* * *
On the way to Cannon Street, Ackworth finally noticed the terrible symbol squirm on the piece of paper and reach for him an way most unnatural. It came at him and he drew his smallsword and swung at the reaching thing. The sword scraped across the wall, cutting the piece of paper in half. That was when he realized the only way to make sure it never happened again: digest the terrible papers.
He dropped his sword and grabbed the papers, shoving them in his mouth and chewing them. They tasted foul.
â€œStop!â€ Flint shouted. â€œWe already had breakfast!â€
â€œGive me the papers!â€ Ackworth screamed between bites. â€œGive me the papers! Give me the papers!â€
Flint swung his blunderbuss off his back and aimed at the man, terrified. Ackworth looked at the gun but ignored the man, continuing to rip the papers from the wall and shoving them in his mouth. The ink ran, blackening his mouth.
â€œWhereâ€™s Theo!?!â€ Flint cried out, tears running down his face.
â€œDoes Theo have papers!?!â€ Ackworth screamed.
â€œCalm yourself, Mr. Ackworth!â€ Fowler shouted at him.
â€œDoes anybody still have papers!â€ the enraged Ackworth shouted back.
He continued tearing down the flyers on Cannon Street, shoving them into his mouth and nearly choking on the heavy paper and the foul-tasting black ink. Fowler moved to the man, taking out his musket, and tried to club the man with the butt of it. He only managed a glancing blow on the manâ€™s arm. Ackworth ignored him and continued to eat the papers.
â€œWhat the hell are you doing!?!â€ Jeagar said to Fowler.
â€œI â€¦â€ Fowler said.
He put his musket back on his back and they all just watched the man eating the papers for a minute and a half or so.
â€œAre you okay, sir?â€ Jeagar said when he finally stopped.
Ackworth spit out several pieces of paper, hacking up some that were still in his throat.
â€œYou see?â€ Jeagar said. â€œI told you these posters were up to no good.â€
â€œWhy did you do that?â€ Flint said, face wet with tears.
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ Ackworth said.
â€œHave you gone mad, Mr. Ackworth?â€ Fowler said.
â€œHavenâ€™t â€¦ havenâ€™t we â€¦ yes,â€ Ackworth said. â€œYes.â€
He thought upon it.
â€œIt was a rather â€¦ intriguing experience,â€ he said.
â€œI can imagine,â€ Fowler said. â€œYou just ate several pieces of paper!â€
â€œWell, letâ€™s go see Joseph Gill!â€ Ackworth said, his voice cracking.
They continued on to the shop of Joseph Gill and found the place locked up and the shutters closed. They proceeded around the back, through several yards, and found the back door open, the lock broken. The shop inside was dim and they found the man in the corner, staring at the small printing press.
â€œThat must be Joseph Gill,â€ Jeagar said. â€œJoseph?â€
â€œJoseph Gill, is that you?â€ Fowler said.
Jeagar moved into the building but to one side. The others approached the man.
â€œJoseph, whatâ€™s going on here?â€ Ackworth asked.
The man muttered to himself.
â€œJoseph, itâ€™s okay,â€ Fowler said. â€œThereâ€™s nothing here.â€
Flint went to the printing press. Jeagar moved to the coin purse.
â€œHave you seen â€¦ the Yellow Sign?â€ Gill asked, pointing at the press. â€œI have seen the Yellow Sign.â€
â€œWhat is the Yellow Sign?â€ Fowler asked.
â€œIâ€™ve seen the Yellow Sign,â€ Gill said. â€œIâ€™ve seen it and itâ€™s there.â€
â€œWhat about the coin purse, Joseph?â€ Ackworth asked.
â€œThe Yellow Sign â€¦â€ Gill said again.
â€œThe coin purse, Joseph,â€ Ackworth said.
Flint walked up to the printing press, aiming his blunderbuss at it. He saw the type form with the inverted symbol and it seemed to move a little but didnâ€™t come at him. He thought of shooting the press but realized it would not damage it much. An axe or a hatchet might. He remembered Jeagar carried a hatchet so asked for it.
â€œWhere did you get that coin purse?â€ Ackworth asked. â€œDid someone pay you to do this?â€
â€œItâ€™s â€¦ itâ€™s the coins,â€ Gill said. â€œThe coins.â€
â€œOh, what?â€ Jeagar said. â€œThese coins?â€
He picked up the pouch of gold doubloons.
