He and the young girl passed the remainder of the voyage on the deck and were among the first passengers to disembark in Liverpool. The day was overcast and gray, smoke and other debris filtering down through the air as they stepped out onto the dock row. The long storage buildings dominated their line of sight, with a tall smokestack looming up in the distance. Wyatt mentioned to Claudia that he thought the air smelled like rotten cabbage, but the young girl just shook her head and replied, “Dirt.”
They waited together, pushed up against the side of a building by the rush of passengers and dockers. About forty-five minutes later Isaac and his family finally made their way down the gangplank, Lydia once again dressed in the blue hobble-skirt. Wyatt waited for them to make their way through the thickest part of the crowd before approaching with Claudia in tow.
“We will need to find some accommodations for the night, for all of us. Then we can finalize a plan to get to London,” Isaac announced without preamble, and much more graciously than Wyatt expected. Suppressing his own desire to be in charge he nodded and replied.
“I will get us a cab then and hold it out by the street. You follow along as you wish.” He and Claudia stepped off briskly, reaching the edge of the row in five minutes and securing their ride in much less time than had been needed in their past experiences together. By the time that Isaac and his family emerged twenty minutes later, the impatient driver had already needed to be bribed twice by Wyatt to wait. Several stops and starts later, they had found a hotel that met Isaac’s frugal requirements, and they all quickly turned in without supper, too exhausted to argue about anything.
The next day plans were made for train transport to London, and by their third evening abroad they were ensconced at the Grand Hotel in London, occupying a family suite on an upper floor. This was a luxury which Wyatt insisted on paying for, unable to face another night in a place selected by his son, and not wanting to start any kind of an argument. His son had accepted with a muttered comment about wasting money, but at least they would be safe and comfortable until they left to cross into Germany. During the days that they waited to arrange passage, Isaac spent most of his time at the telegraph office, attempting to arrange the final purchase of the land he had come over to Europe to establish his family upon. Although he initially had his mind set on owning a piece of the island at Malchow, Isaac had later turned his attention to the small town of Lippelsdorf. He had heard that a small estate was available there, right on the edge of the Thuringian Forest. It came with both a main house and a smaller cabin that he planned to use to house his father and the girl. All of the long distance planning had gone well, at least as far as he could tell, but he still worried that things would go awry before he arrived to secure his property and future. He had sent money ahead, a down payment, on land he had never seen and was anxious to know that his investment was secure. The replies that he was getting at the telegraph office were vague and noncommittal, a fact that drove him into a frenzy of worry and fear, and he stormed back into the hotel room on their third evening at the Grand.
“Have you secured the boat then? When do we leave?”
Peering up from the newspaper he was reading, Wyatt replied, “What has you so agitated?”
“I asked about the arrangements! When do we leave?”
“I haven’t quite finished looking into it yet, and I don’t see the need to hurry. Or at least you shouldn’t see any need for it, as none of this is costing you a penny.”
“You are one to talk about money, but you should be saving it, not throwing it away on this place. How much can you have left? Not much I suspect, and there won’t be a penny to raise that girl up with. Now, when do we leave?”
Claudia had emerged from the bedroom and stood leaning up against the side of the doorway, taking in the argument.
“As I said, I have not yet finished looking into it. You told me quite plainly to find the cheapest passage and I’ve been going to every place I can find to try to meet your wishes. It takes some time.”
“Well we haven’t any more time left. Take the money I gave you and go purchase the cheapest tickets you have found. We leave tomorrow.”
Wrinkling his nose up slightly, Wyatt pulled his paper back up. “Yes, well, I’ll go in the morning. They’re closed after all, its evening.”
He made good on his promise, getting up early and heading out by himself as Claudia had not yet awoken. He returned forty-five minutes later, opening the door quietly in case all were still asleep in the room, as they had been when he left. As it opened, he caught a flicker of movement in the dim light coming through the sheer curtains, a shadowy figure that seemed to disappear as he stepped into the room. Putting the tickets he had purchased down on the table, Wyatt slowly took off his black overcoat and hat. He then quietly stepped toward his bedroom, as that was where the apparition had seemed to be headed. As he entered he saw two things; Claudia still asleep and curled up on the small extra bed, and Ambrose, cowering against the near wall with the stick, from his hoop-and-stick game, tightly clenched in a small hand.
…to be continued