And Then There Were Four

October 23, 1896
Edith Bowen

It was not that I expected William Howe to hang for his crimes, but I did not expect he would walk free only a week later. Much as I am loathe to admit it, Sarah Waters was right about him and by extension she must also be right about Mr. Parker. It is disillusioning to think I once thought he might hold answers about my past and my parents. Clarity reveals his only gift would be lies that served his purpose more than mine. As to what that purpose might be, I do not yet know.

It was at dinner time when Mr. Howe paid his visit to us. Miss Sumter had only just returned from her stint in the city with her brother and the manor was beginning to feel as it always has, safe. I think Sarah saw him first. She stood up and crossed the floor to stand between him and everyone else.

“I would say I am surprised, but I am not. Your bosses corruption knows no bounds.” Sarah said.

“You could just say your happy to see me.” Mr. Howe replied.

“Lies won’t keep you safe from me.”

“You’re not a threat to me. You never have been.”

“I could say the same of you. Now get to the point and leave or you can just leave.”

Mr. Howe chuckled. It was almost like he was taunting her, trying to provoke her in some way.

“You always had a way with words, Miss Waters. I’ll miss that.” Mr. Howe said.

“Be still my heart, could this truly be our last goodbye?” Sarah mocked.

“You’ve gone and made some very powerful men very angry.”

“Mr. Parker is only one man, no matter how large his head has become.”

“True but he’s not really anyone you are worried about either, is he?”

“Who should I be worried about then?”

“Even if I knew their names I wouldn’t be dumb enough to say them. I just came here to warn you.”

Sarah scoffed at him.

“Warn me? I didn’t know you cared.”

“They won’t be coming to break your spirit, they’ll be coming to kill you. If you want to live, you’ll pack your bags tonight and get on the first train out of here.”

“You knew my father Mr. Howe. Do you think he would run?”

“I thought you might say that.” Mr. Howe said.

He drew his gun and pointed it right at Sarah. She did not even flinch. Elizabeth Bassett and Penelope Sumter, of all people, came to stand at Sarah’s back. I walked forward as well hanging just behind them. There was a sense of strength I have never felt before as the four of stood so close together facing this man and his gun. He felt it as well, it was written on his face.

“Sarah, I’m asking you nicely this one time. Come with me. I can protect you, but I can’t do it here.” Mr. Howe said.

“She’s staying here.” Penelope said.

“Take your own advice and head out of town.” Elizabeth said.

“We protect each other here, Mr. Howe. We don’t need you or your kind.” I said.

He looked at each of us in turn. The surprised look on his face said it all.

“I think it’s time you were leaving, Mr. Howe.” Sarah said.

“That it is.” Mr. Howe holstered his gun, “Your father knew these men. You might want to prepare yourself to use what he knew because nothing short of a miracle is going to keep you alive.”

With that cryptic message he turned on heal and marched out of the manor. Sarah turned to face us and for the first time since I have known her, she did not look angry.

“You didn’t have to do that.” Sarah said.

“You’re right, we didn’t.” Penelope said.

“Haven’t you ever had a friend?” Elizabeth asked.

“A Primrose Girl never stands alone.” I said.

Sarah smiled with the glistening of a tear in her eye.

“Thank you.” She whispered.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Ashley, it's about time!!!
Warm hugs,