Author Topic: EL LOBO DEL MAR  (Read 3360927 times)

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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #330 on: December 26, 2015, 04:34:41 PM »
The big man moved faster than what Rafferty had led Jack to believe, and again he found himself being picked up off the ground. Not one to be tossed like a rag doll again, Jack slammed his forehead against the bridge of the Campbell man's nose. There was a loud crack. Jack hoped it wasn't his own skull. At least his feet were on solid ground again. He shook his head to clear away the cobwebs, only to get back-fisted in the chest by a now enraged giant.

He stumbled into the arms of Flannery, who gave him a grave look. "You're not doing so well at this, cousin."
"I've got him right where I want him," answered Jack. He winced as he drew in a breath, and found himself wishing Duckie was somewhere close.
"That's as may be," said Rafferty. "But it's time for a little family help."
"Aye," nodded Flannery. "That it is!"

Without any warning, the cousins flung Jack forward, propelling him into the arms of the Campbell beast. The big man caught him in a crushing bear hug. As Jack struggled to get free, he heard two men yell something unintelligible. Then the whole world went sideways. The next thing he knew, he was on top of the Campbell giant. So was Rafferty, and so was Flannery. And the giant was out cold.

"What- what happened?" said Jack. "You lot fed me to that ogre..."
"No," said Rafferty. "You provided a distraction. With Ian busy trying to squash you, we were able to take advantage and help out."
"Raff hit him high, and I hit him low," said Flannery. "His head hit the ground, and now he's taking a wee nap."
Jack stared at his cousins in disbelief. Then the absurdity of the three men sitting on top of the giant they had just toppled struck them all, and they dissolved in laughter.

Honour rushed over to Jack. "Oh, look at you! Are you all right? Is anything broken?"
"Honour, I'm fine. Really. Just a few bumps," he managed to say between laughs.
"Jack Wolfe, I think you enjoyed yourself!"
He smiled at her and replied, "Welcome to Scotland, my love! It doesn't get more fun than this."
"I should think not," she said as she helped him to his feet. "None of you would have any teeth left!"

A few Campbell lads scurried in to haul away their fallen comrade. The MacGregors crowded in as Honour worried over Jack's swollen eye.
"I don't think there is anything I can do to stop it from swelling," she said.
"It's fine, Honour. It's not my first black eye. I've had worse. And pulled through, thanks to you."
"You'd best keep it that way, Jack Wolfe. Saving your life is not a habit I want to take up again."
Jack smiled and drew her into a kiss. But it was interrupted by the cheers of the kinfolk surrounding them.
"All right, the party has been interrupted enough!" cried Aggie MacGregor. "Where are the musicians? We need something to dance to!"

Within moments, the musicians took their places and began to play a lively reel. Tables were righted and pushed to the sides, and the Campbells used the opportunity to retreat quietly from the hall. As the dance lines formed on either side of the open space, Maura and Laura clapped in time to the music. But their attention was on Honour and Jack, who were sitting off to the side in private conversation.
"Have ye seen two so in love?" asked Laura.
"No, and I'm a bit jealous," said Maura. "How many more little ones do you see them having?"
"If I had to pull a number from the air, I'd say six. She's young, and he's full of fire."
"Speaking of fire, I think I'll be lighting one under that husband of mine," Maura giggled.
"Mine as well! There be not enough MacGregors in this world. We need to change things!"
« Last Edit: December 27, 2015, 04:30:29 PM by Captain Jack Wolfe »
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #331 on: January 13, 2016, 07:50:14 PM »
The little band of MacGregors trudged through the glen.
Jack turned to Honour, "You're limping."
"Must have been when I kicked that big lug. I twisted my ankle."
"Maura--Laura--I have never seen twins with identical bumps on their foreheads."
They giggled. "Well, we both rammed Callum from the side but he ducked down and we clunked heads."
"We got him where it counts, though. His grandbairn are going to well feel it!"

Zara was in Aggie's arms, sniffing the air.
"Mama! Strawberries! You have strawberries?"
"Must be the wine," Honour whispered to Jack.

Rafferty and Flannery were bringing up the rear, laughing hysterically.
"Och, mon, when Jack headbutted Alisdair...."
"..and then he fell back into that vat of homemade brew that McClellan brought....."
"Best use for that slop I ever saw!"
"Aye! That stuff is what he uses for sheep dip anyways!"

Aggie opened the door to the cottage and called out to the rest of the MacGregors.
"Aye, well, ye'll be feelin' it tomorrow. Come round here about 8:00 for breakfast and I'll be makin' a right proper one in celebration of the trouncing we gave those Campbells!"
"Aye, Gran....the whole family will be there. Including the lads," Rafferty called out.
"Well, that is what family is for. See you in the morning."

Aggie handed Zara off to Jack.
"Let me see that ankle, Honour, dear."
Honour eased herself into the chair by the fireplace.
"I'm so sorry. I guess it was just instinct that made me punch that big oaf. He reminded me of the tavern rats and I guess my survival mode kicked in."
Aggie laughed. "Not to worry, dear."
She moved Honour's foot this way and that. Honour winced.
"Nothing broken but it is sprained. Take it easy for a day or two."
Zara patted Jack's face.
"Da--open your eye."
"I can't, sweetheart. It's swollen."
"Da--you have one eye now?
"It will be better in the morning, Zara. Maybe if I have two eyes I will see two Zaras!"
Honor took Zara from Jack's arms.
"I think it is high time our daughter got to bed. Come, sweetheart. Kiss your da and Gran goodnight."

As Honour led Zara off to bed, Aggie gently helped Jack with his shirt off.
"! You HAVE  seen quite a bit of action!"
She touched a few of the scars.
"I am sure there are quite a few stories behind them."
She handed Jack a whiskey.
"A bullet wound? And yet you survived it."
"Yes, thanks to Honour."
"Gran, alot of my life wasn't so pleasant."
"I can tell."
"I have a sworn enemy by the name of Diego Mendoza."
"I suppose being a pirate it was easy to fall into the ill graces of a Spaniard. I can only guess that you took his ship."
Jack moved slowly and winced. "Yes, I did. And something a bit more personal too...I took his wife."
"What? You were married before Honour?"
Jack actually found himself blushing in front of his grandmother. "No, not married. I guess you could say I 'borrowed' her. For an evening."
"God Almighty, Tomcat MacGregor reincarnated," she said under her breath.
"It was all before Honour came into my life."
She touched his ribs.
"Ow! Ahhh!"
"You cracked one here....and two...that one may be broken."
"Gran, I owe my life to Honour in oh, so many ways."
"I'll get cloth strips. We need to bind those ribs. Continue if I could stop you anyways."

