Harold had been guessing, of course, when he suggested to Colin Knight that he knew what secret was concealed in the wreck of the George Badger; but not guessing too wildly. It was obvious from the books that lined the library shelves around them that he was interested in history and magic, and if he knew so much about the early settlers and the way in which they had conjured up Indian spirts to help them in the wilderness, then the chances that he was familiar with the sinking of the George Badger were high.362Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡLMCDQmU1Qu
Besides that, if Colin Knight didn't know where the wreck was located, or how it had sunk, then nobody would. This monkey-shriveled old man was their only possible hope.
"My wife was killed in a car accident just over a month ago," Harold told him, in a quiet voice. "Recently, she's been visiting me. I mean that her ghost has been visiting me. Her spirit, if you prefer. And talking to other people in Ol' Spithead who have recently lost loved ones, I've found out that what I've been experiencing is not exactly an uncommon phenomenon here?"
"Is that all?" asked old man Knight.
"Isn't it enough?" Michael demanded.
"No, it's not," Harold said. "An old woman who lived out on West Shore Road was killed two days ago by the ghost of her late husband, and I understand that several other people have died in very gruesome and bizarre ways. It seems as if the ghosts are not benevolent, that they are harvesting the living to join them in the region of the dead."
Colin Knight raised a white wiry eyebrows. "The region of the dead?" he enquired. "Who mentioned the region of the dead?"
"My wife," said Harold. "As a matter of fact, I saw her again last night. I saw lots of ghosts last night, ever dead damned soul in Angel Point Cemetery."
Michael looked across at Harold, and gave him a nod to show that he understood why Harold's behavior had been so fractured this morning. Colin Knight sat back in is armchair, his elbows perched on the arms, his mittened hands hanging like the talons of a dead tree. Michael cleared his throat, and shifted his backside on the leather-covered sofa so that it squeaked rudely.
"You're telling me the truth," said Colin Knight, after a while.
"Of course we're telling you the truth," Hubert protested. "Do you think we would have driven all the way out here and given you a valuable writing-case just to tell you a tall tale?"
"I am regarded by the local populace with grave suspicion,' said Colin Knight. "I am thought to be a sorcerer, or a madman, or an incarnation of Satan. That is why the gates are locked, and that is why I keep my guard-dogs, and that is why I treat any attempted incursion into my house with the deepest caution. The last time I allowed a party of gentlemen to come into my house, four years ago, they attempted to beat me up and burn my library. It was only because Tyee was so prompt in intervening that my library and I both survived."
"How do you know we're telling you the truth?" Harold asked him.
"There are indications. What you say about Ol' Spithead is quite correct; and for some years now I have associated what has been happening there with the wreck of the George Badger. But, naturally, the visitations you describe are far more vivid and far more threatening that they have ever been before. You have also mentioned 'the region of the dead,' and unless you have been undertaking some extremely detailed research in order to perpetrate an elaborate and apparently pointless hoax, you would not have known that 'the region of the dead' is exactly the phrase which is appropriate to the history of the George Badger."
Michael said, "Why would the ghosts be more threatening now than they ever have been before?"
Colin Knight rubbed his white-stubbled chin thoughtfully. "There are many possible explanations. One wouldn't really be able to tell until the contents of the George Badger's hold are raised and inspected. But you are correct: the influence which is affecting the dead of Ol' Spithead has been emanating from the big copper vessel which on that voyage was the George Badger's sole cargo. Maybe that vessel has corroded to the point where the influence has been able to escape."
"What influence?" asked Hubert.
Old man Knight raised himself out of his chair, and beckoned them. "What happened at the time was known only to a few; and all of those few were sworn to utter secrecy. After it was all over, as you know, Ahab Marsh ordered that every mention of the George Badger should be excised from every company logbook, every news-sheet, every poster. The only way that we know today of the George Badger's existence is through shipping records that were kept in Boston and also in Peru, South America. There are several drawings and mezzotints of the ship, although all of them seem to be copies of one particular sketch that was made of her in 1690. I believe I sold a rather inferior watercolor of her not too long ago; again, a copy of the only known rendition."
"I bout that watercolor myself, at Boulderkeep's," Harold put in.
"You did? Ah, well, that's fortunate. How much did you pay for it?"
"Wasn't worth six dollars and one cent. It probably wasn't even contemporary."
"So much for your professional judgment," Hubert ribbed Harold, and Harold gave him a look of mock annoyance.
