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'Damn! I can't believe it!' Thomas was really cross with himself. He had overslept badly from being so tired. Countless hours of walking, trying not to be seen, since his last lift on the back of a cart dropped him at a crossroads on the outskirts of a town he had heard of - but never visited. Not fun at all - made worse by the heavy clothes he had been forced to wear. But he had trudged on regardless, keeping off the roads to avoid the risk of meeting anyone he knew. Miles later - exhausted - his feet blistered, lips sore and chapped, he collapsed into the heart of a wheat field in the middle of nowhere and passed out.
The sun was high in the sky as Thomas tidied himself up as much as he could. He patted his hair down and stuck the frayed ends of his trousers into his boots. Checking that he was all alone, he slid out through the tall wheat that had been his protector and hit the country tracks once more.
Once he heard a stray voice calling to a dog. "Come here now!" But so careful was his navigation, that the final leg of his journey across the meadows and down the lanes to his destination proved solitary and uneventful. Making his way in an easterly direction he eventually spied familiar sights, and clambering over a style he paused, knowing his initials T.H lay carved there from when he had sat and rested one time when helping with the harvest. It seemed an age ago.
Moments later, he squirreled up to the ridge line and spotting the spire of Martlesham town church, heaved a huge sigh. He made his decision and, spitting on his hands as if that would help them heal, scampered away towards it - where he knew he could finally rest.
He skirted his way around the edge of the town as best he could, trying to act all innocent, but felt that everyone he passed looked at him as though they knew. He tried to shrug it off. Until, passing a crying baby in a pram, his instinct was to stop. But the mother looked up at him for a little too long. He tried to be casual, but hearing his name called out, quietly at first and then louder twice more as he skipped over the bridge, he swerved suddenly into the allotments. They were uninhabited, aside from deaf Mr Taylor who was too busy weeding his onions to notice him pass.
The sun was low when he reached the cottage. His mother's bicycle was not where it was kept and the porch door was closed - always a sign that there was no one at home.
The sound of feet someway behind him on the gravel made him start. A flashlight and whispering voices were coming up the path. He bolted off into the woods to avoid being seen.
A little later, Thomas stood in the grounds of Shabbington Hall - watching. The sundial at the edge of the circular drive was cold and the fountain clogged with moss and lichen from months of idleness. Thomas waited patiently until he was sure that everyone had retired to bed before, stealthily, he made his way towards the house, gripping the knife tightly that he held in his hand.