« Last Edit: January 13, 2016, 08:01:47 PM by Welsh Wench »
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« Reply #332 on: January 20, 2016, 07:41:37 PM »

"Mendoza captured and imprisoned me once for a couple of months. It was only by the grace of God and a few friends who helped smuggle me out. Otherwise, I would have been dead for sure. I met Honour a couple years later. We were sailing from a port called Castara back to Barbados when Mendoza's ship spotted us. A battle ensued."
Aggie crossed herself. "You mean you were in battle while you had your precious daughter on board?"
"Zara wasn't in the picture yet. But Diego suffered more damage than we did. A sniper got me. Honour dug the bullet out and packed the wound."

"I knew I liked her even before you told me this. She's a rare one, that Honour. Bonny and good childbearing hips. Speaking of which, shouldn't there be another bairn in the near future?"
Jack flinched as she bound his ribs. "Aye, for sure we're working on it."
Aggie smiled. "So I gathered. Not to worry, Jackie, these things sometimes take time. Although you don't let alot of grass grow under your feet."

She reached over with a cool cloth and washed his face. "You'll be having quite a black eye there. Which one was it?"
"The big one with the red beard and jug ears."
Aggie spat. "That be Ian Campbell. Simpleton but brawn. The name MacGregor is taboo still but we do use it amongst ourselves. The Campbells are bullies. For over one hundred years they have been using their strength to push the clans out. Well, the MacGregors pushed back. I imagine it will always be like this. A word of caution though--"
"What is it?"
Aggie took Jack's face in her hand.
"Protect that wife of yours. I saw Alisdair Campbell appraising her as if she were a brood mare he was intent on buying. They think they can get whatever they want."
"I shall, Gran. But Honour is an excellent with a blade. She can skewer a man before he even takes his out of the scabbard."
"Nonetheless, protect what is your own."
From upstairs, a childish voice yelled out, "Bollocks!"
Jack's face turned red and Aggie roared with laughter. "Seems your daughter has inherited your gift for language too."

She poured him another spot of whiskey.
"First one is for the pain, the second is for the truth."
"Truth? What truth?"
She leaned forward, her eyes fixed on his intently.
"You said you had woolens and whiskey to pick up from trade. I believe you. But there is more to it."
"Gran, I swear...."
"Jack Wolfe, what is the REAL reason you came to Scotland?"
Jack stared at the fire, trying to decide what answer was best. But all he could say was, "To make amends. And to show you your granddaughter. Since Mum couldn't see her, I wanted you to meet her. And now I think I'd best get to bed. A good night's sleep will do everyone good."
Aggie poured herself another dram of whiskey.
He turned on the staircase. "Yes, Gran?"
"Don't tell lies in heaven, or an angel will get mean."
"Goodnight, Gran."
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #333 on: January 29, 2016, 07:41:44 PM »
Jack opened the door quietly. Honour was just drawing the blanket over a sleeping Zara.
She put her finger to her lips.
"Shh. I finally got her to sleep. She's a bit wound up after all the commotion."
"I'm sorry, Honour. I guess a MacGregor ceilidh is no place for a two year old but Zara got a shot in too."

Honour looked at him with a puzzled look.
"What do you mean?"
"Aggie told me a man with a bottle was about to clunk Rafferty over the head. It was at that moment that Zara threw her cookie at him and hit him squarely in the back of the  head. Not hard but enough to garner his attention and make him turn his head. That was when Flannery put his knee into the back of the man's leg. He crumpled like an old brick wall. Rafferty took the bottle and conked him on the head with it. Then he and Flannery polished off the bottle in two gulps and threw it over their shoulder. It then hit Alisdair in the back and he went flying into my fist."
"Flying into your fist?"
"Well, my hand was drawn back."

She sat down on the side of the bed. "This clan of yours....."
"It's been that way since there has been a Scotland and the MacGregors and Campbells drew their first breaths."
"What started it?"
"Who knows but I bet there was a woman involved. Or at least I would like to think there was."
She looked over to the cradle.
"What tempestuous blood flows through that little girl's veins!"
"She will make for a very interesting woman, for sure. She'd better find a man that can stand up to her."
"We have time enough for that, Jack."
He reached over and gently massaged her foot.
"Not broken but seems to be sprained. I suggest alot of bed rest, Mrs. Wolfe."
"Oh, do you now, Dr Wolfe?"
"Aye, for sure. And I would be remiss if I did not keep you company."
"Oh, really?"
"And quiet so maybe Aggie would like to keep Zara for the day."

Jack carefully took his shirt off.
"JACK!" Honour exclaimed.
He grimaced as he lowered himself down on the bed.
"Just a few cracked ribs. Aggie bound them up with these strips. Don't worry, darling. I heal fast. Not the first time I have cracked--and even broken--ribs before. "
She reached over and put her arms around him, gently laying her head on his chest.
"Do you think there will be any repercussions from this?"
"No. I don't think so." He gently stroked her hair.
"Yes, love?"
"I think this is about as affectionate as I am going to get tonight."
She looked up at him. "You amaze me."
"How so?"
"As hurt as you are, you still have thoughts of making love."
He kissed her cheek.
"Honour, with you it's always on my mind."
She whispered, "Good. How's your eye?"
"The swelling is going down. Aggie put a cold cloth on it. But I daresay it will be black for a while."
"Yes, darling?"
"I wish I could find a way to make you shut up! If I ever get my hands on that big lug...."
Jack laughed. "It's alright darling. It felt good to know that at my age I can still hold my own in a tavern fight."
"Yes, darling?"
"I wish I could find a way to make you shut up!" she said as she blew out the candle.

