Twelve Years Earlier

The early morning air was crisp and filled with anticipation for the new day. All across the large estate grounds was still and mostly quiet except for the sound of birds chirping and singing their songs to each other as they began the new day. There was one other sound heard amongst the air, a muffled sound as a child with their shovel in hand was digging up the soil in one of the less tended flowerbeds. Her name was Darby Herrington. She was around the age of 8 and she lived on this estate with her parents. She was an only child and was at the age where exploring on her own was the interesting thing to do instead of being cooped up in the house being told what to do by her mother.

She hopped with both feet onto the shovel to push it deeper into the earth, and smiled slightly with satisfaction as the blade of the shovel pushed into the earth smoothly. She had woken up early to sneak out to play as soon as she could. She wore a soft pink dress with ribbons and lace, not something she would pick out herself, but it was there and her mother still ordered how her clothes should be made. Darby didn know her own taste in clothing but she did find that the fancy dress was uncomfortable and difficult for digging in the soil. The silky material caused her to sweat more from her exertion and she huffed her light blonde hair out of her face and reached back to lift her long curly hair off her neck to cool herself.

Originally she had started to dig with her hands in the soil but found it wasn as convenient as a shovel and had quickly scuttled off to a garden shed to fetch a trowel for her purpose. What her purpose was she didn entirely know, she was searching for anything interesting that might have been buried under the ground. Of course this was just a big yard with a big house on it so the chances of something truly interesting being buried here were slim but her papa had been reading her curious stories as of late and recently pirates and buried treasure were playing through her mind so she thought she might have a go looking, one never knows what might be buried there after all.

She kept a small journal and pencil with her and whenever she found anything she would stop to draw a picture of it and write what it was. So far she had found a number of fairly interesting rocks and twigs and though these were quite commonplace, they were exciting discoveries for her. You know how it is when you
e small and finding things on your own, anything can be interesting with curiosity and a big imagination.

By now she had built up quite a pile of various things to look at and she pulled from her pocket a lovely magnifying glass that her papa had gifted to her, a gold rim around the glass and a sturdy wooden handle, it was new, and she was eager to examine her own freshly found treasures beneath the glass. She chose a particularly bumpy and dirty rock from her pile and brought it closer to her magnifying glass to inspect the tiny details up close. It had little pits and twists she noted as she looked closely but as she was staring, riding on a light breeze as it flew by, a ladybug gently landed on the rock in her hand.

A truly exciting development especially for a young child, Darby gasped and observed the little insect under her magnifying glass, whispering quietly to herself ”aha primitive beast ” the little bug did not take much notice of Darby and continued on its way, wherever it was headed, crawling across the rock and eventually catching another breeze and lifting off to fly away as gently as it had come. ”This is truly a fantastic discovery! ” Darby breathed out excitedly not knowing that she had instinctively been holding her breath so as not to frighten the tiny creature away before it was ready to leave on its own. She quickly put down her rock and scrambled to grab her journal and pencil so that she could sketch the bug while it was still fresh on her mind.

By this time Darby had been digging around in the dirt for some time now, she was covered in mud, the small boots she wore were thoroughly coated in mud, her legs and also the hem of her dress and any other spot she had touched, too busy and excited to be concerned that she was covering her clothes in dirt and smudging her face and hair with mud. All of this noted she was having a wonderful time playing and imagining, completely lost in her own world and mind as she thought of every twig and stone a treasure with some secret and special backstory. The sun was getting higher in the sky and started to warm the air, that plus all her serious work had caused her already curly hair to become wild and tangled. In truth Darby looked a mess but also like a child that was thoroughly enjoying herself. She took care in her digging and searching to avoid any flowers that were planted in the flowerbed not wanting to damage any plants and eventually she even inspected the flowers with her magnifying glass and the bark of a nearby tree.

Suddenly the happy and calm atmosphere in her world shifted. The birds became still and quiet as there was a loud whack of a door being thrown open. And a shrill scream filled the air ”Daarrbyy!!! ” Startled, all the birds quickly scattered and flew away. Darby had finally been noticed missing and after a search of the house her mother had concluded to look out of doors. Darby flinched as the alarming sound reached her ears. Her exact predicament came crashing down on her, she was covered in mud, hair tangled and messy, her dress completely filthy and she knew, ”Mama will not be pleased. ”

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