There is a story about a servant girl named Catherine.
No one knows where she came from, but for decades, she never aged.
However, when her master died, she was so distraught that she repeatedly hit her head on his casket until she died.
After her death, she grew a pair of wings, much to the surprise of those at the wake.
When a sheriff came to investigate the strange occurrence, the body suddenly disappeared.
No one would believe this story if you told it today, but there are witnesses to the event, even though it remains unacknowledged to this day.
Eloise rushes out of the Saloon after getting muck dumped all over her and tries to wipe herself off when Sansibar happens to walk around the corner. He pauses to look at her for a moment, wondering what’s going on, and then approaches and touches her on the shoulder from behind as she pulls away, not knowing who it is.
“What’s happened?” he asks, “Why do you seem angry?”
Eloise finally recognizes him and admits, “I was trying to participate in the pageant, but one thing after another has gone wrong. Someone is trying to stop me from being there.” She turns to look at him finally, “I’m just trying to win some money for my family, yet everyone wants to pull dirty tricks.”
Sansibar seems to understand her dilemma as he says, “If a tree is taller than all the others, the wind will hurt it the most in the end. They are trying to keep you from participating because you are the one they fear the most. But, you must realize, if you give up now, they will have achieved their goal of running you off.”
“Look at me!” she demands as she stands here with soiled clothing and wet hair. “I can’t participate like this!”
Sansibar takes a step back and admires her for a moment, and gives a soft shrug, “I think you still look beautiful.”
Eloise pouts, “You’re just trying to make me feel better,” she tells him.
Sansibar shakes his head, “I speak the truth. The beauty of a woman has nothing to do with her clothing or her hairstyle. Beauty comes with within. Listen, I believe that you are strong enough to stand on that stage and still be the loveliest flower of them all.”
Eloise wipes at her eyes, “You’re serious right now?”
Eloise considers it for a moment and then shakes her head, “There’s no way. I’m going home,” she tells him and starts to walk away when he grabs her arm.
“Eloise, listen to me. What was your reason for joining this contest?” he asks.
She turns to face him, “To win the prize money for my family. My father can’t work with his broken leg, and I have to provide for my family.”
Sansibar nods his head, “And if you just walk away, will you achieve that goal?” He reaches for her hands, “I saw the advertisement in the local paper about this and came especially to cheer you on in this contest.”
“But…” she starts to say.
“No buts,” he tells her. “What did you say to me before? When God closes a door, he opens a window? Go stand up on that stage with confidence and bravery, and everyone in Durango will applaud you.”
He can tell she still isn’t sure about this, so he places his hands on her shoulders, “How about this? Let’s make a bet. If you win the pageant, then my point will be proven, and you can trust my advice in the future. If you lose, I’ll give you the prize money out of my own pocket. You’ve nothing to lose.”
Sophie Anderson stands in front of the rowdy crowd at her saloon, “Contestant number eight is our very own Eloise Pike, who performs nearly every night right here at my saloon, I might add. She is twenty-one years old and resides right here in Durango. Let’s give a hearty welcome to Eloise Pike!”
The tavern is filled with smoke, and rowdy spectators as the bank owner sits off in a corner and watches the entire proceedings. The hands clap, and boots stomp as Eloise makes her way out onto the stage. However, the sounds within the tavern change almost immediately when Eloise appears in front of them. Her hair is a mess, her face is speckled with soot, and her dress has been ruined. The crowd murmurs its disapproval at her appearance.
Eloise walks up to the center of the stage, “Hello everyone. I want to apologize for my appearance. Due to circumstances, I almost dropped out of the contest, but someone convinced me to try anyway. He told me a beauty contest should compare the beauty within rather than the outward beauty. So, here I am. I hope my talents will outshine my appearance for you all. I will start with a dance.”
The pianist begins to play, and Eloise closes her eyes and stands there for a moment as she lets herself feel the music. Then slowly, she begins to move in time with the piano, and the rowdy crowd slowly begins to calm down as they watch and start to applaud for her. The piano picks up the crescendo, and she moves a little faster until they get to the finish, where she twirls about and gives a bow as the song comes to a close.
