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Quill and Ink => Stories => Topic started by: Welsh Wench on May 10, 2008, 12:41:08 PM

Title: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 10, 2008, 12:41:08 PM
Thankfully, Mad Jack Wolfe had the forethought to save this story when the forum was having trouble.  :-*
It may take a bit of time but we shall transfer the story over to the new forum.

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


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This is a protection for our writing and applies to all subsequent posts under this topic.



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

"Cecily. Cecily Morley, at your service."


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 03:53:58 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/13/2006 13:50:10
Message:

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

The curtains whispered shut behind her.


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 03:55:44 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/14/2006 11:46:52
Message:

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"M'Lady."

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

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 03:59:32 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/15/2006 15:46:12
Message:

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes, Papa?" He rumbled.

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

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

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

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 04:02:16 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/17/2006 21:15:26
Message:

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

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

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

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

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






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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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



Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 04:04:38 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/18/2006 23:03:48
Message:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 04:06:16 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/21/2006 14:47:52
Message:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 04:07:31 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/23/2006 11:42:58
Message:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

"Yer place? Aye."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All that was left was for Cecily to go home.




Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 04:11:45 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/25/2006 01:35:34
Message:

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

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

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

"Coming right up sir!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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




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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 04:14:22 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/28/2006 14:17:49
Message:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

"Have you ever been in love, Josiah?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 04:16:42 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 09/29/2006 14:50:16
Message:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






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

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


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

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

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

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




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

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

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



Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 04:18:35 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 09/30/2006 22:23:50
Message:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We?" Josiah wondered.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

"And how is Cecily?"

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

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

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

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 04:23:04 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/02/2006 23:03:07
Message:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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


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

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

Andrew and Jack headed to the stables. Jack clapped him on the shoulder.
"That was fast thinking on your part, Andrew. I must say you and your sister look enough alike to be mirror images of each other. With a couple of appreciative differences."
Andrew chuckled, "And you aren't so bad yourself. But I imagine right now Mother is filling Peter in on what went on last night. She's a drama queen."
Jack asked quickly, "Is Cecily alright?"
Andrew nodded."I talked in depth to her last night. I told her not to do anything rash or foolish. Now I think that staying at Moreland would be the foolish thing. I can see by the look on your face that you love her."
Jack grew somber. "Then why didn't she come downstairs?"
Andrew shrugged. "Mother said she wasn't feeling well. And after talking to Cec last night, she was in such an emotional turmoil I think it took its toll on her. She may very well be pretending to be ill so she can avoid seeing Peter. She hates him, you know."
Jack said grimly, "I can see why. Why on earth would your parents want to push such a beautiful girl as Cecily on that monster?"
Andrew walked into the stable and said, "It's all politics mostly. What is considered 'the match of the duchy.' Peter Culpepper has land and money. We have land and money. Together it makes the Duke of Cornwall look like a pauper. Cecily gets the meadowland between our two estates, including the woods which is a hunting mecca. I get the land the manor is on and the land that stretches to the cliffs. The estate is considerable."
"Isn't her happiness worth more than that?"
Andrew smiled wryly at the man. "You are speaking from the heart and not the head, friend. Where power is concerned, love doesn't enter the picture. My! What a fine piece of horseflesh!"
Andrew had looked over and saw Raven.
"Aye, that is my best friend. At least on four legs. He has gotten me out of tight spots before."
Andrew looked over at Aphrodite. "Cecily said the horse was rented but I can see by the quality of the mare, she is not for hire. You bought her for my sister, didn't you?"
Jack smiled modestly. "That I did. Your sister deserves the finest."
Her brother grinned, "And that is why she has chosen you. I know class when I see it, Robert Johnson. Are you a nobleman in disguise?"
Jack laughed. "That remains to be seen."
Andrew laughed again and said, "And here all along I was hoping it was Blackjack Roberts who had kidnapped my sister and stolen her heart. Ah, well--if she can't have Blackjack, then I guess it might as well be you!"
Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 04:25:50 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/06/2006 22:48:41
Message:

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




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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

“That’s all of them, ‘cept Andrew and Cecily, Jack.” Josiah whispered.

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

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

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

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

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

“How fast did he leave town?” Josiah queried.

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



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

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

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

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

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

Jack’s own sword flew from it’s sheath. “Perhaps it was dropped later by the real Roberts.”

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Jack stood and stepping over Andrew stalked toward the doorway.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 04:28:55 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/09/2006 22:21:03
Message:

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

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

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

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




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

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



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

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

“Geoffrey??! But you shot him!” Cecily exclaimed.

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

"Then we're safe?" She asked.

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

“As will Mother.” Cecily sighed resignedly.

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

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

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

“We had George and Geoffrey follow you.” Jack sheepishly began.

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

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

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

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

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

“For impersonating you?”

“Not exactly.”

“For threatening me?

“Yes.”

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



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

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


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 04:33:00 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/15/2006 14:51:02
Message:

Peter Culpepper had stormed into his study on Culpepper Estates and promptly downed three straight glasses of scotch, then hurled the crystal to shatter in the fireplace. His soul burned with the humiliation of it. To be thrown out of his own future lands by a whelp did not sit well with him. Neither did the revelation that Robert Johnson and Black Jack Roberts were two different men……..or were they?

Now that he’d had time to think about it, yes. Yes, it did seem to be too much of a coincidence for the outlaw to suddenly show up at Morland just then. Far too convenient. Even if it were true perhaps there was some connection between the two. Even that could be used to his advantage.

Besides, Alice would be returning soon with the signed wedding license. Even though Cecily had fled she could be found again, and those papers gave only him the right to marry her. He fully expected for Alice to send for him as soon as they returned with them. They could sort out the rest later. And rest assured he would be straitening Andrew and Cecily out soon enough.

Filling a fresh crystal with Brandy this time Peter sat down in his favorite leather chair. Staring at the flames in the fireplace he smiled and sipped the brandy, waiting.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/15/2006 16:17:52
Message:

Magistrate Hammond was in a state of near rage when Geoffrey and Josiah walked through the door of the Crossbow. In violent argument with his colleague over some slanderous remarks the other denied ever saying. It was obvious that the two officials were about to come to blows over the matter when Josiah separated the two men. Much to the disappointment of the onlookers.

“Here now!” Josiah boomed. “We’ll be having none a’ this at the Crossbow, gentlemen! Now what seems to be the problem here?”

“Awwww! They been a arguein’ like that fer near a good two hours now, Josiah.” A voice came from the crowd. “We was a taken bets on how long it would take fer one a them at actually hit the other!”

“Well all bets are off now!” Josiah yelled back. “If ye wants entertainment wait for the next dim bulb fight, not the next Punch and Judy show!"

The two Magistrates turned a bright shade crimson as the onlookers roared with laughter. “Now, Molley, ye been working’ all night haven’t ye?”

“Aye, Sir.” The barmaid replied.

“Has anything been said about Magistrate Hammond what you would consider slander?”

“Nay, Sir. Why until he came barging in here a shouting, no one had even mentioned his name.”

“There! Ye see? It were no more than a misunderstanding.” Josiah grinned. “ Now let me get the two a’ ye something to drink and we’ll be forgettin’ this nonsense.”

As the two officials sat down to huge tankards of Ale, Josiah called Geoffrey over. “Spread the word. Keep those two fools cups full, and keep an extra room open for them to sleep it off in. I know for sure Jack doesn’t want Hammond to get back home afore morning.”

Geoff nodded his head, then whispered the instructions to Molley. Taking time to add something that made the shapely red head blush and giggle.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/15/2006 20:08:49
Message:

Lady Alice Morley stared straight ahead as the carriage bounced over the roads. Between clenched teeth, she said, "I should think that Magistrate Hammond could keep the roads up. But I expect that would be too much, since he can't keep his word for appointments!"
Sir Wallace patted her hand. "Dear, there is no problem. I can go back tomorrow and get the license. But Cecily----"
She turned to her husband. "We are doing what is best for Cecily! Wallace, she is seventeen. How would she know what is best for herself? If we let her decide in matters of love, for all we know she could run off with an outlaw! No! Sir Peter Culpepper is the best match for her!"
"But, my dear---"
"Wallace, who would know more about Cecily? Her own mother! She is a flighty girl and if we let her make her own decisions, she could end up with a merchant or a pirate or a highwayman! You know how she always had fanciful and romantic ideas. Sitting on the bluffs sketching and writing poetry. She's a dreamer. She always has been and she needs a good solid practical man."
Sir Wallace leaned back and looked out into the black night. He knew his daughter was not empty-headed like his wife painted her to be. Cecily was just a highly creative young woman who knew her own mind. No, not flighty. Not at all...

The carriage pulled into the portico. Sir Wallace got out and extended his hand to his wife.
Lady Alice sat in the carriage and said, "Wallace, I am going over to talk to Sir Peter."
"Can't it wait until morning? Surely nothing will have changed by then."
"It is better that I explain to him the slight delay. He has been anxiously awaiting the papers. He said he wouldn't have a good night's rest until he knew that legally Cecily would be bound to him. I feel he does need to be aware of the slight delay. Please don't wait up. I know you are tired. I'll be home as soon as possible."
Before Sir Wallace could voice any protest, Lady Alice closed the door. As the coachman started to pull away, all was heard was, "To Sir Culpepper's estate. As soon as possible!"


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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/15/2006 21:51:48
Message:

"Show her in."
Sir Peter Culpepper poured himself another brandy. Lady Alice handed her cloak to the manservant and said, "Hello, Sir Culpepper."
Peter nodded curtly to Raymond and said, "That will be all, Raymond. Close the door and see we are not disturbed."
"Brandy, Lady Alice?"
She gratefully accepted the snifter of Cognac. Peter always had the best of everything. And my little girl will have it, too,. she thought. And then when our plans come to fruition, it will all be mine.
He sat in the leather chair again, Alice perching on the armrest, her finger tracing around his ear.
Peter said, "Hand me the license, Alice, and I shall put it in my safe."
She took a deep drink of her brandy. "There's a slight problem, Peter. It seems that---AAAHHH!"
Peter had stood up and Alice fell off the armrest. He didn't even extend a hand to help her up. He stalked over to the sideboard and poured another brandy. Downing that in one gulp, he whirled on her.
"What do you mean, 'a slight problem'? Where are the papers?"
Alice scrambled from the floor and said, "Now, my love, Magistrate Hammond stood us up. He had an emergency and the papers were not ready."
"Alice, I can't get you to do a simple thing like get a damned piece of paper filled out and notarized with the magistrate's seal? Good Lord, I can't do it! I'm not her parent!"
Alice attempted to put her arms around Peter's neck but he shook her off.
"I'll have them first thing in the morning. I promise! Then we can have the wedding in the chapel."
Peter said derisively, "Do you not know what has happened?"
Alice's eyes grew wide. "What do you mean?"
Peter practically spat out, "Your son threw me out of the house and your daughter has run off with that--that---that rogue that rescued her from the pirates. IF there ever was such a story!"
Alice's hand flew to her mouth. "Run off? As in--gone?"
Peter snarled, "Do I stutter, Alice? She is GONE! While you were on your useless misson, the gentleman in question appeared at your door. We had an altercation. I gave him a slash he will not soon forget! But somewhere in the course, someone---and I don't know who but I have my suspicions---knocked me unconscious and when I revived, the front door was open and she was nowhere to be found."
Alice attempted to defuse the situation. "She can't have gone far. She would never leave her brother."
"Well, she CAN and she DID! You know what that means, Alice?"
Alice shook her head.
"Without that license, Cecily is free to marry whoever she pleases. They could be headed for Gretna Green for all we know. Unless they find a magistrate in England who is in his cups and doesn't bother to ask for the license. She could always lie about her age, too. And you had better hope that doesn't happen. Because if it does, there will be hell to pay!"
Peter turned around and punctuated his words by throwing another cut-glass snifter into the fire.
As he strode out of the study, he said over his shoulder, "You know the way out, Alice. Don't expect you are staying in my bed!"



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/17/2006 18:13:33
Message:

Sir Wallace entered his home just as the servants were cleaning up the last of the remains from the brawl. Andrew stood in the study doorway overseeing the work. To his surprise most of the chatter between the servants seemed to do with the outlaw Black Jack Roberts.

“Andrew!” He spoke. “What on Earth has happened here?”

“Father,” Andrew looked up. “come into the study and I will explain all. Is Mother with you?”

“I’m afraid not, she went to give Sir Culpepper some rather disturbing news about the license.” Sir Wallace sighed.

Father and son entered the study. Andrew had already made up his mind to withhold certain information from his father as it would do little more than upset the kindly lord, perhaps beyond his capacity to bear.

“Cecily has left, Father.” He began.

“Left? What on Earth for?” Sir Wallace’s face was a mask of confusion as he took the glass of Brandy Andrew held out to him. “Why would she wish to leave with the wedding so close?”

“She does not love Lord Culpepper, Sir.“ Andrew sat down in the chair opposite of his father. “This evening we had a visit from the man who came to her aid in London. He was inquiring as to her condition. Lord Culpepper made an weed puller of himself so I asked the gentleman to return later that we might talk alone.”

Sir Wallace raised an eyebrow. “And did this gentleman return?”

Yes Sir, a few moments after the three of you left. However, so did Sir Culpepper and he was in a terrible state. He attacked Mr. Johnson, in a jealous rage. He kept accusing the man of being Black Jack Roberts. I was knocked out trying to separate them. When I came to the real Black Jack Roberts was here to attempt to kidnap Cecily. Saying that he had heard the rumors and might as well be guilty of the crime.”

“Mr. Johnson then wounded the outlaw, who then took to his heels. Culpepper then grabbed Cecily by the wrists, demanding she marry him. Fearing for Cecily I broke the Ming Vase over the man’s head. Cecily by then had seen enough of the man’s violent and irrational behavior. I’m afraid his show of temper has put her off of the man for good.”

“That is all well and good, Son,” The elder Morley almost grinned. “but why would she leave? Neither your mother nor I would force her to marry against her will.”

“I’m afraid Mother would. When I went up to check on her I found she had been locked within her room. She said by mother to keep her here until the wedding.” Andrew scowled. “You know how Mother can get when she has made up her mind about things.”

“Yes, Lad. I’m afraid I do.” Wallace nodded. “Still, my signature is needed as well as your Mother’s, and if Cecily does not wish to wed Sir Culpepper she knows I would not force her regardless of what my wife thinks.”

Andrew blushed slightly. “She left with Robert Johnson, Father.”

“She did what?!” The older man near came off his chair. “And you did nothing to stop her?!!”

“She left with the man she loves, Father. I could not in good conscience deny her. Besides, short of tying her down I could think of no way to keep her here.” The young man spread his hands in futility.

Wallace chuckled beneath his breath. “No I suppose not. Her stubbornness is as legendary as your mother. It seems to be a trait she has well inherited.”

“I pray it is the only one.” Andrew whispered to himself.

“What was that, My Boy? I couldn’t quite hear you from here.” Sir Morley raised one hand to his ear.

“Nothing, Father, merely thinking aloud.”

Sir Wallace eyed his son for a long moment before continuing. “Then I take it you approve of this Robert Johnson?”

“Yes, Sir.” Andrew looked his father in the eye. “I do.”

“Well then,” Sir Wallace stretched as he stood up, “Although I think it rather unladylike for you sister to “run off” with this man. I can say that she will not be forced into marriage with Sir Peter Culpepper. Though I do wish it was you instead of me who breaks the news to your mother.”

Andrew sat in the chair staring at the fire as his father left the study. Secretly glad that the head of the house had that duty, and pitying his father every second of it. At least Cecily could not be forced to marry Peter Culpepper any time soon.


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 04:39:38 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/18/2006 21:00:51
Message:

It was late when Cecily and Jack finally rode into the stableyard of the Crossbow. Jack's shoulder began to throb something fierce. Only his adrenalin from his encounter with Lord Culpepper kept the pain at bay. Now that it was past, he tried to focus on something else.
He winced as he got down off Raven.
Cecily alighted and touched Jack's shoulder.
"You need medical attention, Jack. It's been bleeding and now the cloth is stuck to the wound.
He nodded, grimacing. She took his arm and together they walked into the Crossbow.
There sat Magistrate Hammond, blearily looking in her direction.
"Dear God!" Cecily breathed. "Magistrate Hammond!"
The magistrate looked up through his ale-affected eyes and said, "Cecily? Is that little Cecily Morley?"
She quickly put the hood up on her cloak and began to speak in a French accent. "Mais non, Monsieur! Je m'appele...umm...en anglais!--ummm..My name is Monique. Je suis..I am..from Brittany. You must have me confused with another mademoiselle, Monsieur!"
Hammond tried to focus his eyes. "May I be damned! But ye be a dead ringer for a lass from Cornwall. Mayhaps your father has been abroad!"
He and several of his friend laughed. Cecily thought inwardly, 'All Jack and I need to do is get to a room.'
Jack threw his cloak over his shoulder with the wound. No sense in calling attention to it. A sword wound is always a fascinating subject among the tavern crowd. The who-what-why-and-wherefores.
He motioned to Josiah who came over to him. In a low voice, he said, "It may be a good idea if you sent for Doc Cooper. I sustained a knife wound in my shoulder. Don't let on and don't upset Cecily unduly. She knows about it but I need to make light of it."
Josiah motioned to one of the men and within five minutes, the man lit out of there.

Cecily and Jack cliimbed the stairs to his room. Magistrate Hammond brooded, "I could have sworn that was the Morley daughter..*hic* ANOTHER ROUND, MOLLY MY GIRL! AND KEEP THEM COMING!" He yelled out.

Cecily threw off her cloak and exclaimed, "That was close! Do you think he will remember in the morning and tell anyone?"
Jack flinched as he sat down on the edge of the bed. "Doubtful. He was too full of himself and his ale to even remember who he IS tomorrow!"
She tenderly lifted his chin to meet her lips and then she said, "Let me take a look at your wound."
"It's nothing, really. At least he didn't hit any vital organs."
Her temper flared. "I shall hate Peter Culpepper until the day I die!"
Just then, Doc Cooper came in.
" 'allo, Jack! In need of my services again, I see! Seem to remember a little incident like this at Gilbert's last year."
He looked over and saw Cecily hovering near. "Young miss, wouild you please get me a basin of warm water and some clean cloths?"
Jack nodded to her. "Down the hall and to the left you will see stairs, darling. They lead to the kitchen and you can call Molly from there. She will get you what we need."

Cecily went downstairs and came back with what the doctor had asked for. The doctor took out a scalpel and commenced slicing Jack's shirt from the wound.
"Well, now that IS a nasty one!" He took the cloths and soaked them in the water, applying them to the wound until the cloth could peel away easily from the clotted blood.
"Aaaaah!" Jack let out a moan. Cecily rushed forward. Doc Cooper said, "Ah, tis to be expected, young miss. Now, Jack. Let me take a look...oh, dear!"
The wound was not deep but had been jagged. "Looks like you shall require a stitch or two."
Cecily paled. Jack looked over at her and said quickly, "My love, why don't you go back down the stairs and see if Molly has any of the venison stew. Hers is exceptional."
"I can't leave you, Jack."
Doc Cooper laughed and said, "He'd rather you go, lass. And so would I. Won't be too pretty!"
She left reluctantly.
Doc Cooper turned to Jack and said, "Alright, let me clean it out and do some sewing. Then apply this salve....I see you have taken up with Sir Wallace Morley's youngster."
"You know her?"
"I birthed her! Wrapped her father around her finger since the day she was born and looks like she still has an effect on men. And highwaymen! I left Cornwall for Devonshire due to my wife's family right after."
"She is really only nineteen, Doc?"
Doc snorted with laughter. "Of course not!"
"Didn't think so."
"She's seventeen!"

Jack sat there in disbelief. "Seventeen? She's but a babe! You sure?"
"Aye. Because I delivered her on my first anniversary!"

Cecily came upstairs with three bowls of stew and some bread on a tray along with three ales. "Doctor? I took the liberty of getting you a bowl. Would you care for some?"
"Ah, wonderful! Molly's is the best."
Cecily glanced over anxiously at Jack. "Will he be alright, Doctor?"
"Right as rain. I cleaned it out and gave him a few stitches. That be all!"
Doctor Cooper never let on to Cecily that he had delivered her and Cecily did not recognize his name. Within the hour he left with instructions to change the bandage twice a day and put salve on it four times daily.

As Cecily turned down the sheets, she gazed at Jack and smiled wistfully. "I missed you so much but it looks like I will be missing you another night as well."
Jack yawned and reached for her.
"As long as I have you by my side, my love, I can wait another night."
Before they both knew it, they were sound asleep, wrapped in each other's arms.
As it should be.


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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/19/2006 12:38:45
Message:

The sunlight pouring through the open window told Jack the time was well past morning. A soft breeze lifted the curtains. His shoulder burned and felt hot. His head as well. Never had he felt so much trouble from a single wound before. Cecily must have woken sooner and was probably down stairs. Soon he knew they would have to travel. The delays he had put in the way of Culpepper and Alice Morley would detain them for a while, but if the doctor had been correct about her age they could come at any moment and force her from him.

He sat up at the edge of the bed, a slight dizziness made his head swim for a moment. Probably sat up too quick. Still this was no time to be lazing around. He could not stomach the thought of Cecily being forced to do anything. Even less the thought of living life without her.

Slipping on his pants and boots he stood to go to the door and call for Josiah. Within three steps the dizziness returned. Slight at first it grew into a more demanding presence which he was unable to shake. The room began to move on it’s own as if seen through a lens of being underwater. Images swirled and swam before his eyes and he found it hard to think.

He vaguely saw the door open, Cecily stood in the opening with a tray in her hands, Josiah just behind her. A look of shock and concern on her lovely face she spoke, but he couldn’t understand what she was saying. He tried to move closer.

“Cecily…….” Was all he could manage as the hardwood floor rushed up to meet him.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/19/2006 13:50:36
Message:

“Jack!!!” Cecily screamed and the platter of food crashed to the floor forgotten as she rushed to his prostate form. “My God, Josiah!! He’s burning up with fever!!” Her soft cool hand gently stroked the sweating brow.

Josiah knelt down on the opposite side of the unconscious bandit. “Aye, Lass, that he is. This is not good, Not good at all. Were I to hazard a guess, I would say that Peter Culpepper’s blade were poisoned!”

“Poisoned?” Her eyes grew wide with fear. “What can we do, Josiah? I can not lose him now!!”

“Calm yourself, Lass. I know of one who might be able to tell us what this is, and may know a way to counter it. She be a witch some say, but she may be the only chance Jack has at life right now. Help me get him back into bed and while ye keep watch I’ll send for her.”

With Josiah’s help they lifted Jack’s limp form back to the bed, and pulled off his boots, leaving him in his trousers Cecily tenderly covered him with the goose down quilt. Josiah called at the door for Molley to bring a basin of cool water and a clean linen.

The tavern maid froze momentarily in the open doorway. There on the bed lay Jack Roberts almost as pale as the pillow that cradled his head. Dark circles as purple blue as bruises highlighted the underside of his closed eyes. Though his face gleamed with rivulets of sweat he shivered and his teeth chattered. “My God.” She whispered.

“Well just don’t stand there with your mouth gapping, Girl! Bring that basin over here!” Josiah barked, bringing Molly back to herself.

He watched Cecily as she stroked Jack’s sweating brow. Murmuring low to him, softly as a mother with a sick child. He allowed his gaze to follow her as she soaked the linen with water, wrung it out, then gently washed the sweat from his face. The gentile smile that would momentarily replace her concern when he would murmur her name in his delirium. Then he touched her shoulder.

“Don’t ye worry none, Miss.” He smiled reassuringly to her. “We won’t be losing him that easy. Ye keep watch over him, and I’ll get a message off to Gilbert.”

She looked up at him, hope gleaming behind the withheld tears that filled them. Josiah looked steadily into her sapphire eyes. “If anyone can save his life Annabelle Peterson can. Ye may have met her son while ye were at Gilbert’s. Young Tim.”



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/20/2006 13:21:33
Message:

Annabelle Peterson shuffled the oversized cards, then began laying them out upon her small kitchen table in a particular pattern. The knight of cups upside down. Followed by the Lovers, and the Tower which was also reversed. A friend, fair of hair and in love with another, in dire danger. The candle flame guttered casting strange shadows over the cards.

Annabelle Peterson was a middle aged woman of around forty five years of age. Her raven hair just beginning to streak with silver. She had bore only one child, a son, and her figure was still the same as it had been before child birth. She dressed as her mother had in the traditional Gypsy garb of her mother’s tribe.

Most of the folk who lived in the village of Whitehall Downs considered her a witch. Many came to her for luck charms, herbal healings, and fortune telling. Secretly of course so as not to upset the congregations they attended on Sundays. Of course they could be quite right about her.

“Ki shan i Romani, Adoi san’ i chov’hani.” As her mother used to say. “Wherever the Romani go there witches may be found.”

Her black and white long haired cat leapt up to the table top, sniffed the spread cards then mewed in a concerned tone. She reached over to stroke Dafar’s head. “Yes, I know little one. This is not good at all. I suspect we will be having company soon. May as well be prepared for when they arrive.”

She stood, snuffing the candle out with moistened fingers and put her mother’s cards back into the little wooden box they were kept in. Then she moved about her small cottage amongst the shelves of bottles and jars, examining the contents of different ones. Some she placed into a fabric traveling bag, others she rejected. The cat followed.


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 04:49:12 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/20/2006 21:49:58
Message:

As the dawn broke, Sir Peter Culpepper walked into his stable. He knocked on the stablemaster's quarters and barked, "Saddle up Romulus and be right quick about it!"
Lucas jumped, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. 'Damn, doesn't he ever sleep?'
he thought.
Pulling on his breeches and pulling on a shirt, he came out of his quarters.
" Good mornin' to ye, Lord Culpepper. Where ye be headin' on this fine---" he looked to see the sun barely up "--morning?"
Sir Peter paced back and forth, his cloak swirling behind him.
"I'm hunting. For vixen."
The stable master looked over at him. He had known Sir Peter for over twenty years. In fact, he had worked for Sir Peter's father. Sir Peter was always a ruthless, spoiled lad and the years hadn't changed him. Sometimes Lucas wondered if there was tainted blood in his ancestry.
Sir Peter tapped the crop against his leg. He was an imposing figure of a man. He was over six foot, broad of shoulder and slim of hip. Dark brown hair, and dark smoldering eyes. Eyes that missed nothing.
Gypsy eyes.

Lucas saddled up Romulus in record time. Without so much as a thank you or a goodbye, he climbed up on his steed. Digging his heels in, he cantered out of the barn, the stable cat very nearly meeting its maker.
Lucas shook his head slowly. 'I pity the poor creature once he finds his quarry....'


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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/21/2006 10:49:44
Message:

Gilbert was in the midst of serving ale to several of the local farmhands, enjoying the banter of their tales of well ending mishaps when Timothy Peterson burst through the door. The eighteen year old’s face was pale and his eyes had the look of a spooked horse. Something had frightened the lad, and badly.

“Mister Dawson, sir!” The blond boy spoke as though he had run from town instead of the courtyard. “It’s terrible bad news, Sir! Terrible bad! It’s Ja…”

Gilbert cut Tim off immediately. “Bad news is best told in privet, Tim. Get ye into me rooms and I’ll be in shortly. Gentlemen If ye’ll be excusing’ me?”

Gilbert Dawson called out to his tavern maid. “Elisabeth! Something has young Tim all spooked. Ye mind the tavern whilst I see to the lad.”

“Aye, Mr. Dawson.” The shapely brunette curtsied.

Gilbert walked with a measured pace toward the side door behind the bar which led to his living quarters. His mind turning over possibilities in the short span of floor. That Tim was flustered enough to have almost said Jack’s name aloud again he was certain. Had he been captured? Worse had Culpepper, or the young lass’s father put some new holes in him? His gut twisted with apprehension.

Opening the door he found the boy pacing in front of the fireplace, and his fear worsened. “Now, Tim, what’s all this about?”

The young man broke into a near jumble of words, spouting out like a fountain suddenly gone awry. “I was tending the lodger’s horses when a pigeon from Josiah came in! Normally, Sir I would have sent for you, but my curiosity got the better of me and I read the message! It’s Jack, Sir!! He’s dieing!! Josiah needs Mother there right away!!!”

The tavern owner took the small scrap of paper from the boy’s trembling hand and read. “G, need Ann immediately. Swordfight. He’s wounded. Blade poisoned. Fear he is dieing. J.”

“Lad! Get out to the stable and saddle up Samson! Then bring your mother here! Tell her to bring her best potions and ointments for poison! While you are gone I’ll get the carriage ready! Go, Lad! Now!.”

Tim shot from the room as if fired from a cannon. Gilbert looked again at the short note before tossing it into the fire. “Damn it, Jack Roberts!” He cursed to himself. “I knew if Peter Culpepper were involved in this ye’d be coming to trouble! Now I can only hope we’ll not be too late!” Shaking his head sadly he left as the little parchment burst into flame and shriveled away to ash.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/22/2006 21:53:56
Message:

By ten o'clock in the morning, Sir Peter Culpepper had worked his way from the first tavern in Cornwall and finally reached the Crossbow.
Molly was tending the tavern, her face etched with concern for Jack Roberts who was fighting for his life upstairs.
As Culpepper strode up to her, he demanded, "I'm looking for a young woman who is traveling in the company of a a man named Robert Johnson."
Molly was well aware of who this man was and her heart dropped. She fought to keep her voice even.
"Can you describe the young lass?" she asked as she wiped down a table.
Sir Peter tapped his riding crop on the table, inches away from the cloth and her hand.
He said impatiently, "She is of a petite stature, light frame but shapely. Blonde hair, deep blue eyes. She may have been kidnapped."
He added, "There is a reward for her safe return. One hundred gold crowns." He thought that would sway the loyalty of anyone who may be shielding them.
Molly bit her tongue to tell Culpepper what she thought he could do with his reward but before she could answer, a voice called out as a rotund figure came from the upstairs.
"Sir Peter! What are you doing in this neck of the woods?"
Culpepper looked and saw Magistrate Hammond coming down the stairs, trying to straighten his wig.
"I might ask you the same thing, Hammond. Are you not supposed to be getting my marriage license issued?"
Hammond rubbed his temples and smiled ruefully, "Aye, and that I shall. I seem to have over indulged and was unable to steer my horse towards my own home. Josiah was kind enough to offer me lodging for the night. And what, may I ask, is the reason you are here?"
"I'm looking for Cecily Morley."
Molly dropped her tray with a clatter and her hands started sweating. She hastily bent to pick it up and mumbled, "Sorry!"
Somehow, someway, I need to get up there and let them know what is going on!
Trying to appear calm, Molly asked, "May I get you gentlemen anything?"
Both shook their heads no.
Hammond rubbed his hand on his chin and mused, "Funny you should mention that! A lass came in here last night and for a minute, I DID mistake her for Sir Wallace's daughter."
Sir Culpepper listened eagerly. "Where is she?"
"Calm down, sir. T'wasn't her. It was a lass from France. Had an accent and trouble remembering English words. Nice looking, but not a Morley. She had brown eyes, come to think of it."

Molly couldn't help but interrupt. She said, "Don't mean to be eavesdropping, but that couple--she was from France and the man with her was her older brother. Name was---" she tapped her finger on her chin and looked up at the ceiling as if the answer were written there, "---Monique. That's it! Monique Dubois and her brother Etienne. They were here on holiday and heading back to Dover to catch a boat back to Calais. Left early this morning."
God help me for lying, Molly thought. But I have to, Lord.

She hastily went up the back steps and knocked on the door. Josiah answered, his face showing the grief he was holding back. Cecily was constantly wetting the linen and cooling Jack's brow with it, all the time speaking softly to him of things they planned to do in the future. Whether he heard her or not was uncertain as he was delirious.
Molly tried not to look at Jack as she knew she would lose her composure. She said in a low voice, "We have trouble. Sir Peter Culpepper is downstairs and is asking the whereabouts of yon lassie. What is so burning to him that he is searching her down?"
Josiah stepped out into the hall with Molly.

"Seems there was trouble out at Moreland. An altercation and that is why Jack is the way he is. If I am not mistaken--and I seldom am--the blade was poisoned. And most likely with horse dung. This is a bacterial infection and is spreading rapidly. Known as septicemia.
Annabelle Peterson had better get here fast. I worry not only for Jack--but what will happen to the little lassie there if she loses him. Her life won't be worth a farthing. Not what they have planned for her future..."


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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/27/2006 14:25:49
Message:

Gilbert snapped the reigns of the two horses pulling the carriage toward the Crossbow desperately trying to coach more speed from the animals. Glancing back toward Annabelle and her son he let his mind drift back to only a few hours back. Young Tim had arrived back at the tavern within an hour of leaving his mother on the back of the second horse he had taken with him to fetch her.

“I should have known ye’d be ready afore Tim arrived, Ann.” He had smiled as he reached up a hand to help the Gypsy dismount.

I knew that I was needed by a friend, Master Gilbert.” Her near black eyes belied her light tone. “Yet I did not know it was Jack until my son came for me. Now we must make haste, a second reading of the cards tell me that a new danger has entered. A dark man, one who is cruel and evil is near to him.”

A graveyard chill rose along Gilbert’s spine at the news. He had long ago learned to take Annabelle’s words seriously when it came to foreseeing the future, or things that were happening. “The carriage is ready to go, Ann. As it is we won’t be at the Crossbow till sometime tomorrow morn. Let’s be wasting no more time. I only pray we’re not too late.”

Now here almost halfway to their destination he felt the pit of his stomach roll with apprehension. How long could Jack hold on? Josiah’s message was urgent. A cruel and evil man? Though he had a fair idea just who it was, he still hoped not, for the one he thought of would not hesitate to speed a helpless man on his way to perdition.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/27/2006 16:24:11
Message:

Magistrate Hammond and Peter Culpepper sat at a table near the corner of the room, far removed from the comradeship of the rest of the patrons who filled the Crossbow. Culpepper, though one to rarely fraternize with those who he felt were his inferiors, was in far too foul a mood to be bothered with the pleasantries of much company. Far better to pump this fool of a magistrate for as much information as he could glean.

“I tell you Magistrate Hammond, it has been a trying month for me.” He continued to grumble. “First I find that my intended has vanished right in the heart of London. Then for six long days I have almost every footman available searching the whole of the city for her. With no luck what have so ever, I might add.”

“Then I get word that they have found three dead seamen in the West End, and nothing more than a lace handkerchief with the initials BJR embroidered in the corner as a clue. A tavern wench, for a few gold pieces, comes forward with a tale of a girl who she left with a paramour she had been coddling the night with in the same vicinity. She couldn’t remember the man’s name, but when showed the handkerchief she comes up with the name of the most infamous outlaw in Christendom, Black Jack Roberts!”

“The next bit of news I receive from a messenger boy is that Roberts had killed three of the king’s men on the……”

“Three?!” The portly Magistrate interrupted. “I had heard it was ten!”

“Don’t be a fool, Hammond!” Culpepper snapped. “The exploits of that cur are far too exaggerated as it is!! He is a common thief, nothing more! The way the common folk go on about him you would think him some kind of wizard!!”

“Terribly sorry, Sir Peter.” Hammond interjected. “ I was merely caught up in your tale. Pray continue.”

“As I was saying,” Culpepper huffed, “the next word I have is the brigand has killed three of the king’s footmen on the outskirts of London, and made off with my fiancé headed toward York. Let me tell you, I spared no expense to have him tracked down and rescue my Cecily from the beast’s clutches. I even killed one of my poor horses trying to reach Alice and Sir Morley.”

“No sooner had I set out for York myself than I receive word from one of my men that she was seen headed back to Cornwall in the company of a man. I race back to find that she wants to call off the wedding and leave with this commoner! Well lady Alice soon put an end to that!”

“I, however, did not trust the man, and well I did not! No sooner had they left to get the marriage certificate from you than the bastard showed up again to spirit Cecily away with him. I, thinking him Roberts in disguise, engaged him in a duel. Then the real Roberts shows up, from what I was told for the coward had hit me from behind when I turned to protect Cecily.”

Fortunately, I was able to regain my senses and ran the blackguard off before he could spirit Cecily away for real. The coward she claims saved her shook in terror of Roberts, and hid behind her like a dog! Ha! Then her brother Andrew has me leave, because she still wants to choose him over me!”

“Tsk, tsk!” Hammond shook his head. “Why on Earth would she choose such a cowardly dastard over you, Sir Peter?”

“How should I know?! This is why we are so desperate for you to get the necessary papers in order!” Culpepper fumed. “Still I dare say that during our duel I gave Mr. Robert Johnson a cut he’ll not forget in this life!”

“Robert Johnson, you say!!” Magistrate Hammond nearly leapt form his chair. “Are you sure that was the man’s name?!”

“Aye.” Peter Culpepper almost grinned with his cleverness. Now the old fool would spill all he knew. “I am as certain as I am of my own name.”

“My dear Sir Culpepper!” The official’s face flushed with the news. “You set in the tavern that belongs to the man himself! The Crossbow is the property of Robert Johnson, and I believe he is upstairs in his rooms now!”


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 04:51:36 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/27/2006 21:43:16
Message:

Andrew and Sir Wallace were sitting at the table, having their breakfast.
Andrew said, "How did Mother take the news Cecily is gone?"
Sir Wallace took a sip of his tea and said, "I didn't get a chance to tell her. She didn't come home until after I was asleep."
Lady Alice came into the room. Andrew picked up his toast and marmalade and took it with him.
"I'll be at the stables, that mare is due to foal and--"
Lady Alice's eyes blazed. "You will stay right where you are, Andrew! What do you know about your sister leaving?"
Andrew feigned suprise. "Cecily is gone?"
"You know perfectly well she is gone."
Sir Wallace put down his teacup and said, "Alice, how did you know already?"
"Because Sir Culpepper told me. He also told me that Andrew threw him out of the house. How could you be so inhospitable, Andrew? HOW COULD YOU?"
Andrew flared up at his mother. "And you approve of him bursting in here, sword drawn and slashing at an innocent man who came to check on my sister? The very man who saved her life?"
Alice said tightly, "The very man she says she is in love with. The very man she ran off with. The very man---"
"That my daughter is in love with." Sir Wallace said firmly.
Alice stated matter-of-factly, "Wallace, she doesn't know what she wants. She's just turned seventeen. Sir Peter is offering her a home and a title and prestige."
"And she is not in love with him. For pity's sake, Alice, maybe Cecily knows better of what she wants than we do."
She stood up suddenly. "What are you trying to say, Wallace?"
"That I will not sign the marriage license. I'll not force Cecily to marry a man she--"
"Loathes." That came from Andrew. He continued. "Mother, Cecily was getting sick to her stomach and headaches just thinking about that arse."
"ANDREW! Your language is no better than a stablehand!"
Andrew threw his napkin down. "I for one applaud her for her courage to run off with Bl---"
He caugh himself.
Alice's eyebrows shot up. "Run off with who?"
He thought fast. "With a bloke that she loves. Mother, let her be. Why are you so hot to get her married off to him? What have you to gain?"
Andrew looked at her with narrowed eyes. He knew the answer, he just wanted to hear her say it.
Her face flamed. "Sir Peter Culpepper could have his choice of any woman in the duchy. But he chose Cecily because---'
"Because she is young and beautiful and landed and well-bred." Andrew said hotly.
"Nonsense! He is in love with her."
"And what about you, Mother? What do you hope to gain?"
"A daughter who made a good match."
Andrew looked at her and sighed deeply. "Right. Well, I saw her with Robert Johnson. A fine man. And she DID make a good match. So leave her be, Mother. Live your dreams through someone else. I have an idea! Why don't you get yourself a couple of dogs. Breed them. Sell them. Because that is what you are trying to do to Cecily."
He slammed the dining room doors on his way out.

Sir Wallace looked at his wife and said, "He has a point, dear. He most likely knows Cecily better than the rest of us. I'll not be a party to making my daughter miserable."
"What are you saying, Wallace?"
"That I won't be signing the marriage license. For once, I am not giving in to you."
He sighed deeply and said, "I am sorry, my dear. But right is right. Now I must go to the stable with Andrew to check on the mare."

After he left, Alice Morley sat deep in thought. There HAS to be a way to get that marriage license. I can't let all my plans slip away from me. Cecily will beget an heir if it is the last thing she ever does.....



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/28/2006 20:21:17
Message:

“Upstairs!!!” The shout brought the entire tavern to a standstill. Men and women turned in the direction of the discrete little corner table. Hands held darts in mid-throw, tankards half raised to gapping mouths as all eyes turned to a livid and standing Sir Peter Culpepper. “Why did you not say so in the first place!!”

Molly frozen in her tracks watched the scene play out as if in slow motion. Peter Culpepper whirled from the table, striding for the narrow white walled stairwell that led to the upstairs rooms. Her eyes widened as one of the young stable hands stood to attempt to stop the charge. A fist beneath the lad’s chin sent him tumbling into a near by table sending contents and patrons to the floor.

She stared on in disbelief as the man redoubled his effort, shoving aside those not swift enough to clear a path for him. Just as she thought all would be lost George and Geoffrey stepped in front of the stairwell entrance. Their arms crossed in front of their chests, leaving no doubt they were not about to allow Culpepper one step further.

Sir Peter came to an abrupt halt as the two burly men materialized before him. His face flushed red as his hand flew to the hilt of his rapier. His voice was almost a low growl as he measured out each word. “Get…out…of…my…way!”

Culpepper’s mind raced. He knew he could run at least one of these miscreants through, but the other would be atop of him in a moment. This was the time for a slightly more subtle approach. As the two shook their heads slowly he willed his face to drop all expression of anger. With a resigned sigh he let his hand drop from the hilt of the weapon and turned as if to go.

In a flash he snatched a half full tankard from a nearby table shattering the crockery against the side of Geoffrey’s skull. Bits of white glazed pottery and amber colored liquid sprayed in all directions. Geoffrey’s limp form stumbled into George. George grabbed his falling friend looking up just in time to get a close look at Culpepper’s fist. George instinctively jerked his head to one side blunting the attack. He dropped Geoffrey and raised both fists, prepared to fight, only to find the other’s rapier blade inches from his face.

Sir Peter grinned broadly as he circled around George until he had reached the other side. With his goal now behind him and no other to stand in the way he allowed himself a low chuckle. “Now, Lout! I should happily run your miserable carcass through. However, I have far bigger fish to fry at the moment. So, if you will excuse me I’ll…..”

“Be dropping that there blade…..NOW!” Josiah’s gruff voice finished the sentence, punctuating it by pulling the hammer back on the flintlock he placed at the base of Sir Culpepper’s head. The blade clattered noisily to the wood floor and Peter’s hands raised to his shoulders. Josiah could almost feel the rage radiate from the frustrated noble. “Now, Sir Culpepper, I’ll be thanking ye to leave the premises. Mr. Johnson is ill and I’ll not have ye makin’ matters worse. If you please, Sir.”

At the nudge from the muzzle of the pistol to his head Culpepper walked slowly away and turned around, his hands still raised before him. Josiah’s pistol was still raised, at arms length now, and aimed directly between his eyes. Smiling he slowly backed his way to the entry door of the Crossbow. Once he had the door open he looked up still smiling. “I promise you, Tavern keep, I shall return……and I will not be alone.” Then turning he slammed the door behind him. Silence filled the inn as the sound of horse’s hooves faded into the distance.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/29/2006 18:27:09
Message:

Cecily stood near the head of the bed directly across from the door, a notched arrow in the bow she held loosely at her side. She stared intently at the oak willing her sight to see through it, only occasionally glancing in Jack’s direction when his breathing became slightly more ragged. Holding her tears back by sheer strength of will, she felt her hatred of one man boil in her veins. Should Sir Peter Culpepper open that door she vowed to make him a corpse before his second step.

The door handle rattled. With practiced smoothness she drew the bow back, aiming for the center of where a man’s chest would be. Strangely all emotion fled her and a cold calculating thought filled her being as she fully prepared to kill Culpepper. Either now, or should the unthinkable happen very soon after.

“Well, Lass. He’s gon…Whoa!! Hold yer fire there, Milady!!” Josiah nearly fell onto his backside vacating the doorway and taking shelter in the hall. “Culpepper be gone for now, Lass!”

A sigh of relief filled then deflated her lungs as the bow fell to the floor and she sat down heavily on the edge of the bed. Then and only then did she put her face in her hands and allow her dammed up emotions to spill forth. Sobs that were a bitter sweet mixture of grief and gratitude wracked her petite frame.

“Molly! Bring our lady a bottle of Mr. Johnson’s best wine, and a fresh basin!” Josiah shouted down the steps. Without waiting for an answer he strode quickly into the room to where the distraught girl sat. Gently he knealed down in front of her placing a fatherly hand onto her shoulder.

“Now don’t ye be frettin’ so, Milady. Culpepper be long gone, and Jack be a fighter from way back. It will all be fine.”

Cecily dropped her hands and looked with tear stained eyes into his. Suddenly she threw her arms across Josiah’s neck, hugging him close. “Oh, Josiah!” She sobbed once as he patted her back, rocking her as he would a stricken child.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/29/2006 20:29:34
Message:

Josiah let Cecily cry her heart out until she was spent. She lifted her head from his shoulder and looked at Josiah. "I--I'm seem to have gotten you all wet. I'm so sorry."
Josiah smiled kindly at her. He handed her a glass of wine and said, "Drink this, lass. It will help fortify you."
Molly had placed the wine on the table and had poured a glass. Already she liked Cecily. She could see how devoted she was to Jack. And even though Molly had entertained romantic notions of her and the highwayman, she could see that the young girl loved him. For that she could not blame her. She handed Josiah the basin of water.
Cecily tried to smile at Molly. "Thank you. I'll be taking care of Jack now."
Josiah shook his head. "Not till you are tended to, Miss."
He took a clean cloth and washed her face down like she was a four-year-old. She touched his hand and said simply, "Thank you for being so nice to me."
He tilted her chin up to face him. "Ye be Jack's love. Ne'er seen him affected like this b'fore . Ye be good fer him, Miss Cecily. Maybe reel him in a bit and settle him down."
She looked over at Jack lying still on the bed.
"If it is not too late, " she whispered. She walked over to him and held his hand and whispered to him, "I love you, Jack. You can't leave me. I won't let you."

Molly took the cloth and said, "Darlin', I'll take over while you catch your second wind. Get something to eat. You can't let yourself go downhill."
Josiah nodded. "Ye may be needin' yer strength for both you and Jack. Ye need to rein in yer temper, lass. Could have dangerous consequences."
She said steely, "I owe Sir Peter Culpepper. I owe him for what he did. And I shall get even if it is the last thing I ever do."
Josiah cleared his throat. "Miss, if umm..well, if circumstances change here, what will ye do? Go back to Cornwall?"
She stood up and practically shouted, "I won't let Jack die. I won't! He can't! He promised he would see I never regretted it if I went with him."
She then looked off in the distance and tears traced down her cheeks once again. She chose her next words carefully, "If it is that Jack is not able to keep that promise to me, I swear, I will hunt Culpepper down and make him pay. And pay. And pay. And then I will make hims still pay. And when I am done, I shall ruin him. And then kill him."
Josiah poured her another glass of wine. "Plans like that may get yer head in the noose, lass."
She lifted her head high and said, "Not if they don't find me. I woud change my name and disappear. Become a new person! And no one would ever hear from me again!"
She took the basin from Molly and said, "I'll do that now, Molly. Thank you."

After she was done bathing his face, she held his hand.
Josiah's heart almost broke as he heard her whisper, "You can't do this to me, Jack Roberts. You promised me you would take care of me. You promised me a life together. You said we would be a family and I would give you children. And you promised you would love me till the end of time."



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/30/2006 10:29:27
Message:

A loud knock at the door brought Josiah’s hand back to the pistol he had shoved into his belt. Placing the finger of his free hand across his lips he quietly walked over to the door. Cecily’s bow was already back in her hands, though aimed temporarily at the floor. From somewhere within her skirts Molly had produced a lethal looking dagger.

“Who’s there?” Josiah inquired.

“It’s Gilbert, Josiah! Annabelle and Tim are out here with me!” The door muffled reply brought a look of relief and hope to the tavern keeper’s face as he hastily replaced the pistol and swung the door wide. Annabelle Peterson fairly flowed into the room first. Cecily took in the measure of the woman.

Her dark cloak flared out from her shoulders as she strode with purpose to the bed Jack lay on. A waterfall cascade of black curls streaked with sliver tumbled about her shoulders from under the calico scarf tied about her brow. Huge gold hoops pierced her lobes and multiple circlets of silver and gold clinked pleasantly on her arms as she reached up to feel the sweat soaked forehead of the bandit. A faint odor of cinnamon and frankincense seemed to permeate the air around her.

The gypsy witch ignored all and sundry as she lifted Jack’s eyelids, looking intently at the whites of his eyes. She gently pressed three fingers against his neck, then turned to Cecily. “Do not worry, Young one,” she smiled confidently, “You will have him back with you soon.”

“Molly, be a dear and fetch me some boiling water. Josiah I need several more quilts for Jack.” She spoke as she began examining several bottles and jars she pulled from the cloth traveling bag she had placed next to the small table.

“Mum.” Molly curtsied and raced to the back stairs which led to the kitchen. Josiah motioned to Tim and Gilbert. The three left to acquire the quilts from the other unoccupied rooms shutting the door behind them.

“What shall I do?” Cecily inquired breathlessly.

Annabelle met her gaze with eyes that Cecily could swear looked deeply into her soul, then smiled. “Just as you were doing before I arrived, Dear. Hold onto his hand and speak your love to him. This has been the only thing that has held him here this long. Your love gives him the strength to continue.”

Molly arrived with a pitcher of steaming water, followed quickly by the men bearing the quilts. As Cecily sat near the top of the bed holding Jack’s hand and whispering her love into his ear Annabelle ground the contents of several bottles in a white marble mortar, mumbling strange sounding words. Josiah and Gilbert laid quilt after quilt over the stricken man.

Anne poured the contents of the mortar into the pitcher of water and stirred them with a long black stick she produced from the bag. Her chanting rose in volume and she rocked slightly back and forth her eyes rolled backwards reviling only the whites behind her fluttering lashes. Pouring the contents of the pitcher through a fresh cheese cloth into an empty tankard she gently raised Jack’s head from the pillow and coaxed the nearly unconscious outlaw to drink.

The setting sun turned the white walls of the room a glowing orange as the gypsy sank down wearily into a cushioned chair. “Now we wait.” She sighed. “We shall know Jack’s fate by morn. Tim be a dear and fetch Mommy a little wine.”



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/30/2006 11:10:31
Message:

The walls of the room turned a bright yellow with the rising of the morning sun. A soft midsummer breeze billowed out the curtains occasionally. The twittering melody of songbirds awakened to meet the new day filled the air.

Jack Roberts eyes fluttered open. “Cecily?”

Her golden haired head flew upward from the sound of his voice. “Jack!! Oh my dear Jack!” She repeated over and over as she buried her face in the crook of his neck, kissing him there again and again. “Your alive!”

“Of course I am, My Love. I seem to have gotten a tad dizzy and fallen to the floor, but that’s nothing to worry over.”

Cecily raised her joyfully tear stained face to look into his eyes. “Jack, Peter’s blade was poisoned! You nearly died!!”

“Indeed you did, Black Jack Roberts.” Annabelle’s melodic voice came from above them. She stood smiling down at the overjoyed couple.

“Anne!” he smiled and tried to sit up falling weakly back onto the pillow.

“You stay put, Mr. Roberts!” Anne chided him gently. “The fever is broken and the poison purged, but you will need to rest for a few days to regain your strength.”

“Aye! That he will. Even if I have to sit in him!” Josiah’s gruff voice came from across the room.

Jack looked up to see Josiah, Gilbert, Tim, Molly, George, and Geoffrey with a linen bandage around his head, standing all around the bed they lay on. Smiling faces with tears running down cheeks surrounded him, as his friends hugged each other in relief. Cecily curled next to him, entwining him in her arms.

“I owe you all so much.” He spoke lowly. “But I would ask one more favor of you, my friends.”

“Anything you wish, Laddie Buck.” Josiah beamed.

“Would someone please remove a few of these blankets? It’s bloody hot under here!”

The chorus of laughter drifted out of the upstairs window to mingle with the songs of the birds.


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 04:55:36 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/31/2006 13:27:25
Message:

Stewart Chambers sat at his favorite table in the Herron, eyeing potential victims. Dressed in a fine wool coat, wool knee britches, and reasonably new silver buckled shoes he gave all of the impression of being a stable man of some means. Perfect for a man who made his living as a kidnapper.

A disappointing lot, he thought as his green eyes scanned the handful of customers taking their leisure around him. Hardly a one of them that would fetch more than a few Pounds, much less the gold he craved. His pockets were getting a bit empty of late.

Brushing a stray lock of dark brown hair from his eyes he made his choice. A fair to do lass in her mid twenties. Probably the wife of a well off landowner here about Somerset. Her jewelry was sparse, but of decent quality. He could maybe get a few hundred for her, if he squeezed hard enough.

Finishing the ale he tossed a silver piece onto the table, retrieved his leather tri-corn hat and turned to wait outside for his target. Just as he reached for the knob the door opened reviling Bill Turnbull a man he knew well.

“Well as I live and breathe, just the bloke I’ve been looking’ for!” Bill grinned. “I’ve a message for you Stewart. Straight from the man himself.”

“And?” Chambers asked.

“He has a job for ye, but it’s not something we want to be discussing out here in the open.” Bill winked. “Let’s make for my digs and I’ll tell ye all about it there.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/31/2006 23:41:07
Message:

Annabelle took over the nursing duties at that point. She lifted the bandage that was on the blade wound that Jack had received. She shook her head in disgust.
"It is a low man that gives a poisoned blade."
She motioned to Josiah and took him aside.
"I have looked in the cards. I see a dark and evil man. The danger has not abated. And this one will not rest until he has rendered what he considers judgment and taken back what he believes is rightfully his. I do not wish to frighten the lass, I can see she is smitten with Jack. But she is a smart lass, I see she has intelligence to rival his. A perfect match, as the Lovers card has revealed to me."
Cecily looked over and said, "I cannot thank you enough, Miss--Mrs.--Peterson--Annabelle--"
Annabelle laughed and said, "Annabelle will be fine, my dear. Jack must rest a few days but I know he is in good hands."
Cecily's eyes shone in gratitude for what she has done.
Josiah told Molly, "Go fix some beef broth for Jack. He will be needing nourishment but light foods."

Cecily curled up on the bed next to Jack, her arms encircling him and touching his cheek. With a deep shuddering sigh, she whispered, "I was so afraid I would lose you, Jack. Oh, I was so frightened!"
Jack looked at her and stroked her hair. "You shall never lose me, my love. We shall always be together."
Molly brought the broth and a few slices of buttered bread. "I brought some for you, too, Miss Cecily. Lord knows you need to keep your strength up too."
She turned to Jack and said, "She never left your side, you know. Never even stopped to eat, thought she would pass out on us. Although she almost skewered poor Josiah!"
Josiah laughed. "Aye! T'was almost perforated, I was! She drew her bow when she heard Culpepper try to burst up the stairs. That is how poor Geoff got a knock on the noggin. Culpepper smashed a tankard alongside his head."
Jack turned to Cecily. "You really were aiming your arrow at him? Love, you need to be very careful. You are deadly with that."
She said vehemently, "I wish I had. I wish I had pinned him against the wall. I want him DEAD! Dead, do you hear me?"
Jack took her in his arms. "Hush, darling. This sort of malice--it hurts no one but the bearer of it like acid in a vessel. He shall get what is coming to him. I shall make sure of that."

Josiah motioned to the rest of them to take their leave. As they filed out, Josiah closed the door but not before he stuck his head back in and said, "Now, lass, the man needs his rest so don't ye be puttin' yer designs on him. Not just yet!"
He closed the door again and Cecily made sure Jack finished every drop of the broth and drank the healing tea that Annabelle had brewed for him.
As they settled back in the bed, Cecily curled up under Jack's good arm and fit her body alongside his. Like it was always meant to be.
"Jack?"
"Hmmmm?" he responded drowsily.
"Jack, you have to marry me."



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/01/2006 12:28:51
Message:

“Why, Lady Morley. Is this a proposal? It’s so sudden.” His eyes twinkled with his teasing. “Very well, I accept.”

His laughter filled the room as she pulled the pillow from beneath his head and promptly swatted him over the head with it. “I will give you a proposal, Beast!” she giggled. As they wrestled for possession of the fluffy weapon.

Suddenly He began to cough, bringing an abrupt end to their play. Concern leapt into Cecily’s eyes, and she quickly held him close until the fit passed. Gently she guided his head back to the pillow.

“My Love.” Jack whispered, gently stroking her cheek. “Nothing within this world will make me happier than to name you my wife.” His smile radiated the joy of a man who has been granted his fondest wish. “Has soon as I can stand I will propose to you properly, Cecily Morley. I know of a place where we may be wed without signature from either parent, though methinks having some approval would stand us good.”

“Oh, Jack!” She threw her arms around his neck. “If it means so much to you, as soon as you are ready we can ask Father. I know he will approve!”

“It is settled then.” Jack grinned. “As soon as I can properly propose to you we will ask your father for his blessing.”

Their arms entwined each other and soft breezes from the window caressed them as they fell asleep in their lover’s embrace. There Annabelle found them, smiling softly as she pulled a cover over their slumbering forms. She stood over them for a few moments a wistful expression pulled at her olive features.

“I still owe you much, Jack“ She thought to herself. “Enough to never let you know that although the cards told me you have found joy beyond most men with your union, they also told me that it will end in tragedy and death.”

A lone tear slid down the Gypsy’s face. “A long and joyful love to you both, My Dears. For once I pray the cards be wrong.” She whispered. Turning she wiped the tear from her cheek, closing the door soundlessly behind her.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/02/2006 09:45:37
Message:

Stewart Chambers dismounted his horse in front of the foreboding mansion overlooking the churning sea. Handing the reigns to the stable boy he took in the massive structure. Once a place of gaiety and social gathering the towering structure was now gray and ominous. Reflecting the true manner of the lone heir to the Culpepper name.

A twisted sneer, which usually passed for a smile, pulled at his face. Turnbull had told him little. Peter Culpepper wanted him to kidnap a girl of prominence and bring her here. A thousand gold Sovereigns the price. Yes this would be much more profitable than the farmer’s wife he had first set his sights on.

Mounting the drab cement steps to the mahogany doors he raised the lion’s head knocker and rapped it loudly. Within a few moments the aged butler swung the door wide. “This way, Mr. Chambers.” he wheezed, leading the kidnapper to the doors that shut the study off from the rest of the house. Within the chamber sat Peter Culpepper and three rough looking brigands.

“Stewart.” The master of Culpepper estates rose motioning him to an empty chair in front of the desk. “I see you got my message. Have a seat and I will bring you up to date on the details of my little plan.”

Chambers sat down in the velvet cushioned chair, a wicked grin appearing on his lips.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/02/2006 23:05:11
Message:

Lady Alice rang for the house servant.
"Barnabas--I need the carriage. Please tell Ferguson to get one ready."
Barnabas nodded and left. Lady Alice grabbed her cloak and went outside just as the carriage pulled up. She turned to Barnabas and said, "Lady Stafford is ailing and I am taking some of Maud's scones and herbal tea to her. Please tell Sir Wallace not to worry, I shall be back by the afternoon."

As she got in the carriage, she opened the little window and said, "Ferguson, I have changed my mind. Please take me to Magistrate Hammond's house."
Ferguson knew better than to question Lady Alice. He just nodded and took the road that lead into town.

