You sighed, putting the letter in your dress pocket. You studied Ludwig. He was much taller than his brother, you could tell even though he was lying down. Your eyes widened when you saw the blood staining his shirt. What were you doing? This man had to be injured if he had to be carried here! You rolled up your sleeves and you got the rum and clean towels and bandages out. You hurried to his side and you tried to flip him over. You tried with all your might, but you couldn't lift the much bigger man to turn him over. You gulped, seeing that it was mainly the back of his shirt that was stained with blood.
You looked over your shoulder to see Martha standing at the opening in the tent.
"Martha! Help me!" you pleaded.
Her eyes widened and she walked to your end of the tent. With her help, you managed to get Ludwig onto his stomach. You felt the blood drain from your face when you saw the back of his shirt. It was soaked in blood.
You set your lips in a firm line and you reached for a pair of shears. You grabbed the bottom of his shirt and took action. You cut a straight line up the shirt and you set the shears down. You took a deep breath and pulled the two flaps of fabric back. The blood in your veins turned to ice and your stomach curdled in anger as you saw his back. You heard Martha mutter, "Oh God."
She made a sobbing noise and went to get more bandages. You gulped down the lump in your throat as you studied the damage. Lash marks crisscrossed across his back, blood was seeping from most of them. Every part that wasn't cut open from the lashes was black or blue from bruises. Some of the bruises were green and yellow already. There wasn't one spot that wasn't touched.
Your hands shook in fury. How could someone do this to another person?!
You gulped in fear and pity and you poured some rum onto the clean rag you found. "Should I get someone to hold him down?" Martha quietly asked.
You looked at her and then at Ludwig. He was out. From blood loss or pain, you didn't know. "I don't think so." you replied, shaking your head.
You took a deep breath and tried to stop trembling as you touched the rag to Ludwig's back. He twitched and groaned. You looked back at Martha. "On second thought, find someone."
She nodded and hurried out of the tent. You sighed and started to clean the blood from his back. He grunted again when you accidentally rubbed one of the lash marks too hard. You bit your lip and whispered, "Mir lied."
His head moved and he groaned again. He turned his head to the side and he opened his eyes a fraction. You felt your eyes widen. He and his brother were opposites. You were expecting the same crimson eyes for some reason. Ludwig's blue eyes were glazed over with pain. You leaned over and whispered, "Mir leid, aber ich muss diese zu reinigen. Sie können nicht sprechen, aber du bist jetzt in Sicherheit. Ich bin ein Freund. Ich werde später erklären."
He looked at you in confusion and you realized you must have said something wrong. He suddenly nodded and said, "Danke."
You smiled and said in German, "Try not to move Ludwig; I'll be done in a few moments."
He nodded again and you saw him grip the sides of the cot and take a deep breath. You swallowed down another lump in your throat and you got back to work. You heard him hiss in pain whenever you cleaned around the lash marks. After you cleaned all the blood off, you grabbed the bottle of rum. "Ready?" you asked in German.
He nodded and you took a deep breath with him as you poured the rum on the lash marks. You swore you heard the frame of the cot creak as his grip tightened and he hissed in pain. You grabbed another clean rag and started to dry the wounds off as Martha came running back in, with Alfred of all people.
"_______, we're going to have a lot of men coming in soon. Are you done with the rum? The other tent is already full."
You nodded and handed her the bottle. "I'll be there to help in a moment. I'm almost done."
Martha nodded, grabbed some bandages and hurried out of the tent. Alfred watched her leave and he grabbed a stool, setting beside the head of Ludwig's cot. Ludwig groaned in pain when you pressed on one of the long marks. "Mir lied." you said quietly.
Alfred looked up at you. You looked at him, waiting for him to ask questions. You knew Alfred was an airhead, but you knew he was smart underneath it all. "Is this Gil's brother?"
You looked up at him. You remembered Alfred telling you that Gilbert was teaching him some things, but you didn't know they were good friends. "Yes." you answered, looking at him in suspicion.
