The crying was harder during the night. While everyone was asleep, Katie would start screaming and everyone would rush to the nursery to check on her.

Jarrod finally told everyone that they didn't need to run to the nursery every time Katie cried. Katie still hadn't warmed up to people yet. The only person that could calm her down was her father.


A month later was no exception. Katie picked up her screams again and Jarrod rushed to her room. As Katie's tears soaked her father's nightshirt, Jarrod continued to rock her in the rocker that he bought for Maria as a present. This evening he decided to try a new tactic to calm her down.

Jarrod opened his mouth and started to sing to Katie. His singing voice was terrible, but if it calmed her down that was enough.

What he didn't know was that he had an audience. When the baby fell asleep, he kissed her cheek and put her back in the crib.

Nick started to laugh from the doorway, joined by Heath and Audra. Victoria and Maria came out of their rooms to see what the commotion was about.

Jarrod turned redder than a tomato. "Pappy, it's amazing that baby didn't scream louder at her father's lack of singing skills!" Nick teased his older brother.

"Nick, stop it! It was the only way I knew to calm her down. And if you don't lower your voice you'll wake the baby and then I'll have to calm her down again," Jarrod whispered violently.

Jarrod yawned and sat down in Maria's chair. "Jarrod, are you all right?" Heath asked.

"I'll be fine, Little Brother. I'll just sit here and watch her sleep for a few minutes," Jarrod said.

Katie woke up at that instant and started to scream again. Jarrod stood up and picked her up again. He sat in his chair and rocked her back and forth. "All of you go back to bed, I'll sit up with Katie," Jarrod said.

Jarrod started to rock her again, until she quieted down. Then he started to talk to her. "Listen to me Katie. You're going to have to stop this crying. I know your stomach hurts and you can't help screaming," Jarrod said, gently.

Jarrod started to hum softly to the baby and both fell asleep in the rocking chair. The baby started to suck its thumb and curled up into Jarrod's chest. The man and baby weren't disturbed until the following morning until Maria, worried about her husband found him in the nursery.

Maria walked over to her husband and shook his shoulder. "Jarrod, you have a case today," Maria said.

Jarrod opened his blue eyes, sleepily, and looked down at the baby in his arms. "Here Maria, take her while I get ready for work and breakfast," Jarrod said.

Maria nodded her head. Jarrod stumbled about tiredly. By the time breakfast was served Jarrod had freshly washed clothes on and had managed to shave. Jarrod sat next to his wife. Victoria looked at the dark rings under his eyes. She remembered having a baby with colic well. She and Tom stayed up nights tending Nick when he had colic.

Of course Nick still hasn't learned to stop shouting in the house, Victoria thought, with amusement.

Jarrod pushed the eggs around on his plate and stood up after only ten minutes.

"Well I have to go. I'll see you later. Maria, see if Katie will sleep all day. Don't try to make any loud noises around her. If she wakes up she'll scream all day," Jarrod said, kissing his wife good-bye.

Jarrod walked out the door and stumbled to the barn in a tired haze. He saddled his horse and went to town.


Jarrod was worn out. With Katie crying day and night Jarrod couldn’t get the sleep that he needed to be a good lawyer in the courtroom.

Jarrod loved his daughter to distraction, but Jarrod almost wished she could stop crying for once.

Jarrod left his horse at the stable and made his way tiredly to his office. He lay down on the leather couch and fell asleep. Jarrod slept for two hours when a bad dream woke him up.

Katie was crying and Maria kept calling for him to come quiet the baby and he couldn't find the baby.

Jarrod's face turned pale with fear that his daughter may be in trouble. He ran back to the stables and prepared to leave, when Don Alfredo entered the stables.

He looked at Jarrod with clear dislike, but Jarrod was too tired and worked up to care.

"I understand the baby is giving you a hard time, Señor Barkley," Don Alfredo said.

"Yes, she is. But I don't see that as your concern since you disowned Maria last year and said you wouldn't have anything to do with her or whatever children we have," Jarrod said, testily.

"It's common knowledge that the baby is too much for you and your family," Don Alfredo said.

"She'll calm down eventually. The doctor said it's just a stomachache," Jarrod said.

"My vaqueros say that she screams at everything," Don Alfredo said.

