The Anglic Gene

An orphan girl unsure of who she is or why a man wants her dead carries a secret. She will experience humanity.

Are you ready?

Join Sophia in a heart thumping adventure across England set in the 1870’s, exploring faith, doubt, love and fear. A story, quoted by the editor as “really something special”, you’ll continue to contemplate long after the journey unfolds


28. Betrayed

The moon perched low in the starry night sky. “Shouldn’t be long now,” Sophia said. “Mass is shortly after dusk.”

“Do you think Michael is still alive?” Anne asked.

She shuddered at the thought, then whispered, “I hope so.” In just a few days’ time, Michael had become like an older brother—a long-lost brother she had never met. He had helped rescue Anne, putting his own life on the line. Better yet, Sophia thought, he had put himself at mortal risk from the moment he accompanied them on their quest to find Jeremial. Sophia was certain that Michael had known that the sewers were being flooded. But selflessly, instead of saving himself, he ensured that both Anne, she, and even Dash were safe.

“I do miss him,” Anne said.

“Me, too, Anne.” Sophia frowned. “Me, too.”

Muffled voices from all directions grew louder by the minute as people arrived, some on foot, others on horseback, and a few in carriages. The entrance to the cathedral soon bustled with families young and old dressed in their evening attire.

“Anne, you go first. Leave your haversack here, behind that crate. We’ll come back for them. Once inside, head for the rear door that Father Roman took us through.”

“Okay,” Anne said, as she stood up and sauntered across the street and blended with a large family as they entered the front door of the church.

Sophia placed her haversack on top of Anne’s and then scouted the various families. In turnabout for an orphan, she chose a family whose children were of various ages, a few around her age. Within moments, keeping her head down, she walked on the outskirts of the family. Perfect: They seemed oblivious to her presence. With so many people hurrying to make their way into the church, the Bobbies seemed less concerned with identifying suspects as with keeping order and directing traffic. If they were looking, Sophia presumed they must have been looking for two girls and possibly a dog walking together.

Her plan worked. Inside the cathedral, with nary a Bobby in sight, she raced to the rear doorway without taking too much care in making a stealthy exit. On entering, a nun approached her. “Quickly, this way,” she said. Sophia followed the Sister through a back corridor that ended at the base of the stairway leading up the bell tower. “Anne is waiting up there,” the Sister said. “Father Roman will come soon.”

“Thank you,” Sophia said. The narrow stairs wound their way up the tower. Her breathing became labored as she navigated the steep staircase. At the top, under the large-domed bell, Anne greeted her with a warm smile and heartfelt hug.

“What now?” Anne asked.

“We wait for Father Roman. He’ll probably not be able to get away until after Mass.”

Anne gazed at the large bell. “I hope it doesn’t ring while were in here, it’ll be loud.”

“Sure will,” Sophia replied as she slid down against the wall and sat with arms hugging her knees.

“Sophia?” Anne said, taking a seat next to Sophia. “Could I have been adopted?”

“Why would you ask such a thing?”

“Jack,” Anne said, absently scratching the floor with her fingernails. “He said I was adopted. It’s why I pursued him. I wanted to find out more.”

“What else did he say?”

“Some other things as we were on the way into the woods after I woke up. He seemed rather convincing.”

“What sort of ‘other things’?” Sophia asked, eyebrows raised, curious. How much does Anne know?

“He said Angela was not my birth mother.” She paused before adding, “How did he know my mother’s name?”

Approaching footsteps echoed up the stairs. Sophia and Anne leapt to their feet, hoping … “Ah,” Sophia said, seeing first Father Roman’s head. “Thank God.” Both girls sighed in relief.

“Thank the good Lord you girls are alive,” Father Roman said, climbing the last step. He swiped sweat from his forehead with a handkerchief and took a deep breath. “When the Bobbies said they were going to flood the sewers, I feared the worse.”

“We made it out,” Sophia said. “But … Michael…” She paused thinking how best to word it. “The raging waters carried him into the reservoir. That’s where the Bobbies dragged him into a boat. He didn’t appear to be moving.”

Father Roman’s expression turned suddenly to dread.

“He may be alive,” Sophia continued. “I’m sorry.” She shook her head. “I really don’t know.”

“Where did the Bobbies take him?” Father Roman asked.

“I’m not sure. After they pulled him from the water, we lost sight of him. That is when we decided to come here.”

“I see.” He scratched his eyebrow. “Come, the bell will sound shortly and we best not be here when it does.”

A little ways down the stairs, Father Roman opened a door that led onto the roof of the cathedral. After a short stroll across the roof, they entered a small rectangular building. Sophia’s eyes cut around the room. A painting of Jesus dominated the far wall. Sophia recognized the image as a variation of the Transfiguration of Jesus, which she had seen in a book Sister Mary once shared with her. The charismatic eyes of Jesus almost looked alive, as if they were peering into the room and staring directly at you no matter where you were in the room. In the mural, two men in worshipful poses were on either side of Jesus while three other men, looking a tad more sheepish, gathered on the ground before him. There were four chairs set round a long oak table situated on a tattered brown rug.

