Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Devil In Jersey: Chapter VI

In Which the Reverand and His Friends Make the Acquaintance of the Devil

Excerpt from Samuel Longewynde, Notes upon the Investigation into the Occurrences at the village of Crosswicks, in the State of New Jersey, December 1776

Upon closer examination, the documents contained in the second iron box found in Reverend Hadley’s grave proved to contain the description of an elaborate series of spells including the construction of various wards and charms designed to maintain a barrier to forces diabolical.

The provenance of this work was initially unknown, not being recognizable from any Western tradition. Annotations in Hadley’s hand indicated that he had copied it from the volume of Binsfield found in the Academy’s library at Princeton. However, no version of Binsfield contains this particular series of spells and it was therefore concluded to have been taken from hand-written notes made on the end pages of that volume.

The work itself was finally recognized by Major Z. as coming from a work he had seen in the library in the residence of his mother’s family near the city of Zenda. It came from an obscure tome titled Suasoria Luciferi by J. Sandorius, a Transylvanian alchemist who was briefly associated with the Ruritanian Royal Court in the latter part of the last century. At least one volume from a limited publication had been provided to the Royal Society in London, which may be taken as the source of these notes.

The series of spells and constructs were elaborate and would require a considerable time to decipher let alone prepare and cast. Of initial note is that fact that these barriers are intended to be focused upon a static location. That is to say, there is a single immovable point to which the wardings are aligned and this point is the location of a thing of evil. Thus is begged the question of why such spells were used against a motive entity?

Excerpt from A Hussy’s Progress, the Autobiography of Moll Daggett

Chapter the Fourth
How I Become an Honest Woman, Continued

After playing mudpies in dead Hadley’s grave, we set off into the woods to have a gander at the Crump farm, the scene of the second slaying.

Now, the way to Crump’s twas not a road by any sense of the meaning but more a narrow twisting path through dense pines. Added to this were drifts of snow encrusted with ice from a recent freezing rain. A worse terrain besmirched by worse weather could not be found this side of North Wales.

And oh what a great mob we were crowded upon that narrow path, more like a procession on Saint Bridget’s Day and twice as daft.

Out in front was the thimble-witted Prince Leopold mounted on his steed, Bucephalus. Now a fine horse it twas, big and strong yet quick and far wiser than its master, not meaning to damn the horse with faint praise, for twas a most excellent, intelligent horse.

Like his other hounds yapping at the Prince’s heels twas Yap himself who had forsaken his Indian garb now that we had not to fear the English army. Odd to say, though, Yap did not forsake using the trite phrase of “How!” whene’er twas clear that the Prince had grown particularly tiresome to him.

Now this had an unfortunate sequel, for along the way, we passed by a tree in which a large owl twas ensconced. With the puzzle-witted Prince first in line, he came upon it first and must a disturbed the poor bird, for it suddenly cries out, “Whooo!”

Well, young Muddle-brain, responds, “Tis me, Weopowd!”







This twould have gone on all the day, had we not come up on the scene and Major Zed made to eat the bird so it flew off.

In addition to our bemuddled van, the main body of our party twas comprised of the Reverend out afore and Bozarth the Younger sent along as guide. This scrofulous little mite twas as lazy and dimwitted as a turnip, and looked a passable bit as one too, so twas no wonder his father did not hesitate to be parted from him and placed in harm’s way.

I was behind them with Madame of the Lilypad and gorge-gutted Major Zed.

We had brought with us two of the Hessian Jagers, Stefan and Karl by name, who Zizzendorf insisted twere very fine woodsmen in their own country. One of these strode lightly through the thickets upon our right whilst Fennimen snaked his way through the bosk on our right. ‘Tother was our rear guard with prickly Zizzendorf himself. Though I would ne’er say so to him, the presence of the obtuse Prussian gave me some comfort for twas as grim and frightening a journey as I ere set foot upon.
Although we had left Hadley’s grave about one o’ the clock in the afternoon, ‘twas as dark as gloaming with the sky full of the darkest cloud, appearing so low as one could seemingly touch them.

All of us, save the Prince who chose to have a battle of wits with his horse and lost, were most subdued. A grave sense of foreboding seemed to pervade our party entire. When upon occasion I caught a glimpse of Fennimen moving through the copses, he seemed to move with great deliberation and bore a look of high perturbation. Even the Reverend’s viz appeared pale with his jaw clenched tight and him staring intently at the path afore us.

Then, we heard a sound in the treetops.

We all stopped and saw the pines shaking in turn, as if some great thing was leaping from top to top, always coming toward us. Me heart was thumping like a recruiting party’s drums and me guts turned to water within me. I backed off the path and tried to hide meself under the trees. I saw at all the rest had joined me, seeking what scant cover could be purchased of the evergreens.

All, that is, save the Reverend who clutched his Bible in his hands and began muttering prayers, the Doctor who played with his spectacles as if to trying to get a better look at the onrushing doom, and Zizzendorf who drew his pistol and set himself with stubborn look upon his face that I used to loathe but welcomed now.

This be no Squirrel

A sudden, a great creature sprung from the foremost of the trees. Twas truly a thing o’ horror. Dark, fire red it twas with great batlike wings spreading twenty feet or more from its back. Its head was that of horse but terrible true nightmare 'twas, with great yellowed horns curving wickedly from its temples. From its throat came a deep piercing groan as horrible as the sound the rack makes when it turns upon a victim.

A cry of terror escaped unbid from me lips and I flung meself into the snow, hoping to avoid notice. Fenniman, who stood hardby, lifted his long gun and fired directly at the devil. I could see the ball strike directly into the monstrocity’s chest but it did no harm and appeared to have struck off harmlessly.

The awful brute swept down upon the Doctor who, at the last moment, appeared to comprehend the danger. He clicked his heels together, producing those ridiculous spring heels. This time, he jumped upon them just as the Devil’s terrible claws were about to enclose him, and he sprang away and flew over the monster’s back. Though he saved himself, the good physician failed to avoid the tree that stood behind and crashed into its branches. Unlike at the church, he did not lose the fight with the limbs and so stayed with the tree’s boughy embrace.

The creature landed and I could take its full measure. Twas a dozen feet or more with great bulging muscled arms that ended in saberlike claws. Its eyes glowed a fierce orange in the dusky light. Then it bounded up and took flight again.

Twas then, Yap, who had brought his horse near to us, plucked out a grenadoe, lit it with his flint and flung up at the Creature as the thing rose above the ground. The bomb hit the devil directly in the chest and discharged. The force of the blast did no discernable harm to the creature but it flung the great beast back into the pine tree that twas the refuge of Doctor McC.

Now, I could only imagine the thoughts that raced through the good Doctor’s mind when he found himself separated from the Devil by a few inches of pinewood. I twould surely have swooned. But the Doctor, despite his usually mealy manner proved to be far sterner than I would have expected. I later learned that, whilst the creature gathered its bearings, the doctor produced his spring-loaded scarificator from his pocket. He dipped the attached lancets into a bottle of sleeping draught. Then he pressed the scarificator against the hellspawn’s back and fired all twelve lancets therein. Strange to say, the blades entered the beast’s hide, even thought no blood came forth.

The devil did not seem to note this back strike for the Reverend strode forth and produced his own pistol which twas loaded with a cold iron ball. When he fired, the ball struck the hellion and there was some effect, for a small hole twas visible in the thing’s shoulder and the slightest of grunts escaped its maw. The terrible demon seemed to be struggling to escape from the tree in which it had been knocked.

Fennimen, who had been endeavoring to load his long piece, leaped up, his powder horn and flint in his hands. He intending to ram the horn into the wound on the creature and set it afire. Instead, the creature kicked him away like dross and he landed hard by in the snow.

Then we heard the oddest call, a great “View Halloo!” and down the path came Prince Leopold, charging on his steed, waving his saber about his head like a whirly-gig. He rode up to the beast, whose bulk was still locked into the branches a good six above the ground, and struck it hard. Sad to say for the brave idiot, the saber bounced off the creature’s flesh as if twas a buttering knife.

The devil raked the highborn shaver with its terrible claws and the poor toff flew off his horse in a great mist of blood.

Now as I have said, his horse was far wiser than the Prince and took the royal collar in its teeth and dragged the lad to safety. Betimes the Prince struggled onto the back of stallion but was sore hurt and the royal blood flowed onto the cruppers.
Then Madame de B. came up next to me. She said, “I have an idée. Can you get close to this diable and blow flame upon the snow in the tree in which it is?”

Feeling that I had played the poltroon for long enough, I told her that I thought I could.

Thus I found myself creeping up upon the foul spawn of hell and, from some brush hardby it, spewed a mouthful of burning rum into the branches. The sudden fire caused much of the snow in the branches to go up in a cloud of steam about the devil. Then the Frenchwoman crooked her hand at the beast whilst grasping her jewelry. Of a sudden, the steam turned into hard ice and the creature could scarce seem to move within.

Doctor McC. took this as his opportunity to escape from so close a proximity to the creature. He held onto the branches and pulled his feet up until he could push against the ice-encrusted devil, thinking this the fastest way to fly from this scene of danger. Unfortunately, the good physician had not looked at what twas behind him when he hazarded pushing off and thus drove himself a short distance across and into a neighboring pine which he struck with prodigious force. This must have knocked the breath from him for the good sawbones fell from the branches into the snow below.

The respite for the rest of us twas e’en briefer. The ice soon cracked apart and I saw with me heart in me mouth that the devil was gaping down at me. It swept down but this time, its wings were not quite as steady and his head lolled back and forth. Still it hurtled towards me. I closed me eyes just afore he struck and heard a great crash and twas knocked off my feet. When I opened me peepers again, I saw that the creature had fully missed and struck the tree behind me. But the thing was struggling to regain its feet and was glaring at me with its fierce flaming gaze.

I was petrified by fear and could scarce move to escape. Then I heard a great blast and a double-charged of ball and buck struck the devil square in the forehead. Behind me stood Zizzedorf with a smoking pistol. As the creature shook off the effect of the bullet strike, the Prussian grabbed hold of me arm and pulled me away. He flung me o’er his shoulder and headed off down the path.

