The Hessian, Chapter 14

Ophelia’s sister asked her, “Are you okay?” 

As the girl crept closer to Opheila, Clarissa and Gabby screamed out, “No!”, but they were too late! Ophelia grabbed her sister by the neck and threw her against the well! When she landed, her skull bled and she remained motionless! Ophelia roared in anguish as she limply held the hand that she used to commit that horrendous act, and Clarissa surmised that her sister must have been wearing a crucifix too. Gabby and Clarissa rushed over to use salt on her before she caused any more damage, but the other ladies in the area intended to apprehend her… until… 

Ophelia vomited a stream of red liquid, and everyone backed away in case it was something more harmful than blood! Clarissa wracked her brain to find a solution quickly so they could subdue her without getting within the vicinity of danger, and as she desperately scanned her surroundings like doing so would allow the answer to present itself to her, she spotted Drusilla crouched behind some long-stemmed, purple flowers. At first, she assumed Drusilla was hiding there, but then she noticed that she was rubbing some sticks together, which she would have found odd at any juncture but got exceptionally floored as to why she would engage in such a strange activity during an emergency like this! She didn’t have another second to spare on this concept though… 

When Ophelia ceased her expulsion of that sinister substance, one woman took the rope from her yoke and wrapped it around Ophelia’s body, but Ophelia snapped her bind in half and lunged after her! The woman protected her neck, but Ophelia did not appear to have planned to use the same attack on her as she did with her sister! She clutched her by her hair and dragged her over to the well, and when she climbed onto the ledge, she held her over the hole in a way that suggested that she meant to drop her in! Several women made a bid to save her, but when Clarissa and Gabby strove to get into her proximity in order to cast their salt onto her, Ophelia’s deep-sounding alter-ego warned, “Take another inch and I’ll take her life!” 

Ophelia’s victim whimpered from a pained fear, and Ophelia barked out a devilish laugh! Clarissa whispered, “I’ll distract her, and then you-!” 

“Don’t you dare to try and cure me!” Ophelia bellowed. This horrified Clarissa- she was certain she had spoken low enough to avoid detection! “I’m much happier like this! It’s so beautiful! Can’t you see them dancing? The music is so magnificent!” Ophelia began swaying as though her ears had picked up on the most harmonious sound, and everyone watching gazed on in confusion. Her captive managed to reach the edge, and as a few of her peers seized her so they could pull her to safety, Ophelia detected her leverage escaping, but prior to her making a move on this development… 

“Be gone, spirit! Be gone!” Drusilla commanded as she aimed a bouquet of burning blooms in Ophelia’s direction! Clarissa would have questioned the validity of this defense if Ophelia hadn’t recoiled in such a drastic fashion! She loosened her grip on her detainee, but only because she tumbled into the heard of the well! She created a splash large enough that it reached the surface and dowsed all of the onlookers within the scope of her enclosure, and then, the atmosphere grew quiet for a minute… Slowly, more and more women crept closer towards the well, and as soon as a couple of ladies chanced a peek inside… 

Ophelia knocked a pair of bystanders down as she crawled out of the pit like a speedy insect! She scurried towards the village, but Gabby stopped her in her pathway by laying down a line of salt! Ophelia turned around and headed towards another target, but Drusilla sent more smoke at her! She hissed and hurried to the spot where a group of girls had gathered, but Clarissa emerged from behind the bunch and drowned her in salt before she had the opportunity to flee! Gabby mimicked this move, and Drusilla joined them with her blazing buds. Soon, Ophelia’s limbs and torso violently shook, and foam came out of her mouth! All of a sudden, she froze and shut her lids! The crowd glimpsed at her very cautiously wondering if it was over, and then… 

Everybody jumped as Ophelia lurched upwards, and for a brief instance, Clarissa worried that their efforts hadn’t been effective, but then they realized that she had merely jerked up so that she could get sick! It soothed the masses’ nerves to see that she ejected a more human projectile, and their alleviation increased as Ophelia croaked out, “Mary!” in her normal voice! Their mollification diminished though when Ophelia went on, “Sister, please! I’m not well!” Clarissa’s stomach lurched at the prospect of witnessing Ophelia discovering a family member’s demise, and she didn’t think she could bear to see it when she recognized that she had a role in her fatal fate! “Mary! Please! Where are you?” Clarissa and Gabby espied Drusilla dashing away from the scene, and as the females who watched the fracas unfold started to murmur about the tragedy, Gabby nudged Clarissa to indicate that they ought to follow suit. Clarissa already sensed blame getting thrown towards her, so she decided to heed Gabby’s hint. While they withdrew from this sector, they could still hear Ophelia’s bewildered wails echo into the horizon! 

As a gray-haired man in a Continental soldier’s uniform handed out food from a cauldron to his fellow military men, Bernard opined, “This isn’t going to work!” 

“Well, standing back until he finished his charity didn’t pan out for us yesterday, so do we want to make that same mistake twice?” Kenneth challenged Bernard. Bernard still frowned, but Kenneth insisted, “The correct response is no! Let’s go!” They marched towards Father Clarence, but they had to unexpectedly halt… 

“Lieutenant Harvey?” a man from behind them called out. Kenneth cringed but then swiveled around to face the fellow in a courteous fashion. The perpetrator was revealed to be a postal rider, who notified him, “You have a letter.” 

Kenneth accepted the letter and graciously regarded him, “Thank you!” The postal worker saluted him and then took off. Once he was out of sight, Kenneth directed Bernard, “Alright, let’s go have that chat!” 