Within a half hour, Lady Alice was standing at the door of Magistrate Hammond's house.
A house servant admitted her and she sat in the parlor. Within a few minutes, Magistrate Errol Hammond came in. His wig was askew and his cravat was untied. Hastily he tried to straighten his attire.
"Ah, my dear Lady Alice! To what do I owe this visit? Collecting clothing for the orphans? The vicar is trying to raise funds for the steeple?"
Lady Alice cooly removed her gloves. "Errol, you stood us up last night and I want an explanation."
The magistrate's eyes shifted and he harummphed. "Not that it is any of your affair, Lady Alice, but I was detained in Devonshire."
She said crossly, "More likely detained in a pub there. I was here with Sir Wallace to have the marriage license of our daughter and Sir Culpepper filled out and granted."
Errol Hammond was not used to women who stood there ground. His wife was the soul of meekness.
"Now, now, Alice. We can take care of that now. Where is Sir Wallace?"
"He is indisposed. I am here to get the license. I want it and I want it TODAY."
"You know I have to have his signature on it. If both parents are alive, both have to be in agreement. After all, how old is the lass?"
"She just turned seventeen three weeks ago."
"And you are marrying her off to Sir Culpepper? The man is almost twice her age. He's---what? Thirty-seven?"
Alice snapped, "Errol, it is none of your concern. My Cecily will be making the match of the duchy and shall be taken care of for the rest of her life. And when she produces an heir, she will be giving Sir Peter what he always has wanted. Someone to pass his estates on to."
"But, Alice, the law says--"
"Errol, what does the law say about adultery?"
"A-adultery?"

The house servant came in with tea and cakes. Magistrate Hammond wiped his brow which he had started perspiring heavily on.
"That will be all, Sanders."
Lady Alice took the teacup and deicately sipped. "What were we talking about? Oh, yes! What is the word I want?"
She tapped her finger to her lips and then smiled as if she just figured out the secret of the sun rising in the east. "I think the word is 'cuckoldry'!"
Magistrate Hammond mopped his face and blustered, "You have no such proof, Lady Alice, and you know it!"
"I may not have proof positive but the thought and the rumours of it alone are enough to cause people to look sideways at you. Oh, they can forgive the act, they just can't forgive the self-righteousness that accompanies it. The best doors of Cornwall society will then be closed to you. Your wife is very popular with the masses. Charitable works and all that. Now, if she can't hold her head up high, who's fault is that?"
Lady Alice took the marriage license papers out and said, "What will it be, Errol? Your signature on this license in exchange for my silence."
He grabbed the papers and put his signature on it.
"There! You have it! The papers will be filed by tomorrow morning."
"Not good enough. It has to be today."
"What? I did what you asked!"
"And if you hadn't been deep in your cups, you would have taken care of this last night and we wouldn't be having this conversation."
Magistrate Hammond signed four copies. One for the Morleys, one for Culpepper, one for himself and one for the Crown.

Lady Alice took two copies. "I will hand-deliver Sir Culpepper's to him. That way he will know that the deed has been done."
Magistrate Hammond winced that he was blackmailed by a woman.
"One question, Lady Alice--how did you get your husband to sign it?"
She turned and smiled at him. "Who said he did?"
But it was too late. Hammond couldn't do a thing about it.

Lady Alice entered her coach, tapped the driver through the window and said, "To Sir Culpepper's house. As soon as possible!"


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 04:59:01 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/04/2006 11:15:08
Message:

Jack awoke before Cecily, her lengthy vigil at his bed side had left her exhausted. Some of his former strength had returned and he quietly slipped from her embrace. Crossing the room he unlocked the top drawer of a bureau next to the far wall. The inside of the drawer was partitioned into various size compartments. He removed the contents of each.

Reaching for the center back panel of one compartment he lifted it free with a soft click. This allowed each of the other panels to move in a particular pattern. Much like a Chinese wood puzzle, only if you knew the pattern would any of the other panels budge. In the end the last three panels revealed a small hidden panel in the floor of the drawer. Pushing on the left side of the small door lifted it about a quarter inch.

There in a shallow compartment it lay. The necklace was an ornate drapery of diamonds with three large Emeralds. The center one pear cut and as large as a man's thumb, flanked on either side by two more the size of the thumb's nail. He had lifted it from the neck of the elderly Duchess of York, dead now these three years. He would have Josiah forge the necessary bill of sale showing he had purchased it from one Jacques Robert, but he doubted any would claim it. The poor woman was rumored to have been living off of her jewelry after her husband’s bad investments in the end.

Grinning like a school child he slid the trinket back into it’s hiding place. It will make her the best wedding present he could think of. Silently he slid the panels back into place relocking the key panel into place. He couldn’t wait to see her sapphire eyes sparkling next to those gems.

He would also have to send someone to the Jewelers in Plymouth. He knew the betrothal ring he wished to give her, and had a fair idea for something special for the wedding rings. The tricky part would be getting all of this past her to Josiah, but that is what made it fun. Life held more than enough unpleasant surprises, pleasant ones needed coaxing.

Weaker than he thought he slipped reentering the bed and her soft eyelashes fluttered open. “Jack?” she yawned daintily. “Is everything alright, Dearest?”

“Better than alright, My Love.” he grinned roguishly. “Sorry I awoke you, but you know the call of nature.” He nodded toward the privy closet as her arms encircled his neck. Their lips met tenderly.

“Jack?” She looked into his blue green eyes. “Do you realize I know almost nothing about you? Not even your age.”

He looked down for a moment. “I’m afraid I may not be much better than our friend Culpepper, Luv. I hadn’t told ye my age, knowing your thoughts on his………as near as I know, I am twenty seven years of age.”



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/06/2006 13:40:55
Message:

For a moment Cecily was taken aback, then she remembered her words at the boarding house when they had first met. Gently she lifted his face in her soft hands until her eyes met with his. “Jack, I truly don’t care that you are twenty seven. I would love you regardless. Even if you were as ancient as Peter.......Well perhaps not that old.” She teased slightly, enjoying the faint blush that momentarily colored his cheeks and the tender smile that graced his face.

“What of your parents?” She deftly turned the subject away from age. Ten years was not enough of a distance between them to dim the fire she felt in her heart for him. “Are they aware of your activities?”

Jack shrugged attempting to belittle the sorrow their memory still brought up in him. He was not successful and Cecily realized that he was the type of man that held those he loved forever in his heart. The thought of their passing still evoked grief that had barely faded with the passage of time. If at all.

“They died when I was just a lad, the pox.” Jack’s eyes stared into the past. “We were street poor and stole to survive so I have lived my profession all of my life. The day they were buried in Potter’s Field was the day Black Jack Roberts was born.”

She thought back to the days she would play Highwayman with Andrew and watching him teases her as he devoured sweets she no longer had money for. How much worse was it when this extended to an entire life? When even the daily meals were beyond your reach? Many would turn greedy and grasping by such circumstances. Yet she had seen with her own eyes this was not true with Jack.

A soft knock came from the door and Annabelle flowed into the room, a cup of steaming liquid in her hands. “I’m glad to see you awake.” She smiled.

Handing the cup to Jack she placed a hand briefly to his forehead, looking intently at the whites of his eyes. “The tonic will return your strength faster, Dear. You should be your old self in a couple of days.”

Jack drank down the hot tonic with a sour face. “Just once I wish you could make one of those things so it didn’t taste like soured milk.” He groused, then smiled. “It would seem I owe you my life Annie.”

“Nonsense!” The Gypsy witch waved one jangling hand backward in the air as if shooing away an insect. “Without your kindness I would have lost my son. That is a debt I can never repay.” She smiled retrieving the empty cup, then walking to the door. “I’ll let Josiah know you two are awake. He should have a meal sent up to you in about an hour.”

After the door shut Jack pulled Cecily gently into his arms. “Annie doesn’t know just how well her tonics work.” He grinned roguishly as his hand slowly unbuttoned the back of her dress. “They work very well indeed.” Her arms encircled his neck as their kisses grew in length and passion.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/06/2006 22:40:45
Message:

Cecily laid on Jack's chest, her blonde hair brushing his cheek. She smiled contentedly.
"Annabelle could make a fortune...!"
He kissed the top of her head and smiled to himself. A week ago he never even knew of her existence. Now she was his betrothed. Amazing how turning a corner can turn your life.

She lifted her head to kiss him gently on the lips and trace her fingers down his cheek.
Softly she said, "I am so sorry about your parents, Jack. I would have loved to have known the people that produced such a fine man for me."
He said nothing, lost in his own memories of the sadness he felt as he watched their burial. Not even a marker to remember them by.
He sighed heavily. "And they would have loved to have known you."
She propped herself up on one elbow and looked into his eyes. "And here I was a lass who was handed everything yet I was still not complete. I have both parents and yet I have never known joy and love up until now. I love you, Jack Roberts. Or Robert Johnson. Or whoever you are. What really IS your name?"
He smiled, "Jack Roberts. I was thinking, love, that it may be best if no one except Annabelle and Josiah know of our betrothal. If the redcoats know of it or that we are married, they may be inclined to kidnap you or harm you as a way to get to me. If they think--and God forgive me for using this word---you a doxy, they will let ye be as doxies are a dime a dozen and they will guess ye are of no consequence to me."
"Jack, have you ever thought of leaving England for somewhere else?"
"Not really. I guess because I am half-Irish and half-English, this island is the only one I thought of as home."
"You are Irish? I am bedding with an Irishman? How wonderfully exotic and wicked of me!" she giggled.
He gave her cheek a playful pinch. "As I am bedding a lass from Cornwall, no less!"
She held him close and said, "Aye, what a rare and strange breed our children shall be, Jack. I do so want to give you what you lack. A family."
He felt an odd glow of contentment. "Cecily, my love, are you....?"
She laughed and shook her head. "Not to my knowledge, my love. After all, 'tis only been a week that I have known the ways of carnal love!"
He pretended a shocked look on his face. "Miss Cecily, I do believe you have a bawdy side to you that you keep hidden!"
She gave him a look and whispered, "Not hidden well enough! Now..let us see just how long-lasting that tonic is..."



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/07/2006 11:48:45
Message:

Josiah mounted the stairs that led up from the kitchen, a tray of food held in front of him. Molly followed with ale and wine. Annabelle had said the two lovers were awake now and that the infection was all but gone from Jack. If nothing else the man had been blessed with the constitution of a Clydesdale and the stubbornness of an weed puller.

He rapped lightly upon the door. His brow furrowed slightly when he heard no reply. Balancing the tray in one hand he turned the knob. Cecily and Jack lay embraced beneath the cover dead asleep again. The pile of clothing at the side of the bed allowed him to guess why.

Glancing over his shoulder he glimpsed the blush and shock on Molly’s face. “Aye, Lass.” He whispered teasingly. “If it weren’t fer the foul taste of the brew I’d be ‘a drinkin’ Annie’s potions ever day.” Josiah winked, increasing the strength of her coloring. Chuckling he motioned for her to quietly leave her tray next to his on the bedside table. “If it be cold when they awake ‘tis their own fault.”

As an after thought he opened the drawer Jack had previously visited and removed a sheet of parchment. Dipping a quill from the top of the bureau he hastily wrote out a note. Folding it he then placed it leaning against the bottle of wine. Motioning the Tavern maid to follow he tiptoed out of the room and gently closed the door behind him.

“Josiah.” Molly whispered once the door had shut. "Just last night he was at the door of death its self. How could….?” She let her voice trail off.

“Damned if I know the how of it, Lass.” Josiah grinned wickedly. “But I know the why.” He winked. Molly covered her mouth blushing anew and giggling.

“Tell you what, though. I’ve seen him take punishment that would have killed another. Annabelle says his spirit is nailed to his spine.” He stared at the closed door for a moment more, then shook his head wistfully. “If that’s what it means, then I need to find the carpenter and get a bit ‘a nailin’ down meself!”

“You are a wicked man, Master Josiah!” Molly giggled starting down the stairs toward the main tavern. “And I have customers waiting.” As she reached the bottom she glanced for a moment behind her. Smiling she tossed her mane of copper curls she marched into the tavern with just a slight more sway to her hips than usual.

“Taste be damned!” Josiah thought. “Annie has to make one of those tonics fer me!”



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/07/2006 20:26:24
Message:

Cecily stirred as the soft breeze blew in, signaling the afternoon had grown late. She drowsily glanced over at the clock on the mantle and saw that it was approaching the fifth hour past noon. Jack was sleeping soundly, his arm flung around her and she was formed against him. She closed her eyes once again but the smell of food brough her around again.
She opened one eye and spied the trays of food and ale.
She let out a scream.

Jack sat up, fumbling for his sword. She clutched the blanket up around her chin.
"WHAT?? WHO?" he shouted.
Cecily could only point, wide-eyed. "H-how did that get here?"
Jack breathed a sigh of relief. "Cecily, you scared me to death, love. It's obvious Josiah or Molly left it."
Cecily's face grew red. "B-But it means they were in here!"
Jack ran his hand through his hair and said bewilderedly, "Yes, that would be the only way to get it in here."
Cecily dove under the blanket and mumbled from under there.
Jack flipped the blanket down. "What did you say?"
She grabbed it again and her face was crimson. "But they saw us! I mean..look at the clothes...and look at us....and THEY KNOW!"
He shook his head. "You are not making any sense, darling."
She whispered, "They know what we were DOING!!"
Jack let out a howl of laughter. She said indignantly, "It isn't funny! I can never--EVER--show my face to them!"
Jack tried to straighten up and kept breaking into laughter.
He gathered her in his arms as she buried her face in his chest.
He tried to keep the mirth out of his voice but was failing miserably at it.
"My love, we are not the first. We did not invent this. And we most certainly will not be the last. The ability to make love frivolously is the chief characteristic which distinguishes human beings from the beasts."
She looked up at him. "Frivolous?"
He yawned. "Well, maybe that wasn't the right word. It just means we are in it for the enjoyment."
He looked her in the eyes and saw she was embarrassed. He said gently, "Nothing new under the sun, love. It's been going on since the dawn of time."

He kissed her and reached over for the bottle of wine. The parchment lay against the bottle.
Jack took the note, read it and burst out laughing.
He shook his head, still chuckling.
"That devil Josiah...!"


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/12/2006 10:53:51
Message:

“What, My Love?” Cecily ponders stretching around to see the note, her coloring deepening. “What did he say?”

“Nothing to embarrass us too much, Dearest.” Jack laughs, handing her the note and rising naked from the bed. “He merely suggests that we cover our ‘crime’ before Annie finds out and calls Lucifer himself down on our heads.”

Cecily read the note and in spite of herself began to laugh uncontrollably.

“You two need to get yer clothes back on before Annie comes to check on Jack.

If she finds out God knows what part a' him she'll put a hex on!

J”

“Actually, My Love, he seems to suggest that your manhood would be the target of her ire should we be discovered.” She chided, still giggling at the thought.

“Aye!” Jack hastily pulled on his breeches as he spoke. “And I, for one, am not anxious to find the truth of the matter. It could bring a whole new light to the term being belittled by one‘s friends!”

Cecily fell back onto the pillow, howling with laughter, tears of mirth streaming down her cheeks. “I’m not sure who would suffer more from the curse, you, or me!”

“What curse? And just what are you doing out of bed, Young Man?!” The strong feminine voice came from the open door. Jack froze with his pants undone. Cecily had pulled the bed clothes to her chin. Both staring open mouthed at Annabelle Peterson standing sternly in the doorway with her hands firmly on her hips, tapping her foot against the floor. “Or perhaps I should inquire as to what you have been doing in bed?”



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/12/2006 11:42:40
Message:

“Why, Annie, my dear, we…uh we were just getting start….” Jack hastily mumbled as he struggled to fasten his breeches. Her raised hand cutting his excuses short.

“None of your charm and tricks on me, Jack Roberts!” Her tone that of a mother who has caught a child red handed in wrong doing. Winking to Cecily as soon as his eyes were looking elsewhere. “Now you get those pants off, and climb back into bed. And wipe that silly grin off of your face! I need Cecily’s help elsewhere so you will be quite alone!”

Jack groaned as he turned his back and began unfastening the breeches he had so quickly fastened a moment before. Annabelle grinned to Cecily and placed one finger to her lips before continuing with mock seriousness. “Now, Young Lady, get dressed and follow me!”

Cecily turned her head to hide her smile from him as she climbed out of bed and began dressing. Jack protested. “It’s not her fault, Annie. If anything I am to blame.”

“Of that I have no doubt, you scoundrel!” Anne continued the charade. “This poor girl is unused to your whiles. I on the other hand know them well and shall remove any further temptation.” So saying Anne left the room with Cecily in tow.

Placing his hands behind his head Jack sighed wistfully. “Once, just once, Josiah, I wish you would prove wrong.” He mumbled aloud to the room. He knew Annie would cool off soon enough. Sighing again he turned to the food Josiah had brought, suddenly ravenous.

Once out in the hallway Annabelle embraced Cecily and they both giggled softly. “Child, I could not have asked for a better sign that he is well on his way to recovery.” She smiled.

“Then you are not upset by…by..” Cecily found herself still to embarrassed to give voice to their actions.

“Certainly not, Dear.” Anne smiled softly, hugging her again. “Make no mistake, his love and desire for you was all that saved his life this time. However, too much of a good thing could do more harm. You needn’t look so embarrassed, Dear, men and women have been engaged in lovemaking for many years before the two of you, and I dare say shall for many years after.”

She gently lifted Cecily’s chin to look into her eyes. “Come now, though, I wish to show you how to prepare the tonic I gave to him. Soon Gilbert must return to the Hare and Hound and I must return with him. His health will be in your care then.”

Together they turned to the back stairs that led to the kitchen. Cecily comforted in the thought that she had made another good friend and she would be the one to look after her lover.




Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 05:02:15 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/12/2006 12:20:36
Message:

The carriage turned up the lane leading to Culpepper mansion. A smile of smugness graced Lady Alice’s features as she thought of the cleverness of her plan. By forging her husband’s signature and bullying the magistrate into sealing the document she now had the means to force Cecily to marry Peter. By the time anyone could question the authenticity of the license it would be far too late to do anything about it.

At that moment she was distracted by a group of three horsemen galloping past them leaving the estate. Rather rough looking characters she wondered what they could have been doing there. Perhaps Sir Culpepper had found out the location of her wayward daughter? If so he may be in better spirits than when last she saw him. She certainly hoped so, as it had been some time since she was last in his arms.

She called out to her driver. “Hurry now, Markham! We have kept Sir Culpepper waiting long enough!” Sitting back comfortably in the coach she allowed herself the luxury of imagining her day with the man.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/12/2006 19:24:55
Message:

"...and you add a pinch of this."
Cecily stood at Annabelle's side, watching as she made a healing potion. Cecily was writing down the ingredients and proportions on a piece of foolscap.
"So...where do I find all these ingredients?"
Annabelle measured and answered, "A good apothecary. If you don't know what to look for in herbs in the woods, steer clear of it because alot of them look alike, my dear. The results could be fatal."
"How did you learn this? I mean..did you have any um...mistakes? That you had to bury?"
Annabelle looked over at the innocence of this woman-child. She was totally unlike the women Jack usually kept company with.
Annabelle laughed quietly and said, "No, never made a mistake. I learned this from my gypsy mother. She taught me herbs and healing potions and spells and fortune-telling and card-reading..."
Cecily clapped her hands. "How exciting! Gypsies used to camp in Cornwall on the bluffs when they were passing through. Andrew---that's my brother--used to go down to see a young boy named Tas. Until my mother found out and put a stop to it. She said..."
Cecily stopped abrupty. Annabelle said gently, "No need, sweet. I have heard it all before."

Cecily looked at the ingredients. "Mandrake root?"
Annabelle tried to keep a smile from her face. "The Greek doctor Theophrastus wrote 2,300 years ago that for mandrake root to be effective as an aphrodisiac, one must cut three concentric circles around the root. Before actually cutting the root one should face west and recite as much as one can remember from the 'Mysteries of Love' an ancient guide to physical love."
Cecily found her face colouriing but since her mother never got around to talking about it with her, she felt she could confide in Annabelle. As a surrogate mother. Or at least as beloved aunt.

She hesitated and plunged right in. "Annabelle, how can I keep Jack Roberts interested in me? I mean..we have been together a week."
She rushed her words together. "What if he grows tired of me? What if he ceases to love me? What if he finds someone he likes better?"
Annabelle took both Cecily's hands in hers and looked into her face. She said, "My dear, I have known Jack Roberts for over ten years. He is the finest man I have ever known. He grew up poor but grew up a gentleman. His parents instilled fine qualities in him. Yet he was never content. Always holding something back. Something has changed in him. His face reflects true happiness. A contentment and a sense of belonging. I have seen it in his face and in the cards and..."
Cecily said shyly, "Annabelle? You seem to know the future. Would you tell mine? Please? Will I always be as happy as I am now?"
Annabelle looked at her and said carefully, "I believe while you and Jack are together, you will know bliss such as rare among two people."
Cecily smiled broadly, "I knew it! I shall love him to the end of time and the depth of my soul!"
She found the next a little harder to put into words. "Annabelle, will I give him what he wants? A family? Babies?"
Annabelle put her hands lightly on Cecily's abdomen and said soberly, "Aye, that you shall, my dear girl. You shall have at least one child from your union."
Cecily smiled broadly, "Then I think it best that Jack and I get married right away! I don't want the baby to be a bastard."
Annabelle laughed, "I wouldn't worry about that just yet, Cecily. Children are alot of work. Just enjoy each other, for now, my dear girl."
Cecily laughed and said, "Then I can tell Jack it is alright to..you know..well...."
She found herself turning red. Annabelle pretended to be stern. "Don't over-do. The man needs his rest!"
Cecily turned to go but before she did, she turned seriously to Annabelle. "One question, Annabelle. If you please. My mother did not tell me anything in the ways of love. Is there...anything I need to know?"
Annabelle nodded. "Let Jack teach you. Who better to learn from than the master?"
Cecily blushed and turned and ran up the stairs in her haste.
Annabelle shook her head and laughed and continued to make her potions.

Cecily came back into the room. Jack was sitting in the chair cleaning his flintlocks. He said anxiously, "Is everything alright? Was Annabelle really upset with me?"
Cecily shook her head. "She's a wonderful person and gave me some potions to restore you to complete health."
"Anything I need to know or do, then?"
Cecily lowered her chemise and whispered, "Yes. The lessons shall now begin...."



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/12/2006 20:28:45
Message:

Peter Culpepper sat next to the fireplace chuckling to himself. His plans were well laid and he had gathered enough men now to pull it off. By tomorrow morning Cecily would be back under his control and Mr. Robert Johnson would be quite dead. Then whether or not he was indeed Black Jack Roberts would not matter one bit. His reverie was interrupted by a knock on the door.

“I said I did not want to be disturbed!” he barked.

“Not even for this?” Alice Morley smiled sweetly as she entered the study and handed the rolled parchment to him.

Slightly perturbed he untied the ribbon and began to read. Slowly his expression began to soften, then a smile of devious intent spread across his face. “Well done, My Dear!” He beamed. “With this document Cecily is now and forever mine!”

Lady Alice poured herself a Brandy from the crystal decanter, smiling as she raised the glass to her lips. “I take it you approve then?”

“I more than approve! Now all that remains is to retrieve her!” Peter nearly danced with glee.

“Then I am correct to conclude you know where she is?” Lady Alice asked in her most nonchalant voice.

“Aye, that I do. She is no more than three hours from here in that little tavern just outside of Devonshire, the Crossbow.” He nearly spat the word. “I’ve made arraignments to deliver her from there tonight.”

“Yes,” Alice’s eyes gleamed, “I believe we passed your arrangements on our way here. Are you certain she is there?”

“Quite certain. I learned as much from that drunken fool, Hammond. The tavern keep and a few of his ruffians kept me from taking her out of there last night, but this time I am more than prepared for them.” Culpepper grinned. “I don’t think you will have to worry about her new love after tonight either.”

“All the better,” Lady Alice moved closer to him, her voice dropping to a husky whisper, “but at the moment Cecily’s love matters are not exactly what I am worrying about, Peter.” Slowly she undid the laces of her dress as she moved ever closer to him.

“I can see that, Alice.” He grinned wickedly as he gathered her into his arms.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/15/2006 19:01:14
Message:

The Crossbow had closed it’s doors to the public early. The main room had been prepared for a party. Gilbert, Annabelle, and Josiah sat near the head of the pushed together tables next to Cecily and Jack. The musicians played softly, and laughter spaced with pleasant conversation filled the room.

As twilight fell they pushed the tables to the far wall making room for themselves, and the twenty some guests to dance. Molly curtsied to Josiah’s offered hand and they whirled away across the floor. Jack leaned close to Cecily’s ear and whispered something that made her laugh aloud while slightly changing her color.

Gilbert leaned back in his chair patting his overfilled belly. “Ah, Annie,” he sighed, “if nothing else Jack sets the finest table in all of western England.”

“Indeed, Master Gilbert, seeing how you had to unbuckle your belt to find room for that last helping of pudding.” Anne jovially chided.

“T’was only me forth!” Gilbert laughed. “It’s good to see you’ve not lost your touch, Annie. Why old Jack there looks to be more his self than when last I saw him. Small wonder he insisted on this party for us before we must take our leave”

“I would say young Cecily Morley has more to do with that than I” Annabelle sniffed.

“Be that as it may, Lass, without ye I doubt he’d be on the dance floor now.” The master of the Hare and Hound continued. “Speaking of which, as soon as me stomach lessens of it’s burden, would ye care to dance?”

“My pleasure, kind sir.” She replied, he dark eyes twinkled.

Jack held Cecily close to him as the next tune turned to a more romantic style. Unaware that certain eyes followed their every move. Thomas Banks leaned against the far wall in idle banter with George and Geoffrey. While he was grateful to Jack for providing him with both employment, and getting him out of a tight spot with the king’s men, still he could not help but feel a little jealous. She was after all a lovely girl. Maybe she would consent to at least speak with him for a moment or two later. Jack was indeed a lucky man.

Outside other eyes watched the tavern with more than a little malicious intent. Stewart Chambers sat his horse within the thick woodland across from the courtyard. A band of no less that eight other ruffians behind him and the other two henchmen of Peter Culpepper waited patiently.

“I says we takes ‘em now, Stewart, while they be off guard.” The evil looking fellow to his right hissed in the gloom.

“And I say different, Helmsley!” He shot back in low tones. “Culpepper hired me to lead this little job, and we’ll do things my way! There be no less than twenty seven witnesses in there, and I’ll be damned if I let you muck it up!”

“Fine then!” The other growled. “Just as long as you remember that Johnson be mine!”

“All I’m after is the girl and me money.” Chambers grinned. “Why are ye so set on this dandy Johnson anyway?”

That’s my affair, Kidnapper!” Vincent Helmsley spat. “I’ve an old score to settle with that one, and I’ll be damned if’n you, or anyone else, will have him before I do!”

“As you wish then, Mate.” Stewart relented. “You just remember no harm is to come to the prize, Sir Peter wants her whole and healthy. As soon as the crowd starts to thin we’ll set the plan into motion. Once we get the witch out of there I’ll breathe easier. Hanged if I want to face her black magic.”

“Aye,” Helmsley nodded. “I hadn’t counted on her being a part ‘o this. Good thing we had a couple of the boys check things out fer us afore we went bustin’ in.”

“Well she won’t be there long.” Stewart chuckled. “As soon as the guests start to leave we’ll send Bert in with our message. That’ll be sure to get her out of the way in a hurry.”



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/15/2006 20:47:46
Message:

Alice reached over and accepted the goblet of wine that Peter had offered her. She laid there languid and glowing. He sat back down on the bed, wrapped in his dressing gown and she was wrapped in....sheets.
He looked over at her. A beauty indeed but a pale reflection of the daughter. Lady Alice Morley had a hardness and a plumpness to her in contrast to the softness and sleekness of Cecily Morley.
"Thank you, love, " Alice practically purred. "I shall have to be leaving soon. It wouldn't do for Cecily to see her mother in such a situation."

Sir Peter laid back on the pillow, his hands clasped behind his head. "And after tonight, Cecily will be here. I'll keep her lodged here because to tell you the truth, Alice, that son of yours will only foil our plans. He would abet Cecily in another escape."
She ran her fingers up and down his arm. "Do you think that is wise? Keeping your future bride under the same roof?"
He looked at her sharply. "And what is THAT supposed to mean?"
"Only that...well, you want to be properly wed and..."
Sir Peter got up and walked over to his safe. Opening it, he pulled out the marriage license.
"This paper here is the legal documents. She is as good as my wife, Alice. The formal ceremony is just that..a formality."
Alice sat there with pursed lips. Sir Peter raised his eyebrow. "Problem, dear?"
She shrugged. "No..it's just a little strange, that's all."
"Strange? How so?"
Alice blurted out, "Don't you find it a tad odd to bed both mother and daughter?"
He said, "Jealous, Alice?"
"Of course not!" she lied. She knew that youth was the edge that Cecily had. On the other hand, Alice had the experience. One balanced the other.
Alice took a deep drink of her wine. "Peter, you WILL keep Cecily safe, won't you?"
He was exasperated. "Of course, Alice. After all, she will be my bride. And she's better shape up quickly. I won't put up with a rebellious nature."
Alice shook her head. "That is not what I mean. I meant she won't come to any harm as your wife. Promise me. She is my daughter."
Peter explained as carefully as he would to a child. "Alice, it is like this. The sooner she can produce an heir--and it had better be a son--the sooner we can get this behind us and build a life together."
"And if it is a daughter?"
"Then we keep trying until the heir to the Culpeppers is secure."
Alice pouted. "You sound just like Henry the Eighth. I don't want my daughter to be another Anne Boleyn."
"Don't worry, my dear. I shan't have her head severed from her lovely body. No, as we planned before, I shall have one of my men seduce her. Then I can put her aside and marry you."
"And Wallace?"
"Wallace can be dealt with. When he loses Moreland, he will have lost you, too. Oh, I shall see he has a pittance. Andrew is another matter. Mayhaps he will be hired on as a stablehand!"
Sir Peter relished the thought of that upstart son of Alice's cleaning manure. How Peter would enjoy the arrogance of the young man brought down!
Alice was annoyed by that. "Peter, regardless of how you feel, he IS my son and he will be your stepson."
Alice moved closer to Peter and said, "I don't want any harm to come to Cecily. When she gives you an heir, I want you to promise me she shall never want for anything. Mayhaps the best thing to do would be to send her abroad. To Italy. Or France. She speaks flawless french, you know."
"Or maybe even to the Colonies."
Alice put her finger to his lips and whispered, "Let's just forget about all of them for now..."


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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/16/2006 12:51:34
Message:

The evening had worn well into the night and many of the party had been trickling out of the door, returning to their respective homes. Josiah and Molly sat at one of the far tables lost in a conversation that, from the occasional blush of her features and tinkling laughter, turned bawdy more than once.

The trio of George, Geoffrey, and Tom sat across the room exchanging jokes with a few of the local farm girls who frequented the tavern in their off hours. Jack, Cecily, and the rest were seated near the center of the room speaking of the events of the last few days. The musicians had been well paid and fed. Soon they also took their leave.

A sharp urgent rap on the main door drew Josiah, reluctant and grumbling to it. A young man in shabby attire fairly fell through the door in a stumbling rush. “I seek Annabelle Peterson!” He all but shouted to the surprised faces of the remaining revelers.

“I am Annabelle.” The Gypsy stood, her bracelets clinking softly in the silence.

“If you please, Mum,” the stranger huffed as if he had run all the way from Cornwall, “a child has been poisoned. She were out in the wood gathering berries when we found her. A strange plant was found in her mouth. Her father sent me to find ye.”

“Where is the child now?!” Concern etched itself deep into Anne’s features.

“At the Hare and Hound with her parents, Mum.” Bert slumped into a chair. “Her father sent me to find ye.”

“Tom, ready Gilbert’s carriage as quickly as you can!” Jack directed. “George, Geoffrey, Molly. Help Annie and Gilbert to collect their things!”

Soon Annabelle, Gilbert, and Tim, roused from a deep sleep, were outside the Crossbow. Quickly saying farewell Gilbert snapped the reigns and the trio all but flew from the courtyard. Jack stood with his arm around Cecly’s waist watching his friends race from sight before returning to the main room.

“Molly, would you kindly fetch….? Jack began before realizing he had not yet gained the name of the emissary.

“They calls me Bert, Sir.” The young ruffian extended his hand.

Jack took the offer of friendship in a firm grasp. “Bert here something to eat and a bottle of wine?”

“I thank ye kindly.” the spy smiled to himself. Congratulating himself on the ease with which he had pulled off his ruse.

“If you will excuse me, there is a matter that I must attend to, Master Bert.” Jack grinned. He had wished to make his formal proposal to Cecily while Anne and Gilbert were still there, but now that they had left on a errand of mercy he saw no reason to postpone it any longer. "Cecily, my love, if you will excuse me but a moment, I have a surprise for you.”

Cecily’s eyes sparkled in the soft light of the many candles of the room. “A surprise, Dearest? Please tell me, what is it?”

He smiled tenderly, gently stroking her cheek. “Now if I did that it wouldn’t be much of a surprise, would it? I won’t be but a moment, my dear one.” Turning toward the steps she watched with excitement as Jack vanished up them to their rooms.

“Begging your pardon, Miss.” The voice of Tom Banks started her from her reverie. “I would like to apologize for my abruptness in the stable, My Lady. I had no idea that you and Jack….” His voice trailed off.

Cecily studied the young stableman for a moment. Though she still felt uncomfortable near him, unlike George, or Geoffrey, still he was one of Jack’s men and she felt it at least prudent to accept the sudden apology. “Think nothing more of it.” She managed a smile.

“Perhaps you will speak with me for a moment then?” Tom asked, unable to keep his eyes from roaming her body.

Before she could muster an answer Bert had moved to the door unobserved. Suddenly he flung the door wide and no less than eleven men in dark garb, their faces covered to the eyes with black cloth stormed into the Crossbow, their swords drawn.

“He’s upstairs!” Bert shouted, pulling his own rapier free of it’s scabbard.

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 05:04:31 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/16/2006 13:53:49
Message:

A melee of chaos quickly followed the intrusion of the kidnappers. One of the leaders made for the stairs, followed by two others. Josiah flipped the table he and Molly sat at onto it’s side and pulled the red tressed barmaid to safety behind it. Firing his flintlock from behind the makeshift barricade one of the intruders running for the stairs stiffened with a bullet between his shoulder blades.

George fired his pistol dropping another near the door before he and Geoffrey followed Josiah’s lead in making a shield of their tables. Wood splintered around them all as a split second later the gunfire was returned. The milkmaids screamed covering their heads.

Tom had leapt to his feet as the men had rushed into the room. Figuring himself to be a dead man as the shots flew all around he bravely put himself in front of Cecily. A look of astonishment graced his face as he suddenly realized none of the shots were directed to him or her. Quickly he hurled his tankard at the lone figure making his way towards them. As the man ducked the projectile he grabbed Cecily’s wrist and ran for the cover of Josiah’s table.

“C’mon, Lads!” Josiah shouted. “Before they have time to reload!”

Josiah and Tom jumped over the edge of the overturned table, swords in hand. Molly pulled Cecily down to safety with her, as Geoffrey fired his pistol felling another of the invaders before leaping into the fray himself.

“Molly! Let me go! Their after Jack!” Cecily screamed struggling to free herself from the tavern girl’s terrified grip.

“Nay, Lady!” Molly’s eyes were wide with fear. “Jack can take care of himself! He would never forgive me if you were hurt! Let the men handle these villains!”

Upstairs Jack Roberts spun around to the sound of gunfire, his rapier leaping into his hand as he ran for the door. Suddenly it flew open and two men wearing masks quickly entered, as he backed away a few steps. His unanswered concern for Cecily’s well being filled him with dread.

“At last I have you, Mr. Johnson, or perhaps you prefer Jack Roberts?!” The first man spoke with a voice of pure malice.

“Jack Roberts!!! Black Jack Roberts?!!” His compatriot exclaimed.

“Aye!” The first grinned beneath his mask, waving his sword tantalizingly in front of him. “None other! Isn’t that right, Jack?”

Jack held his sword at the ready in front of him. “And just who am I addressing?”

“Why, Jack, have ye forgotten an old friend so quickly, or did ye think you would never lay eyes on me again?” The ruffian laughed pulling his mask down.

“Helmsley!” Jack’s look of shock quickly replaced with one of absolute disgust. “Aye, you piece of filth, I would have figured you to still be rotting away in the king’s geol!”

Vincent Helmsley’s laugh was both bitter and venomous. “Not likely, Mate, and no thanks to you! I swore if I ever got free of that pit of Hell I’d make ye pay, and by God I will!” The maddened brigand launched himself forward stabbing at Jack’s middle.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/16/2006 16:36:22
Message:

The ringing clash of steel filling her ears Molly ventured a look above the edge of the table. Holding firmly to Cecily’s shoulders she gazed out onto a scene of sweat and bloodshed. Two more of the bandits lay dead on the floor of the Crossbow evening the odds to one on one.

Josiah was deep in heated swordplay with the leader of the intruders, neither giving, nor asking for quarter. Silently she prayed for his victory. She saw Tom duck beneath the swing of his opponent and ram his blade home into the man’s gut. A sigh of relief escaped her lips as he turned to help Josiah.

Stewart Chambers could barely believe the turn of events. Nearly all of his men lay dead around him and he found himself no closer to his goal than if he had still been sitting out in the woods waiting. Desperation began to fuel his movements as he caught the second defender coming at him from the left. The old man in front of him fought like an expert. These were no ordinary folk, they were too well trained for that.

As Tom lunged forward Stewart suddenly jumped backward grabbing the cloth of Tom’s shirt with his free hand and pulling his unbalanced attacker into the path of Josiah’s blade. Josiah, unable to stop the momentum of his thrust diverted the path of the lunge as much as he could, slicing open the back of Tom’s leather vest.

Stewart brought the pommel of his rapier down on the back of Tom’s head knocking the young stable keep senseless to the floor as the diverted thrust from Josiah’s rapier grazed his side. Fire flooded Chamber’s ribs and he staggered backward clutching the wound. Josiah jumped the unconscious boy determined to press his advantage.

In a rage of blind fury and luck Stewart parried the swinging stroke aimed for his neck. Allowing the his blade to slide down the length of Josiah’s he suddenly twisted his arm downward, then up catching the tavern keeper beneath the chin sending him stumbling over Tom’s body. The back of Josiah’s skull landed on the edge of the table with a sickening thud and he slumped into a heap next to Tom.

Molly’s cry of anguish brought his attention to the table his prize hid behind. Checking his hand for a moment to see how much blood he may be losing he marched unopposed toward the shaken girl. Molly under the cover of the table slipped the dagger hidden in her bodice into her hand and threw it with all of her might at the advancing kidnapper.

Barely ducking the lethal projectile Stewart’s hat flew from his head with the dagger buried in the top edge of the crown. Angered by the affront he quickly closed the distance between them, knocking the shapely red head out with a well aimed blow from the basket hilt of his weapon to her jaw. He then reached for Cecily.

A sharp burning sensation brought his head back as his mask was pulled off by the raking fingernails of his victim. He reached up cursing to gingerly touch the four deep furrows that ran from the edge of his left eye to chin. Cecily swung her fist around, screaming madly as she rained blow after blow onto the retreating Chambers.

Initially staggered by the ferocity of Cecily’s attack Stewart’s shock soon found itself replaced by anger. Orders be damned this child needed to be taught a lesson. Dropping his sword Chambers suddenly grabbed both of Cecily’s wrists in a vise like grip. Ignoring several kicks to his shins as best he could he spun her around until her back was to his and clamped one arm around her neck. Stewart smiled as he squeezed the crook of his arm tightly, shutting off both wind and blood flow. Soon he felt the girl’s body relax against his as her struggles ceased.

Glancing about the room quickly he realized that the remaining men would not last much longer. He stooped down to retrieve his weapon, sheathing it in one fluid motion he then threw Cecily’s limp form over one shoulder. Helmsley could fend for himself it was defiantly time to flee with the prize. As fast as he could Stewart bolted for the door with nary a backward glance. Once outside he quickly tied the girl face down over the saddle of one of the waiting horses, grabbed the reigns, then leaping into the saddle of his own mount galloped off to the rendezvous.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/17/2006 12:21:06
Message:

Jack side stepped the vicious lunge, crashing his left fist into Helmsley’s nose sending his attacker sprawling across the floor into the closed door. Turning he locked swords with the second man. A flurry of thrusts and parries followed in a staccato rhythm. His mind momentarily distracted from his concern for his love, Jack increased his efforts to defeat his foe before Vincent regained his senses and attacked anew.

Swinging his blade downward Jack sent his foe’s sword wide to his right. A well placed boot to the man’s midsection doubled him over, groaning. Jack’s rapier pierced the villain’s ribcage a second later, running him through both heart and lungs. The rogue gave a wheezing rattle, falling to the floor.

“Well done, Jack.” The gruff voice of Helmsley brought him around in a defensive stance. “Had poor Bert there succeeded in killing ye, I’d have murdered him meself.”

Jack’s brow furrowed with anger. “Ye got no more than ye earned, Dog!” He shot back, nearly shaking with rage. “And far less than ye deserved! No man who works with me takes a woman against her will, much less a child of fourteen!”

“That were none of your affair, Roberts!” Helmsley growled, blood from his broken nose flying from his lips. “Ye hit me from behind and left me trussed up for the Redcoats! I’d thought about turning ye in then and there, but I knew I’d have me chance at ye! Ye won’t be catching me off guard this time, Mate. I always figured I could take ye! Tonight the legend of Black Jack Roberts comes to an end!”

The two violent men circled each other cautiously around the room. Helmsley was not about to repeat his mistake of rushing in again. Tentatively the two bitter enemies exchanged glancing blows, each searching for a weakness in the other’s defense. Their eyes burning with hatred they attacked in earnest.

Time and again the deadly lengths of steel rebounded off of each other with a ringing clash. Parry followed parry, thrust and swing blocked it soon became apparent that the two antagonists were evenly matched. Neither able to gain an advantage over the other. Both men began to sweat, their breathing growing more an more labored with Helmsley at a slight disadvantage from his injured nose.

Slowly Jack began to give way, Helmsley grinned, his ragged breath hissing between his clenched teeth. Jack was tiring, his strength seeming to fade from his recent illness, and this was what Vincent had been waiting for. Redoubling his efforts he pressed Jack back towards the bed.

When Jack had backed as far as he could Helmsley’s grin turned completely malicious. “Ye’ve run out of room and time Jack.” He hissed as he unexpectedly back away. “I’ve proven I’m the better man, so now be the time to end this little game and be on me way. It’s been me pleasure.”

Helmsley’s hand darted beneath his coat for his pistol. Jack’s hand flew beneath the pillow. Just has the flintlock cleared Helmsley’s coat Jack pulled Old Hob from it’s hiding place. The braided coil of black leather sang thru the air ending in a loud crack that sent the flintlock clattering to the floor. Helmsley’s eyes grew wide with shock as he realized Jack’s ploy had been to gain possession of the whip all along.

Lunging at the stunned man Jack thrust his rapier forward with blinding speed, aimed directly at his enemy’s heart. Vincent parried to late and felt the burning pain of the blade pierce his right lung. His sword fell from his nerveless fingers and he fell backward against the door.

The rapist lay propped against the door coughing blood, then suddenly laughed. “ It would seem I underestimated ye, Jack, but ye haven’t won.” another chuckle ended in a violent coughing fit has life ebbed from Helmsley’s body. “By now she’s gone! Ye’ll never see that girl again! I...I’ve...wonnnn.....” With a gurgling cough Vincent Helmsley stiffened, then lay still.

Jack’s face went white as new parchment as he heard the sound of rapid hoof beats fade into the night outside. Grabbing the dead man’s coat he hurled the body from the door and raced downstairs.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/19/2006 12:21:56
Message:

The old abandoned mill’s boards creaked in the fierce wind that had blown up outside. Stewart Chambers sat in a chair next to a small table, an open bottle of whiskey next to his arm. Flickering light from the single candle cast deep shadows onto the left side of his face. “Looks like a storm be a brewin’ out there, Lass.” He chuckled to the lovely blonde girl securely tied to the chair across from him.

Cecily’s azure blue eye’s burned hotly at the kidnapper. Stony silence her only reply. Her only wish was to have this monster in her bow sights. If Jack had been harmed she vowed to herself to hunt this man down like the dog he was, and make his death both long and painful.

“Not much fer conversation, are ye?” Stewart smiled, wincing slightly from the injury of his cheek. Despite herself Cecily smiled at the man’s pain. An action that did not go unnoticed by Chambers.

“Aye,” he scowled, “a bit tender, I’ll grant ye. Just be glad the boss doesn’t want any permanent damage done to ye. Otherwise I’d be a payin’ ye back fer these beauty marks with interest.” Unable to stand the sight of the outlaw any longer She turned her head haughtily to one side staring at the dusty far wall.

“Oh, not to worry, Lass. I’ve known yer benefactor many a year. Once he has possession of ye he’ll more’n make up for this.” He pointed to the deep scratches. Reaching for the bottle he tipped it back before continuing to gloat over his captive. “Provided this storm don’t delay him. If that be the case ye just may have to spend the night trussed up in that rather uncomfortable position.

Cecily fought down her emotions, determined not to shed a single tear for the pleasure of this pig. Instead she shut out his taunting words and let her imagination perform acts of crulity to him that she longed to bring into reality.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/19/2006 12:55:41
Message:

Jack Roberts bolted from the stairs into the main room. A wreck of carnage greeted his eyes. Josiah was just coming to, his head cradled in the fretting Molly’s lap. George and Geoffrey tended the young Tom. From one of the downed invaders came a low moan of pain and he strode purposefully over to the dying man.

Grabbing him by the lapels he lifted him to within inches of his rage filled face. “Where is she??!!” He shouted. “Where have they taken Cecily??!! Answer me, Dog, or by Heaven I’ll make you wish you could die!!!!”

The man grimaced from the pain as Jack shook him like a terrier shaking a rat. “I…I don’t know! We were never…never told! Only Stewart and Sir P..Peter knew!” A hacking cough shook the body in Jack’s grip and the villain wheezed his last.

In disgust he threw the body back to the floor, then strode for Josiah’s room. Stripping off the white shirt he wore he threw open the door of a wardrobe against the far wall. Pushing violently onto one side of the back it swung open to reveal a hidden closet in the wall. Jerking out a black shirt with black lace at the cuffs and collar, a black frock coat, satin hood, and black plumed caviler hat he quickly dressed.

Now garbed completely as Black Jack Roberts he strode back into the main hall, making for the door. Only Josiah tried to get up to stand in his way, his head still swimming from the table blow. “Jack! Ye can’t do this!! If ye go after her like that ye’ll be found out for sure!!” Ignoring his old friend Jack slammed open the door and vanished into the gloom. Moments later the sound of Raven’s hooves thundered past the door and into the night.

“Hellfire and damnation, ye bloody twits!” Josiah cursed at George and Geoffrey. “Why didn’t ye stop him!!”

George and Geoffrey exchanged worried looks, the Geoffrey spoke quietly. “Ye didn’t see the look on his face before he put on the hood, Josiah. God help the man what stands between him and the lass. Jack Roberts be out for blood tonight.”


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 05:06:44 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/19/2006 22:34:38
Message:

Lightning split the sky turning the road ahead of Jack into a blue-white character of day for a few split seconds. The staccato rhythm of Raven’s hoof beats keeping time with pounding of blood he felt in his temples. A few seconds later the sharp retort of thunder boomed thru the forest.

Behind his mask he gritted his teeth. “Damn you, Culpepper!” he hissed to the wind, grateful for the amazing empathy his mount shared with him. Without any urging from his rider Raven ran like the devil himself were chasing them. The miles flew beneath the night hued stallion as the gates to Culpepper Estates came into view in the distance.

As the first large drops of rain began to fall Jack leapt from the snorting horse’s back and raced up the granite stairs toward the twin doors of the grim mansion. Drawing his sword and one pistol he planted one boot solidly against them exactly between the handles. Wood splintered into the hall as the huge doors ricocheted off the walls to shudder half open.

Marching into the wide hallway he bellowed Peter Culpepper’s name into the half lit gloom. Lightning split the sky again the boom of its thunder a mere second behind the flash. From the corner of his eye Jack caught the movement of a figure running down the hall and fired in front of it.

Raymond gave a shriek of terror and fell to his knees pleading. “Please, Mr. Roberts! Spare a poor old manservant with few enough years left him!”

“Aye that I will, Old Man! If you will but tell me where to find your master!!” Jack growled. “If not…….” He let the threat hang in the thick air.

“The old mill on the old oak road, Sir!!” the frightened butler babbled out in a rush. “I over heard him tell the gentlemen here this afternoon!! Please, Sir!!”

Jack turned violently to the ruined doors, his cloak billowing around him, to mount the Black horse a third stroke of lightning revealed. The rain began to come down in earnest as he vanished into the dark. Raymond slumped to the floor as his senses fled him in relief.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/20/2006 22:09:27
Message:

Sir Peter Culpepper rode in fury, cursing the abominable weather that rained down upon him.
It only added to his already malevolent mood. Damn that little wench! Making more trouble almost than she is worth!

Ahead he saw the dim light in the window of the old mill. So he was successful, Lord Culpepper thought. He always was worth his weight in gold as a henchman. As he drew up, he dismounted and strode up to the door. Opening it, he saw his bride-to-be.
She was sitting in a chair all tied up. Stewart Chambers was tipping back whiskey from a bottle.
Cecily looked up. A bewildered look crossed her face.
"Y-you? YOU??"

Sir Culpepper took off his hat, a torrent of water cascading to the floor and making a puddle. He turned to Chambers and said, "And what is the meaning of this? I told you no harm is to come to the young lady."
Chambers took a deep pull on the whiskey bottle and wiped his mouth on his sleeve, setting the bottle back on the table.
"Beggin' yer pardon, Lord, but that be the only way I could control this wildcat. Ye didn't tell me she be a feisty one. Look what she did to me face! Not only that, but look here!"
He rolled up the leg of his breeches and showed off several dozen purple bruises.
Culpepper gave it a perfunctionary wave of his hand.
"Yes, yes...well, you will heal."

Cecily's mind was racing. Sir Peter Culpepper was behind this whole thing?
Jack!
Her mind frantically went to her beloved. Is he hurt? Does he need me? Is he...? The thought was too horrid for her to contemplate.
Peter looked over at his bride-to-be and gave her a smile. "Well, my little dove has come back to roost."
He grabbed a chair, placed it backwards in front of her and straddled it. He reached out to stroke her cheek.
"My dear, dear Cecily. It seems you have been consorting with outlaws."
Cecily tried to keep her voice even. "Where do you hear such lies?"
"Did you not know that Robert Johnson and BlackJack Roberts are one and the same?"
Cecily forced herself to focus. "That is not true!"
"Aye, my dear, I am willing to accept that you have been led astray and lied to. That is why I had to affect a rescue for you. And now you are safe and secure."
He tucked his fingers under her chin to lift it in a lover's kiss but she instinctively turned her head.
"Not even a kiss for your husband-to-be?"
Cecily drew herself up and said, "Your wife I never shall be! I shall marry whom I choose."
Sir Peter looked down on her. So insolent! Soon that shall be gone. And what a pleasure to teach her respect! Oh, the challenge of it all!

"According to the law, my sweet, an Englishwoman has no legal standing, no rights over her own person, property or even children. I could beat and rape you at will, confine you to the house, or to a room."
"I shall never stay with you! I--I'll run away!"
He took off his gloves and said, "A husband can have a wife hunted down and brought back to him to be punished as he pleases."
"I'll get a divorce!"
Sir Culpepper was enjoying this immensely. Such a sharp and calculating mind she has!
"No, I think not. You can't get a divorce on the grounds of adultery, battery or any other so-called 'mistreatment'. In fact, it is considered meritorious for a wife to forgive her husband's adultery but for him to return the favor would be degrading and dishonorable. Husbands have the sole rights over communal property and over their wives. That means I have the right to say to you, 'Lady, you belong to me body and soul... Lady, you will not go out. You will not go to the theater. You will not see this or that person..."
"That's not fair!" Cecily practically screamed at him.
He leaned over and said softly, "It is my pleasure to inform you, Miss Morley, that it is a fait accompli."
"What do you mean?"
He reached into his coat and withdrew papers. He waved them in front of her face.
"Here is the marriage license. The names on it read Sir Peter Thomas Culpepper and Lady Cecily Elizabeth Morley. Marriage to take place May 1st. That is in less than a week, love."
"B-But I am not of the legal age of consent!"
Sir Peter continued, "And it is signed by Sir Wallace Morley and Lady Alice Morley. On behalf of their daughter."
Cecily's head was swimming. Father? Father would do that to me?

"They can't! They wouldn't!"
"Seems they can and they did."
All she knew was that she needed to get out of the ropes that were now cutting into her wrists. She tried another approach.
She hung her head in pretend submission. "It appears you won, Peter. Would you please be so kind as to release these bonds?"
"Chambers? Hand me that knife, please."
Chambers reluctantly got up. "Don't know, Sire, may be a good idea to teach the little vixen a lesson...."
"SHUT UP AND HAND ME THE KNIFE!"
The brigand handed it over and Sir Peter cut the ropes.
As soon as Cecily was free, she chafed her wrists. Peter reached over and rubbed them for her. Then he grabbed her hair roughly and kissed her.
Cecily pulled away and said, with a deadly calm, "That is as much as you shall get from me. Touch me again and I shall kill you. I don't love you. I never shall."
Sir Peter backhanded her across the face. Cecily flew back and fell against the wall, sliding down. She could taste the blood in her mouth.
"You shall learn. And learn fast. Or it shall be long and hard lessons, my sweet wife."
He leaned forward and put his face close to hers.
"Now....what is it going to be?"


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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/21/2006 10:58:04
Message:

The rotten wood of the mill door splintered from its hinges to thud solidly to the dusty floor raising small gray clouds around it’s circumference. Stewart Chambers jumped to his feet sending his chair tumbling backward to the floor. His hand reached for his flintlock as the dark cloaked figure stood inside the open doorway.

Barely had the weapon cleared his body than when the black silhouette fired sending the pistol flying into the far wall a twisted ruin of wood and steel. The guttering candle light gleamed off nearly three feet of thin sliver extending from it’s right side. It was as if the devil himself had burst in out of the raging storm outside.

“Lay another hand on me prize, Culpepper, and I’ll cut it off!” The figure stepped from the shadows, blue-green eyes blazed like a cat in the night behind the holes in the dark satin hood. “I warned ye I’d return fer me prize! Now, stand and deliver, Mate!”

“Black Jack Roberts!” Stewart pulled his sword. “Ye should have stuck to robbery, Jack, kidnappin’ be my side a’ the street.”

Peter Culpepper grinned as he stood, pulling his own pistol from the belt of his coat and taking deadly aim. Cecily screamed as the hammer fell. Time for her slowed to a crawl as she watched, it seem to take forever to strike the pan. With crystal clarity she saw the sparks slowly form a small glittering bush of flame, then nothing.

Peter cursed throwing the useless pistol at the figure. The torrent outside had soaked his coat and wet the powder. Pulling his own rapier, he held it defensively in front of himself as he tactfully edged his way over to Chambers. Jack unfastened the collar and let his own rain soaked cloak fall to the floor.

“Just another flash in the pan, Sir Peter?” Jack chuckled as he unfastened Old Hob from his belt leaving it coiled in his left hand.

“You won’t think it so humorous when I cut your heart from your chest, Thief!” Culpepper shouted as he started forward in unison with Stewart..

Cecily’s right leg flew out in an arc, her instep catching Peter Culpepper just behind the knee. Thrown off balance as the limb buckled beneath him he fell forward. His hands instinctively thrust out to catch himself and his rapier flew from his grasp to land several feet away.

Jack’s left hand snapped forward, the twelve foot length of the bullwhip snaked out like a black piece of lightning cut from the storm itself. Stewart chambers howled as he lost the sight in his left eye. Momentarily stunned by the searing pain he stumbled backward slashing the air randomly in front of him.

Cecily screamed incoherently as she threw herself on Culpepper’s back. Her fists rained down a succession of blows about his head and shoulders. Peter covered his head with his arms, stunned by the fury of her attack.

The dark outlaw jumped down the small set of stairs that led to the ledge which encircled the mill to press his attack on Chambers. Stewart pulled his hand from his face. Blood and a clear serum stained his fingers and he knew he had lost the eye. “By God!! I’ll kill ye fer that!!!” He screamed throwing himself at Roberts with fury.

Cecily cursed as she felt Culpepper strain to turn over and grab her. She knew it would only be a short time before his upper body strength would gain him the advantage. In desperation she filled her small hands with his hair and pulled upward, thinking to ram the villain’s head into the granite floor. Shock filled her being as the wig came easily free in her hands, revealing the shining, gray rimmed pate of Sir Culpepper’s balding head.

Jack easily parried Chambers attack. As angry as Stewart was over the loss of his eye, his rage paled in comparison to Jack’s. Only once before had Black Jack Roberts felt rage like this course through his body. When he had nearly beaten the imposter who had threatened Cecily to death. Though he saw clearly, with unnatural definition, the entire world was colored in shades of red.

Stewart paled as the realization struck him that he fought a madman. His arm began to tire from the heavy, almost sword shattering blows the living shadow rained down upon him. It was taking all of his concentration just to defend himself from the blinding speed at which they came. He felt the ledge connect with the back of his legs as he gave way. Leaping backward and up he jumped to the low walkway still parrying thrust after thrust from Roberts.

Sir Peter took advantage of Cecily’s pause from the revealing of his vanity. Red faced with embarrassment he swung his elbow backward to strike her firmly on the jaw. Cecily tumbled over with a loud moan as he scrambled free from beneath her to claw for his sword.

From the corner of his eye Jack saw Cecily fall. Hearing the loud crack and her moan of pain he lunged with blind fury at Chamber’s middle. The fury and viciousness of the thrust penetrated Stewart’s defenses as easily as the razor sharp blade did his body. Grasping the hilt with both hands Jack lifted the stricken kidnapper from the ledge with his sword, then heaved the screaming dying man to the floor.

Just as Culpepper retrieved his blade Jack was upon him, the growl of a maddened animal the only sound to escape his lips. Peter’s eyes grew wide with terror as Jack’s blade swung for his exposed throat. Quickly he jerked backward, but not quick enough. The black clad outlaw’s blade bit deeply into his jaw, laying the flesh of Sir Peter’s cheek wide open from jaw to temple.

A shriek of pain and rage exploded from the elder man’s lips as Jack hooked the basket hilt of his opponent’s sword and flicked it from his hand. Culpepper looked up into eyes of pure ice. So cold was the expression he would have sworn he could see death its self looking out at him.

George and Geoffrey ran into the mill, guns drawn, as Jack pulled his remaining pistol. With slow deliberateness he lowered the deadly pistol until the muzzle pointed between Sir Peter’s Eyes. “Wait!! Wait!! I’ll give you anything!! Anything you desire!!” Culpepper pleaded his hands held out in front of him.

Jack noticed the corner of a parchment sticking out from the cowering nobleman’s coat, bending down he snatched it free. As he read he began to chuckle, then full blown laughter erupted from him. He turned to George and Geoffrey.

“Tell your master he now owes me two thousand gold crowns on top of what he paid me to find the girl!” He growled holding the license in the candle flame he watched it burn to ash in his gloved hand.