We swept past the Reverend who stood in the middle of the way with a vial of the holy
water in his hand. He said, “Get to Crump's blockhouse, it should lie less than half a mile down the path!”

The Reverend then ran towards the creature whilst the rest of us retired down the path toward the blockhouse. The Reverend came upon the creature just as it was emerging from the woods and he flung the water upon the beast. While the Reverend endeavored this, the beast brought down its fearsome claws upon the Reverend’s breast and the talons bit deep into him. He fell as if dead in a pool of blood at the devil’s feet.

Whilst the holy water sizzled a bit upon the devil’s arm, it did not slow the brute. The monstrosity flew along the path after us. As it flew, it turned its ill-omened head towards the woods through which Yap, young Bozarth, and the two Hessians were racing. A great blast of fire was spat from the devil’s lips and the whole copse went up in flames. The poor Germans were caught in the blast and their screams echoed in my ears as they burned to death. Yap, who was still ahorse, whipped his nag out of the flames, grabbing young Bozarth by the scruff of the neck, pulling him on a pillion.
As we struggled to get away from the creature, we passed the wounded Prince who had turned his horse to face the hellborn thing. He once more brought his saber and shouted to us, “Go! I shaww stand hewe and howd this beast back.”

Racing towards a Questionable Safety

Beyond him, I saw the Fenniman had come out of the woods behind the demon. The woodsman had a flaming brand in his hands. Then I realized twas his powder horn that twas lit and sputterin’ in his hand.

From the tother side of the path, the Reverend now came, bloody and disheveled and lacking his periwig. Of a sudden, his aspect turned all as midnight with his skin taken on the glossy black appearance of obsidian.

Now, Major Zed had told me that the Royal Family had a most obsessive attraction to all things that shine and glint in the light. So it twas that when the Reverend, by some strange artifice, transformed his skin into a shining black stone, it proved to be irresistible to the clop-headed royal.

With a great shout of “Shiny!” the Prince flung himself upon the Devil.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Clockwork Bits

The jewelry sections of craft stores are good places to look for various little ornate bits that can be used in creation some of the contraptions used in VSF or Clockwork games. I recently found some great items at Micheal's. There are a line of steampunk style earings and charms. Here's a picture of them with a 28mm figure to show scale:

I thought these might make good leyden jars:

These might make barrels for some type of arcane gun:

These could be used for some type of Atlanean crystal-powered device:


Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Devil in Jersey: Chapter V

In Which the Colonel Suffers an Embarassment of Squirrels

Excerpt from A Hussy’s Progress, the Autobiography of Moll Daggett

Chapter the Fourth
How I Become an Honest Woman, Continued

Now, I twas oft surprised by the good Reverend's quirks and foibles. For rare twas for a man o' cloth to make a study of the mechanicals of witchery, leave off practicing them himself. But the Reverend explained it as turning the tables on Old Nick, using his own tools gainst him. For my own thinking, I believe the good Reverend had a wee bit of the devil in him.

So twas, the whole town of Crosswicks had been gathered on the common afore the church doors, surrounded by a cloud of the green-coated Dutchmen or Germans or what have ye, as well as some red-coated Light Bobs. A company of heavy German bouncers, all wearing bishops’ hats, was drawn up on the green with their muskets abayoneted and ready for murder.

When the good Reverend went all a glow, there was much uproar. This was the especial case with the dumb animals, for the horses were much affrighted as were the Germans or Dutchmen or whate’er they be call themselves.

Hard by the Reverend was the red-faced Colonel Mayhood fighting to keep his horse and screaming apoplectic to stop such chicanery. He ordered his men to seize Reverend L. Now, the Dutchmen were still aquavering with their officers and sergeants trying to restore order, all shouting “Goose Gott” which I took for either invoking the Deity or calling for their supper. So they were not fit to meet the cacafuefgo Colonel’s command.

Now the red-coats were old London gutter sweepings and if ye take their fine scarlet coats away, ye’d be seeing the like in the worst of the Cheapside stews. Thus, they were not as like to be afread of God nor Devil so two of these Lights seized the Reverend, flame or no. Likewise, the couple of brace of dragoons moved forward to block any as might have the pluck to help him. With that the flame round the Reverend faded away.

Then, there twas paunch-guts Major Zed at me elbow and he whispered to me that we must to make a distraction for the Reverend to escape. So out of the crowd he popped and began to bark out a great harangue of doglike gibberish directed towards the Dutchy-German coves. Then I made out him saying “Goose Gott.” Faith, thinks I, the great fat loaf is off ordering supper too!

Well, the bollocksy Colonel wasn’t having any of it neither. He ordered Major Zed arrested as well. Two more soldiers then tried to grab the fat man’s arms but that twas like so much kneading of lard I supposed for they could get no purchase on the big greasy hippopotamus of a man.

Now I knew not if twas his intent or if he had grown faint from the exertion of flappin’ his pie hole at the Dutchmen but a sudden, the big, fat Brother of the Bung grew weak in the knees began to list and seemed to fall like as a big mastyard oak. The poor little Light Bob who had hold of him struggled to keep him upright but twas as impossible as holding back the Flood. This poor sod twas in the path of the collapsing Major Zed and he cried out in panic, “He falls, …. he falls, … he falls on me!... Tell my wife I love her!” and then the great plumper capsized and squished the poor swadkin near to death.

But all tis for naught since the soldiery now have good hold on both the Reverend and the blubberly equerry. Muck-up Mayood was screeching how as he’ll hang them both for rebels.

I tried to cozen up to one of the soldiers who was holding back the crowd, hoping to get to the ruddy-minded English devil and mayhap calm him a bit with a view of me old apple dumpling shop. But the guard will have none of it, with a “bugger off, Croppy girl.”

To which I demurely replied, “Put it up your notch and sing, ye Orange Molly.”

I ducked back into the crowd just afore he had me kiss the rear of Brown Bess. Out the corner of me eye, I spied the Froggy Miss making a hasty retirement, walking backwards towards the wall of the churchyard. At first I thinks she be running off as the French are like to do, but no, she had a hard look in her eye and twas grasping a piece of her jewelry and amumbling. Expecting something fantastical, I was disappointed for she tried to back o’er the churchyard wall when her wide hoop skirts became all a-stuck betwixt wall and tombstone. Distracting her from anything to do with the arts macabre. She started calling “Merde, merde!” and I thought getting stuck in was hardly a thing to be shouting “Murder” about but later I learned twas a far more earthy offense she was reciting.

So now it fell upon Doctor McC to take up the cause of liberating our beloved sky pilot. Thus the Scots nimgimer clicked his heels together and two large springs popped out of the soles of his shoes. He crouched down and flung himself up. And up he went, and went, and then he began tipping over the backwards and so traversed the whole of the church roof, coming to rest in a tree at the back of the church. But this twas not the end of his journey for he then fell through the whole body of the tree, a good twenty feet if twas an inch, coming to rest upon the ground and a good thing there twas a fresh snow to soften his landing.

Now whether all this hurly-burly had helped, I know not, but of a sudden, there was Fenniman right next to the Colonel and pointing his long popper at the right bloody stingbum’s head.

There also twas Yap hard by and he, still playing the Indian, says to the lobster-back, “How.”

Twas ill then that the Dutch bishops’ nabs had been got in hand by now and the whole company leveled their firelocks at Fenniman and Yap and all the rest on the green, including my beloved self. To be sure, I called to mind many of the Good Sisters’ knee bouncers for twas clear a massacree was imminent.

Then up popped the Clap-noodled Prince Leopold and he began to sing. Now for a nigmenog, he did sing a pretty tune, in fine tenor throat, and it rose o’er the hub-bubble. Then another noise far weirder came rising from the trees all about the green. There twas a great chatterin’ and squeekin’ like a thousand rocker chairs off the kilter.

Then out of every tree and wood came a great grey and brown host as what must have been every squirrel and chipmunk this side o’ the Delaware a scurring across the common summoned by the doddering prince’s song. The vast shaggy mass passed amongst, over and under the soldiers, breaking their ranks and creating uproar. The horses of the dragoons reared and bucked. Twas as complete a pandemonium as when someone drops a farthing at a Scotch market.

But also bolled o’er was Fennimen and his long rifle knocked from his hands. Strange, Major Zed was avoided completely by the creatures, despite being laid on the ground direct in their path. No doubt, they perceived him as some impassable Alps and so went around.

Every Squirrel in the Jerseys

Finally, Colonel Maywood’s horse twas under-reached by the great chattering mob and off it went, bucking and rearing and carrying him about the green with him squealing like a maid of works after a Saturday night dance. This caused much laughter and jeering, even from the soldiers for the Colonel twas cast in the mold of old General Martinet.

This great relief twas interrupted by a trumpet blast. I saw a troop of horse coming down the Trenton road, a gent in bright crimson and lace at its head. The squaddies all drew up with long faces and came to attention. All that is, except Colonel Mayhood who still rocketed about the common sounding like a banshee on Samhain.

Just then I noticed catch-fart Zizzendorf returning all friendly like with three of the Hessians. I gave him a harsh whispered word that here he was cavorting with them what were just as like to slaughter us.

His response was, “Strumpet, I have convinced these that I am Hessian spy and that they must assist me.”

“Ye hang-arse periwinkle,” said I, “Ye would betray us as quick as Judas if it served ye more like.”

Word went through the crowd that here was General Cornwallis himself. He did not appear pleased at the shambles that was to be seen of his men on the green. Of course by now, the rodential horde had dispersed so no doubt Mayhood looked to his general like an idiot or, far worse in an Englishman’s eye, a bad horseman. The General shouted out harshly for Mawhood to control his mount and attend.

But who came running but Prince Leopold’s dogs, Wilkes and Barre, for they had been a gift from this same gentleman when the Prince was his prisoner. Cornwallis showed some delight at the hounds and, even more of a surprise, greater delight to see the buffle-headed Leopold.

He called the boy o’er and fairly beamed at him, “My dear Prince, what a wonderful surprise to see you again. Whatever are you doing here?”

