“Amanda,” Belle whispered, “Amanda, wake up. I have good news.”
Amanda had been in peaceful slumber. She had been dreaming about the happy life she had lived before her Father had taken her away. In her dream, her sweet teacher was really her Mother, and they lived with her Grandfather Sanders. He was so good to her and the other children. She felt loved, and safe. She and Abby Ann were constant companions. She couldn’t have imagined a better friend.
“Amanda,” Belle gently shook her daughter’s shoulder, and Amanda opened her eyes. Oh what Belle wouldn’t give to see the sparkle back. “The doctor said you’re stable enough to travel home, but you must promise to eat.” Amanda’s weight loss had compromised her health and stamina, and was a major concern to the doctor.
Amanda started to look away, but Belle took her chin in her hand and brushed the hair from her face. “I have more news,” she said. Abby Ann is back home, and so are Alice, Andy, and, Tony. They have a wonderful, smart dog named Beau who came with them. Abby is convalescing too. You’re going to be in a room together.”
Amanda smiled her beautiful smile. “I’m hungry,” she said. She was absolutely beaming.
Yes, Abby, Andy, Tony, and Alice were home. It felt so strange to leave the little cabin, but they felt better after a dinner of hamburgers and ice cream. Yes, they were home and when Amanda got there, the little family of children would be reunited.
The adults had many questions and concerns, but it would wait. They all agreed to take a few days to get the children settled, and well. It was so heartwarming to see everyone of them with perpetual smiles on their faces. Mandy was beside herself with excitement.
One week later Charles asked Andrea, Aaron, Belle, and Beatrice, to meet with him in the drawing room.
“I know we’ve all looked to my sister, Beatrice as the source of all the pain we’ve suffered over the past two years.” He looked toward Bea, who was looking at him with unwavering eyes. There was unmistakable regret in her expression.
“I must accept much of the responsibility for all that happened. I have been a self-centered man. I created this life for myself. It was all so perfect, and everyone, especially the children looked up to me. I was admired by all. The unfortunate truth is, there was no place for Beatrice in my Utopia.”
Charles was full of emotion as he continued; never taking his eyes off his sister. “In her loneliness, Beatrice began to focus on making her dolls, until each child was represented by a doll that looked just like them. While beautiful, they were a poor substitute for real family and human affection. Beatrice will be treated for her undeniably fragile mental health. I also have a long way to go before I’m completely recovered.”
“So my family, I ask that you find it in your hearts to forgive us both.”
“Now,” he continued. “I must keep you awhile longer, to inform you of a decision that Beatrice and I have agreed upon. At least one remarkably good thing has happened as a result of all that we’ve experienced. We have come to know and love our dear sister Audrey’s family.”
“There were three siblings,”he said. Audrey, Beatrice, and myself.” Charles looked at his family before he continued. “The estate will be split three ways. I will own 1/3. I intend to give my daughter Belle, a good portion of my share. Andrea and Aaron, we are incredibly blessed by you and Mandy. You will rightfully own 1/3, and Beatrice will also own 1/3. She intends to will her portion to the children, so they will always have a home here.” He smiled at Aaron, and Andrea. “We are hoping you will stay on and make this your home as well.”
Aaron and Andrea looked at each other. It would never occur to them not to stay.
Feeling much better, Beatrice hopped on her motorized wheel chair, People scurried to get out of her way. “Now,” she said. “I’m in need of a nap.”
And so, the story of Abby Ann ends. I have grown attached to this family, and I hope you have enjoyed their story.
(There will be an Epilogue). 😉