There’s a brief moment of silence in the saloon until it erupts in applause and cheers for the tavern singer as she remains bowed to her audience before rising with a smile on her face. She catches Sansibar in the rear of the saloon, clapping for her as she acknowledges him.
The contest has concluded, and the crowd at the saloon is restlessly waiting for the results as Sophie Anderson steps out onto the stage. “First, we’d like to thank Mr. Champett from the bank for sponsoring this event. We also want to thank Mrs. Ratcliff from the mercantile for helping judge the event.”
Mrs. Ratcliff doesn’t look happy at all about what’s to go down. On the stage, we see Eloise along with Emma Ratcliff and another young woman standing there.
“As you can see, we are down to three contestants. Without further ado, let’s give you the results,” announces Sophie. She looks at the piece of paper in her hand and says, “In third place, Miss Wanda Peterson!”
Wanda breaks away from Emma and Eloise to accept her flowers and walks off the stage, putting on a brave, happy face though she’s disappointed not to have won.
“And in second place,” says Sophie. Emma is confident she’s going to be first place. She leans over and whispers to Eloise, “Second place isn’t a bad spot to be in. Don’t be too disappointed.” Eloise just gives her a sideways glance of annoyance.
“This was a close one, but second place goes to Emma Ratcliff!” announces Sophie, and the rowdy crowd cheers. Emma’s face drops as she looks at Eloise, who says to her, “Second place isn’t a bad spot to be in.” Emma stomps over and snatches the flowers from the presenter with a huff and storms off the stage and right out of the saloon with her mother chasing after her.
“Well, that only leaves one person in first place, and that person is Eloise Pike!” says Sophie as the pianist begins to play again and the crowd gathered begins to make a lot of noise, toasting their glasses of beer and shouting out loud.
Eloise looks up and notices that Sansibar is missing from the crowd, but she moves to the front to accept her gifts as the winner as everyone else celebrates.
Sansibar isn’t the only one missing from the contest as he walks into a barn and lights a lantern. We hear muffled cries as the light fill the barn, and we see three of the contestants tied to chairs and gagged. It’s the same contestants who tried to sabotage Eloise.
Sansibar sits on a bale of hay in front of them. He holds a knife in his hand as he begins to speak, “Do you think it’s fair you tried to sabotage a contestant? If you’re going to win, shouldn’t it be fair and square? What was the purpose of harming another contestant?” he asks them, though they cannot answer with their mouths gagged.
“Let’s me bring you a little bit of enlightenment, for which you can thank me later. The contest is over. The rightful winner has been announced, and now my duty has been completed. Don’t you think?” he asks them.
Sansibar rises from the hay and walks over, and pulls down the gag from the first woman’s mouth, “Let me ask you something you might find irrelevant. When a man cares for a woman, and she wins something important do her, what would she like a man to do?”
Frightened, the woman quickly answers, “Flowers. Lots of flowers!” The other two promptly nod their head in agreement.
Sansibar finds that interesting, “Flowers, you say?” He places the knife at the woman’s throat as her eyes go wide, “What happened today, you will forget ever happened. Do I make myself clear? If you dare say a word about it, I will come back and find you, and you won’t like what I have to do.”
They all nod their head enthusiastically in agreement.
He takes a couple of steps and flings the knife that flips around behind them, cutting their bindings before returning to Sansibar. Without another word, he walks out of the barn, leaving the women to themselves.
The next morning, Sansibar walks into the mercantile, and Mrs. Ratcliff takes notice. He peers at the goods for a moment before walking up to the woman and asks, “I would like flowers.”
Mrs. Ratcliff gives him a good once over before she motions towards them. “They’re over there. Take your pick.”
He walks over and sees that there aren’t many flowers to be had, “Is this everything you have?”
“Well, winter is coming very soon. It’s well past time for flowers. I’m lucky to keep those alive,” she tells him.
Sansibar is not impressed, but he takes the last three remaining flowers that Mrs. Ratcliff has and walks them over to the counter. “Then I shall take these,” he tells her.
With a smile, Mrs. Ratcliff grabs her notepad and scribbles some math on it, and announces, “That will be 15 cents. How will you pay, Mr…?”
