Day Six: The First Three Chapters!

Hello! I’m excited to share with you today the revised first three chapters of the novel! There’s one from each POV character, all three of whom you met two days ago.

1

Celeste  Nightingale 

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a queen locked a girl up in a tower. She loved the girl like a daughter, even more so after her own daughter ran away. The queen kept the girl a secret from the world, in fear of losing her as well. 

The girl’s name was Celeste, and she had hair that stretched past her feet. She only knew the queen as Madame and didn’t ever want to leave her tower. 

After all, why would you want to leave paradise? 

“Do you think I look better in blue or green, Juniper?” Celeste asked as the pale gray cat wove between her legs. She considered the two bolts of fabric spread out in front of her. 

“Mreew?” 

“I agree,” she continued. “Blue it is.” She spread out the sky-blue fabric on her sewing table and began pinning a pattern in place, chattering to her cat meanwhile. “Do you think Madame is going to visit today? She hasn’t in a while, and I don’t think she has any reason to. I—Juniper!” 

Juniper had jumped up onto the sewing table and sat on her pattern. 

“Naughty kitty,” Celeste murmured, picking her up. “I thought you knew better than to jump on my sewing projects.” She set the cat on her lap and brushed the fur off the table. “We’ve had this discussion before.” 

Juniper kneaded her paws into Celeste’s jacket. “Purrrrrr.” Celeste petted her absently. “I’m not even close to out of food, so she won’t be bringing any if she does come. I have plenty of fabric—Juniper would you stop?” she pushed the cat onto the floor and watched as it padded over to the window-seat and jumped up, glancing over at her pointedly. 

“Meow?” 

“Fine,” Celeste sighed and pushed away from the pile of fabric, sliding across the wooden floor to join the cat. “What do you want?” she asked, moving her long braid out of the way to peer out the window. 

Juniper pressed her head against the glass. “Mrrrew!” Celeste ran a hand automatically down the cat’s soft back as she scanned the familiar horizon. Just at the edge of the sea, almost out of eyesight, she could see the shoreline that Madame often came from. No other boats ever dared travel that far into the bay unless they were passing by to the kingdom on the other side—and then they wouldn’t dare stop at the forbidden castle. Madame had given Celeste a book that held the legend behind her island castle for one of her birthdays. 

A long time ago, Celeste’s castle had been home to the royal family. It had two long bridges stretching out on either side to the shore, two front doors, two parents, and two princes. The boys were twins, and on the day of their parent’s death, they fell to arguing about who got the kingdom. 

They’d grown up without knowing who was older, you see, as the queen wanted them to be equals. The king had written in his will that they were to share the rule of the kingdom. One half could not survive without the other. 

But the princes ignored their father’s request and argued day and night until one of them snuck into the other prince’s half and stole all the sheep. 

When the prince who lost his sheep awoke to find his half of the kingdom empty of sheep, and his people unable to make the wool they depended on, he burned the bridges to the castle and swore he’d never see his brother again, for the betrayal. 

So the princes built separate castles in their kingdoms, and they refused to acknowledge each other until, eventually, the lines had grown so far apart that the groups weren’t even related anymore. 

Celeste didn’t know how she got in the tower, or if anyone lived on the Other Side. And Madame won’t tell me. She could try again, maybe now that she was older Madame would trust her. 

“Do you think the princes were ever sorry?” Celeste asked Juniper. She eyed the black marks on the stone walls of the castle, still marked from the fire that had burned across the bridges. Juniper rubbed against her side. 

“I think they were. I would be very sorry if that happened to me,” she said decidedly. 

On the shores of the kingdom that Madame always came from, a country called Kappaka, a small boat left the harbor. Celeste sighed. “I suspect that’s Madame,” she said “since she’s headed towards the castle.” 

Juniper lept from her perch and shot across the floor. Celeste grabbed her best dress. “She’ll want some tea,” she murmured, going out into the hall. 

