After a couple minutes they caught sight of a small cozy looking house through the trees and quickly redoubled their efforts. When they got there, they stood in front of the door for a long moment and stared at the knocker in the shape of a lion’s head. Then Liam took a big breath and grabbed hold of the knocker and knocked three times. He stepped back as an old woman opened the door. She was short with a round face and a jolly twinkle in her eyes. “Who might you be?” She said, her voice kind.
“Please mam’, we are running away, could you give us some food?” Sybil asked.
The woman looked sympathetic and invited them in. “You can stay here for the night, but my lady will be coming tomorrow morning and I don’t think she would approve of you being here.” The woman said, “It’s a good thing you came now for it’s only old George and myself here until my lady comes back.”
“Are you a servant?” Ada asked.
“Yes I am dear. My name is Martha, I am the cook,” the woman explained as she ushered them into the warm kitchen. “Here is some bread and stew left over from our supper.” Martha said as she handed them bowls full of good smelling stew. All three children thanked her and dug in with such gusto that it made the old cook smile. She then walked over to the back door and yelled, “George we have visitors!” After a minute a lean old man with a shock of unkempt white hair and a leathery wrinkled face walked in and smiled warmly when he saw the children.
“And who might you be?” he asked.
“I’m Ada. I am almost five!” Ada said excitedly.
“Pleased to meet you,” George said, “I am George and I am almost sixty seven.” The children giggled. “Are these your siblings?” He asked.
“Yes sir. My name’s Sybil I am fourteen and this is my brother Liam, he’s ten.” Sybil said.
They talked for several minutes about the weather and the games they liked to play. Then Martha said, “You said you were running away. Who are you running from?”
Sybil looked sadly down at Ada who had fallen asleep in her lap and gently stroked her hair. “We used to live with our parents, but there was a fire. My parents never made it out. ” Sybil paused and then went on, “We were sent to live with our aunt in London. She was very rich. She hated my father though and was mad when our mother married him. She hated us too and paid no attention to us at all. She did not seem to care about us at all, so one day we decided to leave. That was a week ago.”
“Oh you poor dears!” Martha said. “You walked the whole way. You must be exhausted, lets get you to bed.” She led them up the stairs and tucked them all into a big bed. “I am right next door if you need anything.” She said.
“Thank you,” Sybil mumbled half asleep. Martha smiled kindheartedly as she closed the door.