Jarrod whirled around in anger. When it came to a temper, Nick was usually the one to lose it. Jarrod often was the brother to try to talk reasonably with Nick, but not this time.

"Look, Katie is my daughter! Don't tell me how to raise my daughter! She'll stop crying eventually! Now I have to go home to check on her," Jarrod said, his anger spent.

Jarrod mounted his horse and rode out of the stables. Jarrod took a few deep breaths to dispel the anger inside him. How dare Don Alfredo say those things about how he couldn't control the baby!

When Nick and Audra were born he became a second father to them. He knew how to take care of babies. The only difference was that Katie was his daughter and not Audra or Nick.


Jarrod came back to the ranch around noon. In the distance he could hear the baby crying. He grinned slightly. He had pegged her crying at just the right moment.

Jarrod entered the house and saw his wife, trying to bounce the baby as he had often done. Maria looked up at her husband and nearly broke down in tears in front of him.

"Oh, Jarrod! I can't stop her from crying! It's like she knows when you leave her! Take her Jarrod please! Maybe she'll stop for you!" Maria cried, handing Jarrod the baby.

Jarrod took the baby in his arms and gently bounced her; Katie looked up at her father with crocodile tears running down her cheeks.

She stopped wailing and grinned slightly. Jarrod looked at his wife with pure joy on his face.

"Maria, she just smiled at me!" Jarrod exclaimed.

"Well, she closer to you than anybody in the house," Maria said, feeling a slight pain at the idea that her baby loved her father more than her.

"Maria, she'll stop crying eventually and she'll smile at you. I don't know what I did to make her pick me over anyone else," Jarrod said.

"Jarrod, it's nothing you just have a way with babies. I know she'll smile at me eventually," Maria said, with false cheer.

Jarrod was not sure about that. His wife was hurt because the baby always cried when she picked her up. As soon as the baby stopped crying, Jarrod would let Maria watch her. Even he knew that a baby's whole world was not the father.


The colic didn't last long after the fight in the stable in town. Jarrod went into his daughter's nursery one day and she was sleeping peacefully, with her thumb jammed in her mouth.

Jarrod picked her up and watched her open her startlingly blue eyes, sleepily. She looked at her father and grinned a gummy smile.

Jarrod kissed her forehead gently and smiled at her. Katie cooed and kicked her small legs in the air.

"How's Papa's little girl this morning?" Jarrod asked, sitting in Maria's rocker.

Maria came to the door and yawned as she looked at the sentimental scene. "How is she, Jarrod?" Maria asked.

"I think her colic is over. She's not crying," Jarrod said.

Maria crossed herself. "Thank the Lord! I didn't know how much longer I could put up with her crying," Maria said.

“Yes. Now I can be able to sleep and get my job done as a lawyer. Your father and I did get into a fight over Katie’s crying,” Jarrod said.

"Father caused the fight, not you. Now Katie can get some rest at night. Maybe she'll even smile at me now," Maria said.

"Would you like to hold her now, Maria? You're her mother. I can't be her whole life," Jarrod said.

"I guess. I just hope she doesn't start crying, "Maria said, nervously.

Jarrod put the baby gently into Maria's arms and directed her to the rocking chair. Maria sat down and rocked the baby. Katie looked up at her mother in surprise. The baby didn't expect this strange woman to hold her. The only person that made the baby feel safe was her father.

The only thing that didn't happen was that the baby didn't cry as she normally did. She looked at her mother with interested eyes and gave a faint grin.

"Jarrod, she smiled at me!" Maria exclaimed to her husband.

"Of course she did. I told you she would. When Katie's not in pain, she's a good baby. Now let's take her downstairs and tell the family that she's over the colic," Jarrod said.

"Sí, that should be a relief to the family. Nick said that Katalina has been making it hard for him and Heath to run el rancho," Maria said, her brown eyes sparkling.

Jarrod grinned slightly and took the baby into his arms. and the small family walked down the stairs to the dining room.


The rest of the year passed without much ceremony. Katie had warmed up to the rest of the family by her first birthday, but her father was still her favorite person.

On the eve of her first birthday something wonderful happened. Katie was in Jarrod's study on the floor, playing with her dolls. Jarrod was seated at his desk, preparing some briefs for the court case in the morning.

Katie looked at her father's desk and spoke softly. "Papa."

Jarrod looked up from his paperwork in surprise and went to his daughter on the floor. "Katie, what did you just call me?" Jarrod asked.