“Sansibar,” the demon tells her as he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a quarter piece, and lays it on the counter. In the process, he drops a gold coin onto the floor, which doesn’t get missed by Mrs. Ratcliff. He reaches down and slides the coin back into his pocket. He turns his attention back to the madam of the store, “That should be plenty.”
Mrs. Ratcliff wakes from her ogling of the golden coin and reaches for the quarter, and returns a dime to him, “Feel free to drop in any time, Mr. Sansibar.”
Picking up the flowers, Sansibar bows his head towards her politely and then turns and walks out of the store.
“Emma!” the woman screams as soon as the door shuts behind Sansibar. Emma Ratcliff runs down the stairs into the store.
“Do you know this Mr. Sansibar?”
Emma shakes her head, “I’ve never heard of him.”
Mrs. Ratcliff drums her fingers on the counter, “Ask around and see what you can find out.”
Obediently, Emma runs across the store and out the door.
Eloise is being led into the home of the banker, Mr. Champett. A servant leads her into a room off to the side where he receives visitors. Compared to some of Durango’s other modest homes, Mr. Champett has put his money to use in this home, and it shows.
“If you’ll have a seat right here, Mr. Champett will join you momentarily,” the servant tells her, and she nods her head as she takes a seat as she was told.
It isn’t but a few moments when the sound of clapping is heard as the hearty Mr. Champett walks into the room. He continues to clap until he reaches her. She rises politely to meet him.
“This is the winner of my pageant this year,” he says very proudly. “Eloise Pike, was it?”
Eloise smiles and nods her head, “That’s right.”
“So beautiful,” he says to her as they stand there. “There really was no other choice for the winner in the contest this year.”
Eloise blushes a little as she smiles at him, “I’m thankful for your words and your support. I am happy to win the contest.”
“Why are we standing here chatting? My staff has prepared a feast for us to celebrate, Eloise Pike. Shall we?” he motions out of the room towards another door.
She nods her head and walks in the direction he pointed. There is a table set with a meal that is far bigger than the two of them. Champett motions to a chair for her, and she walks over and sits, and he politely pushes the chair in before walking to the other end and taking a seat.
“The pageant gets better each year,” he tells her. “But let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we?”
Eloise nods, “Let’s do.”
“The reason I hold these pageants is to find the perfect bride for myself,” he tells her. “While the previous winners were lovely in their own way, they weren’t quite the fit I was looking for. You, on the other hand, you are different.”
Eloise places a hand on her stomach as she starts to feel nauseous. “I find myself not feeling so well. Perhaps I should head home.”
Champett motions for her to sit, “No one is keeping you here against your will, Miss Pike. I just wanted to be clear about what my intentions are here, so there’s no confusion. If you hear me out and aren’t interested, you’re welcome to leave. But, please, stay and enjoy the meal.”
Eloise slowly lowers herself back into the seat.
The banker reaches into his pocket and withdraws two gold coins, and sets them on the table between them. “This is your prize money. It comes with no strings. But, all I ask you to do is imagine an unlimited supply of these coins for yourself, for your family. You would want for nothing.” He reaches for his glass of wine and lifts it towards her, “You don’t need to decide this moment. Let’s enjoy the meal, and you can think about this offer at your leisure.”
Eloise reaches for her glass, and as she touches it to his, he says, “A toast to your impressive victory.”
Eloise feels very uncomfortable, but as she watches Mr. Champett take a drink from his glass, she takes one from hers as well.
Eloise picks up her fork as the food is served, and then suddenly, her head drops to the table.
Mr. Champett smirks as he watches her pass out. He nods to the servant, who lifts Eloise and takes her deeper into the home. She’s laid down on a large bed, and the servant leaves.
Champett walks into the room and over to the side of the bed and looks down at his prey, “Do not worry, Miss Pike. I will treat you well. After today, you will be my next wife.”
He begins to remove his jacket.
Sheriff Anderson is sitting in his office, feet up on the desk as he taps a pencil against the top of his desk.
Deputy Trawls glances up at him, finally annoyed enough to ask, “Sherrif? Are you okay?”
“Hm?” asks the confused Sheriff, “I’m fine. Why do you ask?”
“Still haven’t heard from Eloise Pike?” asks Trawls.
Sheriff gives him the eye, “Are you trying to provoke me, Deputy? Do you have something urgent for me? Better yet, let me ask you something, Deputy. What do you know about this banker, Champett?”
