Summary: When Bridget's mother dies, she is separated from her family and sent away to school. There, she meets four new girls, who take the places of her sisters. Together they relive each other's pasts, learning that through tragedy, they are all connected.

Chapter 2: Dalton's School for Girls

On the last day of summer, Alma packed my things and dressed me in my traveling clothes. I climbed into the carriage and waved solemnly to my grandparents. They weren't making the trip with me, but I didn't mind. I had come to terms with my leaving. I hadn't let myself become attached in any way.

She didn't mean for me to hear, but as the driver started down the drive, my grandmother as Grandfather, "Are you sure we're doing the right thing?"

I arrived at Dalton's School for Girls just before dinner. A girl near my age stood by the door as I climbed out of the carriage. Her long, shiny brown hair was pulled back with a blue ribbon and her uniform matched. The pleated skirt fell down past her calves and the navy blazer was buttoned smartly over a white blouse. Grandfather had taken me to buy the very same uniform. It was packed in one of my trunks.

"Bridget Dawson?" she said in a loud voice.

"Yes, that's me."

"I'm Rachel Farrell. Fourth year president," she explained as the driver unloaded my trunks. "Don't worry about those. The caretaker will see that they are delivered to your room." She led me through the front gate and up the path to the front doors of the dining hall. Inside girls swarmed the tables. They all wore the same blue uniform, though most had disposed of their blazers.

The dining hall was a large, long room with vaulted ceilings and long windows through which the setting sun fell. The floor was spotless though all the girls wore the customary thick-soled shoes. Rachel smiled as she saw me take everything in.

"Come with me," she said, taking the lead, "You can sit with my friends and me. Are you hungry?"

I nodded. "Very much so."

"Well, take a tray; it looks like we're having veal tonight." I made a face, not particularly fond of calf meat.

Rachel laughed. "No one likes it. It usually ends up in the garbage. We'll raid the stocks later on."

I filled my plate with vegetables and potatoes and my cup with water.

As I followed Rachel to her table, I noticed one table in particular. In the far corner, near the back entrance, sat four girls each as beautiful as I'd ever seen. The tallest one, a blonde with dainty hands, was laughing at one of the others, but I couldn't hear why.

Rachel took her seat next to Clare Henson, a stocky brunette with glasses. I sat next to Rachel on the end. The girls were welcoming and went around introducing themselves but I didn't bother to remember them all. I ate my food hungrily, not having eaten since the early morning. As soon as my stomach had been sufficiently satisfied, I began to think of my sisters. I wish I knew how they were, but the letters I had written to them before I left wouldn't reach them for another few days. I especially worried for Tessa, alone with relatives she barely knew. I sighed, wishing once more that my father had not allowed us to be pulled apart. Separated, we were like the boards of a house; useless until nailed together. We could get over Mother's death so much easier as a family. We were stronger together.

"Are you alright, Bridget?" one of the girls asked. Her long black hair kept falling on her plate and I grimaced at her lack of manners.

"I'm fine," I answered brusquely, "I'm tired from traveling. I think I'm going to go to my room."

"Do you need me to show you the way?" Rachel asked rising from her seat.

Though I didn't want her to, I really had no idea which room was mine or which building was the dormitory. And so I nodded and gave her a tight smile, hoping she wouldn't misconstrue my behaviour as friendly. I had already decided that she wasn't the person I wanted to be friends with. The girls in the corner; they would be my allies in this place.

Rachel led me along the corridors of Sage House to the tower where I, as the granddaughter of the prestigious Benjamin Langley, had been given a choice room. However, upon opening the door, I discovered another bed there.

"I was under the impression that I was to have a room to myself."

"Yes, well, because your admission was so late, this was all we could find for you in the nicer wing," I could tell by her tone that Rachel was getting irritated with me. It didn't matter though, I didn't care about her. She was just another student, keen on being a favourite. I had never been a favourite and made no plans to start.

"We could find you a room to yourself over in Watson House with the scholarship girls if you like." Now her mocking tone was too much.

"No thank you. This will be fine." I watched her go and sat down on my bed. The room was fairly large with matching beds, writing desks, closets and windows. As I looked out the glass, I saw the sun fading quickly into the hills behind the chapel. Sunsets always seemed so sad to me. They meant the end of a day, and the end of anything meant to be good must be sad.

I wondered who my roommate would be. Obviously a girl from a wealthy family, one who'd been stuck in the same predicament as I, forced to room with another girl. I liked my privacy, and since my mother had died, I valued it even more. I had no desire to live with someone who might think she was privy to my life story merely because she shared a room with me.

