Part One: Finding

Finding (Highbury Street, 1873)

Lightning flashed from the storm, and Isabel looked into the concerned, kind face of man who was currently ruining a very expensive-looking suit to help her. She slowly pushed herself up on her elbows.

"I'm alive, I suppose!" she yelled back over the wind and rain.

The man held out his hand and she took it. He stood Isabel up on her feet, yanked off his jacket and put it around her shoulders. "Come with me. I'll take you somewhere safe." he said.

Isabel nodded, shivering. It was freezing! Did it have to be like this? When the man said that the time travel might do something to the weather. . . .She was brought in what seemed to be a horsedrawn carriage to a large house.
The people are upper class. They're rich. You'll be lucky if you can beg for a job as a maid there and search the place at night, Isabel.
She sighed and shivered again. The rich man's jacket was around her shoulders still, and he looked at her curiously. Isabel looked closely at him, and saw that he was young. Middle to late twenties, early thirties?

As she scrutinized him, Isabel felt herself descending into unconsciousness.

When she woke up, she was in a room with the man who had saved her, a woman dressed in finery that equaled his suit (which was different from the one she had seen him wear when he found her in the rain), a man who was dressed in a suit different from the first man's, and a few girls who looked her age or a little younger.

She was in some sort of large bed, and the man who had saved her was trying to get her attention.

"Where did you come from?" her savior asked.

Isabel blinked. Cover story. . . .What was it again?

"Can you tell me your name?"

she nodded.

"Well, then, what is it?"

Isabel looked around and realized that she was in some sort of bedroom, and

"Isabel."

Isabel's strange savior nodded. "It's a beautiful name."

Isabel smiled. "Thank you. My father always said that he liked it, too."

"Liked?"

"I haven't seen him for a long time, sir." she explained (which was true). "I lived with my mother and grandfather for most of my life." That would sound proper enough for an explanation of her 'childhood,' something vague which could have two meanings. Either would invoke pity.

"I see." he murmured. "Where is your family now?"

"We couldn't afford to live under the same roof anymore." Isabel said quietly. "My grandfather took a horse and rode it with me here. He told me that if I had a chance, it was at finding a job."

"How old are you?" the young woman asked asked.

"Sixteen, ma'am." Isabel replied (which was also true). If this lady had such good clothes, she was probably used to being respected.

"Sixteen!" Isabel's savior exclaimed. "Why, you should be out learning how to run a household, not begging for jobs in the mud."

"A girl does what she can, sir." she managed. "A'choo!" she sneezed. "Excuse me. It must be the cold."

"It must." her savior agreed. "Have you any siblings?"

Isabel nodded. "They were probably sent to other places. My brother managed to get a job as a servant somewhere before it was too late, but I know nothing of my two sisters." She paused. "My mother didn't want this, but Grandfather said that it was the only way. I'd hate to be in his position right now. . .he loves us so dearly."

Turning to the girls in the room and then the woman, he said. "You must leave us."

They all left, the woman hesitating at the door.

"I shall tell you everything later, darling." the man told her. The woman left after another moment of lingering, looking at Isabel with face full of concern.

Once the door was shut, he looked at her pityingly. "How did your family end up in this position?"

Isabel shook her head. "I overheard Grandfather one night, talking about a swindler. That's all I know. Someone may have cheated him in business and caused. . .what do you call it. . .a bankruptcy?"

"That may very well be what happened. Do you know where I can find your family?"

Isabel shook her head again. "I don't know. The house. . . . he said I could not go back. People were coming to posess it. There's nothing we can do."

"So, it's too late, then?"

"I'm afraid so, sir. I don't even know where to find him now, nor my mother. He said that they were going to a place that they never wanted us to see."

"What kind of place?"

"I don't know, sir. Slums or a poor-house, perhaps. But it seems like something that they would do. If I had to choose between giving someone a good life or keeping him or her with me, I would give them a better life."

"You would follow your grandfather's example, then?"

"If it meant seeing that person safe and happy, yes."

"But are you happy?"

Isabel shook her head. In the real or false situation, she would not be happy. "I don't see how I can be at this moment, sir."

After a long pause, the man looked at her and said, "Did you have any sort of education?"

Isabel nodded her head, still feeling a shiver from the rain. "Some. My father did leave a little money for us, and my mother used it to provide us with an education."

"Oh."

After a long pause, Isabel decided to ask the question that she had been wondering since she had seen this man.

"May I have the pleasure of your name, sir?" she asked.

"James Saint-Claire." he said. "Of Highbury street."

"Where am I?"

"My home."

The End

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