“We’ll let Mr. Johnson know, Sir” George spoke up parting from Geoffrey to make way for the outlaw to leave.

At the door Jack turned his head to look over his shoulder. “He knows where to deliver me money.” Then Jack vanished into the storm. The fading sound of Raven’s hooves the only mark of his passing.

A sudden crash brought the two men around fast, their pistols aimed at the near empty interior of the old mill. Peter Culpepper had taken the opportunity to crash through a window in the east wall. A second set of hoof beats fading into the storm, headed in the opposite direction. They looked at each other and shrugged before belting the pistols and seeing to Cecily.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/23/2006 12:44:38
Message:

Cecily sat up with the help of George and Geoffrey.
"Are you alright, lass?"
She moved her jaw back and forth. "Yes, I think so. All teeth seem to be accounted for. Except I bit my lip when Peter struck me and I hit the wall." She made a weak attempt to smile.
"Do you think Jack would still love me if I were toothless?"
Geoff and George each took her under the arm and got her to a standing position. Her knees started to buckle under her.
Geoffrey said, "Here, Cecily. Sit down in the chair." He gently lowered her into it.
George produced a flask of brandy. "Take some of this. But slowly."
He held the flask to her lips. As she sipped, she groaned. "Ow. That hurts. The cut, you know."
She rubbed her jaw. Geoffrey looked at it and said, "That will be a right smart bruise ye will have, lass."
She asked, "Where's Jack?" Her bravado was beginning to fail her. "I want Jack!" The tears were beginning to form in her eyes. Geoffrey and George both looked at each other and Geoffrey spoke up.
"Cecily, he found that you were gone and lit out of the tavern like a madman. If Raven were not such a sure-footed mount, it could have disastrous results."
George spoke up. "Aye, we've ne'er seen Jack in such a rage."
Cecily shook her head trying to grasp it all. "Why--why didn't he stay here and take me back?" She grasped Geoff by the arm and said, "Why did he just now run off and leave me?"

Geoffrey put his arms around her as he noted the rising tone in her voice, indicating that hysteria may not be far off and this would not be the proper time for it.
"As soon as he saw you were fine and that we were here, he knew you were in capable hands. Lass, he has a finely crafted veil of secrecy surrounding Robert Johnson and Black Jack Roberts. He was protecting himself so that he would always be there for you. The whole invasion was a planned kidnapping. Now that Jack knows how truly desperate Culpepper is, he will naught let this happen again."
George looked out the frame where the door used to be. He turned to the two of them.
"The storm is letting up and we need to be out of here. We have no idea where Culpepper has gone or when he will call the law down on us all. Cecily, can you ride?"
She nodded wordlessly.
Geoffrey said, "I noticed a fully saddled horse out there. The roan. I am guessing that belongs to Stewart Chambers."
George bent down to look at Chambers. "Looks like he won't be using it anymore. Hey, look, Geoff! His eyeball is gone! Jack really did a number on him."
Cecily grew pale and started to retch.
"Great going, George! Now she's sick!"
Cecily looked up and said weakly, "No, I am alright. I will be able to ride. It will be a cold one but we need out of here."
Geoff produced a wool cloak. "Courtesy of Molly. She made us stop and take a cloak for you."
Cecily felt a warm glow inside and knew she had a friend in Molly. "Bless her. Where shall we go? The Crossbow would be the first place they would look for me."
George shook his head. "Nay, there is something you may not know. The house looks smaller than it is. Jack, in his wisdom, has basically a house in a house. You haven't even seen it. But there are two rooms and a small kitchen in the middle of the house. Accessible only by a push on a panel behind the bar. Jack doesn't like to use it due to the inablility to get out quickly but it has saved his life more than once."
Geoff looked outside. "The rain has stopped. Shall we leave?"
George put the cloak around her. She accepted his help gratefully. Geoff held Chambers' horse as she mounted the steed.
The three of them turned their horses in the direction of the Crossbow as the night enveloped them till they were out of sight.


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 05:07:53 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/23/2006 13:36:56
Message:

Jack circled the borders of Moreland cautiously. He suspected the document he had found on Culpepper to be a forgery. Sir Peter certainly knew his share of forgers and often made use of them. He now regretted burning the thing. It would have been better to have something to show Andrew. If anyone would know the truth of the matter it would be the young lord.

Jack grinned at the irony of it. Andrew was perhaps the first highborn man he had ever taken a likening to. Years of abuse from his “betters” had hardened him into thinking of the aristocracy in short sighted terms. Between Cecily and her brother he now knew it to be a lie, at least in their case.

Using the surrounding wood for cover he made his way around to the rear of the mansion. The storm had blown itself out, and only a light drizzle of calm rain now fell from the sky. Good thing too, as it would keep his scent masked from the dogs.

He eyed the field that separated him from the house. Not near enough cover to take Raven across. It would take all of his skill at stealth to make it across unobserved. The one thing he didn’t want was anyone other than Andrew knowing that he was even at Moreland.

Cecily. He felt his face burn at the thought of Culpepper hitting her. He had longed to stay, to be the first one she saw giving comfort to her. Had any other but George, or Geoffrey been there he would never have left, Culpepper’s suspicions be damned. This, however, was something that must be done for the both of them. If the document were true they would have to leave Devonshire. Scotland would be their best bet. There Cecily could get married because she wished to, not because she had to.

Slowly he mad his way across the rain soaked field, his eyes and ears alert for the slightest sign that his presence was suspected. Lights burned in a few of the downstairs windows. With luck Andrew was still awake, and would be near to one of them.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/23/2006 15:22:02
Message:

A frenzied pounding brought the bleary eyed doctor to his door. Grumbleing he wondered who could possibly be pounding at his door this time of the night. He sighed heavily another emergency he guessed. “One moment! One moment! I’m here! No need to beat the door from it’s hinges!” Throwing open the door he stared in open mouth shock.

There stood Sir Peter Culpepper with his left cheek laid open nearly to the bone. “Sir Peter!!” He exclaimed. “Whatever happened?!! Where ye beset by bandits?!!”

“A bandit, to be precise!” Culpepper bellowed. “Send a man for the constabulary this minute!! Black Jack Roberts is in the vicinity!! I barely escaped with my life! Then sew this gash shut!! And keep it as even as you can!!”

“Black Jack Roberts??!” The doctor stood in shock.

“Who do you think gave me this, Fool?!!” Culpepper’s patience was at an end. The more time they wasted the better of a chance Roberts had of escaping. This time the law of England would be with him, and if his suspicions were true he would be rid of his rival as well.

“Right away, Sir Peter! Right away!” The perplexed Doctor ran to a boy who worked for him, sending him out to find the king’s men. He then led the bleeding Culpepper into his surgery, and proceeded to sew the gaping wound together. The night had turned far more exciting than he had at first guessed.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/24/2006 11:41:16
Message:

Andrew Morley sat in the study drinking brandy and gazing into the fireplace. Mother had returned that evening in higher than usual spirits, and he could guess why. That and she no longer asked about Cecily. Something was amiss, something he couldn’t quite put his finger to. Had Culpepper succeeded in finding her? He prayed not, now that he knew the bastard all too well. Perhaps he should pay a visit to the Crossbow tomorrow, just to be certain.

A light metallic rap on the window pane startled him from his musings. Looking up he saw the silver steel of a whip handle in a black gloved hand gently rap a second time. Andrew stood, pulling a pistol from the wall, and cautiously crossed the room. Carefully lifting the latch he swung the window open, aiming his weapon into the gloom.

“I’m glad I’m not standing where your aiming that thing, Andrew.” The low voice seemed to spill from the night its self as Jack moved into the light.

“Jack?!” Andrew whispered back. “Then my suspicions were correct. What’s happened? Where is Cecily?!”

“Not here, Lad.” Jack cut him off. “There are too many ears in a house. I’ll wait for you in the stable and tell you all there.” With that Jack vanished into the darkness.

Andrew stood for a moment watching intently, but could find no sign that the infamous rogue had ever been there, nor any clue as to the route he had left by. It was almost as if Jack had been absorbed by the very shadows. Closing the window he marveled at the skill. To think he used to think himself as skillful when he would sneak up on Cecily during their games.

Quickly and silently he left the study, grabbing a cloak from a hook in the foyer. He stopped to look about. No one was near, or watching as he turned the handle and slipped into the night himself. The excitement he had felt as a child playing at intrigue paled compared to the reality.

He made his way down the path leading to the huge stable. All was quiet as he lifted the latch and slipped through the door. A few of the horses snorted and whinnied at his intrusion. He smiled, apparently stealth was rather slow, for the horses had given no warning anyone else had entered. Lighting a lantern he sat down on a hay bale to wait.

“I was beginning to think you had been discovered, Sir Andrew.” Jack spoke, walking out of one of the stalls.

“How did you????” The young noble was stunned.

“Trade secret, My Friend.” Jack grinned pulling off his hat and hood. “It also pays to have horses like you. Now to the matter at hand.”

Jack related the story as quickly as possible to Andrew, noting the flush of anger that filled his face at Culpepper’s striking of Cecily. “Would you had killed him, Jack.” He rumbled.

“I had intended to, Andrew.” Jacks tone was low and thoughtful. “Until I noticed a piece of parchment sticking out from under his coat. I plucked it from him. It was a marriage license for him and Cecily, signed by your parents. Without thinking I burned it.”

“As well you should have, Jack.” Andrew spat. “ Father has not left the house, and he made it more than plain he would never force Cecily to marry a man she did not love. Only Mother left today, and now I know why.”

“A forgery, then.” The outlaw mused. “I suspected as much. I left two of my men to deal with Sir Peter, and care for Cecily until I could get here to learn the truth of it.”

“The truth may not matter, Jack.” The nobleman grunted bitterly. “According to English law there are three copies. One for the bride and groom, which I dare say you burned. One for the parents, and one to be filed by the magistrate.”

Roberts expression soured. “Aye, that would still give the bastard claim to Cecily.” Jack fell into deep thought before continuing. “If Hammond suspects a forgery he will have been reluctant to have filed the document yet. I think it’s about time he met with me as I am now. If he has filed it, then I’ll have to find another way to gain its possession.”

Jack replaced his hood and hat. “First I must see to Cecily, do you think you could get the copy your mother has?”

“I’m certain I could.” Andrew smiled.

“Good. Once we have all of the copies we can destroy them and free Cecily from the blackguard’s clutches.” Jack turned and strode to the stable doors. Stopping for a moment he turned back. “Thank you, Sir Andrew.” Silently as a passing shadow he slid through the opening, leaving Andrew to ponder the machinations of his mother.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/24/2006 21:20:36
Message:


Cecily, George and Geoffrey dismounted at the Crossbow. Two of the stableboys took the reins of the three horses and led them to be groomed down.
Wearily they entered the tavern to the bumps and bruises of the others. Molly was holding a cold cloth to her jaw.
Cecily and Molly took one look at each other and broke out in hysterical laughter. Because if they didn't, they would have broken out in tears.
Molly took the cloth away and looked at Cecily's matching jaw.
"I guess we are twins, Lady Moreland!"
Cecily took Molly's hands in her own and said softly, "Friends call me Cecily."
Molly gave her a hug and said, "I am so thankful to see you unharmed. As it were."
Cecily wrapped herself in the cloak and said, "And I am thankful for friends like you who had the foresight to send the cloak along. I would be frozen if not for your thoughtfulness."
Josiah rubbed the back of his head. "Aye, the table be dented as ye can see! From me noggin!"
Geoffrey went to the tavern stock and pulled out a bottle of brandy. "Think I can do with a nip of this to warm the chilled blood slowly coursing through my body."
He poured drinks for all.
George asked, "Where's young Tom Banks?"
Josiah said, "He took quite a blow to the head so he is resting in his room. I sent a man to check on him and he is alright, just sound asleep."
Cecily gripped the tankard of brandy like it was the elixir from the gods. She took a small sip and tried not to let the events rule her emotions. She missed Jack something fierce and wondered where he was.
Josiah took a deep drink and asked, "So care to enlighten us what happened?"
Geoff ran down quickly what had transpired in the mill and the fact that there was now a dead man lying there, minus one eyeball.
Cecily started to cover her mouth again and Molly hissed, "Stop it, you too! The child is not well. Here--have some of this bread. It shall settle your stomach."
Cecily took it and bit cautiously into it, afraid to upset her stomach again.
Josiah asked, "Where is Jack now?"
George shrugged and said, "I don't know. He gave us that look that let us know that Cecily was in our charge and we really can't say where he is now."
Cecily's face looked very drawn and she looked like she was ready to cave in.
George spoke up. "I think it be time that we stow young Miss Cecily in Jack's secret quarters. You never know when the King's redcoats will come."
Josiah nodded. "Molly, would you see to Cecily's wants?"
Cecily protested, "Please, I shall be fine."
Molly shook her copper curls. "No, I think for your---and Jack's sake, you should stay there. As soon as Jack comes back, we shall send you to him."
Cecily started again, "But I am such a bother."
Molly turned her around and said, "Not a bother. Josiah, would you please open it?"
Josiah jpushed a button and then pressed on the back wall. A section of it opened up and there was a short corridor. Molly took the lantern and let Cecily to another door. She opened it and lit a candle.
There before Cecily was a small bedroom with a chest of drawers, a bookcase with some books. A washstand stood in a corner against the wall. A small casement window looked out over the courtyard. In a separate room was a table and two chairs with a pantry with dry food.
Molly explained, "Jack would use this room when he needed some peace and quiet. Or when things got too hot and he needed to get out quickly without anyone knowing."
She drew back the quilt and helped Cecily out of her clothes, then handed her a nightdress. Cecily briefly wondered if there were a previous owner to it. Molly pretended not to see the puzzlement on her face and said, "You had best get some rest, my dear. As soon as Jack comes here, we shall send him in."
Cecily nodded, a worried look on her face. Molly hugged her.
"Jack has been in predicaments like this before. He shall be safe. Now, try not to fret and get some sleep."
She closed the door. Cecily changed and opened the casement window for some fresh air. Spring was certainly in the air as the night breeze drifted through. She wrapped the nightdress closer around her and looked up at the moonlit sky.
She whispered, "Please. Keep him safe and return him to me."
She went back to the bed and couldn't help herself.
She cried herself to sleep.

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 05:09:31 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/25/2006 10:35:53
Message:

The thunder of many horses brought Josiah’s aching head around as they entered the courtyard. Molly quickly shut the secret door as powerful blows rained down on the tavern door followed by a deep commanding voice. “In the name of King George, open up!!”

Josiah walked to the door and opened it. A tall man of about thirty strode into the room, pushing Josiah aside, followed by Sir Peter Culpepper and six more redcoats. Quickly surveying the damage Sergeant Major Rupert Barclay exclaimed. “Stone a crow! What in the name of heaven happened here?!”

“A band of ruffians attempted to rob us, Sergeant!” Josiah assumed the role of an outraged citizen. “We fought them off! Mr. Johnson rode out himself after the survivors! Geoffrey! George! See to the stables lads, and make sure they haven’t stolen any of the horses!”

“Not so fast, Lads!” Barclay ordered. “First there are some rather serious charges from Lord Culpepper to answer to, and no one is leaving until I get some answers.”

“Ask them where Cecily Morley is!” Culpepper interjected. “And then ask them about Black Jack Roberts and Robert Johnson!”

The Sergeant Major spared Peter a withering look. “I’ll handle this, Sir Peter.” Though his tone was soft there was no doubt he would brook little interference from the distraught nobleman. “Now would any of you lot care to answer those charges?”

Josiah spread his hands. “Why I’ve no idea where this Cecily Morley is. True she was here earlier, she as an affection for Mr. Johnson, but she left for the Hare and Hound this evening. Something about a sick child and she wished to help. I’ve already told you where Mr. Johnson be. As for Black Jack Roberts, I’ve never met the man, and hope I never will. I’ve little enough coin to spare as it is.”

Unable to contain himself Sir Peter interrupted again. “That is a damnedable lie! Robert Johnson is Black Jack Roberts!!”

Josiah began to chuckle. “Mr. Johnson??!!! Black Jack Roberts!!! Forgive me gentlemen, but if you knew the man! While Mr. Johnson is more than capable a man of commerce he hardly has the sand to be a highwayman!! Why the man can barely hold his own against a good wind, much less the things I’ve heard of Black Jack Roberts goings on!”

“Sir Peter! Will you please contain yourself?” Barclay scowled. “Never the less, we will search the premises, barkeep! If you’ve anything to hide, I suggest you tell me now.”

“By all means, Sergeant Major.” Josiah spread his hands again. “There’s naught here but a respectable Inn.”

“Corporal!” Rupert Barclay barked, his eyes never leaving Josiah’s. “Search the tavern and stables. Smartly now!”

“Aye, Sergeant Major!” The young corporal saluted. “Come on, Lads!” Three of the redcoats headed for the stairs, the rest went outside toward the stables. Rupert Barclay sat down at the center table and waited, watching.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/25/2006 11:03:31
Message:

Watching from the wood Jack Roberts cursed himself as he saw yet another small troop of redcoats ride past. He had already encountered one by accident and had given them the slip in the forest. He had left without the usual change of clothing and had no way to return to being Robert Johnson. Still he knew he must find a way back to the Crossbow and Cecily.

The Crossbow. By now he was certain the king’s men were there. He prayed that they hadn’t yet discovered her there. Josiah would do all he could to keep her safely out of sight, but he had long ago learned that even the best of plans could go awry with ridiculous ease.

Listening to the hoof beats fade into the distance he walked Raven out onto the muddy road. A bit risky he knew, but the woodland was wet and treacherous for traveling by horse, and men rarely searched in places they had already searched. Staying close to the edge of the road, in case he had to vanish again he urged the black stallion into a trot.

A muffled pounding brought Cecily Morley awake. At first she sat up unable to remember where she was, then the events of the night rushed in on her. Picking up the small candle that still burned on the table she made her way quietly down the short hall to the back of the secret door and pressed her ear to it.

She could hear few of the muffled words through the wood. She could make out Josiah’s voice, and…..Dear God! Peter Culpepper! She could plainly hear his raised voice accusing Jack! She Bit her fist to stifle a cry, listening to Josiah laugh off the accusation. Then the strange deep voice, and the word corporal! The redcoats were here!

Hearing the dull thud of foot steps above she guessed them to be searching the rooms for her. Thinking quickly Cecily blew out the candle flame and slowly felt her way back to the door. She quietly sat down on the bed, gazing with tear stained eyes at the small window she wished she could look out of.

“Please, Jack.” she whispered to herself. Where ever you are, stay there until these men leave.”



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/25/2006 20:42:50
Message:

The redcoats came back in and reported to Sergeant Major Barclay. Barclay was sitting at a table with Josiah sharing a tankard of ale. If anything, Josiah Parker knew how to win friends and influence people.
"Nothing in the stables, Sergeant. Just horses. Oh, and around the back there appears to be a pile of bodies.
Josiah sighed. "We had no chance but to defend ourselves, Sergeant. We shall notify the town by morning if any men did not come home and they can pick up the bodies. Otherwise, we have no choice but to dig a pauper's grave. Health issues, you know. And these men were trespassers."
George spoke up, "Sergeant, Geoffrey and I have stable chores to attend to. May we please go down and take care of the horses?"
Barclay waved his hand, "Yes, yes. By all means."
Josiah gave them a look and they understood the silent communication."Aye, we shall probably stay down there, Josiah. The roan mare is due to foal and we think it shall be tonight. That is, unless the King's men stopped her progress."
Josiah said, " A very good idea, men. See you in the morning."
Geoff said, "Please see that your men leave us alone, Sergeant? This is her first foal, she's a mite nervous."

Geoff and George made their way down to the stables. Geoff said, "I think we need to fix Chambers' horse so it won't be identified."
George replied, "How do you intend to do that, brother?"
Geoff laughed softly, "Annabelle left a bottle here. We just take it and put it on strategic places on the roan. A streak down the nose, a bit of spot on the legs. It will bleach the hair white and he will look like another horse altogether."
George clapped him on the back. "Oh, I DO love the spoils of war!"

Jack rode through the woods and came to the edge of the clearing behind the stables of the Crossbow. He saw eight horses tied up at the posts in front of the tavern. He thought to himself, ' this can't be good. Looks like the tavern has unexpected company.'
He looked over and saw the lanterns lit in the stables. Geoff and George were silhouetted against the light.
Jack put his fingers in his mouth and gave a signal that sounded like the hoot of an owl. But not.
Geoff looked at George and said, "Looks like Mr. Johnson has returned."
George nodded and winked at Geoff. "You know, I think I heard a wolf in the woods. Why not get that shotgun and go see to it?"

Geoff walked to the edge of the woods and whistled back, the signal that danger was about.
"Here, wolf! Ol' Geoff has a surprise for you, " he whispered.
From the cover of the trees, a throaty laugh came, "Woof-woof!"
Geoff said, "Best take care. The place is crawling with redcoats."
"Is Cecily alright?"
"Yes. A bit woozy but she is fine. She's taken rooms elsewhere."
Jack knew exactly what he meant and breathed a quick, 'Thank you!' heavenward.
He said, "How do you and George feel about a little moonlit ride?"
Geoff grinned in the dark. "Aye, and a lovely night it is for it!"





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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/25/2006 22:41:45
Message:

The redcoats opened the door to Jack's quarters on the second floor. Everything seemed to be in order. The bed was made, the place was tidied up.
The redcoat sniffed the air. "Smell that, Richard?"
Richard nodded. "Smells like a woman's perfume."
The other one headed over to the bed and picked up the pillow. He held it to his nose.
"Smells like me mum's garden."
Richard came over and smelled it too. A devilish grin crossed his face.
"Unless I be missing me guess, Robert Johnson had female company not long ago."
"Think it be the Moreland lass that we're supposed to be searching for?"
"Don't know. But what are ye going to do, bring bed linens back?"
They looked under the bed. "Oh ho, what do we have here?"
Jacob, the second redcoat, took his bayonet and picked up a lacy petticoat.
"Think ol' Culpepper will recognize it?"
They both broke out in bawdy laughter.

Richard and Jacob came downstairs with the petticoat in hand. Peter Culpepper stood up.
"Find any trace of her?"
Richard said, "Nay, but we did the scent of spring flowers. On the pillow. Jacob here said roses, I say daffodils. As if he would know his rose from a---"
Culpepper cut him off. "And what is this?"
He snatched the petticoat out from Richard's hands.
"This is Cecily's! I'd know that silk."
Molly sprang forward and grabbed it out of Culpepper's hands. "I'll be thanking you not to be touching my underpinnings, you--you pervert!"
Culpepper didn't quite know what to do. Molly had no idea where the garment was found but she had no choice but to play along.
"And where did ye be finding my---my----"
Richard tried to keep the leer off his face. "Why, Miss, we found it under a bed in a room, second from the right There was a book inscribed with the initials 'RJ' inside the cover. So we are presuming it is Mr. Robert Johnson's room."
Molly blushed. Josiah roared with laughter.
"Aye, it appears me tavern wench has been found in places better not mentioned!"
Sargeant Major Barclay asked, "Miss, do you care to explain how that came to be in a bedroom?"
Josiah folded his hands under his chin and asked jovially, "Yes, my dear, explain that one!"
Molly tossed her curls and said, "Isn't it obvious? Mr. Robert Johnson and I have had an...arrangement. And I'll thank you all not to mention it so as to not destroy my fine reputation in this village!"
As she returned to the tavern kegs and drew off some ale for herself, Josiah pinched her bum and whispered, "Well played, my dear! Well played!"
She whispered back without looking at him, "And tell Jack I expect a gold crown for the damage to me reputation, too!"



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/26/2006 11:01:52
Message:

Geoff returned to the stables keeping a careful eye on the windows of the tavern. He saw Molly snatch something from the hand of one of the redcoats, and froze. What the hell could they have found? The place had been cleaned to within an inch of it’s life. Then the bawdy laugh of Josiah came from inside and he breathed a sigh of relief.

“Well, Brother of mine, did ye beard the wolf?” George grinned as he took a long length of iron bar from the wall and placed it in a small hole at one end of the bin used to store feed.

“Aye,” Geoff grinned, “And a big black son of a buck he was. I see ye’ve anticipated what’s to come next.”

“Actually,” George huffed as he put his shoulder beneath the bar and heaved upward, “I thought we’d be a doin’ this anyway, Mate. You could lend a hand, you know. This thing is full.”

Geoff led two of the darkest horses from their stables and began to outfit them. “Then just who would be getting the horses ready?” He smirked. “Besides ye be doin’ a fine job if you ask me.”

“Father always said ye were the lazy one.” George grunted as the floor the bin was bolted to lifted to slide free. “So you get to put the bloody thing back afore we leave.”

“As ye wish, Georgie.” Geoff laughed pulling the belly strap tight against the mare. “Everything still there?”

“Aye.” George wiped the sweat from his brow, then lifted the trunk from it’s hiding place. Lifting the lid he began changing his clothing. By the time Geoffrey had saddled the second horse Black Jack Roberts stood in his place.

Geoff quickly dressed in a second costume, then removed a wrapped parcel from the chest before replacing trunk and bin, with Georges help. Stuffing the package into a saddle bag they led the horses to the last stall on the end furthest from the Crossbow. George lifted the lantern hook and the back wall swung away on hidden hinges. Closing the false wall they led the horses into the edge of the wood, careful to keep the stable between them and the Inn. There they found Jack awaiting them. George tossed the package to him.

“Well done, Lads.” He grinned pulling off his hat and hood. “Now to get ready for the arrival of Robert Johnson.”

“What’s the game to be, Jack?” George queried leaning forward in his saddle.

“Fox and hounds, lads.” Jack grinned. Fox and hounds was one of the first, and perhaps most devious games Jack had come up with to protect himself with. For nearly a five mile radius surrounding the Crossbow they had constructed small hiding spots, just large enough for a horse and rider to vanish into. Should he ever be persued heatedly enough, he would signal George and Geoffrey. One, or both, would then disguise themselves as him and they would lead the pursuers on a merry chase. As one would disappear the other would show themselves far ahead of the redcoats and draw them off toward the next hiding place, giving the last enough time to shortcut ahead. Then Jack could circle back to the tavern to take any further steps from there.

“I get first fox!” George grinned beneath his hood.

“Fair enough,” Geoffrey said. “I’ll be a waitin’ for ye at number one. How far ye want us to lead ‘em, Jack?”

“Take them out as far as Biggin’s Falls.” Jack grinned, now dressed again in his civilian clothing. “George, when you see me enter the Crossbow wait about thirty seconds, then draw them outside. Let them see you at the top of that hill, then head for the first rendezvous.”

“Will do, Jack.” George Waved as Jack mounted Raven, then trotted off into the wood to circle around to the road leading to the tavern.

“Ye take care, George.” Geoff waved to his brother as he turned to head in the opposite direction.

“Ye as well,” George put two fingers to the brim of the black cavalier hat. “them what sits in the Crossbow be not the only redcoats out tonight I’ll wager.”


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 05:15:04 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/26/2006 12:29:41
Message:

Jack tethered Raven to one of the branches of a low hanging Oak about twenty yards from the muddy road. Raven watched with interest as he then began to roll around on the ground. When he finally stood up his clothing and person were quite the mess. Raven snorted tossing his head up and down.

“So you approve, Old Friend?” Jack smiled gently stroking the stallion’s nose. “I’m afraid I’ll have to tell a lie on you and claim you threw me.”

As Jack turned to make for the road Raven lowered his head and pushed his master from behind sending Jack tumbling down the low slope leading to the road. Tossing his head a second time he gave a short series of snorts that Jack thought to be the horse equivalent of a s******ing chuckle.

“Well, that’s the last time I’ll be telling you my plans.” Jack laughed as he stood back up and brushed the excess dirt from himself. Raven pulled some grass from beneath the tree and chewed slowly ignoring him. Jack shook his head as he walked up the road. That horse was far too smart for his own good, he smiled to himself.

The brisk ten minute walk had turned into nearly twenty as the mud from the storm sucked at his boots. At last the lights of the Crossbow came into view.

“So, Sergeant, I take it you’ll be on your way then?” Josiah asked his impromptu drinking partner.

“Not quite yet.” Sergeant Barclay replied. “We have several divisions out combing the countryside for Black Jack Roberts. I think we will wait here to see if Mr. Johnson returns.”

“Damn, but he is a canny one.” Josiah thought to himself. Even with a search that turned up no more than a woman’s undergarments he was still suspicious enough to see it through. He hoped the lads were well away by now, and that they could find Jack in all of the mire out there.

“If ye wish to, Sergeant Major.” Josiah grinned, the perfect host. “Makes no mind to me, though I couldn’t say for certain when he might be returning. What with the storm and all. Molly, be a sweet and bring us another round, and some bread and cheese for the good king’s men.”

After about a half an hour of waiting, interspersed with Josiah’s bawdy humor the door of the tavern opened and a very muddy and winded Robert Johnson walked in. Peter Culpepper immediately rose to his feet shouting. “That’s him, Sergeant!! That’s Black Jack Roberts!! Arrest him immediately!!” The enlisted men stood as one and surrounded Jack on all sides their rifles held at the ready.

Jack raised his hands. “Arrest me? For being thrown from my horse and slogging through the mud to make it home? I can assure you, Sir Culpepper, I am not Black Jack Roberts.”

“None the less, Mr. Johnson,” Rupert Barclay rose from his chair. “I’ve several questions to ask of you, and I think it would be better to keep you with us until the outlaw is found.”

Just then a shot rang out sending them all rushing outside. There on the top of a hill nearly fifty yards away sat a dark cloaked figure astride a dark horse, the still smoking pistol in it’s hand.

“The lady Morley be mine at last!” The moon lit silhouette shouted. “If ye wish her returned unharmed it’ll cost ye dear, Mates!” With that the figure vanished down the other side of the hill to several shots from the redcoats.

“Hold your fire, Lads!” Barclay shouted. “He’s gone! Mount up quickly! Sir Peter you’ve been mistaken, but Black Jack Roberts won’t be escaping me this night!! Mount up, Sir Peter!”

As the group left Barclay turned to Jack. “My apologies, Sir, but have no fear, we will bring the rogue to justice yet.”

Jack watched the redcoats tear across the field in pursuit of George for a moment, then turned to Josiah. “That’s what he thinks, Mate.”

“Fox and hounds?” Josiah asked.

“Aye.” Jack grinned turning back into the tavern. “The lads will run them to Biggin’s….” His words trailed off. Having heard the shot Cecily threw caution to the wind, bolting as fast as she could in the dark for the door she now stood in the opened secret door. She ran forward into Jack’s muddy arms tears streaming down her face.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/26/2006 18:22:24
Message:

He caught her and she held him like she never would let him go. He took her face in his hands and kissed her deeply. Then he looked in her eyes and said, "I've got mud on your face, love."
She hugged him even tighter, the words would not come as tears were choking them back.
Josiah looked off and cleared his throat. "I would suggest we go back into the tavern. The air is chilled, the lady is only in a thin nightdress and the woods may have a straggler redcoat or two. For a kidnapped lass, ye are in the wrong place."
Jack put his arm around her waist and they went inside the tavern.

Molly had filled a bowl with stew and a loaf of bread with fresh butter for Jack. She filled a tankard of ale for all.
Between Cecily and Jack, they traded stories and filled each other in on what had transpired.
Josiah had to bring up the missing eyeball and Cecily covered her mouth again and turned a lovely shade of green.
Josiah noticed and said, "Beggin' yer pardon, Miss Cecily. I forgot that ye grew up kind of sheltered as to the ways of the outlaws."
She nodded and said, "Andrew and I played the sanitized version. He pretended to run me through and I would just collapse on the ground. Then he rifle my pockets and ran off with my coins before I could stop him."
She sighed. "He always was a fast runner!"
Jack took his fill and then stood up. "I think for the night that Cecily and I should stay in the safe rooms. I need my sleep and so does she. Uninterrupted. If I am in the other room, I shall sleep with one eye open and never fully get the rest I so desperately need now. But before I settle in, I need to get Raven. He's about a ten minute walk from here that stretched to twenty with the mud."
Josiah grinned, "I'll give ye a lift, lad. We can get there in less than five minutes."
Cecily looked up and grabbed his hand desperately, "Jack...?"
He kissed the top of her head and said, "I shant but be a half hour after I get Raven put into his stall."
She reluctantly nodded. "I understand."
The men put their cloaks on and Jack clapped Josiah on the back as they went out.
"You wouldn't believe what Raven did to me..." as their laughter was heard outside.

Cecily looked down on the mud-spattered nightdress. She could see that it was a bit too big for her. There was a lingering fragrance about it.
"Molly?"
Molly was busy cleaning up the table. "Yes, lass?"
"Molly, whose nightdress is this?"
Molly dropped a tankard.
"Why would I know, Cecily?"
Cecily shrugged. "I just wondered. Maybe Jack just keeps spare ones around in case a guest needs one."
Molly focused on her work. "Aye, miss, A good innkeeper no doubt would be accomodating his guests."
Cecily sat there with her chin cupped in her hand.
"It does seem strange, though..."


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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/26/2006 20:00:21
Message:

Jack climbed behind Josiah on his horse. Jack gave directions to where Raven was. Raven was having a grand old time chewing grass and pawing at the ground.
Jack jumped down and patted Raven, the horse tossing his head as if to say, 'What took so long?'
Feeding Raven a carrot, Jack then mounted his stallion.
Josiah said, "Let's go. The woods make me uncomfortable."
Jack turned Raven in the direction of the Crossbow and said, "What a night!"

Jack had put Raven into his stall and he and Josiah trudged up to the tavern. Cecily broke out in a smile when she saw her man.
He gently rubbed her shoulders. "I think it is time, Cecily, that we retire to our room."
Molly looked at him and said, "Jack Roberts, ye will be taking a hot bath if I have to strip you down and dunk you into the water myself!'
Jack laughed bawdily. "Aye, Miss Molly! I think Cecily will have something to say about that, though."
Cecily was not used to humour of this sort but she just gave them a shy smile.
Molly said, "If you will be so kind as to get the brass tub by your fireplace, Josiah and I shall bring in the hot water."
Jack extended his hand to Cecily and helped her up. Reaching behind the tavern bar top, he pressed a button and opened the back wall. Taking a candle, he led Cecily down the corridor.
Once in their room, he laid a fire and put the tub in front of it. Molly and Josiah filled it with hot water and Molly gave Cecily the towels.
"Put them in front of the fire, they shall be nice and warm. Nothing like it in the world, lass!"
They bid Cecily and Jack goodnight and closed the door.

Jack stripped off his clothes. He held up his shirt and said, "Well, this one is ruined! It must have ripped when Raven decided to roll me down the hill!"
Cecily marvelled at the tautness of his muscles. Jack eased himself into the water with an audible, "AAAAHHHH!"
Cecily took a washcloth and began to wash his back. He closed his eyes and leaned forward.
"I didn't realize how tense my muscles were until this water loosened them up. I'm getting some mileage on this body, love."
She walked to the front of the tub and dropped the nightdress. She whispered, "I think this tub will fit two....."




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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/26/2006 21:04:16
Message:

"The water is starting to lose its heat, Jack," Cecily said. "I'm getting goosebumps."
"Sure it is from the water, my love?" he teased.
She splashed him with water and laughed. "I'm getting out. It's getting cold."
She rose and took a towel from the chair next to the fire. Wrapping herself in it, she sat cross-legged on the floor in front of the fire. She poured some of the brandy into a snifter that Molly had given her. Offering it to him, he took it.
"This is perfect! Brandy, a hot bath, and the woman I love."
He reached over to his coat and lit a cigar. She poured a bit more hot water into the tub for him.
He caught her face in the firelight. He reached over and turned her face towards him.
Softly he said, "For that bruise on your face, I would gladly run him through. Slowly."
She touched his hand and said, "As long as I have you with me, I can endure anything."

She handed him the towel and he wrapped himself in it. They sat quietly by the fireplace, wrapped in their towels and talking of their future plans.
Jack said, "I know that there are two other copies of the marriage license, Cecily. We need to get them or make sure they are never filed. Andrew is supposed to...."
"Andrew? You saw Andrew?"
"Aye, that I did. I stopped by Moreland and we met by the stables."
Cecily's eyes began to fill with tears. "I miss Andrew. He was always there for me, Jack. How is he?"
"Ticked off at your mother. He's going to get the license come hell or high water from your mother. The only problem will be if Magistrate Hammond has filed the papers. I'll have a little chat with him tomorrow."
Cecily pulled back and looked him seriously in the eyes.
"Jack? Will you marry me?"
He looked at her and said, "It is supposed to be the other way around, Miss Morley."
He went down on his knee and took her hand in his.
"Miss Morley, you are a thief. You have stolen my heart and the only way I can reclaim it is to join with you in this venture called--dare I say it?--holy matrimony. So...will you consent to be my wife till death do us part?"
She looked at him with love in her eyes and said softly, "Aye. I shall be your wife, Jack Roberts. As long as we both shall live!"


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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/26/2006 21:56:38
Message:

Cecily laid contentedly in Jack's arms in the bed. She looked up at him.
"Jack?"
"Hmmm?" He kissed her forehead.
She fingered the coverlet on the bed and didn't look him in the eyes.
"May I ask who the owner of the nightdress I wore belongs to?"
There was silence as Jack tried to formulate an answer.
"Cecily, my dear, a gentleman does not speak of such things to another lady. Especially to one he has just proposed to."
There was silence in the room. She said quietly, "Did you love her?"
Jack held her closely. He caressed her hair and said, "I told you once before that I had needs. And surely it is no surprise to you to find that women have the same needs too. The women I spent time with always knew that I was a confirmed bachelor and that a night was all they could expect from me. Most were willing to settle for that."
"Most?"
"There was the occasional tempermental one."
She looked at the garment tossed on the floor.
"This one has a fragrance that is distinct. It seems familiar. But not."
Jack frowned. "It is of no importance, my love. I daresay I can't even remember her name. This was just something left behind. May we consider the subject dropped?"
"Yes. All this was before me and I shouldn't let it bother me."
Jack blew the candle out and held her close. "And now, my dearest, I think we need some sleep."

He laid in the dark. The nightgown. How did that get left behind?
His last thoughts before he drifted off to sleep with Cecily in his arms was that he hoped she never found out who the nightdress really belonged to.


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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/27/2006 11:14:06
Message:

Jack awoke with the first light of dawn coming through the single small window of the hidden rooms. He knew if there were a chance to retrieve the license from Hammond he would have to move swiftly. Lovingly he watched Cecily sleep for a few moments. The thought of leaving her again so soon brought a hard knot to his throat, but there was nothing he could do. As long as that license existed there would be a way for them to take her from him.

Using his skill at stealth he once again slipped from the bed with out disturbing her slumber and walked naked to a picture hanging on the wall. Gently pushing it aside he put his eye to the peephole. Excellent, the tavern was still empty. None would see him leave their hideaway.

Taking some parchment from a desk he sat down at the small table and wrote.

“My Dearest,

Forgive me for leaving you so soon, but I fear I must, for both our sakes.

As long as the license exists there is a chance that you could be forced from my side, and that is something I cannot permit. I go to retrieve the document from Hammond, and pray Andrew was as successful at retrieving the one your mother has.

As soon as I have destroyed the remaining copies I will return and make this all up to you. Then we shall travel to Scotland to be wed.

Please remain here for your safety’s sake. Molly, or Josiah will keep watch until my return. If you have need of anything gently knock thrice on the west wall which connects to the kitchen and they will aid you as quickly as possible.

With all the love of my heart,
Jack”

He folded the parchment wrote her name on the outside, then leaned the letter against the candle where she could see it. After slipping on his breeches he padded over to the bed to gaze once more on her and overcome gently kissed her forehead. Then padded silently down the short hall and unlatched the secret door.

Josiah looked up in surprise. “Damnation, Jack, ye couldn’t have slept more than a couple of hours!”

“Aye, Old Friend.” Jack yawned, stretching. “I fear the old proverb of no rest for the wicked be catching up with me.”

“Humph!” The elder man huffed. “And I know of more than a few who would debate ye about yer wickedness. Molly has started breakfast, if ye be interested.”

“Nay, just a tankard of ale and some bread and cheese.” Jack scowled. “I’m afraid Black Jack Roberts deeds are unfinished.”

Josiah face reddened in outrage. “Lad ye’ve finally gone daft!! The lads returned just before first light, and even though that lot what was here be chasing yer shadow all the way to Bath, there be plenty more redcoats out there just waitin’ fer ye to show yer face!”

Jack looked thoughtful for a few moments. “Aye that’s true, but it’s something I have to do, Josiah. Last night I saw a marriage license for Cecily and Culpepper. I burnt the thing, but there are two other copies out there. One I have a lead for the other, with luck, is still in the possession of Magistrate Hammond. For the now.”

“So your just going to waltz out that door and go tearin’ across the countryside as Black Jack for a couple of pieces of parchment?!!” Josiah was incredulous. “Lad, they’ll most likely shoot ye on sight!”

“It’s a risk I’ll have to take, Mate.” Jack grinned for a moment, then turned serious. “I proposed to her last night, Josiah, and she accepted. As long as those papers exist any marriage between us can be annulled and she can be taken from me. That is something I cannot allow.”

“She’ll be taken from ye if ye wind up shot, or worse yet, hangin’ from the king’s gallows!” Josiah reasoned.

“To be honest, Josiah,” Jack’s look was one of determination, “I would far rather be dead than to be separated from her. I’m off to dress now. Enough time has been wasted.” Jack spun around and mounted the steps to his usual rooms, leaving Josiah to shake his head in bewilderment.

Within a few moments Jack returned fully outfitted in his highwayman’s garb carrying his hat and hood in his hand. Taking a few bites of cheese and bread Molly had laid out he downed the tankard, then strode for the door, looking about, to make sure he was unobserved, he dashed across the small courtyard and vanished into the stable. A few moments later Molly and Josiah saw him, astride Raven, disappear into the forest behind.

“Damn!” Josiah swore. “I pray we’ve not just seen a dead man ride off, Love.”

Molly slipped one arm around Josiah’s waist. “Aye. The only question I have is which one of us is goin’ to be telling’ Lady Morley?”

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 05:16:23 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/27/2006 18:59:34
Message:

Jack raced as fast as he dared towards Cornwall, keeping to the woodland trails which had served him so well many times before. Though never a dry island at least the worst of the wetness from last night’s storm had abated, making Raven’s footing far less treacherous.

Unless he had missed his guess Hammond would have to take the papers to London and register them at the General Register’s Office for the document to be legal in the eyes of the king’s law. He doubted Hammond had taken them last night with the redcoats searching high and low for Jack. Hammond would not risk his skin that easily for anyone, no matter what the price. No, he would wait for the light of day when he thought it safe.

Hammond usually made the trip once a month, or less depending on the amount of births, deaths, or marriages he had to record. Sometimes less, but Jack was fairly certain he would have been either bribed, or threatened into this trip.

Sitting on Raven’s back he pulled a spyglass from the saddlebag and aimed it for the front of the magistrate’s office. He smiled when he saw the fat magistrate’s coach pull up to the front of the office and the overdressed official climb into the back with a satchel. Soon the smile faded when two redcoats on horseback joined the procession. This was not going to be easy, Hammond had gained protection for the journey.

He still had the advantage of being ahead of them, but he would now need a well thought plan to separate Hammond from the documents he carried. As the carriage and guards pulled away from the office, headed for the main road from town he wheeled Raven around. Making for the first stretch of nearly deserted woodland they would have to pass through. They would be more alert to attack there, but the stakes were too high for Jack to let them pass much further.

Two armed soldiers against him, three if you counted the driver. He had faced such odds before, and prevailed, but this time it was he who had something to lose instead of his victim. The irony of the situation was not wasted on him. Perhaps one of his old tricks would gain him an advantage. He hoped the redcoats were more fond of their lives than protecting the rich official. If he could help it he did not want to kill either of them.

Perhaps he could avoid that with a trick he had used once to separate three of the king’s guards from a tax shipment they had been bringing from Nottingham. It was worth a try, provided he had enough time to set it up before they arrived at the ambush spot. He quickly checked the saddlebags. Yes, there was just enough with him to do the deed. With luck the hated document would be ashes before noon, and Hammond would be out of the picture for quite a while.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/27/2006 22:36:47
Message:

Lady Alice came down to breakfast smiling. Andrew sat there eating his bacon and eggs and he scowled at her cheerfulness.
"Good morning, dear, " as she kissed him on the cheek.
He frowned, "What are you in such a good mood for, Mother?"
She practically sang, "Your sister is at Sir Peter Culpepper's under his care and watch."
Andrew spewed his coffee as he knew that Jack's friends had spirited her away.
"ANDREW! Did your coffee go down the wrong way?"
She patted him on the back. Andrew just muttered, "No, I just found something hard to swallow."
Alice sat down and Maud served her tea."I have a wedding to plan. Your sister will be married in less than a week. We are planning on May 1st."
Andrew threw his napkin down in disgust. "How can you do that?"
"Do what, dear?"
"Sell Cecily away like that. She's underage. How did you get Father to sign the license? He has been home since Magistrate Hammond had stood you up."
"Andrew? Why don't you pay more attention to your own life instead of your sister's. She will have everything a woman can want."
"Except the man she loves."
Lady Alice retorted, "She doesn't know what love is. She's only seventeen."
Andrew stood up and threw his napkin down. "Exactly my point. She's only seventeen."
He stormed out of the room.

Sir Wallace came in. "I passed Andrew and not even a good morning. What is the problem?"
Lady Alice just waved her hand airily, "He's just upset because of Cecily's upcoming wedding."
"But--but she ran off with that Robert Johnson."
Lady Alice took a bite of her eggs. "No, she came to her senses and she is safely staying at Sir Peter's till the wedding."
"Alice, I am not so sure that will be a good match."
Lady Alice said crossly, "Wallace, who knows better, the child or the mother?"
Sir Wallace knew better than to cross his wife so he just poured his tea and kept silent, having problems of his own.

Andrew sneaked into his mother's room. Now where does she keep her papers? He rummaged around in the desk drawers. Each drawer yielded nothing of note. Except one. The bottom one was locked. He took out his penknife and picked around at the lock. Finally it opened up. Shifing papers around, he found what he was looking for. A piece of parchment that may as well have been a condemnation to death for his dear sister.
The marriage license of Sir Peter Thomas Culpepper and Lady Cecily Elizabeth Morley.
Andrew grimaced. Might as well be a bill of sale. One slave. Sold to one monster.

He put the parchment in his shirt and quickly closed the desk drawer. As he ran down the stairs, his mother was finishing up her breakfast.
Andrew grabbed his cloak. She called, "Andrew? Where are you going?"
"Out."
"Out where?"
"If you must know, James Winslow's mare just foaled and I am going over to see the colt."
He dashed out of the mansion before his mother could question him any further. I can hand-deliver this to Jack Roberts and see my sister at the same time, he thought. For all their squabbling play when they were children, he and Cecily were as close as two siblings could be. He knew Cecily worshiped him and he adored his baby sister. And if she finds love with an outlaw, more power to her! Andrew laughed to himself as he wondered if Blackjack Roberts had a sister.
He saddled up his horse and headed out in the direction of Devonshire and the Crossbow Inn.


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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/28/2006 17:07:30
Message:

Hammond’s carriage rolled at a leisurely pace along the semi dry road. The rain had dried to the point that though still moist it was no longer a quagmire of mud. Hammond was grateful that at least he would not have to put up with the dust that usually wafted through the coach windows. Abominable stuff, fouling one’s clothing and causing sneezing fits.

The carriage suddenly lurched to a quick stop nearly tumbling him into the opposite seat. He heard the horse whinny in protest, then felt the chill of dread sweep his body as he heard one of his escort shout the name he dreaded to hear. “Black Jack Roberts!!” He kept his head down as he heard shots ring out, followed by the thunder of hooves rushing past the carriage.

Cautiously he lifted his head to peek out of the window, raising no higher than the bridge of his nose, just in time to see the redcoats vanish into the wood. Leaning back into his seat the portly magistrate fanned himself with a handkerchief until his heart rate returned to normal. Sticking his head out the window he berated his driver.

“What in God’s name are you waiting for??!! Get me out of here this instant!!!” He shouted trying to keep the quiver out of his voice.

“But, Sir, should we not wait for the guard to return?” The young man asked.

“Fool!!” Shouted Hammond. “That was Black Jack!! The guard can catch up with us later, provided they catch him!! I’ll not wait here like a pheasant waiting for the fox!! Drive!!”

“Yes, Sir!!” the driver cracked his whip and the carriage jolted to a start picking up speed as Hammond sat back with a sigh of relief.

Jack Roberts spurred forward into the wood with little doubt his cloak may have a few holes in it. It had been a risky venture to be sure, but he had planed on causing the king’s men to waste their shots before following him. He held Raven back from the horse’s full speed keeping his pursuers about a dozen yards behind him, weaving between the trees incase one of them might remember they also carried pistols. An explosion behind him and a small branch splintering ahead told him that they had indeed remembered.

Jack allowed himself a backward glance to see the other redcoat taking careful aim with his flintlock. Nudging raven’s flanks with his heels he urged a bit more speed from the faithful mount. Rounding a fairly large Maple he reached out his hand grabbing the rope he had left there. Leaves flew up as the braided hemp flew from it’s cover across the trail to catch the redcoats across the chest, jerking them both backwards from their saddles. The final shot fired harmlessly into the tree tops.

Releasing the rope, jack rode around the tree. The ebony stallion dug into the forest floor at full gallop, as the men lay gasping for air. Coming to their senses the two grounded soldiers looked up to find Black Jack Roberts pointing both his pistols at them.

“Good morning, Lads.” The dark outlaw chuckled. “Now listen very carefully to what I have to say and you’ll most likely be dining with your families this night, instead of being measured for coffins.”

For once the jostling of the speeding carriage did not bother Magistrate Hammond. If he could make the safety of the Crossbow all would be well, even Jack Roberts would not be fool enough to follow him to a public place. Just as he began to breath easier he felt the carriage lurch heavily to one side. The horse complained bitterly as it tugged hard against the traces, yet the carriage did not move. The driver jumped down to examine the trouble and Hammond began to sweat profusely.

“What is it now, Nicholas?!!” He shouted out the window, not daring to poke his head outside.

“We’ve stuck in a rather deep mud rut, Sir.” Nicholas shook his head. “All covered with leaves it was. I’ll find a branch and lever us back out, Sir.”

“See that you do! And be quick about it!” Hammond clutched the satchel in front of himself like a shield, listening as his driver made his way into the woods. Long moments crawled by making him more and more uneasy. After what seemed an eternity he heard the man return.

“It’s about time, you lazy oaf!!” He growled. “Get us out of here, before I dock you a days wages!” Hammond’s eyes grew wide as a black gloved hand gripped the window, flinging the door wide and he found himself looking down the barrel of Jack Roberts pistol.

“Now why would you do that to a poor working lad what’s taking a well deserved nap?” The hooded robber asked.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/28/2006 17:54:06
Message:

Andrew pulled the reins back on his horse as he came into the Crossbow's courtyard. A stableboy came out and asked, "Help ye, Sir?"
He looked at Andrew's fine horse and the expensive wool used in Andrew's cloak and his high-polished leather boots. Andrew swept his Cavalier hat off and gave the boy a few shillings.
"Aye. Stable the horse, please, I may be a while."

Andrew entered the tavern and sat at a table. Molly looked him over appreciatively. Handsome young man, she thought. Looks kind of familiar.
She gave him her best smile and asked, "What can I get you, traveler? Ale? Stout? Something stronger? Or are you wanting food?"
Andrew smiled in return. " A tankard of ale, if you don't mind, Miss....?"
"Molly. One tankard coming up."
She walked back and filled a tankard from the tap. Laying it on the table, she leaned forward a little more than necessary.
"Anything else, Sir?"
Andrew withdrew his money for the ale and then slid a gold coin towards her. "And information, please."
Molly's eyes grew flinty. "And what makes you think I have any information? I am but a mere tavern wench."
Andrew laughed and said, "I think you have the information I want. I am seeking a young lass that is here. Her name is Cecily Morley and she is...."
Before he knew it, he was yanked out of his chair and thrown against the wall by George and a flintlock was pointed at him by Geoff.
"Best ye be getting out while the going is good, lad. No one here by that name and never heard of her."
"But you don't understand, she is...."
George had picked him up by his collar and the waistband and hurled Andrew out the door.
He picked himself up off the bricks in the courtyard, quite confused.
Geoff threatened, "We don't harbor runaways and if ye know what is good for ye, begone!"

Just then, a voice from the door was heard.
"Andrew? ANDREW!!"
Before Geoff or George could stop her, Cecily ran down the stairs and flung herself into Andrew's arms.

Geoff and George looked on in stunned belief. She KNOWS the man they just threw out?
Molly bustled forth.
"Cecily! Cecily, you were NOT to leave that room! What if Jack finds out?"
Cecily turned to Molly and said, "I checked. Jack showed me how before he left. I am sorry, George and Geoff. But this is my brother Andrew."
Andrew dusted himself off and grinned as George and Geoff grew red.
"Quite allright, lads," Andrew said. "I must admit it is the first time I have been thrown out of a tavern!'
Cecily hugged him again and Josiah said, "Best to get inside, young miss. After all, ye are kidnapped by Blackjack Roberts!"

Once inside, Cecily was able to persuade Josiah to let her stay out in the tavern for a bit. He reluctantly agreed since there were no customers at this time of day.
Molly's face blushed as she recalled the way she spoke to Andrew. But he just shrugged it off.
"You were just protecting my sister and for that I am grateful."

Andrew was introduced all around. Cecily could tell that, try as Andrew did, he was once again that ten-year-old boy wishing he was a highwayman. Andrew seemed to be slightly in awe of the others.
As they sat around the table with ale and Molly's soup, Andrew said, "Oh! The reason I am here...."
He pulled out the parchment marriage license.
A hearty huzzah went up and Cecily hugged his neck.
Andrew grinned and said, "I do think Jack Roberts should have the privilege of burning this himself!"

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 05:18:44 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/29/2006 09:56:23
Message:

Jack reached inside and pulled the frightened official from the coach. “Now, Mate, if ye will be so kind as to hand over yer purse and that bag, I’ll be on me way.”

“My purse, g-g-gladly, but, these are just documents to be registered. They, they are of n-n-no value.” Hammond struggled to get out the words, his eyes never leaving the barrel of Jack’s flintlock.

Jack threw his head back laughing loudly. “Maybe not to you, Magistrate, but to certain others they have value indeed, and I’ve been well paid to retrieve one of them in particular.” Shakily Hammond placed his heavy purse into Jack’s outstretched glove, then tentatively held out the satchel.

“Nay, Official. I wants the marriage license of Sir Peter and Lady Morley.” Roberts growled, wondering just how far he dared push the act with Hammond before the man’s senses might leave him. The magistrate placed the leather bag on the ground. Snapping it open he began to rifle through the papers with hurried effort, stopping when he felt the cold muzzle of the pistol touch his temple.

“Should yer hand come out of there with anything other than parchment, Mate…..” Jack whispered evilly. Hammond blanched and shaking withdrew a rolled scroll with a number written on the outside.

Jack pulled the ribbon from the document and smiled in relief beneath his hood before stuffing the license into his shirt. “Very good. My thanks, Sir.” He mockingly rumbled. “Now I’ve but one more piece of business with ye.”

“I’ve done as you asked!” Hammond’s voice rose in pitch. “Please! I’m not but a poor official just doing my job!!”

“Cease with yer whining!” Jack threatened. “Ye make me gut turn! Are ye carrying any delinquent tax deeds in there?” The terrified magistrate shook his head so violently his powdered wig now sat crookedly on his head.

“Excellent!” Jack allowed his tone to soften slightly. “I’ve a bit of advice for ye, Magistrate. Ye need a holiday. Go to London and file yer papers, then take one! As far from here as ye can get! I would suggest Ireland as I here it be particularly lovely this time a the year.”

“I-I-I will, Sir! I will!” Hammond stammered. “F-f-f-f-for how long?”

“A couple of weeks will be good.” Jack grinned belting his pistol and swung up into Raven’s saddle. “If I see yer face within twenty miles of here before then the next death certificate filed in London will be yours! Do we have an understanding?!!”

Magistrate Hammond nodded quickly.

“Well done! Yer driver should be waking up any second now. If not he sleeps not ten yards over there under yon Ash tree. I suggest ye fetch him and make haste to do yer duties, but remember, I will be watching!” Jack wheeled the ebony stallion about and galloped off into the forest toward Plymouth as magistrate Hammond leaned against the outside of his carriage, breathing heavily, and mopping his sweat soaked brow.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/30/2006 09:57:10
Message:

Once out of sight Jack circled to the north, and home. With two of the three documents now in his possession he needed a way to claim the third. Perhaps it was time to make up some pretense to call on Morley Mansion again as Robert Johnson? At least he may get to speak with Andrew before Lady Alice had him thrown off the grounds again.

Within a half an hour he was back in the stable. Pulling Johnson’s clothing from the saddlebag he re-dressed, put Raven into his stall beside Aphrodite, and loaded both feed stalls with grain.

“There you are, Old Friend.” He stroked the mighty horse’s muzzle. “Rest easy, ye more than earned it this day.”

Opening the tavern door he stood frozen in shock. There sat Cecily at the table with the others, and a young man who had his back to the door. “My Love, Why are you out in….” Jack’s voice trailed off as Andrew turned around grinning. They all burst into laughter as his mouth dropped open, speechless.

“Hello, Jack!” Andrew smiled. “I believe I have something of yours here.” Proudly he held up the license between his first two fingers as he stood.

“Andrew!” Jack rushed across the floor grasping the young lord in a bear hug before holding him out at arm’s length by the shoulders. “God’s teeth! You’ve done it! And here I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out a way to come to Moreland!”

“Saved you the trouble of getting kicked off the grounds again, you mean.” Andrew grinned, handing the parchment to Jack. “Besides, I wanted to see my sister again.”

“Aye, I can’t fault you there.” Roberts smiled taking Cecily into his arms. She promptly punched him in the chest playfully.

“And you, Mr. Roberts!” She scowled. “Running off in broad daylight and leaving me here alone while you risk getting captured, or worse! I’ll deal with you later! Don’t you dare grin at me like that!”

Jack held his hands in front of him, smiling anyway. “Peace, My Darling, peace. Were it not for having to acquire these, I would never have risked it. Will this return me to your good graces?” He asked reaching into a coat pocket and kneeling.

Jack opened the small box in his hand. Inside was a gold band with a pear shaped diamond flanked by two blue sapphires. “As I asked last night, before the interruption, I ask again. Cecily Morley, will you consent to be my wife?”

Cecily’s eyes welled to overflowing with joy. “Yes, and again yes, My Love!” As soon as Jack slipped the ring onto her finger she threw her arms around his neck, kissing him repeatedly.

Andrew turned his head and hastily wiped at one eye. George, Geoffrey, and Josiah smiled clapping Jack on the back. Molly let the tears flow unashamedly.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/30/2006 11:50:41
Message:

The sound of a carriage coming up the lane sent Josiah running to the window to peek out. “Looks like we are about to be graced with the good magistrate’s presence, Jack.” He said nonchalantly. “It may be a good idea if the young lass were upstairs when he arrives.”

With a last kiss Cecily whispered into Jack’s ear. “I’m still not done with you, Black Jack Roberts.”

“I’m counting on that, Dearest.” He smiled warmly as she turned and bolted up the stairs.

