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THE CLIFFS OF CORNWALL

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Welsh Wench:
Rhys went down to dine in his quarters. Molly was there, wearing a deep purple silk dress that Rhys had purchased for her when he was in London. She had her strawberry blonde hair coiled up on her head, tendrils framing her face.
"Hello, Rhys, darling. Come! Let us have dinner. The cook made us some lamb that we took with us from Cornwall....these leeks and potatoes. Best enjoy them while they are fresh."
Rhys shook his head no. "How do I know you haven't poisoned the food?" Molly looked at him in surprise. "I'm giving you a chance to forget about your disastrous scheme, Rhys. What is it going to be?"
Rhys steeled his resolve. "I'm out of here, Molly. I'm going straight. Sell the boat, split the profits and say goodbye. I can't do this anymore."
Molly looked sad. "I'm sorry you feel that way, Rhys. I really am. I was hoping you would change your mind."
She stood up and opened the door. Smead and Laddy came forward. The last thing Rhys felt was a blow to his head. Then blackness.

Rhys woke up to bright daylight. His head throbbed. He looked up. There was his crew with their swords pointed at him. He rubbed his head. "What the hell is going on?"
Smead looked at him. "What ye think, Morgan? We're takin' over the ship!" "What are you talking about, Smead? The rest of you haven't half a brain between you."
Laddy said derisively, "Nay, but she does!" He pointed to Molly. Molly came forward. "I'm taking over, Rhys. You have proved traitorous to us. Not to be trusted. The crew voted me captain. ME, Rhys."
Smead said, "Aye, that we did. And we voted NOT to kill ye, Morgan."
Rhys said, "What DO you intend?"
Laddy said, "We voted to make ye governor of yer own island. See that 'ere spit o' land?"
Rhys looked out and saw a small island with palm trees. Ordinarily a scenic spot. Now all he could see was certain death. He turned to Molly. "You have GOT to be kidding."
Molly said, "I gave you a chance, Rhys. You are breaking the code. Just be glad the crew likes you enough not to kill you."
Smead said, "Aye. This way ye have a fightin' chance. Mayhap you will get rescued. But we doubt it. And we ain't bringin' the ship over to the island. Ye CAN swim, can't ye? And if not...tough breaks."

Rhys was standing on the end of the plank. Molly said, "I'm sorry it ended up like this, Rhys. I love you. But if I can't have you, Lady Stafford can't either. Just be glad we didn't bind your hands. At least you can swim to shore."
Smead gave him his pistol, one shot, and one bottle of water. "The bullet is for whatever you see fit. Ye can starve or shoot yourself." Rhys turned to look at his crew one more time. "Mutiny. The darkest center of hell is reserved for the likes of you."
With that, Laddy jumped on the end of the plank and catapulted Rhys off the end. He hit the water and came up, sputtering. Smead yelled, "God have mercy on your soul, Rhys Morgan!"
 
It's been three days, Rhys thought. That pistol was beginning to look pretty friendly. I could just end it. I am running out of coconuts and date palms and I sure don't feel like eating raw fish. He made his mind up that day that by nightfall he would do the honorable thing and end it all. He thought of Megaera and wondered how she would take it, Rhys not coming back. He broke his word. Broke it to the woman he loved more than life itself. Forgive me, Meggie. I love you!

Welsh Wench:
Rhys sat there all day thinking and waiting for nightfall. In the distance he saw white sails. Hallucinating. That's all it is...but the 'hallucination' came closer and closer..

"Ahoy, man! What are you doing here all by yourself? Ah! Marooned! Made Governor of your own island, eh?"
Rhys was talking to the lead man. He was a man of Portuguese descent. His name was Joao Rodrigue.
"Can you give me passage back to..anywhere? Anywhere off this God-forsaken island?"
Rodrigue nodded his head. "Aye. We be headed for Tortuga. Had to pick up some of the rum we dropped." The man knocked on a tree and began to pace off 15 steps. He jumped up and down. The ground bounced with impact. Joao reached down and moved the palm fronds away. There was a wooden lid. Joao lifted it and disappeared down into the depths. From below, his voice carried. "This is where we stashed our rum when the commodores and British navy come too close. We then ship to Kingston and they distribute it. Clever, huh?"
Rhys was in shock. A whole cache of rum and I was sitting on it?
Joao's head appeared. "Here, man. Some bottles. Come! We celebrate your deliverance, right? Right!"