â€œAre the coins the Yellow Sign?â€ Fowler said.
â€œNo!â€ Gill said. â€œNo! No!â€
Jeagar inspected the coins but they looked like typical Spanish doubloons.
â€œNo, it doesnâ€™t look like it,â€ he said.
â€œNo,â€ Gill said. â€œNo. No. No. No. The press. Itâ€™s the press.â€
â€œDid the press make the coins?â€ Ackworth said.
â€œNo,â€ Gill said. â€œThe coins. No. No. No.â€
â€œWho paid you?â€™ Ackworth said.
â€œThe man!â€ Gill said.
â€œWhat man?â€ Fowler said.
â€œThe Spanish priest!â€ Gill said.
â€œThe Spanish priest?â€ Jeagar said.
â€œThe Spanish priest?â€ Fowler said.
â€œHeâ€™s from Spain!â€ Jeagar said as tears flowed form Gillâ€™s eyes.
â€œWas it the priest on York Street?â€ Ackworth asked.
Jeagar pocketed the coins.
â€œHe came to me three nights ago,â€ Gill said. â€œHe had a wallet filled with gold and a request. He wanted â€¦ he wanted a thousand printed pieces of paper with a symbol. He worked with me for some hours on Wednesday and Thursday to get the type form. We had to have it just right and then he left him to do the work Thursday night.
â€œBut the symbol â€¦ the symbol â€¦ itâ€™s alive!â€
Gill grabbed Ackworth by the lapels of his jacket.
â€œEvery printing â€¦ it reached for me, lunged at me!â€ Gill said. â€œOnly my speed at the press kept it contained. It was mesmerizing. I couldnâ€™t stop.â€
Flint had gotten the hatchet from Jeagar and went over to the press. He started striking the press with the hatchet, startling them all.
â€œI was awoken Friday morning by the man,â€ Gill went on, ignoring the noise. â€œHe paid me and took the printed papers. But he left the type form on the printing press! He said it was a â€˜gift.â€™â€
He laughed hysterically.
â€œI canâ€™t leave the shop!â€ he said. â€œI locked it up because â€¦ itâ€™ll escape! Itâ€™ll do terrible things! I know itâ€™s here! Itâ€™s waiting for me to leave!â€
He looked at Flint over Ackworthâ€™s shoulder.
â€œKill it!â€ he shrieked. â€œKill it! Kill the type form! Kill it!â€
â€œI am,â€ Flint said.
â€œThatâ€™s the press! Not the type form!â€ Gill screamed. â€œThe type form! The type form!â€
â€œWhere is it?â€ Jeagar said.
Flint went back to destroying the press.
â€œHeâ€™s killing it!â€ Gill screamed. â€œTell him to kill the type form! The type form!â€
â€œMr. Ackworth, can we set it on fire?â€ Fowler said. â€œWould that do it?â€
Gill laughed insanely again.
â€œKill it!â€ he screamed. â€œKill it!â€
Ackworth grabbed the manâ€™s wrists and pulled himself free of the madman. He looked around as Fowler approached the press. He picked up a burlap bag and dumped the paper out of it. Then he headed for the press.
â€œMr. Ackworth, hand the bag to me,â€ Fowler said.
Ackworth ignored him, removing the type form from the machine and shoving it into the bag. Flint continued to chop up the press as Gill giggled and bawled madly.
â€œYou did it, Flint!â€ Jeagar said.
â€œI did it,â€ Flint said.
Fowler went back to Gill and tried to comfort the printer, managing to calm him down somewhat.
â€œHe was a bald man,â€ Gill muttered to him. â€œHe had a beard and mustache. A priest. Black robes. Spanish. Brown skin and a thick accent. He had fire in his eyes. He said Sodom and Gomorrah was coming soon.â€
Someone banged on the front door of the shop.
â€œWho is it?â€ Flint said.
Ackworth ran out the back door.
â€œJoseph Gill, open up this door!â€ a voice from outside called.
â€œJoseph Gill from Cannon Street?â€ Flint asked.
