Mandy loved her new teacher, even though she kept calling her Amanda. That was Mandy’s real name, but no one had ever called her that. She told the teacher all about the doll house, and the dolls that talked. Her favorite one was Abby Ann, but she couldn’t find her.
“What do the dolls say to you?” Ms. James asked.
“Andy doesn’t talk to anyone but me, he told me so. Alice usually stutters, except when she talks to me. The Tony doll has real legs, but the real Tony has artificial ones. Abbie Ann is my favorite doll, she can hear, but the real Abbie is deaf. When she was here, she told me she missed the real Amanda, and she left to find her. I just got an Amanda doll. She says she’s fine and she wished Abby Ann would come back.”
“Hm,” Ms. Jameson said. ” Did the Amanda doll tell where the real Amanda is?”
“Oh yes,” Mandy said,”Can we have recess now?
Aaron hired a new attorney who was going to get a copy of my Grandparents will or at least find out if Charles and Beatrice were the legal owners. He also checked with the authorities regarding the imposters. He offered to try to find Uncle Charles’ doctor prior to Dr. Davis. We really needed to have my Uncle under a doctor’s care.
When we were having breakfast, Mandy mentioned she had a new doll named Amanda. My next order of business was to find out who the doll maker was, and what did they know. Another thought occured to me…The shadow I saw, of the person making dolls, was that of a person in a wheelchair. If it wasn’t Uncle Charles, how could anyone get up to the tower if they couldn’t walk and needed a wheelchair?
The children…two years before
At dawn the next day, Abby Ann woke up first. When the memories of yesterday came flooding back, she felt her eyes well up with tears. She looked at Tony, Alice, and Andy still sleeping, not aware of the dire circumstances. They had no food or water, or even warmer clothes and blankets. Worst of all, Abby had no idea where they were.
Soon the others woke up. There was no food, but Abby remembered passing by a stream. They could at least cup their hands and get a drink. The four of them walked in the direction they thought would get them to the water. A short distance away, they found it. They helped each other get a drink, then washed off their hands and faces. They were all hungry, but no one complained.
Abby thought it best to follow the stream. Surely it would lead them to safety. Were the bad men that ran after Amanda trying to hunt them down too? They walked in silence, each praying for a miracle. They had to stop and rest often. They all knew Tony had to be so careful with his prostheses.
Right before dusk, Abby thought she saw a little cabin, partially hidden in the trees. She signed the others to wait while she checked it out. Maybe someone lived there and would help them get back home.
She didn’t see any signs that someone was there or had been for awhile. She tried the weathered old door and it creaked open. Would they be safe here? They had no choice but to take a chance. They would pray that someone would come and it wouldn’t be the bad men.
She thought about her dear friend Amanda. Was she in a safe place? Did the men find her, or was she lost and alone.
The cabin had one big room with a fireplace, table, and bed. In one corner by a window, was a stand with a galvanized tub. There was a loft, with two smaller beds. You had to climb a ladder to get up there. Everything was dirty, but they didn’t care. They immediately started looking for some kind of food. They were in luck. A makeshift cupboard held several cans of fruit, vegetables, and soup. They even had a few cans of beef stew. They had flour, sugar, oatmeal, and a few other things needed for baking. The children all started looking for a can opener. They ate a cold meal, but it made them feel so much better.
After filling up, they got ready for the night. They were so exhausted, they all cuddled up on one bed. It wasn’t cold, so they didn’t attempt to start a fire. Tomorrow, they would investigate more, but for now, they let sleep come. All said a silent prayer of thanks.
Mandy and Aaron were up and dressed when I got back to the house. I showed Aaron the photo of the children and the teacher. I was about to introduce him to Ms. James, and I wanted to see if he thought as I did…were the teacher and Mandy’s tutor the same person?
We headed to the breakfast room to grab a bite before going to the parlor to meet with the tutor. I asked Cindy, the little housekeeper,to stay with Mandy, and not leave her for any reason. I didn’t want my daughter to witness anything unpleasant should we have to confront her tutor.
