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Started by Welsh Wench, May 10, 2008, 12:41:08 PM

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Welsh Wench

Thankfully, Mad Jack Wolfe had the forethought to save this story when the forum was having trouble.  :-*
It may take a bit of time but we shall transfer the story over to the new forum.

So the story is to be continued......

© 2008 by the respective authors.  All Rights Reserved.
This is a protection for our writing and applies to all subsequent posts under this topic.

Topic author: Blackjack Roberts
Subject: The Highwayman
Posted on: 09/12/2006 12:45:50

Her bare feet made wet slapping sounds as she ran down the cobblestone back streets of London's infamous west end that late night. Did she hear the boot falls of her pursuers behind her? Were they gaining ground even as she desperately tried to will her tired legs to greater speed? She knew she had been lucky to have escaped the small room were they had kept her. Surely by now they had discovered her keeper laying unconscious on the wooden floor of the small room which had been her prison these past six days. Yes, she was certain of it, the faint echo of the rapid staccato beat of running boots coming closer.

Jack Roberts walked out from the Pint and Crown into the foggy London night, a shapely barmaid upon his arm. Ahhhhh, he did enjoy his infrequent trips to the city, especially the west end. What better place in all of England was there to enjoy the fruits of several successful robberies? Nary a soul here would question where he had acquired his wealth, they only cared that he spent it, and spend it he did. The latest proof of that gently rested her head upon his shoulder as they strolled back toward his lodgings.

Rounding the far corner he was nearly knocked backwards as a lithesome shadow ran into his chest. Only the fact that the auburn haired barmaid had immediately released his arm and leapt away to protect herself had given him enough time to grab the girl's upper arms and prevent him from landing upon his rear. The golden haired beauty look at him with eyes as terrified as a cornered doe held at bay by the hounds. Her mouth worked silently, words which had no voice stuck in her fear. Then her deep, near azure, blue eyes rolled within their sockets and she collapsed into him.

Catching the girl in his arms Roberts instinctively looked up in the direction she had just came from, but the thick fog obscured any clear image that was not within twenty feet of them. He listened intently, yet all was quiet. Gently he propped the limp form against the brick wall and began looking for any sign of injury. All he found were deep red rope burns on the lass's wrists. The barmaid impatiently tapped her foot against the street.

"Ere now. What on Earth are ye fussin' wit 'er for?" She grumped, anxious for them to be on their way, her plans for the night interrupted. "Like as not she's some doxie what has run off from 'er pimp an a right sound beating."

"If this be all the help your going to be, Wench, then be off with ye!" He snapped over his shoulder. "I know enough about folk to know a doxie when I sees one, and make no mistake about it, this be no doxie!"

The barmaid huffed tossing her curls haughtily across her shoulder. "Well if that be the way of it, then good night to ye! There still be plenty what would prefer spending the night wit me, 'stead a pickin' up strays!" She turned swiftly around and stalked off into the mist back to the Pint and Crown. He watched her vanish, kneeling there beside the girl, and allowed himself a low chuckle. Then returned his attention to his sudden charge.


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/12/2006 13:13:05

Jack Roberts continued his ministrations to the girl. He gently tapped her cheeks. No response except that she was still breathing, even if it was shallow. The color had drained from her face.
He took out his flask of rum and holding it up to her mouth, attempted to pour a bit in her mouth.
Suddenly, she coughed and choked. Her eyes flew open and she had the look of a hunted animal. She tried to crawl her way backwards and hit the wall. As she folded her knees up and hugged them, she whimpered, "Please! Don't hurt me!"
She looked fearfully around her, to the left and to the right. "They will be here soon. God help me, they will find me!"
"Men of trade. Pirates,"
'What do they want of you?"
"I'm what they consider 'merchandise' "
She stood up too quickly and had to lean against the brick wall.
"I need to go. I need to leave. I can't trust anyone."
She took two steps and had to sit down again.
"They raided our estate. I was alone with servants. My family is visiting in London. The killed the servants. But I was considered too valuable. So they put me on the ship."
"Where to?"
"The Middle East. After all, blondes are a highly prized commodity among the Arabian pashas."
"Ah. So you were bound for the Barbary Coast."
He offered her some fruit which she eagerly took. "I guess. I wasn't about to become anyone's concubine so I waited till the big dumb jailer came in with my food. I crashed some crockery over his head. He'll not remember his name if there is a God."
Suddenly a voice came from the darkness. "He remembered his name, lass. And what happened. So there goes yer belief system."


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/12/2006 13:26:36

"Well now, lads, I was beginning ter think the tart weren't ever goin' ta leave." The deep gravely voice brought Jack's head up and sent his left covertly beneath his open wine colored long coat to rest on the thick braided leather handle. Three shadows detached themselves from the edges of the fog and moved toward him.

"This way there won't be but one body, and no witnesses." The lead shadow sneered coming into view. His scared, stubble face split by a pumpkin yellow gaped toothed grin, a long knife clasped in his filthy hand. They wanted to do this quietly, and quickly.

Suddenly Roberts concealed left hand shot from under his velvet coat as "Old Hob" uncoiled it's twelve foot length into the night. Fast as the tounge of an Adder the braided length of the whip sliced into the ruffian's hand between thumb and forefinger. His yelp of surprise and curses quickly cut off by the rapier which had materialized in Jack's right.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/12/2006 13:38:44

Without slowing his momentum Roberts stepped into the second rogue as the man made for his middle with the knife in his hand. Swinging the edge of his left hand into the man's wrist he felt the bone crack as Old Hobs handle with the steel ball connected. The villain's knife clattered to the stones as Jack's rapier exposed a good foot of it's length out of his back.

Seeing the fate of his companions the final mugger turned and had started to take to his heals when he felt the leather coils wrap themselves tightly around his neck. His feet flew from under him and the last thing he felt was the sudden jerk from the whip's owner, that ended in a sickening snap.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/12/2006 14:09:55

He quickly rewound the well oiled whip and fastened it back to his belt with the frog. Letting his coat fall back into place it all but vanished from sight. After wiping down the rapier blade and sheathing the weapon he held out his hand to the frightened girl pressing herself to the wall.

"Come, Lass. Ye've no more to fear from these three, but there may be more of their ilk a searching for ye. If ye wish ye can stay in my chamber. Upon my word as a man ye will have nothing to fear from Jack Roberts."


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/12/2006 18:33:00

For a moment the frightened girl hesitates, then she tentatively takes his hand and allows him to escort her to the inn where Roberts has his rooms. As they walk down the streets his hand hovers protectively at her back just inches from touching her. Jack walks with the thumb of his right hand hooked in his belt next to the butt of one of the pair of French flintlocks tucked away there. His bluegreen eyes never stop moving as they make their way into the Soho district, searching the shadows for any possible movement. The scuttling of rats, and cats is his only reward for his vigilance.

The old doorman looks up as they enter. "See ye've found yerself a playmate fer this evening, Governor." Jack sees the young lass stiffen with outrage as her cheeks turn bright crimson.

"I'll be thanking ye not to speak that way in front of my sister, Old Man!" Robert's growls and the doorman visibly pales.

"I didn't mean nothin' by it, Governor, honest!" He replies with a shiver in his voice.

"No harm done." Jack smiles as he tosses a small sack of coins onto the man's lap. "Send out for a meal to be sent to me chambers, and a pair of ladies shoes. My sister has had too much to drink with me tonight and seems to have lost hers. What ever is left keep for yourself, but do not skimp on the meal nor the shoes."

The older man looks into the pouch for a moment and a broad grin rises to his face for the pouch contains far more than is necessary for the task. "Aye, Governor, I'll see to it personally, I will!" The man looks intently at the girls foot, making a mental note of the size. Jack nods to the man and smiles, then he leads the distraught girl up to his rooms.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/12/2006 19:16:47

He unlocks the door to his rooms and they enter the foyer. It is a rather small room with a dresser against the far wall two chairs, and a table. A old thread bare Persian rug covers the worn floorboards. A heavy curtain is tied back reviling the sleeping chamber. He lights the lanterns on the table and dresser, then motions to one of the chairs and the girl near falls into it with exaustion as he hangs his coat on the rack next to the door.

Filling two glasses from the dresser with wine he sets one down in front of her, then sits in the opposite chair. The lantern light plays off of her features. Her skin is white and smooth, long, thick gold lashes frame her large azure eyes. He can see why the slavers would want her. A lass as comely as this would fetch a top dollar on the coast. Well some poor reprobate Sultan is going to be disappointed for Roberts is not about to let her be sold into slavery. A woman as fine as she deserves better than to become a forgotten member of some harem in India.

"So, Lass", he smiles his gentlest smile, "would ye care to give me your name? I can't go on referring to ye as Lass all of the time."


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/12/2006 19:35:22

"Lass will be fine for now."
She chafed her wrists where the crimson lines were beginning to darken. She gratefully took the wine he offered.
Jack Roberts looked at them. "Those bindings cut pretty deep. How did you get free?"
She rubbed them. "They weren't on long. Just long enough."
"How did you get captured anyways?"
"My parents are in London. My father sits on the House of Lords and Mother wanted to take in the social season. This was my last trip with them. I am to be married by midsummer's eve. He's moneyed and he's prestigious and he's OLD. At least 35. And boring."
She made a motion that he wasn't all she thought he would be. In certain aspects of married life.
She continued. "I did not want to go to Court with them. Boring, nothing but old women talking of their aches and pains and young women talking about the pain of childbirth. Not for me. So I pretended to be ill and stayed with the servants. But someone had been watching and waiting and when my parents left, they raided the house. I hid in the broom closet but they found me anyways and dragged me to their ship. Waiting to sail. Six days I stayed there. I overheard they were set to sail for the Barbary Coast and that I would fetch a high price. I was beginning to think being part of a harem would be more fun that with old Sir What's-his-face-when-he's-at-home. Besides, he's already buried two wives. I don't intend to make number three."

Jack sat on the bed and marveled at the forthrightness of the lass. She may be too much for an old goat of 35. "So...shall I return you to your parents?"

She sat there. "I don't know. I was planning on running away anyhow. I want to see the world. Experience life. Not live a life of pushing out babies every year and getting fat. Or dying of the plague or worse yet, in whelping kids."

He quietly asked her again, "Your name, lass?"
She looked up at him and a look of indecision crossed her face. But she then took a deep breath and extended her hand to him.

"Cecily. Cecily Morley, at your service."


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/12/2006 22:29:18

"Well, Miss Morley. being as ye be the guest here tonight, I'd think it better that I take the cot. Since I am not so sure we were not followed and the cot is easier to move into the foyer, ye'll be a savin' me the trouble of moving the bed. We can untie the curtains to give ye some privacy. The only way into these rooms are through the door, and by no small consequence, through me."

Just then a knock came at the door and Jack stood up from the bed. Unfastening old Hob from his belt he draped the lash across his left shoulder and drew one of the pistols. Motioning for Cecily to conceal herself behind one of the curtains he walked to the door and drew back the bolt. Keeping his foot behind the door and the flintlock behind his back he cautiously turned the knob and opened the door no more that three inches.

There in the hallway stood the doorman with two parcels in his arms, and a grin on his face. "Here be the things ye wanted, Mr. Smith."

Roberts slid the pistol into the back of his belt and took the packages, thanked the elderly doorman, and returned to the table to lay out the food for his unexpected guest. Cecily stepped from behind the curtain a slight look of accusation in her eyes. It puzzled him for a second.

"Ahh, I see, the difference in names." Damn, she didn't miss much. "Well, Luv, it's like this. I be a Highwayman by profession, rob from the rich and give to me. So I can't rightly keep lodgings under me own name now, can I? Ye do have the truth of it, me real name is Jack Roberts. At your service, Miss."

This last he said with an exaggerated bow which made her almost laugh. "I had supper brought up for ye, Lass. I've already had my own. Please, I know they couldn't have fed ye well over the last few days. When your ready I'll bring the cot in here, we'll drop the curtains, and ye can sleep safe and sound while I sleep out here."


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/13/2006 12:29:18

Cecily Morley's appetite was near to ravenous for as Roberts had guessed her captors had not been over generous with the food. A single meal of stale bread, water, and a thin fish soup once per day was hardly enough to feed a family of mice let alone a young woman. Yet she ate as the highborn lady that she was, simply a bit faster than was usual. She even took the time to smile in his direction every now and again as he sat in the chair opposite her drinking wine, and cleaning his pistols. With an after thought he places the deadly flintlocks back into his belt and opened the second parcel.

A low whistle escaped his lips for there in the box was indeed a fine pair of ladies shoes. The black leather as supple as the finest cloth, with a gold clasp on the outside. The elderly doorman was true to his word for these were truly an expensive pair.

"Here ye are, Lass. We can't have ye runnin' around the streets of London in your bare feet now, can we?" He smiled as he placed the footwear on the table beside her.

"Thank you, Mr. Roberts." She smiled half teasing. A mischievous twinkle in the corner of her eye. "I am quite tired, if you please."

Jack grinned as he rose from his chair and sweepingly bowed. "As you wish, M'Lady."

He pulled the cot into the foyer, pushing the table over to the far wall to make room. As the shapely woman undid the velvet rope which held back one curtain he unfastened the other and the heavy cloth fell into each other with a slight whisper. Cecily parted the curtains and smiled. "A good night to you, Mr. Roberts, and again I thank you for your help."

"Think nothing of it, Miss Morley." The tall blonde rogue grinned back. "I'll see ye come the morn." Then he winked, and laughed at the speed with which she closed the curtain.

Placing the twins, his unsheathed rapier, and Old Hob onto the low table to the left of his cot he cupped his hand over the stack of the lantern and blew the flame out. He lay with his head to the curtains, his still booted feet toward the door. Pulling his cavalier hat down to the bridge of his nose so that he could see the door from under the brim. His last thoughts before slumber over took him were of the lovely lass sleeping under his protection behind him. Then he cursed himself for a fool, as if a highborn lady could ever love a common lowborn thief such as himself.

"Ahhh, Jack. If ever there were a romantic fool on God's green Earth......Ye be it!" he thought to himself as he finally drifted off.

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/13/2006 13:50:10

From behind the curtained gate, Cecily stretched and yawned. It will be so nice if I can finally get rid of these clothes. Six days in the same dress...thank goodness I never ran into anyone I knew!
Because Cecily Morley would NOT be seen in the same dress two days in a row, let alone six.

She yawned again and laid on the bed. to get out of these clothes since there is no floor space....
She untied the drawstring and raised her hips to slide the skirt off. Sitting up, she crumpled the skirt and threw it at the foot of the bed.
She unlaced her bodice and threw that. It landed on a hook above the foot of the bed. She was proud of that! As a young girl, she had always bested the young men in their games of tossing horseshoes.
She looked at her chemise and groaned. What a mess! It was streaked with dirt and oil from ropes where she had slid down to disembark from the ship.
If only I had remembered to look for the name of their god-forsaken tub! I could turn their name into the magistrates and file charges of 'unlawful detainment' agiainst them. Probably couldn't be kidnapping as I am not a kid and I haven't been napped. We never left port.

She dropped the chemise and then her face turned red. Is he really asleep?
She parted the curtains ever so slightly and saw his cavalier hat pulled down on his face. OK, so he's facing the opposite direction. This is good. No shadows...
She pulled the coverlet down and slid between the sheets.
The pillow had a faint smell of leather and rum. Not a bad combination, actually!
She somehow felt comforted and safe. Like being with Nanny Dawson in the next room when she was a tyke.

She tossed and turned, wondering what the next day would bring. I suppose I SHALL have to have Mr. Roberts contact my parents and turn me over to them. I need to make restitution for the new boots and the meal I just had. And something more thrown in for the inconvenience of sleeping on the cot.

Her last thoughts before drifting off to sleep was how comforting to have a man in the room. Even if there was a piece of cloth separating them....


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/13/2006 15:11:21

Cecily awoke to the smell of food her hunger returned with vengeance and she rose wrapping the coverlet about her supple form, loath to again put on the filthy clothes she had shed the night before. She cautiously opened the curtains to peek into the foyer. There sat Jack next to the table, the cot folded and placed against the wall. Eggs, cheese, bacon, fruit, and fresh toast nearly filled the table, the aroma of the breakfast almost maddening in it's promise. as she started to move forward her foot touched a soft parcel of brown paper tied with twine. The sound of the paper crinkling brought Roberts smiling eyes up to meet her own.

"And a good morn to ye, Lass." His blue green eyes held her own, his shoulder length dishwater blonde hair neatly combed and tied back with a black silk ribbon. "It be good to see ye about, I was getting a might hungry waitin' for ye. If ye wish there be some new clothes for ye in that there bundle. Didn't think ye'd want to wear the things ye had on last night. I can wait for ye to wash up and change, but ye may want to hurry before the bacon and eggs goes cold on ye."

He smiled warmly, once again winking at her. This time, however, she felt no need to quickly pull the curtains shut. Instead she actually felt complemented. She bent down and picked up the package with her free hand, holding the cover closed with the other. As she turned to the bedroom to clean and change she hesitated, half turned to him and spoke over her shoulder in the softest voice he had heard her use since she had near run him over.

"Thank you, again.................Jack."

The curtains whispered shut behind her.


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/13/2006 21:41:23

Below a small washstand was a basin and a pitcher of water. She opened the drawer and in it found a bar of French-milled soap. She sniffed it appreciatively. Lavender!
Pouring the water into the basin, she took the soft cloth and soaped up. Washing her face, she glanced in the small mirror above.
The six days on that awful diet of bread, water and fish soup took its toll on her. Her cheeks were hollow and her face thinned. She sighed. In a week, I shall be back to normal.
She found a brush in the drawer and ran it through her hair, brushing it back and off her shoulders.
She went over to the bed and opened the parcel. Reaching in, she withdrew a few unmentionable garments in silk. She blushed. How did he even know about such things?
Well, after all, he DOES seem to be a man of the world.
She peeked out the curtain. A very handsome man, no doubt. And certainly younger than 35!
She wrinkled her nose at the thought of the man who would be her husband.
Over my dead body! I'll hold my breath until I turn blue and die!
Father just wants to get his hands on that land! Well, I'm not about to be anyone's broodmare. I'll be a mistress before I let that happen. At least it's because I WANT to, not because I HAVE to!
She reached into the parcel and withdrew a gown of the softest butter yellow. She gave an exclamation of delight.

From the other side of the curtain, Jack Roberts heard her delighted cry and chuckled to himself. Do I know women or what? he thought to himself.

She slid the dress over her head and shimmied herself into it, the dress gravitating towards the floor. She tried to reach behind to fasten it. Darn! Sukie was always there to lace the back up. She picked up a pale blue shawl of the softest wool. I could always wear this and have the back of my dress open. No, that won't do at all!
She shyly stuck her head out of the curtain.
"Mr. Roberts? Can I impose on you a minute?"
He smiled and walked over. "Problem?"
"A bit of one."
Her face coloured but she bravely turned around. Her back was wide open, all the way down to her curves.
She lifted up her hair. "Would you mind terribly if you could please lace me up?"
He laughed, "Not at all. Can't have you catching the sea breeze and coming down with some malaise."
He deftly laced her up. She thought, "Something tells me he's done this before. And 'un' also."

She left the stockings and shoes in the room. She glanced in the mirror, bit her lips to redden them and pinched her cheeks. Before she left the room, she glanced down. Well, this will never do!
She bent over and did a quick stuff-and-fluff and brushed her hair once more.
As she parted the curtains, she smiled brilliantly and said, "I certainly hope you saved me some food. Because it smells divine!"


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/13/2006 22:42:14

"Aye, Miss Morley." A slightly teasing smile played about the edge of his lips belying his overly formal tone. "Since I must return to Devonshire this day I eat lightly. Tis never a good idea to travel the road with too full a belly."

He motioned gently to the empty chair for her to sit and breakfast in. Cecily glided to the chair, even through the abuse she had suffered her beauty shone through, he silently held his breath. As lovely as she had looked the night fortune had crossed their paths, now she seemed a vision of womanhood. Her grace and poise making his heart pound within his chest. Never before had any woman affected him this way, and he was fairly certain none ever would again. For while he had been with more than his share of beautiful ladies from York to London there was something different with this one, something he couldn't quite pin down. As elusive as a butterfly flitting from one spring flower to another.

While she concentrated on her appetite he shook his head slightly to clear it, berating himself for daydreaming. What could he possibly offer her? A life of being forever on the run, using false names from town to town. Knowing that at any moment someone might peg him as "Black" Jack Roberts, one of the most wanted highwaymen in all of England. Certainly it was fine enough for himself, a short life and a merry one fit him quite well, but it was not the life for a lady of quality.

For as long as he could recall his family had to resort to thievery to survive, the religious prejudice of the two Churches saw to that. So it had been only fitting that he should grow into the only profession he had ever knew after his parents died of the plague in their filthy hovel. Jack Roberts had swore that day he would never again do without. He would take all that he needed from those who had more than their share. Besides, how would she feel knowing that he preyed upon her class along the roads and byways of England?


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/14/2006 03:56:03

Once her hunger had been satisfied Jack stood up and put on the wine colored velvet coat. She noticed another garment was hanging on the hook next to it, a fine velvet jacket of a soft maroon color trimmed in cloth of gold. He held it open for her and she slipped her delicate arms into the silk lined interior. As she turned to face him she noticed that his eyes had changed, gone was the mischievous twinkle replaced by a warmth that here to fore she had never seen light a man's eyes. It made her heart beat a little faster, but not with fear.

If nothing else in life Jack Roberts had learned that he who risks nothing gains nothing. He had placed all of his inner arguments aside, and made the decision that he at lest had to try for Cecily's heart. Gently he reached up to stroke her soft cheek. The tips of his fingers as light as a breeze against her skin, as warm as a comforting fire on a winter's day. Her eyes closed and a shiver ran down her back at his touch.

" Ye know, Cecily," he whispered, "ye don't have to return to that life and an old man who will treat ye like the slavers, as a piece of property. If ye wish ye may come with me to Devonshire. I've a little inn there where ye could stay until ye decide what ye may want from this life. At the least ye'd be free to do as ye choose, not as another would choose for ye."

As he spoke his finger tips gently tilted her chin upwards, his face came closer to hers. As soft as the newly budded petals of a fresh rose his lips touched hers in a tender kiss that sent warm currents through her blood and her breath grew heavy. He lightly stroked her hair back.

"I'll leave that decision up to you, M'Lady." His voice low and soft. "All I can promise you is that if you decide to come with me, I will do everything in my power to see you never regret it."


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/14/2006 11:27:14

He saw the confusion in her soft eyes and realized he may have gone too far, after all this was a highborn lady, not one of the many barmaids he had spent many an evening with. The curse of dealing with your own for so long, for he suddenly realized that although his actions would have been considered almost courtly to a lady of his station to her he may seem bold, even forward. Well there was nothing for it now. He had already been in London far longer than was good for him and three dead men left on the west end streets, though not an uncommon thing there, was sure to bring the footmen. It was one thing to flirt with disaster, it was far another to put your head in the noose foolishly.

"Well, Lass." He turned to retrieve his saddlebags by the door. Certain that once he had her safely to the outskirts of the west end he would see her no more. "We must be off. Are ye ready to leave?"

Cecily was stunned. Never had a man been so bold with her. Usually they couched their words in honeyed phrases, flattering and false. Not looking at what she may want, but what she could gain for them. Even her own father willing to marry her off to a man she despised in an attempt to increase his stature and holdings. Was that all she was to them? Property? Thing to be bartered with?

She watched him turn to pick up his only luggage, the black leather saddle bags by the door. Regardless of what ever else he may be this Jack Roberts had been the first man she ever met who's offer to her was based upon what she wanted. Strange that he would travel with no more that a saddle bag, but then he had said that he was a highwayman. A highway man? Jack Roberts?

"Black Jack Roberts?" She said the name aloud and he froze with his back to her, one hand rested on the door handle.

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/14/2006 11:46:52

She repeated his name, this time with certainty.
"Black Jack Roberts. As I live and breathe!"
She sat back down in the chair, a look of bewilderment and astonishment on her face.
She whispered, "Oh my God."
He turned to her and said, "Yes. In the flesh."
He expected her to scream and he was ready with a hand to clap over her mouth until he could work out a deal of some kind for her silence.
She sat there in wonder and when she finally found her voice, she said, "I'll be damned!"

