from "Job 13:15"

When next I am aware, I hear another soft, wordless tune and can feel myself rocking, back and forth, back and forth. Then there is silence, and a dry, wrinkled hand on my brow.

"How does he fare, Sister?"

"There is no change, Sister."

"He has not awakened?"

"No."

"He may not tarry here indefinitely, Sister. If he is no better by tomorrow, he must be brought back to his bed. Others have need of the cradle."

"Yes, Sister."

There is silence again, then: "Ah! Bless the Lord, she is gone! They say I must not speak, and thou cannot hear me, but--oh, 'tis a sin and an outrage, what hath been done to thee, Obediah!"

If something was done to me, I have no memory of it. All I know is this mothering voice: its songs, its anger, its weeping. That, and my pain.

"They say thou art strong, Obediah, and thy youth will stand thee in good stead. Yet still thou art silent, and thine eyes remain closed."

The voice is plaintive, and this I cannot bear, knowing as I do that it will soon turn to weeping.

My eyelids are heavy, but I struggle to open them, just as I have struggled at each sound of her voice. I would know--I must know--who attends me.

Her face is indistinct, though she is close enough now for me to feel the warmth of her breath on my face. Lips tender as rose petals brush my cheek, and then I know.

Letitia. The one I love above any other.

Praise God, she is safe.

Praise God, they have not yet found us out.


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