Edward Muirbridge was as ornery and angry as they came and with good reason. In his seventy-nine years of life, he had buried two wives, three daughters, and one son. He had outlived everyone he had cared for, and so he cared for nothing anymore.
He had given up his home after the death of his last child, and he lived in a small lean-to near Silver pond. The stretch of woods around the pond sat squarely between my lands and Coffin Farm. I checked on him occasionally, and one night, as we smoked our pipes and listened to branches snapping from the cold, he told me he had heard something in the woods. Something, not quite right.
The next morning, I went out and found tracks of a sort with which I was unfamiliar. I followed them back to the border with Gods’ Hollow, and I decided that Edward would do well with a companion.
I convinced him to accept the raven as a housemate, and I informed him in no uncertain terms that the bird was not a pet. Indeed, this raven had informed me that he had a name. He referred to himself as ‘Bird,’ and so Bird was what I called him.
The raven settled in with Edward, and Edward, at my behest, made certain that his rifles were loaded for bear.
Several nights passed, and then, early one morning, the sound of gunfire brought me out of my house. Within a few minutes, Bird arrived, his beak wet with blood, and his feathers speckled with the same.
From the raven, I learned of an attack upon Edward’s small home, and how Bird and the man repulsed the creatures.
Grabbing a bit of leather tackle from one of the barns, I walked out to Edward and found the man in good spirits, despite a nasty cut across his scalp. For the first time in years, Edward Muirbridge smiled.
“It was a hell of a fight, Duncan,” he told me, and he proudly showed me the dead creature, which was of the same breed that had killed Patience Savage.
He took out a bottle of rum, and we each had a drink, and then I slipped the tackle around the creature and dragged the damned thing to the Hollow.
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