"Papa," Katie said again.

Jarrod's features broke into a huge grin and he picked Katie up off the floor. He swung her around and kissed her.

"I love you, Katie. Let's go tell your Mama," Jarrod said.

Jarrod and Katie ran down the hallway, where Maria, Dora, Audra, and Victoria were knitting in the parlor.

"Maria, Katie just talked!" Jarrod exclaimed.

"Jarrod, she didn't!" Maria exclaimed.

"She did. I was in my study working on my case when she opened her mouth. She said "Papa," "Jarrod said.

"Oh Jarrod, this means she'll soon be talking in complete sentences!" Maria said.

Katie looked at Maria. "Mama," She said.

"Jarrod, she called me "Mama!" Sí, I'm Mama," Maria said to the baby.

Katie grinned and laid her head on Jarrod's chest, suddenly tired of her achievement.

"Jarrod, I think it's time we put her to bed. She's tired," Maria said.

"All right. I'll be down in a few minutes. I still have to finish the work Katie interrupted," Jarrod said.

"Jarrod, are you upset that she disturbed your work?" Victoria asked.

"No. I'm always happy when I get a break from work," Jarrod said.

Jarrod took his now sleeping baby upstairs and put her to bed. Katie's thumb was in her mouth again. Jarrod gently pried it out of her mouth and laid it on the mattress next to her. He leaned over kissed the sleeping baby's head and quietly tiptoed out of the room.


Katie's birthday was a wonderful day for the Barkley family. The 1-year-old loved all the lavish attention her family showed her. Jarrod would scoop her up into his arms and carry her to the back yard to watch Uncle Heath and Uncle Nick break a new horse.

Heath and Nick walked over to their small niece and kissed her cheek. "Hello there, Miss Katie. How are you?" Nick asked, making his young niece smile.

Katie appeared often fascinated at her uncle's loud words. Both of her uncles were different from her father. Heath was the quiet one. He held her when Jarrod left in the morning. He understood the baby's tears almost as much as the baby's father did.

Uncle Nick was funnier. His loudness around the house often made Katie smile. Uncle Nick was often got on to by Victoria and even though Katie didn't understand words too well, she smiled at the sheepish look on Nick's face when Victoria got on to him.

"Pappy, are you happy that Katie's 1 years old today?" Nick asked.

"Yes I am, Brother Nick. But I feel as if my baby grew up to quick," Jarrod said, looking tenderly at his daughter.

"Well Jarrod, enjoy her being a baby as long as you can. She's going to grow up. She's going to think that her father is someone who always meddles and is old," Nick teased his brother.

"Very funny, Nick. I'm sure Katie won't think that. She knows that her papa loves her," Jarrod said, kissing his baby on her soft baby cheek.

Katie grinned at her father, already cutting her first tooth. Jarrod remembered the pain she went through getting that tooth.

"Well Katie, time for your afternoon nap," Jarrod said.

Katie yawned and laid her dark head against Jarrod's chest. Jarrod ran his hand through her thick black hair. In the short time of a year the child had such heavy dark locks. She closely resembled Tom Barkley.

All the Barkley boys looked like Tom, but Jarrod was the one who resembled his father more. He had Tom's dark hair and blue eyes. The baby was the same way. Except for the baby's dark skin, she looked just like Jarrod, Tom and Nick Barkley. There was also a trace of Don Alfredo in her features as well. Sometimes when she was deep in thought with a doll or looking at the smile on a family member's face, a deep frown came out.

Maria said her father often looked like that when he was deep in thought. So it was hereditary. Jarrod laid his baby girl down on the mattress in her crib and kissed her again on the forehead.

"I'll see you downstairs, Birthday girl," Jarrod whispered softly, not knowing that the next time he'll see her would be in 9 years.


After Katie's disappearance 9 years back Jarrod and Maria had another baby. This time it was a boy. Because of the original agreement between Jarrod and his wife they called him Thomas after Jarrod's father. Jarrod loved his little son, but he felt that he couldn't love him as much as he did Katie.

On Thomas's third birthday Jarrod sat down to do some paperwork in his office when Nick came in.

"Pappy, aren't you coming to Tommy's birthday dinner?" Nick asked.

"No. I'm very busy, Nick," Jarrod said, never taking his eyes off his paperwork.

