The pages were turning brown on the edges. The handwriting was achingly neat. Andy's hand cramped just looking at it. He supposed that the author was female, judging by the many neat, even rows of script. He flipped back to the first page, and went up to the first line. Squinting, he translated. ďIn the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. 1863.Ē Andy paused, and look up out through the hole in the wall. He heard nothing, no sounds of approaching forces, no cars, no voices. Satisfied, he read on. ďMy name is Solange deCarey. I have been known by many other names in my lifetime, but this is the truest. This is the one that I claim with my whole heart. My guardian, Marcus LaCroix, says that I should take a journal, and write out all the pain inside. I thought on it for a while. I must say the idea was tempting, though exactly why, Iím sure I donít know. Doing so would force me to wallow through the past, painful bit by bit. And there is so very much that I do not want to remember. Somehow, for the past few years, I have gotten by, by simply not remembering. It is not like my story is remarkable. I am simply a girl, who fell in love with a boy, and then lost everything that I cherished. But there, Iíve just set the stage, havenít I? I must go on now, because in those few words, everything comes rushing back. So Iíll start then. I wonít start at the beginning, because itís so clichť. Everyone starts at the beginning. Iíll start at the end.Ē Chapter 2 ďThe end came for me one evening, as I was walking above decks on a trade schooner called the Margerite. At my side, strolled Nicholas deCarey, whom I loved more than life itself. Ahead of us, at the stern of the ship, was Seth Balthazar. Little did I know then, that in less than ten months, Seth was going to destroy my life. I can recall so little of that particular evening, because it was all so surreal. It was like one of those silly little dreams that are about nothing, but for some reason, trouble you long after you have awakened. Nicholas and I walked hand in hand, and stopped to speak with Seth. He invited us to his cabin for dinner the next night. Things were on a downhill slope from that point on. I just wish that I could have seen it, or prevented it. But I was a mortal then, and my instincts were not as finely honed as they are now. Maybe I should back up a bit. I think that maybe I should lay some background down, to put everything in perspective. I was only fourteen when I met the man that I knew was right for me. It was the year of Our Lord, 1783, in Orleans, France. For two years previous, I had been living in the care of a man named John Brighton. John was an Englishman, who had grown sick of England. He made his home in France with his austrian wife Sofia. They had no children; Sofia was barren. So they had adopted me. I did not care to speak at the time, of the life I had led before they adopted me. I do not care to now, either. Let us just say that life is not easy on the children who live in the streets. When John made the decision to adopt me, he didnít shirk his duty as some people would be prone to do. He did not put me in the care of a nanny and leave me to my own devices. Instead, John took an active role in my upbringing. I guess it was because he was just as starved for affection as I was. He told me once that he dreamed of children. He wanted sons and daughters of his own so bad that he nearly cried whenever he thought of his barren wife Sofia. At any rate, he showered attention on me. He spoiled me to death, and no daughter ever felt more loved than I did. He was determined to give me the best of everything, not just because he loved me, but also because he wanted to compensate for the lost days of childhood. One day, he talked with me to find out the extent of my education. I could not read or write. My grammar was hard on the ears. I had no concept of math. He was appalled. I had to remind him that I had been only a street urchin. Why should I have to know these things? What did they have to do with life? He set about correcting that very quickly. I didnít like my teachers much, but they stressed the fact that not many young ladies were as lucky to get the extensive lessons that I did. They were hard, these lessons I had. Everything that I had come to know had to be unlearned, and retaught to me. For Johnís sake, I really tried. And eventually, in spite of myself, I began to get interested. I graduated from very simple primers to great classics. I could at last write, though at first, my words sprawled over half the parchment. But just being able to write my own name gave me such a rush of joy that I had to show it to John. He hugged me tightly, and stroked my hair. ďI am very, very proud of you.Ē Suddenly, I had discovered another motivation for learning. As I grew out of my lessons, harder courses of study followed. I had passed from the standard education of noble young women, and in to the stuff of priests and scholars. It was unusual, but I didnít care. I had developed a passion for learning. I wanted to know everything. I discovered things that changed how I looked at the world. One of those things that truly changed my life, was my theology class. It wasnít the subject matter. God had always held a place in my heart, since John had introduced me to Him. Rather, it was who taught the class. John and I were Catholic, so my tutor was a young Catholic priest named Father Nicholas deCarey. I have never once since our first meeting addressed Nicholas as anything other than his given name. My first impression of him was a towering god, one whom I could never touch. 1