For ‘tis a strange thing that the Prince was held in high regard by so many great gentlemen, General Washington himself included, despite being the most flap-noodled dolt that e’er graced these shores. I suppose a royal title counts greatly in this, or mayhap ‘tis natural compassion as one feels towards kittens or complete idiots.
Prince Princox returned the complement in a courtly turn and said, in that mashy accent of his, that he is “hewe to hewp this good Pwiest in God’s sewvice but who, now, has been awwested by youw subowdinate.”

A look of surprise and then rage passed onto the General’s face and he shouted, “Mayhood!”

The rattle-pated Colonel who had finally exerted some control over his beast now that raging squirrels and glowing parsons were not present, came over most sheepishly.

He stammered out, “My lord, as I reported, I received intelligence that rebel agents were at work in the village. Since we were sending a foraging party here, I reinforced it and led it myself… There was resistance so I ordered the arrests.

“Resistance, Colonel?”

“There were such things occurring here, my lord… you cannot imagine…. Glowing preachers…tumbling fat men… squirrels!”

“Squirrels, Colonel?”

“Squirrels, my lord!”

Cornwallis sat and look at Mayhood as one would look at a tantadlin tart smeared on one’s front door.

“Colonel, I have always said, an arrest is an act of fear not of justice. How shall we reconcile these people to the Crown if you blunder about arresting ministers and bewailing the …squirrels! It is fortunate for you that I received your message about your intentions here. I became concerned about your overzealousness and came to see for myself. I shudder to imagine what might have transpired here without my intervention.

“No doubt your report of rebel agents came from some ill-informed local Loyalist who saw the Prince and his party and did not understand that they were paroled prisoner of war.

“Further, sir, there will be no independent foraging, as I have told you in the past when you used that excuse to court mischief.

“So, sir, you shall return to your command at Princeton and you shall not stir from that place unless ordered by myself or, in my absence, General Grant, who shall be the area commander. Is that clear, sir?”

Well a plucked peacock would not look more surly but Mawhood assented and betimes gathered up much of his troops to march home, with tales of the fearsome monsters that dwell in Jersey, such as the squirrels and chipmunks.

In the meanwhile, I went and aided the Lady Toady to extricate herself from betwixt the headstones and a good laugh I had while doing so. We then went to assist our acrobatical physician who was sitting with his back against the tree which had become such a close acquaintance.

“I thinks ye be suffering from the Fallin’ Sickness, good Doctor McC,” said I.

“Hardly, Mrs. Dagget, just a miscalculation in my path of flight. Oh and you need not trouble yourself with bandaging my wounds. I am quite capable of doing so myself.”
Twas unfortunate that the good doctor did not remove the springs from his shoes afore he went to work bandaging his knee for as he moved it, the spring on his foot was pushed down and thus began to propel his knee repeatedly into his downturned face.

While he reeled from these unexpected blows, I asked him, “Doctor, what sort o' wizardiness did the Reverend conduct that caused the flames but him not burned?"

"Oh hardly high wizardy," came his reply, as serene as if he were speaking of trimming his garden verge. "The good Reverend has made quite the study of the alchemical processes and has acquired quite a talent for their more ... impressive manifestations. In this case, he merely worked an alignment of the air about him with Elemental Fire, keeping a pocket, if you will of fresh air nearest to his person. Very showy but, as you saw, of limited effectiveness."

"Faith, Doctor, I hain't the slighest notion of what ye speak but it simple, sure enough. By the way, have ye any idea how our puzzle-headed Prince twas able to summon up all them creatures?”

“Ah, an excellent question and one that I have been contemplating whilst I lay here at rest. Major Zagloba has reported that the Prince has a certain affinity for animals, as apparently do all in his dynasty, a fact the Major attributes to their admiration for wits superior to their own. Couple that with the fact that the Prince recently …ah...ingested the insubstantial form of a vampire, a creature known to be able to summons foul creatures such as wolves and bats. The result is that he has undoubtedly acquire a similar ability although the exact type of creature appears to be less menacing, shall we say?”

All this pleasant palaver was interrupted by the Prince who introduced all of us to The General Himself. Then that chummage-raker Dalby put himself forward and invited the Great Man to break his fast in the pettyfogger’s house. So off we all went, pretty as you please, to break bread with the King’s Commander.

Now the one fine thing about this was that I was introduced as “Widow Dagget of the Reverend’s house.” Now I know not if the General took me for some destitute cousin taken in by the Reverend for charity but he must of thought me more than a servant and so invited me to sit by his side. This twas afore Dalby or anyone could contradict.

An Enemy but a Gentleman Nonetheless

Thus I was treated to enjoy a fine breakfast with the quality and mealy-souled Zizzendorf forced to wait upon me every command. Twas as fine a repast as ere I enjoyed!

Now during our meal, I kept my eye on Mrs. Dalby knowing what Major Zed had claimed about her. She seemed very backward in the fat man’s presence, not meeting his eye, and betimes she complained of headache caused by the morning’s excitement and retreated to her rooms.

Now the Reverend explained to the General that we have been asked to attend to a series of foul murders in the town, possibly by some mysterious creature, a mission to which no gentleman could take exception.

At which point, the curdle-brained Prince says in a loud whisper that he probably should not tell the General about the one who sent us, “the owd gentweman, with the gwasses and the kite and the ewectwicity.”

“Ah, Doctor Franklin sent you?” offered Cornwallis.

“Cwap! The Genewaw must be cwairvoyent!”

“Hardly, dear Prince, but, despite our political differences, I have the utmost respect for Doctor Franklin and if he has sent you upon this mission, I do not doubt it is a worthy one. Certainly, if its purpose is to relieve these people of a murderer, be it man or beast, who am I to deny them your assistance.

“Provided,” here the General’s voice took a far sterner tone, “your endeavor will do no harm upon the troops under my command and that you do not violate the oath of your parole.”

“Absowutewy not!” assured the Prince. “But once I am exchanged, I shaww endeveaw to wetuwn to the fway.”

“As any gentleman would. Of course, had Mayhood succeeded in arresting you unjustly that would have relieved you of your oath as the grossest violation of our obligations of your parole.

“But, Highness, I fear that your opportunity to be exchanged is a great improbability. For one thing, General Howe has seen fit to declare an end to the campaigning season, so any further action, and sadly the capture of Philadelphia, must wait until spring. As I am sure you are aware, most of the enlistments of your Continental Army are due to expire at the end of this year. I am afraid, dear Prince, if, even by some miracle, you achieve an exchange, there will be no army to which you could return.

“Facing such a frustrating prospect, please do consider a return to Europe. With the close of campaigning, I return to England to attend to my wife who is ill. I would be honored if you would accompany me."

“Word Cownwawwis, I am most appweciative of youw kindness but my sense of duty, hehe, fowbids me fwom accepting youw gwacious offew. I must tawwy hewe until Bobo Wongewynde finds his monstew.”

“’Bobo?’” I whispered to Major Zed who was slavering down the last of the breakfast ham.

“It is an honorific meaning “Uncle.” We in Ruritania apply to our clergy and our boar spayers.”

“I would have expected nothing else, Highness,” said Cornwallis. “We must maintain a picket here. They shall be at your service, Reverend, should you need them in your tracking and apprehending this malefactor.

After this there twas much good feelings and conviviality until a much more subdued Mayhood reported that all was in readiness to return to Trenton. With that, the General took his leave, taking care to leave the men he had promised, six of the green-coated Hessians under a Lieutenant Schnitterbock.

The Prince was the next to leave the table and he ordered Yap to open the door.
Now whether twas a heathen stubbornness or merriness that prompted the act, Yap, still got up as an Indian, maintained his guise by saying but one word and that being, “How” much to the befuddlement of the Prince. Thus,

“Yap, open the doow fow me, pwease.”


“You just tuwn the wittwe knob and push.”


“Put youw hand awound the wittwe knob and wotate it cwockwise.”


“Wet me show you!”

At this the Prince proved himself capable of opening the door and exiting the house. From the other side of the door, we heard him say, “See, Yap, it’s not that hawd. Know wet me in and you can open the doow for me pwopewwy.”


"Put youw hand awound the wittwe knob and wotate it cwockwise."


As this went on for some time, the Reverend buried his face in his palm and I swear I thought I heard a sob escape from his normally stoical visage.

Excerpt from Samuel Longewynde, Notes upon the Investigation into the Occurrences at the village of Crosswicks, in the State of New Jersey, December 1776

The next step in the investigation was to examine the dwelling place of the second family murdered, the farm of the Crump family.

An additional area of examination was the grave of the late Reverend Hadley. As a suicide, the Reverend had not been buried in the church yard but rather had been interred in a small clearing just within the boundary of the Pines.

Fortuitously, the gravesite was along the path to the Crump farm and so was the first place of examination.

It was determined through the use of dousing techniques that the coffin and body of the Reverend Hadley was present in the grave.

Dead Hadley Knows No Rest

It was also determined that two smaller objects of metal had been buried with the coffin. When dug up, these proved to be boxes of iron such are used to keep papers and accounts of importance. Both were well rusted and showing much wear from being buried so long.

The lock on the first was quickly picked open by Mrs. D. with no damage to the contents. These proved to be a large sheaf of papers, much damaged and oft illegible. Nevertheless, it was determined that they were a continuation of the writings of the late Reverend in regard to the matter of the Leeds offspring. These were determined to read as follows,

I have put the question to Mrs. Leeds. She is possessed by a great demon. The frame barely holds. She sleeps now. Forever. Seperated never to be rejoined.

She is buried. The demon shall be bound. The elders agree that they shall establish a bulwark in the Pines.

The village knows peace. The creature has been seen in the Pines but does not come beyond the strongholds. Why then are my dreams so troubled? Why do I feel as though eyes are upon me?

Dear Felicity, my dear beloved Felicity. How shall I live without you? What shall become of our infant daughter now that you are gone? I dream of my dear wife but they are terrible, I see her in the Fires of Hell.

There is no sun, only the grey shadows and the eyes that peer out of the dark woods. I cannot sleep. I am bound to this place just like the devil in the woods. There is no hope.

