Author Topic: ZARA  (Read 1723666 times)

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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #105 on: August 25, 2018, 07:28:17 PM »
Dilcey looked out the window.
“My goodness, Mister Phillip! I’m glad you made it home before the rain. It’s starting to come down in sheets. The road parallel to the creek bed will be nothing but sloppy mud.”
Phillip pulled back the curtain.
“It’s what my father would call a real toad-strangler.”
He sat down at the table. Dilcey poured him a hot toddy.
“What’s in this, Dilcey?”
“Oh, a little bit of this...a little bit of that….a lot of dreams..”
“No, seriously. This is wonderful.”
“It is whiskey mixed with lemon juice and honey. And that is a cinnamon stick. The vitamin C  for health, the honey to soothe, the alcohol to numb."

“I can certainly use this on a day like today.”
“Here, have a cinnamon roll.”
“I’m certainly glad Zara made it home before the storm.”
Dilcey looked at him quizzically.
“Yes. She left the same time I did. But the other direction. The way Lord Peffly was driving that small carriage, it seemed like it was practically airborne.”
“Mister Phillip, I never saw her come in. Are you sure?”
“I’m sure she must be up in her room.”
“I’ll check.”
“Don’t let her know it was my suggestion.”
She patted his shoulder as she walked by.
“Your concern is safe with me.”

Dilcey knocked quietly on the door.
“Miss Zara? Are you home?”
She knocked several times then cautiously opened the door.
No sign of Zara. At least not since she had left that morning.

"Where in heaven's name are you, child?" she whispered to the empty room.
Dilcey frowned in concern as she closed the bedroom door.

Phillip brought the toddy close to his nose to better enjoy the drink's aroma. His eyes went wide as he caught a whiff of the considerable amount of whiskey Dilcey had used.
"Blimey! If she ran a pub, I'd buy shares in it," he said with a smile. He took a sip, and he could feel a delightful warmth travel to his stomach and spread outward.
For a moment, he was able to think about something other than Zara's sudden coldness towards him. Perhaps she hadn't thought that far ahead, and that was quite likely, but any notion she might have of a romance with Little Lord Andrew would be shut down the moment Phillip ordered El Lobo's sails be set before the wind. But doing so would bring him closer to dealing with the one problem he would rather forget about entirely — Lenore Cully.

"I have never seen a man sit there with a strong drink that close to his lips and him not allow himself to enjoy it," said Dilcey.
"Oh, I'm sorry," said Phillip. "The toddy is delicious. I was just… lost in thought for a moment."
"I've been standing here for nigh on five minutes. And you haven't touched that cinnamon roll, either. Between you and Will getting lost in thought, it's a wonder the pantry has any food worth eating left in it."
Phillip blushed. "It is not commentary on your skills in the kitchen, Dilcey. I just have a lot on my mind."
She gave him a kind smile. "I know. Love can do that to a person. Make you all distracted, and even forget to eat."
"Now, I never said I was in love."
"You never did. Not in words. Love doesn't need words. It's in the eyes, and the smile only one person ever gets from you. The way they aggravate you to pieces when there's a disagreement or hurt feelings."
"Well," said Phillip, "What else can you tell me about myself?"
Dilcey chuckled. "Just that if you don't take a bite of that cinnamon roll, I might just feed it to you."

"All right, you win," said Phillip. He cut out a bite with his fork and popped it into his mouth. "It's delicious!"
"Thank you. It's my own recipe. Will insists I make a batch at least once a week."
"I didn't expect it to be so mild and sweet."
"The cinnamon is from Dutch Ceylon. Will won't have anything less under his roof or on his plate." Dilcey touched Phillip's hand. "And looking out that window every ten seconds isn't going to get Miss Zara home any faster. It could be they decided to turn back and wait out the storm at the Peffly estate."
"I'm sure you're right, Dilcey. I will try harder to relax and enjoy this delightful treat."
"Good. And your secret is safe with me. I won't tell Miss Zara how worried you've been," she said sweetly. "Just watch. She'll waltz in like the sun was shining on only her the whole way here."
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #106 on: August 25, 2018, 07:30:10 PM »
Just then the back door flew open. Dilcey and Phillip looked up. His eyes went wide at the sight before him. Dilcey’s mouth dropped open.

Before them stood Zara. Or something that resembled Zara at one time. This young lady stood in the doorway drenched from head to toe. Mud streaked her face along with some scratches. Her dress was covered in mud and the back was ripped. The hemline straggled 
Her boots were caked in mud and the feathers on her hat were soaking wet. The dye from them was running down her back and chest.
She looked like a deflated chicken.
“What—what the HELL happened to you?” Phillip’s mouth curved up in mirth.
Dilcey rushed forward. “Miss Zara, what happened?”
“What happened? What HAPPENED? This damned monsoon, that is what happened!”
“But what took you so long to get home? I thought you and Lord Piffle took a scenic route home.”
“PEFFLY! How many times do I have to tell you? IT’S PEFFLY!”

Dilcey sprang forward with a few kitchen towels and gently wiped Zara’s face. Only her eyes were showing. The rest was encased in mud.
She made soothing sounds as she kept wiping the mud off Zara’s face.
“I’ll tell you what happened. Everything was going fine. Andrew was asking me to escort him to Uncle Will’s party on Saturday. And I was going to say yes, thank you very much for asking.
We must not have been paying attention because the wheel hit a rock. The wheel spun off and dragged the carriage. On its side, I might add. The horse spooked and dragged us along with the carriage—still on its side. The carriage hit a tree and broke loose. I hope I didn’t break a tooth. Or a fingernail. Andrew ran after the horse and caught up with him when the harness caught in some brambles. I got cut up trying to help him. All the time the rain is coming in sideways. Then I slipped in the mud by that damn creek. Andrew is trying calm the horse, I am slipping in the mud and the carriage is broken up by a big oak tree.”
“Hold still,” Dilcey said as she looked at the cuts on Zara’s face and hands. “Just surface scratches but we need to get them cleaned up so there is no infection.”

“So now Andrew is having to settle the horse, who is still dancing in circles with those damn bug eyes they get when they spook. Then he proceeds to tell me that if I follow that curve I will see the drive that goes up to Uncle Will’s. He has to ride the horse back to the Peffly estate and I ask, ‘Why can’t you just drop me off with me riding on the back of the horse?’ and he says he can’t take the risk of having the horse buck me off. Isn’t that considerate?”
“Very,” Phillip said dryly. “He’s a charmer.”
“So I follow the curve, go up the drive and you know that flower bed by the walk way?”
“Well, why didn’t anyone mention there were THORNS! I slipped and fell backwards into them.”
She turned around and looked at her dress. It was pretty shredded in the back. She rubbed her rear. “I think I got a bruise on my...hip. Yes. My hip.”
But it wasn’t her hip she was rubbing.
“So by this time it is thundering and lightning and I can’t open my parasol because I don’t want it to be a lightning rod and get zapped.”