Alfred grinned sadly. "Gil told me why he was here a while back. Remember when I said that he would just leave at night sometimes? Well, before Valley Forge, I followed him one night. He went back to the battle field we fought at that day and he was searching the bodies. I stopped him on the way back and asked him why he was doing that and he told me everything." he explained, looking down at his hands.
You sighed sadly and you said, "Well, he won't have to do that anymore."
Alfred nodded in agreement. You finished drying off Ludwig's wounds and you reached for the bandages. "Alfred, can you lift him up for a moment? I need to cover these up." you asked.
Aflred nodded and gripped the man's upper arms. "Sorry friend." he said as he lifted.
Ludwig groaned in pain. You quickly wrapped the bandages and tied the knot at the bottom when you were done. "Alright, set him down, gently."
Alfred followed your orders and he wiped his face off with his hand. You suddenly noticed a big patch of red on his arm. "Alfred! You're injured!" you yelped.
Alfred looked at you in confusion before looking at this left arm. He shrugged and said, "It's just a scratch."
You scowled at him. Alfred laughed nervously and tugged his coat off and rolling the sleeve of his shirt up. You sighed. Scratch my arse, you thought. You tsked and reached for another rag you had gotten for Ludwig. "Come here you bloomin' idiot."
Alfred grinned and sat on his stool. You cleaned off the deep gash in his arm and you wrapped it up in bandages. "If it starts to feel strange, pour some brandy or something on it." you ordered.
Alfred nodded. "Will do. So," he paused and looked at Ludwig, who was watching you both closely, "What are we going to do about him? We can't tell everyone that we have a former Hessian with us."
You nodded and said, "If anyone asks, just tell them that he injured his throat in an earlier battle, so he can't speak. There are so many men here that no one will suspect, he'll just be another one in the crowd."
Alfred nodded and said, "I have to go, I'll tell Washington that Gil was here."
You grabbed his arm before he could leave and you dug into your pocket for Gilbert's letter. "Here. This is from Gilbert, it's supposed to tell Washington what's going on and," you paused, thinking about how scared and worried Gilbert looked when he was talking about 'the devil'.
"______? And what?" Alfred said, pulling you from your thoughts. You shook your head and said, "Sorry Alfred. It's just
.almost afraid when he told me something earlier. I'm frightened."
You looked at Ludwig and you relaxed when you saw that he was asleep.
Alfred's face turned grim. "Did he say something about 'a devil'?" he asked.
You looked up at him in surprise. That must have given him your answer. He sighed and looked down at the letter. "We're in trouble if that guy's involved ______. The soldiers are told to avoid him at all costs. I need to warn Washington." he said.
He patted your shoulder and said, "Don't go anywhere alone. For all we know, his spies are already here. Stay here until Martha or somebody comes back, alright?"
You nodded, wringing your hands together in worry. Alfred walked out and you felt like your heart was being squeezed and your body suddenly felt frozen. You looked back at Ludwig. The bruises on his back were more prominent now that they weren't covered in blood. You suddenly hated this 'devil' person. You sat in the stool Alfred was sitting in and you sighed. You had led Gilbert to the last tent in the long line of medical tents, trying to keep Ludwig away from where many of the others would be.
You thought it was a good and bad thing that injured soldiers weren't streaming into the tent. That meant there weren't as many soldiers that were injured in the battle, but that meant you were alone with an injured man now, and you didn't feel safe.
You shivered and hugged yourself. You suddenly felt like you were being watched. You shook the thought out of your head and focused on the German in front of you. The least you could do was help him.
You jumped awake when you heard the flap to the medical tent fly open and Steuben and Washington walked in, Alfred was on their heels. You stood up and tried to blink the sleep from your eyes. I must have dozed off, you thought.
Washington's face was grim. He pointed to Ludwig, who was still asleep on the cot. "Is that his brother?"
You looked at Steuben and realized that he didn't have one of his translators there. "Er sagte: "Ist das sein Bruder?" you said for him.
Steuben nodded in thanks and said, "Danke."
You looked back at Washington. "Yes, it is."
