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Madness or Death: The Nickerbocker's Tale - Part 1-2 - Facing the Enemy

Max_Writer

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* * *

 

Westmoore returned to the tavern but, before entering, he jumped up and down outside and worked up a good sweat. He walked into the tavern and found Whipple there, reading a book.

 

“Oh!†he said. “Oh, I just ran−â€

 

“Good morning my friend,†Whipple said, putting down the book.

 

“Oh … uh … I just ran here,†Westmoore said, somewhat thrown.

 

“Fantastic!†Whipple said.

 

“Okay, the constable, it was just me and him, so … we didn’t have any way of getting back here,†Westmoore said.

 

“Take your time,†Whipple said. “Take your time. Let me get you a drink.â€

 

He called to the man who owned the place for ale.

 

“He said we need to go,†Westmoore continued. He was not used to being interrupted like that. “We need to go to Matchell’s place now. We need to go now. He said we’re running out of time and we need to go now.â€

 

“That’s ridiculous,†Whipple said.

 

“He wouldn’t send you!†Private North, standing in the corner said. “Why would he send you of all people?â€

 

“We didn’t have time!†Westmoore said. “We didn’t have time! The constable’s busy right now.â€

 

“Doing what?†Private North said.

 

“Doing what? Getting rumors!†Westmoore said.

 

“He would never let you out of his sight!†Private North said.

 

“There was a crime!†Westmoore said.

 

“What crime?†Private North said.

 

“I don’t know!†Westmoore said. “He just told me to run here and I did. I trust him.â€

 

“Tell me more,†Whipple said with a smile.

 

“He’s a very lawful individual who’s very skilled at his craft,†Westmoore said. “And therefore I trust him with my life.â€

 

“Hey, go to your room!†Private North said to him.

 

“Huh?†Westmoore said.

 

“Go to your room!†Private North said again.

 

“Why?†Westmoore said.

 

“He hasn’t finished his drink yet,†Whipple said.

 

“Yeah,†Westmoore said.

 

“By all means,†Whipple said.

 

“Why are you telling me to go to my room?†Westmoore asked Private North.

 

“Because, you’ve obviously done something like … probably killed the constable or−†Private North said.

 

“What!?!†Westmoore said.

 

“Or stolen something,†Private North went on.

 

“Oh come on,†Sooleawa said, stepping into the room. “You’re too hard on him.â€

 

“Calm down, calm down,†Whipple said to Private North, who’s voice was very high-pitched in his excitement. “A fourth drink, please.â€

 

“Can we please start our adventure together to Matchell’s place?†Westmoore asked Whipple.

 

“No!†Private North said. “Absolutely not!â€

 

“I told him I’d be there at two,†Whipple said as if it was a done deal.

 

“You’re not coming!†Private North said to Westmoore.

 

“We’re arriving early,†Westmoore said.

 

“You are not coming!†Private North said again. “We three discussed this and you are to stay away.â€

 

“Then let us walk slowly,†Westmoore said.

 

The door to the building opened and Constable Calhoun entered.

 

“Oh constable, you’re here,†Westmoore said. “I was just telling them of our plan.â€

 

“No!†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“Good morning,†Richards said to the constable.

 

“He wants to go to Matchell’s!†Private North nearly shrieked. “He’s been trying to go to Matchell’s. I told him ‘No!’â€

 

He looked around.

 

“I told him ‘No!’†he said, his voice a deeper bass again. “I said ‘No.’â€

 

“Very good,†Constable Calhoun said. Then to Westmoore. “You are not going. They are only going. Two people is enough. He’s going to be alarmed by more than two.â€

 

“What is going on?†Whipple said.

 

“He said there was a crime,†Private North said. “Was there a crime?â€

 

“No,†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“I knew it!†Private North said.

 

“The only crime is him existing!†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“My friend,†Whipple said to Westmoore. “What are they saying?â€

 

“I don’t know,†Westmoore said. “I’ve done nothing but good on this trip.â€

 

“You lied to me,†Private North said, his voice high-pitched again.

 

“About what?†Westmoore said.

 

“There was no crime!†Private North cried. “‘There was no time, I didn’t run away from the constable.’â€

 

“There was a crime, wasn’t there constable,†Westmoore said calmly.

 

“Yeah, you existing!†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“What?†Westmoore said.

 

“You’re a crime to humanity!†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“Sir, where are your manacles?†Westmoore said. “Arrest me!â€

 

“You …!†Constable Calhoun said, taking out his truncheon.

 

The front door of the tavern opened. A young boy was there.

 

“I’m looking for Mr. Calhoun!†he called.

 

“That would be I!†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“Oh, here you are sir,†the boy said. “These were sent on from Providence.â€

 

He handed over a pair of manacles to the constable.

 

“What did you say, now?†Constable Calhoun said to Westmoore.

 

“Here’s the key,†the boy said, handing it over.

 

“Thank you,†Constable Calhoun said. “Good day.â€

 

He reached into his boot and pulled out a penny, tossing it to the boy.

 

“Boy, you might want to fetch another!†Westmoore said with a laugh. “I’ll have a feeling he’ll lose these as well.â€

 

The boy took the penny and ran away. Constable Calhoun held his manacles out towards Westmoore.

 

“What did you say?†he asked the man.

 

“And under what grounds am I under arrest?†Westmoore asked.

 

“Give me a moment, friend,†Whipple said.

