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The pages flipped until almost to the end. Teodor read the page. The handwriting with the first entry was elegant and neat, but the last entry the writing had changed. The letters had been written with an angry hand. Ink spotted most of the page. T's had been cross so hard that the paper was ripped.
There were no more sounds from inside the house.
“It says here,” Teodor said. “That she had been expecting Thorson to come that night. They had been talking about leaving for Europe. Oh.”
“What is it?” Bilge asked.
“She was raped. By her father's assistant, Ian.”
“The man that her father forced her to marry?” Albrecht asked. “No wonder she went insane.”
Teodor flipped the pages until it mentioned the birth of the baby. “The rumors were wrong about the child too. She says here, Thorson was the father and was making arrangements to take the child away. Ian found out and-”
Teodor paused. “Hit me in such a rage that it cause me to enter into labor early.”
“Did she kill the child?” Gunner asked.
Teodor read on. “Ian found out that Thorson had made plans to take his son. Ian refused. He beat me, until I could no longer stand. Then he took the child and bashed it's head on the fireplace.”
The wind shook the house. Bilge sighed. “It seems generations of people owe her an apology.”
“But if she did not kill her child? Why did she become the Hag?” Teodor asked.
“Guilt. She may have killed herself,” Albrecht said. “Suicides are good candidates for becoming a ghost. The rumors started, the ghost changed to fit the rumors.”
“But that still doesn't answer why she tried to attack us, just now,” Gunner said.
Teodor put down the book on a windowsill next to the fireplace. He felt the mantel. He never thanked his parents for much, but at least they let him live as an infant.
“So Peter and Robert find her child remains and tease her with them. But why couldn't she have found the remains herself.”
“Concentrated ground,” Albrecht said. “If she had been a suicide, they would have not buried her in a church cemetery.”
“So she could not have entered one either.” Teodor nodded.
The sounds of the crying baby began again. Bilge turned a flashlight on and shined it into the next room. The Hag appeared. Then she was gone. But Teodor saw her eyes. Every other time that he had seen her, her eyes had been gone.
Bilge handed the flashlight to Gunner. “I have to get something.”
Gunner held the light with a shaking hand. “She didn't attack.”
Albrecht walked a little further ahead, but he did not leave the room. “I think when she is here, she is closer to Elizabeth than the Hag.”
At first Teodor thought Bilge had a thick cigar in his hand. Then he saw it was a bunch of herbs and grass bound together. Bilge lit them, and blew on them until a sweet smelling smoke filled the room. The smell made Teodor's eyes water.
“What is that for?” Teodor asked.
“Cleans the room,” Bilge said. “At least for a little while, she won't be able to come in here.”
Albrecht went into the next room. Gunner followed. Teodor waited until Bilge left the burning bundle in the fire place, then he followed Bilge into the next room.
This might have been a dining room. A large hook for a light, possibly a chandelier hung from the ceiling. There was a cupboard off to the side. The doors on it had mouse holes chewed through them.
Albrecht stood still in the middle of the room. He raised his head and stared at the ceiling. His eyes had turned white, again. “I feel the child is close.”
“I can see Peter or Robert getting a kick out of hiding her child closest to where she haunts,” Bilge said.
“But it would have to be somewhere she couldn't go,” Teodor said. He looked around the room. He could make out the faded shape of a crucifix on the wall. He pointed to the shape. “My family had their own altar.”
“Do you think the Swift's would have?” Gunner asked.
“If not an altar something else concentrated,” Bilge said. “We are looking for something big enough to hide a child's remains in.”
Teodor opened the cupboard. Nothing was inside.
Gunner shined the flashlight around the room. No other pieces of furniture. But there were two more exits, one look like it went into the kitchen. The other lead to a set of stairs.
Albrecht walked to the staircase. He turned his head to look up.
The Hag screamed.
Albrecht dove back into the room. Her iron nails sliced furrows in the wood where he had been.
“Shine the light on her!” Bilge yelled.
Gunner swung the light around. It landed on the Hag's features. She screamed and dispersed in a black cloud.
“Why does she keep attacking us?” Gunner asked. “We are only trying to help.”
“If you could reason with her, your friends would be alive,” Bilge said. He lit another bundle of herbs.
Albrecht motioned to Teodor. “Follow me.”
Teodor followed Albrecht upstairs.
“We will have to separate,” Albrecht said.
“Is that a good idea?” Teodor asked.
“She can only attack one of us at a time. We can take her on our own. Gunner should stay with Bilge.”
At the top of the stairs. Albrecht motioned Teodor to head down one direction in the hallway. He went the other way. Teodor went into the first room he found.
The pipes in the walls, hinted that this had been the bathroom. The tiles on the floors were cracked and broken. As Teodor walked on them, the cracking noise his feet made sounded as if he was walking on bones. A floor to ceiling mirror hung off the wall, it had one large crack running from the top to the bottom. A marble knob was stuck to one side of the mirror. He pulled on it. The mirror pulled away from the wall. It covered a tall thin door. A small dark crawlspace was behind the door.
Teodor could not smell anything, but decay. On one side of the crawlspace were shelves built into the wall. Teodor could not see anything on the shelves, because of the darkness. He would see well in the dark, but this darkness was not normal.
He ran his hands along each of the shelves. As he stood on his tip toes and touched the top shelf, his fingers brushed a box. Teodor stretched. He pulled the box off the top shelf.
Teodor took the box out into the bathroom. He opened it up. Inside, in almost perfect condition and smelling of mothballs, laid a baptismal gown. Teodor touched the layers of lace. It did not feel as if it had been stored for decades.