Colin Knight shuffled along one of the shelves, and picked out a thin, black-bound book, which he had laid flat on the library table. "It's not an original, I'm afraid," he said. "The original was likely lost, probably burned, years ago. But somebody was smart enough to copy the original exactly, drawings and all, and so here it is. This copy was made in 1836, but we don't know who made it, or why. My great-grandfather Sydney Knight bought it from a widow out at Irving's Hollow, and there's a piece of paper inside it of his own handwriting saying, 'This explains at last; I have told Oldmixon.' Here, here it is. The piece of paper itself. See the date on it? 1841."
"Does it say who wrote the original?" asked Michael.
"Oh, yes. This was the private diary of Colonel Nathaniel Saltonstall, of Haverhill, who was one of the presiding judges at the Salem Witch Trials. You may remember that Saltonstall only heard one witchcraft case, that of Bridget Bishop, who was found guilty and hanged on Gallows Hill. After this, he resigned rather than continue to sit. He didn't believe the afflicted girls were really possessed, and found the spectral evidence admitted in court unconvincing. In fact, he was so angered by the trials that he undertook his own investigation into the 'Great Delusion,' as the witch-hunt came to be known; and this diary of his contains the only full and reasonably accurate account of what happened."
Colin Knight turned the diary's pages, and ran his chalky fingernails along the sloping lines of 19th-century writing. "Saltonstall had only settled in Salem during the winter of 1691. Befoere that, he had lived with his wife and family in Acushnet, New Bedford, and so he knew nothing of the events that had preceded the Salem witch-scare."
While they listened, Colin Knight read through the diary's account of the Salem Witch Trials. The "Great Delusion," as Judge Saltonstall constantly referred to it, was said in most history books to have begun in 1689, when a trader called Samuel Parris arrived in Salem Village with the intention of changing his livelihood to that of a holy minister. On November 19, 1689, he was installed as Salem's first pastor.
With him, Parris had brought two slaves from the West Indies, a man called John Indian and his wife Tituba. Both slaves were skilled at fortune-telling, card-tricks, and palmistry, and they liked to amuse the local children by telling them tales of witchcraft. The children, however, either began to pretend that they were possessed by witches, or else were gripped by a spasm of childish hysteria. Whatever it was, they would throw terrible fits and spasms, and thrash around on the floor and scream. Dr. Griggs, the local physician, examined the "afflicted" children and pronounced at once that they were bewitched.
Horrified, the Rev. Parris invited neighboring ministers to come to his office for a day of fasting and prayer, and to witness the tortures of the "afflicted" children. When they saw the children writhing and shrieking, the ministers confirmed the doctor's diagnosis: the children were unquestionably possessed.
Now the question was: who had bewitched them? And under intensive questioning, the children said "Good," Osburn," and "Tituba."
And so it was that on March 1, in front of John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, the two leading magistrates in Salem, Sarah Good, Sarah Osburn, and Tituba were all accused of witchcraft. Sarah Good, an unfortunate woman with very few friends, earnestly denied everything; but the children shrieked and writhed upon sight of her, and she was promptly declared guilty. Sarah Osburn was dragged into court despite being bedridden, and the children threw themselves into spasms when they she appeared, so that none of her denials were believed. Tituba, frightened, ignorant, and superstitious, admitted that she had agreed to serve Satan, and that she and the other accused women had all ridden through the air on a broomstick. This evidence was enough: all three women were chained and manacled and sent to jail.
The "afflicted" children continued their accusations. Eighty-two-year-old George Jacobs, a white-haired dignified old man, answered charges that he was a wizard by saying, "You tax me for a wizard; you may as well tax me for a buzzard. I have done no harm." Nevertheless, he was found guilty and imprisoned.
The trails went on during the summer of 1692, becoming increasing heated and hysterical. The whole of Salem Village seemed to be possessed by "witch fever," and over and over again, when the villagers looked back on that summer in future years, they referred to it as "a dream" or "a nightmare," as if they had somehow been asleep.
Thirteen women and six men were hanged on Gallows Hill---the first, Bridget Bishop, on June 10; the last, Mary Parker, on September 22. In fact on September 22, eight witches and wizards where hanged and as they swung in the air, the Rev. Mr. Noyes remarked, "What a sad thing it is to see eight firebrands from hell hanging there."
