London, December 24, 1892
Linet Fenna shivered in her attic bedroom as she stared out the open window. Downstairs, all was merry and bright with evergreen branches, mistletoe and handmade garlands festooning trees and mantles. Under the eaves here, wind blew through a crack in the undecorated wall and rustled in the chimneys above.
A fever had made the first housemaid take to bed just after breakfast and Linet, the second housemaid, had been run ragged all day by her demanding mistress and her ever-arriving family. Now, finally done with work, she just wanted to stare at the stars and dream.
"Close the window," Ann-Marie said, coughing from her iron bedstead in the darkest corner of the room.
"In a minute." Linet took one last breath of chilly air and had her hand on the sill when she heard a metallic chugging in the distance. The sound came from outside, and wasn't likely to be Father Christmas.
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