He raised an eyebrow as he never heard a lady swear before.
She started to laugh. "My brother and I used to go down to the caves by our land in Cornwall. Play a game. He'd be Black Jack Roberts and I would be his 'victim'. Many a time I lost the money Father had given me to him. I was a pauper all through my youth and my brother had the means to buy sweets from the baker. I went hungry and he took great delight in eating them in front of me. Many is the time I cursed your name--along with my brother's!"

He couldn't quite believe the ease of which she spoke. She continued, "And then when night would come, we would sit outside in the garden and Andrew would regale me with stories of how Black Jack Roberts would torture and kill me if I told anyone how he--Andrew, my brother--acquired his sudden wealth. He painted some very unappetizing--and tantalizing--scenarios! I must admit, many a night I would crawl in bed with Nanny Dawson and tell her I was afraid of mice, but in actuality, I was afraid that you would come and carry me off!"
He stood in silence. He didn't know whether to be flattered or aghast that his name had reached legendary proportions in the Morley household.

She gently touched his arm and said softly, "And to think that dastardly villain, the tormentor of my childhood dreams, should in fact be my very saviour!"

She continued. "I see I have a choice here. I can go with you to contemplate my future or I can go back to Cornwall and become the dutiful wife of Peter Culpepper."
He looked into her blue eyes and asked, "And what does Cecily Morley really want?"

She smiled and gave him a warm look.
"Certainly not to be saddled with a name like Cecily Culpepper!"


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/14/2006 15:50:57

"Ha ha ha ha ha!" He threw his head back, laughing loudly. "Aye, M'Lady. I can not say I blame ye there!"

"Still I feel ye should know that your brother's accounts of me are greatly exaggerated, though I've no doubt your father's opinion of me be just as filled with ill stories of my exploits. In truth I have never kidnapped, nor tortured a living soul. Though I dare say I have lightened the king's pockets more than once. I fear my boldness has served me ill, for tales of adventure and daring which I had no part in have reached my ears on more than one occasion."

"Pray to also forgive my boldness of a few moments ago. I'll not make myself a liar and say I am not greatly attracted to your charms, for I am. Yet I forgot myself in the moment and that be my only defense, I beg your pardon for it. I ask only that if ye would, consider my offer during these few short moments we have left together, for it was an honest one. Then give me your answer once we have you safely out of the west end."

"For now we must leave. The bodies of your pursuers have surely been discovered and that will certainly bring the footmen, even in this den of scoundrels. I dare not tarry longer for my own safety." He held his hand out to the fascinating woman and could not help but be pleased when she took it without hesitation.

Emerging onto the street, already alive with the everyday events of city life, to find a stableboy holding the reigns of two magnificent horses. "Mr. Terrence Smith?" The young lad inquired the hope of being released from his boring task evident in his voice.

"Aye, Lad" Jack grinned as he secured the saddle bag to the large black stallion, whose polished black saddle gleamed with equally well polished silver accents.

"Then I'll be taking my leave, Sir." The child smiled back grateful to have been freed.

"One moment, Lad. Take this for your trouble and patience." The boy's eyes grew wide at the sight of the gold crown which now rested in his palm.

"Thank ye, Sir!" He beamed, suddenly rich for today. "If I may ever be of service to ye again, Sir!"

Roberts chuckled as he helped Cecily onto the side saddle of the dappled mare which awaited her. "I'll certainly keep that in mind, boy. Now be off with ye, before your employer thinks ye've skipped out for the day."

The stableboy bowed and ran off down the street as Jack swung easily on to the back of the dark stud and turned the well muscled horse to the east. Cecily's mare trotting beside him.


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/14/2006 20:42:08

Cecily patted the mare's neck.
"I was wondering how we would manage to secure a mode of transportation. I must say that was ingenious!"
Jack looked over at her and had to ask. "Your family is from Cornwall?"
"Yes. Morland estate. Held by the family since the time of the Domesday Book. Came over from Normandy."
"Just Andrew and I. He is three years older and is to be married. The estates will go to him. Culpepper's would be mine as old Peter has no progeny. If I produce offspring, an heir as it were, I should be set for life."
Her jaw noticeably tightened and she stared straight ahead.

The streets of London's West Side were teeming with life. The outdoor fruit markets were doing a brisk business. Cecily and Jack steered their horses down a lane.
"Would you mind if I stopped for a minute?"
Jack looked at her quizzically. "We really should...."
"It will take only a few minutes. Please hold my horse. I only wish I knew her name."
She jumped down and removed her saddle. Jack, started to say, "But, Cecily, as a lady..."
She said over her shoulder, "Who said I was a 'lady'?"
She walked resolutely into a leather store. Jack was growing cautious. Even though London's commerce center was busy, it always paid to be wary of your surroundings. He began to tap the handle of his whip. Fine time for a saddle repair!

Cecily emerged five minutes later without the saddle and deftly mounted her steed. To Jack's unasked question on his face, she just replied with a grin, "I hate saddles. Let's go!"

He marveled at how much at ease she now was on the mare, like they were one. The urban scene began to fade as the pastoral views appeared. As they stopped at the edge of the woods that the main road ran through, they reined their horses in.
Cecily had been unusually quiet.
He said quietly, "Cecily, this is the end of London. To the west and south lie Devonshire. And beyond that Cornwall. For obvious reasons, I cannot take you directly to your family's house. I can take you as far as the Blade and Bone tavern in Plymouth but after that, will you be able to make arrangements to go to your family's estates?"
She looked straight ahead. Her heart sank. He doesn't want me after all to go with him.
I am just an obligation to him.
Before she could give him an answer, they both heard the noise behind them.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/14/2006 22:17:41

"You there, in the name of King George, stand down and surrender, Back Jack Roberts!!" Damn he had been recognized! Probably by some old victim who had glimpsed his face before he had grown sense enough to start wearing a mask during his vocation.

He quickly looked to Cecily and exclaimed. "If your decision would be with me, Lass my offer stands, but for now ride like the wind I'll be but moments behind ye!"

So saying he whirled his stallion around pulling the twins from his belt, the horses reigns clenched in his teeth. She knew she should run as he had asked, but she watched on fascinated by seeing a legend from her childhood brought to life. Galloping straight into the pursuing footmen she watched as the three of them knelt and leveled their muskets at him. Her breath caught in her throat, surely she was about to bear witness to the death of Black Jack.

A split second before the smoke and thunder of the muskets the raven stallion inexplicably turned to one side and the footmen unable to adjust their aim fired into the empty space the highwayman had just vacated. Quickly two of them began to reload their weapons as the third jerked his saber from the sheath in an attempt to buy them time to fire again. Again the horse turned as if of it's own will and Roberts brought the twins to bare on the hapless trio. Smoke and thunder roared from the flintlock muzzles. The two musketeers stiffened, then crumpled to the cobblestone street. The third raised his saber, still prepared to capture the rogue charging toward him. His thought to cut the horse from under the rider.

Suddenly unbidden, or perhaps because of seeing him in harm's way, she remembered his words, "If your decision would be with me." She then understood it was not that he did not want her with him, he did. He had confessed as much to her at the boarding house. Jack Roberts was a man true to his word he was leaving the choosing of her fate to her. For the first time in her life he had given her the right to choose for herself without him trying to influence, or trick her into following his desires. Now she truly felt fear for his fate. The thought of losing him now tightened in her throat.

He had shoved the twins back into his belt. Taking the reigns in his right hand his left snaked out from under his coat and Old Hobs length uncoiled in front of him. He jerked the horse to the right not ten feet from the confused footman. His left arm a blur of motion as he sent the whip cutting through the air to wrap it's self around the saber, jerking it from the stunned man's grip to pull it up in a graceful arc ending in his own right hand. Roberts smiled as the defeated soldier of King George turned to run. Drawing his arm back and rising in the stirrups he threw the sword with all his strength, watching as it tumbled end over end to bury it's length between the man's shoulder blades. Curling Old Hob quickly up he spurred the horse back to where Cecily sat waiting him.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/14/2006 22:56:32

"Come on, Lass!" he shouted as he prepared to gallop past her. "The fats in the fire for sure now!!"

Her heels dug into the dapple mare's flanks sending the animal forward at the same moment he came to her position. They both galloped full speed down the road to Devonshire a white dust cloud raised in their wake. Then suddenly he turned at the crossroads to the north taping the stallion's flanks with the curled bullwhip. The thrill of flight sent thrills through Cecily, this was what she had craved for so long, adventure, and freedom instead of the dreary existence of a rich housewife. This was truly living life to it's fullest.

Once the city was out of sight Jack slowed his mount to a walk and pulled a spyglass from inside his coat. Carefully he searched the road behind and in front of them. Soon they entered the part of the road that wound its way through the forest. Satisfied that they were yet to be caught up with, he motioned for her to follow him to the west into the woodlands.

"Well, M'Lady, it would seem that we may have to take a while longer to make Devonshire. The roads will be cursed hot for us now. So I must keep to the woods. I have an extra sleeping roll for you within mine, so you should be quite comfortable. I would have preferred an Inn for you, but the king's men have made that impossible for the now."

Now it was her turn to dim bulb an eyebrow at him. "An extra sleeping roll, Mr. Roberts?"

He laughed to the trees. "Aye, Miss Morley. I bought it with the hopes your decision will be to stay with me." Then he winked at her again. She looked forward, and smiled.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/15/2006 13:08:23

They rode on through the trees walking their horses, the canopy of shimmering green casting comforting shadows upon and about them. The fresh woody odor of the forest surrounding them with a feeling that for the moment all was right in the world. Roberts though, never one to take his surroundings for granted, would scan the foliage for any sign of sudden danger, every now and again allowing his gaze to rest for a moment or two on the face of his fair companion. Knowing that though she could have left him there during his battle with London's authorities, she had chosen to stay and even flee with him.

Cecily, on one of these occasions which she had been quite aware of though pretending not to, leaned out to stroke the night black stallion's mane.

"He is a remarkable horse, Jack. What's his name?"

Roberts reached down to pat the opposite side of the animals thickly muscled neck. " Aye, that he is, Cecily. His name is Raven. I took him from a fat merchant who had ill used him, maybe two years ago. I've a fine stable at me Inn, so I nursed him back to full health and we've been friends ever since, have we not, old chum?" The stud whinnied in response shaking out it's long coal colored mane. Roberts chuckled.

"I trained him to respond to certain taps from me knees when me hands are otherwise occupied. Two taps on one side, or the other of his chest will cause him to turn in that direction. A tap on both sides followed by a squeeze will cause him to stop. Three taps on both sides will bring him up on his hind quarters and God help the fool in front of him." He grinned.

She stared in amazement at the robber, this was quite the clever scoundrel indeed. "And what is the name of this fine mount I ride?"

"In truth, M'Lady, I do not know having purchased her and her livery only this morn while ye slept. I was a in a bit of a hurry being fairly certain the villains I killed last night would bring the footmen, and many questions. So ye may name her as ye wish"

As they passed through a Oak grove he noticed a wild rose bush to his right. Reaching out a leather gloved hand he deftly snapped a single full bloom from amongst it's fellows offering it to Cecily.


"Why thank you, kind sir." She spoke softly lifting the fragrant blossom to her nose as much to half hide her smile as to enjoy it's perfume. Nothing could hide the smile in her azure eyes.

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/15/2006 15:46:12

As they rode through the woods, they traveled in companionable silence. Cecily had placed the rose that Jack had given her tucked in the front lacings. The flower gave off a waft of delicate scent all throughout the morning.
She was aware of the glances that Jack had given her all morning and the courty way in which he treated her. Yet he also treated her as if she had a brain, which was more than the other gentlemen she knew at Court. Foppish fools they all were, concerned only with landholdings and increasing their riches and hiding their gambling debts from their fathers!
She looked at Jack covertly and wondered how old he REALLY was. He was young enough. Certainly not like old Peter Culpepper, who had to be pushing 40. Dragging it was more like it.

She began to get a bit hungry. It was now getting towards evening. Soon darkness would come as quickly as a thief. The breakfast had long been over. As if he could sense what she was thinking, Jack reined Raven in. She pulled up on the mare's reins.
"About a mile through this forest there is a clearing with an overhang of shale. It will provide shelter yet we shall be able to watch the comings and goings in the woods. Let's press on and then stop for the night."

True to what Jack had said, they came to the clearing which had a stream running on the edge of it. They both alighted from their horses, Jack taking both and tethering them to nearby trees. He reached in his saddlebag and withdrew a blanket and spread it down on the ground.
"It's not a fancy inn, Cecily...but it is the best I can do under these pressing circumstances."
He took a loaf of bread, some cheese, fruit and a bottle of wine out of the foodpouch. Taking his knife, he cut off slices of the bread and cheese, handing her some. He opened the bottle of wine and handed it to her.
"I'm sorry but there are no goblets."
She laughed, "It makes no nevermind to me!" She took a healthy swig of it and handed it back to him.
Enjoying thier evening meal, they watched as the sun set in the sky. When the food was consumed to their satisfaction, they carefully wrapped it and put it back in the saddle bag.
Jack got the sleeping rolls down and unfurled them.
"It may be a good idea to butt these up together as there ARE wild animals here."
He took a measure of delight in the wary look in her eyes.
"I've never slept outside under the stars before."
"Well, then, it is to be a first experience."

She placed her boots next to the roll and under the cover, she shimmied out of her dress, placing it at the bottom of the roll. Cecily was feeling self-conscious.
She glanced over as he hung his doublet on a tree branch and slid into the roll. He placed the pistols beneath the cover and put the sword next to him.
"All that armory!"
"Can never be to careful. You know--highwaymen!"
She laughed and said, "Goodnight, Jack."
"Goodnight, Miss Morley. Pleasant dreams."
She faced away from him and curled up.
From the darkness, she said, "Jack?"
"I thought of a name for the mare."
"And that would be?"

Jack replied, "A fine name, to be sure."
He smiled to himself in the darkness.
The Goddess of Love.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/15/2006 21:06:19

As the night wore on Cecily found sleep elusive. She thought back to the stories her brother would tell her of Black Jack Roberts, the boyhood admiration for the outlaw evident in his voice even then. She thought of how different the man himself was, gentlemanly in his treatment of her, his manner one of respect. And something else she was sure of it. Could it be? Was he falling in love with her? She found that the thought of having such a man love her was not as bad as she thought it would be.

So many of the courtly fools, whom she despised, had nearly soured her upon the whole notion of love. Yet here she lay beside an outlaw, a highwayman who had demonstrated far more care for her in a short while than the lot of them had in her entire life! Slowly she rolled to face him not wanting to disturb his sleep, just desirous to look at him once again. And what of her feelings, what did she feel for him, honestly, deep down? Would an honest answer frighten her? Did she indeed love him? In such a short time? Was such a thing possible outside of the storybooks she read as a child? Did she dare believe in something as ethereal as love for the sake of love? Not land, title, or possession simply love as she had read it should be. A fantasy come to life.

Gently, not daring to belive what she had in mind she inched closer to the sleeping form. Not giving herself a chance to think, or talk herself out of that which she had decided to do she moved ever closer to a school girl's dream. The full moon provided her with all the soft bluish white light she needed as she reached out to place one trembling hand on his chest. She felt the beat of his heart through the silk, the rise and fall of his chest beneath her hand. She felt her desire for him rise unbidden like a caged animal finally set free.

Her body lay next to his now separated only by the bedrolls, and she shivered at how right it actually felt. Half raising, her arms encircled him, pulling him closer to her and he awoke.

"Lass?" She put one soft finger to his lips silencing him. Then bent her golden haired head to his, their lips touched for the second time with a tenderness she had not thought possible. She surrendered herself to the kiss, felt his hand rise to cup the back of her neck, cradling her head as would a mother with a new born child. His other hand encircled her waist with infinite tenderness and care.

As the kiss ended she looked deeply into his moonlit eyes and saw the answer she secretly had longed to see. Yes, he did love her for herself and nothing more. She allowed herself to smile tenderly to him.

"I have made my decision, Jack." she whispered in the night. "I do not wish to return to Cornwall. It is my wish to be with you. This is what Cecily Morley wants."

The warmth of his smile melted her heart as he tenderly drew her back to him. "Cecily." The only word he spoke, and only the twinkling stars bore witness. to the first time Cecily Morley made love.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/16/2006 22:34:36

The dawning came with the sound of the songbirds flitting through the trees. Jack awoke for real this time the lovely dream of a woman curled close to him in his bedroll. Gently enough so as not to awaken the sleeping vision he idly stroked her golden tresses. It had not been a dream after all, or if it was he feverishly hoped never to awake. Of all the treasure within the world she was now the most precious to him, a jewel without price nor equal. Lightly she stirred and snuggled closer to his warmth softly murmuring his name in her sleep. He whispered her's back.

He too had been unable to sleep last night, spending it thinking of how lonely it would feel had she decided to return to her family in Cornwall. Wracking is brain for someway to let her know that she had stolen his heart, as he had stolen so many prizes before. He did not know how, in truth he did not care, he only knew that he loved her and he knew not how to keep her with him. Then the miracle that he had dared not hope for came upon it's own. He had lain there pretending to sleep, giving her the chance to change her mind if she wished, but she had not.

"Ah, Jack me boy," he thought, "without doubt ye be the luckiest man in all of England this day."


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/17/2006 11:35:21

Her eyes fluttered open and he held his breath, would his love's feelings still hold true? She yawned delicately, raising her gaze to meet his and he felt his heart soar as she gently smiled. Her willowy fingers reached up to stroke his cheek tenderly as her lips sought his. His hand tenderly tracing the arch of her back.

"Good morn, Dear one." He smiled when she released the embrace of their kiss. Her smile filled with joy.

"And a good morn to you, Mr. Roberts." She teased, her eyes belieing her heart, then she lay her head against his breast sighing with content. "So this be love. I had feared it was no more than the fancy of poets, something never to be mine."

"Your's it is, My love, for as long as you wish to hold it." He assured her ernestly. "But come, though nothing would please me more than to spend the day within your arms, we should breakfast and be on our way to better lodgings. These woods may hide thieves."

Her laughter at his joke filled the small clearing and she hugged him all the closer for a moment. "Aye, maybe a master thief well skilled in the art of stealing hearts." She smiled and rose to dress while he rolled their bed rolls up to be stored away. She was well aware his eyes paid more attention to her than to the task of his hands and it pleased her no end.

After breakfast they wound their way through the woodland making the Devonshire road by noon. Their talk of things new lovers found the most useful to speak of. Hopes of the future, times together yet to be spent, and sweet loving jests which promised passion yet to be played out once privacy had been obtained. The few short miles to the Blade and Bone tavern melted away. Handing the reigns of the horses to the stable boy along with a couple silver coins they entered, their hands entwined.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/17/2006 13:32:07

As was his habit Roberts scanned the main room. A few farmhands were spending their leisure hours discussing the breeding of cows, and the rise in the price of feed. Another couple sat in a far corner nervously, obviously doing their best to avoid the attention for the other patrons. Three officials from the neighboring township were gathered at a table to the left discussing how to empty the pockets of the taxpayers more efficiently. Jack scanned their purses well and made mental note of the heaviness of each. Two rather rough looking cads were playing a game of darts at the far right wall and he noted with care their leering glances in Cecily's direction.

The barkeep was a short balding man, thickly built his forearms bulged from the rolled up sleeves of his shirt, his leather apron was unstained showing his care in the keeping of his establishment. His round jovial face broke into a genuine smile of welcome as the lovers approached the bar. An equally robust barmaid hurried past with tankards for the three towns men. Plump and equally jovial he took her for the owner's wife and touched the brim of his hat to her in greeting, to which she smiled in good nature.

"What be yer pleasure, Governor?" The smiling keep spoke in a rich voice.

"A table and a good meal with your best wine for M'Lady and your finest ale for my self, Good Sir." He happily replied. "And should ye have a room for the night, we have a long way to travel yet, and I fear the hour grows late for such endeavors."

"Aye, Sir, ye can't be too careful these day's." A look of severity crossing the man's cheerful expression for a moment. "Why just last eve we 'ad word that the villain Black Jack Roberts killed five of the king's footmen, and kidnapped a betrothed woman. No doubt to hold her for ransom. She'll be a ruined woman by the time that scoundrel be done with her, yer pardon, Miss. Her fiancee, a Mr. Culpepper told us himself on his way to Cornwall to give her father the news. A damned shame it is, Mr........"

Roberts smiled and extended his hand, "Johnson, Robert Johnson, and this be me lovely wife, Elisabeth."

"A pleasure to meet the both of ye." The tavern keeper's former cheerful expression returned. "don't let me gossip frighten ye none, Mam, I'm sure yer husband will be adequate protection fer ye. Besides they say he rode toward York, the poor lass protesting to the last. Ah, here come me Mary now."

After they had been seated, and their drinks brought Cecily allowed her self a soft giggle. "Five? I counted but three."

"Aye, My Love," he smiled as he filled her goblet, "and by the time the tale be finished they will swear I murdered twenty and deflowered ye while riding across fields of fire. Ye now know how I gained my reputation for bold villainy."

Cecily laughed aloud. "My but you are the scoundrel, Mr. Johnson." Her eyes merrily twinkling with her mischief.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/17/2006 14:43:33

The meal was fine, roasted beef and vegetables, cheese and fruit. While they ate they joked and talked over the events of the day. Patrons came and went. The nervous couple went upstairs returning a couple of hours later and leaving separately. The Townsmen still remained, as did the ruffians covertly looking in their direction, then speaking low to one another, bawdy laughter escaping from their direction. Roberts and Cecily all but ignoring them.

Just before they had finished their meal Mary called for her husband and the tavern keep disappeared into the back. The two unsavory characters watching him vanish. As one they rose from their table swaggering over to the couple. One stood to the right and slightly behind Jack, the other pulled a chair up next to Cecily and boldly sat down.

"Here now, Lass, and what be your name me pretty?" He smirked.

Her eyes were cold as ice on a winter's day. "My name is none of your concern, Rogue, and I will thank you to be on your way."

The dark haired cad merely smiled and reached up for her chin, his partner giving out an evil chuckle. "Here now, Miss. Don't be like that. Me and old Jake here can show ye a far better night than this dandy ever could."

Without a second's thought Cecily emptied the contents of her goblet into the ruffian's face. The man behind Roberts grabbed his shoulders then emitted a howl of surprise and pain. There in his right thigh was Roberts steak knife buried to it's hilt. Jake fell backwards onto his back clutching his leg. His compatriot looked up in shock, frozen with one hand locked around Cecily's wrist, the other drawn back to strike the girl. Absolute fury blazed behind Roberts eyes as he started forward, rapier in hand.

Suddenly the man echoed his companion's howl as he released his grip on the young woman. Jack looked down to witness her right foot buried in the man's crotch. As the uncouth villain fell backward clutching his injured area and retching Roberts fury abated long enough to give way to hearty laughter.

"Well struck, My Sweet!" He grinned. "Now for these two dogs."

"Hold, kind sir, I pray you!" The Tavern owner roused by the commotion had returned. "My apologies, and I assure you these two villains will disturb ye no more this night. Bill! Come here, Lad!!" A large man of well over six feet came from the back.

"Yes, Papa?" He rumbled.

"Fetch the carriage, me boy, and help me take these two afore the magistrate! So help me Jake and Mark Thomas ye'll spend the night in geaol, and ye'll never again set foot in me tavern!!" So saying he turned to Roberts. "Please sir, accept my apologies. You and your wife have a round on the house."

Jack smiled sheathing his rapier. "Think nothing of it, Good Landlord. Geaol be just the place for these two, but mark me should they ever see fit to accost my wife again I will wet my blade on their innards."

"Fair enough, Mr. Johnson. Please enjoy the rest of your evening." Then turning the short wide man grabbed each of the ruffians by the collar, dragging them out side with ease.

