Chloe Helton | Historical Fiction

The Red Pearl: Chapter 10

Chapter 10


The concoction Betty gave me was not quite what I expected. It was a bit of powder rolled into a little ball of paper. “You’re supposed to let it dissolve in a glass of warm wine and drink it every morning.”

“How many days?”

“As long as it lasts, I think,” she shrugged. “You’re supposed to take it the very morning after the event, and it’s been a few days, but she promises it’ll work still.”

I didn’t even ask what the powder was. If it did the job, it could be arsenic for all I cared. I was sure it was a sin, cleansing my womb like this, but I didn’t have a choice. I’d pray about it every night, and the Lord would forgive me if He saw fit.

“Oh, and something else,” Betty said. “When I was there, I noticed these.” She pulled out a little bottle of lemon juice. “I think she uses them for potions, but I know you can write secret messages with them. If you write in lemon juice, it looks like a clean piece of paper, and someone has to hold it up to the light to see what it says.”

I was sure I’d heard about the lemon juice before. “Well, what’s it for?”

“For delivering a secret message to your brother.”

“Oh,” I said. I’d planned to just tell him the information, but perhaps it was better to have a message written down for him to pass to his captain. “Thank you.”

She nodded. “The Daughters of Liberty taught me about it. A few of the members had troops in their homes before the war, remember before the king finally came to his senses about it? Anyhow, sometimes they’d write in the lemon juice if they were afraid a lobsterback would shuffle through their papers.”

The officers were known to ignore privacy and decorum, as I remembered. They’d force themselves into colonial homes and act however they pleased. Luckily my father’s house had never been a victim of it, but we knew many who were and for awhile we all suspected Thea and I would have to sleep downstairs to make room for one or two of them.

The work was easier that night, knowing that I had the powder stashed in the little pocket under my skirts, a pouch tied to a little waistbelt where I kept coins and other such things, and that the next day I would see my brother and I’d help him and his fellows foil that shipment, and that Tory would come to the pub every night with a frustrated look on his face, likely not even knowing it was I who had ruined everything.

I had a few loaves of bread in the beehive oven, and as I peeked the door open to check them, there was a bump behind me. My throat closed, tightening like a screw, and I could feel him behind me before I saw him. I anticipated the unbearable pain of his touch, prepared to close my eyes and let him take me again, because I couldn’t fight back. I wasn’t strong enough to fight back.

Nothing. Slowly, my heart thundering, I looked behind me. There was nobody there, and by the looks of it, there never had been. Only a noise, and I had been scared out of my mind.

I went out with a pitcher, and Charles looked at me. “You look rather strange,” he said as I cautiously decanted the whiskey into his glass. “As if you’ve had a fright.”

“It was nothing,” I said, swallowing vitriol. “Nothing at all.”



It all started when…

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