Author Topic: ZARA  (Read 1723007 times)

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Offline Welsh Wench

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Re: ZARA
« Reply #75 on: March 30, 2018, 08:19:14 PM »
Meanwhile back in Barbados....

"Good morning, darling," Josiah kissed Renee on the cheek as she sat there with her coffee cup in her hands.
She took a sip and smiled to herself.
"Good morning to you, too, love."
Josiah turned as he finished pouring himself a cup of coffee.

"What is that look?"
"What look?"
"That look like you know something and maybe want to say it but don't know if you should. Like a secret that is like a cat in the bag. You want to let it out but don't know if you should."
She laughed. "Josie, Josie.... what makes you think that?"
 
"Because I know you, Renee. Better than you probably know yourself."
She put her coffee cup down and traced her finger around the edge as a bit of a tease. That was when Josiah knew she was about to spill the beans. So he patiently waited.
 
"I was just wondering...."
"...about?"
"Oh...how you and Jack will look as proud grandparents at a baby's baptism."
 
CRASH!!!!!
 
Renee looked over. "
"Oh...was it something I said?" She asked with a cocked eyebrow.
"Where in God's green earth did you EVER come up with a notion like that?"
She leaned back and stretched her arms over her head.
"I've always thought it. But never got around to mentioning it."
"I think you have been adding a bit too much rum in your coffee."
"Oh, have I? Or am I the only one saying what is the obvious?"
"Renee, Phillip is going to marry Lenore Culley."

"I wouldn't be too sure about that."
Josiah mopped up the spilled coffee. "How do you figure that?"
 
She took the wet rag from him and tossed it in the sink..
"Here. Use this one to mop your brow while I explain."
He sat down and reached for the rum.
Renee set another cup of coffee down in front of him.
"Have you ever known Jack Wolfe to do something that wouldn't benefit him?"
"Well, no..."
 
"You take one starry-eyed seventeen year old. Add a tall, strapping good-looking man with
nothing to do on a ship for a few weeks but watch out for said seventeen year old. Anything is possible."
"Phillip wouldn't!"
"Would. Could. Probably did. Oh, don't look so shocked, Josiah. You know how Phillip is and what a determined young lady Zara is. Has that girl ever been denied anything she set her heart on?"
 
Josiah gulped his coffee. "Jack will kill him."
"Don't be too sure. What better way to ensure that you like your son-in-law than to handpick him yourself?"
"But that is so...calculated. Jack wouldn't do that to Zara."
 
"Who better understand human emotions and certain drives better than Jack Wolfe? He's just enabling Zara to get what she wanted all along. And giving Phillip an option instead of making the biggest mistake of his life by marrying that stuck up viper."
 
Josiah stood up and grabbed his hat. "I have to see Jack about some molasses that are due to go out next run. We'll forget this conversation ever existed."
 
As he walked out the door, Renee took another sip of her coffee and smiled.
"Don't be too sure, my love. I am betting it is already a done deal."
 
 
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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Re: ZARA
« Reply #76 on: March 30, 2018, 08:25:17 PM »
Josiah walked up to the massive oak door around back. Not because he was a backdoor tradesman, but a welcome friend. Jack always regarded his closest friends as earning the right to come in the back way. Close to Mrs Avery's scones and tarts, he always said. And Jack's house always had an open door policy.  As he mounted the stairs, the sea breeze ruffled his hair. Life was good, he contemplated. Good friends, one he regarded closer than a brother. A beautiful healthy woman to love him. And a son that would make any man proud.
'The son...' he thought. Renee's fanciful suppositions rankled him. 'No, not possible. Phillip was a man of honour. A man betrothed to a woman of high society with the possibility of an important career....'
He wouldn't throw his chances on....Josiah shook his head as if to clear it. Renee always had a wild imagination. And regarded Phillip as the son she never had made their relationship all the more special. Because he was a child of choice, not by accident. Accident....babies....good grief, Briggs! Snap out of it!
 He shifted the papers to his other arm and knocked. Honour of all people answered the door, a baby on her hip and a streak of flour on her face.
"Josiah! Come in!"
He smiled when he saw her. "What on earth are you up to, Honour?"
"Oh...just helping Mrs Avery roll out some dough. The baby was in her cradle in the kitchen and I just picked her up when you knocked. But you don't have to knock, Josiah. You are family. Next time just walk in. Promise?"
 He gave her shoulders a squeeze. "I promise. Now...is the man of the house around?"
"He's just finishing up with an invoice with Eli. Go right in."
 
Josiah made his way down the hall to Jack's study and de facto business office. In many ways, it felt like his many walks to the great cabin aboard El Lobo. The door was open, but he felt the need to knock anyway.

"Master Briggs! Since when did we begin standing on pretence? Make your way in, you scoundrel! You know where everything is," called Jack.
Josiah chuckled as he stepped into the expansive library Jack called a study. Eli was sitting in a chair across from Jack's desk, but for a change, the young man seemed relaxed. Unusually so. But presently he gathered up his papers and hat.
"Much obliged, Cap'n Wolfe."
"Eli, how many times must I ask you to just call me Jack?"
"At least once more, Cap'n. As you'll always be my Cap'n."
"On your way, Mister Meredith. All my best to your family."
Eli paused to acknowledge Briggs before he left the room. And Briggs couldn't help but notice the large brown bottle of rum on Jack's desk.

"Josiah!" said Jack. "What brings you round this fine day? Let me pour you a gulper, like old times."
As Jack poured the rum, Briggs said, "I recall it was me pouring you a gulper, you being captain and all."
"Again with the pretences. Here. Courtesy of Will Harkness himself."
Josiah knocked the cup back and found himself gasping for air. "What in blazes is that?!" he managed to croak out.
"Rum, of course," said Jack. "Unless you've lost your taste for it."
"My taste be just fine. What's left of it, after that. I'd stow it well away from the powder magazine if you get my meaning. How many have you had?"
"Two, before that one. I think. So, what's on your mind, my friend?"

Josiah plopped into a chair and tried to formulate his words as the rum's effects began to work its ways with him.
"Well, Jack, Renee and I were talking..."
"Good man. Communication is the key to a happy marriage."
"No, I mean, we were talking about Phillip. More to the point, Phillip and a certain young lady we're both acquainted with."
Jack's eyes narrowed. "I don't believe either of us is sufficiently drunk enough to continue this conversation if it's headed where I think it's headed."
Briggs handed over his cup. "Aye, that be true enough."