At a motion from Jack Andrew and Geoff sat back down at the table. Molly hastily wiped her eyes on her apron running to the kitchen. Josiah and George quickly shut the door to the secret rooms, then went to the ale barrels to begin filling new tankards. No sooner had the first drops touched the bottom of the mugs when the door burst open reviling a very distraught Hammond.

Feigning concern Jack stood. “My dear Hammond, what ever is the matter? You look as if the devil himself was at your heels!” Andrew almost snickered aloud till a gentile warning glance from Geoff stopped him and he also turned to the door with a serious look.

Obviously flustered Hammond mopped his brow with his handkerchief, placing his free hand on Jack’s shoulder. “My dear Mr. Roberts! You would not believe what I have just been through!” The portly official huffed before noticing Andrew.

“Lord Morley! What ever are you doing here?” He exclaimed, momentarily forgetting his own ordeal.

Andrew presented the perfect picture of a bored young noble. “Having just met Mr. Johnson a few days ago, I thought to come to his establishment for a visit.” He explained half waving one hand in the air. “It gets ever so boring at the estate, what with seeing to the servants and all, but you were saying my good sir?”

“Yes, my good man,” Jack spoke, pulling out a chair, “please have a seat with us, and do explain. Josiah, a tankard of my best for Magistrate Hammond.”

“I thank you for your kindness, Mr. Johnson, but I fear I am be fret of funds at the moment.” Hammond fanned himself. “I was held up and robbed not an hour ago by none other than Black Jack Roberts!”

Jack gave Hammond his best look of shock. “My dear Hammond! Think nothing of it. You have more than paid for anything you wish this day with your friendship.” This time it was Geoff who turned his head to hide his mirth. “Was anyone harmed?” Jack continued earnestly.

“My driver has a nasty lump on his head, and God knows what the blackguard did to the four guards who bravely rode after him! I was lucky to escape with my life! Hammond warmed to the topic, pausing to drink deeply from the tankard Josiah sat before him.

"George, Geoff, would you take an ale and some food and see to Magistrate Hammond’s driver?” Jack asked, the perfect host.

“Right away, Mr. Johnson.” Geoff stood and soon left with George, the meal, and some bandages.

Jack turned attentively to Hammond. “You were saying, Sir?”

“Well, I was making the journey to London to properly file my papers when the carriage came to a sudden stop. I heard several shots and one of my guards shout the rogue’s name. Then all four of the lad’s raced into the wood, hot on the robber’s heels. My driver naturally panicked and we drove off at full speed.”

“Were that I was a younger man, Sir, for I would have helped in the chase and that outlaw would have been brought to the king’s justice at last!” Hammond paused to drain the tankard. Josiah picked it up to refill it as Molly brought a meal of bread, cheese, and some fruit to set in it’s place. “Thank you, My Dear.” Hammond breathed.

“It was all a ruse,” he spoke between bites, “for we had barely gone a mile when I heard several more shots and the wheel of my carriage became mired in a rut of mud the dastard had laid for us, I am certain.”

“My driver went into the wood to search for a branch to lever us free with. Just then the bandit accosted me in the coach! A ruffian of epic proportions he is! He threatened me with my life if I didn’t hand over my purse, and the Marriage license at once!” suddenly remembering the license Hammond turned to Andrew.

“Oh my, that’s right. I had completely forgotten, My Dear Boy. Would you please give my apologies to your family? The only thing else he took was the marriage license of your sister, and Sir Culpepper. Said he had been paid to take it.”

Andrew waved disinterestedly. “I am quite certain they still have their copy, Magistrate. You can file that one, if you wish.”

Hammond went dead white. “I fear not, Young Sir! I mean, I’m afraid all of this excitement has made me quite ill. As soon as I finish at London I intend to take a long holiday. Abroad I fear. Perhaps the magistrate here in Devonshire can be of assistance?” He asked hopefully.

“I don’t see why not.” Andrew yawned. “After all it’s just a formality.”

Magistrate Hammond breathed an audible sigh of relief. “Now if you good sirs will excuse me, I really must be on my way. Thank you again for you kindness, Robert. I hope to one day repay you.”

“Please forget all about it, Mr. Hammond.” Jack smiled. “Here, let me see you off.” As the two men walked outside Andrew began to chuckle, then broke into fits of uncontrolled laughter.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/30/2006 22:13:05
Message:

" 'Would you please give my apologies to your family?' " Andrew could barely get the words out without howling with laughter. "What a coward! The only thing is that he is afraid to face Mother!"
Jack came back in and said, "Yes, Ireland will be the place for him for a while. However, being an Anglican, I hope he can live off his girth. He will be hard pressed to get a decent meal if the tavern is owned by a Papist."
He went to the secret room and opened the door. Cecily sat on the bed, holding out her hand and admiring the ring.
"Darling, this is so perfect! And the size is right."
He took her in his arms and kissed her. "The magistrate has left and he is heading for Ireland. So it is safe to rejoin us."

Jack picked up the two marriage licenses. To Cecily, he asked, "Would you like to do the honours, love?"
Cecily took both copies and walked over to the fireplace. She gently laid them on the burning log. Watching the papers shrivel and curl at the edges, the fire consumed it. The last to go were the names. She sighed deeply and then turned to Jack. He put his arms around her and she leaned against him.
"Why do I just feel like a prisoner who was pardoned?"
Andrew stood beside her and gazed into the fire. Softly, he said, "I can't believe Mother did that."
To Jack, he said, "Knowing my mother, she is relentless. My advice to you is to take my sister, head for Scotland and make her your own."
Jack clapped him on the shoulder and said, "Aye. That I intend to do."

After spending another hour with Jack and Cecily and the rest of them at the Crossbow, he stood up.
"I really must take my leave. I told Mother I was checking on a foal that my friend had. I don't want to raise any suspicions when she finds that marriage license is gone."
Cecily gave her brother a hug. "I miss you already, Andrew!"
He winked at her and said, "Aye, but I turn you over to a man who I never dreamed I'd ever meet. Let alone share an ale with!"
Jack shook his hand and then gave him a brotherly hug. "And we are now family, Andrew. Ye shall be the brother I never had!"
Andrew laughed. "Stranger things have happened. But what, I don't know!"
He put his Cavalier hat back on and said his goodbyes to the tavern folk. When he got to Molly, he swept his hat off and took her in his arms. Dipping her far back, he laid a kiss on her. As he stood her upright, she swayed a bit.
Andrew laughed and winked. "Always leave them wanting a little more, I always say!"




Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 05:22:18 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/01/2006 11:50:20
Message:

Raymond tumbled backward from the force of the backhanded blow of Peter Culpepper. “How dare you reveal my plans to that brigand!!” He screamed at the cowering old man. “Just look at my doors!! They are ruined!! The price of their repair will come out of your pocket, I promise you!!”

The aged butler lay propped up on one arm, the other held defensively in front of his face. “Please, Sir Culpepper!! The man would have killed me!! I was afraid!!” He screamed.

“You can thank God, that I do not, you worthless cur!!” Culpepper shot back. “If it were not for needing you to pay for the doors, and this,” he pointed to the bandage on his face, “I most certainly would have!! Now remove your disloyal carcass from my sight before I change my mind!!”

The aged man scrambled as fast as his old bones would allow for safety. Peter turned back into the study, seething. Nearly everything had gone horribly wrong. First he is nearly killed by that currish rogue, then the marriage license is taken from him and burned before his eyes. After rousing the local redcoats, and putting up with the insufferable arrogance of the Sergeant Major, who should show up again to make a fool of him in front of them all, but Black Jack himself.

Distaining the short crystal glassed he removed a silver tankard from the mantle and filled it with brandy. Plopping down into his favorite chair he stared into the flames of the fireplace to continue his dark brooding.

Almost until dawn they had chased the blackguard over hill and dale. Every time they had nearly closed with the bastard he would vanish from sight, only to reappear a short time later many yards ahead. He had half a mind to report Barclay’s incompetence to his superiors, for all the good it would do. For almost ten years Black Jack had eluded capture by the king’s best. One more such failure would do little to ruin the man’s reputation.

Nearly halfway to Bath the outlaw had vanished completely, as if the earth itself had swallowed him whole. He thought back. Almost six years ago he had offered the robber a position on his own payroll through his own contacts within England’s underworld. The reply that came back was both curt and insulting. He had promptly belted the messenger on the jaw for daring to bring the parchment to him.

Now he carried a permanent insult form him, for he knew the long gash to the unmarked face he was so proud of would leave an ugly scar. That was something he swore Black Jack Roberts would pay for with as much interest as he could manage, damn him to Hell.

Still there was little they could do about the license. By now Hammond was well on his way to London to file it and the harlot Alice Morley had the parents copy. It had been so easy to twist her to his will, easy and at times pleasurable. Therefore regardless of what they did, the law placed young Cecily firmly in his grasp.

That thought caused him to smile grimly, a stab of pain ran through the left side of his face causing him to grimace a second later. God’s death! The shapely brat was almost more trouble than she was worth. Still he needed the Morley lands desperately to expand his smuggleing empier. His success had grown far more than his own hidden docks could handle. The added bonus of finally gaining an heir to carry on the Culpepper name to history not withstanding, and there was the pleasure he would take forcing her to his bed.

Later he would call upon Moreland to give Alice the bad news, and secure the parents copy of the license. He chuckled to himself at the thought of the shock he would soon see on the upstart Andrew’s face when he discovered that his sister was now Culpepper’s property.

After a bath and a quick nap that was. Rising from the chair he drained the tankard then set it on the table beside the nearly empty decanter. Spying one of his rather shapely maids he took the young girl by the arm.

“Come with me, Lass!” He ordered. “You may draw my bath, and then you will be given the privilege of comforting your master.”



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/02/2006 14:13:36
Message:

Andrew trotted into the stables of Moreland by early evening. He took his horse into the stables and handed the reins to Kirby, the groom.
"How's the mare?"
"Hmm? Oh! Fine, Kirby. Just fine. Everything worked out well."
He bounded up the steps of the mansion and entered into the parlor.

Lady Alice looked up from her claret. "It's about time you came home, dear."
"I had a good visit. Umm..Winslow's colt is beautiful and I stayed for dinner. A very nice visit."
Lady Alice smiled to herself. Things were going as planned. The wedding dress had been hanging in the closet and Alice had the local seamstress finish it using Cecily's old dresses. The cooks had been given their instructions and food was being baked and set aside. The bride to be was at Sir Peter's safe and sound. And the license was reposing under lock and key in her drawer.
All that was needed was for the bride to say 'I do.'

Sir Peter galloped up the lane and entered Moreland's courtyard. Without a word, he threw the reins of his stallion to the stablehand and pounded on the door. The houseservant Barnabas opened the door and tried not to look surprised at the bandage on Sir Peter's face.
"Lady Morley, if you please."
He didn't wait for the invitation to enter, he just barged in and walked into the parlor. Lady Alice gasped when she saw him.
"Wh-What happened? Y-your face!"
He snarled, "Tell me something I don't know, Alice! That bastard Roberts gave me a slash that he will pay for. I'll have him drawn and quartered, then put back together and drawn into eighths!"
"B-but...how? Is Cecily alright?"
Peter's sarcasm ruled the day. "How the hell should I know? I haven't seen her. She's been offiicially kidnapped by that cur. He hasn't given us a ransom yet so I don't know where or when or how much. That brat of yours, Alice, is coming at a very high price. I just may make her have three kids before I set her aside. I hope she can keep up."
Alice could not help but feel jealous of her own daughter sharing a bed with Peter. Much less giving him children but she put her feelings aside as she would benefit in the end.
She laid a hand on his arm. "Let me look at the wound."
She lifted the bandage and tried not to wince. Lying, she said, "It doesn't look so bad, Peter. Put an herbal salve on it and it will...."
"WILL YOU SHUT UP, YOU SILLY WOMAN? It is not the wound, it is the fact that HE gave it to me. Oh, I shall take great pleasure taking his woman from him. Again and again!"
Alice looked confused. "But--but Robert Johnson is behind this, is he not?"
Peter said darkly, "I'm still not convinced. I still think Robert Johnson is Blackjack Roberts. And you will never convince me otherwise!"

Alice handed him some brandy. "What do you intend to do?"
"Intend to do? I INTEND to pay the ransom and get her back. The hell with the wedding! Just take it to the vicar and marry her. Worry about a wedding feast later. No ceremony, there's no time to waste."
"But, Peter, I have the new dress I want to wear and there are social obligations..."
"We cannot afford to have her out of our clutches. Once she becomes my wife, no other can have her."
"But you have the marriage license. That alone is binding."
"Not anymore. That blackguard Roberts lifted it from me and burned it right before my eyes."
"Not to worry, dear. The magistrate has left for London today and is filing the papers with the registrar. And I have the parents' copy."
Peter said, "I would feel much better if I had that copy, Alice."
"You don't trust me?"
"Alice, I want that in my safe. NOW."
She sighed and said with a sly grin, "It just so happens it is in my bedroom." She took him by the hand and led him upstairs.
When they entered her room, she flung her arms around him and kissed him on the neck. He disengaged her arms and said coldly, "Show me first the license, Alice."
Alice sighed and went to the desk drawer. She opened it and reached in, handing Sir Peter the parchment.
"There!"
He took it and read it.
"Alice, this is a bill of sale for some dresses you bought back in October."
She looked again and turned to him with a stricken look.
"IT'S GONE!"


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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/04/2006 10:15:46
Message:

“Gone?!!” Echoed Culpepper. “What do you mean it’s gone??!! Look again!!!”

Alice tore through every paper in the drawer soon emptying the contents all about the floor. “It’s not here, Peter! I locked in in the drawer as soon as I returned home!” The mistress of Moreland was frantic as she watched his rage build like the legendary Mount Vesuvius.

“Bloody Hell!” Peter cursed loudly. “Who else knew you had it?!! Could Andrew have taken it to Johnson?!!”

“Peter, please control yourself! Andrew didn’t even know about the license! No one did except you and I!” Alice grew pale in the heat of Culpepper’s anger.

“Well somebody bloody well knew!!!” He raged loud enough for the entire house to know of his displeasure. “The only one I showed it to was Cecily!! Just before that damned outl….!” A look of shock replaced the rage in his features as the realization dawned on him. “Roberts!! That could be the only explanation!! While I was having my wound tended the bastard stole it!! He crept in here like the snake that he is and made of with it!! That could only mean!”

Sir Culpepper left the thought unfinished as he tore from the room, nearly unhinging the door in the process. Tearing down the stairs two at a time he barley acknowledged Andrew’s, “Why Sir Culpepper, what ever is the matter?”, with a scowl. Nearly bowling Barnabas over as he left the front doors open. Ripping the reigns of his horse from the stable boy’s hand he leapt into the saddle, galloping down the lane as fast as the animal was capable of.

Lady Alice came to the top of the stairs, pale and shaken. Andrew looked up at his mother with distaste. “What ever has gotten into him?” He asked careful to keep his feeling from showing on his face.

“It….It’s nothing, Andrew.” She breathed collecting herself. "Nothing that need to concern you. Please have Tess bring a hot toddy to my room. I don’t feel well.”

“Certainly, Mother.” Andrew turned away smiling.

Peter Culpepper raced to his own lands in record time, but instead of returning to his mansion he turned aside racing into the wood that bordered the cliff. Traveling down the narrow path that led to the caves at a reckless pace, he disregarded both his and the horse’s safety. If what he suspected were true he had precious little time to lose. Luck could still be with him, perhaps Hammond had would make it to London unmolested, but he could not take the chance.

Two of his six ships were moored to the large docks he had built there, one from his legitimate trade ships, the other a smuggler he bought under an assumed name. Workers were busy moving the pirated cargo from one to the other to be taken to London and stored in one of his warehouses. His smuggling operation was a crafty bit of work. The three nondescript ships would purchase the stolen cargos of pirates in the Caribbean and Mediterranean. Then off load the gold, silver and jewels here to be secreted into his privet holding places. The rest of the plunder would be shipped to London and other seaports on one of his trading vessels, properly taxed, then sold legitimately at an enormous profit.

His overseer walked over to him as he dismounted. “Sir Culpepper, what ever brings you here?” Darby Abrahams asked. Rarely did his employer bother to come to the cavern himself.

“I have need of the pigeons!” Peter nearly shouted causing more tan one head to turn momentarily in their direction. “I have several messages that must be sent without delay!”

“Is it trouble, Sir? Have we been discovered?!” Abrahams pondered excitedly.

“Nay, fool! This is a privet matter, and none of your concern! Just get the ship ready to sail on the next tide, and mind your business!” Culpepper stalked off to the coops kept near to the cave mouth. Darby watched his back for a moment, made an obscene gesture, then returned to the loading of the trade vessel.


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 05:28:06 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/04/2006 13:42:54
Message:

Jack was hastily packing a bag on the bed, as Josiah watched. “Make sure that about a week after we leave the rumor gets spread that I went to pay the ransom to Black Jack and haven’t been heard from since.” Jack went to the top drawer of the bureau.

“Aye,” Josiah grumbled, “I’ll tell ‘em ye when daft and flew to the moon while I be at it. I still think ye should at least take George or Geoffrey with the two a ye, just in case.”

“We’ll be fine, Nursemaid.” Jack chided gently. “As long as they are pounding the wood for Black Jack Roberts none will think anything about us riding for Scotland. By the time anyone figures it out Cecily and I shall be wed and even Culpepper won’t be able to do a thing about it.”

“Other than have ye shot in the back!” The older man retorted. “What on earth are ye rummaging around in there for?”

“For this, Old Friend!” Jack beamed proudly holding the Duchess of York’s necklace out between both hands.

Josiah let out a low whistle as the afternoon sunlight sparkled green and white between Jack’s fingers. “So that’s where that thing got to. I thought ye had converted it to coin long ago.”

Roberts laughed heartily. “No, I kept it, but until now I couldn’t have told ye why for the life of me.” He wrapped the expensive trinket in silk and placed it into a small box with the rings Geoff had brought back just a few moments before.

“Well don’t be a showin’ it at Molly.” Josiah chuckled. “Otherwise I’ll never have a chance till I get her one. And ye don’t pay that well, Jack Roberts!”

“Molly?” Jack looked slyly at his friend. “Have the two a ye?”

“Not yet!” Josiah turned bright red. “But a man can dream and try, can’t he?”

Jack laughed again, clapping Josiah on the shoulder. “I wish ye all the luck in the world, Josiah. She’s a fine lass. It’s good to know I’m not the only one bitten by the bug.”

“Aye,” Josiah grinned, “now if I can just get that blasted bug to bite her!”

Jack turned serious for a moment. “Talk to her, Man. Tell her how ye feel. I’ve a notion you’ll be pleasantly surprised. There’s something else I think ye should know though.”

“That you and her shared a bed a while back?” Josiah grinned. “Don’t look so shocked Jack. I recognized that night gown the second the young lass came out in it. It used to be Molly’s favorite.”

“Then your not upset?” Jack looked hopefully at his friend.

“I see no reason I should be.” Josiah shrugged. “That were a long time ago, and I had no interest in her then. What a lady does in her past is her affair. Just you have care yer young lass never finds out. Women can be an unpredictable lot when it comes to their men.”

“I’ve been honest with her, Josiah.” Jack frowned slightly. “She knows there have been other women before her. I’m just not sure how she would react to find out Molly was once one of them. Besides, a gentleman never speaks idly of another lady.”

“Well spoken, Lad!” Josiah grinned slapping Jack on the back in turn. “Had ye not known me heart ye’d have never told me. Now, lets get these bags down to the wagon master while there’s still light for him to travel by. That way ye can be sure they make it to Selkirkshire afore ye do.”



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/05/2006 12:29:20
Message:

The morning sun rose over the horizon with a warm breeze. In the courtyard of the Crossbow stood George and Geoffrey respectively holding the reigns of Raven and Aphrodite. The two horses provisioned and saddled for the long trip ahead. One that in many ways the twins had more than a few reservations about.

“I still say we should trail along with ‘em.” Geoff mumbled. “Ye know as well as I should anything untold occur we’d never make it in time to help.”

“And we both know sooner or later Jack would catch us.” George looked steadfastly at his brother. “The man has an uncanny knack for knowin’ when someone is following’ him.”

“Aye, but the lass!” Geoff continued. “What about her?”

“Jack said no, and that’s the end of it!” George replied. “Hush now, they’ll be out any moment!”

No sooner did the words escape George’s lips when the tavern door swung wide. Jack and Cecily dressed in riding attire, followed by Josiah and a tearful Molly walked out into the morning sunshine. Jack inhaled the fresh air, releasing it with a sigh of satisfaction that only the morning’s breeze can bestow. Turning he hugged a beaming Cecily to him.

“Well, Dearest, are you ready for our grand adventure? He smiled to the desire of his heart.

“More than ready, My love.” She turned her face upward to look at the man who held her heart as well as her body, then kissed him passionately. She did not dare to tell him of her unusual queasiness this morn for fear he would delay their trip. Perhaps it was only a result of their lovemaking the night before, but she had only herself to blame for that. After all she had been separated from his arms far too long and was determined to make up for the lost nights.

Saying their quick good byes She hugged Molly tightly, gently wiping the tears from Molly’s cheeks. “Don’t cry, Molly. This is the beginning of the happiest day I’ve had in many a year.”

“I shall miss you both greatly.” Molly sniffed, daubing her eyes with her apron corner. “Take care of him.” She whispered into the young noble woman’s ear as the embraced a second time.

“That I can promise.” Cecily whispered back, then winked as they parted. Molly smiled widely.

The ride toward Bath near the border of Somerset and The Cotswolds proved to be both pleasant and uneventful. A drastic difference from the mad dash they had made from London nearly a month before. They had stopped for a moment at a leather smith in the small village of Maple. Jack had wished to pay a bill he owed before they left.

A little after noon they entered the township of Bath. Cecily liked the quaint little town with it’s wood huts built over the healing springs which was said to have replaced the public baths the Romans had built. Edgar, the first king of all of England had been crowned there. Many of the shops sold bottled water from the springs.

Jack stopped at a small inn near the far edge of the town named Hollyhall. Paying for their rooms the registered as Mr. and Mrs. Roberts Johnson and Jack carried their saddlebags up the stairs. Once there he tossed them down onto the bed and took Cecily into his arms.

“Jack, don’t you think the floor would be a better place for the bags?” She teased, he azure eyes twinkling with mischief. “They are sure to get in the way.”

“In a moment, My Love. I’ve a present for you.” He grinned, turning to rummage through his bags. “Ah! Here it is.” Proudly he turned back to her and presented a coiled, new black bullwhip he had purchased for her in Maple.

“And just what am I to use this for, Mr. Roberts?” Cecily stood with one hand on her hip, lazily trailing it’s eight foot length along the floor and eyeing him with a suspicious gleam in her eye.

“Not for that, Sweet Cecily!” Jack held his hands in front of him laughing.

“Then for what?” She smiled lightly tossing the end at him making him dance from one side to another.

“For your protection, Luv.” He suddenly turned serious. “I know of your skill with the bow, but as the night you were kidnapped proved A bow is not always practical. Especially in cramped quarters. Had you known how to use the whip the outcome may have been far different. I intend for you to be able to use it very well.”

“Jack!” Cecily smiled with excitement, dropping the whip to the floor and flying into his arms. “Do you mean you intend to teach me how to use a whip?!”

“We’ll start this afternoon after lunch, Dearest.” Jack’s voice turned low and husky. “Among other things.” His hand gently began to unlace her bodice, as she began to unbutton his surcoat.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/05/2006 16:53:30
Message:


"Jack?"
"Hmmm....?"
"Jack, am I enough for you?"
He had started to drift off but Cecily's question brought him back.
"What do you mean, 'enough?' "
She idly stroked the coverlet but felt awkward about looking him in the eyes.
"You know...am I...well,.....am I all that you want in a woman?"
He tilted her chin towards him and asked, "What brought this on, love?"
She shrugged. How could she tell him? The nightdress brought it all home to her. Before the notion of other women was just abstract figures. Now she realized that the nightdress actually belonged to a real woman.
She looked at him seriously and asked, "How did you realize that you actually loved me? I mean, you must have had feelings for...."
She couldn't go on. Where were all these emotions coming from?
He held her close and kissed the top of her head.
"My love, it was when I laid there that night on the cot with you in the other room. It was at that point that I knew I wanted to see you in the morning. And during the day. And I wanted you to be the last thing I saw before I closed my eyes. No one ever affected me before like that."
She kissed him and whispered, "I felt the same way. I love you, Jack. And the sooner we are married, the sooner no one can ever tear us apart!"

Jack and Cecily dressed and went downstairs to get lunch. The proprieter was an apple-faced woman and bustled forth with bowls of stew and hot buttered bread.
"Ye be going somewhere, young foks?"
Jack replied quickly, "We were visiting our kin in Plymouth but now we are heading to our home in York. It was a nice visit and a wedding trip for my bride here. Her sister had a new young one and we wanted the wee one to meet Uncle Robert and Aunt Bess."
Cecily tried to stifle a giggle.
The woman smiled broadly and said, "In honor of the wee bairn and yer nuptials, then cobbler be on the house.
Cecily looked at her food and just stirred it around.
"Something the matter with the food, love?" Jack asked her.
"No, not really hungry, I guess. Do we have time for you to teach me how to use the whip?"
Jack grinned. "Eager, are we?"
She nodded. "Yes! I think it shall be great fun!"
Jack pulled the chair out for her.
"By the time I get done with ye, love, ye will be able to crack a cigar out of the mouth of any rogue foolish enough to get within ten feet of ye!"
She laughed and stood up.
"Is there no end to all you can teach me, Mr. Roberts?"
He chuckled. "Apparently not, my darling. And aren't the lessons fun?"



Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 06:09:51 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/05/2006 19:43:13
Message:

Jack’s heart had nearly came to a stop with Cecily’s question and for the thousandth time he cursed himself roundly for forgetting about the gown. He had rarely used the room as it had only been intended for long usage and was not as secure as he would have liked. In fact he hated it, but it was necessary when Blackjack was about in the area and Robert Johnson was widely known to be elsewhere. In the whole time of it’s existence he had used it but six times. It was one of those times when Molly had surprised him by entering.

Blackjack Roberts had just held up the Duke of Westchester’s tax collector as the man was taking the monies to the Duke’s summer estate in Cornwall. Jack had widely let it slip that Robert Johnson would be off in London seeing about some goods he had an interest in and would not be back for a week. Once the deed had been done he had slipped into the rooms that very night, gold and all, to wait out the remaining four days till Johnson’s return.

After shuttering the single window he had settled into bed reading one of the many books he kept there to while away the dreary hours. The inner door had slowly opened and he had found himself reaching for one of his pistols when Molly entered, her favorite nightgown draped over one arm.

Draping the gown over the back of the chair she had walked over to him, untying the laces of her bodice. “I was hoping you would want some company, Jack.” she whispered huskily.

He raised a hand and she stopped puzzled and scowling slightly. “Molly.” He spoke seriously. “Ye be as fine a lass as ever I have laid eyes on, but before ye do something ye may regret I must be honest with ye. This will never go further than a bedding. My heart can never be yours. Sometimes I think none will ever lay claim to it.”

Molly smiled. “I know that, Jack, but a woman has needs the same as a man. I only wish to share these few nights with you and I’ll make no demands on you when they are over.” She had proven true to her word, but they had forgotten the gown.

Now that carelessness had caused Cecily pain and in doing so caused him even more. She had done that which he had thought impossible. Cecily Morley had won his heart with incredible ease. The very thought of him being responsible for any hurt within her was abhorrent to him. Just the tears within her eyes when he had foolishly doubted her with the bow had rent his heart nearly asunder, and now this. What ever the cost he would find a way to put her heart to rest.

Riding out into the surrounding country Jack found a suitable apple tree. The secret of using a whip as a weapon depended on accuracy and this was as suitable a practice as any to start with. Dismounting he first showed her how to grip the handle properly and make the weapon crack. Her eyes lit up like a small child at Christmas when she made the loud snap on the second try.

“Well done, My Love!” He beamed proudly, clapping. The girl was a natural. “Now watch. The secret of defending your self with the whip is all in aiming it.” Jack uncoiled Old Hob from his belt and pointed with his free hand to a low hanging apple. “Aim for the stem, not the fruit.” His arm shot forward and the black leather snaked out unerringly to it’s target. Crack!! The apple thudded to the ground. Crack!! A second fell. Jack picked them up and fed them to the horses.

“Now you try, Dearest.” He smiled. “Take your time, and try to think of the whip as a part of your arm, to touch where you will it to touch.”

Cecily picked out an apple. Her smooth brow slightly frowning with concentration, the tip of her tongue protruding from the corner of her mouth. Her arm shot backward, then forward in a blur of motion. Crack!! Leaves no more that three inches above her target exploded from the tree twirling to the ground. Again she concentrated and again she missed by mere inches, then she had an idea.

Her arm shot out a third time and the apple fell from the tree cleanly. Cecily jumped up and down happily. “I did it!! Jack!! I did it!!” She ran into his arms.

“Aye, My dearest,” He tenderly stroked her hair, proud of her achievement.

“Oh, Jack it was easy!! All I had to do was think of aiming for Peter Culpepper’s arse!!”



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/06/2006 21:33:18
Message:

Cecily gathered the apples and put them in her saddlebag.
"I think I shall give them to Mrs. Ramsay for more of that cobbler. That was wonderful!"
They settled down under the apple tree, letting the late afternoon breeze drift over them. They had told Mrs. Ramsay they were going to see the Roman ruins. It would be hard to explain how such a proper young lady such as Cecily wanted to whack the apples off a tree. With a whip, no less.
Jack cut off slices of apples and popped them into Cecily's mouth.
"Mmm..that tastes good! My appetite just seems to have whittled down."
"Must be the excitement of the last few days, love."
He stretched out under the tree, Cecily wrapping her arms around him and resting her head on his chest.
"Jack? I'm sorry I bothered you about the nightgown. It is none of my business."
He tenderly touched her cheek. "Cecily, when I am with you, it is always like the first time. I never knew love. It was the kind of love, I think, that my parents had."
Cecily propped herself up on one elbow, her fingertips gently tracing down his face. "I am so sorry for what you went through as a child, Jack. But if you had been any other way, you may not be the generous, loving person you are today."
He looked off into the distance and Cecily could see traces of grief still on his face. She tried another tactic.
"But here we have a chance to make a family ourselves, dearest! When the time is right, we shall have children and a nice house and..."
Jack looked back at her. "Aye. That we shall."
Cecily didn't know how to approach the subject so she plunged in.. "Jack,. about being a highwayman...when we start a family, I don't want to worry about if you are coming home or not. Whether the redcoats have caught up to you."
Jack folded his arms under his head and looked up at the clouds drifting by. He said softly, "Cecily, I haven't thought of it. Highwayman is all I have ever known. I certainly didn't think love would ever come to me. Not so swiftly."
"We have our whole lives ahead of us, darling. No need to rush into things."

Jack looked up at the sky. "Looks like a storm brewing. We'd better get back. We should go to bed early tonight as I want to be on the road early morning."
She grinned. "Early to bed. You shall get no complaints out of me, Mr. Roberts!"
Jack helped her up. She looked at him hopefully.
He said, "What, Cecily?"
She raised her eyebrow. He sighed. "Alright. Just one more time out here. Then we HAVE to get back."
She laughed, got her whip and cracked two apples off with one flick of the whip.
Jack laughed at his mistake. "Oh, my love! I thought..."
Cecily walked over to him and offered him an apple.
He took it, laughed and said, "Now I know how Adam felt! Temptress!"





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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/07/2006 09:33:23
Message:

That night as Cecily lay sleeping Jack found himself awake, lost in thought. It was true, he would never have a real family as long as Black Jack Roberts roamed England. The danger was too great and grew with each passing year. Worse yet, should his luck run dry and he were to be found out he would lose more than just his life. Something had to be done.

Still Black Jack could not simply disappear. He could not simply stop, for the Crown would remain suspicious of just who Jack was and that could be even more dangerous. Perhaps George, or Geoff, maybe even both? Quickly he dismissed that idea as well. They were fine lads, but they deserved a free life as well as he. There was only one way to end Black Jack’s carrier. Give the king that which he desired most. Black Jack Roberts would have to die so that Robert Johnson could live.

He wasn’t worried about being able to support a family. Over the years he had invested his ill gotten gains wisely and owned several profitable businesses. The Crossbow for one, a lending house in London for another. These didn’t even include the sizable amount of treasure he had hid. His family would live out their years in relative comfort, wanting for nothing. That was what he must now bend his will to.

His mind drifted back to his childhood. Roaming the streets of Devonshire, stealing fruit form the street vendor’s carts, cutting purses. It was the latter that had brought him his greatest bit of luck. That was how he had met old Nathan. He had watched the old man shopping along the street and with practiced ease and drawn the purse out from his body. Making a loop in one hand so the pressure of cutting the thong would not be felt. No sooner had he began when he felt his wrist seized in a vise like grip.

“Hold on there, Lad!” The man said. “Now just what are ye about here?”

Jack had struggled to no avail. “Please, Sir!” He had pleaded. “Me Mum hasn’t eaten in days! Please! I’m sorry, it won’t happen again!”

Certainly Nathan Kelly had heard such protests from other children who were forced to make a living as thieves, but this time something was different. Something in the boy’s unusual turquoise eyes that melted the old man’s heart with pity. Retaining his grip on the child’s wrist he knelt down until they were eye to eye and lifted the tear stained face to meet his.

“Here now, Lad. Stop crying, no one is going to harm ye.” He smiled. “Look here.” He showed the boy his empty hand, then reaching behind the child’s ear produced a penny. The tears ceased flowing immediately, replaced with wonder.

“How did you do that?” The child exclaimed in wonder.

“I’ll tell ye what.” Nathan grinned tossing the penny to the lad. “If ye will promise never again to steal from a poor man, who can not afford it, I’ll show ye.”

“Gladly, Sir!” The boy laughed. “Ye have me word!”

“What’s your name, Lad?” Nathan asked.

“Jack, Sir, Jack Roberts!” Jack replied excitedly.

In his youth Nathan Kelly had been a magician traveling around England with a theater troop, and in Jack he had found an apt student. For three years he had taught Jack everything he knew about the art of illusion. Then came the day Jack went to visit his friend and mentor only to be told the old man had passed away. Jack cried for days after, but he kept his promise. Never again did he steal from the poor.

Idly, as he now lay watching his love softly sleeping beside him, Jack wondered what the aged magic maker would think of the uses he put that knowledge to. More than once it had saved his life. Perhaps this time it would save much more.


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 06:11:34 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/08/2006 10:42:18
Message:

Peter Culpepper crumpled the message that had arrived by homing pigeon and threw it into the fire. When his man had arrived at the registry to attempt to acquire a copy of the license he had been told that no such document was ever filed. To make matters worse Magistrate Hammond had vanished. His legal hold on Cecily Morley had slipped away like smoke through his fingers. Worse still the men he had sent to spy on the Crossbow had informed him Robert Johnson had not been seen there in three days.

Furiously his mind worked. If the license had not been registered then that could only mean that the man had destroyed that copy as well and he intended to marry Cecily himself. Since there was nowhere in England they could be wed without a license the only chance they would have would be in Scotland.

“Raymond!!” He shouted none to pleased.

“Yes, My Lord?” The aged butler appeared in the study doorway a few seconds later.

“Have my horse saddled and provisioned! I intend to leave within the hour!” Culpepper ordered.

“Very good, Sir” Raymond breathed a sigh of relief as he rushed to relay the orders.

Sir Peter poured himself a drink, then turned to examine his face in the mirror. The stitches would soon come out, but it was obvious a long wicked scar would be with him until the end of his days. First the man interferes with his plans, steals his betrothed, and then has the audacity to scar him.

“Well Mr. Johnson, or should I say Black Jack Roberts, believe me when I say you will soon pay for your crimes, and the payment will be heavy indeed!” He said to his reflection before hurling the goblet into the mirror shattering both.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/08/2006 11:18:07
Message:

Cecily stretched in her sleep and snuggled closer to Jack. The morning sun was just beginning to shine in the windows. Jack was still asleep but he unconsciously reached out to her. She smiled to herself because life didn't get any better than that.
She looked up into the handsome face that was hers and hers alone.

She thought of the irony of it all. She was the pampered pet of a well-to-do family but there were a few things lacking in her upbringing.
A mother's love and a father's attention.
Jack lacked even the necessities of life growing up, from what Cecily could gather. She knew there were a lot of gaps in the things that Jack had not revealed to her. And she hoped that in due time, Jack would tell her. But she could tell there was a lot of love there.
Cecily said a prayer for Jack's parents. The fine people who raised the boy who became the man she loved. As she gently stroked his back so as not to wake him up, she thanked them for the miracle that was him.
'Mr. and Mrs. Roberts--I just want you to know that he turned out magnificently and I shall do all in my power to make sure he never wants for anything again.'
She couldn't help but find a tear slide down her face for a loving couple. And she found herself resentful of her own parents. Cold. Rich but cold.
And Peter Culpepper was them ten times over.

She carefully extricated herself from Jack's arms and put her wrapper on. She stood up and quickly sat down. Light-headed. That's what I get for passing up Mrs. Ramsay's roast!
Jack woke up.
"Cecily?"
"Right here, darling. It's morning. You were wanting to get an early start, didn't you?"
He reached for her and pulled her to him.
"It can wait a bit...." he whispered softly.

She laughed softly and he said, "What, Miss Morley?"
"Jack, at this rate we shall never get to Scotland. Do you intend to take me in every shire of the country? Inn by inn?"
He grinned. "If I have to. Something to remember this trip by!"
She sat up and whacked him in the face gently with a pillow. "Aye, you shall get no argument from me!"
She stood up again and then sat down quickly.
"Are you alright, Cecily?"
She nodded, put her hand over her mouth and rushed to the privy closet.

When she came out, she said, "I guess those potatoes didn't set too well with me. Now...shall we start to pack?"





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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/08/2006 17:10:41
Message:

Jack sat on the edge of the bed dumbfounded as the realization hit him. My God, how could he have been so blind? The clues had been staring him in the eye almost from the start. He sat there open mouthed looking at his lady love, unable to speak. Cecily became concerned.

“Jack? Jack, darling, are you alright?” She asked, her voice slightly rising as she took his hands in hers.

Slowly Jack’s expression changed from one of shock into absolute delight. Laughing like one gone mad he stood up lifting her into his arms and swinging her around the room in joy. “Cecily, my dearest Cecily!! You have made me the happiest man alive!!” He shouted. Cecily looked even more concerned as he placed her lightly on the edge of the bed and continued to dance about the room.

“Jack Roberts!” She exclaimed, “Have you taken leave of your senses!! Please calm down and tell me what is wrong!”

Suddenly he knelt at her feet, taking both her small hands in his, kissing them repeatedly. “Wrong, my love?” He echoed. “My dearest love, nothing in this whole world could possibly be wrong!! I’ve never felt so right in my life!! My dearest, you are with child!!”



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/08/2006 19:57:47
Message:

Cecily looked at Jack with uncomprehension on her face. "A--a child? No. No, that is not possible!"
Jack's eyes were shining with delight. "Cecily, my dearest, my love..where do you think babies come from?"
She shook her head. "B-but, Jack--we haven't known each other that long!"
Jack tried not to laugh at her naivete. He raised her face to his and said, "From what I understand, darling, it only takes once."
"But I can't be! I mean, we aren't married!"
"Cecily, babies are born every day to people who aren't married."

He asked her a few delicate questions quietly and she answered them. The realization began to dawn on her that this was a distinct probability.
"Oh, my goodness. Jack! A child! It shall be a boy! With your beautiful turquoise eyes."
She stood up and pulled his hands.
"We need to hurry to Scotland. We have to get married this week. We need to get married before the baby comes!"
Jack laughed, "Cecily, it takes nine months. We have eight months to get to Scotland."
"And at the rate we are going, it will take us that long to get there!"

She looked at Jack and then at the privy closet. And covering her mouth, she made a mad dash for the closet.

Jack grinned. A child! The start of a family of my own!
He laughed and then a sense of despair swept over him.
He said quietly, "Mother, I wish you were here. OH, how I wish you and Father were here!"

Cecily came out of the bathroom, a little green.
Jack looked concerned. "Are you alright?"
She nodded. "But we need to move a little slower."
She laid down on the bed. "If this lasts the entire time, Jack Roberts--you just may be sorry you bought me that whip!"


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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/09/2006 15:54:54
Message:

Once he was certain Cecily was well enough to travel Jack paid their bill handsomely and they set off for Birmingham and the village of Stoke. Jack deliberately taking an easy pace and making many rest stops to keep Cecily from riding too long. The sooner they were wed the better, but he was not about to risk her, or the child’s life for the sake of hurrying.

Along the way Cecily insisted on practicing with her new whip and many an apple fell prey to her increasing skill. Stopping at Worchester for the night Jack showed her the next phase of practice, one which could be done indoors. Setting four candles on the able, he placed it across the length of the room. Then unwound Old Hob from his belt.

“You have well mastered aim, Luv.” He smiled. “Now is the time to add speed to your skill.” In rapid secession Jack sent the black whip whistling through the air. Each stroke following the other until in the space of only two seconds all four candles sported a wisp of white smoke were their flames had been.

“The trick is to put out the flame, but leave the candle standing.” Jack grinned as he relit the candles. “You start slowly then try to do it faster each time, Dearest.” Cecily nodded, took aim and let her whip fly. Two of the candles fell to the floor, one remained lit, and Cecily frowned.

“Well done, My Love!” Jack applauded and she shot him a sharp look. “I mean it, Luv. On my own first attempt I knocked every bleedin’ one of them over.” Jack’s seriousness brought a smile back to her face. “This is the hardest test of the whip.” He returned her smile. “It will take far longer to manage, but I dare say you will have it done before we reach the border.”

She insisted on practicing until suppertime. By then she had realized she needed to build her speed slowly and could put out all four candles without knocking them to the floor. Her time was much slower than Jacks, but she knew soon she would catch up with him. The pride in his face as he watched her progress filled her with warmth, as did her pride in knowing she bore his child.

After supper they retired to their rooms where Cecily insisted on renewing her practice. As Jack watched her he let his mind drift. If he had any doubts about retiring Black Jack Roberts they had certainly vanished when he had figured out Cecily’s condition. He was quite thankful now that he had not put off marring her any longer. She wasn’t even showing yet, so the tongue waggers would be hard pressed to prove she was in a delicate condition before they had wed. Many a child had been conceived during a honeymoon.

The next morning he was more than relived to find her morning sickness seemed to be lessening and they were soon on their way to Stoke. Even at the slower rate he had them traveling they would be in Scotland within the week. It would be the first time Jack had set foot inside a church since he had been a lad. He remembered the experience none too fondly, the whispers, the barely concealed contempt of the “pure” congregation, the priest whispering, asking them to leave. For her though he would happily go there once more.

Jack’s reverie was suddenly broken as a large man with a cloth tied across the lower half of his face leapt from behind a bush, barring their way with his pistol pointed at Jack. “Morning, Mate.” The gruff voice sneered. “I’ll be having yer valuables.” He eyed Cecily for a moment. “And what ever else I may take a fancy to.” Jack’s eyes blazed with fury as he inched his hand toward Old Hob’s handle.

“Ah, ah, Mate” The robber laughed. “Put them hands where I can see ‘em, or I plugs the lady!” Jack slowly raised his hands up to his shoulders. His mind racing for a way to gain the advantage as he cursed himself for his carelessness. The irony of the situation was not lost on him. He had fallen prey to one of his own tricks.

“That’s better, Mate.” The highwayman grinned beneath his mask. “Now, slow as ye can, with yer left hand, untie that purse and toss it here at me feet. Then we’ll be takin’ it from there.”

This was the break Jack had hoped for. Little did the rogue realize Jack usually used Old Hob with his left hand. The only problem was his purse was on the opposite side of his belt. He weighed his chances as the brigand followed his every move closely. His mind made up, just as he tossed the purse he would try for his whip in the same motion. A loud crack rang out in the air and the robber dropped his gun holding his bleeding wrist.

Jack quickly changed his tactic and pulled one of his pistols from beneath his coat, his eyes wide with wonder. Cecily recoiled her whip with satisfaction as Jack covered the thief with his flintlock. “You seem to have forgotten there are two of us, Sir.” her voice dripping with sarcasm.

“Bravo, My Love!!” Jack laughed as he handed her the twin to the pistol he held. Cecily pointed the weapon at the defeated outlaw as Jack dismounted. Taking a length of rope from his saddle bag he walked over to their attacker smiling. Once within reach Jack drew back his fist in a blur of motion and catching the ruffian under the chin knocked him unconscious.

Leaving the would be robber hog tied next to the road they rode to the next hamlet. There they discovered he had been terrorizing the small town for months and the locals were more than happy to go and collect him.

Late in the evening they arrived at Stokes. Finding a suitable Inn they went immediately to their room. Excited over the events of the last three days since they had left Devonshire made sleeping difficult, so they lay in each other’s arms enjoying the conversations of lovers. Making their plans for a future that seemed as bright as a new morning, till sleep finally closed their eyes and they drifted off in each other’s arms. Their journey half finished.


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 09:21:08 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/10/2006 11:25:56
Message:

Sir Peter rode up to the door of the shabby, ill kept farmhouse on the far outskirts of Exter. Few ever came this way for the inhabitants of this particular farm were known far and wide for their ill tempers. Even the taxmen avoided the farm without a well armed escort, and more than a few wondered and gossiped quietly as to where their source of income came from as the farm was hardly ever tended. Sir Peter, however knew full well the source and held little fear of the brothers Mulligan.

Colin Mulligan opened the weather beaten door at his knocking. A large solidly built man, Colin looked as if he would have little trouble lifting the back of a loaded wagon from the ground. “Welcome, Sir Culpepper.” He grinned through his tangled brown beard. “And to what do we owe the pleasure of this visit? Ye usually send one of yer lackeys when you have need of us.”

“All in good time, Colin.” Culpepper entered the dimly lit house unfastening his cloak. “ I trust you brothers are about somewhere?”

“Aye.” Colin grinned again, smelling money. “We were taking breakfast in the kitchen. A good thing you arrived when you did, Simon were getting’ ready to leave for town when we finished.” The large muscled man gestured with one grimy hand for Peter to proceed him.

Peter hid his distaste for the squalid surroundings well, making his way to the kitchen. It still baffled him how anyone as well to do as he had made these men could live in such an unkempt manner. The remaining two Mulligan brothers looked up in surprise as he entered a kitchen that fairly reeked from unwashed dishes and uneaten food left to rot.

“We’ve a visitor, Lads.” Colin rumbled, sitting back to his place at the table and tearing a chunk of bread from the loaf next to his plate.

Leslie Mulligan, a loutish fellow who took great pleasure in torturing things weaker than he, merely grunted as he continued shoveling food into his mouth. Just as filthy and large as his older brother his greasy long black hair hung down partially covering his face. He paused only long enough to pull a few wayward strands, which had found their way in, out of his mouth.

Cameron Mulligan was as out of place with his brothers as a gemstone placed in a pile of gravel. Though his soul was just as vile, Cameron was fastidious about his appearance. Thin and wiry, his long brown hair was neatly combed back into a ponytail and his clean shaven face was boyish in it’s charm and look. He also took great pleasure in beating the many women who foolishly fell prey to his charms.

“Good morning, Sir Culpepper.” His roguish smile was both confident and cocky. “How may we be of service to ye this fine day? As I take it the reason ye visit in person is of some importance?”

“You may indeed, Cameron.” Sir Peter said, keeping the disgust out of his voice. “I have need of all of your services. I want the three of you to accompany me on a mission which requires my personal attentions. The rewards will be substantial.” Reaching into his coat pocket Sir Peter tossed three leather bags onto the cluttered table, each landing heavily with the chink of coin. Each one of the brothers picked up a bag, weighing it in their palms. “You will each receive the same again once our goal has been attained.”

He had their attention now as even Leslie sat back in his chair, forgetting the meal. “And just what be this goal, ye speak of?” Colin grinned.

“I’ll explain all on the road.” Peter Culpepper said seriously. “The Quarry has a three day head start on us and haste is of the utmost importance now. Do we have a deal?”

The three ruffians looked at each other for a few moments, then Colin stood. “Aye, Sir Peter, that we do.”



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/11/2006 23:21:25
Message:

Cecily crept out of bed early that morning. She headed to the privy closet for her usual morning sickness which was starting up again. She came back out, feeling a bit shaky but better.
She put on her wrapper and looked out the window, breathing deeply the country air.
The inn was quaint and the country side was peaceful. The room had a full-length mirror.
Cecily looked in the mirror and put her hands on her stomach, trying to imagine the little life she carried in her.
She found it hard to assimilate that knowledge when Jack had to tell her that she was pregnant. Six weeks ago, she hadn't even known Jack Roberts. Well, she knew of his reputation through the childhood games Andrew devised. And Jack hadn't even known she existed. Now here they were, about to be parents and about to be married. She bit her lip and frowned. Really wasn't supposed to happen in that order.
She looked at her face closely in the mirror. I don't look any different. Well, a bit tired. A bit pale. But that might be because my appetite is gone.
She sat down and sighed. The sooner we get married, the better....

Jack woke up and yawned. "Cecily? Darling, why are you up so early?"
She came over and sat down next to him, putting her arms around him. "Just thinking, my love. Wondering how the little one is. And wanting him to know how much he is loved and wanted."
Jack laughed. "Maybe 'he' is a girl."
Cecily got a shocked look on her face. "You think it is possible?"
Jack kissed her forehead. "Of course. You don't get a choice, love."
He patted her stomach. "Maybe there are even two in there."
Cecily looked down and put her hands over his. "Don't think there is enough room in there, Jack. I mean, it will be crowded as it is."
Jack hugged her close. "Cecily, did your mother tell you ANYTHING?"
Cecily shook her head no.
Jack held her close and lowered her back onto the bed. He laid on his stomach and entwined his fingers in her hair.
"Darling, it is about time that I tell you the facts of life..."




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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/13/2006 11:29:01
Message:

They awoke early, leaving Stoke behind them as they traveled to York. The night had proved both charming and exasperating. More than once Jack’s face had turned as red as Cecily’s as he explained to her what he had assumed was common knowledge. Though he wasn’t sure her lack of education was as due to sheltering as it was neglect.

He was learning much about life as a highborn noble, as Cecily was about life on the other side of the road. It would seem that no matter what one’s station in life hard times were a commodity all shared in. One way or another. For although he had lacked the pleasantries of life, love had been something he had in abundance while growing up.

The day’s travel to the outskirts of York was pleasant enough. The weather was fair and sunny, wisps of clouds trailed over the sky and fresh green scents of an early spring floated from the forests. They had stopped at various inns along the way to dine, and let Cecily rest. Their conversations along the way full of hope and promise for their lives together. Little suspecting the danger that was only a few days ride behind them.

Jack surprised Cecily when they reached the outskirts of the second largest city in England. Instead of riding into town to seek out a suitable Inn, Jack had turned down a lane that led out to the surrounding countryside stopping at a quaint little cottage with a thatched roof. A short, aged woman with apple cheeks, and a clean white bonnet tended the roses that grew along the wooden fence line. The smell of baking bread wafted through the air.

“Someone you know?” Cecily asked raising one eyebrow, a habit she had picked up from Jack.

“Aye,” Jack laughed then shouted out to the plump woman cheerily. “Good afternoon, Mary!”

The older woman looked up slightly bothered to be pulled away from her task. Then her eye’s grew wide with delight as she recognized the caller. “Jack!! Lord love me, Jack!! Get down from that horse and give me a hug this instant, Young Man!!”

Jack laughed heartily as he swung from the saddle to be hugged by the bouncing woman, who soon held him out at arms length. “Let me look at you! I’d swear you get bigger every time you come to visit!” Looking up at Cecily she smiled warmly. “And just who be this pretty lass?”

“Mary Cottlepot, may I introduce my betrothed, Cecily Morley.” Jack answered proudly.

“Well don’t just stand there, go help her down and come inside, the both of ye.” Mary playfully clouted Jack on the shoulder.

The inside of the cottage was as well tended as the outside, with a warm and homey feeling that Cecily had never experienced before. She had the distinct impression of being a child in a storybook visiting with her grandmother as she set in the kitchen sipping tea. “Thank you for inviting us into your Home, Mary. It’s lovely.”

Mary laughed with glee. “Lord love me, Child. It’s not my home, it’s Jack’s, but he lets me live here, and do as I please. It makes for a safe place to hide when he…” She covered her mouth with her hand cutting off the rest of her sentence, a look of shock in her wide eyes.

“It’s alright, Mary.” Jack patted her hand. “Cecily knows about me.”

“Oh my! Of course she would.” The plump little woman resumed her former cheerful disposition. “After all you did say you were betrothed. I’m getting forgetful in my years and you’ve never brought a woman here before, Jack.”

“Anyway, as I was saying,” Mary continued, “Me husband and I had a little farm a few miles from here. He worked hard mind you, but we still had debts and when he died I lost everything. I was living hand to mouth on the street in York when Jack found me and offered me this lovely little home he had just bought, bless him. Not many around that would help an old lady out like that, but he did.”

She sipped her tea before continuing. “But enough about these old bones. What brings you two all the way up here from Devon shire?”

“We’re on our way to Scotland to be married, Luv” Jack grinned.

“So her parents don’t approve then?” Mary scowled slightly. “Silly law if you were to ask me! Folks should have the right to marry anyone they choose, and King George should keep his nose out of it!”

“I would agree, Mary.” Cecily said. “I would agree whole heartedly.”

“Well, there’s nothing they can do about it once ye are married, Dear.” Mary smiled patting Cecily on the knee. “Now let’s see about some supper for you two.”



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/13/2006 22:38:50
Message:

Mary put out a steaming kettle of beef soup with vegetables, fresh fruit, homemade bread and cheese. Supper was a cozy affair with Jack and Mary catching up on news of the Crossfire. She knew them all. Cecily began to realize that Jack had a close network of friends and these were actually family to him.
She ate as much as she could.
Jack had shown her to their rooms earlier. They were wonderfully homey. The brass bed was covered with a homemade quilt and a rag rug covered the wooden floor.
Cecily had announced that she was tired and thought a good night's sleep would be what she needed. Jack escorted her up the stairs to their room.
He kissed her and asked, "Are you sure, darling?"
She smiled wanly and said, "I am sure. I would like to get some sleep and I can't sometimes if you are with me."
She winked at him and gave him a smile. He threw his head back and laughed.
"I won't be long, my dearest. But do get some rest."
As he turned to go, she said to him, "Jack, if you have business here or want to stay an extra day with Mary, I am alright with it. I do love it here."
He blew her a kiss and headed back down the stairs.

She sat on the edge of the bed and unlaced her gown, then put on her nightgown. Cecily opened the window and looked over the moorland. She sat down and breathed deeply. This was one of the most relaxing times on the journey. She smiled to herself as she thought of his 'birds and bees' conversation with her. She wasn't entirely clueless. She knew where babies came from and she knew the fundamentals of childbirth. Mother had just forgotten to fine-tune it.
She shivered. She could never imagine herself to be in an intimate situation with Sir Peter Culpepper.
All of a sudden with that thought, her stomach lurched and she headed for the privy closet.
Wil this ever end?

Downstairs, Jack poured a brandy for him and Mary. She accepted it gratefully and took a sip.
"Ah, Jack! T'is like mother's milk! Warming to the soul and nourishing."
He sat in front of the cozy fire that he had lit. He remembered the day he bought the cottage. He and Mary omitted the fact to Cecily that the cottage had been Mary and her husband's originally until she lost it to an unscrupulous landowner. Jack had found a broken-down Mary living on the streets when he rescued her from a thug who was aiming to steal her last possessions. Ol' Hob taught the ruffian a lesson he would never forget.

Giving Mary shelter that night, she poured out her story. Jack could feel his rage and got the name of the new landowner. In the course of two nights, Jack was able to engage the legal thief in a game of cards and in the end, with a little cunning and some righteous cheating, Jack had title to the cottage and surrounding pastures.
Mary was given carte blanche to live there until she saw the end of her days. The property would then revert to Jack. He had given her a generous allowance to run it for him.

Jack stretched out his legs and drank some of his brandy. Mary asked about Gilbert and Josiah, Molly, Tim and Annabelle.
Finally, she said, "Aye, Jack, the lass you have upstairs, she be a real gem. Take good care of that one."
Jack grinned, "I intend to, Mary. And there is something..."
Mary smiled broadly, "When is the wee bairn due, Jack?"
He was astonished. "You KNEW?"
Mary nodded. "You forget I am a woman. Old that I am, I can see it in her eyes and in her face."
"And that would be...?"
Mary shook her head. "I can't tell you. But it is something passed from mother to daughter. A feeling. I liked the lass right off. Something sweet and innocent and eager to please written on her face. And there is something else."
"What is that?"
"She holds your mind and your heart. The first one that ever did. Marry her and take her home, Jack. Build a life together for as long as ye both shall love. That is my fondest wish for you."
Jack rose and kissed her cheek.
"Have I told you how much you mean to me, Mary Cottlepot? I never would have been able to come to grips with my parents' deaths if it weren't for you."
Mary looked into the fire. "She was here, asking about you."
"And what did you say?"
"That I haven't seen you in six months."
Jack said nothing but took a poker and tended to the fire. She looked over at him and put her hand on his shoulder. "Be careful, Jack."
But it wasn't the fire she was talking about.
And Jack knew that.

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 09:22:43 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/15/2006 11:13:52
Message:

Urgent rapping at the door startled them both. Mary placed her left hand over her ample bosom and patted rapidly. “Cor blimey. Speak of the devil and I’d bet we’ve just herd the beat of his wings!”

Jack sighed as he replaced the poker, while Mary rolled her eyes and brushed down her apron. The insistent staccato rapping began anew as she moved to the arched wooden door. “Here now, give an old woman a chance, Will ye?” She shouted to it on the way. Then mumbled beneath her breath, “Should have known she’d be a watching’ the house.”

Jack had barely stood up and placed his back to the fireplace when the tall auburn haired woman fairly burst through the door. Dressed in men’s riding attire the statuesque beauty came to a halt six feet away, her eyes filled with sorrow and something else. Her hair hung down to the center of her back in a thick braid. White lace sticking out at the sleeves of her sky blue frock coat trembled. One word, lowly breathed whispered past her full lips. “Jack.”

“Katherine.” Jack nodded.

“Jack, I knew you’d come back.” She rushed forward to his arms when she felt his hands gently catch her before she reached him. Confusion and pain mixed in Katherine Fairchild’s brown eyes.

Her voice, husky with choked emotion, broke the uneasy silence. “Jack you know I could make you happy. I rode with you. We shared more than just a bed. I know it.”

“Katherine.” Jack’s eyes were thoughtful, tinged with sadness. “I warned you from the start, and you left me, Luv.”

“It was a mistake, Jack! Can’t you understand that!” She whirled out of his grasp facing away from him to hide the tears racing down her cheeks. “Can’t you forgive that?” She whispered to the shadows.

“Always the tough one, eh Kat?” Jack looked down. “I never lied to you, Luv. I told ye from the start my heart belonged to no one. Ye took it upon yourself to try. To be honest ye came closer than ye know to succeeding. In all the time ye rode with me, I slept with no other. Maybe it would have been had ye not met him, but ye did, and I continued on.”

She whirled to face him. Tears flowed freely down her face. “Jack, please. Ye know me. I beg from no man. I’m begging you now. Please give me just one chance to prove myself to you. We belong together.”

Jack looked up, something in his eyes caught her attention. “No!” She whispered, shock replacing the pain there for a moment. Then the hurt returned a thousand fold. “It can’t be! You have found another!”