 

“For …†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“What have I done?†Westmoore said.

 

“You have disobeyed your commanding officer,†Private North said.

 

“Disobeying the orders of an officer of the law,†Richards said.

 

“You ran away from me when you knew you were supposed to stay by my side,†Constable Calhoun said. “You are hindering an investigation. You ran away from an officer. You drew a knife on an officer.â€

 

“I don’t recall,†Westmoore said.

 

“Why don’t we just take away his weaponry?†Private North said.

 

“That would be a good idea, good, kind gentleman, sir,†Constable Calhoun said.

 

Westmoore shrugged his shoulders and took out a knife.

 

“There is my only knife,†he said.

 

Constable Calhoun took the blade with some little satisfaction and tucked it away. He considered searching the man but realized it was a gesture of goodwill from the rogue.

 

Whipple asked why they were constantly fighting.

 

“I know that he is a criminal,†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“I don’t know you people very well,†Whipple said.

 

“I have seen him−†Constable Calhoun continued.

 

“He keeps running away from him and doing things to hinder the investigation against the true enemy!†Private North said, his voice high-pitched again. “And I feel like that makes you an aid to the true enemy!â€

 

“And what has he done to put him under the charge of the state?†Sooleawa asked.

 

“Thank you,†Westmoore said.

 

“Who is the true enemy?†Whipple asked.

 

“The British!†Private North said.

 

“Fair enough,†Whipple said. “Fair enough.â€

 

“He is a criminal,†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“Since this venture has started, what have I done?†Westmoore asked.

 

“You stole the manacles,†Private North said.

 

“He was in jail for a few days, obviously−†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“And what does that prove?†Sooleawa said.

 

“Obviously that he did something illegal,†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“That he was deemed to have done something illegal,†Sooleawa said.

 

“I don’t know what he’s done, but he’s been in the jail for three days and Mr. Stone has told me to keep a close eye on him,†Constable Calhoun said. “And I trust Mr. Stone to know what he has done.â€

 

“Does that justify your behavior though?†Sooleawa asked. “You have threatened this man on multiple occasions.â€

 

“He threatened me first!†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“He brought out a knife,†Private North said.

 

“He brought out a knife,†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“He ran away,†Private North went on. “He lied to an officer.â€

 

“You pointed your bow and arrow at him,†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“That was the time he was threatening you,†Sooleawa said. “He has not tried to do anything since.â€

 

“All I know is you two were the only ones who were downstairs when I fell asleep,†Constable Calhoun said, pointing to Westmoore and Sooleawa.

 

“Are you insinuating that I might have stolen your belongings?†Sooleawa said.

 

“No,†Constable Calhoun said. “I think that he stole my belongings because you two were the only ones.â€

 

“In my society, we are not selfish and clinging to our own belongings; we share everything,†Sooleawa said.

 

* * *

 

Around half past one o’clock, Whipple rented two horses and took Private North to Matchell’s house.

 

“Would you kindly, sir, escort me to the forest around his property?†Constable Calhoun asked Westmoore.

 

“Are you going to kill me?†Westmoore said.

 

“No!†Constable Calhoun said. “I would also like to take this woman who knows about the wild.â€

 

He pointed at Sooleawa.

 

Constable Calhoun went into the woods with Westmoore, Richards, and Sooleawa.

 

* * *

 

Whipple and Private North arrived at Matchell’s home. It was built in the classic Georgian style and was very large with probably a dozen rooms. Two chimneys graced the roof and there were numerous open windows on both floors. The basement windows were closed.

 

Private North left his musket tied to his horse and they went to the front door where Whipple knocked. They were greeted by an Indian in the clothing of a servant. He was a handsome man and merely glared at the two.

 

“Who are you?†he asked.

 

“Good afternoon, my friend,†Whipple said. “I’m Ronald Whipple. I sent a message.â€

 

The man glared at him.

 

“Come with me,†he finally said.

 

He led them into the fine house. The passageway went through the building to the back doors, going under a set of stairs. The man led them to the right to a parlor. It was a comfortable room with several cushioned chairs and a sideboard with many liquors and wines atop it. There were shutters beside the open glass windows. A tiny set of shelves set in one corner held a few books and gewgaws. Over the fireplace was a large portrait of a dour-faced man dressed in the fashion of some decades before.

 

“You wait here,†the Indian said.

 

He left them in the room and went up the stairs.

 

Whipple looked over the books while North tried to make himself invisible in the corner. Whipple found The Magnalia by Cotton Mather on the shelf and took it down, opening it and reading a little of it. It was dry and dark and he felt his mood darken after only reading a few lines. He noticed Private North watched him carefully and smiled, but the boy looked away quickly when he noticed Whipple looking at him. Whipple chuckled to himself.

 

After a few minutes, Arthur Matchell arrived. He was young, and appeared to be in his 20s, a relatively handsome man with reddish hair and a solid face. He wore fine clothing and carried a cane. He stood in the archway for a few moments, looking at them, before speaking.

 

“Mr. Whipple, what can I do for you?†Matchell asked dryly.

 

Whipple opened his coat and put his hand in one pocket, showing off the gold pocket watch at the same time and smiled at Matchell.

 

“You sent a note?†Matchell said.

 

“Absolutely,†Whipple said. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir.â€

 

“Thank you,†Matchell said.

 

“Ronald Whipple,†Whipple said.