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/17/2006 21:15:26

The landlord's wife, Mary, said, "No doubt ye shall be wantin' a room for the night, eh?"
Cecily found her heart quickening at the prospect of spending the entire night with the man she had just spent a wonderful night under the stars.
Jack held her hand and gazed into her eyes.
"Aye, Ma'am, that we do, " without even taking hs eyes from Cecily. She could feel the rise of heat from her inner core spreading in all directions.
Mary grabbed a candle and yelled to her son. "Bill! Tend the patron whilst I get this fine couple their room."
She took a candle and led the way to the upstairs. Opening the door, she showed them in. There was a brass bed with a dresser and a washbasin.
"Nothin' fancy, mind ye. But it is clean. And no one to disturb ye. How long ye been married, darlin's?"
Jack answered, "Only a short three days. But it seems like we have known each other forever."
Mary smiled, "Ah! I see it in yer eyes. Never lose that feelin', duckies. It what keeps ye alive."
As they both were staring at each other, Mary laughed to herself and handed Jack the key.
"No one be disturbin' ye, fer sure."
She added, "Shame about the young lass Black Jack Roberts abducted. Best t' put 'er out in the field and put a bullet in her head. No decent man would want a tainted woman."
Cecily looked a bit shocked by the bluntness of Mary. Jack pressed a gold crown in her hand and said "Thank ye, Ma'am. We are a bit fatigued from the long ride from London. We are on our way to visit Elisabeth's sister in Exeter. A surprise to be sure since Emily could not make our wedding due to her being with child."
Mary winked and said, "Have ye a good night then, and see me in the morning about food. I shall pack ye a mid-day meal to take with ye."
She left the candle and closed the door.

The candle cast shadows on the wall. All of a sudden, Cecily felt self-conscious. It was one thing to make love on a shadowed ground with nothing but a blanket of stars. Last night they were like two lost leaves drifting on the wind of the night.
Tonight it seemed so...definite. So...planned. She could feel the rise of a blush on her face.
Jack could see her apprehension and drew her tenderly to him. He encircled her waist and looked deeply in her eyes. She barely nodded her head.
He slowly unlaced the back of the butter-yellow dress and slid it off her shoulders. Her breath caught in her throat as it slowly slid down and became a puddle of silk and lacings on the floor. He gently picked her up and lowered her onto the bed.
And blew out the candle.

As she laid there with her head resting on his chest and her legs entwined around his, she wound her fingers through his hand. Her hair lay in a tangle around her shoulders and ever so gently spread across his chest.
How could she tell him she lied to him?

"Hmm.?" he replied drowsily. How luxuriating she felt curled up next to him, sharing body heat on a decent bed.
"I lied to you."
She propped herself up on her elbow and traced her finger across his chest. She lowered her head so her hair was a curtain of silk hiding her shame.
"About what, love?"
She found the words hard to say. "About my parents. About the kidnapping."
"But I saw you pursued. The abductors--I killed them."
"I never intended to lie to you. But in view of what the innkeeper said, I need to tell you the whole truth. About Peter Culpepper knowing about her alleged abduction. What I told you was a half-truth."
He laid there patiently waiting for Cecily to find the right words.
She took a deep breath. "I was not in London with my parents. They were not at Court. Father does sit on the House of Lords. But they are in Cornwall right now."
"I don't understand. What were you doing in London?"
She couldn't look him in the eyes. She lied to the man she loved. Only when she spun the lie, he wasn't the man she was in love with. Did that make sound reasoning? It seemed to be the only way she could live with herself.
She continued. "I was in London to be fitted for my wedding gown. The wedding was to be the social event of the year in Cornwall. The house of Morley united with the Culpepper lands. Since Peter was going to London, I also went."
She said quickly, "It wasn't what you think it was, Jack. There was never any--"
"I know."
"As I was being fitted for the gown, I came to the realization that I was to be MARRIED. To this man I didn't love. This stern, strict man. I finally understood the headaches and the stomach aches I had been experiencing. I told the seamstress that I needed some fresh air and I was going down to the square to get some fruit, that I was light-headed."
"What did you have planned, Cecily?"
"To throw myself off a cliff when I got back to Cornwall. To throw myself under a carriage. To take poison. To run away. Anything--ANYTHING!--to keep from marrying the biggest mistake of my life. As I was walking down the docks to clear my head, I was shang-haied by those three pirates that you dispatched. The intent was to sell me off the Barbary Coast. They had ship repairs and were delayed a week. Obviously they couldn't say, 'Hey, chickie, why don't you come back at a more convenient time?"
When the jailer came to give me the food, I hid behind the door and cracked his head with a piece of crockery. I saw that the crew was into their grog so I hid under the pile of canvas and inched my way over the side. I slid down the rope, landed in the water and swam to the dock. And that was when I literally ran into you."
"So you mean----"
"Peter Culpepper was in London and was most likely making enquiries as to my disappearance. Not that he cared! He just wanted the daughter of Wallace Morley. Prestige."
"Do you think he saw me with you?"
She shook her head. "I don't know. Perhaps his description of me reached someone's ears. The stableboy who held your horse? The man who brought us breakfast in your rooms? Maybe even that bar wench you had on your arm when I ran into you. Peter has deep pockets and uses them to get what he wants."

"Cecily, what do you intend to do?"
She tried to put on a brave front. "I need to pay a visit to my parents. Alone. We can go to the Blade and Bone and take rooms there. And I can send word to my parents that I need a private audience with them. WITHOUT Culpepper."
"Cecily, I'm sorry but that is out of the question! For obvious reasons, I can't accompany you and I don't want you to go alone."
She looked at him seriously. "I'll be alright. They will be made to see reason. And Andrew will back me up."
She kissed him slow and she kissed him well.
And when all was said and done, she laid there in his arms in the dark, feeling safe and secure for the first time in her life.
Her final thoughts were this--Wallace Morley would be easy.
Alice Morley would be another story.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/18/2006 01:32:14

He lay there deep in thought, gently stroking her hair. That he held her heart he had no doubt, and this was the most precious of things to him. That she had told him an untruth mattered not a wit, for she had not known him at the beginning and there was nothing he could not forgive her. Her going to Cornwall alone though was another matter and his fear was for her safety. He had known many men like Culpepper, men who would stop at nothing to gain that which they desired. Such men were dangerous, and not above destroying that which they could not have. His fear caused him to pull her closer.

Still she knew her mind and this was important to her. He resolved that she be allowed to see it through, but mayhap not as alone as she would think. His years as a highway man had brought him many friends, for he was neither greedy, nor stingy with his ill gotten gains. This had given him an extensive network of spies in the most common of places where they were looked for the least. This was how he had managed to elude capture for so long and now it would serve a far more noble purpose, the protection of the only thing in this world he would ever truly care for. Life without Cecily at his side was a thing he could no longer fathom.

For this night, though he was content. The love he thought would never be his had come unto him. Fate had delivered to him the greatest treasure any man could wish for, true love. Let other fools seek prestige, power, and holdings for though they thought themselves rich, in truth they were paupers. None of that was worth the smallest of her smiles. Those were things easily taken away, what he held this night in his arms, and in his heart, was eternal. He curled himself deeper into her embrace, happier than ever he had been in a life by no means unhappy.

"Cecily, my love." he whispered into her perfumed hair, gently kissing her forehead and drifting off to sleep wrapped in a lover's embrace.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/18/2006 11:16:24

Cecily and Jack awoke early the next morning, the soft light of dawn and sweet morning breeze causing both to be swept up in their passion for each other. Afterwards he bade her to remain there and rest while he rode to town to purchase more clothing for her.

"After all, My Love, ye have worn the same dress far too long and though it be a right bonnie outfit a lady should have choices." He reasoned. " I shall return within the hour. Should you hunger ye will find breakfast paid for before I leave."

He then bent down into her arms tenderly kissing her. His eyes filled with love he softly stroked her cheek to see her smile and strode from the room. Cecily stretched lazily in the bed contented, the smell of him lingering upon his pillow. She watched with new eyes as the light outside the open window grew and listened to Raven's hoof beats fade into the distance. A small wistfulness crept into her heart at his departure tempered only with the knowledge he would soon return.

She sighed deeply, marveling at the power the emotion had to change one so completely. Where once she would have used her mother's methods to gain an advantage over a man, she now felt only a desire to be one with him. The cold ice of many years of courtly life had melted away to be replaced by the warm springtime of being the most important thing in his life. She had seen it in his gaze, he cared only for her. He saw nothing of gain or power, only a woman who he would cherish for all his days. The knowledge thrilled her to unknown measure, and she hugged his pillow tightly gently rocking it in sheer joy.

She stopped as thoughts of her mother intruded on her happiness. Yes, there was the fly in her ointment, the serpent in her paradise. For Alice Morely was a scheming, shrewish woman, beaten down by the disappointments life had handed her she now lived only for advancement and wealth. She had nearly turned her only daughter into a copy of herself, bitter and lonely.

"Oh my dear Jack," the thought, "if only you knew what you have truly saved me from."

Still mother would have to be dealt with, and Culpepper as well. For if she didn't they would hound him to the ends of the Earth. Not for the love of Cecily, but for the loss of the wealth she represented to them both. She sat up on the edge of the bed and began to formulate a plan.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/18/2006 21:52:08

Roberts patrolled the small hamlet noticing with glee that the two brothers from the night before were spending time in the stocks. He swung into the clothiers and purchased three dresses for Cecily and a shirt and riding breeches he was certain would fit her. They would make riding Aphrodite far more comfortable for her. then he turned to the messengers office, hastily scribbled a note, sealed it shut, and paid the man double to see it was delivered in record time.

Stopping at the saddler he bought a saddle bag for the mare. Once all of the things he could think of to make the remainder of their journey comfortable for his love was finished he had the lot sent back to the tavern with a note for Cecily stating he would arrive shortly following. Hoping he had not missed his guess he stood across the street idly smoking a long thin cigar, and covertly watching the taxhouse. As he saw the three fat officials come outside he grinned. He had over heard them correctly. They were off to collect on some delinquent taxes owed by a poor farmer named Malory some five miles south of town, the Tavern lay two miles north.

Leaping into Raven's saddle he rode quickly toward the tavern. once out of sight he circled into the woods and opened Raven's saddlebag. There in the bottom lay his working clothes, the ones that had inadvertently gained him his nick name. Folding his white silk shirt and velvet coat he quickly slipped into the black linen one, pulled the black silk hood over his face and fastened the night hued cloak at his throat. Placing the black felt Cavalier's hat back onto his head after changing the white and burgundy feathers for the black ones his disguise was complete, and Black jack Roberts rode like the wind for the southern highway.


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/18/2006 22:38:57

"I'm here to see Sir Wallace and Lady Alice."
The tall man with mudspattered clothes stood there. The servant stepped aside.
"I'll announce you at once, Sir."
Within a few minutes, the servant said, "You may go in. They are expecting you in the parlor."

Sir Wallace stood up and extended his hand to the man.
"Peter! How wonderful to see you back."
Lady Alice stood up and offered her cheek to Peter Culpepper.
Sir Wallace looked over Peter's shoulder. "Where's Cecily?"
Peter Culpepper stood there, his cavalier hat pulled low over his brow. He removed it. His cloak was streaked with mud. Peter said, "I am afraid I have bad news."
Sir Wallace paled. "Cecily--she is alright, isn't she?"
"I'm not sure."
Lady Alice knew her daughter's headstrong ways well. "And what has she gotten into this time?"
Peter said, "I am afraid she has been abducted. By Black Jack Roberts, no less."
Cecily's father's face registered disbelief. "Abducted? Are--are you sure?"
Lady Alice, being the ever gracious host, offered her seat by the fire to Peter. "Something to drink? Barnabas, some mulled wine, please!"
Sir Peter sat down. "She was getting fitted for her wedding gown and the seamstress said she went out for fresh air. And disappeared into thin air. A floozy barmaid said she couldn't be sure. But there was a blonde woman, fitting Cecily's description, with a man who may or may not have been Black Jack Roberts."
Lady Alice said cooly, "But you have no proof."
"No, I don't. But where is she?"
Sir Wallace was visibly upset with the news of his missing daughter. "Have you tried to find her?"
Sir Peter snapped, "Of course I tried to find her! Where do you think this mud came from? The Kings' castle? I've put out the word she is to be brought back, unharmed. I've crossed a few palms with coin. And I have seen the magistrates. If she has indeed been kidnapped, a price will be on the abductor's head. One thousand gold coins. For her safe return. I need to go back to my estate and check things out. We shall find her, make no mistake about that."

Lady Alice said, "I shall be back in a minute. I need to check on something."
She smiled beguilingly at Sir Peter Culpepper. Lady Alice Morley was a beauty in her day. She was still a beauty, and unbeknownst to Sir Wallace, a former mistress of the Duke of Somerset. But all good things in the life of a mistress must end. She was replaced by a younger version of herself and was hastily married off to Sir Wallace Morley. A nice enough gentleman. But boring. She still had fanciful ideas and had tried to live them through her daughter. Yet Lady Alice had a hard look in her eyes. The look was speculative and fueled by a fondness Lady Alice had for honeyed wine. Cecily had always been in awe of her mother, and her mother knew it. And used it.
But Cecily was the apple of her father's eye. To which Lady Alice had resented.
Because to Sir Wallace, his daughter could do no wrong.

Sir Peter watched as Lady Alice left the room. He then turned to Sir Wallace and said emphatically, "I want her back. And the marriage shall take place. And if it does not, then you know what that means."
Sir Wallace nodded. "The gambling debts were to be forfeited on the terms of a marriage between you and Cecily."
"And if that doesn't happen?"
Sir Wallace said miserably, "The debts become due and my lands will then be yours."
Sir Peter put his hat back on and turned to leave. He said over his shoulder, "See that she is back. I shall not be made the fool of the duchy just because you have a daughter you cannot control."
With that he left Sir Wallace, deep in thought.

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/18/2006 23:03:48

After finding a suitable bend in the road he tied Raven to a small sapling out of sight in the wood. The took his place near the edge of the road and waited. After a short while he heard the sound of the open carriage's wheels as the three and their driver approached. Gently parting the brush he peered through making sure of his target. Yes, it was them laughing and drinking wine, congratulating themselves on having the local magistrate draw up the foreclosure papers early, soon the fine farm would be theirs.

"Not this day, Vultures." Jack smiled beneath his hood.

The carriage rounded the blind bend in the road and the driver jerked the reigns sharply at the sight of the dark clad figure with it's pistols leveled at him. Both hands quickly found a home in the sky.

"Stand and deliver, Mates!" Roberts growled in a deepened voice that was nothing like his. "I'll be having yer purses, and whatever other valuables ye might have aboard."

"Black Jack Roberts!!" The three legal robbers in the carriage exclaimed almost simultaneously.

"One and the same, Sirs. Now if you'll just vacate the carriage we'll be getting down to business." Jack chuckled. "And, please let's keep our hands where I can see them."

For a moment it seemed as if this job was going to be fairly easy. Then the younger of the three tax collectors whirled firing a small flintlock at Jack. Having not taken the time to aim his shot went wide and a second later he clutched his wrist where Jack's own shot had shattered the bone. The rest fell to their knees in the dirt of the lane begging for their lives. Black Jack Roberts stalked forward grabbing the injured man by the front of his coat placing the muzzle of his pistol beneath the man's chin. He promptly passed out.

Letting the limp form fall to the ground he turned and snarled, "Now unless there be any more foolishness to contend with?" The three conscious men shook their heads as one. "Good. Now if you'll be so kind as to throw yer purses over here."

Once he had gathered the men's money and several expensive rings he pulled several cut lengths of rope from beneath his cloak and had the driver tie each one up. Checking the knots himself after each. Then he had the driver strip them of their breeches, and cut the shirts and coats from them then strip to his underwear himself before Jack tied him up.

Climbing into the carriage he noted a strong box in the back floor and smiled beneath his mask as he drove off down the road. Once he was out of sight he leapt down pulling the money box out of the back. Then he cut the traces of the horses and slapped each one on the rump sending them galloping off into the fields. Pulling a pistol he shot the lock from the box and kicked the lid open. Inside was near to brimming with gold and silver coin, as well as a few coppers.

Pulling the hood from his head he placed his fingers in his mouth and gave a shrill whistle. Raven grabbed his reigns with his teeth and pulled them free, then galloped off in the direction of his master. Jack quickly stripped off his working clothes then threw the purses and emptied the small strong box's contents into the saddle bag on top of them. Dressed again as a man of leisure he turned into the woods and made his way back to the tavern and his sweet Cecily.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/19/2006 12:37:59

Arriving at the tavern he noted that Aphrodite was wearing the saddle bags he had purchased for her. He smiled, Cecily had a knack for anticipating him. Now all that remained was to finish up here and be on their way. With luck it would be hours before those three buffoons were found, and with the rumors of him riding toward York the confusion would muddy the waters about Robert Johnson and his bride. Cecily was just finishing her breakfast as he entered the establishment, her sweet smile upon seeing him warmed him to his core.

"Your packages arrived a couple of hours ago, My Love." She teased. "Have you been "busy?" The woman missed nothing. So that was why Aphrodite was ready to leave.

"Aye, Sweetheart, I ran into a few old friends and I'm afraid I lost track of the time reminiscing, for give me." He picked up her delicate hand tenderly kissing it.

"Of course, Darling," she smiled in return, "but we have wasted much of the morning and must be on our way."

"Aye, that we must." Jack offered her his hand and they settled the bill and took their leave.

"Such a nice pair." Mary sighed to her husband. "They remind me of us when we were young.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/19/2006 13:21:40

Once out of sight of the tavern Roberts again turned Raven into the wood. Cecily gave him a curious look, suspecting he had just plied his trade, and was wishing to avoid being seen traveling the main road to Devonshire. He smiled to her, then partially answered her unasked question. "There is something I need to do before we travel on, Love. Call it an errand of mercy."

She wondered at this, but pressed the matter no further. Soon from the safety of the wood they spied the bend in the road where the robbery had played out. Cecily covered her mouth with one hand to stifle laughing aloud at the four nearly nude men still setting by the roadside cursing each other for cowards.

"Your....."friends?" She giggled.

"Aye." He chuckled in return. "But our way lies a bit further down."

Once they were past the still abandoned carriage they returned to the road, cutting through the wood had taken hours off their time as it had for him making his way back to her. Soon they passed a well kept, but obviously poor farm. Clean and well tended, but with little to show in the way of stock. They nodded in greeting to the farmer's wife hanging thread bare laundry in the yard. Her expression of worry dropped long enough for her to offer them a cheery smile and wave.

When they had passed the farm he again turned from the road, and dismounted. "There, My beloved, is the errand I spoke of." He explained as he began once again changing into the costume of Black Jack Roberts.

"Yon villains cooling their heels by the wayside were to take this honest farm should the farmer not be able to meet his taxes. I intend for him to meet them, and then some." He grinned as he slipped the silk hood over his face. Then taking a fair size sack from his bags he filled it with coins from the strong box, stepped up into the saddle.

"I shall return shortly, Beloved, then we can take this road back around to Devonshire." He then wheeled Raven to the left and rode to the farm.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/20/2006 01:13:31

Riding back toward the farmhouse Roberts thought of his own upbringing as was his wont at times like this. All that his family had they stole, but it was either that or starve. His father was from a poor yet hardworking family. Though they did not have a lot they at least had been granted the ability to eke out a meager living, Then had come the day his father had taken a job on a merchant ship bound for Ireland. The voyage had been rough to say the least for his father a proud man in his own right had run afoul of the first mate, and found himself abandoned there.

As luck would have it he gained work on a small farm on the outskirts of Dublin for a farmer who, though Catholic, did not hold the prejudices that flew back and forth between the two religions. He had then found himself in love with the man's youngest daughter and though he was five years her senior they were soon married. That had proved to be the downfall of everything for them in Ireland. A group of men who considered the mixed marriage an affront to the Pope had attacked the farm one night killing the farmer and his wife, burning the small farmhouse to the ground. With his meager savings he had booked passage for the two of them to return to England and safety. During the voyage Colline, his wife, had announced her pregnancy.

Though relatively safe from psychical attack young Gavin Roberts soon found there were other ways to punish those who dared to step outside the conventions of society. For there he was with young family, a child on the way, and no one willing to hire the young man with the Catholic wife. This was the world Jack had been born into. During the first years of his life he had never known what a full belly was, yet he had learned that if one was left no other recourse, stealing to survive was not out of the question. He had also developed a loathing of both religions, and their wealthy patrons.

When an out break of smallpox had taken both his parents he had seen them laid into a mass pauper's grave. He swore he would have the things life had denied him. That night he pilfered a flintlock from a wealthy drunk, along with the man's purse. The next evening he had held up his first victim. He was sixteen years of age. Luck played into his favor and he had not been caught as he learned his trade well. Correcting his mistakes before they could get him hanged. He had adopted his disguise, learned the value of investing his money, and adopting a different identity. Most who knew him did so as Robert Johnson, very few knew he was indeed the highwayman known as Black Jack Roberts.

Through out he had felt an affinity for those who had little in this life. As his own wealth grew he had helped many of the poor and suffering of this world and always in the guise of the hooded bandit. The farmhouse came into view. The farmer's wife sensing his presence and turned around. her eyes grew wide with fear.

"Please, Sir!" She began to beg. "We 'ave nothing to take 'cept the clothes on our backs! As it is we will not even 'ave our farm once the taxman comes! Please leave us with the little we 'ave left!" Tears rolled down the woman's face. Jack held up one black gloved hand.

"None will be taking what belongs to you this day, M'Lady." He spoke in a gentler version of the deep voice he used to rob. "This Black Jack Roberts swears to you."

So saying he tossed the sack at her feet. It opened and a few of the coins rolled out into the grass. Her eyes widened then fixed upon him in a look that was a mixture of joy and gratitude. He put two fingers to the brim of his hat, then turned and rode away at full gallop.


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/20/2006 18:46:04

Cecily climbed down from her dappled mare and led her to a stream that she saw nearby. The mare bent her graceful neck down and drank deeply.
Cecily looked up and soaked in the sunlight that streamed through the leaves of the forest trees. What a glorious day to be alive!
Four days ago she was held prisoner on a ship bound for the Barbary Coast. Before that she was betrothed to a rich and powerful man. And now here she was, on the run with a man who was a romantic figure larger than life in her sheltered childhood. Bless Andrew for telling her the scary stories to which she was morbidly enthralled with as a lass.

She tethered the horse by a patch of grass and leaned against the trunk of an elm tree, hugging her knees, reveling in something that she didn't believe would ever exist. At least for her.

She thought back to that day when she found out about the engagement. Expecting it was an announcement for Andrew and his betrothed Jane. What a shock to find out that it was for Peter Culpepper.
And the real kicker of it was she was the intended bride.

Her thoughts took her back to a ball that the Duke of Richmond had a few months earlier. Cecily remembered her gown was of sky blue trimmed in silver. Her blonde hair was swept back and up and adorned with spring flowers. She was just come back from her schooling at the French Court. Sir Wallace had used his influence and she had been a member of the Court of Louis XV.
What a waste of time, the courtiers with their fancy manners and affected airs. She longed for the time when she returned to the cliffs of Cornwall. She had missed sitting on the bluffs writing her poetry.
Poetry she never showed anyone.

She closed her eyes in reverie. Was it only a few months ago? It seemed like those days belonged to another person. She remembered dancing with alot of young men. Young men whose names and faces now escaped her. But she remembered Peter Culpepper.
A handsome man but he made her uncomfortable. He held her too close. Too possessively.
He brought her champagne which made her sneeze and she became dizzy. And out on the veranda, he touched her back too familiarly. As he bent to kiss her, she turned her head casually.

The next morning as she awoke, the maid at her uncle's house where the family was staying, had brought her breakfast.
And a visit from her mother.

Lady Alice Morley came in to the room all chipper. She drew the curtains back and the light shone in. Cecily shielded her eyes and her mother practically sang out, "Good morning, Cecily!"
Usually her mother didn't give her the time of day. But this time she pulled no punches.
"Your father and I want to have a talk with you. So please be in the conservatory in an hour, dear."
'Dear'? From Mother?

Cecily ate her breakfast, washed and dressed as fast as she could. As she entered the conservatory, she saw her father sitting pensively. And her mother with a joyful look.
It was then that the truth came out.
She was to be married to Peter Culpepper in three month's time.
Midsummer's Eve.

