Theodore Walsh purchased a large amount of property on the western side of Cross, far from prying eyes and curious neighbors. It was, he let people know, to have enough land on which to raise his prize beagles. For most of Cross, this was neither here nor there.
They simply didn’t care.
Theodore liked to be addressed as Esquire, Master Walsh, or Sir Theodore.
I called him ‘Ted’ because he irritated the hell out of me, and I wanted to return the compliment. There was, as the saying goes, something off about him.
After he spent six years among us, I found out why.
A young Irish boy of seven appeared on my porch one morning. He was thin and disheveled. The child spoke only Gaelic, and he informed me that one of the little people of the wood had taken pity on him and sent the child to me.
I learned that he had been purchased, along with a dozen other Irish children, for the entertainment of Theodore Walsh. Evidently, Mr. Walsh’s preferred hobby was the hunting of children. It was how he trained his hounds.
I asked the child how man others were still alive, and he told me none. He was the sole survivor, and not even the Sportsman knew he had escaped.
With the boy safe in one of my protected rooms and watched over by a familial ghost, I set off for Walsh’s property. I found the man at dinner, his dogs gathered around him, and his small and loyal staff enjoying a celebratory drink with their master.
I spoke with Theodore about the skills of his dogs and asked if I could have a private viewing of them, he readily agreed.
His dogs really were well trained. The beagles ran Walsh and his servants to ground in three days, and the dogs had eaten them by the end of four.
When they were finished, I set the beagles loose in Gods’ Hollow.
I couldn’t bring myself to kill them.
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