Bernard protested, “Hold on, don’t you want to see who sent you a message? It might be important…” 

“But so is this!” Kenneth argued, but when Bernard’s logic really ruminated in his thoughts, he acknowledged that his reasoning was valid. No matter how urgent the situation in Colfrith became, he could not neglect his patriotic duties! He raised the post to his eye level and prayed that this correspondence was nothing critical so that he did not have to neglect what felt crucial to his heart! When he identified the return address, his expression lit up in delight! “Oh, it’s Clarissa! She responded to me so quickly! I shall enjoy reading this later!” 

“Later? Shouldn’t we learn the contents immediately?” Bernard pressed him. Kenneth gave him a reproachful look, so Bernard hastily added, “I want to go over this matter with Father Clarence, I really do! Recall that this was my idea! But I don’t esteem that we’ll get very far if we do it in this manner! We have no privacy, but if he did choose to speak freely anyhow, the men who listen in to our conversation could have all three of us kicked out of the unit! We need to continue to pursue his guidance, but we need to do it in the right approach!” 

Kenneth contended, “We may never receive another window to interact with him! If we delay this any further, we may lose our fortuity to be in his company permanently!” He gazed at Clarissa’s handwriting wistfully, and then he contemplated out loud, “Then again, she may have solved this conundrum recently, and our labor in this endeavor would be wasted! Fine, you win! I’ll read it!” 

Bernard eagerly observed Kenneth’s reaction to Clarissa’s words! Initially, he seemed very pleased with what he gathered, but soon, his smile slipped away! Anxious about what may have transpired, Bernard petitioned him, “What is it? Did something terrible occur? Is everyone safe?” 

“We definitely need to confer with Father Clarence!” He veered back to where Father Clarence had stationed himself, and to his dismay, another officer stood there instead! “He left!” Kenneth lamented. 

“I’m sorry, sir!” Bernard apologized. “I-!” 

The postal worker returned and informed Bernard, “I was told you’re Private Malin. I have something for you as well.” 

After receiving the letter, Bernard pleasantly verbalized, “Much obliged!” The postal rider saluted him as well, and once he took off, Bernard excitedly theorized, “Maybe it’s from my beloved, Drusilla!” He checked out the communication’s origin, and he furrowed his brows. “Who is that?” 

Kenneth recommended, “It’s such a bizarre occurrence that it must have some relation to our abnormal mission! You’d better open it!” Bernard heeded his advice, and with trepidation of what it might entail, he unsealed the envelope! When he discovered the truth of his tidings, he nearly doubled over in shock! Kenneth eyeballed the exchange, and then he remarked, “This gives me an idea on how to secure a meeting with that elusive priest!” 

Clarissa and Gabby each read from a pile of books in front of them, the only sound that emanated in their building was the crackling of the fire until Gabby abruptly stood up and proclaimed, “I can’t take any more of this drivel!” 

“You don’t have to comb through Brenner’s library!” Clarissa let her know. “Personally, I don’t see what value you expect to gain from studying that Loyalist blather!” 

“I’ve already said it, I suspect the steps for whatever ritual he performed must be hidden here somewhere! That’s not a feat that a man who’s spent his whole life practicing Christianity suddenly knows how to do on his own accord!” Gabby vehemently expressed. 

Clarissa pondered, “I imagine that you’re correct, however, why would Loyalists include that in their anti-freedom material?”  

Gabby shrugged as she restlessly paced. “I don’t know! I wouldn’t put anything past these red-coated stampcrabs!” She paused and then griped, “It’s maddening to think that I’ve finally become a free woman and then there are people like this author out there who want to take it away from me!” 

“I’m not confident our sex will quite have the same liberty as our male counterparts, but we can only fight one battle at time!” Clarissa commented. She set down her tome and inquired, “Do you believe that Brenner’s interest in traitorous rhetoric has ties to whatever rite he participated in?” 

“That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out,” Gabby replied. “The ingredients to that spell were stashed adjacent to the publications that he intended to keep a secret, which might simply be a coincidence. He may have opted to store two different secrets in the same locale, but then Brenner’s death followed so shortly after Alastor’s. Is it still a mere coincidence that now most of the town is spouting these same absurd credences?” 

Clarissa conjectured, “So, what you’re saying is that Brenner may have done dark magic to help the British?” 

Gabby nodded. “The Hessian we hanged may have ranted about how our fundamentals are leading the world into anarchy, but so far, as a ghost, he’s only caused murder and mayhem. His specter hasn’t mentioned anything about unpatriotic feelings!” 

“The hearts and minds of our neighbors appeared to have swayed once Alastor met his maker though,” Clarissa disagreed. “I felt a chill go down my spine after his spirit vacated his body, and then everything was different in this region! The sentiment that formed had to have resulted from the spy’s execution! Brenner was with me when that happened, so I know for a fact that he didn’t try anything out of the ordinary to evoke this aura! He was especially quiet that afternoon, actually! I used to credit that with the hurt of watching a man he previously considered a friend betray our country and get killed for his crimes, apparently, he was on his side all along! Perhaps the enchantment he attempted to immerse himself in was meant to assist Alastor by some other means…” 

“So, the only question remains is did he do this sorcery prior to or preceding that scoundrel’s fatality?” Gabby probed. Before Clarissa got to reply, there was a knock at the door! Clarissa speculated that Alastor may have gotten wind of their nearing of a vital perspective of his scheme’s beginning, and so her pulse raced as she peeked onto her front porch wondering who may have come to call! She was so sure it was a trap, and it did not comfort her apprehension to behold a figure in a black cloak with a hood that covered their visage… 

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