When we got to the parlor, I half expected Ms. James wouldn’t be there, but indeed she was. I decided the resemblance was uncanny, but this woman was at least ten years older than the teacher in the photo. I glanced at Aaron, and could see from his expression, that he agreed. After introducing the two, I collected Mandy and got the little student and tutor all set up for school in the library.
Aaron was going to spend his morning gathering information to meet with an attorney concerning the property ownership. He would then go to the authorities about the Dr. Davis and the attorney imposters.
I headed back upstairs to Aunt Bea’s suite. The door opened just as I was about to knock. My Aunt looked surprised to see me.
“May I come in?” I asked. I could tell she was not excited to see me, but she waived me in. We both sat down, and I got right to my questioning. “How long have you been using the attorney that handled the transfer of property, and set up the funds to run this place?” I could tell she was truly surprised by the question.
“Oh dear,” she said. “Dr. Davis referred me to him. He told me that my health and that of Charles was such that It was time for me to consider relieving myself of the responsibility of Charles’ care and this huge estate. I rather liked the idea.” She picked up a fan and started fanning herself. I decided this was a nervous habit, and smiled as I remembered my Mother did the same thing. She leaned forward and patted my knee and said, “He’s the one that found you dear.”
“Can I ask, how long have you and Charles used Dr. Davis? ”
“Oh my, let me think..Yes, it was a little over two years ago, right before the children were taken. It’s been so wonderful, because he always comes to the estate. He brought Nurse Jones to see Charles when he had his breakdown and decided she should care for him full time. I can’t tell you what a weight off my shoulders that has been,”she said as she continued to fan herself.
I was convinced that Aunt Bea was telling the truth [as she knew it.] Now it was time to visit my Uncle….and Nurse Jones.
I knocked on the door expecting to see “The eyeball” of nurse Jones looking at me from the peephole, but instead, the door opened, and another lady invited me in. Judging by her uniform, I surmised she was a nurse. Seeing my puzzled look, she quickly explained the situation. “You must be Mr. Sanders niece,” she she said, “I’m with a service that provides, short term nursing care. My name is Donna Blake.”
I had no idea where Nurse Jones had come from, only that the good Dr. Davis had found her. “Where is Nurse Jones?” I asked.
“I only know that the service called me and asked me to fill in. It seems Ms. Jones left unexpectedly.”
“Do you know if Nurse Jones was with the same service?” I was trying to make some sense of this one.
“I don’t believe so,” she answered, “I was told a Dr. Davis requested our services, and this was the first time he had referred to our company.”
“Tell me,” I asked the nurse, “Is Dr. Davis listed as the prescribing Dr. on my Uncles medication?”
Amanda and her Mother, Belle
Allow me a moment and I’ll check,” she offered.
“Uncle Charles, do you remember speaking to me the other day?” I asked. “I’m Andrea Allen, your sister Audrey’s daughter.”
He looked at me for a moment, then said, “Yes, yes I do remember. That other nurse is gone, thank God she’s gone. She was trying to kill me.”
I’d like to ask you about something else you said. “You told me you know where the children are.”
He looked at me as if he was trying to decide if he could trust me. “I know where four of them are, but not my granddaughter, not Amanda?”
“Who told you where they are?” I asked, ” Where are they?”
“Belle told me, Belle is my daughter, and Amanda’s Mother.”
Just then, the nurse walked back in. “What did you find out? Who prescribed the medication?”
“There is no medication,” she said, “I don’t understand, the medication and a detailed schedule were to be here this morning, Excuse me, I need to call my office.”
Nurse Blake Uncle Charles
This is not good, I thought. We had no idea what medicines my Uncle had been taking. More importantly,how badly does he need them?
THE CHILDREN – Two years before.
