Last Leaf Essay

11669 Words Sep 18th, 2012 47 Pages
Historical Short Stories…
© Copyright, Peter Stone, 2010

Dreams Forsaken
―So why am I here, exactly?‖ queried my nineteen-year-old niece as she sat next to me. The lantern I had placed beside us cast flickering light throughout the abandoned tannery‘s darkened interior. Eerie, dust-laden cobwebs clung to every wooden beam, workbench and table, causing her to shudder. I glanced at her innocent face untouched by grief, and wished yet again that I had been born in her day rather than mine. ―For emotional support.‖ ―Then I‘m not in any danger, Aunt Margryte?‖ she asked unsurely. ―Of course not, Geruscha,‖ I said while smoothing down a ruffle in my threadbare black mourning dress.
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I refused to give him the satisfaction of acknowledging the money. Anger flashed briefly in his eyes. ―Will you not even inquire as to my progress?‖ ―Oh, why not, since it obviously means so much to you. Tell me, what you have achieved of late?‖ He held up three fingers. ―It took me nigh on three years to comb every inch of Stühlingen, but thirteen more of our enemies have been brought to justice.‖ I leaned forward slightly, careful not to overbalance the rickety chair. ―Do you feel better now? Did you find this gratifying?‖ He was not impressed. ―It is not about satisfaction. It is about justice.‖ ―You mean revenge,‖ I clarified. ―Whatever,‖ he snarled. ―You know this has to be done, Margryte. Those men must be brought to justice for the magnitude of their crimes. I will not permit those murdering vermin to do such heinous deeds and then simply melt back into society by assuming new identities.‖ A cloud of dust swirled upward into twinkling lantern light as I plucked the purse from the table. ―That was twenty-five years ago. When will you tire of this quest?‖ ―When I‘ve found them all, Margryte, and not before,‖ he said before quitting the tannery without a backward glance. He vanished into the midnight air. My niece found her voice. ―Who was that man, Margryte?‖ ―My husband, Geruscha,‖ I admitted. ―Walther Sighard? I thought he perished in the Peasants‘ War of 1525,‖ she exclaimed. ―That‘s what he wants them to think, Geruscha.‖ ―Them, Aunt Margryte? You

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