Phillip covered his mouth with his hand but his shoulders shook with laughter. “I really don’t think a parasol would have kept you dry at this point, Cookie.”
She snapped, “Who asked you?”
Dilcey turned her back and bit her lip to keep her giggles in check.

Zara opened up her parasol and a torrent of cold rainwater poured from it right onto her head.
Water dripped down her dress into her chemise and trickled down to parts better left undescribed but Phillip had an idea.

She blew the hair off her face with her breath, calmly folded up the parasol and shot it across the room.
RAWR! was heard from Dilcey’s cat.

With as much dignity as she could muster, Zara announced, “I shall be in my room.”

As she left, Phillp and Dilcey burst into uncontrollable laughter.
Phillip picked up his toddy and winked at Dilcey.
“A lot of dreams in this, huh? From where I sit, I think I witnessed a friggin’ nightmare!”

Dilcey smiled. “Just sit back and enjoy the toddy. I think our little bird needs her feathers smoothed. I swear, I have never seen such a sight in my life!”
She looked at the floor and leading out of it were small muddy footprints.
“I think this is going to need a major clean up.”
Phillip broke out in laughter.
“Maybe you should just set her out on the veranda and have the thunderstorm rinse her off.”
Dilcey smacked his head lightly.
“Hush your mouth! She’s feeling pretty humiliated. I’m going up to see what I can do.”
Phillip raised his glass to her.
“Have at it!”

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« Reply #107 on: August 25, 2018, 07:31:56 PM »
Dilcey knocked softly on the door.
“Who is it?”
It’s Dilcey, dear. I have some warm towels to help clean you up.”
The door opened and Dilcey went in.
There stood Zara in her dirty chemise with the dress in question laid over the bannister on the  balcony. The rain was washing the mud off.
“I think that dress is history,” Zara said glumly. “It’s a shame, I only wore it twice.”
Dilcey opened up some dresser drawers and laid a fresh chemise out.
“There will be others, I am sure.”
“Do you think the boots can be saved?”
“If we let the mud dry and then send them down to the stable. I am sure Gibson can use some mink oil on them and get them looking good as new again.”
Zara had mud caked on her face and in her hair.
“I know Phillip got a good laugh at me.”
Dilcey picked out some scented soaps. “Oh, I wouldn’t say that. But you have to admit, you were quite the sight. I don’t think the cat will ever be the same.”
“I feel so foolish.”
“Why don’t I draw a warm bath for you and you can start to feel human again. We can chat while you soak.”

Within fifteen minutes, Zara was soaking in the tub with bubbles. She ran the soap through her hair to get the mud out, sighed and leaned back.
“Yes, dear?”
“How can things that started out so wonderfully end up so poorly?”
“Maybe because the best laid plans don’t account for anything deviating from its path?”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s like your adventure today. I am sure you and Lord Peffly started out making plans for the day and by the end of it, well… lost a dress to the elements and here you sit in a warm bath. Did you plan that?”
“As the daughter of a pirate—yes, I know all about him. I have for years. Look who I work for. But as his daughter, what do you think your father would do?”
Zara took the soap and rubbed it on the washcloth, the applied it to her face.
“Da? Nothing fazed Da. He would adjust the sails or go headlong into the storm, cursing it but would come through it victorious.”
“Would you expect his daughter to do anything less?”

“I have a feeling we aren’t talking about Andrew Peffly, are we?”
Dilcey said quietly, “No, we aren’t.”
“You know.”
Dilcey nodded.
“I know.”
“How long have you known?”
“From the moment he took your hand and helped you out of Captain Harkness’s carriage.”
“The rest wasn’t hard to figure out. Most people see the servants as invisible. They forget we are there. But we observe.”
“What tipped our hand?”
“The soft click of the door knob...the quiet footsteps down the hallway at early light…..and the trellis broken and the rose bush flattened. Lots of little things that add up to one big thing. A young couple in love and doing their best to hide it from the world.”
“I’m so embarrassed.”
“Don’t be. I think it is heartwarming. But you have another situation to work through.”
“What to do about Andrew Peffly.”
“Yes. What are your feelings there, Zara?”

“Andrew was a good excuse to try to make Phillip jealous.”
“Did it work?”
“I don’t think so. Phillip seems so indifferent to me. Maybe he lost interest once he….”
Zara’s voice trailed off and she looked sadly at Dilcey.
Dilcey handed Zara a towel and she got out of the water. Which had turned dark brown, by the way.

Zara wrapped the warm towel around her and walked over to the bed where she slipped her clean chemise on. Dilcey handed her a toddy and Zara took a sip and coughed.
“It’s to ward off a chill, lambchop. You took quite a few tumbles today.”

Dilcey opened up a few jars and motioned to Zara. “Let’s get this ointment on to stop any infection and so you won’t scar.”
‘I’m not talking the jagged scars that pirates have from losing a sword fight. Just a few red marks.”
“So, what do you intend to do with the dashing Lord Peffly?”
Zara frowned, “Ow! That stings!”
“It’s meant to. It means it is healing.”

“About Andrew….he’s handsome and vital and a lot of fun.”
“But he isn’t very considerate. He could have seen me home. But he cared more for that damned horse than me.”
“What would Mister Phillip had done?”
“Phillip would have picked me up and carried me over all that mud. He would have given me his coat to keep me warm.”
Dilcey didn’t say a word.
Zara said quietly, “I’m going riding with Andrew tomorrow. And I am going to end it.”
“And then?”
“Find a way to get Phillip back.”
Dilcey nodded.
“Thank you, Dilcey.”
“For what?”
“For helping me figure this out.”
“You figured it out all by yourself. You just needed someone to get your thought process together.”
She lifted Zara’s head up and kissed her gently on the cheek.
“If I had a daughter, I would imagine she would have been just like you.”

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« Reply #108 on: September 28, 2018, 05:52:13 PM »
“Mother? Father? I’m home.”
Andrew walked into the parlour, spattered with mud.
“Andrew! You take yourself right into the mudroom and get yourself out of those dirty clothes! Leave them by the door and I will have Betsy take them down to the laundry. And after that, join your father and me. We’d like to have a chat with you.”

Within fifteen minutes, Andrew appeared in a fresh shirt and breeches. He poured himself a brandy, sat in the chair and leaned back. He closed his eyes as the brandy’s warmth spread through him.
Lady Peffly looked at her husband and nodded. Lord Peffly cleared his throat.
“I take it you saw the young lady home safely.”
“What?” Andrew said, his eyes still closed.
“Miss Wolfe. She arrived safely home, yes?”
“I assume so.”
“What do you mean, you assume so?”
“Well, we had a mishap with the carriage. We seemed to run into snag. The wheel came off and dragged us. Barney spooked and it was all I could do to keep him under control. Besides, we were around the bend from Captain Harkness’ estate. She’s not stupid. She could find it easily enough.”

