Author Topic: The Highwayman: Legacy  (Read 16462 times)

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Offline Blackjack Roberts

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The Highwayman: Legacy
« on: September 12, 2008, 01:36:29 PM »

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"Jack!.....Jack!.....Where are you child!!" Molly Parker shouted from the doorway of the Crossbow. Her hands firmly planted on her hips, the pretty redhead surveyed the surrounding scenery for her son and his playmates.

"Here we are, Mum!" The auburn haired lad called as he toped the rise in the adjoining meadow to the left, quickly followed by the two younger children. A set of twins so alike that only the slightly different color of their hair and the fact that one was a boy could set them apart. Their startling blue green eyes twinkled as they waved down to their nanny.

"We was play'n highwayman, Aunt Molly!" Jeremy, the boy called down, raising one hand to brush back an errant wisp of ash blond hair from his eyes.

"And I suppose poor Jamie had to be your victim?!" Molly shouted back, smiling.

""I was not!" Jamie placed her small fists defiantly on her hips, the soft summer breeze lifting her golden curls in a beguiling halo about her face. "I'm a highwayman, too!

Molly chuckled to herself. Jamie Johnson certainly had inherited her mother's will, as much as Jeremy had his father's sense of fair play. "Be that as it may, it's time for supper and I'll not have it going cold just so the three of you can rob the countryside blind! Come wash up and sit down to the table!"

The race was on in an instant. Even with Jack's advantage of being three years older than his playmates the lad was hard pressed to be the first one down the hill. The twins hot on his heels the entire way. Running into the tavern, the patrons shouted encouragement to the children as they shot towards the kitchen. Laughing with the memories of younger times in their own lives.

"Ye've got yer hands full there, Molly." One of the regulars chuckled as the tavern maid followed in the children's wake.

"To be sure." She rolled her eyes skyward. "But as soon as Josiah is done with the inventory he'll be taking on his part." She winked, renewing the laughter through out the room.

Later in the kitchen little Jeremy looked up from his meal. "Auntie, when will Mum and Da be home?"

Molly refilled the children's cups with fresh milk. "Oh, I suppose sometime in the morning. They were to set out for home A couple of days ago, I'm sure they want to get back to you two as soon as they can."



The soft light of the lanterns on the sides of the coach illuminated the ground as Robert Johnson held out his hand for his wife. Cecily stepped lightly to the crushed shale of the courtyard of the Hare and Hound. Even after over seven years since her husband had found himself free of the shadow of his former occupation she still could not look at him without thinking of him as Jack Roberts. Had it really been so long ago since the fateful night when she had nearly beaten Peter Culpepper to death with a stolen bull whip? The same night she had found out that her husband had not been hanged before her eyes. The only thing that had kept her from committing murder.

Her sapphire eyes sparkled with delight and she slid easily into Jack's arms, feeling as comforted as she had the first night she had given herself to him. She knew even then she would never want another man for hers. Tenderly she placed her lace gloved hand to his cheek, drawing his head to hers in a tender kiss. Seven years of a peaceful family life like she had dreamed of during her childhood.

"Jack?" She whispered softly.

"Yes, My love?" He smiled. Cecily often forgot to call him Robert and it never failed to make his heart leap. He had long ago given up correcting her, knowing that to her he would always be Jack Roberts.

"Are you happy?" She looked deeply into his blue green eyes.

Jack hugged her closely to his chest. Every so often in the past years since fate had laid his alter ego in the grave she would ask him that question. Perhaps it was the fear that he still longed for the thrill of living life as an outlaw. Perhaps it was just to assure herself that time had not dulled his feelings for her. It had not. If anything he was more in love with her now than he had been the night fate had delivered her into his arms that long ago night in Soho. Time had strengthened his love for her and sometimes he thought there would be no end to it's growth.

Lightly he ran his fingers through her golden hair. "As long as I have you and our children, Dearest, I can never feel another way. You have given me a prize that no amount of gold in the world can buy. The love of a good woman and children of my own. A family. Something that at a time I despaired to ever have such a precious treasure."

He had said such things before, each time she asked. Each time the words were different, yet the message was always the same. Cecily Roberts smiled warmly. Even she did not know why she would ask him from time to time, save that she loved to hear him speak the joy she knew their family had given to him.

"Ah, there be the two 'a ye!"  Gilbert's voice called from the doorway as he made his way over to the couple. "It does these old eyes good to see the both of ye!" Jack shook his old friend's hand, then Cecily hugged the aged tavern owner, lightly kissing his cheek.

"Gilbert." Cecily smiled warmly. "You knew we could not return home without a visit."

"Aye, and ye damn well better not have." Gilbert grinned roguishly. "And how are you this fine night, George?"

"I'll be a sight better with a couple pints of your ale in me gullet." George called down from the driver's seat.

"Well come on then! Leave that rollin' box to me lad's and let's catch up on old times!" Gilbert chuckled.

Now that's the best offer we've had today." Jack clapped his friend on the back warmly as the trio made their way into the tavern.


Brigadier Rupert Barclay half filled a crystal with brandy. Downing the dark brown liquid in one gulp he picked up the message from the palace a second time and read it thoroughly. There was no doubt. If what the secret message had said was true the crown faced the greatest threat it ever had in over three hundred years.

Besides being a plea for help from and old mate it was the stickiest wicket to have landed in his lap in the past seven years. He knew he could not ignore the request, but at the same time he could take no official action. To do so would throw the whole of England into the bloodiest civil war since the War of the Roses. Perhaps that was what the lout who started this was hoping for. A chance to gain the crown through the right of war. Heaven knew he had the lineage to make the claim given the proper circumstances, and if nothing was done soon he could bring a scandal that would have the House of Lords screaming for abdication at the least. It would seem Sir Terrence Blackthorn had covered all angles in his latest bid for power.

Suddenly Barclay smiled. Yes! There was a small chance, if he could convince him to help. No one could connect him with the king and none would expect him to return. If only the brigadier could convince him to do it. It would not be easy, even with seven years of friendship between them. Still Rupert knew he was a good man and could possibly be convinced on that merit alone. He had to try. For the sake of peace in England Robert Johnson would have to become Black Jack Roberts once again. He would have to become the highwayman.

Offline Welsh Wench

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Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2008, 05:01:13 PM »
"Apple cobbler, my highwaymen? Or would you prefer to steal the peach pie on the window sill?"
"Pie! Pie!" they each clamoured.
Molly had set a pie on the window sill for the children to plunder. She chuckled as she went to the toddler that was sitting in a chair by the table.
Josiah came in and kissed his wife. "And how is my little Rosie?"
Molly handed the toddler over to her husband and rubbed her back. The little girl put her arms around her father's neck and kissed him soundly. Her auburn curls framed her face. A patron laughed.
"Ne'er thought I'd see the day when Josiah Parker would be a family man! Almost as unlikely as Jack Ro----"
Josiah had shot the patron a look and he stopped in mid-sentence.
"Yes, well, family life does suit me."
Molly put a bowl of stew in front of Josiah as he bounced his daughter on his knee.
In a low voice she said, "Seven years and he is still a presence!"
Josiah nodded to the children playing on the back porch. "As long as they never find out who their father really is!"
"Someday, Josiah. Someday they will know. The shire certainly never forgets!"
"Hell! England will never forget!"
 
The children sat on the back steps happily eating their pilfered pie. Jeremy, the older of the twins by ten minutes, licked the fruit filling off his hands. Jamie daintily ate her pie, not a crumb landing on her chemise. She wore breeches for play which enabled her to keep up with her brother and his friend.
Her mother, bless her, realized the importance of Jamie holding her own in a man's world. What Jeremy learned, Jamie would also.
On the frequent picnics that Jack and Cecily would take their children, they always infused it with a learning experience. At the young age of seven, the children could handle a bow with deadly accuracy.
"Father promised to teach us to handle a whip when we turn ten," Jamie said confidently to Jack.
Jack was always included in the lessons and the picnics. Jack and Cecily often referred to Josiah's children as if they were one of their own as did Molly and Josiah with the Roberts children.
Jack brushed the crumbs off his breeches. Although he was three years older, he regarded the twins as much his siblings as little Rose.
"What do you want to do? Play highwayman again?"
Jamie shook her head. "Aunt Molly is going to teach me to make a pie so I can surprise Mama and Da when they get home.
Jeremy laughed. "You--a baker! Quite a difference from a highwayman!"
Jamie sighed. "I know. But some things I just have to learn."
Jeremy turned to Jack. "Do you think he is still alive?"
Young Jack shook his head. "I don't rightly know."
Jamie finished her pie and stood up, sucking the juice from her fingers. "You know what I find odd?"
"What?"
"Sometimes I hear Mama call Da 'Jack' but it is always late at night when we are sleeping. At first I thought it was a dream but it happened more than once. And Mama was always laughing quietly with Da when she does it."
The boys sat in silence. Jack broke it by saying, "That IS strange...OK, Jeremy, let's practice with the bow while Jamie learns to make pies! At least we can have one for your Mama and Da and one for us!"
Jamie laughed, "I think Aunt Molly will let me!"
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Annabelle dismounted from her horse, followed by a tall, good-looking young man. His dark good looks gave testament that the Romany blood flowed through his veins.
Cecily ran out to meet her friend and Jack clapped the young man on the back.
"Timothy! Haven't seen you in six months! How are the studies at the University?"
Timothy grinned at his friend who was like an older brother to him.
"Medicine is hard but it seems to come naturally. Although in the search for new methods, I find the herbs and elixirs my mother makes are unmatched. So with a bit of experiment and proven results, the professor is starting to see that plant derivatives are the best."
Annabelle beamed with pride. As she hugged Cecily, she whispered, "And..?"
"Yes."
"I knew it!"
"Have you?"
"No."
"When?"
"Tonight."
Jack looked over at his wife and her gypsy friend who had saved his life more than once.
"What are you two whispering about?"
In unison, they replied, "Nothing!"
Gilbert came outside and said, "Are ye all goin' to stand all day when I have hunter's stew and sourdough bread for ye all?"
 
In the cool of the evening, the group sat around the porch enjoying their lemonade as the men enjoyed a fine whiskey and cigars. Gilbert puffed his pipe.
"Still can't get used to calling you 'Robert Johnson', my boy."
Jack chuckled, "Neither can Cecily. She still calls me Jack when we are alone."
Cecily laughed, "Fortunately it is only in the evening when the children are asleep.
Gilbert shook his head. "Been seven years and I still can't believe it was Thomas Banks that swung in your stead, Jack."
Cecily's eyes darkened at the mention of the traitor that betrayed her Jack and was Sir Peter Culpepper's patsy. Thomas had not only betrayed Jack Roberts but had become so obsessed with Cecily it had unhinged him. The extent of his obsession only became apparent when George and Geoff wen through Thomas's personal belongings to see if there was any clue to a relative to notify.
Instead, they found letters to Cecily never sent, becoming increasingly bizarre and disjointed. A few stolen articles of clothing, too. This was the part the twins never revealed. It was just too strange.
Jack took a puff on his cigar and exhaled.
"Neither can I, Gilbert. And I always considered myself a good judge of character."
Cecily said from the shadows, "Could we please not speak of him?"
"Forgive me, love. I know how you'd like to forget."
At that point, the lighthearted conversation resumed.
 