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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #334 on: February 10, 2016, 08:39:33 PM »
"Gran, I have to go to Ballantrae to talk to a merchant who is an old friend. I could go by myself and be back around dusk but I would like to take Honour with me and show her the Scottish countryside. Since I don't want to navigate the roads at night, would you mind keeping Zara here overnight with you?"
"Mind? Not at all! Unless I can convince you to stay in Scotland. My days visiting with my wee lassie will be numbered so go. And Zara and I will go to visit  Seonaid and pick some wild mountain thyme on our way back. You will be saddling up two of the horses from the stables. No one can beat Tommy MacGregor's horses."
Jack kissed her weathered cheek.
 "I knew I could count on you."
"Maybe if you spend enough time alone, you'll get a head start on that second grandchild," Aggie said under her breath.
"What did you say?"
"Nothing. Nothing at all. Go...have fun!"
Within the hour, Jack and Honour were riding side by side through the countryside.
"It's so beautiful here, Jack. I almost wish--almost!--that we could stay here. Your family is so warm and loving. Sometimes I wonder if things would have been different if my mum had lived. Maybe Rhodri would have been the loving father."
"If she had lived, maybe you would have been content to marry a local lad like Megan did. Live happily ever after in Wales."
She reached out to touch his hand. "Maybe. But I would not have the exciting life I have now. Everything happens for a reason."
He kissed her hand.
"I'm so glad you got to meet the Scottish kin. I had forgotten how much I missed them."
"Tomorrow I am going over to Maura's--or is it Laura's?--house to visit. Fiona is bringing some wool and they were going to show me how to spin it."
Jack looked off into the distance.
"Gran asked me last night the real reason I am here."
"What did you tell her?"
"I lied. I told her a merchant visit and I wanted to see her make peace after all this time."
"Did she buy that?"
"No, I can tell she didn't go for it. Her mouth got that tight little line."
"We've been here almost a week now. I think it is time to level with her."
Jack sighed.
"I know. I'm worried as to how she will react. I don't want her to think it is for my own glory. Or a treasure I intend to take back."
He paused and looked up at the sky. Tattered clouds, low and grey, were streaming in from the west ahead of a foreboding wall of heavier, dark clouds. Intermittent flashes of lightning slashed the horizon though no thunder could be heard yet.
"I don't like the way that sky looks. A nasty storm is blowing in."
"Isn't it a seasonal storm?"
He shook his head. "No. This is something bigger. More like the storms I've seen in the Caribbean summertime. We'll need to find shelter, and soon. And I'll not have us taking any chances with the horses losing their footing and tumbling down to those rocks below. See those stones piled up? There's a road up ahead. We'll take that. All these roads lead into town. We can make it to an inn if we have to."

No sooner had they turned onto the wider road when the wind picked up and large raindrops started to fall. The first rumbles of thunder followed soon after.
"I don't think we're going to make it to the inn, " Jack yelled over the wind. "I doubt there are any caves close by for easy shelter."
"No caves!" countered Honour. "I'd like one adventure that doesn't have me saving your life."
"When did you get so picky?" Jack laughed. He shielded his eyes and looked in the distance. "Look! Over there. A manor house. Roughly a mile or so, from the look of it. Maybe they will extend hospitality to a couple of half-drowned travellers. Unless they are Campbells."
"We'll have to run for it. Can you ride that hard with your ribs?"
Jack flashed her a grin. "Darling, I once had three broken ribs and a punctured lung and took a French merchantman the next day. Duckie wasn't happy about it but the men were. I can manage."

Jack and Honour kicked their horses into a gallop. The rain grew heavier and the wind wilder with every stride the horses took. As they neared the manor house, they slowed to a brisk trot. The wind was beginning to make the horses fearful as it swirled and moaned about them.

The house was dark. No lamp lights shone in any of the windows. The house itself looked more like a fortress than a gentleman's estate. The corners of the house rose up in turrets, and battlements ran along the rooftop where one would expect widow's walks to be. Honour had never seen such an unwelcoming home, save one. The estate of her first husband.

She tore her eyes away from the frightening aspect of the house, but her gaze fell on a sight even less encouraging. In front of the house, near to the lane they were travelling, was a small, dilapidated cemetery. Vines had overgrown the iron fencing that surrounded it. The gravestones themselves were askew, almost as if the deceased were attempting to claw their way back into the world of the living. Honour could feel her chest tighten with dread. At that moment, a blinding flash of lightning lit up the landscape. And in that instant, she did not see the dark Scottish manor house. It was as if, for the briefest of moments, Castlemaine itself had been transported and placed before her by the storm.
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #335 on: February 17, 2016, 07:37:05 PM »
"Honour! Honour!!"
She shook her head and blinked at the sound of her name. Without realising it, she had brought her horse to a stop at the start of the road into the estate. Her horse pawed the ground nervously.
"Honour, move your arse!" Jack shouted.
"Yes. Yes, of course!" she replied, and urged her horse back into a trot as they made their way to the stables behind the manor house.

