The hour was 11:00 p.m. After months of believing that he was being kept under close watch by authorities, Mr. Sillow figured that they would quit spying on him by now. But as an extra measure of precaution, he methodically chose to venture out beneath an unlit sky. With his wife and children fast asleep, he made his way over to the carriage house, tacked up his favorite horse, and outfitted his buggy with lanterns. Concerned about the sun rising before he made it back home, he instructed the horse through its reins to move with pep. He had gone too long without bringing any unwanted attention upon himself since his fiasco at the fair to falter now. Since the occurrence, he made special efforts to avoid further condemnation from a slow-to-forgive community. His intent was to lie low if he wanted any chance of returning to the good graces of his fellow townspeople. That being the case, any of the monthly responsibilities that required having to head out amongst the public were taken care of by his wife. Eventually, his fear crippled him so badly that he refused to step foot outside of his house altogether. His round-the-yard chores of maintaining the lawn, patio, and swimming pool; feeding the horses; keeping the carriage house tidy and in order; collecting the newspaper each day; and taking out the trash; were all passed on to his children. But it was his sabbatical from work that was his most profound measure. With bills mounting and daily arguments between him and his wife now prevailing their already-fickle relationship, his life was beginning to take a horrendous downward spiral. He was sick of hearing his wife argue about the escalating arrears on their monthly utilities, not having enough money to purchase necessities for the household and their children, and his alleged interaction with the underage girl. In order to preserve the little that remained of his sanity, he had to remove himself from his present environment temporarily and return to his only source of happiness. His late night venture to find the 14-year-old girl whom his aching heart repined for would surely appease all of his discontent.
The light rhythmic chuffs made by the horse’s hooves over the dirt-covered path, coupled with the buggy’s creaking wooden wheels, made Mr. Sillow wonder how long he could proceed on his journey before cranky residents trying to get some sleep made their way outside and asked him to hurry along. Fearing for the safety of their innocent children, word of his behavior at the fair had been dispersed around town as a measure of precaution. He was certain that everyone in the community knew about what he had done by this point and was even more certain that the repercussions of being detected so far from home at such a late hour would surely result in fed up residents calling for his head. His nerves were starting to take a profound toll on him. Checking his pocket watch after a while of riding, he was taken over by a brief attack of hysteria. Just as he was about to abandon his journey and turn back for home, his better judgment spoke to him. It was 11:15 p.m. Despite his anxiety, none of the terrifying scenarios that had been playing out inside of his head had occurred: No absurd townsman had approached his buggy, neither was there a horde of outraged residents wielding axes and scythes surrounding him and imploring town officials for his public execution. Furthermore, having already calculated his expected travel time, he was actually ahead of schedule. He had already covered two miles of his nine-mile expedition within a quarter of an hour, a significant increase from the singular mile he had predetermined he would have covered within such time. His objective of making it to the teen’s house and reaching back home in a timely manner was guaranteed to be a success. This realization allowed him to allay his fears just enough to continue on; and before long, he had come to the last mile of his journey. But this was where things got confusing and uncertain for him. The evening he had escorted Amanda home in the hansom cab, he had kept a tab of where they were going with restricted visibility due to low light conditions and a slightly retracted privacy curtain that he had pulled back just enough with one of his hands to observe his surroundings with the aid of just one eye. The other obstacle that he faced was that the home was situated in the middle of nowhere. There were no signs or any other residences in the area of her household. Had he not encountered Amanda on the day of the fair and personally witnessed where she resided, he never would have imagined that a home had been erected in such a location. “Make a right turn right here…” he had remembered Amanda instructing the cabman through the cab’s trapdoor once they had arrived at a dilapidated cathedral situated on the left side of the pathway which they had been travelling along. The direction that she had instructed the cabman to head in led into Yarmouth’s forest. Closely-situated Eastern white pine trees lined off the right side of the pathway, but upon careful inspection, an entrance point could be seen. Once behind the initial barrier of trees, however, vegetation was sparse enough for the hansom to maneuver comfortably through this particular area of the forest. With the point of entrance forever etched in his mind, finding it once more was the easy part. Mr. Sillow was presently in the forest and making his way towards her home. The second part of Amanda’s instructions to the cabman that evening was: “and proceed straight ahead for about a half mile. From there I’ll tell you where to head.” After she had made her statement and closed the trapdoor, Mr. Sillow specifically remembered her mentioning to him that it was safe to draw the privacy curtain open. “No one will see us in this area,” she told him. But he wasn’t taking any chances. Instead, he insisted that she continue peering out from behind the cover of the curtain, just as he was doing. And that was exactly what she did until it was time to give the cabman the final set of directions he would need in order to reach her home. Quickly spinning around and sliding open the trapdoor once more, she informed him to make a left turn and head straight for another approximate half mile until he arrived at “the only home in the area.”
Thinking back, Mr. Sillow regretted having not listened to his co-passenger when she had advised him to draw the privacy curtain fully open. She had seen something en route to her home that made it possible for her to know exactly when it was time to instruct the cabman to take that final left turn. But what? he wondered. Trudging along with no clear sense of direction, Mr. Sillow began coming to the realization that his search attempt could be chalked up as just another one of his life’s many failures. Had her home not been in the midst of such a vast forest, he would have had a much greater chance of reconnecting with her. But as it stood, his hunt for the minor would have to be called off. On the verge of turning his horse around and heading back home, something hit him. Something memorable had revisited one of his senses. Persisting in the air was the distinct aroma of golden buttons. He had vividly remembered smelling the pungent odor the instant Amanda had given the cabman the order to make his final left turn. The patch of flowers directly in front of him must have been the landmark Amanda had used to help her make her way home. Making an abrupt left cut, Mr. Sillow excitedly flicked on the horse’s reins, sending the horse dashing dangerously across the forest’s dew-dampened and uneven ground. Despite the high risk of the buggy flipping over and potentially injuring or killing him, a crazed Mr. Sillow maintained the high rate of speed. Fortunately for him, his deadly haste wasn’t for naught. As he maniacally sped through the woods, slowly beginning to form in the backdrop of a fog-laden night sky was the cottage of Mr. and Mrs. Toffer.