Chapter Thirty-One

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Robert pulled me into his chest as I fell to the floor. Tears ran down my cheek and dropped onto the top of my dress, my eyes remained fixated on the jacket that obscured Isabel's face from view.

They were wrong.

They had to be.

I could hear the low mummers of conversation unfolding outside of the gates whilst there was a low hum of silence within. No one knew what to say or do, it was just silent. Standing beside me, I could hear the small sniffs of Suzanna and Lucy. She was our sister, part of the family we had created inside a harsh and unruly environment. She couldn't just be gone, not that quickly, not like this. Isabel was a child, twelve-years-old with so much to live for, so much to do and it was gone within a second. Snatched away before she had a chance to experience life outside of the factory gates.

Isabel was gone, and I never got to say goodbye.

Tearing my eyes away from the jacket, I watched Doctor Ealing push himself up to a standing position and approach the gate. He muttered something to someone on the other side and they nodded before merging into the rest of the crowd and disappearing from sight. Red still stained his hands as he pulled out a handkerchief and attempted to remove it, but the blood had already dried. As he tucked the handkerchief back into his pocket he started to walk towards us, moving slowly across the cobblestones. Upon reaching our little group, he crouched down on the floor beside me and spoke, but the words failed to penetrate the fog that had formed in my mind.

My eyes were again fixated on Isabel. I expected her to get up and laugh at us for believing her joke. She'd make fun of us for getting so sentimental about it. Once she'd have her laugh, she'd come over and give me a hug. I could feel her arms around me as though she was there, as though everything that had just happened had been a bad dream. I was going to wake up any second and everything would be how it was. I'd be back in the factory with them, the bell ringing in the background as we prepared for another day of work. Only that wasn't going to happen.

"Rosie?" Doctor Ealing said, he reached out his arm and placed it on my shoulder.

"Huh?" I replied, snapping my eyes away from Isabel.

"I know this is difficult for you, but I've just sent for the Constable and he's going to need to know everything about this place. What it is, how you all got here, everything. Do you think you can tell him?"

"No. I don't want to, I can't."

"Does it have to be done now? Can we not wait until morning at least?" Robert asked. His chin was resting on the top of my head and his arms were still wrapped around my chest, as though he was scared I was about to get up and do something stupid.

"I don't know. This is serious, the Constable is going to want to know how this fire started and how she ended up with severe head trauma."

"Isabel. Her name is Isabel," I said.

"Right. The Constable will need to know everything about how Isabel came to be in this state and whether or not it was intentional."

"We can do that, we saw the foreman take her," Suzanna said.

"Very well. I can talk to the Constable about him talking to you tomorrow, Rosie, but you will have to do it eventually. This is not something I can put off. In the mean ti-"


Lucy pushed past Suzanna and ran across the courtyard, throwing her arms around Mathias' neck as he emerged from the side alley. Mathias stumbled backwards slightly before wrapping his good arm around her back, after a few seconds they broke apart and Mathias stepped to the side. From inside of the ally, Harry and Tommy emerged clinging onto the arm of the foreman who had blood trickling down the side of his head. Behind them, two other boys appeared holding onto Mr Thompson who looked just as bad.

The Factory Girl // Book 1 in the Rosie Grey seriesWhere stories live. Discover now