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Quill and Ink => Stories => Topic started by: Blackjack Roberts on September 12, 2008, 01:36:29 PM

Title: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on September 12, 2008, 01:36:29 PM

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"Jack!.....Jack!.....Where are you child!!" Molly Parker shouted from the doorway of the Crossbow. Her hands firmly planted on her hips, the pretty redhead surveyed the surrounding scenery for her son and his playmates.

"Here we are, Mum!" The auburn haired lad called as he toped the rise in the adjoining meadow to the left, quickly followed by the two younger children. A set of twins so alike that only the slightly different color of their hair and the fact that one was a boy could set them apart. Their startling blue green eyes twinkled as they waved down to their nanny.

"We was play'n highwayman, Aunt Molly!" Jeremy, the boy called down, raising one hand to brush back an errant wisp of ash blond hair from his eyes.

"And I suppose poor Jamie had to be your victim?!" Molly shouted back, smiling.

""I was not!" Jamie placed her small fists defiantly on her hips, the soft summer breeze lifting her golden curls in a beguiling halo about her face. "I'm a highwayman, too!

Molly chuckled to herself. Jamie Johnson certainly had inherited her mother's will, as much as Jeremy had his father's sense of fair play. "Be that as it may, it's time for supper and I'll not have it going cold just so the three of you can rob the countryside blind! Come wash up and sit down to the table!"

The race was on in an instant. Even with Jack's advantage of being three years older than his playmates the lad was hard pressed to be the first one down the hill. The twins hot on his heels the entire way. Running into the tavern, the patrons shouted encouragement to the children as they shot towards the kitchen. Laughing with the memories of younger times in their own lives.

"Ye've got yer hands full there, Molly." One of the regulars chuckled as the tavern maid followed in the children's wake.

"To be sure." She rolled her eyes skyward. "But as soon as Josiah is done with the inventory he'll be taking on his part." She winked, renewing the laughter through out the room.

Later in the kitchen little Jeremy looked up from his meal. "Auntie, when will Mum and Da be home?"

Molly refilled the children's cups with fresh milk. "Oh, I suppose sometime in the morning. They were to set out for home A couple of days ago, I'm sure they want to get back to you two as soon as they can."



The soft light of the lanterns on the sides of the coach illuminated the ground as Robert Johnson held out his hand for his wife. Cecily stepped lightly to the crushed shale of the courtyard of the Hare and Hound. Even after over seven years since her husband had found himself free of the shadow of his former occupation she still could not look at him without thinking of him as Jack Roberts. Had it really been so long ago since the fateful night when she had nearly beaten Peter Culpepper to death with a stolen bull whip? The same night she had found out that her husband had not been hanged before her eyes. The only thing that had kept her from committing murder.

Her sapphire eyes sparkled with delight and she slid easily into Jack's arms, feeling as comforted as she had the first night she had given herself to him. She knew even then she would never want another man for hers. Tenderly she placed her lace gloved hand to his cheek, drawing his head to hers in a tender kiss. Seven years of a peaceful family life like she had dreamed of during her childhood.

"Jack?" She whispered softly.

"Yes, My love?" He smiled. Cecily often forgot to call him Robert and it never failed to make his heart leap. He had long ago given up correcting her, knowing that to her he would always be Jack Roberts.

"Are you happy?" She looked deeply into his blue green eyes.

Jack hugged her closely to his chest. Every so often in the past years since fate had laid his alter ego in the grave she would ask him that question. Perhaps it was the fear that he still longed for the thrill of living life as an outlaw. Perhaps it was just to assure herself that time had not dulled his feelings for her. It had not. If anything he was more in love with her now than he had been the night fate had delivered her into his arms that long ago night in Soho. Time had strengthened his love for her and sometimes he thought there would be no end to it's growth.

Lightly he ran his fingers through her golden hair. "As long as I have you and our children, Dearest, I can never feel another way. You have given me a prize that no amount of gold in the world can buy. The love of a good woman and children of my own. A family. Something that at a time I despaired to ever have such a precious treasure."

He had said such things before, each time she asked. Each time the words were different, yet the message was always the same. Cecily Roberts smiled warmly. Even she did not know why she would ask him from time to time, save that she loved to hear him speak the joy she knew their family had given to him.

"Ah, there be the two 'a ye!"  Gilbert's voice called from the doorway as he made his way over to the couple. "It does these old eyes good to see the both of ye!" Jack shook his old friend's hand, then Cecily hugged the aged tavern owner, lightly kissing his cheek.

"Gilbert." Cecily smiled warmly. "You knew we could not return home without a visit."

"Aye, and ye damn well better not have." Gilbert grinned roguishly. "And how are you this fine night, George?"

"I'll be a sight better with a couple pints of your ale in me gullet." George called down from the driver's seat.

"Well come on then! Leave that rollin' box to me lad's and let's catch up on old times!" Gilbert chuckled.

Now that's the best offer we've had today." Jack clapped his friend on the back warmly as the trio made their way into the tavern.


Brigadier Rupert Barclay half filled a crystal with brandy. Downing the dark brown liquid in one gulp he picked up the message from the palace a second time and read it thoroughly. There was no doubt. If what the secret message had said was true the crown faced the greatest threat it ever had in over three hundred years.

Besides being a plea for help from and old mate it was the stickiest wicket to have landed in his lap in the past seven years. He knew he could not ignore the request, but at the same time he could take no official action. To do so would throw the whole of England into the bloodiest civil war since the War of the Roses. Perhaps that was what the lout who started this was hoping for. A chance to gain the crown through the right of war. Heaven knew he had the lineage to make the claim given the proper circumstances, and if nothing was done soon he could bring a scandal that would have the House of Lords screaming for abdication at the least. It would seem Sir Terrence Blackthorn had covered all angles in his latest bid for power.

Suddenly Barclay smiled. Yes! There was a small chance, if he could convince him to help. No one could connect him with the king and none would expect him to return. If only the brigadier could convince him to do it. It would not be easy, even with seven years of friendship between them. Still Rupert knew he was a good man and could possibly be convinced on that merit alone. He had to try. For the sake of peace in England Robert Johnson would have to become Black Jack Roberts once again. He would have to become the highwayman.
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on September 12, 2008, 05:01:13 PM
"Apple cobbler, my highwaymen? Or would you prefer to steal the peach pie on the window sill?"
"Pie! Pie!" they each clamoured.
Molly had set a pie on the window sill for the children to plunder. She chuckled as she went to the toddler that was sitting in a chair by the table.
Josiah came in and kissed his wife. "And how is my little Rosie?"
Molly handed the toddler over to her husband and rubbed her back. The little girl put her arms around her father's neck and kissed him soundly. Her auburn curls framed her face. A patron laughed.
"Ne'er thought I'd see the day when Josiah Parker would be a family man! Almost as unlikely as Jack Ro----"
Josiah had shot the patron a look and he stopped in mid-sentence.
"Yes, well, family life does suit me."
Molly put a bowl of stew in front of Josiah as he bounced his daughter on his knee.
In a low voice she said, "Seven years and he is still a presence!"
Josiah nodded to the children playing on the back porch. "As long as they never find out who their father really is!"
"Someday, Josiah. Someday they will know. The shire certainly never forgets!"
"Hell! England will never forget!"
 
The children sat on the back steps happily eating their pilfered pie. Jeremy, the older of the twins by ten minutes, licked the fruit filling off his hands. Jamie daintily ate her pie, not a crumb landing on her chemise. She wore breeches for play which enabled her to keep up with her brother and his friend.
Her mother, bless her, realized the importance of Jamie holding her own in a man's world. What Jeremy learned, Jamie would also.
On the frequent picnics that Jack and Cecily would take their children, they always infused it with a learning experience. At the young age of seven, the children could handle a bow with deadly accuracy.
"Father promised to teach us to handle a whip when we turn ten," Jamie said confidently to Jack.
Jack was always included in the lessons and the picnics. Jack and Cecily often referred to Josiah's children as if they were one of their own as did Molly and Josiah with the Roberts children.
Jack brushed the crumbs off his breeches. Although he was three years older, he regarded the twins as much his siblings as little Rose.
"What do you want to do? Play highwayman again?"
Jamie shook her head. "Aunt Molly is going to teach me to make a pie so I can surprise Mama and Da when they get home.
Jeremy laughed. "You--a baker! Quite a difference from a highwayman!"
Jamie sighed. "I know. But some things I just have to learn."
Jeremy turned to Jack. "Do you think he is still alive?"
Young Jack shook his head. "I don't rightly know."
Jamie finished her pie and stood up, sucking the juice from her fingers. "You know what I find odd?"
"What?"
"Sometimes I hear Mama call Da 'Jack' but it is always late at night when we are sleeping. At first I thought it was a dream but it happened more than once. And Mama was always laughing quietly with Da when she does it."
The boys sat in silence. Jack broke it by saying, "That IS strange...OK, Jeremy, let's practice with the bow while Jamie learns to make pies! At least we can have one for your Mama and Da and one for us!"
Jamie laughed, "I think Aunt Molly will let me!"
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Annabelle dismounted from her horse, followed by a tall, good-looking young man. His dark good looks gave testament that the Romany blood flowed through his veins.
Cecily ran out to meet her friend and Jack clapped the young man on the back.
"Timothy! Haven't seen you in six months! How are the studies at the University?"
Timothy grinned at his friend who was like an older brother to him.
"Medicine is hard but it seems to come naturally. Although in the search for new methods, I find the herbs and elixirs my mother makes are unmatched. So with a bit of experiment and proven results, the professor is starting to see that plant derivatives are the best."
Annabelle beamed with pride. As she hugged Cecily, she whispered, "And..?"
"Yes."
"I knew it!"
"Have you?"
"No."
"When?"
"Tonight."
Jack looked over at his wife and her gypsy friend who had saved his life more than once.
"What are you two whispering about?"
In unison, they replied, "Nothing!"
Gilbert came outside and said, "Are ye all goin' to stand all day when I have hunter's stew and sourdough bread for ye all?"
 
In the cool of the evening, the group sat around the porch enjoying their lemonade as the men enjoyed a fine whiskey and cigars. Gilbert puffed his pipe.
"Still can't get used to calling you 'Robert Johnson', my boy."
Jack chuckled, "Neither can Cecily. She still calls me Jack when we are alone."
Cecily laughed, "Fortunately it is only in the evening when the children are asleep.
Gilbert shook his head. "Been seven years and I still can't believe it was Thomas Banks that swung in your stead, Jack."
Cecily's eyes darkened at the mention of the traitor that betrayed her Jack and was Sir Peter Culpepper's patsy. Thomas had not only betrayed Jack Roberts but had become so obsessed with Cecily it had unhinged him. The extent of his obsession only became apparent when George and Geoff wen through Thomas's personal belongings to see if there was any clue to a relative to notify.
Instead, they found letters to Cecily never sent, becoming increasingly bizarre and disjointed. A few stolen articles of clothing, too. This was the part the twins never revealed. It was just too strange.
Jack took a puff on his cigar and exhaled.
"Neither can I, Gilbert. And I always considered myself a good judge of character."
Cecily said from the shadows, "Could we please not speak of him?"
"Forgive me, love. I know how you'd like to forget."
At that point, the lighthearted conversation resumed.
 
Later that night, as Cecily brushed her hair, she smiled at Jack in the reflection of the mirror. He was turning down the blanket.
She said softly, "This was the same room we spent our third night together. Remember the first one at the inn?"
He laughed, "How could I forget? Those two ruffians! You doubled him over with a well-placed kick!"
"And YOU! You stabbed the other in the thigh with a steak knife!"
She laid her hairbrush down. "I do miss the children! But it was grand to see Mary Cottlepot again!"
Jack patted the place next to him as she slid under the covers. He put his arm around her and stroked the hair back from her face.
Eleven years together had not dulled their passion. If anything, it heightened it. The four years of psychological terror Sir Peter Culpepper had reigned on them made them appreciate just how much they loved each other.

"Jack? We need to talk."
"And I'm listening."
Cecily propped herself up on her elbow as she carefully picked her words.
"It was a miracle that I was able to carry the twins to term. I mean, in light of all that happened with the whole...incident."
Jack held her close. Even to this day, Cecily could not bring herself to say Sir Peter Culpepper's name.
He kissed her tenderly and said, "And what a surprise when Jamie made her appearance along with Jeremy! Cecily, I couldn't have been happier!"
She ran her fingers over his chest and softly said, "Then prepare to be overjoyed again, my love. We are with child again!"
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on September 25, 2008, 09:55:28 PM
"Cecily!" Jack nearly leapt from the bed. "Can it be true, My Love?!"

"It is." Cecily smiled slyly. The sight of the near overwhelming joy on Jack's face more than reward enough. She had dared to hope only a few weeks ago that she might yet bear them another miracle. Proof positive that Peter Culpepper's defeat was as lasting as it was permanent. As wondrous as it had been to give birth to not one, but two offspring, this birth would be the final nail in the coffin of the nightmare that was Sir Peter Culpepper. No longer would anything the man had done have any hold over their lives.

Jack Roberts leapt from the bed clothes and all but danced about the small room. "Huzzah! Another son! Perhaps a daughter! Perhaps...." His voice trailed off for a moment as he whirled around to look into his beloved's eyes again. "Dear God! It's twins again?!!"

Cecily Roberts threw her head back with laughter. One would have thought that Jack had never been through this before. "No, you daft scarecrow! It's too early to tell. Not that I think it would matter much to you if we did have twins again. Your not the one who has to give birth to them!" Her sapphire eyes sparkled with her teasing.

Grinning like a cat that swallowed a canary he leapt over her to land on her other side and pulled her to him. Softly he stroked her golden curls. "Were it possible I would take any discomfort from you, Dearest."

"I'll hold you to that, Jack Roberts." She grinned back. "I'll speak to Annie in the morning."

"Wait a minute!" Jack's eyes grew wide. "You mean such a thing is possible?!!" He had long ago learned not to take anything for granted where the Gypsy witch was concerned.

Cecily pulled his mouth to hers in a tender kiss. "I'll let you know during the birth." She whispered, then squealed in delight as he began to tickle her in playful retribution.



Josiah Parker watched from the doorway as Molly tucked the last of the restless children into bed. He slipped his arm around his wife's waist as she closed the door to the room, holding an index finger up to her full red lips. He smiled. The past years were far more peaceful than he could have imagined since the death of Black Jack Roberts. Had anyone bothered to ask him back then he would have sworn that this was the least likely outcome of all the tragic events that befell them during those tumultuous times. As it was the legend of that dark figure had not died with him. If anything Black Jack had grown to rival Robin of the Hood in story telling. Such was often the case with outlaws who happened to capture the public imagination.

"Saints above!" Molly half whispered. "With all the running about those nippers have done this day, you'd think they'd be worn to a frazzle by now."

"Aye. It'd be a boon to have energy like that now." Josiah nodded. "Let me guess. Highwayman, again?"

"Aye, and ye know it already." Molly giggled. "Even pilfered their desert, they did."

Josiah hugged the shapely redhead closely. "And who had the honors 'a being Black Jack, I wonder."

"Were I to guess, I'd wager there were three of him." She winked.

Josiah chuckled ruefully. "When Brigadier Barclay announced that Black Jack had been hung for his crimes I thought that would be the last of him. Seems the specter of Roberts will long outlive his creator. Do ye think the children know?"

"I doubt it." Molly's brow wrinkled for a moment. "Their bright enough, to be sure, but would you believe your da were a legend come to life?"

The grizzled tavern keep laughed aloud, before catching himself and putting a hand across his mouth. "I suppose not, Love. To be sure, if they had twigged it they'd be shoutin' it from the roof top by now."



"Da! Da!" No sooner had his boots touched ground in The Crossbow's courtyard when the door flew open and the twins ran into their father's arms. Their questions running together in a mixed jumble that brought an amused chuckle to Jack's voice as he hugged them closely.

"Did you bring us any presents? Were there any robbers on the road? Were you delayed by Black Jack Roberts?"

Jack raised a quizzical eyebrow at the last. "Black Jack Roberts? Now the both of you know he's just a fairy tale."

"Is not!" Jamie countered, the frown of conviction on her tiny features. "He's the greatest highwayman that ever lived! No one could catch him!"

Jack stood up for a moment to help Cecily from the coach. "It's you she takes after." He grinned as his love clasped his hand to steady herself as she stepped from the vehicle.

"Mum! Mum!" Jeremy and Jamie jumped into her arms with equal enthusiasm.

"Here now you two," She snuggled her children close to her, "just who's been filling your heads with such nonsense?"

"Mum," Jeremy spoke up this time, his voice filled with the exasperation of a child who knows better than his elders, "everybody knows about Black Jack Roberts! He even stole the crown jewels once! Right from under the guards nose!"

"And turned into a crow to fly out the window with them!" Jack picked up his son and swung the laughing boy around in a merry circle. Molly and Josiah laughed from the doorway.

"With all the talk of Black Jack lately I'd be surprised if he didn't come riding by." Molly teased. "You know what they say, 'Speak of the Devil and ye'll hear the beat of his wings."

"I doubt we'll ever hear those wings again." Jack grinned happily, to Cecily's sigh of relief.



Jack stretched out in the overstuffed chair in the front of the office's fireplace. Josiah occupied its twin, a large tankard of ale in both their hands. A low fire chased the spring chill from the room and aromatic smoke drifted lazily in the air from their two clay pipes. The women had retired to the kitchen and the two friends had taken the opportunity to sequester themselves in the room to relax and talk.

"I tell you, Robert, It's down right bone chilling sometimes." Josiah had long gotten use to using Jack's adopted name. It hadn't been quite as hard for him as he, George, and Geoff had been accustom to referring to him by his alternate identity when he was around the tavern in civilian garb.

"I wouldn't make too much of it, Old man." Jack smiled easily. "Jack Roberts is long gone and there is nothing in Heaven, or on Earth that could resurrect him now."

"Famous last words if'n you ask me." Josiah groused. "What with half the lad's in the shire pretendin' to be you and even more 'a their parents tellin' them wild stories about the things you did.......and didn't do, it's no small wonder your other half is doin' anything but restin' in peace."

Jack laughed uproariously. "Their just games and tall tales, Josiah. In many ways I'm quite flattered. I never dreamed during all my time that I would make such an impression on the world. All I wanted was to avoid the poverty my parents suffered."

"Not to mention any other poor soul what had a bit of need you could see to." Josiah huffed. "That were the real kicker. Actin' like some bleedin' Robin Hood."

"Oh, I wouldn't say I went that far, Josiah." Jack grinned wickedly. "I kept more than a fair share for myself."

"And gave away a king's ransom in the process." The elder man said with finality. "Ye forget, I was there."

"Well, those days are long gone now." Jack tilted his mug to his oldest friend. "Here's to Black Jack Roberts. May he ride only in fairy tales and children's games."

"Aye. I'll drink to that." Josiah touched tankards with a clink.



"Oh, Cecily!" Molly hugged her friend tightly. "I'm so happy for you! Does Robert know?!"

"I gave him the news last night. He was overjoyed to say the least." Cecily smiled, placing one hand gently on her belly.

"I should say so." Molly poured them a cup of tea, then sat down at the table. "To think, not just two, but three little ones. You and he will have to be adding on to the cottage."

"Indeed we will." Cecily nodded. "Molly, can I ask you something?"

"Ask away, Love." The copper haired woman shrugged.

"Do you think J...Robert misses it?"

Molly's cup stopped halfway to her lips. She had expected a question about either adding on to the cottage Cecily and Jack lived at, or a request about more baby clothing. Since her and Josiah had just added to their own family. Cecily's turn of subject had half taken her by surprise. She looked hard at her long time friend before answering.

"No." She said with finality. "I don't think he misses it one little bit." She set her cup down and placed one hand over Cecily's. "No matter how he may have seemed to the rest of the world, anyone who truly knew him knew he was anything but happy with his life."

"I knew him as well as any could back then, before he met you. I think it was seeing him keeping up that devil may care act of his that drove me to him that one night." Molly paused. "I could have loved him, Dear. I don't say this to hurt you, but to try and explain what I know of your husband. I wanted nothing more than to ease his sorrow. It wasn't right, and Jack knew it. That is why he never offered me more than that one night."

She squeezed Cecily's hand tightly. "You gave him what he spent his whole life craving. The only thing he would have turned from his path for. True love and a family. It's all he has ever desired from this life. Make no mistake. For your sake. For the children's sake. Most of all for his own sake. Black Jack Roberts is dead. Dead and buried."




A soft knock at the office door brought Jack and Josiah up from their reverie of old times and how different they were now. It was, Jack had to admit, far more pleasant to not have to watch his every move. To be able to lay down to sleep without the threat of the gallows, or being wanted hanging over his head. Few were the men who had chosen his life and given a second chance to live in peace. He far preferred the life he had now to the one he had chosen.

"Sorry to disturb you two, but the Brigadier is here to see Robert." George opened the door just enough to be seen.

"Well show him in, George!" Jack called happily, rising to his feet to greet the man who had freed him from the shadow of his former self. "And bring him a tankard of our finest."

Barclay entered the room and pulled his tricorn from his head. "Robert." He smiled.

"Rupert!" Jack reached out to shake the redcoat's hand. "Come. Pull up a chair by the fire. We were just talking about you in a way."

"I thank you, Robert, but I must ask if I could speak to you in privet for a moment." The Commander's face grew grave. "It is of the utmost importance."

Jack scowled for a moment. Since the officer had given him the news that he was free from paying for his crimes he had never seen him in such a serious manner. Something was wrong.

"I'm sure we could do that for you, Brigadier." Jack motioned for Josiah to leave as George returned with the ale. After the two men were seated he looked warily at his newest friend.

"What can I do for you, Rupert? What could be so grave that you would wear such a serious countenance to visit with me?"

The redcoat commander swallowed heavily from his tankard before he answered. "What could be so important, Robert? Would you believe me if I told you that the very crown, the House of Hanover, indeed maybe all of England may stand on the brink of disaster and only you could stop it? If you will, that is."
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on September 30, 2008, 09:29:51 PM
"Uncle Geoff! Uncle Geoff!"
The children bobbed up and down like corks in the water when Geoff dismounted his steed in the courtyard of the Crossbow. He grinned at the sight. Two towheads and a firebrand red in the middle. He squatted down and the three hurtled themselves towards him, almost knocking him down.
"So what did you bring us from London?"
"Did you see the King?"
"Is it true he has a pet monkey?"
"Whoa! One at a time! A surprise....no...and no!"
He pointed to each of the children to answer their questions. Jamie dug her elbow into her brother's side and said, "I TOLD you he didn't have a pet monkey!"
Geoff opened the saddlebag and reached in.
"A pocket knife for each of you and a golden locket for my best girl!"
The boys eagerly opened their pocket knives and Jamie handed the necklace to Geoff to fasten on her neck which he did.
The three of them tugged on Geoff's hands.
"Uncle Geoff, did you hear any more Black Jack Roberts stories?"
"Yes, we want a story! We want a story!"
Geoff laughed. "Let's go into the tavern and let me get a bowl of stew. Then we can talk stories! Did I ever tell you the one where Black Jack Roberts rescued a cat out of the tree...."
 
Molly took the empty bowl away.
"Geoff, for shame! You shouldn't fill these children's heads with your stories."
Geoff grinned. "Just reliving my glory days, Molly. I must say it is the best time I ever had in my life! Being a lawyer isn't all that much excitement."
She shook her head. "You don't see George running around telling wild stories, do you?"
"George is all set to marry Sally Miller in June, Molly. He's content. I'm not."
She playfully smacked his arm. "Maybe it is high time you found a Sally of your own."
Geoff reached over and took a tart off the plate that sat in front of him.
"Sorry, Molly. You are married to Josiah and Cecily is Jack's. All the good ones are taken!"
"You mean you aren't through breaking all the hearts in the shire. Is Cornwall on your list next?"
"Maybe. Just maybe," he laughed.
 
She sat down, bouncing Rose on her knee. "The children are feeding off what you tell them, Geoff. We all agreed that we would leave the memory of Black Jack dead and buried. And now you resurrect him for impressionable minds."
He reached for another tart and Molly smacked his hand. "That is the last one for you, Barrister!"
Geoff leaned back. "As long as Black Jack Roberts stays a larger-than-life legend, those children will never believe that he is their father. To them, Robert Johnson is Da."
Molly sighed. "I suppose you are right. Cecily said she and Andrew used to play Highwayman as children. Astonishing that she was the very one to lay Black Jack Roberts to rest once and for all."
"Ironic how Sir Culpepper used Cecily to exact revenge on Jack and Thomas Banks' insane obsession became his downfall."
"Do you think of Thomas sometimes?"
Geoff shrugged. "The one thing I learned is this. The ones you trust very well may be the Judas in your life."
He picked up his hat.
"I see the carriage is back so George is back too. Is he around?"
Molly said, "No, he said he was going to the office before you got back to go over some papers."
Geoff swept into a low bow.
"Always the workhorse, George is! I hope he enjoyed his trip up country while I continued to slave over the books of Stafford and Stafford, Esquires!"
Molly laughed, "I never would have believed you and George are now lawyers!"
Geoff laughed as he went out the door, "From one side of the law to the other, Molly! And we all end up the same!"
 
Cecily came out of the barn from tending to Aphrodite. The children came running towards her.
"Mama! Mama! Look what Uncle Geoff brought us!"
"And from London, too!"
Cecily raised her eyebrow and pretended shock. "What, no pet monkey?"
Jamie said sternly, "I told Jeremy there was no monkey but he wouldn't believe me!"
Cecily bent over and hugged her children. She couldn't help but reflect on what a miracle they were to her. Not one but two.
A miracle they had even been born after what Cecily had to endure in the months preceding their birth.
 
She remembered the birth so well. The long labor. Annabelle was the midwife.  Molly had come into the room and said, "Jack is downstairs beside himself. He starts whenever he hears Cecily moan. Three times I had to stop him from dashing up the stairs."
Annie turned to her and said, "For God's sake, send him to the barn then! This child doesn't want to leave and Jack will just be in the way!"
No sooner had the words been out of Annie's mouth when Jeremy made his appearance.
Molly was handed the child as Annie turned to tend to Cecily.  Annabelle frowned, "I don't think this is over."
Cecily's stomach looked just as big as she had before the boy was born.
Through her pain, Cecily managed to say, "I think I am going to die, Annie. Please...oh, please take care of Jack and the baby. Please tell him I love...AAAAHH!!!"
Annie's face broke out in a grin as she said, "No wonder!"
Five minutes later, Jamie made her debut.
 
Cecily smiled at the memory of Molly going downstairs to tell Jack that he was a father and all went well. She could barely contain her grin as she told him to go upstairs and meet the next generation of Roberts.
Jack had taken two steps at a time. When he got to the door, his hand trembled on the doorknob.
He was about to meet his child for the first time.
 
As he opened the door, he wasn't prepared for the sight.
Cecily laid against the pillows, her face pale but something about her...she was glowing.
And she had a surprise.
Not one but two babies.
Jack stood there in shock. Annie was washing up and said, "Oh, by the way, Jack. You got two this time!"
Jack's feet were like lead but he moved forward, so overcome with emotion he was.
He knelt by Cecily's side and touched each baby's hand.
"Are they...are they...?"
Cecily nodded proudly.
"Yes, Jack. Twins. And we got one of each!"
 
That night, Jack opened his very best brandy for his friends.
Life was indeed beautiful.
 
Cecily broke her reverie when Jamie said, "....and we think Black Jack Roberts is still here, Mama."
She hugged them close and said, "Anything is possible, my loves. Shall we collect your father and head home?"
Jeremy looked towards the office door. "Da is in there. Someone in a red coat."
Jamie supplied, "And a tall hat."
Jeremy added, "And a big sword."
"A big sword, huh? OK..go see if Aunt Molly has that gingerbread. I'll be up there in a minute."
Cecily stood up as Josiah came out.
"Who is with Jack, Josiah?"
The tavernkeeper fumed. "Rupert Barclay. And I don't like the looks of this. He is talking to Jack in private."
Cecily laughed. "You worry too much, Josiah. As long as he doesn't ask him to put on his black mask, all is well!"
 
 
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on October 01, 2008, 10:56:27 PM
"Come now, Rupert, aren't we being just a little melodramatic here?" Jack asked half joking. Though the seriousness of his new found friend in the king's service told him otherwise, he hoped that this were no more than an elaborate joke.

"I'm afraid not, Robert." Barclay frowned into his cup. Though he did not relish the request he was about to propose, circumstances forced his hand. He knew from personal experience just how clever the man before him could be as his alter ego. Heaven knew he had made the best King George had to offer look like fools long enough to prove it. That kind of cunning was needed more than anything else in such a volatile situation as this.

"And just what could a man in my position be capable of doing?" Jack half laughed. "I'm a successful business man, true. However so are many others I can think of and I have no strong ties with anyone of the nobility, save perhaps the house of my brother in law. He would be of more use to you than I."

Brigadier Barclay drew a deep breath, letting it escape in a long sigh. There was no sense in beating around the bush any longer. It only made it harder for him to ask. "It's not Robert Johnson I need." He looked hard into those blue green eyes as he spoke. "It's Black Jack Roberts."



Sir Terrence Blackthorn watched the crushed limestone lane that led to his mansion from his study window. Where could he be? If nothing else the man was always punctual. His being late was never a good sign. Were it anyone else he would suspect duplicity, but if nothing else he trusted his man completely. More so, he had never been given occasion to question Malcolm's loyalty. He breathed a sigh of relief as the familiar figure in red came into view around the bend. The butler had been given orders to send Malcolm directly to him.