Later that night, as Cecily brushed her hair, she smiled at Jack in the reflection of the mirror. He was turning down the blanket.
She said softly, "This was the same room we spent our third night together. Remember the first one at the inn?"
He laughed, "How could I forget? Those two ruffians! You doubled him over with a well-placed kick!"
"And YOU! You stabbed the other in the thigh with a steak knife!"
She laid her hairbrush down. "I do miss the children! But it was grand to see Mary Cottlepot again!"
Jack patted the place next to him as she slid under the covers. He put his arm around her and stroked the hair back from her face.
Eleven years together had not dulled their passion. If anything, it heightened it. The four years of psychological terror Sir Peter Culpepper had reigned on them made them appreciate just how much they loved each other.

"Jack? We need to talk."
"And I'm listening."
Cecily propped herself up on her elbow as she carefully picked her words.
"It was a miracle that I was able to carry the twins to term. I mean, in light of all that happened with the whole...incident."
Jack held her close. Even to this day, Cecily could not bring herself to say Sir Peter Culpepper's name.
He kissed her tenderly and said, "And what a surprise when Jamie made her appearance along with Jeremy! Cecily, I couldn't have been happier!"
She ran her fingers over his chest and softly said, "Then prepare to be overjoyed again, my love. We are with child again!"
« Last Edit: September 22, 2008, 08:47:29 PM by Welsh Wench »
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Offline Blackjack Roberts

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Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2008, 09:55:28 PM »
"Cecily!" Jack nearly leapt from the bed. "Can it be true, My Love?!"

"It is." Cecily smiled slyly. The sight of the near overwhelming joy on Jack's face more than reward enough. She had dared to hope only a few weeks ago that she might yet bear them another miracle. Proof positive that Peter Culpepper's defeat was as lasting as it was permanent. As wondrous as it had been to give birth to not one, but two offspring, this birth would be the final nail in the coffin of the nightmare that was Sir Peter Culpepper. No longer would anything the man had done have any hold over their lives.

Jack Roberts leapt from the bed clothes and all but danced about the small room. "Huzzah! Another son! Perhaps a daughter! Perhaps...." His voice trailed off for a moment as he whirled around to look into his beloved's eyes again. "Dear God! It's twins again?!!"

Cecily Roberts threw her head back with laughter. One would have thought that Jack had never been through this before. "No, you daft scarecrow! It's too early to tell. Not that I think it would matter much to you if we did have twins again. Your not the one who has to give birth to them!" Her sapphire eyes sparkled with her teasing.

Grinning like a cat that swallowed a canary he leapt over her to land on her other side and pulled her to him. Softly he stroked her golden curls. "Were it possible I would take any discomfort from you, Dearest."

"I'll hold you to that, Jack Roberts." She grinned back. "I'll speak to Annie in the morning."

"Wait a minute!" Jack's eyes grew wide. "You mean such a thing is possible?!!" He had long ago learned not to take anything for granted where the Gypsy witch was concerned.

Cecily pulled his mouth to hers in a tender kiss. "I'll let you know during the birth." She whispered, then squealed in delight as he began to tickle her in playful retribution.



Josiah Parker watched from the doorway as Molly tucked the last of the restless children into bed. He slipped his arm around his wife's waist as she closed the door to the room, holding an index finger up to her full red lips. He smiled. The past years were far more peaceful than he could have imagined since the death of Black Jack Roberts. Had anyone bothered to ask him back then he would have sworn that this was the least likely outcome of all the tragic events that befell them during those tumultuous times. As it was the legend of that dark figure had not died with him. If anything Black Jack had grown to rival Robin of the Hood in story telling. Such was often the case with outlaws who happened to capture the public imagination.

"Saints above!" Molly half whispered. "With all the running about those nippers have done this day, you'd think they'd be worn to a frazzle by now."

"Aye. It'd be a boon to have energy like that now." Josiah nodded. "Let me guess. Highwayman, again?"

"Aye, and ye know it already." Molly giggled. "Even pilfered their desert, they did."

Josiah hugged the shapely redhead closely. "And who had the honors 'a being Black Jack, I wonder."

"Were I to guess, I'd wager there were three of him." She winked.

Josiah chuckled ruefully. "When Brigadier Barclay announced that Black Jack had been hung for his crimes I thought that would be the last of him. Seems the specter of Roberts will long outlive his creator. Do ye think the children know?"

"I doubt it." Molly's brow wrinkled for a moment. "Their bright enough, to be sure, but would you believe your da were a legend come to life?"

The grizzled tavern keep laughed aloud, before catching himself and putting a hand across his mouth. "I suppose not, Love. To be sure, if they had twigged it they'd be shoutin' it from the roof top by now."



"Da! Da!" No sooner had his boots touched ground in The Crossbow's courtyard when the door flew open and the twins ran into their father's arms. Their questions running together in a mixed jumble that brought an amused chuckle to Jack's voice as he hugged them closely.

"Did you bring us any presents? Were there any robbers on the road? Were you delayed by Black Jack Roberts?"

Jack raised a quizzical eyebrow at the last. "Black Jack Roberts? Now the both of you know he's just a fairy tale."

"Is not!" Jamie countered, the frown of conviction on her tiny features. "He's the greatest highwayman that ever lived! No one could catch him!"

Jack stood up for a moment to help Cecily from the coach. "It's you she takes after." He grinned as his love clasped his hand to steady herself as she stepped from the vehicle.

"Mum! Mum!" Jeremy and Jamie jumped into her arms with equal enthusiasm.

"Here now you two," She snuggled her children close to her, "just who's been filling your heads with such nonsense?"

"Mum," Jeremy spoke up this time, his voice filled with the exasperation of a child who knows better than his elders, "everybody knows about Black Jack Roberts! He even stole the crown jewels once! Right from under the guards nose!"

"And turned into a crow to fly out the window with them!" Jack picked up his son and swung the laughing boy around in a merry circle. Molly and Josiah laughed from the doorway.

"With all the talk of Black Jack lately I'd be surprised if he didn't come riding by." Molly teased. "You know what they say, 'Speak of the Devil and ye'll hear the beat of his wings."

"I doubt we'll ever hear those wings again." Jack grinned happily, to Cecily's sigh of relief.



Jack stretched out in the overstuffed chair in the front of the office's fireplace. Josiah occupied its twin, a large tankard of ale in both their hands. A low fire chased the spring chill from the room and aromatic smoke drifted lazily in the air from their two clay pipes. The women had retired to the kitchen and the two friends had taken the opportunity to sequester themselves in the room to relax and talk.

"I tell you, Robert, It's down right bone chilling sometimes." Josiah had long gotten use to using Jack's adopted name. It hadn't been quite as hard for him as he, George, and Geoff had been accustom to referring to him by his alternate identity when he was around the tavern in civilian garb.

"I wouldn't make too much of it, Old man." Jack smiled easily. "Jack Roberts is long gone and there is nothing in Heaven, or on Earth that could resurrect him now."

"Famous last words if'n you ask me." Josiah groused. "What with half the lad's in the shire pretendin' to be you and even more 'a their parents tellin' them wild stories about the things you did.......and didn't do, it's no small wonder your other half is doin' anything but restin' in peace."

Jack laughed uproariously. "Their just games and tall tales, Josiah. In many ways I'm quite flattered. I never dreamed during all my time that I would make such an impression on the world. All I wanted was to avoid the poverty my parents suffered."

"Not to mention any other poor soul what had a bit of need you could see to." Josiah huffed. "That were the real kicker. Actin' like some bleedin' Robin Hood."

"Oh, I wouldn't say I went that far, Josiah." Jack grinned wickedly. "I kept more than a fair share for myself."

"And gave away a king's ransom in the process." The elder man said with finality. "Ye forget, I was there."

"Well, those days are long gone now." Jack tilted his mug to his oldest friend. "Here's to Black Jack Roberts. May he ride only in fairy tales and children's games."

"Aye. I'll drink to that." Josiah touched tankards with a clink.



"Oh, Cecily!" Molly hugged her friend tightly. "I'm so happy for you! Does Robert know?!"

"I gave him the news last night. He was overjoyed to say the least." Cecily smiled, placing one hand gently on her belly.

"I should say so." Molly poured them a cup of tea, then sat down at the table. "To think, not just two, but three little ones. You and he will have to be adding on to the cottage."

"Indeed we will." Cecily nodded. "Molly, can I ask you something?"

"Ask away, Love." The copper haired woman shrugged.

"Do you think J...Robert misses it?"

Molly's cup stopped halfway to her lips. She had expected a question about either adding on to the cottage Cecily and Jack lived at, or a request about more baby clothing. Since her and Josiah had just added to their own family. Cecily's turn of subject had half taken her by surprise. She looked hard at her long time friend before answering.

"No." She said with finality. "I don't think he misses it one little bit." She set her cup down and placed one hand over Cecily's. "No matter how he may have seemed to the rest of the world, anyone who truly knew him knew he was anything but happy with his life."

"I knew him as well as any could back then, before he met you. I think it was seeing him keeping up that devil may care act of his that drove me to him that one night." Molly paused. "I could have loved him, Dear. I don't say this to hurt you, but to try and explain what I know of your husband. I wanted nothing more than to ease his sorrow. It wasn't right, and Jack knew it. That is why he never offered me more than that one night."

She squeezed Cecily's hand tightly. "You gave him what he spent his whole life craving. The only thing he would have turned from his path for. True love and a family. It's all he has ever desired from this life. Make no mistake. For your sake. For the children's sake. Most of all for his own sake. Black Jack Roberts is dead. Dead and buried."




A soft knock at the office door brought Jack and Josiah up from their reverie of old times and how different they were now. It was, Jack had to admit, far more pleasant to not have to watch his every move. To be able to lay down to sleep without the threat of the gallows, or being wanted hanging over his head. Few were the men who had chosen his life and given a second chance to live in peace. He far preferred the life he had now to the one he had chosen.

"Sorry to disturb you two, but the Brigadier is here to see Robert." George opened the door just enough to be seen.

"Well show him in, George!" Jack called happily, rising to his feet to greet the man who had freed him from the shadow of his former self. "And bring him a tankard of our finest."

Barclay entered the room and pulled his tricorn from his head. "Robert." He smiled.

"Rupert!" Jack reached out to shake the redcoat's hand. "Come. Pull up a chair by the fire. We were just talking about you in a way."

"I thank you, Robert, but I must ask if I could speak to you in privet for a moment." The Commander's face grew grave. "It is of the utmost importance."

Jack scowled for a moment. Since the officer had given him the news that he was free from paying for his crimes he had never seen him in such a serious manner. Something was wrong.

"I'm sure we could do that for you, Brigadier." Jack motioned for Josiah to leave as George returned with the ale. After the two men were seated he looked warily at his newest friend.

"What can I do for you, Rupert? What could be so grave that you would wear such a serious countenance to visit with me?"