â€œOpen this door, Joseph Gill!â€ the man on the other side called. â€œYou are under arrest for dissention and for spreading rumors, lies, and creating a riot.â€
â€œOne moment,â€ Flint called.
He and Jeagar fled out the back as Fowler went to the front door. As soon as he opened the door, the red-coated soldiers pushed their way in.
â€œJoseph Gill!?!â€ one of them yelled at Fowler.
â€œIâ€™m not Joseph Gill!â€ Fowler said.
â€œYouâ€™re under arrest!â€ the soldier yelled.
â€œIâ€™m not Joseph Gill!â€ Fowler yelled.
â€œWhere is Joseph Gill!?!â€ the man yelled at him.
â€œHeâ€™s right there!â€ Fowler said, pointing. â€œHeâ€™s that man in the corner.â€
â€œJoseph Gill!â€ the soldier yelled at the man.
He turned to Fowler.
â€œYou stay where you are!â€ he said.
He turned back to Gill who laughed insanely at him.
The soldiers took both Gill and Fowler though the latter was released within an hour, narrowly avoiding looking at the terrible Yellow Sign during his questioning when a soldier shoved it in his face and demanded to know what he knew about it. Gill was taken away, screaming for them to please put his eyes out.
Fowler got safely home some time later.
* * *
Ackworth found a lead smith and paid the man to melt down the lead type form. He paid the man a pound and told him to melt it down in the bag. It didnâ€™t take long to melt the type form down, the bag burning up the in the process. He told the smith to keep the lead.
* * *
Jeagar got together with them at dinner that night at the Catt and Fiddle and suggested they stay up that night to look for whomever was putting up the strange signs and sigils.
â€œDid you destroy the type form?â€ Fowler asked Ackworth.
The man nodded.
â€œGood,â€ Fowler said. â€œThey have Mr. Gill in custody. They had me as well but they let me go.â€
â€œYou should have gone out the back,â€ Ackworth said.
They shared what information they had learned that day, Fowler telling them what the Spanish priest looked like.
â€œThe Spaniards!â€ Jeagar said.
He suggested they watch the streets that night and catch the priest who was putting up the signs. Flint pointed out that man didnâ€™t have a printing press anymore so there was no point. Jeagar noted the hand drawn sigils they saw two days before but Flint said he couldnâ€™t do it all in one night. When Fowler said he had done that before, the man simply stated they didnâ€™t know if that had all been done in one night.
Ackworth said heâ€™d go visit the other printer in town and Fowler went with him. They found the man had printed some pamphlets and the like but it was obviously unrelated. Ackworth warned him about the strange Spanish priest and the symbol. The printer wanted nothing to do with it. At all. Ackworth paid the man to inform on the Spaniard if he came around and the printer was happy to help. He even opened a drawer to show the man a flintlock pistol and said he would detain him if the gentleman wished, or even shoot him if that was his preference.
â€œIâ€™ll leave that up to you,â€ Ackworth said.
They returned to the Catt and Fiddle some time later and discussed watching over the town.
â€œIâ€™m going with Mr. Jeagar â€˜cause heâ€™s going to let me shoot if I have to,â€ Flint said.
â€œIâ€™ll accompany you,â€ Theo said.
â€œFinally!â€ Flint said.
His brother stank of sweat and sex.
In the end, they all decided to keep watch through the night.
* * *
There were no new instances of the Yellow Sign being painted or posted in Port Royal on Monday, June 2, 1692. It was another hot and beautiful day in Jamaica. They were all exhausted from staying up through most of the night, avoiding the small groups of roaming soldiers, and looking for any evil-doers and mischief-makers.
Dr. Merriam Leighlin had even less sleep than the others. He had acquired a distinct fear of the dark and so ordered his assistants to keep candles and lanterns burning through the night. When he did try to sleep, he was often awoken by his own screams as he had terrible and terrifying dreams of the Yellow Sign, the King in Yellow, and some horrible city.
When he would awake screaming, one of his assistants would run into the room.
â€œAre you okay, Master?â€ the man said.
â€œGet out!â€ Dr. Leighlin yelled at the man. â€œNo!â€
â€œYes, master!â€ the man cried out, fleeing in panic. â€œYes, master!â€
This continued through the early morning hours and the physician got little sleep.
