A Flute Player's Story

By Rachel Halpin

Romance

Capturing and Planning

Snyder had us trapped in the cave. There was no way out without having to go past him, but even if there was, I couldn't move on my own. Our only option was to hope Chepi could get to safety and send for help.

"Look who I found, trying to run away." The short, round man entered the cave with Chepi behind him. He had a firm grip on her arm. "She was looking to run away and get some help."

Chepi looked at us and mouthed the words "I'm sorry." Castel shook his head slightly. I winced as a flash of pain shot through the left side of my body. Biting my lip, I squeezed my eyes shut until it passed. When I opened them, Castel and Chepi were being led out by the short man and Snyder was reaching for me. I cried out in pain as he roughly grabbed my arms and pulled me to my feet. I stumbled around, trying to regain my balance without putting pressure on my foot. It was hard, because I couldn't move my arm. Snyder tried to help me.

"No! Stop it!" Castel yelled, breaking free and coming to my side. He put an arm out and helped steady me. He glared at the men. "Can't you see she's hurt? If you make it worse, I will get every lawyer in New York to sue you!"

"You have no probable cause," Snyder told him. "You have no way of blaming me. There is no proof that I hurt her."

"It's your fault she fell out of the tree. You were chasing us. What reason do you have for that? If I mention that, your defence will fall apart." He stared at the old man, daring him to challenge that. I was surprised, not only that Castel seemed to know what he was talking about, but that the conversation was in English and I understood much of it with little trouble. Finally Snyder backed down and allowed Castel to assist me. We hobbled out to a hastily made sled where I was to sit. Castel and Chepi walked behind me and attended to any needs I had. The men were riding in a carriage next to us. The carriage started and we slowly made our way back to New York, a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach.


"Allegra's hoirt?" I asked Race. "Wat happened? How badly?"

"Wat did da letter say?" Crutchy asked.

"It just says dat Ally's hoirt real bad and Snyder has dem. Dey're on da way back ta da city."

"Den how's did dey send a letter?" I wondered. "If dey're travellin, when did dey send it?"

"Ise don't know," Race snapped. "Da letter don't say much. Just dat Ally's hoirt and dey're comin back. If Ise knew anything else, do youse think I'd be standin here?"

"So wat are youse gonna do?" Blink asked.

"Ise don't know," he muttered, sitting on his bed. "Ise don't know. Ise gotta think." He stood up and walked out the door, half-dressed. Everyone else stood around staring at each other, not knowing what to say. Race walked back in, his face turning several shades of red. "Dere's goirls out dere," he told us, shaking his head. "Dis big group of dem. Spot, Robin's out dere. She said she wanted ta talk."

I nodded my thanks and walked out. I wasn't sure I was in the mood for another fight with Robin. Every time we talked lately, we ended up fighting. Reaching the door, I opened it to find the group of girls Race must have run into. In the center of the circle they had formed were Robin, Killian, Laura, and Carey.

"Wat's da matta wit youse?" Robin was asking Killian. "Youse is too happy all da time and youse is always so nice. Wat's da deal?"

"I have Jesus," Killian told her. Laura and Carey looked happy at those words. "He makes me happy all the time. Well, that's not quite true. Not all the time. But He helps me feel happy inside, even when I hurt. It's hard to explain, but it's the truth. And when I'm happy inside, I want everyone to be happy. So I am nice to them."

"Is dat a rule in dat Bible of yours?"

"Yes, it does say that. I'm not nice to you because I have to though. That is part of it, but I can see that you're hurting, and I want to be your friend."

I walked into the circle as Killian gave Robin a great big hug. Robin's face was a mixture of shock that Killian was hugging her, anger that someone dared touch her, and what looked like a bit of sadness. I realized that since she had no family around, I was probably the only person who really hugged her. I supposed Laura and Carey did too, sometimes, but Robin was something of a loner. Laura and Carey quickly joined the hug and Robin finally stopped fighting.

"Wat happened here?" I asked. "Why is everybody hugging?"

"Killian was just telling Robin about Jesus," Laura explained. "Robin was wondering why Killian is so nice to her."