The redcoat commander swallowed heavily from his tankard before he answered. "What could be so important, Robert? Would you believe me if I told you that the very crown, the House of Hanover, indeed maybe all of England may stand on the brink of disaster and only you could stop it? If you will, that is."
« Last Edit: October 01, 2008, 11:22:47 AM by Blackjack Roberts »

Offline Welsh Wench

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Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2008, 09:29:51 PM »
"Uncle Geoff! Uncle Geoff!"
The children bobbed up and down like corks in the water when Geoff dismounted his steed in the courtyard of the Crossbow. He grinned at the sight. Two towheads and a firebrand red in the middle. He squatted down and the three hurtled themselves towards him, almost knocking him down.
"So what did you bring us from London?"
"Did you see the King?"
"Is it true he has a pet monkey?"
"Whoa! One at a time! A surprise....no...and no!"
He pointed to each of the children to answer their questions. Jamie dug her elbow into her brother's side and said, "I TOLD you he didn't have a pet monkey!"
Geoff opened the saddlebag and reached in.
"A pocket knife for each of you and a golden locket for my best girl!"
The boys eagerly opened their pocket knives and Jamie handed the necklace to Geoff to fasten on her neck which he did.
The three of them tugged on Geoff's hands.
"Uncle Geoff, did you hear any more Black Jack Roberts stories?"
"Yes, we want a story! We want a story!"
Geoff laughed. "Let's go into the tavern and let me get a bowl of stew. Then we can talk stories! Did I ever tell you the one where Black Jack Roberts rescued a cat out of the tree...."
 
Molly took the empty bowl away.
"Geoff, for shame! You shouldn't fill these children's heads with your stories."
Geoff grinned. "Just reliving my glory days, Molly. I must say it is the best time I ever had in my life! Being a lawyer isn't all that much excitement."
She shook her head. "You don't see George running around telling wild stories, do you?"
"George is all set to marry Sally Miller in June, Molly. He's content. I'm not."
She playfully smacked his arm. "Maybe it is high time you found a Sally of your own."
Geoff reached over and took a tart off the plate that sat in front of him.
"Sorry, Molly. You are married to Josiah and Cecily is Jack's. All the good ones are taken!"
"You mean you aren't through breaking all the hearts in the shire. Is Cornwall on your list next?"
"Maybe. Just maybe," he laughed.
 
She sat down, bouncing Rose on her knee. "The children are feeding off what you tell them, Geoff. We all agreed that we would leave the memory of Black Jack dead and buried. And now you resurrect him for impressionable minds."
He reached for another tart and Molly smacked his hand. "That is the last one for you, Barrister!"
Geoff leaned back. "As long as Black Jack Roberts stays a larger-than-life legend, those children will never believe that he is their father. To them, Robert Johnson is Da."
Molly sighed. "I suppose you are right. Cecily said she and Andrew used to play Highwayman as children. Astonishing that she was the very one to lay Black Jack Roberts to rest once and for all."
"Ironic how Sir Culpepper used Cecily to exact revenge on Jack and Thomas Banks' insane obsession became his downfall."
"Do you think of Thomas sometimes?"
Geoff shrugged. "The one thing I learned is this. The ones you trust very well may be the Judas in your life."
He picked up his hat.
"I see the carriage is back so George is back too. Is he around?"
Molly said, "No, he said he was going to the office before you got back to go over some papers."
Geoff swept into a low bow.
"Always the workhorse, George is! I hope he enjoyed his trip up country while I continued to slave over the books of Stafford and Stafford, Esquires!"
Molly laughed, "I never would have believed you and George are now lawyers!"
Geoff laughed as he went out the door, "From one side of the law to the other, Molly! And we all end up the same!"
 
Cecily came out of the barn from tending to Aphrodite. The children came running towards her.
"Mama! Mama! Look what Uncle Geoff brought us!"
"And from London, too!"
Cecily raised her eyebrow and pretended shock. "What, no pet monkey?"
Jamie said sternly, "I told Jeremy there was no monkey but he wouldn't believe me!"
Cecily bent over and hugged her children. She couldn't help but reflect on what a miracle they were to her. Not one but two.
A miracle they had even been born after what Cecily had to endure in the months preceding their birth.
 
She remembered the birth so well. The long labor. Annabelle was the midwife.  Molly had come into the room and said, "Jack is downstairs beside himself. He starts whenever he hears Cecily moan. Three times I had to stop him from dashing up the stairs."
Annie turned to her and said, "For God's sake, send him to the barn then! This child doesn't want to leave and Jack will just be in the way!"
No sooner had the words been out of Annie's mouth when Jeremy made his appearance.
Molly was handed the child as Annie turned to tend to Cecily.  Annabelle frowned, "I don't think this is over."
Cecily's stomach looked just as big as she had before the boy was born.
Through her pain, Cecily managed to say, "I think I am going to die, Annie. Please...oh, please take care of Jack and the baby. Please tell him I love...AAAAHH!!!"
Annie's face broke out in a grin as she said, "No wonder!"
Five minutes later, Jamie made her debut.
 
Cecily smiled at the memory of Molly going downstairs to tell Jack that he was a father and all went well. She could barely contain her grin as she told him to go upstairs and meet the next generation of Roberts.
Jack had taken two steps at a time. When he got to the door, his hand trembled on the doorknob.
He was about to meet his child for the first time.
 
As he opened the door, he wasn't prepared for the sight.
Cecily laid against the pillows, her face pale but something about her...she was glowing.
And she had a surprise.
Not one but two babies.
Jack stood there in shock. Annie was washing up and said, "Oh, by the way, Jack. You got two this time!"
Jack's feet were like lead but he moved forward, so overcome with emotion he was.
He knelt by Cecily's side and touched each baby's hand.
"Are they...are they...?"
Cecily nodded proudly.
"Yes, Jack. Twins. And we got one of each!"
 
That night, Jack opened his very best brandy for his friends.
Life was indeed beautiful.
 
Cecily broke her reverie when Jamie said, "....and we think Black Jack Roberts is still here, Mama."
She hugged them close and said, "Anything is possible, my loves. Shall we collect your father and head home?"
Jeremy looked towards the office door. "Da is in there. Someone in a red coat."
Jamie supplied, "And a tall hat."
Jeremy added, "And a big sword."
"A big sword, huh? OK..go see if Aunt Molly has that gingerbread. I'll be up there in a minute."
Cecily stood up as Josiah came out.
"Who is with Jack, Josiah?"
The tavernkeeper fumed. "Rupert Barclay. And I don't like the looks of this. He is talking to Jack in private."
Cecily laughed. "You worry too much, Josiah. As long as he doesn't ask him to put on his black mask, all is well!"
 
 
« Last Edit: October 31, 2008, 12:43:58 PM by Welsh Wench »
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Offline Blackjack Roberts

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Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2008, 10:56:27 PM »
"Come now, Rupert, aren't we being just a little melodramatic here?" Jack asked half joking. Though the seriousness of his new found friend in the king's service told him otherwise, he hoped that this were no more than an elaborate joke.

"I'm afraid not, Robert." Barclay frowned into his cup. Though he did not relish the request he was about to propose, circumstances forced his hand. He knew from personal experience just how clever the man before him could be as his alter ego. Heaven knew he had made the best King George had to offer look like fools long enough to prove it. That kind of cunning was needed more than anything else in such a volatile situation as this.

"And just what could a man in my position be capable of doing?" Jack half laughed. "I'm a successful business man, true. However so are many others I can think of and I have no strong ties with anyone of the nobility, save perhaps the house of my brother in law. He would be of more use to you than I."

Brigadier Barclay drew a deep breath, letting it escape in a long sigh. There was no sense in beating around the bush any longer. It only made it harder for him to ask. "It's not Robert Johnson I need." He looked hard into those blue green eyes as he spoke. "It's Black Jack Roberts."



Sir Terrence Blackthorn watched the crushed limestone lane that led to his mansion from his study window. Where could he be? If nothing else the man was always punctual. His being late was never a good sign. Were it anyone else he would suspect duplicity, but if nothing else he trusted his man completely. More so, he had never been given occasion to question Malcolm's loyalty. He breathed a sigh of relief as the familiar figure in red came into view around the bend. The butler had been given orders to send Malcolm directly to him.

Moving to his desk Lord Blackthorn pulled the stopper from the decanter of his best brandy and filled a second crystal. Setting it down in front of the empty leather upholstered chair, he sat down in his own and awaited the good news. Soon everything would be ready for him to make his move.



Jack sat there in shock, questioning whether or not he had heard the redcoat commander correctly. The color drained from his face and he swallowed nearly half his tankard of ale before finding the strength to answer this startling revelation.

"Forgive me, Rupert, but for a moment there I would have sworn you just asked me to revive Black Jack." He laughed.

The officer's eyes never wavered. "I did."

"Damn you." Jack's voice was almost a whisper. "Do you know how long I had to wait for the life I have now, Rupert? Do you have any idea what you are asking me to risk? I will not, and I repeat, WILL NOT subject my family to that kind of life again! What could possibly be so important that you would even have the nerve to ask such a thing of me?!!"

Rupert Barclay looked down at the polished wood floor. He had been privy to some of the terrible events that Jack's life as that infamous highwayman had led to. He could more than understand why the man would be so opposed to his request now, but if there were any other choice Barclay would never have bothered to ask him in the first place. There was a bit of irony poets could write about. The very fabric of English society may end up owing it's survival to an outlaw that it thought it had killed.

"I can only tell you this, Robert." He began in a low voice. "It is my firm belief that if you do not help me England will tear herself apart. Your children will see a civil war the like of which has not been for over two hundred years."

"And I suppose one lone thief could avert such a disaster as you seem to think this is?" Jack spat back sarcastically.

"Yes." Rupert frowned. "One man, in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing can change the course of history. Perhaps even save the future."

The redcoat drained his tankard, then stood to leave. "I'll not press you on the matter, Robert. I have not the right to do so. All I ask is that you consider it. If you decide to help me come to the compound and I will tell you all. Even then, should you believe the task is beyond you I'll not hold you to it. With that I will bid you farewell."

Brigadier Barclay held out his hand. Jack stood up and shook it firmly. "Because you asked me, I'll think about it. I've known you long enough to know you would not ask me to do something like this without good reason."

"That is all I can ask."

"Farewell, Rupert. A safe journey home to you."

Jack sat back down in his chair, brooding over the events of the last few moments. In truth his curiosity was peaked. Rupert Barclay was not a man given to hysterics, nor exaggeration. Something had to be desperately wrong for him to make the request he made, but what? What could upset the British commander so much that he would ask Jack to risk everything he had fought so hard to gain?

Josiah opened the door, a wood tray balanced on one palm held two fresh tankards of ale. "So, what was so important that our resident Brigadier needed to see you alone about?"

"You may want to sit down for this one, Josiah." Jack said softly.



Cecily sat with Molly in the kitchen, rocking little Rose gently as the baby snoozed in her arms. Soon enough she would have the opportunity to cradle another child of her own to sleep and was looking forward to it. Molly watched her with a knowing smile as she pealed apples for her next pie.

"Not much more in the world that compares to holding a sleeping child." She commented offhand

"No." Cecily smiled. "No, Molly, there isn't. At times I wished I could keep them like this."

"Aye." Molly laughed. "But then we'd not get the chance to watch them shoot up like little weeds."