"Hello! Hello in there!" shouted Jack as they approached the stable. "Hello! Damn it! Either this estate is deserted or we've found a family of deaf-mutes."
He dismounted and tried the heavy stable door. To his surprise, it was not latched. He had to put his shoulder into it, but the door groaned open enough to get the horses inside.
He guided his horse into a stall as Honour dismounted in the aisle.
"Where did this storm come from?" she asked. "It was sunny this morning."
"Those clouds we saw earlier? They look just like ones I've seen at sea. Sometimes they form near the Ivory Coast and head north. That's what this one must be."
He closed the stable door and went back to unsaddle his horse. "Depending how big this one is, we may be stuck here a day or more."
A loud blast of thunder provided punctuation to his statement.
"I truly hope you're wrong," said Honour as she pulled the saddle from her horse.
"So do I. There's no hay in here. The horses will have to go hungry for now. That will make for a delightful ride. But they're safe from the weather. That's something."
"Do you think the owner will let us stay the night?"
"I should hope so. It's the polite thing to do."
"But what if no one is home? What if it's deserted? What will we do then?"
"Then, my dear, I shall break in as politely as circumstances allow. We are civilised folk, after all. Shall we give a knock?"
 "Hold my hand, though."
She nodded again.
"Then let's GO!"
Jack opened the stable door and slammed it shut behind them. Slipping and sliding in the mud, they ran up to the front portico.
"Hello! Hello!" he pounded on the front door with his fist.
Lightning flashed again and Honour jumped at the loud clap of thunder that came out of nowhere.
"I don't think anyone is here, Jack." she yelled.
"I don't think so either. So they can't refuse us shelter."
Jack shouldered his way against the door and after three times, it groaned open.
He fell on the vestibule floor.
Honour called out, "Hello? Is anyone home?" Her voice echoed in the hall.
Jack picked himself up off the floor.
"No one is home, Honour, and there hasn't been anyone here in a long time. See?"
He ran his finger over the entrance table and showed her a dusty finger. A streak of dust was on the table.
"Well, I can't see anything."
Just then a flash of lightning lit up the sky and she jumped on Jack's back.
"Hey! Hey!"
She jumped down. "I'm sorry. I am just more than slightly nervous. I almost thought I saw Madoc's face in the window," she laughed shakily.
"Honour? Can you let go of my hand for a minute? I'll shed some light on all this."
Jack reached into his pocket and pulled out a flint. Striking it against the floor, he picked up the candle by the table and lit it.
Their shadows loomed large against the stark white wall.
He glanced around the room.
"Well, Honour, so much for the romantic dinner and night I had planned at the inn.
"Jack, do you think it is safe for us to be in here? I mean... we are trespassing!"
"And just who is going to stop us?  And look at you! You are standing in a puddle of water that you are creating. And shaking, I might add."
"I'm cold."
He put his arms around her and drew her close to him.
"That's not the only reason. You are shaking from nervousness. But we don't have another choice. Do you want to stay in the barn? Sleep in the hay? Because I sure don't."
"I don't know....I feel like an intruder."
"Come on, no one lives here anymore. Let's see if we can find a blanket to wrap you in so you don't catch your death of cold."
He looked over and a wool blanket covered the back of a chair.
"Ask and you shall receive! Now step out of those wet clothes."
"I'll keep my chemise on if you don't mind."
"I do mind but that is negotiable. Later."
She shook her head. "If you think I am going to a house like this, you are out of your mind."
She dropped her skirt and he tenderly wrapped it around her shoulders.
"Shall we do a bit of exploring?"
"Only if you stay right next to me and don't wander off on your own."
He held his arm out to her. "Well, then... allons-y!"
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #336 on: April 02, 2016, 08:33:32 PM »
He tried the heavy oak doors. The handle turned under protest, but the doors themselves did not move. Finally, he put his shoulder into it and the doors slowly opened, accompanied by a thick cascade of dust from above.
"Remind me to lodge a complaint with the hotelier about housekeeping," he coughed. "I believe we found the library."
Honour fanned the dust away from her face. "Good Lord, do all these old homes look the same?" she said with a note of disdain as she looked around. "Musty books, overstuffed chairs... dreary portraits on the wall... Madoc's study looked much like this. One would almost swear this was his summer home."

In fact, her statement was only half in jest. The room was almost a twin of Madoc's library, down to the overstuffed high-backed chair with it small reading table beside the left arm and an empty glass waiting to be filled with fine aged brandy. She could almost see him sitting there, turning pages with slow deliberation as he thought his small, cruel thoughts.

"I shall be along in a little while, Rhiannon."
"But Madoc, I'm really quite tired—"
Madoc held up one slender finger in warning. "I said, in a little while."

She sighed and looked down at the floor.
"As you wish," she whispered.

"As I wish, what? You can't be that enthralled with the decorating. It's ghastly."
"Wha-what?" she said with a start. "Oh, I'm sorry. I was... thinking about something else."
"Like on the road?"
She could feel her cheeks begin to heat up.
"Don't be embarrassed, love," Jack continued. "This place is enough to unnerve anyone. And our host's taste in literature is as bad as his taste in decor. Books on money, books on law. Books on how to use the law to take money from those who haven't read the same books you have. I don't know who he is, or was, but I don't like him."

He paused and reached for a half-full bottle of dark amber liquid. He pulled the cork free and gave the vapours a sniff. His eyes widened in surprise.
"I may not like him, but I do like his taste in fine cognac. This is still good. Probably better than when he opened it. And since we're the only ones here, I'm claiming it," he said with a grin.
"Jack, shouldn't we be more concerned with seeing if anyone is here first?"
Now, love. I'm being practical."
"How is raiding the owner's liquor practical?"
"Provisions! This and a fire, we'll be nice and warm all night. I doubt we'll find anything edible, so cognac will have to do."
"It still feels like stealing," said Honour. She crossed her arms as a chill went through her.
"All right," said Jack. "We'll settle this."
"How do you mean?"
"By asking permission, of course." He cleared his throat and loudly announced, "Hello, in the house! I found this lovely bottle of cognac lying about. Mind if we keep it?"
Apart from the muffled sounds of the storms winds, the house remained silent.
"See?" beamed Jack. "Nobody here, and no one to protest our presence. We could practically order new linens and move in tonight. Well, and three weeks of dusting."

A heavy, echoing bang followed by an inhuman howl issued from somewhere in the house above them.
Honour put her hands to her mouth to stifle a terrified shriek. "What in heaven's name was that?" she said in a wavering voice. "Maybe we should go back to the barn. Barns are nice. I don't mind barns at all."
"Just— calm down," said Jack in his reassuring, gently authoritative tone he could muster. "Calm down, all right? This is an old, drafty house in the middle of one cracker of a storm. There is a rational explanation for what we heard."
"Are you honestly sure?"
"Well, what do you think it was?"
She thought for a moment. "Someone who really wants his cognac left alone?"
"Plausible, but Duckie isn't here. There's no one more protective of cognac than him. Now stay here. I'll see what's making all the noise."

Jack went to the library door and looked back. "Please, stay here? I'm asking nicely."
Honour nodded. "I'll stay here until you come back. I promise."
He flashed a confident smile and went into the hallway.
After a few moments, Honour uncrossed her fingers and started for the door. "In a pig's eye, I'll wait..."
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #337 on: April 17, 2016, 07:12:19 PM »
He cautiously made his way up the stairs, hoping to get a glimpse of whatever made the distressing sounds. Each step elicited a strained creak under his feet as the stairway complained after decades of disuse. A brilliant flash of lightning illuminated the staircase through windows on the landing above him. But the crash of thunder that followed it was accompanied by a startled gasp.
Jack paused, and without turning around said, "Nice of you to join me, dear. What took so long?"
"I was giving you a head start," replied Honour.
"I recall you making a promise to stay put."
"It wasn't my fault. You left me in a boring room. There wasn't even any wallpaper."

Another loud bang and unearthly howl came from ahead of them, but now softer rattles and scratching could be heard. Honour pressed in close to her husband.
"Exciting enough for you now?" he asked as she peered around him into the gloom.
"I'm glad you find this funny, Jack Wolfe. Remember, I only have to outrun you."
"I'll make a pirate of you yet. Now, let's find out what is making such a racket."
"Or who..."

