Life is a constant stream of surprises. Some are large, and others are merely hiccups in our day.
On June 11, 1904, Cross had a horrific surprise.
It began in the evening, just as dusk faded into night. Within moments, the first screams were heard from the apartments over the shops on Main Street. The curses of men and women rang out through the warm summer air, and lights were ablaze. Older children, some carrying two siblings or the infants and toddlers of neighbors, raced into the streets while their parents battled in the homes and apartments.
From the river and the sewers, giant, dark brown river rats spread out through the town. They were vicious and aggressive, seeking the flesh of only the youngest of Cross’ residents. Some of them even made it as far as my farm. My guns were quick, and I was soon on my way to Jacob Issacsen, a man who raised ratters for use in Boston. We brought his four dogs into town, and throughout the night, aided by dogs and fire, we beat back the rats, laying waste to hundreds of them.
When the morning arrived, we traced the rats back to a rotten hulk of a ship that had risen from the river bed. We towed the wreck out to sea and set it afire. None of the rats escaped.
Nor did the children of Cross. An entire generation bore the scars of that night on their faces, a brutal reminder of how even the mundane in Cross is dangerous.
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