Court of Owls

I suppose anyone who has ever spent part of his or her childhood anywhere in rural America has heard the story of Cry Baby Hollow.

I’ve heard the story several times, in several different places. Although in one case, the teller was from Mississippi and placed the tale in a bayou instead of a wooded ravine, the fundamentals are otherwise almost always the same: at some point in the indeterminate past, a young couple sets up housekeeping in a remote forest glade (or swamp hammock), and in the fullness of time the young woman has a child. The household basks for a while in the glow of pioneer Americana, brave, hard-working and happy. All too soon, however, usually within three or four years, some sort of disaster strikes and the parents are killed; in most versions I believe the mother is stricken ill and the father rushes off into the night for help, only to be killed in an accident en route, leaving the mother to die with no one by her side but the toddler. The child remains there, living off whatever he or she can find to eat in the cabin, until finally starving to death.

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