Lady Peffly smacked his feet off the ottoman.
“I can’t BELIEVE a son of mind would act so unchivalrous. You could have tied Barney to a tree and delivered her to the door. Where were you raised, in a stable?”
“Ow! Alright, so in retrospect it was an unwise decision. I’ll go over there tomorrow with a bouquet of flowers and go down on my knee in an abject apology, alright?”
“You will do better than that. You will go with a bouquet of roses.”
“Roses? I don’t want to give her the wrong idea. She won’t be around that long. From what I understand, there was some matter that needed dealt with at home and she will be gone from here in about a month. I enjoy her company. She’s a charmer.”

“It’s up to you to make sure she stays longer than her allotted time.”
“We like her. We find her acceptable.”
“Acceptable? What does THAT mean?”
“Andrew, it is time you turned your thoughts to settling down.”
“I’m only twenty-two.”
“Exactly. It’s about time you put away your gallivanting ways and start thinking of your future.”
“Future? My future consists of what I want to do in the next week. Not...forever.”

“The young lady is beautiful, moneyed and pedigreed.”
“She’s not a horse, Mother.”
“You know what I mean.”
‘Look, Zara—Miss Wolfe—is a fun  time. Don’t get any ideas beyond that. I am not ready to tie a noose around my ring finger.”

The Pefflys exchanged glances. Lady Peffly stood up.
“Excuse me. I think this talk should be between you two.” She kissed Andrew on the cheek.
“Goodnight, dear.”
“Good night, Mother.”

Lord Peffly cleared his throat. “Andrew, I would well advise you to think this over. Seriously. You will do your best to charm her and you will make the move towards holy matrimony with her.”
Andrew snorted.
“And if she refuses?”
“I don’t care what you have to do. Do whatever it takes, even if it involves seduction and getting the young lady in a family way. But marry her you will.”
“And if I refuse to do it?”
“Your mother and I will have no choice but to cut you off from your allowance and you will have to settle your gambling debts all by yourself.”
“That’s not fair!”
“I’ve covered for you with situations that your mother does not know. The latest being the Barbara Braxton incident. So I would suggest you put on your best manners. Apologize profusely and charm Miss Wolfe so that she can’t live without you.”

Andrew set his jaw. Lord Peffly put his arm around his shoulder.
“Son, it’s not a bad deal. She’s beautiful. Witty and smart. Besides, getting there should be a lot of fun. And when all is said and done, she will be occupied with babies and maintaining a household and you can go back to your whores as long as your wife is kept in the dark or is willing to turn a blind eye to it.”
“Oh, like Mother does?”

Lord Peffly set his jaw.
“Nice chatting with you son. Now see that you make it happen. And the sooner the better.”

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« Reply #109 on: September 28, 2018, 07:43:26 PM »

Zara walked slowly down the stairs, running her hand absentmindedly down the bannister.

“There you are, my dear!”
Seated at the dining room table were Will, Phillip and Dilcey. Zara took her seat and mumbled, “Good morning.”
Will took a sip of his coffee. “It looks to be a wonderful day and---good grief, Zara! What are those scratches on your face?”
“I tripped and landed in the rose bushes,” she said as she self-consciously raised her hand to her face.
“Let me look,” Dilcey replied. She took Zara’s face gently in her hand and turned it towards her.
“It is healing nicely, dear. In a few days there won’t be a trace of them left.

Zara kept her head down as she sipped on the hot chocolate.
“Is your bruise healing?” Phillip asked.
“It’s healing.”
“Has it turned yellow yet?”
Zara shot him a look.
“No, but when it does I will be sure to drop my pantalets so you can see, alright?”
“I was merely showing concern, Zara.”
“Zara, how did that happen?”
“Uncle Will, it is no big deal. I slipped and fell in the mud. At the same time I got the scratches.”
“What were you doing out in the rain?”
“Why all the questions, Will?” Dilcey asked, a bit irritated.
“Because she is under my guardianship when she is here.”
“I thought she was under Phillip’s charge.”

Phillip replied, “I don’t think she needs me to look after her. She seems to be doing alright.”

Zara slammed her napkin down on the table.
“Will you PLEASE stop talking about me in the third person like I wasn’t even HERE?”
All three of them looked startled at her.
“I’m sorry, Zara.”
“Sorry. People are always sorry after the fact,” she said bitterly.
“Zara, I certainly didn’t mean---”
“I know you didn’t, Philllip, “ she said wearily.
She got up and slid her chair in.
“I’m not very hungry. I’ll be back in a bit. I am going for a ride. I need some time to myself.”
Will asked, “Where are you going?”
She picked up her riding crop. “I don’t know yet.”
“Do you want some company? I promise I won’t say a word,” Phillip asked.
“No, thank you.”

After she left, Will asked, “What was THAT about? Is this a ladies’ thing?”
Dilcey frowned. “The young lady is homesick, especially for her mother.”
“Well, she can't go back until her father sends the word. And that could be a few months. Besides, I rather like having the young people around. Makes me feel young again."
"I know you do, Will. I like having them here too."
"is there anything we can do?"
"No, dear. Just let them figure it out for themselves."

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« Reply #110 on: September 28, 2018, 07:47:44 PM »
As Zara was set to go out the back door to the stables, the butler stopped her. “Miss Zara, yyou have a caller.”
“Really? I wasn’t expecting anyone. I’ll be there in a minute.”
She put her hat and riding crop on the chair in the hallway.
When she entered the parlour, there stood Lord Andrew Peffly. In his hand was a bouquet of red and white roses.
“Pour vous,” he smiled.
She tentatively took the flowers.
“Um..why, thank you.”

He gave her a disarming smile.
“I hope this in some small way assuages my very inconsiderate behaviour. I can only plead a panic about the horse and it was very inexcusable and short-sightedness on my part. I cannot emphasize enough the gross lack of judgment in not escorting you home. I can promise you it will never happen again.”
‘Damn straight, it won’t’, Zara thought.
She smelled the fragrance of the roses and arranged them in a vase.
“I’ll have Betsy put some water in this.”
“I see you are dressed for riding.”
“Yes, it was my intention to just ride for a while by the river. I find it clears my mind.”

He took her hand.
“I’d really like to accompany you.”
“I don’t really...”
“I can show you the very old house that was the first house in this county. It is supposed to be built on an old Indian burial mound.”
“And then I can take you to the Bull and Bear tavern. They have the best turkey meat pie. And a good cider, too.”
“I don’t really like cider...”
“No problem. Whatever you want.”
“What I really want...”
“Please. I want to make up for my lack of good manners.”
Andrew looked at her with imploring eyes and a hopeful look.
She sighed. “Alright.”
He pulled her close and kissed her forehead.
“You won’t regret it.”
He picked up her hat and put it on her head, then handed her the riding crop.
“Shall we?”
He opened the door and they headed towards the stables.

Phillip was walking by the window when he glanced out and saw Zara walking towards the stables, Andrew with his arm around her waist.
“What the HELL?: he said as he started to head out the door.
Dilcey entered the room and said in a commanding voice, “Stop, Phillip.”
He stood where he was.
“But she’s gone off with that son of a belch. After the way he just about abandoned her and let her walk home in that storm?”
“She’s working this out, Phillip. Be patient. Good things come to those who wait.”
“But what if he loses her in the woods? What if---?”
“She’s a smart, young woman. And as far as Andrew Peffly, she is going to tell him she doesn’t want to see him socially anymore.”
“Really? How do you know that?”
“She pretty much told me. Just wait. Show her kindness. Things will go the way they are supposed to.”
“I suppose so. I have some correspondence to take care of so I will be in my room.”
Will stood in the doorway and smiled, “Say hello to Jack for me.”
Phillip grinned and saluted as he went out the door.