Two days before, however, an execution had taken place which was so horrible that it had begun to awaken the people of Salem from their "Great Delusion." Old Giles Corey, of Salem Farms, had denounced the claims of the "afflicted" children, and had been brought to stand trial; but he had refused to speak. Three times he had been brought before the judge and three times he had remained dumb. He had been taken to an open field between Brown Street and Howard Street burial ground, stripped naked, and made to lie flat, while heavy weights were placed on his body. As more weights were added, Giles Corey's tongue was squeezed out of his mouth, and the sheriff with his cane had pushed it back in again. Corey was the first New-Englander to suffer the old English punishment of pressing to death.
Judge Saltonstall had written: "The storme now seem'd to have spent itselfe, and the people awaken'd. There is in Historie no record of so sudden, so rapid, so complete a revulsion of feeling." Thus the executions ceased, and in May of the following year, all those accused and awaiting trial were freed.
But Judge Saltonstall's account did not end here. He said that "I remain'd curious as to how the Delusion had begunne; and why it should have died so quicklie. Had the children trulie been afflicted, or had they beene nothing more than eville pranksters? I sette about discoverage for myself the truthe of these sorry events; and particularlie with the assistance of James Foster, who had work'd for Ahab Marsh as a clerke, I piec'd together an Account as frightening as it is remarkable; yette for whose accuracie and truthe I can solemnlie Vouchsafe."
Colin Knight rang a little silver bell, and his Indian manservant Tyee appeared. Tyeee regarded them impassively, but from what Knight had told them, he was likely quite capable of throwing all three of them out of there, or tearing them limb from limb. Knight said, "Tyee, these gentlemen are to be our guests for lunchtime. The cold pie will do. And bring up a bottle of the Flunas Doce; no, two bottles; and put them on ice."
"Oh, and Tyee…"
"These gentlemen are here to discuss the George Badger. Their visit may prove to be of considerable importance to us."
"Yes, sir. I understand, sir."
Tyee left them, and old man Knight dragged over one of the upright chairs, and sat himself down. "Please, sit," he asked us. "The rest of Judge Saltonstall's diary is fascinating, but disorganized, and it would be better if I told you the story of what happened myself. You are welcome to make copies of any pages that particularly interest you; but if you tried to work out for yourselves what Judge Saltonstall was really saying, I'm afraid that it would take you some considerable time, as it did me."
They all drew up chairs, and Colin Knight leaned on the table before them, looking from one from one to the other as he spoke. Harold would never forget that hour in the Knight library, listening to the secret history of the George Badger. He felt as if he was shut off from the real world altogether, as if he was back in the 17th century, when witches, demons and goblins were all thought to be credible realities. Outside, the rain began to die down, and a kind of strangled sunlight came through the stained-glass window and illuminated their discussions in a radiance that looked as old as the story itself.
"What happened in Salem in the summer of 1692 started not with Mr. Parris, as the modern history-books suggest, but much earlier, with George Solomon Badger, who was a fire-and-brimstone preacher who lived first in Dunwich, and then near Salem Village at Mill Pond.
"By all accounts, George Badger was a tall, saturnine man, with long black hair which reached down to his shoulders. He was so convinced that every man, woman and child had to live a life completely beyond reproach before they would even be considered for a place in heaven that he taught his congregation to prepare themselves for the almost certain prospect of spending all eternity in Hell. In March of 1682, George Badger announced to his flock that in a field outside of Dean's Corners he had actually met with Satan, and that Satan had given him a scroll upon which were scorched the names of all those Salem villagers who were already condemned to burn. This, of course, had a remarkable effect on the behavior of all those listed, and Judge Saltonstall records that 1682 and 1683 were 'highly moral years' in Salem and its surrounding communities."
"Do you think he had met with Satan? Or something similar?" asked Michael.
"Judge Saltonstall investigated this claim," said Colin Knight. "All that he could find out was that George Badger had become friends during the previous year with some Narragansett Indians, and one Indian in particular who was claimed by his tribe to be the greatest worker of magical wonders who had ever lived. The judge wasn't a man to leap to conclusions; he liked his evidence to be concrete. But he did cautiously express the opinion that it was conceivable that George Badger and this Indian magician could have summoned up between them one of the ancient and evil Indian deities, and that Badger could have taken this manifestation to be Satan, or one of his minions."
The dark-haired girl called Sarah came into the library with a crystal decanter on her silver tray, and asked them if they would care for another glass of sherry. Personally, Harold was dying for a large whiskey, but he took the sherry and was thankful for it.
