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A Christmas Wonder

 

table=. =. |=.
p={color:#000;}. A CHRISTMAS WONDER

 

Orphaned twins. A new home. A true Christmas miracle.

 

A Christmas Story

 

Iva Writer

 

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CHAPTER 1

 

Mary Foster allowed her lips to curve into a smile as she took a sip of her tea. Over the past five years she had being looking after her Dutch aunt. Her aunt was a fine lady, well-respected here in Holland; she had looked after many children until either their parents could come for them or until they could be resituated into suitable homes. Over the last year, Mary had been very concerned about her aunt’s health; but it was only after a mild stroke had struck her that Mary had managed to convince her to give up her work and retire. She was now living in one of the best nursing homes in Holland.

After her aunt had moved, Mary had immediately put the old house up for sale. The house sold quickly, and in just a few hours, Mary would be back in her own land, England. Shivers of excitement ran down her spine. Oh, how she had missed her homeland! This would be a homecoming like no other; she had never been more thrilled.

Her pleasant train of thoughts were rudely interrupted by a long wail. The wailing stopped just as soon as it had begun. Mary cocked her head to the side, listening intently. Surely this was not her imagination? The wailing started up again, this time more loudly than before. Mary took a deep breath and sighed. She had lived here long enough to be able to know the sound of a baby wailing. Hadn’t her aunt looked after countless numbers of babies? Mary had always been the first to find the babies lying at the doorstep, and no wonder! Their wailing was impossible to mistake.

Mary set her teacup down on the table, before making her way towards the door. Didn’t people know that her aunt, the well-respected lady who looked after babies, had gone into care? Clearly they did not. Mary’s train would leave tomorrow to go to France; from there, she would take a ferry back to Britain. She didn’t have time to find a home for this baby! Well, alright then. She would take it back with her to Britain. Finding it a home there would not be difficult, now would it?

Mary pushed against the front door. It creaked as it slowly swung open. Sure enough, there on the doorstep was the basket from which the wailing came. Mary peered inside the basket, unable to contain her curiosity about this baby. As she looked inside, she let out a sharp gasp. There in the basket were not only one, but two babies.

Mary warmed some milk in the kitchen and set to work feeding and cleaning the babies. This was the first time she had ever been left with two babies. Mary searched around in their basket, eager to find some indication of who they were.

Covering the babies was a blanket. The blanket had a single word stitched onto it; Twins. Ah, Mary thought, so they were twins. They looked little alike, although Mary could spot a few similarities.

The babies each wore a frock. Mary assumed they were handmade. In the same stitching as was on the blanket, each frock had a word embroidered on it; Madison and Victoria. Mary wondered at the names. Were they the babies names, or did they mean something else? Mary had only ever heard of Madison as a surname, but it could be sweet as a first name too.

Mary smiled at the name Victoria. It was the name of the Queen of England, yet another reminder of the good life that lay ahead of her. She could barely contain her excitement. The babies would soon be in care, and she would soon be enjoying life in England.

She decided to keep the babies names as they appeared to be, she didn’t have time to come up with names anyway.

By the time Mary was done processing her thoughts, the babies were fast asleep and Mary decided to do the same, knowing that soon she would be on the train leading to her new life.

Light seeped through the window, a chill hung in the air. Mary woke up, refreshed and excited. She looked out of the window, silently bidding the forest and her old home good-bye. Today was the day she would leave Holland and go on home to England. She would miss Holland, of course. It was a most beautiful country and its people were delightful, always kind and thoughtful. Wonderful memories had been made here. However, England was the land she longed for. Mary sighed contentedly. Soon she would be home.

Mary planned to leave in an hour, so she hurriedly prepared herself for the journey ahead. She fed the babies, and much to her pleasure, they were quiet and well behaved. Once Mary was fully satisfied that all last preparations were complete, she put the babies into their basket and began her walk to the train station.

Her walk to the train station was pleasant. The cold did not bother Mary at all. She couldn’t help but skip as she went along. She waved at familiar faces and lingered at the windows of all her favourite shops. Her train ticket had already been bought, so Mary decided to wait on one of the train station’s benches. She would have a good view of all on goings and be in clear view when her train arrived. People walked past and admired the babies. The babies were sleeping. They had made little fuss this morning, and Mary was grateful for it.

The train noisily arrived at the station and Mary stood up, ready to board as soon as its doors opened. There was great hustle as people exited and boarded the train. Squeals of excitement could be heard as loved ones were greeted. Final greetings were made and the train was off. The sound of the engine and the train running over the tracks, even the occasional whistle, greatly comforted Mary.

She placed the basket and babies on the empty seat next to her, before leaning against the window and watching the scenery go by. She saw windmills and beautiful fields of thousands of tulips. People riding on bicycles looked up as the train passed by, and Mary couldn’t help herself but to wave.

Before Mary knew it, the train was racing through Belgium. They rushed through Belgium, and before long were in France. The whistle of the train blew, the train slowly coming to a halt. Mary left the train station and carefully made her way to the ferry that would take her home. For a while she just walked through France, enjoying the lovely country. She eventually arrived at the harbour, bought herself a ticket and waited awhile before boarding the ferry that would take her to Britain.

The ride across the English Channel was soothing. Mary had nearly forgotten what it was like to have an entire peaceful day alone. Of course, she was not really by herself. She had the two babies with her, but they were being surprisingly serene, so the day was as good as if she had been alone.

Once she arrived in England, she decided to sort out the babies first before making her way to her new home. After asking around, she discovered that there was a kind lady who looked after orphans in a nearby home for children. Mary walked to the home, as it was not far away. She was tired, but had luckily managed to catch up on some sleep during the train ride. A large building loomed ahead of her and Mary figured that it was the home she had so kindly been directed to.

Mary took a deep breath before knocking on the big wooden door. The babies were about to go to a good home and would be out of her way for good.

Now her new life could finally start.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 2

 

Mary raised her hand to knock on the door. The house was large, but charming. The walls were painted white, and thousands of stunning roses surrounded it. Some of the windows were made of stained glass, and looking through the clear ones, Mary saw that the inside was as lovely as the outside.

As Mary took in all the details around her, the door creaked open. Standing there was a lady in a starched apron and cap. She peered at Mary and the basket over her spectacles. The lady looked stern. Judging by the duster in her hand, she was clearly busy and frustrated at being interrupted from her work.

“Yes, how can I help you?” The lady’s clipped tone was brisk and sharp. It was clear that she did not take any nonsense.

Mary’s reply came swiftly, “I found these two babies in a basket, on the doorstep of my house. A letter was in the basket with them. The letter says they are twins and need to be taken care of. They were wearing the same handmade clothing when I found them, which I have enclosed in the basket. Little frocks, each with a name embroidered on it; Madison and Victoria.’’

The lady at the door nodded, “I see, are these the babies’ names?”

Mary took a deep breath before answering, “Yes. Well, at least I assume so. There was no note. The one with brown hair is Victoria. The blonde appears to be Madison.”

“Madison seems quite a ridiculous name! I once had a friend by the last name Madison, although I never did hear of a child with the first name!”

Mary felt herself relax. This lady had intimidated her; at least now she was starting up some conversation. She had thought the same thing when she had discovered the baby’s name. Now, she couldn’t help but like the name, and she said as much. “It is rather queer, but I must say I like it.” Mary thought of the name Victoria, and couldn’t help but smiling, “and Victoria is the name of the Queen herself!”

“Indeed it is,” the lady at the door said with a radiant smile. Knowing that only a few days before a few girls had left the home, the lady decided that there would not be any problem with taking in the twins. “Let me take the babies and the basket, and thank you very much.” She reached out for the basket and Mary gave it to her.

Mary waffled on, excited that the babies were out of her way and that she was back in England. “Thank you for taking them in. I have travelled a long way to be here and appreciate your hospitality. I have just moved here from Holland, where I found the infants at my home. I was taking care of an elderly aunt of mine but she has gone to a retirement home now. It feels good to be back in England.”

Hearing that Mary had just gotten home, the lady softened. Living in another country could be difficult, especially when you only longed for home, and that home was Beautiful England. “Yes. There is no place like home, is there? Come in for some tea before you leave, will you?”

“Yes, thank you very much”

Yes, Mary thought, life back in England was going to be a ball.

 

CHAPTER 3

 

Miss Sterling flopped down on her bed and sighed. There had been two new arrivals today, twins. Jane had told her that a lady had just brought them in, fresh from her doorstep. Jane was leaving this afternoon; she had decided to go live in the countryside, so Miss Sterling hadn’t pushed for any more information about the twins.

Miss Sterling had being running this home for nearly ten years. She had had a passion for poor and orphaned children and had decided to open a home that would be completely to the children’s benefit. Not at all like the workhouse that she had been brought up in. The children got an education here, and were treated well. Miss Sterling ensured that there was always plenty of good food on the table and that their clothes never turned to rags. She tried hard to find homes for the children, whether permanent of just temporary foster homes.

Miss Sterling was strict with the children, but never unkind. Books were always available to the children, she encouraged learning. After discovering that she was the only heir to her late-long-lost uncle, she had moved into this house and opened the establishment. Growing up in the workhouse had made Miss Sterling determined to find a way that other children would not have to grow up the same way.

At the moment there were twenty-two children, including the new twins, living in the home. Since beginning work here, Miss Sterling had looked after sixty-seven children, thirteen of which she had managed to find permanent homes for.

A few days before, two of the girls had left the home as they were now old enough to find their own way in the world.

Having the twins here, there were now four babies; Madison, Victoria, Bessie and Emmy. All of them had arrived within two months of each other.

A lady had come yesterday volunteering to temporarily or, if things went well, permanently, look after a few young children or babies. Miss Sterling decided then and there to try and get her to take the babies; if not all of them, maybe just one or two of them.

Satisfied that she had a plan, Miss Sterling nodded her head and went to the kitchen to prepare dinner.

The mother to-be came the very next day. Miss Sterling had dressed all the babies, as well as the younger children in their very best outfits, fit for the occasion.

Miss Sterling and Bertha, the mother to-be, sat down to drink tea and have a discussion. It would be important to build up a relationship with Bertha, that she might help the home and the children alike.

