A round of applause followed once I entered through the room. Dozens of people surrounded a tall cake with the words ‘Welcome Sophie’ written in blue icing. Everyone from the circus was there, except for Hertha.
“Hertha’s planning for next week’s circus,” Molly told me, practically reading my mind. “I’m sure she’ll do something nice for you too.”
“Oh, she doesn’t have to,” I said. “She has done enough for me. I certainly owe her something.”
“You can give her a slice of cake!” Molly suggested. “She would love that. I made it myself. Triple dark chocolate with dark filling, topped off with strawberries covered in . . . you guessed it—chocolate!”
“Thank you so much,” I said. I had to admit, I couldn’t wait to eat the cake. I had missed eating chocolate so much.
“Come now, everyone wants to talk to you!” Molly took me across the room and introduced me to everyone from the circus. I greeted them all formally, while they took a more casual approach by hugging or shaking my hand. Back at home, this would’ve been improper, but at this moment I didn’t care as I felt rather happy being around such a merry group of people. After what had occurred before I arrived here, it was nice to take a breath of air.
“How’s practicing coming along, Sophie?” Naomi asked me. Ashton was behind her, cutting up the slices of cake.
“Fairly well, actually,” I said.
“Have you heard anything from Aleck?”
“No. He’s still busy. . .”
“I’m sure it’ll all be fixed up soon,” Naomi assured.
“Yes, I do hope so,” I agreed. My mood was brought down for a minute as I wondered when Aleck would be done, but it didn’t last for long as Ashton handed me a slice of cake.
“Here you go, Sophie,” Ashton said.
“Why, thank you,” I took a bite of the cake and my taste buds were dancing. “It’s delicious!”
Molly giggled. “Glad to hear!”
“This is very thoughtful of you all,” I said. “I couldn’t be anymore thankful for throwing this party for me. I really do feel welcome.”
“Great!” Molly cheered, throwing an arm around my shoulder. She then took me over to a table and picked up one of the glasses. “Drink up, it’s champagne.”
“Sorry, I really shouldn’t.” I disregarded politely.
“But what’s a party without drinking some good ol’ champagne?” Molly asked, pursing her lips.
“Well, at a tea party you don’t drink alcohol,” I noted quietly.
Molly sighed, clearly cross. “You nobles and your tea parties. . .”
“Never mind. Just take a little sip.”
“Mmmm, I really do prefer water,” I said. “But thank you anyways.”
“Fine, fine.” Molly said. “I don’t wanna force you or anything.”
“Ah, Sophie.” Oscar approached me with Bo once again on his shoulder. Bo was eating a spoonful of cake, although I wondered if that was good for him.
“How are you enjoying the party?” he asked me.
“Very well,” I said.
“Good, good.” Oscar smiled, patting Bo who was now licking the spoon. “Bo has a present for you. Bo?”
Bo blinked at Oscar and then turned to me. He tilted his head, but suddenly dropped the spoon to get something from under his hat. It was a pink ribbon.
“How sweet,” I said, taking the ribbon.
“I’m sure you have a lot of ribbons, but Bo made one for you,” Oscar said. “Would you like him to put it on you?”
“Yes!” I said.
Bo hopped on my shoulder and pinned the ribbon to the side of my head. He got out a tiny hand held mirror and showed it to me.
“It’s lovely, thank you,” I said.
“Bo is happy that you like it,” Oscar said.
Bo jumped back onto Oscar’s shoulder and the two went off to get some more cake. Molly nudged my shoulder, I had almost forgotten she was sitting next to me.
“Bo likes to give presents to newcomers,” Molly noted, taking another sip of champagne. I didn’t think she should drink anymore.
“It’s very thoughtful of them.”
“Mm-hmm,” Molly said. “Bo gave me half a muffin once.”
“Why only half?”
“’Cause he ate the other half,” Molly answered. “But no worries, he gave me another one. Though I’m kind of jealous that he got you flowers and a ribbon. You’re a lucky kid. Wonder if he’ll get you something else.”
I giggled. “You act like Bo’s actually human.”
“Well he does act like one sometimes,” Molly said. “Anyways, sorry that Hertha couldn’t come. She usually takes part in these gatherings, but I guess she was too busy tonight.”
“I understand,” I said. “Also. . .out of curiosity, how long have you known Hertha?”
“A long time,” Molly started, “my parents died and I was alone. One day, I wandered onto the train and arrived here. Hertha found and adopted me. I stay at her house sometimes even though I have my own, but I think she prefers that I stay in my own house since she thinks I bother her too much when she’s busy.” Molly giggled.
“I see,” I said. “Do you remember the world you came from?”
“Nope,” Molly said, “but if I decide to leave here for vacation and journey around, something will likely jog the memory.” Molly knocked her head and winked at me. “Hey, how about this? When you get reunited with your sis, we should all take a trip on the train. We could all have a break, especially you two.”
“That would be great,” I agreed.
“Good,” Molly said, “it’s a deal then.”
The party continued through the night. I had met so many people, and their smiles, and cheerful tones in their voices lifted my spirits. We ate delicious food, and Isaac and Isaiah performed a dance, and then pulled me in to join them. I couldn’t dance well, but they held my hands and spun me around in a circle while everyone around us watched in delight.
I didn’t want the night to end, but sadly it did, and I came to realize once again that Sue wasn’t with me. My happiness disappeared at the realization that Sue was most likely worried of my wellbeing. . .and all I wanted to tell her right now, was that I was fine. . .I really was. I only wished I could see her, to let her know that I was okay.