Moving to his desk Lord Blackthorn pulled the stopper from the decanter of his best brandy and filled a second crystal. Setting it down in front of the empty leather upholstered chair, he sat down in his own and awaited the good news. Soon everything would be ready for him to make his move.



Jack sat there in shock, questioning whether or not he had heard the redcoat commander correctly. The color drained from his face and he swallowed nearly half his tankard of ale before finding the strength to answer this startling revelation.

"Forgive me, Rupert, but for a moment there I would have sworn you just asked me to revive Black Jack." He laughed.

The officer's eyes never wavered. "I did."

"Damn you." Jack's voice was almost a whisper. "Do you know how long I had to wait for the life I have now, Rupert? Do you have any idea what you are asking me to risk? I will not, and I repeat, WILL NOT subject my family to that kind of life again! What could possibly be so important that you would even have the nerve to ask such a thing of me?!!"

Rupert Barclay looked down at the polished wood floor. He had been privy to some of the terrible events that Jack's life as that infamous highwayman had led to. He could more than understand why the man would be so opposed to his request now, but if there were any other choice Barclay would never have bothered to ask him in the first place. There was a bit of irony poets could write about. The very fabric of English society may end up owing it's survival to an outlaw that it thought it had killed.

"I can only tell you this, Robert." He began in a low voice. "It is my firm belief that if you do not help me England will tear herself apart. Your children will see a civil war the like of which has not been for over two hundred years."

"And I suppose one lone thief could avert such a disaster as you seem to think this is?" Jack spat back sarcastically.

"Yes." Rupert frowned. "One man, in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing can change the course of history. Perhaps even save the future."

The redcoat drained his tankard, then stood to leave. "I'll not press you on the matter, Robert. I have not the right to do so. All I ask is that you consider it. If you decide to help me come to the compound and I will tell you all. Even then, should you believe the task is beyond you I'll not hold you to it. With that I will bid you farewell."

Brigadier Barclay held out his hand. Jack stood up and shook it firmly. "Because you asked me, I'll think about it. I've known you long enough to know you would not ask me to do something like this without good reason."

"That is all I can ask."

"Farewell, Rupert. A safe journey home to you."

Jack sat back down in his chair, brooding over the events of the last few moments. In truth his curiosity was peaked. Rupert Barclay was not a man given to hysterics, nor exaggeration. Something had to be desperately wrong for him to make the request he made, but what? What could upset the British commander so much that he would ask Jack to risk everything he had fought so hard to gain?

Josiah opened the door, a wood tray balanced on one palm held two fresh tankards of ale. "So, what was so important that our resident Brigadier needed to see you alone about?"

"You may want to sit down for this one, Josiah." Jack said softly.



Cecily sat with Molly in the kitchen, rocking little Rose gently as the baby snoozed in her arms. Soon enough she would have the opportunity to cradle another child of her own to sleep and was looking forward to it. Molly watched her with a knowing smile as she pealed apples for her next pie.

"Not much more in the world that compares to holding a sleeping child." She commented offhand

"No." Cecily smiled. "No, Molly, there isn't. At times I wished I could keep them like this."

"Aye." Molly laughed. "But then we'd not get the chance to watch them shoot up like little weeds."

Cecily chuckled softly, stirring the babe in her arms. She began to rock and hum, lulling the child back to sleep. "That's true. Why it seems like so short a time since they were as small as this. Now they  run about like March hares."

"And get in near as much trouble." Molly laughed.

"Speaking of which." Cecily turned serious. "Josiah seemed awful upset that Rupert Barclay wanted to speak with Ja...Robert alone."

"Oh, that." Molly waved the knife dismissively in the air. "You know Josiah. A right mother hen he can be at times. Lord above I don't think the man can be happy unless he's worrying about something."

"All too true." Cecily smiled. "Still I'll be glad when those two are done. I love visiting with the both of you, Molly, but it's nigh time we were headed home."

The tavern maid put down her bowl and knife. "I can't fault you there, Cecily. Here, let me put Rose in her crib. If those two aren't done in the next fifteen minutes we'll drag them out by their ears!"
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on October 09, 2008, 07:44:45 PM
Josiah sat the tray on the table and handed one tankard to Jack. Jack looked like he had been kicked in the gut by Raven.
"Jack? Jack! Take this tankard before I spill it over ye. Now what did Rupert have to say that has ye so perturbed?"
Jack ran his hand over his face and said in a hoarse voice, "He wanted me to 'resurrect' Black Jack Roberts for a mission."
Josiah choked on his ale.
"Is he daft? Has that brigadier hat of his been fitting too tight? Damn, man!  That takes alot of nerve."
Jack took a deep drink of his ale and closed his eyes.
"He said the future of England is at stake. Civil War is looming."
Josiah shook his head. "Never did sit well with some people that Hanovers took the throne. T'would have been different if they had produced a legitimate heir. Shame that Old Rowley's offspring didn't inherit. It may have been a whole different history if they had been born on the right side of the blanket."
Jack laughed ruefully. "Ever hear the story of how he got that nickname?"
Josiah shook his head. 
"Can't say that I have."
Jack continued, "Charles was ridiculed under the nickname of Old Rowley, which was an ill-favoured stallion kept in the Mews, that was remarkable for getting fine colts. Mrs. Holford, a young lady much admired by Charles, was sitting in her apartment, and singing a satirical ballad upon 'Old Rowley the King,' when he knocked at her door. She asked who was there and he replied with his usual good humour, 'Old Rowley himself, Madame!'"
Josiah laughed. "Aye, well, alot of people are not thrilled with setting a German on the throne. Things may have been different, ye know."
Jack shook his head. "I can't believe that Rupert asked me that. And especially now. Now that we have another baby on the way."
Josiah broke out in a grin. "Ye don't say! A wee one on the way and ye are just now telling me?!"
Jack smiled proudly.
"Cecily told me last night. After the twins were born, Cecily never did get in the family way. We figured the twins did her in somehow. They truly were a miracle from heaven, Josiah, that she was able to carry to term in spite of everything that had happened. But here we are in the baby business once again!"
Josiah clapped Jack on the back. "You old son of a gun! This calls for a bottle of the best brandy!"
 
Josiah reached over to the cabinet on the other side of the fireplace and poured two snifters.
"Jack, as a friend, I am asking--no, I'm telling you--don't even consider Barclay's offer. I don't care if the entire globe is resting on it. Cecily and the twins come first."
Jack nodded. "But I am curious to hear what he has in mind."
"No, Jack. Don't get anywhere near that plan. What do you think Cecily will say?"
 
Just then the door opened up and the twins burst through, Jeremy wrapping his arms around his father's neck and Jamie climbing on his lap. Cecily stood at the door and asked, "About what?"
Jack smiled over the children's heads and quickly added, "What will Cecily say about moving to a bigger house?"
She gave Jack a loving smile as she watched the twins crawl all over their father. "I like the cottage just fine, Jack. You bought the meadowland next to us only last year. What were you thinking, sell the house and the property? Or just rebuild in another spot?"
"I was just thinking out loud. T'was just a passing fancy, dear."

Jamie took Jack's face between her little hands and kissed his nose, giggling. Jeremy was ruffling his hair. Jack looked over their heads at his wife who stood beaming in the doorway. Jack had thought she never looked more beautiful than she did at that moment. Her hand was resting on her stomach as if to hold the child even before it was born.
"Jack, I do believe that we are ready to go home. Josiah, Molly and I have made plans for Sunday dinner at our place. So we shall see you then. Children?"
She held out her hands to them and they ran forward, Jamie stopping long enough to grab her father's hand.
"Come on, Da! We need to go home and see how the kittens are!"
"Coming, my little poppet!"
 
Jack turned to Cecily, "I'll be there in a minute. Get the children situated in the carriage."
As his family walked out the door, Jack turned to Josiah, "I promise you, friend, that I won't do anything rash. But it wouldn't hurt to hear him out. I'll stop by to see him tomorrow."
"It's a fool's errand, Jack. Just send him yer regards and a decline on his RSVP. Ye don't need this in yer life. Cecily deserves a stress-free pregnancy."
Jack nodded solemnly.
"I agree and I shall move heaven and earth to see that she has one. I'll see you on Sunday, Josiah."
 
On the way home, the children dozed off. Jamie slept in her father's arm, Jeremy with his head on Cecily's lap.
"Jack, I've also invited Andrew and Jane for dinner. I want to tell them about the baby."
"And what of your mother?"
"The doting grandmother? The one I won't let the children see for fear she would try to take over? I swear, Jack, these children will not be neglected like I was. Mary Cottlepot is more a grandmother to them than she ever was. Or will be."
 
Jack looked out of the window.
"Ironic how things turn out, isn't it, darling? Who would have thought that Raymond was a cousin of Sir Culpepper's father and ended up inheriting the entire estate. I was set to buy the land and tear the mansion down, then resell the land but Raymond came to me and said he was a cousin but would like to work for me if I should buy it.  I thought such poetic justice that Raymond end up with the very house he was a slave in."
Cecily caressed his hand. "And it was so kind of you to help Raymond file the papers so he could inherit. I swear, he looks twenty years younger now that he is Lord of the Manor."
Jack laughed. "His back is ramrod straight too! Gone is that subservient stoop!  Andrew says he looks like a different man. And the estate has taken on a cheerful air!"
Cecily shook her head. "Sir Raymond Collingwood! Never thought I would see anyone but a Culpepper there."
 
Later that evening they sat in front of the fireplace as was their custom. Jack had his nightly brandy and Cecily sipped on her cup of tea.
"Jack, you never did tell me what Rupert Barclay wanted. I am guessing he wants you to donate a keg of ale to the ball the King's men are planning."
Jack stretched out his legs. "No, my dear. It is much more than that. I was meaning to find the right time to tell you but there doesn't seem to be any. So I may as well tell you outright."
"You look worried."
He took a deep breath.
"He wants Black Jack Roberts to live again."
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on October 15, 2008, 01:10:50 PM
Cecily's teacup slipped from her nerveless fingers and crashed to the floor spilling it's contents from the four pieces it split into. Her sapphire eyes were wide with shock and her lips moved silently for a few moments in her pale white face.

"No!" She whispered, then her words rushed out in an icy torrent of fear. "Jack, you can't let him talk you into this! I don't care what his motives are for asking you to resurrect that ghost, but I'll not stand for it!! Our lives have been nothing but peace and happiness since the rest of the country believed him dead!! I'll not risk our family, or more importantly you, to that kind of danger again!!"

She had been sitting on the edge of her chair, her delicate fingers dug deep into the upholstery of the arms. In a flash she moved to him, her arms encircling his waist with desperate strength as she half sobbed against his chest. "Twice now I've believed you dead from the life he led. I cannot, I will not suffer a third! Please, My darling, please don't do this. Don't put me, or our children through a nightmare like that again!"

Jack gently sat his brandy down on the small table next to his chair. He felt the hot rise of his tears in his own eyes as he reached down to stroke the honey hued hair of his wife, trembling in his lap. He knew all too well the feelings she had suffered for he had gone through them only once himself. A slight shudder rolled through his body at the memory. He had believed her dead once and the belief had driven him mad with grief. He had never again wanted to experience a horror like that himself. He'd be damned if he would have her suffer through it a third time.

"Hush, My love." He whispered. "I have no intention of becoming Black Jack again in this, or any other life." Tenderly he lifted her chin to look him in the eye. "I told him no, but you know how insistent Rupert can be. So I let him think I would consider his outlandish request. It will give him a few days of hope in thinking that I am at the least considering it. As soon as I have given him enough time to believe that I gave the matter proper thought I can refuse once and for all and that will be the end of it."

Jack gently wiped the tears from her cheeks and the smile of relief she returned to him meant more to him than life itself. Her arms tightened even more around him as she lay her head against his chest.

"Thank you, Darling." Cecily whispered. "Thank you. You don't know how much it means to me."

Jack gathered her completely into his lap. "I've a fair idea." He grinned that roguish smile of his which never failed to make her heart flutter. "I'm sorry to have upset you, Sweetheart. But I didn't want to keep it a secret from you either. Black Jack Roberts will stay buried, if not forgotten, and we shall spend our days raising our children here in peace."




Sir Blackthorn slammed his crystal down on the oak desktop so hard Malcolm was surprised it didn't shatter from the force. As it was the nut brown liquor shot up in a spray, covering the immediate area in several splotches. He winced. He knew the news he was bringing to his master would be far from anything the nobleman wanted to hear and his shame at his failure had made him delay delivering it for as long as he dared.

"How??!!" Lord Terrence bellowed.

"As near as I could gather it was taken in a common highway robbery, My lord." Malcolm felt his gut clench. He had never failed to carry out his sovereign's wishes before and the thought of his first failure greatly soured his insides. "Again, my sincerest apologies, Sire. I've no excuse for my failure and have taken the liberty of setting our men on the trail of the thief. I am confident we will have it back in our hands before the Hanoverian's even know it is missing."

"Fool!!" Blackthorn rose from his chair, his hands planted firmly on either side of him as he leaned forward menacingly. "They already know by now!! If they should find it before we do it will mean both our necks!!"

The black haired man in wine red was out of his chair and kneeling with his head bowed in a flash. "Please forgive me, Lord Blackthorn!" He begged in a humble voice. "It is entirely my fault. I should have been the one to do the deed in the first place. I should never have left the theft to another. If I had been there, this would never have happened."

Terrence Blackthorn ran one slightly shaking hand through his brown hair, composing himself. Dagget had been far to valuable to him for him to vent his rage against now. He took several deep breaths before sighing and sitting down to fill his glass again.

"Nonsense, Malcolm." He said with the calm tone of a man in control of his destiny. It was never good to show weakness of any sort in front of one's men. "Had you tried for it we would have been exposed in an instant. You did right by hiring that burglar to do the job for us. I trust he has been properly rewarded for both his service and his bungling?"

Malcolm Dagget rose to his feet with a smile and bowed a second time. "Well rewarded indeed, My lord." He grinned wickedly, patting the black handle of the Damascus rapier at his side. "None will ever know he was in your employ."

The henchman sat down again in his own chair and raised his glass. "To your health and quick succession, Sire. It will be back in our hands before the week is out."




"Did we just hear what I think we heard?" Jeremy whispered at his sister in surprise. The sound of their mother's raised voice had brought them both from a sound sleep to the top of the stairs.

"I-I think so." The little girl chewed her bottom lip thoughtfully. "Father is Black Jack Roberts?"

"Was." Jeremy corrected gleefully. This was better than finding out what a Christmas present was before the eve. "I don't think Da has been Black Jack since before we were born!"

"Wait till Jack Parker finds out!" Jamie almost bounced with excitement. "He'll be sooooooo jealous!"

"Hold on a minute, Sis!" Jeremy placed one hand on his sibling's shoulder. "We don't know for sure, yet and even if we are right we don't want to go blabbing it all over. The redcoats might try to hang Da."

Jamie's eyes widened. "I hadn't thought of that." She said quietly, fear rising in her small heart. "We have to protect Da!! How can we find out for sure??!"

Her brother's brow furrowed in concentration as he wracked his mind for a solution. Suddenly he brightened. "Unca Geoff would know for sure! He knows just everything about Black Jack!!"

Jamie smiled and hugged her brother quickly. "Your so clever, Jeremy." She beamed. "Of course he would know and we're going to town tomorrow. We can ask him then!"

"Let's get back to bed before Mum and Da find us." Jeremy grinned. "We'll make up some excuse to visit Unca Geoff and find out from him!"

The twins quietly scampered back to their beds. Soon they would know for certain if their father was indeed the infamous outlaw that had become a Devonshire legend. Just as soon as the two of them could pin down their Uncle and wheedle the truth from him.
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on October 22, 2008, 08:02:16 PM
"Now don't go anywhere but Uncle George and Uncle Geoff's office. We wil be by in about an hour, my darlings!"
Cecily bent over and kissed her children.  Jack had stabled the horses and carriage and joined her.
"Here's some money for sweets but go no further than the store next door."
Jack handed them each a couple shilings.
"We won't! We promise!" they said in unison and ran towards the office that sat on the village green.
Their parents waited until they were safely in the office. Cecily put her hands in the crook of Jack's arm and smiled up at him.
"Those two! How were we ever doubly blessed, my love?"
Jack chuckled. "I think it was a reward for all the hardship we had to endure."
She tenderly patted her stomach. "And this new little one shall have a very easy sojourn."
"Cecily, you never did tell me when we might expect the little bundle."
"As near as Annabelle and I can figure it, we can expect the baby around December."

Jack kissed the top of her head and said softly, "If only my parents could see them!  Mother would be so proud."
Cecily squeezed his arm, looking at him adoringly. She seemed to hold him like she never wanted to let him go since he told her of Rupert Barclay's proposal.
"And they are growing up too fast. Jamie's skirts need the hem let down and Jeremy's breeches are wearing out at the knee."
Jack laughed, "Playing highwayman, no doubt.  It seems that is where I always wore mine out too!"
Cecily frowned. "I hope they never find out who you really are, Jack.  I don't want to give them any fanciful ideas."
"How so, my love?"
"Blackjack Roberts has become larger than life to them.  Would you ever believe that your father is him? I don't want them broadcasting it to the entire shire. It's bad enough that Geoff tells them embellished legends."
"Embellished? Cecily, those were our finest hours!"
She held his gaze with her sapphire blue eyes.
"Jack Roberts, for all intents and purposes, needs to stay right where he is. Buried. Buried with the body of Thomas Banks."
Jack's mouth set in a grim line. "At least the traitorous bastard did one thing right."
"Let's drop the subject and enjoy our day, shall we? The children want to feed the swans down by the lake.  And I want a new hat."
He kissed her and encircled her waist. "And a new dress. Just don't get as round as Mary Cottlepot!"
She playfully smacked his arm and laughed, "I have a very good reason. But I shall take you up on the dress offer!"
 
Jamie whispered, "You ask him, Jeremy. You are older!"
Jeremy retorted, "By only five minutes."
"But Unca Geoff is the only one who will tell us. Unca George might but he's too busy and Unca Geoff----"
 
The door opened and the twins looked like deer caught nibbling in the garden. They looked up to see Uncle George standing there with a grin on his face.
"So, what are you two up to?"
 Jeremy spoke up.  "We came to see you and Unca Geoff."
Geoff looked up from his legal papers and smiled.
"Ah, my two favorite miniature people!"
George handed over a plate to them.
"Sally made some gingerbread cookies. Help yourselves."
The children eagerly took a couple cookies.
"Mmmm!  Unca George, when you marry Miss Miler, will she be our aunt?"
George laughed. "If you want her to be. I am sure she will love it!"
 
George took the papers from Geoff. "I'll file these papers with the magistrate and I'll be back in a half hour."
Geoff leaned back in his chair. "I've got company here so don't rush on my account."
George nodded towards the children and said in a low voice, "And don't you be filling their heads with your fanciful tales. Some things are better left dead and buried, brother."
 
Geoff looked at the children. "So...you look like you have something on your minds."
Jamie looked down at the floor and Jeremy shifted from foot to foot.
"Um...last night we heard Mama and Da talking.  And what we--"
Jamie blurted out, "Is Da Black Jack Roberts?"
Geoff was taken aback.
"Where did you come up with THAT idea?"
Jeremy replied, "We heard Mama and Da talking and---"
"Mama was crying.  And then Da told her he wouldn't be Black Jack Roberts anymore and---"
 
The door flew open and a tall man with a black cloak rushed in.  He pulled a silk mask from his face. He didn't even notice the children, so intent was he on speaking to Geoff.
"Geoff, I need help."
Geoff looked at him and surmised what he had been up to.
He quickly replied, "Ah, Mr. Cody! I see you have urgent business. Children, excuse me for a minute. Right this way, Mr. Cody."
Geoff ushered the man into the other room and shut the door.
Jamie said excitedly, "Did you see his black cloak? And that mask? Just like Black Jack Roberts, Jeremy! Do you think he may be the real one and we didn't hear Mama right?"
Jeremy retorted, "Of course not!  I washed my ears before I went to bed and I heard just fine! Jamie, that--that is a real highwayman!"
"But why is he here?"
"I don't know...but let's listen at the door."

The children crept up and put their ears to the door.
"But, Jeremy--"
"Shh!"
From the other side of the door, muffled voices were heard.
"Cody, are you sure?"
"Sure as I am standing here, Geoff.  I was practicing a bit o' the trade just like Jack taught us. And when I got into town, I looked inside the strongbox. Expecting a few tax notes or deed. And the currency of the realm. And what did I find but THIS!"
There was a bit of silence.  Then Geoff's voice.
"By the saints! Did you read this?"
"I surely did. That is why I came straight to you! If this exposes him, there is no telling what will happen. His life may not be worth anything then!"
Jamie started to let out a cry but Jeremy clamped his hand over her mouth.
"Shh, Jamie! Just be quiet! He's talking about Da!"
She nipped his hand.
"OW! What was that for?"
"I couldn't breathe! But, Jeremy, do you think those papers have to do with Da?"
"What else? It says that Da is Black Jack Roberts!"

Just then, two men came into the office. The children shrank against the wall.
Geoff came out and said, "Excuse me, but the entire civilized world has the decency to knock before entering an establishment."
The taller of the two men growled, "Where is he?"
"Where is who?"
"The man who just ran in here."
Geoff looked quizzical. "Man? There was no man. My brother came back in a hurry because he forgot the papers he needed. He's always doing that. Getting married and his head is in the clouds."
"We saw a man run in here wearing a black cloak."
"Right. That was George. He left the back way as he had to stop off at the tavern and get my lunch order. If you want to search the premises, be my guest."

Jeremy spied a folder on the desk. He inched his way along the wall. Jamie stood there too horrified to speak.  She finally crept up behind him and watched as Jeremy grabbed the folder. He took Jamie's hand and yelled, "RUN!"
 
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on October 31, 2008, 11:37:53 AM
At the sound of Jeremy's cry Geoff immediately grabbed the taller of the two intruders. Falling to the floor the two men rolled about as the shorter of the two blocked the way to the street, cutting off the children.

"C'mer you two poppet's!" He snarled, eyeing the folder in Jeremy's hand.

As he lunged towards them Cody emerged from the back room, rapier in hand. "This way, Children!" he shouted, motioning for Jeremy and Jamie to run behind him.

The twins ducked under the ruffian's arms, the little girl pausing just long enough to kick the man in the shin before she disappeared into the room behind her brother. Cody swiftly pulled the door closed behind them, keeping an eye on the rouge rubbing his shin and cursing loudly.

Despite Geoff's words of a moment before there was no door in the rear room to escape from. Jeremy and Jamie huddled closely together as the sounds of the fray outside came muffled through the door. Wildly they sought a way out.

"I wish Da was here." Jamie whispered. "He'd set those villains to rights."

"I do too." Jeremy's eyes searched the small storage room franticly. "There! That small window! We can get out that way!"

Just over a small table next to the rear wall a small window, just large enough for a child to squeeze through, was half open. Quick as cats the twins scrambled onto the table and pushed with all their might on the stubborn sill. Just then a loud crash resounded from the door.

"Damn it!" The rough voice came from the other side. "It's locked!"

"Then break it down! We've not much time before the footmen are roused!!"

"Keep those two covered! I'll have it in short order!"

A second thud against the wood redoubled the children's efforts and to their relief the sill suddenly shot upward clearing their way to the alley outside. Without a word Jeremy helped his sister out the small opening backward, holding her small hands until he had lowered her as close to the ground as his reach would allow before letting her fall the last few feet. He was halfway out himself when the door gave way and the taller ruffian burst into the room.

"Ah! Think ye'll be gettin' away that easy, do ya?" He grinned evilly. "I'll be havin' that parcel, if'n ye don't mind."

There was no time for ease as the huge man strode quickly towards him. Jeremy closed his eyes and tumbled from the window into the alley after his sister, his hand still desperately clutching the folder.

"Oooofff!" The wind was temporarily knocked from his small lungs as he flipped heavily onto his back. "That wasn't so bad." He mused as he stood up, brushing the dirt from his britches. "But I'd not like to have to do that again."

"Speak for yourself, Jeremy Johnson!" His sister frowned, rubbing her backside. "My poor behind feels like I've just earned a spanking!"

Jeremy grabbed his sister's hand. "We can't worry about that now!" He exclaimed. "We have to get to Mum and Da quick!"

No sooner had he spoke when the two men rounded the corner. "There they are!" The shorter of the two shouted and the two children shot down the alley.



The commotion had drawn the attention of the several shopper's on the street when Jack took notice. "There seems to be some sort of disturbance out there." He mused from the dressmaker's window.

"Has Old Greenway gotten drunk and taken all his clothing off again?!" Cecily called from the small podium she stood on as the dress maker pinned the hem of her new gown.

"No. I don't think so." Jack chuckled at the thought of the last time the town drunk had run through Devonshire naked and shouting about an invasion of Vikings taking the town. "It seems to be coming from.......DEAR GOD!!"

"What, J...Robert!" Cecily shouted, alarmed by the sudden change in her husband's demeanor. "What's wrong?!!" Her alarm increased as he bolted out the door without answering.



The alleyway suddenly came to a tall brick building, splitting into two separate ways north and south. The twins looked down both ways, confused as to which way to run.

"We need to split up!" Jeremy said breathlessly.

"No!" Jamie frowned adamantly. "We must stay together!"

"One of us needs to get Da!" Jeremy grabbed her by the shoulders. "It's the folder they want. You need to get Da, they'll chase me and let you go."

"I can't leave you!" Jamie stubbornly refused, tears welling up in her eyes.

"You must!" They'll never catch me anyway! Go get Da and bring him here quickly. I'll hide just like when we're playing! Go!"

Jeremy shoved his sister toward the north alley just as the two men spotted them again. "Over there!" One shouted. Jeremy watched long enough to be assured Jamie had run then bolted down the south entrance.

At first the shorter of the two started after Jamie when the other called out. "Let her go! It's the folder we need and the boy has it!" They ran on after Jeremy as fast as their tired legs could take them.

The sounds of the dual foot steps drew closer and the young boy held his breath behind the crates. "Now where did that little bastard get to?" Jeremy squeezed his eyes shut, willing himself invisible and silently praying that he would do nothing to give away his hiding place.

"Love me if I knows. He can't have gotten far."

The sound of searching brought a shudder to the child's body and he clutched the precious folder closer to his chest. Suddenly a rough hand clamped onto his shoulder and he felt himself roughly pulled out by his coat's shoulder.

"There you are, me young cocker!" The taller man grinned vilely. "Thought ye'd give us the slip, eh? I'll be takin' that!"

"Now, what?" The smaller man asked. "Do we kill the lad?" Jeremy shuddered involuntarily at the thought.

"Nay!" The taller man growled. "We may need him to get out of this hamlet. He'd make a right good bargaining chip if needs be."

"Aye." The shorter agreed, seemingly a bit relieved. "I'm not much fer murderin' children anyway."

"Neither is Malcolm." The taller nodded, then turned to Jeremy. "Ye'll be comin' with us, Lad, but know this. Give us the slightest bit 'o trouble and make no mistake, I'll slit yer gizzard without a moments thought. D'ye understand?!"

Jeremy scowled at the two kidnappers fiercely, too angry to be afraid, and nodded sullenly.

"Good, Lad." The taller man nodded back. "C'mon, it's high time we got out 'a here, afore the redcoats show up."
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on November 07, 2008, 07:58:33 PM
Jack bolted out the door of the dressmaker's and looked frantically up and down the street.
"DA! DA!" a voice from behind him called out.
"Jamie!"
She hurled herself in to her father's arms and he held her close.
"What in God's name is going on, Jamie?"
She buried her face in her father's shoulder.
"These big men are after Jeremy and me!"
He held her and asked the question he hoped would give him the right answer.
"Where is your brother?"
"I don't know. We were stuck in the alley by the apothecary and..and..."
Jack held her close and asked her quietly, "Take a deep breath, Jamie. And tell me where to God your brother might be!"
 
Jamie clung tightly to her father's neck. "Jamie and I were talking to Unca George and Unca Geoff. And a man in a cape came in and Unca Geoff took him in the back.
We thought he had papers that said...that said...."
"Said what, Jamie? Please! We need to know so we can find your brother."
She buried her face against Jack's chest and sobbed, "We think it said that you are Black Jack Roberts, Da!"
 
Cecily emerged from the dressmaker's, her dress haphazardly on, unlaced and she had a cloak covering her. The whiteness of her face told Jack that she had overheard. And all of sudden, Jack's past came rushing on him to hurt him in the worst way.
Through his children.
"Dear God!" Cecily could scarcely get the words out.
Jack gently disentangled his daughter and passed her off to Cecily.
He strode quickly into Geoff's law office. Geoff sat there, rubbing the back of his head, dazed.
"Geoff! Where is Jeremy?"
Geoff was shaking his head to clear it. "The children ran out the back. That's all I know. Two men came in here. Cody was here right before. He was practicing a bit of the trade and had some papers that should never see the light of day."
Jack helped his friend to his feet.
"Jamie is with Cecily. But for the love of all that is holy, WHERE IS JEREMY?"
 
Geoff said, "Last I saw he and Jamie ran out the back. Jeremy took a folder that  was laid on the desk. Oh, Lord, he took the papers! Two roughnecks followed Cody in here and then ran out the back. I tried to distract the men but one knocked me out and they took off after the children!"

