October 18, 1779…Three years later
“And with that, the last egg was snatched!” Sarah Northam smiled in glee as her hand curled around the object. She ignored the hen starting to peck at her hand as she stood and brushed herself off.
She headed back towards the house, entering at the exact moment her father appeared in the kitchen with an opened letter in hand.
“Ah, there you are, Sarah,” William Northam adjusted his spectacles and held the letter out in front of her face. “What do you think of this, hmm?”
She only had to read the first few lines to shake her head. “Oh, Aunt Jemima and her dinner parties,” she said. “Why can’t she go one year without a party?”
“Oh, who knows?” William said. “Do you want to go? You could see you-know-who again.”
Sarah sighed. “Papa, I don’t want to-”
“-marry Edward, I know,” William tilted his head. “But it wouldn’t hurt to give him a chance, would it?”
Sarah pretended she didn’t hear the question and started to prepare breakfast instead.
Then again, what would it hurt? Seeing old friends wasn’t always so bad. But when old friends happened to be Loyalists and her father was a staunch supporter of the colonies and their fight for independence, then getting reacquainted was a disaster waiting to happen.
“I should not have come,” Sarah stated in a low voice. She glanced around uneasily at the guests mingling, feeling out of place.
“Then why did you?” William asked.
“Because…well…that is a very good question and it’s one I shall have to answer later. Aunt Jemima is on her way to greet us. Again.”
And right behind the plump, older woman was a tall young man with somewhat handsome features, dressed as a Regular.
Sarah blinked. Was that Edward?
“I’m so glad you could make it, dear brother!” Aunt Jemima greeted them with hugs so tight they had to draw in a breath afterwards. “Isn’t this a marvelous party?”
“Yes, lovely as always, sister,” William replied. He took notice of the young soldier behind her. “I say, you’re Edward Rogers, aren’t you?”
“Indeed I am, sir,” Edward replied with an incline of the head. His attention turned to Sarah. “Hello, Sarah, It’s been quite a long time since we saw each other last, hasn’t it?”
“Ah, y-yes,” she stammered in the midst of her curtsy.
When dinner was announced, Sarah found herself sitting next to Edward, who talked of nothing but the war.
She watched her father’s face for any change, and when none showed, allowed herself to be occupied by a conversation the lady to her left had started.
Halfway through dinner, the seemingly-endless chatter was getting to her. Sarah managed to excuse herself and left for a breath of fresh air.
Outside, the light from the full moon was so bright she could clearly see the bridge in the distance.
“Care to share your thoughts?”
She started, letting out a small yelp. “Edward!”
He chuckled. “Sorry about that. I forgot how easy you startle.” He nodded towards the bridge. “Thinking of the Headless Horseman?”
“Hm.” Edward frowned and squinted his dark brown eyes. “I say, there’s a horse on that bridge.”
Sarah turned from him to the yard. “Where?”
“There.” He pointed at the bridge. “I wonder if it’s Isaac Hale’s horse.”
“He was a schoolteacher here. Disappeared three years ago, only four nights from tonight.”
Edward leaned down to whisper in her ear. “Some say he was taken by the Horseman, who rides the night seeking his-”
“Wanting a little privacy, eh?”
Both whirled around to see Sarah’s Uncle George leaning against the wall of the house, pipe in hand. “Don’t mind me. I’ll as be silent as the grave.”
“Uncle George, do you see that horse?” Sarah asked.
“Of course. That’s young Isaac’s horse.” Uncle George sighed and shook his gray head. “What a shame. You would have liked him, Sarah. He was like you in some ways.”
“Yes, it’s a real shame,” Edward said sarcastically.
Uncle George raised a bushy eyebrow at the remark. “As far as the Headless Horseman goes, he’s real. I’ve seen him myself.”
“Let’s not talk about the Horseman right now,” Edward said. A little too quickly, Sarah thought.
“What are you all doing out here in this cold night air?” Aunt Jemima’s voice matched her irritation. “The fun’s not out here, it’s in there!”
“Coming, dear,” Uncle George said, straightening from his spot. He beckoned Edward and Sarah to follow him.
Sarah was the last one to enter the doorway, and as she did so, she turned to glimpse the bridge and its’ occupant one last time.
The horse had left, leaving nothing but questions in her mind.
©H.S. Kylian 2019
(Critiques are welcome and appreciated!)