Ghosts of Graveyards Past

Free Ghosts of Graveyards Past by Laura Briggs

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Authors: Laura Briggs
Tags: Christian fiction
anything to judge by. Limp yellow tresses framed eyes that were set close together, her complexion made tan from the sun in her father’s crop field.
    She could see the same image distorted in the silverware balanced on the tray she carried now. Glancing quickly away, she formed a smile of welcome for the figures gathered in the family’s parlor. “Morning, Mrs. Hinkle,” she greeted the farm wife, whose homestead lay within walking distance of their own.
    The Hinkles were better off when it came to farmhands than some of their neighbors, having so many helping hands in the form of their children. Though, of course, that meant having more mouths to feed, giving everyone reason enough to pity them.
    “Nell has brought us some tea,” her grandmother told them, settling into the rocking chair beside the unlit fireplace. Her hand grasped the shawl she kept there for fending off the morning chill, wrapping it tightly around her thin shoulders.
    Mrs. Hinkle merely nodded in reply, her attention demanded by the infant fussing in her arms. Gathered round her on the sofa were children in various stages of growth. They all had the same shade of straw-colored hair and a complexion as tan and uncared for as Nell’s.
    The patient, a boy of roughly ten years, was seated on a wooden chair, a deep gash visible below his left knee. Beside him, the doctor knelt to gently clean the wound, squeezing the sides together to bind it with a needle and thread
    “I hope it leaves a scar,” Charley announced, fingers gripping the chair as the needle pierced his flesh. Like his siblings, he was lanky and rail thin. He was paler, though, his eyes a shade of pastel gray that reminded Nell of storm clouds.
    At the sound of his voice, a dog’s bark had echoed from the farmhouse porch. Nails scraped against the front door, followed by a low whining sound, as the faithful pet begged for entrance.
    “Go home, Rufus,” Mrs. Hinkle ordered sternly from the sofa. She shifted the complaining baby in her arms. “There won’t be any scar for showing off. Will there, Miss Moore?”
    “There will be a mark,” the doctor confessed, securing the bandage. “No doubt it shall fade in time. You must be more careful in the future, Charley,” she added. Her gaze softened as she studied the boy’s gaunt frame, smaller than that of even his younger siblings.
    “Boys collect scars and scrapes the way girls collect butterfly wings,” Nell’s grandmother chuckled, cradling her tea cup between knotted fingers. “It is their nature. Your papa can attest to that,” she confided to Nell, who seated herself in a nearby chair. “Once he fell down a drinking well, poor lad.”
    “Ah, but this one is always finding trouble,” Mrs. Hinkle insisted, casting a glare in her son’s direction. “Guess how he came by this scrape? I’ll tell you how,” she said, not giving them time to answer. “By climbing over the Roans’ gate, that’s how.”
    Sneaking onto the Roan property was practically a rite of passage for the children of Sylvan Spring and had been since Nell was a child. Ellis Roan, the heir to the family property, was a hermit of sorts, never seen in the town shops, or the church. He preferred his privacy for whatever reason and survived off the hares and other wildlife he trapped in the woods around the spring.
    “That old fence had sharp edges,” Charley boasted. “Rufus got his fur caught in it, great big tufts coming out.”
    At the sound of its name, the dog began barking again, the woofs deep and insistent with its growing desperation. Wishing to spare the animal another scolding, Nell told them, “My brother once had a dog with that same devoted temperament. I remember it slept outside his window at night, and sometimes he would sneak it inside and let it sleep on his bed.”
    “Don’t go filling his head with ideas,” Mrs. Hinkle said, as Charley’s eyes lit up with the story. “That dog’s so big and clumsy he’d soon break every bit

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