Miss Sterling really wanted this to work. If Bertha looked after a few of the children, there would be more room for new children. Bertha was asking her questions about the home and Miss Sterling was answering diligently.

“Do you receive any help with the children? After all, this must be a lot of work and responsibility!”

“At the moment I have a lady coming in five days a week to teach the older children, the ones between the ages of seven and fifteen, mostly. Sometimes we still have older children here. The children get their schooling on Mondays through to Fridays, and then have the weekends off. Sometimes, though, I use the weekends to teach them skills like sewing and cooking.”

“I love the fact that it is almost like one big family here.”

Miss Sterling agreed, although personally she thought that a home in a real family would benefit the children more.

Miss Sterling led Bertha to the nursery, where some of the younger children were playing with each other. The two younger children were playing with the babies, teaching them how to arrange their blocks and put the dolls to bed. Bertha watched them at their play and, after a while, kneeled down to join them. Miss Sterling left her to it and left to continue her household duties.

Bertha loved this. The way the children played and laughed, the way they made her smile. This home was wonderful; it gave the children a chance to discover themselves, giving them the best of everything, holding nothing back. Bertha had never seen another place like Miss Sterling’s Home for Children. Bertha wanted to help this establishment with everything in her, if it meant taking in a couple of children for a while, then so be it. Looking after the children would give Miss Sterling a chance to open this home to even more children, giving them the chances that they deserved.

   She had specifically asked to be able to look after some of the younger children. That way Miss Sterling would have less responsibility and she herself would have more time with them in her home if she eventually decided to keep them on permanently.  Now she just needed to make her choice.

   Little Emmy instantly caught her eye. She was small and chubby, her eyes dancing with laughter. Emmy cackled as Bertha reached out to tickle her chubby stomach. She bounced up and down and gurgled happily. Yes, she would definitely take Emmy.

   The two new babies, twins Miss Sterling had said, were sound asleep in their cribs. The two did not look much alike, but were both very sweet. Bertha decided on taking them as well. Having the two youngest children gone would certainly give Miss Sterling at least some rest and peace. Anyway, being sisters, Bertha didn’t want to risk the twins being separated if someone else decided to look after them.

  She nodded, satisfied with her decision. Those were the three she would look after, for a time anyway.

                                                       

Miss Sterling leaned back against the wall and allowed a sign of relief to escape her lips. Three of the babies were gone, for now at least.  She could take a breather. In just a few days, there would likely be more children coming in. There always were. Miss Sterling had to work fast to find homes for the children, suitable homes too.

   Mrs Bertha Campbell had been very good about taking Madison and Victoria in, Emmy as well. Her husband worked as the rich owner of multiple factories. He had agreed that looking after orphans was a good thing to do. He supported this home and invested in other such causes; a good man. His wife, Bertha, was also lovely. She clearly had a passion and worked hard to achieve her goals. Miss Sterling had felt she would become a friend from the moment she first saw her. She felt no different now. Having respectable people like Mrs and Mr Campbell invested in this home was entirely what Miss Sterling wanted. The more help she could get from outside, the better.

  Right now, that help was working wonders.

                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 4

 

The first few weeks of having the babies living with Bertha, was amazing. She loved and lived for the babies. As the months went on, though, she became tired and worn out. She still adored the babies of course, but knew that the time for sending them back was coming soon.

   She would walk every day with the three to the park. All three babies would be neatly tucked into one pram, cackling and gurgling as they went along. The three were very happy babies, Bertha could give them that.

   Their daily walks to the park always attracted plenty of attention from neighbours and passer-bys. Bertha would have to stop the pram often along their walk to let people admire the babies. The people would tickle the babies and play a quick round of peek-a-boo with them before moving on. Oftentimes people would ask about the babies and Bertha would have to explain all the details about them. Once everyone was satisfied that their questions were answered, Bertha could continue her walk to the park.

Once at the park, Bertha always enjoyed herself. She would spend ages pushing the fast growing children on the swings, sometimes having a go herself. Then they would all get onto the merry-go-round and go around very slowly. Bertha didn’t want to risk the babies becoming upset or hurt.

  The babies were growing very fast, and five months after arriving at Bertha’s home, were able to have their first seesaw ride. Victoria fell off, and after forty minutes of tears, Bertha decided to wait another few weeks before risking the seesaw again.

Every morning and evening, Bertha would seat the babies upon their high chairs around the dining room table. She would feed them each a warm milk bottle along with their food. Her husband came home from work each day just before dinner, and the couple would laugh heartily at the babies’ antics.

The babies grew fast; they could all walk by now, if only a little. An entire area of the house had been dedicated to the budding toddlers. They could spend hours crawling around and playing.

Before Bertha knew it, the babies had been at her home for nearly a year. Both she and her husband knew that the time to take them back to the orphanage was coming soon. She knew that she would never be able to raise all three. Her past few months with them had proved as much. Raising even two would be difficult… but one? Bertha and her husband had begun to think seriously about keeping Emmy. Their last conversation had revolved around her.

“I suppose we will have to be taking the children back to the orphanage soon?” Bertha’s husband frowned as he stroked his beard. He loved the babies very much, but knew as sure as Bertha did, that their time had come to go back. “It is a pity, I suppose, having grown so fond of them, and all.”

Bertha could only agree, “I plan to take them back within the week,” she too had a frown creasing her forehead. “I have being wondering though, perhaps we should keep Emmy? I could never look after two babies, and somehow could never think of separating the twins. Emmy though… she’s different. There is nothing tying her back, and growing up with a proper family will be good for her, don’t you think?”

Her husband’s face instantly turned all smiles, as though the idea had turned on some kind of light inside him. “That would be lovely! Emmy is such a darling. I would be proud to be called her Daddy.” He sighed contentedly, “If you would like me too, I can go speak to Miss Sterling to put all arrangements in place this weekend.”

Bertha had agreed. It was now finalised. Emmy was part of the family. The twins had been taken back to the orphanage that morning. Miss Sterling had been delighted over the fact that Emmy had found a home. She had also seemed pleased to see the twins, chuckling at the growth spurt they had had over the past year.

Emmy had found herself a forever-home. The twins were back at Miss Sterling’s Home. Their next chapter was about to begin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 5

 

   “Good afternoon children!”

“Good afternoon teacher!” The chorus rang loud and clear as the children made their way from the classroom. Victoria, more commonly known as Vicky, held a reading book under her arm. She had been sure to take it from the classroom library as she left. Today was a Friday, and weekend meant that eleven year old Vicky would have most of the next two days to herself. Herself and her book, that is, well mostly anyway.

Madison, or Maddie as she liked to be called, had already joined with her and Vicky’s two closest friends, Bessie and Annie, and was happily talking with the two. Maddie was most well known for her skills as a chatterbox. She always liked to have the first and last word.

Maddie and her friends joined up with Vicky, bringing her out of the dream world she was lost in. Maddie hooked in with Vicky’s free arm, grinning at her as the four began their walk along the dirt roads and back to the orphanage.

For once it was not Maddie, but Annie who struck up the conversation. Her voice was eager and upbeat. “I am awful glad it is weekend!”

Vicky was eager to put in her say. “As am I!” she exclaimed. “Now I have a chance to read another fascinating book!” Vicky was smiling ear to ear. Books and stories were her reason to wake up in the mornings, as she like to put it. Of course, everyone knew that Vicky lived for a lot more than just her books.

The other three rolled their eyes and groaned, Maddie the loudest of all. It was only a playful groan, and Vicky was used to being teased about her interest in books. She could only laugh.

“Aye Vicky, your reading shall be the death of me!” Madison liked reading, but only so much. So much was not a lot. Her sister’s obsession always brought a smile to her face.

“I could not agree more Madison, not even a tad more!” It was Bessie who spoke and this time the joke was on Maddie. Bessie refused to call her Maddie, despite her constant pleas. Bessie claimed that having a name as strong as Madison’s had not been made to be changed! Madison preferred nicknames.

Vicky frowned, remembering that Annie had unusually been called from class this morning; she had being waiting all day to ask her about it. “Annie, why were you called from class today?” Being called from class was a rare occasion; Miss Sterling was strict about schooling. Usually being called from class meant that something very out of the ordinary was about to happen.

It was clear everyone had being wondering the same thing. Maddie nodded her head eagerly. “Yes, do tell us Annie girl!” They all looked at Annie expectantly, waiting for an answer. These things did not happen every day.

Annie took a deep breath and allowed a radiant smile to light up her face. “Miss Sterling chose me to go with an elderly couple going to Switzerland over the Christmas holidays! Isn’t it wonderful!” she twirled a little as she spoke, her excitement impossible to hide. Annie was the most adventurous of the four, always imagining new places and dreaming up holidays for herself. Miss Sterling had known exactly who to choose.

“Goodness!” Bessie exclaimed, her voice holding shock and surprise, with a delighted undertone. “It is wonderful, isn’t it? I would love to go to Switzerland!”

“It would be really great, wouldn’t it Bessie?” Like Annie, Vicky loved adventure and new opportunities, usually those opportunities did not go further than reading. She may have seemed timid and shy from the outside, but inside, her mind was one crazy adventure. “Madison and I have stayed with other people before; once.”

Maddie frowned, more and more people seemed to be using the name Madison on her nowadays. She quickly hid her frustrations, eager to be the one to continue the story of their time with Bertha. “We were still babies; it was just after we arrived here at orphanage,” she looked at Victoria, urging her to follow the story up.

“A lady looked after us along with another baby. I heard she eventually took in that baby; made her officially part of the family. Madison and I still have a photo from our time there, not that we remember it,” she finished with a shrug.

Madison sighed. Things here at the orphanage had been boring lately. No new children, no old children leaving, just the same old routine. Annie was the first child with anything interesting happening to her all year. It was only two months short of Christmas “Nobody round bouts here has left for a real family for a real long time.”

Annie allowed her smile to stretch across her face as she shook her head. “Oh, there will be someone certainly will soon. Miss Sterling says so herself.”

Victoria couldn’t hide her surprise at the news, “I wonder who such a fortunate child could be!”