Katherine raced for the door sobbing. She turned around in the doorway, her face a mask of pain and fury. “Damn you, Jack Roberts!!, She screamed. “Damn you to Hell!” Sobbing uncontrollably she ran to her waiting horse. Mounting in one fluid motion she galloped off down the dirt lane.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/17/2006 20:04:34
Message:

"Damn you, Jack Roberts! Damn you to hell!"
The sound of a door slam that reverberated through the house.
The pounding of hoofbeats.

The scream of anguish woke Cecily out of a sound sleep. She bolted upright in the bed, momentarily unaware of where she was.
Gathering her wits about her, she grabbed her wrapper and went to the window. She saw a person jump on a horse and gallop down the dirt lane. She couldn't tell at first if the person was male or female but the scream was definitely feminine.

She sat down on the bed, trying to figure out just what happened. She went to the door, opened it and heard the low voices of Mary and Jack talking quietly.
Cecily felt that to intrude on what was a private conversation was something she didn't want to do. Or know about.
She went to the bed and crawled back into it, trying to sleep. But sleep would not come again.
She didn't know if it was because she had just enough or if it was the reality of what was obviously a spurned love from Jack's past.

She suddenly was overwhelmed with a feeling of inadequacy. She punched her pillow and flopped back in the bed. Staring at the ceiling, she began to feel despair. 'I'm only seventeen,' she thought. 'I told Jack I was nineteen just so he will think I was older and more sophisticated than I am.'
From what she could see of the woman who fled in a tempest, she was an accomplished horsewoman. Her clothes fit her impeccibly. It's funny, Cecily thought, how much your mind's eye can grasp in a few seconds.

Cecily got out of bed and lit the lamp that was on the table. She walked over to the mirror and peered into it. A young woman's face stared back at her. Cecily was certainly a beautiful young woman.
She took her hair and tried to pile it on top of her head and suck her cheeks in to see if she could look older and more worldly.
It just didn't seem to ring true. Cecily couldn't help it. No matter how she tried, the innocence and life experience she was lacking were showing on her face.
She sighed and went back to bed. She started to feel sick again and ran to the privy closet.
Coming out, she was a bit woozy.
She rubbed her abdomen and whispered to the child within, 'If you are listening..I love you!'
She opened the casement windows and looked out again over the moors. She couldn't help her thoughts. Would Jack always love her?
Or would a sophisticated woman take him away? Would he get tired of her? After all, she was ten years younger.
She felt the tears slide down her cheeks and she angrily wiped them away. Cecily, you goose! she thought. The woman left in a rage. Would she be back? Who knows? And who cares?
'You do, Cecily', her inner voice said. 'You care very much.'
"Oh, shut up!" Cecily said out loud.
She curled up under the blankets and fought sleep.
Best I wait for Jack to come to bed. If I am going to hold on to him......



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/17/2006 23:21:41
Message:

“Well, Jack,” Mary sighed, “that’s gone and torn it sure. I could see it in your eyes. You were about to tell her, had she not twigged it herself. But would ye have ever told her the other?”

He sat staring into the fire, just like he had two years ago, and Mary felt a shudder run through her. She had been the only one who knew about that night, for this was where he had come to. A crumpled parchment forgotten in his hand. His turquoise eyes as blank as she had ever seen them. He had said not a word, but walked like a condemned man to the chair and sat down. She was still unsure he even knew she was there that night as his eyes never left the leaping flames. One hand under his chin, with his forefinger crooked across his lips.

She had quietly brought him tea, and some rolls. That was when she had saw his face clearly. Although neither sound nor movement gave him away, tears flowed silently down his face in rivers. As if he were a statue, a weeping statue.

When she had come downstairs in the morning she found him asleep still sitting before the fireplace. The forgotten parchment having fallen from his grasp at last, to rest crumpled on the floor beside him. Without thinking she had picked it up, and smoothed it out. Her curiosity getting the better of her, she read it.

“Dear, Jack;

I wish there was some other way to tell you this, but I can not do so in person. By the time you read this Martin and I will be far away. I love him, Jack. That is the only explanation I can give to you. I love him and want to be where ever he is.

I’m sorry for hurting you like this, but I have no other choice, and I know if I talk with you I may change my mind. I will always remember you, but I can not be with you anymore.

Forgive me;
Katherine”

The next morning Jack was gone. Mary hadn’t even heard him leave. As she was cleaning away the ashes from the fireplace she had seen it. A flash of yellow metal among the charcoal black and gray. A ring set with a single diamond, as she brushed away the grime she realized that he had moved at least once. To throw the ring he had been about to propose with into the flames.

Then two months ago Katherine had returned. Perhaps she had loved Martin Abbot, but he loved any pretty lass who could provide him with an income. After he had used up most of hers she had found him bedding another. She had poured out the story to Mary. Mary for her part had not bothered to tell her about that night, only that she had not seen Jack in six months, and he was doing well the last time she laid eyes on him.

“Lord forgive me for telling’ tales,” She thought to herself. “but I couldn’t let her know how much she hurt him. Now, just when he is happy again here she comes waltzin‘ back in like he‘d just be a waitin‘ for her.”

“No.” Jack spoke finally. “I would not have her know, Luv. If Katherine ever found out just how close she was, she would never give up. She would always hold hope where there is none. My love for her died that night, and it was a slow, painful death.”

“She may not give up yet, Jack.” Mary said.

“She’ll have to, Luv.” Jacks face was a mask of seriousness in the flickering firelight. “I’ll not let her, or any other come between me and Cecily. She is all to me, Mary. I can say this with all the honesty within me; I can never love any woman as much as I love her.”

“Now, if you will excuse me,” Jack said rising, “Cecily was sure to hear some of that row, and I must see to her needs. I’ll not have Katherine Fairchild upsetting a woman who is as dear to me as life itself.”

“I thought as much, Dearie.” Mary said, gently kissing his cheek. “I wish the two of ye a long and happy life together, and a good night.”



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/18/2006 15:45:51
Message:

Jack’s heart was heavy as he trudged up the short flight of stairs, but not for Katherine. Bad timing that. He would rather she had stayed with Martin Abbot. That his Cecily had heard any of the unfortunate conversation he had no doubt, they could have heard that final scream all the way to the Thames. What must she be thinking now?

He opened the door to find her awake, just as he expected. Her gaze a mixture of love, sorrow, and determination. “Cecily.” He spoke her name into the dimly lit room.

“Who was that, Jack?” Ceily’s voice filled with fear of a rival.

Jack came to the edge of the bed and sat down, taking her small hands gently in his before speaking. “That my dearest was someone I thought out of my life forever. Before ye say anything, let me tell you all.” Cecily nodded in the stillness that suddenly hung over the room like a heavy blanket.

Jack sighed, then began. “About four years ago I met Katherine Fairchild. I was much as you know me to be now, but perhaps a bit more care free in my ways. She was from a poor family, but they managed to keep a roof over their heads. We were in a tavern in York. I had just made a very successful venture about five miles away and was celebrating when she walked in.”

“A bit of a tomboy even then, she wore trousers instead of a dress, and was a bit rough around edges. I was immediately fascinated, as was she. I told her the same thing I have told every woman, except for you. I wasn’t opposed to a bit of fun, but nothing more would come of it. She seemed to accept that and we became fast friends. As time went on, whether by her design, or mine I can not say, we became more than friends. Turned out to be the first time I lied about nothing more.”

“For a time she even rode with me. The only time Black Jack Roberts ever had a partner with him. We seemed to be everything the other could want, or so I thought. The night I decided to give her my heart she left me for another. True irony that. I learned that night how much love can hurt. I swore I would never again know pain such as I felt that night. “

“Then I was lucky enough to meet you, My Love. You are the only woman I would risk that agony for. Though ye be a right pretty lass, far fairer to me than ye will ever know, it’s not your looks, position, or past that makes me love you Cecily Morley. What I feel for you goes far deeper than any of those things. You touch my very soul, and that is the part of me ye hold in these hands.”

“As bad as what I felt when Katherine left me, what I should feel should I ever lose you will be a thousand times worse. I told ye true from the start. No woman except you has ever truly held me heart, and no woman but you ever will.”

When he had finished he sat there, tenderly rubbing the backs of her hands with his thumbs, silently praying to any god that would listen, he had not just lost the only thing he cared for.

Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/18/2006 22:03:57
Message:

Cecily looked down at the strong hands that were caressing the backs of hers.
She looked up at him with determination on her face but he couldn't help but see the hurt in her eyes. He felt like he had kicked a puppy.
She took a deep breath and said in a soft voice, "Jack, I have known there were other women. But to have one of your 'partners' staring me in the face...well, it just became a reality."
She tried to manage a smile and it was faltering. "This is even more real than that nightgown as this one has a face and a name. I am not ignorant. I know a man this schooled in the arts of love would have had um..hands-on experience. I would be lying to you if I told you I was alright with it. I'm not. But it is not you. It is my nature. I feel insecure and that is something that I shall have to overcome with experience."
Jack took her face in his hands and gently kissed her. Her arms encircled his neck and she brought him down to her, the gentleness of their kisses turning into passion. Jack paused long enough to snuff the candle out. The moonlight from the window was the only light they needed.

Cecily laid in Jack's arms and he stroked her hair. One thing bothered her. The fact that Jack had mentioned that he had loved Katherine. He had said that he learned how much love could hurt.
Love.
He had been in love with Katherine. He decided to give his heart to her.

"Jack?"
"Yes, my love?"
"Would you mind if we stayed here for another day? I haven't been feeling all that well and I think if I rested up a day, it would make all the difference in the world."
"Not at all. In fact, I have a few friends I would like to see..."
He felt her body stiffen slightly so he hurried up with, "These men were ones that are the ones that have helped Jack Roberts the Highwayman."
She relaxed in his arms.
"How long before the baby moves, Jack?"
"Darling, you are asking the wrong person. But I guess in a few months."
"Jack, does Annabelle know midwifing skills?"
"I'm pretty sure she does. She knows everything."
She raised her head and said, "I would like Annabelle to be there when the time comes for the child to be born. I would feel so much better."
He stroked her cheek and said softly, "I am sure she would be proud and honored you want her there, Cecily."
Cecily lay there quietly and contentedly with her head resting on Jack's chest. His heartbeat was comforting to her as she knew she had a place there. She pushed thoughts if Katherine had a spot there too down deep from her.
Tomorrow I'll maybe see if I can get any information on her from Mary. I need to know what I am up against.
Jack kissed her again and sighed. "Never have I ever felt so complete as I am with you, Cecily Morley. My life was a journey and you're the journey's end."
He held her close and started to fall asleep.
From the darkness came Cecily's voice.
"Jack?"
"Hmmm?"
"I'm seventeen."
"I know."


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 09:23:37 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/19/2006 10:36:16
Message:

Josiah and Molly sat at the center table in the spacious tavern that made up the main room of the Crossbow. It was late in the evening, and a well deserved break from cleaning up after the last patron had left was in order. “I tell ye true, Josiah, I could have crawled under the floor when I saw that night gown again!” Molly laughed heartily.

“Aye,” Josiah chimed in, “the look on yer face were priceless, Lass!”

“Cor! I can well imagine!” Molly still blushed slightly. “Still I don’t think it would have ever happened had it not been for her.” Molly turned serious, her voice filled with scorn.

“Aye, Lass.” Josiah’s mirth dropped as well. “Been a while since I even thought ‘a Katherine. I’d never seen Jack act like that with any lass, much less a wild cat like her.”

“She broke him, Josiah.” Molly looked him straight in the eyes. “Cecily just put him back together again, but make no mistake, that woman broke him.”

“Ha! Think we didn’t notice, Lass?” Josiah’s face became pinched and drawn. “Him running all over the countryside, robbing all and sundry what even looked like they had wealth. Running all over London, spending it as fast as he stole it, and carrying around those bloody cursed handkerchiefs as well!”

“We were all worried, Love.” Molly placed her hand over his. “I think that was part of the reason I went to him when I did.”

“Not that ye entertained any thoughts ‘a takin’ Katherine’s place?” Josiah grinned devilishly.

Molly swatted the tavern keep with her cleaning rag. “Go on with ye!” She blushed. “Not that I wouldn’t have wanted Jack for me own, but I knew deep down that it wasn’t to be.” Her own smile grew with the new mischief that entered her mind. “Be sides, I be more than satisfied with what I have……….For now!”

She leaped lightly for her feet, giggling, and ran around to the far end of the table next to them. “For the now!! For the now??!” He howled in mock outrage. “Ye just wait till I catch you, Missy! I’ll be a changein’ your mind, for the now!”

Josiah’s chair clattered backward to the floor as he set off in pursuit of the shapely redhead. All about the tavern floor they raced, Molly squealing and giggling, Josiah growling bawdy suggestions as to the price she would pay when he finally had her cornered. Molly made it easy for him to do just that, in the end.

No sooner did their arms embrace when a loud banging came from the main door. “We’re closed, Ya bloody idiot!!!” Josiah yelled grinning at the captured beauty in his arms. “Come back tomorrow!! Late!! We’ll be closed in the morning as well!!”

“Josiah Parker!! If you do not open this door immediately, I shall go to the stable, return with a hammer, and beat it from the hinges!!!” Annabelle Peterson’s muffled voice came from the other side. Josiah and Molly looked at each other in wonder.

“Hold on a moment, Annie!” Josiah pulled gently away from Molly’s arms and sprinted to the door. “Didn’t know it was you, Lass. I’d a…” He stopped short. Never before had he seen Annabelle’s complexion so pale, to say nothing of the fear in her eyes.

Before he could utter another word, Anne raced into tavern wildly shrieking. “Where is Jack, Josiah?!! Please! I must speak to him!!! He must not go to Scotland!!!” The half Gypsy spun like a caged beast, her eyes searching hopefully for a sign of Jack, or Cecily. Her metal bangles clinking like chimes, punctuating her franticness.

“I’m afraid yer about four days too late, Annie.” Josiah looked with concern at the panicked woman.

Suddenly Annabelle came to a statuesque stillness, her hands in fists before her lips. Her eyes were wide as she stared blankly into space. She whispered, “No! No! This can not be! They mustn’t go to Scotland!”

Josiah felt the hackles of his neck rise. He had seen Annie concerned before, but never in such a state of terror. He motioned for Molly to get the Gypsy witch some brandy and gently placed his hands on her shoulders. Bending down to gaze into the frightened brown eyes he spoke gently. “Annie?……Annie?….Annie, it’s me…..Josiah…….What’s wrong, Annie?….Tell me.”

“Josiah?…Oh, Josiah!!” As Ann’s eyes focused on his weathered face her tears overflowed the lip of her eyelid. “Oh, Josiah! I am too late!”

“Annie, please sit down, have a drink, then tell us what this be about. I’ve never seen ye in such a state.” Josiah easily guided Ann to the table he and Molly had just occupied, righting the fallen chair for her to sit in. Molly placed the quickly gulped down brandy next to her. Her own face white with concern.

Last night I was reading the cards, nothing of consequence, just practice. My eyes should fall from my head for what I cast. Jack’s card, Cecily’s card, The Lovers in travel, the Three Evil Ones, The Scorned woman, and then,” She visibly shuddered, “The tower of Destruction followed by Death! I cast the cards four times Josiah!! Do you understand?! I cast the same cards every time!!! If they go to Scotland, one or both of them will die!!”

Josiah’s face went as white as Molly’s apron. He had long ago learned to trust the things Annabelle Peterson could see with her special cards. “Molly.” His voice steady and certain. “Go rouse the twins. I’ve a job for them. Whether Jack likes it, or nay.”



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/19/2006 22:52:52
Message:

Cecily reached over and Jack was gone. In a momentary panic, she sat up until she heard the voices from downstairs and she relaxed.
'I've got to stop this!' she thought. 'I've got something that Katherine Fairchild doesn't have. I am carrying Jack's baby.'
The thought filled her with pride that she was going to be the one to give him what he wanted more than anything. A family of his own.
She snuggled down in the blankets and then the now-familiar sensation came over her.
She threw the covers aside and made her run...

Jack opened the door with one hand and had a tray with a hot breakfast. She came out and smiled wanly. "I guess it goes with the territory, huh?"
Jack put the tray down and encircled her from her back. She leaned against him and smiled.
He put his hands on her abdomen and said, "Who would have thought, Cecily? I've only known you six weeks."
"Nay, Jack. We have known each other all our lives. We just never met."
Jack breathed deeply the delicious scent of her. "I have loved you my whole life, Cecily Morley. Even before I met you. At first it was just the promise of you. And you have always kept your promises. The promise of a family. You will never lose me."
She turned and put her arms around his waist, giving him a look he could feel to his very soul.

They sat in bed and ate their breakfast. It had become cold but with a good reason. Jack rose from the bed and started to get dressed.
"Sure you don't mind staying here an extra day?"
She laughed, "I seem to recall it was my idea, darling. No, I would love to spend time with Mary. She is like the grandmother I never had. And I would like this child to be surrounded by nothing but love."
Her face grew serious and a hint of troubling thoughts reflected in her sapphire blue eyes.
"Jack, I grew up wanting nothing. But I lacked a parent's love. Father tried but he was pre-occupied with Moreland. That was his real love. Mother loved herself most. You grew up wealthier than I did. You knew a mother's love. And I intend for this child to have an abundance of it!"
Jack grabbed his coat and fastened Ol' Hob to his frog and then put the flintlocks in his waistband.
Cecily frowned a bit. "Jack, do you expect trouble?"
He winked at her. "Expect? No. But it never surprises me. Nay, darlin', I am just going to the tavern to see a few of the friends. It has been six months."
"Tavern?"
"The Bell and Badger. I will be back before late afternoon."
He kissed her and went downstairs.

Mary was kneading bread. Jack sniffed appreciatively.
"Mary, that smells wonderful! I forgot how wonderful your home cooking is!"
Mary beamed. "And it be nice t' cook for a man again. Ye be careful, young man! Ye have a little lass to make an honest woman of."
"And by this time next week, she will be as honest as the day is long!"
He took a tart and she smacked his hand. "That be for later, Jack Roberts!"
He laughed as he went out the door.

Cecily dressed and went downstairs.
"Mary, would you show me how to bake bread?"
"But, child, Jack will no doubt hire a cook when ye set up your own house. He be a wealthy man in his own right."
Cecily sat at the table and watched Mary. "I know. I shall be blessed with his love."
She blushed. "Mary? I--I need to tell you something..."
"I know, lassie.Jack told me but I had guessed it."
She was astonished. "But-but how did you know?"
She took Cecily's face under the chin and tilted it up.
"I may be old but I be a woman too, Cecily. I saw it in your eyes. Something..it can't be explained. But a shine that speaks for two."
Cecily smiled shyly but said, "Mary, I am happier than I ever thought possible."
"As it should be, my dear."
Cecily traced an imaginary random pattern on the tablecloth. Quietly, she said, "Mary, I have to know. What can you tell me about Katherine Fairchild?"
Mary was startled but she kept kneading the bread. She concentrated on the chore at hand.
"Not much, my dear. Water under the bridge. Best to keep ghosts where they belong. In the past. No good can ever come of knowing something that doesn't matter. And Katherine Fairchild doesn't matter. Not any more."


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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/20/2006 19:05:45
Message:

Jack walked into the Bell and Badger, taking a table near the left wall near a window he could see the road from. The shapely raven haired tavern girl immediately walked over to him smiling. “Why Robert Johnson. As I live and breathe, Love. It’s good to see you back in town. Gon’na plan on makin’ an evening’ of it?” She set a tankard of Ale before him.

“I’m afraid those days are long past me, Sally.” Jack grinned. “I am betrothed now.”

Sally Henning pouted, a little disappointed. “Shame, Love. Ye were always fun to have around. Betrothed? I guess that explains Kat’s behavior last night then.” She mused.

“She came here then?” Jacks voice was casual, hiding the fact that this was just the information he was looking for. Katherine was quite unpredictable and even he was not certain just how far she would go should she seek revenge.

“Aye!” Sally continued. “She stormed through the door, and started drinking Brandy like it were water. Oh, she were a sight, Robert, her eyes being all puffy like, and arguein’ with every man in the place. Willie an’ Otis had to show her the door after she knock out young Darryl, she did! Fought ‘em like a mad woman! Then she rode off.”

“But enough about her, Love. Yer betrothed now. It be a happy occasion.” Sally brightened. “Congratulations to you and the lucky lady.”

Jack smiled genuinely. “I be the lucky one, Luv. No mistaken that.” Then he winked. “Would Donovan be about today?”

“Aye, he be in the back room fuming’ over the books, again.” Sally winked back. “I’ll go and fetch the old skinflint for ye.”

After a few moments Donovan Wallace came out to the main room a huge smile splitting his weathered face. “Robert! It’s good to see ye lad!” Donovan extended his hand. “Why ye sittin’ out here, come on in the back and have a drink with an old mate.”

Jack shook the offered hand firmly. “Aye, Donovan, old mate. I believe I’ll be doing just that.” The two men walked to Donovan’s room while Sally returned to waiting on customers. She paused for a moment watching Jack vanish, a wistful expression on her innocent looking features. “Must be some kinda woman what could tame that one.” She sighed.

“She were here last night, Jack.” Donovan spoke as he closed the door.

“I know, sally told me.” Jack scowled.

“Aye, but Sally doesn’t know who ye are. Katherine does.” The middle aged man sat down heavily, running a hand across his balding pate. “To her credit, no matter how drunk she got, she never referred to ye as other than Robert. But I wouldn’t be a bettin’ on how long she keeps that secret.”

“I don’t believe she would ever let that out, not even to get to me.” Jack mused. “But she may try something else. I guessed she would head here, now I need to know if she let anything slip that would reveal her plans.”

“I know ye, Jack.” Donovan frowned. “Ye be worried if she has designs on yer beloved.”

“Quite.” Jack’s scowl deepened.

“Can’t say she did.” Wallace’s eyebrows knitted in thought. “Most of the night she spent drunkenly cursing Robert Johnson, and getin’ into dreadful arguments when any fool dared to bring up the topic of love within her hearin’. Last I saw her, she were ridin’ South.”

Jack smiled. “That may well be a good thing then.”

“Mary.” Cecily spoke as she helped Mary put the rolls into the brick oven. “Please. I know it may not be wise, but tell me about Katherine and Jack.”

Mary sighed. “If I do ye must promise me one thing.”

“And that would be?” Cecily asked warily.

That no matter what I tell ye, ye keep it in your heart that Jack loves only you now.” Mary’s face was as serious as an irritated school teacher’s. The look seemed oddly out of place on her usually cheerful face.

Cecily smiled. “I do know that, Mary.”

“Very well, Child.” Mary Cottlepot voice held the tone of someone delivering news to the condemned. “Jack were always a bit of a wild one with the ladies. He never lied to any of ‘em. It were the same when he met Katherine. I don’t know all the details, but some said she were put out by a nobleman whom she wed when the blighter found out she were barren.”

“Jack has a soft spot for them what gets ill used in life, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, and Katherine were no exception. I think he was a bit attracted to her wild ways as well. After they had known each other for about two months Jack took her in to his confidence. She took to his lifestyle like a duck to water and they soon began to ride together. He even had a costume made up ‘specially for her.”

“For the first time since I’ve known him, Jack stayed true to one woman. Her. It took her a while, to be sure, but she finally won him over. He believed with all his heart that they were meant to be. Men can be like that sometimes, and when it plays them false they can hurt as much as we can. That’s just what happened.”

“On the night that Jack had finally made up his mind to ask Katherine to be his forever he learned two things he never suspected. That the wench had been untrue to him, and that she had left him for her new paramour.”

“I watched him sit in that chair, staring into the fire, and doing something I had never seen him do before, or since. Jack Roberts made not a sound, but he sat there most all night and wept till he fell asleep.”

Mary sighed heavily, looking into the young girls eyes with sorrow. “Now ye know as much about it as I do, Dearie. But let me tell you this and tell you true. He wept for Katherine. He would die over you.”


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 09:24:44 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/21/2006 07:25:14
Message:

The tall auburn haired woman in men’s clothing caught Cameron Simon Mulligan’s eye the moment she walked through the door of the Ox and Plow tavern. Watching the sway of her hips as she strode to the bar and ordered a whiskey, his mind filled with the pleasures she could provide both during and after he had seduced her. He stood up from the table.

“Cameron!” Sir Peter hissed. “We’ve no time for your dalliances!”

“Won’t be but a moment, Guv.” The youngest of the Mulligan brothers grinned. “We’ll catch up to your lady soon enough.”

“Aye,” Colin laughed, “With Simon it never takes more than a moment!” The other brother, Leslie chuckled deeply as Cameron’s face reddened. Quickly composing himself he turned about and made his way over to his intended victim. More than determined now to prove himself in front of his siblings.

“Hello, Ducks.” He leaned confidently on the bar next to the woman. “Fancy for some company with a gentleman?” His smile was one of his best, which had cause many a maid to lose her resolve to him and soon regret it.

“When I see one, I may.” Katherine retorted.

“Here now, Duckie, why so hard?” Cameron’s voice fairly dripped with honey. “I’ve only a mind to get to know ye. Love be so hard to find in these hard times.” His broadening smile at the gentile feel of a touch between his legs dropped at the sound of a pistol hammer clicking into position.

“Love?” Katherine’s voice began sweetly, hardening with each word she spoke. “And what would someone like you know of love? A man very much like yourself cost me the only love I ever truly held with his sweet words.”

“Lassie,” A deep rumbling voice came from her left. “If ye don’t take that there pistol from me brother’s manhood, Ye’ll be losin’ a lot more’n love.” Colin Mulligan stood threateningly over her. She allowed her gaze to shift for a second.

“And if you do not back up to a safe distance, your brother is going to speak with a much higher voice.” Katherine growled back, increasing the pressure of the pistol against Cameron’s flesh. That she would probably die at the hands of the brute no longer mattered to her. She had precious little to want to live for now.

“Back off, Colin!! For pity’s sake, back off!!” Cameron squeaked, sweat pouring down the sides of his handsome face. The elder brother raised his hand and backed away a pace or two, scowling.

“Colin, Cameron, Leslie!” An imperious voice commanded from behind the huge ruffian. “Return to you seats this instant!” To Katherine’s surprise the two men she could see did just that, followed by a third she had been unaware of behind her. The owner of the voice was dressed finely, a noble she guessed.

“Please forgive my men, M’Lady.” Peter Culpepper smiled graciously. “They are a bit rough. I promise they will trouble you no more.” He turned to eye his hirelings sourly. “We are after all pressed for time. A man has taken my daughter from me, and we hope to catch them before they reach Scotland to marry.”

“Aye,” Katherine sighed, holstering her flintlock in her belt. “Men are always marring them they should not.”

“Perchance you may have seen them?” Sir Peter smiled diplomatically. “A young blonde girl named Cecily, and a tall blonde man, name of Robert Johnson?



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/21/2006 11:20:56
Message:

Cecily hugged Mary Cottlepot and said, "Thank you for telling me, Mary. I would be lying if I said it was alright but now I know. And maybe I should be thanking Katherine Fairchild for doing what she did. If he were not reckless and squiring ladies around, I very well could have been caught by the pirates who tried to press me into service."
Mary hugged her back. "Aye. Jack told me the whole story of how he met ye. And a chance encounter indeed it was!"
Cecily picked up a tart and said "May I? They look so delicious!"
Mary nodded.
Cecily continued. "If he hadn't been with that tavern wench, there is no telling where I would be today."
Mary started making a pie crust. "Ah, it be so good to cook fer a man what appreciates me cookin'. Jack ne'er seems to be full enough. Guess that what come from goin' ter bed hungry when ye be a lad."
Cecily looked thoughtful. "I take it there were no brothers or sisters?"
"Nay. Jack be an only child. I think that be why he is so keen on a family of his own. From what he says, his mum and da were wonderful folks with an abundance of love and a shortage of funds."
Cecily looked sad for a minute. "I do miss my brother Andrew. He was my saviour in more ways than one and he helped Jack and me get together. I only wish he could be here for my wedding day...WEDDING! My goodness, Mary! I have nothing fancy to wear! I can't get married in just any old thing!"
Mary laughed. "Darlin' whatever ye wear, Jack won't be a-noticin'!"
Cecily looked hopeful. "I don't suppose there are any dressmakers who may have some clothes ready-made, are there?"
Mary surveyed her. "Ye are a petite stature. Sometimes the dressmakers have sample dresses and make them for women of a larger stature."
Cecily grabbed her cloak. "Then I shall be try! Where might I find one?"
Mary wiped her hands on a cloth. "There be Miss Olive over on the main street running through the village. A large sign that says 'DRESSMAKER'. Have ye funds?"
"Jack has a stash of coins and I know he won't mind. Oh, Mary! Here is hoping I can find a dress suitable for the wedding!"

Within a half hour, Cecily was saddled up on Aphrodite and headed towards the village. The sun was warm and she tilted her face up towards it, drawing in the fresh air of the countryside. It seemed to calm the nauseousness she felt periodically during the day. Perhaps this would be a good area for Jack and me to settle down. Mary would be close by and could be a grandmother to the baby.

The village was bustling with activity. Cecily looked and saw a shop with bright flowers in a windowbox.
'DRESSMAKER' it said.
She found a stable across the lane and a bit down. Paying a few shillings, she was able to have Aphrodite taken care of, with a curry thrown in.
She crossed the lane and went into the shop. A bell above the door chimed as she walked through.
A portly woman with grey hair in a bun and pins in her mouth came out from the back.
"May I help you, Miss?"
"My name is Miss Morley. You must be Miss Olive. Mary Cottlepot told me to stop in."
"Ah! Mary! She be one of my best friends! A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Morley. How may I help you?"
Cecily smiled. "I know this may be out of the realm of possibility but I am in need of a wedding dress. I am on my way to Gretna Green and I am to be married. I neglected to pack my dress and I don't want to go back home in...Kent...to get it."
Miss Olive said, "I am guessing you are eloping! So be the ways of love, my dear. And it just so happens that I have the perfect dress for you!"
Miss Olive returned in a few minutes. "This dress looks like it was made for you, Miss Morley."
Cecily looked in astonishment.
It was the very dress she had run out on in London!

Cecily tried to hide her surprise. "Where did you happen to come across such a gown, Miss Olive?"
Miss Olive held it up to Cecily. "Sometimes people order work and cannot for various reasons pick them up. So the lot of them are shipped up to us and we sell them up here. The seamstresses get what they can for them so it is not a total loss.
This was left behind by a bride who disappeared. Some say she was kidnapped by the notorious highwayman, Jack Roberts. Some say he had his way with her and murdered her. Others say he sold her off to some passing merchants. The poor thing is probably slave to some Arabian sheik and living in a tent!" she whispered conspiratorially. Miss Olive seemed like she relished the idea of the second notion.
Cecily was beginning to feel a slight outrage to the slander of Jack's reputation.
"It is quite possible the woman changed her mind and broke the engagement. The intended in his revenge decided to besmirch the reputation of a man so he came out the better."
Miss Olive pursed her lips and said, "Perhaps. Perhaps. But I prefer the fantasy to the story!" she laughed and caught herself before she swallowed the pins.
"Now, my dear..shall we try it on?"

Cecily felt funny about trying on a dress that was hers but meant for another husband.
Miss Olive bustled around, nipping and tucking.
"My dear, this is a bit big on you."
Cecily couldn't help but think that her present condition and the fact that she had done alot of horseback riding in the past month contributed to the slimness of her body. Getting sick every morning didn't help either.

The gown was a lovely white silk overlay on satin with beaded pearls. She knew her father had paid for it and by rights it did belong to her.
She asked Miss Olive, "Can the pearls be taken off and the silk rearranged..just so?"
She demonstrated what she wanted. Within half hour, Miss Olive had the dress changed and it no longer resembled the dress she was intended as the sacrificial lamb of Sir Peter Culpepper.
"It looks wonderful, Miss Olive!"
The seamstress stood back and said, "As I said, it looks like it was made for you, Miss Morley!"

Cecily paid the bil which was a fraction of what it should have been. Miss Olive had taken a liking to Cecily and commented on how she remembered being young once.
She hugged Cecily and said, "I wish you all the best, dear."
Cecily gathered the parcel and said, "By this time in a few days, I shall be Mrs. Robert Johnson. We are staying with Mary right now."
Miss Olive almost swallowed the pins in her mouth. "Y-you're marrying Robert Johnson? Mary Cottlepot's grandson?"
Cecily looked quizzically but recovered fast. "Aye. We are staying with his grandmother right now. Thank you again, Miss Olive."

As Cecily walked down the lane, Miss Olive looked after her and thought, 'So THAT is the lass that tamed and won that reckless man's heart. Who would have thought?'



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/21/2006 19:01:01
Message:

“It’s your daughter he’s betrothed to then?” A plan began to formulate in Katherine’s mind, a glimmer of hope. They were only a two day ride behind Jack. If they could make time they could catch the two of them before they reached the border. She wouldn’t have to do a thing to separate them, the law would. Then she could go to him, comfort him. He would see.

She looked Culpepper in his sea gray eyes. “All your after is your daughter?” She demanded, half eyeing the three Mulligan brothers. Nasty lot there.

Peter Culpepper put on his best wounded father face. “God be my witness, I only oppose her marrying so young, she’s only seventeen, you know. I wish to bring her home to talk sense into the girl.”

“Seventeen?” It all made sense to Katherine now. She knew no strip of a child could hold a candle to what she could offer, Jack. “Aye, I can lead ye to ‘em, on two conditions.” She smiled.

“And those would be?” Peter’s voice filled with hope.

“Mr. Johnson never knows it was I that led you to them.” She replied. “And no matter what, your lads there are only to restrain him. They are to hurt him in no way!”

“You have my word as a nobleman, M’Lady” He bowed with all the formality years in politics had taught him. “My men will not so much as bruise the man.”

“Very well, we have a deal then.” Katherine put out her hand. As Culpepper took it she pulled him close in a friendly embrace, covering her whispered words. “If you break your word to me, Nobleman, I will kill you for certain. And I will be watching.”

As she released him she spoke aloud again. “Can your men be ready to ride within the hour?”

Culpepper simply smiled warmly. “You’ve nothing to fear, Miss. Yes, we can.”

“Then gather your things, and let’s go. With hard riding we should catch them before they reach the border. I’ll wait for you outside.” Katherine downed the remainder of her whiskey and left.

“When she gets us to Johnson, she’s mine!” Cameron hissed between his teeth, after the door shut.

“After we have Cecily, and kill him, she is yours!” Corrected Sir Peter. “Would you believe the tart had the nerve to threaten me?” The four men laughed loudly.

“Well, Cameron Simon, looks like ye’ll be getting’ a bit of a bonus this trip.” Colin grinned evily to his younger brother.

In a voice that would have chilled the most hardened criminal Cameron answered. “Aye, big brother, that I will. That I will.”


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 09:27:54 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/22/2006 15:12:04
Message:

Annabelle Peterson rode like a woman possessed. Even George and Geoffrey, no strangers to hard riding themselves, were hard pressed to keep up with her. “Love me if I knows what’s ‘a keepen’ her in the saddle.” George observed on their third day out. “I can barely stay upright meself.”

“Aye.” Geoff yawned into his glove. “We’ve changed horses three times already. Good thing Josiah sent the emergency fund with us.”

“Well, she promised to camp come sunset.” George huffed. “And she’s going to camp come sunset whether she bloody likes it, or not. She can’t keep drivin’ herself like this.”

In the end the twins had to forcibly take the bridle of her mount to stop her. Anne fumed and paced mumbling things in Romani she would never say in English, as the brothers made the campfire.. Geoffrey and George simply grinned, knowing full well they were being insulted to the extent of Anne’s ability.

“Tell you what, Love!” Geoff grinned. “If ye promise to rest and never tell me what a ‘chovani’ is. I promise we’ll keep up with you when we leave out.” George looked at his brother as if he had taken leave of his senses. “Don’t worry,” Geoff whispered with a wink. “She’ll never keep up the rest end of it. We’ll be up before dawn, just like last time.”

“You have a deal, Geoffrey!” Anne being one of a handful of people who could tell the twins apart instantly. “I shall remember your words come morning.”

George shot Geoff an evil look. “Don’t worry, I’m telling’ ye. She’ll never be able to wait that long.” Geoff whispered.

“Don’t worry, I’m telling’ ye. She’ll never be able to wait that long.” George singsonged his minutes younger brother as they raced behind Anne in the morning light. “Last time I let you speak for us, Mate.” He grumbled.

The twins had awoken to the sun just breaking the horizon. Annabelle had been up at first light, putting out the campfire, and readying the horses. With a smile of satisfaction she threw the bleary eyed twins an apple each. “What’s this, Luv?” Geoff asked rubbing sleep from one eye. “Breakfast.” She had said. “It’s all I’ve had this morning. Now I hold you to your promise. Ride!” George had nearly crowned his sibling with his apple, when he thought better of it and bit into the apple while rolling up his bed.

“How was I to know she’d do it?” Geoff whined.

“And how long have ye known Annie, now?” George retorted. “Ya know bloody well she be as stubborn as Jack!” To his galloping mount he said. “Thick as a brick, that one is!” he motioned to the red faced Geoff with his head.

Annabelle smiled slyly as she galloped a furlong ahead of the bickering twins. Now she had a chance. If she could just catch Jack and Cecily before they crossed the border to Scotland all would be well. In Scotland both of them would die, she was certain of that. Tapping her heels into the Bay’s flanks she thought, “Forgive me, My Friend, but I need all the speed you are capable of. At the next town you will have your well deserved rest.”



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/22/2006 21:11:10
Message:

The next morning Jack prepared to leave. Something wasn’t right, and it wasn’t just the unsavory scene he had with Katherine. This was something different, a familiar feeling he would get when...

Saying goodbye to Mary was particularly difficult for Cecily. The feisty little woman had touched her heart deeply. “Mary, I promise you, Jack and I will stay for a real visit on our way back.” She said as she hugged the cheery woman.

“And we’ll be a waitin’ to see ye again, Dear.” She kissed Cecily’s cheek. “Now off with ye. Jackie-boy has a job to finish, and he better well finish it, or they’ll be a fresh bundle of hickory switches a waitin’ on him.” She winked.

“Yes, Mama!” Jack grinned touching two fingers to the brim of his hat. Then he looked at Cecily. The lovely curve of her jaw as she swung laughing into Aphrodite’s saddle. “She means it, too.” He whispered to her.

“I heard that, Ye scallywag!” Mary Cottlepot laughed. “Ye better believe I mean it, Jack Roberts.” She stood there in her garden waving each time Cecily turned back for a last look. Jack must have something in mind, she thought. That wasn’t the direction to Middlesbrough, that was the back way to Carlisle. As rough a road, if you could call it that, as any in the shire.

Soon after they were out of sight Jack took a left turn from the road. After a mile the road was barely a flat area of ground surrounded by forest. From what Cecily could tell, though little more than a wide path in the forest, it did lead unerringly North. Jack seemed a bit ill at ease, though she doubted any other would know. Cecily had found that she could usually know Jack’s real mood no matter what face he chose to wear at the time.

“Jack.” She spoke softly after an hour.

“Yes, Love?” Jack started slightly. “I’m sorry, I was lost in thought, Luv. Do you need to rest?”

“Is there something wrong? Any fool could see this is not the road to Middlesbrough and the usual route to Scotland.” Cecily let a bit of her worry show. “Is something the matter? Did Katherine make a threat to you, to us?”

Jack laughed, and relaxed a little. Aye, she was as sharp as she was beautiful. “Nay, Dearest. It’s really nothing more than a feeling I get really. It could be nothing more than my imagination, but I’ve learned to trust it. A side benefit to this road, is it will shave nearly a day off our journey.” He grinned. We will still be in Scotland to keep our appointment.

“Oh, Jack! Truly?!” Cecily bounced gleefully in her saddle, causing Aphrodite to shake her mane and snort her disapproval of all the ruckus on her back. “I’m sorry, girl.” Cecily patted the dappled mare affectionately on the neck. “I’m just so excited!”

“Aye, truly, My Love.” We may be camping out a bit, but...I’m afraid it’s unavoidable.” The look of worry on his face was priceless to her. The man resembled nothing more than a puppy about to be disciplined by it’s master. Her bell like laughter mingled with the trees as his look changed to one of perplexing bewilderment. “Oh, Jack, don’t look so worried.” Cecily leaned over to kiss him. “It will be just like our first night outside London.”



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/23/2006 10:58:28
Message:

The day passed pleasantly, despite the condition of the road and the scarcity of people. At times Cecily could believe that she and Jack were the only two people in the world. It was as if they were transported back to a time when all the Earth was forest, and man just a handful of scattered tribes.

Even during their frequent rest stops and meals the still tranquility of their surroundings brought a pleasant calm to frame their conversations in. Jack had relaxed completely into his old self, pushing all thoughts of his ex-lover from Cecily’s mind. Here there was only the two of them and their child. As it should be.

The evening sunlight painted the greenery with highlights of orange and red as Jack led them a few yards from the road to make camp. While he gathered the wood for their fire Cecily gave the horses a couple of apples, stroking their noses pleasantly, until Raven put his head down and gently nudged her toward Jack. “Ok, Raven. I understand. You two want to be alone.” She smiled. The black stallion tossed his head up and down snorting once.

She stood in the deepening twilight watching as Jack struck a tinderbox to the dried leaves piled beneath the conical pile of wood he had erected. Soon a roaring flame was beginning to consume the fuel with a pleasant crackling sound. She sat on the bedroll beside him and snuggled into his arms.

“I was wrong, My Love.” She smiled up to him.

“Wrong, Dearest? About what?” Jack asked.

“About this being like our first night together.” Cecily smiled with a tender mischief. “This night is ever so much better.” Hungrily she sought his mouth. Her soft hands pulling his shirt from his breeches as his own began to unlace her bodice.

Later they lay contented in each other’s arms. He stroked her hair while she lay her head on his breast. The soft firelight casting flickering shadows across their bodies. “Love?” Jack asked her softly.

“Yes, Man of Mine?” She snuggled deeper into his arms.

“God’s know ye’ve made me happier than I ever thought I could be, but I’ve a question that has been troubling me for a while now.” He began, as she lifted her head to look at him in puzzlement. “Ye don’t have to answer me if ye don’t wish to, but I must ask.”

“When we left London, while I had every hope that ye would stay with me, I was fully prepared to take you home, untouched. I loved you from the moment I laid eyes on you, but I knew ye to be highborn and figured you beyond my reach.” His eyes searched hers as if hoping to find the answer he sought there. “What made a lass of only seventeen years come to a man she knew to be a rogue, a thief, and a highwayman?”



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/23/2006 18:43:31
Message:

She rolled over and took his face in her hands. Looking at him with eyes full of love, she said, "I shall be honest with you, my love. You were my rescuer. At first I thought the feelings I felt for you were those of gratitude. But the moment I knew I truly loved you was a small one but one I shall never forget."
He kissed her hand and said, "When I offered you my bed and slept on the cot?"
"No."
"When I bought you the dress and new shoes?"
"That was wonderful but..no."
"Ah! When I offered you freedom from the monster slated to be your husband?"
"Wrong again!"
"Cecily, my dearest, I am running out of things..OH! When I fought the pirates who tried to take you back!"
Cecily laughed. "It will seem so insignificant, you will think it foolish..."
"Never!"
She traced her finger down his nose and past his lips. "It seems insignificant in light of all that you have done for me, my darling. But remember when we were to leave London? We were ready to go..."
"Oh, you love me for the material things I can give you! It must be Aphrodite then!"
She lightly slapped his chest and said, "Will you listen to me, rogue? None of the above, and certainly not the material things."
"Then what?"
She looked down and he thought she looked like a young girl about to tell her deepest, darkest secret.
"You had your wine coloured velvet coat on the hook. Next to it was the maroon velvet jacket on the hook next to it. Jack, it looked so...right. The two jackets side by side. Like it was a sign from heaven that it was meant to be."
"Two garments made you fall in love?"
She shook her head. "Not just that. You held the jacket open for me and when I slipped it on, it was like it was made for me. Like you. You were made for me. I turned to face you and your eyes had changed. You probably didn't even realize it. Gone was that teasing twinkle in your eyes. It was as if I could look into your soul. And when the redcoats recognized you and confronted you on the highway outside London, the fear I felt for your life was unlike any I had felt before! I knew then and there that I never wanted to live my life apart from you."
He kissed her tenderly and felt more content than he ever did in his life before that time. She completed him.

She curled up next to him and quietly, she said, "I have a confession to make, Jack."
"Lord, woman, do I look like a priest?" he teased.
She laughed lightly and said, "About the night I decided to give myself to you...."
Jack breathed softly, "A night I shall never forget, my love..."
"It may have appeared I was reckless. But my feelings were this---if I never ever saw you again, I wanted you to be the first. It would have been a precious memory I would have taken to my grave."
He held her close and she could feel the rising passion between the two of them.
She looked deeply in his eyes, smiled playfully and whispered, "Forgive me, Father. For I am about to sin. Again and again and again...."

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 09:29:54 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/24/2006 09:40:48
Message:

Sir Culpepper stalked into the Hammer and Anvil tavern, more than a bit perturbed. From the last few small villages leading to York the girl’s words had rung true, word of Roberts and Cecily’s passing was easy to find and fresh. Once pass York they had headed for Middlesbrough, the road to Scotland, the trail had gone cold. Now sitting at the tavern it was as if the Earth had swallowed the both of them. Roberts and Cecily had vanished.

“No luck then, Sir Peter?” Cameron’s sneering smile disappeared behind his tankard.

“Nothing! No one in this outback city has seen hide, or hair of either of them!” Culpepper fumed. “And I spent enough gold to loosen every tongue in England!”

Cameron sat his mug down and leaned closer to the frustrated lord. “Perhaps our bonnie lass knows more than what she be telling’, eh?” His whisper filled with honey and vile intent. “Give me no more than an hour alone with her and I promise you she’ll tell ye all.”

“And for the final time, Cameron Simon,” Culpepper hissed back, “I tell you nay! That strumpet has reasons of her own to want them caught. I don’t know why, but I’ve more than a good guess! Until Cecily is safe in my hands, and that upstart lies dead at my feet, ye’ll not touch one hair on her head! Is that clear?!”

“As rain, Guv, as rain.” Cameron sat back, returning his attention to his drink. A far away look in his eyes as he thought of the auburn haired beauty at his tender mercies.

Leslie chuckled deeply as Colin slapped Cameron’s shoulder, laughing. “Chompin’ at the bit, are ye, Simon?” The huge man grinned. “Never could teach the lad patience. Now don’t ye be a frettin’ much, Boyo, Ye’ll have all the time in the world with her once the job be done.” Turning back to their employer he asked, “So what do we do now?”

Peter Culpepper leaned back in his chair, a bit more composed after putting Cameron in his place. “In a way Cameron has the proper idea, but not the method.” He began. “The tart does hold the key to reaching Roberts before they make the border. She knows far more about the man than she is letting on. With the proper persuasion she may yet tell us all we need to know.”

Leslie, who usually remained the most silent of the three, spoke up. “We may not catch them at the border. What then?”

“Then,” Sir Peter beamed at the thought. “We have a wedding to object to, and object we will. Strongly!”

Katherine walked into the tavern, spying her benefactors she sat down in the empty chair and motioned for the tavern wench. “No one I could find has seen anything of them.” She scowled and ordered a tankard of ale. “Believe me, I check with those who would know.”

Peter Culpepper put on his worried father face. “Oh dear. Surely they could not have just vanished?? What of my poor Cecily? How will we stop this dreadful marriage? She is far too young!”

Cameron s******ed for a second, then raised his cup to hide behind it. Katherine neither liked nor trusted the thin dandy. She had more than once caught him staring at various parts of her anatomy with a decidedly unsavory gleam in his eye. She had made her mind up that she would lay him in his grave should he ever touch her.

Katherine tore her mind from the rogue and thought. Jack’s legendary sixth sense must have kick in. Many was the time she had marveled at his ability to sense danger and know when someone was following them. If that were the case now then he would have taken another route to Scotland. Her eyes grew wide with the realization. “He’s taken the back door!”

“What?” Sir Peter grew hopeful. “What was that, Miss?”

Katherine shook herself from her thoughts. “The back door is a little known road that leads straight to Carlisle from York. Little more than a wide path through the wood and easy to get lost on if you don’t know it.” She explained.

“My dear,” Culpepper kept his composure over the bad news. “We certainly can not back track all the way to York. My poor little girl will be beyond our reach by then.”

Katherine thought for a moment. “Our only chance then will be to take the road to Carlisle from here, instead of going to Durham. By now they would be nearly there and we will have to ride all night to make up time.” She continued oblivious to the men around her. “I doubt we can catch up before they cross the border, but we will be hot on their heels. I’ve a fair idea just where he’s going to.”

She thought back to the day she had left him for Martin’s promise of greener pastures. Since Jack could not produce proper documentation to acquire a license as Robert Johnson he had chosen the lovers way. Go to Scotland with a tale of being runaway lovers, get the license there and marry. She wished now that she would have done just that. A chill griped her heart as she felt him slipping away from her to marry another. “With luck we will be there in time to stop the marriage before it starts.” She said half to herself.

“And just where would this be, My Lady?” Sir peter allowed some of his excitement to show through.

“Gretna Green.” Katherine answered confidently.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/26/2006 08:04:13
Message:

Alice sat at her desk in her room, wrapped in her dressing gown. She had been writing letters and arranging her social obligations.
Her thoughts turned to the wedding she had planned for Cecily and Lord Culpepper. How DARE Cecily defy me!
Her headstrong daughter had always been a handful. Running wild, just like her brother.
And her associates were not wisely chosen. If only I had accompanied her to London!
She got up and looked at the wedding dress hanging in Alice's armoire. While it was not the one she was measured for in London, the seamstress was able to make one reconstructing Cecily's measurements from a gown she had.
Alice gently touched the fabric, resentment building up in her. Cecily had the opportunity to marry a Lord! And here she flung it aside like a crust of bread in favor of that brigand, Robert Johnson!
A mere tavernkeeper!

She frowned, even though she knew it may give her a crease in her face or two. Cecily is so vexing! A marriage with Sir Peter will straighten her out. Who better to teach her respect? Certainly her father couldn't.
She hadn't heard from Sir Peter in a few days. Would it hurt to make a...social call? After all, I need to see what progress he has made in retrieving my errant daughter...

Within an hour, she was settled back in her carriage.
"Ferguson, please take me to the Culpepper Estate."

She pulled up to his mansion and Ferguson opened the coach door and let her out.
"Shall I wait, Madame?"
She tried to keep the smile from her face and put on a business air.
"Why not return in two hours, Ferguson? I am sure Lord Culpepper and I will have concluded our business to a mutually satisfying agreement."

She knocked on the door and Raymond answered.
"Good day, Raymond. I am here to see Lord Culpepper. And my daughter."
Raymond looked at her befuddled.
"I am sorry, Madame, but Lord Culpepper is away on business."
She couldn't help but notice that he always looked more relaxed when that happened.
Raymond continued, "May I offer you a repast?"
She went into the parlor and sat down. "Then I shall see my daughter Cecily."
"Madame? Your daughter is not here."
"What? Lord Culpepper was on the way to pay a ransom from that blackard Roberts. Where is my little girl, then?"
Raymond rubbed his chin. "From what I gather, from what I have heard Lord Culpepper breathing fire and damnation about, she is on her way with a Mr. Robert Johnson to be wed."

"WED? How can that be?"
"Madame, Lord Culpepper found out that the Lady Cecily fled to Scotland with a Mr. Robert Johnson to be married. I imagine they are most likely man and wife by now."
Secretly, Raymond championed the two of them. He would have championed anyone who put the screws to Lord Culpepper.

Lady Alice could do nothing but sit and wait for her carriage to come back. By the time it did, she had put quite a dent in Culpepper's brandy stash. She sat in the back of the coach and wondered how...how could Cecily throw her life away.

By the time she entered her own parlor, she was enraged from having an internal conversation with herself.
Andrew sat in front of the fire, drinking a brandy and reading a book.
Lady Alice was disheveled, her hair coming down and the brandy taking effect. Andrew jumped up.
"Mother? Are you alright?"
Lady Alice snarled, "Alright? You want to know if I am ALRIGHT? NO, I AM NOT ALRIGHT"
She swayed and Andrew caught her by the elbow. Lady Alice pulled away.
"Mother, will you PLEASE tell me what is going on?"
Alice sneered, "As if you didn't know. You! You helped her!"
"Helped WHO?"
"Your sister! You helped her run away and m-m-marry that..that....man!"
Andrew flared up. "I most certainly DID help Cecily. She knew you drugged her and I know you forged Father's signature on that bogus marriage license. So yes, I did help her! And glad of it I am!"
Lady Alice went to the brandy decanter and poured herself a snifter. "You have no idea what damage you have caused, Andrew. Not at all!"
She turned to go, barely making it up the stairs to her room.
Andrew looked after her sadly and thought, 'She has no idea what maternal love is.'
He stirred the ashes of the fire with the poker and thought to himself, 'At least Cecily is spared this scene.'
Sitting back in his chair, he raised his brandy glass and said to no one, 'To you and Jack, Sis. Long may you love.'



Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 09:31:37 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/26/2006 11:25:05
Message:

The sun had just touched the horizon, painting the town of Gretna Green in golden light, when the two lovers rode into view. The sparkling light glancing off of the steeples of Church of Scotland. The pleasant clop of their horses hooves against the cobble stones as they made their way through the crowded main street, a sharp contrast to the dull thud of the grass and dirt road they had traveled to reach Carlisle.

They had left Carlisle before dawn, an unusual thing for Jack to do, given that he had been traveling very lightly after discovering Cecily’s condition. This time, however, he had rode just a trifle harder. Keeping constant check on her to assure himself that the increased pace caused her no discomfort.

Having now arrived at their destination Jack sought out a particular building. The polished wooden sign attached next to the door read, “Conner McTavish, Magistrate”. Cecily smiled as Jack dismounted and offered her his hand to help her down.

“My Love, the hour is much too late. Perhaps we could return in the morning?” She teased. “Or are you in such a hurry to claim your prize?”

The sly grin that usually let her know when he was up to something slid across Jack’s face as he helped her from the saddle. Without a word he walked to the door and rapped the brass knocker. After a few moments they heard the latch click, and the door swung wide revealing a man of forty some years with flaming red hair, touched in gray.

“Ah, there ye be, Jacko!” Conner’s smile was wide and welcoming. “I was beginning to lose faith in ye, Laddie.” he shook Jack’s hand vigorously. “Or figured ye be havin’ me on a bit. Never thought I’d be a fillin’ out one of these things for you.”

His attention turned to Cecily, a twinkle to rival the stars in his gray-green eyes. “But I can see by the bonnie lass ye’ve brought with ye, ye be quite serious.” Gently McTavish took her offered hand, lightly kissing the back of her fingers. “Well come inside, the two ‘a ye. I’ve some warm brandy for the lass, and some good scotch for ye, Laddie Buck.” Conner stood to one side of the door, one arm open to the interior as Cecily entered, followed by Jack.

Leading them past the outer offices, with it’s stacks of papers, and filled cupboards, he opened the door to a small but elegant sitting room. A welcoming fire to ward off the chill of the highlands lazily burned in the fireplace. Two overstuffed leather armchairs, and a small couch of the same make, sat in close proximity of it’s warmth. The afternoon sunlight peeked in through the green velvet curtains, and a single folder rested on the end table of one chair.

Handing his guests crystal glasses he had filled from the decanters on the high table at the back of the room, Conner sat down in the chair, while Jack and Cecily favored the small couch. Their fingers entwined. “Here ye are, Miss. Just the thing to take the chill from the bones.” He smiled. “To be honest when I received word for Jack here that he be comin’ to Greta Green to marry, I thought he was havin’ me on. Seein’ ye here beside ‘a him, I’m glad ta be wrong.”

“But, Jack only proposed to me a little more than a week ago.” Cecily wondered. “How could he have gotten word to you so quickly?”

Jack blushed. “I sent word to Conner two weeks ago, Dearest.” He confessed. “The morning after you suggested we marry.”

“Faith above!” Conner howled. “Ye can be makin’ him change color this easy, Lassie?? These eyes have seen it all now!” Seeing Cecily’s own color change slightly he smiled warmly, and patted her hand resting on Jack’s knee. “Now don’t ye be startin’, Missy. Few can make this outlaw blush, and then only those he cares for.”

“Now, down to business.” He reached for the folder and opened it. “We’ve all four copies here, all under the name of Robert Johnson, for your signatures.”

“Four copies?” Cecily asked.

“Aye, Lassie.” McTavish smiled. “One for ye, and Jack, one for me own records, one to register here, and one Jack wants sent to the resistery in London, for some reason. Though it not be necessary.”

Cecily smiled to herself, understanding that Jack was putting their marriage as far beyond interference from the law, and consequently her mother, as possible. She hugged him closely, gently kissing his cheek before reaching for the quill Conner held out to her.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/26/2006 19:55:23
Message:

“Well that’s torn it!” Sir Peter fumed. “According to the Innkeeper at the White Swan they left before daybreak this morning!”

“Humph!” Colin huffed. “By now they’ll be across the border.”

“Yes.” Culpepper sat back in thought. “However, at best they won’t make Gretna Green until late in the afternoon. They’ll still need a license, and the local magistrate will be closed by then. We may still catch them before the ceremony. Only two Churches they could possibly go to. The Church of Scotland, and the Cameronians.”

“And if we don’t get to them before the ceremony?” Cameron asked.

“Then I’m afraid Cecily will become a widow. In record time.” Culpepper sneered.

“Then we best be moving.” Leslie spoke. “If we ride through the night we can make Gretna Green by morn.”

“Aye, Leslie.” Colin nodded. “Lets go get Simon’s new toy. The game is nearly trapped.”

Cameron smiled wickedly.

Annabelle led the way into Carlisle that afternoon. Riding straight to the stables she immediately began dickering for fresh mounts, sending George and Geoff into the town to find word of Jack and Cecily.

She had just traded for fresh mounts, and had the saddle’s and their traveling gear transferred when the twins came running back into the stable. “They just left this morning, Annie.” George huffed, out of breath.

“And that’s not all!” Geoffrey picked up the tale. “An inquiry was made at the Inn by a man claiming to be Cecily’s father.”

As Geoff caught his breath, George finished. “A man who fit’s Peter Culpepper’s description. He and three nasty looking characters left out before noon, with a woman what sounded like Katherine Fairchild.”

Annabelle Peterson went white as a ghost, then whispered. “The scorned woman, the three evil ones!”

George and Geoff looked at each other and shuddered, as the afternoon air suddenly turned colder for them both. “Cor Blimey!” George breathed.

“We’ve no time to lose!” Anne shouted as she all but jumped into the saddle of her new mount. For once neither George, nor Geoffrey argued as the trio raced out of town. Spurring their mounts with every hoof beat. Soon only a trail of dust marked their passage, and though he didn’t know exactly why, the stable master crossed himself.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/26/2006 23:56:44
Message:

Jack and Cecily had taken rooms at the Gretna Hall across from the Church of Scotland.
Once they got to their rooms, Cecily stretched and said, "How wonderful! By this time tomorrow, this shall be our marriage bed!"
Jack drew her into his arms and whispered low, "It can be a pre-marriage bed, you know..."
Cecily got a devilish grin on her face and pulled away. "You should not be seeing the bride before the wedding, Mr. Roberts!"
She ran to the other side of the bed. Jack chased her around the bed several times, Cecily laughing and Jack pursuing. She picked up a pillow and hit him in the face.
Finally he jumped across the bed and leaped in front of her.
He took her into his arms and kissed her deeply.
"Enjoy your last night as MISS Morley!"
She pulled away breathless and touched his cheek gently. "A name I would gladly forsake for you, darling!"
He slowly unlaced her dress and it fell to the floor. Layer upon layer, each other taking great delight in the process of relieving each other of the burden of their garments.
Finally all that was left was a pile of clothes on the floor.
Except Jack's shirt.
That flew out the window and landed into the street below.
He looked out the casement window and swore softly, "Guess I can kiss that shirt goodbye..."
From the bed, a soft voice said, "Speaking of kisses...."

