Angelina was abandoned on the doorstep of the Brownlow Hill Workhouse when she was just a baby – her only possession the rag doll she held in her arms.
Nicknamed Angel by May Lavender for her golden curls, she is adopted by Mr and Mrs McBride, a wealthy couple with Irish connections. At first she is happy to have found a caring family but her new parents are not the benevolent guardians they first appear to be. Angel will need all her courage and tenacity to survive. Then, one day, a stranger visits the workhouse in search of the child he abandoned seven years earlier ….
This story, as well as following Angel’s adventures, reintroduces us to May and James Breckenridge, whom we last saw at the end of WORKHOUSE ORPHANS waving to each other as the ship carrying May to Australia left the dockside. He has promised to follow her – but will he have the courage to break all his ties in Liverpool for her sake?
‘Mist lies thick over the Mersey and, beyond the crowded buildings, the first faint lightening of the sky shows the dawn to be near. It is very cold. The streets are empty, save for one heavily cloaked figure, who walks with an uneven stride to the doors of the great building that squats menacingly at the top of Brownlow Hill. He carries in his arms a shawl-wrapped bundle, holding it close to his chest within the folds of his cloak. The doors of the workhouse are closed and no light burns in the window of the porter’s lodge. The man hesitates, looking down at the burden he carries and then back over his shoulder towards the river. From out of the mist a ship’s whistle sounds a warning.
‘It will be light soon. Then someone is bound to open the gates. You won’t be left alone long.’
His voice is choked with tears. He stoops and lays the bundle tenderly on the flagstones in front of the gate.
‘I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I don’t know what else to do. I have to go. You will be cared for –
and I shall come back to find you when I can.’
He kisses the small face, looks up for a moment at the grim outline of the building, then turns and hobbles away as fast as he can towards the river.’