As they got to the top of the stairs, the source of the strange noises became apparent. By the flashes of lightning, they could see a tall wooden shutter, the kind that could be closed over the inside of a window to keep out the chill of a winter's night, swinging wildly in the wind that blew through a broken window. Jack was able to wrestle it closed with Honour's help and latched it back in place.
Jack wiped the rain from her face. "Nothing like getting wet again to take your mind off being cold and damp, eh?"
"Where on earth did this storm come from?" she said in exasperation.
"To wager a guess, I'd say western Africa. This, my love, is a tropical storm."
"But... we're in Scotland! How could a tropical storm hit here?"
"Not every storm tracks west. Some get shunted north. Surely, there were storms like this when you were in Wales."
"A scant few, I think. Nothing like this. I never knew where they came from. Jack, do you think Barbados was in danger? Megan and Daffyd, they wouldn't know what to do—"
"No, Honour. This one veered north early on. It reminds me of a storm I got caught in once. Was it '51? We were in port at Lagos. One hell of a blow came up out of nowhere. We barely made it out of port in time."
She gave him a puzzled look. "But wouldn't port be the best place to stay in a storm?"
"Oh, no. It's the worst possible place to be. There's no room to manoeuver. You'd get shoved back into the docks and jetties, your ship broken to pieces. No, the best place to be is in open water, with your bow into the wind and sails furled tight."

"And what about this house, now? Or your grandmother's cottage? Will she and Zara be safe?"
"Most every home in these parts is made of stone and mortar. Everyone we know should be just fine. A few roofs may be worse for wear. And this place..." He looked around them critically. "You saw what a fortress this place is. It would take a lot more than this to bring these walls down. In other words, Honour, we'll be safe and sound. So will everyone else. Come on, let's snoop some more. It will help keep your mind off things."
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #338 on: June 28, 2016, 08:41:59 PM »
Jack took her hand as they walked back down the stairs. The hallway opposite the one leading back to the study opened up to what used to be a music conservatory.

 Pleasant floral tapestries stretched and faded with age, still hung against the walls. The woodwork was painted a soft cream colour, though now the paint was a webwork of cracks that more resembled brittle porcelain. At the centre of the room was an ornate harpsichord. The gilding on its legs glimmered faintly in the candlelight. The lid of the instrument was closed. Unlike the setting they found in the study, it did not appear that anyone was expected back in this room. On the floor next to the harpsichord was small, delicately carved harp. It remained carefully propped against an armless chair. An empty music stand stood just off to the side.
Sheet music still on its stand, Honour walked over and thumbed through the well-worn pages.
"Lots of French tunes...."
"I can only hope happy music was played here, at least some of the time," said Honor.
"Only if the master of the house tired of his favourite dirges, I'm guessing. I've seen cheerier mausoleums."
Jack ran a finger along the cover of the harpsichord's keyboard, then swung it open. The tops of the white keys had a thin veneer of iridescent mother-of-pearl. He tapped a few of the key just to see if the instrument still worked.
"The strings have survived. That's something," he said.
Honour urged him aside and took a seat at the harpsichord's bench. "Open the lid for me, would you? I'll show you properly how to test out a musical instrument."
"Your wish is my command, maestro," he said with a chuckle. The lid was heavier than he thought it would be, but it opened easily enough.
"Oh my, how beautiful!" Honour exclaimed.
The painting of the inside of the lid depicted a serene countryside scene, with a thicket of trees and a small stream running through. Birds, rabbits, and other small animals were the only inhabitants. Soft, rolling clouds completed the image of a beautiful summer's day. It was a welcome sight in the otherwise windowless room.
"Do you think that was part of the property?" she asked.
"It wouldn't surprise me. And it would be a welcome respite during the unforgiving winters here," said Jack.

Honour's fingers ran lithely across the keys.
"The strings may have survived, but their tuning didn't," she said with a sour look on her face. "It's not awful, but just barely."
"I suppose a concert is out of the question, then?"
"We'll see," she replied with a small smile.
She began playing, her fingers dancing along the keys as she played in an ornately embellished style. Jack could not help but admire her skill.

Honour stopped playing and shook her head. "Well, that was pretty terrible."
"Terrible? How? Honour, I never knew you could play like that. It was amazing!"
"This poor thing has been neglected too long. It would take hours to get it in tune again."
"What was it you were playing? I have never heard it before."
"That? Just a little thing by Jacques Champion de Chambonnières. I'm surprised I remembered it."
Jack sat on the bench next to her and took her hand. "You're still hiding talents from me, after all this time?"
"I've hidden nothing," she said slyly. She brought her face close to his, their lips almost touching. "When was the last time we were near a harpsichord?" she purred.
"Good point. Remind me to have one installed on the ship when we get back."
"Salt air is terrible for instruments, though."
"What about at our house? Would that be more to your liking?"
"You'd buy me a harpsichord?"
"Right at this moment, I'd buy you a dozen."
"I can play only one at a time."
Jack paused for a moment. "I want to be a harpsichord," he murmured.

"You can be whatever instrument you like, once we're safely back at Aggie's," she said, pressing a finger against his lips. "We still have to find some place we can dry out a bit. Wait a moment, what's that?"
She pointed to what looked like a partition in the wall of the room.
"Only one way to find out," he said.
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #339 on: June 28, 2016, 08:45:07 PM »
Jack opened up a double door and they entered what looked to be a formal parlor.
"Look at the rug. It's Persian and expensive. I found one in a taking we did of a Spanish galleon during the time we were separated."
"Where is that rug now?"
"I don't really remember. I guess one of the crew has it. Possibly Briggs. He always liked fine floor coverings."
No need to tell Honour the rug was tendered to Renee in appreciation rendered.
Jack gazed up at the wall. Portraits of former owners lined the walls. He could tell the dates and who bequeathed to whom just by their clothes. He ran his hand over the mantelpiece.
Outlining the carving, he came across the name Drummond etched in the wood.
Ad astra per ardua
To the stars through difficulty

