In 1696, a beautiful girl was born. She was named Anna. Her father, Charles, was a wealthy banker who had a large estate a few miles from London. Her mother Elizabeth planned to stay home from her tea with her friends to take care of the little, brown haired baby. When Anna was three, her mother had already had another child, a little boy, named Derek. Anna no longer felt the love she used to when she was near her parents. It was all about Derek. She was playing outside, deciding to avoid the bratty baby inside, who couldn't stop crying. Her mother was yelling, and her father had retreated to his study, the only forbidden place in the house. Anna was under the willow tree in their yard, when she saw a little brown squirrel, and its babies. In the little girl's mind, it all made sense. Go pick up the babies and play with them. Show the mom it was okay. She did so, and the mother squirrel went into attack mode.
It jumped on Anna's face. It clawed, scratched, and bit her. Finally, when she let go of the young squirrel, the mother and child ran off, leaving Anna in a bloody heap on the grass. She couldn't move; the pain was too much. She screamed. It was all she could do. Scream, scream, scream. It was blood curdling and soon her throat hurt. She couldn't scream anymore. Her mother didn't even hear it over Derek's crying. Anna's neighbor came over and let Elizabeth and Charles know that Anna was hurt. When she looked out the window, her mother sent for a doctor.
After endless hours of sleeping on her bed, the morphine wore off and Anna awoke with intense pain. She immediately began to cry, but her mother shushed her. "Derek is sleeping. Shush now. You are better. You will have scars, but you aren't harmed too seriously." It was the only thing her mother told her. But then the doctor came in with her father. He looked upset. After a quick conversation with the two men in the hall, Anna's mother returned. She was crying. "No, Derek will be fine. We will just keep Anna in here until the disease is gone. Please Charles, she's our little girl. You can't send her away. Where would she go?" her mother asked her father.
"I don't know Elizabeth, but the rabies will not go away. She is going to die, and I don't want her to do it here. Derek could get rabies too. Then what would we do? We have to sterilize the whole room and pack her things. Now, Elizabeth, maybe, if the rabies does, by a miracle, disappear, then we can bring her back. Maybe." Anna's mother did what she was told, and packed her daughter's things.
The next day, Anna woke to a new surrounding. Every thing was white. And there were kids everywhere. They were all crying. Where was her mother? She began to cry too when a woman she didn't know stuck her with a needle. "This will pinch. We are seeing if you are going to get better. If you do, we will send you home. If you don't, we will keep you here until you do." She put on a smile, although even Anna could tell it wasn't genuine.
Up until Anna's tenth birthday she lived there, in the children's home. She was no longer sick, and was now living in the orphanage area of the large place. She had been okay since she was five. The rabies had been gone since then. But her parents had moved, and didn't tell the home their new address. Anna, although she hardly remembered them, was pretty sure they no longer wanted her. She was sitting in the den all alone one day in the orphanage when a man walked in. He was wealthy, you could tell. He was tall, maybe six foot six. His skin was dark, tan. It was not African, but yet, not English either. He had light brown hair, lighter than hers, with small, almost invisible streaks of a light red. He was accompanied by maybe four or five girls, all with different features, and looked to be fifteen or sixteen. They were dressed in plain, ordinary clothes. But how could they be when they followed this man around? Then she noticed him. A boy. Younger than the girls, definitely. He was similarly dressed as them though. He had features very close to the man's.
The man, in a booming voice, spoke to the woman at the front desk. "You there, woman. Do you have any girls aged 10 years?"
The woman, insulted by the way she was addressed, said, "I'm not woman. I'm ma'am. And yes, there she is, right there. Her name is Anna. She is very well behaved. Were you thinking of adopting?" Anna froze. Adopted? By this man? She wasn't sure . . .
"Yes. I will take her. She seems sturdy enough. Well, don't I have to sign something?" he snapped.
"Here you go," said the woman, "Well, Anna, why don't you get your dresses from upstairs and . . ." The man interrupted her just then. "No, we will be on our way now. I have fine clothes for you." Anna got up and obediently followed him, waving goodbye to the woman who was now putting the paper away in her desk.
The carriage ride to her new home was quiet. She looked down at her feet the whole time. She was surrounded by the other girls, while the man and boy sat across from them.
"I'm Sir Joseph Rafaelli. I have one son and daughter at my manor," at this, Sir Rafaelli looked at the boy, "and you will be my daughter's new tenant. You will help her, do chores for her, and do anything my dear Rose calls for. If you refuse even once, you're out of my house, and not welcome back."
Just then, they turned the corner onto a dirt road. Out of the carriage window, she saw a huge mansion come into sight. The girls all looked at her. "Welcome to your new home, or as we like to call, prison." One of them whispered into her ear. Sir Rafaelli smacked her.
'Wonderful, just wonderful,' thought Anna. Right now, the children's hospital would be better than this. She much rather have rabies again. She much rather live with Derek. Anything but this.