Cecily chuckled softly, stirring the babe in her arms. She began to rock and hum, lulling the child back to sleep. "That's true. Why it seems like so short a time since they were as small as this. Now they  run about like March hares."

"And get in near as much trouble." Molly laughed.

"Speaking of which." Cecily turned serious. "Josiah seemed awful upset that Rupert Barclay wanted to speak with Ja...Robert alone."

"Oh, that." Molly waved the knife dismissively in the air. "You know Josiah. A right mother hen he can be at times. Lord above I don't think the man can be happy unless he's worrying about something."

"All too true." Cecily smiled. "Still I'll be glad when those two are done. I love visiting with the both of you, Molly, but it's nigh time we were headed home."

The tavern maid put down her bowl and knife. "I can't fault you there, Cecily. Here, let me put Rose in her crib. If those two aren't done in the next fifteen minutes we'll drag them out by their ears!"
« Last Edit: October 01, 2008, 11:09:19 PM by Blackjack Roberts »

Offline Welsh Wench

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Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2008, 07:44:45 PM »
Josiah sat the tray on the table and handed one tankard to Jack. Jack looked like he had been kicked in the gut by Raven.
"Jack? Jack! Take this tankard before I spill it over ye. Now what did Rupert have to say that has ye so perturbed?"
Jack ran his hand over his face and said in a hoarse voice, "He wanted me to 'resurrect' Black Jack Roberts for a mission."
Josiah choked on his ale.
"Is he daft? Has that brigadier hat of his been fitting too tight? Damn, man!  That takes alot of nerve."
Jack took a deep drink of his ale and closed his eyes.
"He said the future of England is at stake. Civil War is looming."
Josiah shook his head. "Never did sit well with some people that Hanovers took the throne. T'would have been different if they had produced a legitimate heir. Shame that Old Rowley's offspring didn't inherit. It may have been a whole different history if they had been born on the right side of the blanket."
Jack laughed ruefully. "Ever hear the story of how he got that nickname?"
Josiah shook his head. 
"Can't say that I have."
Jack continued, "Charles was ridiculed under the nickname of Old Rowley, which was an ill-favoured stallion kept in the Mews, that was remarkable for getting fine colts. Mrs. Holford, a young lady much admired by Charles, was sitting in her apartment, and singing a satirical ballad upon 'Old Rowley the King,' when he knocked at her door. She asked who was there and he replied with his usual good humour, 'Old Rowley himself, Madame!'"
Josiah laughed. "Aye, well, alot of people are not thrilled with setting a German on the throne. Things may have been different, ye know."
Jack shook his head. "I can't believe that Rupert asked me that. And especially now. Now that we have another baby on the way."
Josiah broke out in a grin. "Ye don't say! A wee one on the way and ye are just now telling me?!"
Jack smiled proudly.
"Cecily told me last night. After the twins were born, Cecily never did get in the family way. We figured the twins did her in somehow. They truly were a miracle from heaven, Josiah, that she was able to carry to term in spite of everything that had happened. But here we are in the baby business once again!"
Josiah clapped Jack on the back. "You old son of a gun! This calls for a bottle of the best brandy!"
 
Josiah reached over to the cabinet on the other side of the fireplace and poured two snifters.
"Jack, as a friend, I am asking--no, I'm telling you--don't even consider Barclay's offer. I don't care if the entire globe is resting on it. Cecily and the twins come first."
Jack nodded. "But I am curious to hear what he has in mind."
"No, Jack. Don't get anywhere near that plan. What do you think Cecily will say?"
 
Just then the door opened up and the twins burst through, Jeremy wrapping his arms around his father's neck and Jamie climbing on his lap. Cecily stood at the door and asked, "About what?"
Jack smiled over the children's heads and quickly added, "What will Cecily say about moving to a bigger house?"
She gave Jack a loving smile as she watched the twins crawl all over their father. "I like the cottage just fine, Jack. You bought the meadowland next to us only last year. What were you thinking, sell the house and the property? Or just rebuild in another spot?"
"I was just thinking out loud. T'was just a passing fancy, dear."

Jamie took Jack's face between her little hands and kissed his nose, giggling. Jeremy was ruffling his hair. Jack looked over their heads at his wife who stood beaming in the doorway. Jack had thought she never looked more beautiful than she did at that moment. Her hand was resting on her stomach as if to hold the child even before it was born.
"Jack, I do believe that we are ready to go home. Josiah, Molly and I have made plans for Sunday dinner at our place. So we shall see you then. Children?"
She held out her hands to them and they ran forward, Jamie stopping long enough to grab her father's hand.
"Come on, Da! We need to go home and see how the kittens are!"
"Coming, my little poppet!"
 
Jack turned to Cecily, "I'll be there in a minute. Get the children situated in the carriage."
As his family walked out the door, Jack turned to Josiah, "I promise you, friend, that I won't do anything rash. But it wouldn't hurt to hear him out. I'll stop by to see him tomorrow."
"It's a fool's errand, Jack. Just send him yer regards and a decline on his RSVP. Ye don't need this in yer life. Cecily deserves a stress-free pregnancy."
Jack nodded solemnly.
"I agree and I shall move heaven and earth to see that she has one. I'll see you on Sunday, Josiah."
 
On the way home, the children dozed off. Jamie slept in her father's arm, Jeremy with his head on Cecily's lap.
"Jack, I've also invited Andrew and Jane for dinner. I want to tell them about the baby."
"And what of your mother?"
"The doting grandmother? The one I won't let the children see for fear she would try to take over? I swear, Jack, these children will not be neglected like I was. Mary Cottlepot is more a grandmother to them than she ever was. Or will be."
 
Jack looked out of the window.
"Ironic how things turn out, isn't it, darling? Who would have thought that Raymond was a cousin of Sir Culpepper's father and ended up inheriting the entire estate. I was set to buy the land and tear the mansion down, then resell the land but Raymond came to me and said he was a cousin but would like to work for me if I should buy it.  I thought such poetic justice that Raymond end up with the very house he was a slave in."
Cecily caressed his hand. "And it was so kind of you to help Raymond file the papers so he could inherit. I swear, he looks twenty years younger now that he is Lord of the Manor."
Jack laughed. "His back is ramrod straight too! Gone is that subservient stoop!  Andrew says he looks like a different man. And the estate has taken on a cheerful air!"
Cecily shook her head. "Sir Raymond Collingwood! Never thought I would see anyone but a Culpepper there."
 
Later that evening they sat in front of the fireplace as was their custom. Jack had his nightly brandy and Cecily sipped on her cup of tea.
"Jack, you never did tell me what Rupert Barclay wanted. I am guessing he wants you to donate a keg of ale to the ball the King's men are planning."
Jack stretched out his legs. "No, my dear. It is much more than that. I was meaning to find the right time to tell you but there doesn't seem to be any. So I may as well tell you outright."
"You look worried."
He took a deep breath.
"He wants Black Jack Roberts to live again."
« Last Edit: October 10, 2008, 05:52:11 AM by Welsh Wench »
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Offline Blackjack Roberts

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Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2008, 01:10:50 PM »
Cecily's teacup slipped from her nerveless fingers and crashed to the floor spilling it's contents from the four pieces it split into. Her sapphire eyes were wide with shock and her lips moved silently for a few moments in her pale white face.

"No!" She whispered, then her words rushed out in an icy torrent of fear. "Jack, you can't let him talk you into this! I don't care what his motives are for asking you to resurrect that ghost, but I'll not stand for it!! Our lives have been nothing but peace and happiness since the rest of the country believed him dead!! I'll not risk our family, or more importantly you, to that kind of danger again!!"

She had been sitting on the edge of her chair, her delicate fingers dug deep into the upholstery of the arms. In a flash she moved to him, her arms encircling his waist with desperate strength as she half sobbed against his chest. "Twice now I've believed you dead from the life he led. I cannot, I will not suffer a third! Please, My darling, please don't do this. Don't put me, or our children through a nightmare like that again!"

Jack gently sat his brandy down on the small table next to his chair. He felt the hot rise of his tears in his own eyes as he reached down to stroke the honey hued hair of his wife, trembling in his lap. He knew all too well the feelings she had suffered for he had gone through them only once himself. A slight shudder rolled through his body at the memory. He had believed her dead once and the belief had driven him mad with grief. He had never again wanted to experience a horror like that himself. He'd be damned if he would have her suffer through it a third time.

"Hush, My love." He whispered. "I have no intention of becoming Black Jack again in this, or any other life." Tenderly he lifted her chin to look him in the eye. "I told him no, but you know how insistent Rupert can be. So I let him think I would consider his outlandish request. It will give him a few days of hope in thinking that I am at the least considering it. As soon as I have given him enough time to believe that I gave the matter proper thought I can refuse once and for all and that will be the end of it."

Jack gently wiped the tears from her cheeks and the smile of relief she returned to him meant more to him than life itself. Her arms tightened even more around him as she lay her head against his chest.

"Thank you, Darling." Cecily whispered. "Thank you. You don't know how much it means to me."

Jack gathered her completely into his lap. "I've a fair idea." He grinned that roguish smile of his which never failed to make her heart flutter. "I'm sorry to have upset you, Sweetheart. But I didn't want to keep it a secret from you either. Black Jack Roberts will stay buried, if not forgotten, and we shall spend our days raising our children here in peace."




Sir Blackthorn slammed his crystal down on the oak desktop so hard Malcolm was surprised it didn't shatter from the force. As it was the nut brown liquor shot up in a spray, covering the immediate area in several splotches. He winced. He knew the news he was bringing to his master would be far from anything the nobleman wanted to hear and his shame at his failure had made him delay delivering it for as long as he dared.

"How??!!" Lord Terrence bellowed.

"As near as I could gather it was taken in a common highway robbery, My lord." Malcolm felt his gut clench. He had never failed to carry out his sovereign's wishes before and the thought of his first failure greatly soured his insides. "Again, my sincerest apologies, Sire. I've no excuse for my failure and have taken the liberty of setting our men on the trail of the thief. I am confident we will have it back in our hands before the Hanoverian's even know it is missing."

"Fool!!" Blackthorn rose from his chair, his hands planted firmly on either side of him as he leaned forward menacingly. "They already know by now!! If they should find it before we do it will mean both our necks!!"

The black haired man in wine red was out of his chair and kneeling with his head bowed in a flash. "Please forgive me, Lord Blackthorn!" He begged in a humble voice. "It is entirely my fault. I should have been the one to do the deed in the first place. I should never have left the theft to another. If I had been there, this would never have happened."

Terrence Blackthorn ran one slightly shaking hand through his brown hair, composing himself. Dagget had been far to valuable to him for him to vent his rage against now. He took several deep breaths before sighing and sitting down to fill his glass again.

"Nonsense, Malcolm." He said with the calm tone of a man in control of his destiny. It was never good to show weakness of any sort in front of one's men. "Had you tried for it we would have been exposed in an instant. You did right by hiring that burglar to do the job for us. I trust he has been properly rewarded for both his service and his bungling?"

Malcolm Dagget rose to his feet with a smile and bowed a second time. "Well rewarded indeed, My lord." He grinned wickedly, patting the black handle of the Damascus rapier at his side. "None will ever know he was in your employ."

The henchman sat down again in his own chair and raised his glass. "To your health and quick succession, Sire. It will be back in our hands before the week is out."