 

“Arthur Matchell.â€

 

“Wonderful.â€

 

“This your boy?â€

 

“It is!â€

 

“He can go.â€

 

“Of course, of course. Please wait outside.â€

 

Matchell turned to the servant who had showed them in.

 

“Wematin,†he said. “You may take him to the kitchen.â€

 

“I will stay by the outside of the door−†Private North said.

 

“You will go where you’re told, boy!†Matchell said angrily.

 

“I beg your pardon sir,†Whipple said. “I am happy to have the boy leave the room, but perhaps just outside.â€

 

“He will be fine in the kitchen,†Matchell said.

 

“He’ll be fine outside,†Whipple said.

 

The two men stared at each other for a moment.

 

“Very well, sir,†Matchell said with a frown. “You may wait by the horses, boy.â€

 

“Wait, outside outside?†Private North said.

 

“Go on,†Whipple said.

 

“Wematin, see him to the horses,†Matchell grunted.

 

Private North found himself tearing up a little bit and was shaking. The servant grabbed him by the arm and led him out of the house. He led him out the front door and gave him a shove, glared at the young man, and closed the door. Private North glared back at him through his tears of anger.

 

He took up his musket and moved close to the windows of the parlor to hear parts of their conversation. He mostly listened to it and, at one point, crept around the house to look at the buildings behind it. There was a small graveyard with an iron fence around it, kitchen, stables, carriage house, and barn. He saw one of the servants near the barn and horses in the corral behind the stables. He heard noise from the kitchen and peeked in. He saw an Indian woman preparing a meal of beef and vegetables. He crept back to the front of the house.

 

* * *

 

“I do apologize for that,†Whipple said. “I don’t know him well enough to draw upon his trust. How are you today, my friend?â€

 

“What do you want, Mr. Whipple?†Matchell said with some venom in his voice.

 

“Of course,†Whipple said. “I apologize. I had a new investment opportunity for you. I just thought I’d see if you were interested.â€

 

“What is this investment opportunity, Mr. … Whipple?†Matchell said.

 

He sounded bored.

 

“Well, you see, gambling is a science, not a risk,†Whipple said. “I’d like to start an organization of gamblers who go out and earn capital on a regular basis, using their skills. While I have the capital myself, I think it would be wise to reduce my risk and increase the chance of gains for the people around me.â€

 

“Very well, tell me of your plan,†Matchell said.

 

He offered the man a drink. Whipple described his made-up plan and tried to learn what he could of Matchell in return. The man was very closed-mouthed, however, and seemed anxious for Whipple to leave, as if he’d had enough of him already. He didn’t seem at all enthused about the plan. He noted early in the conversation he was not a gambler and preferred surety in life. Whipple tried to convince him it was sure, but Matchell seemed skeptical. Whipple even tried to do some card tricks in order to convince Matchell the cards could be controlled. It still didn’t convince the man.

 

* * *

 

Constable Calhoun, Westmoore, Richards, and Sooleawa entered the woods around Matchell’s home. They kept a good distance from the home mostly, deep enough in the woods they could not even see the grounds. They circled around the property and only got close enough once to see the outbuildings behind the house. They included a barn, stables, carriage house, kitchen, and small graveyard.

 

They went deeper into the woods and at one point came across a spot where there were several sunken places on the ground. Each was probably five to six feet long and two to three feet wide. Constable Calhoun found it suspicious and immediately dug one of the spots up.

 

“Has he gone mad?†Westmoore asked.

 

Moments later, Constable Calhoun dug up several human bones. He looked around and realized there were probably dozens of sunken spots in that part of the woods.

 

“Okay,†he muttered.

 

Richards started to examine the bones as Constable Calhoun dug up more of the spots and found more bones underneath. Sooleawa looked around for signs of a struggle but found none. Richards was unsure how old the bones were. As Constable Calhoun dug up a third set of bones, he found, on a fresher corpse, all of the meat and skin had been removed, cut away. He cursed. It looked like the corpse had been butchered. He also found one skeleton with an extra pair of arms attached at the shoulder in a way that made it look like it might have been functional. Richards examined the skeleton but was unsure if it was possible the arms had functioned before death.

 

Constable Calhoun counted at least 30 shallow graves.

 

Westmoore was very disturbed by the entire incident. He just stared at the three unearthed skeletons with horror.

 

“I think we need to cover them back up so that whomever buried them doesn’t know that anyone found them,†Constable Calhoun said calmly. “Then we’ll tell the rest and make a decision. I want to continue going around and see if we find anything else.â€

 

“Cover those things up!†Westmoore said shakily.

 

Constable Calhoun shushed him.

 

“Now!†Westmoore said. “Now! Now! Now! Now! Now!â€

 

“Can you calm down?†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“It’s all right,†Sooleawa said.

 

“It’s not!†Westmoore said. “Look at that.â€

 

“It’s not, I know,†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“Look!†Westmoore said.

 

Constable Calhoun pushed the dirt back over the strange skeletons

 

* * *

 

Matchell proved uninterested in Whipple’s gambling idea so Whipple transitioned into a spiel about a piloted balloon service he was thinking about starting.

 

“I really think balloon travel is the wave of the future,†he said.

 

Matchell did not seem convinced or interested. It might have had something to do with his earlier display of support of his servant over another gentleman. He remained coldly polite to the man even as Whipple was unabashedly warm back to him. Matchell was not insulting but openly standoffish.