Deputy Trawls thinks for a moment, “It’s one of those sneaky types. Did you know that his last two wives were from that pageant he hosts? They both have died under mysterious circumstances. But, because he’s rich, no one ever looked into it.”
Anderson is on his feet, “Well, why in the hell didn’t you tell me about all of this in the first place? Eloise Pike went over there this afternoon to meet with him. God damn. Let’s go!”
He grabs his hat and hurries out of the office with Deputy Trawls in tow.
“You can either get out of my way, or I can put some of your teeth on the ground,” says Bobby Anderson as he stands on the porch of Mr. Champett’s place. The servant is trying to stop him from coming inside, but Anderson isn’t having any of it, but it sure looks like the sheriff isn’t bluffing, so he finally steps to the side.
“Wise move,” says the sheriff. “Now, tell me where I can find Mr. Champett.”
The servant doesn’t appear to be much of a bluffer as he says, “My master isn’t here.”
“Let’s try this again, shall we? I know the beauty pageant winner is inside this house.”
Still looking a bit shady, the servant nods his head, “She just finished eating dinner.”
“And where is she now?” Anderson asks.
“Left?” the sheriff scoffs, “I’ve had a man watching this home, and he tells me she hasn’t left. So, let’s try this again before I become angrier than I already am.”
The servant clears his throat, “I just work here, sir. I can only tell you what I know, and that is she left. Perhaps your man missed her when she left?”
“I’m aiming to come in here and look for her. My deputy will keep you company right here until I come back. If you try anything funny, I’ve given him orders to shoot you,” the sheriff looks at Trawls with a nod.
“He won’t be going anywhere, sheriff,” says Trawls.
Bobby moves towards the back of the house, peeking in rooms here and there. There’s only one room with the door closed, and he bursts into the room and finds Champett on the floor, unconscious.
“Deputy!” yells the sheriff.
A few moments later, Trawls and the servant walk into the room. The servant immediately moves to attend to Champett, waking him up and helping him to his feet. “Sir, are you okay? These men are looking for the pageant winner.”
Champett groans as he gets to his feet, looking confused, “Miss Pike was here. We were celebrating her victory, and she drank a bit too much, so we let her sleep it off.”
Sheriff Anderson isn’t in the mood for games, “Rumor going around that you like to use your position to leverage these contest winners for your own lewd purposes, Mr. Champett.”
Champett looks wounded at those words, “As you can see, I’m fully dressed. I haven’t so much as laid a hand on the girl. She’s dressed as well.”
Anderson pushes past Champett and leans over Eloise Pike, who is still asleep. “Eloise! Eloise! Wake up!” He gives her a gentle shake.
When she doesn’t wake up, a scowl crosses his face as he stands back up and turns to face Mr. Champett. “You better pray for all your might that when she wakes up, she tells me you didn’t so much as adjust a hair on her head, or I’ll bring a posse over here and make sure you hang.”
As Champett’s eyes go wide at the threat, Bobby turns and scoops Eloise up in his arms and carries her out of the room. As they disappear, the servant turns to Champett, “Did you know he would come? Is that why you didn’t do anything to the girl?”
“Idiot,” Champett snaps at the servant. “Am I a fortune teller?” But then a look of confusion crosses his face, “But, I’m not sure what exactly happened.”
Champett recalls leaning down to begin to remove Eloise’s dress. He barely touches the first button when the cross tattoo on her arm lit up like a lantern, and Champett is thrown off of her and against the wall, where he falls to the floor, knocked out.
Champett shakes his head, “There’s something off about that girl.”
“Regardless, sir. You were most fortunate not to be caught with that girl.”
Champett nods his head. “Go find me another girl. This entire incident has me stressed out.”
A wagon pulls up to the Pike residence. Sansibar is riding, and his servant is holding the reins of the horses. Sarah comes out of the house, confused. The wagon itself has a few flowers from the mercantile in it.
“Can I help you?” she asks the stranger.
Sansibar steps down from the wagon and approaches, “I’m looking for Eloise Pike? I was told she resides on this farm.”
Sarah nods, “She does, but she’s not here.” This is becoming more curious by the moment.