Jack ran out the back and into the alley. No sign of Jeremy anywhere except crates from the vegetable grocer were scattered everywhere. He ran down the street but there was no sign of his son.
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Jeremy sat between the two ruffians. His anger was abated and now he felt a cold fear settle in his stomach. The taller one was rail-thin with a pinched face and a hooked nose. His eyes were close together and he wore a dark cloak. The shorter was pudgy with a frock coat, his cheeks flushed and his nose a bit bulbous.
The tall one spoke, "And now, you little bastard, let's see just what you have in that folder."
He thumbed through it, a look of astonishment crossing his face.
"What's the matter, Ben?" the rotund kidnapper asked.
Ben continued to look at the papers and muttered, "Twenty bushels of carrots....forty bushels of corn....apples...pears....."
He threw the papers on the floor.
"This is a damned invoice for the greengrocer!"
He grabbed Jeremy by the arm and shook him. "WHERE ARE THE PAPERS THAT WERE IN THAT FOLDER?"
Jeremy set his jaw and said, "Those are the papers. I had nothing to do with them."
The chunky one got in Jeremy's face and hissed, "We have ways of making you talk, son."
Jeremy made a face. "You are NOT my father. And you had better let me go. My father is Robert Johnson."
Ben said, "So? And my father is the Pied Piper. Where are the papers, boy?"
Jeremy set his jaw and kept silence.
Ben scowled, "And I wonder how Robert Johnson would like his son returned to him in a barrel?  What do you say, Sam?"
Sam sat there and muttered, "Robert Johnson....Robert Johnson....NOW I know where I heard that name. He's the owner of the Crossbow Tavern and a dozen other ventures. Well-heeled, Ben. Well-heeled. Wonder if he would pay a King's ransom for the return of his brat?"
Jeremy looked at the two of them, his anger returning.
"No one calls me brat but Jamie!"
The men chuckled and Ben said, "Oh, we have a plan for you, young whippersnapper. Don't we, Sam?"
"We sure do, Ben. We sure do."
After a minute, Sam asked, "What was it again?"
Ben looked at his partner with disdain.
"We turn him over to Malcolm."
"Oh, yeah. That plan."
Jeremy looked out the window with two thoughts in his mind.
That Jamie was able to get to Da.
And that Malcolm was smarter than these two.
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on November 09, 2008, 03:25:32 PM
Brigadier Rupert Barclay shuffled through the several papers on his desk. The tedious day to day reports demand his attention, but could not hold it. Try as he might he found his mind wandering to the problem that had landed in his lap and the hope that Jack Roberts could be convinced to once again don his infamous persona. Finally he threw the quill down in disgust. Until he had some reply it was going to be nigh on to useless to attempt fulfilling his duties.

Rising he walked the few steps to the small waist high table against the west wall. Picking up the crystal decanter half filled with brandy he had just begun to fill a matching crystal goblet when the door burst in, startling him momentary. Robert Johnson all but flew into the room, his anger and worry could be felt as a physical presence. Even from where the officer stood.

"Rupert!" His voice was nearly an accusation, and for the second time in Barclay's life he felt an involuntary shudder at the look in those turquoise eyes. He had seen that look only once before. The day he had realized that Robert Johnson and Black Jack Roberts was one and the same man. "Just what in bloody hell is going on?!! I've a fair idea from what Geoff has told me in private! I believe your mission and what he has told me are one and the same thing! Worse yet! Those damned papers may have cost me my son!!"

"Calm yourself, Robert, please!" Barclay motioned to the chair for his enraged guest to sit. Then held one finger to his lips before shouting. "Lieutenant!"

Within a few moments a young, sandy haired officer that looked more like a book keep than a solider came to the open doorway. His eyes shot from where Roberts sat fuming to his senior nervously. "Yes Sir!"

"Mr. Johnson and I have matters of the utmost privacy to discuss. I do not want a single man within ten feet of that door. Am I understood?" The finality in the Brigadier's voice was unmistakable.

"Yes Sir!!" The young man snapped to attention and saluted. "I shall see to it personally, Sir!!"

"Good lad." Rupert waved one hand dismissively, then filled a second crystal as the door shut and brought it to where Jack sat, waiting impatiently.

"Here, Robert. This may help to calm you down a bit. At least long enough for you to inform me on what has happened." The officer sat down in a chair opposite his friend and sipped his brandy. He wanted no bulwark of wood between them.

No sooner had Jack finished the tale of what had transpired across town then Rupert frowned. "I'll dispatch a squad immediately, Robert. They can not have gotten far."

"No!" Jack said with finality. "God knows what they may do, if the haven't already."

"I don't think so." Rupert mused. "Some how the boy must have hidden the papers. Otherwise they would have released him, or killed him to keep him quiet. That must be the answer to their taking him with them."

"I know what Geoff said he saw, but I want to hear it from you, Rupert." Jack looked hard into the redcoats eyes. "Where those papers what Geoff said they were?"

The Devonshire commander stared into the low flames of the fireplace for several long moments before replying.

"Yes, Robert. Geoff was correct. Those documents are proof positive that King George is not only German, but that he is not of royal birth and has no right to set the throne of England."

Jack shook his head ruefully. "You seem to be well informed about this, Rupert. Perhaps you had better fill me completely in." He sighed wearily. Jack had never had much to do with politics. Being a highwayman it had never meant one jot or tittle to him who sat the throne. They were all just another ruler to be out foxed by an outlaw.

"Very well." Rupert sighed. "But you must understand, what I am about to reveal to you must never leave this office." Jack nodded.

"As you well know, the Hanoverians came to power in difficult circumstances that looked set to undermine the very stability of British society. The first of their Kings, George I, was only 52nd in line to the throne, but the nearest Protestant according to the Act of Settlement. Two descendants of James II, the deposed Stuart king, threatened to take the throne, and were supported by a number of the Jacobites throughout the realm. We almost plunged into civil war then and it has never set well with many to this day to have a German on the English throne. To this day many still look for a legitimate way oust them."

"Those documents prove beyond doubt that George the third was the son of an illicit affair between the queen and one of her guards, a lowborn soldier named Percy Trumbolt. The king had Trumbolt quietly executed for treason, and the legitimate birth certificate was replaced with a forgery. All in all he loved his wife and forgave her indiscretion, naming himself George's father. The real documents were for a long time kept in secrecy by a loyal vicar of the Church of England. Why they were never destroyed is beyond me."

"Still, the doctor in attendance that night was a reformed Catholic, when he later converted back to his original faith he made a grand confession. The priest he confessed to happened to have been a supporter of the House of Stuart. He wrote the entire confession down and had the doctor sign it as penance."

"Not only is that doctor's name on the original birth certificate, but the forgery as well. The priest was apprehended attempting to spirit the confession out of England to Ireland. The confession was then added to the true birth certificate and held under lock and key in the basement of the Tower of London. Forgotten by all but a few."

Jack raised one eyebrow. "So how did you come to know all of this?"

Rupert Barclay smiled. "There is a secret society within the monarchy and it's supporters, Jack." Rupert used the proper name this time. "I happen to belong to it. The Empire is growing as never before, and we don't want to see it upset by internal strife. Britain will have her chance to become a world power."

"And just who is we?" Jack asked suspiciously.

"I am a Freemason, Jack." Rupert said soberly. "And a supporter of the House of Hanover. They are good monarchs and England will see an age of prosperity like never before under their reign."

Barclay took a healthy swallow of the remainder of his brandy before continuing. "There is a descendant of James the second who has risen very highly in Parliament. There is also a certain contingent at his disposal as well. Jacobites loyal to the House of Stuart. Though nothing can be proven, we believe it was some of his men who found out about the documents and stole them."

"This would be?" Jack asked.

"Lord Terrence Blackwood." Rupert replied with some measure of disgust. "Should that proof fall into his hands, he would have a legitimate claim to the throne. The war between the Stewarts and the Hanoverians that was adverted so long ago would break out. England would tear herself asunder."

The truth of that statement gave Jack more than enough pause. Though he had been planing to refuse Barclay's request for the sake of his family, it would seem fate had drug them into it anyway. Resting his chin between his thumb and forefinger he weighed his options. long moments passed as Rupert Barclay all but held his breath, waiting for Jack to make up his mind. Finally Jack sighed and looked up at him.

"I can understand why you would have Black Jack try to steal those papers back." He said lowly. "An all out hunt for them by the kings men would alert the populace that something was amiss. Not to mention you can not just arrest and search the premises of one of the most respected men in England."

"No." Rupert agreed. "Not that Sir Terrence would be fool enough to keep such damning evidence there in the first place."

Jack stood up. "I'll not lie to you, Rupert. Were it not for my son I would have turned you down flat. As it stands now, I've little choice. For the sake of my child, Black Jack Roberts is at your disposal."

"Thank you, Jack." Rupert bowed. "There are things you will need to know. When can I expect him here?"

"This evening." Roberts reached for the door latch. "I have to get something from the cottage, and Cecily must be made aware of my decision. I'll return as fast as I can."

Jack Roberts stepped into the hall. He hadn't the slightest clue where the kidnappers could have taken his son. All his hopes rested on the information Barclay could provide and for him to become a man he had long ago buried. If he was ever to hope to place his little boy back in Cecily's arms he would have to become Black Jack Roberts once again.
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on November 10, 2008, 10:03:18 AM
He stood in the barn staring at the tool cupboard for the longest time. Cecily held the lantern high as Jack finally opened the door. Removing the shovels, rakes, and hoes he reached high on the back, his fingers searching until they found the hidden latch. With a soft click the false back swung away to reveal several hanging parcels wrapped in oil paper.

One by one, he brought them out and laid each carefully on the flat of the hay wagon. Why Jack had kept them he could not rightly say. Perhaps it had been for sentimental reasons, perhaps providence had guided his decision. Regardless, he had only kept one of the three costumes. The other two he had happily burned over seven years ago.

Cecily watched in sorrow as the man she loved unwrapped and slowly donned each article of clothing. The black lacy shirt. The black doeskin britches and leather belled boots, followed by the baldric and wide leather belt. Her tear stained sapphire eyes following every movement as he tied the black cloak around his shoulders then checked the matching French flintlocks before shoving them home into the belt.

She could have sworn that for one fleeting moment a twinkle lit his eye as he picked up the twelve foot braided leather of Old Hob, making certain that the years of disservice had not stiffened the coal colored leather to brittleness before he recoiled it and fastened the frog securely around it's loops.

Last, but not least he pulled the black silk hood over his features, and donned the caviler hat, it's noir ostrich plumes fluffed and trailing down the back to almost touch the cloak. Try as she might she could not help but feel a unwanted thrill, like that of a child about to do something naughty, at the sight before her. There stood Black Jack in all his glory as if he had never been away at all. Despite it all she felt somehow reassured at the sight.

Setting the lamp down on the wagon she fell into his arms. "Even though I wish to God there was some other way, I can not honestly say I am not glad to see you like this again." She sighed.

Jack brushed one gloved hand down the length of her soft golden hair. "I am sorry, My love. I had hoped never to wear this costume again. I don't even know for certain why I kept it and kept it from you."

She drew back slightly to look into his eyes. "It doesn't matter now, Jack." She smiled. "Just bring our little boy home safe."

Jack lifted the hood enough to kiss his beloved deeply before letting it fall back again. "I shall, Dearest." He said as he swung up into Raven's saddle. The stallion cantered slightly, as if he were anxious to relive older times himself. "And God help the men who have taken him!"

Touching his heels to the mighty horse's flanks Jack galloped away from the barn opening. Cecily watched the dark figure vanish into the woodland headed for Devonshire. A small smile of guilty pleasure crossed her sweet features at the sight. Even seven years had not seemed to touch Jack's skills.

Suddenly a frown wrinkled her brow. She could do her part to save their son and bring the miscreants responsible for taking him to justice as well. Andrew could help her. He had risen far since becoming the lord of Morley manor with far deeper connections than she had in society. She resolved to pay her brother a visit tomorrow, Jamie in tow. What ever else happened she would not let her little girl out of her sight. At least not for now.

Cecily returned to their home and checked on her little girl. The child slept, if a bit fitfully. In all these years it was the first time she had seen a child of hers not sleep peacefully. Closing the door quietly, she went to her and Jack's room. From under the bed she pulled an oblong box Jack did not know of either. Unlocking and opening the lid she looked down at the contents, the reason she could not think badly of Jack for keeping one costume secret from her.

She pulled the contents from the shallow chest. The bullwhip she had nearly killed Sir Peter Culpepper with, the bow she had bought in Soho the morning Jack and her had met, and strangely enough a single black silk hood. One that she had saved from the bonfire the night Jack had burned his garb. She held it up admiring it for a few moments.

Tomorrow when she went to see Andrew she would have to make a few discreet purchases. She had remembered the stories of how Katherine Fairchild had emulated Jack and rode at his side. Though she doubted she could dress entirely in a drab black garb as her husband did, she would however adopt his idea and hide her identity behind a costume. Whether or not he liked it, Black Jack Roberts would not ride alone for long.
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on November 16, 2008, 02:49:59 PM
Jeremy emerged several hours later at a lone cottage hidden deep within the woods. His captors had made certain that he was kept from looking out the carriage windows by pulling the privacy curtains shut and the little boy had no idea where he was. Determined to prove himself of the same stock as his father he retained an outward appearance of courage and fortitude, but inwardly he felt the cold hand of fear clutch at his heart.

Sam grabbed the boy's left arm roughly and with Ben on the other side of the lad half dragged him towards the foreboding door.

"We'll get some answers from ye now, me young cocker." He growled menacingly. "The boss'll make ya talk." Ben chuckled ominously.

Ben rapped out a particular pattern on the hard wood before turning the latch. From inside the low light of a single lantern glowed, adding to the dread Jeremy felt. Pulling quickly on the child's arm the short, chubby Sam strode into the small foyer of the cottage as Sam shut the door behind them with a finality that sounded like the crack of doom to the young boy's ears.

Drug into the barely furnished parlor for a moment Jeremy felt his terror lessen. There at a lone table sat a single man, dressed in a finery that bespoke him to be a gentleman. His meticulous hair fell in deep raven black loose curls to his shoulders, and a fine, black beaver felt caviler hat, complete with burgundy and white ostrich feathers lay on the table before him. His spotless wine colored coat was trimmed in gold colored thread, and it's buttons shone like polished brass. Expensive white lace was gathered at his throat, trailing half way down the chest of the silk shirt that showed through the open coat and peeked out loosely at the wide cuffs. Dark brown, almost black eyes turned onto the boy thrust before him before latching darkly on Jeremy's kidnappers.

"What is the meaning of this?" The low deep voice was eerily calm. "I send you out to bring back a lone thief and you return with this child?" One finely manicured hand gestured in Jeremy's direction.

"B-beggin' yer pardon, Mr. Dagget." Ben spoke up. The slight tremor in his reply brought Jeremy's fear back to the fore. If these two ruffians were afraid of this man he knew he should be as well.

Ben went on to recap the events that had led to their bringing Jacks son to the state of affairs he now found himself in, punctuated with affirmative interruptions from Sam. Interruptions that earned him several dark glances from Malcolm. When the two had finished Dagget drooped his head slightly, his eyes closed and a look of utter contempt on his face. With a resigned sigh he lifted his head and locked eyes with the ash blonde child. Lightly raising one hand he motioned.

"Come here, Lad." The deep baritone voice was so gentile Jeremy found himself obeying before he realized it, stepping in front of the nearly bare table.

"What is your name, Child?" Malcolm's face revealed neither kindness, nor crulity, but his voice stayed as soft as if he were engaged in a common conversation with any child a gentleman might meet.

"Jeremy Johnson." They boy returned with a confidence he did not feel.

"Please, have a seat, Mr. Johnson." Malcolm indicated the chair pulled up under the table in front of him and Jeremy did as he was asked.

"Now, Mr. Johnson." Dagget smiled for the first time. "Would you kindly tell me what you have done with my papers?"

"I don't know what you mean, Sir." Jeremy lied. "I grabbed the folder and ran with my sister. I must have taken the wrong one with everything that was going on."

"I don't think so, Mr. Johnson." Malcolm's smile broadened. "You see, I have this ability. I can usualy tell when someone is lying to me."

Despite his resolve Jeremy gulped. Dagget's smile was even kinder than before as he continued. "I think you know exactly what was in those papers and either hid them, or gave them to your sister when these two lost sight of you. You shall remain my guest here until either you decide to tell me the truth, or whoever has those papers comes looking for you."

The manicured hand motioned again for Sam and Ben. "Take young Mr. Johnson here into the back room and secure him there. Perhaps a few days of hunger will change his mind."
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on November 22, 2008, 03:56:18 PM
The small campfire held little warmth from the cool night air, but even this far from the road the three scoundrels dared not risk a larger flame. Dressed in near rags they sat in a semi circle doling out their respective shares from the days work, each gaining no more than a few coppers each.

"Blimey!" The middle one said, weighing the few coins in his hand. "Pickin's has gotten mighty slim these days. Seems like a man can't make an honest livin', wot with the footmen thick as thieves now days."

The three chuckled at the joke.

"Aye, Bert!" The shorter ruffian nodded, his grin revealing yellowed teeth as sparse as a jack o' lantern. "Not like the old days when they was more preoccupied with chasen' him instead 'a us."

"Now don't ye be gettin' on about that Bill Toliver." The shorter and pudgier villain chimed in. "Ye know what they says, "Speak 'a the Devil...."!

"Ah, yer a superstitious fool, Thomas Wilmot!" Toliver waved one hand in the chubby man's direction as if he were swatting away a fly. "And no mistake there. There ain't no returnin' from where he got sent to. Over rated fop if'n ye be askin' me!"

"Fool yerself, Toliver!" Tom spat into the campfire. "Yer just jealous ye don't have none 'a his sand! He were the best bloody thief since ol' Dick Turpin his self!"

William Toliver was on his feet in a moment, his face reddened in the fire light and one hand gripping the butt of his ill kept pistol. "I don't have ta take that kind'a talk from a coward like you, Tom Wilmot!"

"Coward am I?!!" Tom was on his own feet, gripping his flintlock a moment behind. "Pull that there pistol and I'll show ye who's a coward, ya motherless cur!"

Bert Howard stood up between the irate robbers. Towering a few inches above his companions he held one hand out to each of them. "Now boys! No sense in lettin' ourselves come ta blows over a ghost. The man's been dead near seven years now, God rest his black soul."

"While I appreciate the sentiment, Lads," a deep growling voice came from the outer shadows, "I'm afraid the news 'a my demise be somewhat exaggerated."

The three bandits whirled about, pistols flying from their belts as they turned to face the disembodied voice. Three sharp reports cracked in rapid succession and the stunned men found their weapons falling to the ground from numb fingers. Their mouths opened in stupefied shock as the black cloaked and masked figure moved into the light, leisurely coiling the black braided leather of the whip in it's left hand.

"Now, Lad's, lets not be gettin' off on the wrong foot." Jack growled in a voice he had not used in almost a decade. "I've a few questions ta be askin' 'a ye. I'm hopin' ye'll have the answers I be seeking."

"And just who be you that we should answer to ya?" Bert shook his right hand in the attempt to regain the feeling in his fingers.

"I think ye already know the answer ta that." Jack grinned beneath his mask. "But if'n an introduction be needed......I be Black Jack Roberts."

"Ballocks!" Toliver spat into the dust. "Jack Roberts was hung well over seven years gone now, and I'm not the kind ta believe in ghosts!"

Jack chuckled lowly then stared straight into the brigand's eyes. "I can assure you I am neither hung, nor a spirit returned to life. If you doubt, ask Tom Wilmot who it was that placed the scar across his back after he cut the ring from a lady's finger in his greed."

Thomas sucked the air in between his teeth and went white as a newly bleached sheet. "Saints preserve us!" He whispered in shock. "There be only one other man who knew of that! Dear God! It is Black Jack!!!"

"Ghost, or nay, I'll not be bowin' ta the wishes 'a any man!" Bert jerked his tarnished sword from it's scabbard only to find himself staring down the barrel of Jack's own pistol a split second before it cleared the sheath.

I'd be thinkin' twice about that, Bert." Jack's own low voice carrying more weight than any shout could. Howard dropped the half dull blade without a word and glared angrily at the dark apparition.

"That's better, Mate." Roberts laughed. "Now word is the three 'a ye were turned down fer a certain job. At least that's what old Riley told me after a bit 'o persuadin'. Seems the gent already had more'n enough men ta acquire that which he sought."

"Aye. What of it?" Howard fumed.

"In the process they made off with a bit 'a merchandise what can net me a tidy sum, now that I've decided ta come out of retirement." Jack continued. "I've a mind ta snitch it back and the three 'a you are going ta tell me exactly where that gent be."

"Can't rightly say we remember." Bill Toliver broke in.

"I do believe I can remedy yer lack 'a memory." Roberts lowered his chin and drummed his finger tips on Old Hob's handle. "Right quick like."

Tom shivered and broke his stunned silence with a vengeance. "Name's Malcolm Dagget, Jack! I can tell ye all we knows about it, but I warn ye, it's not much!!"

"It should be all I require, Tom." Jack's eyes turned to the chubby thief.

A few moment's later Raven broke from the wood and turned north towards Bath. Jack's midnight hued cloak flapping behind them as they vanished from sight. Bert and Bill sat trussed up like Christmas geese, part of their ragged clothing used as makeshift gags. Angrily they watched as Thomas Wilmot happily counted out the small purse of gold coin Jack threw at his feet before leaving. He touched his hand to the worn brim of the leather tricorn that covered his balding head and grinned at his former compatriots.

"Well, Mates, looks like this is where we part ways." He grinned. "I'd probably take the time ta untie ye, but then I'd have ta share this good fortune and I'm not about ta be haunting this neck 'a the wood with Black Jack around."

Picking up his small knapsack he filled it with as much as he could, including the rest of the copper coins they had started with. "Think I'll take up residence with me cousin in Edinburgh. The two 'a ye have a bonny night, and take a bit 'a advice from one what crossed Roberts once. As soon as ye can find another place ta ply the old trade."

Tossing the bag across his shoulder he vanished into the forest whistling happily as he made his way towards the nearest village, thinking it would probably be best to start fresh in Scotland. After all, he was getting a little too old to end his days as a common thief.
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on November 25, 2008, 07:44:20 PM
"Mama, I want Jeremy back!"
Jamie came into the bedroom of her parents. Cecily drew the quilt down and her little daughter crawled into bed with her. Once there, she broke into sobs.
Cecily cradled her daughter and held her close, barely containing her own tears. But she knew she had to be strong for her daughter. From the first day they drew breath, Jeremy and Jamie had been inseparable.
"My darling, I promise you this. Jeremy is alright. Someone has him and he is alright."
"Where's Da? I want Da!"
A fresh round of tears burst forth. She rocked her Jamie and said, "Da has gone to fetch him. He will know where to look. And Jeremy will be home before you know it with lots of stories for you. Perhaps he will even have new BlackJack Roberts stories for you."
Jamie was quiet for a minute and then she reached to hug her mother.
"Mama?"
"Yes, my angel?"
"Is Da really Black Jack Roberts?"
Cecily took a sharp intake of breath. "Where did you get a notion like that, Jamie?"
"Jeremy and I heard you and Da talking. You didn''t want him to be Black Jack Roberts anymore."

Cecily knew she would have to tread carefully on this.  She had always feared the truth would somehow surface and she didn't want her children to suffer any stigma from society or worse yet, to crow to the shire that their father was the legendary highwayman.
"Jamie, what is your name?"
"You know that, Mama. It's Jamie Johnson."
"Yes, it is. It is NOT Jamie Roberts. Black Jack Roberts was a man from a long time ago. He was hanged. Now, is your father dead?"
"No."
"There is your answer, Jamie. Your father is not Black Jack Roberts. He is Robert Johnson, the same as he was when you were born. Now I need your help."
"What, Mama?"
"You and I need to see Uncle Andrew. And then I am going to help your father look for Jeremy. And I promise you, we will find him. But you need to stay with Uncle Andrew and Aunt Jane. Will you do that for me?"
She nodded. "I will. If it brings Jeremy home faster, I'll be a good girl."
"Wonderful. Now let us get dressed. You may ride your pony Artemis. She is faster than the carriage."
 
Within a half hour, Cecily and Jamie were on the road to Cornwall. They talked of things a mother and her young daughter would. Cecily knew that while the twins loved her deeply, they worshiped their father. As it should be, she reasoned. Jack had waited so long for a family and Cecily was able to gift him with not one but two babies at once. The labor and delivery was long and hard. Cecily sometimes wondered if that was the reason she did not get with child for quite a while. That made the two children all the more precious. And now Cecily was able to give Jack that gift of life again. She unconsciously rubbed her stomach as if to reassure the child within that all would be right. 
 
The manor house came into sight as Cecily and Jamie rounded the lane. While Cecily loved to see Andrew, she was always melancholy to be there since the death of their father three years ago. Sir Wallace had a bad cold that had turned into pneumonia. His death left Cecily almost inconsolable. She knew her father had loved her and Andrew but was quite unsure as to what to do with children, being older when they were born. Lady Alice Morley had taken to traveling after the death of her husband. Cecily suspected that she did not go alone but with a series of lovers. It was something that she and Andrew never discussed.
 
As they rode up, Gavin the stablemaster came out.
"Miss Cecily, as I live and breathe! How nice to see you and young Missy! But where is the young master? And Mr. Johnson?"
Jamie started to open her mouth but Cecily hurried to say, "They weren't able to make it. Jamie may stay with her uncle for a few days. How wonderful to see you, Gavin. Please see to the horses?"
Gavin was surprised as Cecily usually wasn't so rushed but he took the reins of both horses.
"Aye, I'll see to that, Miss Cecily."
 
Cecily opened the back door as always was her habit when she came home. Mrs. Quigley gave them both a hug. "Master Andrew did not tell us you were coming."
"He doesn't know it yet. We decided to surprise him."
"Surprise who?"
Cecily turned around and there stood her brother Andrew.
 
Sir Andrew Morley was two years older than Cecily and a head taller but aside from that, they were masculine and feminine sides of the same coin. He gave her a grin and picked up Jamie.
"Unca Andrew!"
"And how is my favorite niece?"
Jamie laughed and gave him a hug. "I missed you."
"Where is Jeremy? Out by the barn?"
Cecily shook her head. "I need help. Jamie, dear, why don't you find Aunt Jane and help her with the baby?"
Andrew nodded. "She's up in the nursery. She will love to see you, sweetheart."
Jamie ran up the stairs.
 
Andrew led Cecily to the parlor and poured her a brandy. She took a very small sip, just enough to calm her already frayed nerves.
"Jeremy has been kidnapped."
"WHAT?"
Cecily nodded. She told Andrew as much as she knew.
"The children overheard and believed the papers contained information exposing their father as Black Jack Roberts. As near as we can piece it together, Jeremy took the papers and now whoever wants them has Jeremy. He's smart. Like his father. Too smart for his own good sometimes. Jack is off looking for him. He is pretty sure he knows who has him, just the location is in question. And Jack still has his underground sources. He will find Jeremy in no time. But there are two things I ask, Andrew."
"Name them and they are yours."
"I want you to keep Jamie here safe with you. This place is a veritable fortress and no one can get to her here."
"And the other?"
"I need a few things. I am going out to look for Jeremy myself."

"Are you out of your mind, Cecily Johnson?"
"I've never been more sane. Andrew, my son is out there. If I can help bring him home faster, I will move heaven and earth to do so."
"And what about the child you carry? My God, Cecily, it is a wonder the twins were even born with all you endured while carrying them. Please, for all that is holy, take it easy with this one."
"I promise I won't do anything rash. I have to find Jeremy. Jamie is lost without him."
"Do you remember the last time you pulled a hare-brained fact-finding mission? You uncovered Michael Fairchild. That almost ended in tragedy."
She touched Andrew's hand.
"I know what I am doing now. I am older and more settled. For the love of God, Andrew, this is JEREMY I am talking about."
Andrew sighed. "And where do you intend to start?"
"From the magistrate of Cornwall and I shall take it all the way to London if I have to."
"And then what?"
She touched the whip at her side.
"I intend to make them pay for taking my son."
 
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on November 30, 2008, 12:43:09 PM
Jack eyed the small cottage from the cover of the deeper wood surrounding it. The information he had frightened out of Tom Wilmot was more than enough to lead him to the hovel, now the question was whether or not the men holding his son were indeed there. The light orange glow tinting the window to the left of the door told him someone was there, but it did not tell him who.

Roberts knew of the cabin, several local highwaymen did, and all of them had made use of it at one time or another. Far enough away from any nosey neighbors and hid deep in the wood between Devonshire and Bath, the place made for a suitable temporary hide away if one was pursued too heatedly by the footmen. It was far better than trying to equal Dick Turpin's ride, even though Jack knew that it had been Swift Nick Nevison that had actually pulled off the famous stunt.

There was only one way to know for certain. He quietly made his way towards the structure, leaving Raven in the deep shadows. The peaceful life he had led up to this moment had changed Jack. There had been a time when his anger at someone threatening the welfare of a loved one would have sent him into a mad rage. Though he still felt the edges of that rage, he kept his head now, far better than even he would have expected.

The added advantage of the abundant trees provided cover almost to the very doorstep and helped immensely as the dark cloaked figure slid silently onto the porch. The muffled sound of voices confirming that the cabin was indeed occupied. Jack stole towards the filthy window, hoping it would be clean enough to offer a glimpse of what lay inside. Had it not been for the single loose board, he may have succeeded.

The creak of the wood protesting against his weight sounded as loud as a pistol shot in the quiet darkness, producing an immediate effect. Raised voices and the sound of boot steps scrambling in all directions inside meant Jack had little time. Pulling one of his pistols he filled his left hand with Old Hob as the door began to open, the muzzle of a flintlock proceeding it's bearer. Before the door could open fully Jack kicked with all his strength slamming the door into the arm of the pistol's owner, simultaneously discharging the weapon and sending it flying off into the night.