Andrew kept up a stream of idle conversation as Zara made all the appropriate responses.
“Well, here we are,” he said.
Zara looked up.
There was an imposing house with a grand lawn and flowers lining the carriage drive.
“Come on, I will show you around and the burial mound.”
He climbed down and took the reins of both horse, expertly tying them to the oak tree that was in front of the family cemetery.
Zara jumped down off the horse before Andrew could make a move to help her down.

“Here. Let me show you the grounds.”
  He attempted to hold her hand but Zara pretended to be looking down at her buttons and smoothing the breeches.
“Aren’t we trespassing?”
Andrew shook his head.
“No, I am friends with the people who live here.”
“Shouldn’t you at least make our presence known?”
“No need to. The family is in Europe for a few months.”
“Who are they?”
“The Braxtons. Friends of my parents and I have known their son and daughter since I was this high. Come. I want to show you the summerhouse in the back.”

Andrew led her to a quaint hexagonal structure with a roof with a weather vane on the peak.
Three steps led up to the deck and in the middle was a swing suspended from the rafters.
“Come. Sit with me.”
He patted a space next to him on the swing. Reluctantly, Zara sat down.
He put his arm around her shoulder and drew her to him.
“Zara, I know this is crazy but I have fallen head over heels in love with you from the first time I laid eyes on you.”
“But Andrew….”
“Please. I know that if I didn’t state my case, you would go off to Barbados and I would never see you again.”
“I find myself thinking about you day and night. And I can’t live without you.”

Andrew got up and went down on one knee. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a box.
Inside was a gold ring with a heart shaped ruby and three diamonds on either side.
“Miss Zara Wolfe, would you do the honour of becoming my wife?”

Zara stared at the ring and then started coughing.
“Andrew, we hardly know each other.”
“It doesn’t matter. All I know is that I love you.”
“But, Andrew, I don’t...I mean...well, I don’t love you.”
His face registered astonishment.
“What? What did you say?”
“I don’t love you,” she said with a defiant tilt to her head.
“You can learn to love me. I know I can make you love me.”
Zara rose out of her seat.
“I’m finding this really hard to believe.”

Andrew put his arms around her and drew her to him. His breath was on her neck as he whispered, “Zara, can you honestly tell me you don’t feel any desire for me?”
“Yes, Andrew. I can honestly tell you that.”
He kissed her roughly.
“I don’t believe that for a minute. I can tell you want me. You are just playing coy.”
His hands strayed down her blouse.
She pushed him away.
“Don’t be a little fool. Don’t you know what I am offering you? A home. Money—OLD money. Pedigree. A title. You would be Lady Zara Peffly. And when my father passes, we inherit the house and the full title. We would have the legacy of children...”
“Children? You think of me as a brood mare?”
“You have the look of fertility and...”
“I can’t believe I am hearing this.”
“Zara, let me prove my love for you….”
He kissed her deeply and Zara drew her hand back and slapped him.
Instinctively he slapped her back. Hard.
She put her hand to her cheek.
“I am out of here.”
“Oh, no you aren’t.”
He grabbed at her shirt and ripped it off her shoulder as he drew her close to him, pinning her against the post of the structure.
He fumbled with her waistband when all of a sudden he doubled over in pain.
Because Zara had drawn her knee up and racked him as hard as she could.

“**ch!” he howled in pain.
Zara ran towards the horse and quickly untied her from the post. Jumping onto the mare’s back, she galloped as fast as she could down the lane and in the direction of Will’s mansion.
When she was well out of sight of Andrew, she let the horse slow down. It was only then that she let the sobs come.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2018, 07:48:25 PM by Welsh Wench »
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« Reply #111 on: September 28, 2018, 07:52:10 PM »
Zara rode her horse into the stable yard. Levi rushed up to help her.
“Miss Zara! What happened?”
The shirt she was wearing was torn off her shoulder and her cheek was beginning to show a bruise.
“Oh…..I caught my shirt on a branch and when it gave way, it whacked me in the face. It’s alright though.”
He took the mare’s reins.
“Where’s Lord Peffly?”
Zara hesitated. “Oh...he was doubled over in pain.”
“Food poisoning?”
Zara muttered, ‘No such luck.’
“I guess it was something he couldn’t handle. I am sure by now he is home with a brandy and some ice. I’m sure it was just a touch of something. I decided to come on home.”
“I’ll groom the mare down for you. You look like you could use some rest. And be sure to put something cold on that bruise.”
“I will. Thank you, Levi. And not a word to anyone. I don’t want them to think I was clumsy.”

Zara looked around and seeing no one, slipped into the dining room and poured herself a small glass of brandy. She shuddered as the warmth of it coursed through her.
She quietly climbed the stairs and went into her room. Taking off her ripped shirt, she balled it up and threw it in a corner. She dropped her boots and kicked them under the bed and laid her breeches across the chair. She pulled the covers back and laid down on the bed with her forearm covering her eyes, too tired to even cry.
‘Uncle Will is hosting that party tonight but there is no way I am going to it, particularly since Andrew had mentioned he would be there, intending to dance every waltz with her.
Before she knew it, she fell asleep.

“Did Zara get home yet?” Phillip kept glancing out the window. Dilcey looked up from her embroidery.
“Oh, for sure. I saw the mare in the stable yard and I caught a glimpse of her on the landing and then her door shut. This was about an hour ago.”
“Then she will probably start getting ready for Will’s party.”
“I’ll go upstairs to see if she needs any help with her hair.”

Dilcey knocked quietly on Zara’s door.
“Who is it?” came the muffled reply.
“It’s Dilcey, dear. Do you need any help with getting dressed for the party? Do you need laced up?”
“What about your hair?”
“I’m not going.”
She cracked the door open. “I don’t feel well.”
“Do you have a headache? A stomach ache? Let me see if you have a fever.”
Zara opened the door a bit more. “You can come in but only if you promise not to tell anyone.”
“I promise.”
Zara opened the door and let Dilcey in.
“Good Lord, child! What happened to you?”
“Clumsy me, I ran into a branch.”
“As Will would say, ‘Bollocks!’ I can see the imprint of four fingers. Now, do you want to tell me what really happened?”
Zara walked over to pick her shirt off the floor.
“This. This is what happened.”
Dilcey held the shirt up.
She looked Zara straight in the eye.
“Andrew Peffly!” she spat.
Zara nodded.
“Did he…?”
Zara shook her head. “It wasn’t for lack of trying.”
“Wait till Phillip and Will...”
“NO! Dilcey, you can’t!”
“They deserve to know. Charges need to filed.”
Zara shook her head. “No harm was really least not to me.”
“What do you mean?”
“I racked him so hard his grandchildren will feel it. Besides, what proof do we have except a ripped shirt which he will say I tore on a tree branch. It will be my word against his. And the way I left him on the ground of that gazebo gasping for breath and howling in pain. I doubt he will be at the party.”
“But Phillip needs to know so he can watch out for you.”
Zara shook her head. “Phillip made it clear that while we are here, he was going to relinquish his duties—babysitting--to Uncle Will.”
Suddenly, she blurted out, “Oh, I HATE Virginia!”
She collapsed in Dilcey’s arms and finally cried.

