Mr. Eberlings Son

Part 4 - Convergence

Branch 1

Branch 2

X

Horatio hauled Jasper’s trunk out of storage and dragged it into Flint’s room in preparation for his journey. Flint proceeded to dump his essentials into it by the armful with little regard for organization. Isabel likewise packed up the few things she’d bought back into her bag.

Flint told Horatio, “Order us a carriage tomorrow. We’ll be leaving on the first train out of here.”

“Ye, sir,” Horatio said with a bow.

“I’d leave sooner if I could,” Flint said to Isabel, once he noticed that she was already finished. “But we missed the last train out of Deep Spring. Not the first time that’s happened to me.” Flint himself had nearly filled up his trunk and was ready to declare his chore completed.

The whole house would have to be eventually packed and shipped off to their new home, but Flint would leave that for later, after they’d found a new house to put it all in. He could send for it, send instructions by post for all of it to be packed up and delivered to their new address. He could even sell the house and unload his shares of the Earth and Mineral Works from a distance. He preferred never having to set foot in Deep Spring again. The place was simply too dangerous. Let the rumors circulate in his absence. He didn’t care.

If all went well Jasper’s ex-wife would never again catch up to him and he would live the rest of his life in semi-retirement with his loving wife.

Flint invited Patrice to continue as servant at their new house. He did this out of hearing of Horatio, since he had decided to leave him with the mansion. Flint told her, “You’re welcome to join us and continue as our servant, but don’t feel obligated. I know you have family here, and that you don’t speak Spanish. And perhaps there are some other reasons you might be reluctant. But know that you are welcome.”

“Would you like me to come, sir?” Patrice asked. She spoke in an indecisive tone. Implicitly she was asking Flint to decide for her.

“I wouldn’t have invited you if I didn’t want it,” Flint replied, “Isabel likes you. I like you. But it’s not my choice. We know it’ll be hard for you there, and we don’t want you to be unhappy.”

“I am always happy to serve you, sir,” Patrice said meekly.

“The choice is yours,” Flint said, “If you decide by tomorrow, you can travel there with us. Though if you’re still indecisive, we can pay for your passage and you can join us later.”

“Thank you sir,” she replied.

Flint and Isabel spent another rapturous night in each other’s arms. Come morning, they were packed into a carriage waiting for them beneath the porte-cochere. Patrice sat in a seat beside Flint and, after the carriage departed, she watched her home disappear into the distance while Horatio stood at the threshold. They ascended up the road towards the train station and boarded a train, which rolled down the narrow-gauge tracks through the mountains.

Horatio remained behind to attend to the house in Flint’s absence, and he was there to greet Mrs. Marshall when she visited the house in search of Flint.

“That rat thought he could sneak out of here without me knowing, but I heard about it,” she said to Horatio after he opened the door, “I’ll need to have his forwarding address.”

“I’m afraid I have been specifically instructed not to give you his forwarding address,” Horatio told her.

“That son of a whore can’t just run away and expect his duties not to follow him,” she shouted, “He owes me money. The law will hear of this.”

“I cannot help you,” Horatio said.

“I’ll find him,” she declared, “There’re bloodhounds who can sniff him out. His stench will rouse them from a thousand miles away.”

At these words she stomped away from the mansion.

Mrs. Marshall never did find Flint. He sold off his share in the Earth and Mineral Works to some minority shareholders and put his Deep Spring mansion up for sale. He used the money he had to purchase a large estate near Jasper and Isabel’s home raised cattle upon it.

Isabel never appeared to suspect over the years that Flint was not Jasper, even though there were innumerable, albeit small, differences between them: events that Flint didn’t remember, details about Isabel and their son that he’d apparently forgotten. Flint could only explain it to himself that she knew that he was not Jasper, but that she chose to believe otherwise.

X

The jury receded into a separate room adjoined to the courtroom for deliberations. The process took less than an hour. They emerged from the jury room and announced to the courtroom that they found the defendant, “Flint Eberling” guilty on both counts of murder. The judge was prompt in handing down his sentence as well. Flint was sentenced to be hanged by his neck until dead.

Flint was escorted from the courtroom to the jail by Sheriff Smith and Deputy Peterson and placed in the same cell that he’d occupied before.

Within a few hours after the sentence was announced, the citizens of Deep Spring had already gathered together in a mob in front of the Sheriff’s office. By that hour, the sun had already fallen behind the horizon, and several persons bore torches to guide their way through the twilight.