 

“I have other endeavors of more import than balloons,†he said.

 

“You haven’t seen my balloon,†Whipple said.

 

He tried to learn more about Matchell with small talk but Matchell seemed quite resistant to it. However, Whipple did learn Matchell was worried about his ships at sea. They were continuing their trade outside of America until the blockade could be lifted. He was hopeful the British would soon be ousted from Rhode Island as the Continental Army was on Rhode Island and would hopefully push them back before the end of the month.

 

They spoke until dinnertime but Matchell didn’t extend any invitation for the man to stay. Whipple excused himself, telling Matchell he would visit him again soon. Matchell didn’t seem terribly pleased at that prospect.

 

“Please send word before you come,†Matchell said.

 

“Of course,†Whipple said. “Just as I did this time.â€

 

Matchell saw him out of the front door and closed it behind him.

 

* * *

 

The others had looked through the woods nearest to Matchell’s house but had found nothing else out of the ordinary. They had reached the front of the house and could see the manor from the woods. They saw Private North, gun in hand, standing out front. They soon saw Whipple exit the house and so made their way to the road in the woods where they could meet the two.

 

“I want to light his house on fire,†Private North said.

 

“Oh!†Whipple said.

 

“So rude!†Private North said. “He is a cad and inhospitable.â€

 

“I think he also might be insane,†Sooleawa said.

 

“He seemed nice to me,†Whipple said. “He seemed very nice.â€

 

“We found dead people!†Westmoore cried. “Dead people!â€

 

“Calm down,†Constable Calhoun said. “Goodness.â€

 

“Dead!†Westmoore said again.

 

“Calm down man!†Constable Calhoun said. “We need to talk somewhere private.â€

 

“Is this not private?†Private North said.

 

“Dead. People,†Westmoore said. “Dead people!â€

 

He looked at Whipple and Private North.

 

“Does this not shock you two?†Westmoore said. “Dead people? In the woods?â€

 

“That’s nonsense,†Whipple said. “It can’t be true.â€

 

“It is true,†Sooleawa said.

 

“It is very true,†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“I saw it,†Sooleawa said.

 

“Who do I trust here?†Whipple said to himself.

 

“They’re all saying the same thing!†Private North said.

 

“I need one person I trust to say it,†Whipple said. “That’s why I haven’t decided.â€

 

“It’s true,†Richards said. “We saw.â€

 

“Hm,†Whipple said. “My goodness! You saw dead bodies!â€

 

“I’m a man of medicine and they were, indeed, quite dead,†Richards said.

 

“Was it a battlefield?†Private North asked.

 

“No, it looked like they had been dragged there,†Sooleawa said.

 

“And experimented on!†Westmoore said.

 

“Dragged there?†Whipple said.

 

“What does that mean?†Private North said.

 

“One had four arms!†Westmoore said.

 

“Nonsense!†Whipple said. “This is nonsense!â€

 

“No, there were four arms,†Constable Calhoun said. “You tell him.â€

 

“It’s true,†Richards said.

 

“Ah,†Whipple said, seemingly convinced.

 

They discussed the bodies buried in the woods near his house. Constable Calhoun suggested they find out more about the travelers who had gone missing.

 

Westmoore, still feeling somewhat unhinged, took out a knife and started to crudely and thinly carve “Dead People†on a tree with an arrow pointing in the direction of Matchell’s house.

 

“Hey!†Constable Calhoun said. “I thought I took your knife. You said that was your only one! Hand it to Emory.â€

 

“I’m not done yet,†Westmoore muttered.

 

“I did think it strange how insistent he was that the boy wait in the kitchen,†Whipple said.

 

“He said to wait in the kitchen?†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“I thought it was just pleasantry at first,†Whipple said.

 

“Perhaps he wanted to use him,†Richards suggested.

 

Westmoore finished carving his barely visible sign but refused to give the knife to Constable Calhoun. Private North tried to get it but he batted the boy’s hand away. Eventually, Private North snatched it out of his pocket.

 

“My only other knife …†Westmoore said.

 

They talked more about Matchell telling Private North to wait in the kitchen.

 

“The bones looked like they were defleshed,†Constable Calhoun said.

 

Westmoore went pale.

 

“Can we not?†Westmoore said. “Can we not?â€

 

“Is this true?†Whipple said.

 

“It’s true,†Richards assured him.

 

“He wouldn’t let me stay in the room for a second!†Private North wailed. “He was so cruel!â€

 

“Surely boy, you’ve been dismissed before,†Whipple said.

 

“Did you just call me boy?†Private North said.

 

“How old are you?†Whipple asked.

 

“Seventeen,†Private North said.

 

“Really?†Sooleawa said.

 

Constable Calhoun again wanted to inquire about the missing travelers. Private North was of the opinion Matchell was rude to them until they died of it.

 

They returned to the tavern and Richards suggested they talk to the tavern owner. However, the man didn’t know anything about any missing travelers nor had he have anyone disappear from his place. He noted the missing people stories going around were merely rumors. Richards asked if there was someone who would go to Providence for him to retrieve a musket and a medical bag from his shop. It was quite expensive but he was able to hire a mill-worker to go immediately and return late that night. It cost several shillings.

 

Constable Calhoun asked about missing travelers but none of the locals knew anything more than vague stories. Westmoore got upset, the more he heard the man talking about it. He went to bed right after he finished his meal, running up the steps and locking himself in.

