After she breaks her ankle, Eliza spends a whole month with Old Steiner and his nephew Alphaeus.
Actually, Alphaeus is the one who takes her meals to her, and they talk a little. Eliza thinks that he is the most attractive man she has ever seen, but then she overhears an argument between uncle and nephew, and she realises that even though Alphaeus is kind to her, he has a more sinister side. Old Steiner confirms her fears when he tells her about his nephew’s rough upbringing, and she should be careful as the man is sweet on her.
Eliza returns to her cottage as soon as her foot heals, and she is determined not to encourage Alphaeus’s advances. The first time he comes to the island, she hides, and she hears cursing and even kicking the goat he had given her a few weeks ago. When she goes to the fair on Orcas Island, they spend some time together, but she keeps fobbing him off. However, as time goes by, she is more and more aware of her loneliness, and she thinks she couldn’t be much worse than she is now with Alphaeus. So the next time she visits, he asks her to marry him, and she tells him that she will think about it, but they hug, and she is almost convinced that she will say yes.
Then one day when she has been out walking to the top of the hill, she returns to the cottage to find it has been ransacked. Eliza suspects that the person who has taken some of her provisions and even her gun is one of the few people still on the island. It is either a man who is nicknamed Mad Virgil, or his deaf son. Eliza thinks it is the boy, and he starts leaving things for him outside the house, and the food is gone the following day. Steiner has been away for weeks now, and Eliza fantasises about looking after this boy, and she goes as far as to think that she won’t marry Steiner unless the boy, who she has named Samuel, is with them. I don’t know if Eliza is going crazy, or if her loneliness is making her misjudge the world. I just hope that Eliza doesn’t marry Alphaeus because after all she has gone through, she deserves a better life, and not one with a man that eventually will hurt her.