When Sheriff Smith heard the sound of the mob collected outside of his office demanding Flint to be released unto them, he summoned Deputy Peterson and the two of them emerged from the door each holding a shotgun.

“This is the business of the law,” Sheriff shouted at them, “You will disperse immediately. I’m not going to give up my prisoner.”

“He’s been convicted,” a person shouted. “He’s going to be killed,” shouted another. “He rightly deserves to be lynched,” shouted a third. Each statement elicited many groans and shouts of ascent from other members of the mob.

“You’re not going to prevent us,” Sam said to the sheriff, “He’s going to be hanged. We’re saving you the expense.”

The sheriff fired into the air with his shotgun, startling the crowd. He shouted at them again, “This is the business of the law. We have procedures: courtrooms, juries, appeals. If the man is found guilty, he will be hanged. That is the way of justice. Not this.”

Sam calmly replied to these words, “Sheriff, you ain’t going to stand in our way. You’re not going to put your life on the line for a man who’s going to be executed just as sure as the sun’s going to rise. We don’t want to hurt you. We understand this is your job.”

The Sheriff didn’t respond, but he still stood his ground. Sam slowly walked towards him. When the sheriff didn’t raise his gun to stop him, Sam walked right by and opened the door of the sheriff’s office. Following Sam’s lead, the rest of the crowd did the same. They entered the office and walked to the back, to the jail cells. A key that hung on the wall was carried to the door of Flint’s cell, and the door was opened.

Flint retreated into the back of his cell in fear as he saw the hostile crowd approached. He tried to lash out and swing punches at them, but they soon had him restrained. His hands were tied and a lasso was wrapped around his torso in order to restrict his movements. Several members of the mob held the other end of this rope and pulled Flint outdoors with it.

Flint was brusquely led through the streets by the mob. When Flint tripped and fell, they dragged him until he managed to stand up again.

When they found a suitably tall enough tree, one end of the rope was thrown over a sturdy branch some ten feet above the ground, and two men took the other end in hand. The hoop of the rope was transferred from Flint’s torso to his neck and tightened.

In one walloping cheer, the rope was pulled downwards and Flint was lifted up into the air by his neck. This loftier position offered him a view over the heads of the people, and he could see the full extent of this massive crowd that had gathered to see him lynched.

There in the back of the crowd he could see Patrice, standing next to the Sheriff and Deputy. None of the three of them were participating or sharing in the exultation of the audience. They were just watching impassively. Patrice even seemed a little bit sad when she watched Flint kicking his feet in the air, with his hands desperately gripping at the rope around his neck. To be sure, it was a morbid sight, and she couldn’t help but be affected by it, but she did seem sad.

Flint watched her unhappy stare for another long minute as his vision faded into white and his consciousness began to depart.

[Branches 1 and 2 merge]

Tip

XI

Only after Flint died, was it discovered that Flint had written a will. He’d apparently drawn it up in secret, but he left it in an envelope in his desk, clearly marked and easy to find. It hadn’t been properly drafted. Flint had simply written it out on a piece of paper and signed it at the bottom. The signature was judged to be genuine, but little effort was put into weighing the will’s official status as a legally binding document, since its entire contents consisted of a long but ambiguous apology and instructions about where Flint wished to be buried. It didn’t specify the distribution of Flint’s possessions, but this wasn’t considered to be issue.

Flint was to be buried in Deep Spring, in the Yarrowdale Cemetery, plot F22. Some money had even been placed in the envelope to cover all the burial costs. Despite some objections, and the non-official character of the will, Flint’s wishes were honored.

The cemetery was in a fenced-off plot of land at the edge of Deep Spring, up-slope from the heart of the town. Most of the graves were demarcated with a simple, wooden cross thrust into the ground, the name of the occupant written on the crosspiece. The more expensive headstones were made of stone. The Eberling family had the grandest grave markers, in the form of massive stone blocks with religious imagery carved onto their surface and the names engraved on the front.

Flint was buried near the Eberling family with a modest headstone. The instructions for his burial were given in such a way as to obscure their intent. The plot next to F22 was empty, but time would later reveal that it belonged to Patrice. Patrice was still above ground, but the plot had been reserved for her, a place near, but not in the immediate vicinity of her father and master, Thurston Eberling.

For many decades, until the headstones eventually wore away, cracked and fell, anyone who came to visit the Yarrowdale cemetery could see the plots where Patrice and Flint were buried, one beside the other in perpetual slumber.

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