Annie smiled mysteriously. “Or children, nobody said only one would be leaving this here home.”

 

CHAPTER 6

 

For as long as they could remember, Madison and Victoria had grown up in Miss Sterling’s Home for Children. They had been told that they had spent some time with the Campbell family as babies, and had a photograph to prove it.

Apparently, they had lived there with another child, Emmy. The Campbell couple, Bertha and John, had eventually agreed to keep Emmy permanently, but had brought Madison and Victoria back at the appropriate time.

Bessie had been at the home even longer than Madison and Victoria, yet she had never lived with another family. When Victoria and Madison had returned to the home from the Campbell family, they had stayed with Bessie in the nursery.

Bessie had come to live at the home as a newborn baby. Her father had died in a shipwreck and her mother had died shortly after Bessie had been born. Left with no relatives, Bessie had come to live here, as she still did.

Then, when they were about five years old, Annie had arrived. Annie had been passed along from family to family before she had come here. She had been quiet for the first few weeks after she arrived, but later, her spirits had brightened and she had become the good old Annie they knew today.

The four friends had been inseparable ever since. They had enjoyed multiple tea parties and days at the park together when they were little, sometimes they still did. It was the four of them who shared a room.

The routine at the small orphanage was simple. Mondays through to Saturdays, the children woke up at six o’clock sharp, made up their beds, cleaned up their rooms and got dressed before going downstairs into the large dining room. The cook, Mrs Barnes, made them porridge every morning except for special occasions and Sundays. On Sundays the children slept in for an extra two hours and enjoyed a traditional breakfast of eggs, toast and bacon before going to chapel at half past nine.

After the usual breakfast of porridge, the children would head for the school house. On Saturdays, though, they stayed at the orphanage and learnt household skills. The school house was a few roads away. A decade ago, Miss Sterling had hired a tutor to come in and teach the children. Now though, with the building having expanded and more children having joined, the children got their education at the small local school. The school they attended had fifty students and five classes. Bessie, Annie, Madison and Victoria were all in a class together. Another boy a year elder than them, him too from the orphanage, was also in their class, as were another five children, three boys and two girls. The children in the class varied from the ages of ten to thirteen. The teacher tended to the different age groups accordingly.

Their teacher was a young man called Mr Fowler. Mr Fowler had spectacles that made his eyes look very much larger and blond hair that was always in a mess, but the children were nonetheless quite fond of him. He taught well and was always fair and barely every shouted. Janet, a fourteen year old girl who stayed in the room next to their own and who was a class higher than theirs, said that her teacher, Miss Rowe, was very strict and shouted and whipped all the naughty children. Madison, Victoria, Annie and Bessie hoped that they would be put in another class and never ever have to face strict Miss Rowe.

Victoria enjoyed school the most of them all and often came out top in the class. She far excelled in her spelling and reading, her arithmetic too was quite strong. The classroom library allowed for endless hours of enjoyment. Books ranging from Shakespeare to modern day tales had all been lovingly read by Victoria. She was busy reading all the books a second time.

Madison, on the other hand, was not quite so gentle but rather boisterous. She would often race against the boys and play in the trees. She often had a rip in her dress by the time she returned from school in the afternoon.

After school in the afternoons, the children would return to the orphanage and eat a light lunch before attending to their chores. They then had a few hours free before dinner at seven o’clock. Monday night suppers included meat, Tuesday’s pasta and different meals continued to rotate throughout the week. Sunday meals were often extra special though.

On Saturdays the children learnt other skills. The girls learnt to knit and sew; cook and bake; and other household tasks. The boys would always go out for the day with Mr Archer, a neighbour down the road who was closely involved in the orphanage work. He would teach them to fish, work in the garden and other good and proper skills.

Miss Sterling’s home was a good place. All the children were content there. Madison and Victoria were glad that this had been their home for so long. Nobody could be certain for how long they would stay, but everybody knew that when they left, things could only get better for them.

 

 

 

CHAPTER 7

 

Vicky lay under her blanket that night after Annie had shared her news, thinking about the day. She was thinking about her book, thinking about her life; just thinking. She had so many unanswered questions floating around in her mind. Why was she here? Why not somewhere else? Why had she been abandoned? Why was Miss Sterling the only one who had opened up her home to her? Why her?

The only thing she knew about her and Madison’s past was that they had been left on the doorstep of a lady’s house, eleven years ago. That was it. She knew nothing more. Not where. Not how. Not why. She wished she knew. She wanted to know so badly. Even Miss Sterling knew nothing more. She hadn’t even seen the lady who had delivered them to the orphanage. It was another lady who had handled the taking in of the two. That lady had moved to the countryside the next day and Miss Sterling had never heard from her again.

Why had their mother not taken care of them? Where was their family? Why not with them? Vicky sighed. She was glad she hadn’t landed up in a workhouse or other such place. It was not bad here. It was really quite the opposite. All the children were friendly. Miss Sterling was kind. Their teacher was sweet. Their life couldn’t possibly be better. It was just that, well, Vicky didn’t really feel it was home.

That was what she truly longed for, a home and family of her own; whether with her real family, a new family or her own family in the future. It was almost like one big happy family in one big happy home here, yet not quite. Even if not often, children left, never to be seen again. That didn’t happen in a real family.

Vicky tossed over, restless. Had her mother wanted to give her up? It didn’t make any sense. Where had she come from? Yes, she knew she had come from England. That much was a given; but where in England? Had she come from the country or the city? Had her family been rich or poor?

Would she ever meet her real family?

The home’s cat leapt onto the bed besides Vicky. Vicky pulled old Fluffy closer, comforted by her droning purr. “Aye, Fluffy, you understand don’t you?” Fluffy’s continued purr was answer enough, and Vicky allowed a smile to tug at her lips.

Oh well, enough wondering for the night. It was time to get some sleep.

 

CHAPTER 8

Madison and Victoria sat together giggling on Madison’s bed in the room that the two of them shared with Bessie and Annie. Suddenly a booming voice echoed across the hallways.

“Madison! Victoria!”

“Come on Vicky, do make haste,” still giggling, the two girls quickly made their way to Miss Sterling’s office. As they reached her office door, the girls fell silent. Victoria knocked on the door politely.

“You may enter!”

Madison and Victoria walked hand in hand into the room. Miss Sterling looked very serious. Madison hoped she was not in trouble again.

“Girls, do take a seat. I have something of great importance I need to speak to you about.”

Both Victoria and Madison took a seat in the fancy plush chairs opposite Miss Sterling’s desk. Neither of the two were smiling anymore, their laughter of a minute ago forgotten. What was this about? Why did Miss Sterling look so serious? Madison didn’t think she was in trouble, not anymore. This was certainly something much more serious.

“Well dears, I have just received a very important telegraph. A lady of great importance, has sent for two young girls, whom she is willing to take in, being as you two prove to fit the requirement well, I have chosen you to stay with this charitable lady. She will arrive here in the morning. I expect you to be prepared by that time.”

Victoria only just stopped her mouth from falling wide open. Is this what Annie had being talking about? Were they about to get a real family? What about her friends here? What if her real mother came looking for her, only to find she was gone? Then again, this was an opportunity of a life time. This lady was one of great importance? Did she have a big house? Was this house about to become hers too?

“Please Miss, what is her name?” Victoria couldn’t stop herself from asking.

Before Miss Sterling could answer, Madison rudely interrupted. “Is she quite rich?”

“Maddie!” Victoria nudged her hard in the ribs, horrified at her lack of respect. Miss Sterling too was clearly quite taken aback.

“Madison! Dearie, that is not very polite, you know. But to answer your questions, you are to call her Miss Dianne Brown, and to treat her with great respect. Indeed, she is quite rich. Miss Brown owns much land and property. Her home is a mansion, very smart and large, I hear. Now, if I have truly answered your questions, and so I have, go wash up and pack your bags.”

“Thank you, Miss,” Madison smiled sweetly.

“Thank you kindly Miss,” Victoria added, glancing sideways at Madison.

“I cannot believe this!” Madison said as soon as the two girls had left the room. “We have a family now! A real family! A rich family too,” she added in wonder.

“Maddie, you shouldn’t judge people by whether they are rich or poor. You know that just as well as I do,” Vicky scolded her sister.

“Indeed, but I certainly would prefer to be rich rather than poor, wouldn’t you? Are you not excited?”

“I suppose I am, although I admit that I am afraid too,” Victoria murmured.

“Oh Vicky, don’t worry!” Madison looked at her sister, “you needn’t be afraid. You know that Miss Sterling only finds the best homes for all of us. You know that, don’t you Vicky?”

“Yes, I know, but that doesn’t stop me from being afraid. We’re about to leave everything that we know. What if we don’t like Miss Brown? What if life in her mansion is not what we expect it to be?” Victoria could not help but to hide her distress.

“Come now, Vicky. Let’s take this one day at a time, shall we? I think it will be simply delightful.”

Victoria smiled bravely, “yes, in fact, I suppose I am rather looking forward to it.”

“That’s my Vicky,” Madison said. “Come now, let’s go pack.”

 

Back in their room, Bessie and Annie sat on their beds watching their friends pack sadly and somewhat in disbelief.

Bessie was the first to speak, “I am going to feel very much alone these holidays, Annie. I won’t know what to do. I will especially miss old Maddie and Vicky!

Annie looked at Bessie, “I wouldn’t worry, Bessie. I’m sure they’ll be alright. Miss Dianne Brown sounds like a lovely lady indeed!”

Bessie nodded bravely and the two girls turned once again to watch dear Maddie and Vicky pack.

CHAPTER 9

 

Dianne had only been on the train for a few minutes, yet already she was excited. In just a few hours more, she would meet the girls and take them home! Dianne had being wanting to take in an orphaned child for quite some time now.

Although she was no longer a child, Dianne was still lively and spirited. She was often alone in her mansion, and had leant on the servants for company. Dianne had a sister about a year older than herself, but she frequently travelled abroad. Most of the time, it was just Dianne.

Her house was large; large and empty. Dianne figured that it was time for the lively laughter, the pattering feet, and the smiling face of a child. It was what her home was missing. It was what her home needed now; now more than ever.

