lizabeth gasped as a carriage clattered to a stop in front of her. The driver yelled to her, "Be careful, miss! You'll get yourself hurt that way!" As she ran past she heard him say, over the cobblestone clop of hooves, "Look where you're going, little one! You don't want to spend Christmas in hospital!"

The run home left her winded and flushed, her nose a bright red and freezing cold. As she ran an understanding dawned on her about what had just happened. She arrived home with a very specific resolve. Her mother was at her writing table, composing a letter. When Elizabeth approached her, she said, "Mother, I need some money."

"Yes, don't we all."

"I'm serious."

"Oh, all right. How much money do you need?"

Elizabeth, unschooled in any form of finance (she had never even received an allowance), had no idea. She remembered a trip to the market with Olivia a few weeks before, a sack of flour was 10 pence.

"Five pounds."

"Five pounds? What do you need five pounds for?"

Silence.

"Something."

She could tell from Elizabeth's tone and urgency that this was not some simple childish fantasy. After the childís recent emotional state, she was pleased to see her daughter immersed in something, but what? She was also suddenly struck by the fact that she was no longer dealing with a child, but a young lady.

"Something? Well Iím afraid I'll need a bit more detail than that."

"Mother. I'm quite serious. I need five pounds."

"Yes I can see that you're serious, but I cannot give you five pounds. Certainly not without an explanation."

"You always do this to me. I am not a baby."

"I can see that. I don't think you're a baby, but do you know how much money that is? I cannot simply give you five pounds. Things are very difficult right now and that is a great deal of money."

"What do you care? It is none of your business. Father would give it to me!"

"Elizabeth that is enough! You will not speak to me in such a fashion!"

With that Elizabeth ran from the room. Almost immediately Olivia's head appeared from behind another door, her eyes large inquisitive "O's." She looked like an owl.

Upstairs, Elizabeth slowly walked the perimeter of her room, her demeanor now dramatically different. She stopped in front of a chest of drawers, taking a delicate gold necklace down and holding it up to the light. Her grandmother had given it to her for her last birthday and it had been quite attached to it ever since. It was far too nice to wear everyday, but church and visits to relatives and trips to the ballet all served well enough. Both her mother and Olivia impressed on her how valuable the locket was. Certainly it was worth at least five pounds.




©1995 Hyperbole Studios Inc.