Jack poured them each a generous portion, which was quickly consumed by both men. After a few moments of shuddering and head shaking, Jack said, "All right. What are your concerns?"
"None that you haven't had yourself on a sleepless night."
"Taxes?"
"Worse."
"Snoring? And don't tell Honour I said anything. It's a sensitive subject."
Josiah set his empty cup down on Jack's desk. "No. Not snoring. You see, Renee mentioned—"
Before he could protest, the cup was refilled and waiting for him. He gave a resigned shrug and picked it up.
"She mentioned how this certain young lady had caught Phillip's eye. And how he's taken quite a fancy to her."
He paused to gauge Jack's reaction.
Jack took another drink and nodded attentively. "Yes, and?"
Josiah took another drink himself to hide his puzzlement. "Well, them being from such different family backgrounds and such, it makes you wonder how her parents might feel about, you know, things."
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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Re: ZARA
« Reply #77 on: March 30, 2018, 08:27:54 PM »
"Ah, I see your point," said Jack. "A young woman's parents can be very protective. And rightly so."
"I said as much to Renee. But she doesn't see any rough waters ahead."
"Renee is an excellent judge of people. And I would agree. I think Phillip has found a fine match."
Briggs choked on his rum. "You— what did you say??"
"I said Phillip found a suitable woman."
"You'd best pour me another."
"Well, 'suitable' might be a stretch. She's certainly stuck up. And more than a little boring."
"I never thought I'd hear you say that, Jack. Not in a million years."
"Why not?" said Jack. "It's the truth. But there's not a lot of choice on this island for a strapping young man. He could do worse than Lenore Culley."
"Lenore? I thought you were talking about.. you know..."
"No, I really don't."
"Zara."
Jack shook his head. "Why would I be talking about her? You're not making any sense, mate."
 
"I do appreciate it, Josiah," said Jack as he topped off their cups. "To be honest, the thought had crossed my mind as we were planning Zara's disappearance. Phillip is a good man. The only scallywag on this island I would trust with her safety more is yourself."
"Then Phillip is—"
"Dear Phillip is a calculated risk. One that I believe I could live with."
"That's right kind of you to say, Jack. And Phillip is a smart man. Hopefully smart enough to keep from... well, you know."
"We're smart men, and I don't recall it ever slowing us down. Especially the times it should have had us racing out of the harbour. But I will know if anything untoward happened."
Josiah nodded. "A father's intuition about the well-being of his daughter, is it?"
"Far more practical, and inscrutable," said Jack. "The bed will tell the tale if there is indeed a tale to be told."
"That rickety old thing? It's been broken more often than a banker's promises, and triced up as if by a drunken spider."
Jack smiled and touched his nose.
"Ah! You rigged the bed!"
"During one of my inspections of El Lobo just before they departed, I took the liberty of making a few adjustments. Anything over the weight of a man plus a sack of grain and pop goes the bedposts."

Briggs burst out in laughter at the thought of the bed collapsing at an inopportune moment. "And them with no way of knowing how it was tied up in the first place..."
"Plus a red herring or two to confuse things more. That's where the missing deck gun got to, in case you're wondering."
"I'm hoping it doesn't come to that, of course," chortled Briggs. "But it would be a fine test of their ingenuity."
"Hang their ingenuity. My intention was to give them something else to occupy their time," said Jack. The two men clinked their cups together in agreement.
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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Re: ZARA
« Reply #78 on: March 30, 2018, 08:28:19 PM »
"By the way, has there been any word of the parcel I sent to the Barbary Coast?" said Jack.
Josiah shook his head. "They should be on their way back by now. Those waters aren't what you'd call hospitable."
He took another sip before continuing. "Jack, I know it's not my place to question your motives, especially in personal matters—"
"Which has never stopped you before. Go on, my friend."
"When the Culley boy threatened Zara the way he did, there wasn't a man aboard who didn't want to have a few words with him, shall we say. A few of those words being 'shark bait" and the like. But we knew you'd sort him out in due time and keep Zara protected."
"But?"
"I— I never quite expected you to go as far as you did with it. He's the governor's son, after all. Do you think it's wise?"
"Josiah, I could have killed him. Part of me wanted to. But then he'd never learn anything from his mistake."
"Isn't sending him off to a seraglio the same thing?"
"Not at all. He'll be well treated. Treated better than a slave, at any rate."
"So you didn't sell him to a sultan?"
"No. I didn't. It's not like I would get a decent price for him."
"You're going to have to fill in the map for me, Jack. You've got me lost."
"There is a particular sultan who owes me a favour or two. Remember when we convinced an East India company warship an entire Turkish fleet was bearing down on them?"
"When we were just six ships towing lighted rafts! How could I forget?"
"Tristan Culley is being delivered to that sultan to be a servant in the palace for no less than three years. After that, he's free to go."
 
"That's all fine and good," said Briggs. "But three years? What happens when he turns up here in Barbados lookin' for retribution?"
"He won't be in Barbados."
"How's that? The first place any man kept in irons wants to go once freed is home."
"And home he will go. To London Towne."
"Another favour called in?"
"Another favour," said Jack with a smile. "My having certain ties to the Admiralty, and those ties having their own to a lot of stuffy folk in white wigs, it means that in less than two year's time Governor Culley will be recalled to England. Much to his relief, I'm sure. And Tristan will be reunited with his father soon thereafter. The opera is always looking for a good contralto."
"Just one flaw in your plan," said Josiah. "Phillip has no love for Mother England. His heart be here, 'tween the waves of the Caribbean, same as you and me. Lenore will want to stay close to Daddy and even closer to high society, so marrying her means leaving Barbados and most likely the sea to boot. All the more incentive for him to keep his sights closer to friendly shores. If you catch my meaning."
Jack sat back in his chair. "Your meaning is caught, Master Briggs."
"How's that calculated risk playing out for you now?"
"In-laws? Us?"
"We've shared hard times and good fortune for a good many years. I reckon we could weather this as well."
Jack nodded agreement.
"Of course, it could all be a passing fancy on Zara's part, too. How likely is she to lose interest in something she's grown fond of?"
"She's still got that toy rabbit I picked up for her on the way to Wales."
Briggs' eyebrows went up in surprise. "Well, em... Probably a good thing we all get along so well."
"Then I suppose a toast is in order," said Jack. He hefted the bottle and noticed it was nearly empty.
"How about we finish the bottle, and save the toast for another day, eh? What say you?"
"Fair enough, says I," said Briggs as he drained his cup.
"Another day it is," said Jack.