“Take a seat,” Father Roman said.

“What is this room?” Sophia asked as she slipped into a chair.

“A place I come to think and pray.”

“I like the painting,” Anne said.

Father Roman glanced towards the larger-than-life mural. “Yes, it is a masterpiece. It is a representation of when Jesus went up the mountain with three of his apostles. Once there Jesus began to glow with a stunning white energy and the prophets Elijah and Moses appeared with a voice that boomed from the sky, ‘This is my son, whom I love. Listen to him!’”

Sophia added, “The bridge between heaven and earth.”

“Oh you know about the painting, Sophia?” Father Roman asked.

“Only what I read in a book some time ago.”

“I see. You are quite knowledgeable for such a young girl, dear.”

Sophia smiled at the generous comment. No one had ever called her “knowledgeable” before.

“You say Bobbies took away Michael?”


“I will investigate. There are only few places they would have taken him. Please wait here until I return.” He left the room.

Moments later a scratching sound came from the door. Sophia pushed open the entrance and, as she expected, in ran Dash. Anne strode over and stroked the little creature, who returned her affection with a wag of the tail and sloppy kiss.

Sophia walked over to the painting for a closer look at the intricate details. Studying the canvas, she fantasized about being able to paint as well as the person who had created this artwork. Such awesome talent, she thought. Each strand of grass was a deliberate stroke in a particular direction. Up close, the blades of grass looked like blurred lines. A few steps back and all the strokes combined to create the picturesque landscape of the image. Incredible. Sophia spun around in response to a rather forceful rapping on the door. Who is that? Father Roman would not knock. Or would he?

Anne pushed the door ajar, and almost lost her footing as the door suddenly swung wide open. Sophia gaped, her mouth opening wide to release a gasp of air in response to the shocking sight. Six Bobbies charged in. She froze. Nothing to do, nowhere to run, she submitted to their strength as they lashed her hands behind her back with twine. A tear of surrender fell from her eye. Anne struggled and fought with a Bobby who was struggling to secure her hands. Sophia said, “Don’t struggle, Anne, we’ll be okay.” With those words, Anne gave up the fight.

The Bobbies led them outside of the room. Father Roman, head down, avoided eye contact with Sophia. She gazed directly at him, shouted angrily, “Traitor!”

Father Roman caught her stare and replied, “It is for the best.” He closed his eyes and nodded. Sophia interpreted his body language as saying he was sorry and at the same time asking for forgiveness. She shook her head, squinting, muffling her rage. She was not having a bar of it.

People on the street outside the church gathered to witness the commotion as Bobbies loaded Anne and Sophia, like criminals, into the back of an enclosed carriage. Sophia tried to calm Anne as they practically carried her in. The fear in Anne’s eyes reminded Sophia of how Anne’s mother had died in the back of the carriage. She imagined the harrowing thoughts that must be racing through Anne’s mind. Having her hands tied behind her back no doubt added to Anne’s anxiety. “We’ll be okay, Anne,” Sophia said.

Anne nodded limply, unconvinced.

The two Bobbies who had loaded the girls into the carriage sat opposite them. Anne started to hyperventilate, taking short quick breaths, and was at the crest of a full-blown panic attack. Her face was a patchwork of bleak shades of pale blue and red. One of the Bobbies whose nametag identified him as John, in an attempt to calm Anne, said, “You’ll be all right. Take a few deep breaths.” Anne deliberately took long several deep breaths, and the color on her cheeks evened. The Bobby’s words appeared to have helped.

The sound of a whip cracking preceded a sudden jerk in the carriage as the horses began a canter. Sophia gazed out the window at the gas lamps lighting the street. “Where are you taking us?” she asked.

“The watchhouse, until morning,” John replied.

“What happens in the morning?”

“You’ll be transferred by train to London.”

London. Back to where this nightmare began, she thought.

Several minutes later, through the window of the carriage, the watchhouse came into view. A bland building with iron-barred windows and a single iron door manned by a solitary Bobby. Quite small for a jail, Sophia contemplated, just large enough to keep prisoners until they were transported to more secure, permanent facilities.

The Bobbies escorted them inside and down a narrow hallway. They passed two empty barred cells before coming to the third and final hold. At that point, Sophia’s rage ebbed and a wash of relief curled her lips into a little smile, for there on the other side of the bars stood Michael.

“It’s good to see you girls,” he said.

“Likewise,” Sophia said, turning sideways and jutting her hips out just enough to reach between the bars and take his hand in a gentle grip. The Bobby used his keys to open the cell. A heavy clunk and then a grating sound as he slid the gate across the gritted floor.