When the people who had been in the car discovered Amanda was gone, they were totally beside theselves. It took a few minutes for them to settle down and decide to go try to find her. Abby Ann waited thinking her wonderful teacher would come back to the bus, but she didn’t. She jumped in the car, leaving Amanda’s father, the bus driver, and Dr. Davis, who were all chasing after Amanda.
Abby didn’t know what to do, but she knew she had to try to keep the other children calm. She asked Alice to get the picnic lunch. They could eat while they waited for the teacher to come back.
When they finished their lunch, Abby got everyone out of the bus to go for a walk. They found a trail and followed it. they picked wild flowers and sang songs.Thankfully, it was a beautiful afternoon, but it would start to get dark soon.
She was afraid, and didn’t know what to do. Abby decided to go back to the bus,and hope the bad men that chased Amanda weren’t there. The children were getting so tired… Andy walked so well with his prostheses, but he tired quickly. They had to keep going.
Abby knew they were lost. She wanted to cry, but she knew that would frighten the other children. They kept walking as long as they could, but when it got too dark to see, they huddled together and fell asleep. Abby’s last thought before drifting off to sleep was to wonder if there were wild animals that could hurt them. She wished so much that she could hear.
“I can’t believe any of this Aaron,” I said. “I’ll check on Mandy, then I’ll try to reach Dr. Davis. I’m sure he must have examined Uncle Charles, and got busy at the hospital before he had a chance to call me with his assessment.”
“Okay good.”Aaron agreed. ” I’ll get my briefcase and pull the paperwork. I’ll grab the attorney’s information and give him a call. I love you, Andrea,” Aaron said. “We’ll be okay, I promise. Do you want to plan on meeting back here in time for dinner? I haven’t even seen my daughter yet. ”
“Love you too Aaron. Mandy and I will meet you here.”
Mandy was in her room playing with the dolls. “Where’s Cindy honey? She was supposed to stay with you. Are you alright?” I asked.
“The cook came and got her. She needed help in the kitchen. I didn’t want to go Mommy.”
“You’ve been really quiet all day,” I said. “Are you sad about something?” I put my arms around my little girl and held her close.
“Everybody here, even all the dolls want Amanda, not me. I want to go home Mommy. I want to play with dolls that don’t talk to me.”
“Honey,” What do the dolls and the housekeepers here say to you that upsets you so much? I know they miss Amanda, and everyone wants her to come back, but is there something else?”
“They say we don’t belong here, and they wish someone would burn that schoolhouse down.”
“Okay honey,” I said. “Mommy’s got to make a phone call, then we’ll meet Daddy for dinner.”
“Aaron, you look pale. Did you reach the attorney?”
“What attorney? There is no such law firm. Apparently, they kept their email and phone numbers just long enough to carry out their scam.” I’ve put some calls in Andrea, but at this moment, I have no idea who owns this place.” Aaron quit talking as one of the housekeepers brought me a message. “Well, Aaron,” I said as I read the message. “The hospital has no doctor on staff by the name of Davis.”
Aaron shook his head in disbelief. “I doubt we’re in any danger or anything tonight, and there’s nothing more we can do until tomorrow.” Let’s eat some dinner, then we’ll go up to our rooms and develop a strategy for tomorrow.”
“Okay,” I said. I knew I sounded as tired as I felt. “Mandy is staying in our room tonight.”
As I tried to go to sleep, my thoughts went from Aunt Bea, to Uncle Charles, to the children. What, in God’s name happened here? What part were we supposed to play?
I woke up before Mandy and Aaron, and knowing they were both exhausted, I let them sleep. I dressed, and headed downstairs for coffee. I felt like I needed some fresh air, but subconsciously, I wanted to go see the school.
As I got closer, I found it hard to believe that it had only been two years since there had been students here. It was in bad need of a paint job, and other repairs. The inside didn’t look much better. The desks were still in a row, and there were some books scattered around. The writing on the blackboard said “Even a thread of hope is still hope.”
