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The Little

House In The


Niamh McCarthy

When one looked down from the hills and into the valley, the only

sign of life was the small spiral of smoke coming from the chimney of

a small cottage. If one stared closely, they could make out a narrow

stream snaking alongside a grassy trail leading to the front of the

dilapidated gate of the property. The house was once pure white;

however, over the years the crisp white had faded to grey. Rogue vines

and moss clung to the spouting of the roof and the wooden façade

had begun to rot away in several places. The cottage was enclosed by

majestic oak trees, as if to keep others out, and the only facet not in

disrepair was the vivid rose bushes which brushed the front fenceline.

With no other properties in the valley, the house was surrounded for

miles with fields upon fields of untamed grass. No one from the

nearest town had ever seen who lived there.

Mrs Russell, who was notorisouly known as the town’s gossip,

would gush at anyone and everyone she could about who resided in

the house in the valley. ‘It’s an elderly spinster who lives there,’ she

would start with, ‘I saw her once while I was looking down into the

valley. She was a hunchback with a hideous tattered hat and ragged

clothes. Honestly Mrs Hughes and Miss Johnson, it’s true! I don’t lie

about these things. If you don’t believe me, you should go take a closer

look yourself. But I’d be careful if I were you. Apparently she’s gone

insane due to living there by herself.’ Of course no one ever did look.

Mrs Russell was quite wrong. The elderly woman of whom Mrs

Russell had spoken was an elderly man. He did not wear ragged

clothes; his clothes were in fact neat and clean. And the man was not

insane, just withdrawn and a recluse. However, of one fact Mrs

Russell was somewhat accurate. Although he was an old man, he

wore an aged, tattered straw hat perched upon his head at all times

during the day. It was once a grand, wide brimmed straw hat adorned

with elaborate faux roses. Now, the edges of the rim had worn away

and strands of straw poked out at odd angles. The once vibrant roses

had faded to a speckled grey and were on the verge of falling apart.

The old man who lived there was called Henry. The townspeople

speculated as to how he could live being so isolated. But Henry had

his treasured Collie, Atticus. And Yvonne. She was always there

whenever he needed company.Hewould often talk to her throughout

the day; she usually sat above the fireplace unless it was dinner or

lunch. Then he would set the table for her and put her opposite him

so that he could see her smile locked in place in the old black and