The Family Trap // Chapter 2: Rumors

Previous: Chapter 1: The Trouble Begins

When they arrived at the schoolhouse on their first day of school, Amy and Josiah were almost immediately swamped by the other children asking them what they thought of their new homes and the people who’d taken them in.

“What’s Mr. Wilder like?” One of the other boys from the train, whose name was Micah, asked. “My new mama said that Mrs. Marshall said that Mrs. Whitaker said that Reverend Whitaker said you ended up with him. So what’s he like?”

“Uh…” Josiah started. “Well, he’s-”

He was interrupted by a dark-haired girl around his sister’s age. “My papa says that Mr. Wilder killed a man once,” she said. Both Josiah’s and Amy’s eyes went wide, along with the other children from the train.

“It’s true,” the girl continued, swinging her thick brown braid over her shoulder.

“Aw, Caroline,” one of the other boys said. “Your pa’s been sayin’ that for years. No one believes him.”

“Mrs. Owens does!” Caroline insisted.

“Mrs. Owens?” Amy echoed.

Caroline nodded and opened her mouth, but before she had the chance to say anything, the teacher, Mrs. Russell, came out and called them inside.

“Oh, I’ll tell you later,” Caroline said. She turned and ran up the steps, leaving Amy and Josiah bewildered.

Later in the evening, while she knitted a scarf, Cordelia noticed Amy had been looking deep in thought since she’d gotten home.

She set down her project and asked, “Mind telling me what’s on your mind? Or is it something you don’t want me to know?”

“Mrs. Owens,” Amy started. “Is it true that Mr. Wilder killed a man once?”

Cordelia raised an eyebrow, though inside, she dreaded answering. “Now where’d you hear that?”

“Caroline said her papa said so,” Amy replied. “But she doesn’t know when or how he killed him.”

“Or if he actually did?” Cordelia asked. “Amy, you can’t believe everything people tell you. Besides, Caroline’s father is known for his tall tales.”

“Oh.” Amy looked a bit disappointed but dropped the subject. She watched Cordelia for a few minutes, then asked, “May I learn how to knit?”

“Of course. There’s some extra yarn in the chest in my room.”

Amy pushed herself off the floor and darted up the stairs to her guardian’s room. She wasn’t sure what else to call her, so she’d taken to referring her as that.

She knelt in front of the chest and hoisted the heavy wooden lid up. Bending over the edge, she began to sift through the items in search of the yarn.

Underneath a heavy quilt, she came across a penciled sketch of a young woman. Her hair fell in a thick braid over her left shoulder and her eyes were looking downward.

Amy tilted her head. There was nothing on the corners or the back to reveal the woman’s identity.

Still holding the drawing, she continued looking for the yarn. She found some at the bottom of the chest, picked out green, then closed the chest and left. Before leaving the room, however, she gingerly folded the drawing and tucked it into her boot. She’d have to ask about it later.

“What’s the matter with you?”

Josiah looked up from playing with Tucker, gave Thaddeus a somewhat wary look, and shrugged.

“I know you’re quiet, but something seems to be botherin’ you,” Thaddeus said. “What is it?”

“Well…” Josiah rubbed Tucker’s side and the dog rolled onto his back. “What are you drawing?”

Thaddeus looked down at the paper in his hand. “Nothing important,” he said. “Now what’s bothering you?”


“Going to need something more than an ‘um’, boy.”

Josiah shrugged again. “I guess it’s not as important as I thought,” he said, standing. Tucker bounced back up and rubbed against his hand. “Um…goodnight…sir.”


© H.S. Killian 2018

(Critiques are welcome and appreciated!)

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