The sound of Ben's cursing reverberated in the small foyer as Jack strode through the door. A second kick sent the slender ruffian sliding on his back across the floor and into the parlor. Jack raced into the single room in time to see a stunned Sam raise a trembling pistol in his direction. With a covert flick of his wrist Old Hob wound about the barrel. A quick jerk on the handle of the whip pulled the weapon from the pudgy man's fingers to skid to a halt at Robert's feet.

Sam's eyes were wide with terror as his mouth worked silently. Jack had forgotten that he was supposed to be dead and the sight of him might make many a superstitious fool believe they were face to face with a ghost.

"Where is the child?!" He demanded, the usual deep gravely voice he used as his alter ego made a bit more melodramatic with the knowledge. The chubby rogue promptly slid to the floor unconscious.

"If you would turn to your right slightly, I believe you would have your answer." The liquid baritone sounded casually, and Jack shifted his gaze.

Malcolm stood at the entrance of the door leading into the other single room of the cottage. One hand held firmly onto Jeremy's shoulder, the other held a pistol, but instead of aiming the deadly gun at Roberts he had it placed against the back of the boy's head.

"I would suggest you divest yourself of those weapons, if you please, Black Jack Roberts." Malcolm frowned, his black eyebrows knitting slightly above his deep brown eyes. "If that is indeed who you are. The last anyone knew you were supposed to be quite dead."

Slowly Jack placed Old Hob and the pistol he held on the grimy floor, quickly followed by his second flintlock and rapier. His blue green eyes never leaving Malcolm's. "I'm afraid not, Mate. Rest assured I am Black Jack and ye hold something dear ta me." he growled lowly.

Dagget smiled. "I thought as much, Mr. Roberts. Were I to hazard a guess I would think you have been hired by the boy's father to track him down. I'm afraid I've not done with the lad quite yet."

Jeremy stood completely still during the exchange, the eyes behind the black hood all he needed to know for certain. He had looked into those turquoise eyes too many times not to know that the man behind the mask was indeed his father. No matter what he would not let this brigand know the truth. Then an idea struck him.

"Is my Da alright, Black Jack?" He quickly asked.

Malcolm shook him slightly. "Hold your tongue, Mr. Johnson."

"You father be fine, Lad." Jack answered. "And he misses ye greatly."

"That's all very touching." Malcolm sneered. "But as I said I've business yet to conduct with young Mr. Johnson here, and we'll be taking our leave now, if you please Mr. Roberts."

Before he could answer Jack felt the pressure of a cold steel barrel against his own skull. Ben had awakened and retrieved Sam's pistol from the floor. Malcolm grinned wickedly as he pulled Jeremy back into the second room and the back door of the thieves cottage.

"I don't suppose we shall meet again, Jack Roberts, so I will bid you farewell." Malcolm turned his gaze to Ben. "After we leave collect that fool partner of yours, then see that Mr. Roberts here fits what the public believes about him. Kill him. I will meet you at the tavern later. Come along, Mr. Johnson."

Jeremy's eyes widened and a muffled "No!" was all he managed before Dagget's hand clamped across his mouth. Soon the sound of a single horse faded into the distance as Ben made his way over to the unconscious form of his partner in crime. His eyes and pistol never leaving the dark shadow of the helpless highwayman.

"C'mon, ye bloody coward!" He hissed shaking the rotund form with his free hand. "Wake the 'Ell up! We've work ta do."

The evil grin at Sam's incoherent moan quickly faded as the sound of a sharp crack filled the room and his weapon clattered to the floor from his pain numbed hand. Jack dove for his own weapons, rolling to his feet he found himself pointing his pistol at a woman dressed in burgundy leather riding pants, black leather riding boots rising up to mid thigh. The billowy white lace shirt held to form fitting around her sleek waistline by a black leather cincher. Her golden loose curls fell about her shoulders from beneath a deep burgundy caviler's hat with black and white ostrich plums trailing behind, A black silk scarf covered the lower part of her face up to just beneath her sapphire blue eyes.

"Heard a shot and figured ye might be needin' a bit 'a help here, Jack." The sensuous husky voice that he had only heard under certain more pleasurable circumstances filled his ears as Black Jack's eyes widened in complete numbed surprise.
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on December 04, 2008, 09:13:12 PM
The woman's voice from behind the mask said, "Allow me to introduce myself, Black Jack. My name is Catherine Madison. And I just happened to be passing by on my way to conduct a little....business in these parts. I heard a bit of a ruckus and decided to investigate. Since this was a hide-out I intended to use for the night, I wanted to clear out any....vermin."
She nodded towards Sam and Ben.
"I take it these two have been giving you trouble?...Don't!"
She turned a pistol and towards Ben and said coolly, "Don't make me shoot you. I don't feel like scrubbing the floor after the long night I have had."
Jack recovered his voice and said, "Catherine Madison? I've heard of you.  From York, if I am not mistaken."
"Aye...I've been up that way plying my trade but the walls seemed to be coming in on me, if you get my drift.  And now I see these two miscreants have been giving you trouble.  Hand me their weapons, dear."
Jack reached over and handed their pistols over to her. She picked them up gingerly and said, "Just as I thought. Sub-quality. I recommend that you petition your employer for better weapons, gentlemen. See? Look how dirty they get."
She took the pistols and dropped them in water.
"NO!" Ben yelled just as it submerged.
"Oh, my!  Look! They don't float!"
Jack, in spite of everything, couldn't help but laugh. "I'm sorry, Catherine, but it seems you forgot one rule. The powder needs to stay dry."
She frowned. "I always do forget that part."
She turned her pistol towards Ben. "I highly suggest that you take that rope over there and tie your partner up. Like a Christmas goose."
Jack raised his eyebrow. "Wouldn't that be better left to me?"
She shook her head. "No, let him do the work. But check the ropes. We can't have them escaping now, can we? I mean, because of these two, I shall have to find another place to lodge for the night. Do you have any suggestions?"
 
Jack burst out laughing. "Aye, I do have a few, Miss Madison."
"I thought you would. And I am sure my husband would not mind."
Jack turned to Ben. "Now....here's the rope, swine. I suggest you start trussing your friend. Mr. Roberts will have the honour of tying you up like the pig you are."
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
"What the HELL are you doing, woman?" Jack exploded when they got outside.
"You almost gave me death from fright! I could have shot you."
Cecily pulled her mask down and purred, "You mean you aren't even going to kiss me?"
He pulled her to him and held her close, kissing her. "I saw Jeremy. He's safe. He's with Malcolm Dagget. We just have to find out where they went."
"I found a way to trail them. When I saw the carriage out back, I went into the barn and took two tins of red paint. I punctured a hole in the can for a slow drip, then I fastened them to the axle. Mr. Dagget doesn't know it....but he has now left us a trail. "
Jack shook his head, astonished by not only the way she looked in her highwayman outfit but by her smarts as well.
He whistled low for Raven. The coal black stallion trotted out of the woods followed closely by his lady Aphrodite.
"And how did you find out where I was going?"
She smiled, "I actually let Aphrodite find you. Like a woman, she knows where her man is. You know how in love those two are!"
"Let's head out. We can talk on the way. Do you think we can see the trail?"
Cecily lit a lantern and carried it high above her head. "See the red drips? The paint is rigged up so the hole I made gets bigger as the axle turns.  They went down that road. See the splotches?"
He helped her upon her horse, then mounted his.
"We have a lot to discuss, my darling. Including why you put yourself and the babe in danger."
She kicked Aphrodite gently in the flanks. "Lecture me as we ride, love. We've wasted enough time."
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on December 04, 2008, 10:05:30 PM
 
As they rode through the wood, Jack held the lantern and the trail of red paint led them down the road.
"Cecily, where is Jamie?"
"I left her at Andrew and Jane's. She's quite safe there. No one can penetrate Moreland."
"How is she?"
"Scared. Upset. She wants her brother back. "
"He's fine. He's upset but the lad is smart. He pretended not to know me."
"I was afraid of this. He now knows his father really is Black Jack Roberts."
"We can deal with that once we get him home safe and sound."
Cecily said softly, "I saw Daggett take Jeremy in the carriage. It was all I could do to keep from lashing the man within an inch of his life but I knew that if we were to save Jeremy, I had to rescue you.  I couldn't do it by myself."
"Cecily, while I am grateful you showed up, I have to say one thing.  ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? You have an unborn child to think of."
"Of course I know that. Why do you think I wore a leather waist cincher?"
 
The lantern swung, showing the drops that were becoming larger.
"Where did you come across this idea, Cecily?"
"Actually, it was something Andrew thought up when we were children. Mother used to go out in her carriage. When Andrew was about twelve and I was ten, he did that to Mother's carriage to see where she went."
"And where did it lead? The dressmaker's? A tea party?"
She replied with a steel edge to her voice, "To Sir Peter Culpepper's."
 
Quietly, Cecily said, "Promise me that Jeremy will be alright, Jack."
Jack laughed softly and said, "I can promise you that. The boy is clever. And resourceful."
"Like his father. Jack, he must be just like you were as a child."
"He is. Lord, I wish my parents could see them. Mother would have loved them to death."
He became quiet. When he got that way, Cecily let him be. Jack grieved for his parents to this very day. She knew that they had carved out a meager existence and that poverty was what had driven Jack to becoming the highwayman she imitated in child's play with Andrew and then fell in love with as a young woman.
After letting him settle down with his bruised emotions, Cecily asked, "Did you hear anything of what the plans that Dagget has?"
He nodded. "He told those two hired thugs to finish me off and then meet him at the tavern."
"And what tavern would that be?"
"The Black Bear over by Exeter. It is the only one of any quality. And it is near Lovelace Manor."
"Lovelace Manor?"
"Home of one Sir Malcolm Dagget. Landed gentry but not quite royalty. And he is working hand in glove with one who is."
"And that would be..?"
"Lord Terrance Blackwood."
"Terrance?"
"You know him, Cecily?"
She nodded, "Terrance Blackwood. His father and mine used to sit on the House of Lords together. I hadn't seen him in years. He was ambitious as a young man. And from what I heard, he hasn't stopped.  What is his ambition now?"
"Oh....not much. Just to take the throne of England."
"WHAT?"
"Yes.  And I do believe our son is holding the key."
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on December 13, 2008, 10:52:29 AM
"Mr. Dagget." Jeremy made his voice seem smaller and more child like that usual.

"What is it, Mr. Johnson. Have you decided to tell me what you have done with my property?" Malcolm's dark eyes locked with the small boy.

"Has I have said, Sir, that was the only folder I took from the barrister's." Jeremy's light eyebrows knitted the frown of a child upset at not being believed. "But I am in need of the chamber pot."

Malcolm chuckled. "You will have to control yourself until we reach the inn, Mr. Johnson. It shan't be long now."

"Would if I could, Sir." Jeremy squirmed in his seat. "I fear if I do not go out there, then it shall be in here." The light haired child nodded towards the wood.

"Very well, Lad." Dagget tapped on the shoulder of the driver who had been sleeping on the cot in the room Jeremy had been kept in. Malcolm had sent him to ready the coach as soon as Black Jack had burst into the thieves cottage. "Pull to the side, Mr. Miller. Young Johnson here must see to the call of nature."

"Aye, Sir Malcolm." The driver touched the brim of his tricorn and pulled the reigns to his right. Malcolm studied the boy thoughtfully. That Robert Johnson was wealthy there was little doubt. At the least one of the richest men in Wales. He certainly would have had the recourses to have hired a rouge such as Roberts, if indeed that was Roberts, yet how had the villain found them so quickly? And why would any man he had hired choose to disguise himself as the legendary bandit? Why not just send the kings men instead? There were too many unanswered questions and he felt certain the answers lay with this child.

As the carriage rolled to a stop Malcolm drew himself out of his reverie. "Mr. Miller. Keep our young charge company, if you please."

"As you wish, Sir." The coachman climbed down from the driver's seat and pulled a pistol from beneath his cloak. "Come along, Lad. Lord Dagget has not the night to await your desires."

Malcolm watched as the two took one of the lanterns and moved into the cover of the wood. Returning to his train of thought he again tried to sort out the night's revelations. For all he, or anyone else knew Black Jack Roberts had been executed by that fool Culpepper. At first the whole of England had wondered in disbelief, especially when the body of Peter had been found savagely beaten and shot. More than one had thought that the resourceful highwayman had not tricked Culpepper into hanging a lackey in his place for an opportunity to kill the nobleman.

Then, as the years passed, there had been neither word, nor deed from the dark robber and soon he had been regulated to the stuff of fairy tales. Malcolm knew that Culpepper had been involved in a vendetta against the rogue. The hornet's nest it had stirred up had put the plans to steal the documents on hold as the king increased not only the number of footmen in the country side, but around the Tower of London and palace as well.

Sir Terrence had sent him to Ireland, where Sir Peter had been in hiding to demand the fool resolve this useless feud at once. Not only had the idiot made it impossible to reach the forgotten papers, but he had threatened to expose the entire Jacobite mission as well. Not even Sir Blackwood's vast wealth was enough to make the proper arrangements for the coup and they had to resort to less than honorable methods to raise the needed funds. That inexcusable dullard had threatened to expose them all with his childishness. Malcolm was glad they were rid of him.

Miller stood behind the boy waiting, his eyes never leaving the child. "Come along, Lad. Sir Dagget doesn't have all night."

"Half a moment, Sir." Jeremy replied. "This is hard enough without you watching me."

The driver chuckled. "Oh, no you don't, Boy. I'm not fool enough to be turning my back on ye."

After Jeremy had finished he secretly buttoned the front of his trousers, holding his hands low he turned around. "I can't seem to get this fastened, Sir. Could you hold the lantern a bit lower, please?" As soon as the man stepped near Jeremy kicked out savagely into his shin and bolted for the forest.

Malcolm leapt from the coach at the sound of Miller's shouted curses. Ignoring the stream of obscenities coming from his servant's direction he followed his ears at the sound of something running through the brush and soon cut off the young boy from his escape route. The sight of the pistol in the man's hand brought Jeremy to a sullen halt.

"We'll have no more of that, if you please, Mr. Johnson." Malcolm spoke lowly then motioned back the way they had come with the muzzle of the weapon. "If you would?"

Back at the carriage they found the injured coachman near the rear of the wagon, still bending over. Malcolm gripped the back of Jeremy's coat and shirt in one hand and slid the flintlock back into his belt. Half dragging the small boy he frowned angrily at Miller.

"Come now, Mr. Miller. Surely this child has not wounded you that badly." He growled, irritated at the incompetence of his driver.

"It's not that, Sir Malcolm. Have a look at this!" Miller pointed at the ground behind the carriage.

"Well, well." Dagget mused. "It would seem our erstwhile Mr. Roberts is as resourceful as the tales claim him to be. Good work, man."

"Thank you, Sir!" Miller brightened, pausing only to shoot Jeremy a dark glare while Malcolm examined the trail of re spots leading to his carriage.

"I have an idea, Mr. Miller." Malcolm stroked his goatee thoughtfully. "Should our Mr. Roberts somehow prove able to survive his encounter with Ben and Sam, what say we give him something else to chase after, besides our young Mr. Johnson here?"

Miller's face split into a wide grin. "What do you have in mind, Lord Dagget?"

Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on December 21, 2008, 03:35:55 PM
"This does not look good." Jack mused as he studied the trail of red paint more closely.

"What is it, Darling?" Cecily called down to him from Aphrodite's back, one hand holding Raven's reigns as her husband examined the trail.

"For one that rather large pool of paint we found a couple of miles back, Luv." Roberts wondered, stroking his chin through his hood. "It was obvious they pulled to the side for a moment, or two. I had hoped it was some ruse by Jeremy to give us a clue as to Dagget's plans. Now, unless I am mistaken, the miscreant has changed his mind."

Jack walked back to the black stallion and taking the reigns from his wife swung easily up into the saddle. "Those spots are leading away from the inn and headed straight to Lovelace Manor. I fear we have been discovered, Dearest."

"But if they discovered the trail, why not just take the buckets off and then go to the manor to throw us off the trail?" Cecily frowned.

"Exactly, Luv." Jack raised his hood just high enough to blow out the small lantern. "No need for this now, and we can not afford to be seen now. It is safe to assume that Dagget has discovered your ruse, and decided to go to ground in home territory." Cecily nodded, glad that Jack had blown out the lantern which would have revealed the color draining from her cheeks and the fear in her eyes.

This will require a bit of the old sneak, Luv." Jack continued. "We will have to approach unseen and the hare is alerted to our presence. However, I don't think the quarry is aware of your entering the game, so we may have an advantage yet. Did you by any chance pack a change of clothing?"

Cecily brightened instantly realizing Jack's plan. "Of course I did, Mr. Roberts. I did learn from the best after all. I take it your plan is to have me show up at the front door as Cecily Johnson while you come in from the rear?"

"Close enough, My Love." Jack chuckled. "Let's refine the plan on the way. With luck our son will be out of Malcolm Dagget's clutches a good hour before he even knows the boy is missing."



A couple hours before dawn Miller approached the large double doors of Lovelace Manor in answer to the repeated echoing boom of the knocker. One hand on his pistol he reached cautiously for the latch and pulled the heavy oak open a few inches. His eyes widened slightly in surprise at the sight that greeted them. There stood a young woman. Her clothing, though of good quality, was tattered and as smudged with dirt as her face. Her loose blonde hair held bits and pieces of bracken and a look of wild terror filled her sapphire blue eyes.

"Please, Kind sir, let me in!" She wrung her hands pitifully. "I have been accosted by robbers! They have murdered my husband and I barely escaped with mu life!"

"Please, come in Mrs???" Miller threw the door wide and motioned for Cecily to enter the expansive hall.

"Morely." Cecily answered. "Cecily Morely, and I thank you for you help. Are you the lord of the manor?"

"Nay, Mrs. Morely. Just a servant." Miller shot a quick glance up the winding staircase. "I'm afraid Lord Dagget is....indisposed at the moment. Perhaps I may be of assistance?"

"I am most certain you may." The deep growling voice from behind the coachman was instantly followed by the pressure of a dagger to his throat. "If you would, Mrs. Morely?"

"My pleasure, Mr. Roberts." Cecily grinned as she pulled Miller's flintlock from his belt, cocked the weapon, and pointed the barrel at the servant's barrel chest. Miller raised both hands slowly to his shoulders, palms outward.

"That's a good lad." Jack murmured stepping into view. "Now if you would be kind enough to tell us which room Sir Malcolm's young guest is residing in, we'll be happily about our business. Other wise, I am not certain just how skilled the young lady is in the usage of firearms."

"Third door to the right." Miller grumbled, tossing his head in the direction of the staircase.

"Good man." Jack grinned under his hood, producing a length of rope from beneath his cloak. "Now. This way, if you please." He motioned to the door of the cloakroom.

Twenty minuets later Jack quietly opened the door to the lavishly furnished room. A small lump in the covers the only sign of occupancy. With infinite care he made his way over to the king sized poster bed and reached out for the still form.

"Jeremy. It's Da. I've come to take you home, son." The turquoise eyes widened in shock, then narrowed in anger as the pulled back covers revealed only a large pillow in place of a sleeping body.



Cecily had just finished changing back into her own costume, and brushed the leaves and twigs from her hair when she heard the approaching sound of footsteps in the forest. Jack owed her a new dress, for they had certainly ruined the one she had packed in her saddlebags. Though the thought of holding her little boy in her arms again was more than worth the price of a garment.

Jack entered the small clearing alone and her heart fell to her feet. "Jack?" She half sobbed.

"We've been tricked, Dearest." She could see the smoldering flames of rage in his eyes. "Dagget knew we would follow the carriage and arranged for his driver to bring it here and lay a trap for me should I follow."

"Then?" Cecily felt her anger and fear rise in equal measure.

"I couldn't get much more from him than that Dagget and Jeremy walked the rest of the way to the inn. We can go there and attempt to find out where he will go to ground at, but we can be fairly certain he won't stay there if he thinks he's being trailed. I wouldn't." Jack stepped into Raven's stirrup.

"But how do we find out for sure?" Cecily asked.

"First we need to find you more suitable clothing, My Love." Jack pulled his hat and hood from his face. Then perhaps Robert and Cecily Johnson can discover at the inn what we can not."

Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on December 25, 2008, 02:43:08 PM
Cecily had changed back into her tattered clothing and the leaves and twigs were put back in her hair. Jack had smudged more dirt on her face and scuffed her boots.
"You know what to do. Just enter the tavern with the same story we gave and procure a room. I will then come in a half hour later and see what information I can extract quietly. Cecily, love, you need some rest. If not for you, for the sake of our unborn child."

She dismounted Aphrodite and patted her gently on the nose. Jack was right. She would hinder the search for Jeremy if she didn't take care of herself. It would be a tragedy to be laid up with a miscarriage. Jack would never leave her side.
She whispered to the horse, "Be a good girl and take care of the men."
Jack took her in his arms.
"I'll be here as long as it takes. This is the best plan. Dagget will be looking for a man and a woman if those two cretins ever catch up to him."
She kissed him long and took a shuddering breath.
"I'll see you soon, love."
 
Cecily entered the tavern and threw herself against the door. She put her arm over her eyes and turned to the wall.
"Please...please help me!" she whimpered.
Five men immediately arose.
"Ma'am, what is wrong?"
"Good Lord, are you alright?"
"Here, sit down!'
"Please, bring her something to drink!"
 
She was led to a chair and managed to whisper, "We were set upon by highwaymen. Two of them robbed my carriage. I was on the way to see my sister in London and they killed the coachman and my husband. Oh, dear Lord, what am I going to do?"
She let out sobs that moved the men to pity. A tavern wench came up and put her arm around Cecily.
"Dearie, do ye need a doctor?"
"No..no.  I need....oh heavens, I hope I am not going to lose my child!"
She bent forward and rocked, holding her abdomen.
The men instinctively stepped back and the bar wench wiped her face.
"Are ye cramping, milady?"
She nodded her head. "I--I need rest. Perhaps they will stop."
She grabbed the tavern wench's hand.
"Please...Please help me. I have no money. The highwaymen took it all.  I'll never forget them. One was tall and thin with a pinched face and the other was portly. And the only thing they left me with was....this."
She held up a ring.
"It--it is my wedding ring. I shall exchange it for a night of lodging. I need rest."
The tavern wench helped her to her feet.
"Aye, luv, I'd not be takin' the last thing that means anything to a woman. 'Ere..the room is yours. Now ye men get back while I tend to this poor soul."
 
Maeve, the tavern wench, led her to an upstairs room. Cecily leaned on her for support.
"What be yer name, dearie?"
"Margaret Stafford. My husband was James Stafford. We live in Surrey."
"Is this yer first bairn?"
"Yes. And it will be the last thing I ever have of James."
Maeve was moved with pity. "Now, ye not be dwelling on that. I'll send men out to look for the...for yer husband's..um...yer husband."

Cecily thought quickly. "Maeve, please, it won't do any good. The highwaymen drove the carriage with him in it over a bluff into the lake below. Please...may I be alone in my grief? I shall be down in the morning to arrange new passage...home. And to make arrangements to pay you for your kindness."
Cecily burst into a fresh set of tears.
Maeve took her in her arms and patted her consolingly.
"Eh, dearie, what you need is rest. Are you hungry? Stew is on the house."
She dabbed her eyes.
"That won't be necessary, Maeve. I just need rest."
 
Maeve shut the door after giving her a basin and a pitcher of hot water along with a fresh towel. Cecily then sat on the bed to await for Jack. The thought of Jeremy was never far from her mind. She fought to keep the tears in check, all the time rubbing her abdomen.
'Take heart, my child. And we shall bring your brother home to us.'
 
Jack entered the tavern and scanned the crowd. No sign of the two thugs who were assigned to 'dispatch' him.  He took a seat at the common table and motioned for the tavern wench.
Maeve bustled forward, a frown furrowed on her pretty features.
"Aye, what will it be, milord?"
Jack removed his coat and said, "I'd like a bowl of beef stew and an ale, miss. And I shall be requiring a room. Do you have one available?"
She nodded. "Aye. But ye will need to be especially quiet. Poor young widow was beset by highwaymen!"
"You don't say! I tell you, no one is safe anymore. The King's men been patrolling lately?"
"No. And we rightly need it. As I was telling Malcolm when he was in here earlier."
Jack willed himself to remain calm.  He affected a laugh.
"Odd you mention a man named Malcolm. I have a cousin named Malcolm that I was on my way to see."
She brightened. "Malcolm? Malcolm Dagget is yer cousin?"
Jack laughed. "The very one! But I went to his estate--Loveland, is it?--and he was gone. It was a surprise visit as I have business up this way. You wouldn't happen to know where he went, do you?--And I do believe I shall have that apple tart you have under that glass."
 
Maeve bustled to get it for the handsome traveler. 'Perhaps he wouldn't mind a spot of company for the night, too...he seems to have funds.'
As she set it in front of him, she sat down and leaned towards him, tossing her black hair in a saucy way.
"Your cousin Malcolm showed up here with a young child. Right handsome lad. He told me he was his brother's son and he was delivering him to his father in Kent. Odd bodkins! It must be a family trait!"
"What, Miss---?"
"Oh! Maeve. Maeve Ryan, at yer service, sir. And ye are....?"
"Duncan. Duncan Dagget. Our fathers were brothers. He must be delivering the lad--name escapes me--to my cousin."
"Oh! Well, anyway, the lad had turquoise eyes just like ye. So that must be the family trait. Lord, the lad looks enough like ye to be yer son."
Jack laughed again. "Nay, he definitely is not my son.  Although the lad's mother was a right bonny lass that I wouldn't have minded taking a tumble with!"
Maeve slapped his arm playfully and said, "Oh, go on with ye!"
 
Jack stretched out his legs and said, "Well, Mistress Ryan, I do believe I shall be retiring for the night. "
"And will ye be wanting anything else? Ale? Another bowl of stew? Or maybe some company of the female sort?"
Jack grinned, "A most toothsome notion, Mistress Ryan, but I do believe the day's ride has caught up to me. All I want now is a good night's sleep."
She looked crestfallen but raised her head up in a slightly miffed tilt.
"Aye, then I shall bid ye goodnight, Mr. Dagget."

Jack stood up and swept his hat off to her. "If I am ever in these parts again, Mistress Ryan--I shall verily consider your---notion."
He bowed low and she hid a smile behind her hand. "Aye, that I shall remember then, sir."

As he turned going up the staircase, he said, "And which room is the young widow in so I don't intrude on her grief?"
Maeve handed him a key and said, "Yer room is the first on the right. Hers is the first door on the left."
He nodded, replaced his hat and said to himself, 'Da was right. Always treat a lady like a wench and a wench like a lady.'
 
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on December 26, 2008, 08:14:39 PM
Jack gently knocked on the door. It opened a crack, slowly.  Cecily opened it wider when she saw who it was. He looked peripherally and then entered the room quickly.
She hugged him. "I thought you would never get here! Where are the horses?"
"Stabled. I gave the story that I was delivering the mare to my nephew."
"My darling, you think of everything. Did you find out anything?"
"Yes. Malcolm is on his way to Kent and he has Jeremy with him. Jeremy must be alright as Maeve--the tavern wench--didn't say otherwise. Dagget is passing Jeremy off as his nephew."
 
She handed Jack a towel and the cloth to wash up and then pulled the sheets back. She was wearing a chemise that was two sizes too big for her.
"Where did you get that?"
"Maeve gave it to me. " She proceeded to tell Jack the ruse she had pulled, including the implication of Ben and Sam.
He chuckled. "Well played, love. Well played! And I told Maeve that Dagget was my cousin and I showed up at his estate but he was gone. She had mentioned that Jeremy looked like me, the eyes gave it away."
Jack pulled the covers up over them and Cecily laid her head on his chest.
"Those were the eyes I fell in love with, Jack. There are no other eyes that colour of turquoise. Except for the twins."
He held her close and stroked her hair. "They were my father's eyes. Mum had beautiful green eyes. As green as the grass in Eire. He used to call her his 'colleen'."
She snuggled closer to him. "And I wonder how the new little one will look. It would be wonderful if he or she had her eyes."
He pulled back and said, "And if the babe has eyes like the mother, they will be wondrous!"
Cecily gave a shiver.
"Are you cold, darling?"
"A little. But mostly it is fatigue. A night's rest shall help. I would say a good night's sleep but I haven't had one since my boy is gone."
He kissed her and said, "He will be home soon. That I promise you, love."
But the response he got was only the soft sound of her rhythmic breathing.
He held her close and within minutes he, too, was asleep.
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on January 11, 2009, 03:06:13 PM
A few moments before the sun had peeked above the horizon across the moor, Jack awoke with a slight start. He had not intended to fall asleep in his wife's arms, as it would put their entire ruse in jeopardy, but the soft promise of his love held closely had dropped his defenses. Smiling wistfully he carefully disengaged himself from her entwined limbs and slid to the edge of the warm bed.

"Leaving so soon, Mr. Roberts?" The drowsy jest punctuated with a small yawn.

"Damn! I'm getting far too old for this." Jack thought, though he realized that it was extremely rare he had ever been able to slip away without somehow alerting her.

"I'm afraid so, Dearest." He smiled and leaned over to gently kiss her. "It most surely won't do for Robert Johnson to be caught in the bedroom of a recently widowed damsel in distress, now. Would it?"

"No, I suppose not." Cecily gave him that small pouting frown that was at the same instant both childlike and sensuous. "Should we not pursue Dagget before he has too much of a head start, though?"