"Ise caught dat much."

"Then why did you ask?"

I shrugged. "Seemed right ta ask."

"Robin asked us to come with her to see you," Carey told me. "She mentioned something about fighting with you and wanted us to come. I guess she's tired of fighting with you and wants us here to keep you two from fighting."

Robin finally broke free of Killian and came to stand in front of me. "Ise wanted ta explain somethin. When we was at da ocean, Ise was happy. But den Ise got dis letter." She explained how her cousin had written to say Robin's aunt had died. Robin was upset over that fact, because she didn't really like the aunt but felt bad about running away. Not long after getting the letter, she had realized it had been five years since her parents had died. Even though they weren't the best parents, they had tried and Robin was missing them. "And Ise just wanted ta forget all of dat, so Ise tried ta think about somethin else, but all's dat Ise had was youse, so…"

"So youse kept asking for attention so's dat youse could forget?" I guessed. She nodded.

"What you need is Jesus," Killian broke in softly. "Both of you."

Laura nodded vigorously. "Spot, remember that day when we were ten and you asked me how I could forgive the people that hurt me?"

I nodded, sitting down on a bench. Somehow we had worked our way to the Brooklyn Bridge. Robin sat next to me and the other girls stood around us. "Youse said somethin bout forgivin dem, right?"

Laura and Carey shared a look. "Are you sure you want me to continue?" Robin and I both nodded. Breathing in, Laura started. "Well, this is what helps me…"


After going back to put some proper clothing on, I headed to the Sheepshead Races. I needed to think about how to help Ally. Rooster's letter didn't have much information. It mostly told me that Ally was hurt and they were on the way to New York. Based on the date at the top of the letter, they should be arriving soon. Rooster had no idea what would happen to them when they arrived. My best guess was that they would either go to their parents or be sent to jail; though if Ally was badly hurt, she might go to a hospital first.

"Hey kid." Aldrich, my favorite jockey at the races, greeted me. He had been the one to give me advice about Ally in the first place, and I wanted to ask him what he thought about trying to help Ally now. He had a daughter about my age named Killian, so I figured he would understand. "How's the girl?"

"In trouble." I told him what had happened. He kept silent the whole time, his eyes sympathetic. "So now Ise don't know how ta help her. How do Ise get her outta da hospital if she's hoirt? Wat about her brudder? Dey're twins and she'll be upset if Ise don't help him too."

"Wait until she comes back to the city before you do anything. Then find out where she is." We kept talking about what I should do until it was time for Aldrich's race. I wished him good luck as he left. I leaned against the rail and started forming a plan of my own.

That night, I told the plan to the group of people I had assembled. The group included Tajo, Spot, Laura, Carey, Robin, and Killian Aldrich. I was surprised to find out that Killian knew Spot. I hadn't known they knew each other.

"So wat's da plan?" Spot asked.

"Ally's hoirt real bad. Ise is guessin she'll be taken ta da hospital. Da plan is ta have da goirls visit her and see how bad Ally's hoirt. Dey can dress as nurses if dey need. Da goirls will also find out where Rooster is. Tajo, Spot, and Ise will find Rooster after dat and get him out. When we's get Rooster, den we's get Ally outta da hospital and bring her here. Ise also asked Maggie ta come wit us."

Tajo frowned. "Why? Ise want dem ta stay outta dis."

"Dey'll be a good distraction if we need one. Dey can wait outside unless somethin happens. Dat way if somethin goes wrong, dey can't get in trouble." After some more convincing, Tajo finally agreed that he would think about it. I quickly explained the rest of the plan, and we all agreed to listen for any news of Ally and Rooster.

The next two weeks were fairly uneventful. The Manhattan newsies were busy talking about Blink getting married to Laura and Brooklyn was buzzing about the fact that Spot and Robin had seemed to work things out. That was the most exciting thing that happened, until one day Spot came running into the 'Hattan Lodging House, trailed by a Native American girl. Spot threw himself in a chair, panting. The girl, on the other hand, hardly seemed out of breath.

"Wat happened?" I asked Spot.

"Ally's back!"

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