She came to Cross looking for death.
I had known Bethany Liebman’s father in the War of the Rebellion. We had served together, and he had – on several occasions – assisted me in some rather dangerous missions. I had last heard from the family in the fall of 1908 when they notified me of his passing.
This morning, I received notice from the ravens that a woman was walking to the house. When she reached the house and introduced herself, I was surprised. She had been little more than a year old, scrambling across her father’s lap.
I invited her inside, and as we sat down to a cup of coffee, I asked her why she had come to visit. She and her family were of good German stock from Pennsylvania.
As she set her coffee down upon the table, I saw her hands trembling.
“My father told me,” she began hesitantly, but her voice gained strength with every word, “should I ever need help, that I should come to you.”
“Anything I can do to help, I will,” I told her.
“Will you walk outside with me?” she asked.
I nodded, and as I stood up, she inquired, “Do you always carry a knife?”
I chuckled. “Ever since I was a small boy. You never know when you need it.”
She smiled and allowed me to help her to her feet.
We walked outside and stood in the side yard. The ravens were in the trees, silently watching.
“The birds seem to observe us,” she stated.
“They are,” I informed her. “I’ve raised them all. They watch, and they listen.”
She looked at me as though I had answered an unspoken question.
“I’m sick,” she said, looking back up at the birds. “Sick and dying. The doctors do not know what the malady is. I am in pain constantly, and some have suggested I take a large amount of morphine help with it.”
“You don’t want to.”
“I do not.” She turned her back to me. “I am a coward. I could not kill myself. Not even to end this suffering. My father is not alive to help.”
She hardly made a sound as my knife slipped in and stilled her heart, and I wept as surely as her father would have.
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