Honour and Renee withdrew from the door of Jack's study.
"What did I tell you?" said Renee.
"Time for us to chat," said Honour. "And I know where the rest of Will's finest is kept."
"Lead on!"
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Offline Welsh Wench

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Re: ZARA
« Reply #79 on: March 30, 2018, 08:30:21 PM »
 
Honour went to the cabinet in the smaller parlor and took a bottle of Madeira.
"Here. Take this."
She also grabbed two glasses and some cheese and fruit.
"Follow me," she said to Renee.
 
They walked out to the back verandah and settled in.
"The baby just went down for a nap so we can have a nice visit. The French doors are open and I can hear her if she even makes a peep."
Renee settled in to her chair and kicked her shoes off. She propped her feet up on the small footstool and breathed deeply the salt air.
"I always have a sense of peace when I come here, Honour. I can see why you fell in love with this house and it is a perfect place to raise a family."
Honour poured a small glass of Madeira and a larger one for Renee.
"I still am not up to having much wine. With having the baby and all."
"Is this the last of the Wolfe pack?"
Honour leaned back and smiled. "I have no idea. I have such easy pregnancies and deliveries and it seems all Jack has to do is wink at me and....*poof* I'm standing behind a baby."
Renee laughed. "I think it took a bit more than a wink."
"Perhaps the smile later?"
They laughed.
 
She passed Renee the platter of fruit and cheese. "Renee, are you sorry you never had children?"
Renee took a few grapes. "Seriously? No, I'm not. The son I inherited by marriage I couldn't love more dearly than if I actually gave birth to him. But he was past the snotty nose and diaper stage and all the kinks had been worked out. In spite of Lydia's hatred for Josiah, she did raise Phillip with manners and kindness. Sometimes I forget that he is a stepson. I see Josiah in him but he has his mother's eyes. And from what Josiah has told me, she was a wonderful person."
"I once asked Josiah when he finally realized he was in love with you."
"Do tell!"
"It was that night in your garden when you finally presented Phillip to him. He said it was almost as if Anne had pushed Phillip towards him and stood back and smiled at you. He finally could let Anne's memory rest and it was almost as if she gave Josiah her blessing to be happy again. And he truly is. I have known Josiah for years. Not as long as you but in a different context. And I've never seen him more complete."
 
Renee paused and tried to discreetly wipe the tear that threatened to escape her eye.
"Thank you, Honour. I know Josie loves me without reserve but it is so nice to hear someone else reaffirming it."
 
Honour sipped her wine. "And speaking of children and love...."
Renee stretched out her arms over her head.
"Now, were we actually talking about that in the same sentence?"
"Not really but..."
"But you have a mother's anxiety about your daughter and if she is being taken advantage of."
"Oh, I doubt Phillip would ever do that."
"Honour, sweetheart, think back to yourself at that age. What were you feeling?"
"I thought the sun rose and set in Rhys Morgan."
"So...can you fault your daughter if she has those same feelings?"
"I don't want her to get hurt. I know Phillip has engagement plans with Lenore Culley."
"Don't be too sure about that. Look, this is all confidential woman-to-woman talk and we have known each other a long time. Frankly, Honour, I consider you my best friend. Good Lord, I never thought I would say that to a woman I once regarded as an intrusion into Jack's and my relationship! But I want you to know that once you and Jack were back together, Jack and I became just close friends at that point."
"I know that, Renee. To him, you will always be Pip Woolston. And I positively adore you. Aside from my sisters--and even then---I can tell you things I won't tell anyone else. So I guess I should come right out and say it."
"Go ahead."
Honour took a deep breath. "Do you think Phillip and Zara are sleeping together?"
 
Renee took another sip of her wine and glanced over the rim at her best friend.
"I don't know, Honour. My head says he wouldn't be that reckless. But my heart says otherwise. Now let me ask you a question."
"What?"
"Would it upset you if they are?"
"No. Yes. I don't know!"
"What does YOUR heart say?"
Honour sighed. "Who am I foollng? She's had a crush on Phillip since she was a toddler. Once in Scotland, I played a game with her. I drew pictures of people she knew. She was fascinated by the picture of Phillip and kept staring at it. When I gathered them up the next day, the one of Phillip was missing. I found it later in the tote she kept Bun-Bun. I just left it there. As far as I know she has it tucked away somewhere. So back to your original question, 'would I be upset?' "
 
Renee sat and waited for Honour to continue.
"No, I wouldn't say upset. I would hope they would use prudence and some self-control but..."
"But what?"
Honour laughed. "She's Jack Wolfe's daughter. At seventeen I have no claim to wrap her in wool and stick her in a nunnery. Let's just say if it happens, I wouldn't wear sackcloth and ashes. And if the inevitable has happened, at least I know the breeding of the young man."
"What about Jack?"
 
Honour poured herself a drink. "Jack? Jack is another story."
« Last Edit: April 01, 2018, 07:59:44 PM by Welsh Wench »
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Offline Welsh Wench

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Re: ZARA
« Reply #80 on: March 30, 2018, 09:12:12 PM »
Back in Virginia.....

Zara sleepily raised her head.
"Phillip, the sun is barely coming up. Why are you getting dressed?"
He buttoned his shirt. "Because if I leave now, then technically I did not spend the night. There is still night left."
She yawned, "That is what Da calls 'Zara logic'. I can make any argument seem reasonable."
"Which is exactly how my father got roped into Jack's crazy schemes."
He kissed the tip of her nose. She drew him into her embrace.
"Zara....we need some rules here."
"Rules are made to be broken, darling."
He sighed but drew away. "I have to shave and wash up. All your paints and powders....well, I have no razor here. And I can't go downstairs smelling of lilac water."
She straightened her legs out and crossed her arms over her breasts.
"Oh, Phillip..." she pouted. "What am I going to do while you are in your room?"
"Get yourself dressed and down to breakfast. I will casually mention I am going to the shipyard. Then you say you want to go."
"And you will say no."
"How did you read my mind?"
"We've been....close. Maybe our minds are synchronizing along with our bodies?"
He laughed.
"Alright, I will make the appropriate fuss and end up taking you with me. See you downstairs in an hour?"
"I'll miss you in that hour."
"I'll make it worth your while later."
 