Sansibar nods his head, “I see. I brought these flowers for her to congratulate her on winning the pageant. Do you know where she might be?”
Sarah walks over and takes a look at the flowers in the back of the wagon. They look a little listless. “These flowers are near dead, sir,” she tells him. “It’s almost winter, so finding flowers is going to be a tough chore.” She walks back over to him, “But, she said something about Mr. Champett having a dinner on account she won that pageant.”
Sansibar isn’t happy that he bought near-dead flowers. To be fair, Mrs. Ratcliff did say they weren’t going to be that fresh. “Mr. Champett, you say?”
Darkness has fallen on Durango as Champett’s servant adds some more brush to the fire in front of his home.
Sansibar has been watching the Champett’s place, unaware that Sheriff Anderson has taken Eloise out of the home hours ago.
He sees a couple of servants carry out what looks like a body wrapped in a bedsheet and throw it on the fire. They add more wood to the fire.
“Nothing has gone right for me today,” Champett says as the fire grows in front of him. “The pageant winner has escaped. The replacement you found for me? I barely grabbed her by the neck, and she died. Such bad luck.”
The servant tries to comfort his master, “Sir, don’t worry. I’ll find another replacement. Much better this time.”
Champett grins, nodding as he turns to walk back into the home when Sansibar steps in front of him and grabs him by the neck. “What did you do to that girl?”
Champett gasps and groans as the demon squeezes his neck. He manages to get the words out, “I don’t know what you’re…”
“I’m asking you a question. I expect an answer.”
Fearing for his life, as he hears the bones in his neck begin to pop, Champett croaks out, “She was getting out. She kept screaming.”
Sansibar’s eyes begin to turn red, and his ears start to lengthen.
“I used too much strength. It was an accident. I didn’t break her neck on purpose,” the banker exclaims.
“You killed her,” Sansibar says.
“Let me go,” begs the man.
Sansibar’s golden nails begin to grow and pierce into the man’s neck.
“You killed her!” roars Sansibar.
Champett’s eyes widen as he feels the claw-like nails begin to pierce the skin of his neck, “Please. I didn’t mean it…” but those are the last words that leave his mouth as he died right there in Sansibar’s grip.
The demon allows the man to collapse on the floor as the servants look on in fear. Sansibar steps over the dead body and walks towards the servants.
“I won’t believe she’s dead. Where is she?” he bellows. Champett’s main servant slowly turns to look at the fire, which doesn’t go unnoticed by the demon as he looks at the fire and sees the body burning on top.
Sansibar snatches the servant by the neck. He then begins to drag the servant towards the fire. As he stands in front of the fire, holding the man by his neck, he stares at it. “I can’t believe she’s gone. How could this happen? I didn’t permit you to die,” he says to the body on the fire at first very softly, and then he yells, “I didn’t give you permission to die!”
With a flick of the wrist, he easily snaps the servant’s neck and drops him to the ground. He twirls around and stares at the remaining servants, “How dare you kill her! You murderers will all die!”
The screaming and yelling begin as the rest of the servants try to flee, but one by one, Sansibar slays them all. He slashes them with his long golden talons, and as their lifeblood sprays from their body, they fall to their deaths.
He gives them no mercy as he presses his hand through a chest and crushes the heart within. And soon, the front of the banker’s home is littered with dead bodies.
His black wings unfurl as he lets out a loud primal scream to the heavens. He turns to the fire and rushes over to it, “Eloise! Eloise!” he cries out as he tries to extinguish the flame, but it has grown. His angry eyes turn to sorrow as he watches the body become charred in the flame. He stands there as his demon form returns to a more human form, feeling a sense of loss.
Sheriff Anderson sits at his desk in the sheriff’s office and hasn’t taken his eyes off of Eloise Pike as she lays on the wooden bench with a pillow under her head and a jacket draped across her body.
The moment she begins to stir, Anderson gets to his feet and walks over towards her, in time to reach out for her as she slowly gets to her feet. She seems disoriented and confused. “What? Where am I?” She sees the sheriff and immediately grabs him around the neck.
“You’re at my office. Everything is fine,” he tells her.
“What did he…?” she starts to ask, but the Sheriff shushes her.