 

Private North had fled to his room as soon as they got back. He returned in uniform well after the others had finished dinner. Sooleawa noticed it looked as if he had been crying. He got some bread and cold meat from the innkeeper for a late dinner. She got two beers and joined him.

 

“Is everything okay?†she asked the youth.

 

“Yes,†Private North said. “I’m eating.â€

 

“I know,†Sooleawa said. “But you look upset.â€

 

“I’m not upset,†Private North said.

 

“Well just tell me if you need someone to talk to.â€

 

“No. I’m fine. Thank you.â€

 

“Good-night.â€

 

She walked away.

 

“Wait …†the boy said too quietly for her to hear.

 

Whipple played cards with the locals, playing for half-pennies and quarter-pennies. He played just for fun and bought a round of ale for the table when he was done. He found it quite entertaining to play cards with the locals.

 

* * *

 

On Sunday, August 16, 1778, it was raining fairly heavily. They headed back to Providence. Westmoore seemed pleased, claiming the investigation was over.

 

“We haven’t found anything but bodies,†Private North said.

 

“That’s all we need,†Westmoore said. “Let’s go.â€

 

“That doesn’t have anything to do with the British as far as I’m concerned,†Private North said, his voice deep again. “Unless it is!â€

 

“Even if he’s not a loyalist, there were bodies,†Sooleawa said.

 

“Those were American citizens’ bodies,†Westmoore said. “He’s a loyalist. Yep.â€

 

“Wait, did you take any of the bodies back to Stone?†Private North said.

 

“No!†Westmoore said. “Why!?!â€

 

“That’s the only evidence we have so far,†Private North said. “Let’s take it back!â€

 

“No no no no no!†Sooleawa said.

 

“I know where they’re buried,†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“The graves are still there!†Westmoore said.

 

“But what if they’re not there anymore?†Private North said.

 

“I made sure to leave them exactly the same so that no one would think anything,†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“Uh-huh, uh-huh,†Westmoore said. “Stone can go find them.â€

 

“But Indians can smell differences,†Private North said. “And he’s got lots of those.â€

 

“What?†Whipple said.

 

“Yes, they’re so in tune with nature,†Private North said. “He has Indian servants and they’re naturally trackers.â€

 

“True,†Sooleawa said.

 

“They notice even when a grain of sand is out of place,†Private North went on. “Is that not right?â€

 

“I notice everything,†Sooleawa confessed.

 

“Perhaps I should think of another business,†Whipple said.

 

They discussed returning to the graves. Private North wanted to return a body to Providence, though Constable Calhoun thought that would be difficult. He pointed out the corpses might not be able to be connected to Matchell. It was not evidence he was a loyalist either. Private North didn’t want to return to Providence but Constable Calhoun wanted to investigate more there. Private North also brought up Joseph Curwen and wondered what his connection was to all of it and how he had lived for so long. Richards suggested investigating his properties.

 

“Can you just drop me off in Providence?†Westmoore asked.

 

“No,†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“Please,†Westmoore said. “I’d rather go to jail.â€

 

“Would you?†Private North said.

 

“Yes,†he said. “People with four arms …â€

 

They were unsure where Curwen’s property was. Pawtuxet was down the bay several miles away but still held by the Americans. They set off for the town, arriving by midday, and investigated Joseph Curwen there. Whipple asked about hiring a balloon there but, of course, there were no balloons in Pawtuxet. Neither were they able to find out anything solid about Joseph Curwen except that he owned a farm. The records of Joseph Curwen’s farm, however, were all missing. People were not talking about him either, almost as if they were afraid of the man, even after his death. Something very dark happened and people didn’t want to talk about it. When Richards asked at the Pawtuxet Fort about the raid, he got no answers.

 

Whipple asked them who Curwen was and they explained that he had been an associate of Arthur Matchell’s father and grandfather. He had lived nearly 100 years in the area as well. He was presumed dead.

 

As they supped in a local tavern and inn in Pawtuxet, Private North suggested doing more research at the newspaper as they had only gone back as far as 1771.

 

“He probably has my Night’s Rose information ready!†Westmoore said, excited about something for the first time since he saw the horrible skeletons.

 

“I’m sure he doesn’t,†Private North said.

 

“He said he’d do it,†Westmoore said.

 

“No, he didn’t,†Private Smith insisted.

 

“He said he’d take time.â€

 

“He said it would take time, he didn’t say he would do it.â€

 

* * *

 

On Monday, August 17, 1778, they returned to Providence. The weather was hot and humid that day.

 

Westmoore went to the gaol first thing and told the other constables there were corpses in the woods and he had a tree he’d written on showing where. He ranted and raved about corpses, monsters, and writing on trees. Constable Calhoun, who’d been keeping an eye on the man as usual, arrived moments later.

 

“It’s okay,†he told his fellow constables. “He’s fine.â€

 

“Tell them!†Westmoore shouted. “Tell them! Tell them!â€

 

“Sh!†Constable Calhoun said to the man.

 

“Tell them!†Westmoore said. “By not telling your fellow officers about a crime, you are obstructing justice!â€

 

“Sh!†Constable Calhoun said. “Sorry officers. We’re currently in an investigation. I will update you on progress on a little while. Come with me!â€

 

“Please!†Westmoore cried. “No!â€

 

Constable Calhoun dragged the man out.

