November 25, 1850
The wind outside was howling and the trees in the back yard were scrapping against the window in the kitchen. The rain was coming down so hard, that it sounded like little pebbles hitting the window. Elizabeth was sitting in front of the fire playing with her doll my mother had made for her out of some old clothes, while I was listening to the storm raging outside, worried beyond care for the safety of my parents. The house was in its usual Thanksgiving decorations, littered with the browns and reds of Fall.
Mother and Father went into town to nurse couple of sick children. My parents were both well versed in medicine, my mother acting as a nurse and helping him where she could while my father was the town’s doctor. There had been a horrible fever going around, preying on the very old and young. My parents were worried that this would spread like wild fire so they worked extra hard to heal the sick.
Glancing at the old grandfather clock as it ticked loudly in the silence of our home, they should have been home by now, they've been gone for nearly four hours now and the town was only an hour's ride.
"When's mama and papa coming back? I'm hungry."
"Mama and papa went into town to heal the sick, they shan't be too long now. Come on Elizabeth, I'll prepare you something to eat."
Elizabeth was only five years old, with her round pink cheeks and curly blond hair and her bright blue eyes, she was the cutest girl in all county. Everybody loved her, and she seemed to make everybody just fall in love with her. With her inquisitive nature and loving smile it was kind of hard not to.
We reached the kitchen and Elizabeth took her usual seat by the counter while I started making a sandwich, made with leftover meat cuts and some goat’s cheese.
"Here ya go ya little scallywag."
Elizabeth giggled as I imitated a sailor's voice, placing the plate with the sandwiches in front of her. She was famished, sparing not another second to appreciate the taste. I placed a glass of milk next to her and walked to the window. It was a mighty force of a storm blowing outside, branches were being pushed around like they were nothing' but lint or a feather. It was nearly time for Elizabeth to go to bed when she was done eating; I bathed her and tucked her in, placing her doll, which she named Penny, under the covers with her. After making sure Elizabeth was asleep I walked back to my bedroom and collapsed onto my bed.
My parents weren't home yet and the storm was getting worse. Maybe they were staying at the town’s inn, because it was too difficult to travel back home. They had often done so in the past, but never when a frightful storm was bellowing. Perhaps the children they tried to aid was worse than they had initially expected.
I must have drifted off because I was awoken by the frantic cry of a horse. Jumping out of bed, I looked around as if the steed was trapped within the confines of my room, but there was none. That was bizarre, we do not have any horses on the estate and I'm sure I heard a horse unless mama and papa had returned and that was Betsy, but it sounded as if it was right within the threshold of my house; shrugging it off as a dream.
I glanced down at my pocket watch that my father had given me for Christmas and saw that it was past three in the morning, I then walked over to the window hoping to see my parents cart in the drive way, perhaps my parents arrived home while I was asleep and I peered outside.
Nothing. The stable door was still open signaling that my parent had still not returned from their trip into town. The wind was worse than before; I could see huge branches flying around like tumble weeds, some of the trees were up rooted and laid precariously on their side.
My heart nearly stopped when I saw Elizabeth's favorite rag doll, Penny lying stuck in one of the fallen tree branches, soaked from the rain. What is that doing there; it was in the bed with Elizabeth when I last left her room.
Running to my sister’s room and pushing the door open, to reveal the empty bed. The lightning flashed across the sky, illuminating the empty bed with its crumpled up sheets and proving the dreaded thought that had entered my mind.
"ELLIE! ELIZABETH, WHERE ARE YOU." I shouted out into the darkened house, searching frantically for the little girl.
"Please God; let her not have ventured into that storm." I mumbled to myself, knowing full well that if her beloved rag doll was outside, you could bet your bottom dollar Ellie would be too. She never went anywhere without that darn doll.
Rushing outside towards the front yard where I had last seen her doll and looking around frantically. My clothes were getting soaked and the strong wind was blowing raindrops into my face at a stinging force, practically blinding me to the ferocious storm, making me stumble over the numerous fallen debris. The ground was soaked with soupy mud and my bare feet sunk in till my ankles, coating the bottom of my pants, causing extra weight to accumulate and it was slowing me down.
"Elizabeth! Elizabeth, where are you?"
I ran towards the tree where I could still see the button eyed doll, with her bright red dress, stuck among the branches. When I got there, I prayed the tree hadn't fallen on top of her and I started looking around the tree for my sister, when I couldn't find any trace of her under the tree I was a bit relieved but still panicked. I looked around, calling her name.
"ELIZABETH, ANSWER ME. WHERE ARE YOU?"
I shouted at the top of my lungs into the howling darkness, the thunder was so loud I could barely hear myself calling Elizabeth's name. A flash of lightning illuminated the once peaceful stream that flowed near our house, to be a now raging river and in the center was a blond little head.
"NO, ELIZABETH HANG ON I'M COMING!"
My heart was beating so fast, it felt like it was going to explode out of my chest, my lungs and throat were so raw from trying to breath against the stinging rain and practically screaming for Elizabeth that I kept having hacking coughs, the sucking of the mud made my steps heavier and slower, delaying the time even more and tripping me from the effort of reaching my destination.
Standing at the edge, barely able to see into the darkness screaming at the top of my lungs,
Another flash of lightning and I just caught the top of my little sister's head before it disappeared into the depths of the river.
Without thinking I jumped into the river and was immediately swept away with the freezing current. I was pulled under, the stream had turned into a monster overnight, trying to swallow both my little sister and I whole. I kicked using all my strength in my arms to push me towards the surface.
I saw Elizabeth surface again and I kicked with all my might, putting every ounce of strength I had left in my body to get to my little sister. I reached out and grabbed Elizabeth's hand, pulling her towards me; pushing her head above the water and swam backwards towards the river's bank.
Shoving the unconscious body of my five your old sister onto the bank and out of danger, I tried to raise myself out of the water, feeling my clothes weighing me down, it was no use, my body was too tired; too strained. I felt my sister move a tiny bit and she started coughing up water, I tried once again to raise myself out of the water but before I could hoist myself out I got knocked away by a floating branch. Feeling my body go numb; sinking to the bottom and being carried away by the raging flow of water.
I came to a stop at the bottom of the river, pinned between the river's bed and the massive branch by my waist, I tried pushing the branch off me but I wasn't strong enough, I started flailing about uselessly, straining to get to the surface, fighting for air and failing. I felt the last of my air leave my lungs and I suddenly realized two things in that moment, first was that I had no more strength left in me to fight my way to the surface, or to push the weight of the branch off me and the second was that I was going to die at the bottom of this river. I opened my eyes for the last time, looking up to the surface, where there was an abundance of the precious life giving air, just out of my reach; praying for some miracle to save me, but the last thing I saw was the smiling face of my sisters button eyed rag doll before my heart stuttered and then my vision went black.