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The Hessian

From the personal journals of Mikanostinocolai, timelord

Chapter 2

At cockcrow, by which was meant sundown, I turned from my vigil of watching the street below at a small, timid knock at my door.  "Come," I called, knowing full well it would only be the serving girl.  The door opened slowly and the girl entered, bearing a pot of tea and a small supper of meat and cheese and freshly baked bread.

"Thank you," I smiled and offered her a seat.  Normally, I suspect she wouldn't have accepted my hospitality, but I think perhaps either the situation, or the fact that I simply was not like 'other folks' put her at ease.  I was more a peer than a superior to her.  I often have that way with people.  "Now," I said as we both nibbled on the victuals she had brought.  "You said you had some information.  What do you know of the fellow that rescued me from that runaway carriage today?"

I poured her a cup of tea as she choked down a bit of bread, almost starved she seemed.  Clearly she wasn't used to food this good or this plentiful.  I wondered how people survived this time period.  It seemed so dirty and primitive to me.  Still, I have seen worse.

"Ma'am," she began.  "My father is right, that man is dangerous... and evil.  He'd just as soon lop off a man's head as talk to him."

"Nonsense.  I'm sure it's just a lot of silly superstition cooked up by the local townspeople to cover their own ignorance.  Now, tell me what you know.  Just the facts, save your superstitious beliefs for your more gullible guests."

"Well, from what I have heard, he's the son of the local executioner.  Well, he was.  You see, serious crimes such as murder and adultery are still punished by beheading, as your own country still does.  Only we don't have the fancy machine you French use... we have a man who does all the work... the town executioner.  Well, the one we had several years back got drunk one night and murdered his wife.  Chopped her head clean off he did.  So, he was executed the same way.  That man had a son and with no one to take care of him, he took to living on his own in the streets..."

Here I interrupted her.  "No one would take care of the child?  Why not?  How old was this boy?"

"Would you want the son of a man who made his living chopping off people's heads in your family?  Especially when he had done the same to his own wife?"  I merely stared at her incredulously, making her a little nervous.  She looked away as she got back to the story.  "I think he was six or seven at the time."

"So this small child was shunned and treated as an outcast just because of what his father had done?"  I repeated for emphasis.  I suppose that now that she thought about it, it did sound rather ridiculous, but she continued to defend the actions of the superstitious townsfolk.

"The bad apple doesn't fall far from the tree," she quoted.  "At least that's what my father says.  Anyway, he grew up on the streets and everyone fears him.  He is mean and evil.  Did you not see his eyes?  They are the very eyes of Satan.  And it is rumored that he beheads people just as his father did."

"Humph," I snorted, rising and peering absently out the window.  "He didn't seem evil to me.  Sad, yes.  But not evil.  You people are just closed-minded and superstitious.  Have you ever seen him kill anyone?" I whirled on her, our noses almost touching.

"Uh, well, no, not exactly..." she stammered.

"I thought as much."  I returned to the window, this new information spinning about in my mind.  Then I saw him.  A large, black-cloaked figure, walking purposefully down the street.  He crossed it and was heading in the direction of my hotel.  "Itís him," I muttered, grabbing up my coat and making for the door.

"Wait, milady!" the girl rose and called after me.  "Don't go out there!  It's too dangerous."

"I am not afraid of man nor beast, but of the ignorance of man.  He is fearful of that which he does not know and so seeks to destroy it.  I won't let that happen to the Hessian.  Not if I can help it."

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