The obligatory picture of George Washington hung on the wall, and there was a photogragh in a nice frame on the teacher’s desk. I felt tears sting my eyes as I realized it was a picture of all the students. How bright and happy they all looked. I realized I didn’t know anything about who taught them. That’s interesting, I thought. She looks like the lady who was to tutor Mandy. Why would she not have mentioned that she taught the kids in the school? It’s Tuesday, I thought…she is supposed to be here at 9:00.
All the children loved their school, and life on the Estate was far beyond what any of them had experienced in their young lives. They had been together three years. They lived together, played with each other, and went to school together. They became a close knit group. Each child had a challenge to overcome. They helped one another with love and empathy, and were each other’s biggest encourager and protector.
They all loved their benefactor, Mr. Sanders, and he cherished them. He had only set out to give his Granddaughter Amanda school chums, but it had evolved. It wasn’t that he chose from a group and decided who was the most deserving. Charles Sanders believed the good Lord brought the children to him.
Charles knew without a doubt who he wanted to teach these extraordinary children. Ms. James was the right person to help these special children learn and grow.
Such is the way things were on that day. The children were especially excited. They hardly ever left the estate, and none of them had ever been to the zoo. The cook had packed a picnic of fried chicken, potato salad, and chocolate cake…Best of all, they got to ride on a bus. They had studied all of the animals for weeks, and now they were going to see them.
I rushed to find Mandy. It was hard to think that some unknown, sick, person had obtained a photo of my daughter and made a doll that looked like her. It was made even more frightening by the knowledge that five children were missing and had been for two years.
I found Mandy and the maid playing dress up in Mandy’s room, or should I say Amanda’s room. Uncle Charles had designed a little girl’s dream, for his beloved granddaughter. I felt the need to check on the dolls. Once again, they were all there, but the Abby Ann doll. I thought about the two newly completed dolls that hadn’t yet joined the others. What did all this mean?
I asked the young housemaid to have lunch with Mandy. I wanted to go check on Aunt Beatrice….She had apparently recovered quickly. She and Gladys were just leaving for bingo. Each had a motorized wheel chair. I reminded them not to sit in the smoking section. My goodness her room hurt my eyes.
I knew I shouldn’t, but I decided to have a look around Aunt Bea’s living quarters. I can’t even begin to describe her decorating style, but suffice it to say, it was “her.” I didn’t find anything noteworthy until I got to the seating area. There was a large antique showcase and in it was a collection of dolls. Most of them were not like the dolls made to look like the children, but there were two that made me smile. I took them out of the case. One was a hat decorated with dolls, and the other was an Aunt Bea doll.
“Well, did my patient recover or did she die?” It was the good Dr. Davis standing in the open doorway.
“Good afternoon Dr… you have caught me snooping. Thank you for stopping by to check on My aunt,” I said. “When I got here, she and Gladys were leaving to play bingo. I warned them to stay out of the smoking area.”
He was smiling when he commented that Gladys was a very healthy chain smoker. “At least for now anyway.”
I’m glad I ran into you today,”I said. “Tell me, have you checked on my Uncle today?”
“Not yet, I’m afraid I haven’t seen him for several weeks. Nurse Jones keeps me up to date on his condition, and according to her reports, there hasn’t been any significant change one way or the other. If you would like, Ms. Allen, I would be happy to go see him now, before I have to head back to the hospital.”
“Please call me Andrea,” I said. “I saw him this morning and in my opinion, he is stuck in limbo between too much, or not enough medication. I also filled the doctor in on Aunt Bea’s concerns that he might be leaving the tower to wonder around other parts of the estate.
He was frowning when he said he’d rather not comment until he had examined Charles. He left to do just that, promising he would let me know of his findings.
Monday finally got here and Aaron got home from his business trip. Having my husband around for awhile to help figure this mess out was a relief. I filled him in on everything I had observed and experienced while he was gone.