That morning, he had his assistants bring his breakfast and he ate on the balcony that overlooked the North Docks. He picked at his food. Nothing tasted good and he was completely exhausted. He watched the people walking by and the ships being unloaded.
He noticed a wagon being driven down the street with a coffin in the back. The driver wore black and had a white, puffy face that made Dr. Leighlin think of a coffin worm. As he passed the balcony, he looked up at Dr. Leighlin and stared at the man as he went by.
It was quite off-putting.
* * *
â€œIâ€™m going to follow Mr. Jeagar,â€ Flint Dawson said to his brother Theo when he got up that morning. â€œBecause at least heâ€™s there.â€
He left their tiny room without another word.
* * *
They all met for breakfast at the Catt and Fiddle later that morning.
â€œFlint!â€ Jeagar said.
â€œYes?â€ Flint replied.
â€œI found where the captain misplaced your payment.â€
â€œYeah. It was in strange, Spanish money.â€
Jeagar handed Flint half the gold doubloons heâ€™d found in the printerâ€™s house the day before. Ackworth, Fowler, and Flint had all noticed the small coin purse, actually.
â€œOh!â€ Flint said. â€œThank you! These are really shiny.â€
He looked at the doubloons.
â€œWait,â€ he said. â€œHold on a second.â€
He bit one of the coins.
â€œHey!â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s real.â€
He looked at Jeagar.
â€œWhere can I even spend these?â€ Flint said.
â€œWherever you want,â€ Jeagar said.
Flint looked across the table to Ackworth.
â€œIâ€™m not going to tell him I have money for breakfast because I donâ€™t want to spend it,â€ he said.
Dr. Leighlin wasnâ€™t eating. He looked shaken.
â€œAre you okay?â€ Fowler said.
â€œYou love the goose,â€ Jeagar said.
Dr. Leighlin let out a shriek.
â€œWhy are you not eating?â€ Flint said.
â€œI â€¦ I donâ€™t feel like it,â€ Dr. Leighlin said.
â€œCan you order something on his money and just give it to me?â€ Flint said.
â€œJust order what you want,â€ Ackworth said.
â€œI did,â€ Flint said.
â€œSo, youâ€™re hungry again, Mr. Flint?â€ Fowler said.
â€œAlways,â€ Flint replied. â€œYou never know when youâ€™re not going to be able to eat again. Right, Theo?â€
â€œThat is so true,â€ Theo replied.
â€œIâ€™ve always been able to eat,â€ Ackworth said.
â€œRemember that one time when we didnâ€™t eat for three days?â€ Flint said. â€œAnd I almost thought about eating you?â€
â€œOh ho ho, brother!â€ Theo said. â€œFunny times.â€
He didnâ€™t like the memory.
â€œExcuse me,â€ a man said, stepping up to the table. â€œWhich one of you is looking into this whole sign thing?â€
â€œUh â€¦â€ Fowler said.
â€œIs it you?â€ the man said.
â€œNo,â€ Fowler said. â€œOf course not.â€
The man was disheveled and nondescript with messy hair, a beard, and a mustache.
â€œWhat sign thing?â€ Fowler said. â€œI donâ€™t know anything about this sign thing.â€
â€œI have seen the signs,â€ Dr. Leighlin said.
â€œYouâ€™ve seen the signs,â€ the man replied.
â€œIâ€™ve seen things, sirâ”€â€ Dr. Leighlin said.
â€œI believe weâ€™ve all seen the signs,â€ Ackworth said.
â€œHe wears no mask!â€ the man said, drawing a dagger and lunging at Dr. Leighlin.
The physician moved to one side and pushed the manâ€™s arm away. Fowler leapt up and rushed the man, punching him solidly in the face. The man stumbled backwards. Dr. Leighlin drew his own knife and tried to cut the man but only tore his clothing. Ackworth drew his smallsword and tried to stab the man, who leapt to one side. Across the table, Flint stood up, pulled the blunderbuss from his shoulder, and blasted the man, blowing off his right arm.
The arm was ripped from the manâ€™s body and he spun around twice before sagging to the ground, dead. A spray of blood spewed all over Dr. Leighlin, Ackworth, and Fowler. Theo had leapt out of his chair and was not touched.
People leapt from their chairs in the tavern, crying out in alarm.