"Under normal circumstances I would say yes, Luv." Jack pondered as he tucked his shirt tail into his breeches. "But there are several routes he may take to Kent from here, and we would be better served if I can discover the most likely one before we set off. In the meanwhile you should rest, My love, for your and the child's sake. We are not beaten, yet, and the more Robert Johnson can wheedle out of the locals, the better."

She placed one tender hand on his cheek and softly kissed the other. Jack's argument made perfect sense, despite the fact that every motherly instinct in her screamed to track down the man who had stolen her son immediately. Fortunately, Cecily Roberts was not a woman to be overly ruled by her emotions, and despite her bravado as her newly acquired persona, she knew Jack had far more experience at this sort of thing. Over the years together she had come to trust his judgment far more than she had any man she had ever met.

"I shall, Dearest." She smiled genuinely, then a twinkle came to her deep blue eyes and she smiled wickedly. "As long as you have no intention of leaving me behind and sneaking off on your own in the manner you try to sneak your way from my bed."

Jack had to clamp his hand over his mouth to keep from guffawing aloud. "Bloody Hell, Darling!" He half hissed between his teeth in merriment. "At the moment I'm trying to sneak from your room and save your reputation!"

"As I said before, Sir. I am quite certain my husband won't mind." She winked.

Jack shook his head ruefully and cracked the door enough to ensure there were no prying eyes in the hallway. Quickly turning back to his beloved wife, he winked and blew her a quick kiss before slipping silently from the room.



"And I say it's yer own bloody fault, ya superstitious fool!" Ben groused as the two men trudged up the muddy road leading towards the Bell and Book tavern. "I'm sick to death 'a hear'n ye complain about that wee bump on yer head."

The shorter, heavier Sam's face screwed up into defiant anger. "And I'm tell'n ye I were there! I saw Jack Roberts hung with me own eyes! The sight 'o him livin' and breathin' should be enough to make any man with a brain in 'is 'ead take leave 'a his senses!"

"Ahhhh! Yer daft, is wot ye are!" Ben swatted one hand in Sam's direction. "That were no ghost! Most like it be some blighter what knew a superstitious fool like yerself would piss his self at the mere sight 'o him!"

Sam stopped, placing his fists on his hips. "I seen the real man a few times before, Benjamin Bower!" He thrust his chin out. "That were no other than Black Jack Roberts his self, and make no mistake about it!"

Ben sighed in resignation, arguing the point further would be nothing more than a waste of time. "Be that as it may, Sam. I've a feelin' the one we should be worrin' about more at the moment be Malcolm Dagget." He looked up at the gray covered sky. "Providin' we make it ta the inn a'fore we catch our deaths."



Jack removed his boots and shirt. It would be a few moments before the tavern downstairs opened up for the day's business and a few more moments of sleep would do him no harm either. Unless he missed his guess the tavern wench Maeve would prove his best source for more details about the road Dagget had taken. Before he met Cecily he'd had more than a little time spent with tavern wenches and this one gave out all the usual signs. It wouldn't be too hard to glean all she knew and if she proved un-useful there were sure to be others among the inn's patronage he could pull into his web.

He could afford to give the blackguard a bit of a lead, but there would be little doubt that once he had run the villain to ground, he would make certain Malcolm Dagget would rue the day he had ever threatened the son of Black Jack Roberts.
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on January 25, 2009, 08:41:22 PM
Cecily washed her face and looked at the torn and muddy clothes that were lying in a pile. She dreaded having to put them back on. But a smile crossed her face. The daughter of Sir Wallace Morley of Moreland playing the part of a highwayman's victim!
'I guess playing highwayman with Andrew did have its benefits.'
She hesitated and a melancholy feeling came over her. She opened the window and looked at the morning sun. She remembered sitting with the children at the kitchen table when they were toddlers and every morning they would kiss their fingers and wave to the sun.
'Good morning, Mr. Sun.' Cecily recited. Then she added, 'Please watch over my children today.'
She could feel tears welling up in her eyes and she willed them away. The tears would be stored for tears of joy when her Jeremy was home safe and sound.
 
She put the dirty clothes back on and brushed her hair with a brush she managed to smuggle in her pocket. 
Folding up the chemise, she left it on the bed. As she shut the door, she hesitated about knocking on Jack's door but resisted the urge. She could hear Jack moving around inside the room but it wouldn't do to arouse any suspicions.
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Sam and Ben stumbled into the tavern as the sun was just breaking over the horizon. Maeve caught sight of the two and rolled her eyes. More riffraff.
'We need a better class of clientele, more like that dashing Duncan Daggett.'
She sighed with regret of what could have been. Perhaps the next time....
 
'' 'Ey! Tavern wench! We need some food here!"
Ben snapped his fingers towards Maeve. Sam was leaning on his elbow and had fallen asleep. Ben knocked his arm out from under him and Ben's face fell on the table. He took a swing at Ben and missed, hitting his hand on the back of the chair.
"OW!! Ye lousy nit!"
Cecily had descended the stairs just at that moment. A second of dread filled her in fear they would recognize her.
And then an idea came to her.
 
Maeve caught sight of her and hurried over to her. "'ere now, dearie. Did ye sleep well?"
Cecily rubbed her stomach and mustered up some tears.
"The cramps had stopped. I pray that the babe will be alright. It is all I have left to remember James by. And if I can make it home...."
She stopped in midsentence. Putting a fist to her mouth, she turned to Maeve with terrified eyes.
"Th-those--those two men at the table..."
Maeve looked over and said, "Aye, those two. They are a piece o' work, they are."
"N-n-no..you don't understand. Those are the two highwaymen that robbed our carriage and killed my poor James."
Maeve whispered, "Are ye sure?"
Cecily nodded vigorously. "I am. I'll never forget them. Oh, my Lord, what am I going to do?"
Maeve took her gently by the shoulders and said quietly, "Wait in the kitchen, I'll handle this."
To a young man, she said, "Lucas? Fetch the constable. And I mean NOW. Tell him it is a matter of life and death."
She took Cecily and put her in the kitchen.
"Just wait 'ere, dearie."
 
Within fifteen minutes, the constable arrived.
"There they are, Constable Hamilton." Maeve nodded at Ben and Sam who were devouring their eggs and ham.
"Alright, you two! ON YOUR FEET!"
Ben looked up and Sam continued to eat. The constable and his two men hoisted Sam out of his chair. He choked and one of the men pounded him on the back till a piece of ham flew out of his mouth and hit Sam in the eye.
"Ow, ye bugger!"
The constable said over his shoulder to Maeve, "Bring the young woman out, please."
Maeve went into the kitchen and brought Cecily out.
She visibly trembled at the sight of Sam and Ben.
"Young woman--what is your name?"
"Margaret Stafford, your honour. Of Surrey."
"And are these the two ruffians who beset upon you and your husband?"
Cecily covered her face with her hands and the muffled reply came, "Yes...yes, that is them. Oh, Lord, that is them!"
Ben and Sam exclaimed at the same time, "WHAT???"
"Take them to the gaol and we will straighten this out later on. I hate to be taken away from my morning tea."
Sam and Ben were hustled out amidst their protesting and yelling.
Cecily sat in the chair by the fire with her hands over her face and her shoulders shaking with sobs.
Maeve patted her on the shoulder and clucked in sympathy.
 
Jack came down the stairs and took the scene in. He motioned to Maeve.
"What happened? I heard yelling."
Maeve nodded towards Cecily who sat staring into the flames of the fire in the grate.
"That there is the widow I was tellin' ye about last night. The highwaymen--dissolute louts!--showed up 'ere as she came down the stairs. Divine bit of providence, says I. They are now in the custody of Constable Hamilton and lounging in the gaol of this shire."
 
Jack marveled at the talent his wife had showed for improvisation. He walked over to her and gently laid his hand on her arm. She looked at him with a tearstained face.
He cleared his throat.
"Madame, I am sorry for your loss. Where are you from?"
"Surrey. The Staffords of Surrey."
"Do you have transportation back?"
She shook her head. "No. I--I can get a carriage back if they wouldn't mind getting payment when I arrive home."
She took off her wedding ring and fought back tears. "I--I can use this as surety."
Damn, she is good, Jack thought.
He gently said, "I need to wrap up some business here and get something to eat, shouldn't take more than a half hour. I have a mare I am delivering in Kent. If you don't mind riding her, I shall see you make it back to Surrey."
Cecily looked at him with gratitude on her face. "I shall see you are well-paid, Mister....?"
"Daggett. Duncan Daggett. Please. Get yourself something to eat. On me. Maeve? Get the lady some food, please."
And he whispered to Maeve, "And a moment of your delightful company that I missed out on last night, eh?"
Cecily caught that and raised an eyebrow so only Jack could see. He stifled a laugh.

Ben and Sam were taken care of. Cecily--or the Widow Stafford, as he now had to call her--would be remanded to his protection. And Maeve would be eager to please, be it in information or accomodating.
Once they cleared the woods on the path out of town, Cecily would be a woman with an undead husband.
Thank God.
Jack didn't like being dead.
Again.

Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on January 28, 2009, 12:48:51 PM
Maeve returned quickly enough with the food, set one filled plate down in front of Cecily, then promptly moved to deposit her buxom body on Jack’s knee. An act that was just as quickly adverted by Jack placing his hands about her slim waist and guiding her gently into the chair next to him. The look of disappointment on the tavern wench’s face soothed by the smiling explanation the highwayman instantly provided.

“Sorry, Luv. But with all this poor widow has been through, I believe it would be bad form to demonstrate affection that may remind her of her loss. Wouldn’t you agree?” Roberts reached deeply into the bag of charm he had used countless times in his more reckless days, before his heart had fairly run him down in Soho.

The girl colored slightly and turned sorrowful eyes to Cecily, who’s attention was forcefully centered on the meal before her to hide the rush of jealousy that had unexpectedly rose within her.

“I’m sorry, Mum.” The anxious waitress mumbled. “I weren’t thinking.”

“Think nothing of it.” Cecily Roberts smiled as sadly as she could manage, then returned to her meal, while listening intently.

Jack ignored the meal before himself, but reached for the tankard of ale Maeve had brought as well. His blue green eyes sparkled as he spoke. “Now, that I think of it, cousin Malcolm may have a solution to our dear Mrs. Stafford’s dilemma.”

“And what would that be, Sir?” Cecily stopped to ask.

Jack reached out to lightly pat his wife’s hand. “Why, how to make your way in the world, Mrs. Stafford. Now that your husband is gone, God rest his soul, I’m certain you have not given much thought to your future.”

“Why…Why, no. I haven’t.” Cecily fell into her part with an ease that astonished Jack. He wondered if life with him had not influenced her beyond measure. First, donning the persona of a highway robber, and now her incredible ability at acting. Thank God he was no longer involved in the old trade. Between the two of them they could bankrupt the whole of English society.

“I thought as much.” Jack continued light heartedly. “Malcolm was saying to me not long ago that he was in need of a reliable housekeeper to head his staff. If we could discover by what route he has taken to Kent, there are several, we could overtake him and see if the position is still available.”

“That would be wonderful, Mr. Dagget!” Cecily exclaimed. “My late husband was not a wealthy man, and with his child on the way…” She let the sentence trail off hopefully.

Maeve took the bait almost immediately. “Perhaps I can help.” She offered. “I do believe that I overheard Malcolm saying that he would be traveling by the Townsbridge road toward Reading.”

“Excellent, Maeve!” Jack grinned. “Then it’s settled. I shall procure some more suitable attire for Mrs. Stafford and we shall make all haste to catch up with my elusive cousin.”

As he rose from the table he kissed Maeve’s hand, simultaneously pressing a gold sovereign into her palm with a wink. “I’ll not be forgetting this on my next visit, My dear.”

After he left the tavern maid sighed wistfully. “Such a gentleman. A girl could fall for a man like that.”

“Oh, I don’t know, Dear.” Cecily interjected. “Didn’t you notice? He has bowed legs.”




Malcolm Dagget walked into the Bronze Bull tavern, Jeremy in tow. His brown eyes swept the patrons until they settled for the merest instant on three men who sat near the furthest corner from the door. Just long enough for one of the men to nod slightly in acknowledgment of his arrival. Gaining the attention of the innkeeper he motioned the man over to them.

“My nephew and I have had a long, tiring journey.” He smiled beneath his waxed mustache. “Would you have a suitable room available, my good man?”

“Certainly, Sir!” The tavernkeep grinned widely at the prospect of having such an obviously wealthy man spend the night beneath his roof. Guests of this quality were rare and he intended to take full advantage of the opportunity. “Right this way, Sir!”

He led them up stairs to a room at the far end of the hallway where a modest room awaited them. After paying the man handsomely, Malcolm ordered food and drink for himself and the boy, then sat down at the small, though serviceable table. Once the food arrived he ate sparingly, watching carefully as the half starved child dug into the meal with gusto. After a few moments the blonde boy yawned and soon fell fast asleep.

Malcolm picked up the child and placed him on the bed just as a certain rhythmic knock came at the door. Letting the trio from the tavern in he motioned for quiet with one finger placed to his lips and half nodding towards the sleeping boy.

“We were expecting you, Lord Dagget, and the papers, but what’s with the boy?” The leader whispered.

“A slight delay I assure you, Mr. Worthington.” Malcolm whispered back. “It would seem that this lad has hidden the documents. It’s just a matter of time before they are safely in our hands once again.”

“Give me a few moments alone with the little bugger,” the second man hissed menacingly, “he’ll talk, and make no mistake about it!”

“You will do nothing of the sort, Martin Hammel!” Malcolm leapt to his feet, his right hand gripping the hilt of his sword. “The Jacobites are not torturers of children! Make another suggestion like that and I shall kill you where you stand!!”

The other man held up one hand one hand in defeat and Malcolm sat down glowering. “Besides that we have a more pressing problem, unless I miss my guess.”

“And what would that be?” The third whispered.

“I’ve good reason to believe I am being followed.” Malcolm leaned slightly over the table.
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on February 07, 2009, 09:32:52 PM
Jack had paid the tavern billl and gave a kiss to Maeve's cheek. She looked at him and said, "Do you think the young widow will be alright?"
He looked at Cecily and sighed, "I am sure she will be. And if Malcolm is not able to use a new housekeeper, I am sure I can find something to do with her."
She gave his hand a squeeze and said, "Hurry back this way, luv."
He winked and gave her another gold sovereign.
"I'm sure it shall be a wonderful respite."
He tipped his cavalier hat to Maeve and then turned to Cecily.
"Mrs. Stafford? If you are ready to leave, we will stop off at the shop about fifteen miles from here and the least I can do is purchase a new garment for you. And a cloak. Yours seems to have disappeared.
Cecily gave him a warm smile and said, "I truly have faith in mankind again, Mister...excuse me, what is your name again?"
"Daggett. Duncan Daggett, at  your service."
He gently touched her elbow and guided her towards the tavern door.
"I hope you don't mind the mare. She is very gentle."
"I'm sure it will be fine, Mr. Daggett."
 
Outside, Cecily didn't say much as they walked towards the stable. Jack whispered, "We can take the Townbridge road. It is wide enough for a carriage and we can ride side by side and-----Cecily, don't walk so fast!"
Jack had given the stablehand a few shillings and led Aphrodite out of the stable.
He extended his hand to help her up onto the back of the mare. She quickly held it and threw her leg over the horse's back and trotted out of the tavern courtyard.
Jack sighed and patted Raven on the neck.
"Aphrodite been a bit distant too, friend?"
Raven whinnied and shook his head up and down. He took the reins in his hand and sighed again. "I thought so."
 
Jack caught up to Cecily, letting Raven and Aphrodite set the pace.
He said quietly, "I know I am in the proverbial doghouse, Cecily, but---"
"What was in your head, Jack? She all but had her way with you right at the table!"
"What are you talking about?"
She turned her head away so Jack wouldn't see her cheeks flaming red.
"She wanted you."
"So?"
Cecily jerked her head back. "So? That is all you have to say? So?"
Jack tried to stifle his laughter. "Cecily, you are jealous!"
"Jealous? Jealous? Of course not!"
"Then why are you upset?"
"I have my reasons."
"And that would be....?"
"How DARE you offer me a job as a housekeeper!"
 
Jack burst out laughing. "So that is the reason for the ice princess routine!"
Cecily said hotly, "It is not! I mean, I'm NOT an ice princess. But I am certainly not housekeeper material either. Did you think I would go around in a black dress and a white kerchief around my shoulders wearing a dour expression on my face and jingling when I walk?"
"Jingle or jiggle?"
"Don't change the subject. I'd be clanging like the clapper on a church bell! And shaped like one."
Her voice had a catch to it.  Jack knew it only too well. He quickly reined Raven in front of Aphrodite and jumped off the horse.
Jack looked up in time to see the tears streaming down Cecily's face. His heart melted at the sight of her anquish.
He held out his arms and she fell into them, sobbing against his chest.
Jack held her close and rocked her as he would his children.
 
Her sobs subsided. She dabbed at her eyes with the handkerchief she had stuffed in her bodice.
"I--I'm sorry, Jack. I don't know what came over me."
He held her close and stroked her hair. "I do. And we will get him back. This I promise you, my darling. And have I ever lied before?"
She laid her head against his chest and shook her head.
"No, you haven't.  You have always....oh. OH!"
Jack looked up in alarm at Cecily. "You are alright? The baby.....Good Lord, not the baby!"
She stepped back and rubbed her stomach.
"There it went again. Jack, the baby just kicked!"
She took his hand and laid it upon her abdomen. His hand jumped slightly and his face broke out in a smile.
"I can't believe it!"
She wrapped herself in Jack's arms once again and looked up at him.
"It's a sign. A sign that all is well and that we will bring Jeremy home with us very soon. After all, he has to be a big brother."
Jack helped Cecily back on Aphrodite.
"Then I think it is time we set off to Kent. I have a feeling Jeremy is there. Find him we will and bring him home."
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on February 20, 2009, 10:49:42 AM
An ill-timed shot that shattered the bark of an oak tree barely two feet in front of them was all the warning Jack and Cecily received as they immediately reigned their horses into the cover of the near by wood. Dismounting with all the speed they could muster the couple took shelter behind the injured oak, weapons drawn and ready for the next assault upon their persons.

A quick slap to the flanks of their horses had sent Raven and Aphrodite racing deeper into the safety of the trees. Jack knew that Raven would refuse to stray further than a few dozen yards into the brush and Aphrodite would by instinct go no further than his four-legged companion. He allowed himself a quick glance at his wife to assure himself she was unharmed. Cecily stared hard at the dirt road they had just vacated; pistol drawn and a grim look in her sapphire eyes.

“This road be closed, Mate!” A disembodied voice rang out from somewhere ahead of them. “I suggest ye turn about and take another!”

“By what right do you bar the way of honest citizens of the crown?!” Jack shouted back, and then held one finger up to his lips as he passed one of his twin pistols to his wife.

“Our reasons be none of yer business, Mate!” The voice answered. “Turn about, or face the consequences!”

Jack leaned closer to Cecily. “On my signal, keep them talking, Luv. It will help me find where they hide.”

“Our horses have bolted, surely you can’t expect us to walk back near twenty miles to the nearest inn!” Jack shouted back. As soon as he finished he moved a few yards away into the forest with the uncanny stealth that had never failed to amaze Cecily. Just before he vanished into the underbrush he nodded to her.

“I care not whether ye walk, or run! Turn about while ye still can!” Came the reply.

“My husband can not, Sir!” The golden haired beauty called out. “His horse threw him and I fear he has injured his leg!”

“That is no concern of ours, Missy!” A second voice sounded. “Drag him back if’n ye must!”

“What guarantee do we have that you won’t rob and murder us once we show ourselves?!” Cecily shouted back, putting no small measure of the fear she felt into her voice.

A second shot hit the tree she hid behind, and Cecily cringed as she felt the vibration of the impact through the dense wood.

“Stay, and the only thing I’ll guarantee will be the death of ye both!”

Cecily squeezed her eyes shut tightly. All the events of the past few days threatened to overwhelm her senses. The kidnapping of Jeremy, the hunting of his kidnapper, the failure to regain her child, all of these events pushed their way into her consciousness and almost drowned her reason.

Before she could protest again the sound of a whip cracking filled the air, followed quickly by a pistol’s report. She leapt from her hiding place in time to see a cloaked figure beak cover from the right side of the road. Knowing that Jack had left his cloak behind she took aim and pulled the trigger of the French flintlock he had given to her, holding her own pistol in reserve. To her relief the man stiffened and crumpled to the ground.

Cecily ran the few short yards that separated them, hoping that perhaps she had just wounded the stricken figure. Before she could stoop down to examine him Jack appeared, his pistol holding another man, who cradled his injured hand, at bay.

“Well done, my dear.” Jack grinned, nodding his head slightly at his prisoner. Cecily nodded back and trained her second pistol on the scowling ruffian.

Jack knelt down beside the still figure. His wife’s shot had proved true. Here lay one villain who would never again harm a living soul.




Jeremy awoke with a start. The small room was dark save for the window silhouetting the dark figure standing over the man lying on the floor. Slowly the dark cloaked man turned to him and he could see by the moonlight streaming in through the window behind that the man who lay prone was his captor, Malcolm Dagget. His head felt funny, as if he couldn’t shake off the last vestiges of sleep.

“Da?” He mumbled. Hope rising in his small chest like a caged bird suddenly freed of its prison.

“It’s me, Son.” The dark figure whispered into the gloom. The young boy flew as best he could to wrap his small arms around his father’s thighs in a desperate grip.

“I didn’t tell them, Da!” Jeremy wept. “They’ll never find those papers! I hid them in Uncle Geoff’s office!”

“Thank you, Mr. Johnson.” Malcolm’s deep voice startled the boy and in the sudden light of the lit lantern he looked up into the face of a stranger. Malcolm standing a few feet behind them.

“It would seem Mr. Worthington and I have some back tracking to do.” Dagget removed his own cloak from the peg behind the door and fastened it around his shoulders. Turning he looked back at the child, who had scrambled backwards to the small bed in fear. “I shouldn’t worry, Mr. Johnson. I am certain someone will be by to collect you soon enough. By then my compatriot and I will have those papers well in hand.”

As the men left Malcolm tuned once more and smiled at the weeping child. “Oh, and should you see Black Jack Roberts again. Please give him my regards.”
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on February 26, 2009, 08:17:04 PM
"Geoff, will you stop sitting there staring into space?"
George sifted through papers and files.
"I can't help it, George. I feel so responsible for Jeremy's disappearance."
George touched his brother's shoulder. "I know you do. But have faith that everything will be alright. I just can't understand what Jeremy did with the papers that he and Jaimie took."
"Did you get  a chance to go to Andrew's and talk to her?"
"I did. She said Jeremy took it and ran. She stayed behind. Quite proud of the fact that she was able to kick one of them in the shins and he hopped up and down. Jaimie said he used bad words."
George continued to look through file after file. "They aren't here in this stack. Geoff, if those papers fall into the wrong hands, this country will be at civil war again. "
"We can always go to the Colonies, I suppose. Can you take this rubbish out to the burn barrel?"
Geoff sighed. "I still can't help but feel responsible. Lord, those children were so engrossed in the Black Jack Roberts legend. Heaven forbid if they ever realized that the legend was their da."
 
Geoff took the refuse out to the burn barrel. Crates were stacked neatly in the back of the building. He leaned over and picked up some papers.
"Nice to have kindling right here to help start the...HOLY MOTHER OF GOD! GEORGE!"
 
George dashed out of the office.
"What? WHAT?"
Geoff thumbed through the papers.
"I can't believe it...here they are. HERE THEY ARE!"
George grabbed them and looked. "Oh....what a clever boy he is! Right under the carrots! Let's put these in the safe and---"
"No! George, when--not if but when--they come looking, they will blow this safe to Kingdom come. I'll take them over to the Crossbow and have Josiah put them under the loose floorboard in the safe room that Jack used to use."
Geoff grabbed his hat and as he put his hand on the doorknob, he looked over his shoulder and said, "I won't rest for a minute until I have this matter safely hidden away."
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on February 28, 2009, 08:10:21 PM
"Jack, what do you intend to do with this--this---Lord, I can't even think of the word for it!"
Jack turned to the injured man and said with venom, "I should just put a ball in your head right now!"
"Have mercy, sir! It--it weren't my idea. It were all Lucas' idea!"
Jack spat, "You were just as much to blame!"
Cecily added, "I heard two distinct voices. You said, 'Drag him back if'n ye must.'
Well, I have the perfect solution for him. Let him walk the twenty miles back to the inn. He can drag Lucas with him. And then---well, what have we here?"
 
From the darkness of the woods, a beautiful bay came out, shyly pawing the ground.
The injured robber, holding his arm, said, "That's my horse. At least help me up so I can ride him back."
The bay loped over to Cecily and gently nuzzled her neck.
"I think he likes you, darling."
She laughed. "And what is this horse's name?"
The man was silent. She leveled her pistol at him.
"The name?"
The man snarled, "Hermes."
Jack laughed, "Well, it seems we have a learned man in our midst. Hermes just happens to be the god of flight, thieves, commerce, and travelers."
Cecily patted the horse's nose. "At least his name isn't Petey or Bucky. That I couldn't bear."
 
Hermes stood there patiently, surveying his surroundings.  From the shadows of the woods, Raven and Aphrodite trotted out, checking out the young steed. Protectively, Raven stood between his mare and the intruding horse.
Cecily tapped her fingers to her lips. "You know, I think that 'Johnny'--that's our son--could use a new horse. What do you think, 'Roger'?"
 
Jack, so in tune with his wife's thought process, picked up on the aliases.
"Susannah, that is a capital idea! Johnny has begged for a horse of his own."
"And his third birthday is coming up. What a grand present for him!"
The man shouted, "Ye canna be takin' me horse! That's---that's thievin'!"
Jack leveled his own pistol at the man. "I'd be watching my mouth if I were you. What is your name, by the way?"
The thief looked at him with hatred.
"Ezra."
"Well, Ezra, you have just lost yourself a fine horse," Cecily declared.
 
Jack beamed with pride at her ingenuity. He kissed her hand. "My dear, your ideas continually astound me!  If I may....?"
He helped her onto Aphrodite. From his saddlebag, he produced a length of sturdy rope and tied it to the bridle of Hermes.
To Ezra, he said, "you have just made a two year old--"
"---soon to be three--"
"---very happy."
Jack looped the rope through the reins of Raven and Hermes obediently followed.
 
From the saddle, Cecily asked, "Ezra, where do you live?"
"In Hastings. Why?"
As she gently tapped Aphrodite in the flanks, she said over her shoulder,
"We will be sure Hermes drops you a note every now and then. Ta!"
Jack turned to Ezra and tipped his cavalier hat. "Have a safe journey, sir. Please watch out for highwaymen. I have heard that Black Jack Roberts is alive and well."

From the woods, Cecily's laugh rang out.
"You are so bad!" she said when he caught up to her.
Well, my dear 'Susannah', I think a fine young horse will be a very nice surprise for 'Johnny'."
"At least he can ride his new horse back. But you know what this means, don't you?"
"That we have to build a larger stable?"
"No. Now we have to 'steal' one for Jaimie. Do you honestly think she will let him have a horse and she doesn't get one too?"
Jack grabbed her hand and kissed it.
"My dear, I am sorry we didn't meet when I was in the trade. Together, we would have made history!"
She blushed at his compliment but said, "My love, we make history whenever we are together!"
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on March 05, 2009, 12:39:05 PM
Jack decided that their best chance of success in retrieving their son from the villainous noble would be a two-pronged attack. In light of the two thugs who had attempted to bar their way on the road there would be no telling how many hirelings Malcolm Dagget had watching for them. While Cecily would enter the tavern proper and use her considerable guile to worm their son’s location from whom she may, Jack would gain entrance through one of the upper windows in the guise of his alter ego.

Cecily quickly hid a pistol at her back, and a dagger in her bodice as Jack donned the costume that had made him infamous. “Dearest.” Her lovely jewel like eyes sought his in the gloom. “They won’t try to hurt him, will they?”

The worry in his wife’s voice tore at Jack’s heart, yet he was determined not to show his own fear to his beloved wife. “Nay. They would not dare as long as he is their only hope of regaining those documents.” Jack smiled lovingly before pulling his hood down across his face. “As near as we could gather form that lout we left back in the wood, I believe Dagget is merely being cautious. We still have the element of surprise.”

She reached up and raised the black silk high enough to kiss him tenderly before pulling it back to its original position. “For luck, my love.” Cecily whispered.

Jack scanned the upper windows of the Bronze Bull tavern, his blue green eyes hard as chips of flint. “If any be in need of luck, Wife, it is Malcolm Dagget. Though I wish him none.” He hissed through the mask. “Now let us retrieve our child, and God help any who stand in our way this time.”

Black Jack quickly began climbing the huge oak that stood behind the inn. Its branches grew over the roof in places, and those were thick and strong. He had noticed that all of the windows of the upper floor were dark save one and as luck would have it, that one was open.

Cecily rode around a few yards away from the tavern, leading the pilfered bay behind her. Should anyone be loitering outside the building they would have thought she had taken the road the whole of the way. By necessity Raven had stayed behind the tavern with Jack, even though Cecily could be sure the midnight stallion was not at all pleased with the arraignment.

Jack made his way cautiously across a limb almost a foot wide in its girth. The large branch thinned more than he had anticipated as it reached out to partially cover the tavern roof, and he dared not try one of the higher branches. Gripping one overhead branch tightly he revised his plan. The branch was, fortunately, within a few feet of the lighted window. Crouching down as far as he dared he looked inside.