Jack ran his finger over the inscription.
"Drummond....Drummond....why does that name sound so familiar?"
Honour looked up from the book she had taken down from the bookcase.
"Maybe someone you threatened in your former career?"
"A Scotsman? No, dear...we don't threaten our own."
"Jack, if I took this book, would it be stealing?"
"What does that little wench inside you say?"
Her face turned red and she sheepishly replaced it in the bookcase.
He continued to muse. "Drummond....Drummond...I don't know...some sort of scandal?"
Honour pulled another book out. "Could it be a scandal you were involved in?"
"Not that I can recall."
"I'll bet this was a peaceful house at one time. But it has an air of foreboding about it. More like Castlemaine."
"Let's check out the kitchen."
« Last Edit: June 28, 2016, 08:51:41 PM by Welsh Wench »
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #340 on: July 06, 2016, 09:01:48 PM »
They went down a narrow hallway. The kitchen was a large room with a fireplace, the mantel matching the one in the parlour but with no inscription. On the mantel were large hooks. But no pots or utensils hung.
"How long do you think it was empty, Jack?"
Jack looked up to the ceiling.
"Judging by the cobwebs, I'd say maybe forty or fifty years."
She ran her finger over the preparation table. "Forty-five years."
"How can you tell?"
"Forty is too little, fifty is too much. I do compromise, you know."
"Yes, and I do love to get you in a compromising position occasionally."

Just then the shutter banged against the latch in rhythm.
Honour jumped.
"Somehow I feel there is a presence that doesn't want us here."
"You Welsh--so superstitious!"
"Oh, am I? I'm not the one filling our daughter's head with fanciful stories of wee folk and hobgoblins."
"And how would you know, Honour Bright, unless you had been listening in?"
Honour laughed. "Alright, so I have been storing up a few stories to tell Zara on our way back to Barbados. Legends this good do not deserve to be forgotten."
"Somehow I think whatever legend is here needs to stay in Scotland."

From the cupboards came the sound of scurrying feet.
"Oh, good Lord, Jack! What can that be?"
"Probably a squirrel or mouse using this house as shelter like we are."
He opened a door off the kitchen.
"Well, well! Seems the Drummonds did like their whiskey!"
He turned back with two bottles in his hands.
"Stealing, Jack," she admonished.
"Borrowing without permission but with every intention of compensation."
"Then I can 'borrow' that book."
He shrugged. "As long as the little wench inside you says it is alright."
"I told that little wench to stuff it. Just like I told her to shut up when you bought me that first whiskey that night at the Varlet and Vixen."
He came behind her and hugged her.  "How I do love your forthrightness!"

She slipped out of his grasp and laughed.
"Come on---I see a door on the left."
Jack cautiously opened it enough for Honour to peer in.
"!" she gasped.
It was an enormous formal room, left as if time had stood still. The fireplaces on either end were elaborate carvings. She approached it reverently and touched it carefully, her finger tracing into the deep carvings.
"I think it was a wood carving that is gilded with gold, Jack."
He took out his pocketknife and scraped in a very inconspicuous place.
"You're right. Beautiful work."

"Can you guess what they are supposed to be?"
He stood back and smiled.
"Have you forgotten who you are dealing with? Who attended lectures on Greek history?"
She looked around in wonder.
"I've always read Greek mythology but to see the gods and goddesses come to life...almost overwhelming!"
Jack walked over to a wall and ran his hand over it. "Marble. Italian by the looks of it."
Looking upward, he exclaimed, "Just look at that plaster work. It's amazing it isn't falling off with the humidity and the cold."
She looked up and giggled. "That little cherub looks like Zara."
"Dearest, your imagination is on overtime."

The floor was well-worn wood, polished to the edges but worn in the middle.
"Must have been the scene of some fantastic ceilidhs."
He walked over to the front of the room. Scrapes covered the floor.
"Look!  This was where the musicians played. And these circular holes are from a bass violin...oh, look! I was right!"
Jack bent over and picked up what looked like a violin string.
The windows were arched and from top to bottom. Honour peered out the window.
"I can't see a thing. The wind is blowing the rain right to the window."
"I'm glad they aren't broken.

"Quod non fecerunt barbari fecerunt Barbarini."
"What does that mean?"
"It means 'What the Barbarians didn't do, the Barberini did.' In Rome alot of the ancient buildings were destroyed and plundered for the building materials to construct the homes of the rich. Shame, really. A lot of history was lost."

She touched his hand.
"You never cease to amaze me by how much you know."
"Knowledge is power, Honour. Never forget that. With knowledge you can practically rule the world. Now shall we see what the upstairs has to offer?"

He picked up the bottle of cognac and tucked the two bottles of whiskey under his arm as Honour discreetly picked up the book on English roses she had been coveting.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2016, 09:02:49 PM by Welsh Wench »
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« Reply #341 on: July 13, 2016, 08:21:15 PM »
They made their way down the hall to the door of a room. Honour found herself gripping Jack's shirt as he turned the doorknob. The first light from the candle fell into the room, revealing the delicate trappings of a woman's bedroom. As they stepped inside, a brilliant flash of lightning lit up the space. Honour screamed when she saw the slender figure of a woman in a pale dress standing at the window. Her ghostly face stared back at them with wide eyes. Another scream began to burn in Honour's throat when the spectral woman's arms began to reach out to them.
"Who is that?! Make her go away!!" she begged as she buried her face in her husband's back.
Jack turned and put his arm around her. "Shh, now! It's all right. There's no one there."
"But I saw her, reaching for us! Didn't you?"
"Yes, and everything is fine. Look."

He held the candle higher. Honour looked up hesitantly. There, swaying in the breeze from another broken window, was a faded silk and lace dress hanging on a dressing valet just as someone left it years ago. In the flickering light, she could see the reflection of her face in the window just above the neckline of the dress.
She gave a trembling sigh of relief. "I'm never hanging my dresses up like that ever again."
"And what of that dresser's mannequin you're so fond of?"
"My contribution for Guy Fawke's Night. Put a big hat on it. I'll bring a torch."
"Promises, promises," said Jack, making sure to temper the mirth in his voice.

He scanned the room, looking for lamps or candles they could use. On an ornately carved reading table near the middle of the room was an oil lamp, but its oil had evaporated long ago. A set of bookshelves held more promise in the form of a heavy silver candle holder. The taper it held was barely used. He blew the dust from the candle and lit it.

The additional light revealed more of the room's character. The wood that panelled the walls was light-coloured, almost a honey oak. The thick wool rug that occupied the centre of the floor space like an island was woven in creams, pinks, lavenders, and pale shades of green. Beside the reading table was a high-backed chair, upholstered in lavenders and greens to match the rug. It faced the windows and the dressing valet nightmare.