Since the castle was divided, and Madame kept the Other Side a secret, she had turned one of the downstairs sitting rooms into a small kitchen and blocked off the shared basement kitchen. 

“Madame’s favorite is mint tea,” Celeste told Juniper as they found their way into the kitchen. She hummed as she put the teapot over the fire and pulled out a jar of mint leaves. 

Within due time, a knock came on the door, and Celeste made her way to the entrance. 

“Celeste!” Madame cried, pushing open the door only she had keys for. She patted the girl on the shoulder and held out a rope. “Tie up my boat, won’t you?” 

Celeste took the rope and looped it around the hook Madame had drilled into the stone long before Celeste was old enough to help. She adjusted the rope ladder and swept her long braid out of the doorway before she closed it. 

Madame came out of the kitchen with a teacup, taking a long sip. “Ah,” she said. “That’s good.” 

Celeste smiled, murmured a response, and bent to pick up Juniper. 

“Leave the cat on the ground, please,” Madame said. 

Juniper hissed. 

“Shh,” Celeste whispered, shaking her head at the cat. If Juniper keeps that up I won’t find out anything. 

Madame’s lip curled slightly, and Celeste noticed that wrinkles were forming around her guardian’s mouth. She saw now that Madame’s rick, ink-black hair held streaks of gray, and she suppressed surprise. 

At seventeen, she supposed she wasn’t getting any younger either, but she was always surprised when she realized how much Madame had aged. 

“What are you looking at?” Madame asked, raising an eyebrow and taking another sip of tea. 

Celeste shrugged. “Nothing,” she murmured, averting her eyes. “Are you visiting the Other Side today?” 

“Yes.” Madame narrowed her eyes. “Why?” 

“Oh, usually you either come because you are bringing me something, you need me to do something, or you want to visit the Other Side.” She offered a half-smile, trying to cover up her mistake. Madame is too smart. 

Madame relaxed, allowing a smile to play around her mouth. “You’re so innocent,” she murmured, taking another sip of tea. 

Celeste smiled. If Madame thought she was innocent, she was less likely to question Celeste. “I like it that way,” she ventured. 

“I do too,” Madame said and turned away. “But you’re right. I do want to visit the Other Side—” she turned back to Celeste. “Do you ever wonder what is there?” 

“On the Other Side?” Celeste’s heart caught in her throat, did she guess? “O-of course. But if you don’t want me to know, I’m sure it’s awful.” 

“In a way it is,” Madame agreed. “Don’t you ever want to cut that?” 

Celeste glanced down at her hair. “My hair?” 

“Of course. What else would I be talking about?” 

“Maybe when I’m older,” Celeste said. She ran her fingers along the tightly wound braid, “But not anytime soon.” 

Madame set down her teacup on a side table and waved a hand. “Do what you want,” she said. “It’s not like anyone can see you anyway. I’ll be back soon.” 

Celeste knew without asking that Madame was leaving now, and she picked up the teacup. “I’ll see you before you leave?”

“Of course,” Madame said, and she disappeared down a hall Celeste had never dared venture down. 

Celeste rested her forehead against the door frame, releasing a sigh. “I never get anywhere with her. She’s too smart.” “Mmmmmew!” Juniper mewed, snaking around Celeste’s ankles and into the kitchen. 

Celeste followed the cat and washed the teacup in warm water before she set it out to dry. She watched as Juniper pawed at the cupboard that held her food. 

“We don’t eat until later,” Celeste reminded the cat. 

She could hear distant voices and wondered if another boater was passing the castle or if Madame was talking to someone. She leaned over the counter to stare out the window, at the other side of the bay. 

Madame came from Kappaka, as did Celeste, but she was always curious about the Whiegua Kingdom. She’d read about the current royal family and how they had four children.

She put her chin in her hands, lacing her fingers together. What would it be like to have siblings? She wondered briefly and then shook her head. 