 Phillip buttoned his shirt cuffs as he descended the stairs. Perhaps, if he was lucky, Will would still be getting dressed for the day...
"Ah! Good morning, Phillip!" called Will. "I had breakfast held for you and Zara. Do join me for tea while they get things ready."
"Good morning, Will," said Phillip. "I didn't expect you to be up and about yet."
"Well, perennial bachelor that I am, there's naught to keep me abed past dawn, as I'm sure you'd understand."
"Quite right," said Phillip, as he tried to push the delightful memory of being in Zara's arms out of his head.
"There's only one reason I can think of for you to be so delayed in rising."
"And... what would that be?"
Will held out his hand. "Well?"
"Well, what? Oh! The letter! I'm terribly sorry, Will. I still haven't gotten to it. I found myself fatigued after dinner, and—"
"The packet ship leaves later this morning, and there won't be another one for three days. You do know how to write, don't you?"
Phillip found his face growing hot. "Yes, I am literate. But sleep became a priority."
"Managing priorities is what being a ship's captain is all about, Phillip," said Will. "Sleep is a luxury we are not always afforded when important tasks lay undone. One lump or two?"
"Beg pardon?"
"Tea. For someone well rested, you're not keeping up well. Do you take your tea with one lump or two?"
"Um, I'm not much of a tea drinker," said Phillip. "I'm more accustomed to coffee."
"Ah, of course," chuckled Will. "Jack was fond of the stuff, so it's no wonder it became the norm on his ship. Two lumps it is." He nodded to the housemaid who poured their cups as they sat down at the table.

"So, tell me about your day. What do you have planned?"
"Well, I—"

"Good morning, everyone!" sang Zara as she swept into the room. She paused to give Will a kiss on the cheek, and gave Phillip a wink as she took her place at the table. "What is for breakfast? I'm famished!"

 "My goodness, aren't you glowing?" said Will.
"I had a wonderful night's sleep. How was your's, Phillip?"
"Very satisfying," replied Phillip.
Will's eyes widened mirthfully as he sipped his tea.
 

"What are we having for breakfast?" said Zara.
"Blueberry scones, with lemon curd brought in from London Towne. Soft-boiled eggs, and a local delicacy called johnnycakes. They're made from corn ground into a flour, then mixed into a batter and cooked on a hot griddle. They're delicious. Ah! Here they are now!"

The house staff came in with plates arranged with a large triangular scone, a soft-boiled egg in a ceramic cup, and a stack of three johnnycakes for each person. They placed a dish of lemon curd on the table, and next to it a small pitcher of a dark amber liquid.
"What is that?" asked Zara.
"Another local delicacy," said Will. "Maple syrup. Pour some over the johnnycakes. You'll love it."
Zara poured a bit of the syrup over the cakes, then took a bite. "Phillip, you must try this! It's amazing!"
Phillip followed her lead, and tentatively took a bite. His eyes widened in surprise. "It's delicious!"
"As if I would feed you poison," laughed Will. "Now, Phillip, you were saying about your day before we were so delightfully interrupted."
"Yes, well, I need to attend to the cargo transfer, so I'll be spending a good portion of the day at the shipyard."
"Very well," said Will. "Perhaps you will find time to rattle off that letter before midday? The packet is the Mercury. See that it's aboard her. I'm well acquainted with her master."
"I'll see to it," said Phillip.
"I— I find the operations of a ship fascinating," said Zara. "If it's not a bother, I would love to see how the cargo handling is done."
"Well, I'm loathe to deny my goddaughter's curiosity in such matters," said Will. "Who knows? One day, she may have her own shipping industry. What say you, Phillip? Would she be a bother?"
"Uh— no! No, of course not. Zara, you are more than welcome to accompany me. But you must promise to stay out of the way. And I cannot promise you won't find yourself bored halfway through. It is up to you."
"I'll take my chances with boredom," she smiled.
"Then it's settled," said Will. "We'll finish breakfast, and you two shall enjoy your day dockside. More tea, anyone?"

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Offline Welsh Wench

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Re: ZARA
« Reply #81 on: March 30, 2018, 09:15:34 PM »
 
Phillip sat at the writing desk, his  hands steepled in front of him, a frown on his face. He knew he had to pick his words carefully.
With a deep sigh, he opened the drawer and took out a parchment paper and dipped the quill in the inkwell.
 
Dear Jack and Honour,
 
I hope this letter finds all well in Bridgetown. We arrived safely in Virginia and am enjoying Will's hospitality.
 
The voyage went without incident. Zara has had her nose buried into her books and I think you will be pleased with the schooling she received. There is no substitute for hands-on observation of the skies at night on the high seas.
 
I am heading to the docks to arrange for the disbursement of cargo and setting up the arrangement to get the molasses and rum into the storehouses for Will.
 
I will close now as the packet will be leaving this morning and I wanted to put your minds at ease as to our arrival.
 
I do hope the 'situation' back home has abated and Zara can return with total peace of mind.
 
Please pass this note on to Father and Renee. I know how she worries.
 
My regards to all--
 
Phillip

 
He smiled to himself as he melted the wax, watching it as it dripped into a circle onto his envelope. Picking up Will's stamp, he carefully pressed it into the wax. A perfect impression of a raven.
'Oh, Will, you old dog--you couldn't resist, could you? Raven's Pride is still your pride and joy.'
 
He picked up his hat, smoothed the feathers out , and put the envelope into the pocket of his breeches.
'That ought to satisfy you, Will.'
He smiled as he descended the stairs, thinking of the delightful afternoon he would spend in the company of the one person he wanted to be with more than anyone.
 
 
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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Re: ZARA
« Reply #82 on: April 01, 2018, 07:45:33 PM »
Phillip managed to find enough willpower to break away from Zara's kiss.
"Zara, do you notice anything?" he asked.
"Nothing important? Why?"
"The carriage has stopped."
"Oh!" she laughed. "I was preoccupied. Do you think it's a highwayman?"
Phillip cocked his head and listened for a moment. "Not unless there a good many of them, and they're busy working on a ship rather than robbing us. Shall we see if you're right?"
"If we must," she said with a feigned pout.

Phillip straightened his lapels while Zara checked to see if her laces were still in place. He stepped from the carriage and offered his hand to Zara as she stepped down to join him.
"Thank you, Collins!" he called to the driver. "It was an enjoyable trip."
"Gratified to hear it, sir," the driver said with a nod. "Master Harkness instructed me to have you back no later than half past four. I shall be right here to collect you in time."
"We shall see you then," said Zara.
Collins nodded and clucked the horses onward.