Colin Knight said, "Very little was heard about George Badger between 1683 and 1690. Apparently he gave up preaching for several years, and devoted himself to study. Quite what he was studying, nobody ever found out, but Judge Saltonstall says that at night there were lights in the sky above his cottage; and that the local people wouldn't go near the woods where he lived because they had heard the howling of strange beasts.
"In 1690, however, George Badger reappeared and began to preach once more; often in church in the middle of Salem. After a particularly fiery sermon, he was approached by the merchant Ahab Marsh, who was much impressed with what Badger had been saying, and Marsh, who was something of a religious fanatic himself, suggested that between them they should start a campaign to improve the morals and minds of everybody in Salem.
"This is where the testimony of James Foster comes into play. James Foster had worked for Ahab Marsh for fifteen years, and was one of his most trusted employees. That was why, when George Badger suggested to Marsh that he should send a ship to Peru on a very special errand, James Foster was there to record what was said?"
"Peru?" asked Michael. "Where does Peru come into it?"
"Peru is crucial and central to the whole story of the George Badger," said Colin Knight. "For whatever ghosts or monsters George Badger had been raising at his cottage at Mill Pond, all of them were subservient to the grimmest of demons that lived in the Americas. I am speaking of the living mummy who was worshipped by the Inca people of South America in the capital of their ancient empire, Cuzco. How George Badger came to know this demon, Judge Saltonstall does not say; but it is quite likely that the Narragansett wonder-worker told him about it. In any case, George Badger persuaded Ahab Marsh that he should mount an expedition to Cuzco, discover the remains of this demon, and bring it back to Salem in order to frighten and discipline the local people. This demon did, after all have a few things in common with Satan----he was a powerful ruler of his own underworld realm, and he had legions of minions, too. Those unfortunate enough to meet him often begged him not to harm them. Not a deity you'd ever want to meet, believe me."
"Surely the Spanish were in control in South America in those days," said Hubert. "When did Pizarro overthrow the Inca? 1530?"
"1531," Colin Knight corrected him. "But remember that the Inca were a remarkably organized people. Long before Pizarro had reached their country, once known as Tahuantinsuyo, the demon had been spirited away from Cuzco on one of the rope bridges that joined it to the Andes mountains, and secreted on the slopes of the volcano of Arichua. Again, it was impossible for Judge Saltonstall to establish how George Badger had discovered this, but Badger had traveled several times during the six years between 1684 and 1690, and it is quite possible that he went to Peru. He may well have contacted some of the surviving Inca magicians whose hereditary task it was to guard the demon from the Spanish invaders, and made an arrangement with them for the demon to be shipped secretly out of Peru to Massachusetts. Conversely, rather than bothering to deal with them, he probably had them killed. Judge Saltonstall thinks so."
"So Ahab Marsh sent a ship to bring this demon back to Salem?" asked Michael.
"Exactly. The ship was called the Bradburn, and it was generally considered to be one of the finest vessels in Salem. George Badger went on the voyage as commander, and the ship was captained by Charles Fisk, the older brother of Thomas Fisk, who was later to be a juror at the witch-trials.
"The Bradburn was away for nearly a year, and when she returned the crew refused to speak about their expedition, and even George Badger himself seemed like a different man. They had aged, every one of them, Judge Saltonstall reported; and out of a crew of 70 men, 31 of them were dead within the year, either of disease, or of heart failure, or of stroke. The Bradburn's mysterious cargo was unloaded by six men who had been specially hired from Boston to do the work, and paid three times the going rate. Then it was carried by wagon to George Badger's cottage at Mill Pond.
"At first, nothing happened. George Badger visited Ahab Marsh at his offices several times, and told him that the demon seemed to be comatose, or dead. Perhaps the Inca magicians had lied to him, and the demon was no demon at all, but merely the mummified corpse of an unusually tall man. Marsh, who had been so enthusiastic at first that he had rechristened the Bradburn the George Badger, started to have doubts about the expedition, and about the money had had spent on sending the Bradburn and her crew to Peru for a whole year, and most of all he began to have doubts about the sanity of George Badger. John Foster overhead a conversation that Marsh had with Dr. Griggs about the possibility of Badger being 'possess'd, or mad.'
"In the spring of 1691, however, extraordinary events began to happen around Salem. Several people began to report that they had seen or heard their dead relatives, walking around the streets of the village in the dead of night. One man awoke in his bed to find his dead mother standing beside his bed, and he was so scared that he jumped out of the skylight, and rolled all the way down the long sloping roof, breaking his ankle, but fortunately doing no other damage."
