"Hush, just let her wake up. She'll be alright." The gardner gave his advice in hushed tones and then drew back into the shadows with Emery.
Emery covered her mouth with her hand and tried not to cry as the scene soaked into her very soul.
They were upstairs, in the nursery where Beth had played as a little girl. The opulance was overwhelming, with it's soft carpets, lacy curtains, and fine furniture. Lady Carlisle sat in an overstuffed chair, cradling Beth. Her rich gowns and elaborate hairstyle contrasted with Beth's white hospital shift, bare feet, and short-cropped hair. But the look on Lady Carlisle's face was tender and teary-eyed, and she clutched her little girl as if she would never let her go again.
Beth's eyes blinked and then slowly opened. Every one in the room held their breath. Beth's eyes roved over her mother's face, up to the ceiling, around the room, and back to her mother. Slowly she lifted her hand and ran her finger over Lady Carlisle's chin and cheek. "Mama?"
Tears swelled in Lady Carlisle's eyes and splatted onto Beth's face. "Yes, darling?"
"MAMA!" Beth shrieked, her face lighting up as she threw both hands up around her mother's neck.
And suddenly Lady Carlisle wasn't Lady Carlisle any more. She was just Lola, a mother. She wrapped Beth up in her arms, burying her face in her little girl, and sobbed.
Downstairs a door slammed. "Lola!" Mr. Carlisle's voice preceeded him as he rushed in the front door and bounded up the stairs. "Lola! Where are you?"
Lola's face emerged with a quavering look that wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. "Here! Andrew, here!"
Mr. Carlisle appeared in the door, and his wife held out his hand to him. He hesitated for a split second and then stumbled across the floor to throw his arms around his family.
"You're here! You're here! You're alive! You're okay!" His words rushed out, almost intelligible. He stopped and pulled Beth's chin to face him. "Are you okay?"
Beth reached up, gingerly rubbing the knot on her head, and nodded.
Lady Carlisle bristled. "The policemen are waiting downstairs. I'm sure you have a few words for them."
"They can wait," the gardner murmured, just loud enough for Mr. Carlisle to hear him. "Take your time. We'll wait outside." He inched toward the door.
Mr. Carlisle raised his head, gratitude flooding every feature. "Thank you...for this."
The gardner shook his head. "Don't thank me. Thank her." He nodded pointedly toward Emery.
Emery shrank back, wishing she could hide behind something.
Mr. Carlisle focused his eyes on her and slowly dipped his chin. "Thank you, Miss..."
Emery opened her mouth to answer but the gardner beat her to it. "Clayton. She's old Clayton's girl."