“I spy with my little eye, something that starts with…C.”
“It has to be! There’s nothing else that starts with C!”
And so another fight began on the other side of the train compartment between the three siblings. Emily Ventura sighed and stared out the window as the landscape passed by. Despite the arguing occurring between sisters Emily shared the compartment with, she wished that she were one of them. They did not know how lucky they were to have each other, while Emily was being sent away alone.
The war had torn her family apart. First her father went off to war. Then her brother, Rupert, joined him. Then the most dreadful news came—Emily’s father had been killed in battle. As if that was not bad enough, they had not heard from Rupert in weeks. Hopefully he was well and uninjured—he had promised to write, but it was rather like Rupert to forget to keep promises of that nature. And now Emily was being sent away, evacuated to the country and leaving her mother behind in London.
Emily absentmindedly gazed at the identification tag on her clothing as the rhythmic chugging of the train slowed as it neared the next station. She sighed again. This was her stop.
It was a small railway station, with few people around and fewer children coming from the train. Emily watched as the three siblings were taken away by a young couple. She was rather sad not to go with them—the woman had a nice face, and would surely be a good mother to them as England waited for the bombings to stop.
Brushing a lock of curly brown hair from her face as the train pulled away from the station, Emily noticed that she and a boy she did not know were the only children left. None of the adults around appeared to be looking for children to take in. The boy looked at her and smiled half-heartedly before his bright, green eyes began scanning the station again.
Emily picked up her only luggage, a leather satchel that contained all of her important belongings, and walked over to him. He smiled slightly at her again, running a hand through his blond hair as he continued searching for the adult who was supposed to be there. After a moment, he looked down at the tag identifying him. “I wonder where this ‘Miss Rose Worthington is,” he commented.
A quick glance at her own identification tag revealed that Emily was waiting for the same person as the boy. “I’m waiting for Miss Worthington, too.” Again moving aside a lock of hair, Emily held out her hand. “I’m Emily Ventura.”
The boy smiled again, a little brighter this time. “Edward Aston,” he said, taking her hand. “It’s nice to meet you.” He glanced around the station again. “I’m an only child—I take it you don’t have siblings either?”
Emily looked down at her hands. “I do actually. My brother, Rupert. But he’s off fighting in the war.”
Edward nodded. “I wanted to go to war, too. But I’m too young, so my mum sent me out here.”
The two turned to see a young woman approaching them. “I’m sorry I’m late.”
Emily and Edward exchanged a curious look. Surely the woman addressing them was not “Miss Rose Worthington”—she hardly matched the name. Her brown hair, though up in a bun, was quite disheveled, her clothes were slightly dirty, and her smile was far too bright and happy to belong to anyone with such a name as “Worthington.”
“My name is Rose, Rose Worthington. I take it you are Emily and Edward?”
Emily and Edward looked at each other again, smiles tugging at the sides of their mouths. This woman’s aura seemed to alleviate any homesickness and fear the children had. The two nodded to her.
“Edward Aston, and this is Emily Ventura,” Edward said. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Worthington.”
“You can call me Rose,” she replied. “I’d much prefer that.” Rose motioned to them. “Well, come along; bring your bags. It’s time to introduce you to your new home.”
Emily grinned as she and Edward followed Rose, and was rather surprised to find a horse and carriage waiting for them. “Hop up,” Rose said, giving Emily a helping hand.
Edward sat close to Emily as Rose drove the carriage down a dirt road. “I can’t decide if she’s loony or the most wonderful person I’ve ever met,” he said under his breath.
Emily giggled. “Perhaps she’s both.”
Rose led the carriage through a forest that became increasingly dense. The tree branches intertwined above the road and cut off much sunlight. After riding for nearly an hour, the sky finally opened as they reached a large clearing that contained a large manor. Emily and Edward exchanged a grin. The house appeared quite old, but was also wonderfully grand.
“I think I’m going to like it here,” Edward muttered, gazing around at the idyllic setting and the trees ripe for climbing. Emily nodded in agreement, although her focus was more on the house itself.
“Children,” Rose said as she jumped off the cart. “Welcome to Sherwood Manor.”