Chapter updates: It has been one month since the visit of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence. Not much has happened since then, but things are about to change for Marie when she finds Felicity acting a bit strange. John is talking less and less to her, and talking more to a new boy in the orphanage. All of this and more in Chapter four of Stardust and dreams! (Well, that's what it's called for now anyways. I don't plan on keeping it that way.) ~Prologue...~ The wind howled mercilessly at the windows of Saint Jerome Emilianis home for abandoned children and orphans. A young girl, of only about eight, sat in the window sill in and empty hallway. She wrapped a thin shawl around he frail shoulders, shivering from the chilly nighttime in December. She stared intently up at the sky through the lightly frosted window, her large innocent eyes lit up with curiosity. Lovely, isnt it? A deep, comforting voice said from behind her. The girl gasped slightly, turning around to face the stranger. A nun, dressed in a simple brown Scapular, coif, and veil. Sister Mary, I-Im sorry .I didnt mean to stay up so late, I only wanted to see the snow. The girl explained quickly. No need to fret darling Marie, Sister Mary said quietly, chuckling slightly. She stuck her hands into the sleeves of her habit, and sat down on the bench-like window sill beside Marie. They looked out at the beautiful snow for a while, gazing at the dimly lit street frosted with the delicate white fluff. Its so pretty, Sister. Marie whispered, touching her small fingers to the cold glass. Marie sighed quietly, pressing her forehead tiredly up against the window as she gazed dreamily at the dark blue sky. It was lit up brightly, with stars like diamonds; twinkling and winking down at Marie, like angels watching her from up above. Sister Mary watched Marie lovingly, a smile on her motherly face. Come, Marie, lets go to bed. Grabbing the little girl by the hand, she helped her off of the sill and onto the ground. Marie nodded, tightening her grip on the Nuns hand and resting her head on Sister Marys side. They walked back through the moonlit hallway, towards Maries bedroom she shared with the girls her age. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ .Chapter One Six years later... “Shh! She’s coming, quiet down!” Perpetua whispered frantically, putting a finger to her lips as she glanced at the door. Quickly, the rest of the class shuffled to their seats as the doorway to the classroom opened. Sister Elizabeth, hand still grasped on the doorknob, looked around at the room. The children all sat in place, faced forward towards the chalk board. Smiling contently, Sister Elizabeth strode to her desk, pushing her little circular spectacles up the bridge of her nose. “Good morning class!” She squeaked, placing her books on her aged wooden davenport, and sitting herself at her chair. “Good morning Sister Elizabeth.” The class replied, their words echoing through the room. “I trust you all slept well?” “Yes, Sister Elizabeth.” They replied quite cheerfully. “Good, because today we are going to be taking a quiz!” The class groaned. One of the older children asked loudly why they were taking a test, but was stopped half-way through by Sister Elizabeth tapping her ruler on the desk. “Alright, alright, I have heard enough. No more, thank you.” She said, trying to raise her pitchy voice, but failing. The class quieted down immediately. Marie watched Sister Elizabeth stand up, grabbing the test papers with her as she strode around the room and gave out the quizzes. “I failed. I just know it.” Felicity grumbled, pulling her jacket onto her arms as she walked out of the classroom. “You can’t know that for sure Felicity,” Marie replied. “Well, I’m still sure I did fail.” Marie shook her head, rolling her eyes as the two walked up the large staircase. Children, all ages and sizes, milled about as they made their way to their next class. As the two girls got to the top of the stairs, they stopped suddenly so as not to bump into Sister Anastasia; one of the oldest Nuns in the convent. “Hello Sister Anastasia,” They each said in unison, “Hello girls!” The elderly Nun said, smiling pleasantly. “It’s a pleasure bumping into you two! Having a pleasant day so far?” “Yes Sister.” They said, nodding their heads eagerly. “Good, good. Well, I best be heading on. I’ll be expecting you two at evening prayers, you hear me?” Said Sister Anastasia, raising a scraggly brow and wagging her finger at the girls. “Yes, Sister.” They said, waving to the Nun as they scrambled towards the next flight of stairs. “You know, what is it with you and the Sisters?” Felicity panted, walking up the stairs slowly. Despite her slow movement, it was still tiresome for the girls, as the stairs were very large and quite steep. “Well, it’s probably due to the fact that I pay attention in class, and make it to evening prayers every night.” Marie replied jokingly, hauling herself up to the landing. “Oh ha ha, very funny.” Felicity said, rolling her eyes and punching