"Shall we see if your cabin is the way we left it?" she whispered.
Phillip smiled and shook his head. "Zara, I do have to get some work accomplished while I'm here."
"Then what is to keep me occupied?"
"You said you wanted to see how the ship was unloaded."
"Phillip Briggs, I've been aboard ships since before I could walk. I know how things are done. I could oversee things just as well as you can."
"Well, I'm sure you have an idea of how things appear to work, but there are a good many details that—"
Zara stopped and glared at him. "You don't think I could? You really think that?!"
"Zara, I only meant that... yes, I do think you understand things well enough, but..."
"Never mind, Phillip," she said sweetly. "I know what you meant, and you're probably right. As you said, you have things to attend to. I'll keep myself occupied until you're done." She ran a finger along his cheek. "Just make sure we have time left to check on the cabin?"
He smiled and kissed her cheek. "I promise not to take too long. You'll be fine on your own?"
"I know how to take care of myself. Now, shoo! Go be Captain Briggs."

Phillip gave a nod and a smile and set out on his way to the ship. Zara watched until he started up the gangplank, then turned to find the dockmaster's office.
"You bet your arse I know how things are done..."
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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Re: ZARA
« Reply #83 on: April 01, 2018, 07:46:13 PM »
Phillip walked up the gangplank, his eyes scanning the port as he stepped onto the ship. No sign of Zara, and that wasn't a good sign at all.
He felt a light tap on his shoulder.
"Captain Briggs, I was to give you this note."
He opened up the note, the smell of honeysuckle wafting from it.
 
                               
I was through shopping early enough so went to the cabin to pick up a few things I left behind.
 
                                                                         ~~Zara

 
Phillip knocked softly on the door. No answer, so he took out the key and opened it.
There, on the bed, was a white lace comforter. Sheer fabric was draped from the four poster bed. A small tray of olives, fruit and cheese was on the bedside table, along with a bottle of wine and two goblets. A vase of light pink and white peonies stood next to them. Three white candles glowed in the room, their flames' reflection  flickering on the wall.
 
But what really got his blood racing was what was in the bed.
Zara was in a gauzy white dressing gown with lace. Three white roses were tucked behind her ear, her chestnut hair cascading down in curls, a smile gracing her face.
Phillip grinned.
"Alright, so it isn't exactly the way we left it...."
"Do you think Da would mind that I did a few alterations?"
"Not at all. But he wouldn't be happy to see what is in the bed."
 
She smiled at him and crooked her finger at him.
'Da is not here and I intend to get rid of all evidence before we reach Barbados again. Now...come here and show me how much you appreciate the effort I went through to fix this up so nicely."
 
Phillip grinned as he pulled his shirt over his head and sat on the edge of the bed. He drew Zara into a kiss that promised everything she wanted.
He kicked off his boots and pushed her hair back from her shoulders, kissing that one spot that he knew would lead him to what he wanted.
Gently he took the roses out of her hair and placed them on the bedside table.
He whispered, "They would get in the way and I don't want to get stuck with the thorns."
She put her arms around his neck and laughed softly in his ear, "I took the thorns off. I am not going to have a bloody ear in the interest of seduction."
"Now who is seducing whom, Miss Zara?"
"Even trade, love. We shall make each other delightfully happy."
"Deal."
Within moments, Zara's lacy gown joined Phillip's shirt on the floor. As things were heating up in direction they were intended to be heading, Zara whispered throatily, "Oh, Phillip....it feels like the earth is moving!"
He pulled away. "I don't think it is the earth, Zara. What the hell....?"
 
Just then the crossbeams under the mattress gave way and the four posters on the bed bent to touch each other. The netting that surrounded the bed came wafting down over the amorous couple. Zara screamed and batted the netting out of her face. The claret wine bottle tipped over and soon the cheese was swimming in merlot.
 
He looked at Zara and said, "I am happy to oblige by cushioning your landing."
She grabbed the coverlet and rolled out of bed, as Phillip stood up.
She looked doulfully at the bed. "Oh, dear....what happened?"
He reached for his breeches and put them on.
Looking under the bed, he said, "Aha! The slats gave way."
"WHAT? Let me see."
He took her by the shoulders, "No, just trust me. They broke."
"Did we do that?"
"I would say so."
"How did that happen?"
She bent over to look but Phillip grabbed her by the waist and righted her up."
"It is just a few slats. I will have the shipwright fix it good as new."
"Then why can't I look?"
"Why? It is just some split wood."
"If it is split wood, then why can't I see it?"
She pushed him away forcefully and bent over to look.

"Are you serious?"
"I told you not to look."
Zara felt her face turn red.
There, under the bed, were pieces of wood tied with rope and one end was shored up with a cannon.
"What....?"
"Looks like we weren't the first to break this bed."
"You mean....mama? And...Da?"
"Well, from all evidence, that is El Lobo's ropes with your da's unique way of tying a knot. That is a cannon from when El Lobo was sailing as a pirate ship."
Zara still stared at the collapsed bed and whispered, "Mama and Da broke it?"
"Quite a few times, from the looks of it."
 
Phillip took the coverlet and spread it on the floor.
"Now, my darling, let's finish what we started."
Zara put her arms around him and laid her head on his chest.
"You promised you would never break my heart. I guess that didn't include the headboard."
« Last Edit: April 01, 2018, 07:46:39 PM by Captain Jack Wolfe »
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Offline Welsh Wench

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Re: ZARA
« Reply #84 on: April 01, 2018, 07:56:02 PM »
Zara raised her head sleepily from the bed.
"Phillip? Phillip, it is past eight o'clock. Should you be back in your room?
He yawned, his voice still sleepy.
"It's alright. Will told me last night he had to get up by dawn to attend some meetiing at the town hall to discuss tariffs and importation of spirits. He will be tied up till late afternoon and said he would see us at dinner."

She rolled over to face him and traced her finger down his cheek.
"So....we have all morning. And afternoon....."
"You forget his eyes and ears are named Dilcey. I am sure she would report to Will if we didn't appear. Or if she came in to dress your hair or draw your bath and find me in here."
She kissed him.
"That tub looks like it could hold two."
He drew her to him.
"We'll never pull it off."

She sighed.
"Maybe we should go riding today. You don't have to deal with the ship, do you?"
"Not today. The ship will be ready in about a week and then Davis is going to take it up to Boston and New Amsterdam.

"Your father wants to make sure Tristan is out of the picture before we go back home so I think we are staying here about two months. Will extended the invitation indefinitely. After all, you are the granddaughter he never had and he dotes on you so."

