Lieutenant Oliver Kirkpatrick of the Royal Dragoons approached a little farmstead near Torhout, a little before sunset. He was tired and wanted to settle down for a meal and a good night’s sleep. He assured himself that the Belgian farmer would treat him to both. After all he was a representative of the British crown, and was carrying important dispatches from General Ross to London.
Kirkpatrick was so sure of himself and the importance of his mission, that he didn’t even approach the farmhouse, but went straight to the barn to stable his horse. He entered the dark interior, and was surprised to find what he assumed to be the farmer fast asleep in the hay.
The officer stood over the man and kicked him in the boots. “Wake up, and help me with my horse,” he said in poorly pronounced Dutch.
The man woke, and stretched, and then heaved as if he were going to be ill.
“Are you drunk, Man?” Kirkpatrick questioned irritably.
The tall pale peasant blinked again and said, “Walloon.”
“Ah, that’s it, is it?” the officer of Dragoons said in English. “Are you drunk?” he said in French which was heavily accented with an Irish lilt.
“No, no, not drunk,” the dark eyed man replied in French.
“I need to stable my horse, and to be fed. Do you understand?” Kirkpatrick asked.
“Yes, yes,” the man replied as it got progressively darker outside. “Please come with me.”
The tall peasant led the man into farmhouse, and plopped a chair down in front of the table.
“Why a lone Englishman?” the peasant asked.
“I’m Irish actually,” the officer replied, “The Royal Dragoons of Ireland, and I am on my way to Ostend.”
“Ostend?” the man said, cutting thick slices of cold roasted meat and placing it before the Lieutenant.
“Yes, there will be a ship there waiting to take me to England.”
“Sounds important,” the man said with an emphasis calculated to sound impressed.
“Yes, but I shouldn’t say any more about it,” the Dragoon said.
The peasant opened a bottle of wine, and then took a glass and went to stand next to the officer to pour him a portion. As the Dragoon emptied the glass, Patrick Malone grabbed the man’s skull with both hands and gave a terrific twist. Malone was amazed at how easily the man’s neck snapped.
Malone pushed the body out of the chair and sat down and poured himself a glass of wine. He then reached down and pulled the packet of letters from the man’s pouch. He finished the glass of wine, and poured himself another as he familiarised himself with the pouches contents.
An Irish Dragoon, now imagine that, Malone thought to himself as he stripped the uniform from the man and began to dress himself in it. A little short, but the boots should cover that up, he thought.
He then carried the officer to the bedchamber and dropped it on to the bed next to the naked corpse of a woman of about forty. “You two have a lovely evening now,” Malone said wryly. “I think her husband will be back from market tomorrow. It is a sad thing for a husband to hang for killing his wife and her lover.”
Malone went back to the barn and prepared the Dragoon’s horse for the road. He then spurred it onto to road to Ostend.
“Lieutenant Fitzpatrick, of the Royal Irish,” he rehearsed as made his way to the waiting ship, and England beyond.