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/21/2006 14:47:52

The sound of Raven's hoof beats brought an end to Cecily's remembrances and in a way she was glad of it. Thinking upon how Alice Morely had manipulated her was certain to sour her disposition and she felt far too good being with Jack to wish such a thing. Her smile spread to her eyes as she watched him ride toward her through the trees. Knowing what he had just done filled her with pride in her choice of a man. For a moment she pondered the strange complexities of life.

Peter Culpepper was by all account a good citizen, yet she knew him to be one of the most evil of scoundrels, grasping, ruthless, and stingy where he had no need to be. Jack was viewed as a monstrous villain and cad, yet he was kind, trustworthy, and now she knew generous, freely sharing that which he risked his neck for with others in need. Just who was the villain, and who the hero?

He dismounted and began changing while Raven drank his fill from the stream. As he pulled the black linen shirt over his head Cecily spun him around to face her. Her mouth hungrily seeking his. Jack's initial surprise at her sudden rise of passion quickly gave way to his own as he returned her kiss with as much loving tenderness as was within him.

"Come," she softly whispered into his ear, "the day is yet early. Tarry here with me for a while, My Love. My desire will not wait."

He swept her up in his arms, then gently lay with her in the soft grassy bed behind the trees shelter. Slowly the lovers entwined in each other's embrace. Soft breezes carrying the sent of summer's wildflowers to them. Speaking their love to each other with only eyes and touch they told more than the poor device of words could ever reach.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/21/2006 15:30:38

The sun had climbed well past noon when they took to the road again. Cecily's joy in life was unabated, indeed if nothing it had grown ever stronger. She smiled at her man, he rode as though he held the world in the palm of his hand and it pleased her to know she was the cause of it. Still her curiosity gave way for there was a question she desired to ask of him.

"Jack," she finally spoke, "there is something I wish to know of you. You do not have to answer, if you do not wish, yet I must ask."

A small frown creased his brow for a moment. "Ask what you will of me, Dear One. I will answer."

"Has there been no other to win your heart? Surely there have been other women who have vied for your attentions."

His reply came without hesitation through a broad loving smile. "Nay, Lass. Though yes, other women have sought me most of them I have avoided for my heart was not with them and I saw no good in leading them to think it did. I have however, and I hope you will not think ill of me for it, spent my Earthly needs with many a tavern maid over the years for I trust not in doxies. These were but nightly dalliances quickly ending with each new morn. Yet they knew this was all they could expect from me, for I hid not my reasons from them."

"This I may say, though you may think me a fool for it, with honesty and sincerity. Until the night in London when fate brought you into my arms for the first time I knew not what love was, and neither did I care to, or so I thought. At first I thought the strange feeling that near overwhelmed me to be another form of pity for your plight. I know now it was not, for it has not abated within me, Nay it has grown more intense with each passing day. I can say to you with all honesty, Cecily Morely, I loved you from the moment I laid eyes on you."

Moving her mount closer to him she reached up to stroke his cheek. His color had turned and she knew his confession to be true. Cecily Morely had delt with many a liar in her young life none of them changed color when they lied, only when they were caught.

"Fear not, My Love," her voice as soft and reassuring as an Angel's, "I think you no fool. In truth your words touch my heart. And tis good to know even Black Jack Roberts can blush, given the need."


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/21/2006 22:21:26

Jack had turned to look at her. She was sitting tall on the horse, the absence of a saddle.
Now it was his turn to ask her a question.
"Cecily, how old are you?"
She said softly, "Old enough."
He tried another approach. "And has there been anyone who made your heart skip a beat?"
She looked at him with guileless eyes. "My darling, I was sent to France and was in the Court of Louis XV. The fancy-boys there did nothing for me. Always fawning, always checking themselves in the mirrors. Why, once at a ball at the palace of Versailles--"
"You were at VERSAILLES?"
"Well..yes. I mean, it was the country estate of Louis--"
"You called him Louis?"
"Not to his face. But yes, I was there. My mother tried to advance me. She thought I would be more marketable with a French education. And she wanted to present me to Court this fall. I absolutely refused to go. Father backed me up on it. He didn't want me to move to London."
"Have you known Culpepper long?"
"Just about all my life. I never paid much attention to him. His lands adjoin ours. The lands are on the cliffs. Andrew and I used to play in the caves. But there were certain caves that were off-limits to us."
"Why so?"
"Father took Andrew aside as he was the older and being a boy he was to look out for me. That is where Andrew got his fanciful ideas."
She burst out laughing at the memory of it all. "Andrew told me that Black Jack Roberts stored his ill-gotten booty in the caves and if I went in there, I would never come out again. He said a few other things that don't bear repeating. But I daresay I found out they were not true."
Jack raised his eyebrow. Now it was Cecily's turn to blush.
But she continued. "I think Father told Andrew that pirates were using the caves on Culpepper's land to smuggle their treasures. And all with the co-operation of Peter. I do believe he received a percentage and they received his protection. He must have amassed quite a fortune by now."
"What of his wives? Did you know them?"
She shook her head. "I do remember Margaret. The first one. I was but a child. She was sickly and died in childbirth. The baby died too. Then he married Arabella. I never knew her. Think childbirth took her out too."
She turned on Jack with resolved passion in her voice. "See why I didn't want to marry him? He's the kiss of death! One bedding and it's all over for me!"
He reached over and brushed her hair back off her face. "You do know, love, that you could just disappear into thin air with me and no one would ever know what became of Cecily Morley."
She shook her head no. "I want to sever all ties with my Cornwall past. Walk away from it. I've been thinking, Jack. I can just tell my parents that I have fallen in love with Robert Johnson. He is waiting for me in London. And that a friend from London escorted me as far as Plymouth and I hired the mare to take me home. I can make them see reason. Father wants nothing but my happiness."
"And your mother?"
With a steely voice, she said, "Mother taught me well. She just may have met her match in me. This is something I have to do. When we get to the Blade and Bone Tavern, just wait for me. It should not take me more than an afternoon. And I do want to collect my poetry and my sketches. And a few odds and ends that my grandmother left me."
"My dear, I just don't like the whole idea."
She held her hand up and said, "As much as I would like to honor your request, my love, I have to do this. As much for me as for us."
He was beginning to realize just how much of a headstrong lass she was.
And he wouldn't have it any other way.

After a bit, Cecily asked, "The sun is starting to dip in the sky. How much longer do you intend we should ride?"
"Another hour. There is an inn at the crossroads called the Hare and Hound. We shall seek lodging there tonight."
She thought with a blush on her face, 'An hour before I can totally immerse myself in Jack Roberts' arms again...'

From next to her, Jack once again asked her, "Cecily, how old are you REALLY?"
She gave him a smile and finally said, "Nineteen. Just turned."
She laughed and kicked her heels into the mare to speed her along...


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/22/2006 17:54:16

Roberts stared after Cecily's rapidly retreating form stunned for a moment. Then he reached down patting the huge stallion's neck.

"Well, Lad, now how be that for a kick in the pants? Not that it be so much a difference, but I would have sworn she be older. A very mature lady to be sure. What say we catch up, Old Friend?"

Raven snorted in delight tossing his head up and down. Jack laughed, sometimes he would swear the horse was near human. "Very well, Old Boy. Heeya!"

The mighty horse leaped forward like a streak of black lighting, his hooves beating out a rapid staccato rhythm along the dirt road, his coal mane flying. There was no doubt Aphrodite was a well bred mare, her speed showed as much. Raven, however, was used to outrunning the finest horses in King George's stables, and was gaining on the laughing Cecily's mount by the second. Within a few moments the horses were neck and neck to each other. Roberts and Cecily laughing like school children as the race ran on.

The midnight hued stud matched pace with the dapple grey mare and no amount of coaxing from Jack could make him increase his speed. Onward down the road the two flew their riders laughing and encouraging them to greater speed. Field workers stopped their toils to watch for a moment as the pair raced past, some yelling support to one or the other of the contestants. Still the animals remained deadlocked as if by a mutual consent neither of their masters could overcome.

After a while the riders reigned in by mutual consent laughing, and out of breath from the thrill of the impromptu contest. Cecily rode closer to Jack, then leaning over kissed his cheek.

"Well done, My Love," she smiled, "And you too, Raven and Aphrodite." The two horses merely whinnied and shook their collective manes into place, trotting leisurely down the road.

Jack laughed good naturedly, taking Cecily's hand to his lips. "And well done to you as well, M'Lady."


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/22/2006 23:17:29

The horses kept pace with each other. Cecily couldn't help but laugh. "Jack, I do think Raven is in love!"
Jack smiled broadly, "You think so?"
"Yes. He wasn't about to beat a female at her own game. He gave the appearance of a chase but he knew he could beat her. And I must say, look at Aphrodite! She has a gleam in her eyes and the way she is tossing her mane. Oh, yes! I daresay the feeling is mutual! She is in love also."
"As is the lovely woman who is astride her?"
She blew a kiss to him and said nothing, smiling to herself.

Due to the race, the two had shaved a half hour off their travels. Entering the courtyard of the Hare and Hound, the stableboy rushed to take their mounts. Jack tossed him the reins and then reached up to help Cecily down. She felt so right in his arms.
Arm in arm they walked through the tavern. He nodded imperceptively to a man who came over to them.
"Ye be havin' supper?"
Jack held the chair out for Cecily. "Aye, that we be. And a room for the night. Cecily? What shall ye have?"
She flashed a smile at the innkeeper. "Do you have stew?"
He grinned, "The best o' England, miss. And the finest potato bread this side of Eire."
"I'll have that, then."
Jack said, "Make that two."

As they ate their evening meal, they exchanged loving glances. When the meal had ended, Jack held Cecily's chair out. The innkeeper came forward with a key.
"First door on the left. Ye shall be quite comfortable."
They climbed the stairs, Cecily grabbing his hand and leading the way. As Jack unlocked the door, he opened it to a room that was quite small but comfortable. Cecily threw her arms around him, her lips seeking his in a lover's kiss.
He gently detached her from his neck. "Love, I have to see about the horses. I'll not be but a quarter of an hour."
She sighed but smiled, "I shall be going nowhere. Hurry back, darling."

He locked the door behind him and walked down the stairs. At the fireplace sat the innkeeper.
Jack sat down too and looked around. The establishment was empty except for a hound that lay by the fire. Jack stretched out his legs and leaned back.
"What's the word, Gilbert?"
The innkeeper tamped his pipe and drew on it. "Word has it ye took out fifteen redcoats yesterday. All at once."
Jack laughed, "Fifteen now! I thought it would only be ten."
Gilbert chuckled. "And by tomorrow it shall be twenty! And ye may add another crime to yer list."
Jack leaned forward intently, "And what would that be?"
"That ye are wanted for the kidnapping, violating and disappearance of one Lady Cecily Morley."
He leaned back again. "Is that so?"
"Aye. but she looks right healthy and contented to me, so it be a thrice lie, no doubt. And from the smile on her face, I think she be taken willingly."
Jack laughed again. "Gentlemen never speak of such things, Gilbert."
Gilbert laughed too. "Story is going around ye were headed on the road leading to York. A man came by here a day or so ago. Name was Collier? Cutler?"
"Possibly. I dinna pay much attention to him. Was looking for the lass."
"And what did ye tell him?"
"That I dinna know ye nor what ye looked like but I had heard that ye make yer bed up York-way and that it be redundant to look for ye here. Like looking for a shilling in the yard that ye lost in the house just because the light be better!"
"Ye are a good man, Gilbert."
Jack reached in his pocket and pressed a gold crown in Gilbert's hand.
"I'll be retiring now."
"Aye, Jack. And no doubt yer bedwarmer is waiting for ye."
Jack said, "That be no bedwarmer, Gilbert. This is truly the one."
Gilbert roared with laughter. "Aye, I see Black Jack Roberts has been the one stolen from!"
Jack clapped him on the shoulder and winked. "See ye in the morn, friend."

He unlocked the door and looked at the floor. There lay a trail of clothes leading to the bed and by candlelight there was the lovely face of his lass. He crossed the room and she held her arms out to him, drawing him close with a kiss that would set the world on fire.
Jack briefly wondered at the fire that was lit in this woman-child. And if he would ever be able to quench it.
Or if he even wanted to.

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/23/2006 11:42:58

Jack awoke just before dawn and gazed lovingly at Cecily. It was all he could do not to take her into his arms and cradle her body close to him, but there was still some things he needed to have set in motion. He would have done so last night, but the promise of her arms had driven him to her far too fast. Besides she was an intelligent woman and he dared not risk tarrying too long with Gilbert, her suspicions would have become aroused.

That she needed to attempt to close the chapter of her old life he could understand, but he knew this would be a dangerous venture, to say the least. Although he had said nothing to her, he knew of the reputation of Peter Culpepper. Many dastards and villains did and Jack was one of the few who would have nothing to do with the man. For he was far more evil than the world at large knew. Protected by his great wealth, among other things, the man was perhaps the most ruthless monster in all of England.

He had asked Cecily of Culpepper's former wives for a reason, couching his concern in conversation of wishing to know of her upbringing. That the man was the kiss of death was an understatement, for Jack knew that Culpepper had murdered his former wives to gain the lands and wealth that the marriage brought with them. Though nothing would ever be proven for the sources by which the beast had purchased the poisons used on the first had mysteriously vanished. It was well known that his first wife was a robust woman, only turning sickly after she married the man. That Margaret Culpepper and her child had died during childbirth was no surprise, for the man had been slow poisoning her for quite some time. The second had been officially put down as an accident, the poor woman had fallen down the stairs, breaking her neck in the fall. It was rumored he had actually strangled Arabella Culpepper when he had discovered the child she bore was not his.

Jack slipped from the bed and held his breath when she stirred for a moment. Good she yet slept. He quickly dressed gazing with love at her. He would be damned if he would let Culpepper get his murderous hands on Cecily. He would see Peter Culpepper to his grave first. Now to make certain of his arrangements.

He entered the main room of the Hare and Hound, finding but a few patrons having their breakfast. His eyes spoke to Gilbert, and his friend slightly nodded his head.

"A good mornin' to ye, Mr. Johnson. I trust ye slept well?"

"Quite well, my good sir. Pray have a breakfast prepared for me to take to my rooms for my wife, she slumbers yet, and would you accompany me to the stables? My mount has some special needs I would like for you to know of before we travel on."

"No trouble at all, sir." Gilbert grinned. "I'll be right with ye."

After leaving orders for the breakfast to be prepared the two men walked out to the stable. Raven whinnied happily at the sight of his owner and Roberts fed the two horses a couple of apples he had brought from the inn. The stable boy came around with a bale of hay, dropping it at the sight of Roberts.

"Jack! Lord love me! It is you!" He walked quickly over to the two men grabbing Roberts in a bearhug.

"Tis good to see you again, too Timothy! But please, Robert, or Mr. Johnson." Jack laughed as the boy's eyes widened realizing his mistake and looking quickly around.

"I'm so sorry, Ja....Mr. Johnson! I was just so pleased to see you again.!"

"No harm done, Lad." the outlaw smiled warmly. "And how is your mother these days?"

"As fit as a fiddle, thanks to you, sir! Will ye be staying long? She would dearly love to see ye again." Timothy beamed.

"Nay, Lad. I'm afraid Business takes me elsewhere. Which is what I've come out here to discuss with your master here. If ye would be so kind as to keep watch for a moment?"

"Certainly, Sir!" The boy then walked to the corner and made as if he were preparing the feed for the animals housed there.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/23/2006 14:04:34

Jack looked about then spoke lowly to Gilbert, gently stroking Raven's mane. "Would ye happen to have any of the pigeons for the Crossbow left here?"

"Yer place? Aye."

"Good. I sent the messenger to you with hopes that ye did. Tricky part was trying to find a way to detour here. She's a bright lass, and make no mistake about it."

Gilbert laughed. "I'll not be askin' how ye managed that! Ye'll either have a long and happy life together, or ye've bitten off more'n ye can chew this time, Old Friend!"

Roberts chuckled. "I would guess the latter, but she be worth it. Now, send word to Josiah that I need all of my friends from here to Cornwall. We'll be stopping in Plymouth next, and that's where Cecily plans to make her wishes known to her parents, I've not time to go into the details, but if at all possible I need someone to keep an eye on her after. She may be in more danger doing this than she realizes."

Gilbert nodded as Jack continued. "If at all possible I will need someone to gain a position on the Morley Estate. It matters not what just as long as I've someone there should things go sour. I'll be paying that person handsomely so they can take the position for as little wages as necessary to gain it."

"Aye." Gilbert grinned. "We can have that sent out afore ye finish yer breakfast."

"Thanks to ye, Gilbert. As I said before, yer a good man."

"Pbffftttt!" The innkeeper snorted. "Were it not fer you they'd 'ave laid me in a pauper's grave by now. Think nothing of it, Jack."

As the men turned back to the inn Roberts pulled one of the purses he had taken the day before and tossed it to Timothy. "For your mother with my apologies, Lad. Tell her I'll stay longer on my next round through."

They boy opened the purse and looked inside. Then his eyes wide with astonishment and gratitude he watched the retreating back of the robber as the men vanished through the door. "Lord love you, Black Jack Roberts, and keep you safe." He whispered.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/23/2006 21:51:05

Roberts opened the door to their room, balancing the laden tray with one hand. Cecily awoke smiling warmly as he shut the door and brought the tray over to her. Setting the tray down upon her lap he felt her soft hand gently turn his head towards her. Her soft lips met his.

"Good morning, Dearest." She sighed. "Thank you for bringing breakfast to me, it was very thoughtful of you."

"Think nothing of it, My Love. There is nothing I would not do to see you smile, or know that you are happy." He gently stroked her cheek as she bit into one of the rolls.

He sat up beside her on the bed pulling the tray halfway onto his lap and they ate together, at times feeding one another from the tray. Her deep blue eyes sparkled in the morning light as they laughed and simply enjoyed having the other so near. Both knew that this was what they had secretly searched for. If life held no other meaning the finding of true love was all it ever needed.

As they finished Jack began to get up with the tray, but before he had half risen she grabbed him from behind pulling him down and tightly to her breast. The tray clattered to the floor sending the remains of the meal in all directions.

"You are under arrest, Black Jack Roberts!" She whispered into his ear. "How do you plead?"

"For the crime of falling madly in love with the most beautiful woman in all of England? Your Honor, I have no excuse. I stand, or lay, guilty as charged and throw myself upon the mercy of the court." He chuckled.

"Do not laugh, foul villain!" She teased with mock seriousness. "These are the most serious of charges!"

"And what, pray tell, am I to expect for my punishment? Will ye have me hanged?" He played along with as much fear as he could feign in his voice.

"Nay!" She smiled as she turned him to her. "Your punishment must fit your deeds. I hereby sentence you to at least an hour in my arms. Maybe more, we shall see, you villain."

Her mouth sought his as their arms entwined around each other.

Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/24/2006 10:09:25

Glibert wrote a message and attached it to the leg of one of the pigeons kept in cages behind the Hare and Hound stables. He gave the bird a stroke over its back and then released it.
The pigeon then circled and flew in a southwest direction. Gilbert smiled. He had trained them well of which Jack generously compensated him for it.

Gilbert reflected back on his life two years ago. Mary had just died, he thought with wistfulness. He drank himself into a bottle and the taxes were in arrears. A stroke of fortune brought Jack into the tavern that rainy night.
Jack had sustained a knife wound to the chest. Not a fatal one but nasty all the same. He had bloodloss and was barely conscious when he arrived. In his drunken stupor, Gilbert at least had the common sense to call a doctor in and made up a story as to how his estranged 'son' had managed to get himself in a drunken beer brawl and had made it home.
The doctor asked no questions and Gilbert had used his last coin to pay the physician. When Jack was conscious again, he and Gilbert talked. Gilbert had surmised who he was by the demeanor of a man on the run. That and the fact that Jack had used a monogrammed handkerchief with BJR to staunch the bloodflow.

In the course of conversation, Gilbert had spilled out his entire life story ending with the fact that he had a week to pay the taxes on the Hare and Hound or lose it to Thomas Weedon, a landowner of these parts.
Jack had produced a bag of coins for Gilbert with the admonition that he use the balance after the taxes were paid to refurbish the inn.
Gilbert had done just that. He sobered himself, fixed the tavern up till it enjoyed the reputation of a fine, clean inn suitable for overnight journeyers. Gilbert had even found himself courting the Widow Perkins.
Jack had discovered that Gilbert had kept pigeons that had the ability to fly with true speed from one place to another. Between the two of them, they devised a route between the Hare and Hound and the Crossbow.

Within a few hours, a pigeon had landed on the window of the Crossbow.
The Crossbow was a modest tavern-inn that Jack Roberts had secretly bought with his money as a sound investment. As he reasoned, you never knew when the cup drained and you were forced into a more sedate way of living. Unbeknownst to most except his right-hand man Josiah Parker, no one knew of the various investments that Jack had made. Land, ships, a few taverns. And yes, a couple of them were privateering ships he had a claim in. In his own right and for his rather young age, Jack Roberts was quite a wealthy man.

Josiah knew at once that the message was from Gilbert as they had exchanged messages before. He took the note, read it and then put the pigeon in a cage with some cracked corn as a reward.

Walking back inside the Inn, Josiah looked over the 'crew' that worked the Crossbow. They were all hand-selected by Jack Roberts for their various talents and even their pasts. For there are none so trusting as those who have much to lose.
A smile slowly spread to his face. The one who would be perfect for the job was Will Coliver.
He beckoned him over and then said, "Will, would ye meet me at the stables? We be havin' trouble with the wheel on the coach."
Will nodded as he knew there was no problem. Hell, there wasn't even a coach.

In the stable, Josiah explained what Jack had requested.
"Think you can manage it?"
Will laughed. "T'would be a pleasure to work at the Morley estate. I've heard the daughter is a right bonny lass. Mayhaps a man like me and a lady such as herself..."
Josiah shook his head. "Nay, from what Gilbert wrote, that lady is the very reason Jack Roberts wants an eye kept on things. And particularly on the Lady Cecily Morley. Seems he has a vested interest in her."
Will grew sober. "Rumor in the tavern has it that she is betrothed to Peter Culpepper. A man I dare not go up against if I value my life."
Josiah said, "Jack wants you to keep an eye on her. She is due to arrive at her parents' estate in the next few days and she most likely will need protection unbeknownst to her."
Will tipped his hat and saddled up his horse.
"I'll get right on it. Anything for Jack." He sighed wistfully, "The lady is surely Jack's interest?"
"That be the story according to Gilbert. She be with him right now."
Will threw his leg over the horse and pulled up on the reins. "Ah, well. If not me, then Jack is the better man!"
He spurred his horse and galloped down the road that led to Cornwall.

By early afternoon, Will Coliver pulled his horse up at a tavern just outside the Cornwall estate of Moreland. The tavern was know as the Black Swan. The proprieter, Samuel Gable, came out and broke out in a wide smile when he recognized Will.
"Ah, Will! How are ye?"
Wil tossed him the reins and clapped him on the back. "Fine, fine!"
'And bring ye any news of Jack?"
"He's fine. He's heading this way on personal business."
"Heard he killed twenty-five redcoats."
"The tales do get tall, don't they?"
"Aye, they do. He be a legend in his own time. Now, what can I do ye for?"
"Long story, Samuel. But I need to stable my horse here. The less number of people who know the better. But I need to seek employment at Moreland. Jack asked me to. Have you heard of any opportunities there?"
Samuel rubbed his chin, knowing better than to question further.
"Aye, I heard the other night that they were short a gardener since the fruit trees have ripened. That be yer best bet."
Will grinned. "Perfect. And may I impose on you to give me a lift as far as the gates of the estate?"
"Aye. But ye shall be wanting to change yer clothes. T'wouldn't do to show up in decent clothes. I've some work clothes the last man here left behind. Ye can change in the barn."
Within ten minutes, Will came out shabbily dressed. Samuel had the wagon ready and they headed down the road.

"Thanks, Samuel!"
Samuel grinned. "Anything for Jack. Tell you what--I know the stablemaster well. I'll send a roan over to keep and if ye need it to make a quick getaway, she shall be here."
Will shook his hand. "You are so wasted as a proprietor! You should be in the King's service!"
Samuel let out a good-hearted chuckle. "That will be the day!"

