I left the house feeling quite grown up. It had been upsetting, parting with my parents and younger siblings, but I knew it had to be done. Just as I turned away from the front door and walked down the street, I heard footsteps behind me. It was Eva, her dress torn again, and a coloured ribbon in her hand.
"Tie this to your bedpost," she told me, breathlessly. Her little four-year-old hand found mine and put the ribbon into it. "To remind you of us."
The gesture was touching and I smiled. I kissed the top of her head and pushed her in the direction of the house. "Go on, Eva, get yourself back home. It's too cold out here for a little thing like you."
It was only October, but she had no shawl or cardigan, and I was afraid of her catching a chill. I was a slightly too warm, wearing as I was two dresses and petticoats, one on top of the other. I longed to take them off and run around just in my white shift, but it would not be appropriate. This was the first day of my grown-up life, I had to remind myself. I was going to be sensible.
I reached the station in good time to catch my train. Mother had been going to see me off but fell ill at the last minute--though I tried to persuade her to let me stay home and look after her she would not listen, telling me that my job and my future was far more important. I gave in eventually, but it did mean that I had to make my own way to London.
Fortunately, it was a pleasant train and not crowded. I sat myself down near a window and waited while other passengers filed in. The train started to move, gathering speed the further we got from the station, the further we got from my home. I clutched my bag tightly on my lap and stared with wide eyes out at the houses rushing by and the children playing in the gardens near the railway line.
I was on my way to meet the future.