Author Topic: ZARA  (Read 1746924 times)

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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #135 on: February 12, 2021, 06:24:04 PM »
“Where are you two off to?”
Zara adjusted her hat and Phillip slipped on his coat.
“It’s such a beautiful autumn day Zara and I thought we would go for a ride over by that meadow.”
Zara jiggled a burlap bag. “There are a lot of black walnut trees, Uncle Will. We thought we would pick a bag and bring them home to Mrs Avery. She will love to put them in butter cookies.”
“Uh huh. Just be home before dark.”
Phillip took Zara by the arm. “You do realize, Will, that I am considered an adult. And Zara is ALMOST an adult.”
With that she gave him a withering look and then smiled sweetly at Will. “No need to fret. We will be home by dinner.”
“And watch out for Pefflys. They aren’t in season.”
Zara gave Will a quick kiss on the cheek.
“I know. And they are like oysters. It is not safe to eat them if the month has an ‘R’ in it.”
Phillip corrected her. “No, darling, it is the other way around. If the month has an ‘R’ in it, it is safe to eat them.”
She frowned. “Are you sure?”
“No matter, we aren’t eating them.”
She shuddered. “I don’t like them anyways. Slimy things. Like Pefflys.”
With that, Phillp took her by the shoulders and turned her around. “Say goodbye, Zara..”
“Goodbye, Zara.”
“Smart arse.”

“Is this the place?” Zara asked.
“It is. I discovered it a few weeks ago.”
The place was a small field surrounded by trees. Charred remains of a fire scarred a bit of the field but the grass was growing back over it.
“Looks like there used to be a cottage here. Probably belonged to a caretaker. See that pile of rocks?”
Zara nodded.
“Must have been where the chimney was.”
Philip jumped down from his horse and walked over to Zara. He held his hand out.
“I am perfectly capable of dismounting, Captain Briggs.”
“Suit yourself.”
“Are you ready for this? I mean, is it quiet enough? You don’t think anyone will come here and interrupt us, do you?”
Phillip shook his head. “No footprints or smashed down vegetation. I think it will suit our purpose.”

He smiled at her and gently untied her cloak, hanging it on the branch of a tree.
He then removed his coat and threw it over the horse.
“Are you ready?”
“I am,’ she breathed deeply. He took a few steps away from her and drew his sword.
“Then...en garde!”
She smiled and drew hers too.
Zara thrust her sword and Phillip parried. The attack went back and forth for a few minutes and then Phillip took a lunge. Zara leaped back, spun around and thrust her sword, Phillip followed with a thrust and she parried.
“You are good, darling!”
“I learned quickly!”
They kept up their choreographed fencing for the better part of an hour.
Sitting down on her cloak, Phillip opened up a bottle of wine and cut off a piece of cheese, popping it into Zara’s mouth.
“I have to ask...where did you learn to fight so well?”
Zara took a sip of wine.
“I learned from the best.”
“Ah. Your father?”
“No. Guess again.”
“Your mother?”
“Wrong again.”
“Well, now you have me stumped.”
“You won’t believe it.”
“Try me.”
“Uncle Josie.”

She nodded. “There was no one better in a swordfight, my father said, than Josiah Briggs. While you were out sailing the seven seas, I asked him to teach me. Uncle Josie told me that while my father was light on his feet in a sword fight, he was always a bit reckless. Your father had the finesse and patience that was needed to..shall we say? Drive home his point.”
Phillip said, “I heard about the mutiny the two of them put down. Jack and Father put that mutiny down in one evening. With a bit of help from your mother.”
“Really? They never told me.”
“Guess that is one secret I shouldn’t have told.”
Phillip helped Zara up and stood back.
“En garde!”
Zara stood there as her bodice lacings came apart with one stroke of the sword.
She stood there with her mouth open.
Phillip reached over and drew her to him.
“I guess that is one move ‘Uncle Josie’ never thought of,” as the lacings fell to the ground.
She drew him into a kiss.
“Yes, love?”
“You owe me some lacings.”
« Last Edit: April 24, 2021, 07:43:03 PM by Welsh Wench »
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #136 on: April 24, 2021, 08:34:36 PM »
Phillip walked down the stairs and caught sight of Will.
“Ah, there you are, Phillip! I just am laying out the finishing touches on the ball I had planned for next week. I am sure Zara will want a new dress.”
Phillip cleared his throat. “I am afraid we won’t be able to make it, Will.”
“Nonsense! If you are worried about the Peffly’s….”
“That’s not it. We are going home next week.”
“You are….what? Leaving?”
Phillip handed Will the note from Jack. He scanned it and handed it back to him.
“Well.. I guess that’s that.”
“Will, you knew the time would come when we would have to leave.”
“Yes, but I didn’t expect it so soon. I thought for sure you would be here another six months.”
Phillip shook his head. “The….problem….has been removed so it is safe to take Zara back. She misses her mother and we need to get another shipment of molasses together for you.”
“El Lobo is ready?”
“She will be. Davis will be here by the end of the week and the ship has been fitted with new sails and a new masthead. I had the other one stowed away.”
“Do you plan on telling Jack what happened with Tranquillo?”
“All in due time.”
“Uh huh. A sanitized version, no doubt.”
“It depends on Jack’s reaction and his mood.”
“But he needs to know you poked Diego Mendoza in the eye.”
“And your engagement?”
“I’m working on it.”
“Better figure it out soon. Hell hath no fury. You know the rest.”