Her sister would be home for Christmas. The two had been very close as girls, and were still very close now. However, since her older sister’s husband had died a few years before, the once spritely girl had become sad and depressed. A child in the house would be sure to brighten her up quite some.

When Dianne had learnt that twin girls were available from a kindly lady’s establishment three hours north from her home, she had been delighted. Dianne loved twins. She even had twin horses at home, rescued as foals.

Besides, what was better than one child to light up the home? The answer was simple: two children.

Dianne smiled. The girls’ names were Victoria and Madison. Victoria had been the name of the Queen. Many people had named their children after her, both as a reminder of the Queen herself, or of the home country that they longed for.

Then there was Madison; an unusual name. She knew many people with the surname Madison, but as a first name it was extremely rare. She knew only one other person to have the name Madison. Her great Aunt Madison had always been a favourite aunt.

Her great Aunt Madison had been named for a great-great-great uncle’s estate. Aunt Madison’s mother had wanted a strikingly unusual name that would also remind everyone else of the family’s heritage.

When she had learnt that the girl’s name was Madison, she had been thrilled. It felt like yet another sign that she needed to make these girls a part of the family.

She had written to her sister to ask her opinion, and her sister had agreed. She had even gone so far as to say that they could take in even more children after these holiday twins.

The train screeched to a halt and some passengers climbed off. It was only just over an hour before she too would exit this train, then she would meet the girls. She could hardly wait.

Miss Dianne Brown was lovely.

Victoria’s fears were instantly removed. Madison and Victoria met Miss Dianne Brown in Miss Sterling’s office. She seemed overjoyed to meet Madison and Victoria, and they were instantly at ease.

Once Miss Sterling was satisfied that the girls were ready to leave, she had shaken Miss Dianne Brown’s hand and promised to stay in touch. Picking up their suitcases and putting on their hats, Madison and Victoria had left with Miss Dianne Brown.

All the other children from the home came outside to wave a final goodbye to their old friends. Bessie and Annie came right up to Maddie and Vicky before they left.

“Don’t forget to write! We will be expecting lots of letters!” Bessie said sternly.

“Now don’t go and forget us! We hope to see you again!” Annie said, handing both the girls a small package. Bessie did likewise.

“We’ll write, promise!” Victoria said earnestly.

“We’ll miss you!” Madison exclaimed. The four friends embraced quickly before Annie and Bessie disappeared back inside.

Dianne smiled down at the girls, “come along now, we don’t want to miss our train, now do we?”

Before long Madison and Victoria were seated on the train to their brand new life in Miss Dianne Brown’s mansion.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 10

 

A blanket of darkness had fallen over all of England by the time the group entered the train. The train ride was Madison and Victoria’s first. It was all that they had hoped for. The train was first-class and very luxurious. The train seats were covered in brown and red leather and the view from their window was tremendous.

They spoke with Miss Dianne Brown along the ride. She told them all about herself and the family mansion. Miss Dianne Brown had lived with her parents in a small family cottage in Britain when she was a little girl, before travelling overseas for a while. When she was eleven, she had moved to her grandparents’ home on their estate, where she was now living.

The old family home and estate had been in the family for many generations. It was a triple story house with both a basement and an attic. The house had over twenty bedrooms and various rooms for entertainment. Madison and Victoria’s eyes widened at the description.

Before long the group fell silent as Victoria fell asleep on Dianne’s lap and Madison fell asleep leaning against the window. Dianne stayed awake reading her book.

The group got off the train and stayed overnight at a small guesthouse opposite the station for a proper night’s sleep and to avoid travelling from the station directly to the mansion in darkness. They boarded the train as soon as the first rays of light began to seep through the clouds to them. Still tired, Madison and Victoria dozed on the last stretch to the final station. The loud voice of the conductor fully awakened them.

“All aboard!” he shouted out.

Dianne helped the girls carry their bags to the horse and buggy that had been sent from the estate to wait for them. The driver was cheery and he and Dianne chatted together merrily along the ride home. Madison and Victoria looked at their new surroundings in awe. Victoria marvelled at the dappled horse plodding along in front of them. Madison looked about in wonder at the frost covered trees and birds perching daintily upon the branches.

Finally, they reached the house. Half their ride had merely been through the estate, it was that large. The mansion was absolutely huge. They were dropped off from the buggy right to the front door. The mansion loomed high above them, its white walls covered with climbing ivy. Their new home was breathtaking.

Dianne smiled down at their awestruck faces. “Girls, I welcome you to your new home!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 11

 

Dianne picked up the large bronze knocker and rapped at the door. After a minute, the knob turned and a young servant welcomed them, “Miss Brown! What a delight to have you back! I hope your journey was pleasant. Oh my! These here children must be the girls you did go to pick up just now!”

“Oh Martha, it’s good to be back. Yes, this is Madison and this is Victoria. They will be staying with us from now on.”

“What a pleasure! What a pleasure! Welcome Miss Madison! Welcome Miss Victoria! Do come inside.”

Madison and Victoria stepped into the carpeted hallway. A large open room, which could well have been a ballroom, loomed just ahead of the archway before them. To either side of the carpeted hallway were carpeted stairs, leading up to the bedrooms, bathrooms, library, and all other living and entertainment rooms. The beautifully carpeted staircase extended to a balconied passageway which encircled the ballroom and led to it from the other side.

Multiple doors surrounded the ballroom. These doors led to the basement, kitchens, dining rooms and other entertainment rooms. The ballroom was beautifully tiled and polished. Paintings lined the walls of the room. Masterpieces from famous artists, family portraits and the family’s own artworks were included.

Madison and Victoria gazed around openly surprised and delighted. Martha chuckled at their awestruck faces, “Quite something, isn’t it. I can’t say I thought any less when I did first get here myself. Let me help you with those there bags and I’ll show you up to your rooms.”

They walked up the stairwell. It was lavishly carpeted in red with gold and white trimmings. The banister was wooden and skilfully carved. Grapes, trees and roses were amongst the design. A chandelier dangled directly overhead, the crystals decorating it glistening in the sunlight. They turned a corner and walked up a little more before eventually reaching the top.

Once at the top they looked onto a long winding passageway and onto the ballroom. The carpeted passage way wound around in a rectangular format. Turning to the left, they walked along the passage way until they reached a door about halfway down. “This is to be your bedroom,” Martha announced.

Filled with wonder, the girls walked into a room large enough to host a party in. Two double beds stood close together, about two metres between the two, with the expanse of the rest of the room spread before them.

The floor of the room was marbled, with a large white and gold mat standing in the centre. On one end was a fireplace with a mantel above it. A large window gave the best view of the well run estate. The curtains were silver with patterns embroidered into them. They were tied back to reveal the view outside. A bookshelf, painted white and filled with titles of old classics, hung on the wall. A door led to an adjacent bathroom. Cupboards lined half of one wall. A small table with cushioned chairs stood just off centre of the room.

Martha and Dianne stood in the doorway, grinning broadly as the girls explored. “Do you like it?” Dianne said smilingly.

“Like it?” Madison said straightening dizzily, “Oh, Miss Brown, I love it!”

“Well then, I’ll leave you two girls to settle in and freshen up. Martha will call you for supper.”

After Martha and Dianne had left, Madison and Victoria got to work unpacking. It didn’t take long to hang up all their dresses and put all their other items into the cupboard.

Madison, then Victoria went to shower before dressing into one of the finer outfits. It only seemed right to wear their best in this grand house.

Sitting down on her bed, Victoria looked around and smiled, “you know what Madison? I think I’m going to like it here.”

 

CHAPTER 12

 

Martha came to call the girls for dinner. Once led into the dining room they discovered that a delicious feast had been prepared. The three were eating in a smaller dining room, rather than in the much larger dining room. It would have felt too empty and lonely to have eaten anything at all there.

The dining room in which they ate was cosy and well furnished. Plush cushions were neatly arranged on each chair. A large chandelier with newly acquired electric lights was in place. The table at which they sat was circular, and they could all see each other easily.

The table itself was laden with dishes. Large portions of roast beef and ham were on display. There was also a large selection of salads and desserts. A few candles stood in the centre of the table, flickering away.

The girls ate hungrily and enjoyed themselves immensely. The food had been scrumptious; every last bit of it.

A servant came to start clearing the table and conversation struck up with Maddie, Vicky and Miss Dianne Brown.

“This dish is delicious, isn’t it Victoria?” Maddie said smiling. Maddie only sometimes said Victoria, but Victoria rather liked being called by her full name. It certainly made her feel quite important.

Victoria eagerly nodded her agreement. “It is. Thank you awfully Miss Brown,” Victoria took her last bite before smiling up at the servant who took her plate away.

“It is my pleasure girls, but please just call me Aunt Dianne; Miss makes me feel too old!”

Maddie grinned, “alright, AUNT Dianne.”

Dianne creased out the crinkles in her skirt as she pushed back her chair and stood up. “Come along, let’s get you settled. It’s been a long day.”

“Yes, Aunt Dianne,” Madison and Victoria cried out in unison.

 

Dianne tucked the girls into bed that night. The room was certainly large and well furnished. The feather pillows were fluffed out and comfortable. The bed sheets were a soft cream colour and were themselves very soft.

Folding the final fold around Madison, Dianne spoke up, “good night girls. Suppose we should go for a walk around the estate tomorrow. I would like to take you girls and my dog out on a picnic.”

“Would I?” Madison exclaimed. “I’d love to!”

Victoria was more surprised over the fact that Aunt Dianne had a dog. She had not seen any sign of one during the short time she had been here. “You have a dog! I didn’t know!”

Dianne chuckled, “yes, her name is Molly.”

Victoria was impressed, “do you have any other pets? I love animals!”

“Yes!” Madison exclaimed as she abruptly chirped in, “I saw two white cats we arrived!”

“Yes,” Aunt Dianne nodded knowingly. “Madison must have seen Snowball and Snowbell. They’re brother and sister. I also have another three cats and I recently rescued two dogs, they are sisters, twins actually, if you can look at it that way. They are very sweet. Then there are the horses, of course.”

