When last we met, dear friends, I hinted that things were not well here in Willow-on-Sea. It's not that there's anything particularly terrible going on. Just mysterious. Very mysterious. I had noticed the odd stares of those in Brambry, when Sir Jon and I stayed a few days while the Manor was being cleaned as the prior owners had left in quite a hurry it seemed. Of course the whole incident with Lord and Lady Guthrie (who finally returned and seem to be fine and act as if their disappearance never occurred. I have yet to confront the good doctor or the reverend, but I have it on good authority they will both be at the Hobbit Hole Inn this evening. I think Lord Beard and I should make plans to eat dinner there.
Nothing, however, could have confirmed my suspicions more than Alice. I believe I mentioned her in a previous post. I know you remember the strange circumstance of the girl at the edge of the forest? That was Alice. A delightful girl, full of imagination and spirit. But she suffers from terrible nightmares and I have yet to get a complete story from her. She said she was on her way home from her grandmother's house when she was pursued by an unseen assailant. I feel she knows more than she is letting on but I don't want to pry. At least not now. When I asked her where her home is and if I could see her safely there, she violently shook her head and said she never wanted to go back. She was happy she got lost and is even happy the "thing", as she calls it, chased her to the border of our yard. Lord Beard is keen on her staying, as am I, so until we can discuss this further and solidify some details, she'll be occupying one of our upstairs bedrooms.
I'm afraid, however, the clothes she arrived in have had to be discarded. Her white dress, once very lovely, was snagged and filthy. Her red cloak was torn and splattered with mud. She heartily agreed they should be thrown out and gave no argument when Benson tossed them into the bin.
As I sit here writing this by light of a sputtering candle, my eyes cannot help but continue to glance at the edge of the forest. Shadows dart in and out amongst the trees and occasionally I see lights, like those that dress a Christmas tree, flicker in the leaves. I've heard there are fairies in the woods. I'm eager to see them. Perhaps, when the rain lets up a bit, I'll have a look. As long as the shadows don't object.