â€œOh my God!â€ one man yelled. â€œSuch a disturbance! Iâ€™m trying to eat my breakfast!â€
â€œLook out, itâ€™s that madman!â€ a woman cried out, pointing at Flint. â€œHe kills people!â€
â€œHe had a knife!â€ another person screamed.
The confusion lasted for nearly 10 minutes before it was worked out the man had drawn a knife and attacked Dr. Leighlin and the gunfire had been in self defense. Peter Litton went to get a mop while Flint carried the corpse outside.
â€œSorry for the mess,â€ Flint called.
Litton picked up the arm and flung it into the street with the body.
Ackworth gave the barkeep some money and told him he wasnâ€™t there. Litton was happy to comply.
Jeagar, meanwhile, searched the body. The man didnâ€™t have any money on him but he did find a piece of paper in his pocket. It was a printed map of Port Royal with nice places on High Street and Lime Street marked with an â€œx.â€ They formed a â€œVâ€ starting where the two streets met and going down perhaps 400 feet along each street, at least according to the scale of feet noted in one corner of the odd map.
â€œIâ€™m sorry, everyone,â€ Flint said when he returned to the table.
â€œItâ€™s all right, Flint,â€ Theo said. â€œNot your fault.â€
Litton approached the table and told them their breakfast was on the house due to the incident.
â€œYou donâ€™t have to pay, Breakfast Man,â€ Flint said to Ackworth.
â€œLook,â€ Jeagar said, brandishing the map. â€œLooks like they were going to do something on these streets.â€
â€œHold on,â€ Flint said, picking up the map.
â€œWhat street is that?â€ Fowler said.
â€œWhat do these â€˜xâ€™s mean?â€ Flint asked.
â€œThere might be treasure!â€ Jeagar said.
Flintâ€™s eyes opened wide.
â€œI think I know where this is â€¦â€ Flint said. â€œBut I canâ€™t read.â€
â€œWeâ€™ll have to go after breakfast,â€ Jeagar said.
Fowler was not really hungry for breakfast anymore. Flint reached across and took the manâ€™s food.
Dr. Leighlin had taken out a handkerchief and wiped the blood off his face. Then he sat once again, taking his brandy and staring off into the distance.
After they ate, they went to the corner of High Street and Lime Street. The wide, sandy street was filled with traffic, not unusual for two of the busiest streets in the port at that time of day. Nothing seemed strange or unusual as they approached the intersection from the north. They continued on to the places the markings seemed to indicate on the map, spreading out. Several of them noticed a divot in the sand in the spots where the markings lay. In those divots, the sand had sunk slightly.
Both Fowler and Flint noticed a couple of Negroes who seemed to be watching the group: a man and a woman. When they saw the two notice them, they turned and walked away. Fowler headed off, following them.
â€œI think thereâ€™s something bad over there we should look at,â€ Flint said to Jeagar.
Jeagar looked in that direction. There were dozens of people, several houses, and even a few ships visible.
â€œYou mean Sam?â€ Jeagar said.
â€œYeah, I think he saw them too,â€ Flint said.
Fowler went around the corner as Flint reloaded his blunderbuss in the middle of the street.
The two of them followed Fowler, Theo close behind them, but the man was gone by the time they got to the corner where he had disappeared.
â€œHe has to be around here somewhere,â€ Flint said. â€œLetâ€™s just keep looking.â€
They wandered away.
* * *
Fowler followed the two Negroes down to Cannon Street where they talked to several other slaves and servants around Joseph Gillâ€™s print shop. After watching them for a while, he casually walked by them in the street, hoping to catch part of the conversation. They seemed to be questioning the people about Joseph Gill and he heard one of the servants tell them the man had gone mad and was arrested for printing heretical pamphlets.
He went back to watching them from a distance.
* * *
Ackworth drew his smallsword and stabbed it into the divot.
â€œExcuse me, sir!â€ a man called from behind him.
He looked around to see a wagon being pulled by a horse standing there, trying to get by.
â€œOne moment!â€ Ackworth called. â€œIâ€™m investigating here! Here. Take this. Go around me.â€
He handed the man two pounds.
