By Jeff Baker
AUTHOR’S NOTE: The prompts for this month’s Flash Fiction Draw Challenge were Historical Fiction, set in a marsh involving a necklace and/or pendant. I avoided the temptation to call this “My Favorite Marshman.” —-jeff
“You fool, Walter!” Thomas said. “First, ‘borrowing’ the Master’s jewelry to impress a woman far older and of a higher station than yourself.” (Walter was all of nineteen in that year of 1674.)
“I meant to hide it, and to claim it stolen!” Walter exclaimed.
“Stolen, yes! Now lost!” Thomas said. “Prithee, we are both lost, lest we find the ruby necklace in the marsh!”
“Nay, we are safe for the very reason the necklace is safe,” Walter said. “The reason the marsh be the perfect hiding-place! None dare venture out there and not because of loose footing! The superstitious folk of Devon fear the bogies and beasties who dwell in the marsh and mists and not just at night! Wise folk such as us know better but we are few and far between!”
“Wise, my breeches!” Thomas said. “If we were wise we would never have done like this!”
“I have hidden treasures in the marsh before and I will find this one again,” Walter said. “And our beloved master and employer is among those who would not enter the marshlands were Good King Charles II himself to offer him wine and wenches and food to party among the bogies there! But we must come up with something beyond a bogie…Aha! The Devil appeared to us…”
“Us?” Thomas said.
“Us,” said Walter. “And we used the blessed holy relic of the ruby necklace which belonged remember to the Master’s ancestress, a Holy woman who gave almost all to the Church…”
“Except the valuable ruby necklace,” Thomas said.
“And the Devil conjured the most awful beastie imaginable; a devil-dog and it gave chase, and we ran into the marsh pursued by the monstrous Hell-hound and we flung the necklace at it and the dog and necklace both vanished. The necklace now cursed, and the marsh doubly cursed.”
“Will he believe this?” Thomas said.
“He leaves money out for the elves replacing the gold miners took from them.” Walter said.
That evening, Thomas and Walter ran into the Great Hall of their Master, clothes torn and damp with marsh water, their tale ready for his credulous ears.
“Lord Harry!” they yelled. “Lord Harry Baskerville!”