Just then Zara came down the stairs. “From the look on your face, I am guessing Phillip told you we are headed to Barbados.”
Will nodded. “I wish I could say ‘good riddance’ but Dilcey and I have gotten used to having the two of you here.”
She hugged Will. “I can’t tell you what it means to me—to us---the hospitality that you have shown us, Will.”
“It was never a dull moment with you here, Zara. A duel….and your marriage. Marriage! I can’t get used to thinking of you as a married woman. You will still be that little girl who climbed up on my lap and gave me a cookie.”
“And you gave me a ring. See? I still have it.” She held up her right hand.
“And I see an enormous emerald on the left.”
“I plan to put it away until I can figure out how to tell Mama and Da.”
“You had better think of a way pretty quick. Because the two of you won’t be able to keep your hands off each other.”
Phillip added, “And I have to figure out a way to tell Renee and Father.”
Will smirked, “Josiah may be in the dark but I am betting Renee will take one look at your faces and figure it out. I have never met a woman as shrewd and insightful as her.”

Zara picked up her shawl. “Phillip and I want to do a last bit of shopping before we sail. There’s a pewter shop down the way. Phillip? You are ready?”
“As ready as I ever will be to see you spend my money.”
“Then we shall be off. See you at dinner, Will.”

Will watched them leave. Dilcey came into the room.
“Will? What’s the matter?”
He turned his back to her. “Nothing, darling. Just got something in my eye, that’s all.”
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #137 on: June 21, 2021, 08:03:24 PM »
Back in Barbados--

Josiah walked up to the massive oak door around back. Not because he was a back door tradesman, but family. Jack always regarded his closest friends as earning the right to come in the back way. Close to Mrs Avery's scones and tarts, he always said. And Jack's house always had an open-door policy. As he mounted the stairs, the sea breeze ruffled his hair. Life was good, he contemplated. Good friends, one he regarded closer than a brother. A beautiful healthy woman to love him. And a son that would make any man proud.
'The son...' he thought. Renee's fanciful suppositions rankled him. 'No, not possible. Phillip was a man of honour. A man betrothed to a woman of high society with the possibility of an important career....'
He wouldn't throw his chances on...Josiah shook his head as if to clear it. Renee always had a wild imagination. And regarded Phillip as the son she never had made their relationship all the more special. Because he was a child of choice, not by accident. Accident....babies....good grief, Briggs! Snap out of it!
He shifted the papers to his other arm and knocked. Honour of all people answered the door, a baby on her hip and a streak of flour on her face.
"Josiah! Come in!"
He smiled when he saw her. "What on earth are you up to, Honour?"
"Oh...just helping Mrs Avery roll out some dough. The baby was in her cradle in the kitchen and I just picked her up when you knocked. But you don't have to knock, Josiah. You are family. Next time just walk in. Promise?"
He gave her shoulders a squeeze. "I promise. the man of the house around?"
"He's just finishing up with an invoice with Eli. Go right in."
Josiah made his way down the hall to Jack's study and de facto business office. In many ways, it felt like his many walks to the great cabin aboard El Lobo. The door was open, but he felt the need to knock anyway.
"Master Briggs! Since when did we begin standing on pretence? Make your way in, you scoundrel! You know where everything is," called Jack.
Josiah chuckled as he stepped into the expansive library Jack called a study. Eli was sitting in a chair across from Jack's desk, but for a change, the young man seemed relaxed. But presently he gathered up his papers and hat.
"Much obliged, Cap'n Wolfe."
"Eli, how many timed must I ask you to just call me Jack?"
"At least once more, Cap'n. As you'll always be my Cap'n."
"On your way, Mister Meredith. All my best to your family."
Eli paused to acknowledge Briggs before he left the room. And Briggs couldn't help but notice the large brown bottle of rum on Jack's desk.
"Josiah!" said Jack. "What brings you round this fine day? Let me pour you a gulper, like old times."
As Jack poured the rum, Briggs said, "I recall it was me pouring you a gulper, you being captain and all."
"Again with the pretences. Here. Courtesy of Will Harkness himself."
Josiah knocked the cup back and found himself gasping for air. "What in blazes is that?!" he managed to croak out.
"Rum, of course," said Jack. "Unless you've lost your taste for it."
"My taste be just fine. But I'd sooner fuel a lamp with that than drink it."
"Suit yourself. So, what's on your mind, my friend?"
Josiah plopped into a chair and tried to formulate his words as the rum's effect began to work its ways with him.
"Well, Jack, Renee and I were talking..."
"Good man. Communication is the key to a happy marriage."
"No, I mean, we were talking about Phillip. More to the point, Phillip and Zara."
Jack's eyes narrowed. "I don't believe either of us is properly drunk enough to continue this conversation."
Briggs handed over his cup. "Aye, that be true enough."
Jack poured them each a portion, which was quickly knocked back by both men. After a few moments of shuddering and head shaking, Jack said, "All right. What are your carbuncles? I mean, concerns?"
"None that you haven't had yourself on a sleepless night."
"Worse. Being a grandparent."
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #138 on: June 21, 2021, 08:09:27 PM »
“Well, good morning to you!”
“Jack! Come, sit with me and have a cup of coffee. I am sure you are here to see Josiah. But he’s not here. He’s off seeing if some furniture I ordered has arrived on that ship that came in last night.”
“Ordering furniture and having Josiah see to it? My, any more domesticated and you can put him outside at night like a cat!”
She laughed as she set a small bottle of brandy next to his coffee mug.
“Ah, Renee—a woman after my heart. You know just what I like!”
She laughed and said, “Let’s not go there. We are ancient history!”
“So what did you order?”
“One item I am anxious to get is a vargueno.”
“A var—what?”
“It’s Spanish and--”
“Renee, you know Spain is our sworn enemy. Why would you want anything like that in your house? And exactly WHAT is a vargueno?”
“It’s a writing desk about so high. It’s rectangular and it has a drop down front so I can write on it and it has lots of little drawers and nooks and crannies and a padlock and---”
Jack held up his hand. “Enough. I get it. And it is so like you. Full of little secrets you only let a few be privy to.”
“Jack, darling we are ALL full of little secrets. Present company included.”