As Madame often said, it was no use to sit around and daydream when you could be doing something useful. And besides, she needed to find out what was in the Other Side. 

So she climbed the stairs and went back to her bedroom, where the blue fabric for her dress was spread out across the counter. “Meow!” Juniper leapt up onto the chair and looked expectantly up at Celeste. 

Celeste laughed, scooping up the cat and setting it on her lap. “Well, Juniper, I think Madame is far too smart for us. We’ll have to find another way, won’t we?”

2

Queen Abigail Villn 

“Mother, you have to let us out at some point,” Ethan said, following her into the kitchen. 

She frowned, setting down the back of sweets and turning to face her son. “I still haven’t found your sister. Listen, I only came because I had some sweets for Mercy, and I wanted to check on your neighbor.” 

“Who are you keeping locked up over there anyway?” Astrid, her son’s wife, asked, coming into the kitchen. 

Abigail brushed imaginary crumbs off her black mourning gown. “A girl,” she said, waving a dismissive hand. “Don’t worry; she’s perfectly content.” She smirked. “She’s afraid of the great wide world.”

“And did you trick her into believing that?” 

“Of course not. I know you aren’t the happiest with me, but can’t you at least let me see my granddaughter?” 

“If you truly cared about your granddaughter, you’d let us live in the palace.” 

“You know that’s impossible,” Abigail said. She sighed. “Let me see Mercy, please. I won’t ask nicely again.” 

Ethan and Astrid exchanged worried glances. 

Let me see Mercy,” Abigail ground out, working to maintain her calm. 

“Fine,” Ethan said brusquely. 

Astrid disappeared from the room, and Ethan glared at his mother. 

“Why are you doing this?” he asked quietly. “You know if I took the throne, I wouldn’t do anything to Ivory without asking her.” 

“I learned early on that you could not trust any man,” she said “relative or not.” 

Ethan frowned and opened his mouth, but Astrid came in carrying Mercy. 

“Hello, Darling,” Abigail said. 

“Queen Abigail,” Astrid whispered. She crossed the floor and tentatively handed Abigail the baby cradled in her arms, glancing back at Ethan. 

Abigail cleared her throat, following Astrid’s gaze. “It is a pleasure to see all of you, as usual. I’ll come by in a week or two with anything you need. Astrid, are you running low on anything?” She kissed the crown of Mercy’s head, raising an eyebrow at her son and daughter-in-law. 

“Just the usual,” Astrid whispered, her eyes focused on Mercy. Mercy fussed slightly, and she held her out, offering her back to Astrid. 

“Be a good little girl for your parents,” she said to the baby, and Astrid left the room with her. “I don’t want to keep doing this.” 

“And yet you are,” Ethan hissed. 

Abigail felt very alone at that moment, standing in the kitchen of an abandoned castle with an angry son and a scared daughter-in-law. “I have a dinner to host,” she said quietly, hoping to dispel the thoughts. She turned away from Ethan. “I will see you in one week.” 

*** 

“If that is all, Miss?” the maid curtsied, drawing Abigail back into their conversation. 

“Of course,” she said, waving a hand. “Go on. I need to get ready. Send up my maid.” 

The maid curtsied again and left Abigail to study the room in front of her. 

It was commonly called to ‘Queen’s Room’ for a good reason. Abigail had taken the room as her own when she was still young and pregnant with Ethan. 

“Your Majesty? You summoned me.” Cilla, her maid, said. 

Abigail stood slowly, glancing once more at the yellow walls and large glass windows before she followed the maid up to her bedroom. 

Abigail stood perfectly still while the maid buttoned her black dress and curled her hair and applied flawless makeup. As a precaution, she slipped a thin rose-shaped wand into the hem of her skirt and smiled at the mirror. 

The maid stepped away at last, eyeing the queen. “That’s nice enough,” she said, eyes flashing. 