"Jarrod, you would never have missed Katie's birthdays," Nick said.

"Leave Katie out of this!" Jarrod snapped angrily.

"Katie is in it whether you like it or not, Pappy. But refusing to love your son is not going to make the pain of losing her go away. Jarrod, that pain is going to get worse and worse," Nick said.

"You don't know anything about how I feel," Jarrod said.

"You're right I don't. I don't have kids, but Jarrod Katie would not want you to mourn over her death if she's dead. She'd want you to be happy," Nick said.

"Nick, I just miss her so much. I want her to be here with us again. I miss her laughter and how she used to call me Papa. She was just learning to call me that when she was stolen," Jarrod said, feeling tears roll down his cheeks.

"Jarrod, you have a little boy who would like to have you come to his birthday. Don't pretend you don't have a son just because you miss your daughter," Nick said.

Jarrod wiped the tears from his face with the back of his hand. "You're right, Nick. Do you think Tommy would forgive me?" Jarrod asked.

"I'm sure he would. Jarrod, he worships the ground you walk on. Just like Katie did," Nick said.

"You want to know what the hard part is, Brother Nick?" Jarrod asked.

"What Counselor?" Nick asked.

"I still feel that Katie might be alive. I just wish that I knew how to find her,"" Jarrod said.

"Well, why don't you hire private detectives to find her? It's common knowledge that she was taken from her crib. It wouldn't hurt anything if the detectives turned up a trail we didn't see before," Nick said.

Jarrod pondered that idea. Nick was right. It wouldn't hurt anything to look for Katie once more. Jarrod thought of what would happen if they found her.

Katie was about ten now. Jarrod wondered what she looked like. When she was a baby she resembled him. Jarrod didn't doubt that she still probably looked like him.

"You're right, Nick. Tomorrow I'm going to send a telegram to the Pinkerton Agency and ask them to find my daughter," Jarrod said.


In the next few weeks The Pinkerton agency turned up three or four leads on Katie Barkley. Jarrod and Maria followed every lead to find their daughter.

After the last disappointment Jarrod and Maria went home saddened that they were not any closer to finding Katie than before.

Jarrod was sitting in his office at home, when Celia the housekeeper came in with a slip of paper.

"Mr. Jarrod, this came for you. The man at the door said it was urgent," Celia said, handing it to him.

"Thank you, Celia," Jarrod said, opening the envelope with the paper cutter on the desk.

It was from the Pinkerton Agency. I hope this isn't another false alarm, Jarrod thought. Jarrod read the telegram quickly.

To Counselor Jarrod Barkley, Stockton California. We have a lead on Katalina Barkley. Stop. We showed her picture around Pennsylvania. Stop. A widowed woman by the name of Stallingforth has a daughter that is of half-Hispanic blood. Stop. She may be Katie. Stop. Well-advised not to jump to conclusions that it might be her. Stop. The Pinkerton Agency, San Francisco, California. Stop.

Jarrod felt his stomach take a lurch. This telegram had a different tune to it. The other leads had left him wary, but he felt, deep inside that this was Katie. It had to be.

Jarrod stood up and went to the parlor. Victoria, Dora, Maria, and Audra were all sitting on the couch, knitting.

Victoria looked up at her son. "Jarrod, are you all right? You look as if you've seen a ghost," Victoria said.

"Mother Maria, I think I found Katie," Jarrod said.

"Jarrod, what do you mean? We have had so many false leads on Katie," Audra said, looking at her mother concerned.

"I know. But the Pinkerton Agency said that she might be in Pennsylvania staying with a woman called Stallingforth," Jarrod said.

"Stallingforth? The only Stallingforths in Pennsylvania I know about are the ones in Philadelphia. Edna and Jonathan Stallingforth. He's a railroad tycoon that made his money very early in life. When he died his money went to his wife Edna Silsbee. I had no clue that Edna Stallingforth had a daughter," Victoria said.

"Mother, I read a little bit more. Appears the child's name is Abigail and she was recently admitted to a popular boarding school in Connecticut. She's about the same age that Katie would be," Audra said.

"Maria, I have to know," Jarrod said, kneeling in front of his wife.

“Jarrod, you promised that after the last one we wouldn’t go searching for Katalina,” Maria said.