With that, Will made his way to the back door of the manor. He knocked on it and a servant answered. Will took his cap off and twisted it humbly in his hand.
"Beggin' yer pardon, mate. I hear tell ye were lookin' fer someone t'help keep the grounds. Might I inquire as to a job?"

Within fifteen minutes, Will had the job. Jack's spy on the comings and goings at Moreland were now secure and in place. Although Will didn't have access to the inside of the house, he had made the acquaintance of a maid, Emily, who Will had recognized. He knew her to be trustworthy and totally smitten with him. And she had a mouth that runneth over.
Ah, yes. Emily would be the spy inside.
Without her knowledge.

Samuel headed his horse over to the Crossbow as it was only an hour's ride from the Black Swan. He informed Josiah Parker that Will was now secure in the employ of Sir Wallace Morley.
After sharing a pint or three, Josiah went out to the cage, wrote a note and sent the pigeon on his way home to the Hare and Hound to let Jack know that the plans were set and the wheels were now in motion.

All that was left was for Cecily to go home.

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/25/2006 01:35:34

After cleaning up the remains of the breakfast from the floor the two lover's came down the stairs. Gilbert smiled as they came over to the bar to settle their bill.

"Good to see ye both this fine morn, Sir, Mam. Did ye sleep well, and were yer accommodations to yer likein'?"

"Quite well indeed, Innkeeper. A fine room, and a fine meal as well. A pint of your best ale, and a glass of your best wine for M'Lady before we take our leave, please."

"Coming right up sir!"

Cecily held Jack's arm leaning her head gently against his arm as Gilbert got them their drinks. She took in the air of the place. It was homey and comfortable she felt as if she had come to a home she had always longed for. So it bothered her not a bit to stay for a while longer in such surroundings. The innkeeper returned setting a tankard and a goblet down before them and began making small talk.

"Ye have the air of a sporting man about ye, Sir, if'n ye dosen't mind me a sayin' so. Have ye ever done any huntin'?"

Roberts smiled. "I mind not in the least, Sir, and yes I have been known to chase a hare or two in my time."

"I thought as much. Speakin' of hare the other day a patron a mine were a tellin' us about a hunt he had. Seems they were a huntin' a bit out in the wood when the hounds flushed out this rather prize hare. A right canny little rabbit it were, but the hounds were all around her. seems no matter which way she run there were another hound. That hare made a fair chase out a the entire run of things, but just as the hounds had the hare surrounded she made a last bolt fer her den and slipped right in there safe 'n sound as it were. Even with a hound in the den wern't nothin' they could do, she had give 'em the slip and were as safe as she could be."

Cecily giggled. "Sounds as if the hare had out foxed the hounds, Good Innkeeper."

"Aye, Lass," he winked at her joke, "that she did. Will there be anything else fer ye two?"

"Nay good sir," Jack smiled now knowing his plans had been successful, "we must be on our way."

With that Roberts paid the bill slipping in a handsome tip for Gilbert. He and Cecily emerged from the cosy tavern to find their horses prepared and ready. Young Tim held the reigns for them and bid Mr. Johnson a good day as the two rode leisurely toward Plymouth.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/25/2006 12:21:27

Even though the story that Gilbert had related to him had told Jack his plans were successfully in place, he still grew apprehensive as they rode ever closer to Plymouth. Before he had only himself to be concerned with, now he had the greatest treasure a man could ask for, and the thought of losing Cecily weighed heavily upon him. He realized that now he had become a man with something to lose, something he desperately wanted to keep.

His various business ventures and holdings had made him very wealthy indeed and as he made loving banter with his woman he toyed with the idea of putting Black Jack Roberts to rest, for her sake. This, however, he also knew was an impossibility, for Black Jack Roberts was as much a part of him as the air which filled his lungs. Though it made him feel a bit selfish, he knew he would be the highwayman for the remainder of his life and anything less would be far too boring to contemplate. Perhaps if he were to slow down his activities make himself less of a target. That was not an option now either, for with Peter Culpepper on his trail he was now more a target than the time he had waylaid the coach that carried King George's taxes.

Cecily Morely was now his world and nothing would ever change that for him. He would deal with the unknowable future as it presented it's self, and cherish his time with her. It was an interesting dilemma to be certain, but one that he would not trade for a chance at the crown jewels themselves. While he may hold the keys to the fattened purses of England, she held his heart.

As they grew ever closer to their destination he noted many familiar faces who nodded at their passing and it put his mind somewhat at ease. There was nothing like actually seeing a plan in motion, as opposed to hearing about it, to give one a sense of security.

Cecily had also become a little lost in her thoughts as she neared her home. Father was not her concern, for he had always loved her and would support her in any decision she cared to make. Andrew, for all his teasing and faults, was much the same. Alice Morely was another matter all together. For as long as Cecily could remember her mother made it a point to have her way, or else. The woman was a master of manipulation, and it showed to any who would care to look deeply enough. She would use anything, or anybody to gain an advantage, consequences be damned. Alice Morely would have made a far better mate for Peter Culpepper.

Culpepper. There was another fly in the ointment. She was not so naive that she was not aware of both the man's ruthlessness, and ambition. He had let a bit of his true nature slip a time or two in her presence. Enough for her to disregard his finely practiced phrases of love and romance. She was well aware that the only concept of love the man held was for himself. This she felt was the reason she had been so opposed to him, her body rebelling against the thought of becoming his bride, making her ill in spite of herself. In the end she knew he, too would have to be dealt with. Fortunately for her mother had trained her well in her ways, making Cecily into a woman to be reckoned with should the need arise.

The city of Plymouth came into view and despite their planning the lovers felt their hearts fall a bit.


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/25/2006 21:26:54

By late afternoon they were at the courtyard to the Blade and Bone. The tavern was well-established in Plymouth and was known as a hub of information and gossip.
Cecily began to fret. "Jack, I'm afraid to go in for fear some may know me as the daughter of Sir Wallace. The news of my so-called 'kidnapping' may reach the ears of those in the tavern. And I am sure Peter Culpepper will have put a reward out for me. And a price on your head if I am seen in your company."
Jack furrowed his brow deep in thought. "If we ride another hour, we shall be at the Crossbow Inn. This may be a better choice for us."
"Will we be safe?"
"I guarantee it. We take this road through the woods. Are you up for it?"
Cecily smiled broadly. Any hour away from Cornwall delayed the inevitable distasteful task that must be done.
"Let's do it! I'll see my parents in the morning. This way we can...we can..well, we can get a good night's rest."
Her blush revealed her thoughts and Jack chuckled. She raised an eyebrow and said, "And what is so amusing, Jack Roberts?"
"Nothing. Except that a few days ago the ways of love were unknown to you and now...."
"And now I can't get enough of you, is that what you are thinking?"
"Let's just say I have subsisted on more sleep."

As they entered the woods, Cecily said, "Jack, I know you were wondering where the saddle went."
"It crossed my mind."
"I sold it to the leathershop."
"I see."
Her face flamed. "I didn't want you to think I was taking money from you and pocketing it! I--I had to buy something."
"And what would that be? We have been near no clothing shops nor bootmakers."
She answered, "I needed some sort of weapon to protect myself. I used to carry a bodice dagger but the pirates took it from me. And as we were riding the road to Devonshire, I needed to feel safe."
"And what did you buy, my love?"
"I'll show you."
She reached into the sleeping roll that was on the back of her horse. Pulling from inside it she produced what she bought with the saddle money.
Jack started to laugh. "You bought a bow and arrows?'
She raised her eyebrow at him.
"I surely did. What is so funny?"
He could scarcely contain his laughter. "It take years to perfect that. The aim must be true. Do you honestly expect me to believe a lady such as yourself can hit anything?"
She brought her horse to an abrupt stop. "You don't believe me, do you?" Her voice took an indignant tone.
"Darling, what I am saying is a woman of your petite stature, well, I just can't see how she has the strength to pull the bow back. Even if you COULD, how can your aim be true?"
She jumped off Aphrodite's back and threw him the reins. Her face burned red.
"I'll show YOU who can aim true!"
Jack sat there, arms folded and tried not to laugh at this side of Cecily. What a firebrand she was!
She pointed in a direction about a hundred feet away. "See that crooked tree?"
He nodded. She walked over to it, bent down and took a wildflower and stuck it in a piece of bark. She marched resolutely back to where they stood.
Reaching into the quiver, she took an arrow, wetted the feathers with her fingers and drew back on the bow.
The arrow flew and hit its mark.
He sat there with his mouth open but no sound came out.
When he found his voice, he said, "Lucky shot."
She reached into her saddle bag and produced an apple.
"Throw this up in the air. High. As high as you can."
He did.
She swiftly shot an arrow off.
The apple fell to the ground, cleaved neatly in half. Raven and Aphrodite eagerly devoured the split fruit.
Retrieving her arrows, Cecily swung her leg over the horse and galloped off. Blackjack watched her go and leaned over to Raven.
"I think I am in the veritable doghouse, Raven. I'd best make amends or I shall be bedding down with you. And while you are fine company, it just wouldn't be the same."
The horse charged forward. Jack caught up to Cecily and grabbed the reins. She had been crying. She turned her head and hastily wiped them away so he wouldn't see. As the horses drew to a stop, she turned to him and then let out a burst of tears.
"Our first argument!"
With that he dismounted Raven and held his arms out to Cecily. She fell into his arms and hugged him like she never wanted to let him go.
"I'll never doubt you again, Cecily. But I must ask. How did you learn to aim and shoot like that?"
She laughed through her tears and said, "I wasn't always such a lady, my love.! I had a brother who teased me unmercifully. And so all the times he scared me about the infamous outlaw who is now my lover, I decided to protect myself against you, you villain! I would go out to the woods and practice every day. I stole Andrew's bow and arrow and kept them hidden under a fallen log. He told my father he lost it. He never did know what happened to them. And as I practiced every day, I grew more and more accurate. And I am proud to say, Black Jack Roberts--every one of those arrows was meant for you! Oh, was I ready for you!"
Jack drew her into his arms and kissed her. He looked up at the sky.
"Let's go so we can make the Crossbow before too long. That way we can get a good night's sleep."
Cecily looked at him with a smile he had come to know.
"Well...we can certainly try."


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/25/2006 22:51:46

As dusk fell, the two riders entered the courtyard of the Crossbow. Josiah Parker came out and a smile crossed his face.
"Is that be ye, Jack? Dinna really expect to see ye. And this must be the lovely young lady that we be hearing about."
Cecily looked puzzled. "How did you know?"
Josiah laughed heartily. "Let's just say a little bird told us!"
Jack laughed and helped Cecily down. Not so much that she needed help but to look for any opportunity he could to hold her.
The stableboy came around and said, "Jack! God's teeth! Ye are here in the flesh!"
"Aye, Murph, that I am!"
"Ye here for long?'
"Just long enough to straighten out a few things." He handed Murph a few shillings and Josiah led the way inside.
Introductions were made and Cecily said, "A nice cozy inn you have, Mr. Parker."
Josiah smiled warmly at her as he poured a brandy for the two of them and motioned them to sit by the fire.
"Ayek, but it is not mine!" He nodded to Jack. "It be the property of the most notorious highwayman to ever grace these roads!"
Cecily looked at him. "Shall you always constantly amaze me, my love?"
He kissed her hand and said, "Always!"


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/25/2006 23:39:30

Josiah served them chicken and biscuits. As they had their fill, Jack asked him, "I take it my room is still available?"
"Aye, that it is. We only rent it out on a desperation basis!"
He held his hand out to Cecily. "I think we are going to turn in, Josiah."
Josiah looked at him bewildered, "But--but---but it's only around eight of the evening! I was looking foward to a long visit this evening with ye!"
Jack said over his shoulder, "Later, Josiah. It seems I am otherwise occupied."
As Josiah heard Cecily's light laughter up the stairs, Josiah filled his snifter again with brandy. He raised a toast to Jack and said, "Aye. Have at it, mate!"

Cecily put her arms around Jack and kissed him with all the passion from the depths of her soul. She whispered almost desperately, "Never let me go, Jack! Promise me! Promise me we will always be together!"
He whispered, "I promise, my love," and buried his face in her neck as he carried her to the bed.
The night sky saw the moon rise and the lovers get their fill of each other. Over and over again.
And when dawn greeted the new day, they finally drifted off to sleep.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/27/2006 15:39:10

Jack awoke just before noon the night had been a long and tender one. He slipped from the bed and donned his clothes then left Cecily a note pinned to his pillow. He went down stairs to find the inn well filled with patrons, Josiah and the others moving about like bees in a hive. Many were faces from his network who had come to welcome him home with his new found love, others were simple town folk of Devonshire who frequented the Crossbow. The town magistrate spied him and moved to shake his hand.

"Mr. Johnson! It's good to see you again, Sir." The portly politician grinned, his new powdered wig slightly askew from drink. "How was your trip to Salisbury?"

"Quite profitable, Magistrate Hammond, quite profitable indeed." Jack put on his best fake smile. "Remind me to tell you all about it after I tend to my affairs."

"Quite, sir, quite. I shall hold you to it." The drunken official smiled then moved to another group of some of the more influential of the towns folk, ever the politician.

"And raise me taxes in the process." Roberts thought. Not that it would matter for he could always steal them back.

"Josiah." He called across the room. "When you have a moment I will be out to the stables checking our inventory of grain."

"Aye, Mr. Johnson. I won't be but a moment or two, and shall bring the ledgers with me."

Jack smiled and returned many of the grins and welcomes from his friends as he made his way to the door. He needed to know of all the preparations that had been made to put his mind at ease over Cicely. He also had a few more things that he wished to be put in to place, and knew Josiah was the one he trusted the most to do so. Within a few moments of his musings the stable door creaked open and Josiah, followed by Tom Banks, entered. Tom was the newest member of Jack's network of helpers and spies, but Josiah had vouched for the man and Jack trusted his old childhood friend's judgement. Tom carried the ledgers.

The charismatic outlaw clapped his friend on the shoulder. "Tis good to see you agin, Old Top, now fill me in on what we have going on to protect Cecily. Then I'll outline a few more details I think should be put into play."

Josiah smiled warmly, never had he seen Jack like this. "Ye've got it bad, Mate. I've known ye to bed some of the prettiest bar wenches, and turn away some of the loveliest available lasses in all of Devonshire. You, old friend are in love." A knowing wink following his words.

"Aye." Roberts smiled. "Gilbert said as much himself. Now what have we going on for the Morley Estates?"

Josiah filled jack in on all of the details and how Will Coliver had obtained the job of gardener at the estates, with designs to seduce the maid for inside info. After about fifteen minutes Jack finally spoke. "Excellent, Mate! Now to hedge our bets just a little further. Send a pigeon to Gilbert and ask him to have someone to keep an eye on the road here. Should Culpepper return have a pigeon standing by to let us know. Will was quite correct, the man is no one to be taken lightly."

"Aye." Josiah nodded. "That we can do."

"Cecily will most like wish to return home alone, mostly to protect me I fear, but that is something I can not permit. I want two of our best to shadow her until she is under Will's eye. Do not under estimate her, Old Top. She is as intelligent as a scholar and not easily fooled. Oh and should she ever point a bow at ye.......make yer peace with God.....Quickly."

Jack threw his head back in laughter at his friends look of confusion and started back toward the Crossbow. "I'll take yer word for it, Mate!" Josiah called after him. Then he chuckled and headed to the coops.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/28/2006 01:47:40

Jack entered his privet rooms, Cecily was awake, dressed, and well into the meal Josiah had sent up to her. She smiled wistfully to him, then ran into his arms holding him tightly. Gently he stood there rocking her and stroking her long golden tresses.

"You must promise me," she spoke her voice a soft whisper, "you will not follow me to Cornwall. The danger would be too great for you to be seen in my presence. Remember they think me kidnapped by Black Jack Roberts. You Must promise me, Jack!"

He held her to him, his heart as near breaking as it had been in years. "Yes, My Love," he whispered into her hair, "for you I will promise. I will neither follow you, nor hinder you. I will remain here at the Crossbow while you are gone, and await your return."

She kissed him passionately, then looked deep into his eyes, her small soft hand stroking the back of his head and neck. "I will return to you in three days, Dearest. All will be well, of that I promise you."

"Now please remain here while I leave so that none will suspect. There may be those down stairs who would recognize me, and then guess as to who Robert Johnson truly is."

As she reached the door she spoke again without turning to him. " I love you." Then she vanished before he could reply.

"And I you, Cecily Morely." He whispered to a suddenly empty and lonely room. "And I you."

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/28/2006 14:17:49

The winded chocolate mare's breath came ragged gasps as her rider dug his spurs into her sides attempting to force even greater speed from the fatigued animal. Beneath her saddle her heaving sides were covered in foam. She finally made it to the shallow steps leading up to the dreary mansion that overlooked the churning sea below and promptly collapsed from exhaustion The dark cloaked rider freed himself from the saddle cursing, pulled a flintlock from beneath his riding attire and promptly shot her.

"Worthless beast!" he exclaimed as he spun around stalking towards the door.

"Raymond!! Raymond!! Where in hell are you?!!" His bellowing voice echoed through the halls as he slammed the doors open. Leaving them that way he stomped his way into the study and poured a snifter full of brandy.

"Yes, Master Culpepper?" The balding aged butler hurried into the study as fast as his advancing years would permit.

"There you are, you worthless sot!" Peter Culpepper turned around. His handsome face marred in a snarl of frustration and rage. His grey eyes flashing with anger. "Off drinking my brandy instead of tending your duties no doubt!"

"Oh no, Sir! I was mer...." The older man's words were cut off as he ducked the hurtling snifter that shattered on the door frame behind him.

"One more word from your insolent tongue and we shall have a new butler by morning! Is that clear?!" Raymond shivered and nodded his head quickly.

"Good!" Culpepper continued his tirade. "Now first you will shut those damned front doors. Then you will rouse the stable master and have him haul that worthless piece of horse flesh to the glue factory where it should have been in the first place. Then you will have my supper brought here to my study. I have been met by my men on my way back to London to attempt to rescue my prize from that piece of filth who calls himself Black Jack Roberts. It seems they thought since no one has been seen on the roads to York that match the blackguard's description he didn't travel in that direction. Never occurred to the fools that he kept to the woods! Idiots!!"

His voice had dropped to a low tone filled with menace. "Well that is one outlaw who will rue the day he ever crossed my path. Mark my words it is only a matter of time before his neck will be stretched and I will laugh over his grave."

"Well what are you just standing there for, fool! Move your carcass! And clean up that mess you caused me to make!!"

The quaking butler quickly vacated the study leaving Culpepper alone with his dark thoughts. He would be damned if he were made a laughing stock by a common thief and had spent many coins to find this upstart. Yet in the end all would be made whole again, once he had that uppity wench in his grasp. She would learn respect for her betters, or she could join her predecessors. He relished the thought of personally training her in the ways of a proper wife. He would see the haughty insolence wiped clean from her eyes, of that she could be certain. The way she had turned her head from him when he bent to kiss her. The nerve! Yes, it would make for fine sport to bend her to his will, or break her in the process.


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/28/2006 15:48:18

Cecily walked quickly down the stairs. She was afraid that if she didn't, her resolve to go home and square things away would melt. And Cecily Morley was a woman who always wrapped things up quickly and neatly. This is something I have to do, she thought. Then I shall be totally free to start my life with Jack. Peter Culpepper will just have to understand that you can't always get what you want. A broken engagement. No big deal. I am sure there are twenty other women in the shire that would be more than willing to become Lady Culpepper. I am just not one of them.

Cecily walked down to the stables. Tom Banks was there, picking up his ledgers.
"Ah, good day to you, sir!" She called out.
He rushed forward and bowed. "Ah, Miss! Going for a ride?"
She shook her head no. "I have to head home to see my parents for a few days. Then I shall be moving to Brighton." So it's a lie. I don't know him, why should I tell him?
He leaned against the stall door and crossed his arms, his eyes taking her in from head to toe and liking what he saw.
She grew a bit discomfited by his attention so she walked to the stall where Aphrodite was.
"Do ye need any help?" he asked.
She replied, "No, thank you, I have been riding since I could walk."
She saw that Josiah had the horse saddled, bless him. She walked her out of the stall and swung her leg over.
"Will ye be coming back this way, Miss? If ye do, I should surely like to sit and have an ale with ye."
She was a bit put off by the forwardness of the lad. He can't be more than twenty, she thought. To herself, she said, 'And you are--what, Cecily? Seventeen?'
She briefly wondered how old Jack was. Funny how they never got around to discussing that. Surely he wasn't old like Culpepper. But neither was he a mere lad, as his worldly experience showed.
She put on her most charming smile but her thoughts were on the task at hand. It surely won't be pleasant, but Father and Andrew will understand. Mother, however, will be a bitter pill to swallow.
She turned to Tom and said, "I'm sorry, did you say something?"
He repeated himself, "I asked your name but you were a thousand miles away."
"Oh. Well. Then...'Ta!"
She galloped off down the lane that joined the main route from Devonshire into Cornwall.

Josiah stood outside the barn, pretending to fix a saddle. He looked up and nodded to two riders that were mounted and ready to go. As Cecily rounded the bend, the riders took off, keeping to the woods on either side of the road.
And with their skill at subtrefuge, Cecily would be none the wiser. Of this they were sure.

The afternoon was sunny as Cecily took the road that would lead her to her childhood home. The Crossbow was only a three hour ride to the estate. Looking through the trees, she judged that it was about three hours past noon and she would have another hour.
From out of nowhere, a man came on a horse.
"Well, well....what have we here, pretty lady?"
Cecily reined her horse in and demanded, "Get out of my way!"
The man reached up and grabbed her reins. "Now, now, ye can't be talkin' to Black Jack Roberts that way!"
Cecily burst out laughing. "Black Jack Roberts. You are Black Jack Roberts?"
She doubled over with laughter.
The two men who were shadowing watched from the cover of trees. One of them started forward but the other grabbed him back.
"Nay, George, let us see how this plays out. We can rush at the last minute. No need to blow our cover."
The other man nodded and pulled back.
Cecily couldn't stop laughing. "You! Black Jack Roberts! Don't make me laugh!"
The man was confused. "Why, what is so amusing? Of course I be him!"
She could barely contain herself again. "Then where is your black mask? Your black outfit?"
The man hesitated and then said defensively, "They be in the laundry, Miss! Now step down and give over yer valuables...and I don't exactly mean yer jewelry, either!"
Cecily covertly reached under her saddle for what she wanted.
Aphrodite was dancing in her place. The man reached up to grab her down off the saddle.
With lightning fast reflexes, Cecily pulled her bow into place and expertly drew it back, arrow at the ready.
"You were saying....?"
Now it was the imposter's turn to laugh. "Ah, lass, ye don't scare Black Jack Roberts! Now step down right quick and ye can tell all yer lass-friends how ye were had by the best outlaw in the land!"
She aimed her arrow and as the man reached up again to grab her, she shot an arrow clear through his hand.
The imposter stood there in shock as the arrow pierced out the other side.
Cecily said cooly, "You can keep it. I don't think I want it back!"
She dug her heels into Aphrodite's side and galloped off.

The two men from the glade stared. George said to the other, "If I hadn't seen it meself, ne'er would I have believed it!"
The other man, Geoffrey, shook his head. "I just hope Jack knows what sort of hellcat he has by the tail!"
They looked at each other and grinned.
And they dashed after her.


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/28/2006 21:29:41

Through the clearing, Cecily rode up to the large gate that was her childhood home. She had been born here as had all the Morleys from the time of William the Conqueror. No one really thought anything about it.
No one except Alice Morley.

Cecily took Aphrodite around to the back of the stables. The head groom was feeding the horses.
"Hello, Angus," she said casually. He dropped the feedbucket.
"Miss Cecily! Ye be home! I can't tell ye how worried yer folks were! Where on God's green earth have ye been?"
She dismounted and put Aphrodite into one of the stalls. "It's a long, involved story, Angus. But I was kidnapped and bound for the Barbary Coast."
Angus' mouth dropped open and he quickly shut it. Then he let out a laughter that rang the rafters.
"Aye, I feel sorry fer them pirates already!"
She laughed with him. "Yes, they got what was coming to them! So..who is home?"
Angus scratched his head. "I reckon all of them. Mister Andrew just came home about an hour ago."
Cecily looked up at the manor and for once she was filled with trepidation. Best to get this over with.
She looked over and saw a new gardener in the yard. He was a very attractive man and he was busy digging a new flowerbed. Cecily nodded pleasantly to him and he tipped his cap to her.
From the woods on the edge, the new gardener looked over and saw two riders in the woods. He casually dropped his spade and walked to the edge. The men from the woods called softly to him.
Will Coliver pretended to be inspecting a fallen log. The men said, "Package is now signed, sealed and delivered. We shall report back."
Will said under his breath to them, "I'll take over from here. Tell Jack he can count on me."
The men turned their horses and trotted off into the woods.

