Samantha rolled over in bed, mumbling. Her hoopskirt was in the way, she thought in her dream, keeping her lover at arm’s length. His lips caressed the swell of her breasts above the lace at her neckline, moved upward to her neck, ending with gentle nibbling on her ear lobe, his teeth tinking quietly on the wires of her pearl and amethyst earrings. She moaned and pressed toward him, the bamboo circle of her largest hoop flipping up behind her, exposing the ruffled lace of her pantalets. Her lover ran his hand down the front of her bodice, pushing her away enough to drop the hoop. Samantha looked over his shoulder at the mirror, into the greedy eyes of Matilda Speakman and screamed, waking.

She jumped from her bed, to the six foot tall Victorian mirror above the marble topped vanity, looked at her own reflection with relief.

“Why?” she asked her image. “Why do I turn into her in my dreams?” She pulled open the top drawer, thinking it odd that the drawer was so shallow compared to the depth of the vanity. Sam looked at the solid pedestal for the mirror and tapped it. “Hm,” she thought, “that sounds hollow.” She pulled the top, with no result, then pressed inward on the front. Nothing. She pressed the left side, then the right and heard a soft click. The front panel slid down, revealing a hiding place inside the pedestal. “My ring!” she said, reaching inside. But there was only a small leather bound book, embossed in gold “My Diary.” She opened the book. “My darling husband has purchased a farm near West Chester,” read the opening lines. Sam sighed and tossed the diary in the drawer, slammed it shut, and closed the compartment. “I’ll read it later,” she thought, “maybe I’ll get that ring yet.”

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