“He didn’t do anything,” he tells her. “Just calm down. Everything is fine.”
He lowers her to sit back on the bench as he takes a seat next to her, “You should know something,” she tells him. “Your mother tried to buy me off. I don’t know what she thinks is going on between us, but she’s determined to keep me away from you.”
A soft grunt comes from the rugged sheriff as he hears the words. Of course, his mother is going to try to interfere when there’s nothing to interfere in. It’s been this way his entire life. “She means well, but she’s always meddling. Try not to mind her too much. In her way, she’s trying to protect me even though I’m of the age I don’t really need her kind of protection anymore. I’ll have a chat with her.”
Eloise looks down at her lap, “It’s not like anything is going on between us.”
“That’s not what those old church ladies are saying,” he says with a chuckle. She gasps and looks at him, and gives him a shove.
“You stop that.”
However, as her hands touch his chest, he places his over hers. They look at each other for a long moment before she finally leans up and places a kiss on his lips. She quickly pulls back and starts to mutter an apology under her breath when he interrupts her with another kiss as the camera pans back and the scene fades to black.
Sophie Anderson meets some of those “old church ladies” in her living room playing bridge. “Young people today have some very odd ideas,” she explains to them. “We, as parents, must guide them in their way. I mean, just the other day, my son was telling me he had the right to date whoever he desires. But certainly, as his mother, I have to ensure that the Anderson name stays pure and free from scandal.”
One of the church ladies speaks up, “I know just what you mean. My son ended a ten-year engagement and left down with that Hanson girl and ran off to Animas City. My husband wanted to go after them with a shotgun, but I had to convince him otherwise. My son will come to his senses.”
The others nod their head in agreement.
Sophie also nods her head, looking at her cards before she places a bid. “Well, I set my son right. I will not tolerate such foolishness. I may have found the perfect wife for him. If he consists on consorting with tavern singers, then I’ll have to find creative means in which to steer him in the right direction.”
A servant rushes in and whispers something into Sophie’s ear. Her smile fades away. She lays her cards on the table, “Have some refreshments, I have something I need to attend to, but I’ll be back very shortly.” She rises from her seat and excuses herself as she heads into the other room.
To her surprise, she sees Eloise and Bobby standing in the living room. “Why are you two together?” she asks.
Bobby motions for Eloise to sit, and she does as he turns to his mother, “I know you tried to bribe Eloise to stay away from me.”
“I did no such–” Sophie starts to say, but Bobby cuts her off.
“There’s no need to deny it. I know you well enough to believe that it’s true. Now, I could come over here and yell at you until I’m blue in the face, but it won’t do me a lick of good,” he tells her.
Sophie makes a face, “Look at the way you talk now. I raised you better.”
The sheriff ignores the jab, “I am here to tell you that if you chose to interfere in my relationships, now or ever, then you’ll give me no choice but to cut my ties with you. As my mother, I love and cherish you, but if you can’t afford me the respect that I deserve as your son, then there’s absolutely no reason for me to stay by your side.”
“Robert,” she insists. “Are you meaning to start a war with me over this girl?”
Seeing the argument beginning to escalate, Eloise tries to get his attention to calm it down some.
“This ain’t no war, mother. I’m just here asking you to show me a little bit of courtesy. I’m a grown-ass man, and I will make my own decisions without you meddling into my affairs.”
Those other church ladies, nosey as ever, find the most inopportune time to walk into the room, putting Sophie on the spot as she looks a little in distress.
“Everything okay here?” one of them asks. Seeing the sheriff with Eloise Pike, the ladies begin to gossip with each other.
Trying to save face, Sophie looks at the two, “There must be some mistake. I never said I was against the two of you being together. I just wanted to be sure that Miss Pike wasn’t with you just to get at our fortune. I can see now that it isn’t the case. But, I can see your point about getting involved. You’re a grown man, and you can make grown decisions. So, do as you please without worrying about me.”
That seems to please the sheriff as he nods his head, “I appreciate that. And just so you know, ain’t nothing been decided just yet. We’re exploring the idea of a relationship, and if it becomes more, we will let you know.”
“Then I do have one request,” Sophie says as she tries to get a grip on the situation and find a way to turn it to her advantage. “Being from a respectable family comes with customs and courtesies that some families do not have. Allow me to spend some time with the girl and teach her our ways.”