"Did we just hear what I think we heard?" Jeremy whispered at his sister in surprise. The sound of their mother's raised voice had brought them both from a sound sleep to the top of the stairs.

"I-I think so." The little girl chewed her bottom lip thoughtfully. "Father is Black Jack Roberts?"

"Was." Jeremy corrected gleefully. This was better than finding out what a Christmas present was before the eve. "I don't think Da has been Black Jack since before we were born!"

"Wait till Jack Parker finds out!" Jamie almost bounced with excitement. "He'll be sooooooo jealous!"

"Hold on a minute, Sis!" Jeremy placed one hand on his sibling's shoulder. "We don't know for sure, yet and even if we are right we don't want to go blabbing it all over. The redcoats might try to hang Da."

Jamie's eyes widened. "I hadn't thought of that." She said quietly, fear rising in her small heart. "We have to protect Da!! How can we find out for sure??!"

Her brother's brow furrowed in concentration as he wracked his mind for a solution. Suddenly he brightened. "Unca Geoff would know for sure! He knows just everything about Black Jack!!"

Jamie smiled and hugged her brother quickly. "Your so clever, Jeremy." She beamed. "Of course he would know and we're going to town tomorrow. We can ask him then!"

"Let's get back to bed before Mum and Da find us." Jeremy grinned. "We'll make up some excuse to visit Unca Geoff and find out from him!"

The twins quietly scampered back to their beds. Soon they would know for certain if their father was indeed the infamous outlaw that had become a Devonshire legend. Just as soon as the two of them could pin down their Uncle and wheedle the truth from him.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2008, 02:32:21 PM by Blackjack Roberts »

Offline Welsh Wench

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Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2008, 08:02:16 PM »
"Now don't go anywhere but Uncle George and Uncle Geoff's office. We wil be by in about an hour, my darlings!"
Cecily bent over and kissed her children.  Jack had stabled the horses and carriage and joined her.
"Here's some money for sweets but go no further than the store next door."
Jack handed them each a couple shilings.
"We won't! We promise!" they said in unison and ran towards the office that sat on the village green.
Their parents waited until they were safely in the office. Cecily put her hands in the crook of Jack's arm and smiled up at him.
"Those two! How were we ever doubly blessed, my love?"
Jack chuckled. "I think it was a reward for all the hardship we had to endure."
She tenderly patted her stomach. "And this new little one shall have a very easy sojourn."
"Cecily, you never did tell me when we might expect the little bundle."
"As near as Annabelle and I can figure it, we can expect the baby around December."

Jack kissed the top of her head and said softly, "If only my parents could see them!  Mother would be so proud."
Cecily squeezed his arm, looking at him adoringly. She seemed to hold him like she never wanted to let him go since he told her of Rupert Barclay's proposal.
"And they are growing up too fast. Jamie's skirts need the hem let down and Jeremy's breeches are wearing out at the knee."
Jack laughed, "Playing highwayman, no doubt.  It seems that is where I always wore mine out too!"
Cecily frowned. "I hope they never find out who you really are, Jack.  I don't want to give them any fanciful ideas."
"How so, my love?"
"Blackjack Roberts has become larger than life to them.  Would you ever believe that your father is him? I don't want them broadcasting it to the entire shire. It's bad enough that Geoff tells them embellished legends."
"Embellished? Cecily, those were our finest hours!"
She held his gaze with her sapphire blue eyes.
"Jack Roberts, for all intents and purposes, needs to stay right where he is. Buried. Buried with the body of Thomas Banks."
Jack's mouth set in a grim line. "At least the traitorous bastard did one thing right."
"Let's drop the subject and enjoy our day, shall we? The children want to feed the swans down by the lake.  And I want a new hat."
He kissed her and encircled her waist. "And a new dress. Just don't get as round as Mary Cottlepot!"
She playfully smacked his arm and laughed, "I have a very good reason. But I shall take you up on the dress offer!"
 
Jamie whispered, "You ask him, Jeremy. You are older!"
Jeremy retorted, "By only five minutes."
"But Unca Geoff is the only one who will tell us. Unca George might but he's too busy and Unca Geoff----"
 
The door opened and the twins looked like deer caught nibbling in the garden. They looked up to see Uncle George standing there with a grin on his face.
"So, what are you two up to?"
 Jeremy spoke up.  "We came to see you and Unca Geoff."
Geoff looked up from his legal papers and smiled.
"Ah, my two favorite miniature people!"
George handed over a plate to them.
"Sally made some gingerbread cookies. Help yourselves."
The children eagerly took a couple cookies.
"Mmmm!  Unca George, when you marry Miss Miler, will she be our aunt?"
George laughed. "If you want her to be. I am sure she will love it!"
 
George took the papers from Geoff. "I'll file these papers with the magistrate and I'll be back in a half hour."
Geoff leaned back in his chair. "I've got company here so don't rush on my account."
George nodded towards the children and said in a low voice, "And don't you be filling their heads with your fanciful tales. Some things are better left dead and buried, brother."
 
Geoff looked at the children. "So...you look like you have something on your minds."
Jamie looked down at the floor and Jeremy shifted from foot to foot.
"Um...last night we heard Mama and Da talking.  And what we--"
Jamie blurted out, "Is Da Black Jack Roberts?"
Geoff was taken aback.
"Where did you come up with THAT idea?"
Jeremy replied, "We heard Mama and Da talking and---"
"Mama was crying.  And then Da told her he wouldn't be Black Jack Roberts anymore and---"
 
The door flew open and a tall man with a black cloak rushed in.  He pulled a silk mask from his face. He didn't even notice the children, so intent was he on speaking to Geoff.
"Geoff, I need help."
Geoff looked at him and surmised what he had been up to.
He quickly replied, "Ah, Mr. Cody! I see you have urgent business. Children, excuse me for a minute. Right this way, Mr. Cody."
Geoff ushered the man into the other room and shut the door.
Jamie said excitedly, "Did you see his black cloak? And that mask? Just like Black Jack Roberts, Jeremy! Do you think he may be the real one and we didn't hear Mama right?"
Jeremy retorted, "Of course not!  I washed my ears before I went to bed and I heard just fine! Jamie, that--that is a real highwayman!"
"But why is he here?"
"I don't know...but let's listen at the door."

The children crept up and put their ears to the door.
"But, Jeremy--"
"Shh!"
From the other side of the door, muffled voices were heard.
"Cody, are you sure?"
"Sure as I am standing here, Geoff.  I was practicing a bit o' the trade just like Jack taught us. And when I got into town, I looked inside the strongbox. Expecting a few tax notes or deed. And the currency of the realm. And what did I find but THIS!"
There was a bit of silence.  Then Geoff's voice.
"By the saints! Did you read this?"
"I surely did. That is why I came straight to you! If this exposes him, there is no telling what will happen. His life may not be worth anything then!"
Jamie started to let out a cry but Jeremy clamped his hand over her mouth.
"Shh, Jamie! Just be quiet! He's talking about Da!"
She nipped his hand.
"OW! What was that for?"
"I couldn't breathe! But, Jeremy, do you think those papers have to do with Da?"
"What else? It says that Da is Black Jack Roberts!"

Just then, two men came into the office. The children shrank against the wall.
Geoff came out and said, "Excuse me, but the entire civilized world has the decency to knock before entering an establishment."
The taller of the two men growled, "Where is he?"
"Where is who?"
"The man who just ran in here."
Geoff looked quizzical. "Man? There was no man. My brother came back in a hurry because he forgot the papers he needed. He's always doing that. Getting married and his head is in the clouds."
"We saw a man run in here wearing a black cloak."
"Right. That was George. He left the back way as he had to stop off at the tavern and get my lunch order. If you want to search the premises, be my guest."

Jeremy spied a folder on the desk. He inched his way along the wall. Jamie stood there too horrified to speak.  She finally crept up behind him and watched as Jeremy grabbed the folder. He took Jamie's hand and yelled, "RUN!"
 
« Last Edit: November 07, 2008, 06:55:00 PM by Welsh Wench »
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Offline Blackjack Roberts

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Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2008, 11:37:53 AM »
At the sound of Jeremy's cry Geoff immediately grabbed the taller of the two intruders. Falling to the floor the two men rolled about as the shorter of the two blocked the way to the street, cutting off the children.

"C'mer you two poppet's!" He snarled, eyeing the folder in Jeremy's hand.

As he lunged towards them Cody emerged from the back room, rapier in hand. "This way, Children!" he shouted, motioning for Jeremy and Jamie to run behind him.

The twins ducked under the ruffian's arms, the little girl pausing just long enough to kick the man in the shin before she disappeared into the room behind her brother. Cody swiftly pulled the door closed behind them, keeping an eye on the rouge rubbing his shin and cursing loudly.

Despite Geoff's words of a moment before there was no door in the rear room to escape from. Jeremy and Jamie huddled closely together as the sounds of the fray outside came muffled through the door. Wildly they sought a way out.

"I wish Da was here." Jamie whispered. "He'd set those villains to rights."

"I do too." Jeremy's eyes searched the small storage room franticly. "There! That small window! We can get out that way!"

Just over a small table next to the rear wall a small window, just large enough for a child to squeeze through, was half open. Quick as cats the twins scrambled onto the table and pushed with all their might on the stubborn sill. Just then a loud crash resounded from the door.

"Damn it!" The rough voice came from the other side. "It's locked!"

"Then break it down! We've not much time before the footmen are roused!!"

"Keep those two covered! I'll have it in short order!"

A second thud against the wood redoubled the children's efforts and to their relief the sill suddenly shot upward clearing their way to the alley outside. Without a word Jeremy helped his sister out the small opening backward, holding her small hands until he had lowered her as close to the ground as his reach would allow before letting her fall the last few feet. He was halfway out himself when the door gave way and the taller ruffian burst into the room.

"Ah! Think ye'll be gettin' away that easy, do ya?" He grinned evilly. "I'll be havin' that parcel, if'n ye don't mind."

There was no time for ease as the huge man strode quickly towards him. Jeremy closed his eyes and tumbled from the window into the alley after his sister, his hand still desperately clutching the folder.

"Oooofff!" The wind was temporarily knocked from his small lungs as he flipped heavily onto his back. "That wasn't so bad." He mused as he stood up, brushing the dirt from his britches. "But I'd not like to have to do that again."

"Speak for yourself, Jeremy Johnson!" His sister frowned, rubbing her backside. "My poor behind feels like I've just earned a spanking!"

Jeremy grabbed his sister's hand. "We can't worry about that now!" He exclaimed. "We have to get to Mum and Da quick!"

No sooner had he spoke when the two men rounded the corner. "There they are!" The shorter of the two shouted and the two children shot down the alley.



The commotion had drawn the attention of the several shopper's on the street when Jack took notice. "There seems to be some sort of disturbance out there." He mused from the dressmaker's window.

"Has Old Greenway gotten drunk and taken all his clothing off again?!" Cecily called from the small podium she stood on as the dress maker pinned the hem of her new gown.

"No. I don't think so." Jack chuckled at the thought of the last time the town drunk had run through Devonshire naked and shouting about an invasion of Vikings taking the town. "It seems to be coming from.......DEAR GOD!!"

