand. She tucked it safely inside her jacket hoping she wouldn’t need it but knowing she probably would. She decided to do her best to make sure no one found out she had it, just in case she did need it.
The kids also hugged her and they tearfully said goodbye as she boarded the train alone. She was terrified to be going without Ezra. He had watched out for her as long as she could remember. They had been neighbors since before she was born and she felt safe when he was there. But she was going north while the Millers were going west, and her trip would be far longer than theirs.
She took an empty seat by the window and waved goodbye one last time. She didn’t stop waving until long after the train pulled away, taking her to her new life far from everything and everyone she had ever known.