Marie playfully on the arm. Marie laughed, rubbing where Felicity hit her. “Alright, come one little miss perfect, I’ve got some home-work to do before vespers.” Felicity grumbled, fixing the strap of her bag on her shoulder. “Alright,” Said Marie, nodding her head as the two girls headed down the hallway of rooms towards their own. Upon entering the room, Marie sighed with relief as she stared around. Clothing was strewn on numerous bedside tables and chairs, bags hung carelessly on bedposts, posters of saints and rock bands hung on the wall next to several of the messy beds in the room. Despite the clutter, Marie still considered it home, and home was where she liked to be best. So, stepping over the multiple school books and miscellaneous pieces of clothing, Marie tiptoed her way towards the bed closest to the window. It was her favorite spot in the room, where she would always go to think things over. It was very cozy, with its bench-like seat cushioned to a very comfortable state. There were several very mismatched pillows, and two moth eaten white linen curtains adorned with faded gold fleur-de-lis. When she had first moved into the room, the seat had a good layer of dust over it; the pillows were almost never used, (And therefore stiff and uncomfortable) and the curtains were hung in a very strange state. But, she soon fell in love with the modest window sill, and cleaned it up to its proper state so she could sit in pleasure upon it. Marie plopped down on her bed in the corner, sighing heavily as her muscles relaxed. She threw her book bag towards the end of her bed, curling up in a ball feebly. The sound of springs bouncing and a heavy sigh of relief told Marie that Felicity had fallen into her bed as well. “You know what I want, Marie?” Felicity said. “Mmm?” Marie replied, shutting her eyes and smiling, as she was pretty sure she already knew the answer. “I want a nice hot bath, with lots of bubbles! Then, I want to be wrapped up into a cozy warm bath robe, made just for me mind you, and I want to fall into a super soft bed with silk sheets and a goose down pillow…..yeah, that’d be the life.” Felicity said dreamily. “Oh Felicity, didn’t Sister Mary ever teach you that life isn’t about material things?” Marie chuckled, picking up her pillow and whopping Felicity on the head. “Perhaps, perhaps,” Said Felicity, hitting Marie back with her own, pancake like pillow. Marie giggled quietly, throwing her legs over the side of her bed. “We better get to studying Felicity, it’s already four o’clock.” “Yeah yeah whatever…” ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ “Goodnight girls.” Sister Gloria said, her deep voice clearly telling the rambunctious girls to be quiet. “Goodnight Sister Gloria.” They replied. The girls snuggled into their bedcovers, whispered “Goodnights” to their companions one last time before dozing off. All accept one. Marie lay silently in her bed, facing the wall and pretending to be asleep. She waited for the others to fall asleep before doing anything. When the time came, Marie crept out of her bed, quiet as mouse. She leaned over her bedside table, slowly pulling out the drawer where she kept various things. Such as a flashlight, which she hastily grabbed. Smiling now, she turned and tip-toed towards the door, making sure not to step on something and stumble. Marie placed her cold, trembling hand on the door-knob, oh-so-carefully turning it so as not to make it creak and wake everybody up. She then stepped out of the room, closing the door carelessly behind her. Marie beamed triumphantly. She had made it this far, what could possibly stop her from going the rest of the way? Marie thought, stepping lightly onto the first floor. Marie snuck through the main room, and towards the waiting room. Pulling open the sliding door, Marie smiled gaily as she gazed at the dimly lit room. Books; lined up on the wall, hundreds of them, all waiting to be read. “Yes,” She whispered, tiptoeing to the first bookshelf. She ran her fingers along the spines of the books, which were seemingly as old as the building that held them. Marie flicked on her flashlight, shining it on the books as she looked for the right one. Upon seeing it, Marie grabbed it out of the bookcase, putting it under her arm and turning the light off. Feeling happy with herself, Marie backed out of the room and shut the door. Suddenly, behind Marie, a demanding voice said “What might you be doing young lady?” Marie gasped, swiveling around and dropping the old book. Dust billowed up from the pages and slowly drifted away as Sister Agatha towered over the younger girl, her hands folded over her stomach casually. Her face was held in a serious way, her thin lips tightly pinched together. “A-A, I…..I-I….” Marie stuttered, backing into the guest room door. "Miss Marie, Sister Agatha said cooly, looking over Marie with stern eyes. "What exactly are you doing up past your curfew?" Marie stared at the nun, who was dressed in a simple bath robe and slippers. "I'm quite sure you are aware of our rules, are you