Upon examination of the second iron box, it was determined to be similar in size and manufacture to the first box. Upon opening a similar sheaf of papers were found. These however bore designs most arcane in their formulation. The first being a design of three triangles described above three squares all in a line. Immediately seen was the similarity in design to the placement and design of the blockhouses in the woods….

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Devil in Jersey: Chapter IV

In which the Reverend and his Friends Enjoy No Respite from Their Labors, Major Zagloba Waxes Poetical, and the Reverend's Sermon is Most Rudely Interrupted

Excerpt from Samuel Longewynde, Notes upon the Investigation into the Occurrences at the village of Crosswicks, in the State of New Jersey, December 1776

Next, an examination of the blockhouse on the Luske property was conducted. Markings similar to those found on the cabin were present upon the entrance and apertures of the building. Some effort recently had been made to remove or obscure the wardings. The door was unsecured and entrance easily made.

Upon entry into the blockhouse, it was apparent that the building had not been occupied for a considerable time. There was no furniture or other items in the structure.

There was no evidence of any animal life ever having been present, neither were vermin present nor even weeds.

An examination for alchemical presences determined that some form of ritual substances had been used in the preparation of the building. Of note was the fact that no gunpowder apparently had ever been present in the blockhouse despite the obvious defensive nature of the structure.

The upper story was similarly empty. It was seen from this location that another blockhouse, about one mile distant, was visible to the south.

On the side facing the depths of the woods were three posts planted in a triangular pattern. The posts were approximately seven feet in height and six inches in diameter with warding marks visible on all three.

While the investigation of the location was underway, Major Z. had been sent for Sergeant F., with the intent of pursuing the signs left by the presumed beast responsible for the slayings.

It being on to dusk with no sign of the tracker coming, it was determined to return to Crosswicks and renew the investigation upon the morrow, following church services…

Excerpt from The Truest Son of Liberty, Being an Account of My Life Spent in Defense of the Rights of Man in the American, French, Polish, and Ruritanian Revolutions by Valeri Zagloba

While the others examined the farm of the late, lamented Luske, I remained in the carriage and took the opportunity to consult with Themis, the goddess of thought, seeking inspiration for our quest. For some reason, the Reverend Longewynde took umbrage at me for this endeavor. He veritably flung me from the carriage and stated that since I was being of no help here I should go and fetch Fenniman, and perhaps the Prince’s hunting dogs, for he intended to track the devil that very day.

Quite perplexed by the Reverend’s outrage, I set off down the long and winding path to the village. A fearsome cold snow began to fall and I was drenched and freezing within moments, cursing to myself the unjustness of the Reverend for placing me in such a situation and also cursing my own equanimity for I am so mild and humble a man that I bore this persecution without complaint.

Fortuitously, just as I was about to expire from these privations, I arrived before Bulfinch’s tavern. I staggered with my last ounce of life remaining and croaked out a plea to be saved from Boreas’ grim grasp and be provided with aqua vita.

Good Mr. Bulfinch, as sagacious an aubergier as one could imagine, saved my life by producing a small cup filled with the sustenance of life.

“Why Mr. Zagloba, you look like you should be home abed with a hot toddy,” he said whilst handing me another cup.

“What is that?” I inquired.

“A hot toddy? Why that’s a drink.”

“Why, that’s too bad,” I replied.

But his words brought to my mind our earlier dialogue concerning the fair Mrs. Dalby. Realizing that the earnest squire was likely to be following the Reverend Longewynde through the woods in search of his demon, I thought it high time I paid my respects to his undoubtedly lonely lady.

If was but a short step from thought to deed and I soon found myself crossing the village green to the fine house of the Squire. When a prim and officious servant answered my knock upon the door, I asked to see the lady of the house.

When the servant showed some reluctance to my entreaty and asked who I might be, I said, “Tell her that I am a Major in the Continental Army and a European, thereby making me irresistible to American women.”

I was instantly introduced into the well-appointed drawing room. Before me was one of the most strikingly beautiful women I had ever seen. She was about five and thirty but with lustrous raven hair and eyes as blue and deep as the heart of the sea.

Hoping to Place Horns Upon the Head of Mr. Dalby

Inspired by such beauty, I offered her Marlowe, quoth I,

Had we but World enough, and Time,
This coyness Lady were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long Love’s Day.

“I beg your pardon, sir, but may I assist you in some manner?” came her perplexed reply.

But at my back I always hear
Times winged Chariot hurrying near:
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast Eternity.

A look of trepidation entered her eyes, “What is it that you require, sir?”

The Grave's a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.

I observed that my words had the intended effect of rendering her incapable of reasoned thought. She shook visibly as I approached her and took her hand in mine. I pressed her sweet fingers to my lips and said,

Now therefore, while the youthful hew
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing Soul transpires
At every pore with instant Fires,
Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like am'rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our Time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapt pow'r.

“You are a member of the Reverend’s party, I believe,” she stammered out between hurried breaths.

“No dear lady, the Reverend is part of my party.” I took her other hand in mine and pressed my lips gently to her delicate dactyls. “I am aide to General Radziwill and he commands our enterprise while I command him.”

“He is the celebrated young prince wounded at New York, is he not?” she said as she coyly pulled away from me, yet taking care not to allow her digits to escape my grasp.

“Yes, and I was by his side that day where but for me the young royal gallant would have died on that dread field.”

“How brave you must be, sir!”

“I am Zagloba, Major Zagloba. But you may call me Valeri.”

“How please I am to meet you, Valerie. You may call me Constance.”

“Oh dear Constance, how glad I am for constant shall be my love.”

“You flatter me shamelessly, Valerie, as so many of the men of Europe do. I spent my youth in England and visited the Continent many times. I do miss it so.”

“Then, dear Constance, allow me to make this drawing room a canvas on which to paint you a portrait of the continent that misses you.”

I regaled her with tales of my travels about the ancestral lands and among the courts of Europe, fashion and food first, music next.

Throughout she strove vainly to mask her growing amor for me, making inquiry as to the progress of the Reverend's investigations. To return her to more pleasant fields of endeavor, I turned our conversation to the most recent dances I had enjoyed in Paris.

When I spoke of the dances, her lustrous eyes shown with the brightness of the sun. I offered my regrets that we could not share a step, having no music. At this, she called for her servant, Tabitha. Soon a fetching young Negress came and sat at a small pianoforte that stood in the corner. Tabitha began to play most excellently, a talent boasted of by her mistress, who taught the girl herself.

I accompanied our dance with verse as a spice to our rising passion. Thus, we began with a gigue lente, to which I applied the lines,

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove…

followed by a minuet,

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant poises…

and then I swept her away with a most improper waltz,

And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.

We concluded with her clinging to me and gasping for breath. I then said, “And now, from the Portuguese, our final dance - La Lambada.”

I dipped her head lowly towards the floor and pressed my lips to hers to which she responded most passionately.

At this most inopportune moment, the sounds of her husband’s arrival reached me.

I released my fair Constance, who dropped importunely to the floor. I hastened towards a window and flung it open. I easily squeezed through the small aperture. One of the advantages of never wiping the grease from my hands after dining is to have a ready source of lubricant.

As I hastened away, I heard a plaintive cry, “Do call again, Valerie.”

Excerpt from A Hussy’s Progress, the Autobiography of Moll Daggett

Chapter the Fourth
How I Become an Honest Woman, Continued

As we stood huddled about the headstone, Fenniman produced an oddly shaped stick from his pack. He said ‘twas a “dousing rod,” normally used for locating good water but it sometimes had a knack for sorting other sorts of things buried below the dirt.

Before he could commence, up returned Reverend Longwynde and company. I provided him with the intelligence regarding the late Hadley’s notes that Yap had discerned as well as our discovery of the Leeds grave.

The Reverend told Fenniman to pray continue and so the woodsman did. The stick quavered in his hands like an old man’s pickle at the Johnny Tub as he trod about the graveside. Betimes, though, he announced that there twas something underlying it, of coffin size and shape.

Then the Froggish tart, Madam de B.M., took up here jewelry and waived it about the grave. She announced in that thick, garlicky voice of hers that there was a residue of evil to be found thereunder.

Finally the Reverend had me sprinkle some holy water upon the grave. When I did so, it boiled up as soon as it touched the ground.

“Warmed by the fires of hell,” the Reverend concluded.

There was some dispute then whether to dig up the grave, but with the day quickly losing its light, the Reverend declared that he must think on whether to dig up what may be a demon’s mother and this should not be done in the dark of night with no preparations.

Thus, we all retired to the house with the Reverend retreating to the dead man’s study to examine if anything more could be gleaned from Hadley’s notes.

I concluded that this twas as fine a time as any to wet me lips at Bullfinch’s and so left quietly by the back door. Of course, that puking German catch-fart, Zizzendorf, is there laying in wait, though he claimed to be returning from the stabling the carriage horses.

“Where do you go, Madam?”

“As far away from you, ye churlish moldwarp.”

“Zen, pray, Madam, endeavor to return vithout a dosage of ze clapping, please!”

“Fie to you, ye unnatural codpealer!” I gave to him and was off.

When I arrived a few moments later at Bullfinch’s, there sat fat Mr. Zed, guzzling rum like a camel that had just cross all Araby drinks water. He called me o’er and began to regale me with his fancy about the near seduction of Squire Dalby’s dame. I soon surmised that what e’er might have passed betwixt them, there was no congress, continental or totherwise. Still, he twas a merry companion in the cups for an hour or four.

Betimes, we must leave for the good Reverend insisted that I attend his services on the morrow, split head or no. Thus we both staggered back to dead Hadley’s house, fuddled to our gills and Mr. Zed endeavoring to get hold of my maiden dalliance but to no avail for he can scarce reach o’er his great paunch, slippery from grease though he might be.

Now Hadley’s house was small and perforce I must share the attic garret with Lady Frogpond, who no doubt is convinced she breaks spring wind by the airs she so puts on. For the high and mighty froggess does not permit me to share the bed and so I must suffer on a cot neath the roof eaves. Still, I’d had worse at sea or goal but twas a crammed berth no doubt.

