“I do not believe you have met Drucilla,” the old lady said, gesturing to the luscious young girl next to her who stood with her hands behind her, pressing out her body in a remarkable manner under her thin dress and looking very unhappy. “Drucilla is a British spy, and she has been here nearly a week. She knows what we are doing and how we are doing it.” The madam looked more disappointed than angry. She pushed the girl toward me, and I realized that her hands had been tied behind her. She was frightened and trying hard not to show it.
“Find out who sent her and who she communicates with. I need to know what they know.”
I nodded, holding the slight girl by a thin arm. “Then what?” I asked.
“Kill her,” said Madam Von R-- as coldly as any man had ever passed down that sentence.
The girl trembled and a tear slid down her cheek.
I led Drucilla, if that was her real name, down the cellar stairs and hooked her hands up on a heavy spike driven into the stone wall. It was a very uncomfortable position which forced her to lean forward from the waist since her hands had been roped behind her. I fetched the pitcher of water from my sleeping place under the stairs and poured it on her back. She gasped, the first sound I had heard from her since we were introduced.
“Are you from around here?” I asked her calmly as she dripped, her light dress soaked and clinging to her young body.
She lifted her head and spat at me. She missed, and I smacked her across the face. “Answer me,” I said quietly.
“You’re going to kill me,” she sobbed. “I heard that old bitch.”
“It is my choice,” I said. “I can do what your friends do with pretty women, put you in a whore house. You could do twenty or so men a day, day after day after day, couldn’t you, into every hole you’ve got?”
She looked away.
“Or I could give you to some of our Indian friends. They’re very partial to blondes.”
“You wouldn’t,” she snorted.
“Or,” I said, taking out my big knife and showed it to her, “I could cut out your tongue and chop off your fingers.”
“This hurts,” she said, wriggling back on the wall.
“I know,” I said. “I’ll let you down if you talk to me.”
She shook her head, tossing her long curls of gold.
“Well, let’s get rid of some of these wet clothes. Must feel awful.” I slit her dress and shift straps at both shoulders and then tore the bodice of her dress free and threw it in the corner. Then I carefully used my knife and cut her stay strings so that small garment fell to the floor by her feet. She was, I noticed, well up on her toes and dancing from foot to foot to relieve her arms.
I put the tip of my blade at one of her pink nipples. I pressed and her eyes widened.
“That hurt?” I asked, lifting her small breast on the tip of the big blade.
“Please,” she mewled.
I eased it down and then pinked the other one, jolting her. A bright blot of blood stood out on her small, round breast and she looked down at it.
“Like to talk?” I asked.
She shook her head. “I can’t.”
“They’ll hurt my mother and my little sister,” she said, looking down at the dirt floor.
“Who will?” I asked, lifting her chin.
She shook her head again. “I can’t tell you; I can’t.”
I slipped my knife under the waistband of her dress along her flank and slit it open all the way to the hem. It fell away leaving her wearing only her shift which hung loosely at her waist and was well soaked.
I grabbed that thin garment and ripped it from her and threw it away. She gasped.
“You have a good body,” I said, “You look well-fed. You might last a month or two among our camp followers.” I palmed her mound and slipped my middle finger into her. She was very tight. Since her breast was hanging there right in front of my face, I licked a nipple into my mouth and sucked hard while my thumb found her hidden nub and rubbed it circularly. She came, and then came again and yet again, shaking and gasping, bouncing off the wall and howling out her passion and pain as I stimulated her roughly.
I let her go and she slumped back, sobbing and dripping fluids down her legs.
“Tell me about your mother and your sister, your little sister did you say?” I pinched her sore nipple to get her attention.
She looked up at me from the top of her eyes. “That was mean,” she said.
“They are holding them, the men who sent me, they’re holding them; oh please, let me down, my arms are breaking.” She bit her lower lip and stared at me.
“No,” I said, turning away, “you can hang there all night. I want the names.”
She sobbed, her back shaking. I fetched another pitcher of water from upstairs and returned. I held the pitcher to her face and let her drink and then I poured what was left down her back. It was pretty cold in that cellar. She shivered and gooseflesh appeared on her arms and legs.
I found another iron spike, drove it into the wall six inches higher and lifted her up to it. Now her feet did not come close to touching the ground and I wondered how long it would be before her shoulders were dislocated.
Five minutes of that and she cried out, “I’ll tell you; I’ll tell you.”
I stood before her, lifted her chin and said, “Everything, all the names?”
She nodded. “Please, please, my arms are tearing loose.”
I lifted her up, carried her to my cot, put her down carefully and untied her wrists. I gave her my spare shirt and she put it on when she got her arms working properly. Then she sat on the side of my bed, and I sat beside her. “The names,” I said, finding a stub of pencil and a folded letter.
She named six men, hesitantly, four army officers and two among the civil authorities. She rubbed at her shoulders and said, “There’s another girl they are getting prepared to do this, Patricia somebody. I met her. She’s very pretty.”
“About your mother?” I asked.
“And Becky,” she said. “She’s only twelve. They were holding them in a cottage just north of here, about five or six miles.”
“Who is?” I asked.
“Andre’s men, some headquarters types. I don’t trust them,” she took a deep breath. “They are awful mean looking.”
I handed her the paper. “Make me a map. I’ll go fetch them.”
She began and then looked up. “What’s going to become of me?”
“I don’t know. Let’s get your family back together,” I told her.
Map in hand I walked her up the steps, and the Madam had her fed and then locked in an attic room. I rode off, feeling like a damn fool, followed the directions on the small map and surprised myself by finding an old log cabin with a smoking chimney well before nightfall.
I watched a while, saw no signs of life, approached with caution and then burst in, knife in hand. The girl child huddled in a corner, face between her knees and on the rude table lay what was left of her mother, head hanging off one end, legs from the other, obviously brutally raped and then ripped open, probably with a bayonet. She had been dead for some time, at least a day. There were a lot of flies despite the lateness of the season.
I pulled the small girl from the corner and hauled her outside. I took her to the well, washed her face with my sleeve and forced her to drink some water. Then I held her while she cried.
“I’ll take you to your sister,” I told her. “She’ll take care or you.”
She nodded and I left her there, found a spade and dug a hole. It did not have to be a very big hole. I put the woman’s limp body in it, covered her up, stomped down the dirt and then got the girl up on my horse and headed back toward Madam Von R--’s place.
It is a good thing we heard them coming, for we barely got off the road before a half dozen men rode by, galloping and kicking up dust. “They’re gonna be surprised,” the girl said, the first time she had really spoken.
I waited, listening.
“They was goin’ to poke me some more. They told me after Ma died, said they’d be back tonight.” She wriggled before me.
“We need to hole up,” I said, mostly to myself. “It’s getting dark fast.”
“There’s mill and tavern I remember, not too far.” She pointed.
And she was right. We ate and I tucked her in bed.