Black Moonlight
inherited the entire fortune, the family contested the will and ran you out of town.”
    “Father!” Prudence exclaimed. “How can you say such a horrible thing about Cassandra? She’s my friend … she has a gift!”
    Marjorie leapt from her chair and ran to the other side of the table. Taking a weeping Prudence into her arms, she shouted, “How can you be so kind and then be so cruel? Don’t you know, Mr. Ashcroft … ? Don’t you realize?” her voice trailed off.
    “I know,” he replied. “I know that Prudence is craving what her husband can’t, or isn’t, willing to give her.”
    Edward rose from his seat. “That’s enough, Father.”
    “You’ve lingered for years, under the pretense of being the ‘diligent’ son. Living at the family home, working at the company, but what you were really hanging on to was the hope of your inheritance. Meanwhile, your wife was withering away from loneliness. Of course, a better woman would have told her husband to quit years ago.”
    “Mr. Ashcroft, sir,” Miller spoke in a tremulous voice. “Edward is in charge of … I wouldn’t …”
    “Mr. Miller,” Ashcroft addressed his secretary, “you’ve already wasted my time with that sham of an appointment and by arriving late to dinner. You are in no position to advise me of what to do. In fact, you’re in no position at all. You’re fired.”
    Miller stood up and scurried from the dining room in a fashion reminiscent of his entrance.
    In the meantime, Edward had picked up his wine glass and sent it shattering against the wall behind his father. “Damn you!” he shouted as he made his exit. “Damn you!”
    As Miller and Edward made their dramatic departures, Creighton rose from his seat, withdrew the handkerchief from the pocket of his dinner jacket, and passed it to Marjorie, who used it to dab the tears of a sobbing Prudence.
    “The only reason I agreed to this dinner was because part of me hoped that things could be different. I hoped that my marriage might start a new chapter between us. I hoped that you had changed; I knew I had. But you haven’t changed at all. Despite the years, you haven’t changed, have you, Father?” Creighton calmly noted. “The only joy you’ve ever found in this world was in building people up and then dashing their hopes. Humans, and their emotions, are nothing but playthings to you. From the time we were young, you pitted Edward and me against each other. Edward was strong, like you; I was weak like mother. Mother …” He said in a half-whisper as he clutched his dinner knife. “You sapped every ounce of life and happiness out of that woman. Then, after you had killed her, you pitted her children against each other in some sickening battle for your affection. You bastard! I was a fool to think you’d ever change, you—”
    Selina stepped forward and took hold of both of Creighton’s arms. She quietly shook her head and cautioned, “Don’t do it, Mr. Creighton. Don’t do it, child. You have a new wife and the whole world in front of you.”
    Creighton put his arms down at his sides and dropped the knife. “But Marjorie …” he whispered.
    “Marjorie isn’t going nowhere,” Selina said reassuringly. “You go outside now and get some air.”
    With Creighton’s departure, the rest of the family scattered to their quarters, leaving only Marjorie, Selina, and Mr. Ashcroft in the candle-lit dining room.
    Selina took tight hold of Marjorie’s hand before retreating into the kitchen. “You go to your husband,” she whispered. “I’ll take care of the old man.”
    Marjorie nodded and attempted to follow her husband, but before she could leave, Mr. Ashcroft summoned her attention. “What are your thoughts, Miss McClelland?”
    He drew a piece of paper from his inside jacket pocket, unfolded it, and placed it on the table before him. Upon it, in type-written letters, were the words: THE DAY OF RECKONING IS NIGH.
    “What is this?” she asked as she picked it

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