 

“I didn’t want them to go stomping off to his property and making him suspicious,†he told the other man.

 

“Why not?†Westmoore asked.

 

“Because, we need to get proof,†Constable Calhoun said. “He’s rich and powerful.â€

 

“If we arrest him, we can search his house,†Westmoore said.

 

“But we don’t have any grounds to arrest him!â€

 

“Bodies are not grounds to arrest him?â€

 

“It’s not on his property. It’s behind his property.â€

 

“Is it really?â€

 

Constable Calhoun found a physician in the town and showed him his papers, telling the man he needed his help. He said he wanted the man to examine some bodies they had found. The physician told him to bring the bodies to him. When he suggested the physician come with them, the man noted he was far too busy to leave Providence. Constable Calhoun tried to pay the man but that was not the issue. The man was too busy to go to Mill Cove and told him if he brought the corpses he wished examined, he would help as best he could.

 

* * *

 

“All right, it looks like we have to go back,†Constable Calhoun said when he found the others.

 

“What?†Westmoore said. “No!â€

 

“And I have to get a body,†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“No!†Westmoore said.

 

“What did I say?†Private North said.

 

He had advised bringing back one of the skeletons to begin with.

 

“I know,†Constable Calhoun said. “But I didn’t want to have to disturb them.â€

 

“No one takes me seriously,†Private North said.

 

Westmoore, Richards, and Private North went to the newspaper again and Carter greeted the two. The only other article he had been able to find in their absence was an obituary for Arthur Matchell II in the Saturday, May 19, 1770, paper that read:

 


ARTHUR MATCHELL II
June 27, 1733 to May 14, 1770

 

On May 14, 1770, Arthur Matchell II of Providence succumbed to a fever and died
unexpectedly.

 

Born in England, Matchell was the only son of Arthur Matchell, originally of Ireland
but of Providence since 1729. He was preceded in death by his wife, Evette Matheiu
Matchell, in 1759 in France. He is survived by his only living son, Arthur Matchell III,
aged 19, who was presently being educated in France as a physician.

 

Matchell was a landowner and importer who also contributed to the town of Providence
on several occasions. He has been buried in the family plot on his property. It is said his
son is returning from Europe to take control of the family lands and business.

 


Carter also noted he had found several articles for Mr. Westmoore about the Night’s Rose.

 

“I’ll take those,†Private North said.

 

“I want those,†Westmoore said.

 

“I’ll take them,†Private North said.

 

“But …†Westmoore said.

 

“I’ll take them,†Private North said in a deeper voice.

 

“I asked for them.â€

 

“You’re my charge. Let me look at them.â€

 

“I’m not any more. They trust me.â€

 

Carter held out the papers and Private North grabbed him.

 

“I haven’t gotten anything I’ve wanted this whole trip,†Westmoore said.

 

“Well, I’ll read them to you,†Private North said.

 

* * *

 

Constable Calhoun returned to the busy physician and asked if there was any medical procedure or phenomenon where a person could have two sets of arms. The man looked at him like he was crazy.

 

“Uh … no,†he said. “There have been certain oddities that have been reported where two children are born connected to each other, but they usually don’t live very long.â€

 

“I don’t think I’ll need your services anymore,†Constable Calhoun said. “Thank you sir.â€

 

The doctor gave the man a look before he left as if he was confused by the entire situation.

 

* * *

 

Richards went back to the courthouse and looked for information on Matchell or Curwen but he was unsuccessful. The clerk told him someone had come looking for Matchell information earlier. There wasn’t any information about Curwen’s Pawtuxet farm.

 

* * *

 

Constable Calhoun looked for another Indian and found one. The man’s name was John Corn and he was older, a descendant of those Indians sent to the “praying towns†established by the English in the mid-17th century. Constable Calhoun asked him if he knew the Indians who worked for Matchell.

 

“Yeah,†the man said. “They are survivors of the Wampanoag tribe. After King Philip’s War, a hundred years ago, it was an uprising of my people against the English of New England, the tribe was almost completely wiped out. That what I heard. They say that old Matchell, he found ‘em, up in the forest up there. Hired ‘em on. Don’t know if there’s any others left. I doubt it.â€

 

“Do you know why Matchell hired them?†Constable Calhoun asked.

 

“Nope,†John Corn replied.

 

Constable Calhoun asked about attaching limbs to bodies but the man knew nothing about that. However, he was not Wampanoag but Narragansett and a Christian. He knew nothing about what the constable described. Constable Calhoun also asked him about the travelers who disappeared in the Mill Cove area but the man knew nothing. He knew nothing about Matchell’s servants either.

 

Constable Calhoun spent several more hours asking about said travelers without learning anything new.

 

* * *

 

“Can I make a suggestion?†Richards said to Whipple.

 

“Of course!†Whipple said. “A fine businessman like yourself.â€

 

“You should look in the library for any information about these four-armed corpses,†Richards said.

 

“I love going to the library,†Whipple said.

 

He went to the Athenæum and researched what he could about such things. He didn’t find anything out about such things there, though he was certain he had searched everything there was to find there.

 

As he left the building, Constable Calhoun and Sooleawa found him and asked him if he could research the Wampanoag Indian tribe.

 

“I’m not familiar with that,†Whipple said. “How do you spell it?â€

 

Constable Calhoun struggled to spell it for him.