Zara looked in the mirror as she combed her hair. "Then I definitely think the second choice for the afternoon is to go riding. Since you fear the wrath of.---"
"Miss Zara?"
She put her fingers to her lips.
"What is it, Dilcey?"
"Did you want your breakfast served in your room or would you prefer to go downstairs?"
"I'll take it downstairs."
"Alright. I'll ask Mister Phillip where he wants his breakfast too."

Phillip scrambled out of bed an reached for his breeches. Zara hastily threw his shirt at him.
"Go! Go!"
"How can I go when Dilcey is standing right there?"
"I don't know! I don't know!" Zara stood there fluttering her hands. " But Uncle Will will kill us if he finds out!"
"At the very least, he will look down his nose and say, 'I am very disappointed in the two of you."
"Is there a back door?"
"No. Only the trellis."
They both looked out the window.
"If I hold on and watch out for the thorns..."
"Phillip, NO!"
He had one foot out the window sill.
"It's not like I haven't done this before...."
"What?"
"Nothing. I'll climb down and then come in through the back door. If I see Dilcey, I will tell her I was down by the stables to see what horses we want to take for the day."

He gingerly climbed down.
"Ow! OW! Damn! Imported English roses! Probaby plundered a gardener's ship...."

Zara leaned her head out the window.
"Watch out for that last...."
BANG!
"....trellis."
"Now you tell me it is leaning against the dining room window."

Phillip made his last leap. Into a rose bush.
"DAMN!"
He turned and waved to Zara.
"See you at breakfast!"

As he walked off, he picked thorns and leave out of his torn sleeves.
'Well, chalk it up to sacrificing a silk shirt....for a very good cause.'
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Offline Welsh Wench

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Re: ZARA
« Reply #85 on: April 01, 2018, 07:58:17 PM »
Phillip traded knowing smiles with Zara as he joined her at the dining table. The table was arrayed with a pot of tea, an urn of delightfully pungent coffee, a platter of small scones complete with a small bowl of lemon curd.
"I'm glad you could join me," said Zara. "I hate to eat alone."
"And I would not think of disappointing you," said Phillip.

Dilcey entered the room with a platter containing two plates. Each contained a poached egg, a hash of fried potatoes with herbs, and a portion of ham.
"For you, Miss Zara," said Dilcey as she laid the plate in fron to Zara.
She moved to the other side of the table and slid Phillip's plate into place.
"I'm glad to see you found your boots, Mister Phillip," she said with a small smile. "And your waistcoat."
Phillip's could feel his face growing hot. "Yes, well, it's not often that I can be around horses, you see. And it was such a fine morning—"
Zara pinched the bridge of her nose and shook her head, all the while trying to suppress a giggle.
"The breakfast looks lovely, Dilcey. Thank you."
"Mister Phillip, Miss Zara, enjoy your breakfast. If you need anything, just call." With that, Dilcey left the room.

Phillip and Zara dissolved into muted laughter.
"Thank you, said Phillip. "I was about to embarrass myself."
"About to?" Zara said. "I was doing damage control."
"Damage control? What damage control?"
Will Harkness entered the room, setting  his walking cane down as he took a seat at the head of the table.
"Uncle Will! I...I thought you were at a meeting. Phillip said you would be gone till dinner."
He flipped his napkin over his lap.
"Oh...that. Well, it turns out Magistrate Wentworth took ill. Too much mead, I daresay but the official reason is intestinal upset and he didn't want any of us to come down with it. Hard to do when you are the only one imbibing. Oh...and I happened upon this in the hallway. I do wonder how it got outside your room, Phillip. There were no fresh roses delivered to your room. Or so I presume?"

Will laid the rose petals on the table along with a few stems with the thorns. A small piece of silk fabric caught on one of them.
"Oh...that."
"Yes....that. Have you taken up gardening as a hobby to pass the time away whilst you wait for new sails?"
"Well, not really...."
"Because I am certain there are much more....interesting things to pluck your interest while you are here.."

"I am sure I will find many things to do, Will."
Will took a bite of egg. "Oh, I am sure there are lots of things to uncover and hold your interest. Zara, dear, did you hurt your neck?"
Zara quickly put her hand to her neck.
"Oh...I think I bruised it when I tried to get a hatbox down from the shelf and it fell. The edge hit me on the neck."
"Do be careful. Those...hatboxes...have a way of filling up. Especially with a few things you don't really need at this time of your life. Phillip....did you try to help her get that hatbox down?"
"What?"
"Well, you seem to have a matching bruise on your neck too. Oh I am sure you got it out at the stables. Dilcey said you had been out there. What are your plans today?"

"I thought Zara and I would take a couple of horses out for a ride, if you don't mind, Will."
"Of course I shant mind. The horses are there for your pleasure. Oh, and I thought I should mention that a welcoming soiree is set for tomorrow night for you and Zara to introduce you to the inner circle of Virginia society."
"That isn't really necessary, Uncle Will."
"But of course it is. I want to see how many hearts you can break in one evening, Zara. And Will, there is a particularly fetching young woman. She's Baron Culpeper's daughter Amelia. A very personable young woman. You would have quite a bit in common."
"I look forward to meeting her."

Zara shot Phillip a look that straddled irritation and jealousy. She threw her napkin down emphatically and said in a frosty tone, "I do believe I shall get dressed for riding. Captain Briggs, I shall see you in an hour down at the stables. Do we have an accord?"
"Accord? If you mean an engagement to meet, then yes, we do."

The door slammed behind her.
Will raised his eyebrow. "Good Lord, was it something I said?"
Phillip picked up a scone and buttered it. "No, she's just a bit moody at times."
"Ah...well, so it goes with the fairer sex. One finds it hard to figure them out. Unless one is married to them, so I hear. And speaking of the fairer sex, how is your dear stepmother?"
"Renee? She's doing well. She and Father are as happy as clams."
"It took him quite a while to work up the nerve to make her an honest woman."
"Best decision he ever made."

Dresser drawers were heard to slam upstairs. Will put his napkin to his lips to hide his smile.
"I do believe you are in for a hell of a ride, Phillip. Angry women do make the most interesting companions once they cool off and become compliant. Do enjoy yourself on your ride."
He gathered up the rose petals and laid them next to Phillip's hand.
"Please do watch out for the thorns. They scratch. Good thing they don't bite, too."
 