He poured a generous dash of brandy into his coffee.
“We’ve come a long way, Pip. Look at us now! Me a prosperous plantation owner and you—YOU!--a madame!”
She retorted, “It wasn’t always this way, I may remind you! I just kind of fell into dabbling in the pleasurable company trade.”
“True. Winning the deed to a brothel was a stroke of fortune.”
“I remember when we first met. You had your nose buried in a book.”
“Which I shared with you.”
“You opened up a whole new world for me, Jack. And for that I am forever grateful.”
“Do you ever think about the weird turns our lives have taken, Pip?”
She nodded. “I guess we have Will Harkness to thank for that.”
“If he hadn’t taken the Laura Ann, I would probably have stayed a merchant sailor, caught scurvy—or something worse!-- and be dead by now. And you—YOU!--would be a farmer’s wife with a dozen kids.”
She shuddered, “Perish the thought! I got the best son a mother could ask for and I didn’t have the snotty noses or the dirty nappies to go along with it.”
“Phillip was blessed the day he arrived at your door in search of his father.”
“And look at you—giving up the sea for a life of domesticity. You always said you couldn’t see giving it up for a yard full of mewling children.”
“Pardon me, but my children DON’T mewl!”
“Those were your words, not mine, ducks.”

Renee leaned back and closed her eyes, savoring the smell of the brandy mixed with her coffee.
“Do you ever wonder, Jack, what would have happened if it had”
He leaned back, too. “I do, Pip. But you know what? We were too alike. We would have combusted. And then there would be no friendship.”
She opened her eyes and looked at him. “You were my first love, you know.”
“I know, darling. But first loves are not always made to last. It’s like trying on a coat and realizing that it looks great and feels great but then you start taking a good look at the workmanship and realize it would fall apart really soon. It was not long-lasting. So you discard it and find one that works.”
“As you did with Honour.”

“It was colpo di fulmine. The thunderbolt, as Italians call it.  It’s when you are hit by a lightning strike that is so powerful and intense, it can’t be denied. No matter how hard we try to think it didn’t hit us.  It’s beautiful and messy, like cracking a treasure chest open and spilling your soul out for the world to see. It turns a person inside out, and there’s no going back from it. Once the thunderbolt hits, your life is irrevocably changed.”

She nodded. “If anyone knows about treasure chests, it is you, Jack.”
“Honour certainly changed my life. When I first saw her, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. My heart caught in my throat and I would do anything to possess her.”
“Including getting married.”
He laughed, “Well, that was the only way I could talk her into bed.”
She took a drink of her coffee and smiled.
“It was different with Josiah and me. We were like two trees growing side by side that eventually became intertwined so tightly, there was no separating us. Once we were together, I knew I found the part of me that was missing. Like a puzzle piece. It was comfortable and it fit just right. And I got a son—the family—that I never knew I was longing for.”
“You’ve been a wonderful mother to Phillip.”
“He’s my heart and soul. I am forever grateful to Anne. She birthed him and I have to think she steered him in my direction and gave us her blessing. Alright, so she was fifteen years in taking her time—but it all worked out. I love Josiah more and more each day.”

Renee put out another flask of brandy, leaving the coffee behind.
“The children will be home soon. Children! I know Phillip is a grown man, but Zara will always be a lovely child to me. I’ve known her since she was a year old.”
Jack smiled, “I can’t wait to see her. Honour is busy fixing her room up.”
Renee hesitated and then plunged right in.
“Jack—what if Zara has...changed. I mean, she’s been away for almost six months.”
“And what is your point?”
“She’s not the little girl who used to sit on your lap and pretend to hold the moon in her hands.”
“I know that.”
“You’ll always be her father, Jack. And she will always be what you consider your little girl. But have you ever entertained the idea that she needs...maybe, a different kind of love?”
Jack took a drink of brandy.
“She’s too young, Renee.”
“How old is she, Jack?”
“How old was Honour when she was married to Madoc?
“And before that, there was Rhys Morgan. She was—what? Fifteen? Sixteen?”
“Renee, I don’t like the direction this is leading.”
She shrugged. “All I am saying, Jack, is that she has been away and on her own basically for the last six months. She has been under the care of a dashing and—I say this in all honesty—a very handsome man.”
“You aren’t saying that Phillip is taking advantage of my girl, are you?”
“Not in the least. Phillip is honorable. But I am saying that she is a grown woman and if I may be frank, I’ve seen the way she looks at Phillip.”
“What are you saying?”
“I mean, the sidelong glances and the opportunity to be near him. If I may be so bold, Jack, I would say she is in love with him.”
“But she has her studies! She’s studying to be a cartographer. I want all my daughters to have a trade that they don’t have to depend on any man for their existence.”

