“I call bullshit,” Abbie said, ten steps into the secret crypt beneath Trinity Church. Ichabod sighed. “We are fifty feet under the most valuable blocks of real estate in America. There’s no way we’re the first people to find this in two hundred years.”
“And yet,” Ichabod said, “it would appear to be so.” Indeed, the crypt had been so cleverly concealed that, even armed with clues, a deciphered passcode, and a small bottle of grave dirt that glowed when they neared the hidden door, it had taken some hours to gain entry.
“There ought to be a Starbucks down here by now, that’s all I’m saying,” Abbie grumbled.
“If that is the likely result of discovery,” Ichabod said, “then I, for one, am glad of its lengthy concealment.”
He was, it must be admitted, more ill-humored than he ought to be. It had been at his own instigation that they had come to Manhattan in search of the crypt, despite his dislike of the city; Abbie had only agreed to accompany him when she could justify the journey with FBI business. But if he was right, and there truly was some great hidden treasure here, some weapon or secret that would prove of use, then his weeks of study and hours spent badgering Abbie would be entirely worth it.
Thus far, what they had found was a narrow, winding stone passage, lit only by their flashlights, that tilted steeply downward into the earth below the church.
“So any guesses as to what’s down here?” Abbie asked.
“None I did not have before,” Ichabod replied. “There is something of value-- or there was-- and it is a force for good, but every reference as to what has been frustratingly vague.”
“So probably not a Starbucks, then,” Abbie said.
“One would hope not,” Ichabod said. He frowned, considering; he had been counting paces as they went. “We ought to be beneath the churchyard now, or nearly.”
“If we go much farther, we’re going to hit a subway tunnel,” Abbie said, and indeed, around the next corner the passage terminated in a door.
Ichabod took out the key, an innocuous-looking little piece of ornate metal, which had set him on this quest in the first place. The design worked into its grip matched the ironwork on the door.
Abbie unholstered her sidearm. “On the count of three,” Ichabod said. He set the key into the lock, and turned it with only a little difficulty. “One.” The tumblers went clunk in the quiet of the passage. “Two.” He gripped the handle of the door, and prepared to pull. “Three.”
He wrenched the door open; in an instant, Abbie had both flashlight and gun pointed through the doorway. After a tense moment, she lowered the latter. “All clear,” she said.
Ichabod followed her in. The chamber they entered was not large; perhaps twenty feet on a side, and dominated by the large stone bier in the center. Atop the bier, improbably, lay a glass coffin, its occupant obscured by a thick layer of dust.
“I must admit,” said Ichabod, “I was not expecting this.”
“Who do you think is in there?” Abbie asked, venturing closer.
Ichabod took the electric lantern out of his pack and switched it on, setting it on the ground by the bier. “I have no idea,” he said. “This version of the building didn’t exist yet, in my time. The building before it hadn’t even been finished.” The additional light was not enough to see through the dust. He produced his handkerchief, and wiped the glass clean at the head of the coffin.
“I’m gonna be honest,” said Abbie. “I was expecting someone deader-looking.”
Indeed, the man before them, though pale as death, was entirely incorrupt. He looked perhaps fifty, though his hair was white; he was dressed in a style that Ichabod recognized as old-fashioned, though not quite as old-fashioned as his own preferred garb. He had a slight frame, a thin, sharp face; Ichabod frowned, because there was something familiar in it--
He was resting his hands on the glass of the coffin already when Abbie said “Wait, I think I know--” and set her own hand down beside him. The instant her fingers made contact, there was a bright flash of light, and he felt himself being flung backwards for a moment before everything went dark.
He did not think he was unconscious for long. When he was roused, by a persistent rapping noise, the lantern was still lit; there was dust still floating in the air, kicked up by their recent movement. He was lying facedown on the stone floor. The rapping noise continued, and then a muffled voice hallooed at him.
Ichabod groaned, and pushed himself off the ground. Abbie, lying next to him, stirred also, and they helped each other to their feet. They both looked over their shoulders at the glass coffin; they both froze for a moment, and then turned slowly to face it.
The dead man-- or, Ichabod supposed, the man who had previously appeared dead-- waved at them, propped up on one elbow within the coffin. “I beg your pardon,” he said, still muffled, “but this blasted thing does not seem to open from the inside. Where the devil am I?”
“Oh, boy,” Abbie said.