"Maria, I know I promised. But I feel different about this. This girl is Katie I feel it," Jarrod said.

"All right Jarrod. If you feel this strongly about it you can go," Maria said.

Jarrod kissed his wife on the lips and jumped up. "Thank you Maria. I love you," Jarrod said.

"I love you too, Jarrod. I just hope you're right," Maria said.

"I don't know if I am yet, but when I see the girl I'll know," Jarrod said.

"Jarrod, I'd like to go with you," Victoria said.

"Of course Mother. Maria, go pack our bags. I have to finish my paperwork and go tell Mark Bromeley to take over my cases for me,”“ Jarrod said.

The next morning Jarrod, Maria, and Victoria left for Philadelphia, hoping Jarrod was right.


Edna Stallingforth sat in her warm parlor on a cold and snowy January day reading a book from her study. Since her husband had died 3 years ago Edna submerged herself in books and of acting like a socialite.

Her daughter Abigail once said that when her father died her mother had might as well have died with him. Edna used to laugh and enjoy life, but now all she cared about was the rules of polite society.

Abigail had told her mother at Christmas that she hated the school she had previously entered in the fall, but her mother said that the best young ladies in New England went there to learn the education that was needed to be a socialite.

Edna had bought her daughter the best clothes to wear at the school since the Stallingforth's were the wealthiest family in Philadelphia. Most of Abigail's expensive wardrobe was brown, because that was her favorite color and because she had dark skin and black hair.

A knock at the door interrupted her thoughts. Helga, the downstairs maid answered the door. "May I help you?" The young girl asked.

"Yes. I'm here to see Edna Stallingforth please," a man's deep voice said.

"May I have your name please?" Helga asked.

"My name is Jarrod Barkley and this is my wife, Maria. We're from Stockton, California," the man introduced himself.

"Mum, a man and his wife from Stockton, California are here to see you," Helga said, entering the parlor.

"Do they have a name?" Edna asked.

"Yes Mum. Jarrod and Maria Barkley," Helga said.

"Show them in, Helga," Edna said.

Edna entered the foyer as Kathleen, the scullery maid, was putting their coats and hats on the hall tree.

"Mrs. Stallingforth will see you, Mr. and Mrs. Barkley," Helga said.

Jarrod and Maria followed the girl into the huge parlor. Crystal lamps hung everywhere. The carpets were a soft English rose color. The chairs and couch were elaborately upholstered in gold. The tables were made out of expensive teakwood. On the coffee table there were framed photographs. A red-haired woman sat on a settee with a book in her hands. Her red hair was caught up in a sophisticated French bun and she wore an expensive white shirtwaist and peach skirt.

"How do you do, Mr. and Mrs. Barkley? I am Edna Stallingforth," Edna said.

"Jarrod Barkley. This is my wife, Maria," Jarrod said.

"What brings you down here to Philadelphia? You are a long way from California," Edna said.

"I don't normally beat around the bush, Mrs. Stallingforth-" Jarrod started.

"Please, both of you, call me Edna," Edna interrupted.

"Very well, Edna. You see 9 years ago my wife and I had a baby girl and she was stolen on her 1st birthday," Jarrod started.

"I am so sorry. You see, I also have a daughter and if someone stole her I'd feel very unhappy," Edna said.

"Well, a few weeks ago on my son's birthday my brother, Nick, said I should look for her again. So I wrote to this detective agency in San Francisco. The Pinkerton Agency gave us about four or five different leads to Katie, but each one proved false," Jarrod said.

"I would have been very downhearted," Edna said.

"We were. Then Maria made me promise that I wouldn't look for Katie anymore because of the pain it caused," Jarrod said.

"I would have made my John promise the same thing if my Abigail was stolen for so many years," Edna said.

"Then a week ago I got a telegram from the agency. It said that another lead was found. Mrs. Stallingforth, have you ever seen this girl?" Jarrod asked, holding out a picture of Katie taken four days before her 1st birthday.

Edna took the picture and her breath hitched. Her face turned deathly pale as she looked at it.

"You don't have to say anything. Abigail is Katie isn't she?" Jarrod asked.

"Yes, but Mr. Barkley I didn't kidnap her. My lawyer said that he knew my husband and I wanted children and he said there were children out there in California. If I had known I would have returned her to you right away," Edna said, feeling slightly sick.

