I found the boy running hellbent for leather down my drive, and when I learned why he was running, I sent him to sit on my porch.
He was little more than ten, perhaps eleven. The child was slight and spoke Gaelic and no English. He had smuggled himself to Boston from the Fair Isle, and he had ended up in the hands of a kind stranger.
The stranger’s kindness, the boy learned, was false.
The man had fed the child, given him shelter, and through a basic pantomime, learned that the boy was in America alone. It was then that the stranger’s attitude shifted.
He had dragged the child to an automobile, then driven him out to the border of Cross and Pepperell. Once they were there, the man had thrown the child out of the vehicle and removed a rifle. As he loaded a round into the breach, he told the boy to run, and so the child had.
The stranger had fired several shots, but none of them had struck the boy, though he had heard them whistling past him. I had heard the shots but thought nothing of them.
As I spoke with the boy, one of the ravens from the rookery took flight and returned a short time later, telling me of the stranger’s approach. The man was armed, as the boy had said, and whistling cheerfully.
I bade the raven watch over the child, and then, with my Colts loaded, I took a stroll out to Blood Road.
I found the man a short time later. He made no attempt to hide his weapon, and he in fact hailed me when he caught sight of me. In a cheerful tone, the man asked if I had seen a little mongrel pup running around. He feared it was rabid, and he regretted the need to put it down.
I could see the lie in his eyes, hear the sickness in his voice.
I smiled, shook my head, and asked him if he knew the time.
He took his pocket-watch out, and when he went to look at the time, I struck him.
In a matter of moments, I had his rifle and cast it aside, and I beat the man to death in the middle of the road.
No one hunts children in Cross.
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