Renee felt herself getting a bit hot under the collar.
“Are you trying to say, Jack Wolfe, that my Phillip isn’t good enough for her?”
“Calm down, Renee. Not at all. I mean, there is an age difference---”
“Oh, stuff it, Wolfe! There is fourteen years between you and Honour.”
“And she’s known him all her life—he’s like a big brother to her--”
“Would you prefer she end up with a governor or a diplomat? Someone who would bore her to death?”
“Certainly not, Renee—it’s just that--”
“You aren’t ready to let go.”
“I guess that is it.”
“Well, let me tell YOU something, Jack Wolfe! If those two end up together, I will be ecstatic over it. Am I the only one who can see that those two were made in heaven for each other?”
Jack sighed and picked up his pipe.
“I guess I am not just ready to give her up to someone. She’s more like me than the rest of the brood. All the more reason why I worry about her.”
“She’s not reckless, Jack.”
He stood up and reached for his hat. “No, she’s not. But if I find out they’ve been dallying—and I will!--I will see that Phillip makes an honest woman of her.”

“Don’t be in such a hurry to leave. I almost forgot to tell you what one of the girls—Monique--told me in passing yesterday. It seems Governor Culley has just now started to notice his son is not around.”
“Just now? He’s not very observant.”
“Well, it seems Tristan comes and goes as he pleases and he was going to go to Havana for a few months. He was due back about three weeks ago. He’s been making a few inquiries and someone told him that he had been keeping company with a one Zara Wolfe. It’s also been noticed that Zara has disappeared around the same time.”
“We let the word get around that Zara had planned to go abroad to study her cartography. Paris is where I figuratively sent her.”
“One rumour has it that she was in the family way and was sent away to have her baby and give it up for adoption.”
“That’s bollocks!”
“I am just repeating what I hear. And I hear plenty. You know that a lot of men can’t keep their mouths shut when they are between the sheets. And Monique is an expert at extracting information. There is another rumour she heard too.”
“I suppose it can’t be any worse than that one.”
“It depends on how you look at it. There’s talk she ran away with Tristan and is secretly married to him, that she went to Havana with him.”
“That’s a load of shiner bock. There is no way I would have let Zara a thousand miles near Havana. Not with Mendoza still breathing.”
“I heard from a captain that the Mendoza empire is being run by his son Tranquillo. Very handsome—and just as ruthless.”
“That the son he had with Mercedes?”
“One of them. Tranquillo is the eldest. From what I hear he is smart. And also a pirate hunter.”
Jack stood up and this time he did put his hat on.
“Then I say it is a good thing I am not a pirate anymore!”
Renee frowned. “Just watch your back. Between Culley and Mendoza’s son, I think some scores may be waiting to be settled.”
Jack kissed the top of Renee’s head.
“Duly noted, my love. See you and Josiah Tuesday for dinner!”

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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #139 on: January 12, 2022, 08:17:27 PM »
“Zara, what ARE you doing?
“I’m trying to close this trunk and it’s not shutting.”
Phillip gently brushed her aside. “Let me try.”
He kept pushing it down and it kept popping up.
“What the HELL do you have in here?”
“Oh...a little this...a little that….”
“More like a BIG this, a BIG that.”
He reached in. “Silk...lace….what’s this?”
She snatched it away. “It is a new nightdress….and thank you very much for ruining the surprise. It was for our first night at sea.”
Philllip said under his breath, “I don’t know why you bother, it doesn’t stay on long enough for me to notice.”
“Did you say something?”
“Hmm? No.. Nothing.”
“So where can we put some of this? Should I get a few crates and--”

Zara stopped in mid-sentence.
“Did you hear that?”
“The voices. I know that accent anywhere. That voice…”
She ran to the stair landing. “I don’t believe it! He’s here! They’re HERE!”
“Who? What are you talking about?”
The voices came from the parlour off the main staircase. Zara gathered up her skirt and slid down the bannister. She casually approached the couple. The man’s back was to her but the woman turned around with a look of astonishment on her face. Zara put her finger to her lips.
She affected the voice of a three year old.
“Are ye dancin’?”
The man replied without even turning around. “Are ye askin’?’
“I’m askin.’”
He turned around, a smile wreathing his face.
“Then I’m dancin’!”

“Uncle Thomas! Aunt Elspeth!”
“Aye, there’s my wee bonnie lassie!” Thomas Wolfe held his arms out, embracing her in such a bear hug Zara felt her face getting squished against his shirt.
Elspeth tapped Thomas on the shoulder and said, “Out of the way, ye numpty! Give Aunt Elspeth a turn!”
She hugged Zara and then held her at arm’s length, exclaiming,  “You get prettier every time I see you. And that Wolfe chestnut hair! But you have your mother’s eyes.”
Zara looked from one to another.
“What on earth are you doing here?”
Thomas smiled. “You are looking at the new representative of distribution for MacGregor and Sons.”
“Your father contacted me and said the distillery was getting too big for Rafferty and Flannery to handle and they were more into the distilling process. You do know they brought the boys into it, don’t you?”
Zara shook her head. “I haven’t heard but then I have been away and news from home consists of ‘I hope you are behaving yourself’ and ‘don’t cause any trouble for Uncle Will since he doesn’t know how to handle children’. Of which I am not. But what about the admiralty, Uncle Thomas?”
“Oh...that. Elspeth got a bit tired of waiting for her man to come home so in the interest of peace and harmony, I resigned from the Royal Navy. I still get to be known as Admiral Wolfe.”
Elspeth shook her head. “Don’t blame it all on me. Yes, I wanted my man home but I think he was getting homesick. We gave up the life in London, you know.”
“I know. You relocated to Scotland.”
“Well, I wanted to be near my children. Even though they are grown.”
“And how are my cousins? I know, they are more like my step-cousins but I love them just the same.”
“They are all fine. Constantly asking if we had heard from you and wishing you would come to Scotland for a visit. They love hearing the story of you and Thomas at the ceilidh.”
Thomas put his arm around her. “And—aside from Elspeth—a finer partner I never had.”
Zara gave a slight pout. “And dumped for Elspeth, I recall.” Then she laughed.

