“You know what, boy?” The Irishman held his bleeding arm. “You’ve got spirit, so I’m not going to kill you. I’ll just give you the treatment my associate was preparing for the little bird,” said the broguish man.
They grabbed Henry, leaning him back on the table and liberally ringing the contents of the rag into his eyes. The gloved man held his lids open as they burned, and all of Henry’s attempts to free himself proved futile.
“One of the great things about having these meetings in a munitions factory is the sulfuric acid,” the Irishman tried to yell over Henry’s screams. “We may have lost our money, but my boy, you’ll have lost your sight. There won’t be any identifying us on the streets for the police now, will there be? Ask yourself, boy: was all this really worth it to help that canary girl?”
Henry now bore the uncomfortable notion that the woman across from him was in tears.
“I’m sorry, I honestly wasn’t considering that the story would be so upsetting to you, I just thought it might be useful, and I don’t get to tell my stories very often, you see.”
Esther bawled openly now. “It’s not just that it’s a sad story, sir. It’s also a happy one.”
Henry’s brows partially disappeared behind his glasses for a moment in confusion. “I suppose so, if you imagine that Jet got out alright. And I have to admit that I have had a pretty good life despite all that.”
“That’s really not even what I’m trying to say, sir, I just--” her throat stopped up amid the tears. “What if I told you that I knew your brother ended up alright?”
Henry’s eyebrows sunk again and his voice quivered. “What… what do you mean, Mrs. Lawrence?”
She managed to regain composure. “You’re Henry Barnett, aren’t you? My father’s been looking for you for quite some time. He moved near this town not long ago because he’d heard that a man with your name matching your description had once worked in the city. We thought he was silly to do it.” She saw that Henry was still perplexed by all this and realized the need to further explain. “You see, he moved to America under the care of a canary girl during World War I. She took him under her wing and adopted him. She gave him a new name hoping that it would help him to leave the past behind, but he never forgot his brother….”
Henry’s eyes were now open to the realization that he would no longer be alone in his dark world. His aching heart would find a cure that same night. Together once again, Henry heard a tearful voice utter his name, and the man who once went by Jet embraced his long-lost savior.