"I'd say we've found the retreat for the lady of the house," said Honour as she took a candle from Jack. "Can't say much for her decorating. It's almost child-like."
"A church would look child-like after the severe decor we saw downstairs. Anything strikes you odd about the chair?"
"Not really. But wouldn't it make more sense to have its back to the window for the light? She must have uses piles of candles."
"Exactly what I was thinking. But here it is, with its back to the door. A quiet way of saying 'keep out'. I'm beginning to think this house was long on money but short on domestic bliss."
Honour shuddered. "Whoever she was, she has my sympathies."
Honour tried opening the armoire. The doors swung open easily. Inside she found it full of dresses and chemises of varying fineness.
"These dresses are well made," she said as she looked through them. "Terribly conservative for my taste. But if this is the extent of her wardrobe, she left with the clothes on her back and little more."
"I hope that when she left, it was under her own power. This room looks as if she was expected back."

Honour left the armoire and crossed to the dressing table. She gently touched the pale wood and smiled.
"My sister Gwyneth has one much like this. I always admired it. I would use any excuse I could to brush my hair in front of that grand mirror. It was like it held a whole other world inside."
"Speaking of hairbrushes, I wonder if those were left behind as well? Have you tried the drawers?"
"Not yet. I was too busy reminiscing. Would you like to do the honours?"
Jack shook his head. "I never rummage through the dressing tables of strange women."
"Oh, come now! You expect me to believe that you have ??never gone through a woman's personal belongings?"
"Only after they weren't strangers anymore," he said with a sly smile.
"Now that I can believe," she replied with a roll of her eyes.

She gently pulled open one of the narrow drawers in the base of the mirror.
"Two combs, a silver-handled hairbrush, and some hairpins in this one. I wouldn't have travelled without them."
The next drawer opened a little, then stuck fast.
"Drat! It won't open!"
"Maybe the wood has warped, or a piece broke loose and jammed it. Shall I give it a try?"
"No, wait," said Honour. She pushed on the drawer and jiggled it as much as she could, then pulled again. There was a clunk as something solid fell inside the drawer, and now she could open it with ease.
"Probably another comb or brush that was put away hastily," she mused. Then the light from her candle glimmered against the surface of what was inside.
"Or not," she added quietly.
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #342 on: July 20, 2016, 07:32:27 PM »
Honour reached into the drawer and retrieved the mysterious item.
"It's beautiful," she remarked in a half-whisper.
It was a small silver brooch in the design of two intertwined hearts adorned with a five-pointed crown. A thistle was engraved in the middle of the crown. A flat pin lay across the back of the brooch. Around it was tied a lock of short, sandy blonde hair. As she turned the brooch over, Honour could see more engraving.
"'Of earthly joys, thou art my choice'," she read aloud. "This is lovely!"
"I haven't seen one of these in ages," said Jack. "My mum had one, so does Aggie. It's called a luckenbooth brooch. Supposedly they came into fashion after Mary Queen of Scots gave one to Lord Darnley. Or the Dauphin of France gave one to Mary. Or both. Either way, it's a symbol of love and devotion. And typically, betrothal."
"A betrothal gift, hidden away in her dressing table. I'm going to take a stab in the dark and say it wasn't from her husband."

"Well, it was still where she left it, whenever it was she left in such a hurry. She wouldn't have left something like that behind on purpose. But that means her husband didn't find it, either."
Honour turned the brooch over in the light. "I'm glad for her. He wouldn't have been happy to find this lying about. Jack? Would it be wrong for me to keep this?"
"Honour, it doesn't belong to you. I think it would be best if we left it here."
"Oh, any more so than that bottle of cognac you have been coveting? And sipping on, I might add."
"But this is jewelry."
"So...maybe I can find out who it belongs to and give it back to her?"
"What, after forty-five years? Get that thought out of your pretty little head."
"Then if it has been forty-five years, she will probably be dead. And if it meant so much to her, then she should have taken it with her. Unless she is dead. Then she wouldn't mind. And it will make a nice wedding gift for Zara."
Jack looked at her sharply. "Don't even think of it."
"Taking it or the thought of Zara getting married one day?"
"Darling, she will always be Daddy's little girl but there will come a time when the woman in her will be looking for love in a handsome, dashing man. It is something you will have to come to terms with one day."
"Let's worry about that in the future, shall we?"

"I'll tell you what. Let me take the brooch to Aggie. She may be able to give me some insight on it. And if it bothers your conscience so badly, we can always come back here and I swear, I will return it to the drawer from whence it came."
"Alright. But only if Aggie can find out who it belongs to. Otherwise it goes back."
She kissed Jack. "Thank you. You know how I love working on mysteries without any clues."
Under her breath, she said, "I hope she finds someone as polite and nice as young Phillip Briggs."
"What did you say, Honour?"
She smiled sweetly, "Nothing, darling. Nothing at all."
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #343 on: July 27, 2016, 07:47:32 PM »
A moment later, there was yet another blinding flash of lightning that lit up the room. The crash of thunder followed immediately. But down the hallway, another crash came. This time, it was inside the house. A blood-chilling howl rose and fell, followed by the sound of something - or someone - falling to the floor.
"Somebody still has a nasty temper," Jack said softly.
"Don't say that!" Honour scolded.
"You stay here. I'll find what that was all about. Just stay put until say otherwise. I mean it this time."
Honour frowned. Jack kissed her quickly before moving cautiously into the hallway and toward the source of the unexplained sounds.

The seconds crawled along. Every flash of lightning caused her to jump. The beating of her own heart began to rival the thunder.
"Damn it, enough of this," she said to herself. She took a deep breath and eased into the hallway in search of her husband.
Honour could see a half-opened doorway at the end of the hall, the room beyond it illuminated by the flicker of lightning. As she got closer, she could hear the sounds of scuffling or struggling. She reached tentatively for the door handle.