Just then Will came into the room, followed by Dilcey who was carrying a tray with goblets and a decanter.
“He’s my new liason between MacGregor and Sons”
He poured brandy and handed it all around.
Just then Phillip came into the room.
Thomas came over and clapped Phillip on the shoulder. “Why, if it isn’t Captain Briggs, Jr!”
Phillip laughed and shook Thomas’ hand.
“Good to see you again, Admiral.”
“Jack told us you had been assigned as bodyguard to our Zara because of the...trouble in Babados.”
Elspeth took a small amount of brandy and said, “Aggie was worried sick about the...situation. But when she heard the story, she puffed herself up with pride and said, “That Zara! Always getting into a fix and always finding a way to get herself out in the most amusing ways!”
“Phillip has been a most attentive bodyguard, I must say,” Will said. “Always making sure she is well cared for and safe.”
Phillip took a sip of his brandy. “It’s been a pleasure...and a full time job. Zara? Did you say you wanted to go into town and look at china?...I mean the new silks that came on the ship that sailed in yesterday?”
She put her glass down, “Ooh, yes I did! Uncle Thomas? Aunt Elspeth? Shall I see you at dinner?”
“Most certainly, sweetheart. We are staying at Will’s.”
She picked up her hat. “Well, then I shall see you later. Phillip? Shall we go?”
As they walked out, Zara took Phillip’s offered arm and they whispered something.

Elspeth turned to Will and said, “Alright, Will Harkness...exactly what is going on here?”
Will raised an eyebrow. “Going on? What do you mean, Mrs. Admiral?”
She shook her finger at him. “Enough of that! You know better—just call me Elspeth.”
With a twinkle in his eye, Will said, “Alright, Elspeth. What do you mean?”
She enumerated on her fingers.
“One—the way she looks at him. Two—looking for china? Whatever for? Three—attentive bodyguard? Whose body is he guarding? Four—she’s glowing. Never saw that look on someone that wasn’t being rogered roundly—and frequently. And five—the real dead giveway.”
“What’s that?”
Elspeth held up her hand and wiggled her fingers.
“She forgot to take off the ring on her left hand, ring finger.”

Thomas stood back with his mouth open.
“Thomas, darling, please close your mouth. You don’t want any flies making a landing.”
Thomas put his brandy down and crossed his arms, facing Will.
“She’s right, Will. What IS going on around here?”
Dilcey and Will exchanged glances.
“More brandy, Admiral?”
“Don’t mind if I do.”
Elspeth stamped her foot. “You take one sip of that before we get answers, Thomas, and you’ll be bedding down in the barn.”
Will nodded at Dilcey and she said, “Please don’t be too harsh with them about this. They secretly married a few weeks ago.”
‘WHAT?” Both Elspeth and Thomas exclaimed.
“Does her mother know? Does Jack know?”
Will said, “Not yet. And we were sworn to secrecy. They don’t know how they are going to break the news to Jack and Honour.”
Thomas sighed, “Well, Jack has always thought highly of Phillip and Briggs was always his second in command when it came to pranks and schemes.”
Elspeth shook her head. “Pranks and schemes, yes. Holy matrimony? That’s a pretty big scheme. Are you sure it is legitimate and not just a fabrication to bed down together?”
Dilcey explained, “I chanced upon the marriage certificate when I was putting something away in Zara’s dresser drawer.”
Will added, “Let’s not be naive. Those two were together on that ship for over two months. Nothing to do. So...they found something to do. Then there was the sneaking into Zara’s room…”
Dilcey shot Will a warning glance. “I don’t think they need to hear the...incidents. They made it legal.  A spur of the moment decision on Phillip’s part but he shows no signs of regret.”
“ A buttered biscuit did him in.”
“WHAT?” they both said in unison.

Dilcey rolled her eyes at Will. “You make it sound so bawdy, darling. He wanted Zara across the breakfast table forever and ever.”
Elspeth got out her handkerchief.
“I think I am going to cry.”
Thomas put his arm around her shoulder. “Elspeth, it isn’t as bad as that. Phillip is a good lad.”
She turned around and smacked him in the chest.
“When are you ever going to learn these are tears of happiness?”