not?" "Y-Yes, Sister Agatha." Marie stuttered, nodding her head stiffly. "Then, please tell me why you are breaking them? They clearly state that who-so-ever stays up past their curfew, shall have to suffer detention. Do they not?" Said she, raising her brows. "They do, Sister Agatha." Marie replied, sighing. "Well then, come with me-" "Sister Agatha? What are you doing up so late?" A faint voice said from down the hall. Both Marie and Sister Agatha turned to look at the newcomer. Out of the shadows, appeared another Nun. Smile lines creased her eyes and cheeks, giving her a somewhat aged look despite her real age. She too, wore a bath robe, but her feet were bare on the cold hardwood floor. "Mother Superior," Sister Agatha breathed. "I was here to scold this young child for staying up past her bedtime." The old nun said, straightening up and pointing at Marie with a knobby finger. "Hmm? Oh, Marie! Hello," The Mother superior said, clapping her hands together. "How are you?" "Quite f-fine, Mother Superior." Marie said, correcting herself. Marie had known the Mother Superior of Saint Jerome’s Orphanage for abandoned children since she was just a Sister, more formally known as Sister Mary. She had grown attached the Sister ever since she first arrived at the Orphanage as a little baby. The kind Nun had taken her under her wing from the first day, feeding her from a bottle and soothing her when she was sick. "Well, Marie, come with me to my office and we'll sort things out." "Oh, Mother Superior, you don't need to worry about this young lady, I was just about to take care of her myself." Sister Agatha said quickly, raising her chin in a noble manner. The Mother Superior looked Sister Agatha over with a thoughtful eye, a smile still affectionately placed on her face. "Thank you Sister Agatha, but you look terribly tired at the moment, I wouldn't want to keep you awake any longer. Goodnight!" The Mother Superior said sweetly, flashing a genuine smile. Sister Agatha mouthed wordlessly, putting a hand on her chest with surprise. She stopped several moments later, putting her hand down slowly and folding it with her other. "Yes, Mother," The Nun said quietly, turning back towards the Cloister wing. As Sister Agatha walked away, Mother Superior turned to Marie. "Now, come along Marie, I need to talk with you in my office. Bring that book too," She said quietly, waving Marie along as she started walking out of the main hall. Marie obeyed, holding the thick book to her chest as she followed along behind. Marie had to walk quickly to catch up with Mother Superior, as she took long strides down the wooden hallway. Their footsteps echoed loudly as they moved along, slowly getting closer to the office. "Ah, here we are." Mother Superior said, taking her keys out from under a flap on her Scapular. They jingled as she put a rather small key into the hole of the doorknob. Marie shivered as the cold night finally caught up to her. It seeped in through her robe, making her quake more and more by the second. "Well, I do hope you don't mind Marie, my office is rather messy at the moment." Mother Superior said quietly, as she pushed the tall door open with a loud squeaking noise coming from the hinges. The Mother Superior walked in ahead of Marie, who stood silently in the doorway. She looked around the room curiously; despite the fact she had been there so many times. In the middle of the room sat a lone desk, accompanied by a simple wooden chair. In the somewhat large room, were several bookcases filled with books on the Saints and other holy people, along with Autobiographies, Catechisms, Bibles, the list went on and on. A large window sat closed behind Mother Superiors cluttered desk, with dusty red velvet curtains closed. Marie breathed in the clean air of the Mother Superiors office; it smelled of Earl Gray tea and old books. A wonderful combination, Marie thought to herself as she sat down in a chair opposite of Mother Superior. "So, Marie," Mother Superior said, sighing heavily as she sat down in her chair. She folded her hands on the desk, leaning over to look at Marie with her motherly gaze. "You know I can't let you get away with this. You will have to be punished, like the rest of the children here in the orphanage." Marie looked up from her trembling hands. She looked at Mother Superior pleadingly. "B-But Mother Superior-" "Marie?" Marie Superior said, looking at the young girl now very sternly. "Yes, Mother Superior." Marie said, lowering her gaze. "Now, come, you must get some rest before school tomorrow," She said, standing and leaning over her desk. She pulled out a small slip of paper from one of her desk drawers. And, taking a pen, she scribbled something onto it. "Here is your detention slip Miss Marie, and do take that book so you have something to read whilst you are sitting in detention. I know you've read practically every single book in our library." Mother Superior said seriously, yet with a hint of a smile. Marie lit up, standing from her chair and holding the book under her arm. "Yes