Recollections, 1960: Hannah White

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Hannah White’s husband, Arnold, vanished in 1870 while walking along North Road. She had been watching him from the kitchen window, making bread and waiting for him to arrive home and to hear of news from the center of town.

I remember rushing with others to the road, and to the Hollow, searching it before the sunset. But it was of no use.

Hannah had not seen who or what had taken Arnold, so there was little else any of us could do. And there was nothing else Hannah could do than to find work in town. She was home before the sunset each day, and she would stand in the kitchen and gaze out the window, making bread and searching for some sign of Arnold.

Decades passed this way, and when I first started breeding the ravens, I sent one along to Hannah. The bird’s name was Lodur, and he was pleased to be with her.

Weekly the raven would report to me, keeping me abreast of Hannah’s health and any signs that the creatures hunting the aged might be seeking her as prey. There was never any hint as such, and so the raven’s reports were generally short and to the point. At the end of 1907, and into the new year, Lodur spoke of how he had begun to find her in the middle of the night, peering out into the darkness.

On February 15, 1908, I was awakened by Lodur banging on my bedroom door. When I answered him, the bird was frantic. He could not find Hannah.

The rookery emptied as I raced for her house, and when I reached it, I came to a halt, and the ravens took up positions in the trees around me.

The one-eyed raven stood in the road and peered at me.

“Where are you going, Duncan Blood?” he inquired.

“To find Hannah White.”

The one-eyed raven shook his head. “She is not here. Nor anywhere else, you might find her. She has gone into the Hollow at last, and she will not return.”

With this pronouncement, the other ravens took flight, and I had no choice but to do the same. In silence, Lodur and I returned to our home, the bitter taste of loss in our mouths.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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