I waited until the sky outside was dark, and I lit a candle to keep the room from falling to darkness as well. But the girl never came, and I fell asleep.

When I was younger, Dora used to climb into bed with me because she couldn't sleep. She said her dreams scared her. I always asked her what it was in them that scared her so, but she never told me. That night I dreamt that I was walking down the stairs in our house in Liverpool in my nightdress. Mother was in the parlour doing needlepoint. She'd loved to do it. I walked silently into the room and as I did, I startled her and she pricked her finger on the needle and drew blood.

"Oh, Bridget, what have I done?" is all she said, and then I woke up.

One of the girls from that table last night, the one with long curly black hair was shaking me awake.

"Hurry and get up! The headmistress doesn't tolerate tardiness. You've no time for breakfast now! Just put on your clothes and come on!"

"Why didn't you wake me sooner?" I demanded as I quickly climbed out of bed.

"Because I couldn't. You sleep more soundly than any person I've ever met! Now hurry."

As I dressed, the girl introduced herself as Sofia de Mora, fourteen and from Italy originally.

"Of course I speak very little Italian now. Father says it's more proper to learn Latin. For all the good it'll do me as some man's wife. There. Are you ready? Let's go. And here, if you're hungry, eat this," she said putting an apple in my hand. I hurried along after her as she opened the door and went out into the corridor. There were other girls there too, all holding themselves with an air of importance. An air I was familiar with myself. Yes, Sage House was for upper class only.

As we reached the chapel, a magnificent stone building with sculpted gargoyles hanging from the eaves, I again admired the beauty of this place. Heavy wooden beams ran along the high ceiling inside and in the gallery above our heads sat most of the older choir girls, wearing different coloured robes.

"Why have they all got different colours on?" I asked Sofia.

"Depends on how long you've been in the choir," she answered distractedly. Her eyes scanned the crowd of girls. "White means you've been in it every year since First Year. Do you sing?" She finally looked at me, interested.

"Me? No. I've no idea how to."

"What do you mean, you don't know how to sing. Everyone knows how to sing."

"Well, of course I do. I just mean that I've never, well, no one's ever sung in my house. Not since my mother got…"

"You're mother got what?"

"Nothing. Where are we sitting," I asked, quickly pulling myself together. Not privy to my life, I told myself again.

"There," Sofia said pointing. In one of the back pews sat the other girls, the beautiful ones. We sat down next to them, and I was introduced.

"Bridget Wat-Langley," I stumbled.

"Wat-Langley? What sort of surname is that?" the blonde asked.

"Not Wat-Langley. Just Langley," I corrected her. If my father wanted to forget about me, I could just as easily do the same to him.

"As in Benjamin Langley?" she asked, slightly more politely.

"He's my grandfather. You know of him?"

"My father is a politician. I'm Ava Forrester, and this is Camille, my cousin, and Juliet Dubois, from France. We're all in Fourth Year. Are you?"

I nodded. They seemed pleasant enough. Juliet was a sad looking girl, with big, round eyes and an innocent face. Her hair was pulled back in a braid revealing her white neck and a silver chain and cross that wrapped around her throat. She was a melancholic beauty.

Camille and Ava looked nothing like relations. Ava was tall with long blonde hair with blue eyes, red lips and cheeks and a mischievous gleam. Camille was much shorter with brown hair, and darker skin, as though perhaps her mother was from Spain. Or perhaps from Italy like Sofia.

"Settle down, girls," a loud voice started. I looked up at the altar and saw the headmistress, Miss Huxley, a severe looking woman with grey hair and thin lips. She looked as though she'd never had a day of freedom in her life.

The choir began to sing the alma mater, which I didn't know, as the teachers processed down the aisle. When they'd finally sat down, Miss Huxley addressed us. Her speech was long and tedious, outlining the rules of the school and what she expected of us as blossoming young ladies. She said that frequently; blossoming young ladies. And every time she did, the girls beside me laughed.

"This year, we have a new teacher from whom you blossoming young ladies will benefit. Miss Deirdre Lee will be instructing history. Please welcome her warmly."

As Miss Huxley droned on, I sat stiffly in my seat. It was finally sinking in that I would be here for a while; with my sisters, without my father. It left me with a cold feeling of dread. One that stayed with me as I walked from building to building until my last course of the day.

All the girls in my classes were middle and upper class. The scholarship girls took separate classes; mostly sewing and cooking, skills that would be useful to them. We had no use for such things. Instead, we were instructed in history, arithmetic, Latin, English, French and geography.