I must have drifted off to sleep while reading about all the children. What happened to them? What part did Uncle Charles play in all of this?
I looked at my watch and saw that dinner would soon be served. I hoped that Mandy and the little housemaid were back from their walk. I splashed some cool water on my face, put on some lipstick, and started across the hall to retrieve my daughter in time for dinner.
I started to knock on the door, but something made me stop. Mandy was talking to someone, and it wasn’t her sitter.
“Mandy, everyone thinks you’re Amanda. You look just like her, but you aren’t her. I don’t know what happened to her,” the voice said. “The doll maker made dolls in our likeness. There’s a doll for everyone but Amanda.”
Who was that talking to Mandy? I opened the door enough to see Mandy with the doll made in the likeness of Abby Ann. I decided to take a chance and enter the room. Mandy’s eyes grew wide and she hugged the little doll close. “Mandy,” I said. “Tell Abby Ann that she can trust me. I have read her story and the stories of the other children who were taken from the school. I want to help find all of them. Please,” I said, “Tell me what happened that day.”
“I have no choice but to accept your offer,” a voice said. I didn’t know if it was the doll talking or Mandy. It didn’t matter.
“We were all so happy here,” I knew the voice was that of Abby Ann. ” We had been a family for three years. Amanda’s Grandfather had helped us all. I learned to sign and read lips. Andy did too. He could hear, but he didn’t want to speak. He signed to us that voices tell lies and hurt people.”
“Alice was trying really hard to stop stuttering. We knew we had to give her time to finish what she was saying, that way she wouldn’t try to talk too fast. She was doing so much better.” The voice…telling of these truths, went on.
“We stopped pitying Tony. How can you feel sorry for someone who doesn’t feel sorry for themselves. He was so happy that he could stand tall. He knew how proud we were of him.”
“And you Abby Ann? What about you?” I remembered her story in the album.
“I can’t hear,” she said. “I don’t know what voices sound like. I can’t hear a bird sing or a song being sung.” She went on to say this. “I can’t hear people I love arguing, or a scream. I can ‘t hear a child or a poor little animal cryout in pain, but I can see laughter, and love, and sunshine. I can feel everything good and bad.” I have been given more than most dream about because of Amanda and her Grandfather, Mr. Sanders.”
“You have talked about everyone but Amanda,” I said. “What was her affliction?”
The voice I heard sounded so sad. “She didn’t have a tangible weakness, but she felt our pain, and fear. She was our strength. She had enough faith for all of us, and she knew how to be a friend.”
Where are these children? Where is Amanda? I knew the answers were in the school house, and in the tortured mind of Uncle Charles. I went to the playhouse and gathered all of the dolls. I knew they needed to be together.