Harold leaned forward across the table. "How were these dead people described? Were they like ghosts? Or flickering lights?"
Colin Knight thumbed through the book, and then turned it around so that Harold could see what was written there.
"On the morning of Aprille 2nd, 1691, Israel Dolley had visited the Rev. Noyes and tolde him of his great scare in having seen in broade daylight his deceas'd brother Otis on St. Peter Street; and how Otis had approached him and begg'd him to come with him or else Otis though dead would find no rest. Isreal Dolley had runne off quicklie, greatly affrighted, and had tolde the Rev. Noyes that his brother had appear'd to him as much in the fleshe as if he had still been extant."
Harold passed the book to Michael. "You see how powerful the influence was then? It could summon the dead by daylight, and they looked as solid as if they were still alive!"
"That wasn't all," said Colin Knight. "The dead began to prey on the living; and although the official history books record that there was a summer epidemic of diphtheria in Salem in 1691, the truth of the matter was that the people of the village were being snatched from their beds by the corpses of their dead relatives and killed in all kinds of extraordinary and ritualistic ways. The body of Moses Tess was found butchered like a pig's, and somehow spread-eagled to the gable at the end of his house, out of reach of windows and ladders. Thomas Yates was discovered impaled on a flagstaff which used to stand in the village square, although he would have had to have been lifted seventy feet in the air to drive him down onto it. Of course, the community began to panic, although George Badger now made his most dramatic reappearance and told them that they had offended the Lord, and that this was their punishment.
"Ahab Marsh, however, began to feel that the whole thing had gone far enough. His own sister Rachel had appeared in his garden at night, and he was terrified that he was going to be taken, too. He ordered Badger to destroy the demon; otherwise he would expose what was going on, and Badger would likely find himself torn to pieces by angry Salemites.
"Badger, however, was unable to control the power that he had brought back from Cuzco; and when he attempted to break the demon to pieces with an ax, he was immediately killed. An eyewitness, an illiterate field-worker, said that saw him explode in a cloud of blood and entrails.
"After Badger's death, there was chaos in Salem for a while. Judge Saltonstall said that there was 'night at noontime' and that many people were buried at sea for fear they would rise from their graves and slaughter the friends and family that had survived them. In the fall of 1691, however, the chaos died away as fast as it had broken out, and for the rest of the year there was peace in Salem Village.
"What had happened, as Judge Saltonstall later discovered, was that the Narragansett wonder-worker who had originally taught George Badger how to summon evil spirits had visited George Badger's cottage and had encountered the demon from Peru. Although he had been unable to destroy it, he had bound it with enough powerful Indian ritual to suppress its malevolence. Apparently he hoped to use it to further his own influence within his tribe, and over other Indian magicians. He didn't realize what havoc it had been causing among the villagers of Salem.
"Alas, shackles are only as strong as their weakest link, and by the spring of the following year, it seems that the demon had worked out ways in which it could break the ritual bonds that the Narragansett had imposed upon it. There was some kind of struggle between the Indian and the demon, a struggle in which the demon was temporarily weakened but in which the Indian was severely crippled. The demon then sought to re-establish its hold on the community of Salem by enticing to its lair three young girls who were out walking near Mill Pond: Anne Putnam, Mercy Lewis, and Mary Walcot.
"The demon must have slaughtered them all, although Judge Saltonstall could never find out how. Their bones were later found in a shallow grave in the woods near George Badger's former home. But their ghosts, if you prefer, returned to Salem Village and began to throw tantrums and scream, and writhe around as if possessed. Because of this, nineteen good people were accused of witchcraft, and hung; and Giles Corey was pressed to death. Twenty souls were claimed by the demon in just a few short weeks; a feast."
"But why did the hysteria stop so abruptly?" asked Michael.
Colin Knight finished his sherry, and then twisted the glass around between his fingers as if he were trying to decide whether he should have another one or not.
"It stopped because Ahab Marsh saw two of the girls, Mercy Lewis and Mary Walcot, walking through Salem Village in the wee hours of the morning. He had been up most of the night, supervising the onloading of a very valuable cargo of indigo. He stopped them, when he saw them, and asked what they were doing up. But all they did, so Judge Saltonstall says, was 'to glare at him with eyes that glowed blue, and to snarle at him like wolverines, frightening him away.' Marsh now suspected that George Badger's demon was active again, and he made plans to visit the cottage, along with a pastor friend of his, to see what was going on there.
