Lydia was sitting up in bed when he returned, an anxious look on her face. The only light in the room was a low, sputtering candle which gave an eerie glow to her eyes. Isaac was calm now but that eeriness gave him a start and he took several deep breaths before speaking.
“My part is done. Now go and get the girl.”
Lydia got up quickly, already dressed beneath the covers in a grey house dress, and strode quickly across to the cabin. Isaac heard Claudia let out a short scream as Lydia abruptly woke her up. In the cabin it was still very dark.
“Get up now, quickly girl. We need to get you out of this place.”
Claudia had screamed just the once but was now hyperventilating out of fear. Lydia was not someone she really trusted or had ever expected to awaken her in the middle of the night.
“I said get up girl. Stop crying and come with me.”
Claudia continued to sit in her bed, silent tears falling as she fought to regain control of her breathing. Lydia would not wait any longer, grabbing the young girl’s arm and hauling her out of the bed before throwing a blanket around her shoulders. With that, and another admonition to stop with the tears, she dragged her toward the cabin door. Claudia, who did stop crying as she attempted fiercely to resist, pulled backward and grabbed onto the table as they passed it. She also called out for Wyatt.
“He won’t answer you. He’s gone. Gone!”
That set Claudia to crying again and she lost her grip, banging her chin against a chair as Lydia hauled her up and out the door. By the time they were back in the main house her knees were also dirty and bruised from falling several times as she was dragged along behind the older woman. Isaac took over once they were in the kitchen.
“Sit down Claudia. It’s okay, it will be okay.”
Lydia leaned back against the wall, content to let Isaac provide whatever signs of kindness might need to be shown at this moment.
“Here, drink a little of this water, and let me wipe that blood off of your chin.”
Claudia was still sobbing and turned her head away from the offered glass. Isaac reached up and grabbed her chin, which elicited a yelp, but he maintained a tight grip, forcing her to look at him.
“Drink this water. It will make you feel better.”
She resisted a little bit but then opened her mouth and Isaac tipped the glass, holding it there until it was empty. She sputtered on the last of it, spitting a little bit out.
“Don’t worry, it will help you feel better.” Isaac knelt down next to the chair she was sitting in. He tried once again to wipe the blood off of the girl’s chin but she turned her head away. He sighed and continued. “Now listen Claudia. We had to come and get you because a terrible thing has happened. I’m sorry but your Uncle Wyatt is not with us anymore.”
Claudia was calmer now. She blinked and responded.
“Unc not here?”
“Not anymore. He’s passed on.”
“Where Unc go? Walk?”
“No, that’s not what I mean.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake Isaac, this girl is too stupid for your silly attempts to soften the news.” Lydia had come over and looked down harshly at Claudia. “He’s dead. Dead and gone forever.”
Claudia howled, a low tone that seemed too deep for her age, then she broke out into hysterical tears and curled up on the floor. Her sobbing continued on until the effects of the large shot of vodka that Isaac had added to the glass of water took over and she fell asleep. Isaac rose up slowly, a slightly distasteful look on his face.
“You get her into bed. I will go now and finish up over at the cabin.”
Lydia scoffed. “She can stay there on the floor.”
He hesitated, just long enough for Lydia to understand that he was contemplating picking Claudia up and putting her somewhere more comfortable. She gave him a scornful look, followed by a command to get over to the cabin, which he did without another look back.
They had planned this part out in detail and he set straight to work. Initially Lydia had thought they could just board the cabin up, figuring that would keep Claudia out and that was all that mattered. Isaac had managed to get her to understand that, although they could easily keep a young girl out this way, you never could tell when an inquisitive police officer might come looking for details on Wyatt. He did have a sister after all, one whom had been communicating with him. He won that argument. They would bury Wyatt, clean up the bloody floor, replace the bed and then Isaac would write to notify Harriet. By the time that old woman managed to get any kind of an official inquiry lodged it would be too late. They just had to hope that no one suggested digging up the body, but that seemed like a far-fetched possibility. Wyatt had been an old man after all, and they had just buried him like it seemed everyone else who ever lived on the property had done. That is what they planned to say anyway, and if it came up, well, they were not from the area. How were they supposed to know what the proper procedure was when someone died of natural causes? In all likelihood it would all be just fine in the end.
It was a long and difficult trip back to the cemetery in the dark, the way lit only by the lantern he carried, and dragging his father’s body behind him in a sack. The ground also proved harder than expected and Isaac was completely worn out by the time the burial was complete. He was supposed to do the rest of the clean-up also but he was just too tired. Besides, he really did not want Lydia get away with not helping in some way with the cover-up. He returned to the house and dropped heavily into his favorite chair.
“All done then?” Lydia inquired from the kitchen.
“Does she still sleep?”
“Now yes. She was up a few times but I told her to go back to sleep. I asked you though, if you were done?”
“I’m done, you’re not. You go over and finish. I am too tired for more of this today.”
Lydia came out of the kitchen, again with a scornful look, but this time it had no effect on Isaac. Rolling her eyes, and reminding him to keep a close eye on Claudia, she stormed out of the house.
…to be continued