Proof Through The Night

July 4, 1896
Charles Birchwood

After parting with Edith in front of Ms. Maple’s apartment, I went to see the Dean. There was after all, still the remote possibility she was with him. It would not have been wise to merely assume she was missing simply because of the strange circumstances. And of course, there was the small matter of wanting to know just what is going on at Primrose College.

I knocked on his office door and when there was no response I opened it. It is funny how a single experience can jade one’s expectations, but as I entered the room I found it empty and neat, not the upside down, inside out mess of Ms. Maple’s apartment. There should be no reason for it to be that way but then again there was little reason for hers to have been that way either.

I made myself comfortable in one of the visitor chairs and waited. It seemed logical he would be arriving soon as it was nearly noon and he was expecting Ms. Maple, was he not? Something tells me there is more than meets the eye to Primrose College though and I would be foolish to think Dean Steadward is not a part of it. The question remaining is whether I am a part of it of a pawn of it. I suspect the latter and would rather have been an ignorant pawn but we cannot choose who we are.

It was at the close of an hour of waiting when I was stood and ready to leave that someone else finally entered the office. Unfortunately, it was not the Dean but rather, Mr. Bard.

“What are you doing here?” He asked.

“Waiting to see our esteemed Dean.”

“I was under the impression he was calling me here for a private meeting.”

“He may well have been. I do not believe I was expected.”

“Then why are you here?”

“Did Miss Bowen ask you of the whereabouts of Ms. Maple earlier?”

“No, I have not seen Miss Bowen today.”

“Strange, she said she had asked everyone at Primrose Hall.”

“She did not ask me. Why is of importance?”

“Ms. Maple has gone missing and her apartments has been vandalized.”


“This very morning.”

“That is frightening. Does the Dean know?”

“I am here to inform him but he seems to be elsewhere.”

“The sheriff should be summoned.”

“Miss Bowen was seeing to that when I left her an hour ago.”

“All seems to be in order then.”

“Other than Ms. Maple being missing and I am beginning to wonder about the good Dean. He was supposed to be here at noon to meet with Ms. Maple.”

“She is not here, so it is understandable he did not wait around.”

“He does not know she is not here unless she is with him in which case matters are potentially more disturbing than they are now.”

“I certainly hope you are not insinuating the Dean is involved in anything untoward.”

“I rather hope he is not, my insinuation notwithstanding.”

“You are new here, Mr. Birchwood, it would do for you to take more caution with your steps and your words.”

“Perhaps. Will you wait here for the Dean?”

“I have better things to do if he is not present.”

“You can see for yourself he is not. I would ask you to wait for a short time at least in case he arrives. Someone should notify him about Ms. Maple’s disappearance and it stands to reason the sheriff should have arrived by now. My statement is undoubtedly needed if anything untoward has indeed occurred.”

“Very well, but I will not wait long. A half hour at the most and if he not here by then I am sure you can seek him out when you are done.”

“Good man. Thank you.”

Mr. Bard nodded politely and it was in fact by my observation the first inkling of politeness he exhibited in our brief exchange. I took my leave and left.

I arrived at Carrington Manor a few minutes later. I had expected to see people on the steps, some sign of the sheriff or perhaps even the gathering of a search party. There was nothing. I entered the manor and it was quiet. I am beginning to dislike quiet.

I found Alexander in his study with his wife.

“Charles, what brings you by at this hour?”

“I believe I can safely assume you have not seen Miss Bowen?”

“Edith, no of course not. She should be with you, should she not?” Mrs. Carrington said.

“Indeed. I sent her here to have you fetch the sheriff.”

“What for? Has something happened?” Alexander asked.

“Ms. Maple seems to be missing and her apartment has been raided. Now it seems Miss Bowen and possibly Dean Steadward are also missing.”

“What are you talking about?” Alexander asked.

“I think lengthy explanations might indeed be in order but I would prefer to tell the story only once. Would you be so kind as to fetch the local sheriff or take me to him?”

“Certainly. We can leave at once.”

It took an hour and a half to explain everything to the sheriff and I could tell he did not believe a word of it. We set out for Ms. Maple’s apartment which was the best proof I could offer of something being afoot.

The door was closed when we arrived. The sheriff knocked and called out but there was no answer as expected. He opened the door and we entered. The place was spotless. It looked nothing like it had in the morning when Edith and I had entered. The sheriff was more convinced than ever, I was pulling his leg. There was however one very convincing fact which could not be argued, Ms. Maple, Miss Bowen, and Dean Steadward were nowhere to be found.

When I arrived home for the evening, Caroline was only slightly less incredulous than the sheriff had been. Unfortunately, for her I was not in the mood for it. I promptly turned her over my knee and spanked belief and manners back into her with my hand. It was in a way a stress relief and her glowing, warm buttocks calmed my restless spirit. The rest of me was calmed by her tender touches and loving body afterward. I slept soundly through the night.

Today being Independence Day, there was no reason to rise early and so Caroline and I remained in bed until the children insisted we rise and feed them. It will be a fine day when they learn to feed themselves.

Once up, my thoughts returned to the missing. While breakfast was being made, I stepped out to the Carrington’s. Alexander looked like he had been expecting me, he was standing on the front steps when I approached.

“Good morning, Alexander.” I said.

“Morning, Charles.”

“Did Miss Bowen come back?”

“No, she has never stayed away for an entire night before.”

“I do not understand how Ms. Maple’s apartment was put back in order but I swear it was torn apart when I visited in the morning.”

“I believe you, Charles. I have been in Ms. Maple’s apartment many times and never has it been as neat as it was yesterday afternoon.”

“Why did you not mention it to the sheriff?”

“I am concerned about them, but I do not think it wise to become entangled in whatever is transpiring.”

“Wise or not, we are entangled. It is impossible not to be.”

“Take my advice, Charles, this is something you want no part of. You have a wife and two beautiful children to consider.”

“Are you threatening me?”

“No, just a few words of advice. I have been where you are and it is better to keep your head down and not make waves.”

“Indeed. Good day, Alexander.”

“Happy fourth of July, Charles.”

“The same to you and your family.”

At nightfall, Caroline and I took the children down to the harbor where they could see the fireworks celebration. It was quite spectacular, the rockets red flare over the sea always seems somehow the best way to appreciate our nation’s independence. The children enjoyed the show to no end.

It was toward the end when the sky was lit with fire and smoke, I saw them. All three of them were standing together with several other men. The crowd thick and as I tried to push my way through to reach them they disappeared into the darkness from which they came. Caroline seems to think I was imagining things or perhaps she just wants another peaceful night’s sleep.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Ashley, strange and indeed stranger.
Warm hugs,