She walked up to the back door and let herself in. The cook, Maud, dropped her muffins. She ran over and clasped Cecily.
"Ooof!" Cecily gasped, trying to catch her breath. Her face was smashed against Maud's ample bosom.
"Darlin' ye be home! Sir Wallace! Sir Wallace! She's come back! Oh, Lord bless us all!"


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/28/2006 22:25:58

Sir Wallace exclaimed, "Saints be praised! Cecily, where on earth have you been?"
He was a tall, lanky man with sad eyes. Yet a relieved look and a smile wreathed his face. Cecily rushed over to him.
"Father, it is a long and involved story and one that I need to tell both you and mother. Andrew too!"

"Thank God you are home!" Cecily felt a sense of dread come over her. She knew the imperious voice of her mother. She turned around and gave her mother a smile. Alice gave her a perfunctory kiss.
Cecily said, "Mother...Father. There are some things we need to discuss and I----"
Alice interrupted her. "This is talk for after dinner."
"But, Mother--"
"Cecily, you know how it is. Nothing unpleasant for the evening meal. You are safe and sound. Now I need to send a messenger over to the Culpepper estate to let him know you are--"
Alice raised her eyebrow and said, "What did you say? NO?"
Sir Wallace said, "But, Cecily, as your betrothed, he should know."
Cecily got that stubborn look on her face that Sir Wallace had seen so many times before. He knew it was something he couldn't handle. So he said, "Yes...well. My dear, I do have something to do in the study. So I shall see you both at dinner in thirty minutes."

Alice turned to her daughter and said, "Where HAVE you been? Did you run off again for attention?"
Cecily said, "If you care to know, Mother, I was kidnapped by pirates and escaped."
"All the more reason to let Peter know you are alright."
Cecily tossed her head and said nothing more.
Alice looked at her daughter's face and knew something had changed. She narrowed her eyes. "There is more to this than you are telling, child. Don't be jerking your chin at me! I just hope you haven't gone and done something stupid! We shall discuss this in a family conference after dinner. I suggest you freshen up and get into a decent dress."
"Fine. Just...fine! Mother."
Cecily climbed the steps to her room. She looked around. Still the same room but it looked different. She looked in the mirror.
Where a young girl had once looked in there, a full-grown woman in love now reflected back.
She looked at her reflection and said, "I'll make you proud, my love. I really will!"
From behind her she heard a familiar voice saying,
"Reach for the sky and hand over yer valuables! This be Black Jack Roberts!"
She turned and saw the laughter crinkling a familiar face. She ran and hugged him.
He swung her around and exclaimed, "Where in the devil have you been, Cec? I've been frantic!"
She threw her head back and laughed. "Andrew, if I told you, you'd never believe me!"


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/28/2006 22:41:36

Gilbert was tending the needs of one of the guest's horses when he heard the cooing of a pigeon out by the opening of the coop. After filling the trough with a mixture of grain he casually strolled out to pick up the hungry bird. Speaking in low gentle tones to keep the avian calm he untied the note, raised the door to the coop, and released it inside. The short note was in Josiah's hand.

Keep eye out for Culpepper's return. Spread word.

Involuntarily Gilbert shuddered. He had seen Culpepper not an hour ago riding toward Cornwall as if all the fiends of hell were at his heels. He remembered for he had thought to himself the man would kill his mount if he continued at that pace for much longer. What was worse was night was now falling, and there was no way to send the news back until morn. The pigeons were already to roost. He shook his head.

"What's wrong, sir?" Young Tim asked at seeing his employer's concern.

"I hope nothing, Lad. Now finish with the feed then off home with ye. Yer Mother will be a needin' yer help soon." The aged gentleman smiled hoping to put the lad's mind at ease. Still he had a bad feeling about this turn of events and he resolved to send word to the Crossbow as soon at it got light.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/29/2006 14:07:52

Roberts paced the floor in Josiah's room like a caged jungle cat, smoke from his fifth cigar leaving a curling trail behind him. His friend sat calmly in a chair by the fireplace with a pipe and tankard watching with slight amusement.

"For pity's sake, Jack. Will ye not sit down afore ye wear a hole in me floor? George and Geoffrey are two a' our best. Nothings gonna happen to the lass while those two be a trailin' her. Here, ye have not touched yer drink since we came in, and I'd say a drink be just what ye need right now."

Jack stopped to stare at his long time friend, then smiled. "Aye, your right Josiah. It's just that....."

"Ye can not bear the thought a' anything happenin' to her, nor a being separated from her. I know, Lad. Yer not the only bloke whats been bitten by that bug." The tavern keeper grinned as Jack finally sat down exasperated in the opposite chair.

"Have you ever been in love, Josiah?"

"Aye, that I was, Mate." Josiah sat back comfortably with his elbows on the arm rests, his fingers interlaced in front of him. "She were a right bonnie little thing what I first laid eyes on up in Wales. I fell in love with her the moment I seen her. Slim waisted, delicate arms, a complexion as white as fresh cream, dark curls to the mid a' her back, and a pair a'.."

Jack held up his hand laughing. "I get the picture, Mate."

Josiah dropped his cupped hands from his chest grinning. "That's better, Jack. Anyways I would have done anything for the lass, and I courted her for months. Eventually we married and this were followed by the happiest five years a' me life. Till she ran off with me cousin that is. Point being is I know how ye feel, and it can be the most fufillin' thing in a man's life, but it can also crush the life out of one. Ye enjoy yer time with her, for I see the same light in her eyes as what I see in yours. But don't let that light blind the two of ye, or ye'll make mistakes neither 'o ye want."

Just then there was a knock at the door and Josiah ushered in Geoffery and George. "Come in, Lads. Yer not a moment too soon. Ol' Jack there has just about wore me floor out a waitin' fer ye."

The two outlaws grinned, gratefully accepting the tankards Josiah held out to them. "Well", George spoke first. "She be home safe and sound at Morely Estates, Jack. We let Will know so she be in his hands now. There were a spot a' trouble on the way, but I must say the lass handled it well."

"Trouble?" Roberts interest peaked instantly at the word.

"Aye," Geoffery continued the tale. "Seems ye have an imitator, Jack. A rather low sort accosted the lady claiming ta be you. Tried to rob and take advantage of her, he did. She put an arrow through his hand for his trouble, he be in the tavern drinking right now if ye be interested." Fury blazed in Jack's face and he was on his feet headed toward the door almost before the three men could contain him.

"See now. That's just what I was a' talking about, Jack. Ye go barrelin' out there and before ye know it the whole of Devonshire will be a knowin' that Robert Johnson be Black Jack Roberts." Josiah reasoned with the angry bandit, then continued. "I think it would be a far better idea if our friend out there should meet the real Black Jack Roberts."

Jack thought for a moment then threw his head back laughing. "Yer right, Josiah. I believe that is exactly what our friend needs."

"I'll be back in a moment, Boyo." Josiah grinned.

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/29/2006 14:50:16

Black Jack Roberts sat astride Raven just under the trees that bordered the road leading to Exeter. His midnight hued clothing rendering him all but invisible in the gloom of the forest. Josiah had gone out into the main hall in his role as tavern keep, purchased the braggart a round, and conversationally learned of the man's plans. The would be thief was still calling himself Jack Roberts and would attempt to regale any who would listen to him with his tales of robbery and daring. None believed him.

Jack upon learning from Josiah as to where the fool was headed had taken the back door out of Josiah's rooms and quickly changed into his working clothes. Then climbing into Raven's saddle he rode out of the far side of the barn and across the fields to the road to Exeter to wait, taking a coil of rope with him. He didn't need to wait for long and soon the sound of a horse walking toward his hiding place grew closer. It's drunken rider mumbling loudly to himself.

"Call me a liar will they? Why I outta goes back ta that little run down excuse fer a taven and teach 'em all a lesson. Think they can disrespect me. 'Specily them two what threw me out. Whass their names aga'n? Geogey somthin' and Geof. Yeah, thas them. Why I shoulda beat the both of 'em, I shoulda."

Jack chuckled quietly beneath his hood and resolved to pay George and Geoffery extra for making certain the loud mouth would have to continue on his travels. He waited until the rider was only a few yards away before casually riding out onto the road. The drunken imposter paid little attention till Jack was side by side with him.

"Good Evening, Mate." Jack spoke and the drunk looked up bleary eyed.

"Black Jack Roberts!!!!" He exclaimed and fumbled for his pistol before Jack's fist sent the lout tumbling unconscious from his saddle.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/29/2006 15:23:00

A splash of cold water from Jack's canteen awoke the imposter. The first thing he realized was that he was tied face first to a tree in the middle of a barren field. The second was the outlaw who's identity he had claimed was leaning on the same tree casually replacing the cork of the water bottle that had awoken him.

"Good ta have you with us again, Mate." The highwayman's tone was as if he were speaking with an old chum. "Ye know I get into enough trouble without folk like you adding to me reputation. So I tend ta get a little put out when I find some lowlife a usin' me fair name ta further their own activities."

"M-m-m-m-mister Roberts....I-I-I-" Jack quickly stuffed a horse rag from the barn into the man's mouth silencing further protest.

"Now lets see, where was I?? Ah yes. As I was a' sayin' I have no trouble making things hot for meself. But, when a loudmouthed braggart such as yer self decides ta ride me coat tails, well that just makes matters even worse. Ye end up a' bringin' the footmen, and ye scare off all a' me game. Makes it much harder for me ta make an honest living. So I've decided that if folk like you wants ta use me name there should be a fair price for doing so." Jack's voice dropped into a menacing hiss. "And I aims ta collect it, Mate! Right now!"

Jack ripped the shirt from the man's back exposing the trembling flesh to the night air. Turning he walked three paces away, Old Hob uncoiling in his hand. "In fact, Mate, I intends ta collect with interest." The sound of the whip cutting through the air with each blow ending in a loud crack was broken only by the pause the crickets filled.

The next morning a group of field hands found the man still tied to the tree. His back a mass of bloody stripes where the whip had cut deeply into him. above his head was a parchment Jack had wrote before he left the Crossbow pinned to the tree with a black handled dagger. Had any of them been able to read they would have found these words:

"The next man who dares to lay claim to being me, I kill! Black Jack Roberts"


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/29/2006 22:45:56

Andrew let her go and stood back from her, crossing his arms. He surveyed her up and down.
"You look different, Sis! More....content! So...where were you? It's been ten days! Father and I were frantic!"
"And Mother?"
"Mother is...Mother. She wasn't too worried. She thought you were off pouting and would be home. Remember those times you wandered off and would sit in that tree daydreaming when the two of you got into it? You always came home when you got hungry."
He looked at her expectantly. She smiled, "Something like that. Although I was NOT kidnapped by Black Jack Roberts. I was kidnapped by pirates."
Andrew stood there with his mouth open. "Damn, girl!"
"I'll tell the story over dinner so I only have to tell it once. But Andrew, whatever happens, I need you to back me up!"
He grinned, "Don't I always?"
She laughed and said, "No!"
He laughed too and said, "I see this is important to you so yes, I have your back. Now shall we go to face the dynamic duo known as our parents?"
He gave her a sweeping bow and offered his arm to her.
She took his arm and he whispered, "And if you WERE kidnapped by Black Jack Roberts, you know I would want all the gory details!"

The two of them walked into the grand dining room. There sat Sir Wallace and Lady Alice on either end.
Sir Wallace was about thirty when he had the opportunity to court Lady Alice Spencer. He had been a widower for about seven years. His first wife had died of smallpox. There was no issue from the union as they had been married only a short while.
In London to sit at the House of Lords, he had been invited to the Court of King George for a grand ball. He had been introduced to many eligible women, most eager to make the acquaintance of the man with sad eyes. Yet no one caught his interest.
No one except Lady Alice Spencer.

She was a woman of incomparable beauty. Rumour had it that she was the mistress recently dumped by the Duke of Somerset. And replaced with a younger version of herself.
Lady Alice was only twenty-three at the time of the removal of her position. She lasted a grand total of five years.
Bitter inside, she was determined to make a match at the social season in London.
In the course of events that followed, when Sir Wallace Morley went home six weeks later, he was also bringing a bride.

Lady Alice had done her duty by her husband, producing a son Andrew who was born on their first anniversary. A few miscarriages later, then Cecily made her debut.
Lady Alice had decided she had enough of that and no more children arrived.

Sir Wallace was occupied with running the estate and the occasional trips to London for Parliament. Lady Alice, while she should have been occupied with the task of raising her offspring, threw herself into the Cornwall-Devonshire social whirl. Meanwhile, her children ran wild and were free to play amongst the woods and caves that embraced the estate of Moreland.

The children, being left to their own devices, both developed strong spirits of independence and daring. Creativity abounded as was repeatedly seen in Andrew's fanciful games of Black Jack Roberts, his boyhood hero and his sister, 'the victim' as he always called her.
Cecily was counting on that spirit of independence and daring to see her through the unpleasant task at hand.

The china was cleared and claret was served along with cakes. Sir Wallace and Lady Alice both looked at each other, waiting for the explanation that Cecily would have for her ten-day disappearance. Andrew was the only one who would look at Cecily and smirk because he knew the story she was going to give would be one for the books.

Sir Wallace cleared his throat and said, "Yes. Well, Cecily, we are ready to hear your explanation."
Lady Alice raised her eyebrow and rested her chin on her hand. "Yes, dear. We are sure it shall be quite the tale."

Cecily took a long sip of her claret. She had been rehearsing her story in her head all the way from Devonshire. Except for the buffoon who tried to take advantage of her, she thought of nothing else.
Except her passionate love for Jack.
Andrew gave her a 'go on with it and make it good' look.
She took a deep breath and plunged in.
"Well, you see, it was like this......"


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/30/2006 13:57:38

Cecily began her woven fabric of semi-truths and outright lies. But she was good. Very good.
"Mother---Father---it was like this. I was in London at Madame DuBois' salon for a fitting on the wedding gown. Peter Culpepper had dropped me off in the carriage and was to pick me up later."
Inwardly she cringed at the way Culpepper put his hand on her knee and she could still feel his eyes on her bodice. He tried to kiss her and she remembered how she dropped her handkerchief and bent over to pick it up, 'accidently' kicking his shins in the process.
"I hadn't eaten breakfast that morning and was feeling a bit light-headed. So I told Madame that I was going to the market around the corner to get some fresh fruit."
Alright, so there wasn't a market. How is Mother going to know that? The woman hadn't fetched a morsel of food for herself in twenty years.
"It was a beautiful day and I decided to take my fruit and bread over to the docks to watch the ships come in---"
"Cecily, you didn't!"
Sir Wallace laid a hand on his wife's arm and said, "Please, dear. She's young. Continue, Cecily."
Cecily shot her mother a look and said, "Thank you, Father. As I sat on the grass---"
"Getting your gown dirty in the process, no doubt---"
"Mother, do you want to hear this or not?"
Lady Alice frowned and Cecily continued.
"From behind me, a pirate started to talk to me. I told him to go away."
Cecily thought, alright so I talked to him and he sat down next to me but Mother will never know.
"He had two accomplices with him and they threw a blanket over me. I struggled and could feel myself being carried over one's shoulder. I threw a few punches but it is hard to do when you are wrapped in wool. Suddenly I was being uprighted and the blanket was removed. I looked around and I was in a very small room on the ship. The older one told me to make myself at home as that would be my lodgings for the next month. I had no idea what would happen to me. My hands had been tied together--" here Cecily showed them the red lines that were fading "---and after a day they removed them. I was waiting for the vessel to get underway but I overheard them talking that the bilge pump lines were malfunctioning and they had to do some repairs to the rudder."
Andrew looked impressed at his sister. This was almost--ALMOST--as good as if she HAD been kidnapped by Black Jack Roberts.
Sir Wallace banged his fist on the table. "And what was the name of this ship, Cecily? I should have the local constable pick them up!"
Cecily thought of the three dead bodies lying on the streets of London's West End and she said, "I don't know where they are, Father."
She thought, 'probably in hell and who cares?' but she then picked up her story again.
"I overheard them talking. I was to be taken to the Barbary Coast. Fair-haired women with light eyes fetch a high price among the sheiks of the Sahara and---MOTHER!"
Lady Alice had fainted and fallen into her cakes.
Sir Wallace jumped up and patted his wife's face. Andrew raised his eyebrow and Cecily stifled a laugh.
She started to come around. "I--I'm so sorry but the thoughts of my little girl becoming a...a...."
Andrew supplied the word. "Whore?"
Lady Alice looked like she wanted to faint again. Sir Wallace said sternly, "Andrew, there will be none of that language in this house!"
Andrew put his hand next to his face and turned to Cecily, imitating his mother's shocked look.
It was all Cecily could do to keep from laughing out loud.
Lady Alice gulped the brandy that Sir Wallace put to her lips and Andrew folded his hands under his chin and said, "Why, Cecily, we do bid you! Go on with this fascinating story!"


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/30/2006 17:01:38

Cecily continued, "I was captive for six days. SIX DAYS!"
Andrew put his hands to his face in mock horror. "OH NO! CECILY MORLEY IN THE SAME DRESS FOR SIX DAYS!"
Lady Alice snapped, "Not funny, Andrew!"
Sir Wallace was shocked by Cecily's story but he patted her on the hand and said, "My brave girl! Please! If you can bear to tell us..."
Cecily related, "I had nothing but stale bread, water and once a day some horrible fish soup that was mostly water. I threw that out the porthole when I could. Funny thing, I heard one of the pirates slip and fall on his arse----"
"CECILY! Your language!"
"Do you want to hear this or not, Mother?"
Lady Alice snapped her mouth shut.
She then continued, "Once a day the head pirate came in and---"
"CECILY! You aren't...ruined, are you?"
Andrew howled at that, Sir Wallace turned red.
Cecily retorted, "Oh, Mother! He came in with my food. Finally I bid my time. I heard the other pirates above on deck and they were rip-roarin' drunk on their rum. So I waited behind the door and cracked the pirate-cook over the head with some crockery. He went down like a sack of potatoes and then I trussed him up like a Christmas Goose and stuck a rag in his mouth. I slipped on board quietly and waited till they were all passed out. And I made my move.
Andrew sat on the edge of his seat and pretended rabid fascination. "What then, Cec? Tell, tell!"
Lady Alice pursed her lips and said tightly, "Andrew, one more outburst and you shall be sent to your room!"
Cecily said, "I saw the mooring ropes and I slid down them. The dock was maybe one hundred feet away. So I let go and landed in the water and swam to shore."
She left out the part where the pirates saw her and three of them gave chase.

Sir Wallace was amazed at the tale his daughter was telling. Andrew was thoroughly enjoying the adventure as if it had been his own.
Cecily picked up the thread again. "The ship was in the docks on the River Thames for repairs. That is why I was still in London. Somehow I managed to make it to the West End and I ran into a man. I fainted due to lack of sleep and proper sustenance. He was very kind and he took me in."
Lady Alice exclaimed, "Well, this story gets more and more shocking! Cecily! Going home with a strange man!----"
Cecily finally said, "Mother, perhaps you would be happier if I kept my virtue and gave it to an Arabian sheik!"
Andrew said, "Well, Cecily, I heard they are intense lovers---"
Cecily flung back at him, "Don't be an idiot, Andrew! They do everything in tents!"
Andrew started to reply but just shook his head. Better to let that one lie, he thought.

Lady Alice saw the change in her daughter's demeanor when she spoke of her saviour. Cecily's cheeks blushed ever so slightly. And Lady Alice didn't like the look of this. She said cooly, "Pray tell, daughter dear! Tell us about this knight in shining armour that had rescued you from certainly a life of ruination!"


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/30/2006 21:57:20

Cecily knew this would be the hardest part of her whole saga.
"The man was a true gentleman. He let me lodge there that night and as I had lost my shoes, he bought me a new pair. I had a decent night's sleep and the next day, he bought me new clothes so I wouldn't have to put those filthy ones back on. Then he offered to take me south as far as Devonshire and I rode the rest of the way to Cornwall."
Sir Wallace frowned, "How did you get the horse, Cecily?"
She felt her face redden. "She was lent to me. She's a beautiful mare."
All the time Lady Alice was studying her daughter's face. She asked, "And what is this gentleman's name? So we may properly compensate him."
"He wants no compensation, Mother. He did this out of the goodness of his heart."
Sir Wallace stood up and said, "We must certainly repay his kindness. And the main point is that Cecily is home with us where she belongs. I know Peter will be glad to hear it."
As Cecily opened her mouth, her mother quickly said, "Wallace, dear, why don't you and Andrew go into the study? I want to talk with Cecily. You know...mother-daughter talk."
Andrew raised his eyebrows as Lady Alice never once showed any concern of what Cecily thought or wanted.
Cecily set her jaw and Andrew knew the look. He saw it when he took her entire allowance for the month in his 'Black Jack Roberts' game. She got even though. She cut the strings on his new bow and dipped each arrow in tar but not before she took all the feathers off. Or the time she put blueberries in his pillowcase and Andrew had a blue face for two weeks. Sure, Cecily was punished but she had said it was worth it.

Lady Alice motioned Cecily to sit down opposite her and smiled. Cecily knew that smile. The one Mother used when she was telling Lady Bothwell her gown was lovely when she called her a simpering cow behind her back.
Lady Alice said, "Well, now that you are safe and sound, the wedding can go on as planned. Peter will be so pleasd to learn----"
Cecily jumped up, her face flaming. "NO! The wedding is off! I don't want to marry Sir Peter Culpepper and that is final! I'll join a nunnery first!"
Lady Alice folded her arms and said sternly, "Don't be so dramatic, Cecily Morley! You had better have a good reason for this outburst."
Cecily sat down and defiantly said, "Sir Peter has buried two wives. Mother, bedding him is certain death."
"Nonsense, Cecily. You know Margaret was ill from the childbirth and Arabella fell down the stairs."
"Mother, I don't love him."
"Love? What's love got to do with it? He is the most powerful man in Cornwall. In all south England. And I will not have you disgracing this family with a shunned betrothal."
She stamped her foot and said, "I won't! I won't!"
Lady Alice narrowed her eyes and said, "And what reason do you intend to give Sir Peter for breaking off the betrothal?"
At that Cecily blurted out, "Because I am in love with someone else!"

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/30/2006 22:23:50

With that, Lady Alice drew her hand back and slapped Cecily across the face. Cecily put her hand to her face in disbelief rather than pain.
Lady Alice said bitterly, "LOVE! What do you know about love? You are but seventeen! If I married for love, do you think I would have married your father?"
Cecily couldn't believe what she was hearing. She shouted to her mother, "I will not marry Peter Culpepper and that is final. I am in love and I intend to be with him."
She carefully picked her next words. "I am going back to London to be with him. And there is nothing you can do, Mother. I'll be gone by the morning!"
With that, Cecily ran up the stairs into her room and flung herself on her bed, then burst into sobs.

Andrew stood at the door and knocked. The muffled reply was, "Go away."
He cautiously opened the door and saw the prone figure of his sister. He sat on the edge of the bed and she put her arms around Andrew and cried. Cried till she could cry no more.
Finally, Andrew asked her, "Want to tell me the real story, Cecily?"
Cecily told her story as truthfully as she could. Except Black Jack Roberts now became Robert Johnson, a land holder outside of London.
She concluded with, "Andrew, he is waiting for me in an inn in Devonshire. I'm leaving first thing in the morning and Sir Peter Culpepper be damned!"

Andrew and Cecily talked. Andrew tried to make her see the folly of her plans but Cecily would not listen.
"At least come see me in the morning before you leave, Cec. Maybe I can think of a solution."
She hugged her brother and said, "I shall. I need a good night's sleep."
With that, Andrew got up. As he stood in the doorway, he said soberly, "Don't do anything rash or stupid, Cecily. I mean it."