“Oh, that’s good!” Victoria said, delighted. “I simply adore animals. I will have lots of fun!”

“All Vicky ever seems to care about are animals and books,” Madison informed Aunt Dianne importantly.

Dianne smiled, “good. There is a library here upstairs; I suspect that you will spend a lot of time there.”

Victoria breathed in deeply, her eyes wide. “Oh,” she drew out the word; breath taken, her voice was barely above a whisper.

Enjoying herself immensely, Dianne turned to Madison, “What about you Madison, what do you like?”

Ignoring the use of her full name, Madison instead enjoyed her moment in the spotlight, “I love sports. Even if some of the sports aren’t always ladylike,” she giggled naughtily. “I also love art. I can win most races and can spend simply hours drawing.”

“Have you ever done any horse riding?” Aunt Dianne raised her eyebrows.

Madison shook her head but was quick to grab the opportunity, “no, Aunt Dianne, but I am a fast learner.”

Dianne nodded her head once, clearly she was pleased. “Good. I will teach you, I suppose you would then enjoy walking the dogs and exercising the horses? And perhaps, when you are done, do some painting on one of the dozens of canvases I have downstairs?” she waved her arms about as she spoke. A smile played across her lips.

As Victoria had earlier, Madison too breathed in her delight and drew out her words barely above a whisper, “oh, and yes.”

Dianne stood up and walked to the door. “Good night then girls. I will see you in the morning. Sleep well,” she pulled the switch and then room was flooded with darkness.

“Good night, Aunt Dianne.”

 

 

CHAPTER 13

 

Madison tossed over in her new bed. She loved this new home of hers! It was amazing! The house was huge. She had never seen such a big building in her entire life. Then there were the grounds, oh, the grounds! The gardens were even bigger than the house, and that certainly took a lot to beat.

Tomorrow they would go for a walk to explore some of the property. Madison couldn’t wait to meet the horses. Yes, it may have been Victoria who loved animals so much, but it was Madison who best loved the horses. Then there was still a small art gallery downstairs, and in it, a room just for painting! Madison could hardly believe it. In fact, she couldn’t believe it at all! This was all too much, all too wonderful!

Aunt Dianne was wonderful! She was so kind and gentle. She was so caring and loving, and she knew how to have fun! She wasn’t like all the other grown up ladies Madison knew, the ones who were content to sew and cook all day, although apparently she was very good at that too.

Aunt Dianne often went out riding and walking around the estate. She went out to the stores and did volunteer work at the nearby shelters and various charity organisations. Aunt Dianne knew how to paint and draw; she knew how to play the piano, flute and harp. Aunt Dianne often rescued animals and worked in her garden. She had travelled all over the world.

Aunt Dianne could do anything. Madison had instantly liked her, and it hadn’t taken much for Victoria to come out of her shell either.

Victoria had been glad to move here, to start being part of a home that she could actually call her own. Madison knew how often Victoria stayed up at night thinking about being part of a home and family. She was glad that at least one of her sister’s worries had been removed.

Madison sighed, a smile playing cross her lips, as she turned over. It was a long day ahead tomorrow, about time to get some sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 14

Madison, Victoria and Dianne walked around the estate for an hour before stopping for their picnic.

The estate was beautiful. The grass was in immaculate order. Not a blade was out of place. The grass was luscious, soft and very green from all the rain. The hedges were trimmed to perfection.

It was very cold outside, the first signs of snow beginning to appear. Madison, Victoria and Dianne had bundled themselves up in layers upon layers of clothing. Although the outside air was nippy, it was not cold enough to stop the group from taking their walk and enjoying themselves all at the same time.

They chose to have their picnic beneath the branches of one of the estate’s oldest oak trees. They had sandwiches and other finger foods for their picnic lunch. Their blanket was red and contrasted beautifully with the green grass. Already it looked like Christmas.

During the walk, the girls learnt that the dog, Molly, refused to chase after any kind of balls or sticks. She insisted upon chasing after rocks.

Victoria stood up from the picnic blanket and threw a large rock for Molly. She went bounding off after it. The group laughed at her antics wholeheartedly.

“That is one strange dog!” Madison said once she had recovered from her fit of laughter.

Dianne nodded her agreement, “yes, Molly is very funny about her rocks. Even when I found her as a puppy, she had a rock in her mouth.”

“You found her?” Victoria asked with apparent surprise.

“Yes,” Dianne nodded thoughtfully, “she was wandering outside in the streets, very sorry looking, and I rescued her. Nearly all of my animals are rescued.”

“Even the cats?” Madison asked.

“Even the cats; I rescued Snowball, Snowbell and their mother from the hollow right here in this old oak tree.”

Victoria raised her eyebrows, impressed before talking, “What about the horses? Are they mostly rescued?”

Dianne chuckled, “yes, even some of my horses have been rescued.”

Victoria threw another rock for Molly before Madison spoke to Aunt Dianne, “Aunt Dianne have you noticed that most of your animals are also twins, just like us; Snowbell and Snowball, the new rescue dogs and even two of the horses.”

“Yes, I suppose I have cared quite something for twins for a while now,” her voice was distant, her gaze pointed towards the sky. She smiled down at the girls and began speaking again, her voice happy and upbeat, “so girls, it is nearly Christmas. Are you excited?”

“Oh yes! Christmas is my favourite time of the year!” Madison said excitedly.

Dianne and the girls stood up and placed their picnic away. While Victoria was folding up the blanket, she spoke up, “Aunt Dianne, may we decorate the house for Christmas? We always used to back at the orphanage.”

Laughing, Aunt Dianne replied, “you sure can, but you will be busy for a real long time. The house is anything but small!”

Victoria could already picture the decorated house. She could picture the lighted tree and frosted biscuits. She could picture it all. “Great! We will make lots of paper chains and popcorn strings, won’t we Maddie?”

Madison nodded eagerly, “we sure will,” she shifted her attention to Aunt Dianne, “Aunt Dianne, why do you live in such a big house? I mean, before we came there was just you, right?”

Picnic basket under her arm, Aunt Dianne answered Madison, “The house has been in my family for many years. Of course, it is not just me living there. The servants all live here, there are the animals, oftentimes there will be plenty of guests and of course, there’s my sister. Now there are you two.”

Victoria was somewhat dubious, I know that you have a sister, but surely she does not live in the house? Surely I would have seen her by now?”

“She sure does live here. She is away at the moment, but she will be back on Christmas morning.”

“Is she your twin too?” Madison asked, referring back to their earlier conversation.

Dianne laughed easily, “Ida-May? No, we’re not twins, not her and I anyway, although we do only differ by a year or so.” Dianne looked around mischievously, “race you girls home!”

Dianne started running, Madison and Victoria stumbling behind her. Molly barked as she ran along with them. The basket, blanket and clothes weighed them all down heavily, but nobody cared. They were too busy having a great time, racing for the finish line.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 15

 

For the next day or two, Madison and Victoria were intent upon exploring the house. Dianne showed them around a little and helped them explore too, although she couldn’t always be with them because she had other business to attend to.

The library faced opposite the girls’ room, on the other side of the ballroom. It was an impressive room. A chandelier hung from the ceiling and the ceiling itself had been artistically painted. The wall was completely hidden by all the shelves surrounding the room. A couch clothed in red velvet stood in the centre of the library. Thousands of titles were on display. Victoria stood in the centre of the room and turned around slowly, as though all the books could be read by simply looking at their title, “oh, Madison, can you believe it? This must be a dream. It can only be a dream!”

Madison herself was slowly walking around the room reading some of the titles. Never had she seen so many books; never, in her whole life. Victoria was the one with the love of books, but this drew even Madison’s breath.

Neither of the two could help but to choose a title and sit on that centre couch and read. Their reading delayed hours of exploring, yet somehow they didn’t mind. After all, they had all the time in the world to explore. This was their new home. Madison and Victoria, over the years, would find that the library would prove their main source of entertainment and many wonderful hours would be spent there.

The main dining room downstairs was also a place of great exploration. Madison and Victoria walked around the table and counted all the chairs. They had to count twice to be sure that they did not have their numbers wrong. There were a total of fifty-two places.

The table was a light coloured wood. Each chair was cushioned in purple velvet and trimmed with gold. The wooden chairs themselves were white. The dining room was very long but not quite so wide. The huge entrance way faced the length of the table and ten huge windows stood just behind.

The windows were as long as the room was high and were draped in rose-patterned white curtains. The view outside was of the rose garden and the neatly trimmed hedges and lawn. There were no roses quite at the moment, but Aunt Dianne assured them that in springtime the roses were a beautiful sight.

There were a total of twenty one bedrooms, three of which were occupied. Each bedroom was slightly different to the other. Most of the bedrooms had adjacent bathrooms. There were also several guest bathrooms.

Just outside the kitchen were a cluster of cottages where the servants lived. Madison and Victoria were invited to explore each one and they found them to all be quaint and charming.

The entire house and estate was a hundred times larger than large. Aunt Dianne said that she held plenty of parties throughout the year. The next party was to be the New Year’s Eve Ball. Over a hundred guests would be invited. People would dance throughout the night, ball gowns swishing about and people twirling in time to the music. A band would be there playing and there would be tables laden with snacks. Madison and Victoria were very excited for their first grand party.

Aunt Dianne had gone with the girls to the store in town to pick out materials for their party dresses and other daytime dresses. She and Martha began work sewing the dresses and Madison and Victoria helped as well. Aunt Dianne bragged that her sister was good at swing, better than all of them put together. After a few days both Victoria and Madison had delicate dresses made for them which they would wear for Christmas. Their New Year’s gowns were near completion too.

Time past like the blink of an eye and before they knew it, they had being living with Aunt Dianne for a month. Christmas was only two weeks away.

 

 

CHAPTER 16

 

The festivities continued as long-awaited Christmas drew ever nearer. Madison and Victoria spent an entire afternoon busy making what seemed like hundreds of popcorn strings. By the time they were done, they had enough strings to make a snowstorm in the living room. Victoria couldn’t help but to sneak a few bites for herself.