Dilcey held her till the tears were spent.
“You know what was strange, Dilcey?” She dabbed the tears from her face with her handkerchief. “He brought flowers and kept up a running conversation. And he took me to a gazebo at the Braxton manor and then...then he proposed to me.”
“He hardly knows me. He was almost desperate for me to say yes.”
“And when you turned him down, he turned on you.”
“I took care of myself,” she said defiantly.
“Indeed you did!”
“I’m going to skip the party tonight and just stay up in my room. I need to write a letter to my mother. It will be full of news of what is going on, nice and cheery. I don’t want to worry her.”
“I’ll bring you up some soup and a small cheese platter with a lemonade. And if you are still up, I will inform you of the goings on at the party. I am sure Lord Andrew Peffly will not dare show his face.
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #112 on: September 28, 2018, 07:54:48 PM »
“Is Zara getting ready for the party? If I know her, she will be fashionably late.”
Dilcey ladled soup into a bowl.
“Zara decided not to go.”
“Zara? Not go to a party? What’s wrong? Is she ill?”
“She’s feeling a bit under the weather.”
“I’ve seen Zara go to a party with a  raging fever.”
Dilcey shrugged, “All I know is what she told me.”
Phillip laid a hand on Dilcey’s arm. Quietly he asked, “Dilcey, what is REALLY going on?”
 Dilcey took a deep breath.
“I promised her I wouldn’t say a word. But I feel you should know. Please don’t let it be known I betrayed her confidence.” 
“I won’t. What happened?”
“She and Lord Peffly went riding. It started out all right but then he proposed to her.”
“He WHAT?”
“I know. Hard to believe. When she turned him down, it turned ugly.”
“How ugly?”
“To the point where it got physical.”
Phillip turned to walk up the back stairs.
“Phillip, DON’T!”

“I have to make sure she is alright. That he didn’t take advantage of her.”
“He didn’t. She has a torn shirt—just at the sleeve where he grabbed her. There are some bruises on her arm and a few on her chest. And..”
Dilcey sighed. “She has four bruises on her cheek where he struck her.”

Phillip felt his hand clenching and unclenching.
“So he hit a woman.”
“She hit him first.”
“How low can he possibly be? All that charm and money covering over for a debased person. Zara has done nothing to deserve this.”
“Well, talking about low...The way Zara told me is he dropped to his knees when she gave him a well-placed kick. One that he won’t soon forget, from what she said. Phillip, I doubt very much if Lord Peffly will be at the party. I don’t think Zara will be seeing him.”
“I swear, if I ever get my hands on him...”

“She really is alright, Phillip. She just wants some time to herself. She is writing to her mother and doing some reading. I am afraid Virginia has been less than stellar for her.”
“I can’t say I blame her. Oh, Dilcey, you and Will have been excellent hosts and I appreciate it more than I can say. “
“ seem to be hitting a snag in your pursuit of Miss Zara Wolfe.”
“It—it shows?”
“Only with every glance and look you give each other.”
“And here I thought we were being clever.”
“I am a woman. I notice these things. May I ask you a personal question, Philllip?”
“You may. I am not sure I will answer.”
“Just what is the problem with the two of you? It is very obvious you love each other.”
\Phillip sighed. “Zara has….certain expectations that at this time I feel I can’t address.”
“She wants a ring and the obligations that go with it.”
He nodded. “One snag. I am... engaged.”
Dilcey frowned. “Well, that does complicate matters.”
He hastily said, “Of which I intend to rectify as soon as I get home. But it won’t be pretty.”
“You can’t make a clean break?”
“No. It’s the Governor’s daughter.”
“When you complicate your life, Captain Briggs, you don’t fool around.”
“Don’t I know it.”
“If you are going to the party, I think you had better get dressed.”
“Are you sure Zara is alright?  I don’t need to check on her?”
“No, she is fine. I told her I would be up in a bit to tell her what is going on. She just wants some time alone to sort things out.”
“Then I will go get ready. God willing, Miss Julia Peffly won’t be there.”
“You don’t care for her?”
He gave Dilcey a wink as he walked up the back stairs.
“Let’s just say….she’s not Zara!”
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #113 on: September 29, 2018, 04:05:56 PM »
Dilcey had a tray of hors-d'oeuvres, setting them on the table.
“You did a marvellous job on such short notice, my love, “ Will whispered.
“As always. Did you doubt it for a minute?”
“Not in the least.”
“And I shall—oh good Lord! I don’t believe it!”
“Over there. Lord Peffly.”
“Oh yes, I am sure he is here especially because Zara will be here.”
“She’s not coming, Will.”
“What? Zara miss a party?”
Dilcey thought fast. “She’s not feeling well. She just wanted a good night’s sleep.”
“One of those ladies’ things, Will.”
“Oh. Well. That explains it then”
“Excuse me. I had better see to the canapes.”
She hurried up the back stairs and knocked on Phillip’s door.
“Phillip! Phillip! Open up! I have to talk to you!”
No answer.
Dilcey leaned over the railing to see Phillip alight from the last stair.
‘Bollocks!’ she swore.
Phillip entered Will’s ballroom, nodding and smiling to a few gentlemen he recognized.
He glanced over and there near the punch bowl was Julia Peffly. She caught Phillip’s eye and rushed over to him, linking her arm with his.
“I was waiting for you. There for a moment, I thought you were going to stand me up. I was just saying to Andrew...”
“Yes. He’s here. Over there with a few of the local lads."
“Excuse me a minute.”