After a brief struggle, and with the assistance of its occupant, it became apparent that the coffin had no bottom panel. Abbie and Ichabod’s combined efforts allowed them to slide it sideways on the bier, off the edge far enough that the man could slip out from beneath it. “That is a damned sight better,” he said as he stood, brushing himself off. “Now, to whom do I owe-- I beg your pardon,” he said, as he looked Ichabod full in the face for the first time, “but you are the spit and image of a young man I knew in the war. Are you any relation of Ichabod Crane’s?”
And, like the key in the lock, recognition clicked into place in Ichabod’s memory. “Good lord,” he said. “Hamilton?”
“I knew it,” Abbie said.
Ichabod floundered for a moment, at a loss as to how to proceed. He had not had anyone to break the news gently, upon his own resurrection; he had no idea of how to do so, having never anticipated the need. He tried to recall what it had been like, waking up: what he had known then, what had only come back to him later.
“Sir,” he began, still uncertain, “what is the last thing you can recall, before awakening here?”
Alexander Hamilton-- for it was certainly he-- frowned. “I-- I was with Eliza, and Angelica,” he said. He pressed a hand to his side, above his hip. “I was-- good lord, I had been shot. Burr shot to kill, the scoundrel! Well, he is in for a very unpleasant surprise--”
“Whoa,” said Abbie. “Hold on. Speaking of surprises, uh. Ichabod, you want to take this?”
Hamilton seemed to notice for the first time Abbie’s appearance, certainly unconventional to his eyes: her clothing, the flashlight in her hand. He sputtered to a halt. Ichabod stepped forward, searching for the right words.
“I’m afraid you have been here rather too long to call anyone to account,” he said. “Sir, I am that same Ichabod Crane you once knew. I took a mortal wound in ‘81-- or, well, I thought I had-- and awoke some time later, in my own grave. Much as you have.”
For a moment, Hamilton was rendered entirely speechless-- an unusual occurrence, from Ichabod’s recollection of him as a younger man. Finally, he said, “How much later?”
“It’s November of 2015,” said Abbie, as gently as she could. “We’re in a crypt under Trinity Church, in New York City.”
Hamilton laughed-- a shaky, disbelieving sound. “But that is absurd,” he said. “And who are you, anyway?”
“Miss Mills is an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” said Ichabod. “Miss Mills, Alexander Hamilton.”
Abbie offered him her hand to shake. “Abigail Mills,” she said. “I’m sorry, I know it’s a big shock.”
He took her hand entirely out of reflex, so far as Ichabod could tell. “It is too impossible to call a shock,” he said. “How can this be?”
“How much were you involved in the… less public side of the war?” Ichabod asked.
“The magic business?” Hamilton said. “I knew about it, of course-- one could hardly work for Washington and miss it-- but it was never really my line. And Eliza liked it least, of all her sisters.” His face fell. “My god. If what you say is true, Eliza is dead.” He staggered backwards to the bier, sitting down hard.
Ichabod looked over at Abbie, who had a considering expression. “Ichabod’s wife was a witch,” she said. “She used magic to keep him alive after he was wounded, so he could wake up again in the future. Was your wife…?”
“A witch?” said Hamilton, bristling at the implication. “Certainly not. There's a little talent in the family, but on her own she can hardly light a candle. She needed Peggy and Angelica at least, for anything more-- oh.” He stood again, and began to pace the small chamber. “But Angelica was there. She told me once that strong emotion lent power to any magic, and that, certainly, was in no short supply that day. And I know Eliza tried something, when-- when Philip--” He broke off, then, coming to a halt, and looked up at Ichabod and Abbie, fresh grief plain in his eyes. “It did not work, then,” he said. “Perhaps it did, the second time.”
“Okay,” said Abbie. “We’ll figure it out. For now-- let’s get out of here, get back up to the fresh air.”
Hamilton composed himself, visibly controlling his expression. “I should like that, I think,” he said.
“Lead the way, Miss Mills,” said Ichabod.
At the exit of the tunnel, though, Abbie paused. “We’re coming out into the church proper, now,” she said. “I think maybe we should pause for a bit before we go out to the street. It’s going to be a shock.”
“That would be wise, perhaps,” said Ichabod.
“Actually,” said Abbie. “Tell you what. Let me run around the corner and get you a change of clothes. I think there’s a store nearby. You’ll stand out a little in that.”
Hamilton frowned. “Will I? Crane does not look so very out of fashion.”
“Crane refuses to update his look,” said Abbie.
“When I find a modern style I like better, I will adopt it,” said Ichabod.
“He keeps saying that, but I don’t know if I believe it,” Abbie told Hamilton, who managed a hint of a smile in response. “How about this? Lose the coat and cravat, roll up your sleeves, and you shouldn’t draw too much notice in here. I’ll go get you a sweater or something, give you time to acclimate a little.”