Contentedly, Cecily laid on her side, Jack's body molded around her. She turned her head and said, "Jack?"
He kissed her neck and said, "Yes, love?"
"What shall we name the baby?"
He pushed her hair back and kissed her ear.
"My dear, I have the perfect name!"
"What?"
"Roberts!"
She laughed. "That is not what I mean! A baby needs a name."
"Cecily, there is plenty of time to think of names."
She rolled over to face him. "I want you to pick out the name. I can choose the next, and then you, and then me, and then you and then me and then----"
He covered her mouth with a kiss. "And just how many do you plan on having, my sweet?"
"As many as our hearts can hold! Oh! And as long as I don't get fat!" She said with a twinkle in her eyes.
Jack roared with laughter.
"Jack, do you have any cousins?"
He put his arms around her and she rested her head on his chest.
"Tell the truth, my love, I don't know. Mother had a sister who was wild. Her name was Maureen. She and Mother both had the blue-green eyes. As that is where I get it from."
"Do you look like your mother or your father?"
"I look like Father but with Mother's colouring. But to get back to Maureen...she met a Frenchman who came to port one day. His name was Christophe. Damned if I can remember the last name. I may never have even heard it. She left with him to the Colonies and no one ever heard from them again. After the farm burned and Mother and Father died of smallpox, there didn't seem to be any point. So I may have some shirt-tail relations out there with a soupcon of French blood!"

Jack had gone downstairs to order a meal to be sent up to their rooms. Cecily was tired and didn't feel well enough to go downstairs to face a room full of diners.
As they dined on the food that was brought up, Cecily looked up at Jack, her eyes shining with happiness.
"Show me the license, Jack!"
"Again?"
She nodded. "I just like looking at it!"
He handed it to her and as she was reading, Jack said, "You know we don't have to have a formal ceremony. Scottish law allows for 'irregular marriages', meaning that, so long as a declaration is made, in front of two witnesses, almost anybody has the authority to conduct the marriage ceremony."
Cecily handed it back to Jack and laughed, "You mean a blacksmith can marry us?"
Jack put the license in the drawer next to the bed and smiled. "Aye. But I have a feeling ye want to be wed proper, Miss Morley."
She laid back on the pillows, put her arms around him, drew him close to her and whispered, "Aye. That I do, Mr. Roberts. That I do. I want it carved in granite so no one--no one at all!--can ever tear us apart."

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 09:34:37 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/27/2006 09:38:58
Message:

The morning of the wedding had proven more hectic than Jack anticipated. He had left early to hire some girls to help Cecily get ready for the event, and to comply with her wishes not to see the bride before the wedding. Next he had visited with Conner McTavish to arrange for a celebration in the town meeting hall. Conner promised to bring all the drink. After securing the hall Jack went to the different merchants purchasing baked goods, a wedding cake, and various food stuffs for the many guests he had planned to surprise Cecliy with. By then it was near noon and he made his way to The Church of Scotland to dress himself.

Katherine Fairchild had rode into town by herself, not wanting to be seen with the men she counted on to stop Jack’s wedding. She sat in the rooms Lord Culpepper had instructed her to rent for them, looking out the window. Then she saw him. Jack was crossing the street to a rather expensive clothier. Her heart leapt at the prospect of once again becoming the woman of Black Jack Roberts.

As she stared intently at the door of the clothiers, her mind filled with her hopes for a future, she failed to hear the door open behind her. A sudden blow to her head sent her tumbling to the floor unconscious. When she regained her senses she found herself tied to the chair she had sat day dreaming at. Peter Culpepper and his crew stood in the room, Cameron Mulligan leering at her. Her weapons lay on the table across the room. From the sunlight she guessed it to be the afternoon.

“Well, My pretty, have a nice nap?” Cameron grinned. He leaned in closer to her. “I’m afraid there’s been slight change of plans. You see the girl will soon be marrying Lord Culpepper here, and Mister Roberts will soon be in the hereafter.” His voice dropped to a low whisper. “ But don’t worry, Sweet One, after I’ve done with ye, you’ll soon be joining him.”

Jack stood beside the priest. Several other couples waited their turn to be married and a few onlookers sat in the pews. After what seemed to him to be an eternity the organ began to play the bridal march. His breath caught in his throat as Cecily came into view. The sight of her smiling face behind the transparent veil was to him the most beautiful he had ever seen. It was a memory he would forever carry with him.

The churches flower girls walked ahead of her, tossing rose petals in her path. The beautiful white dress trailed behind her despite the child who attempted to keep it from the red carpeted aisle. As she made her way up the short stairs that led before the altar it was all he could do not to take her in his arms and hold her. “Dearly Beloved,” The priest began.

Outside the church Peter Culpepper and Cameron Mulligan stood at the bottom of the long wide steps that led up to the polished oak double doors, waiting. On either side of those doors stood Colin and Leslie. Soon Cecliy would again be his and Jack Roberts would be nothing more than a memory. Patience it seemed was a virtue after all.

Back in the rooms she had rented for her betrayers Katherine struggled to raise her tightly bound hands just a little higher. Silently she prayed they had not found the thin dagger she kept in a hidden sheath on the inside of her belt.

“I do.” Jack smiled warmly into Cecily’s sapphire eyes. Every dream that he had thought forever beyond his reach was coming true. To once again have a family of his own, with a love that would last him all of his days. Lost in his thoughts he missed the priest’s question to Cecily, only breaking his reverie when he heard her say, “I do.”

“Then by the power vested in me by God Almighty, I pronounce you man, and wife.” the Portly priest intoned. “You may kiss the bride.”

Jack gently lifted the veil from her features. Taking her into his arms he kissed her lips gently, then deeper. The assembly clapped their joy as he reluctantly released her, whispering into her ear. “I love you, Mrs. Roberts.”

“I love you, My Husband.” Her eyes twinkled as tears of joy overflowed to trail down her rose tinted cheeks.

“I have a special gift for you, My Love.” Jack smiled as he reached into his pocket. A gasp of astonishment rose from the crowd as the necklace came into view. Sparkling in the candle light the pear shaped emeralds looked to Cecily like green flames nestled in a field of stars.

“Oh, Jack!” Her hand flew to her mouth in pleasant shock. “It’s beautiful! My first present as your wife.” Her tears flowed even more freely as she bent her head for him to fasten the bauble around her neck. As soon as he finished she took him into her arms and kissed him deeply. “I shall never take it off!!”

Jack held out his hand to her. “Come, My Wife, I spent the day planning a celebration for us. The sooner we attend, the sooner we may retire to our rooms.” He grinned devilishly.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/27/2006 11:54:49
Message:

Jack and Cecily left the church as the next man took his place beside the priest. Their love for each other stretched out before them like a carpet of happily ever after stories. As soon as they returned home Jack would put his plan to kill Black Jack Roberts once and for all in to motion. Then there would be nothing for him, but his family. No more secrets to keep, no more hiding from the redcoats, only the joy of raising the children with his loving wife by his side.

Arms as strong as knotted oak grabbed him from behind pinning his arms in a vice like grip he would have swore came from nothing human. He heard Cecily scream and the sound of a wooden beam being shoved through the door handles of the church. Then his eyes focused heatedly on Peter Culpepper and his companion coming up the steps.

“Very well, Roberts.” He smirked. “You have had your wish granted, now I will have mine.”

Jack said nothing while he struggled in the grip of the laughing man mountain who held his arms. Sir Culpepper smiled and turned to Cecily held fast in Leslie’s grip. The smirking Cameron positioned himself in front of Jack, one hand on the hilt of his rapier.

“Now Cecily.” Peter continued. “We will have no more of this nonsense. We will return home and we will be properly wed. You can then forget all about this childish fantasy of love for this outlaw.”

Rage unlike anything she had felt before filled Cecily’s face as she screamed into Culpepper’s countenance. “I will never marry you!! I will never be yours, Peter Culpepper!! There is only one man I will ever love for as long as I live!! For as long as he lives!!”

Lord Culpepper noticed the necklace around Cecily’s throat. “Did he give that to you, Dear?!” He hissed. His own rage building to a white heat within him. “It’s funny you should use those terms! Consider that thing around your neck a going away present! Cameron!!”

The grinning dandy smiled evilly into Jacks eyes, only slightly disappointed to find defiance there instead of fear. Slowly he drew the long thin blade from it’s sheath, savoring every scream that escaped the girl’s lips as Sir Peter held her head, forcing her to watch. “You do know, Mate, that this is going to be slow and very painful.” Cameron snickered as he placed the tip of the sword just above Jack’s belt buckle. “Very painful indeed.”

“Noooooooooo!!!!” Cecily screamed as her tears ran like rivers from her eyes. “For God’s sake, no!!!” She saw the thin monster’s arm tense as he prepared to run Jack through slowly. Looking into Jacks eyes she whispered. “My beloved.”

Sir Peter spun around at the gunshot from the bottom of the stairs. Disbelief filled his expression as he saw Cameron Simon stiffen, the readied blade falling from his fingers to clatter down the steps. Slowly, like a marionette who’s strings are cut one by one, he staggered backward down the steps, his eyes riveted on the growing red blossom on the chest of his shirt. He turned to see the auburn haired Katherine, her still smoking pistol pointed at him, smile. His eyes rolled backward as the world began to spin, growing ever darker, before tumbling down to rest at her feet.

As Colin Mulligan gazed in open mouthed shock at his fallen brother Jack stomped down hard on the brute’s instep, feeling the bone snap. Colin howled releasing Jack. Katherine snatched up Cameron’s rapier. “Jack!” She shouted drawing back to toss the weapon up the steps to him. A second shot rang out and Katherine’s eyes grew wide with shock. The rapier clattered to the ground a second time as she fell to her knees first, then tumbled forward.

Lord Culpepper belted his pistol, and turned to face his unarmed nemesis. Smiling he drew his own rapier. “Now, Jack Roberts. We have unfinished business, you and I.” As he started forward, certain Jack could not reach a weapon in time, the thundering sound of running horses brought him up short.

The horses had barely come to a stop when George, and Geoff leapt from their saddles. Firing their pistols the shots went wide, yet close enough to Leslie to make him forget about holding on to the girl in his grasp as he covered himself. Drawing their swords the twins charged up the stairs. As Peter Culpepper turned to end Jack’s life before they could reach him Cecily again jumped onto his back.

Geoff grabbed the fallen rapier and shouting out to Jack tossed the blade to him. Catching the spinning weapon Jack turned to see Colin hobble towards him, a knife clutched in his grimy fist. With unerring accuracy Jack drove his blade into the huge man. Colin’s precarious balance gave way and he rolled down to join his younger brother in death.

“Damn you, Harlot!!” Sir Peter shouted, suddenly leaning forward and flipping Cecily over his head.

Jack watched in horror as she tried to twist in midair to get her arms and feet under her. Missing by only a second she landed onto her stomach, and doubled over moaning loudly. “Cecily!!” Jack screamed, forgetting everything but her he raced to her side. “God in heaven, please, No!” His tears spattered the wedding gown.

George and Geoff ran past the weeping Jack, cradling his love in his arms. Peter saw Annabelle pulling a pistol from her saddlebag. With less than a moment to react he leapt over the side of the stairs and ran for his horse, a split second ahead of the shot that sent cement splinters flying behind him. Swinging swiftly into the saddle he spurred the mount down the street and was gone.

Leslie Mulligan howled, swinging his sword left and right at George and Geoffrey. For all their skill the twins couldn’t get to within striking range of the remaining Mulligan brother. Annabelle Peterson reloaded her pistol, then taking careful aim this time she sent a ball into Leslie’s forehead and ran to Jack’s side.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/27/2006 12:58:27
Message:

George and Geoff stood helplessly over Jack as he cradled his injured love in his arms, stroking her upturned face, and gently calling her name. Cecily had passed out from the pain and for the first time in his life Jack Roberts knew the taste of fear. Never before had either of them seen tears from the dark outlaw, yet now they watched silently as tides of grief flowed down his face.

Anne knelt down beside him, gently prying Cecily’s still form from his grip. Checking over the unconscious girl, she shook her head. She still breathed, but something was decidedly wrong. Anne motioned for George and Geoffrey to help carry her to where she could examine her fully.

Jack shook with fear, pain, and rage. Had he his way Sir Peter Culpepper would soon find himself with Jack’s steel firmly buried in his body. “Gently, Lads.” He sobbed, tentatively reaching out one hand to touch her face. “Our rooms are just across the way, at Gretna Hall.”

George and Geoff tenderly lifted the limp form, cradling her in both their arms at the same time. The gathered crowd of onlookers parted to let them through with Anne in the lead. As Jack followed on unsteady feet a soft moan caught his ear. Motioning for the trio to continue he knelt at the still breathing form of Katherine Fairchild. Gently rolling her over, her eyes fluttered open. Her smile at seeing him released a thin trickle of blood from the corner of her shapely lips.

“Jack?” She whispered, reaching up to stroke his face. “I am so sorry, if it were not for me they would have never found you. Please, forgive me?”

Gently he laid her head against his raised knee. Pulling a handkerchief from his coat he daubed the blood from her mouth. “There is nothing to forgive, Kath.” He spoke lowly, using the name he called her by those long years ago. One hand behind her head as a fit of coughing shook her.

“I wish I had remained true to you, My Love.” She whispered, the regret filled her eyes with tears. “All I wanted was to make it all up to you. But the dream is over now. Go to her, and love her as I wish you could have loved me.”

“I’ll not leave you here to suffer alone, Kath.” He smiled warmly. “George and Geoff will return soon. Annie can help you.”

“No, I know the wound is mortal, My Love.” She coughed again and Jack held the handkerchief to her mouth as a new flow began. “Ye have her to see to. Perhaps I will see you again in another life, Highwayman.” Her smile was sad and weak. “Jack?”

“Yes, Kath?” He answered, new tears rolling down his cheeks.

Gently she reached up to touch the tears he now shed for her. “Is this the end of the dream?” Slowly she relaxed in his arms, a smile graced her face as she passed from the Earth. Gently Jack lifted Katherine’s still form. He would not suffer her to lay in the same street as the garbage he knew had used her pain to get to him. Slowly the crowd parted for him, and he carried Katherine into Gretna Hall.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/27/2006 14:09:58
Message:

Geoff and George carried Cecily's still form into the room on the second floor.
"Easy! Easy! I don't know what injuries Cecily has sustained from the fall, " the gypsy cautioned.
To herself she muttered, "Damn him! Damn him to hell! There's a special place of torment for those what harms a lady..."
Gently they laid Cecily on the bed. She was still unconscious. Annabelle turned to the men.
"Best you see to Jack. He's going to need the two of you and your brawny shoulders right now. Keeping him calm is the best thing you can do for Cecily right now."

Annabelle turned her attention to Cecily. She touched her wrist. Good! The pulse was strengthening. She felt her arms and legs for broken bones. None. Better...
Cecily's eyes fluttered and then opened a bit. She moaned.
"A-A-Annabelle? Is that you?"
Annabelle smiled tenderly at the new bride. She brushed Cecily's hair from her face. "Hush, darling, I'm here. You took a nasty spill."
Cecily tried to lift herself up and fell weakly back on the pillow. "Jack....where is Jack? I want my husband..."
Annabelle took a wet cloth and applied it to Cecily's forehead.
"Cecily, Jack is fine. The thugs have been vanquished and Culpepper ran off. But you are everyone's main concern right now. I am going to have to feel around your body to see if there are any injuries inside. I really am sorry about the wedding dress but I can't risk you moving to take it off."
She took out scissors and began cutting the dress from Cecily's body.
That is when she noticed the blood.

"Cecily? I think you are bleeding internally."
Cecily closed her eyes and said, "Please, Annabelle. Save him."
"Dear, I already told you that Jack is alright. He's with Geoff and George."
Annabelle tried to keep the girl calm but her own sense of fear was taking over. Cecily was bleeding and Annabelle was trying to find out where and why.
Cecily shook her head. "N-no. The baby. You have to save the baby, Annabelle."
Annabelle rocked back on her heels.
"Cecily...you are with child?"
Cecily managed to nod, the tears streaming down her face. "Aye. We just discovered it. Oh, Annabelle. Please! Save my child!"

Annabelle tried to assimilate her thoughts. A child. Two deaths that I saw in the cards. That was it. The two deaths was the child. Each of them a part of that little life.
Annabelle tried to check her tears.
"Aye, Cecily. I shall do my best, love."

Annabelle touched Cecily and said softly, "I am going to touch you, dear, and I want you to tell me if it hurts."
Cecily nodded slowly. Annabelle touched.
"Here?"
"No."
"Here?"
"No."
"What about here?"
"OHHHH!" Cecily cried out.
"You broke a few ribs, Cecily. There is nothing to do with that. They will heal on their own and I can give you a healing tonic to speed recovery."
Cecily whispered, "My baby...our baby...."
Annabelle, satisfied that Cecily sustained no other injuries, now concentrated on the bleeding. The flow seemed to increase. Annabelle looked in her bag. She was afraid Cecily would start to hemorrage. She quickly mixed up a blend of red raspberry and wild yam into a tea.
She held Cecily's head up and said, "Drink this, Cecily. It will help."
Annabelle raised Cecily's head up. She moaned, "It hurts to breathe, Annabelle...."
"That is the broken ribs. I'm sorry, but I can't do anything about it, lass."
Cecily began to moan and double over in pain. Annabelle put her hand on Cecily's abdomen and felt her uterus start to cramp.
Annabelle started to mutter in Romani. "Devleja!...chudimata.."
Cecily pleaded with Annabelle, "Please, Annabelle, I can't lose what Jack wants most in this world...how can I tell him I killed our baby?"
Annabelle said sternly, "Cecily, it is not your fault. I am here to help. By worrying and getting upset, you are making my job that much harder. Now relax."

Annabelle continued to massage Cecily's abdomen to try to get the uterus to relax. But to no avail. The gypsy knew what was the inevitable. Cecily's cramps elevated. She could see the despair on the young bride's face.
Annabelle sliently cursed Peter Culpepper for ruining what should have been the happiest day in this girl's life. Instead, she would always remember it as the day she lost her baby and almost lost her husband.

Cecily gave a sharp cry of pain.
And then it was all over.

Annabelle closed the door and leaned against the doorjamb. She did something she rarely did.
She gave way to tears.



Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 09:36:48 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/27/2006 21:32:32
Message:

Jack was pacing back and forth in the parlor of Gretna Hall. Geoff and George were sitting there, doing all they could to keep Jack from dashing up the stairs.
Annabelle slowly walked down the stairs and Jack looked up. He rushed to meet her halfway
"Is--is she allright?"
Annabelle ran her fingers through her long dark hair wearily. "A few broken ribs. They will heal on their own."
Jack looked her in the eyes and said quietly, "You know?"
She nodded. "I know."
"And....?"
Annabelle took his hands. "I'm sorry, Jack. I did all I could."


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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/28/2006 09:13:18
Message:

Jack stood looking at Anne in shock, his eyes blank as new parchment. Of all the news he had feared to receive, next to losing Cecily, this was the worst. Anne could tell that though he was staring directly at her, he didn’t see her, nor she suspected any thing else around him. George and Geoffrey turned their heads away to hide tears they could not stop as he made his way up the stairs, his body moving where his mind could not will it to move.

Jack’s hand trembled uncontrollably as he reached for the door latch to finally clamp around it in an ever tightening grip. Ride, Lord Culpepper! Ride where ever you wish! For as far as you wish! Once she is better I will send you to Hell, you bastard!!

Unaware of the new tears that streamed down his face, Jack took a shuddering breath, forcing his raging hatred down. Now was not the time, Cecily needed him too much. Her comfort was all that mattered now. She was all that mattered now. He needed to control himself for her. At last he pushed down on the handle and entered.

Cecily’s tear stained eyes looked into his. Her face broke into a tearful sadness as she raised her arms out to him. Rushing into her arms his own sorrow broke anew and they held each other for a timeless length, their bodies wracked with sobs. The torn and bloody wedding gown a mute witness of the tragic turn of events this day had taken.

“Oh, My Love!” Cecily cried against his shoulder. “I am so sorry. Forgive me.”

Jack pulled back gently. “Please, Dearest, if anyone should beg forgiveness, it is I.” His voice steady despite the grief that still flowed from his eyes. “Had I not been so confident of my plans, had I had Culpepper watched, we would have known, and our child would yet live. If anyone is to blame for what has happened to you, it is I, and I will never forgive myself for it.”

“But, Jack, you couldn’t…” She began. Gently he put one finger to her lips, then gathered her to his breast his face turned to the ceiling, his hand cradling her head.

“No more words of sorrow, Darling. I still have you and for that I am eternally grateful.” His voice was soft and tender. Cecily snuggled deeper into his arms.

A discreet knock came at the door, and Jack handed Cecily a spare handkerchief while he wiped his own eyes on the sleeve of his coat. Within a moment they had collected themselves and Jack answered the second light knock. “Yes.”

Annabelle Peterson quietly opened the door, her features were somber. “I’m sorry, Jack, but the innkeeper is asking for you. He wants to know what you intend to do with Katherine’s body.” Her eyes glanced to Cecily for a moment.

“Tell him I will be there in a moment, Luv.” He sighed. “Then would you please come back to keep Cecily company?”

“Of course.” Anne smiled sadly, closing the door behind her with a soft click.

“Katherine?” Cecily asked. “Then the woman who saved your life was her?”

Jack looked down at his lap. “Yes, My Love. It was.”

Softly she lifted his face to hers. “Jack, she saved your life when I could not and for that I am grateful. You must see her to her resting place.”

“Nay, My Love.” Jack shook his head. “I must remain here, with you. I will pay for her funeral, but I remain by your side.”

“Jack.” her words were soft, but held within them a resolve to rival steel. “At one time in your life you loved her, Mary told me. She saved your life, and in a way mine, because of the love she still held for you. Anne can stay with me. You will go.”

Jack’s blue-green eyes glowed with his love for her as he spoke. “I will do as you wish, My Wife, but I want you to know. While it is true that for a time I loved Katherine, she never in all that time held the place in my heart that you hold. No one will ever take, or hold that place, but you.”

Anne knocked as softly before entering the room again. Jack gently kissed the sweet lips of his love, then quietly left to make the arraignments for the funeral of Katherine Fairchild.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/29/2006 20:47:14
Message:

"Annabelle, how can I ever thank you? You have been there for me more times than I can ever count?" Cecily said.
Annabelle brushed the hair back from Cecily's face. "My dear, there is nothing to thank me for. I would do anything for you and Jack."
The young bride tried not to cry. "My baby. He never had a chance. And I shall make sure that some day Peter Culpepper pays for it. He murdered my child."
Anne reached in her bag and made a potion for Cecily. "This will help heal you internally, Cecily. It has a few herbs known to the Chinese to repair any damage done."
Cecily looked wide-eyed. "Damage? You-you think I may be damaged?"
Annabelle shook her head. "No, you are fine. But this will help heal you faster."
Cecily took the potion and drank it, making a face. She laid back on the pillow.
Softly, she said to Annabelle, "I know about Jack and Katherine. Anne, I want Jack to go to her funeral. If he doesn't, he will regret it. I think he would need closure."
"That is very insightful of you, Cecily."
She shook her head. "Not exactly. Peter Culpepper is a monster who uses hired thugs. I firmly believe with or without Katherine, they would have found us. Katherine saved Jack. And by doing that, she saved me. How can I have Jack turn his back on her and let her be buried alone? No one should have to die alone, Annabelle. Except Peter Culpepper. And if I am well enough, I would like to attend her funeral as well. To show Katherine there are no hard feelings."
Anne kissed her forehead and said, "You are a very loving person, Cecily. And whether you know it or not, you saved Jack. Thanks to you, he is calming down and giving up his dangerous livlihood. No one else could do that."

Annabelle straightened out the blankets around Cecily.
"Do you want anything to eat, Cecily?"
She shook her head. "I just want to wait for Jack. Some wedding night, for sure."
She smiled wryly. "So much for romance. I have broken ribs and am hurt. Jack is grieving for a dead paramour. I wouldn't wish this on anyone. Except maybe the spawn from hell."
Anne couldn't help but laugh. "Cecily, I like you. I really do!"
Cecily said shyly, "Thank you. I promised Mary Cottlepot we would stop back to see her and I intend to. I wouldn't mind resting up there for a few days. I have to ride Aphrodite."
The gypsy said sternly, "There will be no riding for a while. You don't need jostling."

Just then, Jack came in, looking weary. Cecily's heart tore with feeling for her husband. He turned to Annabelle and said, "I have rooms for you and the twins. Annie, I can't begin to thank you for what you have done. You saved my life. And my love's."
Annabelle touched his cheek gently.
"I am sorry on the child, Jack."
He nodded wordlessly.
Annabelle then said briskly, "Yes. Well, I am exhausted and it shall feel good to sleep in a decent bed again."
She then kissed Jack and Cecily.
"It's your wedding night. So it isn't what you expected but you have each other. Goodnight, dears."

After Jack had a meal sent up for the two of them, they sat together in silence, each deep in their own thoughts on what had transpired during the day.
Jack stripped off his clothes and came to bed. As he wrapped his arms around his bride, she winced.
"I'm sorry, love. I forgot the broken ribs."
Cecily touched his cheek and said, "For you, Jack Roberts, I would gladly suffer the pain!"
Before long, they both fell asleep with the thought that if all else, they accomplished what they set out to do.
They were husband and wife.


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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/29/2006 20:52:39
Message:

The carriage turned down the lane carrying Anne and Cecily inside while George and Geoffrey sat in the drivers seat, alternating between driving and keeping watch. Aphrodite walked along tethered to the back and Jack rode at the front. It was the same unaltered pattern of travel they had adopted since leaving Gretna Green almost four days ago. They had stayed there a week and a half until Cecily had mended enough to travel. Even then Jack insisted on a crawling speed, unwilling to have her suffer anything more.

He had made certain that they were all fully armed. The twins carried four loaded pistols each, and a musket. Annabelle had six in the coach with her and four daggers. Jack had even insisted on putting a new bow with thirty arrows and Cecily’s whip. “You’d think the man were going to war.” Geoff confided to his brother. “He is.” George said with conviction.

Secretly, deep inside himself, Jack wanted Sir Peter Culpepper to attempt something, anything. No matter what else would happen the man would die, even if it cost Jack his own life. His mind drifted back to Katherine’s service. Rain poured down fiercely that day as the quartet stood around the open grave. Jack had insisted Cecily stay inside the newly acquired carriage, which sat just a few feet away so she too could attend, as was her wish.

As the priest intoned the benediction Jack was glad for the rain that hid his tears. Though he could no longer love Katherine has he once did, for Culpepper to use her love for him to corner them was intolerable and one more reason that steeled his resolve to rid the world of the man. Kath had deserved a better fate.

Gently he had stooped down to place the single rose on the polished wood of the coffin’s lid. “I am so sorry, Kath.” He breathed softly. “Had you but remained with Martin and forgotten me you wouldn’t be here now. I’m sorry that I’ve brought you to this fate. Forgive me.” He felt the cold rain mingle with the hot tears that slid down his face. “I swear, Lass, he’ll not do this to another soul.”

Lord Culpepper had taken so much from him. He had turned the happiest day of Jack’s life into a memory of horror and despair. He had killed a woman that Jack had once loved. He had injured seriously Jack‘s only true love, perhaps beyond her ability to have a child, and he had murdered Jack’s firstborn. This was the part that enraged him beyond reason. Peter Culpepper had taken from him the only thing he had ever wanted from this life. The chance for a family of his own.

His memory returned to the present as the home of Mary Cottlepot came into view in the distance. In some ways he was glad to give Cecily a chance to rest, they would stay here for a while. In others he couldn’t wait to return to Devonshire. Beyond anything else, when they had returned home, he knew that Black Jack Roberts would ride one final time, and his final crime would be the murder of Sir Peter Culpepper. As well as the ruin of the Culpepper lineage. He would take the bastard’s future from him.

“Anne?” Cecily looked at the dark haired Gypsy woman who had spent the last few hours staring at Jack’s back as they rode along.

“Yes, Dear?” Anne shook her head slightly. “I’m sorry did you say something?”

The worried expression on the young girl’s face spoke volumes. “What’s wrong with my husband? I know he is angry with Culpepper, I am too, but this is different. I can’t explain it, but he is the same man I love, but he feels different.”

Anne eyes welled with a sadness that bordered on tears as she looked at the young bride. She found she had not the heart to lie to the girl. “Jack Roberts, as you know I’m sure, is not by nature a murderous man. In truth he abhors killing, but I fear this time he has been pushed too far. I fear that he will end his carrier with murder.” Anne spoke lowly and seriously. “Say nothing of what I have told you, Dear One, but watch him. Watch your husband closely.”

As they neared the gate Jack rode back to the slow moving carriage. “Once we are secure we will divide the night into shifts, Lads. The three of us will keep watch.” Jack’s usual care free attitude, which the twins had seen through countless dangerous times, was gone from his demeanor. “As soon as we are unpacked I will ride into York to send word to Josiah. Should Lord Culpepper show I will have the hide of the man who kills him. He is mine.”



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/30/2006 22:21:41
Message:

The carriage entered the gate and Jack dismounted from Raven. He opened the door and helped Anne out and then turned to Cecily. Her face was still pale and drawn.
"Are you alright, darling?"
She gave a wan smile and said, "Yes, I am fine. The discomfort from the ribs has lessened but I am afraid sitting in a carriage has made me stiff and sore."
She saw the concern on Jack's face and reached out to touch his cheek.
"Please don't worry so, love. I am healing with the help of Anne's potions."
He kissed her hand and whispered, "Have I told you how much I love you, Mrs. Roberts?"
"Not in the last hour!" The twinkle in her eyes is what Jack had hoped to see again.

Mary Cottlepot wiped her hands on her apron.
"Lord have mercy! Anne? Annabelle Peterson, is that you?"
Anne embraced the woman and said, "Aye, it is, Mary."
"What are ye doing in this neck of the woods, dear? And...oh my goodness! You boys come here and give old Mary a hug!"
Geoff and George stood there grinning as the spry apple-dumpling of a woman gave them each a hug. Standing on either side, they looked like two bookends.

Mary looked over and saw Jack standing with his arms around Cecily. She smiled widely and hugged him. She said, "And are ye properly wed? Ye make an honest woman out o' her, dear boy?"
The look on their faces brought her up short. "I be a-feeling there be trouble in me old bones. Am I wrong? Are ye still Miss Morley, lass?"
Cecily smiled and held her hand out to show Mary the ring. She raised her eyes heavenward and intoned, "Thanks be that ye got wed without a hitch!"
She hugged Cecily and the girl gave a slight moan.
"I'm sorry, Mary. My ribs are broken."
She said sternly to Jack, "Ye be lovin' this woman to an inch o' her life, Jack?"
Mary looked at all of them and then said, "And I feel this is a story to be told over a hot, decent meal. Ye stay the night. Anne, ye shall share my room. Cecily and Jack, ye can have the room ye did last time. Twins? Room in the far left of the house. Now...Anne, will ye help me ready a meal? Then we can all sit down and have a good chinwag about what went on. And why ye are all here together."

The meal was set and the events of the past two weeks were related to Mary.
She dabbed at her eyes when she heard the fate of Katherine.
"So sad..so sad. Katherine was always reckless and short of thinking things out. But in the end, she redeemed herself. I am so sorry it had to come to that. There be no kin to notify and it be right that ye saw she had a good and proper burial, Jack."
When the story was told of the miscarriage, the tears started to form in Cecily's eyes and Jack took her hand and held it tight. Mary had tears running down her face as she muttered, "Useless. Such a useless and uncalled for act from a man that Hell spat back out."
She brought out the apple cobbler and tea and they switched the conversation to a more uplifting topic.



Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 09:39:21 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 01/01/2007 10:13:37
Message:

Jack entered The Bell and Badger later that after noon. Soon after tea he had seen his new bride to bed. Even with the slow pace he had insisted on the trip had taken it’s toll on her. Anne had given Cecily a potion that would ease her pain, and aid her in sleeping. Soon after she had fallen asleep, he had bent over her, gently kissing her forehead. “Soon, My Love.” He whispered before leaving.

“Robert!” Sally smiled widely as he came through the door. “So are Ye a taken man, yet?”

“Aye, Lass.” He faked a smile which he did not feel. “I must speak with Donovan on some business matters. Is he here?”

“Aye, he is.” She smiled back. “Want I should fetch him?”

“Nay, I’d rather let him know myself.” Jack answered.

“Suit yerself.” Sally shrugged. “And congratulations to ye!” She called after him, wondering at his new demeanor. Usually Robert Johnson was a carefree man with a quick sense of humor. Something about him seemed a bit darker this time. Perhaps married life was not agreeing with him.

Jack knocked at the door which led to Donovan’s office. “Aye!” the gruff voice came through the door. “What in bloody Hell have ye broken now?”

“Nothing, yet, Old Sod.” Jack grinned sticking his head inside.

“Jack! Come in lad! I thought that wench had broken another of me plates. I swear she’s gon’na put me in a pauper’s grave yet.” The tavern keep groused. “So, how went the blessed event?”

“Not as well as I had hoped.” Jack again forced a smile to his lips, struggling to keep his true emotions down. “I need ye to send word to Josiah. Let him know we are on our way home. Have the cottage cleaned and ready.”

Donovan grinned conspiringly, “Will do, Mate. Not as well as ye hoped? Shy lass is she?”

Jack simply smiled. “I also need ye to send a message to Jenkins and one to Cody. Have them take rooms at the Crossbow. Tell them not to tell Josiah I sent for them. I’ll explain when I arrive in about two weeks.” Jack rose to leave.

“Two weeks? It dinna take two weeks to get to Devonshire from here, Lad.” Donovan scratched his head, perplexed.

“We’re spending some time with Mary.” Jack smiled sadly as he shut the door behind him.

George and Geoffrey pulled weeds from the garden at the cottage. A cloud seemed to hang over them, though the day was cheery and clear. At last George spoke up. “He’s up to something you know.”

“Aye” Geoff tugged at a particularly stubborn plant. “But I doubt ye’ll get it outta him.”

“Ye think he has designs on old Culpepper, then?” George paused looking into his brother’s eyes.

“Mate, I know it.” Geoff said. “The last time he were actin’ this way were after Katherine broke him. This is even worse.”

“Aye,” George agreed, “but just how do ye plan on keeping’ him from destroyin’ his life with vengeance on a lord? We be talkin’ about Sir Peter Culpepper here.”

“Ye won’t.” Geoff sighed heavily. “Ye won’t.”



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 01/02/2007 23:07:25
Message:

Anne and Mary were having a long talk over tea.
Mary poured a cup for Annabelle and sighed. "I really think you are right. She's the only one at this point that can knock any sense into the boy. I swear, I've never seen Jack Roberts so twisted around a little lass's finger."
Anne took a sip. "Katherine was a different story. More like two horses matched evenly. Cecily is like a flower he's taking care of and nurturing. Although Jack told me about her expertise with the bow and arrows and she can now crack a whip with the best of them."
Mary chuckled. "A kitten with the heart of a tiger! Aye, and she'd do anything for Jack and he'd lay down his life for her."

Cecily came down the stairs.
"Feeling better, dear?" Mary asked.
Cecily nodded. "Much better."
"Tea, dear?"
Cecily replied, "I'd love some. Where is Jack?"
Anne said, "He said he was stopping at the Bell and Badger to visit with Donovan. He'll be back before long."
Mary jumped up. "I forgot Geoff and George are probably wanting something to eat. The dears insisted on weeding the garden."

Mary went outside and Cecily pulled her chair close to Annabelle.
"I'm glad we have a few minutes, Anne. I didn't want to say anything with Mary here. No big secret, I just need some womanly advice."
Annabelle put her teacup to her lips to hide her smile. "Yes, dear?"
Cecily's face flamed. "How----how long....before...you know..."
Annabelle sat her cup back in the saucer. "My dear, it's been two weeks. You know better than I would. Are you feeling alright?"
"Except for the ribs still hurting, yes. I am. Good grief, Anne! I was cheated out of my wedding night! "
Anne said, "You do what you feel is right for you."
Cecily whispered, "It's been over two weeks, Anne!! Ooops! Here comes Mary--I don't want her to know what Jack and I are up to!"
Anne whispered back, "I think Mary has an idea."

Mary sat down and nodded to Annabelle. Anne said quietly, "We need to talk to you seriously, Cecily. We think Jack is up to something and only you have the power to stop him."
Cecily nodded her head slowly and said, "I am sure of it. I've tried talking to him about it--about what Sir Culpepper did. He just tells me not to worry about it. He won't talk. But something is wrong. He has a hard time sleeping. I thought at first that it was because he didn't want to jostle me because of the broken ribs but it's more than that. He stares at the ceiling when he thinks I am asleep. I can't seem to reach him."
Anne laid her hand on Cecily's arm. "We don't want to upset you when you are trying to recover. But Jack is acting reckless again."
Mary supplied, "Like he did when Katherine left him."
Cecily felt her heart sinking. While she accepted the fact that he loved Katherine once, it didn't make her hurt any less.
Anne continued, "It was almost as if he didn't care if he lived or died then. And if Jack continues on the same course, we are afraid for him. And for you."
Cecily tried to stem the fear she was feeling. "What do you think he has planned?"
Mary gave Annabelle a look.
The gypsy answered carefully, "We think he intends to kill Sir Peter Culpepper. Personally."


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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 01/04/2007 19:32:04
Message:

Cecily’s eyes widened with the thought. “But, Annie, if he were to actually do such a thing!”

“Exactly, Dear.” Annabelle’s voice was subdued. “It would not be long before the king’s men would have him, one way or the other. So far He has only truly been a thief, and a nuisance, were he to actually kill a noble he would become an intolerable threat.”

The color drained from the young bride’s face. “They would not rest until they hung him!!” She whispered. “Dear God!! Anne, Mary, we can not allow him to go through with it!!”

“Calm your self, Sweetie.” Mary broke in. “We are not yet all that certain that he does have murder on his mind. We are just saying that even though we have known him longer, none of us are as close to him as ye are.”

“Yes,” Anne nodded, “for all we truly know Jack is just grieving the loss of his child in his way. As you know he is half Irish, and he fears his own temper.”

Cecily looked shocked. “Jack has never shown any indication of temper around me. There was the man who had threatened me in his name, but I wasn’t there.”

Anne smiled sadly. “Jack will never allow you to see his rage, Dear. You are too precious to him. From what Josiah once told me, Jack only lost control of himself once, when he was just a boy.”

“Josiah knew Jack when he was a child?” Cecily couldn’t help but interrupt.

Annie smiled warmly. “Josiah grew up with him, Dear. They were both street urchins. Though Josiah is about ten years older than Jack.” Cecily was immediately enraptured as the Gypsy continued. “Anyway, it happened just after Jack’s parents had contracted the plague. Jack had taken to running with Josiah’s gang in an attempt to steal enough money to purchase medicines from the Apocathary, when a lad from a rival gang implied that it wasn’t the plague at all. He said that Jack’s mother was dieing of the doxie’s disease and had passed it to Jack’s father.”

Cecily ‘s hand went to her mouth in surprise as Mary coughed discreetly. “Yes children can be cruel, and street children especially so.” Anne went on. “ Josiah had come looking for Jack when he found him sitting astride the other boy’s unconscious body. Jack was unaware that he was still beating the other child. It was all Josiah could do to pull Jack from him. Afterwards Josiah said that Jack sat and cried over losing himself that way for hours, and he never again saw him lose his temper like that.”

“Yes,” Cecily said thoughtfully, “Geoff told me how badly jack had felt when he punished the ruffian who had accosted me that day. Do you think his temper would break like that with Peter?”

“No, love,” Anne smiled. “Jack controls his Irish temper very well, and as you know deep inside Jack Roberts is truly a kind man. However, I do caution you to watch him well. If Jack does plan on murdering Culpepper none but you would be able to stop him. You are the only one he loves enough to listen to.”

Outside one of the twins gave a low whistle. “Jack’s coming home.” Mary winked. “I told the lads to let us know when they saw him.” She looked sternly at Cecily. “Say not a word to him about our suspicions, Dear. If we tip him off he will only hide his feelings all the more and ye’ll never know what he’s going to do till it be too late.”

“I won’t.” Cecily said earnestly as she hugged both women. “Jack and I are so lucky to have you both.”

Just that moment the door opened and the three men walked into the cottage. A genuine smile of love came to Jack’s face at the sight of his beloved sitting at the table in the kitchen. The familiar twinkle of mischief lit his eye, when he took her into his arms gently and kissed her. “Telling you all of my bad habits were they, My dearest?” He teased.

She wrapped her arms around his neck smiling back to him. “As a matter of fact, My Husband, they were!” She teased. “Now if they will excuse the two of us, I’ve a mind to see if it were true.” She grabbed his hand and led him upstairs to a chorus of laughter.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 01/05/2007 22:48:17
Message:

As soon as they reached their room, Cecily shut the door. Jack sat on the bed and said, "You have a secret to tell me, darling?"
She smiled and shook her head. "It is no secret that I love you, Jack Roberts! And I am now your lawfully wedded wife."
He kissed her hands. "Aye, that ye are."
She smiled as she undid her laces. "And I am long overdue for my wedding night, my love."
Jack gave her a roguish grin. "Are ye sure, love?"
She pushed him back on the bed and whispered, "Never more sure in my life. Annabelle's tonics work both ways, you know..."
Jack laughed and said, "God bless that gypsy!"

As they lay there entwined in each other, the sheets swirled around them, she looked up in Jack's face and touched his face tenderly.
"Jack, I am so sorry about the baby. If I had thought....but it was a reaction. Peter was going to kill you."
Jack held her close. He was very conscious of her broken ribs. "My darling, you shall always be the most precious gift I ever stole from a noble."
Cecily hesitated and then plunged right in.
"Jack, about Peter Culpepper....."
Jack said quietly, "What about him?"
She took a quick intake of breath. "I don't want you to take the law in your own hands. I couldn't bear it if lost you. Please, Jack! Let it go. For me."
His jaw tightened. Cecily knew him well enough to know that he made his mind up about something and she needed to tread carefully.
He kissed her forehead and said, "Don't worry, my love. I promise I shall do nothing rash."
She frowned and said, "Am I going to have to assign Geoff and George to watch you twenty-four hours a day?"
He kissed her passionately and said huskily, "I certainly hope not!"
She giggled and said, "My goodness, this potion is long lasting!"

As Jack pulled on his breeches, Cecily stepped into her dress. She blushed, "Do you think Mary will know what we were up to?"
Jack could hardly keep the mirth off his face but he tried his best. "No, my dear. I think we have her totally fooled."
She broke out in a smile. "Thank goodness! I think dinner would be awkward!"
Jack laughed, "You know, as much as I love it here, I can't wait to be back and settled in our own house in Devonshire."
Cecily smiled, "A house of my own! What I always wanted. And filled with babies!"
Jack held her as close as he dared with her broken ribs. Softly he said, "Aye, me lassie! We shall."
He thought back to a conversation he had with Annabelle when Cecily was sleeping right after the miscarriage.
She told him only time would tell if Cecily could have children.
At that moment, Jack decided.
Sir Culpepper had to die.
Slowly and painfully.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 01/06/2007 13:09:25
Message:

Later that night, as Cecily slept, Jack stared at the ceiling. Lost in his thoughts he was certain of at least two things. One, that for the grievous hurt Culpepper had inflicted on his love and himself he would die. Secondly, that Cecily be kept as far from the consequences of his deeds as possible. No matter how it would play out in the end she must never be seen as having a part in it.

Tenderly his gaze traveled the length of his bride’s body. Never before had he felt so complete as he did in her arms. It was as if he had found in her a part of himself that he never knew was missing. A part he would do anything to protect from the rest of him. That was why he had Donovan send for two of his old cohorts.

Both Jenkins and Cody had rode with him long ago, and even though they had parted ways they still remained fast friends. Now he needed their help. Since he doubted Culpepper knew either one of them, they would make perfect spies to infiltrate the bastard’s operations. Especially now that Lord Peter’s numbers had diminished by at least four he knew of. Sir Peter would be in the market for some fresh blood, and those two had enough of a reputation in the underground to make perfect candidates.

He could also provide them both with a bit of information that would make their services near irresistible to Culpepper. The fool would jump at the chance to hire them then. Once the two of them were in place he had formulated a plan that would draw the wolf out of his lair. Right into Jack’s waiting arms. Jack understood what Culpepper wanted more than even Cecily now, he wanted Jack dead.

Cecily stirred beside him, and he gently stroked her hair and shoulder to comfort her back into sleep. She sighed and whispered his name before falling completely back into slumber. A single tear slid from one eye to stain his pillow as he continued to tenderly stroke her. It was so damned unfair for her ability to bear children to be threatened by the selfish plans of one man. He would see that the justice which Culpepper so richly deserved would be meted out to him, and take much personal pleasure in doing so.

Still he would have to be careful of putting the plan into operation. That Annie, and the others has suspicions about his plans he had no doubt. He had been careless about letting his emotions show enough to tip them off. That they had conveyed those suspicions to Cecily he could also be fairly certain of. He would have to be more careful of himself from here on in, lest she be anywhere near when he finally had Culpepper in his grasp.

Silently he made up his mind. No matter how much he felt the rage and pain that Sir Peter had visited upon them, he would remain his old self in their presence. Nothing from this point on would give him away, and his love would be safely in the presence of many witnesses when he sent Culpepper to Hell. As if feeling his inner dialog Cecily opened her sweet sapphire eyes. Jack’s smile was tender and loving at the shadowed sight of her.

“Is anything wrong, My Love?” She asked softly, her hand traveling down the length of his jaw.

“Nay, Dearest,” Jack smiled. “I was just thinking how much I love the woman who chose me to be her husband.”

“Jack.” Cecily whispered huskily, drawing him to her. Her lips sought his hungrily as their arms entwined. Lost in the warmth of each other’s bodies, their passion built to near unbearable levels.


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 09:43:03 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 01/11/2007 22:19:28
Message:

The morning sun came through the casement window, the May breeze gently gently ruffling the curtains. The scent of lilacs filled the room. Cecily smiled in her sleep, then opened her eyes and stretched. Jack had rolled over during the night and slept with his back to her. She gently put her arms around him and pressed her body next to his. He rolled over towards her and awoke.
"Well, good morning to you, Mrs. Roberts!"
Cecily smiled happily. "I DO love the sound of that. Cecily Roberts! Has a nice flow to it, doesn't it?"
Jack entwined his fingers through her long tresses and kissed the perfumed locks.
"Aye, that it does! And it is signed, sealed and recorded. 'Let no man put asunder' Or bastard. Or devil."
Cecily touched his face and admonished, "Let's not speak of it, dearest."
Jack pulled her towards him. They kissed deeply and she whispered, "Why can I never get enough of you?"

Curling into the crook of Jack's arm, Cecily smiled contentedly. "Jack, do you realize you have never even told me about the house we are to live in?"
Jack looked up at the ceiling and smiled in reverie. "Ah, darling, it is a grand place!"
"Where is it?"
"Three miles north of the Crossbow."
"Have you had it long?"
"For about two years. But in my heart? Since I was five."
"Five? What do you mean?"
A bittersweet smile crossed Jack's face. "It was the only time except for when I am with you that I can say I was truly happy."
Cecily's fingers ran up and down Jack's arm lightly. "I feel a story coming on, " she smiled at him.

Jack held her close and said, "My da had a hard time finding work. As a last resort, he passed a cottage in Devonshire. My mother had a really bad cold she couldn't shake and we had no money for medicine. We waited in the wagon while he knocked on the door. Turns out the couple were elderly and had some repairs that needed to be done. To tell the truth, I think they took pity on my da. They invited him in and subsequently my mother and me. I remember the smell to this day."
"Smell?"
"It was a combination of apple pie and lilacs."
Cecily snuggled deeper into his arms. "Sounds wonderful!"
Jack continued, "It was an older couple, childless, and they took pity on us. We stayed for six months. The woman--her name was Bess--put my mother to bed immediately and nursed her back to health. I know if it were not for the kindness of Bess, my mother would have died. Bess and Nigel spoiled me. I ran in the gardens and NIgel taught me woodcarving. My da did all sorts of odd jobs for them. At the end of six months, Da had an offer of a job up in Somerset. So we said goodbye tearfully. I have to tell you, Cecily, I never forgot the kindness of them. Da shook hands and Nigel told him we always had a place there. To make a long story short, Da's job fell through after six months. So we trekked back to Devonshire and when we arrived, we found that Bess and Nigel had died two months previous of pneumonia. My father drove silently to the graveyard and he sat there and just stared. I think that may have been one of the few times I saw my da cry. Mother was crying and picked flowers to put on their graves. The brother of Nigel inherited the house. But he rented it out and it fell into subsequent disrepair. When I purchased the Crossbow, I went out to the cottage. There in the front yard was none other than Nigel's brother, fuming at the state the last tenant left it. I offered him a price then and there, we went to the magister's office and signed the deed right there. I then became the owner."
Cecily wiped a tear that had escaped her eye. "What a wonderful story, Jack!"
Jack continued. "Geoff and George have been working on it whenever they could. The house was about three months from completion right before I left for London on holiday. "
"You were on holiday when you ran into me?"
Jack kissed her tenderly and said, "Aye. That I was."

Cecily hugged him and gently laid a hand on his chest. "And tell me about my new home!"
Jack laughed, "Anxious, are we?"
Cecily nodded. "I would like to settle in as quickly as we can. Now that we are husband and wife. So what does the house look like?"
Jack said, "It sits on about fifty acres of land. Twenty of that is cleared. There is a forest to the east and meadowlands on the west. A brook runs through the property about one hundred fifty feet away from the house. About one hundred feet to the north of the house is the barn and a separate stable, capable of holding eight horses."
"The house, Jack, the house!"
"Oh! The house..well, yes..say, Cecily, I'm hungry. Let's go downstairs and get some breakfast and then..."
He rose up to get out of bed. Cecily grabbed him around the waist and yanked back. He fell backwards, laughing as he landed on her. Quickly he turned around and drew her into his embrace and whispered, "And what shall ye give me if I tell ye about the house, oh wife of mine?"
Cecily didn't answer but pulled him down towards her.

As they lay there, she laughed and said, "I kept my end of the bargain, love, now you keep yours. The house..?"
Jack caressed her shoulder and said, "It is of honey-coloured stone. A stone chimney on the side with ivy crawling up the sides. There is a stone walkway that matches the stones in the wall that surrounds the garden. Three stairs lead up to the house, with a walkway down to another four steps. The garden is filled with foxglove, columbines, daisies and hollyhocks. Morning glories on a trellis up the side."
"Jack, it sounds wonderful! What does the inside look like?"
"As you enter the doorway, which is oak and rounded at the top, there is a small receiving room. To hang cloaks and muddy boots. Did I metion it has casement windows with diamond shaped mullion bars and flowerboxes under each window?"
Cecily shook her head no. "I think I am in love with it already!"
Jack laughed and continued. "There is a front parlor, a dining room and a big kitchen in the back of the house. A stairway that goes up and then separates. That is between the dining room and the parlor. Upstairs are four large rooms. Lots of lights. And in the biggest bedroom is an alcove with dormer windows."
Cecily smled widely, "Perfect for a nursery, my love!"
Jack drew her to him and held her fiercely. "Without a doubt, my darling. Without a doubt."

Cecily looked into his eyes and said, "I can't wait! A home of my own!"
Jack's eyes took on a faraway look as he said, "I only wish my da and mother could have known. And I wish they could have met ye, Cecily. They would have loved ye."
Cecily touched him tenderly and said, "As do I, Jack. As do I. But as long as you and I shall love, they shall always be there. It's just an extension of us. And I think they would be proud of the man they called their son."
Jack pushed her hair back and said softly, "Have I told ye lately I love ye?"
Cecily smiled at him and said, "Yes. But tell me again!"




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 01/15/2007 10:36:44
Message:

By noon The Crossbow was in sight of the travelers. Josiah and Molly, who had gone out for some fresh air and spotted them first, watched as they made their way ever closer to home. “Are ye going to ask him, Dear?” Molly tightened the grip of her arm around Josiah’s waist.

“Aye.” He nodded. “We’ve not seen nor heard from either of them since Katherine left. If they are here at his request, then ye can be sure Jack be up to something.”

“Didn’t they tell you anything?” Molly looked up at her man quizzically.

“Not a bloody word, Love.” Josiah scowled. “Other than to show me the note they received from York. Either they don’t know themselves, or what he has in mind is something that could lead all involved to the hangman.” Josiah hugged his new found love close. He knew Jack better than most. Damn the stubborn, half Irish fool. Something horrible had happened in Scotland, Josiah was certain of it, and what ever it was Jack was determined to settle it himself.

Molly felt her man stiffen beneath her arm. “What is it, Josiah?? What’s wrong?!”

“Look closely, Molly my love.” he whispered pointing. “Aphrodite be tethered to the back of the coach. Cecily isn’t riding, and I don’t see Annie anywhere either! If that bastard Culpepper has harmed the lass in anyway, there’ll be no way in Hell of stopping him!”

Molly felt fear race up her spine. “Oh, no, Dearest.” She whispered, her free hand covering her mouth. “Dear God in Heaven, Let her be alright!”

Both Josiah and Molly breathed a bit easier when Jack led the small procession into the courtyard, smiling. He leapt lightly from Raven’s back and opening the door to the coach held Cecily’s hand as she lighted from the enclosed carriage. They had spent a week at Mary’s, and Jack showed no signs of anger, or sorrow. Cecily ran over to them both, hugging them simultaneously and fiercely. Jack shook Josiah’s hand, and hugged Molly in turn. Josiah was more than a little pleased when he heard him order Tom Banks to water the animals only, for he planned to take his new bride to her home shortly. Perhaps things were not as bad as he had feared when Jenkins and Cody had arrived.

Once inside the tavern Roberts greeted his customers, announcing his marriage and giving out a free round of drinks to all present. Only Josiah caught the silent signal Jack gave to his two old henchmen. The one that meant for them to wait, instructions would come later. Both men returned the acknowledgement by stroking the side of their noses with a forefinger. The signal of understanding. The elder man felt some of his concern return. Jack was not as at ease as he was letting on. Well two could play that game.

“Come on, Laddie Buck!” He grinned while putting one arm around Jack’s shoulders. “Ye’ve been gone too long and I’ve a mind to have a drink or two with ye in privet. Besides, Molly has been die’n ta gossip with yer wife, and I don’t think she can wait much longer.”

“Aye, Mate.” Jack grinned. “Her an Annie will have plenty to tell her after a week with Mary’s tales ringing in their ears.”

As the two friends left the main hall the ladies made for the kitchen. George and Geoffrey walked over to Jenkins and Cody, shaking hands with their old comrades they sat down to drink and talk over times gone by. Long moments passed in idle banter about the good old days, and what the foursome had been up to since jack had disbanded his old crew. Several tankards of ale passed before George, no longer able to contain himself, turned the conversation serious.

“Thing is, Cody, we were wonderin’ just what jack be up too.” He leaned over the table, speaking lowly to avoid too sharp ears. “Is he plannin’ to put the old crew together again?”

“Love me if I knows, Mate.” Cody returned. A medium build of a man, with a smile that could rival Jack’s when he had a mind to, the brown haired, green eyed man shrugged. “All either one of us knows is Jack sent us a message to come here and wait for his personal instructions.”

“Aye.” Albert Jenkins continued. Soft spoken, his gentle manner belied a man of quick action. Brown eyed, and black haired, many had taken him for a Spaniard, though it was probably closer to the truth than even he knew. “As we told him two years ago, if he ever needed us again, we would be here for him.”

“Here be the way of it though.” Geoff broke in, his usual clownish manner dropped for once. “We think Jack has a mind to kill a nobleman.” Geoff went on to tell the tale of the tragic events in Scotland, and the death of Katherine Fairchild. When he had finished the two former gang members looked at each other.

Jenkins shook his head sadly. “I can see why he would want the man, but I for one owe Jack more than I can ever repay him. If he needs me to help put this Culpepper under the ground. Then, by heaven, I’ll do it.”

“I as well.” Cody nodded in agreement. “Pity about Kat, though.”

“Aye,” George spoke up, “but ye didn’t see him after she left, Mates. Jack took to doin’ things that were reckless, to say the least. We all feared the gallows for him. With Culpepper bein’ responsible for the death of his first born….” He let the thought trail off into the air.

“Doesn’t matter to either of us, George.” Jenkins looked up defiantly. “I’d feel the same were it me. What ever he asks of us, we’ll stand beside him to the end.”


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 09:45:46 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 01/15/2007 22:48:50
Message:

Molly grabbed Cecily's hand and put her arm around Annie"s waist.
"I can't wait to hear all the news of the wedding and how Mary is. I have been starved for female conversation since you have been gone!"
The three women went into the kitchen of The Crossbow. It was a cozy kitchen, not like the slop-rooms of some taverns. Josiah had let Molly have free rein on that part of the inn, and Molly did a fine job on arranging things the way she wanted them. Spice jars lined up on a shelf in alphabetical order, pots gleaming and the fireplace was kept swept clean every day. Pots of flowers lined the window sill and the casement windows opened out. It truly was Molly's territory and Josiah would never deem it right to interfere with her running of it.

Cecily still was a bit pale. Molly took her face in her hands and said, "Let me look at you...well, for a newlywed, you aren't really glowing! Is Jack not doing right by you, lass?"
Cecily could feel herself blush and Annie turned her head to hide her smile.
Cecily grew quiet and Molly looked from her to Anne.
"Something's not right. And which one of you will you be telling me?"
Cecily barely whispered, "I was with child and we lost it."
Molly's hands flew to her mouth and for once she couldn't think of anything to say.
"A--a child? That explains why the carriage and why Aphrodite was walking riderless. You weren't in any shape to be jarring around on horseback."
Cecily could feel her eyes welling with tears at mention of the miscarriage. She whispered, "I swear, if I ever find Peter Culpepper, I shall ruin him. He shall pay for that dearly."
Annie poured some tea.
"Perhaps if we start at the beginning..."

Annie concluded by saying, "..so we stayed with Mary for a bit so Cecily could rest up."
Cecily said, "I'm feeling almost back to normal. I'm going down to the stables to let Aphrodite know I am still around. She must be wondering what happened when she saw Raven and Jack but she was riderless."
As soon as Cecily left for the stables, Annie bent her head forward and said in a low voice, "Molly, what in heaven's name are Cody and Jenkins doing here?"
Molly shook her head. "They received word from Jack to come to the Crossbow and wait till he got back. It must be serious if he brought in the heavy artillery. I mean, they were the best he ever rode with."
Annie exhaled audibly and said more to herself, "I was so afraid it would come to this."
Molly's face grew solemn. "Will it be like last time?"
Annabelle said, "Worse, I'm afraid. His recklessness when Katherine left was rage he had on the inside. This is different. Someone hurt someone Jack loves more than life itself. Make no mistake, it's not revenge he's after. It's the reckoning. He is going to settle accounts with Lord Culpepper once and for all."
"Is Cecily really alright? It was just some broken ribs and the miscarriage, wasn't it? Nothing more?"
Annabelle looked into her tea cup as if she could read the tea leaves. She said softly, "There's always the question if Cecily can ever carry a child to term. She took a terrible spill and the miscarriage came fiercely."
Molly felt tears well up in her eyes. "Lord have mercy! All those dreams up in smoke due to one man's obsession."
Annabelle nodded. "I have never seen Jack so torn up. And as much as I hate Peter Culpepper--it is nothing compared to what Jack will do when he sends the man to hell."

