By Sally Madison
“Oh, Mary, “I’m so glad to see you here. You would not believe the councilmen’s meeting today. I was inundated with requests: the constable wants to go home after he has seen that all the tavern-goers are safely home, the teacher wants new slates, the preacher wants to know when the church will be done, the Ladies Book Club wants to know when will the next shipment of books arrive….on and on the list goes….” Richard stops when he realizes he is hearing sobs. “Mary, what’s wrong? What is the matter, my dear?”
“He’s gone,” she replies softly between sobs.
“Who is gone? The Butler? The horse?” Richard inquired.
“No, Richard, Earl. Earl is gone. The clothes that we bought him were left on his bed, and the clothes that we found him in are gone. What did we do to offend him, Richard? I thought we were treating him well.”
Penny, the maid, while tending the fire could not help but feeling sorry for her mistress. “Begging your pardon madam, I wouldn’t interfere, except I see you are very upset and blaming yourself. Young Mr. Earl didn’t leave on account of you or anything you did. He left because of his brother, Lloyd. The other day, when you and he were riding across town, he saw his Da beating on his little brother. He left to go and protect his little brother.”
Mary jumped to her feet, imploring Penny, “Do you know where they live? Why didn’t he say something, they could both live here? Richard, do something!”
“Penny, can you tell us any more of where the boy lived, or his family. Earl told us his mother had passed and this ‘Da’ was caring for them, but he wouldn’t tell us where,” implored Richard. The drilling continued until poor Penny was sorry she had said anything.
Months later, with her basket of biscuits and apples, Mary approached a wretched woman in the streets of the poor end of the town, “Do you know of Earl and Lloyd, they would be about 9 and 6?”
“No mum, like I told you last week and the week a’fore, and every week, I don’t know what become of Earl and Lloyd. All I know is their Da, was in trouble with the law and then they disappeared,” replied the ragged woman. “You best be on your way, it’s getting dark and this part of town is no place for a lady like yourself.”
“Bless you, my dear, please take the biscuits and apples, and if you see my boys, please tell them that we want them home.” Mary walked back to her carriage, her head hung as low as her broken heart, the same as she had done a hundred times before.