Now the dreams that did assail me that night were the true terror of the Nightmare what comes gallopin’. I dreamed that I was back in the study but dead Hadley hung there still, his back to me. I lifted a hand to the body that turned towards me. I saw then his face twas covered in worms and other vermin. The odor of putrescence from the dead man’s body assailed my nose. Asudden, his guts came exploding out of a distended belly. Then this foul ordure took the form of arms such as a squid might have but thrice as large and ten times as strong. They wrapped me up and began the squeezing of the breath from my body.

What Dreams May Come

I awoke with a terrible start finding the sheet had wrapped itself round my throat. At first, I thought I might return to sleep, telling myself that the dream was just the product of the night’s debauch. But I could not sleep and the more I lie there, the more that I grew afraid that the crammed place wherein I slept was closing in to crush me. Finally, I could tolerate no more and, in a panic, fled the room. I could hear that everyone in the house that eve was a stir, the Doctor especially crying out in his dreams. I came to the fire in the main hall and there was Yap sitting bolt upright, a look of fright great in his eyes. The Prince was by his side, offering some comfort by giving to the fierce Tartar a child’s toy, some sort of stuffed clothe animal shaped like a chicken-headed dragon.

I went into the yard and the Prince and Yap followed me, affecting much concern. The Prince saying he had a bad dream about wrestling with scarecrows who then burst into flames when they captured him. Yap said he too dreamed but would not speak of its portent. There we stayed until dawn, trying to cheer each other.

As the sun came up, I returned to the house to cook the breakfast, only to discover that all the victuals that the old village women had laid in for us had gone off. Of course, Mr. Z. partook of a full side of bacon notwithstanding the rot.

We all discussed the varied terrible dreams we suffered and wondered if the house truly was haunted.

When the Reverend came down, he admitted that he too had strange dreams but he had more interest in some additional notes he had discovered in the study.

“Here are a couple of notes that our good postman overlooked. I hasten to add, through no fault of his, for the writing is well neigh illegible. As I can make it out, it says,

“ I have been confirmed in my belief that the creature is supernatural. Guazzo’s Compendium Maleficarum speaks of the Sons of Lilith who lay with the daughters of Man and spawn terrible beasts that cannot be slain.

“Binsfield speaks of demons bound to their earthly mothers, who cannot stray overly distant from the womb that begat them.”

“'Binsfield' is of course De Confessionibus Maleficarum et Sagarum by Peter Binsfield and I am sure you are all familiar with Guazzo’s great work.”

“Was he the man who sold iced cweams at Wake Geneva?” asked the Prince.

The Reverend signed and shook his head, “No, he’s a famous Italian mystic of the last century.”

“Did he make iced cweam?”

“NO, he didn’t make iced cream! He was famed sorcerer and alchemist! Now, I could find neither work in this house and so I presume that Reverend Hadley availed himself of the Academy’s library at Princeton.

“These notes stand as proof that he came to believe that Mother Leeds did indeed produce this creature by unnatural means and that there is some a linkage between mother and offspring. The Reverend evidently discovered some manner of using the mother to bind the creature to a limited geography. But I cannot begin to surmise how this was done.”

Before we could discourse more, grim Bozarth arrived.

He said, “You are all still alive? And sane? The Devil must have an especially grim fate intended for you. Reverend, the congregation is gathered for your service.”

So we trooped out to the church and a better attendance I had not seen since a triple hanging on Tyburn. The Reverend insisted that we all attend, save Yap, who being of the Turk’s Faith, was excused and waited outside.

Now, I have had numerous sermons delivered to me or about me, most with the mention of Jezebel, but I must give the good Reverend his due. For a stoical man, he was as good a harp polisher as I e’er heard. There he was thumping away, preaching against the hypocrisy of them what attended to services but kept the devil in their hearts. I liked especial a bit about, “Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark…’” I fell to sleep only twice the whole two hours of his sermon.

Then there twas a bustle outside and Yap ran in to say the King’s soldiers are coming into town.

The whole crowd rushed out and I saw already crossing the village common a gaggle of foot-pounders in green coats, bearin’ short rifles and long mustaches. Behind them, coming down the road from the north was a troop of horse and a thick column of marching huffs. From the west side of the common another loose file of red-coated soldiers came running in.

Zizzendorf nodded towards the green-coats and muttered, “Deutsche jaeger.”

“Dutchmen, ye say?” I asked him. “So the English are bringing them into the fight as well?”

The silly German fumed and said, “Deutsch, not Dutch, you clod-headed trollop! We from what you call ‘Germany’ call ourselves 'Deutsche.'”

“Now what sort of a Nation tis so ashamed of itself that they masquerade as Dutchmen?”

Afore we could dispute further, a fobbin’ great bewigged officer rode up, red-faced and angry as if someone spit in his morning mush daily.

He shouted out, “I am Colonel Mayhood of His Britannic Majesty’s Forces. We are here to collect supplies for the army and route out any rebels. Any resistance shall have fatal consequences.”

Arrival of the King's Men

A couple of the Dutch green-coats by this time had wandered over to our great wagon and they commenced to jib-jabbering like monkeys at what they intended to be their plunder. Zizzendorf ran over, screeching baboonishly to them and thinks I that he will soon be shot, a thought that brightened my mood considerable.

Then the officer road up close to the good Reverend and said, “Reverend, I hope you preach loyalty to the Crown in your sermon!”

Dalby, with a quavering voice offers, “Colonel, we are all loyal subjects here. There is no need for violence.”

“Loyal, eh? A messenger brought me word this very morning that agents of the so-called Congress are being hidden here! Well Reverend, shall you make this easy upon your flock and tell me who they are?”

The Reverend looked skyward, and continued with his interrupted sermon, “The text is Matthew 23, verses 27-28, ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.’”

And with that the Reverend began to glow with bright, heavenly light that shown forth across the whole village green.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Devil in Jersey: Chapter III

In Which the Reverend Longwynde and his Friends Travel to the Village of Crosswicks and There Initiate Their Investigations, But Not Without Interruptions

Excerpt from The Truest Son of Liberty, Being an Account of My Life Spent in Defense of the Rights of Man in the American, French, Polish, and Ruritanian Revolutions by Valeri Zagloba

We were crossed over the Delaware in boats manned by Colonel Glover’s Marblehead fishermen. The crossing was most efficiently and quickly made despite the large impedimenta required by Mde. De Baufframont.

I must note that Colonel Glover’s men, despite knowing their business quite well, did so in a peculiar and singular manner. For no reason I could ascertain they insisted that I be taken across in a boat by myself. Also, when we set off into the stream, those remaining ashore let up a great cry of “Thar she blows!” A most extraordinary performance!

We then proceeded the six or seven miles to the town of Trenton and a tedious time it was. I did for a few blessed moment dwell in the abode of Morpheus but rather than an ebon bed surrounded by poppies as in dwells the god of sleep, I rested in the back of a drafty old wagon surrounded by the Frenchwoman’s china.

We arrived near upon midnight in Trenton, a fair sized town of a hundred buildings or more. The streets were deserted and few buildings showed signs of life. Fenniman suggested that most of the inhabitants had fled from the advent of Cornwallis and his legions. We traversed the town directly to the dwelling of Dr. McCleane, which was a pleasant enough cottage on the Street named for the King.

I had hoped to stay the night and renew my acquaintance with the son of Nyx but the rest of my friends were too affrighted by the proximity of the tyrant’s minions to tarry. We had chance for the briefest of repasts that did little to slack the pangs of hunger. Videlicet, I had only a single ham with two loaves of bread and the smallest keg of cider, barely enough to keep a man on his feet.

I had opportunity to observe that Dr. McCleane has undertaken a study of the science and application of springs. He had bespoken all of the articles of furniture in the house, replacing legs with springs of diverse size and strength. The sequel to this discovery was the keeping of Prince Leopold occupied during our discussions, he spending the time there swiveling and bouncing from chair to chair and whooping as if he had just viewed a fox.

During this brief stay, Reverend Longewynde complained of a shortage of holy water, most of which he had aspersed on the late Mr. Varney. It fell to Mrs. Dagget to purloin some replenishment of this. I left it to the good Reverend to discern the morality of thievery in a holy cause and the effects such might have upon the efficacy of such religious nostrums.

Dr. McCleane informed us that nearby was the Church of St. Michael, an Anglican institution that had been closed since this summer due to a cleavage between the Loyalist and Patriot members of the congregation. Mrs. Dagget returned promptly with a fair quantity of the sacred fluid and the smell of sacerdotal wine upon her lips.

It was also suggested that we might attract less attention to ourselves if the Prince, Yap, and I forsake our regimentals. To this, I agreed with alacrity. We had but limited spare attire and so had to take up what was available in the good medicus’ abode. The prince donned a most elaborate suit of clothes quite macaroni in style and indicative of a more merry youth than I had credited to Dr. McCleane. I always keep a suit of casual attire and so had only to borrow an overcoat from the good doctor. He was able to provide a commodious cloak of blue-grey that curiously bore the name of his favorite horse embroidered along the edge. Yap with his Asiatic features was far harder to disguise until I settled upon the excellent ruse of dressing him as a Red Indian from artifacts that were found in the house. Yap was not pleased at the shaving of his head in the Mohawk fashion but the Prince ordered it so.

Ruritanians Clandestine

With this, we took up our journey again, driving on through the rest of that cold night.

We arrived in the village of Crosswicks about dawn. It was a small place, only about a dozen buildings huddled about a small green upon which stood a sizable Presbyterian church and, most happily, a tavern. My suggestion, seconded earnestly by Mrs Dagget, was to go to the latter aedificium as a source for both sustenance and intelligence.

This establishment, owned by a stout hosteller named Mr. Bullfinch, was clean and commodious. The smell of roasting fowl greeted us upon our entry. I immediately ordered up a goose, then enjoyed several sides of bacon, and finished with a delightful apple tansy. The modest repast I finished as the rest of our party took their seats.

The Green at the Village of Crosswicks

After Dr. McCleane explained our purpose, Mr. Bulfinch said that he would fetch Squire Dalby, the local magistrate, who was the originator of our labor and was best acquainted with all the circumstances of murders.