â€œYes sir!â€ the man said. â€œGo around this man! Heâ€™ll give you two pounds!â€
He pulled his horse to one side and went around the man. Others started to walk towards Ackworth. He quickly stabbed the sword down into the sand, putting as much weight on it as he could. The weapon went down about two feet, nearly to the hilt, and then struck something. It shouldnâ€™t have.
â€œIâ€™m waiting for my two pounds, sir,â€ someone behind him said.
â€œHereâ€™s your two pounds,â€ Ackworth said, tossing the coins at the man.
As he walked away, he heard a woman clear her throat behind him.
â€œOh,â€ she said. â€œUm â€¦ damn!â€
â€œSorry,â€ Ackworth said. â€œYou lost your chance.â€
The woman cried a little bit and walked away as Ackworth headed off to buy a shovel. He found Dr. Leighlin wandering around Lime Street, looking at the sand but obviously oblivious to anything there.
Ackworth returned to the spot where heâ€™d found the divot and noticed a red-coated soldier nearby. The man had a musket on his back, the bayonet already mounted. He approached the soldier.
â€œYes sir?â€ the soldier said. â€œMay I help you, sir?â€
â€œIâ€™m doing a big of investigation on these strange occurrences,â€ Ackworth said. â€œAnd I need to do some excavation on this road.â€
â€œOn High Street?â€
â€œYes, just a small, little section of it.â€
â€œOn High Street?â€
â€œOn the busiest street â€¦â€
â€œâ€¦ in the whole God damned town.â€
You realize â€¦ no! No, sir. Thatâ€™s ridiculous. Thereâ€™s too much traffic. Thereâ€™s too many people trying to go back and forth. Itâ€™s too busy. Iâ€™m sorry. Excavation? Whatâ€™re you? Some kind of â€¦ excavator?â€
He looked at the man.
â€œIâ€™m sorry sir,â€ the soldier said. â€œWe canâ€™t stop traffic on High Street. Itâ€™s a very busy street.â€
â€œWe have reason to believe that there are precious mineral deposits underneath the earth,â€ Dr. Leighlin said.
â€œThereâ€™s sand underneath the earth!â€ the soldier said.
Dr. Leighlin took out three pounds in coins. The soldier looked at it greedily.
â€œAll right,â€ the soldier said. â€œI think thatâ€™s all right.â€
He pocketed the money.
â€œDonâ€™t you be taking too long sir,â€ he said to Ackworth.
â€œAll right,â€ Ackworth replied.
â€œSirs,â€ the soldier said.
â€œFor the Queen.â€
â€œGod bless the King and the Queen.â€
Ackworth handed Leighlin a shovel and they went to the spot on the street. As Ackworth began digging, people started to shout at him and curse at him to get out of the way.
â€œOh, p*** off!â€ Dr. Leighlin yelled.
Ackworth just grinned and kept working. Someone threw a rotten tomato at the man but he persevered. After an hour or so of digging and taking abuse, he came to a little circle of basalt about a foot in diameter. Digging a little further revealed it was some kind of pillar or plinth.
â€œDo you want to come back tonight or do you want to continue?â€ he asked Dr. Leighlin.
â€œGet out of the damned way, you stupid git!â€ someone yelled.
â€œI honestly canâ€™t take any more of this,â€ Dr. Leighlin said. â€œI donâ€™t know why I decided to do this anyway, so â€¦ weâ€™ll come back in the morning.â€
â€œIâ€™m gonna whip you upside youâ€™re stupid ugly face!â€
â€œI said â€˜p*** off!â€™â€
Dr. Leighlin walked away.
â€œFill in that God-damned hole you stupid â€¦ pansy!â€ the man yelled.
Ackworth removed one of his gloves and turned to the man, who was quite small but very loud. He slapped the little man across the face with his glove.
â€œBert!â€ the little man shouted. â€œGet over here! I got a duel to fight again! Clem! Câ€™mere!â€
Two very large men got out of the back of the wagon as the little man lifted his fists and started dancing around.
â€œCâ€™mon!â€ he shouted. â€œCâ€™mon! Iâ€™ve got this! Clem, back me up! Bert!â€
â€œOh, weâ€™ll back you up,â€ Bert said.
â€œThatâ€™s a pretty pansy move, donâ€™t you think?â€ Ackworth said.