Dilcey poured more brandy and said,”I think you should wait and let them tell you. They tried to keep it a secret from us but, well….”
Will gave a laugh, “The whispers and the door creaking at night and the giggling...they couldn’t keep away from each other. I finally caught Phillip coming out of her room and they confessed. The reason they wanted to keep it secret is that they felt Jack and Honour and Renee and Josiah should be told first. Preferably together so Josiah could keep Jack from running Phillip through.”
Elspeth shook her head. “I think Jack will be thrilled beyond the moon that he has Phillip for a son in law.”
Thomas added, “He just isn’t quite ready to hand her over yet.”
Will swirled his brandy. “The person that will be ecstatic over it will be Renee. She’s always wanted the best for Phillip and I know she will feel he couldn’t do better than Zara.”
Elspeth held up her hand. “Wait! Isn’t Phillip engaged to that governor’s daughter?”
Will nodded, “A small complication to be dealt with when they get back to Barbados. Thomas reached for a slice of cheese, “Thank God we will be in Scotland when that fire gets stoked!


Zara picked up some teacups. “What do you think of this, Phillip?”
He looked over and frowned, “Good grief, that can’t hold a thimbleful of ale.”
“Tea, darling. Or coffee.”
“What about tankards?”
“Oh, Phillip, that is so….tavernish. We can buy some goblets.”
“You can’t drink ale or whiskey from a goblet.”
“Oh. Well, we can worry about that when we get home.”
“I think tankards will be the least of our worries when we get home.”
“Why? What do you mean?”
“We have to decide where we are going to live.”
“With Mama and Da.”
“Oh, no! We need a place of our own. I’ll check into that land on the other side of the meadow.”
Zara put down the china cups. “Maybe Mama and Da will be the least of our problems.”
“You mean….her?”
“Yes. Her. Have you forgotten the problem you need to fix?”
“I’m working on it.”
“You’d better work on it fast. Don’t we leave by next week?”
“I have a few months on the ship to think about it.”


Thomas and Elspeth were already seated at the dinner table with Will and Darcy when Phillip and Zara entered the room.
“So sorry we are late. Time got away from us,” Zara said.
“And Zara takes forever to freshen up and change her clothes.”
They both exchanged subtle glances.
Elspeth gave a small smile, “Well, you have a nice healthy glow about you, dear. It must be the fresh pine air.”
“Maybe. But I do so miss the ocean. I really can’t wait to get back. Not that Uncle Will and Darcy haven’t been the best hosts. There are just a few people who are a bit high class for us. Or think they are.”
Will poured wine out of his cut-glass carafe.”I was thinking of having a masked ball in a few days. Sort of a welcome to you, Thomas, and a send-off to Zara and Phillip. Damn, I am going to miss them!”
Phillip shook his head. “I’m not sure, Will. What about uninvited guests?”
“I wouldn’t worry about that. No invitation, no entry.”
Elspeth looked from one to the other. “What is this? A problem?”
Zara sighed, “Just a young man that wouldn’t go away. “
Phillip and Zara exchanged looks and Zara nodded imperceptively.
“There is something we need to tell you. But it can’t go further than here.”
Elspeth took the ladle and spooned some soup into her bowl.
“You mean the fact that you are married?”
Zara exclaimed, “Uncle Will! You TOLD them?”
Before he could reply, Elspeth calmly said, “Don’t blame them. If you want to keep a secret, that wedding band should have stayed in the dresser drawer.”
“Oh.” Zara said in a small voice.

“Yes. Oh. That about sums it up, young lady,” Thomas said.
There was a silence and Phillip said quietly, “You could have at least said congratulations.”
“How about ‘congratulations and nice knowing you’ after Jack gets through with you?”
Thomas turned to Will, “I really don’t see how you let this happen, Will. Zara is only seventeen.”
“I had no control over what they did in their spare time. I must point out they are both of consenting age in Virginia.”
“But you were responsible--”
“STOP! Enough is enough! Thomas, this is really none of your business.”
Elspeth turned to Zara and Phillip and smiled sweetly, “Congratulations, darlings. Now, let’s eat!”


Zara threw her dress onto the chair and looked at herself in the full length mirror.
“Phillip? Am I getting fat?”
“Hmm? No, what makes you say that?”
“I just feel I am getting fat around the middle.”
“I’m just teasing you. What are you reading?”
“This? is just a small handbook on Virginia laws I found in the shelves in Will’s library.”
She came behind him and put her arms around his neck, kissing him on the cheek.
“And what is so interesting that you make it take precedent over me?”
He thumbed through the pages, a frown on his face.
“Zara? How old are you really?”
She hedged a bit. “Nineteen?”
“For someone who is nineteen, you look awful seventeen to me.”
“You didn’t know how old I am?”
“I sort of...forgot. Maybe because you act so much more mature.”
She sat down and sighed. “Alright. But I will be eighteen in March.”
“Zara, that is a good six months away.”
“So? What difference does it make? I am already—how shall I say?--unvirginated?”
“It’s a technical term.”
She narrowed her eyes. “Phillip, are you trying to look for loopholes to get out of this marriage?”
He threw the book across the room.
“No. We may have a slight problem. According to Virginia law, you need your parents’ permission to marry if you are under eighteen.”
“Wouldn’t Vicar Vickers have known the law?”
Phillip grimaced, “Vicar Vickers hardly knew his own name.”
“You mean Andy.”
“Yes. Andy.”
Wouldn’t Uncle Will know?”
“Will has an aversion to marriage. He wouldn’t know the age of consent if it bit him in the arse. Now, laws on dueling, that is his specialty.”
Zara walked over and resolutely picked up the book. She marched over to the fire and threw it in. Dusting her hands off, she declared, “Not a problem anymore.”