“That is,” remarked Bullfinch with a wink, “If we can pry him from the arms of that pretty new wife of his!”

Surprised at hearing of such a rose in such a thistle as this, I inquired further of her.

“She was a noted beauty in Philadelphia, recently widowed. She had been the ward of a great house there, though said to be Tory in its disposition. Our Squire met and married her in the twinkle of an eye this summer past and brought her here.”
“Oh ho, I had not expected a new conquest in such a place as this.”

“Ah, but Major, she is known here abouts for her cold and haughty ways.”

“Oh my dear Bullfinch, there is nothing better for reducing a woman’s pride than a little touch of Zagloba in the night!”

The squire arrived soon after. He was a tall man about forty and five with a distinguished bearing. Reverend Longewynde fell to an inquiry of him. Since I am hardly to be bothered with such a banausic endeavor more befitting an bailiff or other officer of the law, I partook of some additional bacon along with several dozens of Johnny cakes and a quantity of cornmeal mixed with headcheese washed down with small beer, it being early in the day, and a few bottles of brandy.

Between courses, I ascertained that Dalby had offered us, as our pied-a-terre, the house of the late Reverend Hadley, empty these past thirty-five years or more. The Squire reported that, at his direction, several of the women of the village had restored most of it to habitability. The only exception was Hadley’s study, wherein the poor man had died and to which a deep dread was attached.

I had hoped that this might allow some opportunity to recover from our travels but, betimes, the Reverend announced that he would venture to examine the locus of the most recent murder. Mrs. Dagget, attended by Fennimen, would see to the house of Reverend Hadley, especially the abandoned study, Mrs. Dagget saying she had no fear of ghosts or devils since she was hell-bound already and might as well get use to her future companions.

I had intended to join the latter pair when I observed the Prince cavorting down the street to the Hadley house. I determined to avoid his company for an articulus since he seemed more frolicsome than usual, if such can be contemplated.

I said to the Reverend, “I shall attend upon you, Reverend, to the very purlieus of this hamlet. It would be far safer for all for me to avoid making the acquaintance of Squire Dalby’s lady since a person of such sophistication would invariable fall in love with me and cuckolding our patron in this matter would present something of an inconvenience.”

A very curious look appeared on the Reverend’s face and he then sighed heavily, “You and the Prince are both borne and bread in Ruritania?”

“Yes, but of course,” I replied.

“Then I hope never to have the occasion to visit the place.”

Excerpt from Samuel Longewynde, Notes upon the Investigation into the Occurrences at the village of Crosswicks, in the State of New Jersey, December 1776

From information obtained of Matthew Dalby, Justice of the Peace for the village of

There have been three occurrences of slayings of one or more persons in the vicinity of this place occurring at irregular times from September of this year until December.

The first slaying occurred on September 12th that was during a period of the quarter moon. James Crump, aged 63, and his wife, Amanda, aged 63 were slain outside their cabin which lay some two miles into the Pine Barrens.

Next, the family of Thomas McCrann, age 43, his wife Emeline, age 41, and his two sons, aged 14 and 17 killed on October 21st which was the period of a half moon. The location is about the same distance from the village into the Barrens and directly to the south of the Crump farm.

The most recent slaying occurred on the farm belonging to the Luske family, upon the last day of November 30, which was in the period of a full moon. Josiah Luske was the slain. He was aged 34 and a bachelor. The Luske farm lies directly north of the Crump farm.

It was at first believed that the murder of Crump and his wife was the work of the Pine Robbers, a band of which under a harridan calling herself Black Meg, had been troubling the area at that time. However, the brutality of the slaying surpassed anything even the Robbers were thought capable of.

All the victims were found out of doors in vicinity of their cabins, with the bodies savagely rendered as if by the claws and teeth of some fearsome beast of unusual size.

Application of a talisman at the sight of the Luske killing revealed an abundance of supernatural residue in the vicinity of the cabin.

Upon investigation of the sight of the Luske killing, it was observed that a sizeable blockhouse stood some one hundred yards from the cabin within a mature stand of woods with no obvious effort to clear the area about it.

When inquiry was made of Squire Dalby as to the method for such a seemingly useless structure, he reported that this building was erected at the instruction of the late Reverend Hadley some thirty-five years ago.

Dalby confirmed the stories regarding Mother Leeds and her offspring. He added the fact that for five years after its birth, the creature remained quietly in the woods being seen but upon occasion. In the fifth year, 1740, the creature began to stir. Crops and livestock were killed and finally a child of the village. In all cases, the victims or their families had been engaged in disputes with Mother Leeds who was the most disagreeable of persons.

Dalby was but a child at the time and so was not privy to the discussion that led Reverend Hadley and the six elders of the village Congregation to take action against the Leeds woman and her offspring. Dalby recalled troubling nights in the village, with much firing of guns and burning of buildings. In time, Mother Leeds was killed and buried in secret and the creature adjured to remain in the woods of the Barrens. A line of strongholds was placed in the Barrens as a defense against the creature’s return. The Elders swore to stand as guardians in these places and farmland was cleared within the woods so they might remain ever on guard.

In time, however, the threat was forgotten and the inconvenience of these dwellings led to an abandonment by many of the

Crump, the first slain, had been the last of the original Elders and the only one to remain at his post of duty.

Further, said Squire Dalby related that upon Crump’s death, Luske and McCrann returned to the places of their fathers in hopes of again restraining the creature.

Examinations at the Luske Farm

Upon examination of Luske’s house, it was determined that nothing within was disturbed but there were marks upon the door and walls as if claws had been drawn across them. Also noted were markings of a spiritual nature, in Hebrew and Greek letters, placed upon each of the thresholds. These latter marks were, according to Squire Dalby, made upon the instructions of Reverend Hadley.

Upon one of the outbuildings, it was determined that several of the shingles had been smashed as if by the foot of a large man or beast leaping upon them. It was also noted that scorched wood marked some of the trees and fences nearby the cabin but not the cabin itself. There was also noted that some of the higher branches and limbs of the trees were broken and suggested the landing place of some large beast.

It was believed that these marks might permit the track of the beast to its lair.

Excerpt from A Hussy’s Progress, the Autobiography of Moll Daggett

Chapter the Fourth
How I Become an Honest Woman, Continued

So, it twas that I said I twould go and examine the deceased reverend’s house, thinking I would gain a respite from the antics and travails of the rest of our party. Also since twas hard-by the Bullfinch, I thought betimes I might enjoy a dram or two with no one the wiser. As for the ghost of the self-murdered harp polisher, thought I twas no more than tosh.

Since this house was to be our settling place, Fenniman led the great ox cart that that French lolpoop had forced us to drag along. E’en better thinks I since Fenniman, though he might blow away in the wind, was not such as might offend when all twas said and done and it had been some time since I had enjoyed any sport in me life.
But then all was spoilt, for who came capering after us, all cock-a-hoop about the fulsome welcome he’d received here with much privy-visitations and cob-devouring, but Prince Leopold with all his hounds about him including his Chinaman.

Soon we came to dead devil dodger’s house, a small trim cottage all of brick but with much wear as one twould see from a place standing vacant for so long. Still, the roof looked sound and brick keeps the wind out better than a draughty shift, especially when it is hiked up and yer back’s agin an alley wall … not that I would know aught about playing the three-legged upright but I have heard it twas so.

As we approached the place, we encountered a grim little dumpling of a man, along with lad of about eleven or twelve, coming out from the yard. When I hallooed, the fubsey squint drew himself up and seemed to be struggling inside himself to determine how he answered or perhaps trying to remember his own name for he seemed to be a puzzle-headed sort.

Betimes he said his name was Francois and he was taker-care of the village church, there being no permanent parson since Hadley kicked out his last dance in his own library. When we told him that we intended to abide in the house, he said that the house twas haunted but it matter not and we should suit ourselves, as likes, we were doomed anyway if we intended to chase the Devil in the woods.

Still, he helped to settle the great wagon near the churchyard and led the oxen off to a near pasture. But then he wandered off, muttering something like, “doomed, doomed, all doomed.”

“Well now, that’s one right cheery fellah!” said Fenniman.

As we approached the house, we noticed that the front door stood slightly ajar and strange sounds came from within, rustlings, thumpings, and great sighings.

When I turned I saw that Fenniman had his great barreled rifle in his hands. “Something just aint aright in there,” he said.

I debated with him who should enter first, expecting who ever did would as like have his head delivered to him in a hand-basket. Thus we turned to the Prince and said we must, as a courtesy, allow him to go first. We reckoned that, the royal jobbernole being the least used part of his anatomy, its absence would be noticed the least. Even Yap agreed, soul-sick no doubt from all the cob-gathering and hair-shaving and such he had endured.

Entering Upon a Dead Man's Home

Thus, we ventured to the rear of the house where the clack-brained royal entered, the rest of us standing ready to protect him in the likely happenstance of a misadventure.
God save me but he showed some small wit, entering slowly and whispering if anyone twas at home. He said later that he had seen, in the corner of his eye, something flitting about at the front of the house. So, he of a sudden let out a whooping cry and propelled himself into the front parlor with saber drawn.

We hustled in after him, weapons drawn. When we came up with him, there was the motley-minded pumpion standing over an old woman prostrate with the royal boot upon her chest and he brandishing his fly-slicer, hallooing how he had subdued a witch. The poor old woman was weeping piteously all the while, trying to grasp her hearing trumpet in a vain endeavor to encompass the misfortune that had thrust itself upon her.

Just at this moment, two other ladies came bustling down the stairs, only to have Fenniman stick his great turnpike of a fowling piece into their noses. There was much screaming and fainting until we could assure them, the Prince’s beef-witted belligerence notwithstanding, that we meant them no ill.

When they had calmed themselves, they said they were Abigail Shrouds and Betsy Butcher, and had been asked by Squire Dalby to clean the house last evening but being much troubled by the noises in the upstairs study, had decided to wait until the light of day to finish their cleaning.

The old woman laying under Prince Jollymug’s boot was Prudence Cracknell, the oldest of the three and she near to deaf and so did not hear our entry, much to her injury.
“Weww, she wooked wike a witch,” the beef-brained son of the purple said sheepishly.

