continued from episode 2:
“The night before I died I was sitting at home by the fire, nursing a baby red grouse who had been orphaned by the Guns the week before. My friends, Brighde the doe and her fawn, Beathag, were asleep on their blanket and Donnan, the collie, was taking a deep drink of water. It was peaceful until Donnan suddenly stopped his lapping and turned to the door with ears pricked up, growling. Then came three heavy thuds on the door. I was afeared but Donnan was there. I opened the door.”
“There stood the nasty gamekeeper and his henchmen, from the Viscount’s household. I had had run-ins with him before when I put out his heather-fires or freed foxes and other souls from his evil traps and snares. Donnan stood beside me, snarling at the keeper and the lads behind him who held shovels and sticks menacingly to intimidate me. The keeper spoke low, his voice sounded cracked from too much smoke. He told me that if I did not stay away from the grouse shoot on the morrow, and keep entirely away from the Viscount’s estate, it would not go well for me, or my friends, and with that he raised a stick as though it were a gun and aimed it at Donnan. Donnan leapt at him and bit his leg hard. The nasty man yelled and kicked my good boy off, shouting at me to “be warned!” as he limped away.”
“I was up before dawn on the morrow and found a strangled vixen outside my door, the poor wee lass was intended to teach me a lesson. I knew they wouldn’t stop killing whatever I did so, for the sake of their future victims, I still had to try to save those I could. Leaving Donnan at home to protect the others, I made my way to the Viscount’s estate and tried to scare as many grouse away as I could, before the “sport” began. I saw his guests arriving and said a prayer for the innocents who would cross their paths. I stayed out of sight and got ahead of them to the woods.”
“Such brave and noble men who would, five of them, gang up to slaughter a little bird.”
“I tried to stay out of sight whilst rushing to pick up the injured before their dogs got to them, but I’m sure it was inevitable that someone would see me.
“‘Miss Allaway, I thought my man had spoken to you about this. Ah well, I suppose if you want something done right you have to do it yourself – isn’t that what they say?’ The Viscount himself stood over me but I didn’t look up. I couldn’t take my eyes off the bird whose tail had been clipped by a shot which almost missed him. He was flapping and gasping and panicking. I reached out to him as the Viscount spoke again.
“‘Miss Allaway, I see you cannot be reasoned with.’ I heard a click and that was it. That was the end of me.”
“The following morning I saw one of the Viscount’s lackeys arrive and try to enter my home – I knew what he was after and tried to get in his way but he walked right through me. I felt helpless. Angry and helpless.”
“I should have known Donnan would not let him pass. Even the little grouse did her best to see him off. The lackey turned tail but I knew he’d be back and that meant my friends wouldn’t be safe. The Viscount wanted my Indenture.”
“In spite of being a drinker, a gambler and a generally neglectful parent, my father had at least made sure I wouldn’t be destitute before he lost the rest of his estate to Viscount Faulkner – or ‘that diabolical mountebank’ as he called him.”
“His son was worse. It was he who shot me and I knew that he would not be satisfied with the manor and most of this vast estate if he thought he could get it all. He owned the bankers and the solicitors and would not rest until he had in his possession every last blade of Allaway grass. I had to make sure he didn’t get his hands on my four acres.
“First of all I had to make sure my friends were safe.”
“After some practice I found that, if I concentrated, I could move things inside the cottage. Donnan lay down by the door, watching, waiting for my return. I draped a shawl across his back which startled him and he whined as he looked around for me, confused. The shawl slipped to the floor and I lifted it and draped it over him again, this time slowly dragging it across his back, stroking him with it. He rubbed his face against the shawl, breathing in its smell, my smell. Then he rolled around on it, wrapping himself in it and howling. Somehow he sensed me. He knew I was there.
“The others watched Donnan’s strange performance and gradually they too became aware of my presence.”
“I needed to let them know that it wasn’t safe for them here, that the Viscount’s men would be coming back. There was a cave at the foot of the mountain where they could hide until the danger passed but I didn’t know how I was going to explain that to them. I repeatedly tried taking the shawl so that I could use it to lead them there, but Donnan thought it was a game and kept pulling it back and rolling around, barking and wagging his tail. Eventually I got so frustrated that I screamed with vexation.
“My friends were suddenly still and alert, their ears pricked up. They had heard me! I looked at Donnan and Brighde and Beathag and the wee bird, and realised that they were all looking back at me. They could see me!
“There was a small sack of oats in the basket by the hearth. I pointed to it and told Donnan to ‘bring’. Then I moved to the doorway and he followed me, and the others followed him. We all made our way to the foot of the mountain and I told them to wait in the cave while I went back to the cottage to wait for Faulkner’s men.
“I didn’t have to wait long.”
“Three of them came, with shotguns. I watched them enter the cottage and then barred the door behind them.”
“The sound startled them; they turned to see who was there but saw no one. I knocked over the rocking chair. Again they were startled. Again they saw no one.”
“I lifted my other dress from its hook and danced it around the room as if someone were wearing it. They screamed like the cowards they were and rushed for the door.”
“As they frantically struggled to get the door open I wrote across it with black ash from the hearth: DON’T COME BACK
“I was confident that they would not.”
“He complained that he didn’t have nearly enough money for such an undertaking but I told him I knew exactly how much money he had, how he got it and who he got it from. That shut him up.”
And they all lived happily ever after.
Episodes 1 to 3 of The English Family Anderson are included in the bumper comic book
available from Amazon in the UK, Europe and the US
The English Family Anderson belongs to Violet’s Vegan Comics © 2013, 2014, 2015
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