The trouble all started one dreary afternoon. Sheena had been gathering water at the well when she saw the horse. The horse had a large S branded on his rump. She'd heard about that horse in the village... it belonged to a fellow named Pug. Her heart beat faster. What would Pug be doing here? Everyone knew he was a slave trader. He kidnapped newcomers and bought children from families that needed the money. Mother and Father wouldn't...
She rushed into the house. Pug and her parents were talking in the kitchen.
"...buy that girl of yours?" she heard Pug ask.
"None! No price can take our daughter from us!" retorted the angry voice of her father.
"You don't even know which one I want!" Pug declared.
"We don' care!" Mother said. Sheena could hear the fear and anger in her mother's voice.
Father agreed, "We'll not be doin' this dirty business! It's quite dispekkable how parents sell their children, we never believed it right."
Sheena was immensly relieved. Their family needed money; they were very far from wealthy. Just selling one of their children would have made them rich beyond their wildest dreams.
"You can leave now," Mother said.
"What?" Pug asked; sounding disgusted.
"Get out. Leave. NOW!" Father roared.
A moment later a furious Pug stormed past Sheena and out of the house; he didn't even notice her.
Sheena passed the next few days in a state of deep worry. Which of Sheena's sisters was Pug after? Mari or Analiese?
Sheena was a practical girl, but never once did she suppose Pug would be after her. Who would steal the youngest, ugliest girl anyway, right?
Sheena had never seen herself, and therefore she thought herself ugly and stupid. That was what she had always been told. She'd always known that her sisters were the blooming beauties and it was such a shame that Sheena was so very very ugly. You see, the residents of the Long Islands considered beauty a matter of utmost importance in women.
Sheena mayn't be called beautiful by the Narnians of the Long Island, but simple, plain, and common were not words used to describe her either. It was always ugly. Ugly, hideous, disgusting... Sheena felt herself doomed to be a beggar on the streets when she got to be of age. In actuality, Sheena had no acne or deformities, or anything that would mark anyone ugly in, say, Peter Pensieve's world. It was here hair that turned people off. Her hair was red, a bright, shocking red, redder and brighter than an apple. No one living in the Long Islands had ever seen red hair before, and they thought it repulsing.
Neither Aractus nor Mary [Sheena's parents] had red hair. No one in either of their families had red hair either. No one knew how Sheena had gotten red hair. People had suggested chopping it off, so she'd be bald. That, at least, would be better than having red hair. But Aractus and Mary hadn't wanted their daughter to have no hair, so they just covered it most of the time.
Sheena hated it. She loved to let her hair loose, everyone knew how hideous it was anyway.
So, Sheena thought Pug was after her sisters. She felt it her duty to protect them, even if they thought themselves above her, as they thought themselves beautiful and her disgusting. So, she followed them around ready to run for help if she should she Pug.
They scorned her for following them around, but Sheena never told them why.
Father and Mother never once mentioned the visit of Pug. Thus, their family activities and chores went by as normal as ever. Sheena played along, and let no one know that she knew her sisters were in danger.
It had been two weeks since Pug's visit, and Sheena had started to relax.
Shasta had come with Sheena to get the water today. The pump stood about a mile from the house. When Sheena pumped the water, Shasta tried to help.
They really were a sight to behold; an older girl pumping really hard on a well with a little boy who is obviously trying to help by clinging to the end of the pump while really making a lot harder. Sheena said nothing to discourage him, for the action was meant kindly.
Sheena and Shasta were almost oblivious to the sound of horse hooves traveling nearby.
Eventually, she did look up.
She saw a man.
It was Pug.
Several other men were with him.
Pug had a horrible grin on his face.