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home / season six / episode nineteen / prologue

   

December 23, 1970
Upstate New York

The woman went to the letterbox and extracted the mail, her brow furrowing as she saw that one of the letters had been returned. Tucking it into the pocket of her apron, she flipped through the rest of the letters as she turned and began to walk toward the house, brushing back a strand of blond hair as the wind blew it into her eyes, pulling her coat more warmly around her.

Passing the barn, she waved a hand, seeing the curtain move almost imperceptibly, hearing the faint sound of a baby crying, before going into the house. In the kitchen, she shrugged out of her coat, reached behind the clock and pulled out a slip of paper, taking the envelope out of her pocket and closely comparing the two addresses. There was no error and she could only assume that the recipient had moved. There was nothing she could do about it.

Returning the slip to its place behind the clock, she placed the letter there also, making a mental note to contact her friend and find out what had happened. Getting a tray out of a cupboard, she got a jug of milk out of the refrigerator and took out a loaf of bread from a breadbox on the bench, adding a small treat for the baby, before slipping back into the coat and carrying the tray out of the house and across the small yard to the barn, crunching on new-fallen snow on the well-worn path.

Entering, she could hear the wind whistling through the cracks in the walls and wondered how they managed to stay in such an awful place for so long. The faint glow from the gas lamp barely filtered through to the lower level and was all but invisible to anyone outside the building. Resting the tray on her knee, she wiped the snow off the barn's lock, so that it wouldn't freeze, as it had the previous week, before looking around with a slight shudder. Places like this weren't meant for human habitation, especially not with a small baby, except for those who had no choice. Leaving the tray on a hay bale at the foot of the steps, she was about to leave when she heard a step behind her, turning to see a man halfway down the stairs.

"Harriet?"

The man held a model plane in his hand, offering it. "Would you give this to your caretaker for his son?"

"A Christmas present?" she smiled, accepting it.

"Yes." He nodded, stepping back and turning to pick up the tray. She watched him ascend the stairs before turning to go back to the house.

On to Act I

 
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