Abigail ran her finger down one of the few streaks of gray in her hair, wondering briefly if she should dye them. But she rather liked the gray; she looked much more queenly. “Exactly,” she said, and the maid smirked, and backed out of the room. 

Her behavior was typical, and Abigail ignored her. 

Abigail wound her way down the grand staircase and slowly crossed into the great hall where her guests were beginning to gather. She nodded to the few that bowed or curtsied, and then raised a hand for silence, knowing they were all watching her. 

“Thank you for coming,” she said softly. If you would all proceed to the dining hall, we may begin.” 

As a few latecomers arrived and quickly shed their coats, Queen Abigail Villn led the way into the dining hall and took her seat at the head of the table. She watched quietly, flanked by two of her advisors, as the servants began to lay out the feast. 

“This is an excellent party, Your Grace,” the man to her left said, raising his glass in salute. 

She deemed it wouldn’t be fitting to raise hers, so she only nodded. “Of course,” she said, and then remembered that it wasn’t supposed to be her advisors with her at the table. The table was meant for family, and once-upon-a-time, she’d sat there with her husband, son, and daughter. 

But she wouldn’t allow herself to think of her daughter—not tonight. Tonight she was supposed to lose herself in playacting for the nobility and pretend that she wasn’t a murderer. 

“Your Majesty?” Earl Rush was rising to his feet at a different table and bowing to her. 

Her teeth clenched, and she willed herself to relax. Just because he does not like you does not mean he will harm your reputation. “Lord Rush?” she forced her voice to be lilting. 

“If I may ask you, where is Prince Ethan, Your Majesty? It has been too long since he has graced our company.” 

Behind his beautiful words and smile, she saw his ambition. He wanted to expose her in front of the court—show them all who he thought she was. But she smiled, tipped her glass slightly. “Oh, he’s busy. You know, travel and children make you too tired for dinner!” Her light laugh rang out through the hall. 

Earl Rush was still standing. “So when will you bring him down to eat with us again? He has not attended for many years, My Queen.” 

Abigail narrowed her eyes just as a servant—her maid—slammed a basket on the table, buns flying everywhere. 

“He’s right you know. And I know where Prince Ethan is!” 

“Cilla Starling, you go back to the kitchen this instant!” Abigail cried. Why did they send her out to serve? She never serves. 

Cilla leapt up on the table, pushing dishes over and causing the nobility to gasp. 

“Cilla,” Abigail said warningly. Her hem felt heavy with the thin piece of rose-shaped wood, and she stood. 

“You’ve been keeping him away—haven’t you?” 

Abigail’s captain of the guard, Mason Wren, rushed out of a side hall and to the table where Cilla stood. 

“Cilla,” he hissed, glancing at the queen. “Please get down from there!” 

She glared at him. “Not today. I’ve been quiet for too long. It’s time to give up on the princess, Queen Villn. Ivory—” she hesitated, and Abigail took her chance. 

“Be quiet, Cilla. Ivory will come back to me,” Abigail took a deep breath and turned to Earl Rush. She picked up her wineglass and raised it in the air. “We can drink to Lord Rush,” she said, pausing to glance at the nobility. Disdain dripped off her voice. “And his stupidity,” she added, and tipped her wineglass back, emptying it. 

Earl Rush’s fingers shook, and Abigail smiled through her teeth, tossing the wineglass behind her. 

It shattered, the sound of glass on stone echoing through the deathly silent hall. 

“Captain Wren, would you be so kind as to see the lord off?” she waved a hand dismissively. “I shall see to him later.” 

“Your Majesty—” an advisor leaned over to speak with her, but she gave him an icy glare. 

“Be careful, or you shall be next,” she murmured, and he sat back in his seat. “Cilla,” she said, eyeing the young woman, debating her options. 

Cilla stamped her foot, the dinner plates rattling around. “I will find the prince,” she said defiantly. 