Aaron was thoughtful for awhile before he spoke. “Andrea, I am so sorry you’ve had to deal with everything on your own, but there are things going on that just don’t add up. “The school children disappeared without a trace two years ago right?” I nodded yes. “It sounds like your Uncle had an immediate breakdown, which would have made it impossible for him to be of any help in the investigation. I’m thinking out loud here,” He said, “So stop me if you have something to add, or you think I’m going in the wrong direction.” I nodded my head again. “According to the attorney, Aunt Beatrice was behind the offer to deed the property to us in exchange for managing your Uncle’s care and allowing them both to live here as long as they live. After two years had gone by, they… well, actually your Aunt all of a sudden came up with this solution?”
“I see where you’re going with all this Aaron. We were brought here for some other reason weren’t we, and what about the dolls appearing and disappearing? I have no idea where the Abby Ann doll went. I only know that she and Uncle Charles’ Granddaughter Amanda, we’re closer than sisters. Until now, there was no Amanda doll, and whoever is doing this, has added Mandy to the mix.” My head was pounding.
“Andrea, did you ever hear back from Dr. Davis after he examined Charles?”
“No, I didn’t”, I answered. That was yesterday, and he promised he would get right back to me.”
“We have to get to the bottom of this,” Aaron insisted. “You call the Doctor, and I’ll get in touch with the attorney. By the way, where is Mandy right now?
It was cold outside, but she knew the cabin would be warm and toasty when she got there. Everything was covered with a white blanket of snow. Off in the distance, she could see the smoke from the chimney. Good, she thought. The others had kept the fire going and she had found enough dry wood to keep them warm through tomorrow. She looked back at the makeshift sled and smiled to herself. It had been two years, but they were a strong family and they were thriving. Each child’s strength offset another’s weakness. She knew God had kept them alive and together for a reason. Then sadness crept over her. If only they could find Amanda. When spring came, she would figure out a way to look for her friend without being discovered. Deep in her heart, Abby Ann knew Amanda was alive.
I stayed in Mandy’s room that night. I had no idea at this point, what had happened to the school children, which is precisely why I couldn’t leave Mandy alone for a minute. The next morning we had breakfast together, and Mandy was unusually quiet. It was Sunday, and she wouldn’t be meeting with her teacher, so my plan was to leave her with the maid in the morning, while I tried once again to see Uncle Charles.
Back up the circular stairs I went, and once again out came the eyeball when I knocked on the door. This time, the nurse let me in without the “Who goes there?” routine. “Is my Uncle up for a visitor this morning?” I asked.
“As I said before,” she answered, “He does better in the mornings and it is morning. I’ll take you to him.”
“I’d like to talk with you a bit, Nurse Jones, before I meet with my uncle.”
“Of course.” She reluctantly sat down, and I had to smile. Her chin and nose were pointed toward the ceiling.
“How long have you been caring for my uncle,” Nurse Jones? I asked.
“He has been under my care for close to two years,” she said proudly.
“So you weren’t here when the children disappeared.” It wasn’t a question, but she had the look of someone who was being interrogated.
“No, she said, “Charles didn’t need a full time nurse until after the children were abducted. He was so devastated over his loss, that he became totally irrational, and couldn’t be trusted to take his medication as the doctor directed.
I could see that the good nurse was being careful not to divulge too much.
“It’s rather curious don’t you think, that he lost his wife and daughter under similar circumstances? People don’t usually just disappear on their own.” I watched for a reaction before I coninued. There was no change in her facial expression, and she didn’t offer a comment. “My Aunt seems to think that Uncle Charles isn’t taking his medication as directed. She also says he is leaving the tower, which seems to concern her a great deal. What do you think?” I asked.
“I can assure you that Mr. Sander’s is taking his medication just as the doctor directed; after all, I administer it.” She looked offended.” And to think that he leaves the tower is absurd. Might I suggest that you see for yourself the state of your Uncle’s condition?” She stood up signaling that she was ending the conversation.