"I believe you, but it's important that we get Katie back. Send for her," Jarrod said.

"Of course. She was never mining to have then. Of course you may have her back. I'll send a telegram to the school today," Edna said, going to her little writing desk.

Jarrod smiled at Maria. They watched her write out two letters and give them to a butler.


Abigail Stallingforth was practicing walking with a book on her head at the rich boarding school her mother insisted she attend.

Abigail was by far the best student in the school. She was tall, graceful, and wore the best clothes at the academy for girls.

Abigail was half Hispanic, but no one paid attention to that. As long as everyone knew that she was the richest girl in school, no one could say anything about her Spanish descent.

She mostly looked white anyway. She had black hair and blue eyes, but her skin was a dark bronze color, She often wore Indian-brown dresses that complimented her hair color and skin color perfectly.

The ones she often wore was edged with lace at the collar and throat. She was beautiful, but quiet and had a stubborn streak a mile wide.

Abigail walked back in forth in her classroom when the headmistress Miss Traverse walked in.

"Excuse me, I need to talk to Abigail Stallingforth for a moment," The petite lady said.

Abigail took the book off her head and followed the woman outside. "Yes, Miss Travers?" Abigail asked.

Abigail had a nice soft quiet voice that everyone liked.

"Abigail, your mother just sent this letter. I had to open it and read it," the woman said.

Abigail took the sheet of paper out and stated to read. Her eyes widened with shock at each word.

Dearest Abigail,

You know I adopted you when you were 1 years old, but I love you as if you were my own daughter. But now I realize that you were never mine to have. When you were given to me you were stolen from your real family. Your real father and mother are here to take you back to California. We have no choice in the matter. If I don't give you back to them I'll go to jail. I'll see you in Philadelphia. Martin will pick you up at the station

Love Mother.

Abigail's bright blue eyes filled with tears and her dark face turned pale. She ran upstairs to her room and flung herself on her bed.


The next morning Abigail left the school for the train station. She had dark rings under her eyes and a slight melancholy in her looks.

It would be dinnertime by the time she arrived home, and she wished it were a slow train home.

Martin, the coach driver picked her up at the depot. Abigail climbed listlessly into the carriage and went home.

The whole way there Abigail sat staring at the gray overcast sky and the dreary snow that covered the ground.

She found herself wondering what her birth parents were like. It wasn't fair. They had to have given her away. What did she do to deserve that? Father said she was kind and sweet and a person would have to be foolish to not like her.

The tears pricked the back of her eyelids and threatened to fall down her cheeks in salty tracks. Abigail wiped the back of her hands across her wet cheeks and felt sadder at each passing moment.

The carriage pulled into the driveway of the Stallingforth mansion and Martin opened the door for her. "Welcome back, Miss," Martin said.

At her mother's house the servants loved and respected the young girl. Her look of quiet authority made all the servants respect her. If any of the servants were stealing or gossiping all Abigail had to do was look at them and they would stop.

Abigail opened the front door. The warm air from the parlor's fireplace reached her in the foyer. "Welcome, Miss," Helga said, taking Abigail's expensive brown coat away from her.

"I wish I could say that I am glad to be back, Helga," Abigail said to the young girl.

"Miss, they are waiting for you in the parlor. Would you like me to announce you?" Hula asked.

"If you'd be so kind, Helga," Abigail said.

The door to the foyer opened and someone came into the house. Helga entered the parlor.

"Miss Stallingforth, Miss Abigail's in the foyer," Helga said.

"Send her in, Helga," Edna Stallingforth said.

Helga left the parlor. "Miss, they are ready for you," Helga said.

Abigail followed Helga into the parlor, fighting the nervous twists her stomach was doing. It was like this every time she also took a test at school. Her stomach started to ache.

Abigail entered the parlor, her eyes down, looking distressed. Edna nodded to Jarrod. Jarrod walked over to her. He pushed her chin up so he could look into her eyes. Her eyes looked so familiar it took his breath away. It was Katie! His baby girl!

Jarrod took his baby girl into his arms and hugged her. Abigail's face was buried into Jarrod's chest. The rich smell of cologne was a familiar scent. John Stallingforth wore the exact same brand of cologne. Abigail had missed the smell of it since her father had died.

Maria flung her arms around Abigail's shoulders and hugged her and kissed her cheek.