"What, J...Robert!" Cecily shouted, alarmed by the sudden change in her husband's demeanor. "What's wrong?!!" Her alarm increased as he bolted out the door without answering.



The alleyway suddenly came to a tall brick building, splitting into two separate ways north and south. The twins looked down both ways, confused as to which way to run.

"We need to split up!" Jeremy said breathlessly.

"No!" Jamie frowned adamantly. "We must stay together!"

"One of us needs to get Da!" Jeremy grabbed her by the shoulders. "It's the folder they want. You need to get Da, they'll chase me and let you go."

"I can't leave you!" Jamie stubbornly refused, tears welling up in her eyes.

"You must!" They'll never catch me anyway! Go get Da and bring him here quickly. I'll hide just like when we're playing! Go!"

Jeremy shoved his sister toward the north alley just as the two men spotted them again. "Over there!" One shouted. Jeremy watched long enough to be assured Jamie had run then bolted down the south entrance.

At first the shorter of the two started after Jamie when the other called out. "Let her go! It's the folder we need and the boy has it!" They ran on after Jeremy as fast as their tired legs could take them.

The sounds of the dual foot steps drew closer and the young boy held his breath behind the crates. "Now where did that little bastard get to?" Jeremy squeezed his eyes shut, willing himself invisible and silently praying that he would do nothing to give away his hiding place.

"Love me if I knows. He can't have gotten far."

The sound of searching brought a shudder to the child's body and he clutched the precious folder closer to his chest. Suddenly a rough hand clamped onto his shoulder and he felt himself roughly pulled out by his coat's shoulder.

"There you are, me young cocker!" The taller man grinned vilely. "Thought ye'd give us the slip, eh? I'll be takin' that!"

"Now, what?" The smaller man asked. "Do we kill the lad?" Jeremy shuddered involuntarily at the thought.

"Nay!" The taller man growled. "We may need him to get out of this hamlet. He'd make a right good bargaining chip if needs be."

"Aye." The shorter agreed, seemingly a bit relieved. "I'm not much fer murderin' children anyway."

"Neither is Malcolm." The taller nodded, then turned to Jeremy. "Ye'll be comin' with us, Lad, but know this. Give us the slightest bit 'o trouble and make no mistake, I'll slit yer gizzard without a moments thought. D'ye understand?!"

Jeremy scowled at the two kidnappers fiercely, too angry to be afraid, and nodded sullenly.

"Good, Lad." The taller man nodded back. "C'mon, it's high time we got out 'a here, afore the redcoats show up."

Offline Welsh Wench

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Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2008, 07:58:33 PM »
Jack bolted out the door of the dressmaker's and looked frantically up and down the street.
"DA! DA!" a voice from behind him called out.
"Jamie!"
She hurled herself in to her father's arms and he held her close.
"What in God's name is going on, Jamie?"
She buried her face in her father's shoulder.
"These big men are after Jeremy and me!"
He held her and asked the question he hoped would give him the right answer.
"Where is your brother?"
"I don't know. We were stuck in the alley by the apothecary and..and..."
Jack held her close and asked her quietly, "Take a deep breath, Jamie. And tell me where to God your brother might be!"
 
Jamie clung tightly to her father's neck. "Jamie and I were talking to Unca George and Unca Geoff. And a man in a cape came in and Unca Geoff took him in the back.
We thought he had papers that said...that said...."
"Said what, Jamie? Please! We need to know so we can find your brother."
She buried her face against Jack's chest and sobbed, "We think it said that you are Black Jack Roberts, Da!"
 
Cecily emerged from the dressmaker's, her dress haphazardly on, unlaced and she had a cloak covering her. The whiteness of her face told Jack that she had overheard. And all of sudden, Jack's past came rushing on him to hurt him in the worst way.
Through his children.
"Dear God!" Cecily could scarcely get the words out.
Jack gently disentangled his daughter and passed her off to Cecily.
He strode quickly into Geoff's law office. Geoff sat there, rubbing the back of his head, dazed.
"Geoff! Where is Jeremy?"
Geoff was shaking his head to clear it. "The children ran out the back. That's all I know. Two men came in here. Cody was here right before. He was practicing a bit of the trade and had some papers that should never see the light of day."
Jack helped his friend to his feet.
"Jamie is with Cecily. But for the love of all that is holy, WHERE IS JEREMY?"
 
Geoff said, "Last I saw he and Jamie ran out the back. Jeremy took a folder that  was laid on the desk. Oh, Lord, he took the papers! Two roughnecks followed Cody in here and then ran out the back. I tried to distract the men but one knocked me out and they took off after the children!"

Jack ran out the back and into the alley. No sign of Jeremy anywhere except crates from the vegetable grocer were scattered everywhere. He ran down the street but there was no sign of his son.
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Jeremy sat between the two ruffians. His anger was abated and now he felt a cold fear settle in his stomach. The taller one was rail-thin with a pinched face and a hooked nose. His eyes were close together and he wore a dark cloak. The shorter was pudgy with a frock coat, his cheeks flushed and his nose a bit bulbous.
The tall one spoke, "And now, you little bastard, let's see just what you have in that folder."
He thumbed through it, a look of astonishment crossing his face.
"What's the matter, Ben?" the rotund kidnapper asked.
Ben continued to look at the papers and muttered, "Twenty bushels of carrots....forty bushels of corn....apples...pears....."
He threw the papers on the floor.
"This is a damned invoice for the greengrocer!"
He grabbed Jeremy by the arm and shook him. "WHERE ARE THE PAPERS THAT WERE IN THAT FOLDER?"
Jeremy set his jaw and said, "Those are the papers. I had nothing to do with them."
The chunky one got in Jeremy's face and hissed, "We have ways of making you talk, son."
Jeremy made a face. "You are NOT my father. And you had better let me go. My father is Robert Johnson."
Ben said, "So? And my father is the Pied Piper. Where are the papers, boy?"
Jeremy set his jaw and kept silence.
Ben scowled, "And I wonder how Robert Johnson would like his son returned to him in a barrel?  What do you say, Sam?"
Sam sat there and muttered, "Robert Johnson....Robert Johnson....NOW I know where I heard that name. He's the owner of the Crossbow Tavern and a dozen other ventures. Well-heeled, Ben. Well-heeled. Wonder if he would pay a King's ransom for the return of his brat?"
Jeremy looked at the two of them, his anger returning.
"No one calls me brat but Jamie!"
The men chuckled and Ben said, "Oh, we have a plan for you, young whippersnapper. Don't we, Sam?"
"We sure do, Ben. We sure do."
After a minute, Sam asked, "What was it again?"
Ben looked at his partner with disdain.
"We turn him over to Malcolm."
"Oh, yeah. That plan."
Jeremy looked out the window with two thoughts in his mind.
That Jamie was able to get to Da.
And that Malcolm was smarter than these two.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2008, 08:21:59 PM by Welsh Wench »
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

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Offline Blackjack Roberts

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Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2008, 03:25:32 PM »
Brigadier Rupert Barclay shuffled through the several papers on his desk. The tedious day to day reports demand his attention, but could not hold it. Try as he might he found his mind wandering to the problem that had landed in his lap and the hope that Jack Roberts could be convinced to once again don his infamous persona. Finally he threw the quill down in disgust. Until he had some reply it was going to be nigh on to useless to attempt fulfilling his duties.

Rising he walked the few steps to the small waist high table against the west wall. Picking up the crystal decanter half filled with brandy he had just begun to fill a matching crystal goblet when the door burst in, startling him momentary. Robert Johnson all but flew into the room, his anger and worry could be felt as a physical presence. Even from where the officer stood.

"Rupert!" His voice was nearly an accusation, and for the second time in Barclay's life he felt an involuntary shudder at the look in those turquoise eyes. He had seen that look only once before. The day he had realized that Robert Johnson and Black Jack Roberts was one and the same man. "Just what in bloody hell is going on?!! I've a fair idea from what Geoff has told me in private! I believe your mission and what he has told me are one and the same thing! Worse yet! Those damned papers may have cost me my son!!"

"Calm yourself, Robert, please!" Barclay motioned to the chair for his enraged guest to sit. Then held one finger to his lips before shouting. "Lieutenant!"

Within a few moments a young, sandy haired officer that looked more like a book keep than a solider came to the open doorway. His eyes shot from where Roberts sat fuming to his senior nervously. "Yes Sir!"

"Mr. Johnson and I have matters of the utmost privacy to discuss. I do not want a single man within ten feet of that door. Am I understood?" The finality in the Brigadier's voice was unmistakable.

"Yes Sir!!" The young man snapped to attention and saluted. "I shall see to it personally, Sir!!"

"Good lad." Rupert waved one hand dismissively, then filled a second crystal as the door shut and brought it to where Jack sat, waiting impatiently.

"Here, Robert. This may help to calm you down a bit. At least long enough for you to inform me on what has happened." The officer sat down in a chair opposite his friend and sipped his brandy. He wanted no bulwark of wood between them.

No sooner had Jack finished the tale of what had transpired across town then Rupert frowned. "I'll dispatch a squad immediately, Robert. They can not have gotten far."

"No!" Jack said with finality. "God knows what they may do, if the haven't already."

"I don't think so." Rupert mused. "Some how the boy must have hidden the papers. Otherwise they would have released him, or killed him to keep him quiet. That must be the answer to their taking him with them."

"I know what Geoff said he saw, but I want to hear it from you, Rupert." Jack looked hard into the redcoats eyes. "Where those papers what Geoff said they were?"

The Devonshire commander stared into the low flames of the fireplace for several long moments before replying.

"Yes, Robert. Geoff was correct. Those documents are proof positive that King George is not only German, but that he is not of royal birth and has no right to set the throne of England."

Jack shook his head ruefully. "You seem to be well informed about this, Rupert. Perhaps you had better fill me completely in." He sighed wearily. Jack had never had much to do with politics. Being a highwayman it had never meant one jot or tittle to him who sat the throne. They were all just another ruler to be out foxed by an outlaw.

"Very well." Rupert sighed. "But you must understand, what I am about to reveal to you must never leave this office." Jack nodded.

"As you well know, the Hanoverians came to power in difficult circumstances that looked set to undermine the very stability of British society. The first of their Kings, George I, was only 52nd in line to the throne, but the nearest Protestant according to the Act of Settlement. Two descendants of James II, the deposed Stuart king, threatened to take the throne, and were supported by a number of the Jacobites throughout the realm. We almost plunged into civil war then and it has never set well with many to this day to have a German on the English throne. To this day many still look for a legitimate way oust them."

"Those documents prove beyond doubt that George the third was the son of an illicit affair between the queen and one of her guards, a lowborn soldier named Percy Trumbolt. The king had Trumbolt quietly executed for treason, and the legitimate birth certificate was replaced with a forgery. All in all he loved his wife and forgave her indiscretion, naming himself George's father. The real documents were for a long time kept in secrecy by a loyal vicar of the Church of England. Why they were never destroyed is beyond me."

"Still, the doctor in attendance that night was a reformed Catholic, when he later converted back to his original faith he made a grand confession. The priest he confessed to happened to have been a supporter of the House of Stuart. He wrote the entire confession down and had the doctor sign it as penance."

