Past, Present and Future
Crane indicated the chair next to his bed, "Sit down William, we have much to talk about."
William began, "Tell me the truth about Abigail," but stopped in mid-sentence as Abigail appeared in the doorway. "It is all right William, she knows,” Crane reassured him, “the Rev. Godwyn was kind enough to fill in the history that neither of us knew." Then more to himself than anybody else he continued, “I can't believe all the wasted years that have gone by, if I had only known things would be so different than they are at this time.” "How did Rev. Godwyn know about Abigail," Williams pursued, "and why her... I mean, why was she held captive?"
Crane took a long slow breath, "When Rebecca found that she was pregnant she had no family in the village, so she sought the council of her Pastor, the Rev. Godwyn. She knew he was a godly man who would keep her secret and see that she received the help and attention that she would be needing.” "But the Rev. Godwyn only recently found her," William continued, then, turning to Abigail, asked, "Where were you all these years?"
"Your father was a good man," Abigail answered, "when he found out mum was pregnant he wanted to provide for her, so he sold her 100 acres of land near the village of Harman's Cross for one hundred pounds." Crane continued the narrative, "When father died, Alistair was appointed Steward over the family affairs, when Rebecca could not immediately pay off the mortgage he forced her to marry one of his henchmen as compensation, thinking that he would still have control of her land. Rebecca would not buckle under and do everything Alistair wanted her to do, so he hired two men to abduct Abigail and paid them to keep her hidden from her mother. The entire time Rebecca's 'husband' beat her and forced himself on her, claiming his 'rights' as her husband until she became pregnant with Victoria, then he abandoned her, and returned to work for Alistair. After the birth of Victoria, Rebecca became very weak and her health began to fail.”
William exchanged glances between Crane and Abigail and concluded, "Then Abigail IS your daughter." Crane nodded, "Yes, Abigail is my daughter," he paused for a second then continued, "and Victoria is her half sister, whose father was Miles."
"When you say Miles is Victoria’s father, you are talking about the former overseer of the Manor, aren't you?' "Yes, the very same one;" Crane answered,” the same one that would have sacrificed his own daughter in this mad scheme."
William bowed his head to take it all in, then, transfixed upon Abigail, said, "You'll never have reason to be afraid again."
"Thomas, you need to eat and regain your strength." A voice said from the door to the room, it was Rebecca carrying a plate of food. Crane could not take his eyes off Rebecca, he asked, "Rebecca when did you arrive and what are you doing here?"
Something about her distant gaze was disturbing. Crane could tell that she was fighting a battle within herself. Rebecca still had strong feelings for Crane, but after Miles and the way he had treated her, she would have a hard time trusting men again, but he was Abigail's father and she was here to help in any way that she could. Noting her strange behavior, Crane pursued, "Rebecca, you seem disturbed; can we help you?" William realized that Crane and Rebecca needed time alone to talk, touching Abigail's arm he nodded toward the door.
When they were alone, Crane drew nearer to Rebecca and sensed that she was entranced. Opening the drawer of the nightstand he removed his service revolver, handing it to Rebecca he said, "If Alistair sent you here to kill me, then do it now!" For an instant, she pressed the revolver to his chest, but suddenly dropped it like a hot poker, collapsing into Crane's arms. With tears streaming down her face, in a weak and quivering voice she cried, "I can't do this."
"Tell me where he is," Crane almost commanded, "and we will foil his murderous plot against more innocent victims." "I don't know," Rebecca sobbed almost in a whisper, "the last I saw of him, he was in Poole, boarding a skiff with a couple of his men." "And when was that," Crane insisted, "or have you lost all track of time?" Crane was concerned, the more of a head start Alistair had the more difficult it would be to find him. Crane poured a cup of hot tea and Rebecca took it, sipped slowly, and said, "I believe it was yesterday morning that I observed Alistair getting into the boat, seemingly bound for a small island offshore."
Crane mulled this information over in his mind; Brownsea Island was the largest island in the estuary, although the northeastern quadrant of the island was a salt marsh the remainder was heavily wooded, and it had the only permanent fresh water supply of any of the estuary's islands, it would make a near perfect hideout.
As the fog over her memory continued to lift, Rebecca was jolted by a flash of reality and said, with desperation, "Crane, its Abigail he wants, and I was sent here to lure her away from you."
Crane held Rebecca with his good arm and reassured her, "Becca, as long as I breathe you and the girls will be safe and protected." Then, shouting toward the door, Crane beckoned, "William! William! Prepare your men, and the fastest carriage for me, Rebecca and Abigail; we're off to Brownsea Island."
"Thomas Becket Crane, you are not going traipsing around on Brownsea Island," Rebecca snapped, wagging her finger in front of Crane's nose, "you just had a major surgery!"