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The Shadow 16
Sarah placed her invisible hand on her face, but Marissa could still see the tears of anguish.
“Why did Lord Edgington never marry you?” Marissa asked suddenly.
Sarah’s expression changed. “I don’t know,” she sighed. “I became a maid in his mother’s home while he was at school. I was just sixteen and trying to help my family the best I could. When Jonathan finished school he returned home to start working with his father. We met briefly, but nothing happened. A short time later he was shipped off to the country estate to tend to matters there. I didn’t see him until five years later when I was sent to the estate to help clean it and get it ready for Lord and Lady Edgington’s arrival.”
Sarah’s face was a mixture of joy and pain.
“Upon our second meeting something changed. Perhaps it was his work with the simple folk in the country or maybe I had grown up enough for him to notice, but there was a spark between us that developed into deep feelings of love. I tried to keep my head, but Jonathan was very convincing in his arguments and actions.” She paused with a tiny smile and then her expression darkened.
“One night I overheard him speaking with his mother on the matter. She was furious and appalled at his choice. She adamantly refused to accept such a match and threatened to cut him off completely if he pursued it. Jonathan left the house, finding solace in a bottle of scotch. I was summoned and immediately discharged.”
“That’s awful!” Marissa exclaimed. “You didn’t do anything wrong. He pursued you.”
“Lady Edgington didn’t care. Her son’s precious reputation was at stake,” Sarah answered wryly. “She did, however, give me passage back to London for the next morning. I got a room at the local inn and prepared to return home in shame. That was where Jonathan found me. He was drunk and determined to spite his mother. He was too powerful to resist.” She sighed. “It was a night I won’t forget and only regret because we weren’t properly married. I left for London in the morning before he awakened and never saw him again. When I found out I was expecting I sent a note to him, but I’m certain Lady Edgington received it first.”
“She probably destroyed it,” Marissa said spitefully.
“I don’t think she did,” Sarah disagreed. “I think that’s how Jonathan found you. I think he discovered the note after his mother’s death. She only lived for a few more years. I’m sure he looked for me, but I had already found a new position on the other side of London with folks from a different social circle.”
“Why did you give me up?” Marissa finally asked, wanting to understand and quell the deep feelings of abandonment she had always felt.
“I knew I couldn’t support a child and I didn’t want you to live in the poverty we would be certain to endure if I kept you. My family disowned me, so I was on my own. I chose the Pically Street Orphanage because I knew the Sisters would care for you and give you an education.”
Marissa wanted to argue, but she knew Sarah was right. Living in the slums of London would have stunted any opportunities. She never would have had the chance to learn to read or get the job in the factory. Nevertheless, she always wished she could have known her parents growing up and felt the love of a family. The feelings of abandonment would probably never go away.
“I’m sorry, Marissa. Maybe the choices I made were wrong, but I can’t change that now. When Jonathan found you I was so happy. All I could want for you came true when he declared you his heir. I’m certain Eleanor Edgington turned over in her grave.” Sarah’s voice held a measure of satisfied contempt.
“I just wish I could have known Lord Edgington before he died. He was only fifty-six when he became ill,” Marissa said, with a sigh.
“He never was the same after his father died. I’m sure he felt all alone in the world. That is the past, though. We must face the future.”
Marissa nodded. “Maybe I should go back to Dr. Bering’s house and see if I can follow him to Sean. He has to go there sometime or at least send a message to his men,” she suggested.
“I don’t see that we have an option,” Sarah actually agreed. “It just makes me nervous. If they catch any wind that either you or I are there, they might use drastic measures.”
“I don’t know what else to do,” Marissa said anxiously. “If I don’t go to the country house, sooner or later Jarvis is going to find out. He might realize who I am.”
“Or that I got to you first and warned you. We could alway try going there and just see if they were foolish enough to actually take Sean there,” Sarah said.
“Or I could call Scotland Yard and report him missing, but then I’d be expected to return to my house here. I trust my people, but people can be bought.”