Earl Rush was dragged away behind them, down the winding halls to the prison, to wait for Abigail’s sentence. 

Abigail rolled her eyes. I won’t deal with her anymore. “You’re dismissed from your service then, if you wish to find the prince.”

She leaned forward, a smirk growing. “Good luck.” Her eyes darted to the nervous maid setting down a new wineglass. 

“Cilla, please, just go back to your job—” Mason begged as Cilla stepped down from the table, a triumphant gleam in her eye. Abigail narrowed her eyes, remembering papers she’d burned in the Whiegua Kingdom guest quarters long ago. 

Legal papers. 

Birth certificates. 

Cilla Starling and Mason Wren. 

She leaned forward. I need a captain loyal to me alone. “And Captain Wren, would you see her out?” 

Mason froze, glancing back at her and touching the sword at his side before he sighed. “Your Majesty, I’m sorry. But I cannot do as you ask.” 

“That’s what I thought. You may dismiss yourself as well, Mason. And don’t come back begging for a job—in fact, I don’t want to see either of you in this country ever again.” 

Mason slipped the honorary coat of arms he wore off and it fell to the floor with a clatter. “I won’t,” he promised and stepped out of the room with Cilla. 

Abigail couldn’t decide if she was relieved or worried, and she picked up the fresh glass of wine, taking a sip and sinking into her seat. “You may continue,” she said. 

The guests seemed to hesitate, but then quiet muttering began until they had resumed their normal chatter. 

Abigail smiled, at last satisfied. 

No one would dare challenge her after this night. 

3

Princess Ivory Villn 

“Could you take the bread out of the oven?” Nana called from the living room. 

Ivory sighed. “Yes, Nana,” she said, pushing the hood of her gray cloak down and opening the oven door. She reached for the hot pads, only to find that they were missing. Again? “Drew!” 

A young boy peeked sheepishly around the corner. “Yes?” “Where are the hot pads?” she demanded, taking a towel and wadding it up to take the pan out of the oven. 

Drew’s eyes darted around the kitchen. “Um.” 

“Drew,” she said sternly. 

“I didn’t do anything, I promise! Carrie wanted to play house and I borrowed them for her.” 

“I’ve told you before; I don’t want you playing with anything in this kitchen. Bring them back and put them where they belong. Next time Carrie wants to play, she can ask Nana or me.” 

“Yes, Ma’am,” Drew said, ducking his head and leaving the room. 

“I’m going out, Nana!” Ivory called. 

Nancy came into the room carrying one of the twins. “Where?” she asked, setting the baby in a high chair and retrieving a bottle of milk. 

“Nana knows where I’m going,” Ivory replied, pulling her hood up, covering her dark, curly hair. 

“Are you bringing back Jacob?” Nancy asked. 

Ivory hesitated. “I don’t know,” she said. “We’ll see,” she smiled at the ten-year-old, and then slipped out the door. 

The forest was quiet for a summer day, and Ivory wove quickly through the trees until she arrived at the small clearing she’d visited too many times to count. 

Jacob was already there, sitting in the middle with this horse tied up. 

She smiled, about to go to him when she caught a flicker of movement behind him and froze. 

He looked up. “Ivory?” 

“It’s nice to see you again, too,” she said, allowing her amusement to fill her voice. I know who’s behind him. She thought. “But I think you brought some company.” 

“What? No, I didn’t. You know I’d never—” 

“Come now; you were bound to be followed by one of your siblings someday.” 

He groaned, turning and glaring at the woods behind him. “Dove!” he said. “I told you not to follow me! Didn’t you ever think I maybe had a reason?” 

The shadow behind Jacob slid backward slightly. 

“Come out, Dove,” Ivory said gently. “We don’t mind.” With a sheepish smile and a bent head, Dove came out and stood beside her brother. 

“I’m sorry, Jacob, she said quietly. “I didn’t know—” she glanced towards Ivory. 