"Not only is that doctor's name on the original birth certificate, but the forgery as well. The priest was apprehended attempting to spirit the confession out of England to Ireland. The confession was then added to the true birth certificate and held under lock and key in the basement of the Tower of London. Forgotten by all but a few."

Jack raised one eyebrow. "So how did you come to know all of this?"

Rupert Barclay smiled. "There is a secret society within the monarchy and it's supporters, Jack." Rupert used the proper name this time. "I happen to belong to it. The Empire is growing as never before, and we don't want to see it upset by internal strife. Britain will have her chance to become a world power."

"And just who is we?" Jack asked suspiciously.

"I am a Freemason, Jack." Rupert said soberly. "And a supporter of the House of Hanover. They are good monarchs and England will see an age of prosperity like never before under their reign."

Barclay took a healthy swallow of the remainder of his brandy before continuing. "There is a descendant of James the second who has risen very highly in Parliament. There is also a certain contingent at his disposal as well. Jacobites loyal to the House of Stuart. Though nothing can be proven, we believe it was some of his men who found out about the documents and stole them."

"This would be?" Jack asked.

"Lord Terrence Blackwood." Rupert replied with some measure of disgust. "Should that proof fall into his hands, he would have a legitimate claim to the throne. The war between the Stewarts and the Hanoverians that was adverted so long ago would break out. England would tear herself asunder."

The truth of that statement gave Jack more than enough pause. Though he had been planing to refuse Barclay's request for the sake of his family, it would seem fate had drug them into it anyway. Resting his chin between his thumb and forefinger he weighed his options. long moments passed as Rupert Barclay all but held his breath, waiting for Jack to make up his mind. Finally Jack sighed and looked up at him.

"I can understand why you would have Black Jack try to steal those papers back." He said lowly. "An all out hunt for them by the kings men would alert the populace that something was amiss. Not to mention you can not just arrest and search the premises of one of the most respected men in England."

"No." Rupert agreed. "Not that Sir Terrence would be fool enough to keep such damning evidence there in the first place."

Jack stood up. "I'll not lie to you, Rupert. Were it not for my son I would have turned you down flat. As it stands now, I've little choice. For the sake of my child, Black Jack Roberts is at your disposal."

"Thank you, Jack." Rupert bowed. "There are things you will need to know. When can I expect him here?"

"This evening." Roberts reached for the door latch. "I have to get something from the cottage, and Cecily must be made aware of my decision. I'll return as fast as I can."

Jack Roberts stepped into the hall. He hadn't the slightest clue where the kidnappers could have taken his son. All his hopes rested on the information Barclay could provide and for him to become a man he had long ago buried. If he was ever to hope to place his little boy back in Cecily's arms he would have to become Black Jack Roberts once again.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2008, 10:02:41 AM by Blackjack Roberts »

Offline Blackjack Roberts

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Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2008, 10:03:18 AM »
He stood in the barn staring at the tool cupboard for the longest time. Cecily held the lantern high as Jack finally opened the door. Removing the shovels, rakes, and hoes he reached high on the back, his fingers searching until they found the hidden latch. With a soft click the false back swung away to reveal several hanging parcels wrapped in oil paper.

One by one, he brought them out and laid each carefully on the flat of the hay wagon. Why Jack had kept them he could not rightly say. Perhaps it had been for sentimental reasons, perhaps providence had guided his decision. Regardless, he had only kept one of the three costumes. The other two he had happily burned over seven years ago.

Cecily watched in sorrow as the man she loved unwrapped and slowly donned each article of clothing. The black lacy shirt. The black doeskin britches and leather belled boots, followed by the baldric and wide leather belt. Her tear stained sapphire eyes following every movement as he tied the black cloak around his shoulders then checked the matching French flintlocks before shoving them home into the belt.

She could have sworn that for one fleeting moment a twinkle lit his eye as he picked up the twelve foot braided leather of Old Hob, making certain that the years of disservice had not stiffened the coal colored leather to brittleness before he recoiled it and fastened the frog securely around it's loops.

Last, but not least he pulled the black silk hood over his features, and donned the caviler hat, it's noir ostrich plumes fluffed and trailing down the back to almost touch the cloak. Try as she might she could not help but feel a unwanted thrill, like that of a child about to do something naughty, at the sight before her. There stood Black Jack in all his glory as if he had never been away at all. Despite it all she felt somehow reassured at the sight.

Setting the lamp down on the wagon she fell into his arms. "Even though I wish to God there was some other way, I can not honestly say I am not glad to see you like this again." She sighed.

Jack brushed one gloved hand down the length of her soft golden hair. "I am sorry, My love. I had hoped never to wear this costume again. I don't even know for certain why I kept it and kept it from you."

She drew back slightly to look into his eyes. "It doesn't matter now, Jack." She smiled. "Just bring our little boy home safe."

Jack lifted the hood enough to kiss his beloved deeply before letting it fall back again. "I shall, Dearest." He said as he swung up into Raven's saddle. The stallion cantered slightly, as if he were anxious to relive older times himself. "And God help the men who have taken him!"

Touching his heels to the mighty horse's flanks Jack galloped away from the barn opening. Cecily watched the dark figure vanish into the woodland headed for Devonshire. A small smile of guilty pleasure crossed her sweet features at the sight. Even seven years had not seemed to touch Jack's skills.

Suddenly a frown wrinkled her brow. She could do her part to save their son and bring the miscreants responsible for taking him to justice as well. Andrew could help her. He had risen far since becoming the lord of Morley manor with far deeper connections than she had in society. She resolved to pay her brother a visit tomorrow, Jamie in tow. What ever else happened she would not let her little girl out of her sight. At least not for now.

Cecily returned to their home and checked on her little girl. The child slept, if a bit fitfully. In all these years it was the first time she had seen a child of hers not sleep peacefully. Closing the door quietly, she went to her and Jack's room. From under the bed she pulled an oblong box Jack did not know of either. Unlocking and opening the lid she looked down at the contents, the reason she could not think badly of Jack for keeping one costume secret from her.

She pulled the contents from the shallow chest. The bullwhip she had nearly killed Sir Peter Culpepper with, the bow she had bought in Soho the morning Jack and her had met, and strangely enough a single black silk hood. One that she had saved from the bonfire the night Jack had burned his garb. She held it up admiring it for a few moments.

Tomorrow when she went to see Andrew she would have to make a few discreet purchases. She had remembered the stories of how Katherine Fairchild had emulated Jack and rode at his side. Though she doubted she could dress entirely in a drab black garb as her husband did, she would however adopt his idea and hide her identity behind a costume. Whether or not he liked it, Black Jack Roberts would not ride alone for long.

Offline Blackjack Roberts

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Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2008, 02:49:59 PM »
Jeremy emerged several hours later at a lone cottage hidden deep within the woods. His captors had made certain that he was kept from looking out the carriage windows by pulling the privacy curtains shut and the little boy had no idea where he was. Determined to prove himself of the same stock as his father he retained an outward appearance of courage and fortitude, but inwardly he felt the cold hand of fear clutch at his heart.

Sam grabbed the boy's left arm roughly and with Ben on the other side of the lad half dragged him towards the foreboding door.

"We'll get some answers from ye now, me young cocker." He growled menacingly. "The boss'll make ya talk." Ben chuckled ominously.

Ben rapped out a particular pattern on the hard wood before turning the latch. From inside the low light of a single lantern glowed, adding to the dread Jeremy felt. Pulling quickly on the child's arm the short, chubby Sam strode into the small foyer of the cottage as Sam shut the door behind them with a finality that sounded like the crack of doom to the young boy's ears.

Drug into the barely furnished parlor for a moment Jeremy felt his terror lessen. There at a lone table sat a single man, dressed in a finery that bespoke him to be a gentleman. His meticulous hair fell in deep raven black loose curls to his shoulders, and a fine, black beaver felt caviler hat, complete with burgundy and white ostrich feathers lay on the table before him. His spotless wine colored coat was trimmed in gold colored thread, and it's buttons shone like polished brass. Expensive white lace was gathered at his throat, trailing half way down the chest of the silk shirt that showed through the open coat and peeked out loosely at the wide cuffs. Dark brown, almost black eyes turned onto the boy thrust before him before latching darkly on Jeremy's kidnappers.

"What is the meaning of this?" The low deep voice was eerily calm. "I send you out to bring back a lone thief and you return with this child?" One finely manicured hand gestured in Jeremy's direction.

"B-beggin' yer pardon, Mr. Dagget." Ben spoke up. The slight tremor in his reply brought Jeremy's fear back to the fore. If these two ruffians were afraid of this man he knew he should be as well.

Ben went on to recap the events that had led to their bringing Jacks son to the state of affairs he now found himself in, punctuated with affirmative interruptions from Sam. Interruptions that earned him several dark glances from Malcolm. When the two had finished Dagget drooped his head slightly, his eyes closed and a look of utter contempt on his face. With a resigned sigh he lifted his head and locked eyes with the ash blonde child. Lightly raising one hand he motioned.

"Come here, Lad." The deep baritone voice was so gentile Jeremy found himself obeying before he realized it, stepping in front of the nearly bare table.

"What is your name, Child?" Malcolm's face revealed neither kindness, nor crulity, but his voice stayed as soft as if he were engaged in a common conversation with any child a gentleman might meet.

"Jeremy Johnson." They boy returned with a confidence he did not feel.

"Please, have a seat, Mr. Johnson." Malcolm indicated the chair pulled up under the table in front of him and Jeremy did as he was asked.

"Now, Mr. Johnson." Dagget smiled for the first time. "Would you kindly tell me what you have done with my papers?"

"I don't know what you mean, Sir." Jeremy lied. "I grabbed the folder and ran with my sister. I must have taken the wrong one with everything that was going on."

"I don't think so, Mr. Johnson." Malcolm's smile broadened. "You see, I have this ability. I can usualy tell when someone is lying to me."

Despite his resolve Jeremy gulped. Dagget's smile was even kinder than before as he continued. "I think you know exactly what was in those papers and either hid them, or gave them to your sister when these two lost sight of you. You shall remain my guest here until either you decide to tell me the truth, or whoever has those papers comes looking for you."

The manicured hand motioned again for Sam and Ben. "Take young Mr. Johnson here into the back room and secure him there. Perhaps a few days of hunger will change his mind."
« Last Edit: November 16, 2008, 03:05:40 PM by Blackjack Roberts »

Offline Blackjack Roberts

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Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2008, 03:56:18 PM »
The small campfire held little warmth from the cool night air, but even this far from the road the three scoundrels dared not risk a larger flame. Dressed in near rags they sat in a semi circle doling out their respective shares from the days work, each gaining no more than a few coppers each.

"Blimey!" The middle one said, weighing the few coins in his hand. "Pickin's has gotten mighty slim these days. Seems like a man can't make an honest livin', wot with the footmen thick as thieves now days."

The three chuckled at the joke.

"Aye, Bert!" The shorter ruffian nodded, his grin revealing yellowed teeth as sparse as a jack o' lantern. "Not like the old days when they was more preoccupied with chasen' him instead 'a us."

"Now don't ye be gettin' on about that Bill Toliver." The shorter and pudgier villain chimed in. "Ye know what they says, "Speak 'a the Devil...."!