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Offline Welsh Wench

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Re: ZARA
« Reply #86 on: April 01, 2018, 08:02:12 PM »
Will watched as Phillip mounted the stairs like a condemned man going to  the gallows.
Dilcey sat down and poured herself a cup of coffee and helped herself to the scones.
"And...?"
"He decided to take the trellis down. The roses are a bit smashed and a piece of the crossbar of the trellis is lying on the ground. His footprints are the stride of a man fleeing the scene."
They both laughed. Dilcey continued, " But there was one more tell-tale sign."
"What was that?"
"I saw him drop about ten feet by the window."
Will leaned back and lit his cigar. "Well done, Dilcey. Well done. You will continue to inform me of any unusual activity, won't you?"
She covered his hand with hers.
"Indeed I shall."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Phillip knocked tentatively on Zara's door.
"It's not locked."
He came in to find Zara braiding her hair and stuffing it under a riding hat. She didn't say a word. But her face said it all.
He stood there leaning against the door post not saying a word either.
Finally she said, "Are you wearing that shirt?"
"What's wrong with it?"
"Oh...nothing. Except that the sleeve is ripped."
Phillip looked down. "No, it's not."
"The other sleeve."
"Oh."
She whirled on him. "Uncle Will knows. HE KNOWS!"
"I think you are reading too much into this."
"Oh, am I? What about all those remarks on the bruises. Thank you very much for that, I might add."
"Hey, you were no better. And that hatbox excuse!"
He started laughing.
"It's not funny, Phillip."
"Yes, it is. Be reasonable. You think Will doesn't know what these are? Will has had more than his fair share of women and I am sure quite a few were sporting love bites."
"What if he tells Da?"
Phillip shrugged. "Too late now. We can deal with it if we ever get found out. Meanwhile, I had better change my shirt. I wouldn't want you to be embarrassed to be seen with me."
He closed the door a little harder than he intended.

Phillip was already down by the stable when Zara made her appearance. She was dressed in breeches, a white silk shirt and a stylish hat perched on her head. It left no doubt in Phillip's mind that she had gone the extra mile in getting ready. Perhaps in anticipation of competing against the still unknown Culpeper woman.

"I had the groom saddle up the roan mare for you. Her name is Venus."
The groom led Venus out into the courtyard.
Phillip put his hands around Zara's waist and lifted her up onto the saddle.
"What is this?"
"What?"
"You expect me to ride side-saddle? I don't think so."
She swung her leg over to the other side of the horse.
She leaned down and whispered to Phillip, "No need to stand on ceremony. The damage has already been done."
She kicked her heels into the mare and galloped off towards the meadow.

Phillip looked at the groom. "I guess I should be off, too."
He kicked his heels into the horse's flanks. He was going to need all the horse could give if he was ever going to catch up to her.

As Zara reached the far end of the meadow, Phillip caught up to her and grabbed the reins. "Have a little respect for the horses, Zara. No need to run this mare so hard. Just because you are upset with me, don't take it out on them."
"I'm not!"
"You are. Look at her! She's fatigued. She stumbled back there or have you been so busy being upset you failed to notice? That's not the Zara I know."

Zara dismounted and walked over to the cove of birch trees, She turned her back on Phillip but her shoulders were shaking and Phillip knew she was weeping. He tied the horses to the trees and walked over to her.
"Hey," he said softly. "They will be alright."
He turned Zara around and she kept her head down.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry!"
He took both her arms and drew it around his neck. She continued to cry.
"Sometimes...."
"Zara? What is really wrong?"
"I don't know, Phillip. I just wonder sometimes what will  happen when we get back to Barbados. Will we still see each other? Will we be at liberty to...you know...do what we have been doing? What about...her? Will you break the engagement? These are things I need to know."
"Let's not worry about this now."
"Why not?"
"Let's just enjoy what we have."
"But..."
"I told you I love you. Isn't that enough for you?"
"NO! No, it's not enough! I want it all!
"You mean....?"
"I want a future with you, Phillip. A solid future. Can you promise me that?"

He said nothing.
"I thought as much." She walked her horse over to the stream and let her drink, keeping her back to Phillip the whole time. When the horse had enough, she said quietly, "Let's head back. I've had enough for one day."
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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Re: ZARA
« Reply #87 on: April 01, 2018, 08:04:50 PM »
Will came into the dining room, finishing the last tying of his cravat.
"Ah, Dilcey, darling! Those scones smell absolutely delicious."
She walked up to him.
"Your cravat is crooked," she smiled as she retied it.
"There. Much better." She poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down with Will.
"How fares our star-crossed lovers?"
 
Dilcey smiled behind her coffee cup.
"Oh....let's see. Miss Zara spent the night in her room. A light meal was sent up as she claimed to have a headache. Mister Phillip dined alone. You may be missing a bottle of brandy."
"How so?"
"I saw Mister Phillip take a bottle but there was something kind of honourable and sweet about it."
"Taking a bottle of brandy is sweet?"
"He left an IOU."
 
Will roared with laughter.
"He's his father's son, alright. Josiah Briggs always had a streak of morality a mile wide.It kept Zara's father alive though. Josiah would always put his foot down and reel him in when he was getting in over his head. Have you seen them today yet?"
"I heard Mister Phillip stirring around. Then a gentle knock and a whisper of 'Zara?' at her door. Oh, don't worry I was discreet. I was folding linens and putting them in the closet around the corner. The good thing about being what is considered a servant is that people tend to overlook you."
Will stroked her cheek gently. "I, for one, Dilcey, will never take you for granted."
 
She squeezed his hand gently as she buttered a scone and set it on his plate.
"Miss Zara remained in her room. Alone. I did not hear any scurrying or furtive footsteps in the hallway. I think there is a bit of wounded pride on her part. Men don't think the way women do, Will. I know you think you know us, but there is a lot of pride in this young lady."
"And stubbornness. Lord, you should see her parents! Her father is the son I never had."
"So Miss Zara is like a granddaughter to you."
"Well, yes."
She smiled broadly. "But that doesn't stop you from manipulating them and playing with their lives."
He raised his eyebrow. "You have to allow me some amusement in all this. Besides, those two are made in heaven for each other. I'm just making sure they realize it before they go back to Barbados."
"By playing God?"
"Now, would I do that?"
 