"And what they saw there was the scariest part of the entire story. I will now read from Saltonstall's diary itself. 'Regardless of the houre, which was onlie three and some minutes past, the skies began to grow dark as Mr. Ahab Marsh and the Rev. Reason Couzens approached the erstwhile residence of George Badger. According to James Foster, to whom Mr. Marsh later related this description, the Rev. Couzens stopped at the stile which bounded Badger's propertie, and declined for some time to procede any further, feigning a severe sicknesse. Mr. Marsh however persuaded him to continue, and eventualie the two men reached the cottage. The windows were obscured in some fashion, and therefore Mr. Marsh elected to force an entrie, which he achieved with an ax. What met their eyes inside the cottage Mr. Marsh refused to relate in anything but the most circumstantialle manner, but James Foster concluded that the stench of putrefaction within the building was such that bothe Mr. Foster and the Rev. Couzens were sicke unto vomiting; and that having recovered they saw in the darkness a huge and terrifiying Mummy, "bone-white" said Mr. Marsh, "and in alle natural proportions, except that it was many times the size of a human, & alive." The Mummy's ribs were hung like a gamekeepr's gibbet with the intenstines of hogs, chickens, and goats, and the skulles of animals formed caps for each of its withered & bonie fingers. Worst of all was a copper basin which rested on the floor beside it, a basin heaped with darke and bloodie things. Even as Mr. Marsh and the Rev. Couzens watched in sicknesse & in feare, the Mummy plunged one hand into the basin, and lifted uppe some of the gruesome contents of the basin for them to see; and it was then that Mr. Marsh understood that he was looking at a basin of human hearts, the hearts of every man and woman who had beene hung during the Great Delusion.'"
Colin Knight turned over the last few pages of the black notebook. "Ahab Marsh now fully realized what devilry he had unleashed on Salem, and he was shrewd enough to understand that the witch-hunts were just the beginning. The demon presumably took its strength from slaughtered animals and from human hearts, and used the dead whose hearts it had already taken to bring it more. The hysteria of the Great Delusion was increasing, and Marsh foresaw a time when the skies would be permanently dark, and the walking dead would overwhelm the living."
"That's why the cemetery beside the Ol' Spithead shoreline used to be called 'The Walking Place,'" Harold put in.
"Right," said Colin Knight. "But the curse on Ol' Spithead came later, after Ahab Marsh had determined that he would rid Salem of the demon once and for all."
"How did he do that?" asked Michael. "Surely the demon was powerful enough to prevent anyone from exorcizing it."
"Marsh went to the Narragansett wonder-worker, and bribed him with promises of huge sums of money if he would help him to contain the demon for long enough to ship him out of Salem and make sure that it never returned. The wonder-worker was extremely reluctant to help at first, because the demon had severely injured him in their last confrontation; but eventually Marsh upped the price to nearly L 1,000 in gold, which the wonder-worker found irresistible. Now the wonder-worker knew one thing: and that was that the demon was susceptible to intense cold. It was the lord of the region of the dead, the god of hellfire, with uncontested dominion over the furnaces and grates of everlasting torture. It is said, in fact, that bodies lose their heat so quickly when they die because this particular demon extracts it for his own sustenance; and that all the walking dead could be detected by their utter coldness. Every last ounce of thermal energy had been drained from every last cell, in order to keep the lord of the region of the dead both thriving and powerful.
"The Narragansett wonder-worker therefore suggested to Ahab Marsh that the demon could be paralyzed inside Badger's old cottage by the introduction through the doors and windows of twenty or thirty cartloads of ice; that the demon could then be contained in a large insulated vessel also packed with ice; and sailed in quickly as possible northwards to Baffin Bay, and dropped into the ocean. Marsh could see no other way out, so he agreed.
"The plan was carried out in late October, after the George Badger had been hastily prepared to carry this one malevolent item of cargo. Despite the bloody loss of two horses as they approached the cottage, and the blinding of three men, the wonder-worker was able to contest the demon with his spells just long enough for the doors and windows to be smashed down with picks and acks, and for the ice to be tipped into the room where the demon presided. At the dead of night, the gigantic skeleton was carried out of the cottage, and laid inside the specially-made copper vessel which Marsh had ordered to be prepared. More ice was packed inside, ice which could be constantly be replenished through a special trap, and then the copper lid was welded shut. John Foster was actually present that night; just like anybody else whom Marsh felt that he could trust. The capturing of the demon had taken thirty good men and many hundreds of pounds. Within the hour, the copper vessel had secretly been loaded aboard the George Badger, and the ship's captain had announced that he was ready to sail.