Rhys stepped off the boat in Tortuga. He had a terrible cold. He bid good bye to his good friend Joao Rodrigue. "God be with you, Morgan! Here. Here are some coins to carry you through and arrange passage back...no, don't protest! You would help me in the same spot, right? Right!"
Rhys protested, "No, I can't..."
Joao interrupted. "Let's do it this way. Consider it a loan. If--WHEN--I see you again, you can pay me back. Alright?"
Rhys was moved to tears. He coughed and extended his hand to Joao. "I can't thank you enough. I need to find lodging and a meal and arrange passage back to Cornwall."
Rhys shuffled down the alley and found a small inn. He was burning with fever.
"An ale and a bowl of stew, please."
But before the inn keeper put it on the table, Rhys passed out.

"Wh-where am I?" Rhys tried to sit up.
"Hush! You've been very sick for the last two weeks. We almost lost you. You are very weak."
A cool cloth was applied to his head. Rhys looked through bleary eyes and saw a very thin woman with pale blonde hair and hazel eyes. She wore a dress that at one time was finery. Now it was worn out. She continued to mop his brow and wring out the cloth. He sat up and fell back weakly. "Got-got to get home..."
The woman had a french accent. "Mais non, you are going nowhere, cher. You contracted fever that is known from the islands. You will be weak for a while."
Rhys tried to speak. "How--how long have I been here?"
Monique took a bowl of broth and stirred it. "You have been unconscious and out of your head for almost two weeks. Kept calling for someone named Meg. Here. Open your mouth."
She fed Rhys a bowl of weak broth. Two weeks. I have to get back. Back to Cornwall.
Rhys tried to stand up but fell back. Monique pulled his legs back into bed and covered him up. "Quelle domage, cher. But you are not going anywhere for a long time!"
Rhys asked her, "What is the date, Miss..?"
"Monique. Je m'appelle Monique Du Bois. Cher..it is March 22, 1610." Rhys fell back on the pillows and put his arm over his eyes. Megaera expected me back by the end of February. I promised her. And now here is the first promise I have broken...and it had to be to her.
 
Rhys stood on the bow of the ship, breathing deeply of the salt air. June in Cornwall. I can't believe it took me this long to get there. The fever was over at the end of March. And then another month to recover. Another month to try and find passage back to England. Finally! This vessel is pretty utilitarian but at least it stops in Cornwall. Oh, Megaera, forgive me for being so long.

By the week's end, Rhys docked in Land's End. He caught a ride with a farmer going to Penzance. Within the hour he was checked into the local inn under the name of Richard Moore. He didn't want to alert the Stafford manor of his presence in Cornwall. He sat down and carefully wrote his note to Megaera---

Meggie, darling--Sweetheart, please forgive me. I will explain everything when I see you. I am leaving this note in our crevice as you can see. Please let me know when you will be able to meet me in the cave. Bring everything with you and we will leave Penzance immediately. You say you have news for me. I can't imagine what it is..but it sounds important. I will check everyday...forever if I have to...until I can see you and hold you again. And never let you go. I love you forever. Yours, Rhys.