“Alright, there has to be a loophole. I do believe the age of consent in marriage in Barbados is sixteen. Since that is our residence….”
“I have another idea.”
“Get me pregnant. Then they HAVE to recognize it is legal so the baby will be legitimate.”
Phillip jumped up and backed away. “Oh, no! NO, NO, NO!!”
She leaned on one elbow on the bed. “It’s not a bad idea.”
“It’s crazy.”
“Crazy or not, it would be fun trying, darling.”
“You just keep looking pretty, Zara, and leave the thinking to me.”
“For all you know, I could be with child now.”
“You want to have me run through?”
“Da would never do that.”
“Of course not. Honour would have the dubious pleasure of that.”
She sighed. “Alright, scrap that idea. But you will have to revisit the idea someday.”
She crooked her finger, beckoning him to her. That smile...the soft glow of the candles….and the chemise hitting the wall after she flung it.
He grinned.
“Oh, you saucy vixen!”
“Oh, you varlet!”

Thomas and Elspeth walked by Zara’s room arm in arm on their way to their  own quarters.
The giggling of Zara and the low voices left no doubt.
Thomas sighed. “I still see her as that little lass dancing with me at the ceilidh.”
She kissed him and said, “What’s meant to be will always find a way, love. Look at us!”
He kissed her back as she opened the door.
“Yes….look at us!”

« Last Edit: January 12, 2022, 08:18:07 PM by Welsh Wench »
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #140 on: October 29, 2022, 03:45:00 PM »
“The whole idea is ridiculous! Let’s just pack our things and say ‘adios’, Phillip complained.
“I think it shall be fun. And after all, it’s only for one evening so don’t be such a party pooper, Phillip.”
Phillip picked up the mask and frowned. “Will actually expects me to wear this—this THING?--all evening? I’ll suffocate!”
Zara twisted her hair up and let a few tendrils fall around her face. She tied her mask on and looked in the mirror. It covered most of her face and had an elaborate headress of pearls and feathers.
“You look like a bird.”
She stuck her tongue out at her husband.
“A very pretty bird—but a bird nonetheless. Honestly, Zara! Do you think your father would go along with this? Or my father? No. Of course not. They would die laughing if they saw me in this.”
“Well, then, we shant tell them. Phillip, we leave for Barbados the day after tomorrow. You will never have to see these Virginians again. And before you know it, we will be sunning ourselves on the upper deck of El Lobo and talking of our future.”

Zara picked up her dress and held it up to her.
“I can’t believe that Dilcey was able to get the seamstress to make the dress so fast.”
“That’s because there isn’t much there.”
“I’m going to slip it on and see how it fits.”
She threw her chemise on the bed and shimmied into her dress.
“Now lace the back up, please, like a good husband you are.”
“With my foot planted on your backside and pulling the laces like reins on a horse?”
“Whatever works.”

After about five minutes and Zara demanding, ‘Pull it tighter!’, she turned around.
The dress was of a burgundy velvet that plunged the neckline down while pushing her assets up.
“What do you think, Phillip?”
He threw her mask down and pulled her towards him.
“I think I don’t want to let you out of this room.”
“Then I take it you approve?”
“I’m not going to let you out of my sight.”
“Thank you. That’s all I needed to hear. Now what about your outfit?”
Phillip sighed. “This is awful. Something a dandy would wear. Stockings? Shoes with silver buckles? And these breeches. Satin? Seriously, Zara—SATIN? What is Thomas going to wear?”
“Uncle Thomas no doubt will wear his admiralty garb. It’s fancy enough.”
“Yes. Without all the shimmer,” Phillip said darkly.
She put her arms around him. “It’s only one evening.”
He pulled her bodice top down a bit so he could peer down it.
“Oh. So it really IS all  you. I thought with all that fluff you might have stuffed some padding in there.”
She smacked his hand. “You of all people should know I don’t have the need to stuff—just a bit of fluffing. Now unlace me and let’s get to bed.”
“Why, it shall be my pleasure. With or without the flick of a dagger?”
“Without. I don’t want to have to hunt for new---”
He let her lacings go and she gave out a gasp. “I didn’t realize I was oxygen deprived!”
He grinned. “That’s nothing! Wait till I take your breath away!”
She giggled as he picked her up and carried her to the bed.
“Just as long as I get it back when it’s all over.”
“All that and with a smile, too.”


Phillip and Zara looked over the bannister and over to the ballroom below. The y were dressed in their new clothes. Phillip kept tugging on his lace cuffs.
“This is ridiculous! All I want is a silk shirt. I prefer to go barefoot as opposed to wearing these---these---shoes. And they hurt my feet.”
“Phillip, would you please stop complaining?” She kept trying to breathe in her laced up dress.
“Zara, can you honestly tell me you want to spend the next six hours with these people?”
“But Uncle Will will be disappointed if we don’t show up.”
He ran his finger over the mask.
“Not if he doesn’t know.”
Phillip walked over to the window on the landing.
“Such a nice night, too. Full moon, the soft breeze, the smell of pine….”
He grabbed Zara’s hand and said, “I have an idea. Will hasn’t seen these fancy duds, has he?”
“Not that I know.”
“And the masks hide our identities, right?”
“I suppose so.”
“Come with me.”

