INTO THE FOREST - 1
Angus was pacing around the kitchen, feeling the surge of anxiety. It had been hours since Edmond left him in the market, sneaking out of his stall while he was busy attending his customer.
At first he thought Edmond was playing with his neighbour children at the hall nearby the market. As he went there to check, he could not find Edmond. He asked the children that were playing there, none of them had seen Edmond since morning.
He immediately closed his stall and went home to see if Edmond had gone home. He did not find him at home either. Jill and Neil had stayed home that day as Neil was feeling a little bit unwell. They were sure to notice Edmond if he had come home early. But none of them knew where Edmond was.
“Sir Angus, shall we report this to the Mayor. He could help us to find where Edmond is.” Jill suggested. Just like Angus, she too was anxious, worried that something might had happened to the boy. She knew how disobedient the boy could be, always trying to do something he was not meant to do. But as far as she knew, the boy would always come home, seeking comfort at his own shelter.
Angus sighed. He sat down, slouching on the chair in the kitchen. “You know how the Mayor is like. He won’t do anything unless twenty four hours has passed and Edmond has not come back.” He shook his head in frustration. His hands was lifted up to support his head that started to spin from stressing too much over the matter. “I better get going now, Ms. Jill. Keep an eye of Neil for me, I don’t want to look for two boys missing.”
“Where would you possibly look for him?” Jill asked.
“I will have to knock on one door after another. How else am I gonna find him, Ms. Jill?” Angus replied. His desperate eyes narrowed at Jill’s questions.
Then a thought came to Jill’s mind. She gasped. Her hand covered her mouth as her eyes widened. She looked at Angus who happened to stare at her, raising his brow in question. “What is it, Ms. Jill?”
“Forest, Sir.” She whispered. “He might go to the forest to meet the girl.”
Angus’s posture turned rigid. His eyes were hardened. His jaws clenched. “I will certainly have to go to the Mayor about this!” He spoke through his closed teeth. Angus stormed off of the house, grabbing the umbrella that hung on the wall before the front door.
It was pass three in the afternoon, the rain had stopped. People of the Easton were anxiously enjoying that short moment without the rain pouring, carrying the umbrellas or the raincoats in their hands, in case the cloudy sky decided to pour the rain down again.
The Mayor house was fifteen minutes walking distance from Angus’s house. He was half running toward the Mayor’s house, ignoring couple of greetings people said to him. He was in no mood to civilise with people right now until he could find Edmond.
Meanwhile, Gilbert was enjoying a cigarette in the patio at the back of his house. A cup of tea was poured by the maid into his cup. He murmured thank you to her as he enjoyed smoking his cigarette.
“Have you seen Will?” He asked the maid, who was about to leave.
“Yes, Sir.” She responded, looking down. “Young Master went to his friend’s house, Thomas.”
“Again?” Gilbert shook his head. This was why he hired a governess for his son. He began to notice how he had spent his time playing with his friends, especially Thomas, more often than before. He barely saw him in the house unless during breakfast and dinner. That was if Gilbert himself was not working at his office.
The maid nodded her head, unsure what she had to say to his master. She also noticed that the boy had been constantly going to his friend’s house for playing. She was aware that William had been taking some foods from the kitchen as well when he went out. Something that was very unusual. Did his friends have not enough food at his home?
Gilbert blew the smoke out of his mouth, waving his hand off to the maid, dismissing her. The maid bowed her head at him and left the patio. When she was a bout to enter the kitchen, she noticed the young boy had finally arrived at home, entering the house for the door at the side of the house drenched in the rain. The maid bowed at him. She was about to open her mouth to greet him but William shushed her.
“Where’s papa?” He whispered to her.
The maid pointed her finger to towards the door that led to the patio, where his father was.
William nodded. “Let me use the servant’s bathroom. Get me my clothes, please.” He said, still whispering to her. The maid nodded at him. Without saying anything, she went upstairs to his bedroom and got his clean clothes.
On her way back to the servant’s bathroom, the maid met the lady of the house who just stepped out of her room, walking towards the stairs but halting her step as the maid came into her view, carrying a bundle of clothes that looked like William’s clothes.
Sybil knew very well of William’s clothes as she was the only one who dressed her own son, buying his clothes that suited her taste. She frowned at the maid when she saw the clothes on her hands.
“What are the clothes for? Did William tell you to take it for washing?” She walked to her, snatching the clothes from the maid’s hands and inspected the clothes who looked undeniably clean. Her confused eyes looked at the maid who was now looking down at the floor.
“Young Master is cleaning himself at the servant’s bathroom. He asked me to get him clean clothes.” The maid explained.
Sybil was about to say something to the maid but the sound of the bell ringing at the front door distracting her. She told the maid to get to the door and see who was coming as she herself went down to the servants bathroom, giving the clothes to William.
When Angus arrived at the front door of the Mayor’s house, he knocked on the door hard twice. He was about to knock on the door again but the maid beat him into it. He lowered his hand as the maid bowing to him, greeting him.
“Is the Mayor home?” He said. His voice sounded urgent.
The maid nodded her head and asked him to come in. She guided him into the parlour.
“Mr. Graham will be with you shortly. Please have a sit.” Said the maid. She quickly went to the patio at the back of the house, informing the Mayor about the guest.
Gilbert, who just finished his cigarette and was about to sip his tea, looked up at the maid who came back, informing about Angus’s arrival.
He put down his cup and got up from the chair. What did the vegetables and fruits’ seller want from him?
“Angus O’connor,” He greeted his guest. “Has my accountant forgotten to pay my bill to you?”
Angus got up from his seat and looked at the Mayor with a serious expression, ignoring Gilbert’s teasing remark. He shook Gilbert’s hands firmly. “I apologise for my sudden visit. But Sir, my son, Edmond, has gone missing.”
Gilbert’s eyes narrowed. “Since when?”
“Since morning.” Angus shook his head. “He was with me in the market as usual but I was too busy with my customer. I thought he went playing with the other children at the hall or went to his friend’s house but he was nowhere to be found.”
“That sounds very serious, Angus.” Gilbert commented nonchalantly.
“It is very serious.” Angus spoke, emphasising Gilbert’s casual remark. “It’s not like him to not come home. It’s getting dark.”
“I can understand that you’re very concerned about him. Edmond is the youngest one, isn’t he?”
Angus nodded at him. “Perhaps, Sir, William might know Angus’s whereabout. They were playing together last week.”
“Ah, William.” Gilbert exclaimed. “My son is not home yet, I believe.”
“Where did he go?” Asked Angus, he looked at the Mayor suspiciously.
“He went to Thomas’s house.” Gilbert replied, still unaware that his son was already home, cleaning himself at the servant’s bathroom.
A knock was heard from the outside of the servant’s bathroom. William, who had just finished cleaning himself went to open the door slightly. Without fully opening the door, William stretched his hand out of the door to get his clean clothes from the maid. He closed the door again after the clothes were handed to him.
When William had his clothes on, he stepped out of the bathroom to find his mother standing right in front of the door, glaring at him.
“Mother!” William exclaimed, shocked to find his mother there.
“Where have you been, Will?”