"Mother?" Abigail asked Edna, raising her head from Jarrod's chest and looking over his shoulder.

Edna stalked out of the room the tears flowing down her cheeks.

Jarrod stroked her thick, black hair and ears with his fingertips. Abigail looked up at her father. He had blue eyes and black hair just like her.

Her mother had an olive complexion and reddish- brown hair. They looked like pleasant enough people. Suddenly she felt shy.

"I don't know what to say about all this, Mr. Barkley," Abigail asked in a tiny voice.

Jarrod took his daughter's small hand in his large one and kissed it gently.

"What do you say we go sit down and talk?" Jarrod asked.

"I can do that," Abigail said.

Abigail sat on her mother's settee. Jarrod sat beside her and Maria sat across from them in a blue overstuffed chair.

"How old are you?" Jarrod asked.

"Nine. How old are you?" Abigail asked.

Jarrod smiled at his daughter's question. "I'm 45 years old," Jarrod said.

"What's it like out in California?" Abigail asked.

"It's very beautiful and wide open. You were born there," Jarrod said.

"I know. That's what it said on my adoption papers. Father showed them to me once," Abigail said.

"Do you know that I am your father, Katie?" Jarrod asked, finally moving to a serious question.

"Yes Sir, Mr. Barkley," Abigail said.

"Do you think that your mother and myself gave you up for adoption?" Jarrod asked.

"The thought did cross my mind," Abigail said.

"I don't know if you'd believe it, but no. WE didn't give you up for adoption. You were kidnapped on your first birthday," Jarrod said.

Abigail turned to look at her father, her blue eyes blazing.

"Mother and Father didn't do it, Mr. Barkley. I've known those two all my life, they are incapable of doing that," Abigail said, her childish voice filling with anger.

"Calm down, Katie. I'm not accusing them. A law agency kidnapped you, not the Stallingforth's," Jarrod said, putting his hands on Abigail's thin shoulders.

"Why are you here then?" Abigail asked.

"We are taking you home, Katie," Jarrod said.

"WHAT?!" Abigail exclaimed, her voice rising to a scream.

Jarrod was surprised. His daughter did have a voice to her. He thought she was like a little mouse when it came to talking, but he was wrong.

"Katie, the law says you have to come home. You legally belong to your mother and myself," Jarrod said.

"I'm not going anywhere with you!" Abigail shouted.

"Lower your voice," Jarrod said.

"You can't make me," Abigail said.

"Young lady, I can make you come with us," Jarrod said, his face stern and his eyes an icy blue.

"I WON'T! I WON'T!" Abigail ran out of the room and up the stairs. She entered her bedroom and slammed the door so hard it bounced open. She shut it again and this time it stayed closed. She locked the door and flopped onto her bed in tears.


Abigail sat up in her room on her window seat, staring out at the darkening sky. In Philadelphia dark came early in the winter.

She wondered if Jarrod and Maria were still downstairs. It wouldn't hurt to check. Her father said he had the right to take her legally. But what about what she wanted?

She wanted to stay in Philadelphia. It wasn't right for these two strangers that she didn't even know to take her back to California. She couldn't leave her mother, Helga, and all the servants. Abigail hopped off the window seat and unlocked her bedroom door.

Agnes, the upstairs maid, was dusting and polishing an expensive brown table in the hallway. Abigail went past the maid without even talking to her. She was in a hurry to see if the Barkleys had left.

As she went downstairs, her heart froze. Jarrod and Maria Barkley were still in the middle of the parlor, talking to Edna.

"Counselor, I don't know how you can get the child to go with you. She's very stubborn and set in her ways," Edna said.

Jarrod smiled. "I actually knew that. If Katie wasn't my daughter she would have given in without a fight," Jarrod said.

"You knew that?" Edna asked.

"Yes. The Barkleys are a stubborn hot-tempered lot. What does she look like when she's angry?" Jarrod asked.

"She gets very angry. She yells and her blue eyes turn icy," Edna said.

"That's my point. Katie's like her Uncle Nick in that respect. If someone told him he had to leave the ranch and never come back he would have thrown a fit," Jarrod said.

"But where does she get her stubbornness from?" Edna asked.

"All the Barkleys are stubborn. Jarrod can be very pigheaded at times," Maria said.

At that moment Abigail entered the parlor and sat by the fireplace on a small footstool.