He led her down the back stairs to the kitchen.
He led her to the pantry.
“Hold out your hands.”
Phillip reached into the larder and took some jars and some bread and then over to the cool bin and picked out some cheese and loaded Zara down with it.
He grabbed a basket and opened it.
“Here. Dump all the stuff in this.”
He reached over to the wine rack and grabbed a couple bottles of wine.”
She whispered, “Phillip, what on earth are you planning?”
“One last picnic before we leave. Would you rather waltz around and fend off the nancy-boys who think you are available? You’re a married woman now! Now take off your shoes.”
Quietly they removed them and shoved them in a corner of the pantry.
Phillip took her hand and whispered, “Let’s go!”
They slipped out the back door and headed towards the stable.
“We aren’t taking horses out, are we?”
“Of course not. I want to pick up a blanket.”
They walked a few hundred feet from the house. All the lights were blazing and the music could be heard. Couples were out on the veranda.
Phillip led the way to a small copse of trees and spread the blanket down.
“Now sit, Mrs. Briggs! We are going to have a picnic and we probably will have a better time out here than in that stuffy ballroom. Tomorrow we will tell Will and Dilcey what a wonderful time we had.”
“And we won’t be lying because we are going to have a wonderful time!”
He took a cherry and popped it into her mouth.”
“Loosen those laces. Oh, don’t look at me like that! I don’t have any ulterior motives out here. I just think you need to breathe and relax.”
She unlaced and gave a big sigh of relief. Phillip took off the lace cravat. The wind caught it and it landed in the treetops. They both laughed and Phillip poured the wine.
“We leave for Barbados in two days but tonight it is just for us. A  goodbye to Virginia.”
“And good riddance to the Virginians. Will and Dilcey excepted.”
They intertwined their arms and drank their glass of wine.
“What shall we drink to, Zara?”
“How us!”
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #141 on: December 03, 2022, 08:34:22 PM »
Zara looked around the room as Phillip latched the last of their trunks.
“Well, I guess that is it,” he said.
Zara walked over the window and looked out over the hills and the pine trees, with a view of the river. She let the lace curtains fall back.
“It is such a lovely view. But I don’t have many fond memories of it outside of Uncle Will’s house. Except for that one day.”
Phillip put his arms around Zara and leaned her into him.”The day we went to Suffolk and came home a married couple?”
She closed her eyes and smiled. “Yes. That day. I will never forget it. But let’s talk about how we are going to handle the announcement to our parents—and how you are going to unhandle your problem fiancee—once we get on the ship. We will have lots of time to figure it out.”
“I’ll go downstairs and see about getting these trunks sent to the ship.”

Zara was checking the drawers and under the bed to make sure she left nothing behind when there was a knock at the door.
“Come in.”
Dilcey came in and said, “I wanted a private word with you before you leave, Zara.”
Her eyes filled with tears as she blurted out, “Oh, how I am going to miss you!”
Zara felt the tears well up in her eyes too.  “Oh, Dilcey! You have been a rock to me the whole time I have been here. I don’t know what I would have done without you here.”
Dilcey blew her nose and sat down on the bed with Zara.
“I knew I could never take the place of your mother but I tried to watch over you.”
“You gave me a shoulder to lean on and a woman to confide in. My mother couldn’t have done a better job.”
“I never wanted to take her place. But I could see that you were lonely and homesick.”
Zara smiled. “You were the keeper of Phillip and my secrets and for that I will be eternally grateful.”
Dilcey reached into her pocket and drew out a small box with a pink ribbon attached.
“Here. This is for you.”
‘Oh, Dilcey! You didn’t have to!”
“Zara, in the few months you have been here, you have been like a daughter to me. As I never had one, I imagine if I did, she would have been just like you. Getting into all sorts of trouble and being able to jump out and land on her feet. I’ll never forget the day you got caught in that monsoon and came home a disaster!”
“And then Andrew Peffly had the nerve to ask me out again. And proposed. Or at least that was his first intention. As for the other….well, I guess he learned you don’t mess with Zara Wolfe unless she wants to be messed with!”
“And then the duel….”
Zara’s eyes took on a faraway look. “I was never so scared in my life. Not even the incident with Tristan Culley could compare to that. How I almost lost Phillip.”
“Go ahead and open the box.”

Zara opened it and inside was a bracelet of braided gold.
She gasped, “Oh, Dilcey, it’s just beautiful!”
Dilcey helped her clasp it on. “It was a gift from my first husband. His grandfather had a farm in Ireland and digging one day, he found a hoard of gold. Coins and some jewelry. It was from the Viking era and he told no one about it. He kept it and gifted my grandmother with it through the years. My sister and I ended up inheriting  most of it. These earrings I am always wearing is part of it. But as I said, you have been like a daughter to me and I want you to have it. And when you wear it, maybe you will think of me and the times in Virginia won’t seem so unpleasant.”
Zara reached out and hugged Dilcey. “Oh, how I wish you could come to Barbados and live!”
Dilcey laughed through her tears. “I would love to---but who would take care of Captain Harkness? Lord knows, he needs looking after!”
“And you do it so well! He’s so in love with you, you know.”
“I know.”
“Do you think you would ever get married?”
“Oh heavens no! Why spoil a good thing!”
They both laughed.
“Marriage suits you, Zara. And you couldn’t have picked a finer man.”
She nodded. “I know. One problem.”
“What is that?”
She sighed. “How am I going to tell my parents?”
Dilcey hugged her and said, “Don’t be too surprised if they already have figured it out.”
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