He walked over to where Andrew stood with his friends when he caught the name ‘Zara.’
Andrew's back was to the room as he entertained his friends. Phillip stopped at a discreet distance to find out just what was being said. Their lascivious laughter left little doubt about the nature of the conversation.
"Ah, 'Randy Andy' strikes again!" said one.
"You need to teach us your tricks so we can at least stand a chance," said another.
"I wouldn't call them tricks, per se," said Andrew. "Time-tested methods has a better ring to it."
"So, what was her Achilles' heel? You can't keep us in suspense all night!"
"Remarkably simple, really. The lure of family money. I dangled a sparkling ring before her eyes, and the rest is delicious history. I do so like an old-fashioned girl."
"And this one won't need to get spirited out of town."
"No, thank heaven," said Andrew. "But there will be enough time for a bit more fun with her. Then, in another week or so, the little trollop will be out of my life and sailing back to wherever the hell she came from."
The forcefulness of Phillip's voice was enough to make Andrew flinch, spilling his drink on the front of his waistcoat and shirt.
"Damn you! Have you any idea how much these clothes cost?" Andrew tried indignantly to brush away the liquid. "Now, fetch me another drink. There's a good lad."
Phillip smiled pleasantly as he took Andrew's glass from him and splashed the rest of the drink in the young man's face.
"How dare you?!" roared Andrew.
"It was simple, really," replied Phillip mockingly. "A time-tested method, you might say."
Peffly was red-faced with barely contained fury. "Count yourself lucky, Briggs. If we weren't in a public place--"
"You would lie about besting me in a fight, just as you stood here lying to your friends about your supposed latest conquest."
"I swear, this is your last warning. You have no idea who you're trifling with."
"I have a very clear picture of what I'm dealing with. A weasel who hides behind his parents' money."
An audible gasp went through the room, along with stifled laughter.
Peffly drew back his fist to throw a punch, but Phillip blocked it easily. Then he drove Andrew backwards into the wall hard enough to crack the plaster. Phillip kept Andrew pinned to the wall with his forearm across the young man's upper chest. Peffly struggled in vain.
"Not so easy trying to hit a man, is it? Slapping a woman is more your cup of tea, I hear."
"Can't… breathe..." croaked Andrew.
"Good. Then I have your attention. You gave your final warning, now here's mine: stay away from Zara. Don't try to visit her, don't talk about her, don't even THINK about her. Am I understood?"
Andrew's eyes were full of hatred as he gave a terse nod of agreement.
Phillip let him go. Andrew, furious and thoroughly humiliated, gathered what little composure he had left and stormed towards the foyer.
He stopped long enough to turn back to Phillip. "This isn't over between us, Briggs! I demand satisfaction! You'll hear from me tomorrow."
The music and muted conversation resumed as everyone tried to understand what they had just seen. Phillip adjusted his waistcoat and walked back to where an astonished Julia stood.
"I suppose there's not much point in asking you to dance?" he said wryly.
Julia stared at him a moment, then walked away in a huff.
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #114 on: September 30, 2018, 12:49:15 PM »
Dilcey knocked softly on Zara’s door.
“Zara? Are you awake?”
Zara opened the door.
“I’ve been waiting! How is the party?”
“Oh….the usual. Gossip by the punch bowl and men on the veranda smoking their cigars and drinking their brandy.”
“I do believe he kept to himself and only talked to a few people.”
“What, no Julia Peffly?”
“She and her brother left early.”
“I’m surprised. I would have thought she would be all over Phillip.”
“I think Lord Peffly had a headache. His sister went with him.”
“Good riddance. Nothing else?”
“No, my dear. The party seems to be breaking up early.”
She picked up her book.
“Then I think I am in better company between these pages.”
“Goodnight, dear.”
“Goodnight, Dilcey….and thanks.”

Dilcey made her way towards the staircase. Phillip stopped her in the hall.
“You told her.”
Dilcey shook her head.
“No, I didn’t. There is no need to cast you in a bad light and as she has no intention of ever seeing Lord Peffly again, I saw no need to stir the pot.”
Phillip tried to hide his smile.
“Like Will?”
Dilcey raised an eyebrow. “Whatever do you mean?”
“Oh, come on, Dilcey. I know how Will is and he has you reporting to him.”
Dilcey smiled slyly.
“Well...only what I thought he would want to know. I keep things very neutral with him.”
“Thank you. And on behalf of Zara, I thank you too. As much as I enjoy you and Will, I think I will be glad when I can set our rudder to Virginia.”

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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #115 on: September 30, 2018, 04:33:11 PM »
Next morning…..
Phillip came into the dining room as Will was finishing his breakfast.
“Good morning, Will.”
“Is it?”
“I thought so.”
“Despite the fact that I have to get a plasterer in here to fix my ballroom wall, would you care to explain the altercation between you and Lord Andrew Peffly? And don’t say he started it.”
“He did. But I finished it.”
Will poured himself another cup of coffee as Dilcey brought in a stack of pancakes.
He asked, “And what is keeping Zara from joining us for breakfast? Or is it still one of those
‘ladies' things’?”
“Zara has an appointment with a seamstress this morning. She said she doesn’t intend to go home with the same amount of clothes she left with. And if she doesn’t eat, she said she will be slimmer.”
Will rolled his eyes. “Women. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.”
“Would we want to even try?”
“So...continue with the altercation.”
Phillip sighed.
“You aren’t going to like this.”
“I already don’t.”
Phillip took a deep breath.
“Andrew Peffly is a worm. The worst kind.”
“I always suspected but please go on.”
The day of the monsoon last Thursday?”
Will nodded.
“Zara was being escorted home from the tea in the Peffly carriage and they got caught in the storm. Peffly seemed more concerned with the carriage and horse than Zara’s welfare. She ended up walking home.”
Phillip nodded and Will’s jaw tightened. “I see.”
“The next day Peffly wanted to make up and played the hearts and flowers routine. He wanted to show her some old house in the countryside and Zara relented and went. Dilcey said she was going to tell Peffly to take a hike. That was when he got a bit rough with her.”
“He attacked my girl?”
“Zara kicked him where no man wants to be kicked. That is why she excused herself from the party. But when I saw Peffly, he and his friends were standing around and Peffly was bragging on his supposed conquest with her and in the most vulgar terms. That was when I lost my temper.”
Will tapped his cigar into his saucer. “I can’t say I blame you. It almost makes the plasterer’s fee worthwhile. ALMOST.”
“It didn’t sit too well with Julia Peffly, and she---”
The butler came into the dining room.
“So sorry to interrupt, Captain Harkness, but I have a note here.”
Will reached for it and the butler said, “I’m sorry, sir, but this note is for Captain Briggs. And a man is waiting for a reply.”
Phillip took the note with a sigh. "Probably the master of the shipyard getting eager for payment. I'll have a look at it after breakfast."
"Er, begging your pardon, but the gentleman insisted on an immediate reply," said the butler. "He does have rather a grave manner about him."
"Bloody hell," muttered Phillip. "Fine. Let's see what is so urgent."
He opened the note and began to read. Will watched as the younger man's brow furrowed, then, a few moments later, as his eyes went wide in disbelief.
"What the devil is this supposed to be? Some manner of joke?"
The butler could only offer a shrug.
"May I?" said Will.
Phillip handed him the note. "Please do."
As Will began reading, the butler cleared his throat. "The gentleman was quite insistent on receiving an immediate answer, sir."
"Fine," said Phillip. "Here's my answer; tell him he can take that note and shove---"
"Tell him he will receive his answer in one-quarter of an hour," interrupted Will. "Not one minute before that."
The butler nodded and left the room.
"Well, you certainly have made an enemy in Andrew Peffly," said Will as he scanned the note again.
"What, not 'Lord' Peffly?"
"He's no more a lord than I am an admiral."
"You're not an admiral?"
"I retired after the title of commodore was foisted upon me. The size of the hats was becoming ridiculous."
"His challenge is ridiculous. I'd just as soon call his bluff and be done with the matter."
"I am afraid that is not going to work in this case," said Will. "He's quite specific about the offences: 'Impugning my honour before my peers" and 'committing a baseless assault upon my person in public.' He is within his rights to demand satisfaction."
"Is he, now? In polite society, a man can slander a woman's honour for sport and expect no retribution?"
"I am as disgusted with his behaviour as you. And yes, he deserved the humiliation you heaped upon him last evening. The idiot doesn't realise how easily he got off."
"Aye. If this were Tortuga..."
"But this isn't Tortuga, Phillip. Like it or not, this is the way things are done in the Virginia colony." Will leaned back in his chair and looked up at the ceiling. "As ludicrous as we both feel it to be, Andrew Peffly is within his rights to call you out to duel."
"Is it also customary in the Virginia colony for the challenger to specify the manner of the duel rather than the challenged?" said Phillip.
Will sat bolt upright in his chair. "By Jove, you're right! That is irregular. Damned irregular." He looked over the note again. "I believe he intends to supply the pistols."
"One of which will most assuredly misfire, and it won't be his."
"Agreed. What would be your preference?"
Phillip smiled. "Blades, naturally. I can toy with him as long as I like until I get bored."
"We'll be keeping to pistols, then," said Will.
"Because this is not Tortuga?"
"Because this is not Tortuga. Anyone watching would quickly see you're the better swordsman. While that passes for sport in our world, Andrew would gain sympathy here."
Phillip rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Just one flaw in that line of reasoning. I'm a crack shot and bloody fast. Just ask Tranquillo Mendoza."
Will chuckled. "You are like your father, then. I insisted he wear a brace of four pistols during a boarding to keep him from taking other men's pistols to use as his own."
"I'll have to ask him about that when I return to Barbados. He's never mentioned it."
"I knew Jack had it in him to be a fine pirate captain, even when he refused to see it," said Will. "Just as I knew Josiah would be the boatswain Jack needed at his side."
Phillip gasped. "Then it was you who orchestrated--"
"Getting back to the duel, as our quarter hour is lapsing," said Will. "Andrew wants this to play out on the Saunders' property, on the outskirts of the town. Duels are usually a public spectacle. But he wants privacy. And why wouldn't he, if he is planning to rig the affair?"
"Fine. I'll bring my own pistol."
"You'll do nothing of the sort. You'll name me your second. That should throw a fright into him. And as your second, I shall supply the weapons under your right as the challenged. The rest is up to you."
"And if I kill him?"
"As I said, Phillip. The rest is up to you."
A knock came at the door. The butler stood there with an expectant look. "Sir? It has been one-quarter of an hour, as you stated. Do you have an answer for the man?"
"Indeed, we do," said Will. "Tomorrow, nine o'clock, on the Saunders' land at the appointed place. And heaven help his soul. Tell him that, word for word."
"I shall indeed, sir," smiled the butler. "With pleasure."
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #116 on: September 30, 2018, 05:13:12 PM »
Hunger got the better of Zara.
She looked into the mirror and saw that the hand print from Andrew had faded somewhat. She put some powder on it and if she combed her hair over to the side, no one would be the wiser.
She quietly went down the stairs and stood on the last step as she heard Will and Phillip talking quietly.
And what she heard made her heart drop.