All this while, adding to the tribulation, the Prince’s dogs were baying like banshees at all this hugger-mugger. To get them away, I pulled a shiny button off the royal nigmenog’s coat, waived it before the dogs’ eyes, and then threw it out the back door. The dogs charged after it, followed by the blue-blooded ninny. Soon all three were cavorting in the mud. Fennimen followed more deliberately, saying, “I keep an eye out for safety sake.”

“I’m not thinking the dogs will injure themselves.” said I.

“That’s not who worried me,” was the woodsman’s response.

The three goodwives also retreated from the house, saying that if anything was needed we need only summon Mr. Bozarth, to wit, the glum Francois, who would assist us. They then left, much in the vapors no doubt from being so aggressed by a pack of the oddest scoundrels they had no doubt ever encountered.

Thus, Yap and I went up to the late bible beater’s rooms. The study was a small room at the back of the house. It was all a-tumble with piles of books and huge mountains of papers filling the room, all covered in dust and cobwebs. The walls were covering with strange symbols and drawings of every sort, the image of a horse-headed beast predominating. From one rafter was tied a stout rope that had been cut, no doubt the leavings from when Hadley had taken the last step on his journey to join the choir invisible.

I thought that perhaps somewhere in the room might be information related to our quest but I was sore discouraged when I perceived that all those hundreds of papers bore the dead man’s scribblings.

In the Study of the Late Reverend Hadley

“Sure, twill take a fortnight to search these great stacks!”

“Not at all,” replied Yap. “In the Royal Postal Service, the first job one has is the sorting of the mail.”

With that, he launched himself into the first pile of papers and soon a blizzard was flying about my head as Yap sorted the papers into the neatest of piles. I perceived that he could recognize there content by the barest of glances. After only a couple of hours, all was tidied and Yap handed to me what seemed to be notes that Hadley had made concerning the devil. These were as follows,

I have met with the congregation elders to discuss the question of the Mrs. Leeds and her child. Since the appearance of this creature, there have been three barns burned to the ground and the killing of Benedict Alcott’s pigs. They tell me that the creature has been seen nearby on all of these occasions.

I have suggested that they gather men who are experienced hunters to track this beast which I believe is only a bear or some sort for I do not credit the stories they have told about Mrs. Leeds who is much maligned by villagers.

She is a strange woman, no doubt but hardly a witch. Her behavior is understandable given the loss of her husband and newborn child. Although she may need to be committed to an asylum for the insane, she is hardly bound for the gallows.

I have seen to it that Mrs. Leeds surviving children are placed with other families in the vicinity.

Linus Crotty tells me he has seen the beast and it is no bear but a thing of nightmare. Horse’s head, batlike wings, serpent tail.

The Gadling child was found dead today. The body was ripped in two and the blood had seemingly been wiped up in a cloth or mop.

Crotty tells me that the beast is easy to track but very difficult to kill. He said he had got within twenty yards of the creature and was sure his shot struck home but the thing showed no sign of injury. He says he will got no more into the Pines after it.

I have gathered up all the men of the village. We must go after this creature in its lair in the Pines.

The creature cannot be killed. Adam Dalby, the two Craske brothers, and Tench Alcott have all been killed by it. I must find its secret. I shall go to the Academy in Princeton, they have a large library with many books brought from Europe. Perhaps I can see if anything like this creature has been seen on earth before.

Afore I could fathom the purport of these notes, Fenniman called to me. When I descended, I saw the Prince and his hounds laying sound asleep by the fireplace, mud besmirching the newly cleaned floors and most of the furniture. Still I praised Heaven for the small favor of being spared the Prince’s company for a few precious moments.

I found Fenniman behind the house in the churchyard that stood hard-by. He told me to note that snow and ice were covering most of the yard with the ground frozen hard as iron. But the space in which the Prince and his dogs had frolicked was warm and muddy. Then he pointed to the headstone that marked the spot.

It bore the name of Leeds.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Devil In Jersey: Chapter II

In Which Mr. Varney Becomes Most Unpleasant and the Prince Enjoys an Unusual Repast

A Most Disagreeable Duty for Postman Yap

Excerpt from A Hussy’s Progress, the Autobiography of Moll Daggett

Chapter the Fourth
How I Become an Honest Woman, Continued

Now sure, after all the traipsing about and hullaballoo of that long day in Philadelphia and traveling to the crossing, I welcomed a good sit down and a drink at McConkey’s. But, ‘Truth, there is nothing so disheartening as to have your first chance for a tipple spoilt by a blood-sucking prince of the undead.

At the time, I did not realize what Mr. Varney was and there twas much talk afterwards about who or, more as like, what he was. Now, lest ye think my education lacking, the Good Sisters told many a fine tale about nasty creatures that preyed upon silly girls who fell ill of the green sickness, to wit, getting their gowns stained by a roll in the Greenwood, and these supposed dangers included pate-addling blood-suckers. After events of that evening, I wished I had paid more heed but I was far too ramshackle in those days.

Still, the good Reverend seemed to know all about these terrible things. Doctor McCleane, who is a queer sort of quack-salver even for a Scotsman, gave lively discourse on the sundry nature of the undead including these claimed vampires, and other risers from the grave, and them what drinks the blood of the living and so forth. E’en greedy-guts Zagloba added a thing or two, when he wasn’t trying to get his paws on my heavers, for vampires are apparently as common in his part of the world as body lice in an army camp. By the end of it all, I began to wonder what sort of misadventure I had fallen into.

But, as I said, this twas all after the fact. When we arrived, Mr. McConkey gave us a hearty welcome, especially as we seemed a flush gaggle of culls. The McConkey who greeted us was the son of an Irishman, so I played up the Colleen to a terrible extent hoping for a better cut of joint and perhaps a dram on rum guttler. McConkey proved to be accommodating, e’en though he was a shard-borne Scots-Irish Protestant whose father no doubt stole the food out of tenants’ mouths and kidnapped kinchins for chimney sweeps.

Far less accommodating was the gleeking Mr. Varney. Oh he was pleasant enough to the grand folk, inviting the good Reverend and other worthies to share his table but when I expressed a slight word of thanks for his welcome, the bastardly gullion looked down at me with much disdain. Servants should not speak unless spoken to was his motto, I suppose, the plume-plucked maggot-pie that he twas.

So there was I forced to stand and wait upon table whilst the rest supped and drank, and fell to high discourse. All that is except the Prince who regaled the crowd with a skimble skamble on the most trivial things, including how pleasant the weather was here abouts as compared to his homeland that in winter would apparently have been pleasant to an Esquemeax.

Worse still, I must bear the company of that spleeny pignut, Zizendorf, when he returned from tending the horses and oxen, and tying up the Prince’s hunting dogs which had take up quite a evil humor, barking and howling awful when we first arrived.

I noticed that the Reverend and Sergeant Fennimen seemed particularly wary of Varney so I endeavored to attend closely to the conversation. One queer thing I saw was that while Varney plied ‘tothers with hot brandy flip, he himself touched neither bread nor bowl.

Also, a right bilious, pompous double jug Mr. Varney was. He pried greedily into the purpose of our travels at this time of year. Now much to my surprise, I was treated to the good Reverend spinnin’ quite the yarn of our purpose, claiming, of all things, that we were on our way to the village of Crosswicks to rescue MY family and bring them out of Harm’s Way. It surprised me how easily such a flying pasty sprang from his lips.

The Reverend having played this poor taw, I saw immediately that this ‘twas not the tale to tell such an arrogant clack dish. He could not hide his suspicion and commented on how large and unusual a party was taking on this humble task, and with so many soldierly men of rank.

The Reverend, perhaps seeing his error, passed off the questions by saying that the largeness of the party was due to the dangers of the disturbed state of the country. Further, the Prince and his party, who were upon their parole prohibiting them service with Washington’s Army, volunteered for this chivalrous task. He then quickly changed the conversation to Mr. Varney’s history.

That vainglorious prevaricator said he was from London, a member of the Royal Society, come to America two years ago to study natural philosophy, especially the flora and fauna of this extraordinary continent. Flora and fauna? More like talliwags and thomases, ye rump-fed puffer, thinks I.

He went on with the tale, that being more or less stranded by the outbreak of the current hostilities, he made a virtue of the enforced stay and was traveling throughout the colonies in furtherance of his studies. He said he had hoped to go into Jersey to make a study of the Great Pine Barrens.

“What in particular do you hope so to study?” The Reverend inquired.

“I have an interest in the larger of God’s creatures. I have hopes of examining the bears and wolves that dwell in these famous woods. Wolves are an especial interest of mine.”

At this point, the motley-minded Prince suddenly entered the realm of the cognizant and examined, “Wowves! Why we can hewp you find them as soon as we find that pony-headed dwagon we are looking for!”

Zagloba quickly interrupted this terrible slip, and said, “The Prince jests, for we have heard many travelers’ tales about outlandish creatures that are said to be found in the more remote places of this land. As I am sure you have heard.”

The Reverend joined him, citing chapter and verse of all the various improbable creatures that are told of in Indian legend.

Fortuitously, or perhaps because he had expended such an unusual amount of his wits coming up with a thought, the Prince exclaimed, “Zagwoba, fetch my chambew-pot, I have a need fow a piddwe!”

To which the fat Major, who for once was able to extract that bulbous snout of his out of his flagon, responded, “I fear your chamber-pot was left in Philadelphia, now to be honored above all things at the weekly gatherings of the Bucks County Committee of Safety. But have no fear, my Prince, for these colonist do know how to treat royalty. Why just beyond the door at the rear of this establishment, they have prepared for you a separate building, a veritable throne room, wherein you might have your seat of ease.”

“Weawwy! That is most accommodating. I feew honowed.

“I am sure the honor is theirs, Highness,” said Zagloba, then turning to their vicious postman, he continued, “Yap, please escort the Prince to his substitute throne in a manner to which he is accustomed.

To which the Oriental rider glared and mouthed a curse at the paunch gut.

A few moments later we heard from the yard at the back of the tavern, a royal exclamation, “Why wook, they put cown cobs in hewe. How considewate to weave me a snack!”

