“Look at this,” Maeve called, excitement sending shivers down her arms, leaving goose bumps in their wake. “Suitcases.”
A surge of adrenaline hit her and she crawled over a stack of hoes and shovels to the pile of suitcases. There were many shapes and sizes, all faded, grayish brown. She pulled the closest one from the stack and set it on top of the tools. The rusted clasp gave her some trouble, but she forced it open.
Inside lay a carefully folded apron, once white, now dingy with mildew. She pulled it aside and found a wood-framed, faded photograph of a man and woman in antiquated outfits from the late eighteen hundreds. The inscription on the back read, “Mother and father, 1897.” A hairbrush, two dresses stiff with age, a small book of prayers, and a Bible also lay inside the case.
She closed the lid of the suitcase and searched its surface for any identification of the owner, but found nothing. “These must have belonged to people in the asylum.”
The others came over and Pearl lifted a hand, pointing to the cases. “We must open them.”
Maeve glanced at her mother and Ruby. “I think the deer led us here for more than shelter.”
“Hand us some. Let’s get started,” Ruby said.
Paul scrambled over the blockade of tools and helped Maeve lift the suitcases to the other three women. Dust rose as they disturbed the resting place of these relics of history. It clogged Maeve’s nose. She sneezed a few times and her eyes watered.
There were about thirty cases in all. Sad possessions of people who probably had no family to collect their belongings. When they’d all been moved to the room’s open floor, Maeve and Paul climbed back over and joined the others in inspecting them one at a time.
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