Cecily walked into the Bronze Bull, her beauty turning more than one head of the several patrons who had gathered there to relax away the toils of the day. It was not common for a woman that was not a serving wench to show up alone, and several wondered why she would be traveling alone. The owner strode across the wooden floor to greet her.

“Evenin’, Mum.” The stocky bronzed man rumbled. “What can we be doin’ fer ye?”

Cecily smiled sweetly, more than a little aware of her unusual position. “My cousin, Malcolm Dagget, was to meet me here with my son. Has he perchance arrived?”

“I’m afraid he and another gentleman left some time ago, Mum.” The innkeeper scratched his head in confusion. “Didn’t have no boy wit’ ‘im though. Come to think ‘o it. He did arrive wit’ one though.”

Cecily felt the cold hand of fear clutch greedily at her heart. “Which room was he in?!” she asked desperately. “Please which room?!!”

“Far end ‘o the hallway, Mum. On yer left.” The perplexed man replied, obviously shaken by the sudden change in the noble woman’s demeanor. “I’ll take ye there right away.”

Jack’s eyes widened behind his mask. The room seemed empty save for one lone child weeping at the far side of the lone small bed. Could it be? If it were his son this could very well be a trap. Dagget could be using the boy as bait, to see whether or not they had been followed. Jack couldn’t worry about that now. This could be his one and only chance to retrieve his child from the clutches of the traitor. Taking a deep breath he dove for the opening and prayed.

Unknown to the highwayman he missed cracking his skull on the open sill by a mere fraction of an inch. Rolling into the room to absorb the shock of his desperate leap he came up to his feet with both pistols drawn and cocked. The small ash blonde boy looked up at him through tear stained eyes, so similar to his own.

“D-da?” Jeremy’s look of disbelief began to give way to hope.

Black Jack un-cocked his twin French flintlocks and shoved them into his belt. Dropping to one knee he held his arms out to his son. “Jeremy.”

Without a seconds hesitation the boy was in his arms, gripping his neck in a bear hug of pent up emotion. “Da! Oh, Da! I knew you would come for me! I knew you would!”
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on March 12, 2009, 01:48:49 PM
Jack held his little boy closely, silently thanking all and sunder that his son was safe. His own throat nearly closed with the emotion of having his child back he gently rocked the boy in his arms, patting the small back softly.

“Hush now, Son.” He whispered. “Da is here, and none will harm you again.”

“B-but, Da!” Jeremy began when the door to the room opening cut him off.

“Saints preserve us!” The tavern owner exclaimed. “Me inn be haunted!”

Jack had leapt to his feet, simultaneously drawing one of his pistols, and pulling Jeremy behind him. Only the sight of Cecily behind the innkeeper had saved the man’s life.

“If ye don’t wish to add to the ghosts ye seem to think ye have, ye’ll be lowerin’ yer voice, Barman!” Jack growled, and then as if he had just noticed Cecily he added. “Ah, Mrs. Johnson. Ye’ll be happy ta know yer husband has paid me the ransom, and though for a time I lost possession ‘a the lad, I am a man ‘a me word.”

Jack drew his son in front of him. “Go ta yer mum, lad.”

Jeremy ran across the floor into his mother’s arms as the dark figure made it’s way to the window. “Now, if’n ye’ll all be kind enough ta remain nice and quiet while I make me exit, we’ll all be a bit happier. And let Malcolm Dagget know that if he ever interferes in my affairs again, I’ll be more’n glad ta run the bugger through!”

Within the space of a few moments the highwayman was out the window and they heard the sound of a horse’s hoof beats fade into the distance. Cecily clung to her son desperately as tears of joy flowed down her face, gently kissing him over and over again. The innkeeper mopped his pale brow with his bar rag.

“Dear God in heaven, Mum!” The elder man exclaimed. “I thought Black Jack Roberts were dead!”

Cecily quickly regained control of herself and picked up on the clue Jack had left her. “As did we, kind sir, until he kidnapped my son.” she lied. “Malcolm tried to help my husband and I. It would seem that he succeeded for a time, and Roberts came to try and steal my child back.”

“But why would Lord Dagget leave the boy alone?” The bar keep pondered.

“Perhaps he thought my son safe, and has gone in search of me?” Cecily offered.

“Could very well be, Mum? Anyway, alls well that ends well, eh” The man beamed. “Come lets go downstairs and I’ll fetch ye both something to eat. The missus is never going to believe this.”

An hour later Cecily heard the familiar whistles, and returned it with the signal that all was well. The ghostly figure of her husband, still in costume emerged from the trees ahead and galloped up to trot beside her and Jeremy.

“Well, that was an adventure.” Jack laughed, elated to have his son back.

The small boy grinned at his father. “Da! Why didn’t you tell us you were Black Jack?!”

“Shhhh!” Cecily cautioned her son. “No one can ever know that, Jeremy!”

“I know, Mum.” The ash blonde child grinned. “That’s why Jamie and I…” His voice trailed off with the realization that Malcolm Dagget was far ahead of them and now knew where the papers were.

“Oh Da!” He began to cry. “Those papers that prove you are Black Jack Roberts! That bad man tricked me into telling him where they are! He’s gone to find them!”

Jack and his wife exchanged a quick glance. “It’s alright, Son.” Jack said gently. “Where did you hide them?”

“Under a crate of carrots outside Uncle Geoff’s window.” The boy sniffed.

Jack lifted his hood high enough to kiss his son’s forehead. “You stay with your mother and protect her.” He said, winking to Cecily. “Take her to Uncle Andrew’s. I’ll get to the papers before they do.”

The little boy straightened up as high as he could on his new Bay. “I will, Da. I promise!”

Black Jack grinned with pride beneath his mask. “I know you will, son.”

Patting the boy’s shoulder the ebony figure turned Raven to the wood and vanished from sight.
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on March 20, 2009, 06:39:55 PM
Black Jack rode through the wood as if the hounds of Hell were hot on his heels. Though he knew that cutting across country would shave time off of his desperate bid to catch up with Malcolm Dagget, he still held no illusions that the man was far ahead of him by now. At least his son was safely in the hands of his mother. Heaven help the fool who would dare to try and take the boy from her.

Raven felt the urgency of his master and wove his way through the trees as if he followed some well laid path that only he could sense. The midnight hued stallion’s hooves sent sod and bracken flying behind as it dug harder into the soft forest floor.



“Goin’ somewhere, Mate?” Geoff broke from his reverie over the damning documents that he held in his briefcase and cursed himself for not realizing that until they were accounted for he and George would have been watched. Fortunately, there was only one of them, and he reached for the pistol hidden inside his coat.

“Just a quick jaunt to my favorite tavern, my good man.” Geoff smiled, drawing on his old training from his days with Jack to sound as nonchalant as possible. Perhaps he could bluff his way past this ruffian. “Perchance you would like to accompany me? The ale there is the finest in the whole of England.”

“I’m afraid not, Barrister.” The man drew a sword. “But I will be taken’ that case ye have under yer arm.”

In a flash Geoff pulled his flintlock, pointing it straight at the villain’s head. “These are confidential papers and documents, of use to none save my clients, Sir.” Geoff made sure to sound as much the outraged official as he could. “If it is gold you seek, I can assure you there is none in here.”

Geoff’s assailant reluctantly dropped his sword and raised both hands to his chest as he backed away from the enraged lawyer. “We both know better than that, Mate.” He hissed just before he ducked down an alley. “Ye could have done this easy. Now we’ll do it hard. Either way those papers will be ours!”

Geoff looked all about himself, but to all intents and purposes he was alone on the streets of Devonshire. For a moment he considered returning to the office to enlist George’s help, but thought better of it. By the time he would have gotten George his unknown foe could return with reinforcements. His best chance would be to make a dash for The Crossbow and the safety of their own friends.

Within minutes Geoff had made it to the livery, saddled his horse, and bolted down the northeastern road for the inn. Followed moments later by no less than three shadowy figures on horseback.



“There, you see, Mr. Worthington?” Malcolm was feeling more than pleased with himself. “There are times when cunning produces far more satisfying results than brutality.”

“Aye, Lord Dagget.” Henry Worthington nodded in agreement. “The loss of Hammel is nothing. The man was far more an embarrassment than a service. I dare say he deserved his fate more than poor Lucas did.”

“The shame of it all was the need to waste the price of a lead ball on the lout.” Malcolm scowled. Having found the two men he had sent to guard the road against intruders he had lost his temper at not only finding one of his best men shot, but Martin Hammel both horseless and trussed up like a Christmas Goose. He promptly shot the man.

“At any rate, we avoided running into the ones who were seeking young Mr. Johnson. By now we have a good head start, and the documents will again be in our hands.” Dagget grinned. Sir Terrance would be well pleased.
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on March 20, 2009, 09:56:27 PM
Cecily listened to the retreating hoofbeats as Jack galloped off. She gave a deep sigh as she said to herself, 'I thought all this was behind us, Jack Roberts.'
"Mama?"
She turned her attention to her son. "Yes, my love?"
"I'm cold."
She looked at Jeremy who was shivering. She reached in her saddlebag and said, "Mummy thought of everything. Here is a cloak to wrap yourself in."
She draped it across his shoulders and then placed her hands on his. "Jeremy, you are alright? They didn't hurt you?"
He shook his head. "No. Mr. Daggett made sure. He wasn't very nice but he got me something to eat. I did a bad thing though."
"What did you do?"
"I kicked the coachman in the leg."
Cecily put her hand to her mouth to stifle a laugh.
"I wouldn't worry about it, sweetheart."
 
Jeremy rode on the bay that was now his very own.
"Mummy, where did you get the horse?"
Cecily hesitated. She didn't really want to tell Jeremy how Hermes was acquired.
"We found him in the woods. And we knew you needed a horse of your very own to ride back. Raven and Aphrodite liked him. So your father took a rope and Raven so graciously led him."
"Does he have a name?"
"I think Hermes is a good name. The name of the Greek god who delivered messages. What do you think, Jeremy? Of course you are free to name him what you like. Anything but Petey or Bucky. You know I can't stand those names."
Jeremy laughed. "Hermes is nice. But I think there will be a problem."
"And what is that, dear?"
"Do you have one for Jaimie too?"
Cecily laughed lightly, "I think your father can get her a horse too. I know young Jack has one and the two of you have been asking your father for a horse or two."

Jeremy yawned. Cecily looked at her son with tenderness.
"Sleepy, Jeremy?"
He shook his head. "No. I told Da I would take care of you, Mama." He yawned again.
She felt her eyes tear up for the lad who went through so much to protect his father.
Cecily said, "Well, my brave young man, you may not be sleepy. But I am. And my back aches. We have a new little brother or sister to look out for so I am getting us a room for the night. I hope you don't mind."
He yawned again and said, "I think that would be a grand idea, Mama."
 
Cecily sat Jeremy on the bed in the room she procured. She lifted his arms as he started to fall asleep and took his shirt off. Gently she put his legs up on the bed and drew the coverlet over him. She pushed the hair off his face as she looked at her exhausted child. She could feel the rage coming over her for his kidnapping but she willed it away for the time being. Time enough to exact vengeance on the perpetrators.
 
Padding softly over to the casement window, she gazed up at the indigo night with the moon shining bright. A gentle smile came to her lips as she remembered that night oh so long ago where she first unraveled the mysteries of love in Jack Roberts' arms. She put her hand on the window and whispered to the heavens above, 'Watch over my beloved. Let's put this nightmare behind us.'
She walked over to the bed and drew the covers back, sliding into bed next to her son.
And before too long, she had joined him in deep slumber.
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on April 04, 2009, 10:43:41 AM
Geoff stumbled into the Crossbow, bringing both Josiah running from behind the bar and an immediate silence to the pleasant buzz of conversation that had previously filled the room.

“Dear God, Man! What on Earth happened to ye?” Josiah lent his support to the exhausted and more than slightly ruffled lawyer.

“Robbers!” Geoff’s eyes locked with his friends. They carried both the look of failure and grim determination.

Molly soon appeared from the kitchen with some clean linen and hot water she had been preparing for tea. “Come set here, Geoff and let us have a look at you.” She pulled a chair from an empty table as the tavern’s clientele began to gather around, their interest peaked. “That be a right nasty blow to the head you have.”

“Not nearly as bad as at least one of my assailants suffered, I assure you, Molly.” Geoff smiled grimly. “Unless his friends returned for him, one of the blackguards still lies on the Devonshire road.”

Josiah pointed to two of the new stable hands. “Bill, John! Saddle two horses and fetch the Brigadier. Smartly now, Lads!”

As the two young men bolted from the Crossbow Josiah tuned his consern to his old friend. “What happened, Lad?”

Geoff’s eyes shot to the crowd for a moment, letting Josiah know that there was something’s he would only be able to reveal in private. Josiah winked his acknowledgement.

“Well, Josiah.” Geoff began, wincing slightly as Molly ministered to his wounds. “ I had intended to come here and finish some work in more pleasant surroundings. As I walked to the stable I was accosted by a rather unpleasant fellow. I succeeded in dissuading him in his thoughts of robbery, or so I thought, and promptly left town.”

“Ye should’a known better, Lad.” One of the gathered, news hungry, onlookers interjected.

“Aye, Good sir, I should have.” Geoff continued. “About a mile away he and his two friends caught me unawares. I immediately took cover in the wood, yet they pursued me. Thankfully, the thick trees provided cover from any gunplay and we soon found ourselves on foot and engaged in close quarter combat.”

“Without trying to sound the braggart, I will say I gave a good accounting of myself and we crossed steel until we found ourselves back on the open road. One of the villains lunged for my chest with his sword, and I was forced to move to my right, running the brigand through as he stumbled past me.  That was when their leader threw one of his empty pistols at me. I saw the missile a tad too late and was struck. I stumbled backward, loosing my grip on my case. The leader snatched it up and took to his heels with his surviving companion.”

Geoff sighed as Molly finished her ministrations. “As quick as I could I found my horse and rode here with all haste.”

Josiah grunted, thinking hard on the tale. After a moment he spoke. “A good thing they decided to flee, and not press their advantage. Come Geoff, I’ve just the thing for ye in me office.” Geoff nodded and followed him into the back of the tavern.

Josiah poured Geoff and himself a crystal of the fine French brandy that Cecily and Jack had brought back for him from a trip to Europe. Handing the glass to Geoff they sat down in the two leather upholstered chairs that he and Jack had often shared together.

After a few sips he looked up at Geoff. “Now, Geoff. What is the entire truth of the matter?”

“You might want to pour yourself another brandy, Josiah.” Geoff frowned. “This tale is bound to send you to the bottle at least that much.”
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on April 19, 2009, 09:37:10 PM
Jeremy's face broke out in a grin.
"There it is, Mama! Uncle Andrew's place! Are you sure Jaimie is there?"
"Yes, my darling. I left her with Uncle Andrew and Aunt Jane for safekeeping."
The horses stood impatiently at the edge of the woods. Moreland Hall stood across the meadow, its white stone walls beckoning to Cecily.
"And I protected you and brought you to Uncle Andrew just like I promised Da, "
Jeremy said proudly.
"Yes, you did, my son. I imagine all the King's footmen could not do as well."
Jeremy sat a little straighter on his horse, the pride of a job well done reflected on his face.
He looked over at his mother, a devilish gleam in his eye.
"Oh, no, Jeremy--NO!"
"Please, Mama?" He looked at her expectantly.
She sighed. "Alright. You say the words."
"And the winner gets a cherry tart?"
She laughed, "So like Uncle Andrew you are sometimes!"
"Ready? Set? GO!"
The two of them, mother and son, raced across the meadow, dirt clods flying from the hoofs of their horses.
 
"Mama! JEREMY!" Jaimie ran out the door.
"Jaimie, you come back here! You don't even have your shoes on!" Aunt Jane called out.
The two travelers reined their horses in.
"JAIMIE!"
Jaimie came to a halt, put her hands on her hips and glared, "Where is MY horse, Mama?"
Cecily threw her reins over Aphrodite as Benson, the stable groom, took the mare.
She laughed, "Well, hello to you to, Miss Jaimie! Do I not get a hug?"
Jaimie ran to her mother and hugged her.
The twins looked at each other and grinned. Jaimie ran to her brother, hugging him fiercely.
"I knew you would get away! Now tell me all about it!"
"Mama? May I take Hermes to the stable myself?"
"Of course you may, Jeremy."
Jaimie was heard to say, "So, Jeremy, why do you have a horse and I don't have one.....?"
 
Andrew came out of the house.
"Well, Sis, did you bring a  horse for me, too?"
They laughed. Andrew asked, "Where is Jack?"
Cecily said cautiously, "I really would like a scone and tea, Andrew. We can talk in the library."
Jane hugged her sister in law. "I'm happy to see you, Cecily. Jaimie has been a perfect angel."
Cecily looked at her brother and raised an eyebrow. Jane saw it and smiled,
"Well, she did cry at night for Jeremy."
Andrew said, "Those two remind me so much of us, Sis. Right down to playing 'highwayman'!"
Jane linked arms with Cecily and retorted to Andrew, "You have two women with child on their feet, Andrew. We need to go inside."
Cecily turned, astonished, to Jane. "You are....?"
Jane nodded happily. Cecily saw the look of pride on Andrew's face.
Cecily murmured, "And so the Morley dynasty continues."
 
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on April 19, 2009, 09:37:56 PM
"...and Jack climbed to the window and found Jeremy.  He was a bit ragged emotionally. But otherwise, he was fine."
Andrew and Jane exchanged glances.
"Does Jeremy know that his father is Black Jack Roberts?"
Cecily sat her teacup down and gave a sigh.
"I'm afraid so."
Andrew cleared his throat. "It was bound to happen, Cecily. You can't keep a secret like that indefinitely. Jack's friends all knew."
"Does Jaimie know for sure?"
Jane nodded. "She told me. She and Jeremy heard you and Jack talking the night before. Jeremy swore her to secrecy. But being a girl, she had to let it out.  Jeremy was not there to confide in."
"Did you confirm it for her?"
Andrew nodded. "She already knew and if I denied it, she would never have trusted her Uncle Andrew to tell her the truth."
"How did she take it?"
"How would you have reacted, Sis, to finding out your father was the largest legend in merry old England since Robin Hood?"
Cecily squeezed her brother's hand.
"Thank you."
"For what?"
"For doing what Jack and I should have done and for being there for my children. And now, Jane--when may I expect my niece or nephew?"
"Around Michelmas, I do believe."
Cecily hugged Jane. "I'm so happy!"
Jane stood up. "And now I should let you have some brother-sister time together. I have to see the cook about dinner, after all."
 
Cecily and Andrew walked in the garden. "I'm so pleased Jane is giving you an heir, Andrew."
He nodded.  "We were concerned because we have been married two years."
"Have you told Mother?"
He shook his head no. "She is in Venice. And no, I don't intend to inform her yet, seeing how she made a poor attempt to be a grandmother to Jeremy and Jaimie."
Cecily's mouth set in a firm line.
"To say they didn't take to her is an understatement. After a while, she gave up."
Andrew looked over at Cecily and repeated, "And just where is MY horse, Sis?"
Cecily laughed and they continued to walk in the sunshine.
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
"Did you really kick the coachman, Jeremy?" Jaimie's eyes were wide.
"I sure did! Right in the shins! Boy, Jaimie, you should have seen him hop around!"
Jaimie laughed, "Serves him right! No one does that to a Johnson!"
She then frowned. "Are we Johnson or Roberts, Jeremy?"
He thought. "I think we are really Roberts. But we need to ask Da."
Jeremy took the curry brush to Hermes. Jaimie petted the horse's nose.
"Jeremy, would you let me ride him sometimes?
"Da will get you a horse, Jaimie. Whatever he gets me, he gets you. Even the bow and arrows."
 
Jaimie looked off in the distance.
"See that grey stone castle over there? I heard it belonged to the meanest man in the shire. In all of England!"
"Who is that?"
"A Lord Cul--something.  Cul-salt? But not salt--PEPPER! Lord Culpepper!"
"Really! But doesn't someone else live there now?"
"Some old man named Raymond, I think."
Jeremy looked at Jaimie.
"You know, when you get your horse I say we do some 'sploring."
"Whatever happened to Lord Culpepper, do you think?"
"I heard Uncle Andrew and Aunt Jane talking and Uncle Andrew said,  'The old sod got what he deserved and by the best person.' And then he said, 'He made Cecily's life miserable and he deserved to die.' "
Jaimie hopped up and down on one foot.
"Then I say we find out about the old sod ourselves, Jeremy. But we won't tell anyone."
They spit on their hands and sealed the promise.
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on April 27, 2009, 01:08:28 PM
Jack had just begun to wonder if he had indeed made it in front of his quarry when he heard the sound of horses traveling at a leisurely pace on the road. He smiled wryly beneath his hood. Of course, Dagget would have not felt the need for haste once the boy was discovered safe. He would have considered that the end of the matter as he would assume Jeremy to be the reason for the pursuit. Now the question was if Roberts should stop him now, or allow the fox to lead him to the prize.

Even in the gloom of the darkened roadway he could make out the form of Malcolm. That garish red velvet coat gave his position away as easily as it did the king’s men so long ago. You would think that they would have learned by now that bright colors, even in the darkness were more easily seen. Jack couldn’t count the number of times that fact had made the difference between freedom and the gallows in his own life.

Lifting an edge of his cloak he tested the direction of the wind. Good. It was the breeze was coming from the road and made it impossible for their horses to scent him, or Raven. That would leave the element of surprise with Jack and made the decision for him. As long as the wind did not change direction he would shadow Dagget and allow him to lead Roberts to the documents in question. For a moment he even considered keeping them for himself. They would prove a powerful weapon if he needed it in the future. Only the thought of his friendship with Barclay and the honor of his word changed his mind.

Raven had been trained long ago to pick his way through the forest. Picking out the quietest path available before setting his full weight onto his hoof. Slow going it was, but it did allow Jack to trail a target with as little noise as possible to give him away. Allowing Malcolm and his crony to pass his hiding place bay several yards he gently urged the dark stallion forward through the trees.



“The strangest part to this whole affair was the appearance of the deceased Black Jack Roberts.” Malcolm mused in small talk.

“Aye, Lord Dagget.” Henry Worthington returned. “Perhaps they thought the man’s reputation would provide them with an advantage?”

“Perhaps. Strange though that they would choose that particular identity. Thanks to that fool Culpepper the man proved to be a thorn in our sides. Stranger still that Culpepper was murdered but a short while after he had the man hung. Only the complete disappearance of him from public scrutiny convinced anyone that Culpepper had indeed got his man.”

“Jolly good thing, too!” Worthington nodded. “Where half the tales about him true the man were just short of the devil himself.”

Malcolm Dagget chuckled. “Be that as it may, whoever the man I encountered was, he was easily taken. Far from the formidable opponent one would expect of Black Jack.”

The thunder of hoof beats ahead of them caused the two men to reign in their mounts and reach for their weapons. Two seedy looking riders barreled out of the gloom almost skidding to a halt in front of them.

“Lord Dagget! Is that you, Sir?” The leader half shouted into the badly lit twilight that separated them.

“Aye, Roger. It is.” Malcolm returned before holstering his flintlock back into his belt.

White paper shone in the gloom as the man raised his catch for his master to see. “Success, Lord Dagget! The documents are once again in our possession!”

Two slight thuds were almost immediately followed by smoke filled explosions in the few short yards that separated them. Their horses reared in panic as the men struggled to control the terror stricken animals. From the wood to the left of Malcolm a shadowy figure burst into view and bore down on the newcomers. It’s black cloak billowing behind like a dark, ever-changing cloud  of shadow. Within the space of a few moments it had flown past his men and was galloping down the road before Roger’s body had hit the ground.



Jack Roberts jammed the documents deep into his coat as he urged Raven to greater feats of speed. The moment he had seen the papers in the lackey’s hand he had pulled two small bags filled with gunpowder and a mixture his old magician friend had shown him to create large billows of thick smoke.

Jack knew the breeze would only give him a few moments of cover, but it was a chance he would have to take. Lighting the fuses he threw the two diversions and bolted for the man who held his prize. Guiding Raven with his knee signals Jack grabbed the documents with one hand, the other plowed into the man’s jaw in a gloved fist.

As he raced for the safety of Devonshire he prayed he had gained enough of a head start to lose his pursuers once he had made it back to familiar territory.
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on May 23, 2009, 11:06:28 AM
Jack’s ploy had worked as best as could be expected and gained several yards of distance between him and Dagget’s pursuit. Though still safely out of pistol shot range a few backward glances let him know that the gap between them was steadily shrinking. The effort of catching up with the blackguard had taxed Raven’s considerable strength, and Jack knew it would be only a matter of time until the great stallion would be exhausted. They would still be miles from the Devonshire wood when the gap finally closed. Time and distance where what he needed the most, and for a moment he nearly regretted abandoning the spike trick.

Long ago, years before he had met Cecily, and lost his heart to the young blonde woman, he had been hard pressed by a small platoon of redcoats. Within the small leather pouch slung across his shoulder, opposite his sword and hidden within the folds of his cloak, he had kept a particularly nasty surprise. A handful of rectangular metal bits that had been cut partially through at the ends, then bent and sharpened. Thrown to the ground they scattered, leaving at least one razor point jutting into the air. He had used them then, but at a cost that had made him regret the device and put it away forever.

Although the spikes had insured his escape, he later learned as Robert Johnson that he had lamed the horses badly and at least two of them enough to warrant their being put down immediately. He removed that weapon from his arsenal without a second thought and destroyed the remaining supply. Never again would he make the mount suffer for the sake of the rider. Not if he could help it.

Jack’s mind raced franticly. He could not keep Raven traveling at such a pace and he could not have his pursuers catching up with him. Or could he? In a flash of desperate inspiration Jack drew one of his twin pistols under his cloak and deliberately slowed Raven’s pace slightly more. Then he began to count to himself.

“Ha! The villain’s horse is losing ground quickly now!” Henry Worthington exclaimed as the distance between them and the barely discernable black form fleeing them closed rapidly.

“Aye, he’s worn his horse down in his bid to catch up with us, I’d say.” Malcolm grinned. “That is why we kept our mounts to a leisurely pace. As I said before, the true Roberts would not make such mistakes. As soon as we are in range, prepare to open fire!”

Soon the thundering posse drew within the outside range of small arms fire and the group pulled their pistols as one. In little more than the space of a few short yards they would be well inside the killing range.

Wrapping the reins around his wrist Jack suddenly tapped his heels into Raven’s flanks and whirled about taking deadly aim. As the coal black stallion surged to greater speed Jack pulled the trigger sending one of the shadows trailing him recoiling backwards from his horse. The remaining men split off to the left and right nearly reigning in their steeds in the process. By the time they regrouped Black Jack had all but regained his original distance from them, and their frustrated return fire posed him no threat at all.

The sound of gunplay had not gone unnoticed. The troop of redcoats burst into view over the next rise. For a moment Jack breathed easier, then he heard the shouts of thief, highwayman, and help coming from behind him. In response several of the king’s men fired too soon on him, kicking dust from the road a few feet in front of Raven’s hooves. There was nothing for it now, and Jack turned the black stallion to the forest.

“In the name of King George, halt where you are!” Sergeant Merewether barked as soon as his group closed with Malcolm’s. Several of his men had leveled their muskets and Malcolm raised his hands with the others. “Explain yourself, Sir! Why were you shooting at that man?!”

It was obvious to Dagget that the shouts of thief he had instigated were too far off for the redcoats to make out. “That man was a highwayman, you imbecile!” He shouted.

Merewether motioned to three of his men, who immediately set off in pursuit of Jack. “So you say, Sir, but I’ll have the truth of the matter once he has been brought back. Until we get this sorted out, you will remain as you are.”

“Do you know who that was, Dolt?” Malcolm sneered. “That was Black Jack Roberts whom you allowed to escape!”

The sergeant laughed. “So, ‘tis fairytales we’re dealing in then? Black Jack’s been dead near six years now, but never mind, we’ll have him back soon enough. No matter who he is.”

Malcolm Dagget dropped his voice as he turned. “They’ll never catch him now. Yet, mark my words Mr. Worthington, we will have those documents back. The key lies in the true identity of that man, whoever he is. Discover that, and we will have this ‘Roberts’ in the palm of our hands.”
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 29, 2009, 06:39:41 AM
"Cecily Morley, you are out of your mind!"  Andrew  shouted.
Cecily retorted, "It's Roberts. Or Johnson."
"I don't care WHAT you are calling yourself! As your brother I forbid you to go!"
Cecily continued to pack a duffel bag.  She kissed Andrew on the cheek and said quickly, "Please, Andrew. I know what I am doing. I feel it in my heart that this is what I need to do. I know what route Jack will take. Now, if you can just do your part and watch the children. Jack and I will be back as quick as we can and we can put this nightmare behind us."
Andrew frowned. "You will stick to the main roads?"
Cecily crossed her fingers behind her back. "I promise."
 
She rode silently through the Devonshire woods.  Patting her mare on the neck she said softly, 'They will be home soon, Aphrodite. I just feel it.'
The mare whinnied and shook her mane in agreement.
'When did my stomach pop out all of a sudden?'
As if in answer, the babe within her gave her a swift kick. Cecily arched her back and rubbed her abdomen. "Thanks for letting me know you are here, little one. Now we just have to get your Da back, we can do nothing more than to sit back and wait for your arrival. And there had better be only one of you in there! I can't do that again!"
But she knew she didn't mean it. She would give the world to pepper the cottage with babies as long as that was what Jack wanted.
 
In the distance, the sound of a horse and rider was approaching. Cecily immediately reined her horse and trotted over to a copse of trees. From the clearing, a welcome sight met her eyes.
Jack and Raven.
 
