The Hessian, Chapter 19

“Prepare the operating table!” the physician of a large tent full of sink and injured soldiers directed the two nurses behind him as four men brought a person in on a cloth stretcher. 

“My wounds aren’t that serious!” Kenneth objected in a very labored tone. 

The physician used alcohol to sterilize his hands as he disagreed, “If your maladies were so minimal, then you would have entered into this facility on your own accord!” 

One of Kenneth’s peers relayed to the physician, “He lost a lot of blood out there!” 

“A bullet merely grazed me! None of this is necessary!” Kenneth proclaimed as they lowered him onto the surface that the nurses prepared for him. 

“I admire your willingness to serve, Lieutenant, but you won’t be of any value to the Continental Army in this condition!” the physician sternly addressed Kenneth as he utilized his scalpel to cut the bloodied and holed-up shirt off of him. “If this laceration reopens on the battlefield, you may not be fortunate enough to visit my ward next time!” A nurse handed the physician a wooden spoon, and the physician held it near his mouth. “Bite down on this!” 

Kenneth protested, “I don’t have time for this! I need to warn…” 

Bernard peeked his head into the enclosure and observed another officer assuring Kenneth, “We’re well aware of the British scouts who invaded our territory! Thanks to you, the Red Coats won’t learn of our location!” 

“No one is safe! I need to go!” Kenneth attempted to sit up, but his body wouldn’t budge! 

“What you need to do is bite down on this spoon while I treat your injury!” the physician retorted. 

Kenneth wanted to resist, but since he didn’t have the ability to walk away from this scene, he reluctantly relented, “Fine! Let’s get this over with!” 

As the physician began to untie Kenneth tourniquet, an additional serviceman reassured Kennth, “Don’t worry, sir! We have our camp well guarded- no harm shall befall us!” Kenneth’s eyes expressed doubt in this premise, but he couldn’t object since the physician started to sew up his wound. Bernard knew exactly why Kenneth was so distressed over security, and it wasn’t for their own! As that same gentleman comforted Kenneth, Bernard prayed that Kenneth’s agitation wouldn’t cause him to reveal their secret! “We’re just lucky that you needed to replenish your ink supply when you did! Wait, were you trying to send a warning to someone? Is there more danger that we should know about?” 

Bernard panicked at that invitation to divulge his classified information, but Kenneth was in too much pain from the stitching process to reply to him! His alleviation multiplied when the physician told Kenneth, “Don’t speak! Take in deep breaths through your nose!” Bernard cringed as Kenneth groaned from the procedure, but once the physician finished, Bernard released his tenseness! The physician notified Kenneth, “You can relax now! The hard part is over!” 

“I… don’t… agree!” Kenneth breathily disputed. 

“You’ll be alright!” the physician gently pat his wrist. While he wrapped a bandage over the legion, he instructed the nurses, “Prepare a bed for him.” 

Kenneth argued, “No, I can’t stay here!” 

The physician dissented, “You can’t hold your own head up let alone a rifle! Besides, I need to watch for signs of infection.” The four soldiers that brought Kenneth in transported him to the cot that the nurses indicated to, and the physician went on, “You should be back on your feet in the next day or two!” Kenneth nearly sounded off again, but the physician cut him off, “This isn’t up for debate! You must rest!” Kenneth steamed over this concept, but he didn’t have the strength to do anything more than give him a defiant look, so he begrudgingly accepted his finality. Once he saw this, the physician sympathetically queried to him, “Is there anything else I can get for you?” 

“Get me Bernard!” Kenneth requested. “I mean Private Malin!” 

“Will someone go fetch him?” the physician petitioned the men who carried him in. 

Bernard stepped in and announced, “I’m right here!” His comrades gazed at him in surprise, and Bernard sheepishly apologized, “Sorry! I saw the entire event transpire, and I wanted to see if he was alright!” 

One of the troop members cordially regarded Kenneth, “We’re glad you’re okay, Lieutenant Harvey! If you’ll excuse us, we must brief General Washington on the incident.” 

Kenneth weakly lifted his healthy arm to salute them, and they swiftly returned the gesture as they exited the area. As the medical staff cleaned up the surgical sector, Bernard knelt by Kenneth’s ear and whispered, “Do you want me to write that letter to Clarissa?” 

“No!” Kenneth quietly declined his offer. “The postal rider won’t come by until the region has been cleared! Our correspondence won’t arrive fast enough!” 

“Well, what else are we supposed to do then?” Bernard asked. 

Kenneth answered, “We’re going to have to go to Colfrith ourselves in order to tell Clarissa and her allies what we learned from Father Clarence!” 

Bernard responded in astonishment, “Go to Colfrith ourselves? Sir, at the present, you couldn’t leave even if you were physically able to!” 

“As soon as I’m fit enough to mount my steed, we’re departing for Colfrith!” Kenneth declared. “You’ll likely have to create a distraction so that I can escape from sick bay!” 

“With all due respect, sir, that plan seems so risky!” Bernard fretfully remarked. 

Kenneth shot back, “So is every moment that goes by where we don’t give them this tool they need to stop that murderous ghost! Do you want the ladies to keep gambling with their lives as they fight this heathen?” 

Bernard’s expression flooded with misgivings on this prospect. “Of course not! I simply… Well… I’m going to pen that message in case we can mail it sooner than expected!” Bernard hastily vacated the tent, and Kenneth moaned in exasperation. With an avid appearance of sheer determination, he strove to pick himself up! 