Another afternoon they had made paper chain. Christmassy colours were used plentifully. Aunt Dianne had to stand on tiptoes on a chair to hang the chains from one side of the room to the other. She had once nearly fallen, but quickly regained her balance. Replaced by the worry on Madison and Victoria’s faces, had come laughter, when Aunt Dianne did a little curtsy to show that she was alright.

Back in the kitchen, Victoria made piles of biscuits and spent ages yet frosting them. The cook had been happy to share her kitchen, on condition that Victoria snuck her some dough and biscuits now and then.

Biscuits frosted, Victoria shared them with Dianne and Madison. Victoria had discovered a third thing to the things she liked: baking.

The snow had finally started; and hadn’t stopped. Dianne and the girls spent countless hours making snowmen and snow angels. They caught snowflakes on their tongues as they danced about, all bundled up in coats, boots and scarves.

Dianne insisted upon cutting down the Christmas tree herself. The girls laughed at her useless attempts as she hacked away at a tree with an axe. Eventually she did manage though, and the new family dragged the tree inside and decorated it as a team effort.

The whole household was abuzz. Christmas was only a few days away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 17

 

Madison and Victoria sat in the parlour; the windows were frosted and the snow continued outside. The trees blew about as the wind roared through them. However, unlike the world outside, the parlour inside was toasty. A fire crackled in the hearth. Hot cocoa steamed from the mugs from which the girls were drinking.

Between sips, Madison was pleasantly drawing in her sketchpad. She was successfully trying her best to draw the wintery wonderland outside the window. Victoria was reading a thick book. On page two hundred and forty-two, she still had nearly three hundred more pages to go. No better time than a wintery morning with a mug of hot cocoa to curl up on the couch and finish it up.

Still focused intensely on her artwork, Madison began speaking, “I like it here. We should write to Bessie and Annie and tell them all about it.”

“Uh huh,” Victoria drew her words out before looking up from her book, “we should do just that. We did promise, after all.”

“Yes, and we have so much to tell them too! I wonder how Annie’s enjoying Switzerland.”

“She’ll be having a ball!” Victoria exclaimed. “You know Annie,” a smile played across her lips. Goodness! The very thought of Annie spending her holidays in Switzerland. Always, outgoing, she would certainly be having the time of her life.

Madison nodded her head slowly, thoughtfully, “Bessie must be lonely.

“Probably, but she’ll be enjoying having the room all to herself.”

“I suppose, but they probably have assigned new children to the room, you know?” Madison added. Miss Sterling took in new children every chance she got.

“Even so, she has always been good at making friends,” Victoria wasn’t worried too much about Bessie. She could make new friends in the blink of an eye. Bessie had always been good at that.

“You’re right. After all, I remember her and Annie being more worried about us when we left than us about them,” Madison chuckled. How funny that they should worry about her and Victoria, when they were in the best place in the world.

“All the more reason to write, they will love to hear all about the animals and the property and the house; Aunt Dianne especially,” Victoria had voiced aloud the thoughts swirling through Madison’s head.

“I’ll send them a picture of all of it! They’ll like that,” Madison grinned. Aunt Dianne had a camera; one just like the people from the newspaper had had when they came to take photos of the children in the orphanage. Aunt Dianne had bought it and learnt to use it earlier that year, she told them. Other than the one from the newspaper and the annual photographer that came to the orphanage, Aunt Dianne’s was the only camera she had ever seen. Annie and Bessie would certainly be very impressed. “Oh, by the way, we must remember to show Aunt Dianne all our old possessions today; all the contents of our existence.”

“All the contents of our-” Victoria chuckled, “you’re funny Maddie. Nobody speaks like that, not even me.” She picked up Snowbell as she walked passed and stroked the purring cat lovingly. Just then, one of the servants poked her head around the door.

“Come along you two, lunch is on the table.”

“We’re coming, Minnie,” it was Madison who answered, “We’ll be right there.”

Victoria put down Snowbell and walked to the archway leading out from the parlour. Standing there leisurely for just a moment, she grinned cheekily at Madison, “Race you there.” She ran off, with Madison shouting behind her.

“Hey! No fair, you’re cheating!” Madison ran out after her. Victoria just laughed as she ran on ahead. Madison could not help but to join in the laughter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 18

 

It was evening and the day had grown dark and yet colder. The curtains in the living area were drawn and a fire blazed. Madison and Dianne sat together on a large couch in the room. Madison was teaching Dianne how to play a hand-game that she had often played with Annie.

“I think it’s fantastic that you have real electricity in this house, Aunt Dianne,” Madison said, gazing at the light overhead.

“It is remarkably lovely, I must agree. This house was the first in the entire town,” Aunt Dianne commented proudly.

“Just before we left the orphanage, Miss Sterling was making plans to install electricity in there too,” Madison informed Aunt Dianne.

“Everyone will have it soon, you’ll see,” Aunt Dianne nodded determinedly. “Vicky should be getting back by now, I wonder what’s taking her so long?”

Just then, Victoria entered the room, struggling under the weight of the entire amount of luggage that she was carrying. In one hand she held the suitcase which she and Madison had taken with them when departing from the orphanage. In her other hand, she held a tray filled with biscuits and three glasses of milk.

With a sigh of relief, Victoria put down the tray on the coffee table and flopped down onto the couch with the suitcase between Aunt Dianne and Madison.

Dianne leaned forward to grab a cookie and her eyes held pleasure as she put it into her mouth, “these cookies are delicious, Vicky! You are a girl of many talents!”

Victoria beamed under the weight of all the praise, “thank you, Aunt Dianne.” She herself ate a cookie and had a few sips of milk before leaning back against the couch. “I have brought the suitcase of all our old things, should we look through it now, Aunt Dianne?”

“Good idea,” Aunt Dianne nodded.

As Victoria unclasped the suitcase, Madison spoke, “we have nearly everything that ever had to do with us in here. Two small dolls, our first dresses and even a few photographs.”

Suitcase now open, Victoria took out one worn news clipping with a photograph attached to it. She took out another photograph with a group of smiling children filling the space. “This photo is a group photo of all of us. We have one taken every year.” She turned over to the newspaper clipping, “This photo is of some of us playing together. A journalist took them for some or other newspaper. We all tore out a picture to keep when the newspaper arrived.”

Leaning into the suitcase, Victoria took out another photograph while Madison explained it to Aunt Dianne, “this photo is from the time Victoria and I lived with a lady and her husband when we were little. This baby,” Madison pointed to a baby girl in the picture, “was looked after with us. The couple that looked after us eventually made her part of their family.”

Victoria took the photos and put them to one side, then took out two miniature baby dolls.

“Oh, they are absolutely gorgeous,” Aunt Dianne gushed, looking at each one to admire its handiwork.

“We all got dolls for Christmas one year. Some people came to the orphanage and handed out gifts to us all,” Victoria said, explaining how they had come to acquire such pieces of work.

Madison added her say, “the one with the open eyes is mine. Her name is Olivia. The other is Vicky’s. Her name is Pearl.”

Dianne laid the two dolls onto her lap and motioned for Victoria to take out the next item. Victoria took out two small frocks. Each one was beautifully, delicately handmade. One of the frocks had Madison’s name embroidered on it, the other, Victoria’s.

Smiling fondly, Madison pointed out each frock, “this one is mine and this one is Vicky’s.”

“They are stunning!” Aunt Dianne said, shaking her head in amazement, “They even have your names sewn on them. My sister and I always used to make frocks for our dolls when we were little. She will teach you to sew when she comes back. She is brilliant!”

Victoria smiled, “look, they even have lots of petticoats underneath to make them all puffy and frilly.”

Dianne took Victoria’s frock from her and felt through the layers of material, “how lovely. This is brilliant material.” Abruptly, Dianne stopped feeling through the material and frowned. She rubbed her thumb and index finger together over one of the layers. There was a hard layer between two of the pieces of material and Dianne heard a soft crinkling sound as her fingers continued o rub over it.

Upon closer inspection, she noticed that two of the layers were sewn together, with something stuck in between. “What is this?” she wondered aloud.

Suddenly snapped out of her dream world, Victoria leaned closer, “what’s what?

Dianne shook her head, confused, “there is something between these two layers. See? They are sewn together. It feels like a piece of paper.”

Madison, too, leaned closer and frowned, “I never noticed that before. Should I cut it open?”

Horrified, Victoria jolted up and shook her head, “Oh, Madison, no! Don’t ruin the dress!”

“Vicky, come on!” Madison begged, “This could be important. Please. We’ll be very careful, just separate the layers, that’s all. You won’t notice a difference.”

Victoria nodded, if somewhat reluctantly, “you’re right. Just be careful, alright?” she bit her lip and a frown creased her forehead.

“There are scissors in the draw of the coffee table,” Dianne nodded in the general direction, but kept her main focus on the frock at hand. She was intrigued.

Madison found the scissors and handed them to Dianne, who cut cautiously through the stitching. Stitching gone, Dianne reached in between the layers. To her surprise, as well as the surprise of Madison and Victoria, she pulled out an envelope.

Victoria let out a sharp gasp, her hands covering her mouth, “well, I never…”

Her face one of baffled excitement, Madison urged Aunt Dianne to open it, “open it, Aunt Dianne. Open it!”

Dianne opened the envelope easily. It had not been closed, so she needed simply flip open the tab and pull out the already emerging letter. Dianne shook her head in disbelief. “It’s…it’s a letter,” she murmured.

“Well go on, what does the letter say?” Madison was beside herself with excitement.

“You want me to read it to you?”

“Yes!” Madison nodded without stopping. Victoria too gave her consent, nodding slowly.

Dianne took a deep breath, “well, here we go.” She read the letter, the completely unexpected letter, out loud:

 

My dearest Madison and Victoria, you two are very special. I have sewn this letter into your frock, dear Victoria, so that you and Madison will always be able to keep it close to you. Now it can’t be carried away by the wind and even if you don’t find it immediately, you will always be able to. Let me tell you my story.

I have been living here in Holland since I was eight years old, but I am really British. I used to live here with my parents, my sister and brother. My parents both passed away when I was twelve. My brother was already eighteen, so he looked after my sister and me for a while, until he decided to move to America. He had always wanted to do so. My sister went to live in Britain with our grandparents. They have a big mansion on a big estate. I stayed behind to live with close friends we had made in Holland.