Washington walked over to where he was standing next to the cot and his eyes narrowed as they studied the blonde. He looked at you again. "What happened to his back?"
You gulped and said, "Well, I think it was a
Washington and Steuben looked at you in expectation. "A whip, Sir." you finished.
Washington's face turned even more grim than usual and he sighed. He turned to Steuben and pointed to Ludwig. Steuben seemed to get the silent order because he nodded. Washington turned back around and said, "Well, we can't stay here. We have to move, like Gilbert said. We'll march toward West Point. Gilbert said he was leading them the other way."
He nodded to you and he left the tent. You released the breath you didn't know you were holding. Steuben looked at you and said in German, "How many lashes were there?"
You looked at him in confusion. "Eleven. Why?" you replied, switching to German.
He walked over to where Washington was and he looked down at Ludwig. "Gilbert mentioned someone we call 'The Devil' in his letter." he paused and looked at you, "Do you know who 'The Devil' is?"
You shook your head. Steuben sighed and said, "His name is Arthur Kirkland. He's one of the most merciless officers the Briten have. He's also their best interrogator and tracker. They call him 'The Devil' for his interrogation methods."
He stopped and looked at Ludwig again. "This man was questioned 11 times. Every time Kirkland's prisoners don't answer his questions, they receive a certain number of lashes. Every time Kirkland questions them, he calls it a 'Chance'. He adds on a lash every time they deny his, 'Chance'."
You shuddered, thinking about the bruises. Steuben looked at you. "Fräulein, 'the Devil' is after us because no one has ever escaped him before. They are either released or they die. You can understand why we are in trouble now, ja?"
You nodded and gulped down the lump that formed in your throat. You suddenly were very scared for Gilbert and for everyone in the camp. Steuben saw your look of worry.
"Do not worry Fräulein. Kirkland will only be after Beilschmidt here. That doesn't mean that he won't tell our location to his superiors later, and that we captured one of their prisoners of war."
You looked at Steuben in surprise. "You knew this would happen? You knew that bloomin' man would be after us?" you asked incredulously.
Steuben sighed and said, "We gave Gilbert an assignment along with his little goal. We want him to stop Kirkland. If Kirkland is gone, that gives us one more advantage against the Briten. If Kirkland is gone, that's one step closer to victory for this army. Gilbert isn't just doing this for himself."
You shook your head and sat down in your stool. This was too much. You were suddenly glad you weren't a man because your head would have started to spin with all the scheming and planning if you were a part of all of this.
Steuben said, "Just take care of him. Can you do that? It's the least we can do for Gilbert, since he's sticking his neck out for us."
You looked up at him and nodded. Steuben grunted and looked at Alfred. He pointed to you, then at Alfred, then at you again. You didn't get it but Alfred apparently did.
Steuben walked out and it was just you, Alfred, and Ludwig in the tent again. Alfred stood behind you and said, "What was that all about?"
You looked up at him and asked, "Did you know why Gilbert did all of that?"
Alfred slowly nodded. "Yes. He told me Washington and Steuben's plan for The Devil. He also asked me to do something while he wasn't here."
You looked up at him with a small grin and said, "And what is that Captain Jones?"
Alfred's face became really serious. "He told me to look out for you. He didn't want you to get hurt while he wasn't here."
You looked at him in confusion. "Why in the world would he do that? I'm not stupid. I know how to take care of myself!" you asked, irritated that Gilbert thought that you needed a babysitter.
Alfred grinned and said, "Well, I think it was more to put his mind at ease than for your safety."
You sighed and said, "I don't understand why he worries so much. Does he do this to all his friends?"
Alfred shook his head. "No, he's more of a 'You're on your own' type of friend."
You narrowed your eyes and asked, "Then why would he worry about me?"
You paused and then tried to imitate Gilbert's voice, "Kesesesese Fräulein! Looks like you need to take care of yourself now!"
Alfred laughed before saying, "He would never say that to you."
