Scattered Leaves On A Hill

October 13, 1896
Anna Cushing

“It was right here.” I said.

I was back on the top of the hill only this time it was Mr. Carrington and the sheriff with me instead of Sarah. The view was not as appealing as it had been. There was blood on the ground where we had last been together. Breath caught in my throat as we looked around for her.

I had rode back to Carrington Manor just as Sarah had asked. I told them she needed help, but no one listened. Finally I had found Mr. Carrington by the stables and when I tried to tell him Sarah was in trouble he called me hysterical. I slapped him across the face and on any other day it would have been the mistake of my life. Not this day, this day I had right on my side.

Jasper arrived just as Mr. Carrington was about to respond. His saddle was empty and he had thrown a shoe. One look in his eyes was it all took to know that if there had been anything else he could have done, he would not be before us. Mr. Carrington looked between Jasper and myself and only then asked me to explain. If only I had the presence Sarah has, they would have listened before it was too late.

Instead the evening hours had came and the trail was growing cold. The setting sun had brought a heavy wind with it and the fallen leaves scattered across the ground with every gale. There would not be enough light to search for very long.

“Sarah!” The sheriff called into the wind.

I stayed at the top of the hill as Mr. Carrington and the Sheriff began a descent on the backside of the hill. They spread out from me in a “V” trying to cover as much ground as quickly as they could.

“I should never have left her.” I said to myself and the hill I stood upon.

It may surprise you, I know it surprised me, but I meant those words. It is true that Sarah Waters and I are cut from different cloths, shaped from different molds, but despite it all, I think of her as a friend. I freely admit I did not begin with her as such, in fact my initial intentions were to teach her the proper place of a pauper such as herself, but that was before I realized she was much more than she appeared. In another time and place she might well have been royalty.

“Over here!” The sheriff shouted.

Mr. Carrington changed directions and headed for him. I started down the hill toward him, careful of my footing. As I approached I could see he was cradling a body in his arms. I fought tears back and forced myself to keep moving. Standing just above him, I blinked my blurry eyes clear. It was a boy in his arms, not Sarah.

The boy coughed and then howled in pain. The Sheriff held him still but it was a struggle and as I looked, I could see why. The boys right leg was clearly broken and his left arm looked to be in not much better shape. Mr. Carrington came up beside me.

“We’ll need help to get him down from here.” The Sheriff said.

“I’ll go.” I volunteered.

“No, it’s getting dark. Best if you stay here and try to keep him calm.” Mr. Carrington said.

The Sheriff nodded at him. I thought about arguing but decided this was neither the time nor the place for it. I knelt down beside the sheriff and brushed a strand of stray blonde hair from the boys forehead. He whimpered.

“Shhh… You’ll be okay.” I said.

The sheriff moved away for a private word with Mr. Carrington. The wind was blowing hard enough I could not make out their words. The meaning was clear enough though, no sign of Sarah and not enough light left to search by. The boy would take priority for the night and Sarah would have to fend for herself.

Mr. Carrington made his way off back toward Providence. The sheriff stood behind me and laid a hand on my shoulder. It was not much for comfort but there was strength and it would have do until there was something better.

“We’ll continue the search for Miss Waters at first light.” He said.

I nodded my understanding but kept my attention focused on the boy. He kept trying to move and I had to hold him still. The more I touched him the more he struggled. At last I lost patience and slapped him.

“Hold still!” I shouted at him.

“Stay away from me!” He shouted back.

The sheriff joined me on the ground and helped hold the boy still while he continued struggle. The boy looked at me with pure hatred it was disquieting to see and frightening to feel. The sheriff saw it as well.

“Did you encounter a woman like her today?” He asked the boy.

“She’s the devil.” The boy replied.

And then the sky began to rain.

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