I followed her to the suite occupied by Uncle Charles. As we entered his room, I had no idea what to expect. Like the rest of the tower, it was dark and dreary. There was a cabinet, nightstand, and a hospital bed. That was it in the way of furnishings. The patient looked old and withered. He was in deep slumber. He most definitely did not look like a man that would be capable of going anywhere.
“I thought he would be awake,” I said. “Did I come too late?” The sound of our voices must have pentrated through the fog a little. His eyes opened and he was moving around some. Nurse Jones went to his bedside and raised the head of the bed. Uncle Charles looked my way, and I moved closer to him so he could see me and hear me better. “Good morning,” I said. “I’m Andrea, your sister Audrey’s daughter, I’m so happy to finally meet you.”
“You shouldn’t have come here,” He said, “They’ll come and take you away too.” He was already getting agitated. “No,” he thought again, “They just take children don’t they?”
“Uncle Charles,” I took his hand and he looked into my eyes. “What do you think happened to the children?”
I could tell he had more to say, but he also appeared confused.His eyes started darting around the room as if he was looking for something.
“You must calm down Charles.” Nurse Jones decided it was time to check his pulse. When she finished, she said she was going into the adjacent room to prepare his medication. “Don’t try to talk Charles,” she said. “I’ll only be a minute.”
He looked in her direction then turned to look at me. “I know where the children are,” he whispered. “All of them but, Amanda…I don’t know where my granddaughter is.” He turned to look at the framed picture sitting on his nightstand. So that’s Amanda, I thought.
Nurse Jones returned and gave my poor, confused Uncle an injection of something. She looked at her watch, then gave me a smug look. “See? Right on time,” she said.
– —- ——————————————————————-
The good nurse was happy to show me out, but before I left the tower, I wanted to see if the door to the other room was open. The last time I had been in the tower, there had been various doll parts scattered on a table, and a shadow outline of someone in a wheelchair. At the time, I assumed the doll maker was Uncle Charles.
Once again, the door was ajar, but this time, there was no one in the room. I ventured further in to have a look around. The only light came from two windows. There were tables, chairs, and two wooden cabinets. The tables and cabinets were filled with everything from doll hair to beautiful doll clothes in every design and color.
I walked over to the table where the doll maker had been intently working. There on the table were two photos of little girls, and two dolls made in their likeness. One I recognized from the photo of Amanda I had seen in a frame on Uncle Charles’s nightstand. I picked up the photo of the second little girl, then I picked up the doll. I don’t remember ever being this confused and afraid. The other little girl… was my precious daughter Mandy.
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.
Tony was the youngest and smallest of the school children. He was barely four when he arrived at the country estate. The first thing everyone noticed about Tony was his cute little ears. He had a beautiful smile that he shared with anyone and everyone he saw. Mr. Sanders learned about the little boy when he was visiting a friend in the hospital. Tony was there to have an operation. He was born without legs and was having surgery in preparation of the first of many prostheses he would need throughout his life.
Mr. Sanders thought Tony a brave little soul to share his smile so readily in the face of such difficulty. Tony was an orphan, and was currently in the care of an Aunt who was both financially and emotionally unable to care for her nephew. Charles became the legal guardian of this exceptional little boy and Tony had all he needed in the way of love, medical attention, and safety. He was an eager student in preschool and was in the first grade when two people he had especially been devoted to failed him.
Everyone adored little Alice. She was the darling of the clan, and the third child to arrive. Alice’s parents were very wealthy, but without compassion for their little daughter. No matter what methods they tried or disdain they showed, they couldn’t stop Alice from stuttering. In fact, the harder they tried, the worse her affliction became. They were relieved, if not happy that Alice had been accepted by the school and would be moving to the estate. Less fortunate, Mr. Sander’s believed, can mean more than low income. Alice was experiencing the kind of happiness she had never known in her young life. A happiness that would soon be snatched away from her.