Ruby
feet and out the door.
    Ruby breathed a sigh of relief at the silence that grew as the others moved farther down the hall.
    “What do you want I should do, miss?”
    “I wish I knew. What is your name?”
    “I’m Charlie, miss. Charlie Higgins. I tend bar and do whatever else needs doin’. Me and Per go back a long way.” He took a few steps closer to the bed. “He been holdin’ on just for you. Said he wanted to see his girls before he took the train to glory. Good thing you come when you did.”
    “He’s been sick a long time.” Just looking at the skin-wrapped bones that had once been a vibrant man told her that.
    “I knew he was ailin’ long before he told us.”
    “I see.” While the thought of pumping this man for information since he seemed willing to talk was a strong one, her need for sleep won out. “Thank you for talking with me, but I’d best return to my room before Opal wakes up and becomes frightened in a strange place. I’m sure I will have many questions in the morning.”
    “Yes, miss.” Charlie leaned over and pulled the sheet up over her father’s face. “Rest in peace, my friend.” His voice choked, and he turned away to blow his nose. Finished, he motioned for Ruby to precede him out of the room, blew out the lamp, and shut the door behind himself.
    “Thank you again.” Ruby nodded and made her way down the hall. She could hear two women talking behind one door on the way down and assumed it to be Belle and . . . She shook her head. How rude not to have asked for their names, to have introduced herself. But then, they all knew who she and Opal were if Per had talked about them, as it seemed he had from her conversation with Mr. Higgins.
    After nudging Opal over to her own side, Ruby climbed back in bed, certain that she would lie awake wondering about the group of people she’d met here at Dove House, about her father and the life he’d lived since he came west, about when she and Opal could return to New York and their life with the Brandons. Instead, she remembered no more of her prayer than “Please, God.”
    She awoke with the same thought, but “Please, God,” what? And where was Opal? Throwing the covers back, Ruby dressed more quickly than she ever thought possible, bundled her hair into a snood, and rushed out the door.
    The empty hall stretched dark but for the windows at either end. All the doors were closed, and she heard no sound. Surely others were up and about, not just Opal. Gray clouds obliterated the sun that surely must have been up for hours. It felt like midmorning. How had she ever slept so late?
    As she drew closer to her father’s room, she could hear someone moving around in there, opening and closing cupboards and drawers. She knocked, waiting for a response, and when the noise didn’t abate, she pushed open the door. Belle, wrapper-clad and with hair flying every which way, was searching for something. Clothing dangled from half-open drawers, as if the searcher was in too much of a hurry to put everything back—or didn’t care.
    Ruby cleared her throat. “May I help you?” She glanced over to see her father’s body lying where they’d left it.
    Belle spun and took a step back, hand to her throat. “You ’bout scared the wits right outa me.”
    “I’m sorry. I was looking for Opal and heard someone in here. I could help you look for whatever it is you are not finding.”
    “What I’m looking for is none of your business.”
    The snarl caught Ruby totally by surprise. “Pardon me.” She kept her voice even with effort. “I just thought to be helpful.”
    “Best help you can do is get back on that train and head east to whatever life you lived before . . . before . . .” Belle glanced at the bed and dissolved into a sobbing, grief-stricken woman. She sank down into a chair, crushing the pile of petticoats that had been thrown there.
    Ruby fought the tears brought on by seeing Belle’s. “I have to go find Opal.” She left the

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