"Ah, yer a superstitious fool, Thomas Wilmot!" Toliver waved one hand in the chubby man's direction as if he were swatting away a fly. "And no mistake there. There ain't no returnin' from where he got sent to. Over rated fop if'n ye be askin' me!"

"Fool yerself, Toliver!" Tom spat into the campfire. "Yer just jealous ye don't have none 'a his sand! He were the best bloody thief since ol' Dick Turpin his self!"

William Toliver was on his feet in a moment, his face reddened in the fire light and one hand gripping the butt of his ill kept pistol. "I don't have ta take that kind'a talk from a coward like you, Tom Wilmot!"

"Coward am I?!!" Tom was on his own feet, gripping his flintlock a moment behind. "Pull that there pistol and I'll show ye who's a coward, ya motherless cur!"

Bert Howard stood up between the irate robbers. Towering a few inches above his companions he held one hand out to each of them. "Now boys! No sense in lettin' ourselves come ta blows over a ghost. The man's been dead near seven years now, God rest his black soul."

"While I appreciate the sentiment, Lads," a deep growling voice came from the outer shadows, "I'm afraid the news 'a my demise be somewhat exaggerated."

The three bandits whirled about, pistols flying from their belts as they turned to face the disembodied voice. Three sharp reports cracked in rapid succession and the stunned men found their weapons falling to the ground from numb fingers. Their mouths opened in stupefied shock as the black cloaked and masked figure moved into the light, leisurely coiling the black braided leather of the whip in it's left hand.

"Now, Lad's, lets not be gettin' off on the wrong foot." Jack growled in a voice he had not used in almost a decade. "I've a few questions ta be askin' 'a ye. I'm hopin' ye'll have the answers I be seeking."

"And just who be you that we should answer to ya?" Bert shook his right hand in the attempt to regain the feeling in his fingers.

"I think ye already know the answer ta that." Jack grinned beneath his mask. "But if'n an introduction be needed......I be Black Jack Roberts."

"Ballocks!" Toliver spat into the dust. "Jack Roberts was hung well over seven years gone now, and I'm not the kind ta believe in ghosts!"

Jack chuckled lowly then stared straight into the brigand's eyes. "I can assure you I am neither hung, nor a spirit returned to life. If you doubt, ask Tom Wilmot who it was that placed the scar across his back after he cut the ring from a lady's finger in his greed."

Thomas sucked the air in between his teeth and went white as a newly bleached sheet. "Saints preserve us!" He whispered in shock. "There be only one other man who knew of that! Dear God! It is Black Jack!!!"

"Ghost, or nay, I'll not be bowin' ta the wishes 'a any man!" Bert jerked his tarnished sword from it's scabbard only to find himself staring down the barrel of Jack's own pistol a split second before it cleared the sheath.

I'd be thinkin' twice about that, Bert." Jack's own low voice carrying more weight than any shout could. Howard dropped the half dull blade without a word and glared angrily at the dark apparition.

"That's better, Mate." Roberts laughed. "Now word is the three 'a ye were turned down fer a certain job. At least that's what old Riley told me after a bit 'o persuadin'. Seems the gent already had more'n enough men ta acquire that which he sought."

"Aye. What of it?" Howard fumed.

"In the process they made off with a bit 'a merchandise what can net me a tidy sum, now that I've decided ta come out of retirement." Jack continued. "I've a mind ta snitch it back and the three 'a you are going ta tell me exactly where that gent be."

"Can't rightly say we remember." Bill Toliver broke in.

"I do believe I can remedy yer lack 'a memory." Roberts lowered his chin and drummed his finger tips on Old Hob's handle. "Right quick like."

Tom shivered and broke his stunned silence with a vengeance. "Name's Malcolm Dagget, Jack! I can tell ye all we knows about it, but I warn ye, it's not much!!"

"It should be all I require, Tom." Jack's eyes turned to the chubby thief.

A few moment's later Raven broke from the wood and turned north towards Bath. Jack's midnight hued cloak flapping behind them as they vanished from sight. Bert and Bill sat trussed up like Christmas geese, part of their ragged clothing used as makeshift gags. Angrily they watched as Thomas Wilmot happily counted out the small purse of gold coin Jack threw at his feet before leaving. He touched his hand to the worn brim of the leather tricorn that covered his balding head and grinned at his former compatriots.

"Well, Mates, looks like this is where we part ways." He grinned. "I'd probably take the time ta untie ye, but then I'd have ta share this good fortune and I'm not about ta be haunting this neck 'a the wood with Black Jack around."

Picking up his small knapsack he filled it with as much as he could, including the rest of the copper coins they had started with. "Think I'll take up residence with me cousin in Edinburgh. The two 'a ye have a bonny night, and take a bit 'a advice from one what crossed Roberts once. As soon as ye can find another place ta ply the old trade."

Tossing the bag across his shoulder he vanished into the forest whistling happily as he made his way towards the nearest village, thinking it would probably be best to start fresh in Scotland. After all, he was getting a little too old to end his days as a common thief.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2008, 10:19:14 AM by Blackjack Roberts »

Offline Welsh Wench

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Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2008, 07:44:20 PM »
"Mama, I want Jeremy back!"
Jamie came into the bedroom of her parents. Cecily drew the quilt down and her little daughter crawled into bed with her. Once there, she broke into sobs.
Cecily cradled her daughter and held her close, barely containing her own tears. But she knew she had to be strong for her daughter. From the first day they drew breath, Jeremy and Jamie had been inseparable.
"My darling, I promise you this. Jeremy is alright. Someone has him and he is alright."
"Where's Da? I want Da!"
A fresh round of tears burst forth. She rocked her Jamie and said, "Da has gone to fetch him. He will know where to look. And Jeremy will be home before you know it with lots of stories for you. Perhaps he will even have new BlackJack Roberts stories for you."
Jamie was quiet for a minute and then she reached to hug her mother.
"Mama?"
"Yes, my angel?"
"Is Da really Black Jack Roberts?"
Cecily took a sharp intake of breath. "Where did you get a notion like that, Jamie?"
"Jeremy and I heard you and Da talking. You didn''t want him to be Black Jack Roberts anymore."

Cecily knew she would have to tread carefully on this.  She had always feared the truth would somehow surface and she didn't want her children to suffer any stigma from society or worse yet, to crow to the shire that their father was the legendary highwayman.
"Jamie, what is your name?"
"You know that, Mama. It's Jamie Johnson."
"Yes, it is. It is NOT Jamie Roberts. Black Jack Roberts was a man from a long time ago. He was hanged. Now, is your father dead?"
"No."
"There is your answer, Jamie. Your father is not Black Jack Roberts. He is Robert Johnson, the same as he was when you were born. Now I need your help."
"What, Mama?"
"You and I need to see Uncle Andrew. And then I am going to help your father look for Jeremy. And I promise you, we will find him. But you need to stay with Uncle Andrew and Aunt Jane. Will you do that for me?"
She nodded. "I will. If it brings Jeremy home faster, I'll be a good girl."
"Wonderful. Now let us get dressed. You may ride your pony Artemis. She is faster than the carriage."
 
Within a half hour, Cecily and Jamie were on the road to Cornwall. They talked of things a mother and her young daughter would. Cecily knew that while the twins loved her deeply, they worshiped their father. As it should be, she reasoned. Jack had waited so long for a family and Cecily was able to gift him with not one but two babies at once. The labor and delivery was long and hard. Cecily sometimes wondered if that was the reason she did not get with child for quite a while. That made the two children all the more precious. And now Cecily was able to give Jack that gift of life again. She unconsciously rubbed her stomach as if to reassure the child within that all would be right. 
 
The manor house came into sight as Cecily and Jamie rounded the lane. While Cecily loved to see Andrew, she was always melancholy to be there since the death of their father three years ago. Sir Wallace had a bad cold that had turned into pneumonia. His death left Cecily almost inconsolable. She knew her father had loved her and Andrew but was quite unsure as to what to do with children, being older when they were born. Lady Alice Morley had taken to traveling after the death of her husband. Cecily suspected that she did not go alone but with a series of lovers. It was something that she and Andrew never discussed.
 
As they rode up, Gavin the stablemaster came out.
"Miss Cecily, as I live and breathe! How nice to see you and young Missy! But where is the young master? And Mr. Johnson?"
Jamie started to open her mouth but Cecily hurried to say, "They weren't able to make it. Jamie may stay with her uncle for a few days. How wonderful to see you, Gavin. Please see to the horses?"
Gavin was surprised as Cecily usually wasn't so rushed but he took the reins of both horses.
"Aye, I'll see to that, Miss Cecily."
 
Cecily opened the back door as always was her habit when she came home. Mrs. Quigley gave them both a hug. "Master Andrew did not tell us you were coming."
"He doesn't know it yet. We decided to surprise him."
"Surprise who?"
Cecily turned around and there stood her brother Andrew.
 
Sir Andrew Morley was two years older than Cecily and a head taller but aside from that, they were masculine and feminine sides of the same coin. He gave her a grin and picked up Jamie.
"Unca Andrew!"
"And how is my favorite niece?"
Jamie laughed and gave him a hug. "I missed you."
"Where is Jeremy? Out by the barn?"
Cecily shook her head. "I need help. Jamie, dear, why don't you find Aunt Jane and help her with the baby?"
Andrew nodded. "She's up in the nursery. She will love to see you, sweetheart."
Jamie ran up the stairs.
 
Andrew led Cecily to the parlor and poured her a brandy. She took a very small sip, just enough to calm her already frayed nerves.
"Jeremy has been kidnapped."
"WHAT?"
Cecily nodded. She told Andrew as much as she knew.
"The children overheard and believed the papers contained information exposing their father as Black Jack Roberts. As near as we can piece it together, Jeremy took the papers and now whoever wants them has Jeremy. He's smart. Like his father. Too smart for his own good sometimes. Jack is off looking for him. He is pretty sure he knows who has him, just the location is in question. And Jack still has his underground sources. He will find Jeremy in no time. But there are two things I ask, Andrew."
"Name them and they are yours."
"I want you to keep Jamie here safe with you. This place is a veritable fortress and no one can get to her here."
"And the other?"
"I need a few things. I am going out to look for Jeremy myself."

"Are you out of your mind, Cecily Johnson?"
"I've never been more sane. Andrew, my son is out there. If I can help bring him home faster, I will move heaven and earth to do so."
"And what about the child you carry? My God, Cecily, it is a wonder the twins were even born with all you endured while carrying them. Please, for all that is holy, take it easy with this one."
"I promise I won't do anything rash. I have to find Jeremy. Jamie is lost without him."
"Do you remember the last time you pulled a hare-brained fact-finding mission? You uncovered Michael Fairchild. That almost ended in tragedy."
She touched Andrew's hand.
"I know what I am doing now. I am older and more settled. For the love of God, Andrew, this is JEREMY I am talking about."
Andrew sighed. "And where do you intend to start?"
"From the magistrate of Cornwall and I shall take it all the way to London if I have to."
"And then what?"
She touched the whip at her side.
"I intend to make them pay for taking my son."
 
« Last Edit: November 26, 2008, 07:49:45 PM by Welsh Wench »
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