He sat in his usual spot, right in front of the fireplace. He sat at an angel so that the fire would not burn his face. He remembered what his father always told him "Don't sit to close to the fire, Benjamin. It can hurt your eyes and burn your bottom." Ben move away from the fire a few inches nodding his head at the chair that was his fathers but had now been empty for far too many years to count. It was a shame that Ben was left with no family but the de Winter's, or rather Maxim de Winter and Frank Crawley, they cared for him, made sure he kept out of trouble, made sure he was able to live independently without fear of being committed. He never knew how his father worried for him if something happened to die before his son.
"It's not far!" Ben's father said sharply one night when Mr. de Winter asked him to have a drink with him, one drink turned into a few and a few soon turned into conversations. "Just because he isn't perfect and doesn't remember everything that he should is no reason to call him crazy and lock him away for the rest of his live!" He tossed back the drink Mr. de Winter just refilled. He shook the empty bottle.
Mr. de Winter tossed his back as well. "For as long as I live no one shall ever take Ben away from Manderly." He stood as he went to get another bottle. "And I any Son of a Bitch to come in here and try and take away that sweet young man that I played with as a child. Hell, we and I still go hunting for frogs if he catches me on my early morning walks with Jasper, he kept us from catching anything." He poured the liquor into the decanter. Heartfelt laughter filled the room.
Ben sat spinning his yarn into a tight ball when he suddenly heard the gunshot. He knew he wasn't supposed to look, that she would send him away just like she promised. She could do anything, he thought to himself. He sat for a long time rocking back and forth remembering her promise but the child in his mind wanted to see what had happened. He slowly crept out of his cottage and moved along the tree line, hiding in the shadows, inching his way to her cottage. He could only see where he was when the lightning flashed, since the storm covered the moon.
"I won't tell no one." Ben whispered over and over again as he leaned against the cottage and peeked in through the window. He did not see anyone but he heard movement coming from around the cottage and he nearly screamed when Mr. de Winter.
"Hello, Ben." He panted, smiling at him.
"Hello, sir." He looked down at him and saw that he was all wet and couldn't help the laughter that started deep in chest. "You all wet, sir." He chirped happily.
Mr. de Winter relaxed and even laughed himself. "I am completely soaked, Ben." He agreed.
"Come my cottage, nice fire going dry your pants in a just a few minutes." Ben gestured towards his cottage.
"That is very kind of you, Ben. Thank you." He gestured for Ben to lead the way. Excited that the master of the house was going to grace his little home he practically ran there.
"I'll dry you up in no time, sir." Ben told him as he took off Mr. de Winter's suit jacket. Again he laughed, "your shirt looks kind of red." He turned around and hung the jacket on the hanger safely above the fire. It's soul purpose of drying drenched clothes quickly.
"Do you have a robe, Ben, so I can toss my pants up there too and not walk around your home in my underwear?" He took off his pants while he spoke, he tossed them to Ben and made himself at home and easily found his robe. He sat in Ben's father's chair and removed his socks and shoes. Ben happily held out his hands for them and put them in a proper spot for drying.
"You wont be forced to be here for very long at all, I promise." Ben said as he sat on his knees in front of his landlord.
"It's a pleasure to be with you, Ben, your my old friend. It's always wonderful to be with an old friend." He relaxed in the chair and closed his eyes tightly as Ben laughed and jumped up and down a little in his excitement of his long time friend being with him. Being happy to be with him, not being mean or threatening to put him in the asylum.
"You're not like the other one." Ben said softly to himself while his eyes slowly looked around the room to make sure she wasn't there.
"The other who, Ben?" He whispered.
"de Winter. She's eyes like a snake, she'll put me in the asylum she said. I won't say nothin', I haven't said nothin'." He look pleadingly to his friend for understanding.
"You've done nothing wrong, Ben. As for the other one, Ben, she won't be here to threaten to put you away any more." His voice was deep and shaky. His face was dark, hidden behind the fire's shadow.
Ben looked over at the pink stained shirt and socks. "She try to put you in the asylum?" Ben asked with sympathy.
"She did." He admitted softly.
"You find another one, a sweet, kind one with eyes like an angel." Ben smiled softly at him. "She can't stop you no more. She's a nasty one, she is. But I won't say nothing to no one."
"You don't have to explain the actions of others, Ben. Don't worry about not saying anything, it's perfectly fine." His hand was on Ben's shoulder and been took great comfort from the warmth, it reminded him of his father.
"Ben..." he started slowly, clearing his throat.
"I don't know nothin' sir, I saw nothin'. They can ask me anything but I say I don't no nothin' and don't say nothin' to nobody." Ben said hurriedly, almost scared, he felt Mr. de Winter wanted to share the secret with him about the evil woman and the red clothes but he didn't need to hear it.
"Thank you, Ben." He said, rising slowly. "Do you think my clothes are dry? I should get back to the house incase I am missed."
"Yes, sir." Ben said pulling down the shirt and the pants first. "The shoes are still wet some." Ben said carefully handing them to him.
"I'll take care of it. Thank you, Ben, for your hospitality. It's nice to have a talk with you. You always light up and your tongue isn't so tied you can hardly speak. Thank you." Mr. de Winter smiled at Ben before his disappeared into the night.
After several minutes Ben went outside, he didn't see anyone so he made his way back to the cottage. He went to where he heard the noise when Mr. de Winter found him, he saw that the dingy was in the shed but not her boat, it was gone. He then went to the cottage and slowly opened the door. The floor was extremely wet but other than that everything seemed to be where it was supposed to.
"But her." He said. "She's gone. She'll be eaten by the fishes." Ben slowly made his way back to his cottage. "I saw nothin'." He repeated.