I woke this morning with a start.
My leg wasn’t too good, so all I could do was hobble my way to the underground kitchen to witness my sister cursing and muttering as she checked all the cupboards.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
Midnight stood rigidly at the sound of my voice, looked at me with narrowed eyes and a thin scowl, but didn’t say anything.
Ah, the love between brother and sister.
“Look, I know you’re plenty upset with me–”
“Shut up, Asa,” she said.
“Oh, for God’s sake, just tell me what’s the matter!”
She turned to me, a look of disdain, and said, “Kenny’s disappeared again.”
“And you’re looking in cupboards?” I said, scoffing, “Were you two playing hide-and-go-seek? You were always a sore loser about that game.”
“No, Asa – she’s missing disappeared. Gone. No games. No funnies,” Midnight barked, “I’ve looked everywhere, and I can’t find her!”
I looked at her with more seriousness, “Again?”
“No, you half-wit,” she said, sarcastically, “it’s the first time she’s ever gone missing.”
“Okay, look there’s no need to be rude about it–”
Midnight pushed passed me and climbed up to the ground floor, opened the front door and walked out. Just as I had huffed and puffed my way there, I saw her squatting in the grass and putting her hands to the ground, feeling the dirt and examining the marks.
“Signs of struggling…” she muttered, “More than… five people were here. The footprints are too big to be Kenny’s… Someone small got dragged away…” she pointed across the flattened grass, and crept along the path, “Fresh horse manure…” then she saw a upturned bucket and wet ground, “Kenny must have gone to fetch water,” she picked something out of the grass, and held it between forefinger and thumb, “Burlap or jute.”
Midnight looked up across the path to the wide-open gates, “Kenny’s been abducted.”
I was speechless while she performed her examination. She stood up and walked back into the house and down to the underground kitchen. There, propped up by the wall, was the bags she had packed. She took them and climbed back up, and put on her coat.
“It’s not the Chess Pieces, is it?” I asked.
She shook her head, “The Chess Pieces are never this messy. I suspect slavers, maybe hired by them.”
“What are you going to do?” perhaps I had sounded a tad bit horrified, “You aren’t absconding to Normandy, are you?”
She gave me a murderous look, “Is that how l-o-w your opinion of me is!”
I back up a little, “Then…” I said, hesitantly, “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going after them. I’m getting Kenny back,” she disappeared from view to go, presumably, to the stables and came back with a grey horse.
She mounted the horse and I said, “I don’t understand. When Queenie and Kenny left on that… that fool’s errand, you let them. You didn’t interfere. Why do you feel you have to now?”
“Because that was a choice, Asa. It was an option. They could plan and adapt,” she replied, “This is not an option. It’s not a choice. You can’t plan and adapt around this – least of all little Kenny,” she tugged the horse’s reins, “I don’t know when I’ll be back. Tell the girls not to panic and give them my best. Tell Des, Ginny and Kitty that I love them, and I’ll be getting them everything they wanted from me.”
“Midnight!” I called just as she turned her horse around.
“I’m sorry, about… you know.”
She paused and then said, “You can’t stay mad at family,” and sped off.
As she left, a folded piece of paper fell out of her pocket. She shut the gate on her way out, and I watched her go, and hobbled towards the paper, picked it up and read it…