“In you go, girls, and don’t give me any trouble,” the Bobby said. “I don’t want to have to use this baton. But I will,” he added once they were in the cell. He  untied their hands, left the cell, and secured the gate.

“How did they catch you?” Michael said.

“Father Roman gave us up. The traitor.”

“Traitor? Easy, now. Somehow I don’t think that would be so.”

“He led the Bobbies right to us.”

“He sure did,” Anne said, as if that part of the account were in dispute. “Not a nice man,” she added. “He deceived us.”

“I wouldn’t think that of Father Roman.”

“Then maybe you don’t know him as well as you thought you did,” Sophia said.

“Perhaps,” Michael said, his brow ruffled, as he seemed to be sifting the possibility.

The two Bobbies who had escorted Sophia and Anne traded paperwork with the Bobby on duty. On his way out, John said to the Bobby on duty, “By yourself tonight, Jim?”

“Yes, night shift is a dreary, lonely job. But it should be a quiet night,” he said, nodding his head toward Sophia, Michael, and Anne. “Only these three kiddies to watch over.”

“Right. Well, we will be off. Good night.”

“Night,” Jim replied as he took a seat on a chair at the end of the hallway.

“What do we do now, Michael?” Sophia asked.

“Not much we can do but wait.”

The cell was bare but for a slop bucket in a corner, which exuberated a foul odor, and four wooden bunks, two on either side of the room. Anne climbed up onto the top bunk and let her legs dangle over the side. Sophia slipped into the bunk underneath, lay down, and crossed her arms over her chest.

Michael took a seat on the lower bunk opposite. “If only I could have made it out a second sooner…. I’m sorry, girls, for letting you down.”

“Don’t be,” Sophia said. The nasty provocation of anger kindled in her gut. Not at Michael, but at Father Roman. She struggled to comprehend why he had traded them to the Bobbies.

“Who wants to play Spot?” Michael asked.

Sophia laughed. “You want to play a game while locked away?”

“Can you think of anything better to do to pass the time?”

“I’ll play,” Anne said.

“All right, me, too,” Sophia added. The idea snuffed her anger—for the time being. Her lips struggled not to smirk.

“Okay. I’ll go first,” Michael said. “One spot, two spot, three spot four. I spot a something blocking the hall.”

“Bar,” Anne yelled.

“Too easy,” Sophia said.

“You’re right,” Michael said.

“Okay, my turn,” Anne said, clapping her hands. “Let me think.” She gazed around the room. “One spot, two spot, three spot four. I spot a something on the floor.”

Sophia scanned the room. Not much in here. “Bucket,” she said.

“Oh drat,” Anne said.

“My turn now,” Sophia said. “One spot, two spot, three spot four. I spot a something watching us all.”

“Guard,” Michael said.

“Nope,” Sophia replied, shaking her head.

Anne shouted, “A Bobby!”


“Hmm,” Michael said, cutting his eyes across the prison cell.

“There is nothing else in here, Sophia,” Anne said. “You are cheating.”

Hearing the familiar unlocking clunk followed by the grating sound of the sliding gate, their attention turned to the front of the cell.

“Right, you lot, time to go,” the Bobby Jim said.

“What do you mean?” Michael replied.

“I’m letting you out.”

“But, why?”

“Oh,” he said, eyes cut upward, “let’s just say that some of us trust Father Roman more than the state.”

Sophia’s heart fluttered at the same time as nausea churned her gut. She experienced at once a sense of relief and a feeling of guilt for judging Father Roman’s actions.

“I knew Father Roman wasn’t a bad guy,” Anne said as she leapt from the top bunk.

I wish I had, Sophia thought, or could fib about it, at least.

“Your steeds are awaiting you outside, along with your dog.”

“What about the guard outside?” Michael asked.

“He’ll be off duty by now. We don’t station a guard outside at night unless the prisoners are considered extremely dangerous.”

“But how will you explain our escape?”

“Well, for that,” the Bobby said, pacing to the end of the corridor and retrieved Michael’s belongings. He returned and then passed Michael his staff and haversack. “I’ll need you to whack me. Be a decent chap and do it quickly and convincingly.”

“Whack you?” Michael said. “Ah, I see.” He raised his staff, said, “I’m sorry to have to do this, truly I am.” The Bobby nodded and closed his eyes before the impact knocked him to the floor.

“That’s gotta hurt,” Sophia said.

“Hopefully not too much,” Michael replied. “Time to get out of here.”

Outside their horses and Dash were waiting just as Jim said they would be.

“Our haversacks,” Sophia said. “I stuffed them behind some crates near St Philip’s Cathedral.”

“We’ll get by without them,” Michael said.

“But The Book of Esdras,” Sophia said, her tone rising, “is in my haversack.”

Michael scratched his chin while staring at the moon.

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...