Raven tossed his head and picked up his pace. His nostrils flared and he started to break into a gallop. Jack pulled back on the reins but Raven kept on.
Aphrodite danced in place and Cecily leaned forward and whispered, 'Shall we go get our bad boys, dear?'
Aphrodite gave a little leap and started bounding towards the meadow.
 
"CECILY! What are you doing in this neck of the woods?"
She grinned. "Oh, just thought I would see what excitement the shire has to offer."
Jack frowned. "This was not a wise thing for you to do, my love. The redcoats AND Malcolm's men are both out there."
She looked him over.
"And they are looking for Black Jack Roberts, are they not?"
"They are."
"A single rider dressed in black?"
"That's about it."
"Then you will be glad I brought this."
 
She reached into the duffel bag and brought out a white silk shirt. He looked at her questionably.
"Inside you will find doeskin breeches and a wine-coloured frock coat. A cavalier hat with burgundy and white feathers. And all the trimmings that a good country squire might wear if he was coming back from Cornwall with his wife."
He accepted the duffel bag and laughed.
"Have I ever told you how much I adore you?"
She smiled wickedly and patted her stomach. "No, but you have showed me!"
He gave a hearty laugh and looked inside the bag.
"You thought of everything!"
 
Jack went over to a cluster of trees and stripped off his highwayman clothes.
"No fair peeking, sweetheart."
She giggled, "Nothing I haven't seen before, Mr. Roberts."
"What made you decide to look for me?"
She said quietly, "Jack, how many times have I instinctively known what you needed?"
"More than I can count."
"With documents that sensitive, I knew the enemy wouldn't let it go gently into that good night. They were important enough for Malcolm Daggett to kidnap a small boy."
"And for that I am not done with him yet."
Cecily admired Jack's fine physique while he changed his clothes.
"You never fail to make my heart race, Jack."
He grinned and looked up at the sky.
"Damn! No stars!"
She laughed. "And we can take the main road for a leisurely trot back to Andrew's house. The redcoats and Daggett will be looking for a man in a black disguise riding alone, yes?"
"Without a doubt."
"So they won't be looking for a man wearing different clothes and riding with his pregnant wife, will they?"
He kissed her hand and said, "You thought of everything, didn't you, darling?"
She brought out a bottle of wine and grinned, "Are you in the mood for a picnic, my love?"
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Jack spread the blanket down in the meadow as Cecily unpacked the cheese and bread and fruit that she had insisted to Andrew that she would take. After all, who know when Jack would have stopped to eat.
He cut the cheese deftly with his dagger and popped a piece in Cecily's mouth.
"Mmm! That is divine!"
He cut a piece of bread and slathered it with the butter. "I didn't realize how hungry I was."
Pouring the wine, they entwined their arms and drank.
From the far off distance, the pounding of horse hoofs were heard.
Cecily sighed, "I do believe our company has arrived. Shall we rise to greet them, darling?"
Jack shook his head. "No. Let them come to us if they want any answers to their questions. I'm not interrupting my lunch for the likes of them."
Cecily laughed. "So sad for them."
"Why, love?"
"Because I didn't bring enough food for everyone!"
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on June 21, 2009, 12:58:03 PM
Considering the time of the evening the last thing that Sergeant Percy Merewether had expected to encounter on this eventful night was a couple picnicking in the dead of it. It was bad enough that the man who had made for the wood had simply vanished under the very noses of his men, but now to find another pair about at this ungodly hour was unthinkable. He raised his hand for his redcoats to follow with their “guests” and made for the lounging figures.

“You there!” He shouted as they neared the couple. “Stand and give account of yourselves!”

The man stood and lightly dusted at his britches. “I say, Sergeant Merewether, good morning to you.”

“Mr. Johnson?” Merewether squinted into the gloom as the rest of the contingent rode up. “Is that you, Sir?”

“One and the same, Sergeant.” Jack grinned, holding out his hand to help Cecily up. For a moment he looked over the group, his eyes resting for a second on Malcolm Daggett’s. “Out rounding up Highwaymen, are we?”

“To be honest, Mr. Johnson, I’m not at all sure what they are.” The Sergeant shot a quick glance towards the red faced Malcolm. “We came upon them shooting at a lone figure whom they claim robbed them. We seem to have lost that scoundrel.”

“I see, Sergeant Merewether.” Cecily coyly batted her eyes and looked for all the world like a bored lady of means. “Surely you must be out of practice with the lack of such villains about these last five years.”

“No doubt, Lady Johnson.” The flabbergasted official bowed and tipped his hat to her. “But perhaps you might be able to explain why you and your husband are about at this hour of the night?”

“I fear it is you who are mistaken, Sergeant. It is early morning.” Cecily motioned with her fan to the forested horizon at the faintly purple color which proceeded the arrival of the sun.

“Indeed, Percy.” Jack broke in. “We arose early this morning and since the children are visiting with their uncle, decided to make a day of it before we collected them. We only just arrived a few moments before you came along leading these nere-do-wells.”

“I, sir, am no nere-do-well!” Malcolm’s temper broke at the last jibe. “I am the personal retainer of Sir Terrance Blackwood, and I resent your implications!”

“You, sir, will hold your tongue until that fact can be verified!” Merewether snapped over his shoulder.

“My apologies, Mr. Johnson.” The official smiled. “Then you would not have encountered a figure dressed darkly riding by?”

“None necessary, my good man.” Jack grinned back. “With the exception of these supposed roust abouts, I’m afraid you and your men are all we have seen.”

“Yes.” Cecily interjected. “And from the look of them I would exercise extreme care in their handling were I you, Sergeant Merewether.”

“I most certainly shall, Mum.” Percy bowed again. “Now if you will excuse me, we must return to the barracks until we can sort all this out.”

“Before you go, Sergeant.” Jack spoke up. “Would you be kind enough to have Brigadier Barclay come around? I believe I may have some information about that new horse he asked me to look into.”

“I’m sorry, Sir.” Percy returned. “ The Brigadier has been called to London and shan’t be back for at least a fortnight. I shall, however, let him know the moment he arrives.”

“Thank you, Sergeant.” Jack said as the troop rode off towards Devonshire.



Malcolm leaned close to Henry Worthington. “This Johnson may prove interesting.”

“Sir?” Henry whispered back.

“Did you not notice? His black mount was lathered, and his last name was the same as the boy. I do believe this Mr. Johnson warrants a closer look once we settle this matter with the footmen. A much closer look.”
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on July 07, 2009, 09:05:40 AM
Josiah and Molly were preparing the kitchen for the mornings breakfast at The Crossbow when they heard the front door of the tavern open. The guests, travelers either on the way to Devonshire, or returning from there, had not yet stirred and it was indeed rare that any of the regular patrons would be calling this soon in the morn. Josiah walked for the door, wiping his hands on the ever present bar towel that hung from his side, prepared to explain that it would be a few more moments until the first meal of the day would be ready.

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” the tavern keep exclaimed. “You I’d be expectin’, Jack, but what on Earth is Cecily doing’ about this time of the day? Last I’d heard she were at Moreland with the wee ones.”

“You don’t think I would allow him to return home without a proper welcome do you, Josiah?” Cecily teased.

“Nay. I suppose not.” Josiah laughed.

Molly emerged from the back, drying her own hands on her apron. “The two of you must be half starved, what with gallivanting about the countryside at all hours.”

“I’m afraid not, Molly.” Jack smiled. “Cecily brought a picnic with her as well. I do believe she is determined to keep me home by insuring that I’ll no longer fit into my old clothing.”

Cecily’s folded fan playfully rapped the back of his skull. “Were that true, Mr. Roberts, I would have force fed you half the livestock of England. However, I saw no need to force poor Raven to carry an unbearable weight for your sins!”

The sound of a horse’s whinny punctuated the jibe, sending the foursome into an uncontrollable fit of laughter.

“Well said, Raven.” Cecily snickered breathlessly. “Still, I could use a nice cup of tea, if you don’t mind Molly.”

“Not at all, Dear.” Molly wiped her eyes with the corner of the apron. “The water’s hot already. Come, and we’ll leave these two to their business.”

As the two men watched their respective wives vanish into the kitchen Jack murmured. “There, Josiah, goes all the treasure a man needs in this life.”
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on July 11, 2009, 10:04:07 PM
Josiah nodded, "And if they can make an apple tart, all the much better!"
Jack laughed and patted his best friend on the stomach. "I can tell you are not deprived, old friend!"
The men walked into the tavern, the sound of feminine laughter punctuated the silence of the early morning.
Jack put his hand on his friend's shoulder and said, "I have something to do up in my old room."
"What is it?"
Jack shook his head. "Best that I don't tell you, Josiah. Ignorance is bliss."
He nodded. If Jack told him something, he was then a party to the event.
"I'll stay down here while you do whatever it is you need to do."
 
Jack opened the door to the safe room. How many times he had used it to lay low or when 'Robert Johnson' needed to disappear out of town for a while. It was a wonderful place to spend his time with Cecily too. She made the day less lonely.
He also felt a twinge of guilt as he remembered the one unexpected guest who stayed a few days--and nights.
Molly.
 
'All before I met Cecily,' Jack reasoned.
Cecily never knew. Jack and Molly had never given her any reason to suspect. And it would stay that way.
 
Jack lined his feet up under the single small casement window and counted off, one foot in front of the other.  One....two...three....fifteen...sixteen.
He lifted up the floorboard and carefully opened a small cedar chest. Rolling the documents up, he placed the chest back under the board and tapped it back in place gently.
No one could ever tell that the board had been pried loose.
 
Jack dusted off his hands and went downstairs to join his friend Josiah by the fireside for a splash of morning brandy.
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Cecily arched her back to get the kinks out of it, rubbing the small of her back.
"I will be so glad when this nightmare is behind us. Why won't they let us live in peace, Molly?"
Molly set two cups of hot tea on the table and set a plate with buttered scones in front of Cecily.
She frowned, "Am I not getting plump enough, Molly?"
Molly laughed, "Only with baby. I have never seen a woman go right back to the same size right away! I should have been so fortunate!"
"Molly, you just had little Rose a few months ago! Don't be so harsh on yourself."
The buxom redhead tossed her copper curls. "Aye, well, Josiah likes me with a little meat on my bones. So I guess I am alright."
Cecily rubbed her stomach gently. "And I will be glad when this one makes his or her appearance. I have about four months to go."
"Annabelle will attend you again, yes?"
"I would have no one but her. I think only she could have delivered the twins."
Molly chuckled, "You should have seen Jack pacing back and forth. Geoff and George practically had to sit on him to keep him downstairs. And then he got two in the bargain!"
 
"Two of what bargain, Molly?"
Jack came into the kitchen, taking a scone off the table.
"Two babes for the price of one lying-in, Jack. Think lightning will strike twice in the same place, as it were?"
Molly gave Cecily a wink as she blushed.
"Wouldn't mind it, Molly. Wouldn't mind it at all."
Cecily retorted, 'Well, I would!"
They both looked at her and Cecily laughed, "It was like pushing a wagon out the window. Twice over."
Jack laughed and pulled his wife up to a standing position.
"And I say we go to Andrew's and see our little hay-wagons. What say you?"
Cecily linked her arm with Jack's and nodded.
"And I think we need to stay at Andrew's for a few days just to throw the redcoats off the track. After all, the Morleys are a force to be reckoned with in Cornwall," Jack mused.
Cecily yawned, "Sounds good to me."
"Then let's get going. Molly--Josiah--dinner at our place next Sunday?"
"We will see you then, Laddie," Josiah clapped him on the shoulder.

As they were going out the door, "Twins, Jack? If that happens again, you just may be bedding down with Raven until I forget the pain...."
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on August 03, 2009, 09:58:14 AM
“Well, now.” Jack deliberately raised his voice while attempting to keep a nonchalant tone. “I wonder just where my two rapscallions could be at this hour?”

Cecily placed one hand over her lips to stifle the rising giggle. They had stopped at a breeder Jack had known just outside of Devonshire. Jack knew well horseflesh and had soon selected a beautiful white Welsh pony. At only six years old, the twelve hands high mare had the well-laid back shoulder, deep chest, short back, well-sprung rib cage indicative of the hardy breed. The spirited yet calm nature of the pony only added to his choice. As if impatient to meet her new owner the pony snorted and shook her long white mane.

Suddenly the double doors of Moreland Manor burst open and two small sets of legs began to race down the marble stone steps, only to be brought to a skidding halt by the sight of the animal Jack held the reigns to. Cecily had chosen a shining black saddle with silver trim accents that seemed to gleam all the more for the contrast of the horse’s coat.

“Oh, Da!” Little Jamie gasped, her little hands held to her mouth in an uncanny imitation of her mother. “Is she mine?!…She is a she, isn’t she?!”

Jack Roberts chuckled and dropped to one knee in front of his daughter. “In deed she is, but you’ll have to name her, my little Jamie.”

Suddenly Jack found his neck seized in an ever tightening bear hug from the girl’s tiny arms. “Oh thank you, Da! Thank you!”

“Only, Da?” Cecily teased. The lovely blonde mother found herself struggling to hold her balance as a twin of the hug pinned her knees together.

“Of course you, too, Mama!” The little girl squealed in delight. “Can Jeremy and me go riding now?!!”

“Only after you change your clothing.” Cecily beamed warmly. “That pretty dress isn’t made for riding. And the two of you must take one of the stable hands with you.”

Jamie clapped her small hands together in delight. “Come on Jeremy! We’re going riding!” The twins raced past Andrew and Jane as they disappeared into the doorway.

"My horse is bigger." Jeremy teased as they rushed off.

Andrew laughed as they walked down the steps to greet his sister and brother-in law. Jack straightened his caviler hat and lightly rubbed the back of his neck in mock discomfort as he reached for Andrew’s hand. “That is twice today your sister has saved my neck.” He grinned.

Andrew motioned for a porter to take Jamie’s new horse to the stable. “No doubt, Robert. Come inside and we’ll hear the tale over a brandy.”

“Now that, Dear brother, is one of the best offers we’ve had today.” Cecily smiled, planting a quick peck on Andrew’s cheek.



Malcolm sealed the envelope with the red wax and pressed his seal deeply into the rapidly cooling liquid. Rising from the small table in the guest quarters he crossed to the door and rapped it sharply. A youthful corporal swung the heavy oak door open in response.

“Yes, Sir?”

Malcolm handed the closed parchment and two gold sovereigns to the man. “The letter is ready. Do you remember the address of my man in Devon shire?”

“That I do, Sir.”

“Very good.” Malcolm smiled. As soon as the courier arrives dispatch him to that address, my man will see to the rest.” The young guard nodded and closed the door gently. A click let Malcolm know that it was once again locked.

“Now, Mr. Worthington, should all go well we shall find ourselves free of this gilded prison in less than a fortnight.”

“And then, Lord Dagget?”

“Then, my good man, we shall begin to make some serious inquiries into the life of one Robert Johnson.”
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on August 15, 2009, 10:28:46 AM
“And I must say, Sir Maxwell, I fear this rising discontent in the colonies will strain the royal coffers to…” The timid knock at the study’s ornate oak doors reverberated much louder in the large room none the less. Lord Terrance Blackwood allowed himself a slight, momentary frown of irritation before rising from the well upholstered lounging chair seated at an angle before the lazily burning fireplace. Placing the brandy glass on the small mahogany serving table between him and Sir John Maxwell relaxing in the chair’s twin, he half bowed.

“Forgive the interruption, Sir Maxwell. I left orders not to be disturbed.”

“Think nothing of it, Lord Blackwood.” The aging Parliament member waved his empty hand languidly. “I’m sure it must be important if your servants see fit to disobey your orders. We shall continue our conversation on your return.”

“My thanks and apologies, Sir.”

Terrance Blackwood strode to the door, his temper barely under control. At the least the servant who had dared to ignore his wishes would earn the tongue lashing of their lives. To start. Gripping the fancy polished brass door latch his fist tightened into a bloodless knot around the hapless metal. Pushing down he opened the door no more than a foots width.

“I left strict orders not to be disturbed, you motherless lout!” Terrance’s whisper hissed with venom between his teeth.

“P-please forgive me, My Lord!” The quaking, well dressed youth bowed quickly. “I would never have disturbed my lord were it not for this.” The sealed letter quivered in the air as the frightened houseboy offered it to his master. “It were sent a week ago from Devonshire by the date, and bears the mark of Lord Dagget.”

Blackwood’s mood changed with a startling quickness. “Well done, Tobias.” He whispered softly. “You have served me well. Forgive my temper and take yourself to the kitchen. Tell the cook to allow you whatever pastry you desire.”

“Thank you, My Lord. Thank you!” The boy whispered back bowing several times before Blackwood closed the door quietly. Returning to the fireplace he slipped the letter inside his blue satin overcoat, retrieved his brandy and sat down.

Whatever Malcolm had to report could wait a few moments longer. He had invested too much time in having several key seats in the House of Lords visit with him to allow this one to pass untainted. Politics demanded subtlety if he were ever to claim his rightful place.

“Nothing too upsetting I trust, Lord Blackwood?” Maxwell offered nonchalantly.

“Nay, Lord Maxwell. Just a mare of mine coming into foal.” Sir Terrance lied. “I properly reprimanded the servant and sent him on his way.”

Blackwood sipped his brandy before continuing. “Now, where were we? Ah, yes! The colonies. Please understand, Sir Maxwell, my concern is for both the crown and England.”

“Of course, Lord Blackwood.”
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on August 17, 2009, 08:58:58 PM
Jack stretched his legs out as he sat on the couch in Andrew's study. Cecily curled next to him, his arm around her.
"Andrew, I don't mind admitting it was a bit dicey for a bit. But your sister is one of the best little actresses I know. Cool as a cucumber, too."
Andrew handed Jack his brandy.
"Sis? Can I get you one?"
She shook her head no. "I'll just have this sherry. Where is Jane?"
"She and her mother went calling. She should be home in a few hours."
Cecily yawned. "I am exhausted. Andrew, Jack and I would like to stay here a few days if you don't mind. We need a few days to relax. And Moreland is a virtual fortress."
"Cecily, you know this is always your home. You and Jack always are welcome in your old room. Jaimie and Jeremy have been using it but they can move down to the nursery."
 
Andrew walked over to the window and looked out.
"The item--is it in a safe place?"
Jack answered, "It is."
Andrew said softly,"Who would have ever thought such a piece of paper could wreak such havoc on a kingdom?"
"Only if it gets out, Andrew. Malcolm Daggett is going to extremes. But he's not working alone. There is a network out there. And it goes higher than we know. Just who is the question."
Jack looked pensive. Cecily grew alarmed.
"Jack, please! Please tell me this is the end of it."
He and Andrew exchanged glances.
"I wish I could say it was, my sweet. But as long as that paper exists, the monarchy is in a precarious position."
"So burn it! Toss it into a million pieces and burn it to ashes! Jack, your allegiance is not to England. It is to me and the children."
She unconsciously rubbed her stomach as if to soothe the child within.
She added where it would prick him the most. "And need I remind you that your mother was Irish? That you are half Irish and your children carry that blood within them? Do you think your grand-da--who lost his land and his life to the English--would not champion your right to a quiet, peaceful life for you and his descendants?"
Jack could sense the creeping hysteria in her voice.
He reached over and grasped her hand, looking her fully in the eyes. "Need I remind you, my love, that you are English? That your lands have been held by Morleys since the Domesday book?"
She looked over at Andrew and he nodded solemnly.
"Jack is right, Cecily."
She looked from one to the other, the look of fear in her eyes.
Jack held her close and whispered, "I shall not take any unnecessary chances, darling. If it looks like it is getting too hot, I shall step back."
"And if they try to blame you? And try to hang Blackjack Roberts on you? What then?"
He looked over to Andrew with a knowing look.
"Then we move to the Colonies."
Andrew said grimly, "And I won't be far behind, Cec."
She gave a shuddering sigh.
"Alright for now. But I want to be informed of every single move, Jack. No more sheltering me."
He kissed her and said, "I swear on my life, Cecily. No more secrets."
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on August 17, 2009, 08:59:56 PM
"So what are you going to name the horse, Jaimie?"
She pet her mane as she continued to brush her. "Nimue."
Jeremy snorted, "What kind of a name is that for a horse?"
She stuck her tongue out at him.
"While you were kidnapped, Uncle Andrew would tell me stories before bedtime. He told me all about King Arthur who ruled England like no other. And his magician was Merlin. Nimue turned him into a tree."
Jeremy looked doubtful at her. "Are you sure? I mean, a tree?"
Jaimie nodded. "If Uncle Andre says so, then it is true. He told me he would take me to Tin--what was the name? Oh yeah..Tintagel someday."
 
Jeremy touched the saddle on Nimue. "How come you got a new saddle and I---"
"Master Jeremy? Your da said to put this on your horse."
The stablehand heaved a saddle of dark brown leather with copper trim on Jeremy's waiting horse."
Jaimie said triumphantly, "Told you! Da never gets me something and not you! Are you ready to ride?"
Jeremy leaned over and whispered conspiratorially in her ear, "And I know just where we are going to go, too!"
As he whispered it in her ear, her eyes widened in amazement.
"Are you sure?" she whispered back.
"Of course! You forget, Miss Smartypants, that I have been all over England by myself."
She retorted, "Only because you had no choice."
Jeremy held out his hand and spit in it. "Secret?"
She spit in her own and whispered, "Secret!"
And they smacked hands together.
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Marley, the stablehand, rode a ways back from the twins. The two of them handled their horses with ease, never mind the fact that their feet were hardly reaching the barrel of the horse. Yet the horses seemed too busy getting to know each other to notice.
As they rode to the edge of the meadow, they both looked up at the imposing grey stone manor. Jeremy looked at the stable hand and said, "Mister Marley, sir, my sister left her coat on the steps in back. We need to find it."
Marley looked at them doubtfully. "Ye ain't gonna be tryin' to sneak off, are ye?"
They both glanced at each other and said in unison, "No, sir."
He picked his teeth with a small twig.
"Then ye better stay in my sight as I am responsible fer ye."
Jaimie sighed and whispered, "I don't think Marley is dumb, Jeremy. How can we look in the house?"
He dismounted. "Get off and let me have your reins."
She slid off Nimue and handed it to him. "I hope you know what you are doing, Jeremy."
"I do. After all, I hid those papers for Da."
 
Jeremy tied both horses to a tree and shouted, "We will be back as soon as we find the coat, Marley."
He nodded and dismounted. "I'll be taking my horse down to the creek for water. Now don't you mount and ride off on me."
"We won't," they both spoke together.
 
As soon as Marley was out of sight, Jeremy grabbed Jaimie's hand. "C'mon! We are going to get a look. Maybe we will see the old man who owns it. I bet he is drooling and has popped eyes."
Jaimie hunched closer to Jeremy. "Maybe this wasn't such a good idea."
He grabbed her hand and jerked her along. "Hush! You want to 'splore, let's 'splore!"
"But Jeremy...."
Going around the back, Jeremy found an old box and stepped up on it, holding onto the window ledge.
Jaimie hopped on one foot. "Jeremy, I'm scared!"
He looked down on her. "Jaimie, I swear you act more and more like a girl every day! Now let me look up so I can see if there is a portrait of the monster that lived here and----"

Just then, a shadow crossed the wall and Jaimie stifled a scream. Jeremy went sliding down and landed in the bushes. The two little Roberts children looked up into a face.
"Who are you? And just what do you think you are doing on my property?"
The man stood there with his hands on his hips.
"Pleases, sir, we were just---"
"Ah! And I know who you are. You are Robert Johnson's children, aren't you?"
They both nodded.
"Yes, the eyes give you away. No other children in the shire have the turquoise eyes."
He pointed at Jaimie.
"And pretty as your mum, you are."
Jeremy scuffed his shoe on the ground and then raised his head and met the man's gaze directly.
"And who might you be, Sir?"
He chuckled. "I might be Raymond."
He nodded at the children.
"And I am pleased as punch to meet you."
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on September 01, 2009, 10:52:15 AM
“Now, My young scallywags.” Raymond smiled as he set the tray of sweet cakes down on the table within easy reach of the twins. “You’ve still not answered my question. Why were the two of you sneaking about my property?”

Under less favorable circumstances the question would have seemed a reprimand, but the warm smile and twinkle in the elder man’s eye belied any ill intent. Jamie and Jeremy shot each other a quick glance and the boy looked up to Raymond with guileless eyes.

“Well, Sir, we had heard of a man who used to live here.” He began as his sister reached tentatively for one of the tempting pastries. “We had heard that he was supposed to have been Mama’s husband once, and we thought you might know about him?”

“We heard he wasn’t very nice.” Jamie chimed in between mouthfuls.

“Ah, yes.” Raymond frowned for a moment at the memory of his former master. “Lord Peter Culpepper.” Leaning forward in his chair he replenished the children’s cups of tea as well as his own before continuing. “He wasn’t your mother’s husband. He was her fiancé. And, no, he was not a nice man at all. That was before your mother met your father. A fine man your father. As a matter of course were it not for Bla…Robert Johnson I would not be enjoying my elder years quite as much as I do, I’m quite certain.”

The twins shot a second look at each other. Both not quite sure that their kindly host had nearly spoken their father’s true name.




Brigadier Rupert Barclay rode stoically down the South Hampshire rode deep within his thoughts. The soft thud of the hooves of his own horse, and those of the three men he had brought with him providing a soothing rhythm that did little to ease his inner turmoil.

His meeting with King George, and the few of his trusted advisers who were privy to the secret had not gone well at all. It was hard enough to inform his king that not only had the documents not been found, but that the man he had working on the job had to remain anonymous. He could have imagined the fox in the chicken coop reaction that would have ensued had he informed his majesty that the fate of his kingdom was in the hands of a resurrected outlaw. Worse, that the said outlaw was none other than Black Jack Roberts.

In the end he had been successful in convincing them that to protect his man from the vengeance of the Jacobites it would be better that none but himself know the agent’s true identity. Fortunately, the ploy had worked and now all hinged on the success of his former adversary and friend.

“Dear God, I pray you were able to recover those damned papers, Jack.” He whispered to himself.

“Sir?” The sergeant closest to him queried.

“Nothing, Sergeant. Merely thinking aloud.”

“Very good, Sir.”

Suddenly the wood around them exploded into a hail of gunfire. Stunned, Barclay jerked his pistol from it’s holster as he saw two of his men fall from their horses into the dirt of the road.

Discharging his pistol into the foliage closest to him Barclay shouted for the Sergeant to follow him as they made a break for their lives. A split second before he saw the polished wood of the Sergeant’s club, half heard the sickening thud of the weapon, and fell backward from his horse to join the remainder of his men on the road.

From both sides of the ambush site came several darkly dressed figures, one pointing his freshly charged rifle at the unconscious Brigadier’s head.

“Stay your hand, Fool!” Sergeant Rowland Giles barked. “We need him alive for the moment!”

The brigand lowered his weapon dutifully. “He be the one then?”

“Aye, make no mistake, Rupert Barclay is the key to finding those documents.” Giles swung down from his horse and began rubbing road grime on his face and uniform. “Take him back to Blackwood Estate, but make sure none see you do it.”

“You there!” He pointed to one of the larger men. “Strike me!”

“Sir?!” The man looked up at the redcoat in total confusion.

“I can not appear to have escaped this unscathed, Lout!” Rowland growled at the man’s ignorance. “It would leave too many unanswered questions! Now, strike me! But mind you, curb your blow a bit!”
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on September 13, 2009, 09:49:41 PM
"Mr. Raymond, sir, we forgot to tell our stablehand we are inside! We have to get out there before he gets mad and tells Da we disappeared. Then we won't be able to ride anymore--like maybe even forever!" Jaimie fretted.
"Not to worry, young Miss. I had one of my grooms find him to tell him you have been invited to tea. If you look down the hallway, you will see he is in the kitchen having a scone with my cook."
Jeremy and Jaimie tentatively walked down the hall and saw Marley dipping his scone in clotted cream. He gave them a wave and went back to his tea.
The children resumed their seats.
Raymond leaned back in his chair.
"You know my name but we haven't been properly introduced now, have we?"
"I'm Jeremy Johnson."
"And I am Jaimie Johnson."
Raymond offered his hand to them each in turn.
"I am very pleased to meet you, Master and Miss Johnson."
"You know our Mama and Da?"
"Indeed I do. A very lovely couple. And I can see they are raising fine children with manners."
Jeremy smiled and Jaimie blushed.
"Please, Mr. Raymond, how do you know Mama and Da?" Jeremy asked.
 
Raymond took a sip of his tea.
"It was before you two were born. The man who lived here was my nephew. His name was Lord Peter Culpepper. His brother was my older brother.  And when Sir Peter died, he had no children or siblings. So, I inherited the house."
Jaimie's eyes grew wide. "Just like a fairy tale! Did he keep you chained in the dungeon?"
Raymond chuckled. "No, it wasn't quite that bad! I ended up...working for Sir Peter."
"Was he really that mean?" Jeremy asked.
The older man's face grew thoughtful. He reflected on all that Lord Culpepper had done, from murder to kidnapping and Lord knows what in between.
Finally he said, "Yes, children, he was not a nice person. Especially to your mother and father. But let's talk of happier times. Tell me about yourselves."
 
Jeremy and Jaimie chattered on about their new horses and the brother or sister they were going to have.
"And then Jeremy got kid---OW!"
Jeremy had subtly pinched Jaimie's backside to get her to shut up.
"..and you were saying?"
Jeremy recovered by saying, "She was saying that I got a kid goat that eats everything."
Jaimie rubbed her sore spot and glared at Jeremy.
 