There were a loud bang and a snapping sound that made her jump again. But then came a familiar voice.
"Ha! Gotcha!" said Jack triumphantly.
She opened the door and looked in. Jack was by one of the large windows. Glass shards littered the floor, and a man's dressing valet lay tipped over.
"I remember telling you to wait," he said with a note of impatience in his voice.
"Your memory is fine. But I got tired of waiting."
"I was only gone a minute or two."
"And for all I knew, you were in a fight with God knows who or what..."
He pointed at the valet. "As you can see, he never stood a chance. Serves him right for missing the ceilidh."
They looked at one another and began to laugh.
"A tree branch snapped in a gust of wind and hit the window. It broke the glazing and took out our friend here. Once I got the branch pushed out, I had to free the shutter and get it latched. Good thing I was already soaked. Rusty hinges, broken windows... they should get a man in."
Honour went to him hugged him tightly. "I'm just glad you're safe."
"Safe? I'm always safe. Soggy, but safe."
Honour gave a sidelong glance at the dressing valet as they passed by on their way to the closed door. A part of her deep inside was still unnerved by the earlier optical illusion. Something was not right about this strange old house, and she could feel it.
"Are you ready?" asked Jack.
She took a deep breath and nodded.
He turned the brass doorknob slowly. The mechanism made a loud clack as it moved for the first time in untold years. Hinges groaned in protest as the door swung open. A bit of torn cobweb floated by as Jack held his candle up to better light the room.
"Well, now. It seems the sitting room was only part of her sanctuary."

It was a large room, but not uncomfortably so. Bigger than a nursery but too small to the masters suite for a house this sprawling. The decor was similar to that of the sitting room, with darker hues that gave it a comforting, restful air. Heavy drapes, tied back with braided silk cords, still flanked surprisingly intact windows. Against the far wall was an elegant four-poster bed. A cosy fit for two, but plenty of room for one. A wide oak armoire stood against the interior wall facing the windows, and a dressing table with a large oval mirror occupied the space next to the door they entered through. The only other door was by the armoire.
"No welcoming party for us in here," said Jack. "I hope you're not disappointed."
"We haven't checked under the bed yet," replied Honour.
"I could stick the toe of my boot underneath and see if anything bites."
"You'll do no such thing! Those boots are practically new. Use your bare foot."
"I'll find a stick, thanks."
 He held his candle close to the bed. "Who on earth puts fresh linens on the beds when they're abandoning a house? None of this makes sense."
"Not so fresh, Jack." She bounced up and down on the bed, a soft cloud of dust rising from the down coverlet. She coughed.
"I'd say maybe someone was expecting her to come back and she just...disappeared. I wish I knew who she was and what happened here. When I left Castlemaine, no one had any doubt of what happened. I heard that Madoc's sons thought I might have been kidnapped. I was gone, and the safe emptied."
She laughed bitterly. "It didn't take them long to figure out what happened. Especially when no ransom note was forthcoming. That and the fact that the dock master out of Llandegfan recognised the description and told his sons that a woman fitting my description boarded a ship. I'm glad that Father Simon was kept out of it. I sometimes wish I could tell him how grateful I was for his help. And that everything worked out well."
She laughed softly. "And now here I am in Scotland spending the night during a monsoon in a house that is abandoned and possibly haunted."
She crossed her arms and rubbed her arms.
"You're shivering, Honour."
"I'll be alright. I think maybe we should settle in. Get a fire going in one of the rooms and shut out the world. Maybe the ghost will get distracted and won't find us."
No ghosts, Honour. You Welsh love to play up the fanciful. I truly think you WANT this to be haunted."
She retorted, "Well, it will make a good story for Maura and Laura. They already think I am brave for taking you on as a husband."
He kissed her on the neck. "Any regrets?"
"None whatsoever. Now shall we see what is beyond this door? You go first."
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #344 on: September 09, 2016, 08:33:18 PM »
Jack opened the heavy oak door.
"Well... hello!"
There in the middle of the wall across from the window was a massive mahogany four poster bed. A small two-step stool stood next to it.
A thick feather-stuffed comforter lay across it. In the corner was a huge oak armoire embellished with stately carvings. Honour opened it up.
"Empty," she said. "You would think there would be a cravat or something left behind."
Jack walked over to a writing desk. "Beautiful desk. Oak. Sturdy. And locked." He got out his pocket knife and jiggled it into the desk lock. It gave way in a minute.
He opened it and pulled out the drawers.
"Empty here too. Devoid of anything. It's like no one ever was here. Or whoever was here did a thorough job of leaving."
"Perhaps someone else came in later and helped themselves to what was left?"
"Things are in too proper an order for looters. If they wanted in a locked desk, they'd break the drawers. Whoever emptied this desk locked it when they were done. Only the owner would do that, out of habit."
"Do you suppose the woman-- or young girl-- lived here alone? That the portraits downstairs were her father and grandfather and so on?"
Jack shook his head.
"No, I don't think so. It's a feeling I get but there is something connected with the house. Oh, if only I could remember it! I'm sure Rafferty and Flannery would know. If there is a scandalous tale to be had, they will have memorised it."
"Well, they are not here and I am about as good as you can have right now."
He grinned and opened up the bottle of cognac. "Oh, such an open invitation!"
He took a healthy swig of it.
"Ah... as good as it gets!"
Honour hugged herself and shivered.
"It's so... impersonal. Almost cruelly so. Can a room be cruel, Jack?"
"I think everything that happens leaves an impression on the things around it. Many people believe a home takes on the demeanour of its owner. I don't think this was a happy home, do you?"
"Oppressive is more like it. One thing I am certain of; this is definitely a man's room. Notice the tilted mirror. No feminine touches, no vases with dead flowers in them. It may be a bedroom, but you would swear it's a mortuary—"

Just then a shutter banged hard against the outside wall. Honour yelped and scurried out.
Jack laughed, "You aren't afraid, are you?"
She called from the hallway, "Of course I am! There is no way I am sleeping in that room. It makes me uncomfortable, like I'm being watched. I'm going back to the woman's room."
He gave one last uneasy glance around the room. "You'll get no argument from me. It certainly seems a lot less malevolent than this chamber."

They made their way quickly back to the young woman's room. Honour walked over and looked out the window. A flash of lightning made her jump back.
"It's dark as night out there, Jack. If it's still daytime, that is. I've lost track of time. Let me see if I can find some linens and what shape they may be in. We may have to just sleep against the covers here."
She walked into a small closet. There was a stack of linens piled neatly. She hit the top and dust flew up in her face.
"Oh my!" She shook it out and a few herbal leaves and flowers fell to the floor. She picked them up.
"Lavender and basil. Someone was practical."
"How so?"
"It keeps the insects out and lavender keeps the linens fresh. Well, fresher."
She took them out and held them up.
"Simple, but they are good. Now help me with the sheets."
The problem isn't the problem, The problem is your attitude about the problem. See?


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