By the time I was fifteen I wanted to go live with my sister but I had completely lost contact with her and my grandparents. Our Dutch friends had decided to move to America as well, but I wanted to go back to Britain. Just before they moved, just after I turned sixteen, I married a British man with whom I had been in love with for years, your father, Robert Townsend. We were never rich, the two of us, but we loved each other and lived happily together. I soon became pregnant with the two of you and we were both very excited.

Soon after the news of your coming, something terrible happened. I was sitting at home waiting for your father to return from work, like he did every day. The only difference was, this time he never returned. I found out later that night, when the authorities came to my home, that he was involved in a terrible accident. I cried for days, and only later did I realise that looking after you on my own would be very tough. At the time, I didn’t realise you would be twins; I thought there would just be one of you.

I struggled to keep up with all the bills that kept coming in. But I managed. I sewed to earn money. I worked hard to keep things running. I tried even harder than before to find my sister. She would be able to help me. We could move to my grandparents’ estate, just like my sister did. I sent out letters. I searched records. I couldn’t find her.

After you two were born, and I found out you were twins, I knew it would be impossible. One baby alone would have been impossible. I managed a month, and then I ran out of finances. I have decided to leave you two on the doorstep of a well-respected lady’s home. I am going to England to look for my sister. As soon as I find her, I will be back.

I love you two with all my heart

Your mama, Ida-May

There was a moment of silence after the letter was read.

Shaking her head, filled with disbelief, Dianne murmured in the softest of whispers her sister’s name, “Ida-May, Ida-May.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 19

Madison and Victoria, still reeling from what they had just learnt, were unexpectedly and hastily sent to bed. As soon as the two girls left the room and Dianne was alone, she ran up to her room with all the speed she could muster.

Not bothering to switch on any lights as she breathlessly ascended the stairs and rounded passage way after passage way, Dianne arrived at her bedroom. Pulling out the chair to her desk and sitting down, Dianne leant over and began rummaging through her drawers. Paper after paper was flung about in a frenzy until Dianne arrived by the pile of letters and diary she had being looking for.

This could not be. It could not be. No, this was impossible. Was this really happening? Dianne shook her head in disbelief. Surely this could not be happening. Was the mother of Madison and Victoria truly Ida-May, her Ida-May?

Dianne opened the first envelope. Inside was a letter the authorities had shown her when visiting her house nine years ago:

Good day.

I am looking for a Mr. and Mrs. Brown and their granddaughter Dianne Brown. I am hoping that you as the local authorities may have some information about my missing relatives, if so please send me information regarding their whereabouts.

Sincerely

Ida-May Townsend

Dianne shook her head as she folded the note and put it aside. Opening the old diary she read one of the first entries swiftly:

Dear Diary,

The local authorities came to my house today with the news that an Ida-May was looking for my grandparents and I. Ida-May! My sister! I can’t wait to see her again! Her surname has changed to Townsend, so she must have married that Robert Townsend she was always talking to me about. I can’t wait to see him again either! He must be very handsome. Maybe they have had children? I do so hope so! Then I would be an aunt. Just think, AUNT Dianne! Wouldn’t that be simply wonderful!

Until next time,

Dianne

Breathing heavily, Dianne turned over a few more pages:

Dear Diary,

Ida-May came back today! I was so happy to see her! She says she has been looking and looking for me, and the last two years she has travelled all over England to find me. I really didn’t realise that I would be so difficult to find. After all, the family is well respected and DOES live on a big estate, but it’s alright. We’re together again now. It turns out she did marry old Robert after all, but he died over two years ago, she tells me. I was very sad to hear that, I was always fond of Robert. Ida-May has two children, twins. They are girls. They are not here now though. Ida-May left them with an old lady in Holland until she could find me. She couldn’t afford to keep them back in Holland. Ida is leaving in the morning. She’ll be back in a few days, and then I really will be an AUNT Dianne! In the meantime, I am going to rescue those twin foals I saw at old Mr. Hendricks’s farm. It will be like a welcome home gift for the twins. Maybe when they are older they can each ride one of them. Wouldn’t that be simply wonderful! Twin children riding twin horses!

Until then,

Dianne

Dianne opened another letter amongst the pile.

Dearest Dianne,

The twins are gone! I went to the house where I had left them, but alas, they were not there! The old lady who used to live there no longer lives there. When I knocked on the door to ask after them, a young lady answered the door and said she had never heard of a Miss Foster before. I asked if she had ever heard of her niece, Mary Foster, but she had not! The lady said that many people had lived in and out of the house for the last few months. I can’t believe it! Miss Foster was well known for taking in babies and looking after them until someone came to claim them! I never thought that when I came back she would just be gone! I am staying on in Holland and looking around for them. I don’t know when I’ll come back.

All my love

Ida May

Dear Diary

I am so upset! Ida-May has lost the twins! How can you even lose twins! It doesn’t seem possible! I mean, really! She is staying out in Holland to look for them. She says she will come home every few months and then go out to look for them, making her search wider each time. I was looking forward to spending time with her! And now she’s never going to be home! At the moment I can’t even call myself AUNT Dianne! I have sent letters all over Holland to try and find out more about them; so far there have been no replies. I don’t even know their names! Ida says she didn’t leave any letter. Really! Now what was she thinking? She could have shown SOME decency towards the lady. In fact, she should have dropped them off and gone inside to speak to the lady. Sometimes I just don’t understand my sister. Anyway, I just found a stray cat outside my house. She has two tiny white kittens tucked into a hollow in the oak tree. Two kittens in the litter. That means they are twins. I think I am going twin crazy!

I’ll write soon,

Dianne

Hands shaking, Dianne set aside the diary and opened the last note:

Dearest Dianne

I have looked all over Holland. It’s like they have disappeared off the face of this earth! I don’t know what to do next! I am on my way home. I’ll see you soon.

All my love

Ida-May

Dropping the last letter, Dianne leaned back in her chair and let out a long breath. It couldn’t be, yet it was! She had found Ida-May’s twins and Madison and Victoria’s mother all at once.

“It all makes sense,” she let out in a whisper, a smile finally settling on her lips.

 

CHAPTER 20

 

Madison and Victoria had been sent to bed early.

After only a few seconds of silence once the letter had been read, Aunt Dianne had looked at the girls, smiled and told them it was getting late. She had given both of them a hug and kiss and said she would sort out the empty milk glasses and plate of biscuits herself. They had clearly been dismissed.

Madison and Victoria had immediately gone to their bedroom, leaving the open suitcase, dolls, photos and dresses just as they were. The living room had been in disarray and they had left it a mess. This was strange because they always packed away after they were done with something.

Already in nightgowns, Madison and Victoria had climbed into bed and switched off the light immediately. They heard Aunt Dianne’s feet pattering across the carpeted passageway and then silence again.

“Vicky,” Madison whispered uncertainly.

“Yes?”

“The letter-”

“Shush, Maddie, I know.”

“Vicky, Aunt Dianne. She’s acting strange.”

“I know Maddie. I know.”

“Why, Vicky? Why?”

“I don’t know, Maddie; I truly don’t.”

“Vicky, we have a mama.”

“We always did Maddie, we always did.”

“We have a mama who might be looking for us.”

Victoria sighed, “that was all a long time ago Maddie, a very long time ago. She would be back for us by now.”

“ We don’t know that. Maybe she hasn’t found her grandparents and sister yet. Maybe she has. Maybe she’s looking for us now.” Madison shook her head and rolled over. Suddenly she sat up straight and began shaking her head furiously, her hair waving all about. “Vicky!” she whispered somewhat excitedly, “You don’t suppose- oh Vicky, you don’t suppose- perhaps, well perhaps- Vicky, Aunt Dianne’s sister is called Ida-May. Oh Vicky, you don’t suppose-?”

“Madison, please, calm down. You’re grasping at air. You know as well as I do that Ida-May is not an uncommon name. You do know that, don’t you?”

“But Vicky; it’s not just that. Mama has a sister, so does Aunt Dianne. Mama’s sister went to live with her grandparents on a large estate, just as Aunt Dianne did. Aunt Dianne also used to live overseas, you know that,” Madison flopped back on her bed. “It all makes sense.”

“Maddie, please-” Victoria whispered desperately.

“Vicky, please, you’ve got to at least think about it. It all fits together, just like a perfect jigsaw puzzle. Think about the odd way Aunt Dianne behaved tonight. Goodness! She really may be our aunt.”

“Madison! Don’t get ahead of yourself. You know how unlikely it is. Aunt Dianne has never mentioned her sister having children, much less twins!”

“Victoria. You are the one who reads so much, who has all the imagination. You don’t even need to have any imagination to figure this out. You know it as well as me. Think of my name, how unusual it is. Aunt Dianne and her sister’s favourite aunt had that name. Then there is your name, the name of one longing for home.”

“Oh, Maddie, I don’t know. Books are one thing; but we’re talking about real life right now. Aunt Dianne would have surely said something, although, maybe, perhaps-”

“Yes, yes, yes! Why do you suppose Aunt Dianne looked to be in such frenzy, she must have just being figuring it out for herself, you see.”

“I suppose it’s possible. Could it be?” Victoria sat up suddenly and, leaning on her elbows, looked at Madison anxiously, “what will Aunt Dianne say?”

“She’ll be thrilled. Her nieces are found. Her sister is back. But, Vicky, we can’t say anything to Aunt Dianne. Let her be the one to broach the subject, let her be the one to confirm our suspicions.”

“Why can’t we just ask her straight out, wouldn’t it be better?”

“Oh no, Vicky, we simply cannot do that, it wouldn’t be right. Say we are wrong, after all? Then what? It would be terribly embarrassing and extremely crushing. We might be wrong, let’s see what happens, alright?”

“Alright Maddie; I guess you’re right. It’s not our place to ask, anyway.”

“I suppose we ought to go to sleep, mull the situation over a bit, alright? Hey, Vicky, we know our surname now. It’s Townsend.”

“Victoria Townsend. Goodness, you’re right. Well then, goodnight Maddie.”

