She was sure Mayor Garver was going to tell her it was because the valley was haunted and he didn’t want her to be cursed like the rest of them. Sure that he was going to tell her about the warning that flew through the valley the night before. She just knew that he was going to confess that the valley was haunted by a witch and she didn’t want to be anywhere near her wrath.
The Garver family had been one of the families that stayed after Elise blew through the saloon in 1937. According to Roark, the Garvers, Myers, Welches, Kings, Nelsons, all stayed because they had nowhere else to go. It was at the tail end of the Great Depression and they had sunk everything into trying to mine the valley.
In fact it was JD Garver, Mayor Garver’s great granddad, who took apple seeds from Elise’s very hill and started an orchard. The five men sent for their families, even though she plagued them with fleas, phlegmy coughs, a hoard of moths that ate at their clothes and blankets, and a constant itch in the middle of the foot that would only start when the folks had on their heavy boots and ended the minute the boot was off. The Garver family had endure it all, so surely he would warn her off.
“Well, you’re getting older and I don’t like that you live up on that hill all by yourself,” he stated. “A woman could get hurt.”
“So could a man,” Elise stated with narrowed eyebrows.
Mayor Garver held up his hands. “I don’t mean any offense. I just worried about you is all. That’s my job, to worry about the fine folks of Apple Hill. We hate to see you leave, honestly.”
“Would love to see you leave,” mumbled Elise.
“What was that?” asked the mayor.
Elise shook her head. “Nothing, just that I had better go see to the library. You know I still have to find someone to take my place.”
“Have a good day,” hollered the mayor as he jogged back to the cleanup efforts.
Once Apple Hill’s famous apples started to make their way out into the world, the town grew with people working for the orchard and the five families became the celebrated founders. Founders? Elise’s family had been the first inhabitants of Apple Hill. They had been the ones to care for and cultivate the small apple trees that had established themselves on the hill and make them flourish. They had been the ones who had protected the valley from the likes of men and their greed. Except for Elise, she had failed.
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