Just then, Phillip's footsteps were heard down the stairs.
"Ah, Phillip! Just in time. Dilcey, please get Phillip a plate. Here....coffee will wake you up. You look a bit dishevelled."
Phillip ran his hand through his hair.
"I'm afraid I didn't get enough sleep. I'm still trying to get used to this Virginia air."
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Offline Welsh Wench

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Re: ZARA
« Reply #88 on: April 01, 2018, 08:07:54 PM »
"Dilcey, hand Phillip a plate."
She poured Phillip a steaming cup of coffee and handed him a plate with ham and eggs.
"Ah, thank you, Dilcey."
"You did not sleep well, Mister Phillip?"
"I finally fell asleep. The scent of the air here is so different from Barbados. A refreshing pine, not at all unpleasant. I am just used to the sea air of Barbados. I left the balcony door open and the crickets lulled me to sleep."
He took a bite of his eggs and then casually asked, "Have you seen Zara?"
 
Dilcey and Will exchanged amused glances over Phillip's head.
"No, she hasn't made an appearance yet."
"She may be writing a few letters. She did ask for some paper last night."
"What are your plans today, Phillip?"
He took another forkful of ham and answered, "I may go down to the shipwright to see how the repairs on El Lobo are. It will get me out of the house and away from.....getting in the way."
 
Dilcey put her cup back in her saucer and stood up. "If you gentlemen will excuse me, I have a household to run."
 
As she left, Phillip glanced an admiring look at her retreating form.
"Alright, Will. Time to tell ME a story. How did you manage to get such a beautiful woman to stay with you?"
 
Will lit a slender cigar and took a puff. He watched as the smoke formed rings and smiled to himself.
"Ah, Phillip. Very simple. I made her an offer she couldn't turn down."
Phillip leaned back.
"So...?"
"Oh. You want the lowdown. So you can tell that reprobate faux son of mine how Captain Will Harkess was taken by the likes of dusky beauty?"
Phillip nodded.
"Pretty much, yeah."
 
He flicked the ashes onto his plate and smiled.
"When I arrived in Virginia, I was in the market to build a grand house on the farmland I had purchased. The land was rich and fertile, drained by the Elizabeth River to the west. I was living in a small--but elegant--boarding house while my house was being built. I would go to the Lafayette lumberyard to order my oak and maple. The owner--Pierre Lafayette--and I struck up a friendship. He was about twenty years older than me. I would meet him and his wife socially. Then about five years ago, tragedy struck. Pierre came down with the grippe in winter and passed away. Dilcey was left with the lumber yard and really had no knowledge of how to run it. So... I offered to buy  it. As an investment. This gave Dilcey a financial windfall and I had income. But the best was yet to come."
"You fell in love with her."
 
Will snorted. "Love? Me? No. When my house was finished,  Dilcey was the first person I invited to see it. She gave me a few ideas on how to decorate it. To make a long story short, I had no one to run my household. So I offered her the position of chatelaine. She has kept this house running like a clock for the past five years."
Phillip casually drank his coffee. "Are you sure that was all you offered her?"
 
Will smiled with mischief in his eyes. "A gentleman never tells, Phillip. You remember that."
"Since when are you a gentleman?"
"Point taken. Dilcey and I have a mutually satisfying relationship. Need I say more?"
"Is marriage in the cards?"
"Certainly not. I have gone this long escaping the matrimonial noose and I intend to keep dodging it. And to answer your unasked question, Dilcey is a free woman. Not a slave. She is what we call a quadroon. Her grandmother was a slave. But she is as free as you and I."
 
 
 
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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Re: ZARA
« Reply #89 on: April 03, 2018, 08:07:46 PM »
Later, that evening...

Phillip stood impatiently outside the door to Zara's room, fidgeting with the lace cuffs of his shirt. He never cared for the excesses of formal clothes, now he found himself at odds with lace spilling out from his sleeves and waistcoat.
"Zara, are you ready yet? The guests have started arriving and the orchestra is playing."
There was no reply.
He knocked again. "I know you're upset with me, but I can not believe you would sit in your room and spurn Will's hospitality. are you coming out?"

Silence.

"All right, then. I'm leaving now. I trust you can find your way down the stairs. Just follow the music and the sounds of happy people."

Nothing. No sharp-tongued retort, no sound of furniture being mistreated. Just a silence that was becoming more uncomfortable than the lace.

"Fine, then. This is me leaving, going downstairs to the party." He took a few steps towards the staircase. "Without you. Unless you come out right now."
He listened for the bolt on the door to slide back or the doorknob to turn, but they remained quiet.
"Suit yourself," Phillip muttered, and he made his way down the stairs to the foyer.

Will was at the centre of the foyer, resplendent in a frock coat and breeches of dark burgundy velvet, merrily greeting guests as they entered his home. Even with lace and gold buttons aplenty, he carried an air of casual aristocracy where most other men would be dismissed as a dandy. Phillip tried to reconcile the man before him with the tales he had heard of a masterfully ruthless pirate, and he began to appreciate better the chameleon-like nature of Will Harkness.

Will turned as he caught Phillip descending the stairs. "Ah, there you are! I was wondering when you would join the festivities. The clothes certainly seem to agree with you. I'm sure there will be several young ladies vying for your eye and their turn on the dance floor."
Phillip fought the urge to get rid of his lace cravat. "Thank you. They do fit well. I appreciate the trouble you went to. But I thought you said this would be a small gathering? There must be over one hundred people here."
"I may have understated my plans," said Will with a mischievous smile. "But please, do go on in and enjoy yourself."
"I thought I would wait here for Zara. She seems to be delayed for whatever reason."
"I think you'd better come with me," said Will.

As they walked towards the ballroom, Will said, "There are three types of lessons we learn as we go through life. The lessons we seek out, the lessons we happen on by accident..."
They arrived at the ballroom's grand doorway, and Will motioned for Phillip to look to the right. There stood Zara at the far side of the hall in a sunflower yellow gown, surrounded by eight younger men who seemed transfixed by her presence. And she seemed delighted to be the centre of attention.
"And the lessons that arrive as a bitter tonic," continued Will. "I don't know what you did or did not do to make her this spiteful, but it must have been serious for this grand a display."
"What do you suggest I do?"
"Do what must be done, Captain Briggs. Right the ship. If you can. You'll forgive me, of course. I have guests to greet. Do try to enjoy yourself as you sort this out."

Will entered the foyer to find Dilcey waiting for him.
"Did Phillip see her?" she asked excitedly. "Zara asked me to make sure she would be the belle of the ball."
"Oh, yes. He saw her. And her entourage."
"Her... entourage?" Dilcey stifled a laugh. "That girl is incorrigible!"
"She's her father's daughter," chuckled Will. "Phillip is in for a night to remember. Guess whose eye she's caught?"
"No. Peffley?"
"Peffley. I couldn't have planned this better myself!"
Yo ho ho! Or does nobody actually say that?

 

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