Lady Alice quietly climbed the stairs. Seeing Cecily's door shut, she took out her key and quietly locked it.
Going to the study, she took out a sheet of parchment and wrote--

'Dear Sir Peter: This is to let you know that Cecily has arrived safe and sound and is back home. It would be in the best interest of all concerned if you were to be here tomorrow first thing to straighten a few things out.
Your humble servant,
Lady Alice Morley

With a flourish, she folded the parchment, melted wax and affixed her seal to it.
She called for Ferguson and when he came into the room, she handed him the letter.
"This needs to be delivered to no one but Sir Peter Culpepper."
Ferguson said, "Ah, beggin' yer pardon, Milady, but it be raining cats and dogs out."
Lady Alice said imperiously, "And your point is what? This needs to be delivered tonight and no questions asked. Now go!"
Ferguson went to the stables grumbling all the way.

Lady Alice poured herself a brandy and said to no one in particular, "Try to bring disgrace on this family, Cecily Morley? I don't think so...."


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/30/2006 23:25:53

Jack had been sitting in his rooms picking over the morning meal. The bed had been far more empty than he cared for now. he had not realized just how huge it was before, now it seemed like a great empty room devoid of life and dreary. He thought to the events of last night and found they bothered him now that his anger had abated. Although he had not killed the man, for he had checked before leaving, he had delt far more harshly than he was used to.

He now realized that the buffoon's impersonation of him had not truly bothered him in the least. It was the threat the fool had made of Cecily that had caused his near blind rage and caused him to make an example. This had been the height of foolishness for now there would be no doubt to the authorities that Black Jack Roberts was not in York, but here in Devonshire. He prayed that his anger had not put her into danger. It was something he knew he would never pardon himself of should his actions cause her harm. Josiah was correct love had blinded him into making what he hoped was not a stupid mistake.

A knock came at his door and Josiah entered the room with a grave expression on his face. Jack felt his heart near stop. Had his reckless and foolish behavior caused that which he feared most?

"A little bad news for ye, Jack." Josiah's voice was low and serious. "Seems that Culpepper is here. Most likely arrived last night. By the time yer message arrived at Gilbert's he had already passed and it was too late in the evening for him to let ye know. Worse, word has already reached us that Black Jack Roberts be in the vicinity. It won't be long afore that same news reaches his ear as well."

"Damn my eyes for the fool I am!!!" Jack leapt to his feet. "Josiah!! What have my actions cost my love???!!"

"Steady, Lad. Ye have no indication that yer actions have cost her anything. Will would have let us know if anything were amiss. Outside of letting the country side know Back Jack is here I dinna think ye've done much more harm than that." Josiah mused. "I know it be hard for ye, but lets wait and see fer sure afore we make another mistake."

The volatile outlaw sank back into his chair filled with despair despite Josiah's council. "Aye, My Friend. That ye are right I've no doubt. But I would ask a favor of ye. The next time ye see me acting like an weed puller, knock some sense into me."

The tavern keep roared with laughter. "I be tempted ta hold ye to those words, Jack. Never the less, I think we can do a bit a' something to ease the situation. I know ye promised ta remain here and wait on Cecily's return, but I think ye may just want to break that vow. I think it's high time Mr. Robert Johnson took a trip ta Cornwall fer a bit a' relaxation."

Jack grinned at the implication. "Aye, I do belive ye have something there, Mate. I've been meaning to see about some new clothes, and if any of the tavern's have improved their stock."

Josiah grinned in response. "It might also be high time Black Jack Roberts applied his trade up near Bath and Salisbury as well. I just hope the robber isn't seen doing so. It might just tip off the authorities he has vacated the region, ye know. George and Geoffrey are about due for a vacation I believe."

"A very good idea. Now lets go and make preparations for a visit to Cornwall. I do belive while we are there Will's uncle should pay him a visit to make certain that the lad is doing well at his new job."

"We?" Josiah wondered.

"Aye. We. After all it was your idea, Old Top." Roberts grin reached from ear to ear. As he put an arm around Josiah's shoulders.

"How do I get meself into these things?!" The older man fretted as Jack led him out of the room laughing.


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/01/2006 20:42:39

Cecily spent a fitful night of restless sleep. Now that she was used to curling up in Jack's arms, her head resting on his chest, she found her pillow was a poor substitute for him. And a week ago she didn't even know him. Her whole life had changed.
The sun shone through her windows and she rose. Strange that I will never live here anymore.

She poured water into the basin from the pitcher and looked in the mirror. There was a bruise on her cheek where her mother had struck her. She touched it gingerly and winced slightly. I just hope it is gone by the time I see Jack.
She couldn't wait till she saddled up Aphrodite and rode out of here. She was glad she didn't tell her mother much about him. Especially his name.
She rummaged around in her armoire and pulled out some of her clothes. She stuffed them along with some boots into a duffel bag and then threw the bag out the window.

From below, Will Coliver saw the duffel bag fly out the window. He grinned. Guess she is planning on lighting out sooner than expected. He figured things were pretty well normal. According to Emily last night, she helped serve the evening meal to the Morleys. Emily was quite the chatterbox. She did let it slip that Lady Cecily looked like she wanted to be anywhere but there. But there was no other word so Will knew she was safe.

Cecily went into her jewelry box and removed a few items. A ruby ring that was her grandmother's and a locket. The rest can be left for Andrew's wife-to-be. She looked under the bed and took out a few books, stashing them into a smaller bag. She reached under the mattress and withdrew a small book. Written inside in the handwriting of a young girl was her poetry. She gave it a quick glance. Girlish notions, she smiled. But looks like they came true. She reached into another drawer and withdrew her sketchbook and then threw her charcoals into a pouch and stuffed that in the bag too.
Her cat came in and sat there, looking reproachfully at her. She gave her a pat and said, "Andrew will feed you, Tabby. Don't give me that look!"

She knew at breakfast she would tell her parents goodbye. There was no way they could force her to marry Peter Culpepper.
She briefly wondered what made Peter Culpepper what he was today. He was known as a hot-head in Cornwall and ruthless.
Not at all like Jack.

Cecily found her heart beat faster when she thought of him. Never before had she felt so passionate about anyone. Did she feel guilty about what had happened between them? Well, how could something that felt so right be wrong?
I know I told him three days but by tonight I can leave all this behind and be in his bed. That thought alone made her heart skip a beat.

Cecily looked around and said out loud to no one, "Good-bye, Moreland. Andrew can have you!"

She walked over to the door and tried the latch. Hmm...must be stuck. She put her bag down and tried again. She took her shoulder and tried to push it.
Nothing. Damned English oak, she thought. Must be swollen from the moisture.
She tried again and then it dawned on her.
She was locked in.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/02/2006 13:46:02

Will turned back to his work of weeding the flower beds that encompassed the Moreland mansion. The sound of a rider approaching up the winding path to the sprawling home caught first the attention of his ears, then his eyes. A dark cloaked rider coming hard and fast approached. As he brought his mount to a halt and handed the reigns to the stable boy Will's breath caught in his throat. There as big as life and as angry has a wet hornet's nest stood Peter Culpepper. This was not good at all.

The fuming lord made his way up the steps to the massive oak doors them slammed the knocker rapidly and hard against the plate three vicious blows. "Inform the lady Alice that Peter Culpepper has arrived." He barked imperiously to the butler as he stepped over the threshold.

Will quickly looked around to make certain no one was watching as he deftly hid the belongings Cecily had thrown from the window in the border hedges. Jack was not going to like this bit of news. The last they had heard Culpepper was headed back to London. The fact that he was here at Moreland had to be the illest of omens. He soon had made his way to the stable, then making the excuse of feeling ill and needing to ride into Cornwall to visit the apocathary, he mounted the rowan and flew out the main gate.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/02/2006 16:23:25

Peter Culpepper was in more than a foul mood as he entered the foyer of the Morley home. Ignoring polite custom he marched straight into the study and poured a brandy from the snifter, swallowing it back in a single gulp he was pouring a second when Andrew walked in. Looking narrowly at the older man he spoke. "By all means, Peter, make yourself to home."

For a second rage bloomed in Culpepper's grey eyes, but he quickly hid it before replying to the young whelp. "Oh, I am terribly sorry, young Andrew. It has been a trying time, what with my concern for my betrothed and all. I was certain no one would mind." Inside his thoughts were of a far different sort. As soon as he had control of Moreland he determined to make this young upstart eat his insolent words. First though he needed this marriage, and antagonizing the brother would do little to expedite that.

"Is your mother on her way perchance?" He asked in a voice that dripped poisoned honey.

Andrew relaxed from his outrage, but there was still something about Peter Culpepper he did not like, and never had. For all his practiced charm and manners the man still made him feel as if he were the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing. Andrew walked over to the table and poured himself a drink. "She said to let you know she is sorry to keep you waiting, but there are some things she must attend to. She will be with you shortly."

"And how is Cecily?"

"She seemed fine at dinner last night. Did you know she had been kidnapped by pirates? No? A fascinating story actually, perhaps she can tell you more later. Mother says Cecily isn't feeling well this morning and is staying in her rooms."

"Nothing that will delay the wedding, I hope." Culpepper feigned concern.

"No, dear Peter." Alice Morely's voice came from behind them as she entered the study. "The wedding will go on as scheduled. Andrew be a dear, and shut the door on your way out. Peter and I have some wedding plans to make. In privet.

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/02/2006 23:03:07

Jack and Josiah were traveling along the road to Cornwall when they spied the rider racing toward them. "Unless I miss my guess that looks like Will riding toward us!" Jack exclaimed, fear crawling up his spine like a December frost. He set his heels into Ravens flanks galloping to meet his spy, Josiah hot on his heels.

Will reigned in as the pair drew near. "Jack! I didn't expect to see ye this soon. I was a wondering how to explain six hours a' being gone to the Morely's. Ye've save me a bit 'o trouble."

"What news, Will? Has anything happened to Cecily?" Roberts was near frantic in his questions.

"As far as I know she be fine, Jack. I was coming to tell ye Culpepper isn't in London. He be at the estate right now." Will went on to relate the events of the morning. When he had finished Jack rubbed his chin deep in thought.

"Aye. We already knew the blackguard was here, Will. Gilbert sent us word this morn. I don't think she be in any serious danger since she was obviously getting ready to sneak out. Still, it might not be a bad idea for Robert Johnson to pay a courtesy call on Moreland, just to see if the lass be all right." The confused look on Will and Josiah's face brought a smile to Jack's lips.

"She related some of the tale she had planned for them to me a few days ago. If she has stuck to it there shouldn't be any danger. By now George and Geoffery should have Blackjack Roberts miles from here, and headed in the wrong direction, so any suspicion that may fall on me would be quickly dispelled. After all a man can't be in two places at the same time." He continued. "Now, you get back to Moreland Will. Josiah and I should be no more than an hour behind you. If any word of Blackjack Roberts has reached their ears scratch your head as we ride up, and Josiah and I will light out for the woods."

"All right, Jack. I hope ye know what yer doin'. Tell ye what though, I'll make sure I'm close to the main door. If I learn of any news ye need to know I'll call yer manservant there over and give it to him." Will Coliver laughed as Josiah's face turned beet red. He then spurred the rowan and rode off back toward Cornwall.

"Manservant?!! Manservant?!! I give ye manservant, ye young pup!!" Josiah sputtered as Jack broke into fits of laughter.

"Well ye weren't too fond 'a bieng his uncle either, Josiah." Roberts laughed. come on , Old Friend. We may as well lay some extra plans along the way just incase anything should go wrong."

"Aye," Josiah groused, "right now I wish I were his uncle. I'd give him a right good tanning! Manservant!"

Jack's laughter renewed it's self as the pair trotted their horses toward Cornwall and Moreland Estates.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/03/2006 00:18:39

"She what??!!" Peter Culpepper's voice fairly boomed in outrage. "How dare she try and break our engagement?!! Why I swear, Alice, I've half a mind to march right up those stairs and knock some sense into that pretty little head of hers!"

"Now Peter, darling." Alice Morley sighed. "You know good and well all that would accomplish is to drive her further from you. Have another brandy and calm yourself. Besides I've already slapped some sense into her."

Culpepper grinned. "Hopefully it was hard enough to put her back in line. She is crucial to our plans."

"I know she is, Darling." Alice smiled as she moved into his arms covering his mouth in a passionate kiss. "As soon as she bears you an heir we can finish our little charade and take both lands for ourselves."

"Aye." He grinned. "All we have to do is repeat our little performance at my race track in London. You let me know which horses your husband will bet on, I'll see to it that they lose, and we will have the fool right back in the same trap we have him in now. Just like the last time. Then once I have one of my men seduce her I'll divorce the little witch, and we can be together."

Alice Morely's eyes lit with lust and greed. "I can hardly wait, My Love. Now you get ahold of your self, and I shall go make sure your prize is in a more receptive mood. Remember, Peter. One catches more bees with honey than vinegar."

Alice Morely opened the study doors and walked to the steps leading to the upper chambers. As he watched her leave Culpepper thought about how easy it had been to manipulate the stupid cow. As if he would spend his life with the worn out former mistress of the Duke of Somerset. Not bloody likely. Once she had helped him to obtain her daughter, and again put her foolish husband back into his mercies he would have little use for her. Of course he would have to get rid of her, but that was of little consequence. Morley estates would soon be his, as would the beautiful Cecily Morely. At least until he tired of her.

In the ajoining room Andrew stepped back from the wall he had his ear pressed against. A look of shock and disgust frozen on his handsome features. Never before had he ever evesdropped and he was not sure his first venture was worth it. How could his mother do such a thing? An affair with Culpepper? Helping him to cheat his father at the track? Andrew shook his head stunned. His entire world had turned upside down in the space of a few moments. He couldn't tell Father. Such news would kill the poor man, not to mention the scandal in the House of Lords. Andrew's mind raced. What could he do? Then he thought of his sister. One thing was certain, he was not about to allow his dear sister to marry the monster who had invaded his home.

A knock at the front door roused him from his turmoil. After a brief muffled conversation the butler came seeking him out. "A mister Robert Johnson to see miss Cecily, Sir. He says he is the gentleman who provided her with assistance in London, and would like to inquire as to the health of the young miss."

Andrew's face beamed. "By all means, Barnabas! Show him in immediately!" Andrew sighed with relief the man his sister loved was at their door.


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/03/2006 22:19:00

Cecily heard the key turn and her mother open the door. She had a breakfast tray and said cheerily, "Good morning, Cecily."
Cecily said crossly, "Why was my door locked, Mother? Keeping me prisoner?"
Lady Alice feigned surprise. "Of course not, dear. I knew you would have a restless night's sleep so I quietly locked the door so Emily or Martha wouldn't disturb you. Now, please! Eat something. You hardly touched your dinner last night and you must be famished."
She looked at her mother warily. "I'm fine, Mother."

She did take a bite of the biscuit. Lady Alice cupped her daughter's chin. "I really am sorry for striking you, Cecily. But I must say you try my patience! Now, finish eating, put on some powder and come downstairs. Peter is waiting downstairs in the study."
"WHAT? What is HE doing here?"
"Why, he has been worried sick about your disappearance. Cecily, he loves you!"
Cecily laughed derisively, "Oh. Yes. Right. He loves me. He would love to get his hands on my dowry, you mean. Father promised me the meadowland that adjoins our estates. And not to mention the money."
To herself, Alice thought, 'Oh, yes. The money. The money Wallace gambled away.'
Instead, she said, "Cecily, you know that is not true. Peter Culpepper has been smitten with you for the last year."
Cecily raised her eyebrow and said, "As I recall, Arabella Culpepper died about six months ago."
Lady Alice pretended she didn't hear Cecily. She pulled the curtains open.
"Please, dear, you need to see him. I am surmising all these feelings you have for this other--person--as gratitude for getting you out of a situation. It's not uncommon. Once you see Peter, all those fears will vanish."
"Vanish? Mother, he is the reason I left Madame Dubois' salon! I had to get away!"
"Nonsense! That is just pre-wedding jitters. You will be fine once you are Peter's bride."
"Mother, the thought of being Peter's 'bride' is what is making me ill."
Cecily folded her arms across her chest and got the defiant look that Lady Alice knew so well.
She smiled at Cecily and said, "Please, dear. Do it for me."
Cecily asked, "Mother, why are you so anxious to get me married off? What do you have to gain by this?"
Alice gave her a smile that would melt ice. "Why, my dear, I just want to see you settled and happy. And I must admit I wouldn't mind being a grandmother."
Cecily made a face. "Right. Mr. 'One-time-have-a-baby-and-push-up-daisies!' His record is not too promising, Mother. I can have all that with Robert."
Lady Alice frowned. "Now, darling. We know nothing about him. He's from London. He could be a merchant for all we know."
She reached over and decanted some wine. "Cecily, here. Drink this. It will calm you. I know it always calms me."
Cecily thought, 'Yes. Over and over again. That's why the winemakers just love to see the Morley's orders come in.'
But she said instead, "Alright. Lord knows I need fortification."
She took the wine her mother offered. Lady Alice sat on the bed next to Cecily.
"Please, dear, drink all of it. You will feel so much better."

Within a few minutes, Cecily tried to stand up. "I--I feel dizzy, Mother. One glass of wine shouldn't....."
Cecily fell back on the bed, totally unconscious. Lady Alice smiled with satisfaction.
She put her daughter's feet up on the bed and covered her with a light blanket.
As she opened the door with the key in her hand, she said out loud, "Yes, well, laudanum in the right dosage will do that to you, dear....."


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/04/2006 00:11:02

Culpepper looked up as Jack strode down the hall and into the sitting room where Andrew eagerly awaited him. "Now just who the devil is that?" He thought to himself as he narrowly watched the tall younger man pass by. A friend of Andrew's maybe? Someone who had become associated with Sir Wallace? It always paid to keep abreast of things, so he waited until the doors had shut and Barnabas left to attend to other duities. Then quietly crept the short distance down the hall and pressed his ear to the door.

Jack had followed the manservant down the hall catching a glimpse of Peter Culpepper drinking in the study as he passed by. Years of avoiding the law by remaining aware of his surroundings had allowed him the ability to observe others without their knowledge. Once one of the man's toadys had approached him as Black Jack Roberts but the proposal made to him was so henious that he had rejected both servant and master without a second thought. Thankfully he had been in full garb at the time, so his true face was unknown to them.

Jack had fully expected to be brought into Cecily's presence, and was slightly shocked to see a young man who could have been a male version of his sister only a few years older. This had to be Andrew. After the butler introduced him the lad stood up and extended his hand to the outlaw."Andrew Morley, Mr. Johnson. I am to understand you are the man who rescued my sister from some pirates in London?"

"Think nothing of it, Mr. Morely. I was out taking a nightly stroll when she near ran me over. Soon followed by three villains. Thankfully I was able to defeat them, and well, I am sure she has told you the rest." Jack smiled warmly has he shook hands.

"That she has, Sir, and do call me Andrew."

"Very well, but in fairness I must insist you call me Robert."

Andrew laughed. He liked this man already. "Fair enough may I get you something to drink?"

"I would be honored. I had some business in Cornwall, and thought I would stop by to see how the young lady is getting on." Jack sat down in the cushioned chair Andrew indicated to him.

Andrew looked hard at the tall well groomed man for a moment and made up his mind. "Robert. Mother is insisting Cecily marry Culpepper. She did tell me that you are the man she loves and she plans on leaving Moreland with you. I..."

The door to the sitting room burst open. "Over my dead body!!!" Peter Culpepper screamed, and launched himself at Jack.


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/05/2006 22:46:35

With lightning-fast reflexes, Jack jumped up as Culpepper lunged at him, his hand on his rapier that was always present at his side. Culpepper landed on the chair that Jack had just vacated.
Andrew stepped in and doubled up his fist, coming between Jack and Culpepper.
"What the HELL do you think you are doing, Peter? Are you out of your mind? Attacking a guest who is welcome in the Morley house?"
Peter stood up panting with fury and the exertion. "I heard what you said! Cecily plans to leave with this---this--vagabond!"
Jack tried very hard to control his temper, not wanting to shed blood over the rug in the Morley parlor. He knew he could best Culpepper but the time wasn't right.
Jack kept his voice even but glanced ever so quickly at Andrew. Being the bright lad he was, Andrew picked up on the unspoken signal.
Jack said, "I don't know what you think you heard, Sir, but I am here merely to inquire as to the well-being of the lass of whom I rendered assistance to but a few days ago in London."
Andrew spoke up, "Peter, what I said to Robert was this--'Mother is insisting Cecily marry Culpepper. She did tell me that you are the man she owes and she plans on repaying you.' Now what suddenly occurred to me is that you were eavesdropping. Not a nice habit, Sir Culpepper!"
Peter looked at Andrew and yelled, "That is NOT what I heard."
Jack picked up the line of thought and said, "I am afraid you did hear wrong, Sir..Culpepper, is it?"
To Andrew he nodded and said, "I took the liberty of giving your stable boy my horse's reins. I think he took the horse into the stables. If you don't mind, I shall be on my way. Please give my regards to Miss Morley and tell her that I wish her the very best in the future. I shall go about my business in Cornwall."
Andrew shot Culpepper a look and said, "I insist on walking you down to the stables. It is the least I could do under the circumstances."
Jack nodded to Peter and said, "Sir, I shall be taking my leave. I wish I could say I had the pleasure of meeting you but it just isn't so."
With that, the two men left, leaving Peter to fume.

Lady Alice Morley came down the stairs and caught a glimpse of Jack and Andrew leaving. "Andrew? I heard loud voices. What is the meaning of this?"
Andrew looked over his shoulder as he was leaving. "I suggest you ask Sir Peter about it. He made himself a right perfect arse in front of a total stranger."

Andrew and Jack headed to the stables. Jack clapped him on the shoulder.
"That was fast thinking on your part, Andrew. I must say you and your sister look enough alike to be mirror images of each other. With a couple of appreciative differences."
Andrew chuckled, "And you aren't so bad yourself. But I imagine right now Mother is filling Peter in on what went on last night. She's a drama queen."
Jack asked quickly, "Is Cecily alright?"
Andrew nodded."I talked in depth to her last night. I told her not to do anything rash or foolish. Now I think that staying at Moreland would be the foolish thing. I can see by the look on your face that you love her."
Jack grew somber. "Then why didn't she come downstairs?"
Andrew shrugged. "Mother said she wasn't feeling well. And after talking to Cec last night, she was in such an emotional turmoil I think it took its toll on her. She may very well be pretending to be ill so she can avoid seeing Peter. She hates him, you know."
Jack said grimly, "I can see why. Why on earth would your parents want to push such a beautiful girl as Cecily on that monster?"
Andrew walked into the stable and said, "It's all politics mostly. What is considered 'the match of the duchy.' Peter Culpepper has land and money. We have land and money. Together it makes the Duke of Cornwall look like a pauper. Cecily gets the meadowland between our two estates, including the woods which is a hunting mecca. I get the land the manor is on and the land that stretches to the cliffs. The estate is considerable."
"Isn't her happiness worth more than that?"
Andrew smiled wryly at the man. "You are speaking from the heart and not the head, friend. Where power is concerned, love doesn't enter the picture. My! What a fine piece of horseflesh!"
Andrew had looked over and saw Raven.
"Aye, that is my best friend. At least on four legs. He has gotten me out of tight spots before."
Andrew looked over at Aphrodite. "Cecily said the horse was rented but I can see by the quality of the mare, she is not for hire. You bought her for my sister, didn't you?"
Jack smiled modestly. "That I did. Your sister deserves the finest."
Her brother grinned, "And that is why she has chosen you. I know class when I see it, Robert Johnson. Are you a nobleman in disguise?"
Jack laughed. "That remains to be seen."
Andrew laughed again and said, "And here all along I was hoping it was Blackjack Roberts who had kidnapped my sister and stolen her heart. Ah, well--if she can't have Blackjack, then I guess it might as well be you!"
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/06/2006 22:48:41

Lady Alice Morley took one look at Sir Peter Culpepper's face and poured him another snifter of brandy. And one for herself. He stood there, his face almost purple with barely controlled rage. He downed the snifter in one swallow.
He sat down on the velvet chair and Alice perched herself on the arm. She encircled his neck with her hand.
Peter sputtered, "That man! I swear there is something not right there! I overheard Andrew and this Robert Johnson talking. And they think they pulled one over on me but I heard Andrew acknowledge that Cecily is in love with him and she is planning on leaving with him."
Lady Alice took a deep drink of her brandy and said calmly, "Don't be so upset, Peter. Your temper is going to get the best of you. I wouldn't worry about Cecily."
"Why not?"
"Because she is under lock and key. Let us just say that she isn't functioning too well at the moment. The poor dear was not well so I gave her some well-dosed wine."
Peter looked at his inamorata of the moment and was surprised to see a woman with basically not an ounce of maternal feeling.
He leaned back and asked, "So, what do you intend to do? Keep her drugged up until the wedding? That's two months away."
Lady Alice just smiled over her snifter of brandy. "How do you feel about getting married on May Day?"
Peter smiled. "That is only a week away. Can you pull this together?"
She cupped her chin in her hand. "Nothing is impossible for me."
"And Cecily? Will she agree to it?"
She leaned over and kissed Peter Culpepper on the lips. "In her present state, she will agree to anything."


