I dy felt something warm on her cheek and opened her eyes. The little girl staring at her looked scared. She reached for the tiny hand on her face and squeezed it reassuringly.
“Hi,” she said, pushing herself into a sitting position. She smiled encouragingly. “I’m Idy… Idy. Can you say Idy?”
Idy smile faltered and pulled the little girl onto her lap. “No Mama, sweetie.” She closed her eyes and buried her face in the toddler’s soft curls. “I’m so sorry.” She rocked back and forth for a few minutes then lifted the little girl’s chin.
“Idy,” she said. “Say I-dy.” “I-dy.”
Idy smiled. “Good girl!”
The little girl smiled a dimpled smile. “I-dy,” she repeated.
Idy hugged her. “You’re precious!”
“No,” the little girl said, her blond ringlets shaking back and forth.
Idy laughed. “You’re not precious?”
The little head continued to shake. “No. Lulu.”
The little head bobbed up and down. “Lulu.”
“Lulu!” Idy exclaimed. “Your name is Lulu.”
Lulu’s dimples deepened.
Idy thought she’d try her luck. “How old are you?”
“Two!” Lulu said as if skilled with this particular question. She held up two chubby fingers for emphasis.
Idy clapped her hands and laughed.
“Well, Lulu, we’d better get up and get ready for breakfast. Are you hungry?”
“Let’s get washed up and go downstairs. It’s a lot warmer in the kitchen.”
Lulu watched Idy neaten her hair and smooth out her skirt.
“Sorry, Lulu,” she said taking the blankets from her tiny shoulders. “These have to stay up here. Mrs. Renard isn’t very nice, and we don’t want to upset her.” She wrapped her shawl around the little girl, then straightened the blankets over the bed.
“There,” she said, “all clean.” Idy looked at Lulu and her brows pulled together. She didn’t have any shoes on her tiny bare feet. Noticing how red Lulu’s feet were from the cold, Idy removed her own shoes, then pulled off her tattered socks. “You can wear these for now. I’ll have to think about where to get you proper shoes.” She folded the socks several times and giggled at the final results. “At least your feet will be warmer.”
Idy put her shoes back onto her bare feet and laced them up. After straightening her long skirt, she picked up Lulu and waited to be called downstairs for breakfast.