Bobby turns to Eloise, “I mean, it’s completely up to you. I don’t want you to feel pressured to…”
“I’ll do it,” Eloise says. “She’s right in the sense that I don’t have much education. I should take any opportunity to learn.”
Sophie seems pleased, “The first rule of the house is that I will be addressed as ‘madam.’
Eloise nods her head, “Yes, ma’am, I mean, madam. But, what exactly will I be learning?”
“Come here tomorrow morning, and every morning hereafter,” Sophie tells her. “I’ll show you everything you need to know.”
Eloise nods her head, “I’ll be here! Don’t you worry.”
“You should take young Eloise home now, son. It’s getting late,” Sophie tells her son. “We ladies are trying to play bridge, and you’re interrupting.”
Sheriff Anderson smirks, “You and your bridge games. It’s more of a gossip session if you ask me.
As Bobby and Eloise walk off, the church ladies gather around Sophie, “Didn’t you say you had put an end to this?” one of them asks. “You certainly gave in to him easily.”
“It would have done me no good to go head to head with him,” Sophie explains. “I’ve just ensured that I have plenty of time to split those two up.”
Bobby rides up to the Pike home with Eloise holding on behind him. He lowers her to the ground and then slides off the horse.
“Thank you for the ride,” she tells him. “I’ll head inside.”
Before she can go, Anderson takes her hand, “Before you go, I just want you to know that I am not sure what exactly this is or isn’t, but I’m willing to work to find out. I don’t expect much, but I like who I am when I’m with you. The thought that something might have happened to you back there was just about more than I could handle.”
Eloise nods her head. She doesn’t pull away from his grip on her hands as she looks up to him, “I’m willing to see what this is, but I do have responsibilities here, and I can’t avoid them. I’ve been playing housekeeper here for many years now. With my father’s broken leg, I am needed here more than ever. But, any spare time I may have, it’ll be spent with you.”
“It sounds like a date,” he tells her as he leans down and kisses her again.
“I’ve never worn anything like this before,” Eloise tells Sophie as she steps onto the porch of Sophie’s home unsteadily. Each step she takes is slow and awkward.
“Try going down the steps,” Sophie insists.
As Eloise takes her first step, we see that she’s wearing high heel shoes. Her foot shakes a little from side to side as she takes one step down and then another until she steps onto the ground.
“I’m not trying to embarrass you. The wearing of high heels is important to a woman because it improves the posture. The farm work and everyday chores that you probably do isn’t good for the posture. It’s important to be composed with each step you take,” Sophie explains. “Do you understand?”
Eloise nods her head.
“See my garden over there?” Sophie asks, “Walk around it one hundred times while wearing the heels. Come see me when you are finished.”
Eloise turns to look at the garden, and her eyes widen when she sees how large it is, and then she turns back, “Yes, madam.” She starts to walk towards the garden, and as she gets a better look at it, she turns around, “One hundred times?”
Sophie nods her head, “One hundred times.”
Eloise turns to look again at the garden and lets out a breath before she begins to walk.
A little later, Eloise is sitting in Sophie’s living room. “You can tell whether or not someone is sophisticated from the way they drink their soup. Someone educated will never make a sound when they have their soup.”
There are several bowls of soup in front of Eloise, Sophie motions towards it. “Let’s see how you have your soup.”
Eloise reaches for a bowl, and as soon as she touches it, it spills all over the table. “Oh no!”
“What happened?” asks Sophie.
“The bowl was very hot, madam,” Eloise tells her, shaking her hands.
“Is that all?” Sophie asks. “If you were at an important dinner, dropping your soup would be very rude, and it would be embarrassing. Try again.”
Eloise gingerly picks up another bowl and brings it to her. She uses a spoon to scoop up some of it, brings it to her mouth, and takes a tiny sip, jumping at how hot the soup is.
Meanwhile, Sophie is watching her with a grin on her face.
We see over time, Eloise picks up a second bowl, then a third until she’s finished her eighth bowl of soup, leaving only one bowl remaining. She reaches for it. With a heavy breath, she begins to eat it, and when she’s finished, she sets the bowl down with a sour look on her face.