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/08/2006 17:31:52

Cecily moaned softly in her bed. Her head felt fogged in. She tried to rouse herself out of whatever she was experiencing. She shook her head to clear it.
She tried to sit up but her body didn't seem to be co-operating.
Finally she was able to sit up. She had a hard time remembering things. The last she remembered was her mother giving her some wine.
Easing herself off the bed, she leaned over with great effort. Her head was pounding. She picked up the decanter that her mother had left behind. There was still a bit of wine left in it.
Cecily turned the bottle upside down and a few drops fell into her hand. She carefully tasted it. Something...not quite right. A bad year for the grapes?

Suddenly it began to dawn on Cecily. Her mother had slipped something into her wine to keep her quiet. She felt the decanter slip from her fingers and break on the floor. Still disoriented, she laid back on the bed.

Her last thoughts before the blackness came creeping back again was, 'Jack....Jack...where are you?'


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/08/2006 17:59:47

"Well I may not be as romantic as a mysterious rogue, off playing Robin of the Hood or any such nonsense. I do, however love her dearly, and I am rather successful in commerce." Jack laughed in return before turning deadly serious.

"Andrew, if I never say another true word to you, I will say this. Although it can never be proven, Peter Culpepper is a very dangerous man to marry your sister to." Jacks eyes held no guile when Andrew look at the man. The words held conviction, and after what he had just heard through the wall of the sitting room. More than a grain of truth.

Very well, Robert." He finally sighed. "For reasons of my own I find myself in agreement with you. I think it would be best for Cecily to leave with you. Tonight. Damn the politics."

"Well said, Andrew. Now if you would be so kind as it find out her condition, and whether or not she can travel, I will await word from you at the Siler Sparrow Inn." Jack held out his hand.

"Done." Said Andrew as he gripped the outlaw's hand. "Expect word there within the next three hours, Sir."

"I await your word, Master Morely.' Jack grinned as he mounted and rode clear of the stable.


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/08/2006 22:24:20

Andrew walked into the sitting room to find his mother and Peter with their heads together. They looked up quickly.
Lady Alice said cooly, "So. The man has left?"
Andrew glared at Peter and said, "Aye. And a finer spectacle of an arse Culpepper made I never did see in my life."
Peter fought his rage. Time to deal with this brash young man later. The main goal was marry the beautiful Cecily Morley and deal with the rest of the family later.
Lady Alice said, "Well, with any good fortune, we won't see the likes of him anymore. As I was saying, Peter--"
Andrew interrupted with, "Where's Cecily? I haven't seen her surface all day."
His mother said impatiently, "Andrew, where are your manners? Were you raised by gypsies? Your sister is not feeling well. She's sleeping. I checked on her half an hour ago."
Andrew folded his arms across his chest. "I've never known Cecily to take to her bed when she wasn't feeling up to snuff."
She glared, "Andrew, as much as you may find this hard to believe, there is a first time for everything."
Andrew glared back. Finally Lady Alice pointed to the door and said frostily, "You may close the door. On your way out."
Andrew looked from one to the other with disgust on his face, turned on his heel and strode out.

He quietly climbed the stairs that led to Cecily's room. Knocking softly, he called out, "Cecily? Sis? Open the door."
He knocked a little more forcefully.
Still nothing.
Oh, Cecily--don't tell me you ran off to find Robert Johnson. You didn't climb down the trellis like you used to, did you?

Finally he went down the back stairs to Maud, the cook.
"And what do ye think ye are a-doin', Master Andrew?"
Andrew put his finger to his lips and whispered conspiratorially. "I locked myself out of my room and I don't want anyone to know how foolish I have been."
He went into the pantry and there hung the keys, hidden away. He took Cecily's key and put it in his pocket, then grabbed his.

Putting the key in the lock to her door, he opened it. He called, "Cecily?"
She was laying on the bed but crosswise, like she had fallen back. He tried again. "Cecily?"
No answer. He walked over and shook her slightly.
"Cecily? Wake up!"
Cecily stirred slightly and said in her drowsed condition, "Hmmm?"
Andrew sat on the edge of the bed and gently slapped her cheeks. "Cecily? It's Andrew. WAKE UP!"
She slurred, "Can't....just...can't."
Andrew was beginning to be more than concerned. "Cecily, what is wrong with you?"
She talked with effort. "Wine. Mother gave me wine...."
Andrew's foot hit the glass shards. "What happened?"
She mumbled, "Th-think she dr-drugged the wine."
And she fell back asleep.
Andrew fought to control his temper over his mother. How dare she drug her own daughter!
He could see he had to get Cecily away tonight no matter what.
He stroked her hair away from her face. Thank goodness her coloring was alright. This must just have to take time.

He locked her door again and went downstairs.
"What are ye doin' this time, Master Andrew?" Maud asked.
"I'm hungry."
He took some tea and some biscuits and went back to Cecily's room. She was still sleeping.
He shook her gently and said, "Cecily? Wake up."
She murmured, "Jack..Jack..." in her twilight sleep. Andrew looked at her puzzled. "Sis, think you must mean 'Robert'."
She started to wake up and he helped her sit up. "Here. Drink this tea. It will help revive you."
Groggily she took the tea but couldn't hold the cup. Andrew held the cup while she drank. She shook her head. "What is going on? Mother drugged me, Andrew!"
Andrew set his mouth in a thin line.
"I know. And we're getting you out of here. Tonight."


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/09/2006 17:04:21

Dusky shadows splashed the three hooded men haunting the edge of the tree line facing Morley Mansion. Barely a sliver of sunlight still showed above the forest as twilight quickly enclosed the tranquil scene. Dressed in clothing chosen for their different hues of green and brown they watched the carriage as it pulled away from the stairs and moved towards the main gate. The corner lanterns that swayed gently to the pitch of the coach soon disappeared into the trees beyond.

"That's all of them, 'cept Andrew and Cecily, Jack." Josiah whispered.

"Aye," Roberts nodded grimly. "Will, ye done me good lad. Here's what I owe ye for this month."

"There's five hundred gold crowns there, Mate." He laughed tossing Will a leather bag of no small weight. "Head back to the Crossbow, and tell them I said your bill is covered for the night."

"That's why I love working' fer ye, Jack Roberts. Now I have a place at take me "fringe benefit" out fer a night she'll 'ner forget." Will grinned, and headed toward the stables, and the waiting house maid.

After the randy spy left Jack leaned closer to Josiah. "According to Andrew's note there's been a change of plan in the Morely household. The wedding date has been set up. Her parents are off to the magistrate in Cornwall to get the necessary papers."

"Unfortunately, I hear that Susie let it slip to him that our magistrate is drunk at the Crossbow, and regaling everyone with a story about him and his newly hired milking girl and last Christmas."

"How fast did he leave town?" Josiah queried.

"About thirty seconds. Magistrate Hammond's drinks are on the house tonight as well." Jack winked. "My way of apologizing for not being able to speak more with him when last we met. Come on, Old Top, time we escorted a lady home."


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/09/2006 18:10:33

The two men emerged from the tree line trotting quietly in the open field, crossing the road instead of taking it. Aphrodite was loosely tied outside the stable right where Andrew had said she would be.

Joshia held the horse's reigns under the shadow of the large oak tree's low lying branches as Jack made his way to the side of the huge house. Stealthily making his way around the side he stayed to the shadows as much as possible, even if the damned whitewash didn't help matters any. Slowly he mounted the steps, then knocked on the huge double doors with his gloved hand.

"Out for a midnight jaunt, Black Jack Roberts?" Peter Culpepper stepped from the shadows, rapier in hand.

"Oh, you need not look so surprised. What I never told Alice was you had left this at the scene." Culpepper held up a lace handkerchief with the initials "BJR" monogrammed in the corner.

Jack's own sword flew from it's sheath. "Perhaps it was dropped later by the real Roberts."

"And perhaps the real Roberts is trying to steal something that belongs to me!" Peter Bellowed as he lunged for Jack's midsection.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/09/2006 18:26:52

As soon as Mother and Father had left for town that evening Andrew lost no time running to Cecily's room, key in hand. He had provided her with a small pan to pour the laced wine into beneath the bed, and an ample distraction when he had opened the door to check on her at dinner time. Mother had nearly jumped out of her skin before ordering him from the room.

Cecily, no longer drugged, was waiting impatiently and dressed for travel. Andrew opened the door and they both peeked into the hallway. A feeling faintly reminiscent of playing hide and seek in the mansion as children crept over them and they smiled to each other.

As they made their way down stairs they barely heard the soft rap at the huge oak doors. "That would be Robert, Sis." Andrew smiled.

Before they had made it to the third step they both heard the sound of male voices raised in anger. Followed by the unmistakable sound of steel meeting steel.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/09/2006 18:59:54

Culpepper's blade made a rattling hiss as it slid it's length down Jack's parry. His anger had made him thrust too deeply to counter his momentum. Too late he saw the wire basket hilt of the other man's rapier dart toward his face and he was sent stumbling into the massive support beam of the porch.

His jaw aching and already turning bluish black he cursed, righted himself, and prepared a more calculated attack. Circling to Jacks left he kept low to the ground, making his body a smaller target as he searched for an opening. Suddenly the door opened as he approached it, and the brat Andrew's voice rang out. "Here now! What is the meaning of this!!!"

Peter kicked high up on the end of the door sending it crashing into the startled Andrew's skull. As his opponent's eyes left him for a moment in concern for the brat he lunged again. Smiling as the sudden parry came too late, and his blade penetrated Jacks left shoulder. Andrew slumped to the highly polished oak of the porch. Culpepper spun into the house, stepping over the boy's unconscious form.

Jack cursed himself for a fool, his left shoulder starting to throb as the shock wore off, and pain set in. "Tit for tat, you Bastard!" He thought. Keeping his eye on the door opening he bent down to see if Andrew was alright. A right nasty goose egg there, still breathing steadily, good. Now to see to Peter Culpepper.

Jack stood and stepping over Andrew stalked toward the doorway.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/09/2006 19:37:26

A flash from the corner of his eye caused Peter Culpepper to instinctively duck from his position behind the other door. Waiting to skewer his enemy as he came through the opening. The study Brandy decanter shattered inches above his head showering him in glass and liqueur.

"Cecily!!! What in God's name are you doing?!!" He bellowed as Cecily reared back with a vase snatched from a side table.

"You stop this immediately, Peter Culpepper! This is the man who saved me and he is welcome in my house!!" She screamed back.

Cecily, you don't understand! This ruffian is none other than Black Jack Roberts!! I have proof! You are in danger, Dearest!" Peter pleaded.

She went white at the accusation, frozen in a moment of shock. A thin trickle of ice slid slowly down her spine. How could he know? "THAT IS A LIE!" She screamed before she even realized she had spoke.

Jack bounded through the doorway at the sound of her scream, once again crossing swords with Culpepper. Driving him backwards toward the sitting room in his rage. Only years in finest fencing classes money could buy saved his life.

Cecily followed the clashing ring of their swords into the sitting room the servants were crowding the door behind her in fear and curiosity. Something had to be done, and quickly. Spying a candle holder burnt low and filled with liquid wax she picked up the holder and threw the contents into Peter Culpepper's crotch.

A girlish screech of agony broke from Culpeppers throat, after several seconds of howling silently at the ceiling, and he fell backwards onto the couch. The servants piled into the room. "That is quite enough out of you, Peter Culpepper!" She huffed as she tossed the now empty candle holder back onto the table.

"I owe this man my life and you make false accusations!! You insult me, and my family!!"

"And makes me job that much easier, Princess." A deep baritone voice echoed from the doorway. As one the group of stunned people looked up to see a hooded figure dressed all in black, pointing twin pistols at them.

"I figured since I be getting' the blame fer kidnappin' the young lass there. I may as well be guilty a' the crime." Laughed Black Jack Roberts.

Cicely's eyes cut from the dark clad figure in the doorway to Jack momentarily confused.

"Now Missy, you'll be coming with me!" The hooded outlaw growled.

Suddenly a shot rang out and the highway man grabbed his shoulder cursing. Jack's twin pistols were leveled at the villian's head, one still smoking. "I think not, Theif." He grinned. "If you leave now you may stand a chance of avoiding the Footmen."

Still clutching his shoulder the black clothed figure back out of the door. "I'll not be forgett'n this ya dandy duck! We shall meet again!"
Black Jack hissed. Then with a whirl of his midnight cloak the wounded outlaw was gone.

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/09/2006 22:21:03

The servants scrambled over each other to scatter. Cecily looked up and ran to Jack, flinging herself into his arms. "You came for me!"
He hugged her with his good arm and winced at the pain in his shoulder. She drew back.
"You're hurt! You--you have a blade wound!"
Sudden fury rose up in her. She saw the ripped silk shirt and the blood. She looked and saw the blood on the rapier that Peter had dropped.
"You. You did this!!"
Peter was still on the couch, writhing in pain from the 'waxing' he had received. Glass splinters were covering his doublet. Traces of brandy were saturating his hair.
She flew at him with her fists. Peter tried to fend her off and finally grabbing her at the wrists.
He jumped up and held her in front of him as a shield. Snarling, he said through his pain, "You both are going to pay for this. You now and Cecily later...when she becomes my wife!"
He spun her around and drew her to him, parting her lips with a passionate kiss.
Suddenly he jerked up and slid down.
Shards of china lay in pieces around him. Cecily could only stand there in shock and Jack crossed over to her in a heartbeat.
Because there stood Andrew, swaying in dizziness and holding another vase.
He rubbed his head and said, "You owe me big-time, Cecily!"

Cecily saw Peter sprawled out on the floor unconscious. She drew her booted foot back and kicked him once in the arse for good measure. Andrew groaned and said, "Well, that's going to leave a mark! Father insisted on English oak for all the doors."
Cecily looked over at Jack, brandishing his pistols in case any of the servants decided to score points with Sir Wallace.
Andrew grimaced but smiled at her. "You had better leave before this sorry excuse revives, Cecily."
She hugged her brother fiercely and kissed his cheek. "I'll never forget what you did for me, Andrew! I love you."
He hugged her back. Jack could only stand there and watch the family affection between the siblings and he momentarily felt a pang for the loneliness of a solitary childhood. But Cecily was now his. The start of his own family.

She clung to Andrew's neck and whispered, "We shall leave word for you at the Crossbow Inn in Devonshire. They shall always have word of us so you will know how we are."
Andrew nodded. "You love him, don't you, Cecily?"
She said fervently, "With all my heart!"
Andrew turned to Jack and said, "Take care of her. If you don't, you shall have me to answer to. And although I cannot wield a sword as well as you, I can surely baptize your skull with a good piece of crockery!"
Jack was still in pain but he ascertained that the wound he received from Culpepper was not as bad as it seemed. He knew that a good cleaning out and possibly a stitch or two from Josiah would be all he needed.
Cecily picked up her cloak and wrapped it around her.
"Darling, I am ready. I just need to find a duffel bag I threw out the window."
Jack said, "Have no fear. Will retrieved it and hid it in the woods. Josiah and I found it and packed it on Aphrodite. She's saddled and ready to go.
"The new gardener. He was placed there to look after you."

Andrew said, "Leave now, Cecily! Don't worry. What can Mother and Father do to me? After all, I'm their heir!"
Cecily grinned, "Just don't drink the wine, brother!"
Andrew sat down on the couch and crossed his legs. He drew a pistol of his own out and pointed at Peter Culpepper with it. "I'll watch over this ruthless decadent. Cecily? I'll be in touch. And take good care of her...Jack Roberts!"
Jack raised his eyebrow and said, "You knew?"
Andrew said, "Aye. I knew it the moment I saw your horse. But the secret is safe with me, 'Robert Johnson'. Cecily? You chose wisely!"
She kissed him and took Jack's hand.
"I'm ready. Let's go!"


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/11/2006 20:53:48

Andrew sat there with a pistol crossed in his lap. Sir Peter Culpepper was still unconscious. Andrew sighed and then got up, tucking the flintlock into the waistband of his breeches. He took a vase from the sideboard and removed the flowers. Walking over to where Peter lay, he dumped the water on the man's head and then prodded him with his foot.
Peter started to come around.
"Wh-what happened?" he asked groggily.
Andrew leaned back, keeping the pistol out of sight. "Don't know, Peter. You just kind of blacked out.
Peter looked around and rubbed his head. Andrew had removed all the shards of china so there was no evidence of the crowning he had received.
"Wh-where is she?"
"Who? Mother?" Andrew practically spat the word out.
Peter shook his head slowly from side to side. "No. Your sister. Cecily. My fiancee."
"Oh! THAT Cecily! Well, she isn't here."
"Where did she go?"
Andrew looked surprised. "Now how should I know? Remember? I was knocked out when my head ran into the door. Why, Peter...I was out cold for I don't know how long. When I came to, the front door was open and you were lying on the floor. I am just as surprised as you are!"
Peter was starting to become lucid. "Kidnapped! She's been kidnapped by that...that..that...scoundrel! Andrew! We must catch up! Her life is in danger!"
Andrew then drew his pistol out and pointed it right at Peter's chest. Cooly he said, "Leave her alone, Peter. She doesn't love you. I daresay she despises you."
Peter made a motion towards Andrew and Andrew cocked the hammer back. "Not a good idea, Peter. Now I suggest you find yourself some other lass. And maybe one in your own age bracket. A nice widow with oh, maybe six or seven children. That way you know she can produce an heir."
Culpepper raged, "Never! You are in on this, you miserable little whelp!"
Andrew pointed the flintlock pistol and fired. The bullet went whizzing by Culpepper's head and lodged in the wall.
He said to him, "Oh, see here what you made me do, Peter? My, my! Mother will be none too pleased!"
Peter tried another tack. "Andrew, your parents are seeing the magistrate about the wedding and the banns are being waived. How will that look? For both our families?"
Andrew still pointed the pistol at Peter. "It will look like Cecily came to her senses."
"She's an empty headed little fool! I love her and I'll do everything in my power to get her back! She ran off with a nobody!"
Andrew's temper riled. "Cecily is no fool! She certainly was smart enough to see through YOU! Now get out of here before I shoot the final shot. And this time I won't miss."


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/14/2006 13:05:57

As the three rode north east toward Devonshire a hooded horseman rode out from the gloom of the nearby woodland and blocked their path. Cecily stiffened, reaching for her bow until Jack's gentle touch brought her short. "Geoffrey has already seen your skill with the bow, My Love." Jack smiled warmly.

"Geoffrey??! But you shot him!" Cecily exclaimed.

"Aye, M'Lady, but 'Ol Jack's aim is legendary in that he couldn't hit a barn if he were standin' it!" Laughed Geoffrey pulling off the black hat and hood as he rode up to them. "Actually neither a' Jack's pistols wern't loaded with much mor'n powder and paper."

"Then we're safe?" She asked.

"As safe as you can be with Robert Johnson." Jack smiled gently stroking her cheek with the back of his fingers. " Not that I take it Cullpepper will take this lying down. He'll be bound to try and stop us from being together."

"As will Mother." Cecily sighed resignedly.

"Well be that as it may," Josiah tossed a bundle to Geoffrey, "ye better be getting' outa that costume, Lad. Afore I've a mind to turn ye in for the reward."

"Aye, or Black Jack Roberts catches me impersonating him. I heard about the last poor soul what made that mistake." Jack, thankful for the pale moonlight, turned crimson as Geoffrey rode back into the forest.

"Other impersonator, Mr. Roberts?" Her left slender eyebrow rose on her forehead as a mischievous light glinted there. " And just how do you know of another impersonator?"

"We had George and Geoffrey follow you." Jack sheepishly began.

"WE?!!" Josiah bellowed. "Now don't ye be a' bringing me in on this, Jack Roberts! It were your idea, the rest a' us just followed orders. Now if you'll be excusing Geoff and me we'll be a riding on ahead to the Crossbow."

"Well, Mr. Roberts?" Cecily smiled as the two riders vanished into the gloom of the road ahead.

"I apologize, Dearest." Jack looked at his saddle horn for a moment then raised his eyes to meet hers. "I must confess that I was more than worried about your safety. Through my connections in the less savory side of life I have heard certain rumors about Peter Cullpepper, and could not let you go unprotected."

"And when you found out about the man who stopped me in your name?" She queried in a soft voice.

"I tracked the ruffian down and lashed him to within an inch of his life."

"For impersonating you?"

"Not exactly."

"For threatening me?


He felt the feathery soft touch of her fingertips along the side of his cheek. The soft whisper of her breath on his face as her hand drew his face closer to her. "Jack." His name barley audible as her soft lips brushed gently across his. Barley touching at first, their lips slowly enfolded each other. A tender and loving kiss grew stronger as they held it finally blooming into heartfelt passion.


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/14/2006 22:03:42

"What do you mean, the magistrate is not here?"
Lady Alice Morley asked, the petulance in her voice coming through loud and clear.
The housekeeper said, "He said he had an emergency and would be gone for the evening and to please extend his deepest regret to you, Lady Morley."
Lady Alice said imperiously, "I won't stand for this!"
Sir Wallace took her elbow and said, "My dear, I am afraid there must be a misunderstanding and---"
Lady Alice said tightly, "I had an appointment and it has to be done tonight. Tonight, do you understand?"
Her husband sighed. He always hated it when his wife got one of her attitudes. "I can't understand what the rush is. The wedding plans were for almost two months from now. Why are we moving the dates up? Oh, no, Alice! Cecily is not with child, is she?"
Lady Alice looked at her husband with disdain. "Of course not! Sir Peter just cannot wait any longer. He is totally in love with our daughter and the sooner they marry, the better. Why delay, Wallace?"
"But, dear---"
"Wallace, we need to get those two married and Sir Peter proposed we plan for May 1st."
"But that is only a week away!"
"And your point, Wallace, is....what?"
As usual, Wallace caved into his wife. "Nothing. If that is what you planned, that is what will be."
Lady Alice turned to the housekeeper. "Magistrate Hammond has certainly thrown a delay into our plans. By obtaining the marriage license we were able to get the banns waived for the next three Sundays. He was supposed to be here to give us the marriage license."
Wallace said, "But isn't that supposed to be Sir Peter's task?"
Alice sad impatiently, "Wallace, do you never listen to anything I say? How old is Cecily?"
Sir Wallace shrugged, "I don't know--eighteen?"
Alice said coldly, "She's seventeen, Wallace. Just turned. We have to sign for her."
"Shouldn't she be here?"
"Wallace, she isn't feeling well. She's just overcome with excitement at being a bride. She will be fine as soon as she is blissfully married to Peter."
Wallace said, "I don't know, Alice, she seems to be a bit reluctant to marry him and I don't see why..."
Alice finally had enough. "Wallace, you let me handle this. I know what I am doing."
To the housekeeper, she said, "Please tell Magistrate Hammond I shall remember this. We shall be back in the morning and I fully expect the papers to be in order and ready to be signed."
With that, she turned and walked down the stairs. Sir Wallace hastily followed her, knowing it was fully better to keep his mouth shut.
After all, Alice was a devoted mother and knew best....

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....