Cecily walked down to the stables to check on Aphrodite. Tom Banks was seeing to the grooming of one of the horses.
"Hello, Cecily." he smiled.
Cecily found herself slightly uncomfortable as she always did in his presence.
"Hello, Tom. I came to check on my horse. How is she?"
"Doing fine. She's a fine piece of horseflesh." Cecily found herself stiffen at the inflection and the slight pause between crucial words.
She tried to keep her voice neutral. "I just want to make sure she's alright."
Tom grinned, "Then right this way."
Cecily followed him as he opened the gate. He stepped aside but his hand stayed on top of it. Cecily had to brush against him and duck under his arm to get into the stall. She whispered to her mare and stroked her nose. Cecily felt the hairs on the back of her neck raise. She looked behind her and Tom was there, staring at her. She could feel his eyes ever so subtly travel down the length of her body and up again.
She said cooly, "Something you wanted, Tom?"
He said casually, "Heard you and Jack got married at Gretna Green."
She took an apple from the bushel and fed it to Aphrodite.
"Yes. We did."
"Jack's kind of old for you, isn't he?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Tom grinned, "Nothing. Just hope he can keep up with you."
Cecily pushed past him and walked briskly out of the stables. She glanced back only once. Tom was looking at her as she walked back to the tavern. And a cold chill came over her.
'The sooner I get into my own house, the better...'


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 01/17/2007 13:14:23
Message:

Josiah came out of his rooms alone, stopping at the bar to fill the largest tankard available with dark ale before joining George and Geoff at the table. Without looking at either of them, he addressed Jenkins and Cody. “He would like to have a word with ye now, Lads.” Jenkins and Cody stood up without a word and left.

Once the door to Josiah’s living quarters was closed Geoff leaned over the table to Josiah. “So, what did ye get out of him, Mate?”

“Not much more’n I’d say the two ‘a ye already know, Lad.” Josiah’s tone was fatalistic as he kept his voice low. “Even without his say’n so he’s blamin’ Culpepper for the death ‘a his child. There’s something’ more as well, but I couldn’t drag it outta him. Somethin’ at do with the lass.”

“Aye,” George broke in, “we guessed as much. He’s actin’ more like himself now, but neither of us are puttin’ much faith in that.”

“And well ye shouldn’t.” Josiah continued. “Jack gave me most of the story, including Katherine’s death, and there’s something more eatin’ at him. I’ve known him longer than anyone short ‘a the man’s parents. No matter what face he be showin’ to the world, Jack Roberts is set on a course that could well destroy everything the man holds dear.”

Roberts sat in the high-backed leather chair behind Josiah’s oak desk when the knock came at the door. “C’mon in, Lads.” He answered, motioning to the two cushioned chairs he had placed at the front after Josiah left. In front of each sat a full tankard of ale for his guests. “Sit down, Men. I’ve a job for ye that I think you’ll like.”

“To be plain about this, Old Friends, I want a man dead, and I want him to die by my hand and mine alone.” Jack began after Jenkins and Cody had situated themselves and he had their full attention. “He won’t be an easy target, to be sure, but I may have a way to flush him out.”

“Lord Peter Culpepper, I take it” Cody grinned as Jack stopped short.

“I should have guessed.” He grinned back. “George and Geoff have been talking with ye?” The two men nodded.

“Aye, I let me feelings get the better of me for a while there.” Jack continued. “A mistake I’ve no intention to repeat. Once I get my hands around Culpepper’s throat I want none but myself to be implicated in his death. No one but I can be held accountable.”

“And just how do ye plan to be pullin’ that one off, Mate?” Jenkins asked.

“By using what the man suspects against him.” Jack responded. “He makes no secret that he believes Robert Johnson and Black Jack Roberts are one and the same man. For a chance to prove it and get to me, I believe he will take risks he normally wouldn’t. Which is why I sent for the two of ye.”

“Trough certain shared contacts in the underground, I know much of the man’s underhanded dealings, such as his smuggling operations for example.” Jack continued. “Fortunately such knowledge about myself is not shared with Culpepper. I can, however, make it known that two of my old comrades are rather upset with my disbanding of my old gang, and looking for a bit of revenge on Black Jack Roberts. Since I’ve recently whittled the man’s number of henchmen down a bit, he should jump at the chance to hire them.”

“With we being those two I take it?” Cody smiled, lifting his tankard to his lips.

“Exactly.” Roberts grinned back.

“And just what makes ye think he’ll be trustin’ any of your old cohorts, Jack?” Jenkins pondered. “Ye be legendary for the loyalty of your associates.”

“Two reasons, Old Friend.” Jack grinned confidently. “The first is the man is a ruthless back stabber, and he expects all others to be the same. If he believes you truly have a grudge against me he won’t hesitate to use you. Second he has already used one of the former group to make an attempt on my life.” This time it was Jenkins and Cody’s turn to be stunned.

“Helmsley.” Jack explained.

“That piece of filth!” Jenkins exclaimed. “I thought he were hung!”

“Nay,” Jack scowled, “Culpepper had him set free after I turned down his offer to join forces. Helmsley didn’t let on as to who I was, as he wanted to finish me himself, but I’ve no doubt his desire to kill me was why he was hired.”

Cody whistled lowly. “It’s a risky game yer playin’, Jack.”

“It’s dangerous game I hunt, Mate.” Jack returned. “I’ll not think worse of either of ye if you refuse.”

Jenkins and Cody looked to each other for a long moment before Jenkins spoke. “We’re in, Mate.”

“Good.” Jack smiled with satisfaction. “Now here’s what I want ye to do.”



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 01/20/2007 09:04:35
Message:

Cecily walked back into the tavern and stopped suddenly. A man sat there with Molly and Annabelle, his back towards her. The tilt of his head, the way he leaned back in his chair. And the voice...
"ANDREW!"

Her brother turned around and gave her the biggest grin he ever flashed anyone before. Just as quickly, he jumped out of his chair and caught her as she flung herself into his arms.
"Whatever are you doing here, Andrew?"
Andrew hugged her fiercely and said, "Couldn't let my sister's wedding go by without coming in late, now, could I?"
She felt the tears well up in her eyes. "Oh, Andrew! It was the happiest day of my life-and the saddest!"
Andrew held her at arm's length and said, "Now I'm worried. Best tell me from the beginning."

Molly had set an ale in front of Andrew and said, "You best dig in, dear. You'll be here for a long time but best you keep your temper in check."

Cecily told Andrew the whole story. She burst out crying telling him about the loss of her expected child. To put it into words to the one person who meant more to her save Jack was like reliving it all over again. He gently took her into his arms and stroked her hair.
"I'm so sorry, sis.That bastard will pay."
She looked up at him and wiped her eyes with the handkerchief Andrew had offered her.
"Andrew, no. Peter Culpepper will one day get what is coming to him. I shall see to that."
Her brother admonished her, "Cecily, let it go to the men to take care of it. Don't you be doing anything foolish. He's dangerous."
She steeled her will.
"I've been wronged. And I shall right it."
Andrew hugged her. "Let it go for now, Cecily. I am sorry the day was so fraught with disaster but the one good thing is this--with the marriage recorded, you are safely out of that monster's clutches. Neither he nor Mother can ever force their will on you again. According to law, Robert Johnson is your husbandly 'owner' as it were."
Cecily smiled through her tears. "And I am the happiest woman alive, Andrew. I found my one true love."
Andrew took her hand and said, "Let's go for a walk."
Molly nodded, "Go ahead and get some fresh air, Cecily. I can see that seeing your brother has done a world of good to you. When Jack comes out, I shall tell him that you are in good hands."

Andrew and Cecily walked towards the woods.
"Been practicing with the bows, Cecily? None could best you."
She laughed, "I surely have. I aim to be able to defend myself. Jack taught me to use a whip."
"NO! Are you kidding?"
She said proudly, "Andrew, I can whip apples off trees with one flick of the wrist! It is ever so much fun! And every apple we made into cobbler had Peter Culpepper's face on it!"
Andrew grew sober. "Cecily, it is only fair to warn you. Culpepper hasn't been heard from. Rumour has it that he went to his estate in Ireland to take care of business."
"Are you sure?"
Andrew nodded. "Raymond, his valet? The guy is walking alot straighter so it must be true!"
"Poor old gentleman. Wonder why he sticks around."
Andrew shrugged. "Raymond has been with Wildwood since he was a young man. Even before Sir Peter was born. Served Lord William Culpepper--you and I don't remember him."
"Ever wonder what happened to Peter to make him so dark and disturbing?"
Andrew looked off into the distance and then scraped the ground with his booted foot.
"Cecily, now that you are safely married to Jack, I think I can honestly tell you what I learned from Father while you were away."
Cecily said, "You found some things out?"
Andrew gave her a hug. "God bless Jack for keeping you safe. You are sure the marriage license if filed?"
"Yes. Jack took the copy for the London registry and gave it to one of his men. It came back with proof it had been filed. I am Jack's wife, signed, sealed and delivered."
Andrew reached out and stroked her hair back. "I am glad, Sis."
Cecily sat down on a rock and Andrew stretched out on the grass. "So..tell me about Sir Peter Culpepper's deep, dark past."
Andrew sighed and said, "This has to be between us."
Cecily crossed her chest with her index finger and then spit.
Andrew laughed. "If only Jack could see his little wife now..."
Cecily laughed too. "Some habits are hard to break!"
Andrew took a deep breath. "It turns out he favors his mother. She was a Rom."
Cecily's mouth dropped open. "You mean she was a...a..."
Andrew nodded. "Sir Peter Culpepper is half-gypsy."




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 02/08/2007 10:56:27
Message:

Annabelle Peterson sat near the window of the upstairs room in the Crossbow. Claiming to be tired from the long trip she watched as Cody and Jenkins rode off in the direction of Cornwall. “Oh, Jack.” She thought wearily to herself. “I hope you know what you are doing. I wonder if you knew the truth about Peter Culpepper, would that change your mind? Somehow I doubt it, and I can not ever tell you.” Tears welled up in her dark brown eyes as she remembered the tragic events that had bound her to the fate she faced. A fate that had began two generations ago with the birth of her mother, and her mother’s sister.

The twin girls had been born during the blood moon. Chiana, the midwife, had seen the signs early. The two were polar opposites in nature and personality. One was caring and kind, the other dark and cruel. She had predicted that both would bear children not of the Romani. The dark child would have a son who would become wealthy and powerful, but carry his mother’s nature. An evil soul who would bring shame to his Gypsy blood, and ruin to the house of his father.

No, she would have to keep her secret and do what she could to help. None of her friends, who she cherished more than life its self could ever know the shame she felt. The shame her cousin would bring down on all of her mother’s people should the truth ever be known.

That afternoon Jack led the small procession to the home he had longed to fill for so long. Cecily’s azure eyes twinkled with joy at the sight of the modest cottage. Geoff, George, and he had done a very good job of repairing it, and making a comfortable dwelling of the neglected building. A stone fence, hidden in places by ivy vines, encircled the large yard. A whitewashed wooden gate opened to a flagstone path that led to the arched polished oak door.

As soon as he had helped his wife down from the carriage he lifted her into his arms, glorying in the comfort of her arms closing softly about his neck. Nudging the gate open with the toe of his boot he called over his shoulder to George. “Lads, if you would be so kind, stable the horses and see to their needs.” Jack smiled, his own eyes never leaving hers. “And take your time about it.”

“Aye, that we will.” Geoffrey called after the couple as Jack carried Cecily over the thresh hold of the cottage. “What d’you think, Georgie, an hour?”

George grinned, winking to his brother. “Better make that two, Mate.”

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 09:48:21 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 02/21/2007 22:54:11
Message:

Andrew came back to Moreland by early afternoon. He was heartened by his visit with his sister. As he came into the receiving hall, he hung his riding crop on a hook. Entering the parlor, he saw his parents talking quietly.
"But Wallace, I insist you find her and bring her home. I don't CARE what it cost in manpower. My poor daughter is out there..and heaven knows with who and what she is up to!"
Andrew poured himself a brandy and looked at his parents. He tried hard to hide the smile that crossed his face.
"I just saw Cecily."
Lady Alice and Sir Wallace both jumped up.
"You..WHAT?"
Andrew nodded. "She just got back from Scotland. Gretna Green, as a matter of fact."
Lady Alice grew pale, "You--you don't mean to tell me that she---she's MARRIED?"
"She most certainly is. She is now Mrs. Robert Johnson. Cecily Johnson is her new name."
Lady Alice shouted, "Over my dead body!"
Andrew arched his eyebrow and said, "And where should we bury you, Mother? Because it is a done deal. She's been married for a few weeks and the marriage has even been filed in the London Registry."
"Does Sir Culpepper know this?" Alice visibly paled under her powdered face.
Andrew was enjoying this. "I'd say so..since he and his posse of miscreants followed her and tried to stop the wedding."
"S-stop the wedding?"
"Indeed, Mother. By killing the groom. But it backfired on him and he almost got himself killed. His hired thugs--all three of them--were killed and a woman who unwittingly was their pawn was fatally shot by Culpepper himself."
Alice's hand shot to her mouth to cover it. "Not possible..."
Andrew shot back, "And it came closer than that, Mother. Cecily herself was hurt."
Sir Wallace jumped up, "Cecily? Good Lord, Andrew! What happened? Is she alright?"
Andrew ran his hands over his face. "She is---now. But it was a bit dicey for a while."
Alice said, "What happened to my daughter?"
Andrew ignored his mother and now answered his father.
"She broke a few ribs and was unconscious for a bit. But she lost the baby."
''BABY???" Both parents shouted at once.
Andrew nodded. "Cecily was with child."
Alice said, "Does Sir Culpepper know she lost the baby?"
Andrew looked at her bewildered, "What business is it of his?"
"Well, of course it was his child. I mean, after all, they were in London together and they were engaged and..."
"Mother, shut up! The baby was the child of Cecily and Robert Johnson. The man she loves. And the man who is her husband."
"No! Not possible!"
"Mother, pull your head out of the ground. Cecily and Robert Johnson were lovers practically from the first time they met each other."
Lady Alice hurriedly poured herself a snifter of brandy and practically drained it in one swallow.
Sir Wallace asked Andrew, "Is there anything Cecily needs? Is she settled in a house?"
Andrew didn't want to tell his father too much with Alice standing there so he said., "I saw her at the Crossbow Inn and she was fine. Very happy. Deliriously happy. In fact, I've never seen Cecily so happy..."
Alice snapped, "We get the point, Andrew. She's happy. For now. But how happy can she be married to a--a--bourgeois?"
"Happier than she could be married to a murderer."
"Andrew, you weren't there, were you? It could have been self-defense."
Andrew poured himself another brandy. "Maybe. But he is a murderer regardless."
"What do you mean?"
Andrew said quietly, "He is responsible for Cecily losing her child. He was set to kill the man she loves and Cecily threw herself at that bastard to save her husband. Culpepper pitched her out of the way and she landed on her stomach."
Andrew drained his glass. "Cecily will never forgive him. And heaven help Sir Peter Culpepper if she ever gets a chance to get even. Because Cecily won't rest until vengeance for her unborn child is meted out."
And with that, Andrew walked out of the parlor.


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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 02/27/2007 18:27:15
Message:

As Jack carried her across the threshold of the cottage Cecily’s eyes grew wide with joy. The warm feeling of a home was almost a physical presence. Tasteful polished furniture place strategically around the living quarters seemed to speak of a benign comfort that she had rarely felt, even when surrounded by the finest of such things. Paintings of rich landscapes decorated the walls and one of considerable size filled the area over the mahogany mantle of the fireplace with its two lanterns placed at either end.

Two thirds of the way down the whitewashed walls gave way to lacquered oak paneling, toped with a molded ridge. The sunlight streamed through the single large window recessed into the wall to provide a long seat with cushions, forming a diamond pattern from the cris-crossing metal. Spilling down to the throw rug beneath the low gleaming table protecting the polished wood floor in front of the well-padded couch.

Her hand rose softly to her mouth. The tips of her fingers barley touching her bottom lip as she exclaimed gently. “Oh, Jack. It is so much more than I had pictured it. I had pictured something like Mary’s home, but this is almost like....a shrine.”

Roberts chuckled, drawing her into his arms tenderly. “In many ways, I suppose it is, Dearest. I rarely stayed here, not because The Crossbow is better suited to my vocation, but because I made this place for the one treasure that I desired all my life and never thought I would ever possess.”

She looked quizzically into his blue green eyes as he continued, smiling into hers. “More than any priceless thing I have ever stolen, more than any amount of gold I ever relieved from some fat merchant, or tax collector, I have wanted the greatest prize any man could ever wish for. The one my father possessed when he found my mother. The one I now have with you as my wife. Before ever I met you, My Love, I began this...shrine...as a place to house our love and our family.”

“Jack” She whispered, drawing his head down to a tender kiss.

“Now that you are here with me, my home is finally complete.” He whispered back when she released him.

“Show me the rest, Darling.” Cecily smiled, pulling away and taking his hand in hers. “I want to see everything....ending with our room.”

Later Cecily gently slipped from their bed without waking her new husband. Quietly she made her way to the door then down the steps into her own kitchen. Now to see just how much she could remember about Mary Cobblepot’s recipe for apple tarts before Jack awoke.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 03/27/2007 14:35:09
Message:

Cecily looked out to see an orchard of apple trees just beyond the house by the stables.
Looks like I shall have to pick some fresh ones. Wonder if I can use the whip? It would be good practice, she thought.
George and Geoff were in the pasture, letting out the horses. As they spied Cecily crossing the courtyard, George grinned at Geoffrey and said, "What did I tell you? Two hours!"

Cecily stood there under the tree and gauged the height and abundance of the branches. She drew the whip out and CRACK! CRACK! CRACK!
The apples flew in the air and landed on the ground. She rolled the whip up and coiled it around her arm. Then she took her dress and gathered them into the skirt. She saw Geoff and George and called out, "The two of you WILL join us for dinner. I won't take no for an answer!"
Geoff turned to George and said, "We're invited to dinner."
George muttered, "Oh, Lordy!"
"She might not be so bad, George."
George grimaced. "Remember how our sister was when she first got married? That chicken she didn't get all the feathers out of?"
Geoff grabbed an apple and tossed one to George. "Better fill up then!"


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 09:50:15 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 06/12/2007 21:29:04
Message:

“Unca, Robert!! Unca Robert!!” The patter of small bare feet slapped joyfully across the polished wood floor of The Crossbow ending as the tiny child leapt into Jack’s arms.

“Well now, Little Jack.” Roberts beamed at the small red haired child clinging to his neck. “You’re growing so fast!! Won’t be long you’ll be as tall as I! And how old are ye now?”

“Four.” The small boy giggled while holding up all five fingers.

“Aye!” Jack laughed sitting down at the table bouncing the lad on his knee. “ Now that deserves a special treat, doesn’t it? “

Little Jack’s eyes widened as Roberts showed him his empty hand then reached quickly behind the child’s ear to produce a sweet just as Josiah and Molly entered the main hall of the tavern. “Mr. Johnson!!” Molly scolded. “Now he’ll have no use for his supper!!” The gleam in her eyes belying her tone.

“Momma! Look what Unca Robert give me!!” The boy ran to Molly holding the hard candy high for his mother to see.

“Aye!” She scowled at Jack Roberts with a small smile playing at the corners of her mouth. “ And if he keeps it up I’ll hang him in the stable by his heels!” The voluptuous red head scooped up her son and whirled about, making for the kitchen.

“Well, Robert,” Josiah grinned, “ If ye’ll be so kind ta follow me to the office we’ll go over the accounts with ye.”

“I’m certain you’ve been as exact as always, Josiah.” Jack grinned making his way to the door behind the bar and greeting his regular customers along the way.

“He’s a fine lad, Old Friend.” He smiled sitting down in his usual chair across from Josiah’s near the fireplace.

“Aye,” The older man swelled with pride. “Spittin’ image 'a his mum, and how’s married life treatin’ you these days?”

“Never better, Josiah”, Jack grinned. “ I’m the luckiest man to walk God’s green Earth, next to you.” Suddenly Jack’s demeanor turned more serious. "Have you heard anything on our friend?”

“Jack.” The smile flew from Josiah’s face. “Black Jack Roberts hasn’t been heard from since that blackguard vanished near four years ago. For all ye know Culpepper’s dead. Why risk the happiness ye’ve found? Take what luck and love ye have and be done with it. Let Black Jack rest in peace. For Cecily’s sake.”

Jack Robert’s face reddened slightly with suppressed rage. He knew that what his oldest friend said was true, but the thought of what Peter Culpepper had done to his love filled him with a bloody, unreasoning thirst for revenge. Almost four years and Cecily had not had another child. He doubted she ever would now. Annie’s best fertility elixirs had all failed, and more than once he had seen the hurt in his wife’s sapphire eyes as she gently touched her stomach looking at little Jack. If the man yet lived Black Jack Roberts had one last task before he vanished permanently.

“Perhaps you’re right, Josiah.” He let out a long sigh and calmed himself. “I’ll think on it, but I do want to know if you hear anything at all about Culpepper’s whereabouts.”

“Fair enough, Lad.” Josiah managed a grin, not fooled for a second. “Ye’ll be headed home now?” He asked.

“Aye.” Jack’s smile was genuine now as he thought of Cecily. “I’ve been gone from her side long enough for one day, and I’ve a feeling there’s Apple tarts for dessert tonight. You and Molly will come to supper this weekend, and bring young Jack?” Roberts asked hopefully. “Cecily misses him.”

Josiah’s calloused hand clapped Jack’s shoulder. “Aye, that we will....all three of us.” He smiled thinking ‘As do ye, Jack. As do ye.’ But he kept that part to himself.

The three watched as Jack turned Raven towards the cottage, waving from the doorway.

“He asked again, didn’t he?” Molly said through her smile.

“Aye.” Josiah sighed. “Ye know him as well as I, Wife. Jack Roberts won’t rest till he knows for certain that Peter Culpepper is no longer among the living. Even if he has to put the bastard there himself.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 06/14/2007 20:08:49
Message:

Jack had not been more than an hour gone when Cody walked through the door of the Crossbow. Josiah felt his heart sink. Not because he did not wish too see an old comrade, but because the arrival meant more secrets he would have to keep from his friend. He had been forced to lie to Jack for the first time in his life and the taste of it set bitter in his mouth.

Because of Culpepper’s suspicions of who Robert Johnson really was it had been decided that Cody, or Jenkins, would pass any information on to Josiah at the inn, then he would give the messages to Jack. The first lie came when Jenkins had told Josiah of Lord Culpepper’s whereabouts almost two years gone now. Since then He had walked a thin line between giving out enough information to keep Jack from becoming suspicious and withholding what he knew would send the man on a bloody rampage that could only end in tears for everyone involved.

He may not be able to stop Jack, but he could damn well stall him for as long as he could. Even if it cost him the friendship of the only man he thought of as his brother. There was dear Cecily to think of as well. The last thing that sweet child needed was to bury her new husband.

“Barkeep! I’ve come to settle me account.” Cody said, using the prearranged code that meant he had new information for Jack of an urgent nature. Josiah winced inwardly.

“Well then, Lad. Come into the office and bring your purse.” Josiah replied.

“From the look on yer face, I’d be inclined to believe you weren’t all that happy to see me, Josiah. If I didn’t know better.” Cody observed as he closed the door behind them.

“It’s not that, Lad. It’s Just…” Josiah began.

“That ye’ve not been telling Jack the whole of what Albert and I have found out so far?” Cody finished, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

The tavern keeper stood staring in open-mouthed shock as Cody laughed heartily. “Is it that obvious?”

“Only to Jenkins and me self.” Cody chuckled. “When Jack didn’t set sail for Ireland the week we told you of Sir Peter’s location we kind of figured you was holding out on him. Not that either of us will tell him. We just want to be able to look the man in the eye and say we told you all.”

“Aye,” Josiah nodded, “fair enough, Lad. So what have ye learned now?”

“Ye might want to be sitting down for this one, Josiah. Ye might want to rethink yer decision to withhold information from Jack as well.” The spy’s face turned deadly serious.

“Why?” Josiah became immediately attentive. “What new deviltry is that noble blackguard up to now?” He began to worry that all his effort to keep Jack and Cecily happily safe in their new life was all in vain.

“Now that I can’t tell you.” Cody said, stroking his chin between his thumb and forefinger. “What I can tell you is this. For several months now a sealed letter has accompanied each shipment that comes in to the grotto from his lordship. The letter is usually taken immediately by his second in command for delivery. Yesterday the uncouth ruffian was late getting there, and Albert made it his business to be in close when the captain handed it over.”

Cody took the offered tankard of ale from Josiah with a nod, and drank deeply before continuing. “The letter confirmed the rumor. Sir Culpepper is indeed in Belfast, but that’s not what brought me here this night. Albert only got a brief glance and it was enough for him to clearly see the last name of the recipient. Josiah, the name on the letter was Fairchild!”

Josiah had to struggle to keep from spitting the mouthful of ale he had just quaffed across the room. “That’s not possible! Annie, George, and Geoff saw the woman die themselves!”

“Don’t I know it, Mate.” Cody returned. “Albert near dropped the load of contraband he were unloading when he saw it, but he is certain that was the name he saw.”

“Has to be a coincidence.” Josiah mused, more to himself than to his guest. “Katherine had no relatives. Jack spent a pretty coin making certain. No brothers, cousins, uncles, no one, except for her mother and father, and they had passed away a full year before she and him met.”

“I remember, Mate.” Cody nodded. “We had just joined up with him, and Jack was cautious enough to have us all checked out. Even Kath. So what could it mean? Surely this is a bit much. Even for a coincidence.”

“I can’t say it doesn’t give me the willies, Lad.” Josiah shivered involuntarily. “But let’s not go making mountains out of molehills here either. Could be nothing more than a sick jest the bastard is playing to see if there are any spies in his own house. He knows that name would fly straight to Jack’s ears.”

“Well,” Cody stood up to leave. “Not from my, nor Jenkins’s mouth it won’t. It’s flew to the only ears I’m under orders for it to fly to. I don’t envy you your decision with this lot, Josiah. So I’ll bid ye a good night till next time.”

“Fare you well, Cody.” Josiah said. “I’ve a long night ahead of me now, of that I am certain!"
Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 09:52:19 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 06/15/2007 20:16:45
Message:

Cecily put a kettle of water on the stove for tea. As the water came to a boil, she put in her herbal tea leaves and let it steep. Annie had become a good friend of hers and was teaching her about herbs. The chamomile leaves swirled and spun in the hot water unti they made their spiral towards the bottom of the cup.
After she strained it, she took her cup and headed toward the windowseat, opening up the window to the spring breeze. It was hard to believe that she and Jack will be married four years near the end of the summer.
She inhaled deeply the smell of the lilacs that Jack had planted under the window.
Contentedly, she sat down, basking in the warmth of the sunshine streaming through the casement.

The four years had brought Cecily more bliss than she ever thought possible. Her mother still had not spoken to her since the day Andrew informed her that Cecily was now Mrs. Robert Johnson. Her father had accepted it and stopped by whenever he was on his way to London or had business up from Cornwall.
Andrew paid her a visit at least fortnightly. He was now married to Lady Jane Wentworth. Both were contented. But contented was not a word that was in Cecily Morley Johnson's vocabulary. Content she would never be with Jack.
In ecstacy, in passion, head-over-heels in love with Jack was where Cecily's head was. And she hoped she would never get her head out of the clouds or her heart out of being entwined with Jack's.
Could there ever be a woman more in love than she?

In her quiet moments, the day that changed her life was never far from her mind. The joy of becoming Jack's wife paled in the forefront of the situation that had broken Cecily's heart.
The miscarriage on her wedding day.

She and Jack had moved into the house as soon as they were able. Within a few months, Cecily was overjoyed to discover she was with child once more. This time she didn't need Jack tell her why she was nauseous, why she was tired, why she was late.
Josiah and Molly revealed that they had secretly been married a few months and were expecting a child. Excitedly that was when Cecily revealed that she too was pregnant and the two women began to make 'baby plans'. Their children would be playmates. Jack and Josiah good-naturedly ribbed each other and beamed. A shared brandy and cigar.
And then it happened.
The cramping.
The bleeding.
The loss.

She thought she would get used to it, but every miscarriage was like a stab to her heart and made her hate Sir Peter Culpepper that much more. Sometimes she wondered if Jack should be free to marry someone who could give him what he wanted more than anything.
A family.
But she knew she may as well take the air he breathed. They were so bound to each other.
Annie had explained that getting with child was no problem. Cecily smiled to herself, there certainly was ample opportunity for it.
The problem was something internally wrong with Cecily that prevented her from carrying the child. And that was Culpepper's fault.
Twenty-one and barren.

Sometimes at night when Jack thought Cecily was asleep, she would hear Jack get out of bed and go to the casement window and just stare out it. She was so in tune to his moods that she knew he was brooding. And planning.
Always in the morning he would be particularly quiet but towards the end of the day, he was the man she loved and married.

The birth of little Jack filled Cecily with a bittersweet feeling. Sweet in the fact that she was happy for her best friends. Bitter that it should have been her bearing a son named Jack. While Jack was honored the babe was named after him, Cecily could not help but feel sadness that her son should be the one named after Jack Roberts.

She shook her head and then filled her thoughts with all the pleasant memories she and Jack had shared. The trips to London. Being presented at Court and having the King remember her. The autumn trip to Italy. The spring trip to Paris. The summer they spent in Brighton.
Yes, it was a wonderful life they had together.


She never heard him come in but felt his strong arms around her. She leaned back and snuggled into him.
"Anytime you go away from my side, love, it is too long..."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 06/17/2007 14:39:10
Message:

Gently he turned her in his arms to face him. Letting the backs of is fingers trail softly down the curve of her cheek to her chin. As always he lost himself in the deep blue liquid of her eyes. His smile growing with each passing second as he felt the warm glow of a single love fill his being. “Aye, My Heart.” Jack whispered huskily. “A few hours from your side seem like days.”

Cecily’s arms entwined about his neck, her right hand cradling the back of his head she drew him down to her soft lips. Her kiss chasing every speck of sorrow from his thoughts. Jack held her tenderly against his chest, lost in the bliss that only a man with a true love at his side could ever know. “I love you.” He whispered softly into the golden curls that covered her ear.

Cecily pulled gently back to look into his eyes. The smile on her lips, and the joy in her eyes meaning more to Jack than any precious thing he had ever nicked from a nobleman’s carriage. Let other men seek power and wealth to fulfill themselves with. Jack Roberts knew that if he were to lose everything he owned he would be content to have this woman with him. Only the loss of her he could not bear.

“And I love you, Dearest.” She whispered back, stroking his cheek. “But come, our supper is getting cold and I worked so very hard on it.”

“Then allow me, M’Lady.” Jack’s grin turned at once boyish and devilish at the same time. He released her and in the same motion pulled out her chair for her to be seated.

“The table is not set yet, My Love.” Cecily protested as she sat.

Jack bent close to her ear as he adjusted her chair to a comfortable distance. “It will be in but a moment, Luv.” He whispered softly. “You have done your part, now please permit a lowly rogue to do his.”

Cecily giggled behind her hand as he flowed about the kitchen with exaggerated grace. Setting her place first then his own, filling their plates. Finishing his display with two candles set alight in the center of the small white linen cloth before sitting down himself.

Cecily clapped lightly, the twinkle in her eyes filling him with joy. “Well done, Mr. Roberts.” She teased. “You may well have missed your calling.”

“Nay, Mrs. Roberts.” Jack chuckled. “My services are for M’Lady alone.” He winked. “Besides, ye’ve not seen the bill yet.”

“Oh,” Cecily mused, “I believe I shan’t have any troubles paying that, Kind Sir.”

Jack smiled deeply as they began eating. Of that he had no doubt at all.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 06/23/2007 16:34:31
Message:

The weekend gathering had quickly turned into a small party of friends by that Saturday. Andrew and his new wife Lady Wentworth arrived early that morning, and soon Annabelle joined the two brides in the kitchen. The singing peal of girlish laughter rose in volume as Molly joined the group, leaving the men to smile teasingly at each other as they left the cottage to the ladies.

“Ye know they be in there plotting the downfall of the three of ye as much as cooking.” Geoff grinned at the three married men.

“I’m afraid they’re too late for that.” Jack guffawed. “Cecily brought me down the moment she ran into my arms in Soho, and consequently knocked the doxie I was with right out of them.”

“Aye. Not that ye put up much of a fight over that one, now did ye, Jack?” Josiah grinned, lighting his pipe as the group took seats on the porch to enjoy the fresh morning air as much as the slowly rising odor of food beginning to waft from the kitchen.

“Not I, Old Friend.” Jack grinned sending a ring of fragrant smoke into the still air. “That prize could only be won by surrendering.”

“As was mine own.” Chimed in Andrew sending the trio into a fit of knowing laughter. The twins, both confirmed bachelors, shook their heads in disbelief.

Within the kitchen Little Jack basked in the feminine attention showered on him from all sides. “Oh, Molly.” Lady Jane sighed bouncing the tyke on one knee at the table. “If Mine and Andrew’s child turns out half as lovely as this I’ll be a contented woman.”

Cecily turned her attention a little to quickly to the roasting mutton and Annabelle placed a comforting hand on the younger woman’s shoulder. “Pay no mind, Dear.” She whispered lowly. “It’s better none have ever told Lady Wentworth the story. This is one of those times ignorance can wound, and it wouldn’t do for her to know the truth about your husband. Besides, there may be hope for you and Jack yet.”

The brave smile that hid the pain in the young blonde’s eyes touched the Gypsy. “I’ll never give up hope, nor trying, Annie.” She spoke with steely resolve. “I’ll not let Culpepper take that from me as well. Sooner, or later, I will give Jack a family.”

Molly sensed the mood and quickly moved to alleviate the gloom before Jane became aware of it. “Well, Loves, there’s precious little more damage we can do here for the moment. I say we all join the men folk and have some fun while the meal cooks.”

The morning passed quickly with outdoor games of hide and seek, blind man’s bluff, and horseshoes in which the team of Cecily, Anne, and Molly soundly trounced Jack, Josiah, and Andrew. “I’m not sure about Lady Jane, Andrew.” Jack spoke loudly, a mischievous twinkle in his eye as he watched his love. “But at least Josiah and I know better than to stay within throwing range should our ladies take aim with the frying pan.”

“Or a Bullwhip!” Andrew called out as Cecily chased Jack down and sat astride his chest in the end, tickling an apology from him.

“And don’t you be forgetting it either, Mr. Parker.” Molly nudged Josiah in the ribs, watching.

“Not I, Mrs. Parker.” The tavern keeper replied with mock sobriety. “I’m not as reckless as Jack. Though I must say it does seem to have its benefits.”

As little Jack napped the adults whiled away the time remaining until dinner with pleasant conversation, and jests. An outsider would have been given the impression of a family reunion instead of a gathering of friends. Such was the spirit of camaraderie, which filled the country house with its presence.

Because of the volume of guests dinner became an informal affair with the spacious living room becoming the dining area for the evening. Fresh rolls, Mutton roast, and savory seasoned vegetables quickly vanished from plates as the pleasing conversations continued through out the meal. Glasses of rich red wine, and tankards of golden ale repeatedly drained from mug and goblet. Little Jack fell asleep with his third apple tart clutched in one small hand. Only to awake when a loud and urgent knock reverberated from the front door.

Three footmen from Devonshire entered as Jack opened the oak door. “Beggin’ your pardon, Mr. Johnson” A young corporal bowed as he swept the tricorn from his head. “But there’s been a murder in town, and the villain rode out in this direction. Have ye seen anyone suspicious this tonight?”

“Nay, but we’ve been indoors since noon.” Jack scowled. “Who’s been murdered?”

“Magistrate Hammond, Sir.” The corporal shot a glance to the women. “Run through by none other than Black Jack Roberts himself. Your pardon, Ladies.”

“That’s impossible! He’s been….”Cecily shouted as she leapt to her feet, the color draining from her face. Catching herself in the nick of time. “He’s been gone from England for nearly four years!”

“Your pardon, Mum.” The footman intoned grimly. “But it seems he has returned with a vengance. No less than ten witnesses saw the deed with their own eyes not three hours ago. It would be advisable for you all to remain here tonight. For your own safety. Now if you will kindly excuse us.”

Jack shut the door slowly to the sound of three horses galloping off to the north. Cecily ran into his arms, tears streaming down her face as soon as he turned around.


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 09:54:44 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 06/23/2007 22:47:20
Message:

Cecily whispered in his ear, her tears barely choking out, 'Will it NEVER end for us?"
His mouth barely moving, he whispered back, "Steady, darling, unless you want Jane to know. And don't forget, little Jack can hear."
She held his arms tightly and pulled back to look in his face. Without speaking, she nodded.
Jane, sensing something wasn't right, asked anxiously, "Cecily? Are you alright?"
Cecily wiped the tears from her face. "Yes. I--I was just shocked. Magistrate Hammond! It--it is just too much when you find out it is someone you know."
A little too brightly, she said, "Well, it looks like this is going to turn into an overnight party. Jane, I know you and Andrew planned on staying overnight anyways. Molly and Josiah, do you mind very much sleeping in the livingroom? Oh, dear, and where to put...."
Jack put his arm around her and tenderly drew her to him. She buried her body into his side. He knew that as an unconscious signal that she was afraid and was drawing her strength from him. He knew that the first night they made love under the stars.

The men took their brandies to the front porch to enjoy the evening breeze and smoke their cigars. Unbeknownst to the women, each man had a flintlock pistol in his lap.
Cecily was uncharacteristically running back and forth, clearing the table. Molly and Annabelle sensed her franticness and Molly spoke up. "Jane, would you do me a favor and get little Jack ready for bed? He has taken a real shine to you and I know it would help us immensely if he weren't underfoot."
The small child took Jane's hand and said, "Please, Aunt Jane! And you can tell me a story, too!"
Jane blushed with pleasure at the acceptance of this small child and how the family of friends had embraced her so readily.
"I surely shall, Jack! Come on! Have you heard the story about the three pigs...?"

Molly and Annabelle exchanged looks and followed Cecily into the kitchen. Cecily was concentrating on putting the dishes into the sink and pumping water for washing them. Molly rested her hand on Cecily's shoulder and said, "You need to keep a cool head about you, dear." Cecily turned to her, the tears glistening in her eyes.
She could barely get out the words. "Dear Lord! Does he have to pay for his transgressions the rest of his life? He gave that up! He did what he had to do at the time but he is now a respectable land owner, banker and tavern owner. Not to mention a few enterprises I don't know about and some horse breeding."
Annabelle said firmly, "Keep a cool head about you, Cecily. If this imposter is going to be exposed, you must NEVER EVER let on that Jack was ever...who we know he is."
Molly led Cecily to the table and gave her a cup of hot tea that was brewing. The three women sat there, Molly and Annie watching Cecily as she took a deep sip and closed her eyes. Annie put her hand over Cecily's and said, "By morning it will all seem like a bad dream. The brigand will be caught."
Cecily shook her head. "You don't understand. Or maybe you do. I'm afraid of what will happen if he DOES get caught."
"But...that would solve it, wouldn't it?"
Cecily shook her head. "No. I am afraid of what will happen if Jack is the one to catch him."




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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/02/2007 12:39:15
Message:

Sir peter Culpepper smiled wickedly at the latest news the letter from his unwitting lackey held. The murder of that insufferable incompetent Hammond was a perfect beginning to his plans. Perhaps he could not prove who Black Jack Roberts really was, but he could ruin him and draw him back out into the open at the same time.

Fate had placed a most unexpected ally into his hands and he intended to use him to the fullest. The man’s hatred of Jack Roberts nearly surpassed his own. Simple chance had led them to cross paths in the colonies, and a drunken slip of the tongue had placed the young fool in his hands. Michael Fairchild would prove to be a perfect foil in his revenge on one Robert Johnson.

Smiling evilly, he ordered another round of drinks to celebrate.

The torch flame burned bright orange against the nearby trees of the forest as the barn began to burn. Soon the old structure roared into the night as the fire engulfed its walls. Michael grinned beneath the black silk mask that hid his features from an unsuspecting populace. Allowing the farm owner, and his wife to flee insured that Roberts would be blamed for this deed as well.

The young man burned inside with flames of hate to rival the burning building. He would see his sister’s fate avenged. Roberts would pay for killing her. Of all the family he had once knew, only Kathrin had kept in touch with him against Father’s wishes. Black Jack Roberts fate was sealed. It was only a matter of time.

Throwing the torch to the ground, he swung up onto the black stallion’s back, and galloped off into the night. Soon Roberts would have to come out of hiding, and when he did Michael would be waiting for him.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/26/2007 20:02:54
Message:

Dawn broke with an overcast of heavy gray clouds casting a gloom over the English countryside that nearly matched the feeling coursing through Jack’s breast. After all that he and Cecily had been through why should this be happening now? It seemed so unfair that the specter of his past should return to haunt them now when their life together had reached such a level of joy.

He had laid Black Jack Roberts to rest at her request, one that he had been more than happy to agree to. The prospect of living a quiet, simple life with her by his side had meant more to him than all the gold in England, And he far preferred spending his nights and days by her side than galloping about the land looking for rich victims.

Raven’s hoof beats upon the clay of the road leading to the Crossbow sounded hollow in his ears as he walked the dark stallion toward his destination. He did not relish the decision he would have to make before he arrived there, and so took a leisurely pace. No matter which path he would choose he knew there would be unpleasant consequences to consider. The question was which of the two evils laid before him was the most unpleasant.

Damn it all to Hell why now?! Now that he had finally found the one thing he had wished for above any bright bauble, or shiny trinket he had pilfered. He had began his life as a highwayman out of lack. This he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt. It was as if a great hole had opened up within him after his parents died, and no matter how much he stole, nor how many women he had dallied with it would never be filled. That is until that fated night in Soho when Cecily had near run him over in the attempt to escape her pursuers.

Jack Roberts had ever been a skeptic when it came to the subject of love at first sight. Even though he had himself witnessed the amazing love that his mother and father shared he had always felt it was something that no other could duplicate. Rarer than the crown jewels. Only Katherine had ever come close to making him believe in love at all. Then she had shattered that belief beyond all repair, or so he had thought.

A gentile smile came to his lips as the memories of that long ago night filled his mind. Memories so fresh they might as well have occurred only last night. From the moment he had gazed into her deep blue eyes, filled with fear though they were, the unbidden feeling had sprung to life like a wildfire consuming his heart as if it were dried kindling. No matter how much he tried to deny it, or cursed himself for a bloody fool, the raging flame would not die down. If anything it grew stronger with each passing moment, as if his very attempt to banish it fed the fires.

It had been the unreasoning love for this lass that had drove him to kill the slavers who came for her from out of the fog. Over the years Jack had honed his skills with the tools of his trade to a razors edge. Few could match him with the blade, or firearm, and he had yet to meet his match with the whip. He could have drove them off without killing them easily, but the thought of the harm they had done her had sealed their fates.

In the end all he could do was hope for what he considered hopeless. All he knew was that he loved this girl beyond reason, and that the reckless course he had chosen after Kath had left him would truly become suicidal should she reject him. Then came the miracle he had only dared to dream would happen. For the first time in his violent life the empty hollow in him had been filled, and he had not felt it since.

Cecily’s love had been the death knell for Black Jack Roberts. Now his love for her and their life together threatened to raise him from the grave. There were a few who were not in his circle of trust who knew that Jack Roberts and Robert Johnson were one and the same. This imposter could give them reason to believe that he was indeed a man to be brought to the King’s Justice, and that would destroy all he held dear.

On the other hand there was his promise to Cecily to consider. If he were to again don the black costume of the highwayman it would break her heart and put their safe life to risk. If he did nothing this imposter could cause the finger of suspicion to be pointed at him, and that would be the end of their life together for certain, and she could be held accountable for her knowledge of who he truly was. It was this last thought that made Jack’s mind up for him as the Crossbow came into view over the grassy hillock.

“He’s coming, Josiah.” Molly called sadly over her shoulder from the doorway.

“Aye, and I needn’t be a wizard to guess exactly what’s on his mind.” The grizzled tavern keep sighed.

The stunning redhead gently closed the door and crossed the room into the arms of her husband. “Surely he won’t break his word to Cecily.” She spoke sadly, her eyes filled with concern.

“That will depend, My Love.” Josiah pulled his woman close, as if holding her could stem the storm he felt growing around them. “If Jack feels that their lives together are threatened enough by this bloody fool he will do anything to protect it.”

“Damn it!” She cursed beneath her breath. “It’s not fair, Dearest! They don’t deserve this!”

“Damn Culpepper.” Josiah’s face reddened with anger. “I’d bet me eye teeth that blackguard is behind this!! Pity Annie missed the bloody villain, though how I’ll never fathom. I’ve seen the lass shoot before and she’s a fair hand at it. Better she had sent the bastard to Hell where he belongs.”

“Perhaps we may change Jack’s mind. If we work together?” The barmaids eyes looked deeply into his. Tears threatening to overflow them at any moment.

Gently he stroked her hair. “We can do naught but try, Love….But I’ll not bet on the outcome.”

From the stable Geoffrey and George watch as Jack dismounted the night colored stallion, looping the reigns around the tethering post beside the door. Gently he patted the horse’s neck before turning to vanish into tavern.

“What do ye think, Brother?” Geoff turned to face his twin.
“I think all Hell is about to come to Earth.” George spat into the dust. “And God knows who will pay the price afore its over.”

“Then let’s pray its not Jack or Cecily who gets the bill.” Geoff returned as they made their way back to grooming their horses.

Neither noticed that Thomas Banks had temporarily ceased his labors in the hayloft, nor the jealous eyes that followed Jack into the Crossbow.

“Jack Roberts can pay all the price as far as I’m concerned.” He whispered to himself. “But Cecily is another matter altogether. Another matter indeed.”


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 09:56:32 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 10/28/2007 10:05:33
Message:

Cecily watched from the front door as Jack had cantered out past the front of their cottage. It never failed to send a thrill of pride or a shiver of passion for him when she saw him astride the magnificent horse that was so much a part of him.

The dinner party guests had all gone home that morning. Cecily took some apples from the fruit cellar and selected the best ones for an apple pie. She sat at the table with her paring knife and began to peel them. Pushing a few strands of her long blonde hair out of her eyes, she counted her blessings which were beyond numeration. That she loved Jack with all her being was without question.
The only snake in her Garden of Eden was the fact that she could not carry a baby past the first three months.

She could feel her eyes welling up with tears everytime she thought about it. So far she had five miscarriages that she knew of. Who knew how many there actually were? The fact that the passion she and Jack shared knew no bounds gave ample opportunity for it.
She thought back to the day that she and Annie had a heart-to-heart talk about her miscarriages.

Cecily had such a hard fall when she jumped on Sir Culpepper's back at her wedding. The fact that she had landed on her stomach had caused her to lose her first child. Annie explained that some internal damage had most likely occurred. Annie had given her elixirs and herbs but to no avail. Since Cecily was so young, it may right itself. But four years later, it hadn't.
Cecily was now twenty-one.
Damn Peter Culpepper! He had taken away the one thing Cecily wanted to give Jack more than anything in the world.
His own family.

Cecily wiped a tear that had trailed down her cheek. The fact that Molly and Josiah Parker were the parents of an adorable little boy named Robert was a bit of a bitter pill for Cecily to swallow. While she loved him dearly, she couldn't help feel inadequate as a woman. She knew it was an honour that they had named their firstborn after her husband. But still.....

Slicing the apples, she put them in a bowl and sprinkled them with sugar. She opened up the flour bin and sifted flour into a bowl. Her kitchen always brought a smile to her face. While she had grown up with servants and never had to lift a finger to keep a house. But their visit to Mary Cottlepot had changed that. The way Jack had adored Mary was evident. She kept an impeccable house for him up in North Yorkshire.

Cecily let her mind drift back to the night Jack had promised that Black Jack Roberts would be laid to rest.

"Jack?"
"Hmmmm?" he said drowsily.
"Jack, now that we are settled in the house, I need to tell you something."
"What, darling?" he struggled to stay awake.
"I saw Annabelle today."
"Did you have a nice visit?" he yawned.
"Yes. Quite."
Silence.
"Jack?"
"Mmmm....?"
"Jack, I'm going to have a baby."
Jack bolted upright and exclaimed, "Are you sure?"
"Indeed. Annabelle confirmed what I suspected."
Jack held her close and kissed her tenderly. "The elixirs must be working!"
She laughed and said, "Well, we can't blame it all on that, you know."
Jack stroked her hair and said excitedly, "When shall the babe be born?"
"In the fall. Near as Annie can figure it."
"I can't wait!"
"Jack?"
"Yes, my darling?"
"It's time to talk about Black Jack Roberts. I know you haven't done any um....'business' but I need for you to promise me once and for all that you will never don that black mask again. I don't need to worry if the child shall be half-orphan before he is born."
Jack put his fingers under her chin and brought her face up to his. With all the love in his heart, he said solemnly, "I swear, Cecily Morley Roberts, that I shall never take up the mask of Black Jack Roberts again."

The baby had been lost a month later. But Jack kept his promise.
Until now.


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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 10/29/2007 20:37:51
Message:

The tall strongly built man was dressed in burgundy velvet that caused more than one eye to turn his way as he strode through the streets of Belfast. Ireland had never been the wealthiest of countries and the sight of such finery caused more than one tongue to wag in hushed whispers as he passed.

His hair was coal black and wavy as it stirred just pass his shoulders with the breeze of his passing. His bright grayish blue eyes searched the addresses of the modest townhouses he passed, ignoring the ripple his passing caused. A slight smile graced his lips, raising the up curled black mustache and slightly widened the small goatee at the end of his chin.

Raising the silver butt of his ebony walking stick he rapped sharply upon the painted door of one of the more well kept, and larger dwellings. The smile grew wider, exposing even white teeth when the eyes of the doorman widened in surprise, expecting to have to chase another beggar from his master’s stoop.

“Please inform Sir Culpepper that Malcolm Dagget is here to see him, My Good Man.” The stranger spoke in a deep, liquid British accent.

“Damn it, Jack!” Josiah bellowed in the office of the Crossbow. “And what of Cecily??!! Have ye given any thought at all of what this will do to her??!”

Jack stared at the oak floor in front of the fireplace. “I’ve thought of little else since the footmen came to the door, Josiah.” His voice was quiet and sad.

“Then for God’s sake don’t do it, man.” The elder man’s voice dropped down to a brotherly tone, grateful that the tavern was empty this morning so than none but Molly could have heard his outburst. “Simply take your wife and leave England. God knows your wealthy enough for it.”

“And go where, Old friend?” Jack looked up and the pain in his eyes brought a knot to the elder man’s throat. “You know as well as I that if it was ever known that I am Black Jack Roberts the lords would spare no expense to bring me back to the gallows. And that’s not the worst of it.”

“What could possibly be worse than breaking the heart of that lovely child, and possibly getting yourself killed in the bargain?” Josiah demanded. “You have no idea who this impostor is, nor what he might be capable of.”

Jack stood and walked to the door. Placing one hand on the gilded door latch he paused and turned his head so that Josiah could see his profile. “There are a few outside of us who know that I am Black Jack. They hold their tongues for the sake of the few good deeds I have done in my life, Josiah.”

“Aye, I know that.” Josiah returned, his arms crossed defiantly across his chest.

“Were they to think this impostor is me they would turn witness against me, and I would be exposed.” Jack continued, almost as if talking to himself. “Cecily has been my wife for four wonderful years, now. What could be worse, My Friend? Knowing that she would share my fate and hang for protecting me.”

With that Jack left for the stable, leaving Josiah open mouthed and speechless. Contemplating the cruel twists fate could take in a man’s life.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/02/2007 21:38:55
Message:

Behind the thick door of the study Sir Peter Culpepper sipped brandy and made small talk with Dagget, waiting for the other boot to drop. Rarely did Sir Terrance Blackwood send his prize hound without good reason, and sometimes that reason was anything but pleasant.

Were there any two men in England that Culpepper feared it was Blackwood and his trained dog. Besides having the ear of King George himself, it was rumored that Sir Terrance boasted a bloodline that could have claim to the throne. Regardless, Blackwood could send most of the populace to the hangman by simply crooking his finger. Those he could not he sent Malcolm Dagget to deal with.

It was obvious to all who knew that Dagget believed in Blackwood’s royal bloodline. His family had served the Blackwoods for as long as any had memory to recall. In recompense the Daggets received the finest schooling available in the arts that would make them of the most use. Fencing in Italy and Spain, and it was rumored other arts in the furthest corners of India. All of which made Malcolm a man one did not wish to be on the wrong side of. His loyalty to Sir Terrance was beyond approach.

“I’ve a message from Lord Blackwood.” Malcolm said placing one booted ankle across his knee. Finally he was ready to come to the point, and Sir Culpepper could feel the short hairs at the nape of his neck begin to rise.

Jack stood in the stable alone. Uncharacteristically he had dismissed the twins, and even given Thomas the rest of the day off. He stood in the half shadows staring at the black silk hood he had retrieved from the secret hole beneath the grain bin where he had stashed the entire costume. It seemed almost alien to him now, this disguise which had earned him his name.

The image of Cecily’s sweet face floated in front of his eyes obscuring the mask from time to time, and the words of his promise echoed over and over in his ears. He felt as if he knew how it felt to walk the final steps to the gallows. He knew that once he put the guise of Black Jack Roberts on again there would be no return.

“Oh, Cecily.” His voice choked softly into the shadows, a lone tear drifted down his cheek. “I wish there was another way. Please forgive me.” Raven hung his muzzle over Jack’s shoulder and snorted softly, feeling his friend’s pain.

“What do ye think he’s doin’ in there so long?” Geoff whispered to his brother from the front of the tavern.

“Knowing Jack, he’s fighting with himself.” George answered. “And it looks to me like he lost.”

George pointed slightly with his chin. Geoff looked up in time to see Black Jack astride Raven leap from the rear of the stable to vanish into the thick woodland.


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 09:57:59 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/07/2007 20:32:21
Message:

The pies were set in the piesafe to cool and the morning dishes were done. Cecily went over to the cabinet and took out the items she had been looking for. She shed her dress in favor of tight breeches. While it may not be lady-like, it served its purpose.

She walked out to the stable and saddled up her horse Aphrodite. She smiled broadly as she remembered the day Jack had given her the mare. It was the day they fled London with the redcoats in hot pursuit. It was also that night that she and Jack made love for the very first time.

She cantered Aphrodite across the meadow and slowed to a trot once they reached the woods. Cecily came to a clearing and dismounted. Tying Aphrodite to a tree, she took the items she wanted from the saddle.
A bow and arrows.
And a whip.

Cecily marked a tree with a piece of charcoal and walked fifty paces back. With a keen eye, she concentrated on the spot. And let an arrow fly.
Dead on, making its mark.
Again and again.

She practiced and shot spot-on over fifty times. When she retrieved her arrows, she mounted her mare again and trotted to the apple orchard. She had every right to be there. After all, Jack owned all this land.
As soon as adjoining lands had become available, Jack bid at auction and won every time.

Cecily uncoiled the whip and cracked it high above her head. Nine times out of ten she was able to drop the apples that were the highest up on the trees. When she had garnered a nice pile of them, she played a sport she had as a young girl. She tossed the apple high in the air and with lightning fast reflexes, cleaved it with her arrow before it even hit the ground.
Jack had been impressed as he had never seen a woman with the prowess with a bow like his dear wife.

As she gathered the apples and placed them in her saddlebag, she heard the sound of clapping.
"Well done, Milady. Well done!"
She looked up and into the eyes of Thomas Banks.

As it always did when she was near him, she felt a cold chill come over her.
She said cooly, "Hello, Tom. What brings you to this orchard?"
He casually dismounted his steed and tethered him to a tree.
"I'm on my way back from town and decided to take the meadowlands to cut down on time. It truly is seredipitous to meet you here."
She coiled the whip and placed it next to the reins of Aphrodite, saying nothing.
Tom took another tack. "I was watching you with the bow and arrow and-----"
"Do you always make it a habit to spy on someone without making your presence known, Mr. Banks?"
Her slightly frosty tone was not lost on Tom.
"It always is a pleasure to watch a beautiful woman with a bow. Like watching the goddess Diana."
"You are a learned man, Thomas Banks. You know your Greek mythology."
Tom grinned. "My mother insisted. And Diana was Roman, not Greek. Greek would be Artemis."
Cecily retorted, "Then you surely know what happened to Actaeon."

Thomas picked up an apple, bit into it and then offered her a bite. She ignored his gesture.
Thomas replied, "Diana was bathing in the woods when the hunter Actaeon stumbled across her, thus seeing her naked. He stopped and stared, amazed at her ravishing beauty. Once seen, Actaeon was punished by the goddess herself. She forbade him speech. If he tried to speak, he would be changed into a stag for the unlucky profanation of her virginity's mystery. Upon hearing the call of his hunting party, he cried out to them and immediately was changed into a stag. His own hounds then turned upon him and tore him to pieces."

Cecily mounted her horse and Aphrodite danced in place as Cecily grabbed the reins.
She said with all seriousness, "I would highly suggest you heed the lesson that Actaeon learned too late, Mr. Banks," and galloped off.

Tom stood there, staring at her retreating form. He said softly, "Not a bad way to die, Mrs. Roberts. Not a bad way at all...."



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/10/2007 21:55:21
Message:

Black Jack’s blue green eyes blazed from the only openings of his famous mask, the eye holes. Watching the northern road leading into Devonshire from the cover of the thick foliage of the surrounding wood. Given the information of the redcoats that his imposter had rode off to the north, and armed with his own knowledge that the northern road had almost always provided the best “game”. He felt certain that should his imitator make an appearance this coming night it would be somewhere along this road.

Turning his eyes to the sky he guessed that it would be another two hours before the sun would set. His gloved hand reached down to idly stroke Raven’s neck as he waited. Feeling a shiver run down the mount’s muscles he smiled beneath the hood. In all the time Raven had been his the midnight stallion had never once given away his position when they were in hiding. More than once he suspected the dark horse of an uncanny intelligence.

Suddenly a shot rang out from around the bend where the road disappeared from his sight, followed almost immediately by the far off wail of a feminine scream. Jack tapped his heels into Raven’s flanks, and the inky shadow formed by horse and rider burst from the deepening greenery to thunder up the tan colored highway in a fury of motion and thundering hooves.

As he topped the small hill overlooking the lush open meadow of a small valley with a lone oak tree a dozen yards from the road his suspicions were confirmed. There near the second bend in the road, just before it led back into the canopy of the forest, was a small coach. The driver lay prone in the dirt while a young couple were being held at pistol point by a cloaked figure in black. Jack’s heels dug into Raven as he urged the athletic stallion to greater speed.

The sound of Raven’s rapid hoof beats brought the masked figure around in a whirl. A second shot rang out into the evening sky and Jack heard the distinct whine of a ball as it flew past him a foot or two to his left. Rapidly closing the distance between himself and his dark twin, he noted that the figure sheathed his second pistol and made for the rapier beneath his cloak.