You looked at him in confusion. "What makes me so different Alfred? Quit beating around the bush. I'm sure I can-"
"He fancies you! He wants to court you after all this is over!" he blurted out. He suddenly looked horrified and he covered his mouth with his hand and coughed, looking away.
You looked at him in shock. He wants to court me, you repeated in your head. You picked at the sleeve of your dress. Well, you thought, he always was flirting with me, but I thought that was all he was doing. Teasing and flirting. I didn't know he meant it, you told yourself.
"Gilbert." you whispered.
Speaking of Gilbert, you thought, still in a daze from the news you just received. You reached into your pocket and pulled out the little paper that had the phrase he wanted you to say on it. You looked at it and your nose scrunched as you tried to figure it out. You knew it said, "I something Captain Beilschmidt."
What is that verb, you asked yourself. Liebe. Gilbert never told you that verb. You sighed and rested your chin in your palm. You were really aware of Alfred's gaze on you. "Alfred, just because Gilbert told you to look out for me because he fancies me, doesn't mean that you have to watch me constantly." you said with a grin as you looked over your shoulder.
Alfred shrugged and said, "I take my promises seriously, and don't tell him I told you that when he gets back. He'll use one of those bayonet attacks on me if he finds out."
Your grin grew wider and you nodded before turning back to Ludwig. You didn't know what to think of this. I thought he was just a flirt, you thought. You didn't think he would actually court you or anything, you thought you were just friends messing around. You shook your head. You could worry about these things when he got back. Now, you had to focus on Ludwig and make sure he got better. "When will we have to get moving?" you asked, still looking at Ludwig, trying to change the subject.
You heard Alfred's clothes rustle as he shrugged or something of the sort. "As soon as we can, I suppose. We were ready to settle down for a while here until Gil had to screw everything up."
You chuckled at the last comment. "Fräulein?"
You focused back on Ludwig and you smiled sympathetically. "Would you like some water?" you asked in German.
He nodded and you looked at Alfred. "Can you get some water for him please?"
Alfred nodded and walked out of the tent. You looked down at Ludwig again. "How are you feeling?" you asked, switching to German again.
Ludwig winced and moved a little, trying to get more comfortable on his stomach. "Terrible." he said with a grunt of pain.
You patted his arm and said, "Well, tell me if you need anything. Does your back feel strange?"
He shook his head and you nodded in satisfaction. You suddenly remembered that you were still holding the sheet of paper with the phrase on it. You heard Ludwig making a choking sound. You jumped and tried to see what was wrong so you could fix it. Your brows furrowed in confusion when you saw nothing wrong.
"Was?" you asked him.
His face was red and he was looking at the paper in your hand. "What is that?!" he managed to strangle out.
You looked down at the paper in confusion. "Gilbert was teaching me German. He asked me to say this phrase before he taught me anything. What does the verb mean?" you asked.
Ludwig grunted and looked away. "I think in English it means, 'Love'." he said, still sounding like he was being strangled.
You looked at the paper in shock. "I love Captain Beilschmidt." you whispered, reading the little phrase aloud.
It's not bad, _______. You remembered when he said that when you thought he was telling you to say something naughty.
You sighed and rubbed at your eyes with your thumb and forefinger. Great, you thought, now Ludwig thinks I'm in love with Gilbert.
You stuck the paper back in your pocket and said, "Ludwig that was Gilbert being obnoxious, thank you for telling me what it means."
Ludwig looked at you again and he said, "He does that, be obnoxious, I mean."
You grinned and said, "That seems to be his specialty."
"Why are you speaking German poppet?" a new voice asked.
You jumped and turned around to see a blonde haired Redcoat standing at the flap of the tent. You heard shouts and curses from outside. You recognized Alfred's voice.
You stood up and backed away from the man.
The Redcoat walked forward to where he was standing right in front of you. You glared up at him as he grabbed your chin with one of his gloved hands and made you look up at him.
"Now, Poppet, why is a Fräulein in the colonies?"
You gave him a dirty glare.
He gripped your chin tighter and growled, "Looks like we're about to find out, aren't we?"
You heard footsteps behind you and you felt something hit your head before your world went black.