Jeanne Clauson is a handsome woman. Though Jeanne is not a prideful woman, she does like to wear pretty things. And so it was with her new hat. The hat was mad of straw and had a nice wide brim that would keep the sun out of her eyes. Wrapped around the black crepe band and trailing down the back was a lovely green silk ribbon. The front was adorned with a matching bow and button. It was a fine hat and she loved it. Her husband had given it to her as a birthday gift though, Jeanne suspected that the extraordinary gift was as much birthday present as it was an attempt to help her through the first anniversary of their daughter Ellie's death.
The last year had been hard on them all but, slowly they were beginning to heal. She missed Ellie terribly and as the anniversary approached, her eldest child was in her thoughts more than usual. The more she thought of Ellie and missed Ellie, the quieter she had gotten and she knew that Asa, her husband, recognized the import of her silence and worried about her. The hat was an extravagance but, she loved him for the gift and the kind thought behind it. She loved her husband. Asa was himself a very quiet man and the hat spoke volumes about the feelings he had for her. Such a pretty hat, the green ribbon was her favorite color and Asa was well aware of that!
One year. Twelve months were not a lot of time to deal with this kind of grief. Still, she was better than she had been a year ago. Unfortunately, Jeanne was not alone in her pain. Two more little girls had been killed. One each, during the winter and spring. Two more children in the ground. Two more families in pain. She did not know the little girl from New Carlisle. She did know the family of Cassie Turner. They were regulars at her church and Cassie and Ellie were on playing terms. No one had seen or heard the beast that had mauled the poor girls.
After each death, hunters and trackers had taken to the fields, the woods and the river beds. All to no avail. No tracks had been found. Nor had they found any sign at all of the animal that had killed her little Ellie and the other two poor little girls. The families in this rural area were becoming alarmed by the cruel and violent loss of three girls in a single year. Children were being kept closer to home and fathers and mothers were vigilantly watching their children, just as she and Asa kept a close eye on their remaining girl, Stella.
Jeanne had her new hat and she thought it was a fine and lovely hat. More than something pretty to place on top of her head, she knew it was her husband's love and kindness that she place upon her hair. The straw and ribbons could not make up for the hard year that lay behind her but, she could smile none the less when she pulled the hat out of its box and straightened the ribbon with her fingers.
Here are the links to the entire series of Elli Claussen stories:
For those that wondered but, were not sure, that the stories might be connected, they are. I have most of the plot worked out on paper and will continue to post new parts of the story as the images become available. This sometimes means that weeks can pass between installments and I am sorry for that. However, I hope you agree that the images help to make the stories come alive.
Thank you once again for your feedback and encouragement. If my story telling is improving and I am becomming more confident, it is only because you have made me more comfortable. Don't hesitate to ask any questions or make comments if you have them.