Clarissa, Gabby, and Drusilla were sitting at a table reading in silence when they heard scratching at the front door! That put them all on edge until they heard some mewing accompanying the scraping! “Oh, it’s Lucy! I’ll get it!” Drusilla cheerily volunteered. 

“Who’s Lucy?” Gabby inquired. 

“It’s what we’re calling the pussycat who frequents this yard!” Drusilla replied. “She’s named after my mother.” 

Gabby opined, “Well, that doesn’t seem fair! You got to grow up with your mother- I lost mine as a small child! We should call her Ellen after my mother!” 

Drusilla asserted, “But at least you have a chance of seeing your mother again! I won’t get that opportunity until my time on this earth has ended!” 

“You have a potential beau to comfort you. What do I have?” Gabby countered. 

“We’ll call her Lucelle after both of your mothers,” Clarissa decreed. The other two women still seemed a little litigious, but they accepted her pronouncement. Clarissa struggled to turn the page, and after an arduous minute of attempting this feat, she noticed that the other two had been watching her do this. “I’m okay! Well, not completely, but it’s nothing to fret over! My arms got sore after holding on to that lamppost for so long.” 

Gabby advised her, “You ought to see Doctor Cuthbart about that!” 

Clarissa declined that preposition, “I’ll recover after a trice of relaxation!” 

“And what if we must tend to another victim of possession?” Gabby challenged her. “These attacks have become more brazen, so what are the odds that you won’t need to your limbs today?” 

“I’ll get that!” Drusilla let the others know after the meows and scratches returned. 

Clarissa initiated a counterargument, “If we invite him in, then-!” 

Drusilla let out a shrill scream, and Clarissa as well as Gabby instantly stood up and readied themselves to assist her. Drusilla stepped aside and let them view the offense that set her off. “A mouse! Oh, but it’s dead!” Gabby observed. 

“It appears as though Lucelle brought us a present! I suppose she heard of our meat shortage and aimed to help!” Drusilla kidded. She was about to shut the door when… 

“Good afternoon, ladies!” Doctor Cuthbart politely greeted them from the front porch. 

Clarissa gave Gabby a quizzical glance, and Gabby attested, “I had nothing to do with this!” 

Doctor Cuthbart corroborated that claim, “She’s quite correct! I was sent here by… some concerned citizens. They entreated me to examine you after what happened yesterday.” 

“We hardly sustained the most precarious maladies! Surely, we are not your highest priority!” Clarissa commented. 

“Well, your physical well-being isn’t what evoked their disquiet…” Doctor Cuthbart gingerly revealed to them. 

Clarissa rolled her eyes, and then she probed, “How much of a payment would it take for you to leave us be?” 

Doctor Cuthbart took exception to that, “How dare you! I swore an oath to care for my patients, and money does not…” Clarissa held up a small pouch of coins, and he changed his tune in a flash, “Have a nice day!” He accepted the funds and vacated the property. 

“The nerve!” Clarissa slammed the door and immediately regretted it! “Oof! In my fit of anger, I temporarily forgot about my injury!” 

“Perhaps you should have had him examine you!” Drusilla weighed in. 

Clarissa refuted that, “He was sent to test my sanity- I would have only given him an opening to manufacture evidence for that cause!” 

Gabby somewhat anxiously articulated, “But you need medicine!” 

At that moment, Clarissa got struck with an idea. “I shall get medicine, just not from him!” 

As the trio of women walked down Hallow’s Alley, they fixed their eyes downward while they traveled. Drusilla dolorously mentioned, “I’ll be glad when this is all over and we can interact like normal people again!” 

“The worst part of it is that we have no inkling how long it will last! We might not get a window of normalcy for months or even years!” Gabby lamented with dread. 

“Oh, come now, you two! We must think positively! We already have enough to stress about, let’s not drum up anything to add to it!” Clarissa advised them. She heard a strange buzzing sound and wondered out loud, “What’s that racket?” She picked her head up and saw a storefront with an exorbitant amount of flies flocked beside it! “Oh good! It’s an abnormal occurrence, but not one we have to deal with! Oh, we’ve arrived!” They discerned that the apothecary abutted the infested candle shop, and they avoided the insects as much as possible as they entered inside. 

An exceptionally older man with slightly milky eyes greeted his patrons, “Welcome! How can I help you?” 

Clarissa conveyed to him, “We need an anecdote for pain.” 

“I’m afraid I’m fresh out,” the shopkeeper apprised them. “A lot of folks have suffered from this symptom lately, so much commotion! The world’s gone mad! Anyways, I can put you on a list and have it made for you in a few days! Or, if you’d prefer, I can sell you the ingredients and have you brew it yourselves! You would simply need my book of… Oh no, wait! I lent it to another fellow! And his friend who may have been foreign. He said something in a funny language…” 

“The people you loaned the novel to… were their names Brenner and Alastor?” Gabby enquired of him. 

The old man pointed a knobby finger at her and exclaimed, “That’s it! They were the ones!” 

Drusilla interrogated him, “And this literature they borrowed… Did it have spells in it?” 

He confirmed, “Yes, but I don’t use them! I only reference that publication if I can’t remember a recipe!” 

The trio of women stared at each other incredulously, but prior to them delving into this matter any further, a scream rang out from the candle store… 

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