"As they were rowed away from Salem wharf, however, the adverse wind began to rise sharply, and even within the harbor the sea began to blow rough. The captain signaled back to the shore that he would rather return to his anchorage, and wait until the storm had died down before he attempted to sail; but Marsh was terrified that the demon would escape from the ship if it had to be kept in a harbor overnight, and he ordered the George Badger to sail at all costs.
"And---you know the rest of the story. The George Badger was rowed out beyond Ol' Spithead Neck, and then she put up the barest minimum of sail with the intention of sailing as far as possible in the south-easterly direction, in the hope that when the storm died down she would then be able to tack northwards past Nova Scotia and head for Newfoundland and the Labrador Basin. But---whether it was entirely the force of the storm, or whether the will of the demon had anything to do with it---the ship was driven back into Lobster Bay, and sunk somewhere off the west shore of the Ol' Spithead Peninsula."
"Were there any witnesses to the sinking?" Harold asked. "Did anybody see it from the shore?"
"No," said Colin Knight, closing the book and resting his mittened hands on it possessively, like a cat with a dead mouse. "But there may have been one survivor. And it is that one possible survivor who has supplied me with the only reasonable estimate of the spot where the George Badger might have gone down."
"Somebody survived the wreck?" asked Michael, incredulously.
Colin Knight raised one cautionary finger. "I said only that it was possible. But three or four years ago, when I was reading the family diary of the Fultons---you know, the Ol' Spithead marine instrument makers----I came across a curious reference to a 'wild-eyed man' whom Abraham Fulton's great-grandfather had found 'half-drowned' on the Ol' Spithead shoreline in the fall of 1693. Now, this particular diary, the Fulton diary, was written between 1893 and 1898, so there's no telling how accurate this story might have been. But Abraham Fulton's great-grandfather had used what he learned from this 'wild-eyed man' in order to instruct his heirs in the technique of establishing your position at sea by the use of nearby landmarks. For the 'wild-eyed man' had said that his ship had not gone down more than 1/4 of a mile offshore, and that after it had sunk, and he had found himself tossed on the waves on a length of broken spar, he had been able to ascertain his positon by the landmarks he had seen through the spray. To his left, to the north, he had seen the beacon on the eastern most headland of Starlin Island lined up with the beacon on the easternmost shore of Rejoice Point. Ahead of him, as the tidal stream swirled around and took him in towards the shore he could see a tall tree which sailors used to call The Corrupted Virgin, on account of the way its trunk was all twisted around like crossed thighs, and its branches were all flung out like appealing arms----he could see the top of this tree lined up with the peak of Quaker Hill. Now, the Corrupted Virgin, as one would expect, has long since gone, but it's possible to work out almost exactly where it was from the drawings and paintings of Salem Harbor and the Ol' Spithead shoreline which were made at the time. So---it's a very simple matter of basic trigonometry to find out where the George Badger went down."
"If you knew all this, why didn't you do something about it before?" asked Michael.
"My dear sir, what do you take me for? A fool?" asked Colin Knight. "I personally had neither the money, the equipment, the youth, nor the inclination to go searching for a wreck that more than likely had rotted away centuries ago. But, at the same time, I didn't want to publish my findings, due to the very arguable nature of the laws regarding historic wrecks. Once I made it known where the George Badger was lying, divers would be swarming down there in their hundreds, vandals and enthusiastic amateurs and souvenir-hunters and, of course, common thieves. If there did happen to be anything left worth salvaging, I didn't want to see it plundered, did I, by bungling tyros and aquatic muggers?"
"I suppose not," smiled Michael. "They did the same thing in England, didn't they? Pretending to be diving for the Royal George, when in fact they were looking for the Mary Rose. It was the only way they could throw the scrap merchants off the scent. A scrap merchant would have dynamited the Mary Rose to pieces, just for the sake of her bronze cannon."
Colin Knight beckoned to Sarah, and asked her in a hoarse whisper, "Be a good girl and bring me the charts on the chart-table."
"You've got a cute granddaughter, Mr. Knight," said Hubert, as she went off to get the maps.