“Have you thought about what would happen to that little lady if by chance you were to lose?”
“I thought about it. But Peffly is a hot head. And that will play to my advantage.”
“If the worst should happen, Jack would have to get another ship to come up to fetch her. Never mind the fact that she would be heartbroken.”
“Do you see any other way out of it?”
“You could just not show up.”
“And have everyone in Virginia know that I ran like a coward from the likes of HIM? That would give him bragging rights as to how he bested me. I WON’T STAND FOR THAT, WILL!”
Phillip punctuated the last sentence by slamming his fist down on the table.
“I will insist on inspecting the pistols before so there will be nothing that would indicate he sabotaged the mechanism.”
“Do you think he would do that?”
“Oh so maybe he will put an apple on my head and try to shoot it off?”
“This is no time for levity, Phillip. I would hate to write that letter to Josiah. Especially over some foolishness.”
“I apologize.”
“It will just be the two of us and I will get Levi to hold our horses. The reverberation from the pistols may spook them. I’ll go down to talk to him in a few minutes. Remember. Just the three of us will know about this.”
“Not even Dilcey?”
“Especially not Dilcey.  No need to worry her needlessly.”

Zara quietly turned and walked briskly through the kitchen. When she reached the flower garden, she gathered up her skirts and ran as fast as she could to the stables.
“Levi? May I speak to you?”
“Miss Zara! Of course you can!”
“I know Captain Harkness has been down to see you.”
Levi’s eyes shifted and he pulled at his collar.
“I don’t know what you mean, Miss Zara.”

She touched his arm.
“Please, Levi. This is very important. I know what is going on. And I know you are to ride with Captain Harkness and Captain Briggs. I have to be there. I need to be there.”
“Miss Zara, it isn’t fitting--”
“Levi, I am trying to make a future with Captain Briggs and I know about the trouble. It has to do with me.”
“Miss Zara, I am not sure--”
She shouted in desperation, “Levi, I know about the duel! I have to be there in case...”
She tried to hold back her tears. She gathered her strength.
“In case it ends up badly. I need to be there with Phillip.”
“Miss Zara, that is—well, not fitting. You don’t want to be there.”
She raised her chin.
“Don’t worry about my safety. I know they are riding out at first light. The only thing I am asking for is your clothes”
“Your clothes and your cap. And a horse.”
“Miss Zara, if I am found out, I will be sacked.”
“No, you won’t. Let’s work it this way—I will be down here at dawn. I hit you over the head. But not really. I am putting the cap low on my face and tucking my hair under it. I will be dressed as a stable groom. You can either co-operate, Levi, or I surely WILL club you over the head.”
He sighed. “The worst I can do is get sacked.”
“Please don’t worry, Levi. I am not a bad shot myself. And as far as a dagger, my mother taught me how to throw it and hit my mark every time.”
Zara reached out and touched his arm.
“Levi, I have seen Captain Briggs under extreme pressure where it was a matter of life or death. He pulled out his pistol so fast it was a blur. And fired just as fast. He found his aim dead center into a Spaniard’s chest. From what I can see, Lord Peffly is an arrogant fool. And arrogant fools are reckless.”

She paused. “Levi, I have to go. I swear they won’t know I am me. I will be you. Does that make any sense?”
He nodded. “Unfortunately it does. Alright. I’ll help you.”
She grabbed his hand in gratitude.
“Thank you, Levi. Thank you.”
“Just make sure the captains don’t know it is you. I will meet you down here at five o’clock in the morning and have a set of my clothes laid out. The mare will be saddled up and I will give you the checkered cap. It’s too big for me and it should accommodate all of your hair. As far as your voice, I will let it be known tonight that I have laryngitis so they won’t be expecting you to talk.”
“Thank you, Levi. I will be down then.”
“Miss Zara?”
“Be careful. Sometimes these duels get a bit out of control.”
Her heart sank but she said quietly. “I understand. When this is over, I intend for Phillip and I to leave Virginia as soon as we can.”
Levi nodded solemnly, “I think that is an excellent idea. An excellent idea.”
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #117 on: September 30, 2018, 05:17:24 PM »
At dawn

Zara glanced at the clock on the mantle and saw the hour was five. She threw her covers aside and slipped into a pair of breeches, a silk shirt and an old pair of worn boots.
Under the light of the full moon, she ran quickly to the stable, being careful to stay in the shadows.