“Goodnight Vicky.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 21

 

Madison and Victoria kept quiet about their thoughts as the possibilities became less and less likely every day. Aunt Dianne only vaguely mentioned the letter and the twins’ other old items. Every day it seemed there were more and more reasons why their theory was impossible.

Aunt Dianne had never spoken of having a brother before. She had never mentioned the name of the other country she had lived in. The twins didn’t dare ask. If Aunt Dianne discovered their suspicions, and if they were wrong, Madison and Victoria were afraid she would have to tell them so and that being with Aunt Dianne would be awkward if she knew that they had fantasised that she was their aunt.

Besides, Christmas was nearly here and they didn’t want to ruin a single moment of it with their crazy ideas or a wild goose chase for their mother. No, it seemed better to just enjoy their time and make the most of it. Not that that would be difficult, life as it was here was in itself a wonder. The day before Christmas came only too quickly.

 

“It’s Christmas Eve!” Madison ran about the house spreading greetings for the day before Christmas. The day of Christmas Eve was filled with fun. In the kitchen, the cook was preparing stacks of Christmas meals and puddings. Dianne, Madison and Victoria fought against each other in a snowball fight. When no one was looking, Victoria went to put some gifts of her own under the Christmas tree. Christmas Eve lunch was delicious and the atmosphere was jovial. Victoria and Madison practiced their dancing together in the living room. Of course, none of them could help but to eat some more biscuits. Victoria fed some carrots and apples to all the horses in the stables and giggled as the noising munched their treats. While Madison tried to take Molly for a walk, she found herself being taken for a walk instead. In the meantime, Dianne and Victoria continued to dance festively. At the end of the day, all three fell onto the couch in exhaustion and sighed with laughter in their voices contentedly. This day had been the best one yet.

 

 

 

CHAPTER 22

That evening Madison, Victoria and Dianne sat together in the living room to share Christmas stories and songs. The fire blazed in the hearth and stockings hung from the mantel. The Christmas tree stood in the corner of the room. It was heavily laden with ornaments. Candles on holders flickered and made the tree itself look to be shining.

The curtains were closed, but one remained open. Outside it was snowing. The snow danced with the wind before settling. Snowflakes twirled as they joined the snow.

Aunt Dianne was speaking now, and, together with the girls, was relaying the story of Jesus’ birth and His unconditional love.

“…so the angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her that she was going to have a son, God’s own son, who would be the saviour of the world, and she was to call him Jesus. Now King Herod wanted to count all the people in the kingdom, like a census, so he told everyone to go back to the place where they were born so that he could count them there. Mary was going to marry Joseph so they went together to Bethlehem, where Joseph had been born. They couldn’t find any room in any inns or anyone’s house there, but they got permission to stay in a stable and that is where Jesus was born, His bed was a manger.

Dianne looked at Madison and motioned for her to continue. Madison began, “there was a new star over Bethlehem, a big beautiful star, the Star of Bethlehem, and three wise men on their camels saw it and followed it. They found Jesus and gave Him precious gifts because they knew that He was the one that the world had being waiting for, the King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Aunt Dianne smiled, “that’s right.” She looked at Victoria.

Victoria continued, “An angel came to some shepherds, who were watching over their flocks of sheep. The angel said that they must not be afraid, that they must go to Bethlehem and they will find a baby wrapped in cloth lying in a manger, and that He was the Messiah, the one the world had being waiting for. Then lots of angels came and they all started singing songs of praise.”

Dianne finished off, “we use Christmas to celebrate his birth and to glorify His name. Because Jesus came to earth and died on the cross for us, that’s how much He loved us, we can have a relationship with Him and spend eternal life with Him. Jesus’ love saved us all.”

Victoria sighed and smiled, “it’s truly a Christmas wonder; don’t you think so Aunt Dianne?”

Dianne nodded, “oh yes, Sweetie. Oh yes. That and so much more”

With that the group sang Silent Night and opened the presents from the stockings. The rest of the evening was filled with joy and laughter. That night Dianne, Madison and Victoria fell asleep as soon as they hit their pillows. They all slept peacefully that night. A Christmas miracle had happened when Jesus came to the earth because of His love for all of us, each single one of us, and another Christmas miracle was about to take place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 23

 

Madison and Victoria awoke with the sun the next morning. They put on their special Christmas frocks and did up each other’s hair before going out to find Aunt Dianne.

Aunt Dianne was sitting in the living room at a table in the far corner drinking a cup of tea. She was dressed beautifully and had her dark brown hair piled up above her head. Her blue eyes twinkled when she saw Madison and Victoria, “oh girls, you look beautiful, Merry Christmas!” she opened her arms and enfolded the twins in an embrace.

The doorbell rang and the girls and Dianne pulled out of their embrace. Dianne looked simply thrilled and delighted, “she’s here!”

“Who is?” Madison asked amused at Aunt Dianne’s excitement.

Half running from the living room she called out to Maddie and Vicky over her shoulder, “my sister! Come on!”

Madison looked at Victoria and pulled a face, clearly surprised and somewhat delighted over Aunt Dianne’s excitement. Victoria chuckled and grabbed Madison’s arm to run and catch up with Aunt Dianne.

It turned out that Aunt Dianne wasn’t the only one excited. The dogs barked frantically and twirled about. Martha, Minnie, Cook and the other servants ran about making sure everything was in place. They looked like they might burst right out of their skins with excitement as they carried on, “She’s back, she’s back!”

Madison and Victoria stopped abruptly as they reached the door. Aunt Dianne, standing right in front of them, turned back and whispered, “you two just wait right behind me, okay.” The smile on her face was so big it could be wrapped around the earth and so bright that it could light up the entire town.

Dianne turned the key in the lock. Time seemed to freeze and Madison felt a great hammering in her heart. Victoria took her hand and squeezed it tight. The door creaked open slowly.

The door opened and standing there right on the porch was Ida-May. Ida-May looked just like Aunt Dianne, but she had blonde hair and brown eyes, just like Madison. Laughing and crying at the same time, Ida-May dropped her travel bag and she and Dianne locked in an embrace. “Merry Christmas Ida,” Dianne said through her joyful tears.

“Merry Christmas Di,” Ida-May replied.

“Ida, there is someone, two some ones, I would like you to meet,” she pulled back from the embrace. Swinging the door wide open, Dianne beckoned for Madison and Victoria to come closer, “girls, allow me to introduce my sister, Ida-May, your mama; Ida, your girls, Madison and Victoria.”

For a moment mother and daughters stared at each other in awe. Then, with laughter and tears, they were finally reunited. After eleven years of being apart, of searching and wondering, they were together again.

“Oh girls,” Ida May said, laughter in her voice, “my beautiful girls, Merry Christmas!”

It was indeed a true Christmas Wonder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUTHOUR’S NOTE

 

A Christmas Wonder takes place between 1891 and 1902 in England. Earlier in the book references to Holland are also made.

In the book, you will often hear references to Madison’s name being unusual. Although Madison is a popular name today, it was not commonly used as a feminine name until after the movie ‘Splash’ in 1984. In the story, the name Madison acts as a clue that Madison is Dianne’s niece, as the name Madison had been used before in the family but rarely else ware.

In the book, Aunt Dianne plays a pivotal role in reuniting mother and daughters. Longing for some company at home, she decides to take in a child from an orphanage. After hearing that twin girls were available from Miss Sterling’s home, and because of her own longing to be the aunt of twins, she decides to take both girls.

Small incidences, only noticeable upon close inspection, throughout the book give small hints of the wonder that is about to take place.

I originally wrote this book as a script for a small movie my sister and her friend planned on making; from there, I figured why not turn the script into a book too?

Enjoy!

 

96

 


A Christmas Wonder

Abandoned as babies on the doorstep of a respected lady's home, twins Madison and Victoria know no other life than the life within the confines of kindly Miss Sterling's home. All this changes however, when they are invited to stay with Miss Dianne Brown in her mansion the month before Christmas. The biggest miracle is one that no one could have ever expected... Set in England between 1891 and 1902, the story tells of orphaned twins who experience a wonder nobody could have seen coming... Here is an extract from the first chapter. enjoy! Mary Foster allowed her lips to curve into a smile as she took a sip of her tea. Over the past five years she had being looking after her Dutch aunt. Her aunt was a fine lady, well-respected here in Holland; she had looked after many children until either their parents could come for them or until they could be resituated into suitable homes. Over the last year, Mary had been very concerned about her aunt’s health; but it was only after a mild stroke had struck her that Mary had managed to convince her to give up her work and retire. She was now living in one of the best nursing homes in Holland. After her aunt had moved, Mary had immediately put the old house up for sale. The house sold quickly, and in just a few hours, Mary would be back in her own land, England. Shivers of excitement ran down her spine. Oh, how she had missed her homeland! This would be a homecoming like no other; she had never been more thrilled. Her pleasant train of thoughts were rudely interrupted by a long wail. The wailing stopped just as soon as it had begun. Mary cocked her head to the side, listening intently. Surely this was not her imagination? The wailing started up again, this time more loudly than before. Mary took a deep breath and sighed. She had lived here long enough to be able to know the sound of a baby wailing. Hadn’t her aunt looked after countless numbers of babies? Mary had always been the first to find the babies lying at the doorstep, and no wonder! Their wailing was impossible to mistake. Mary set her teacup down on the table, before making her way towards the door. Didn’t people know that her aunt, the well-respected lady who looked after babies, had gone into care? Clearly they did not. Mary’s train would leave tomorrow to go to France; from there, she would take a ferry back to Britain. She didn’t have time to find a home for this baby! Well, alright then. She would take it back with her to Britain. Finding it a home there would not be difficult, now would it? Mary pushed against the front door. It creaked as it slowly swung open. Sure enough, there on the doorstep was the basket from which the wailing came. Mary peered inside the basket, unable to contain her curiosity about this baby. As she looked inside, she let out a sharp gasp. There in the basket were not only one, but two babies.

  • Author: Iva Writer
  • Published: 2015-10-31 18:20:12
  • Words: 16926
A Christmas Wonder A Christmas Wonder