Marley stood in the doorway.
"Are you all ready to leave? I have to get you back before your mother starts to worry. It will be dark before long."
Jeremy and Jaimie stood up. Jeremy wiped his hands on the front of his pants and Jaimie delicately dabbed a napkin to her mouth.
"We want to thank you for a lovely time, Mister Raymond, " Jaimie said.
Raymond took the hand she offered and he kissed it. "It was my pleasure, Miss Jaimie."
Jeremy shook his hand. "May we come back to see you, Mister Raymond?"
He smiled at them. "Nothing would delight me more, young man. Provided it is alright with your parents."
 
Marley led them out towards the horses. Hermes and Nimue were patiently waiting, gently pawing the ground. As the mounted the horses, Jaimie said, "That was fun! Mister Raymond isn't a monster."
Jeremy whispered, "We aren't done 'sploring on our own, Jaimie. Not by a long shot!"
Her eyes grew wide. "We aren't?"
He shook his head no. "I want to see alot more of that house. And find out about the man who was almost our papa."
 
Marley called out, "What are you two whispering about?"
"Nothing!" they both said in unison.
The groom frowned, "Then see that it stays that way!"
The twins exchanged looks, an expression of devilment on Jeremy's face. Jaimie frowned. She always knew that Jeremy got that look when he got a notion.
Haven't they been in enough trouble?
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Jaimie and Jeremy came running into the parlor. Cecily's face broke out in happiness to see her two healthy and happy twins.
"And just where have you been to, my poppets?"
Jaimie looked at Jeremy. He was their official 'spokesman' when it came to beguiling their mother.
"We went riding in the woods. Marley stayed with us." Jeremy thrust out his hand that had a bunch of wildflowers in it.
"And I picked these for you, Mama."
Cecily exclaimed, "How lovely! You are such a dear to think of me!"
Jaimie crawled on Jack's lap. "I didn't have any flowers for you, Da, but I brought you this."
She took her handkerchief out of her pocket and presented him with her small gift.
Jack opened it and tried to keep the mirth from his voice.
"My goodness! For me? All for me?"
She nodded.
"I swear, Jaimie, love, no one has ever given me a gift like this before."
She looked over into his hand and said solemnly, "It's a caterpillar."
He nodded. "Yes, I can see. And you picked him up all by yourself?"
She got a shocked look on her face. "Oh, no! I used a stick!"
She shuddered, "I'd never pick him up!"
He took it carefully over to an empty bottle. "I'll have Lucius get us some milkweed. And as soon as we get him home, we shall put him in the garden by the arbor. We can watch him eat to his heart's content and when he is fat and full, he will spin a chrysalis and we shall watch him become a butterfly."
She clapped her hands. "That will be fun!"
Jeremy glared and whispered, "Show off!"
Jaimie gave him a smug look.
 
Just then a servant came in.
"Yes, Jasper, what is it?"
"Mr. Geoff from the Crossbow to see Mr. Johnson."
Jack nodded imperceptibly to Cecily. She picked up on it.
"Alright, my children, let's go to the stables to visit your fine horses!"
She hustled them out with a worried backward glance at her husband.
As soon as they left, Geoff came in, taking off his cloak.
"Geoff, what is it?"
Andrew handed him a brandy and he accepted it gratefully. "Redcoats were in the tavern. A contingent is being formed. Seems a few of their men were attacked, a few dead. And Rupert Barclay is missing."
"MISSING?" Jack practically shouted.
Geoff nodded. "And I daresay you will be called again to help out...Black Jack Roberts!"
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on December 31, 2009, 11:42:35 AM
Barclay awoke to find himself in what he took to be a dungeon. His hands were securely bound to the stiff-backed chair he sat upon, and with the exception of a single candle setting on a lonely table, not a bit of light entered through what could be mistaken for a window.

“Well, I’d say you’ve bloody gone and gotten yourself into a right pickle barrel now, Rupert.” He said to himself. “The question now will be who, and where, I’ve a right jolly idea as to the why.”

No sooner did the words pass his lips than the weathered door opposite to him opened and three large bully lads entered, followed by a hooded and cloaked figure.

“Well now, my fine cocker.” the largest of the three smiled evilly. “Tis good at see ya up and about, like. The master has some questions about some property ‘a his ye have in yer possession.”

“I haven’t the foggiest what you men are talking about.” Rupert returned with all the official imperiousness he could muster. “I am a servant of The Crown, and you would be well served to release me at once!”

A quick sharp backhand that crossed his eyes for a moment was the immediate reply to his command. Rough hands grasped the lapels of his uniform, and he found the brute’s face mere inches from his own once his vision cleared.

“Oh, ye know right well what we want, Dog.” The rough voiced hissed. “And, mark me, ye’ll be spillin’ yer guts a’fore the hour passes.



Jack saddled Raven, his mind in a turmoil. Not only had Rupert been taken, but Dagget and his man had been freed by the orders the sergeant brought back from London. Unless he missed his guess, he had a fair idea just where the Brigadier had been spirited off to, and most likely Dagget would make a bee line for the location. Blackwood Estate.

“Jack, you can’t be serious!” Geoff groused as the masked highwayman made fast the straps beneath the black stallion’s belly.

“As serious as death, Geoff.” Jack frowned under his hood. “These documents are all that stand between Rupert and certain death. His only chance will be if I can barter them for his life, and only the appearance of Black Jack will convince them the offer is true.”

“But if those papers fall into Blackwood’s filthy hands all will be lost! It’ll turn this country into a blood bath, and you bloody well know it!”

Jack looked his long time friend in the eye, his turquoise eyes as steady as a professional card player’s. “Would you rather I abandon Rupert to these jackals?” He asked solemnly.

Geoff took a deep breath, and sighed loudly. “Nay. I know you better than that, Jack Roberts. Ye’d sooner sell your soul to the devil than see a friend hurt on your account.”

“Exactly.” Jack grinned as he swung up into Raven’s saddle. Then whirling the great beast towards the hidden exit at the rear of the stable patted the inner pocket of his long coat. “And these are not worth Rupert’s life.”

Tapping his spurless heels lightly into the stallion’s flanks, he bolted from the Crossbow stable and into the deep wood. Geoff staring resignedly after the vanishing figure in black.

“I hope you know what your doing, Jack. For the sake of us all!”
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on February 08, 2010, 08:19:33 PM
Cecily looked at the two horses side by side and smiled.
Hermes and Nimue.
Two fitting mounts for her children.
The twins were behind her, whispering.
She turned to them. "And what are you two whispering about?"
"Nothing!" they both said in unison. Cecily sighed. So like Andrew and herself they were. And the twins would bear watching as she and Andrew never had. Being allowed to run wild did have its advantages though. Their imaginations were left to develop and grow in ways they never thought possible.
Including the play games of Black Jack Roberts.
 
Both children reached up to pet their horses. Cecily took a curry brush to Aphrodite. She knew she had to talk to her children but how? Best to do it under casual circumstances.
"Jaimie? Jeremy? I think we need to have a talk."
Jaimie pointed to her brother. "It was Jeremy's idea!"
Jeremy glared at her.  "Was not!"
Cecily raised her eyebrow. "What are you talking about?"
"Nothing!" they both said together.
Cecily continued to brush her mare.
"It's about Blackjack Roberts."
 
She took a deep breath before she dove into a subject she thought she would never have to explain.
'Who was I fooling?' she thought. With as many people who knew Robert Johnson's true identity, it was only a matter of time.
"I know you both know that your father really is Black Jack Roberts. It's not that we are ashamed of it, children, but on the other hand, we don't brag about it. For the protection of your father, we are going to continue to be known as the Johnson family."
 
Jeremy hung on the stable door, swinging back and forth. "Mama, did you know he was Black Jack Roberts when you married him?"
Cecily smiled in reminiscence. "Yes...yes, I did. In fact, he rescued me. But I'll save that story for bedtime. Now, let's collect your father and...Jeremy? Where is Raven?"
The children both shrugged. "We thought he was in the pasture."
Cecily dropped her curry brush, gathered up her skirts and headed towards the manor.
'Lord, Jack Roberts---I hope you haven't done anything that I am going to regret."
 
"Andrew? Andrew! Where is Jack?"
Geoff and Andrew exchanged glances. "He left."
"Left for where?"
Andrew stepped forward and took Cecily gently by the elbow. "You'd better sit down, Cec."
She pulled away. "No, I will NOT sit down! Now where is my husband?"
Geoff answered quietly, "He's off to rescue Rupert Barclay."
 
Cecily drew a sharp intake of breath. "I can't believe it."
She sat down suddenly. Her face registered distress. "This is insane."
Andrew handed her a brandy. "This will steady your nerves, Cecily."
She took a sip and closed her eyes. "Why do I feel he will never live to see this child born?"
Geoff sat down next to her and held her hand. "Cecily, have you ever known Jack to not plan things out? He knows what he is doing."
Her eyes filled with tears as she whispered, "When will we be done with it? When is it enough?"
Geoff started, "Cecily, the fate of England---"
"---has nothing to do with us!" she said angrily. "And if I have to hear once more how it is for the good of the country, I shall scream!"
She laid her head back and covered her eyes with her hand. "I hate this. And we can't continue to be at the beck and call of King George. It's time he fought his own battles and...AH!"
Cecily bent over, gripping her stomach. Through clenched teeth, she gasped, "This can't be! It--it's not time yet!"
Andrew grew alarmed. "Cecily, are you alright?"
"No, I am NOT alright. I have a few more months to go and this baby WILL be born when the time is right even if I have to cross my legs until then."
 
Geoff stood up and grabbed his cloak.
"I'll be back as fast as I can."
Andrew looked distressed, "You can't leave me with...this. Where are you going?"
Geoff clapped his cavalier hat on his head.
"To get Annabelle. This is her area of expertise and I would feel a whole lot better if she were here."
 
Cecily took deep breaths and willed the pains to stop, continually rubbing her abdomen as if to soothe the chid within.
"Cecily? Can't--can't you just put your feet up?"
She closed her eyes. "Just get Annabelle here. But I won't be alright until Jack gets here. Damn him. And damn Barclay. Damn this whole situation. I will not have this child pay the price."
 
Andrew went to the window and looked anxiously to the drive.
'Hurry, Geoff. And Annabelle had better be with you. I don't know if Cecily can take one more miscarriage....'
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on March 23, 2010, 01:30:22 PM
The dagger flew through the open window, embedding itself deeply into the polished oak of the door frame, not six inches from Malcolm Dagget’s head. The Field agent of Lord Blackwood started backwards, nearly spilling the brandy in his hand. Sir Terrance Blackwood leaped to his feet, after extracting a charged and loaded pistol from his desk drawer. Cautiously approaching the leaded glass he ventured to part one heavy satin drape from behind, as Dagget pried the black handled blade from its resting place. A sheet of parchment was tied securely halfway down the nine inch steel.

“Nothing!” Blackwood sneered into the gathering gloom. “Damned English weather! Even if there were someone out there, the bloody pea soup fog would hide them all too well! Send for Porter, and have him fetch the hounds!”

“I doubt that would be fruitful, or prudent, Lord Blackwood.” Malcolm pursed his lips thoughtfully as he gazed at the letter. “It’s from Black Jack.”

Terrance Blackwood tossed the pistol carelessly onto the desk. “Well? What does the blackguard propose? I assume it is an arraignment for exchange of the documents.”

“Quite so, Sir Terrance,” Malcolm looked up steely eyed. “Though I dare say you’ll not like the conditions of the proposal.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jack stood beside Raven at the top of the sparsely wooded knoll, waiting. That Lord Blackwood and Dagget would soon arrive with Rupert in tow, he had no doubt. That they would not honor any commitment to allow the both of them to ride off scott-free he also had no doubt. Still, it was the only option available to him, and he had taken all the steps he could to keep control of the situation. The midnight hued stallion snorted softly.

“If your saying that I’ve pushed my luck too far this time, Old Friend, I’m inclined to agree with you.” He whispered, reaching around to hug the horse’s neck for a moment and grinning beneath his hood. ‘But, let us hope not, for Cecily’s sake.”

Cecily. These shenanigans couldn’t be easy on her. Nor the babe for that matter. He had hoped beyond hope that his life as a highwayman had died with him the day that Rupert sent the dispatch to London. That he and Cecily could live in peace and raise their family without the shadow of his former life hanging over their heads like a gallows noose. Perhaps such sins were not so easily forgiven as he imagined them to be. He had tried to make up for his crimes by aiding those who needed it most. It didn’t seem to be enough, though. For in the end the specter of Black Jack Roberts had again entered his life. He hoped it wasn’t to his everlasting regret.

In the small glade below he made out the shapes of three figures riding slowly towards the large oak tree stump in the center. The garish red velvet coat of Malcolm Dagget at least let him know that the play he had set into motion was about to enter its next act. Now if only the players would stick to their parts.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Andrew and Geoff stared worriedly up the long curving stairs that led to the upper halls of Morley Manor. After what seemed an eternity Annabelle Peterson appeared at the top. The Gypsy looked haggard, her salt and pepper black, loosely curled hair seemed more out of place than usual. Yet the soft smile on her ruby lips gave the two anxious men some hope.

“How is she, Annie?” Geoff blurted out as the witch-healer descended.

“She’ll be fine now.” Annabelle sighed. “But I won’t say it wasn’t touch and go there for a bit. I was able to stop the contractions, and gave her something to help her sleep a bit. Though I must say all this stress is not good for her, or the unborn one. Such things can cause a premature birthing, and that little bun is not cooked enough to enter this world yet.”

“We know, Annie, but…” Andrew began to interject.

“Yes, yes!” The Gypsy waved her bangled arm in the air dismissively. “I know all about the documents, and saving King George, and all the other political nonsense you men have embroiled the Earth in! Bloody foolishness if you ask me! None of it worth the life of a single child! Now if one of you would be kind enough to fetch me a brandy?”

“Certainly, Annie.” Geoff slipped into the study as Annabelle followed Andrew into the drawing room.

“I would agree with you, Annie.” He said as they sat down. “But the world is not of our making, and we must do what we can while we are here to attempt to better it. One thing I do know about the world. Evil will flourish, when good men do nothing. I would far more have a good man like Jack Roberts do what he can, than to let that child be born to a world at war.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jack drew both his pistols and shouted down to the arriving trio. “Kind ‘a ye ta be joining us, Mates.”

Malcolm instinctively drew his own pistol and leveled it at the dark silhouette standing between the trees. Jack pointed both weapons back at the group.

“Ah, ah, Lord Dagget. We’ll be havin’ none ‘o that now!” He barked cockily. “At least not unless ye be a wantin’ me ta ride off  with these here papers. I can always sell ‘em ta the highest bidder.” Malcolm lowered his pistol. “That’s better, Mate. Now lets parlay.
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on May 22, 2010, 11:56:53 AM
“What is there to bargain, Roberts?!” Sir Terrance Blackwood shouted up at the lone black figure. “We’ve brought the redcoat, just as you requested. All that remains now is the exchange of goods, and we part company.”

Black Jack chuckled sarcastically. “And earn meself a bullet in me back, eh Lord Blackwood? I’ve not kept me neck from th’ gallows this long by bein’ a fool.”

“Then why go to all this trouble to protect a sovereign who is trying to stretch it, Roberts?” Malcolm asked. “It would seem to me that you would have much to gain from the disposing of the German pretender to the throne.”

“Oh, does it now?” Jack genuinely laughed. “An’ what makes ye think I give a tinker’s damn who sets the throne? Either way me neck would be bait fer th’ hangman. ‘Tis th’ gold what matters ta me, Mate. Which I‘ll be hopin’ ye also brought.”

Malcolm reached for his saddlebags when he heard the distinct sound of the hammers on both Jack’s pistols being drawn back. Instantly the retainer of Lord Blackwood froze.

“Now ye wouldn’t be thinking at take me by surprise with a pistol in that there bag, would ye, Lord Dagget?” Malcolm glanced up to see the barrels of both French flintlocks glinting in the faint moonlight. “If so, I’d be suggestin’ ye lose the thought, and move as slow as me old dodderin’ mother! The Good Lord rest ‘er soul.” The henchman slowly opened the saddlebag, reached in, and retrived a medium leather sack that jingled slightly as he lifted it.

“Now. Let’s be seein’ the color ‘a the gold.” Jack barked. Dagget undid the  leather thongs and pulled a handful of the golden coins from the bag, letting them slowly fall back into the sack with a melodious tinkling. “Very well. Leave yer weapons with yer employer, and bring me the gold and redcoat. We’ll exchange, then th’ two ‘a ye can be on yer merry way.”

“Why the brigadier, Roberts?” Sir Terrance spoke up. “The gold I can see, coming from a man of your reputation. What is one of the kings men to you?”

“To me?” Jack feigned incredulousness. “Nothing, save perhaps a bit o’ ransom. Half the gold I asked for be for the papers, ‘tother half fer the trouble ‘a taken the dog off yer hands. If I can make a bit extra off ‘a his carcass, so much the better.”

“I’d say yer expectations be too high, Black Jack Roberts!” The deep voice came from behind Jack, quickly followed by click of a hammer being drawn back. “Now if’n you’ll kindly divest yerself ‘a them pistols.”

“Well done, Marcus!” Lord Blackwood exclaimed. “Now we have the documents, the brigadier, and Black Jack Roberts!”

“Nay! I’d say ye’ve more trouble than ye can handle, Mate!” The voice behind Marcus was instantly followed by the butt of a flintlock to the brigand’s head. As he slumped to the earth Jack aimed both pistols at Terrance Blackwood, and Malcolm. The two noblemen pulled their own firearms, preparing to fight back as the sound of more weapons being readied filled the wood around them.

“Now ye didn’t think I’d be fool enough ta meet with ya here alone, did ya?!” Jack growled angrily. “Just fer that bit ‘a foolishness, I’ve half a mind ta send ye both ta the Devil and keep all fer meself!”

“Sounds like a right proper idea ta me, Jack!” The second highwayman said as he walked up to stand at the legendary bandit’s side. The sound of ‘Aye!’ came from several different shadows around the glade. “I say we blow the three ‘a ‘em ta Hell, and divvy up what’s left!”

“Can’t say I’m not sorely tempted, Mate, but that’s not me way an’ ye bloody well know it!” Jack reached inside his coat and produced the envelope. “Here be the papers, Lord Blackwood. Drop yer weapons. Send the bloody redcoat up th’ hill with the gold, and I’ll tack ‘em to this here tree fer you to retrieve once we’ve gone!”

“How can we be sure those are the documents?” Sir Terrance hissed between his teeth. He had greatly underestimated the outlaw, and the knowledge rankled inside him.

“Considerin’ what ye just tried, Mate. It’s my word we’ll be trustin’. Besides, the way I see it, what choice d’ye have?”

Though it set his guts to churning, Sir Terrance Blackwood knew when he had overplayed his hand. He and Malcolm dropped their pistols to the ground. Malcolm cut the bonds that bound Rupert’s hands before dropping the knife as well, and handed the leather sack to him. The officer rode slowly up the small hill where the outlaw stood with his man, and handed the gold to him silently. Jack opened the sack and rummaged through it. Satisfied with the contents, he tossed the bag to his henchman, and whirling rammed his dagger into the envelope and tree, then whistled.

The coal black stallion marched up to his master, and waited patently as the hooded shadow swung up into the silver studded saddle. Jack touched two finger to the brim of his cavalier hat.

“A pleasure doin’ business with ya, Gentlemen.” He quipped. “Now if you’ll be excusein’ us, we’ll be on our way.”

Once the trio had joined with three more members of the gang, Barclay exploded. “How could you do that, Jack?! With those paper in hand that bastard will plunge the whole of England into civil war!”

“With those papers in hand he’ll be plunging into the kitchen.” Jack laughed, pulling the mask from his head. His turquoise eyes sparkling in the moon light. “Those papers are nothing more than the recipes for several bake goods a very dear woman I know sent to my wife. I suspect Lord Blackwood will particularly enjoy the apple tarts, if he chooses to put them to use.”

Rupert Barclay stared at the black clad highwayman in shock. “You mean..?”

“Aye.” Jack laughed. “You didn’t think I would actually bring the documents, did you, Old Bean? They are still safely hidden.” Jack turned to the masked man riding beside them. “Cody, take the gold that our benefactor so kindly supplied and divide it with the rest. The brigadier and I will take the back way into Devonshire.”

“Aye, Jack!” Cody smiled through the cloth covering the lower half of his face. “Good luck to ye both, and as always, it’s been right profitable working’ with ya.”
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Welsh Wench on June 25, 2010, 08:31:35 PM
Andrew knocked softly on the door.
"Come in."
He opened the door to see his sister propped up on pillows, staring out the window.
"Hey, Cec," he said softly.
"Hey yourself."
She tore her gaze from the window to her brother's concerned face.
"You alright?"
He sat down next other and took her hands in his.
"I've been better."
"The cramping has stopped?"
"For now. Annie gave me an elixir and massaged my abdomen to keep the contractions from miscarrying the baby. Andrew, this has got to stop!"
"I agree. We'll keep Annabelle close by and----"
"NO! I mean this foolishness of putting King and Crown before our children."
"But, Cecily--"
"No 'buts' about it! Would King George do it for Blackjack Roberts? No! NO, NO, NO!"
"And would you want England plunged into another civil war?"
"Yes, if it means the life of my child. I will convince Jack to leave this country. England never did him any favors. It hunted and persecuted his parents because his mother was Irish. And may I remind you that Jack's children are one-quarter Irish? His parents had to live off scraps they found discarded from others' tables until they died of consumption and malnutrition. Jack lived by his wits and by the turn of a friendly card, he survived. And his children will never experience what he went through."
 
Andrew's mouth drew into a tight line."And what of Moreland? Will you see our lands taken from us? The only reason we Morleys kept our lands is that we threw in our lot with the Anglicans. Although the Morleys did play both sides of the coin and kept a chapel hidden."
 
Cecily closed her eyes. "If I go to sleep, maybe this will all be a bad dream. Just a bad dream that Jack and I can laugh about."
Andrew frowned. "If only it were that simple, Cecily. If only it were that simple."
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 

Jeremy and Jaimie stood in the stalls grooming their horses.
"Do you think Mama will be alright?" Jaimie asked worriedly.
"Of course she will. She's Mama."
"She's mad at Da, I think."
"How do you know?"
"I heard her talking to Uncle Andrew."
"She'll get over it. She's just worried about the baby."
"But Aunt Annabelle will make it all better, won't she?"
"She already has. I heard Mama through the door. She's not really mad at Da. She's upset about the letters that we had. But Uncle Andrew told her everything was going to be alright."
Jaimie smiled. "If Uncle Andrew said so, then it will be. I hope the baby is a girl. I want a sister."
"No way! It's a boy!"
Jaimie's face brightened. "Maybe it is one of each! Like us!"
"Not if Mama has her choice. She said she didn't want to go through that again."
"We weren't that bad....were we?"
"I didn't think so. But then what did we know? We were babies."
 
Jeremy put his curry brush away.
"You want to do something?"
"Like what?"
"We could go see Mr. Raymond again. I liked his cakes."
'We don't want to wear our welcome out, Jeremy."
"There's always that scary gatehouse at the edge of Mr. Raymond's property. Why don't we 'splore that?"
"Jeremy, the last time we did any real 'sploring--except for Mr. Raymond's place--you got kidnapped. I don't want to put Mama through that again. Not when she is going to have a baby. Until Da comes home, we need to stay right where we are."
"What about trying to find out about that mean old man that was in love with Mama? What was his name again?"
"Mr. Salt?"
Jeremy snorted, "Don't be daft, Jaimie! No one is named Salt!"
Jaimie stuck her tongue out at her brother then said excitedly, "Pepper! Mr. Pepper was his name!"
Jeremy snapped his fingers.
"Culpepper! That was it!"
Jaimie giggled. "We could have been Jaimie and Jeremy Culpepper!"
"But we wouldn't be us...would we?"
"I think we would. But we would look different and--do you hear that?"
The sound of hoofbeats came through the woods.
"It's Da! Let's hide from him!" Jeremy exclaimed.
 
Jeremy grabbed Jaimie by the collar.
"Hey!"
"Shhh!"
He dragged her into a stall and they both backed up against the boards.
"Can you see him yet?"
"No. But I know that is Raven."
They both peeked out between the board gaps.
And in a minute they saw what they never thought they would see.
 
Through the clearing, their father emerged on his coal black stallion. But it was not the father they knew.
They were staring at Black Jack Roberts.
Jaimie opened her mouth in surprise but Jeremy quickly covered her mouth with his hand.
"Shhh! Jaimie, I can't believe it!" he said excitedly.
He took his hand away and the two children watched as their father galloped into the yard behind the stable.
His black cloak swirled around him as he took off his mask and stuffed it into the pocket inside his cloak. Jack walked Raven into a stall and stashed his cloak in the bin.
He then led Raven into a stall and started to brush him down. The steed was lathered from the intense ride.
Jeremy whispered, "Now!" and the children came out from the back stall.
"Surprise, Da! Surprise!" They yelled and danced around him.
"Well, my little scalawags! And what have you been up to?"
"Oh, nothing. Just taking our horses out for a ride with Marley."
"Is your mama in there with Uncle Andrew?"
Jaimie nodded. "Yes. And Aunt Annabelle was here because Mama had a few pains. Maybe she ate something she shouldn't have and----"
Jack dropped his curry brush and raced out of the stables.
Jaimie looked at Jeremy and asked, "Was it something I said?"
Jeremy shrugged. "I don't know. But maybe we had better go up to the house."

Jaimie nodded but her eyes shone. With the look of hero worship only a little girl could have for her Da, she stood a little taller.
After all, they were the children of Black Jack Roberts.
And they got to see him.
Mask and all.
 
 
 
Title: Re: The Highwayman: Legacy
Post by: Blackjack Roberts on October 28, 2010, 12:58:21 PM
Sir Terrance Blackwood fumed, several papers clenched tightly in his white knuckled fist. Just as he suspected, Roberts had not willingly given up the documents he desperately needed to return England to true British rule. Without proper proof there would be little support for his claim, even from the staunchest Jacobite. He rested his head against the forearm draped across the fireplace mantle while his mind worked franticly to, somehow, retrieve those blasted papers!

Malcolm entered the room slowly, closing the massive oak door behind him as quietly as possible. “Marcus will be none the worse for the wear, I’d dare say, Lord Blackwood. Though he’s bound to carry a blazing headache for quite some time.” He offered softly.

“The Devil take that halfwit’s head!” Sir Blackwood growled lowly between his clenched teeth as he turned around. “He’s lucky I’m allowing him to keep that turnip he calls a head upon his shoulders! It naturally didn’t occur to that dimwitted blighter to check the surrounding wood for any of Robert’s compatriots!”

“My apologies, Sir Terrance.” Dagget bowed quickly. “I should have done the job myself, and not have left it to one of such low wit.”

“That would have been prudent had the blackguard not insisted you ride there with me!” Blackwood shook the clench papers in his retainer’s face. “Now all we have to show for 200 gold sovereigns are country recipes for Shepard’s Pie, Lancashire Pudding,…and bloody Apple Tarts!!” He turned and hurled the wadded parchments onto the fire, watching with some small satisfaction as they blazed for a moment before turning to wispy ash.

“Despite his denials, I believe Roberts has some vested interest in that redcoat.” Malcolm mused aloud.

“What are you getting at, man?!” Terrance slumped into the overstuffed fireside chair, and began pouring himself a brandy.

“It stands to reason that if Roberts were only interested in the money, he would have handed the documents over with relish.” Malcolm leaned casually against the mantle. “No. His main concern, I’ll wager, was securing the officer’s release. I’d not be surprised to discover they are good friends. And that, Sir, could be the key to the return of our papers.”

“How so?” The frustrated lord asked wearily.

Malcolm grinned wickedly beneath his trim black moustache. “Quite easily, Lord Blackwood.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Annabelle looked up from her place on the side of Cecily’s bed as Jack walked in. Gently she took the cup from her friend’s hand and smiled.

“There. See? Jack has returned safely, so now you can stop fretting, and commence healing, young lady.” The Gypsy murmured softly as she rose to leave. “And you, Mr. Highwayman, had better be gentle, or I’ll haul you from the room by the ear myself!” She whispered lowly as she passed the newly dressed bandit.

Tears welled in the pale blue-green eyes as Jack looked down at his beloved wife. Why was it always those he cared for above all else who had to suffer for his misdeeds? Surely Providence would be better suited to punish the perpetrator instead of the innocent.

“The baby?” He finally choked out through his emotion wracked being.

“Annie says we are both fine, Darling.” Cecily smiled reaching one delicate hand up to him, relieved to have her husband safely with her once more. “But, I wonder if all this stress is worth the result.”

Jack Roberts tenderly took the offered hand, and sat down lightly on the bed’s edge. Then in a breaking of the pent up feelings he tried so desperately to control, gathered her into his arms.

“I’ve been wondering much the same, my love.” He whispered into her cascading gold curls. “The children caught me riding back into the stables. They now know without doubt that their father is Black Jack Roberts. They do not know why I have done the things I have. The things that have put you, and our new babe at such risk.”

“I had agreed to do what Barclay asked me to do to spare them. For I would not see them, nor you, in an England torn asunder. I’ve seen it in Ireland, and the suffering is nigh unbearable there. Yet, it would seem that no matter the course I would choose, it is you, and they that are destined to pay the price for it.”

He tenderly drew away to look into his beloved’s eyes. “Is this all that there is for my offspring, and my love. Is pain, turmoil, and strife the only true legacy of Black Jack Roberts?”