She threw the door back and whispered, “Levi?”
Levi sat up from the cot he was dozing on.
“Miss Zara?”
“Yes. I need your clothes.”
“Miss Zara, I still don’t think….”
“Levi, stop it. I will pick up a club and whack you over the head. So we can do this peacefully or painfully. But regardless, I WILL have your clothes.”

Out of an old burlap bag, Levi produced a cotton shirt made out of ticking. He handed her a pair of pants.
“Now turn your back.”
She swiftly changed into Levi’s clothes.
“Now your cap.”
“You won’t let anything happen to it, will you? It’s my favorite one.”
“No, I won’t,” Zara said impatiently.
She took her hair and clipped it into several flat coils and put the cap on, pulling it low.
“Now for the final touch.”
She went outside and took a handful of moist dirt and rubbed it on her face and on her hands, being careful to get the dirt into her nails.
“How do I look?”
“Like….me. Except you um...uh….have...uh...”
Zara looked down. “Oh. Quite right.”

She found a strip of cloth. “Turn your head again.”
“Why don’t I just go outside?”
“Because I can’t risk you getting caught. Oh, for Pete’s sake, Levi. Even if you catch a glance, there isn’t anything you haven’t seen before.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I have heard stories.”
“From who?”
“Who do you think?”
“Alright. But make it fast.”

Zara lifted up the shirt and wrapped the cloth around her chest and tucked it in.
“ is that?”
Levi frowned. “You look like me. Just so you know, I told Captain Harkness I was coming down with laryngitis so he won’t expect me to be talking. When you get to the Saunders’ property, you will find two trees. Take this thick rope and be sure to tether two of the horses to them. Hold your steed. And...Miss Zara?”
“May God be with you all.”

Zara sat in the stables and dozed off when she heard the door being pulled back.
“Levi? It’s time. How is the voice?”
Zara kept her head low and made a squeaking noise, then pointed to her throat.
“Ah, well, did you take the honey like I told you to?”
Zara nodded, looking down at her boots.
“Give it a day or two. Rest that voice.”

Zara glanced over and saw Phillip staring at the moon.
“Odd to think this might be the last moon I will ever see.”
Zara fought the urge to run to him and hold him close.
He turned to Will.
“If anything...untoward should happen, take care of Zara. See that she gets home to Barbados safely.”
“I will. But it won’t end that way.”
“One thing...”
“Tell her that I loved her. With all my heart."
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #118 on: September 30, 2018, 06:37:12 PM »
Zara felt hot tears welling in her eyes. But rather than show her hand, she feigned a coughing fit. She held up her hand to signal everything was all right.
"Are you sure your stable hand is up to the task?" said Phillip.
"Levi?" said Will. "Constant as the Northern Star. Shall we away?"
"I don't relish the thought of killing a man. Not over something so trivial."
Zara instantly found herself torn between another coughing fit and finding a heavy stone to throw at Phillip's head. She opted for coughing.
"Really, Levi," said Will. "This will never do. Perhaps another spoonful of honey is in order?"
Zara nodded in agreement and ducked back into the stable.
"Do you think they're on to me?" whispered Zara.
"Keep on the way you are, and they will," said Levi.
"Then what do I do?"
"Trip as you pass the barn door, Miss Zara. My eyesight ain't the best. Stumble a little, and they'll know it's me."
"I owe you, Levi. You're a diamond."
"You don't owe me anything. Now, get back out there and be me, would you?"
When Zara got outside again, Will and Phillip were already mounted on their horses. Zara stayed in the shadows as much as she could as she mounted the mare.
"Ready, Levi?" Will asked.
She nodded and followed behind. The dawn was about to break.
"How long before we reach the Saunders property?"
"Not long. Fifteen minutes. By then the sun will have just cleared the horizon.
When Zara got outside again, Will and Phillip were already mounted on their horses. Zara stayed in the shadows as much as she could as she mounted the mare.
"Ready, Levi?" Will asked.
She nodded and followed behind. The dawn was about to break.
"How long before we reach the Saunders property?"
"Not long. Fifteen minutes. By then the sun will have just cleared the horizon.”
The soft morning fog had already started to lift. It combined with the pre-dawn light to lend a dreamlike quality to the road ahead.
"This is all so damned silly," Phillip grumbled.
"You'll get no argument from me," said Will. "Unfortunately, men like Andrew place a higher value upon their ego rather than they do reason. I'm sure you've met the type before."
"Unfortunately, I have. Peffly would get along famously with the Barbados governor's son."
"Yes, I imagine he would."

Zara's heart sank as she thought about Phillip's words. He was right, of course. Andrew and Tristan were cut from the same rotten cloth. It was not lost on her that nearly all honourable men in her life were former pirates.

Yo ho ho! Or does nobody actually say that?

Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #119 on: September 30, 2018, 06:57:58 PM »
As the three of them reached the clearing, Andrew and his second, Ben Bradley, stood up.
“Well, I really didn’t think you would show up. I thought for sure you would bow out at the last minute. I have to give you due credit.”
Andrew stood there polishing his flintlock.
Bradley crossed his arms and leaned against a tree, a smirk on his face.
“Why, Lord Peffly, I wouldn’t have missed this opportunity for the world.”
Andrew shook his head in mock sadness. “And all over a little trollop.”
Phillip knew that Andrew was attempting to provoke him into recklessness.
He clenched his hands but said with a satisfied smile on his face, “Yes, Peffly, but she’s MY trollop.”
Andrew opened a chestnut box holding two pistols. He picked one and handed the other one to Phillip.
“Should have brought a brawnier stable hand, Harkness. He looks too scrawny to drag a lifeless body home.”
“You just worry about yourself, “ Will said succinctly.
He looked over at Zara and did a double take.

Zara stood there in Levi’s clothes with her head bowed down, her shoulders shaking ever so slightly. A single tear trailed down her cheek.
Will walked over to her and put his finger under her chin, raising her face up.
She couldn’t meet his gaze, that tear still tracking down her face.
Softly, he said, “Don’t worry, ‘Levi’. I promise you he will be safe. You have my word.”
He squeezed her hand and then walked back to the two men.

“Let me see the pistol,” Will said. “After all, I am his second.”
Andrew looked edgy.
“Fight’s not with you, Harkness.”
“Oh, but I beg to differ. After all, the little ‘trollop’ is a house guest of mine and the daughter of a dear friend. She’s like a daughter to me, too. What, you thought Captain Briggs was too naive to bring a second? I think you underestimated him, Peffly. I really do.”
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....


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