This excerpt gets to the heart of Henry and this story. It’s also a theme I’ve touched on in other works because it’s easy to get all wrapped up in yourself as an individual having too little power to make a difference, and yet, sometimes all it takes is one person making a stand.
Lily smiled then, excitement sparking in her eyes. “Just think. You could change not only my sister’s future but also that of every single child born with abilities beyond those shared by most. You could set the precedent for whatever next springs from the loins of humanity. You could change the world.”
Though [Henry] had already conceded the victory, he laughed at her phrasing. “I fear you give me too much credit. I am but one man.”
She turned once again to nestle against him, her heartbeat strong where their bodies touched despite her frailty. “One man can move mountains if only he inspires those around him to each lift a single stone.”
The idea took root and spread throughout his form.
Henry would do this. He would fight for the Naturals as he’d intended long ago before letting fear for Sam’s safety hold him back. No person deserved the lot consigned to all Naturals, and if his efforts meant Sam could someday be free to come home should she wish, then all the better.
Note: A Natural (for those who haven’t read The Steamship Chronicles yet) is a person who develops the ability as a child to hear and act on the desires of machines sophisticated enough to gather their own supplies of aether (an invisible energy source) and so develop some form of sapience.
Henry has always made it his mission to help those less fortunate. It’s this drive that sent him to join the London police force though it was hardly an appropriate role for a second son. Even less so after a storm at sea swallowed both parents and his only brother, making him go from Officer Henry to Lord Stapleton overnight.
The decision to give all that up wasn’t an easy one, but how could he turn his back not just on the woman he loved but also on her little sister, whom the law made criminal through no fault of her own? This is the tale told in Safe Haven (prequel to The Steamship Chronicles), and the eight years since has been spent largely in seclusion with Lily and Sam on his country estate.
The Steamship Chronicles begins when Lily’s failing health forces the hard decision to send Sam, now fifteen, to the Continent where a reported safe haven for Naturals exists. Lily fears for Sam and Henry both if she’s not around to help her sister control the knack that makes her a criminal in England, though not everywhere. Anyone helping to shelter a Natural is at risk, should they be discovered, and will be charged with aiding a dangerous person.
Sam’s side of the story begins in Secrets (free at all eBook vendors), but Life and Law tells of what happens with Henry and Lily once Sam has vanished from their lives. The pain of not knowing what happened to Sam along with Lily’s continued decline drives their actions.
Sam’s absence frees Henry to take on all of Parliament to change the fate of Lily’s sister and of every other English Natural. Not to mention relieving the penalties laid against those who help a Natural rather than putting their loved one in the terrible grasp of an asylum.
Lily suggests this path to distract him from her health, but she reawakens the crusader in Henry. He goes not to forget thoughts of Sam and the effect of Sam’s loss on Lily, but to solve the problem of English Naturals. With the laws changed, he’ll be able to bring Sam back to her sister, and everything will be right again, or so he has to believe.
There’s another good quote for Henry, though it’s not from this book or any of mine. It is, however, two of the questions addressed in the book:
“If not us, then who?
If not now, then when?”
― Attributed to John E. Lewis
Henry understands better than most why some have only silent support to offer. He can no more condemn them than he could have brought Sam to an asylum as he did the man in the beginning of Safe Haven before Sam opened his eyes to the truth about Naturals.
He’s been in the same position only days before, which makes it even more essential he use this time when not harboring a fugitive to eliminate the charge and save all others in those circumstances.
Of course, this is the first book of the second set of three, so you know it is not going to be that straightforward.