Every day Rhys checked the crevice. Within five days, his note was gone and in its place was a note--

Rhys felt like the next day would never come. He read and re-read the note over and over again. Something was not right. This did not sound like Megaera. So--impersonal. Almost...cold. Finally, it was noon. Rhys took everything that was his and shoved it into a duffel bag. He climbed down the cliffs and went to the cave. He sat on a boulder and waited. He heard a noise behind him. "Megaera!"
Instead, he was looking into the cold, cold eyes of Lord Timothy Stafford.
"Expecting someone else, Morgan?"
Rhys jumped to his feet. He gave a mock salute to Lord Stafford. But his heart was beating fast. He put on a false bravado. "Ahh, the noble Lord Stafford. How goes it, my liege?"
Lord Stafford sauntered over to where Rhys stood. He said in a deadly calm voice, "I should kill you right now where you stand. I know all about you and my daughter. She came to me and confessed right after it happened. I was ready to send her to a convent. But then we came to an agreement."
Rhys took a step forward. "What have you done with Megaera?"
Lord Stafford looked at Rhys with disdain. "I am here to inform you that Megaera is gone."
Rhys stopped. "Gone? What do you mean, gone?"
"Gone. As in not here. As in not in Cornwall. I had a maid write that note so you would show up. I could have let you dangle on the rope waiting and waiting for her to show up. But I wanted the pleasure of telling you myself."
Rhys' heart dropped to his feet. "What are you wanting to tell me? Let's get on with it and quit playing these cat-and-mouse games."
Lord Stafford was enjoying twisting the knife. "Alright. Here it is. Megaera will not be coming back. She married in April. To a man of her station. She is not living in Cornwall anymore. She has changed her name and is delirously happy. She told me about the two of you, asked for forgiveness and wanted to put the unpleasant incident behind her. She accepted the marriage proposal of a man who is totally smitten with her. As she is of him. So I am informing you that you can wait here all you want. But she isn't coming. She's moved on. As you had best do. Because I will tell you this, Rhys Morgan. Pirates are not welcome on Stafford lands. I am giving you warning now. Set one foot on Stafford lands and it will be a short stop and a sudden drop. So pirate--ye be warned."
And with that, Lord Stafford turned and left the cave.

Rhys sat on the boulder for an hour, just staring out to sea. She didn't wait for me...she's married... He repeated it like a mantra. Finally he stood up. His heart was heavy. He stared back at the Stafford mansion. Then he turned and headed for the tavern in Penzance.
Rhys was totally bewildered. The innkeeper came over to him. "What'll ye have, son?"
Rhys said absentmindedly, "Hmmm? Ale. A tankard of ale."
The innkeeper came back and put it down. "That be all?"
"For now."
Rhys sat there and drank his ale. He signaled for another one. The innkeeper's daughter, a pleasant girl named Maud, approached Rhys. She said shyly, "Can I get ye anything to eat?"
Rhys shook his head. Maud leaned over. "Ye be alright?"
Rhys shook his head. "Don't think I ever will be."
Maud sat down. "Ah, it be a girl ye be pinin' for..isn't it?"
Rhys shook his head no. Need to play this one carefully, he thought. "I hear tell there was a fancy to-do wedding up at Stafford Manor a few months ago. One of Lord Stafford's daughters..which one was it again?"
Maud said, "Oh, that be Miss Megaera. Funny thing about that, no one in the parish knew she was betrothed. It were one minute she be here, the next she be not. I hear tell he was a baron or something like that. Also, funny thing. The banns were not posted in Cornwall. Yet she be married here."
Rhys tried to act casual. "I should think she would want to be close to home."
Maud shook her head. "Oh no! I hear Lord Stafford set that one up the country. She'll not be back in Cornwall. Not for a long time..if ever." Maud glanced at her father's disapproving look. "I best be gettin' set for the dinner crowd."
Rhys sat there brooding over the new information. Banns not posted? If she is deliriously happy, why were they not posted here in her home town. She was married here. Someone is covering something up. And I suppose I shall never know.
She's happy. And she's gone.
And I am gone too.

Rhys stayed into the late night and drank himself into oblivion. He took some ale and went to his room. He continued to drink until he passed out. And he continued this pattern for a week. Finally he sobered up long enough to catch the first ship out of the harbor. It was headed back to Tortuga.

THE END

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