Mother Superior." And, taking the slip from the elderly woman’s hand, she walked out the door and back to her room; quiet as she came. Chapter Two It was a beautiful, sunny morning when one of the many Sisters of the Orphanage came joyfully through the girls’ bedroom door. “Good morning ladies!” She said in a chipper voice. “Time to wake up and welcome this beautiful day! Wakey wakey!” The Sister walked swiftly towards the window, and jerked open the curtains. Suddenly, the room was filled with bright sunlight, filling all the cracks and corners; seeping in under the bedclothes of the many young girls who had pulled them over their heads. They all groaned, hiding deeper into their sheets. “Now now, we mustn’t be lazy! How are you supposed to ever find parents if you all are a bunch of lazy lillies! Get up now!” Hearing the tone of sternness in the Nun’s voice, the girls obeyed, pushing their blankets off of their heads and squinting as the full force of the morning daylight shocked them. Marie pulled the blankets off of her head, revealing her fluffy bed hair and her tired eyes. How she hated mornings! Especially when all she had to look forward to was when she could read during detention. Deciding she’d rather risk freezing her toes off on the cold wooden floor instead of being yelled at by the Nun, Marie threw her blankets off her body and planted her feet on the floor. It seemed the rest of the girls had the same idea, and promptly got out of their beds as well. “Thank you, ladies, now get cleaned up for Breakfast and morning prayers!” The cheerful Nun said, turning and walking out of the room. “Why I oughta-“ Felicity grumbled, angrily sticking her arms into her robe. “Felicity, shush! Before she hears you!” Marie whispered, walking to the doorway. “Yeah yeah, whatever…..” Felicity replied, shaking her head. As soon as all the girls were at the doorway, they stumbled off to the bathroom to get cleaned up. Morning routine went on as usual; the girls walked into the large bathroom filled with several showers and plenty of sinks with mirrors to wash their teeth and brush their hair. Each of the girls from room 11 had their own hair brush and tooth brush, so they stood at the sinks and washed up. Chatter most normally was heard up here, as it was the only time the children could talk freely until afternoon break. Marie brushed out her hair, looking into the mirror blandly. She had always hated her hair; it was dry and brittle at the ends, and terribly straight. “Marveling at your ugly hair again, Marie?” A sneering voice whispered from beside Marie. It was Adelaide, the most nasty girl in Marie’s age group. “What do you want, Adelaide?” Sighed Marie, putting her brush down. “Oh, nothing,” Adelaide Said innocently. “I just wanted to say good morning!” Marie rolled her eyes and went back to brushing out the tangles in her hair. Adelaide snickered as she turned back to her mirror. Marie cast a sideways glance at her, and furrowed her brows. Adelaide was of course, the most envied of the girls in her age group, as her hair was thick and curly, and a lovely shade of dark blonde. Her skin was softly tanned, as she was very athletic and enjoyed all the sports the Orphanage offered. She was slim, unlike Marie, who was slightly more rounded than the other girls. After completely brushing out her hair, Marie pulled it up into a tight bun. “Hey, don’t let Adelaide get you down, she’s just a spoiled brat.” Felicity whispered into Marie’s ear very quietly. “Yeah….” She replied, staring into the mirror one last time before grabbing her uniform off of a rack of clothing and walking to the changing rooms. Several other girls followed after her, each clutching their clothing as they shivered. Winter was right around the corner, and the stone floors of the bathrooms were terrible on the feet as it cooled down. Marie quickly changed into a crisp white blouse with a plain black sweater, accompanied by a matching knee length skirt and white tights. A little bell outside the bathroom signaled that it was time for the girls to finish. So picking up their pajamas and throwing them into a large hamper, they all lined up and headed down stairs. “Neatly, girls,” Sister Boniface whispered harshly at the bottom of the stairs, putting her hands into the sleeves of her habit. The boys of the Orphanage now joined the girls after getting washed up as well. Marie looked over at them, swiping a piece of her hair away that had fallen loose. She was friends with several of them from her grade, so she smiled and waved to them in a friendly way. Her close friend, John, waved back. He looked quite tired, as his eyes were drooping ever so slightly, but he was starting to wake up. “Should we meet up at break?” He mouthed silently to Marie, making sure the Nun’s didn’t see him. Marie nodded hastily. She abruptly stifled a yelp of shock, and grabbed onto the railing; she had lost her footing on the steps and almost fell down on the last one. John rolled his eyes and shook his head, falling back into step with the rest of his group. Marie scowled at him momentarily, before stopping short in the large opening hall with her group. