Lord Beard had a splendid time on his photo safari. The pixies were quite on form! In fact, he said they attacked his lenses the very first day and he got some brilliant photos. Several look to me as if the pixies were smashed against the lenses (they are contorted rather painfully) but that's pixies for you. They are rather annoying but fun sport when chased with a camera.
It's quiet at the manor now. Not so while Lord Beard was gone. I was here, alone save for Benson and Cook. Cook, however, requested to go home to Brighton to visit her ailing sister. Of course, I said, please send her our love. Benson decided to go to market Thursday afternoon and I was left alone with Master Colby (the cat). He and I were blissfully reposed by the fire when a sudden and horrific shriek was heard from the back yard.
"Good lord!" said I, thinking it must be the Guthries again. I had hoped the good doctor was able to quiet things down over there. The Guthries have not been round for a week and I had half a mind to pay them a visit that afternoon, bearing a basket of tea and crumpets as a goodwill offering.
Master Colby looked up from his place in front of the fire. Human hysterics, his expression said. Wake me if it's anything interesting. Like a troupe of rats in the shed.
I wrapped my cape about me and wandered out back. I saw no one but an eerie calm had descended on the manor grounds. Not a breeze whispered, not a rain drop splattered.
Cautiously, I crept past the gardens and into the open field. The stone path that leads to the forest was slippery so I kept to the grass.
I jumped. There it was again. A shrill sound, like a young girl in peril. I raced down the hill, slipping and sliding, until I made it to the edge of the wood. I was shocked to see a girl, no older than seven, standing just inside the trees.
"Good heavens, child, are you all right?" I asked.
"No, ma'am." She said faintly. Her dress had been yellow at one time but was now mud stained and torn. "I am afraid." She was clutching a dark red cloak.
"What are you doing out here in the woods alone?"
She shivered and I heard a strange, low growl, like that of a hungry animal.
"Come with me," I offered her my hand. She hesitated briefly then ran to me. Her hands were like ice and she was shaking from head to toe. I wrapped my cloak around her and we walked back to the manor. As I ushered her inside, the sky began to weep, and I took one last glance towards the woods.
A pair of red, glowing eyes looked back at me. I blinked and they were gone.
...to be continued...