“I would be in your debt, madam,” said Hamilton. “And shall be for some time, I suppose; if I am presumed two centuries dead, I doubt I have any access to funds.”
“Well, actually, you’ve got the ten--” Abbie began, and then cut herself off. “You know what, I’ll explain later.”
It was several minutes more before they reached the public areas of the church. “Wait here,” said Abbie, and Ichabod guided Hamilton to a pew in the far back corner. “I won’t be long. Call me if there’s any more excitement,” she told Ichabod, and departed.
They sat in silence for a little while. From this vantage, only a little of the city was visible through the windows, past the churchyard. Still, that was enough to mark the passage of time by: cars could be glimpsed as they passed, and pedestrians in bright modern clothes, and buildings stretching up above their line of sight.
“Those conveyances--” said Hamilton.
“Horseless carriages,” said Ichabod. “Convenient and swift, I will admit, but I must say at times I miss horses.”
“Still, the streets must be a sight cleaner,” said Hamilton, which Ichabod had to admit was true.
“It is too much noise and too many people for me, though,” he said. “We were only visiting, to look for the crypt. Ordinarily I live upstate, in Sleepy Hollow, and Miss Mills also.”
This reminded Hamilton of something. “What did Miss Mills begin to say-- ten something-or-other?”
“Oh!” said Ichabod, and took out his billfold. “You will be pleased to see this, I think.” He handed Hamilton a ten-dollar bill.
Hamilton stared down at it, turning it over in his hands to examine back and front. “Well, that is a little consolation,” he said.
Ichabod’s phone buzzed, making Hamilton startle a little at the noise. He pulled it out of his pocket. “A message from Miss Mills,” he said. “She will be twenty minutes more, at most.”
“How is that achieved?” asked Hamilton, staring down at the phone.
“It is rather ingeniuous,” said Ichabod. “I must admit to only a rudimentary understanding of the mechanisms, but this manner of instantanteous communication is ubiquitous at present. I may speak to anyone with a similar device by text or voice, and access a great deal of information from public networks, as well.” He struggled for a metaphor. “Like-- like a very small encyclopedia, that also sends messages.”
“An encyclopedia,” said Hamilton. “Then-- might I trouble you with a request? There is something I would like you to look up.”
When Abbie returned, she found them not in the church but outside it, in the churchyard. “Everything all right?” she asked as she approached, a shopping bag hooked in one elbow.
“We may need a moment,” Ichabod said. Hamilton was kneeling on the ground before a grave, a little ways away. “His wife is buried here.”
“Poor guy,” said Abbie. She looked up at him. “You know, I don’t think I give you enough credit for how quickly you adapted, when we first met.”
Ichabod shrugged, uncomfortable; it was not something he liked to think about. “By the time the shock wore off, I had little time to grieve,” he said. “And those from my past I have been reunited with have brought me more heartache than joy. For his sake, I almost hope he is truly as alone as he seems.”
“He’s got us,” Abbie said. “And, actually, apparently he’s been in the limelight lately. On the way back I passed this huge wall of playbills--”
Hamilton, having concluded whatever private communion he had been conducting at the grave, rose to his feet. “You said you lived upstate,” he said to Ichabod. “I do not like to impose, but--”
“You will come with us, certainly,” said Ichabod. “Good lord, sir, we would not abandon you here.”
“We should head for the train if we want to be home by dark, though,” said Abbie. She held the shopping bag out, offering it to Hamilton. “Here, go inside and put these on.”
Some minutes later-- delayed somewhat by extended explanations of the flush toilet, improvements in the manufacturing of mirror glass, and the municipal water and sewage system-- they all three reached the churchyard gate. “I scarcely recognize it,” said Hamilton, looking up and down the street at the changed face of the city. Grief settled over his features, once again. “What sort of place could I have, in such a world?”
A bus came to a stop just past them, pulling up to the corner. It had Hamilton’s face plastered over its side, near ten feet tall, with his name in letters half as big.
“What on earth,” Hamilton said, staring.
“Apparently there’s a play? A new one. On Broadway,” said Abbie.
“I want to see it,” Hamilton said immediately.
Abbie pulled out her phone, and after a minute’s tapping her eyebrows went up. “It’s sold out,” she said.
“The next performance, then,” said Hamilton.
“It’s sold out until May,” said Abbie.
“Ha!” said Hamilton. For the first time he looked a little less distressed. “I don’t suppose Madison could sell out a play for so long.”
Ichabod stifled a laugh. “From what I recall, I doubt it.”
“Oh, God,” said Abbie. “Now there’s two of you.”