 

“Silly white men,†Sooleawa said.

 

She spelled it for them. Whipple said he’d research it for them and returned to the Athenæum. He learned that the King Philip’s War took place from 1675 to 1676 and the Wampanoag led it with King Philip, the leader of their nation. He led the uprising against the British and they did well at first but then the British came down hard on them, King Philip being eventually killed. After his death, his head was mounted on a pike in Fort Plymouth where it remained for more than 20 years. The Wampanoag were wiped out as a tribe.

 

He returned to the two who waited for him and told them what he’d learned.

 

* * *

 

They met that evening at Richards’ Apothecary and everyone shared what they had learned. Constable Calhoun noted the Wampanoag were violent, especially against the British of 100 years before. That confused him because if Matchell were working for the British, the Wampanoag would not want to work for him. Then he turned to Sooleawa.

 

“You’re American Indian, right?†he asked.

 

“Yes,†she said.

 

“But you are of the same … not of the same tribe, but …†he said.

 

“You’re trying to say I’m dark,†she replied.

 

“Yeah.â€

 

“Yeah.â€

 

“What if you … maybe we could get his help and see if you could get a job there and talk to the Indians there.â€

 

“If I’m going to speak for you, you must be presentable!†Whipple said.

 

“I don’t want to work for Matchell!†Sooleawa said. “He’s going to murder me! He’s going to sew arms to my hips and then chop my head off.â€

 

“Well maybe you can go in with him,†Constable Calhoun said, pointing to Whipple, “and go to the kitchen.â€

 

“I’m not going to be left alone with Matchell, am I?†Sooleawa said.

 

“No,†Constable Calhoun said. “No. He’s going to be with Matchell.â€

 

“Okay,†Sooleawa said.

 

“Make a dinner date again,†Constable Calhoun said to Whipple. “Or a tea date.â€

 

“Okay,†Sooleawa said.

 

“If we keep sending you,†Richards said to Whipple. “If we send you again with different people, will that not arouse suspicion?â€

 

They discussed him telling Matchell the boy didn’t work out because he was rude so he got a new servant. Private North was unsure how it would help as he was sent away, but Constable Calhoun said she could talk to the servants. Private North talked of making Sooleawa look like a boy, though it would cost her hair.

 

“What?†Whipple said.

 

There was some talk of Sooleawa disguising herself as a boy. The others were unsure about that. Richards talked of sending Charlie. Private North continued to talk about dressing Sooleawa as a young boy. Constable Calhoun noted it would not matter if it was a woman or a man working for Whipple. They also discussed what Whipple would talk to the man about.

 

“I have an idea,†Richards said. “I could go so as not to arouse suspicion and inquire about selling his products in my shop.â€

 

“Brilliant!†Whipple said. “Why did none of you think of this? Why did we have to think of this?â€

 

“And I could bring her along,†Richards went on.

 

“As your servant,†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“As …†Richards said.

 

“Of course!†Whipple said. “Of course! We each have a servant.â€

 

“Let’s go,†Westmoore said.

 

“I’ll send a boy and we’ll visit him on the morrow,†Whipple said.

 

“You’re going too?†Constable Calhoun said.

 

They decided just Richards would go, taking Sooleawa as his servant.

 

* * *

 

On Tuesday, August 18, 1778, they sent Charlie, Richards’ apprentice, with a message to Matchell, noting Richards wanted to meet with the man around dinnertime to discuss business with him. He also sent his card.

 

They all traveled to Mill Cove that day.

 

Constable Calhoun, Whipple, Westmoore, and Private North all headed into the woods, this time equipped with shovels, while Richards and Sooleawa headed up to Matchell’s house.

 

* * *

 

A red Indian answered the door when Richards knocked. He let the man and his “servant†in taking them into the parlor. Matchell arrived a short time later.

 

“I’m very busy,†he said to them. “What do you need?â€

 

“I would like to inquire about selling some of your fine product in my apothecary,†Richards said. “Specifically the rum. I’ve heard excellent things.â€

 

“As you know, my ships are all out at sea and I’m not importing anything right now,†Matchell said. “You must have heard this in town.â€

 

“You don’t have any product to sell?†Richards said.

 

“Come with me,†Matchell said, glancing at the lengthening shadows outside. “Let’s have some supper. Send your servant with Wematin. She will be fed and dealt with.â€

 

Sooleawa found herself led off by the Indian servant.

 

* * *

 

“You know what?†Constable Calhoun said to Westmoore as they tromped through the woods. “I’m starting to trust you more.â€

 

“Who cares?†Westmoore said.

 

“Could you keep an eye on the kitchen?†Constable Calhoun said.

 

Westmoore didn’t seem to care though he was relieved not to be going with those who were going to exhume more bizarre corpses.

 

* * *

 

Sooleawa was led out of the back door of the house and to the nearby kitchen building. It was a small building constructed in the same style as the main house and obviously dedicated to baking, cooking, and the like. An Indian woman was in the one-room building, preparing a meal. She was quite unattractive and, as Wematin left, dropped a plate in front of Sooleawa with some food upon it. It appeared to be cornmeal, bread, and some kind of gravy. Then she went back to her work.

 

* * *

 

Richards had a very uncomfortable supper with Matchell, who didn’t seem to want visitors. He was not rude but was very cold. He even mentioned at one point he was unaccustomed to visitors, yet he had had two in as few days and wasn’t sure what Providence’s interest in him suddenly was.