Ivory sighed and stepped out of the woods. Dove would be the first person from outside the woods to see her in nearly four years, except for Jacob; “It’s a pleasure to see you,” she said, sweeping into a curtsey. 

Jacob frowned at her, and Dove gasped. 

“You-you’re Ivory Villn, aren’t you!” 

Jacob put a hand over her mouth before she could continue and shook his head. 

“We don’t speak of that,” Ivory told the girl. “It’s alright, Jacob. She knows now—it’s too late.” She was a recognizable person, not many people in Whiegua looked like her. 

“I won’t tell anyone,” Dove said once Jacob released her. “I promise. How long have you lived here?” 

Ivory tugged the cloak closer around her, shielding against the sudden chill. “Since I ran away from my mother.” 

“Do you live on your own?” 

“No, Ivory replied, relieved to change the subject. She never liked speaking about her mother. “Would you like to meet the people I live with?” 

“Yes, please.” 

Jacob untied his horse and fetched Dove’s. “We’ll stay for a bit, but then I have to bring you back in time for dinner. You can’t ever visit Ivory on your own.”

“Why not?” 

“Because it’s too dangerous for her safety,” he said, glancing at Ivory. 

She smiled. “I’ll be fine, Jacob. But you’re right. It’s probably too dangerous for Dove to visit on her own.” She let the way down the path, listening to the siblings behind her. 

“You promise?” Jacob asked. 

“I promise,” Dove said, and Ivory knew she was rolling her eyes. She smiled slightly, wishing that her life had taken a different path and she was living in a castle with the freedom to visit the white family without all the secrets. But her mother had crushed that dream, and so she’d run away. 

She wouldn’t think of her mother. She’d made a promise to herself long ago that she’d never again allow her mother to dictate her every thought. 

As the small cottage she called home came into view, Jacob fell into step beside her. 

“I’ve got some news,” he whispered, and his fingers brushed over hers ever-so-slightly before he glanced back to look at Dove. 

She lowered her voice. “What is it?” 

“I figured out what happened to Ethan through a few of my father’s spies. Your mother is keeping him locked up. We’ll just have to trust God that he is safe—” 

“Locked up?” 

“Who’s locked up?” Dove asked, and Ivory cringed. “No one,” she said. “We were just talking.” She lowered her voice, tilting towards Jacob, “What do you mean?” 

“Reports aren’t clear. But we know that Ethan has been missing for nearly as long as you—and the queen is telling no one where he’s gone. I can come back for dinner if you want to talk then.” 

“What? So he just—” 

“Is this your house?” 

Ivory glanced back at Dove. It’d been a long time since she’d spoken to anyone outside of Nana, Jacob, and the children. “It’s Nana Swift’s house.” 

“Who is she?” 

“Mrs. Swift has been watching orphans since she was young. Ivory has been helping her since she ran away.” 

Ivory frowned at Jacob. “Nana doesn’t know who I actually am. She’s blind, so she won’t recognize you, but don’t say anything to give a hint of royalty.” 

“Do I call her Mrs. Swift or Nana?” 

“Nana.” 

“Mrs. Swift.” 

Ivory and Jacob glared at each other in half-teasing anger. Dove cleared her throat as they halted in front of the cottage door. “Um, guys?” 

“Mrs. Swift is much more proper,” Jacob said. “As royal—” 

Nana doesn’t know you’re royal, and I’d like to keep it that way.” Ivory pushed open the cottage door. “I brought guests Nana!” she called and then turned to Jacob. “Can you stable the horses?” 

Jacob took Dove’s horse’s reins and shot her a smile. “Of course.” 

“Wait does—um—Nana have orphans currently?” 

“Of course. None of them are her actual grandchildren—she never had children, but she’s kept orphans around since she was widowed.” 

Dove hung her cloak beside Ivory’s and followed Ivory into the kitchen. “How do you know all this?” 