“I don’t know what to do, Marissa. We should try to get some rest and maybe we will have a clearer mind in the morning,” Sarah said.
Marissa could hear the weariness in her voice. She remembered how exhausted she had felt after her dose of pain that changed her. Sarah must be feeling the same way.
“All right. We can rest and attack the problem in the morning,” she agreed.
Marissa woke up early the next morning anxious and worried. She hadn’t slept well and the seriousness of their situation hung heavily on her mind. Sarah woke up shortly afterward and Marissa ordered breakfast to be sent to their room. After eating Sarah got out of bed.
“How are you feeling?” Marissa asked.
“Much better,” Sarah answered. “I’ve been thinking Marissa. I think we should go to the country estate first. If you go to Scotland Yard they will ask if you have been there and if you haven’t they will pass it off as a woman’s silly worries. I know how they work. Even if you are rich and powerful they still won’t give much credence to a woman.”
Marissa nodded. “You’re right. It is one of the things that I abhor about our political system.”
“If we go there, we will have to be very careful. Jarvis is no fool and if he has men there they won’t hesitate to harm either of us.”
“I’ll order a carriage to take us to the station. It’s early, but I’m sure my people have discovered my note by now. Jarvis will probably find out soon and he will have someone watching the trains,” Marissa said.
They dressed quickly and Marissa packed the few items she had brought. Usually when she went to the estate house she took a trunk full of clothes and stayed for several weeks. She hadn’t been out there since last summer and it would be interesting going there without the usual entourage she had grown accustomed to having.
The carriage arrived and Marissa helped Sarah in first then climbed in quickly after her. The ride to the station was uneventful and Marissa had just enough time to purchase their tickets before boarding the train. It was a short ride to the country, one Marissa usually enjoyed, but her concern for Sean grew with each mile that sped by.
She thought about Sarah’s statement from the day before. Can’t you see how much he loves you? Sean was in love with her. The situation was laughable and yet they had spent enough time together and knew enough about each other to care deeply for the other’s feelings. Marissa wasn’t sure she felt the same way and yet the idea intrigued her. Did she care for Sean in that way? In the last five years she had definitely learned to value his opinion about everything whether part of the estate or not. She thought about her desire to impress him with her ball gown. She enjoyed dazzling the many men at the parties and balls, but she would rather have his compliments than anyone else.
She shook her head, not quite ready to accept the idea and yet the nagging fear that something horrible had happened to him wouldn’t leave her alone. She let out a sigh and Sarah placed her gloved hand on top Marissa’s.
“He’ll be all right, Marissa,” she said comfortingly.
“I never imagined that Sean cared for me,” Marissa said, in a doubtful voice. “We have been friends for so long that that I didn’t realize his feelings had changed. He must think me terribly self-centered and egotistical. I’ve become the very thing I never wanted to be.”
“That’s not true,” Sarah disagreed. “You are a wonderful woman. You treat everyone, no matter their status, with respect and equality. You treat your servants as people and not slaves. You value the opinion of a humble lawyer and because of how you treated him he as grown to love and respect you.”
“He called me arrogant, Sarah. That hurt me deeply. We used to always made fun of the arrogant aristocracy and yet he lumped me with them,” Marissa cried.
“He was just worried about you Marissa. You showed him what had happened to you and it pushed his limits. When the people you love take no caution for their own safety or continue down a dangerous path it makes us angry and hurts us,” Sarah replied wisely.
“I have to find him and apologize.”
The train slowed as they approached the station. Marissa perked up, glancing out the window, and started collecting their bags.
“I’ll get us a carriage,” Sarah said. “You bring the bags.”
As soon as the train pulled to a stop Sarah left their compartment and stepped onto the platform to locate a hackney coach. Marissa took the bag and made her way to the platform. No sooner had her feet touched the platform than a figure stepped in front of her and a handkerchief was shoved against her nose and mouth. Rough arms held her in a firm embrace until she lost consciousness.