â€œOh! Oh! Coming from a dandy!?!â€ the little man said. â€œComing from a dandy!?! Oh! Oh! Iâ€™ve got the moves! Iâ€™ve got the moves!â€
â€œI may be a dandy but Iâ€™m not a pansy.â€
â€œBert, punch him in the face a few times!â€
â€œBertâ€™s gonna punch me in the face! Thatâ€™s a pretty pansy move! Thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m talking about!â€
â€œOh, you call me a pansy! Iâ€™m insulted, sir!â€
The man looked around for something to hit Ackworth with. Unable to find anything, he took of his disgusting, sweaty shirt and slapped the man in the face with it. It left Ackworthâ€™s face dripping wet.
Dr. Leighlin ran back down the street and grabbed Ackworth by the arm.
â€œMan. My God, what are you doing?â€ he said to him.
â€œAre they your seconds?â€ Ackworth asked.
â€œTheyâ€™re my firsts!â€ the little man yelled.
â€œWell, then, why are you here?â€
â€œCâ€™mon! Take a swing, you dandy!â€
â€œWe havenâ€™t even declared the time and day!â€
â€œIt is now! Letâ€™s go!â€
â€œIs it now?â€
Ackworth turned and walked away.
â€œOh!â€ the little man called after him. â€œLeave a hole in the road! Oh!â€
â€œI was going to fill it, but not now!â€ Ackworth called back.
They yelled insults at the man as he left. He heard others complaining as he and Dr. Leighlin left the scene.
* * *
Jeagar, Flint, and Theo finally found Fowler on Cannon Street. He told them what he was doing. They saw the Negroes talking to other people and, after following them for a little while, Fowler approached one of those people they questioned after they had moved on.
â€œOut of curiosity, what were they asking you about?â€ he asked.
â€œIâ€™m sure I donâ€™t know,â€ the hapless servant answered. â€œThey want to know whatâ€™s happening in Port Royal.â€
â€œDid they say anything about the symbols?â€
â€œWell, they were asking about them. They seemed quite concerned.â€
â€œQuite concerned with â€¦?â€
â€œWith the symbols.â€
â€œIn what way?â€
â€œThey were worried.â€
â€œThey were worried about the symbols.â€
â€œThatâ€™s how it seemed to me.â€
He learned the two were asking about the symbols and about the strange occurrences in Port Royal. He returned to the others and told them what he learned and the three continued to follow them at a distance. They told him about what they had learned as well.
Through the rest of the day, the two men questioned people around Port Royal, mostly restricting themselves to servants and slaves in the town. At the end of the day they went to a house where they had probably a rented room.
* * *
Dr. Leighlin saw the strange, pale, puffy-faced man several times during the day. At least once, the man was just staring at him from across the street before he moved on. Once he was sitting on the side of the street. Another time he was walking by.
* * *
Eventually, they all got together around dinnertime.
â€œHello Flint,â€ Ackworth said. â€œWould you like to dig a hole tonight?â€
â€œWhy, Breakfast Man?â€ Flint said.
â€œOh, just to dig it.â€
â€œWhatâ€™s in it?â€
â€œWell â€¦ we donâ€™t know yet. Itâ€™s a surprise.â€
â€œMy brother shall dig no holes unless thereâ€™s compensation, my good man,â€ Theo said.
â€œWell, of course thereâ€™ll be compensation!â€ Ackworth said.
â€œYouâ€™ll have to pay up firsthand!â€ Theo said.
â€œNo!â€ Flint said. â€œWait! I donâ€™t want money. Give me breakfast and lunch tomorrow!â€
â€œWeâ€™ve got a deal!â€ Ackworth said.
Theo just glared at the man.
* * *
Flint, Theo, Jeagar, and Ackworth returned to the spot late that evening, well after midnight. Ackworth pointed out the spot and they dug for two hours to uncover it again. They found a small, basalt pillar, perhaps a foot in diameter and six feet tall. The pit they ended up digging was about eight feet deep. The pillar did not appear to be attached to anything so they dragged it out of the ground.
They filled the hole back in and manhandled the pillar back to Ackworthâ€™s house. Ackworth examined it closely and found it was roughly made but very solid.
Flint asked if he could sleep at Ackworthâ€™s house that night and the man obliged him, giving him a guest room. Flint enjoyed the feather bed.
* * *