The Vicar finished his homily, sprinkling dirt on top of the grave. The grave diggers would finish filling the hole later. With tears streaming down her face, the youngest daughter, Elizabeth, ran from the spectacle. In just 8 years of living she had lost her father, two siblings, and her mother. The rain soaked her wool dress as she continued running. She knew what was coming. A girl her age would be sold to a family as a maid, and she would stay there until she died.
As she ran, the rain lifted and her surroundings became unfamiliar. She had spent too much time in the graveyard beyond the city, meant for those not wealthy enough to be interred inside London’s walls. As her journey continued, fiddling reached her ears. It was a lively tune, a reel she guessed; meant for dancing and celebrating. The joyful music met her aching heart with resentment. She fell to her knees and wept.
Through eyes blurry with tears she watched a stranger approach. He held a fiddle, though it no longer sang.
“I’m sorry to interrupt your misery, but why are you crying?” the man asked. His eyes were kind, and his bushy eyebrows made Elizabeth smile for a moment.
“My mother just died. And my father is dead. And my brother and sister are dead. Without parents I’ll be sold to a family as their servant.” The words poured out of the young girl. She hadn’t realized she needed another person to share her sadness, but now she felt lighter. Perhaps it was good to share bad things with others, as well as good things. “Would you play me a song? I heard you play a reel earlier. It was nice.”
“It was nice, wasn’t it,” he mused to himself. He now spoke directly to Elizabeth, “Would you believe it wasn’t a reel, but a lament? My family believes everything should be a celebration, even death.”
“That seems funny,” Elizabeth said, “How can death be a good thing?”
The man brought the fiddle into position and began to play another song. “Those that pass away never leave us forever. They have left a mark on you and your life forever. I’m sure if you look closely you can see your mother everywhere.” The music grew louder, more insistent, like it was urging Elizabeth to act. “Would you like to come with me? I could bring you and your family together again.”
Elizabeth felt herself rising from her knees. She stepped toward the man and reached out her hand. The song stopped abruptly as he reached for her. Their hands met and Elizabeth instantly felt safe.
“What is your name?” Elizabeth asked.
“My name,” the man said, “is Patrick Sullivan.”
Elizabeth’s eyes widened, “that’s my Uncle’s name. Are you Rose Sullivan’s brother?”
“Of course I am!” the man nearly shouted, excited at her realization. “I recognized you instantly, though I’m sure you don’t recognize me. It’s been many years since we saw each other, you were still a baby.”
Squeezing Patrick’s hand and smiling, Elizabeth said, “I’d be delighted to come with you.”