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Marie sat at her desk, drumming her fingers on her note book with extreme boredom. Warm, beautiful sunlight streamed through the classroom window, touching the students faces like a Mothers fingers; warm and tenderly. It made Marie feel tired and drowsy, with the cozy warm room and the tiresome schoolwork. How she wanted to go to sleep, right then and there on her hard wooden school desk. Even the other kids in her class were starting to doze off, as Sister Patricia droned on and on about Ancient History. Her talk about Ancient Greece seemed to go on and on forever in the mind of Marie, when the break bell rang loudly through the stuffy air. “Alright students,” Sister Patricia said in her thick Irish accent. “Class dismissed.” The students all quickly stood from their chairs, grabbing their bags and slinging them over their shoulders. Several of them, having taken off their sweaters from the heat of the room, now slung them back onto their arms and headed to the doorway. Marie sighed quietly as she stepped out of the classroom. A rush of relief washed over her as the blood started running back to her weary legs. Just as she was about to go outside with the rest of her classmates, a quick tap on her shoulder made her stop and turn. Felicity and John grinned at Marie, gripping to the straps of their book bags. “Hey, we’ve been looking for you!” Felicity said, blowing in vain at a lock of her bright red hair, which had fallen into her freckled face. John nodded in greeting, popping a piece of gum into his mouth as they began walking again. “Class got out late today, Sister Patricia kept rambling on about Ancient Greece.” Said Marie, following her friends. Within moments, the three had reached a tall oak doorway, held upon a elaborate wooden frame with old rusty hinges. The doors were easily pushed open, so they were closed at the moment, until Marie pushed one open for the trio to get through. A gust of cool, fresh air burst through the door as they went outside. A vast meadow met their gaze at once, as they stepped off the cobble-stone steps. To their right was a small picket fence, only about three feet in height. Inside of it was a large square of turned up soil. Usually where a garden, grown by the Nuns, would go. Not far off stood a small green house. Inside of it were flowers that weren’t able to withstand the cold of winter. To their left, branching off of the pathway which lead through the meadow was a prayer grotto. It was quite large, but was hidden by trees and large bushes. A tall archway, painted white, stood proudly at the entrance of the grotto. The trio kept walking down the path, chatting amongst themselves about school and homework. “So, Marie,” John asked, sitting down at a bench under their favorite oak tree. “How was your little adventure?” John asked, rolling up his sleeves. The day was warm and sunny, rather unusual for a day in February. “Not good. I got detention.” Marie sighed, sitting down next to him. “You’re kidding!” Felicity gasped, plopping down as well. “But, but did you get the book?” She added in a hushed voice, looking around suspiciously. “Yeah, I did, and man does it weigh a ton!” She whispered back, nodding her head quickly. Marie pulled her bag up off the ground, and placing it upon her lap she opened it up. John and Felicity leaned over Marie’s shoulder curiously. Out she pulled a large, red leather bound book. It was very thick in width, yet about average in height. Around the back and front covers was a beautiful border of small, golden leaves. They shone in the sunlight shining through the oak leaves of the tree behind them. The title was in gold as well, it read “The complete Sherlock Holmes treasury.” “Wow, its beautiful!” Felicity gasped, reaching out to touch the leather binding. “Be careful, Mother Mary said I could only borrow it.” Said Marie, biting her chapped lip. Both Felicity and John nodded in acknowledgement. “Have you read any of it yet?” John asked. “A little, I’ve been saving most of it for my detention today.” Marie said, putting the book onto its spine and flipping through the hundreds of pages. The breeze that followed blew back their hair, and sent a gust of dusty air towards their faces. “Mmm….Smells like an old book….” Felicity mumbled, shutting her eyes blissfully and taking in the scent. “That’s because it is and old book, Felicity.” John commented. “Oh, shut up.” Felicity grumbled, opening her eyes again and glaring at John playfully. After several more minutes of talking and laughing, the bell rang once again at the orphanage, meaning break time was over. Felicity sighed as she watched all the kids who were outside go back into the school. “I guess we’ve gotta go now, come on.” Marie, Felicity, and John all stood, put their book bags onto their shoulders, and headed back inside. “See you two at dinner!” John called over his shoulder as he headed off to his next class. “Well, I best be going as well. See ya Felicity! I’ll tell you how Detention goes.” Marie said, hugging her friend and heading to her next class as well. “Bye!” Felicity called, waving. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ A few hours later, Marie slowly turned the knob of Mother Mary’s office. A ray of warm, golden sunlight beamed through the door as she entered. Once again, as the night before, the room smelled of tea and books. “Hello Marie!” Mother Mary said cheerfully, standing up from her desk quickly to greet the girl. “Hello,” Marie replied, smiling kindly. “Mother Mary, I thought I was supposed to be serving detention with Sister Hedwig in her classroom, how come I was called to your office?” Questioned Marie, tilting her head and furrowing her brows together as she adjusted her bags strap. “Ah, well, I have a rather large surprise! Today I got a call from a lovely young couple from Cincinnati Ohio, are coming in to take a look at our orphanage and maybe even adopt a child.” She said cheerfully, placing the writing pen she was holding onto her desk. “I was wondering if you’d like to show them around the place instead of doing detention?” “Oh, I-I’d love to Mother Mary!” Marie stuttered, while nodding her head. It meant she’d have to leave her new book for another time, but showing a new adoptive couple around the orphanage was much more exciting. “Good, good. Now, go get cleaned up. Put on something nice to wear, we want to be our best around the couple. Oh, and by the way Marie, you will call them Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence, understood?” Mother Mary peered at Marie from over the top of her spectacles. “Yes, of course. I’ll be down in a few minutes!” Marie nodded her head respectfully, then turned out the door and scurried up the steps. Not long after, Marie walked calmly back down the old wooden steps. Now she wore a simple white blouse, with elbow length sleeves that billowed ever so slightly. Around the color and on the end of the sleeves ruffles extended and fluttered around like butterfly wings on a summer day. Her flowing knee-length skirt was high waisted, giving her a more slender silhouette. Marie’s were plain; black and shiny, and her bobby-socks reached to about her ankles. Marie glowed with happy anticipation as she stepped off the stairs and headed through the hall to the drawing room. She had been here the night before to get the book, so she quite casually slid the door open and headed inside. The warmth of the drawing room and the beauty of it hit Marie all in one burst. The drawing room was average in size, just like any other room in the place. To Marie’s left was a tall, towering bookcase filled to the brim with old decrepit books. To her right were large windows that filled the room with sunshine. A couch and several chairs were scattered about the room, so more than a few people could comfortably sit. Finally, in the direction Marie faced upon entering the room, a fireplace crackled peacefully within its intricately designed marble mantle. In front of the fireplace were two very fluffy blue chairs. The soft velvet material was designed with golden flowers of grand appearance. She plopped into one of the chairs with a sigh, glad to take weight off of her aching feet. It was, indeed, a very lovely room, at a very lovely temperature, Marie thought to herself. In no time, the warmth of the room and the cushions of the chair enveloped her; and Marie slowly drifted off into a slight nap. It took several minutes before Marie awoke with a jolt. Outside of the room, she heard the heavy yet sturdy steps of a man and two light, pairs of feminine feet near the door. “Oh, I completely forgot!” Marie whispered furiously to herself. She hopped out of the chair and straightened herself up; tucking in a few strands of hair here and there, fixing her messy skirt, buttoning up her sweater. She had just gotten finished getting herself ready when the doors opened. Mother Mary, and her two guests, entered the room in a flourish of skirts and laughing. “Well, Mrs. Lawrence, this is our lovely drawing room. I thought maybe you’d like to see it first because I know how much you like to read, and this is where we keep most of our most valuable books.” Mother Mary said, clapping her wrinkled hands together. “Oh, how kind of you. Books have always been a favorite of mine…” Mrs. Lawrence said, smiling radiantly. “Oh, yes, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence,” Mother Mary said a she rounded upon Marie. “This is Marie, one of the children who live here. She’s just about our finest student, so I thought maybe she should be the one to show you two around.” “Oh, yes, how lovely.” Mr. Lawrence said gruffly, yet with a kind genuine smile. He was a tall man, with a this mustache just above his upper lip. His hair was very thick and a dark brown in color, and slicked over to the side in a respectable way. His wife, Mrs. Lawrence, smiled down at Marie. