Wails in the Night available for preorder

Papa came in with an armful of wood pieces, and he arranged them on the fire before he sat in his rocking chair and lit his pipe. He kept his cloak on, and wrapped around him, instead of hanging it by the door as he usually did.

I’m glad he was able to find those twigs, Agatha thought. The peat moss makes the air terribly smoky, and it stinks like the bog it comes from. It’s my job to gather it every morning and dry it out for the evening fire. The bog is damp, hot, and smelly, full of persistent insects. At least I can see my friends while I work; the other girls my age from the village are there each morning, gathering peat for their hearths. We often trade gossip and tell stories to distract ourselves and pass the time.

“Will you tell a story tonight, Papa?” Agatha asked.

Papa knew all kinds of stories about the fairy creatures that lived in the murky woods not far from our farm. Lepra-chaun, Cluri-chaun, and the dreaded Banshee. Agatha felt embarrassed, she was too old for stories, and she had heard them all. Still, she would soon be a married woman, managing her own household. With all the preparations needing to be done, this might be her last opportunity to hear one.

“Not tonight, Aggie,” Papa said in a hoarse voice and coughed a few times. “I’ve a sore throat.”

The family sat in silence for a few moments. “Is there a window open?” Papa asked, looking at Mama.

“Of course not. Why?”

“I feel a draft,” He replied and went to fetch the woolen blanket off their bed to wrap himself.

“I’ll make you some tea, Patrick,” Mama said, and got up to heat the kettle, hanging it on its hook over the fire.

“Thank you, Honora,” Papa replied.

The following day Agatha noticed that he lacked his usual cheer and vigor as he went out to feed the animals and milk the cow.

“Papa, don’t you want breakfast?”

“No. I’ll eat later when I’m done with chores.”

But after he finished, he came back in and went straight to bed.

“Patrick, be you sick?” Mama asked.

“I never get sick, you know that. I’m tired, tis all.”

The next day, he was throwing up everything he attempted to eat.

“Honora, I’m freezing,” he said to Mama. “Fetch me more blankets, Agatha, put more wood on the fire.”

Then a few moments later, he was kicking off all the blankets. “Why is it so blasted hot in here?”

So, it went. The next day his fever was raging hot. The wet rags Mama used to keep his head cool didn’t stay cold for long. Pus-filled blisters appeared all over his face and neck.

“Stay out, Agatha,” Mama told her when she asked how she could help. “Just keep wetting the rags and laying them on the chair in the doorway. I don’t want you getting sick.”

Mama soon developed a cough and chills. “Agatha,” She rasped. “I’ve done all I can. You must run and fetch Doc Murphy.”