“Why did you write to that woman?” Eden came into the hall before Sophia had removed her gloves.
“Woman?” Sophia put her hat on a table and turned to face an angry Eden.
“Mrs.—Russell, from the mission in the north or something…”
“Oh—the North End Mission. I didn’t write—well, I did, but only to answer their queries about Pearl.” Sophia stopped and waited for Eden to move. But Eden stood her ground.
“What do they care about Pearl?”
“They were the ones at the hospital, when her mother died. They funded the advertisements for her family. They wanted to know how she was faring.”
“Do you want them to take her?”
“What do you mean, take her?”
“Mrs. Russell suggested that you wanted them to take Pearl there and raise her in their orphanage. I sent her away, but she seemed determined to come back—at your direction.”
“I didn’t expect them to come here—certainly not today.” Sophia frowned. “But where did you suppose she was going to go?” Sophia moved past Eden and into the parlor. The dining room doors were open, the table set for dinner, but Sophia sat down by the fire and put her hand to her head.
Eden followed and sat beside her. “Do you want to send her there?” she asked Sophia.
“You don’t?” Sophia asked in return.
Eden was quiet for a long time. But there was only one thing to say. “No.”
“Then what shall we do about her?”
“I’ll see Eleanor’s lawyer tomorrow. I’ll have guardianship papers drawn up.”
Sophia dropped her hand to her lap and stared at Eden. “Guardianship? Permanently?”
“Don’t you want me to?” Eden met Sophia’s eye.
“I didn’t know you wanted to.”
Eden looked at the fire. She stooped to take the tongs and shift a log. Sparks flew up the chimney. She felt Sophia’s eyes on the side of her face, but she didn’t turn.
“I do. You ought to be her mother. She ought to have a real family, not grow up in some institution and be treated like a criminal for being born to some poor, desperate woman…”
“You are right, of course,” Sophia said at last.
“Well.” Eden rose. “I’ll do it tomorrow then.” She walked to the dining room. Sophia followed.