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Marie.” She said warmly. Mrs. Lawrence held out one of her slender hands for Marie to shake. “I-It’s a pleasure to meet you as well, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence.” Marie said somewhat slowly as she stared up in awe at Mrs. Lawrence. To Marie, the woman who stood in front of her was the most beautiful she had ever seen. Mrs. Lawrence’s hair was about jaw length. It was very wavy and thick, and a beautiful, shiny honey color. Her skin was a soft radiant peach, giving her a very soft look. Mrs. Lawrence’s eyes were a gorgeous hazel, with blue and even green lightly dotted here and there near the irises. Her lips were thin, yet painted a bright tomato red. She wore a simple, yet pretty brown pea-coat with a matching pencil skirt and shoes. “Well, Miss Marie, how about you start your tour of our home?” Mother Mary suggested, smiling happily. “Yes Mother! If you’ll just follow me Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence...” Marie said, smiling as she led the two out of the room. Chapter Three J The trio stepped out of the drawing room, and into the main hall. “This is the main hall,” Marie said, motioning to the room with her hand. “And, if you’ll follow me, I’ll take you upstairs.” Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence nodded, smiling as they came upon the large wooden steps. “Oh, do watch your step. The stairs aren’t all the same height!” Marie chuckled, as she hopped up the stairs. The couple followed with haste as they tried to keep up with Marie’s quick pace. They marched up the stairs quickly, excited to see the new area of the building. After striding across a landing, and walking up another flight of stairs, they came upon the large upper part of the orphanage. “This is where mostly all of the children sleep. Over there is where the girls ages ten through fourteen sleep, and the room next to it is where girls ages fifteen and up sleep.” Said Marie, pointing to two plain wooden doors not but a few feet away from them. “And, over here,” She continued, walking Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence down the hall some more. “Is where boys ages nine through fifteen sleep. And, that door next to it, is where boys ages sixteen and older sleep.” Marie continued on their tour, striding over the old carpets that were laid on the ground in a neat manner. They ventured down the hall a bit more, looked at a few extra rooms and a school room or two. Then, the trio was off to the library. “This is our “public” library,” Marie said, opening the large doors to the library. “Meaning that all of the children in the orphanage are welcome to read the books in here.” “Its very large.” Mr. Lawrence said, nodding with approval as he inspected the room. Indeed, it was very large. All of the walls were covered in towering bookshelves that were filled with books. Some were so tall, that a ladder was needed to get to the top. The library was very lit up, because of a big window in the farthest wall. The curtains were a rich red and covered in a light layer of dust. The window looked out behind the orphanage, towards the property that was owned by the Nun’s. Chairs were placed everywhere, big fluffy ones, hard wooden straight backed ones. Tables as well, so the students could study in the library. “Its so lovely! The orphans here are very lucky to have such a lavish library!” Mrs. Lawrence gasped in awe, placing a hand on her chest as she gracefully walked about the room. Marie smiled lightly at Mrs. Lawrence’s response. “It is nice to have such a large library, I ‘spose.” “What do you mean?” Mrs. Lawrence asked as she turned towards Marie. She furrowed her thin brows, a look of questioning on her face. “Well,” Marie said, taking a hold of a chair with both hands. She put her weight on it before going on. “What I mean is, I suppose its quite nice to have a library open to you at all times. But once you’ve read all the good books it holds, there isn’t much of a point to it. Yeah, that’s what I mean.” Sighed Marie. “Yes, I do know what you mean. A library isn’t much of a library if it has no good books.” Mrs. Lawrence said in agreement. Marie smiled and nodded in reply. “Now, we should be finishing our tour. We haven’t got much time left before we’ve got to go.” Mr. Lawrence said, rolling up his sleeve and looking at his gold watch. “Oh, yes, lets. I’ve been dieing to meet the little ones here.” Mrs. Lawrence said, clapping her hands together. