Lillian followed Barbara's directions, and they were outside of the city within ten minutes. It was late afternoon, and the trees along the way cast long shadows on the fields behind them.
Lillian's little Smart Car cruised along at the speed limit, but it seemed much faster to Barbara. She wasn't used to speeding down the road so close to the asphalt.
As they drove Barbara wondered how she was going to tell Lillian about the ruby. She was too young to think about the consequences when she took it, but now she realized she should return it to its' rightful owner. It's monetary value wasn't even an issue for her. She owned an antique diamond necklace that some British peer of the realm had given her, that was probably worth more.
She had grown up in the lap of luxury since her dad got his big break , but the money and fame meant little to her now. They hadn't had much money when they lived at the theatre, but they had each other. When her mother was alive she was surrounded by love and acceptance. She really missed that. She had been only five, but her life had been full.
Since her mother's death, Barbara's world had been filled with material things, but very little of real value. Her dad had emotionally shut her out after they left the theatre. The ecstatic moments of hugs kisses, and roughhousing with her parents had died with her mother.
She envied the way that Uncle Gordon had rushed to Lillian's rescue when she was under attack. She envied the easy way he had held Lillian and kissed the top of her head. She couldn't remember the last time her father had hugged her.
Lillian glanced over at Barbara and frowned a little with concern. The other girl looked so upset! She hoped that Barbara's personality hadn't reverted to the nasty person that had demanded the crystal chandelier three months ago.
Lillian hadn't seen much of Barbara over the past three months, so she hadn't seen the subtle changes that had been happening day by day. What seemed to be Barbara's sudden about face this morning was a little overwhelming to her. She wasn't sure if she could trust the change or not.
The theatre itself had been undergoing an amazing reversal to it's past glory, maybe the theatre's influence had caused a reversal in Barbara's personality. If that was the case, Lillian wondered what would happen when they arrived at Barbara's mansion. Would she revert to the spoiled rich girl again?
Barbara directed Lillian to turn down a single paved lane that cut into a ten foot high cedar hedge. There was a prominent sign that said: PRIVATE ROAD NO ADMITTANCE. When they got a hundred yards down the lane they were stopped by a huge ornate wrought iron gate.
Barbara got out and spoke into a speaker that was hidden in the scrollwork of the high iron fence that was attached to the gate.
"Let me in."
The two halves of the gate opened silently inward as Barbara climbed back into the car.
"The gate is computerized and voice activated. Only dad, the housekeeper and I can open it." Barbara said as she noticed Lillian's questioning expression.
As they continued on down the driveway, Lillian's breath caught in her throat as she tried to drink in the beauty of what she saw before her.