“I’ve finished, madam,” she says as she looks a little green.
“Shall we proceed to the next task?”
Eloise heaves a little but manages to hold it back, “Okay.”
We see Sophie instructing Eloise in reading lessons. After a few minutes, Sophia points to a table stacked with books, “Read through these and when you’ve finished, come see me.”
Without waiting for a response, Sophie turns and walks out of the room. Eloise walks over to the desk and picks up one of the books, “So many books.” The task looks daunting.
A little while later, Sophie returns with a snack and some water and notices that Eloise is nowhere to be found. “Has she given up?” she asks herself. She sets the tray on the table, “I figured as such.”
She turns and walks out of the room and stops immediately.
Eloise is holding a bowl of soup in the living room, walking around in a circle in high heels, and reading aloud from the book.
Sophie lets out a little whimper, “This girl…”
Sheriff Anderson rides up to the Champett’s place to see that it’s been burned to the ground. There are bodies everywhere in front of the house.
Deputy Trawls notices the sheriff arriving and hurries over, “Sometime last night, the home caught fire and burned to the ground. That’s not all. You should come see this.”
The sheriff slides off his horse and follows the deputy over to the scene. “Each victim has the same knife marks as we saw on Ethan Johnson.”
Sheriff Anderson kneels next to one of the slain servants and gently nudges her head to the side and on her neck, four slash marks just like they found on the previous victim. “They all have these marks?”
“Most, yes,” says Trawls. “There were a couple who appears to have had their neck broken, but move have these slash marks on them.”
“Champett?” asks the sheriff.
“Him too,” Trawls motions towards where the entrance to the house used to be. “He was caught up in the fire, so some of him burnt to a crisp. He has the same markings, though.”
Anderson shakes his head, “We have to find out what’s doing this and fast. Ask around town and see if anyone saw anything out here. I mean, I got no love loss for Champett, but who knows who will be next.”
Sansibar sits in his home in the dark. He is seated at his dining table with a whiskey bottle in front of him and a glass. He’s had a few already this evening.
“Eloise! Eloise!” he cries out.
His servant leads a man into the room, “Sir, you asked for a medium, and I’ve brought him.”
The medium sits down at the table, “Sir, first of all, I want to offer my condolences for your loss. Second, it’s my duty to ensure that your loved one is doing well in the afterlife. I am sure you know this is the only way I make a living…”
Sansibar reaches into his pocket and pulls out several gold coins, and tosses them on the table, “This should suffice.”
The medium’s eyes go wide as he reaches for the gold coins. “What is the name of your loved one?”
“Eloise,” slurs the demon.
The medium nods, taking a deep breath. He places his hands flat on the table, making a production of it. “I see her. She says she is struggling in the underworld. She’s not being allowed into heaven.”
“How dare they refuse such a kind girl entry into the kingdom!” shouts Sansibar, scaring the medium.
“Sir, I’m willing to put myself at your mercy. I will continue to do rituals on your behalf for the next three days to earn her entry into heaven, but I would need additional funding to make myself exclusive to you during this time.”
Sansibar snaps his fingers.
His servant returns with a pouch. Sansibar takes the pouch and sets it on the table, “Return to me in three days with news of her entry into heaven, and I will give you all the gold in this pouch. But, before you go, you must allow me to speak to her.”
The medium knows if he doesn’t follow through, he’ll never get the money. That pouch of gold will set him for life. The medium nods his head, “Let me make contact.”
He closes his eyes, “She’s here.”
Sansibar looks at the man, “What does she say? Is she okay?”
“She says she misses you. She says that she will forever miss you.” It appears the medium wasn’t clear on the relationship between the two. Sansibar is starting to smell a fake as his eyes begin to turn red and his ears begin to grow.
He rises from his seat, and he grabs the man by the throat, “You’d lie to me about this? For money?” The man struggles in his grip, but Sansibar has him and, with a flick of his wrist, snaps the man’s neck, killing him instantly.
The man falls from the chair to the floor as Sansibar releases him, “Get rid of him,” the demon demands of his servant. He leaves his hotel room and walks down the stairs and out of the hotel when he immediately spots Sophie Anderson.
And behind Sophie Anderson, carrying a few bags, is Eloise Pike.