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ “This room is the baby room. Here I where the toddlers sleep.” Marie said as she held open the door for Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence. The room was rather spacious, pretty much of normal size for a room. It looked more new compared to the rest of the orphanage. The walls were painted a dark baby blue. Several windows on one side of the room provided the area with beautiful natural light. A few cribs and little beds were placed here and there around the room, but not many because the Orphanage didn’t have very many young children. In the center of the room a large oval shaped rug, made with blue and yellow, was spread out on the wooden floor. Toddlers played gleefully with trucks dolls and blocks in the center of the room, closely watched by a round happy looking Nun. She sat in a rocking chair, watching from a corner near the windows. “Mawie!” A cheerful little voice squealed. A plump little boy with curly red hair and freckles waddled up to Marie and threw his arms around her leg. Her only reached to about her knee. “Hello Thomas! Let go of my leg!” Marie laughed, picking him up gently and putting him on her hip. “This is Thomas, he’s my buddy. Aren’t you?” She cooed, tickling Thomas’ stomach playfully. He tucked his chin to his chest and giggled, revealing his growing teeth. “Oh, hello Thomas.” Mrs. Lawrence said, coming closer to the two. She touched his nose, causing him to blink. “Say hello..” Marie whispered into his ear. “Hewwo!!” Thomas said loudly, putting his hands in the air and stretching out his chubby fingers. Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence laughed at his playfulness. “Why, you’re a fine young boy.” Mr. Lawrence, said, smiling heartily. “Yes, he is. Now, go play with your friends Thomas,” Marie said, smiling as she put the toddler down. “And be a good little boy or you won’t get any dessert after dinner.” She whispered silently into his ear before he ran off. “Oh, such angels. They remind me of my darling niece’s and nephews.” Mrs. Lawrence sighed, gazing dreamily at the children. ‘They seem angelic now, but near nap time they turn into little devils.” Marie said jokingly, following her gaze. Mrs. Lawrence laughed at Marie’s joke. “I suppose, yes. But, angels all the same. Darling what time is it?” She asked her husband suddenly, turning to him. “Oh, well…” Mr. Lawrence huffed, clearing his throat as he pulled back his sleeve. “Just around four 0’ clock. Yes, yes, I do think we should be going now.” He said, putting his sleeve back to its original state. “Mm, yes, right. Well, Miss Marie, if you’d be kind enough to show us back to Mother’s office-“ “Yes! Of course, follow me.” Marie cut in, showing the couple out the door and back to Mother Mary’s office. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ “Thank you for coming to visit, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence, I truly hope you had a pleasant time.” Mother Mary said, smiling sweetly as she watched the couple put their coats on. “Oh, yes, we did. Miss Marie here did a splendid job of showing us around.” Mrs. Lawrence said, beaming brightly. “Wonderful! Wonderful. Have a nice week!” Mother Mary said as she held open the door for the two. “You too!” Mrs. Lawrence said in return. Mr. Lawrence simply tipped his hat Mother Mary and smiled politely. Marie watched them leave the orphanage from the stairs. She leaned up against the railing lightly as she waited for Mother Mary. As soon as Mother closed the door, Marie walked down the steps and up towards her. “What did they say?” She asked eagerly, before she was even four feet in front of the aged woman. “They sad they had a very nice time, and that you did a wonderful job of showing them around Marie.” Mother Mary said. She took Marie’s hand gently and clasped it between her own two. “You did a splendid job Marie darling. Now, go get ready for evening vespers.” Mother Mary said softly, staring down at Marie with her intense hazel eyes. As Marie looked back, she found it hard to keep contact with the Nun’s gaze. She always had, but never knew why. “Alright,” Marie said shortly, nodding quickly as she slipped away. Hastily Marie trotted up the steps, turning thought after thought over in her mind. Mother Mary watched with a troubled look. Though she knew she had nothing to worry about, she continued to fret over Marie. The young girl had always been like the daughter she never had. Mother Mary sighed. I suppose this is what its like to be a parent. She thought, turning back to her office. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Marie tossed and turned in her bed. The moon wanly shone in the sky and the sun was just beginning to shine over the horizon. She barely had a wink of sleep the night before. Her mind was too tired to sleep, she thought. Mother Mary will surely kill me tomorrow.. Marie thought. Sighing, she swung her legs over the bed. The cold floor awakened her a bit from her sleepy movements. Moonlight streamed in through the single window of the room, filling it with silvery light. It touched Marie’s hair, like the fingers of Jack frost himself. “Hello moon,” Marie yawned. She wasn’t entirely “there.” Marie sat down slowly on the window sill and leaned back up against a pillow. Curling up in a balled position, Marie stared out at the sky. She remembered how she would always here as a little child to think. It was her very favorite place to go. She came there to sit more often now, mostly to study or read, but she still enjoyed it very much. Eventually, Marie’s eyes began to flutter like the wings of a lazy butterfly. She then fell asleep with a soft snore.