Ivory bent to check the bread. “Nana is very open about her life.” 

“I can hear you, you know,” an elderly woman said, coming into the kitchen. She smiled, her cloudy eyes gazing at the wall. 

Ivory chuckled. “Her hearing is also much improved since she can’t see,” she told Dove. 

Dove smiled. 

“I can still hear you. Who is this?” Nana asked, holding out a hand. 

Ivory took Dove’s hand and put it in Nana’s. “Nana, this is Dove. She’s Jacob’s sister.” 

“Pleased to meet you,” Dove said. 

“Like Princess Dove.” 

Dove’s eyes widened, and she glanced at Ivory. 

“Yes, Nana,” Ivory said simply. “Why don’t you go sit down and finish knitting that blanket?” 

“I’m almost done,” Nana said, and moved out of the room. 

“How does she knit, if she can’t see?” 

“By touch. I think she—” 

“The horses are stabled. I thought you’d like to know that Drew and Carrie are in the barn.” 

“Those trouble makers!” Ivory said. She wiped her hands on a towel and shook her head. “I’d better go see what they’re up to now. Come on.” 

“How many orphans are there?” Dove asked. 

Ivory hesitated, running the names over in her head. Nancy, Josh, Carrie, Drew, Lucy, Emma, Tyler. “Seven. Emma and Tyler are still toddlers, and they are our newest additions.” She pushed open the barn door. “Drew! Carrie!” 

A muffled squeak came from the fourth stall, and Ivory slipped past Dove and Jacob’s horses, the only animals in the barn other than the chickens. “Drew,” she said, a hint of anger entering her tone. 

Jacob and Dove followed close behind as she peered over the stall door and gasped. 

“What on earth—?” 

Drew and Carrie sat in the middle of the stall, covered from head to toe in mud and hay. 

Carrie’s eyes were wide, and she stood tentatively. “We fell outside,” she said. 

“You fell in the mud?” Ivory pulled open the stall door and stared at the pair. “How? Where?” 

“In the chicken yard!” Drew piped up. 

“What were you doing in there?” Ivory asked. 

Carrie and Drew glanced at each other. “Nana asked Josh to get eggs,” Carrie began. 

Drew interrupted. “But he was outside with the goats. We wanted to get the eggs!” 

Ivory raised an eyebrow and shooed them out of the stall. “You went into the chicken yard by yourself? You know you aren’t supposed to do that.” 

“But Nana wanted eggs!” 

“You could have told Josh. I’m going to have to punish you for this, you know.” She glanced back at Jacob and Dove. Dove was hiding a smile behind her gloved hand, but Jacob was frowning. 

“Don’t you know better?” he asked them. “Miss Ivory gives you instructions because she cares about your safety.” They ducked their heads, dragging their shoes across the yard as Ivory herded them to the back door. 

“We know,” they chorused.

“I was going to let you help rub-down the horses,” Jacob said. “But, I think Josh and I will do it on our own.” 

“No!” Drew cried. “But we never get to rub! Please, Mr. Jacob!” Jacob shook his head, withdrawing from the group to go in search of Josh. 

Dove frowned. “Who is Josh?” she asked as Ivory sat Drew and Carrie under the pump. 

“Josh is ten!” Carrie announced. 

“Other than Nancy, he’s the oldest. We’re thinking about bringing him to a farm for work soon.” 

Dove gasped. “But Ivory! He’s so young!” 

Ivory glanced over at Dove, then began pumping. “This is how real life is,” she said, gesturing around them. 

The twins cried out in surprise when the cold water splashed over them. 

“Start scrubbing,” Ivory ordered as she continued to pump. 

“It’s—” Dove hesitated, bit her lip. “It’s not quite what I imagined.” 

Ivory rolled her eyes. “It may not be very glamorous—” she stopped pumping for a second and leaned on the pump to stare at the barn. “But it’s how everyone else lives.”


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