 

“There was some fop with his servant out here a few days ago,†Matchell said between bites. “Trying to get me interested in gambling and, of all things, balloons.â€

 

Richards, when he learned the man had no business interests, got talking about the war. Matchell actually sounded like a patriot from the way he talked. He was angry at the British, especially those holding Newport. He guessed they were damaging things in that town and Richards was able to get the man to open up a little bit more. Matchell mentioned the Redwood Library and Athenæum, which he noted probably had the largest collection of books in the United States.

 

“The British are most likely stealing them or selling them off,†Matchell said.

 

He seemed quite upset about that.

 

* * *

 

Sooleawa sniffed the food she’d been given. It smelled like some kind of fish sauce or gravy. Unsure, she merely nibbled at the bread. The woman ignored her.

 

“Hey ma’am,†Sooleawa said.

 

The woman glared at her.

 

“What?†she said.

 

“Uh … how do you like working here?†Sooleawa said. “Because I’m thinking about asking if he’ll hire me.â€

 

“He will not hire you!†the woman said.

 

“Uh …†Sooleawa said.

 

The woman walked over to the girl and got into her face.

 

“You stay away from him!†she muttered. “I cut your throat!â€

 

She walked back over and went back to work like nothing happened.

 

“Want some bread?†Sooleawa said.

 

She spoke in her native tongue after that. The woman walked over to her again and told her, in her own tongue, not to filthy her ears in that speak. Then she warned her again to stay away from Matchell.

 

“Let me just ask you, is he a killer?†Sooleawa asked. “Does he kill people?â€

 

The Indian woman walked over and got in her face again, picking up a rolling pin and brandishing at her.

 

“Shut your mouth!†she growled at her. “You are stupid. You know nothing. You know nothing.â€

 

I’m going to take that as a yes, Sooleawa thought.

 

She shoved the woman back. The woman glared at her as if challenging her and she drew a knife.

 

“Stay away from me!†she said. “I’m a hunter!â€

 

The Indian woman dropped the rolling pin and turned, walking over to another table. She reached behind it and drew out a very large war club of native manufacture. Sooleawa leapt up and ran out of the kitchen towards the house. When she reached the back door, she saw the woman came out of the kitchen behind her. She flung the door open and ran down the passage.

 

“Help!†she yelled.

 

She ran into the dining room where she found Matchell and Richards. Matchell had just said something angrily and they both looked up at the girl.

 

“What is the matter with you, girl?†Matchell growled.

 

“Your servant is trying to kill me!†Sooleawa said.

 

“I-I apologize for her,†Richards said. “She’s a bit … uh …â€

 

“No!†Sooleawa said. “She’s coming after me with a war club!â€

 

She looked down the passage. There was no one there. She cursed.

 

“I apologize, Mr. Matchell, we’ll be going now,†Richards said. “Thank you for your hospitality.â€

 

“You’re quite welcome,†Matchell said. “I will see you to the door.â€

 

He let them out.

 

* * *

 

From where he watched, Westmoore had seen Sooleawa run from the kitchen and into the house, followed by another Indian woman with a club. The second woman stopped at the back door and closed it, going back to the kitchen. He thought he heard someone leave by the front of the house after that.

 

It was getting dark.

 

* * *

 

In the woods, Constable Calhoun, Private North, and Whipple found the spot with the graves and started to exhume the corpses. Whipple yelped when he saw the first one, an intact skeleton the flesh had been apparently cut off of. There was still a little rotted flesh on the body and it even still had some hair on its head. On seeing the butchered corpse, Private North started giggling like a hysterical schoolgirl. He continued laughing for almost half a minute. It was very disturbing to Whipple.

 

“Can you comfort him?†Constable Calhoun said to Whipple.

 

“Yeah,†Private North said. “What? No! I’m fine!â€

 

But he looked at Whipple almost longingly.

 

“Please,†Constable Calhoun said. “I need to exhume the bodies.â€

 

Whipple took out a deck of cards.

 

“Would you like to see a magic trick?†Whipple said.

 

“Okay …†Private North said halfheartedly.

 

Whipple tried to do some card tricks. They weren’t very good. Private North still encouraged him and calmed down considerably, despite how bad the tricks were.

 

Calhoun searched the dirt around the corpse but could find no evidence of anything that was buried with the person. He dug up several other corpses, some more fresh than others. He found some were strange. One had a skull attached to the rib cage. Another one had all the arms and legs removed; they were attached to the corpse’s back. It was very disturbing. None of them had anything to identify them: no scraps of cloth, no buttons, nothing.

 

Both Whipple and Private North tried not to watch as the shadows lengthened and it began to get dark. Constable Calhoun lit the candle in the small lantern he’d brought with him and closed the doors so it gave off little light.

 

“Hey, it’s getting dark, we need to cover these bodies back up,†he said.

 

“We need to take some with us,†Private North said.

 

“No,†Constable Calhoun said.

 

“I got the bag,†Private North said, brandishing a potato sack he’d brought.

 

He picked up a stick and tried to pick up one of the more skeletal bits to put in the bag. Unfortunately, the ligaments were still intact and it would be hard to remove parts without smashing one of the skeletons.

 

* * *

 

Near the house, Westmoore saw most of the lights go out within. Shortly after dark, he saw lights appear in the basement windows.


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