I might have stayed longer in the hen house, staring at my healed wound, if a pounding on my front door hadn’t interrupted me.Bad news usually accompanies such a commotion, so I hurried into my shack through the backdoor, grabbing a towel to wipe my hands before answering the caller at the front. Instead of the usual homesteader or sick townsman, the sheriff stood there.
He started talking before I threw the door wide. “Good to see you, Missy. Had some trouble last night and knew you’d been out to Paddy’s place. Good job delivering Myrtle’s baby, by the way.” He stopped to draw breath and I eased the door wider, inviting him into my one room of living space.
For all of his jovial façade, he looked around uneasily checking, I was certain, for a cauldron and spell book. He’d been near several times when others had whispered witch, loud enough for me to hear. He’d not taken action to defend me then, so I understood that he was desperate or he wouldn’t be here now.
He wasn’t a reticent man usually, so I wondered at what had caused it now. He shuffled from one foot to the other and then, as if remembering why he’d come, said, “Big cat attacked Ben Casey’s corralled horses last night. Brought down one and dragged it away.”
The paucity of my personal possessions seemed to reassure him in some unfathomable way and he finally got to the point. “Wouldn’t know anything about that would you?”
“Sheriff Bannister,” I laughed at him. “Did you think I stole Ben’s horse and ate it?” I was joking but he frowned as though considering that possibility.