Player Handout 3: The Journal of Henry Phillips

 

1 July 1676

I have started this journal to document my life as I embark upon its close. My father has decided that I must leave the home he purchas’d for mother and I in town. He believes that sending me to manage the family’s holdings in neighbouring Nanesmond County will strengthen my frail body. I think he believes that I am lazy and merely act at being ill in order to be free of my responsibilities. I think he blames me for the fact that mother is barren, as if I caus’d her to be unable to bear his weak seed. I hate him.

2 July 1676

I met the servants and the slaves on the plantation today. They did not seem to like my presence here any more than I do. At least we shall be miserable together. I hate the smell of tobacco, it smells foul and rotten. I hate this place.

4 July 1676

I receiv’d a letter from mother today. She is worried that I will die out here in the uncivilis’d countryside. I am determin’d to not let father or this horrid place have the satisfaction. Tomorrow I shall ride out and oversee the day’s labors myself. 10 July 1676 I awoke this morning renew’d. I have never felt so alive. It no longer hurts to breathe and I find I am possess’d of boundless energy. I do not know what has come over me. When I awoke I found an odd looking bottle upon the table beside my bed. It is empty now and whatever it contain’d smells most foul. The last thing I remember was watching the slaves work in the lower field and a dull pounding in my head, then the sky and the ground began to sway before my eyes.

I spoke with James, one of the farm hands here who seems most capable. He seem’d most reliev’d that I am well. I apparently swoon’d and fell from my horse. When they could not revive me they took me to my room. When I did not stir for more than a day he confess’d that he became panick’d and had me loaded into a carriage so that they could take me to the nearest physician. As the approach’d the crossroads the carriage broke an axle. While he and Daniel were attempting to determine the best means to get me to town alive, an old mulatto man approach’d them. He said that he had some medicine that would make me ‘right as rain.’ James confess’d that they were in such a panick that he accepted the medicine without even thinking it could do more harm than good. After forcing some of the strange concoction down my throat, the old man bade them take me home and said that I would be up and about in the morning. Again, James confess’d that he took the advice without thinking of the consequences. I must say that I am most pleas’d with the results, even though the circumstances are somewhat disturbing. I must remember to find this good Samaritan and thank him.

11 July 1676

I have never felt more alive than I do now. Words cannot express the joy I feel at being freed from the prison of my sickly body. I may have been wrong about the countryside and father. I must remember to beg his forgiveness when next I see him.

1 October 1676

I am cursed. I can think of no other reason for this fate to befall me. My sickly condition has return’d three-fold. I can hardly move and I am wrack’d with fits of coughing that seem to never end. I can think of no reason for my health to fail so abruptly and completely. I have ask’d James to find the mulatto man. His medicine is my only hope now.

3 October 1676

James has found him, but he will not come to me. The impertinence! James threatened to have him beaten if he would not come and still the old man refused! He said that he would only give me the medicine if I came to him. As if it were that easy for me to simply get out of my bed and saunter to where he haunts the crossroads.

4 October 1676

My resolve is gone. I will do anything to remedy this affliction of mine. I have ask’d that James prepare my carriage. He was most dismay’d by my request. He says that he is afraid I will tax myself and that I will be worse for it. I call’d him a dullard and a lackwit. I threaten’d to write my father and have him dismiss’d and banish’d from the colony. I felt asham’d afterward, but he relented. We are to depart forthwith.

6 October 1676

I am returned. The wonders my new friend has reveal’d to me! He wishes to teach me how to make the medicine myself. He says he has great plans for me and that I am special. I hardly notic’d the passage of time after he told James to leave me in his care. The medicine was as foul-smelling as I remember, but I could feel it working even as I drank. It was as if every fibre of my being was aflame. I am to meet him again at the crossroads one week hence and he will begin my tutelage. I cannot wait for this next Friday to come.

13 October 1676

I am leaving for the crossroads. I do not know how long I will be gone. I have compos’d several letters in advance for James to send my father, so that there is no suspicion should I be gone for more than a few days.

1 November 1676

I now know what I must do to ensure my longevity. My friend Nick has taught me the terrible formula for immortality. At first I quail’d at the thought of what must be done in order to survive, but he was quick to remind me of the alternative. I still shudder at the thought of being so feeble again. No price is too high if it will keep that detestable fate at bay. Before I left him we made a pact that we would meet again at the crossroads on the night of the twenty-fifth of December at the hour of eleven. He would say nothing more other than to impress upon me that should I fail to be there at the appointed hour he would never again aid me.

25 December 1676

I am damned. When I arriv’d at the crossroads again Nick was holding a bundle in his arms. I ask’d him what it was he held in his hands and he merely smiled and handed it to me. Sleeping peacefully was a small girl of no more than a year. Nick then began to trace a complex pattern in the earth and told me to note it well should I want the elixir to ever work properly for me. When he was done there was a bowl of tarnish’d silver in the center of the circle and a knife in his hand. I took the knife with trembling hand and inton’d the words he had taught be before. I drew the knife across the beautiful babe’s throat and bled it dry. It could not cry for its throat was cut, but it flail’d and shook something awful in my grasp. As the flow slackened, so too did its writhing. I carried the bowl home to the cottage mother had built in the garden and set to work distilling it into my elixir vitae so that I shall be prepar’d for the next time my health begins to fail. I am damned. My only hope is that I never die, for I know in my heart that all my victims yet to come shall be waiting to torment me in Hell for the horrendous thing I do.