Colin Knight stared at him. "Granddaughter?" he asked, as if he were mystified by the question.
Hubert actually blushed. "Well, you know," he flustered. "It was just an assumption."
Old man Knight nodded his head, but offered no clarification as to who Sarah might actually be. Maid? Mistress? Companion? It wasn't really their business, but Harold thought all of them would have loved to know.
"Here," said Sarah, bringing a large folded chart of the approaches to Salem Harbor, and spreading it out on the table. Again, that dark glimpse of red nipples against sheer black fabric; strangely arousing and yet equally frightening, too. Sarah caught Harold looking at her, and looked straight back at Harold, without smiling, without any hint of possible friendship. The thin sunlight illuminated her hair like a black coronet.
Colin Knight opened a drawer under the table and produced a large sheet of tracing paper, on which coordinates and transit bearings were already marked. He laid the tracing paper over the chart; although only he knew exactly how it had to be keyed into position, so the chart and the overlay would have been useless to anybody else. One bearing ran through the tip of Rejoice Point and the southernmost head of Starlin Island; the other bearing ran through Quaker Hill, cleaving a sharp line through Harvest Mills Cottage. About 420 meters off the Ol' Spithead shore an X was marked: the supposed position where the George Badger had gone down, over 290 years ago.
Michael looked at Harold in excitement. The X was no more than 250 meters south/southwest of where they had been searching the seabed yesterday morning, but under the sea, with its currents and debris and whirling mud, 250 meters was as good as a mile away.
Colin Knight watched them with mild amusement. Then he folded up the chart, and laid it to one side, and slipped the overlay back in drawer.
"You can have this information on several conditions," he said. "Firstly, that you never once mention my name in connection with your work. Secondly, that you keep me in touch daily with what you are doing, and that you show me everything, no mater how insignificant, that you bring up from the seabed. Thirdly, and most importantly, that if you locate the copper vessel in which the demon is supposed to be incarcerated, that you do not attempt to open it, but that you pack it at once in ice and bring it here, by refrigerated truck."
"You want it here?"
"Do you think you can handle it?" Colin Knight demanded. "If it should actually arise, and start to wield its terrible powers again, do you think you could give it what it craves?"
Hubert said, "I'm not sure I like this at all."
But Michael said, "I don't have any particular objection, provided we can have access to whatever it is, once we've brought it here. We'll want to run all kinds of test. Normal, as well as paranormal. Bone analysis, carbon dating, ultraviolet scanning, X-Ray. Then we'll want to go through the Paarsman test for kinetic energy, and a hypno-violation test."
Colin Knight thought about this, and then shrugged. "As long as you don't turn my home into an experimental laboratory."
Michael said, "I have to be straight with you, Mr. Knight. We still lack finance. First of all we have to locate the wreck; then, that done, we have to clear all the mud out of her, collect and tabulate all the broken bits and pieces, and see just how much of the structure we're going to be able to bring up to the surface intact. Finally, we're going to have to rent several large barges, a couple of pontoons, and a floating sheerlegs crane. We've got to be talking $5-$6 million. And that's just for starters."
"You mean it may be some considerable time before you can bring the wreck to the light of day?"
"My God, sir. We're not going to be able to bring it up next week even if we do find it."
Colin Knight took off his spectacles. "What a shame," he said. "The longer it takes, the less chance I have of seeing it completed."
"You really want to come face-to-face with an Incan demon?" Harold asked him.
He sniffed. "The ruler of Ukhu Pacha is not an ordinary demon," he told Harold.
"Ukhu Pacha?"362Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡdvbmh0hVRq
"That's the Peruvian name for the region of the dead."
"And does the demon himself have a name?" asked Michael.
"Of course. The lord of Ukhu Pacha is named in the Codex Vaticanus A which was drawn up by Halian monks in the 1500s. There is even an illustration of him, descending out of the night head first, the way a spider descends his web, to ensnare the souls of the living. He holds sway over all the other Incan demons of the underworld, and alone with Viracocha, the great creator deity, is entitled to wear a crown. He is always shown with an owl, a corpse, and a dish of human hearts, which are his chief sustenance. His name is Supay."362Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡcPEpfOQj66
Harold felt a chill go down his spine, and looked at Michael sharply. "Supay," he repeated.362Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡWzKglLZIYU
"Yes," said Michael. "Soupy the Payman."362Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡrw9r04U9mW
362Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡOyx1xMDIgVns 22.214.171.124da2