Freedom: The Chase Begins

            A few hours later, Detective Gowerstone calmly walked into the Weatherly office, followed by two police officers. He was a portrait of refinement and elegance: fresh from Savile Row, he wore a perfectly fitted Gieves & Hawkes pinstriped suit, a crisp white Turnbull & Asser shirt, a light blue Thomas Pink tie and highly polished Church shoes. He also had a slight scent of Floris Number 89. He looked more like a movie star than a public servant.

           Mr. and Mrs. Grievous exchanged concerned looks but said nothing.

          Gowerstone then walked to a local map posted on the wall and studied it, perusing the immediate areas and calculating distances.

          “That’s where they’ll be,” he declared, pointing to an exact location.

          The pursuit was on.

* * * *

Tom and Sarah

had gone several miles but were exhausted.
“How much farther?” she gasped, struggling to keep up.
“I’m not sure,” he replied, sensing her fatigue and discouragement. “But it must be close.”
They hadn’t gone more than a few steps when headlights came barreling down the road they were crossing.

Tom grasped Sarah’s arm.

“Quick, over here!” he yelled, gesturing towards a farmhouse.
They raced across the pasture and disappeared into a dormant wheat field.
“Follow me!” he shouted, swinging his arms to clear a path.
They navigated through a maze of tall stalks and exited near a thatched cottage, smoke billowing from the chimney.
The police car continued, unaware of their presence.

          “They didn’t see us,” said Tom, bending over to catch his breath. “We’ll wait until they’re out of sight, then —”

          “What’re you two doing out here?” a rough voice interrupted as a tall muscular figure approached. The stranger had broad shoulders and a handsome face weathered by time and hard work.

          The man walked closer, scrutinizing their disheveled appearance: dirty faces, clothes covered in mud, shuddering from the cold. He also noticed the familiar outfits only orphans from Weatherly wore, and he immediately understood their predicament.

          “That’s a long journey for two children.” The man’s voice softened. “Look, why don’t you come inside for a few minutes and get warm. I’ve got some stew brewing on the stove. I’ll fetch a couple of bowls.”

          They followed the man into his modest cottage. Although the home was small, it was paradise: the warmth from a roaring fire and the security of being safely inside. A lone Christmas stocking hung from the mantel, something neither of them had seen for years. A few other handmade holiday decorations were scattered about.

* * * *

While Wilbury

drove along the road, the rain turned into a downpour. Tom sat in the front seat, trying to view the quaint village of Leyburn: ancient cobblestone streets, three-story stone buildings, tiled rooftops, and an open pub with lights flashing in the window.

          Although it was dreadfully late at Weatherly, the orphans couldn’t contain the exhilaration they felt. Closely huddled around each other, they whispered and laughed about what had transpired that night, the wonderful food they ate, and where their two escaped friends might be. In a sense, each orphan now lived vicariously through Tom and Sarah — every day the two remained missing was a silent victory for all of them. Their minds raced with ideas of what Tom and Sarah might be experiencing: the rush of the wind as they traveled on a train, a warm tavern where they might get something to eat, the brilliance of London (the greatest city in the world), or maybe even finding a loving family to live with. Reflecting back, they all agreed it was the greatest night in the history of Weatherly, one they would remember for a lifetime.

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