Initials Etched on a Dining-Room Table, Lockeport, Nova Scotia The girl was young when she did it, and she didnt live there. This was in 1962. She was eighteen. Shed been hired to tidy the place. It was three, maybe four years before anybody noticed. The letters were so small, and they always ate in the kitchen. And when they did discover them, she was already gone to Halifax. By that time the girl had a reputation to escape from. So when they put two and two together and figured out it was she that did it, they werent surprised. Of course shed be the one to do something like this, they said shameless girl, not shocking at all.A cod fisherman, a captain, lived in the house with his wife, one of the original Locke mansions on Gurden Street overlooking the harbor. They never had children, but dust collects nonetheless in a house so huge. The girl had never been in a place that grand. At least thats what they told each other when they found her letters. RGL. That shed wanted to leave her mark in the world, something that would last, something that would stay. The family still lived in town, her father and brothers sold hardware, so they could have held somebody accountable for the damage if theyd wanted to. But the captain and his wife talked it over and decided not to mention it to anyone. Not that they approved Lord no. It was defacement of property. Vandalism. Of course it was an heirloom; it had belonged to her mothers mother, a burnished mahogany drop-leaf built in York in 1844. They could never approve. But they were quiet people; they kept to themselves in the hard times, and even in the good times they held their distance. Besides, what could anybody do about it now? What was done was done. Still, that didnt mean the captains wife didnt watch more carefully over the other girls who came to clean, and it didnt mean the captain didnt sometimes think of her sugar breath, that morning, the one out of a thousand when he was home and slept late hed startled her in the kitchen. Captain Adelbert! I didnt have any idea you were home, me banging the pots down here to wake the dead. His only intention was to touch her sweater (Lucy was out, still teaching school then), but he couldnt stop and kissed her, her hands at her sides. She didnt resist or desire, and that had made him a fool for years.Yet over the longer years when the fish became scarcer, when theyd long since failed their vow to fill that house with children, when the silences between them sometimes lasted hours, when the captains wife no longer paced the house, waiting for him, or word of him an odd thing. They still talked about the letters. RGL became a part of the table that had always been too good to eat on, as important as the deep swirls carved at the top of the legs. She. The simple fact of her once among them, among their things, dusting, opening closet doors, tracing her finger along the frames of the paintings in the front room. Taking a needle she must have used a nee Excerpted from Esther Stories by Peter Orner All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.