Hearing the door begin to open, Isabel dashed across the room and climbed back into the bed. Saint-Claire entered the room, and Grace stood at the door uncertainly.

"Isabel." he began. "While you have only been at our house for a short time," he paused.

Isabel held up her hand. "I heard it all, sir." she said.

Saint-Claire's face fell. "Did you?"

"I think the whole country did." Isabel replied, causing Grace to chuckle and James's face to turn red. "Oh, I'm only exaggerating!" she exclaimed. "But. . . .I suppose. . . I'm honored. I thought a position as a kitchen maid was the best I would get if someone took any sort of pity on me. You don't know how grateful I am." Isabel felt tears come to her eyes.

Hmm, she thought. I guess I'm playing the part? Or am I still sick? Maybe this will get me closer to going home.

James smiled softly. "I don't suppose I do." he murmured. "But, in that light, I must say that you will have a lot to go through in the next while. Once you feel that you've recovered, of course." he added quickly.

"Of course." Isabel said, her voice still quiet. "Are you certain that this is alright?" she looked past James, at Grace.

Grace nodded. "Despite my anger that he decided on his own, my husband's intuition is seldom wrong."

"It merely takes you a little while to get used to ideas like this?" Isabel guessed.

Grace nodded. "Unfortunately."

After a moment or two of thought, Isabel spoke the first thing that came to mind. "But. . . . what will I call you? Mother and Father seems a bit too. . . ."

Saint-Claire nodded. "We'll be your caregivers, your foster parents if you like. Not your mother and father."

"So, then. . . .can I. . . .rather, may I, call you by your given names?"

Saint-Claire paused, then glanced at Grace.

"The idea is a bit unusual. However, so is this situation." Grace said by way of consent.

Saint-Claire nodded. "Very well, you will call us James and Grace from now on. Welcome to our family, Isabel."


Later on, Isabel found that her full name was now Isabel Harrows Saint-Claire. She would be trained by the Saint-Claires, as well as Lady Jane Harrows, Grace's mother.

I wonder what she's like. Is she a good person? Or is she the type who gets upset because of the smallest things? Is she fussy, or is she the type who lease well enough alone? Will she even like me? What is she going to say when she sees me?

She wouldn't have to wonder for long. Lady Harrows would be coming up for the season in twelve days. During that time, all sorts of people came and went to measure and prod at her.

The End

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