Gods’ Hollow is not the only spot in Cross one should avoid.
Starting in 1851, people began to vanish. For the most part, they were not citizens of Cross, though they were generally known to someone in the town. Whether it was through business, or – as in the case of Mary Lathrop and her daughter Honor – they were relations.
Mary was the niece of Phineas Black, and she had brought her daughter to spend a short time at the home of her uncle. Mary’s aunt, Elsbeth Black, was lame courtesy of a rogue kick form the Black’s ill-tempered ass, and so Mary and her daughter settled in to assist with the daily running of the house.
Mary’s husband, Captain Thomas Lathrop, was a merchantman, and he plied the waters of the Atlantic running from Boston to Bristol and back again. She was alone far more than she liked.
Once Mary arrived, she fell into a daily rhythm, which saw her running the large Black farm under the guiding hand of her aunt, and her daughter Honor ran amok with the Black children.
On a bright day in September, Mary took Honor out for a short walk, escorted by the two oldest Black daughters, Patience and Winnifred.
The two daughters told a story I would become all too familiar with.
Mary decided on a path rarely taken as it led neither to town nor to my farm. This path meandered around in a wide circle and had a foul air about it. Few people traveled it, and when their cousin refused to listen to reason and refrain from using the path, Patience and Winnifred moved beyond their own fears and accompanied Mary and Honor.
The four of them managed to get about a mile or so from the house when the path dipped suddenly, turning sharply to the left of a down oak tree. Mary and Honor went ahead, laughing.
The laughter was cut off a moment later, leaving only silence in its wake.
Patience and Winnifred hastened to look, to see if perhaps some bear or mountain lion had pinned the mother and child down.
There was naught but a freshly churned spot of earth in the center of the path.
When I examined it later, I found no trace of Mary or Honor.
Little did I know that they would be but the first of many.