Zagloba buried his face in one of his fat paws and shook it in despair.

I thought that all this had distracted Varney from the Prince’s revelation. But how wrong I was for soon Varney excused himself from the table. He then went languidly to the front doors to the tavern, barred them shut, sauntered to the rear and barred the door by which the Prince had just exited.

I saw that all of our party had watched in silence as the glib princox had performed his doormanly duties.

The Reverend, who now had one hand in his coat pocket, clutching something therein, spoke up, “Why do you bar the doors, Mr. Varney?”

Varney was silent and merely turned to face us. His eyes were a deep glowing red. He snarled and hissed and I could see that his teeth were fanged, like a beast’s.
Mr. Varney's Unpleasantness

A cry escaped my breast at the sight and there was a collective gasp at such a display.
Fennimen was the first to recover from this shock. He snatched up his half league barking iron and fired it, point blank, into Varney’s chest. The force of the shot knocked the horror back a foot or so but caused no other harm save a small, bloodless hole in Varney’s silk shirt.

More surprisingly, the shot brought a crash to the door at the rear of the tavern and there was the Prince bursting through it. For he was a roaring big rioter for his age and most like he used his head to break it down, thus sparing any injury to a vital organ. He was crying “Wampeew Wampeew! I knew it was a Wampeew, the doggies said so!”
He had in his hands, a large, sharp splinter from the wrecked door and thrust it at Varney, who agilely stepped out of the way.

This presented an opportunity for the Reverend and he ran up to Varney, flinging a vial of liquid on him. It turns out this was blessed holy water but where a good Presbyterian found the like I did not have occasion to ask. Varney flung an arm up to protect his face and I could see his hand begin to burn where the water had struck him.
However, this wound was trifling and only seemed to enrage him. He grasped the Reverend in his hands and flung the good soul doctor across the room as if he was an old rag doll. The Reverend struck hard against the fireplace and collapsed on the floor.

Varney then lifted up his head and called out with a wolfish howl. Of a sudden, four great grey wolves hurled themselves in through the windows. I could hear several more still outside.

Varney's Hunting Pack

One of the slavering creatures landed close to Fennimen, who was in the process of reloading his night-long squirrel-slayer. The woodsman drew out a large hunting knife and plunged it into the back of the beastie what died with a whelp.

Now I had myself recovered from my pucker over these strange, unnatural occurrences and I plucked out the small cutlass that I had hid in my traveling cloak. I lashed out at a second beast. I was pleased to see that my months of domesticity had not spoiled my game for I slew the beast with one blow, near to severing its head.
Then I grabbed a bottle of brandy and candle from the table.

Now I should relate that among those acquaintances I met while I lived in London were several circus performers. One of these, a self-proclaimed Gypsy who called herself Zela but who was really from Birmingham with a real name of Clementine. She was what is called a fire-eater, and this not referring to that type of famous duelist, but rather one that can swallow flames as well as act as a sort of human bellows with aid of a slog of some strong noggin-pop. I should also mention that fire-eating was also much in fashion in Ireland at this time, especially among the university set. Not that I was ever part of that class but I suppose it might mean that we Irish are inclined as a nation to the sport, mayhaps due to all the whiskey and cabbage that we partake in that gives us the talent. In any event, I had Zela teach me the art since you never know what tricks, either as a burglar or a bawd, that will be needed.
Thus, I took a strong pull of brandy, held the lit candlestick to my lips, and spewed the burning liquid in a great stream towards the foul Mr. Varney. He proved to be a most limber walking corpse for he ducked the fire. As did the Prince, for Fortune favors the dim. The big flame caught a stairway and walls near the rear door alight, preventing Yap from coming to his master’s aid.

Whilst I was so engaged, Dr McCleane produced a device he later called a fleam. It was a sort of a sling shot wherein a lancet was loaded and then struck by a bent stick. This is used in the art of bleeding a patient, the speed of the cut being so as to reduce the pain. The Doctor being a good Scotsman, realized that ‘twould also make a most excellent instrument of mayhem if he released the pinion on the lancet. Thus, he rose with the device in his hands and called out, “Take ye this, ye demon from hell,” and let fly with the lancet.

The Doctor being more articulate than accurate, the lancet flew directly into the Prince’s arm, from which a strong gout of blood flowed.

His Highness protested, “Ow, that weewwy huwt! I mean, weawwy, who thwows a wancet?”
At this point, the Reverend had recovered from his fall. He plucked out a poker that had been in the fire for preparing the flip. He flung himself upon the creature, plunging the flaming point into Varney’s chest. Varney cried out in pain and fell to his knees.

An uproarious pistol shot then went off behind me. There stood Zizendorf, standing perfectly straight as if on a shooting range with a smoking horse pistol in his mangy paws. I then realized he had shot down a wolf that had been about to pounce upon me. Before I could offer thanks, he coolly remarked, “Well, Madame Daggett, it is lucky for you that I felt I needed some practice with my pistol. Of course, I see now I did not since it was as usual a perfect shot such as I did in the Prussian Army.”

So rather than thanks, he was served with, “Sail it up ye windward passage, ye piss-proud twiddle poop.”

Another wolf went for to bite the Prince but it was felled quick by Sergeant Fennimen, who was more at home at murthering dumb beasts than their master, hell-wrought though they be.

At this point, the Froggy mort, de Bauffremont, produced a vial of foul smelling nostrum and approached the laid-out Varney. I could see his eyes pucker in fear for he must have recognized the scent of the brew and a fine tot of Knock-Me-Down it must have been. She flung the stuff onto him but, at the same moment, the creature transformed, and his body disappeared, having turned, by his own evil magics I was later told, into a mist. The liquid fell onto the floor, sizzling and burning.
A thick white mist hung about the room over where Varney had lain. The Prince’s face took on an odd, unfamiliar look.

“Oh no,” Zagloba cried out, “I think he’s getting an idea.”

The Prince then bent over and drew in a deep breath, and inhaled a large part of the misty cloud.
Partaking of Vampire

“Good Lord,” Zagloba said, “He might actually be on to something.”

The gore-bellied foreigner then grasped a bellow from near the fireplace and sucked in more of the mist. He then tried to run back to the fireplace but having the agility of a rhinoceros, he tripped and fell. Fortunately, the vampire-filled bellows flew into the fire.

Then Dr McCleane produced a glass cupping bowl. He too took a deep breath and drew in the remainder of the mist into the device but, unlike the Prince, he was careful not to take any of the stuff into his own mouth.

We could see that, after a moment, the mist within began to coalesce and spilled onto the floor, forming a shattered body that quickly turned into dust.

Outside the tavern, we could hear that a struggle continued. I could see Yap through the broken and flaming doorway. He was crouched low, facing one of the remaining wolves. With movement like lightening, he flung what appeared to be three letters at the remaining wolf. These nearly severed its head.

Zagloba seeing my surprise at this method of combat, noted, “Never underestimate the damage that may result from a paper cut.”

One wolf remained and it was crouched in a corner, readying itself to pounce upon the Reverend.

Suddenly, the door burst open and several dragoons and a host of riflemen charged in. They leveled their pieces and riddled the wolf full of holes.
A Most Welcome Succor

One looked over at the Sergeant and a sight of recognition passed over his eyes.

“Fennimen, is that you? I had thought you were dead.”

“Well, Colonel Hand, iffen you and the boys been any later to this here dance, I reckon I mighta been.”

Except of Letter to Lieutenant Jonathan Longwynde from the Reverend Samuel Longewynde

Before any reunions could be celebrated, Colonel Hand ordered his men to douse the fires and clear the room of the killed wolves. No sign of Varney remained.

The wounds that Prince Leopold and I suffered were dressed by Doctor McCleane and Mrs. Dagget. I did, with some difficulty, dissuade Doctor McCleane from attempting a dissection of the Prince’s brain to determine the effects of ingesting vampire. I thought this a poor and dangerous idea despite Major Zagloba’s assurances that the loss of the brain was of little note to a Radziwll, far more difficult would the finding of such a small item.

A search of Varney’s possession revealed nothing inconsistent with the character of a philosopher of the Royal Society and one who had been in this country for a considerable time. There was a correspondence from a Lord Ruthven but I could find nothing sinister therein.

Once this was settled, Colonel Hand reported that General Washington, who had just crossed over, was inquiring as to the cause of the disturbance at the tavern and so we were directed to be taken tom him. I did explain to Colonel Hand that Fenniman, by special order of the Congress, was upon a detached duty with us and so would not be rejoining the regiment just yet.
Speaking with The Great Man Himself

We found General Washington observing, from the shelter of a stand of trees, the boats bringing the last of his army into Pennsylvania. He was a very tall man of impressive dignity in the full prime of life. His face was grimly set and it appeared he had not sleep in some considerable time.

As we approached, his visage softened somewhat when his eyes fell on Prince Leopold.
“Why Prince, how happy I am to see you again. I must say how gratified I was when I heard that the wounds you had on Long Island were not serious and that you have been set at liberty. But what is this, you seem to have been wounded anew?”
“So I have.”

Major Zagloba fortunately spoke up, noting that the Prince was being humble, for he had his wounds from fighting against a clandestine agent of the Crown.

With this as a prologue, I informed the General about Doctor Franklin’s commission to us and the plot to bring a demon out of the woods of New Jersey to the detriment of the Revolution. I told him of our adventure this night in McConkey’s Tavern and my belief that the individual we fought was an agent of the Crown, a member of the infamous Hellfire Club, who was assisting the plot and had meant to murder us all using his infernal powers.

I could tell that General Washington was skeptical of my account but did take the commission from Franklin seriously enough. After a moment of thought, he called for a boat to take us across. When he observed my carriage, he called for a large Durham boat to be readied for our crossing. When saw the great wagon belonging to Mde de Bauffremont, he looked at me silently. When I shrugged, he called for several Durham boats to be made available to us.

He cautioned us to be wary in the vicinity of Trenton for General Cornwallis’ army was hard upon the heels of his own troops, perhaps no more than a single day behind him. Cornwallis was bringing with him near to 10,000 men.

Thus, with much apprehension, we crossed in the middle of the night into New Jersey.