Hannah stomped her boots on the door mat and stepped into the old mansion behind her parents. To one side was a reading room with a lavender Victorian settee and a dark wood writing table. A rope stretched across the doorway. She continued on and discovered a dining room with golden paisley wallpaper and an oval dark wood table and chairs with red cushions.
"They had a beautiful home, didn't they?" asked Mrs. Cromwell.
"Sure did, Mama," Hannah answered as she ventured on to what appeared to be a vast library, stacked to the brim with shelved books. There was also another oval table and a chair pushed up beside it. Sunshine streamed in through a stained glass window and painted the wood with colored light.
"Can you imagine that many books to read?" Mr. Cromwell asked.
"I would love that!" Hannah answered.
There was a billiards room stretched along the back of the house. A pool table sat in the middle of the room and an elk head was mounted to the right.
"I hear Mr. Reid spent a great deal of time in this room," Mr. Cromwell said as he leaned in to examine the entire room.
"No wonder his wife hosted so many dinner parties," Mrs. Cromwell murmured.
Hannah meandered closer to a staircase closer to the entrance of the home. After she saw everything she wanted to see downstairs at the moment, she made her way up the stairs to the second story.
She came across a room with a clawfoot bathtub and a towel on a ring. Another room was a gentle green room with an ornate carved wooden headboard attached to a massive bed. Still another room was roped within the room so that one could step inside.
This room was a cream color with a pink posy print. There was a smaller bed toward the back covered in a homemade quilt. Beside this was a porcelain chamber pot. White shelves lined the room, upon which sat rows of china dolls. Some wore golden curls, some ginger. Some had solid dresses, some print.
One doll in particular was blonde with a pink dress and white apron. Her blue eyes seemed to meet Hannah's as she looked around the room. Same with a brunette doll in a purple dress shelved across her. Hannah squinted at each one of the dolls. All seemed to stare back.
"Doesn't she remind you of Liliana?"
Hannah spun around, but no one else was upstairs.
"Very much so. She has similar eyes."
Hannah returned to the room and peered around. "Hello?"
She started with surprise. The sound came from within the room, where all the dolls seemed to meet her eyes. She could scarcely breathe, lest she miss another sound.
"How old do you suppose she is? Maybe fourteen?"
"Somewhere close. How old are you, dear?"
Hannah was stunned. Were these voices asking her? She may as well answer. "Yes. Fourteen."
"Ah! Our Liliana was quite small when she got most of us. Kept us all her life, too."
"Sophia, do you remember the time she took you outside and stained your dress?" this voice seemed to come from the direction of a doll with light brown curls and a sky blue dress.
"Of course," answered a voice close to the doll in the pink. "I still have a little stain."
"I was so relieved her daughters played with us as well," said the doll in purple.
"Agreed, Violet. We never were meant to sit alone on a dusty shelf."
Hannah stared at the dolls again. The ones that she presumed were Sophia and Violet now seemed to stare at each other. She could swear that Sophia appeared a little more forlorn than she had moments ago.
"She used to brush my hair a lot," said a voice that came from the doll in a sky blue dress. "Maybe because she got me when she was older."
"Anne, you may be right about that," answered a ginger doll in sage green. "My hair was a mess!"
"Her girls sure made up for that later, Rosa," Anne responded.
"So who was Liliana?" Hannah asked.
"Liliana was the girl who lived here," Sophia answered pleasantly. Her expression seemed rosier, and there was a small smile. "She grew up in this house and raised her girls here after her parents died. She was always getting into scrapes because of her energy.
"She mothered her children very well," Violet added.
"Yes," Anne continued. "They preserved us all these years."
"She married a lawyer," Rosa said. "He was quite a success. He encouraged her to pursue her dream."
"What was her dream?" Hannah asked.
"To be a doctor," said Anne. "Women doctors were rare in those days."
"But she did it anyway," Sophia said with a nostalgic sigh. "She became a doctor, and a good one. Saved many lives. She eventually got sick and lost her own."
"How sad," Hannah said.
"Yes, but she lives on. And her girls were good to us. Now their children allow people to come in and learn about the family. We love to talk about our Liliana, don't we?"
The other dolls murmured in agreement.
"Hannah!" called Mr. Cromwell downstairs.
"I have to go," the girl hissed to the dolls. "I'll come back soon to hear more stories!"
"Until then, dear!" Sophia called after her.