“Now it be my turn, Laddie Buck!” Jack hissed beneath his breath as he pulled one of his own twin French flintlocks and fired. The sharp clang of bullet meeting steel brought a grim smile to his face as his imposter’s sword flew from his numb fingers.

The young couple had taken advantage of the sudden disturbance to vanish into the wood a few yards to the other side of the dirt road, counting their blessings as they fled. Jack brought Raven to a skidding halt and lightly leapt from the saddle, his own broad bladed rapier drawn. A loud crack followed by a numbing sensation in his wrist sent the weapon clattering to the ground. Only the thick leather of his gloves gauntlet had prevented his wrist from being slashed. He looked up to see his enemy sporting a twelve foot black bullwhip with a steel ball hilt.

“Ye’ve done yer homework, I’ll give ye that!” Jack growled at his mirror image as his left hand filled with the familiar feel of Old Hob’s braided handle. “Let’s see just how good you are!”

“Ye’ll find I’m more than a match for the likes of you, Jack Roberts!” The black hooded copy spat back. “Or should I call you, Robert Johnson?!!”

Jack hesitated in surprise at the sound of his alias name. This imposter was too well versed in Jack’s secrets it would seem. Barely side stepping the coils of the villain’s whip as it snapped into the empty air he had just vacated a split second before.

Old hob’s own braided length snaked out into the lengthening shadows ripping a two foot gash into the stranger’s cloak as he whipped it forward to serve as a shield from the deadly leather. Quickly stepping back his own whip hissed through the air aimed at Jack’s masked face.

Jack Roberts dropped to one knee and sent Old Hob flying sideways to wrap around the left booted ankle of his assailant. Smiling in satisfaction as a good foot of it’s length wrapped around the target Jack pulled backwards with all the strength in his arm. The curses of the other Black Jack filled the air as he tumbled backward and a lone black plume drifted down from Jack’s cavalier hat, severed by the near miss just before he had ducked.

Quickly the false Jack kicked Old Hob’s coils from his boot and scrambled for his rapier beneath the coach where Robert’s shot had sent it. Rolling to the far side he slapped the already skittish horses sending the driverless carriage careening up the dusty road. Using the sudden dust cloud for cover he lunged for the spot he had last seen his intended victim stabbing blindly. For the moment lady luck smiled upon him and he grinned in satisfaction at the grunt of pain the blind strike brought forth.

Jack Roberts cursed his ill luck beneath his breath. The rapier had struck just below his elbow. Though just a flesh wound by comparison to the numerous other injuries he had received in his life, the shock had been enough to disarm him yet again. Then he saw his own blade not six feet from where he stood. In a desperate attempt to regain his chances he made a dive for the discarded weapon. Grabbing the hilt Jack came up on one knee just in time to catch the downward slash aimed for his throat on his own blade.

Had any other save the two black stallions been witness to the raging sword fight that followed they would have soon lost track as to which of the combatants was the real Black Jack Roberts. The ringing sound of steel meeting with steel filled the glade as the battle slowly progressed to the lone Oak tree in the meadow.

His opponent was good, there was no denying that. Rarely had Jack been pressed this hard in a fair sword fight. Still the edge was Jacks, for it was obvious the imposter lacked in experience if not in skill. Jack slipped his notched blade down along the length of his adversary, a risky maneuver, but the other Jack was ill prepared for the unorthodox move. The tip of Jack’s sword lodged in the wire hilt just below where his shot had broken one of the wires that made the basket. With a quick twist and jerk he pulled the weapon away, sending it a dozen feet from it’s owner.

With the tree to his back, and Jack’s steel at his throat there was little option for the imposter save surrender. His hands raised to the level of his chest, hands showing their gloved palms. “Go ahead Roberts!” He sneered. “Kill me as you did my poor sister!”

“Your sister??!!” Jack bellowed. “I don’t even know who you are, and I have never in my life killed a woman!”

“You killed mine!” The defeated shadow screamed back. “Just as surely as if you pulled the trigger yourself!! She loved you, and you brought her to her death!! Allow me to enlighten you!!”

The figure reached up to pull the silk hood from his head, hat and all. Jack’s blue green eyes widened in shock as features as distinctive as Katherine’s came into view. “I am Michael Fairchild, and you are the man who got the last member of my family who would even speak to me killed!!”

In his shock Jack failed to see Michael’s left hand sneak into his cloak to reappear with a dagger. Too late he tried to twist away from the sudden thrust and the blade lodged into his left side. Jack crumpled to the grassy floor with a stunned grunt, and Michael quickly kicked the dropped rapier away.

He reached down and pulled Jack’s head back by the mask, peering into Jack’s pain filled eyes with ones that blazed with pure hate. His dagger pressed against Jack’s throbbing jugular vein. “I should kill you here and now, Roberts!” Michael hissed. “But that would be far to easy a fate. First I will ruin you! I will destroy all that you have! Then, and only on my terms, will I send you to the Hell you belong in!”

Michael Fairchild spit into Jack’s face, and sent one knee deep into his solar plexus, knocking the wind completely from Jack’s lungs. Snatching up his belongings he mounted his own dark hued steed. “We shall meet again, Black Jack Roberts!” He shouted. “And on that day you will die at my hand!!”

Spinning his mount around, Michael Fairchild vanished into the wood. Leaving Jack defeated, with as much pain in his soul as he felt in his wounds.


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 10:03:55 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/11/2007 20:43:56
Message:

The setting sun cast a dark shadow across the parlor in Cecily and Jack's cottage. She bit her lip in worry and tried to keep her mind on her sewing. Everytime she thought she heard something, she jumped up to peer out the window. No sign of Jack or Raven.
Finally she couldn't stand it any longer. She grabbed her cloak and fastened it. Then she hastily left a note on the table propped up against a candle and saddled up Aphrodite.
The mare pawed the ground anxiously. Cecily whispered, "I know, dear. You wonder where your love is, too."
She swung her leg over the horse and said, "Let's go find those bad boys and bring them home. Then we can punish them. After we make sure they are alright."

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

Annabelle sat by her fireplace warming herself. She prodded the fire and the flames leaped in the air. All of a sudden, a chill wrapped itself around her. Dafar, her black and white cat mewed and leaped on the mantel.
Annabelle stood up quickly. "Oh dear God, no. Not again. Not to Jack..." she whispered frantically.
She hurried over to the hook where her cloak was and she quickly grabbed a basket and filled it with herbs and salves and potions.
To Dafar, she said, "I know not the where or when, Dafar. I only know that something bad has happened. I see a blade. And a dark horse. Riderless."
She saddled her horse up and headed in the direction of the Crossbow.
'Please. Let it be a premonition gone awry....'

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

Cecily rode like the wind through the woods until she connected with the main road. She remembered to bring her whip and her bow and arrows in case she ran across any wolves, both the four-legged and the two-legged kind.
She cantered up to the stables. Tom Banks jumped up and said, "Cecily, what are you-----"
She jumped down and threw the reins to Tom. "Please see to it she is watered," and ran into the tavern.
George and Geoff were sitting tensely at the bar, drinking an ale. Josiah was leaning over and talking to them in a low voice.
Cecily stood there and said, "Where is he? Have you seen Jack?"
A note of hysteria creeped into her voice. "Where is my husband?"
Geoff beckoned her forward and said, "We don't rightly know for sure, Cecily. He left here this morning."
George hesitated and Josiah nodded for him to continue. "Um..Cecily..well, it seems..."
"What? WHAT?"
Josiah said sadly, "He left in his black cape. And rode like the hounds from hell were after him."
Cecily put her hand to her lips and whispered, 'Dear God. No. NO!'

Just then, Annabelle burst into the tavern. All eyes turned to her.
"Something is wrong. And we need to waste no time."

No sooner were the words out of her mouth when a young couple, well-to-do, rushed into the tavern. "Call the constable! Quickly!"
Josiah said, "Hold up! Before we do that, we need an explanation."
He set two tankards in front of the couple.
The man, most likely in his late twenties, tried to catch his breath. "We were the victims of an intended robbery. Our coach was held up on the north road to Devonshire."
"By Black Jack Roberts, no less!" the woman could barely speak.
Cecily grasped the back of her chair and gasped. "Not possible. That can't be! He promised---"
Molly grabbed her by the arm and said tightly, "Dear, come with me. Little Robert wants to see his aunt," and she led Cecily out of the room.

Once out of earshot, Molly said, "Cecily, I know you are beside yourself but please! Calm down!"
Cecily whirled on her. "Calm down? CALM DOWN? Molly, my husband has been gone since early morning. We are talking almost twelve hours here. Now I find out that he is Black Jack Roberts, Highwayman extraordinaire again? After he promised me he would never again take up the mask? Dear God, what am I going to do, Molly? He should have been home hours ago!"

Annabelle came into the room and said worriedly, "I don't mean to alarm anyone but I had a premonition. A black riderless horse and a blade."
Cecily put her fist to her mouth and tried not to scream. "We have to do something!"
She clutched Annie's shoulders. "Annie, we can't let anything happen to Jack. Not again! Not after Culpepper's poisoned blade! My God, the last time it almost killed him."
Annie tried to calm Jack's love.
"Cecily, for all I know, Raven could be lame and Jack is having to walk home. The blade could mean he is being extra cautious and...."
Before she could finish, Cecily strode quickly into the tavern's great room.
Her chin was tilted up in determination.
"Geoff. George. Josiah. We are going out and we are looking for Jack. Gather your lanterns. Blankets. And weapons. Annie, take your medicines with you."
Annabelle replied, "They are all in my leather pouch on the saddle."

Cecily moved like a woman with a burning purpose. Geoff and George sat there, stunned but sprang into action at her commands.
Josiah took her by the shoulders and said, "Lassie, this is best left to the men. The search party. Why not go home and------"
"No. My husband is out there and I intend to find him. With or without you, Josiah. I may be a Lord's daughter but I am also a wife. And right now my husband is errantly late in returing home."
She shook his hands off and said tightly, "No one is telling me to stay home and knit, waiting for him to walk through the door. So get that out of your mind."
She turned on her heel and strode out into the courtyard.




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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/14/2007 12:31:30
Message:

Raven had trotted over to where his master had pulled himself up to lay with his back against the lone Oak. A soft breeze stirred the tall grasses of the meadow as the stars began to twinkle in the rapidly fading light of the sun. Lowering his magnificent head the coal black horse breathed in his friend’s sent and snorted. When this elicited no response he gently nudged Jack’s head with his muzzle. A low moan and the free gloved hand rose weakly to stroke him under his jaw line.

“I live yet, Old Friend.” Black Jack Robert’s voice came weakly to the stallion’s ears. “Yet I fear I’ve not the strength to stand just yet.” The low chuckle turned into a wracking cough.

“I’m fairly certain that young master Fairchild’s blade missed anything vital.” He continued as the fit subsided.

Raven twisted his long neck back towards his saddle over and over until he had reached the object he sought. As the fine line of the animal’s features came back around to the confused Jack’s line of vision there from Raven’s jaws hung his canteen.

Keeping his right hand pressed firmly over the still bleeding wound in his side Jack reached up to grasp the container of life giving water. “My thanks again, Old Friend.” He smiled beneath his hood as he took the canteen. “Good thing your former master had no idea what a prize you truly are. Otherwise he would have given me no excuse to take you from him.”

Raven snorted his agreement.

Laying the canteen in his lap Jack pulled the black silk hood from his head. Then grasping the cork with his teeth he freed it from the mouth of the leather bladder. Spitting the cork some distance away he drank like a man dying from thirst instead of blood loss. Then tilting the bag between his knees he filled his gloved hand and held it up for Raven to drink.

Thankfully night had fallen and with Raven’s dark bulk between him and the road over a couple dozen yards away it would be unlikely any errant travelers would spot him in the tall grasses. Not that many would be traveling in the night with his imitator reeking havoc in his name. Now there was something to ponder.

In his earlier days, after he had first donned the costume, Jack had been a very cautious man. Some would have said too cautious. On a whim he had decided to form a gang of highwaymen. A trusted core with whom he could rob the gentry of England blind. He spared no expense to delve deeply into the background of each potential member before revealing his true identity to them. Even that of his romantic interest, Katherine Fairchild.

There was a birth certificate for a younger brother, Michael, but according to the official documents he had died at birth. Jack had thought nothing more of it at the time, assuming that Katherine was the only surviving child. Now there was reason to doubt the authenticity of those documents. Could it be that they were forgeries, paid for by Katherine’s parents? It was rare, but not unheard of, and a sure way to make certain that a disowned child would have no recourse to an inheritance later.

It would also explain Kath’s rebellious nature. If she had still loved her brother, her wild lifestyle and mannerisms would go a long way in revenge upon her parents for driving him away. It was her tomboy ways that had first fascinated Jack, in the guise of Robert Johnson. Never before had he met a woman of such strong will to defy the conventions of society as she did. Later he had made it a point to meet with her as Black Jack Roberts.


Soon they had become lovers and true to her nature she had insisted on joining with him and the rest. Even going so far as to have a costume identical to Jack’s. It was this that had given Jack the idea to have costumes made for George and Geoff to confuse the footmen. For three years they had rode side by side and loved. Then he had been foolish enough to propose. She left him for another barely a fortnight later.

Perhaps Young Fairchild had a valid point. Had he not pursued Katherine, had she not tried to return to him she would yet live. Loving him had gotten her killed as surely as if Jack had done the deed himself. There was none other to blame but himself for her death. Jack would be damned if he would have Cecily share the same fate. No woman had ever meant as much to him as Cecily. She would not pay the price for his misdeeds. Of that Jack Roberts would make certain, even at the cost of his own life.

Reaching up for Raven’s reigns he gripped them tightly with his free hand. “Pull boy.” he choked, ignoring the waves of agony that burst from his side as Raven slowly backed up.

Finally up on his feet Jack staggered to the horses side, Raven’s head following his every move. Reaching up for the silver gilded saddle horn he placed one booted foot into the stirrup and heaved. The final effort proved too much for his weakened state and he promptly fell back onto the grassy plain unconscious.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/14/2007 20:01:55
Message:

The search party of four set out as the sun dipped below the horizon. George and Annabelle set down one road, Geoff and Cecily down the other. They would meet up in a few miles where the roads converged again.
It was agreed that Josiah would stay at the tavern and carry on business. It would keep suspicion down, since the twins were absent. And if Jack came back to the Crossbow, heaven only knew what shape he would be in.

As the moon rose in the sky, Cecily sat straight in the saddle. Her hands ached from grasping the reins tightly. Not so much to hold on, but to give her hands something--anything--to do.
Better that than wringing them in anguish.
Geoff leaned over. "Are you alright, Cecily?"
She released a breath she hadn't realized she had been holding. "I've been better, Geoff."
He nodded but said nothing more. What could he say?

As they trotted along, the lantern shining at the side of the road and into the thick tangle of trees, Cecily wondered if Raven was with Jack. Riderless, that is what Annabelle said. It could mean anything. That Raven had been stolen...run off...or...or...
Cecily refused to give in to that notion.

As they rode in silence, she thought back to the time that Sir Peter Culpepper sliced Jack's shoulder with a poisoned blade. Cecily sat with Jack through the day and into the night, bathing his face to keep his fever down. Josiah had said it was his love for Cecily that kept him alive. Maybe so, she thought, but it was Annabelle that gave the potion that abated the poison.
And in that moment, Cecily had found a fast friend.

"Geoff, are you sure we are heading towards the northern road?"
"Aye, Cecily. And if this doesn't pan out, we shall travel over towards the west."
They rode in silence, each lost in their own thoughts. Geoff looked over at his friend's wife and noted the change in the young woman.
He had always thought of Cecily as young and delicate, the way Jack had pampered and adored her. But a determined and relentless woman was sitting on the horse next to him. Geoff wondered if he or George would ever find the kind of love those two had found and....

"Geoff! Look! Over there!"
Before Geoff could stop her, Cecily had jumped down from Aphrodite and ran through the thicket of grass and scrub.
Standing like a sentry was a stallion.
A stallion named Raven.

Raven caught sight of Cecily and whinnied. She ran up to him and hugged him.
"Raven! Oh, Raven! Show me where he is! Show me where Jack is!"
He tossed his head towards the tree. Barely able to make him out because of his dark clothes, she saw Jack lying near the tree.
"Jack!" She yelled, "GEOFF! I found him! I FOUND HIM!"

Cecily bent over him and heard his shallow breathing. She whispered a prayer of thanks to God.
She put her hands on his chest and her hands came away with something sticky.
What was it?
'Dear God.' she breathed. 'OH, DEAR GOD!'

She clutched his hands and said, "Oh, my darling! Who did this to you?"
Geoff was at her side in a flash. He shone the lantern over Jack's prone figure and uttered a profanity.
"Hold the lantern, Cecily."
He handed it to her and he did a cursory examination of Jack.
"He's been stabbed. Damn it, he's been STABBED!"
Cecily raised his head and whispered frantically, "Jack. Jack! Talk to me, darling! Please! Stay with me!"
Geoff pressed around near the wound. Jack moaned.
He turned to Cecily and said, "The vital organs seem to be alright but he has lost a great deal of blood. The fact that it is getting colder out helped keep him from bleeding out but we need to be concerned he is not freezing to death."
She cradled Jack's head on her lap. "We need to get him back to the tavern. NOW!"
Geoff stood up and took the lantern. "I'll ride to the road and get George and Annabelle. She can put a poultice or something on it to keep him from bleeding even more when we move him. Cecily, will you be alright here?"
She smiled wanly and said, "No one knows it but I have a pistol under this cloak."
Geoff said, "I'll be no more than half an hour. George will be there. An advantage of being a twin. I can feel his presence and we always had a mental telepathy."
He went back to his horse and took a blanket.
"Good idea you had to bring these, Cecily. Stay warm."
He covered Jack with one and gave the other one to Cecily.
"And take this."
He handed her a flask of whiskey and a canteen of water. With that, he mounted his horse and galloped off.

With the warmth of the blanket, Jack started to regain consciousness. Cecily could feel her eyes fill with tears.
"Oh, my darling...."
He began to focus his eyes on her face and reached up to weakly touch her cheek.
"Ce-Cecily? Am I dreaming?"
She felt the tears run down her face and she held him as close as she dared. "No, you are not dreaming. Geoff, George, Annabelle and I went searching for you."
Raven came up and nuzzled Cecily's neck.
She reached up and touched the horse's nose. "Thank you, Raven. Thank you for taking such good care of him."
She opened the canteen and raised Jack's head.
"Drink some of this."
He drank and coughed. "I--I have to explain...."
She shook her head and said, "Plenty of time for that, my love."
And then she heard hoofbeats on the road. Within a minute, George and Geoff were standing next to her.
Jack tried to smile and said, "If I didn't know better, I would think I was seeing double."
George grinned, "The worst is yet to come. You still have Annabelle to deal with."
Annabelle came forward and said briskly, "Alright, young man. Let's see what trouble you managed to get yourself into."
She deftly looked at the wound and shook her head. "You were right, Geoff. Blood loss but vital organs were missed."
She reached into her saddlebag and put a cloth saturated with some sort of salve on it.
Jack moaned and George said, "Let's get him home."

They lifted him up gently and put him on Geoff's horse. Geoff rode in back of him, supporting him and Cecily took Raven alongside Aphrodite. The mare kept leaning over and nuzzling the coal black stallion.
Cecily patted her neck and said, "I know how you feel, love. We have them back."

And with a slow and steady pace, they headed towards the road that led to the Crossbow Inn.

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 10:05:32 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/15/2007 20:10:07
Message:

Malcolm leaned forward and set his empty glass down on the polished walnut desk’s finish. Inwardly he smiled at the slight grimace of displeasure that crossed Sir Peter’s features. It was his silent statement that he did not care what the nobleman thought. He was in charge of this situation. His brow knitted slightly as his eyes bored into Culpeppers.

“Sir Blackwood is less than pleased by your handling of the Hammond affair.” Dagget’s voice was low, deep, and slightly laced with menace.

Sir Peter struggled to keep the shakiness he felt inside from crossing over into his voice. “And why should his lordship be displeased?” He felt the sweat begin to bead on his brow, unbidden. “He ordered Hammond removed, and I had him removed.”

“Aye.” Malcolm leaned slightly forward. “But did you have to resurrect Black jack Roberts to do the deed?”

Sir Peter swallowed hard. “And why should that upset sir Blackwood?” He all but stammered.

“Sir Terrance is all too aware of your vendetta against this so called Highwayman.” Dagget continued. “In his sudden absence Lord Blackwood put certain plans into motion. The king’s men had become just lax enough for the plans to finally be set into motion.”

The tall dark haired man set back in his chair in disgust. “Now thanks to your little game with Roberts ye’ve stirred up a bloody hornets nest! King George has all but doubled his guards and footmen!! Ye’ve all but brought Sir Blackwood’s plans to a grinding halt. Plans that called for Hammond’s elimination.”

Culpepper’s eyes grew wider in fear as Malcolm’s voice rose in timber. “Now what his lordship wants to know is what are you going to do to correct this intolerable situation?”

Jack lay on the overstuffed leather couch in the office of The Crossbow. Anne Peterson had insisted they take him to the closest room. Traveling back to the inn had placed even more of a strain upon his weakened condition, and though she had kept a matter of fact attitude for Cecily’s sake she was very worried.

Jack’s blood loss was far more extensive than was good for any man, and inwardly Annie was appalled at the whiteness of his face. Just how close he was to death’s door she couldn’t be certain, but she knew it couldn’t be far. What was keeping Jack’s spirit nailed to his body was beyond her.

They had brought him in through the kitchen door to avoid the customers. Cecily had insisted on washing the blood from him and changing his clothes herself. Hurling the costume of Black jack Roberts into the raging fireplace with disgust. Now she knelt at his side holding his hand, willing life into a body that by all Annie knew should have been long dead.

Suddenly there was a commotion in the main hall, and they could hear Josiah’s voice raised in outrage. “Ye’ve no right to be searchin’ here!! This is a respectable establishment, and ye damn well know it!!!”

As one Cecily and Anne made for the door. The look of steel resolve in the young blonde’s eyes was unmistakable. Who ever it was would enter this room over her dead body. They came from around the bar to a scene that turned Anne’s blood to ice. There in the middle of the hall were no less than six armed soldiers.

“Ah, Mrs. Johnson, isn’t it?” Sergeant Major Barclay smiled. “and could you tell me just where your husband is, miss?”

For a split second Cecily froze, then her iron will to protect her love at all costs took her over. With a matter of fact attitude that amazed all who knew she answered. “Why Sergeant Major, just why would you want to disturb my husband, sir? He’s been going over the books all day and has just laid down for a short nap. He works so hard at his business, you know.”

For all intents and purposes Cecily presented the picture of a highborn lady discussing the weather with a chamber guest. Barclay, however, was not impressed in the least. “Then I’m afraid I must ask you to wake him, Mrs. Johnson. I must insist.”

“But what ever for?” Cecily continued nonchalantly. “Has he broken some law?”

“We’ve had a report from a young couple from Bath, here on their honeymoon.” Barclay spoke in an official tone, stepping closer to the pretty blonde woman. His eyes locked with the azure gems of hers. “They were attacked by Black Jack Roberts this eve. When we got to the area we found some strange things. Someone had left behind a copious amount of blood, and the hoof prints of several horses, all leading in this direction.”

Now almost nose to nose with Cecily he bore down upon her, intending to make her break if she knew anything. “What ever else happened there Black Jack was seriously wounded. Now will you call you husband or shall my men and I rouse him?”

Cecily’s one hand went to her hip. To Anne’s horror she saw her other hand close around the butt of a small flintlock hidden at her back. Cecily was about to shoot the Sergeant Major where he stood to protect Jack. Before she could interfere the office door opened.

“And just what does that have to do with me, or my wife, Sergeant Major?” Jack stood unwavering, and to Anne Peterson’s utter astonishment walked over to place his arm around Cecily’s waist. Taking the firearm from her in the process.

Barclay backed up several steps. Surprise flooding his face. “My pardon, Mr. Johnson. We are looking for a severely wounded man whom we suspect of being Black Jack Roberts.”

“Well as you can see, there is no one wounded here, my good man.” Jack laughed out loud.

“Yes,” Barclay replied stonily, “I can see that very well, Sir. If you will excuse us we must continue our search elsewhere.”

“Think nothing of it, Sergeant Major.” Jack quipped flippantly as the redcoats turned to leave. “I must return to my own work now, but if there is anything I can do.”

“Nothing at all, Mr. Johnson.” The commander replied icily. “If you will excuse us.”

Jack saluted the retreating footmen and led Cecily into the office. No sooner did the door close behind them then Jack collapsed to the floor. His last vestige of iron will fleeing his body, but at least Cecily was safe.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/17/2007 21:35:21
Message:

"JACK!" Cecily screamed. George and Geoff came bursting in.
Cecily frantically patted his face but Jack was unconscious.
"What the hell happened here, Cecily?" Geoff exclaimed.
Annabelle came right behind them and said, "Jack managed to rouse himself long enough to keep Ceciliy from a trip to the gallows."
She turned to Cecily and with all firmness, chastised her. "Do you realize, young lady, what would have happened if you had shot that major? You would be arrested and on your way to the gallows, no matter how pretty you are. And where would that leave your husband?"
Cecily whirled on Annie. "No one--NO ONE!--will come between Jack and me. Do you understand, Annabelle? Now he may have given his life for me and if anything happens to Jack, I WILL hunt down the major and the six lemmings with him and make sure they pay. And pay. And pay."
George stood up. "He's bleeding again. He must have ripped open the wound."
Cecily said, "He needs to be moved. He needs to be moved to the secret quarters. He won't be able to heal if he has to constantly worry he will be found out. Geoff? George? You need to move him up the back staircase by the kitchen. Give me five minutes to get the room ready."

When she was gone, Annabelle looked worriedly over at Jack. Josiah came in, mopping his brow. "I thought for sure Cecily would shoot that redcoat dead where he stood. Thank God that Jack managed to get that pistol away from her and...oh, dear God! He's not..."
Annabelle shook her head. "No. Although why he continues to live is beyond me. The man has taken hits that no mortal man should be able to bear."
Josiah led her out to the tavern. "Annabelle? Be honest with me. Will he live?"
She felt her eyes tear up. "I don't see how he possibly can. The blood loss....the exposure to the cold....God only knows how he managed to even walk out the door and act like nothing was wrong."
Geoff spoke up. "Love. His love for Cecily. That man will defend her with the last breath in his body."
Josiah said quietly, "Aye. But will it be enough?"

Cecily came downstairs. "Be careful. Move him slowly. Jack needs all the rest he can."
Annabelle started to protest but she held her tongue. What difference did it make anyways?
Very carefully, Geoff and George were able to move Jack to the bed. Cecily had already pulled the covers down. She had a few candles going and a few pitchers of water.
"One more favor, if you please, boys. I need you to move Raven to a corner stall that Jack has in security. No one is to tend to him but the two of you. Josiah, I need you to let the word out that Robert Johnson had to go to London on business. You expect him back in about a week unless he gets delayed. This will keep the King's men from snooping around again. Annabelle? We need to look at his wound again."

Cecily took out a knife and deftly cut Jack's clothes off. She pulled the blankets up over him and washed his face, all the while talking to him in a low soothing voice. She then turned to Annabelle and said, "Would you please look at it, Annie? Tell me what you think."
Annie looked at the wound. It was clean-edged but deep. She touched around it and Jack moaned in his unconsciousness. The gypsy began to mix a poultice of herbs and salve. She applied it and then bandaged the wound up.
Cecily looked up at her with hopeful eyes. "What now?"
"We wait. And pray. Cecily, Jack lost a great deal of blood. His body needs to replenish it."

Cecily took Jack's hand in hers and stroked his face.
"Then I wait. That is all I can do."
She kissed his hand and wouldn't let go.


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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/18/2007 12:30:47
Message:

Two nights later Jack’s blue green eyes opened. For a moment he looked around not comprehending where he was, then recognition flooded his senses. His hidden room at the Crossbow. A place that had more than once saved his life. Cecily must have had him moved there, bless her. But why? Slowly his memory came back to him. The discovery of his impersonator, the fight on the northern road, the redcoats. The redcoats!! Cecily!!

In a near panic he began to rise from the bed when he spied his wife asleep in a quilted chair near the head of the bed. Then, and only then, did he feel the pain in his left side. Lowering himself back to the bed he stifled a moan lest he wake her. God only knew how long she had been there. Candles on the small round table were near half burned.

Light began to creep across the floor as a crack in the hidden door began to widen and he instinctively reached for one of his pistols that usually hung on the bedpost near his head. His hand closed on empty air, and the silhouette of a woman with long curled hair was momentarily revealed against the outside light.

Although not a sound had been made Cecily snapped awake and he saw one of the twins fill her hands. Apparently the French flintlock had been laying in her lap the whole time. Annabelle Peterson moved into the candle light, and Cecily relaxed her guard with a barely audible sigh of relief. Looking to the bed her sapphire eyes came to life with joy and love.

“Jack!” she whispered as tears of joy filled her large eyes and she flew to his side, dropping the flintlock to the floor. “Oh, My darling! You live! You Live!” She buried her face against his neck, and his hand came up to stroke her cascade of wavy golden hair.

“Aye.” Annie’s soft accented voice floated in the air as she retrieved the forgotten weapon and placed it onto the table. “But Duvall knows how.”

Jack choked back his own tears as he whispered soft comforts to his love. Wanting nothing more than to stop her weeping. Weeping that he knew all to well he was the cause of. “Hush, My Sweet, I am fine, everything will be fine.” He whispered into her hair gently kissing her head.

Cecil’s head rose, her tear stained eyes searching his. “Why, My Love?? Why did you break your promise to me?? Why did you don the identity of Black Jack again?”

The pain and hurt in her voice and eyes sliced into Jack Robert’s heart like a razor, making the pain in his side almost pleasant by comparison. “I am so sorry, Dearest.” He breathed as his own eyes finally overflowed. “I’ve no choice in the matter. For the sake of your life, Black Jack Roberts must live again.”

“My life?” Cecily raised up on the edge of the down mattress. “It is your life in jeopardy, Jack, not mine!”

“I wish that were true, Luv.” He continued softly. “What you do not know is that there are a few beyond our little “family” who know that Jack Roberts and Robert Johnson are one and the same. They hold their tongues because of the few deeds of charity they have heard of Black Jack committing. Such as the farm we passed when we first met.”

Cecily’s eyes widened. “Yes, I remember.”

Jack continued softly while Anne stood behind Cecily listening. “While these few know who I am, My Love, they do not know me. Should these few begin to believe that I am capable of the acts Michael is perpetrating in my name, I’ve no doubt they will come forward with proof that I am Black Jack Roberts. Then by English law you, as my wife, will be charged with aiding me, and hang by my side. That, My Heart is something I could not bear.”

“Michael?” Anne interrupted. “Then you know the identity of the other Jack Roberts?!!”

Jacks eyes never left his wife’s as he answered. “Aye, Annie…..It’s Michael Fairchild.”

“Fairchild?!!” Annabelle gasped. “But Katherine had no brother!!”

“It would seem that the reports of her younger brother’s death were exaggerated, Luv.” Jack grinned sarcastically.

“Wait.” Cecily sat up on the edge of the bed taking Jack’s hand in hers. “Do you mean to tell me that Katherine did have a brother, and he is the one impersonating Jack? Why for God’s sake?”

“Revenge, Dearest.” Jack spoke sorrowfully. “He blames me for her death, and to be honest, I’m not so sure he isn’t right.”

“Jack. It was not your fault, it was Culpepper’s.” Cecily held his hand tightly. “Never doubt that. Still, why would you have to become Black Jack again to stop him?”

“Because, Dearest, only if there are two of me to be seen together will there be doubt in the minds of those who can bring me down, and cause you harm.” His voice turned serious. “For myself, I could care less, but for you, My wife. As long as I breathe and can prevent it I will stand between you and any harm. No matter what the cost.”

The blonde haired beauty thought long and hard. The truth of her husbands words rolling over in her mind. Finally she spoke, her voice soft and determined. “Though I may not like it, Jack, I can see your point. I forgive you, and release you from your promise. However. Like yourself, Mr. Roberts, I can not bear the thought of your coming to harm either, so whether you like it, or not, I will do all in my power to bring Michael Fairchild down.”

Jack had barely began to protest when her soft fingers touched his lips, cutting him off. “No arguments.” The look in her eyes would not entertain any opposition. “You are severely wounded, I am free to help hunt this man down and I shall.”

With that She quickly kissed him, stood and strode from the room, leaving him in open mouthed shock. Annie began to chuckle, then to laugh out loud. “Met your match, Dear Jack?” She half laughed.

“It would seem so, Luv.” He mused. “Still….”

“Have no worry, Jack” Anne smiled as she began to change the dressing on his side. “George and Geoff are keeping a discreet eye on her. She is being protected.”

“Thank you all, Annie.” Jack sighed with relief.


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 10:06:53 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/21/2007 22:09:04
Message:

Cecily walked down the back stairs into the kitchen. Josiah stood there and said, "How is he?"
Cecily smiled with tears in her eyes. "He's conscious and coherent and he's alive and he's wonderful and he's...."
She burst into tears of relief and Josiah gathered her in his arms. Molly came in and said with fear in her voice, "Mother of God! He'd dead!"
Cecily looked up and said, "No, Molly. In fact, he's conscious. And he is going to live!"
Molly put her hand to her bosom and breathed, "Thank the Lord!"
Cecily dabbed her eyes and said, "I need to get some of your finest stew. With plenty of meat. Jack is going to need it to build himself back up. And wine. He must have red wine."
She busied herself with a tray and put together a light dinner for her husband.
Molly took her hand and said, "Cecily, the man by rights should have died a long time ago. It's his love for you that keeps pulling him through."
Cecily gave her friend a hug and said, "It works both ways, Molly. Jack is my whole world. Without him, I would be nothing. And now I have to get this to him while it is still hot."
Molly watched her go up the stairs and she turned to her husband. "Josiah, she is up to something. Mark my words, Cecily Roberts won't take this lying down."
Josiah put his arms around his wife and drew her close. "How do you know, love?"
"Because she is too calm. Behind that calm exterior is a mind calculating something. I know Cecily. She's a woman. And her man has been wronged."
Josiah frowned, "Let's hope it will all be over before it gets to that point."

Cecily delivered the tray to Jack. Annabelle was bandaging the wound.
"Is it healing alright, Annie?"
She nodded. "No sign of infection and Jack seems to be on the mend. I swear, young man! You will be the death of me! Enough that I worry about my own son without worrying about you!"
Cecily handed Jack the tray and admonished, "Now eat slowly and drink this lightly, Jack. It will help build your blood up."
Jack winced as he reached for it. "Thank you, darling."
She took her cloak off the peg. Jack said, alarmed, "Cecily, where are you going?"
"To check on things at home. And to get a change of clothes. I'll be back in a bit."
She leaned over and gave him a kiss. "I'll give your regards to the kitty."
He watched as she closed the door.
"She's up to something, Annie."
The gypsy looked thoughtful and said, "Probably. But she's a smart lass. She won't do anything stupid. Geoff and George will make sure no harm comes to her."

Cecily walked down to the stables and patted Aphrodite. "Ready for a little ride, my sweet?"
She grabbed a blanket and threw it over her mare, then hoisted a saddle on her, buckling it underneath.
"Going somewhere?"
Cecily started at the voice.
"Tom." she said cooly.
"So....might I ask where you are going on such a fine moonlit night?"
She mounted her horse and said, "No, you may not."
She tapped Aphrodite with her boots and galloped out of the courtyard.
Tom's face darkened with the sting of her rebuke.
'Some day, Mrs. Roberts....some day you will regret you dismiss me as a mere servant...'

Cecily entered her house and was out again in fifteen minutes. George and Geoff were watching from the small copse of trees at the edge of the road.
George nudged his twin and pointed discreetly. "Now what do you suppose she is up to?"
Cecily was wearing a plain dress and an old cloak, carrying a piece of thin rope and a small pillow.
Geoff shrugged. "How should I know? You know I have no idea how the female mind works. But I have a feeling that whatever it is, it's a doozy."

Cecily climbed on the back of Aphrodite and headed towards Devonshire. George sighed and said, "And so it begins...."

Within fifteen minutes, Cecily rode up to the Red Fox Inn. The twins were in the shadows by the road.
"What the hell is she doing?" George whispered.
Cecily dismounted and pulling her cloak off, she laid it across the horse. She took the pillow and the rope and lifted her skirt. George and Geoff stared in amazement as Cecily's bloomers were on display!
She quickly tied the pillow to her stomach and dropped her skirt.
George and Geoff said in unison, "Oh my God!"
Because Cecily gave the appearance of a very pregnant woman.
George and Geoff pulled their hoods close to their faces.
Geoff could barely contain his laughter as he said, "Now THIS I have to see....!"

Staying out of Cecily's view, they watched the whole scene.
Cecily walked up to the tavern keeper and threw her hood off from around her face. She affected the walk of a woman about to deliver a baby.
"Excuse me, " she said. "I am trying to find a Michael Fairchild and I knew he had been headed this way."
"Problem, Ma'am?"
Cecily wrung her hands. "Isn't it obvious? He got me with child and then ran out on me! And I thought he should at least know he is about to be a father."
"No, Miss, I haven't seen or heard of this person."
She managed to squeeze out a few tears and wipe them with the back of her hand. "I don't know what I am going to do! My father is casting me out and I won't have a shilling for me and the babe and OHHHHH!"
She doubled over and the tavern keeper rushed forward.
"Are you alright, miss?"
She clutched her stomach and nodded. "Thank you. I'll be on my way then. T'wouldn't do to be dropping this baby on your floor now, would it?"
She left the tavern, to the relief of the innkeeper.

Geoff stood up and put his hood back up. "George, my brother, if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it!"
George chuckled, "Now how can we ever explain this to Jack with a straight face?"
They laughed and said, "Maybe we won't, twin. Maybe we won't!"
Geoff sighed, "It's going to be a long night, brother. A long night. I have a feeling she isn't done. Not by a longshot."



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 11/24/2007 21:21:19
Message:

Michael Fairchild lay on the bed in his small room cursing his ill luck. Roberts had been more than a match for his skills, and he had suffered a score of wounds from their confrontation. He had nearly fell from his horse half a dozen times from blood loss, and the leech had cost him a pretty penny for his silence.

It had taken everything he could muster to keep Roberts from knowing just how badly he had been injured, and only a quick act of treachery had saved his own life. It would seem that not all of the rumors he had heard of the man were untrue. Also he had come to realize that the costume served several purposes besides disguise and night camouflage. It also made it near impossible for an opponent to tell if you were wounded or not.

Michael had chosen the small village of Innswich some few miles north of Devonshire for its seclusion and sleepiness. Not a single soul had been out by the time he had made it back to his room and quickly bound his freely bleeding wounds with strips from the bed sheets. A change of clothes, and a quick trip to a local sawbones had taken care of the rest. Still it would be several weeks before he could continue his vendetta against Jack Roberts.

If there was still a Jack Roberts to continue against. In his anger and fear he had struck far deeper than he had intended. For all he knew he had killed the man, but he hoped not. That would be too quick, and spoil his plans. There had been no word of Black Jack’s death, but then again it had only been a few days.

“Let him live.” Michael hissed into the near darkness. “Let him live just long enough.”

A discreet knock came at the wooden door. Michael broke off his dark thoughts of revenge, his right hand slipping beneath his pillow to grip the butt of his flintlock. “Aye. What be your business here?” He shouted from the bed.

The door opened, and he relaxed his grip on the pistol. Into the room came Bill Riggs, Culpepper’s second in command in his smuggling operation. “Well it seems I heard correct then.” The ill kept ruffian snickered. “Black Jack Roberts was severely wounded during a bit of robbery gone wrong. The real thing turned out ta be mor’n ye could handle there youngster?”

Michael Fairchild ignored the jibe. “I take it you have a letter for me from, Sir Peter?” He spoke barely hiding his distaste for the messenger.

“Aye, and a bit ‘o advice fer ye.” Riggs frowned tossing the letter onto the young man’s chest. “Ye’ll do well to keep out of sight for a while. Them redcoats are tearin’ up the countryside looking for a severely wounded man they suspect of being Black Jack. We’ve had to stop operations ‘cause the country be thick with patrols.”

“Then they didn’t find a body?” Michael asked a little too quickly.

“Nay just a lot of blood from what I take to be yer first meeting?” Bill sneered, eyeing Michael’s many bandages.

“You needn’t smile like that.” Fairchild shot back. “Not all of that blood was mine.”

“Didn’t think so, Boyo.” Bill grinned. “But ye didn’t get the job done neither, did ya?”

“I never intended to.” The young auburn haired man spoke half to himself. “I wanted Roberts to know who it was that would be his downfall. He’ll suffer until he begs me to end his life.”

“Not at the rate yer goin’ he won’t.” Bill Riggs rose to leave. “By the way, I don’t think you’ll be liken the contents ‘o that letter, Lad.”

Michael quickly examined the unbroken seal for tampering. “Have you read it?” he asked angrily.

“Nay, youngster, but I did get one of my own. One that says to make certain you obey that one.” Riggs laughed as he opened the door to leave. “And believe me, me young Cocker, ye will obey them orders.”

Michael spat vehemently at the closed door, wincing as the sudden movement pulled at several stitches. He opened the letter and the blood drained from his face.

“Michael.

I know you have done well in our revenge against Jack Roberts. However, circumstances have dictated that we find another way to bring the villain to justice.

You must cease your impersonation of him immediately. Return to me here in Belfast and we will plot another way to bring about his downfall.

Sincerely;
Lord Peter Culpepper”

Michael Fairchild’s hands began to tremble with rage, and he tore the letter to shreds. Never! Never would he stop now! Not when he was so close to bringing Roberts down himself! He would not do it! Culpepper be damned! He would continue with the plan just as they had agreed in the Americas, and no one was going to stop him!



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 11/30/2007 19:19:03
Message:

Cecily repeated her little charade at The Royal Oaks, The White Hart, The Dog and Duck, The King's Arms and finally The dim bulb and Bull.
Each time she was handed the same story. No, there was no one of that name. Finally, as she exited The dim bulb and Bull, she unfastened the rope and let the pillow drop to the ground. She kicked it in frustration, setting it sailing into the bushes.
George started to laugh and Geoff smacked him in the chest.
"Shh! Do you want Cecily to hear you?"
George snorted with quiet laughter. "But..but she just dropkicked Jack's first-born to Kingdom Come!"
Geoff couldn't help but whisper, "Wonder if it was a bairn or a lassie?"
To which George muffled his uncontrollable laughter into his gloved hand.
Cecily mounted Aphrodite and drew her cloak around her, keeping her face hidden as she rode off.
George yawned, "I hope she is headed for the Crossbow. I'm about ready to fall asleep in the sadde."
His twin quipped, "Not to mention a tankard of whiskey would be nice."
They reined their horses and followed her at a discreet distance.

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

"WHAT THE HELL YOU WANT?" was the response the tavern wench heard to her knock at the door.
She opened the door and stuck her head in.
"Don't take that attitude with ME, Michael Fairchild!"
He scowled. "Sorry, Bess. I'm in a bit of pain here, as you can see."
She brought him a bowl. "I thought you may be a bit hungry and so I snuck this out of the kitchen."
He eagerly reached for it, trying not to wince from the pain.
"I appreciate it, I do. I'm just a bit out of sorts."
Bess sat on the edge of the bed and tucked her legs under her. She produced a tankard of ale.
"Thought you might want this too."
He grabbed it and drank from it greedily. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he leaned back against the pillows.
"Bess, ye are an angel sent from heaven."
She gave him a sly grin and said, "And I bring glad tidings just like the angels. Someone was here tonight, looking for ye."
Michael immediately felt his gut tighten up. How could Black Jack Roberts be up and scouring the countryside for him?
Bess continued, "It were a woman."
His attention was focused on her. "A woman?"
"Pretty little thing she were. Wore a black cloak and was riding a dappled horse. Blonde. Startling blue eyes."
"Could be one of many, Bess."
"Maybe you knew this one nine months ago."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"This one was with child."
"And your point is....?"
"She claims it is yours."
Unfortunately Michael Fairchild just took a drink of ale and started to choke.
"Some doxy is trying to blame me because she is carrying a brat?"
Bess shrugged. "I don't know. But she seemed awful anxious to talk to ye."
She took his bowl and tankard and winked, "I'll be up to tuck ye in, Michael. After closing."
The door closed quietly behind her.
Michael Fairchild bit his lip in concentration. Who could it possibly be?


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/01/2007 16:17:31
Message:

Cecily rode towards the direction of the Crossbow. George breathed a sigh of relief. "Finally!"
Geoff replied, "I can almost feel that whiskey going down my throat now."
"Let's go!"
They followed at a discreet distance, keeping out of sight. Cecily gently kicked Aphrodite in the flanks to pick up the pace.
And within a half hour, she came into view of the Crossbow.

Josiah met her in the courtyard, his hands on his hips. "What took ye so long, Cecily? Yer husband be gettin' a bit antsy and nervous over yer return."
Cecily climbed down and led Aphrodite towards the stable.
"I'll be up in a minute. Please tell Jack I have to curry her down and feed her."
Josiah retorted, "We have stablehands fer that and ye know it! Afraid to face yer husband as to where ye been?"
Cecily flared up, "And what is THAT supposed to mean? You think I have another man on my mind?"
Josiah got his face in hers. "Aye! That I do! And his name be Michael Fairchild!"
Cecily felt her face get hot. "Josiah, I went home and picked up some clothes for myself and a few things for Jack. If you have noticed, I had to cut his clothes off and he can't possibly go home when he is able to in nature's own, can he? So if you will excuse me, I'll be spending the night under the covers with my beloved."
She walked off and Josiah yelled after her, "Aiming to be a widow, Cecily? Because any physical contact will kill him!"
She turned and saw Josiah grinning at her. She burst out laughing and waved to him as she walked into the tavern.

George and Geoff had waited discreetly until Cecily was in the tavern before they came into the stables.
Josiah was leading Aphrodite into a stall as they came trotting in. He handed the mare's reins to a stableboy and asked the twins, "So, where was she? And don't tell me she was in her house the whole time. Her cloak was splashed with mud and she was acting very cagey."
They both dismounted and handed their horses over to the other stableboys.
Geoff said, "Are you sure she will be in the room with Jack?"
"Aye. She has that 'hold me' look on her face. She won't be down."
George grinned and said, "You won't believe it."
Josiah said darkly, "She's Mrs. Jack Roberts. I'll believe anything."
"Then fill up the tankards with your best whiskey and we shall tell you a tale that even WE can't quite believe and we were there...."

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

Cecily walked through the tavern. Molly stopped and said, "And where have YOU been? That husband of yours is going out of his mind with worry!"
She took off her cloak and hung it on a peg. "I know and I'm so sorry. I laid down on the bed for a few minutes and before I knew it, I fell asleep. I guess the past few days just caught up with me."
She mounted the stairs to go to the safe room.
Molly called to her, "I want to talk to you when you are done, you know..."
Cecily heaved a sigh and thought, 'How can I ever tell them of my hare-brained scheme?'

She entered the room just as Jack said, "I swear, if she doesn't show up in the next few minutes, I'll personally....CECILY!"
She smiled sheepishly and said, "I'm so sorry, my love. I fell asleep. Here--some clothes for you. Have you had anything to eat?"
Jack frowned, "Do you have ANY idea how worried I was?"
She sat next to him, putting her arms around him. "I know and I am so sorry, darling. Can you forgive me?"
She looked up at him with her sapphire eyes and he knew if she asked for the moon, he'd get it for her.
He sighed, "As long as you are alright. That is all that matters."
Annabelle smiled at the two of them. "And as long as you are here, Cecily, I shall turn the nursing duties over to you. His dressing has been changed and here is an herbal tea for healing."
Cecily said devilishly, her eyes never leaving Jack's face, "Another tonic, Annie?"
Annie laughed and said, "No. Not at all! Take some yourself, Cecily. THIS tea will bring you slumber!"
She closed the door quietly behind her.

Cecily walked to the door and locked it. Jack laughed, "Alone at last!"
She stood there and slowly unlaced her dress. Jack gave her a grin and said, "You have a streak of cruelty in you, Mrs. Roberts! Unwrapping and not a thing I can do about it!"
She smiled as she slid under the quilt with him. Drawing him close, she whispered, "Maybe not but we have each other and that is all that matters."
She wrapped herself in his arms, careful not to lean on his wound. He held her close and said, "I don't want you to go looking for Michael Fairchild. While you were gone, it was my biggest fear that you would take matters into your own hand. You don't know what he looks like. I do."
Cecily drew away and looked at Jack's face. "And what does he look like?"
He shook his head. "No, Cecily. I"m not telling you. You will be looking at every man that fits that description. Best let us take care of it in our own way. We are working on a fool-proof plan."
She was quiet.
Jack tilted her chin up to his and gazed into her eyes with his turquoise ones.
"I promise I will not go looking for Michael Fairchild."
He smiled at her and held her close. "That is all I ask, my love." He kissed her forehead and yawned. Cecily snuggled deeper into Jack's embrace and as she listened to his rhythmic breathing as he slept, she whispered, "I may not go looking for him, my darling. But if he ever crosses my path, I shall show no mercy."
And before she knew it, she was fast asleep in his arms.
The only place she ever wanted to be.



Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 10:09:41 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/04/2007 18:54:40
Message:

For once Annie’s potions had little effect, Jack Roberts lay wide awake, idly stroking the golden locks of his love as she snuggled closer to him in sleep. That she had attempted to find Michael he had little doubt. George or Geoff would soon confirm the suspicion. The trouble was that even without a description of the man it would not be hard to pick him out. His features were so close to Katherine’s that they might as well have been twins, and Cecily was no fool. Not by a long shot.

That she had failed this time could only mean one thing. As he had suspected his blade had bit home more than once. It was so hard to tell in the heat of battle, and the black fabric hid blood too easily. He had been mere moments from cutting the young man’s throat when Michael had revealed his identity. Only that face had caused Jack to hesitate, and that had damn near killed him. How long before Cecily would find him?

Worse yet, what if Michael should guess her identity? What was the vengeance crazed youth capable of to get to him? He shuddered involuntarily at the thought, sending a wave of agony radiating out from his side. Cecily stirred slightly as he bit his lip and pulled her closer. Jack could afford to lose anything but her.

The secret door opened and George peeked in, as Jack placed a forefinger to his lips. George nodded, closing the door behind him. “Asleep is she?” The slightly more serious of the two brothers whispered lowly. Jack nodded, not trusting himself to whisper and perhaps awaken her.

“Thought as much.” George continued. “She led us all over the Shire today. Didn’t find her quarry, though.” Jack nodded again, relief filling his eyes as he mouthed the words thank you.

“Don’t you be thanking us, Jack” George grinned. “Ye gave a home to two lads what had nothing, and no future. It’s not something either of us will ever forget. Besides, we like the lass. Rest yourself as well now, we’ll keep her safe till your able.” Jack nodded once, smiling.

“I’ll be getting back now.” George whispered again. “Before that brother of mine makes off with both of farmer Dillon’s milk maids. He winked and left the room as silently as a passing shadow.

Ignoring his own discomfort, Jack pulled Cecily slightly closer to himself. His heart beating with gratitude at her failure. Had she succeeded. Had Michael Fairchild harmed a single hair of her head. Jack Roberts shuddered at the thoughts that came to his mind after that.

George crossed the tavern room and resumed his seat with the others. Farmer Dillon’s milking girls were nowhere to be seen. “He knows?” Josiah spoke lowly.

“Aye.” George replied before lifting the tankard to his lips.

“Seems your potions are losing their strength, Annie.” Josiah teased the dark haired Gypsy.

“I wouldn’t say that, Josiah.” George continued as he finished drinking. “Cecily was dead to the world.”

Annabelle Peterson stuck her tongue out at the tavern keep, causing the four of them to burst into laughter, barely noticed by the patrons Molly was busily serving. “Oh, that was needed.” She sighed. “Things were getting far to serious.”

“Aye, that they were.” Geoff chimed in. “The lass will be safe as long as we keep an eye on her.”

“Perhaps. Perhaps not.” Anne returned, suddenly serious again. “Neither of them will be safe as long as Michael Fairchild is free.”

“Aye.” Josiah joined in. “Can ye imagine the hell that would break loose if he ever tried to get to Jack through his wife? There’d be no stopping the man.”

“Then we’re agreed?” Annabelle looked from one set of eyes to the next. “Before any more tragedy can over take those two, we will ferret out Michael ourselves, and put an end to this before it gets any worse.”

The men nodded in agreement.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/07/2007 22:02:33
Message:

Cecily woke up, still entwined in her husband's embrace. She reached up and gently stroked his cheek. In his sleep, he held her tighter. She laid her head again on his chest, comforted by the beat of his heart. His heart that belonged to no other than her and her alone.
She shivered involuntarily and drew the covers closer around the two of them. But the shiver was the result of Cecily's internal conversation.
'What if?'
What if Michael Fairchild had aimed a few inches in either direction? What if the wound had become infected? What if Jack froze to death? What if I hadn't found him?
'This has to end,' she whispered.

Jack, in his half-sleep, said, "Cecily? You say something, love?"
Cecily whispered, "Go back to sleep, darling."
He drifted back to sleep. Best he regain his strength. Cecily laid there, thinking. That Sir Peter Culpepper was involved, Cecily had no doubt in her mind.
Just before she drifted back to sleep, her thoughts went to one person who might be able to help her.

The sound of rain beating against the only window in the safe room woke Cecily up. Jack was beginning to stir.
"Good morning, darling, Sleep well?" Cecily asked.
Jack yawned and then grimaced as he stretched out. "I was out like a lantern. But it is what I needed. Rest and the woman I love in my arms."
She threw the covers off and slid into her silk wrap. Peering out the window, she turned to Jack and said, "A typical autumn day in jolly old England."
Thunder cracked and a flash of lightning illuminated the room.
Jack patted the space next to him in the bed. "A nice day to spend under the covers, my love."
She grinned and slid back into bed.
"A nice day, indeed," she said as she kissed him tenderly.

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

Cecily tiptoed down the back stairs and into the kitchen. She hugged her silk wrapper around her as she got scones and fresh fruit out of the cupboards and took some tea bags and a small kettle. Behind her she heard a whistle and a voice saying, "You never did know the propriety of proper dress!"
She whirled around and shouted, "ANDREW!"

She hugged him and said, "You are the one person I wanted to see this morning! How did you know?"
Andrew closed his eyes and put his index fingers to his temples. "Mrs. Roberts, the Great Morley knows all and sees all....plus the fact that George--or is it Geoff?---rode over to Moreland to tell me about your husband's incapacitation."
She laughed and Andrew immediately grew sober. "And it is suspected among them that you are going to do a little inquiry of your own."
She grew defiant and said, "I just want to find out where Michael Fairchild is. That's all."
"And then what?"
"Then I will send him to hell where he belongs."

Andrew took her by the arm and sat her down at a table in the tavern.
"Andrew! I'm not decent!"
"Cecily, look around. No one is here. And with this rain, I don't think they will be."
He hung his cloak up and put his feet up on a stool by the fire that Molly had lit earlier.
"I'm going to play big brother even though you are now a married woman. Leave it alone. If Michael Fairchild is as wrathful as we think and he blames Jack for his sister's death, then what makes you think he won't find out that you are the wife of Black Jack Roberts?"
Cecily frowned, "I think he is in league with Sir Peter Culpepper."
Andrew's face grew serious. "All the more reason for you to stay out of it, Cec. Some of us are sworn to protect you, Milady!"

Cecily said quietly, "I have already done some scouting of my own. I looked in a few taverns last night and I didn't-----"
"You WHAT? Have you taken leave of your senses?"
Cecily tossed her head defiantly, "I took precautions not to be recognized."
"And what did you do? I can see you didn't shave your head. That hair of yours is a beacon. You didn't gain fifty pounds. And you have the Morley sapphire blue eyes."
She said triumphantly, "I pretended to be nine months pregnant and looking for Michael Fairchild, the father of my bastard child."
Unfortunately she told Andrew this just as he had taken a sip of ale. He spewed it and Cecily ducked.
"Andrew, did it go up your nose again?"
He mopped his face and retorted, "You are even more devious than I remembered. And where, pray tell, is said child?"
She sighed. "I regret to inform you that I abandoned the critter in the oak grove. In the form of a rope and a fluffy pillow."
Andrew motioned for Molly, "I do believe I will have a tankard or two more of ale, Molly. And keep them coming."

Andrew surveyed his younger sister and shook his head. "Cecily, were you this sneaky and underhanded when we were younger?"
She took a bite of an apple and nodded. "Yes. Although you didn't know it."
Andrew ran his hands over his face. "I guess I can't stop you, can I?"
"No."
"Between the two of us, we shall see what we can find out. But the pillow stays at home."
"Do you have an idea?"
"I do. Michael Fairchild won't be expecting a man AND a woman to be looking for him."
"Let me deliver the breakfast up to Jack and I'll get dressed and be right down. I'll tell Jack I'm going with you to the farmers' market."

As she disappeared up the stairs, Molly came over to Andrew and said, "You have your work cut out for you, trying to contain her if and when she comes face to face with Fairchild."
Andrew took a deep drink and said, "And that is why I am drinking ale at ten o'clock, Molly."
She grinned and said, "Then you had better have another. Because that is a woman on a mission."


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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/15/2007 17:58:38
Message:

Michael Fairchild rose from the bed that had held his mending body prisoner for the past two days. Gritting his teeth at the pain in his healing wounds he crossed over to the door, and poked his head out. Riggs was no where to be seen. The necessary time needed for his body to heal had at the least given him a reprieve from being forcibly sent back to Ireland. Riggs had taken a room next to his, and was keeping watch on him like a mother hen. Apparently intent on seeing his master’s wishes carried out.

It had given the young auburn haired man time to think. Something had obviously changed Sir Culpepper’s plans, something drastic. When he had first met the man in Jamestown colony, and learned of Katherine’s death at Roberts hand, the man’s hatred of Jack Roberts nearly rivaled Michael’s. The youth would have sworn no power under heaven could dissuade Peter Culpepper from seeing the highwayman laid in his grave. So what could have changed his mind now?

“Bess!” he shouted down the short hall that led to the main room of the small Inn and Tavern he had taken a room at under the name of Samuel Burton. Only the tavern wench he dallied with knew his true name, and nothing of his plans. It would not do for anyone to suspect him of being Black Jack.

The raven haired beauty soon rounded the corner, a smile playing at the corners of her full lips. “So are ye feeling well enough for some “company”? She grinned in anticipation. “I’ve an hour or so before I’m needed again.”

“I’m afraid not!” Michael scowled. “What I need is to know the whereabouts of the lout in the next room.”

“Don’t know, Yank!” She shot back, obviously disappointed. Then suddenly Bess softened gently touching his face. “I do have some news that may interest you though.”

“And what would that be?” He asked in a softer tone.

“The doxie what was blaming ye for her condition…..I know who she is.” She drew nearer to the handsome youth her right hand gently stroking the back of his neck. “Seems she’s married.”

Michael’s brow furrowed. “So why would she be blaming me for her child?”

“Stone me if I know, Love.” Bess laughed lightly. “But her name be Cecily Johnson. She’s married to the man what owns the Crossbow, just outside of Devonshire.”

Michael Fairchild’s eyes widened, and he fought to contain his glee. The wife of Jack Roberts! He couldn’t believe his luck. It would seem that the fates were kind to him this day, for they had placed the perfect weapon to break Roberts once and for all in his hands.

“So ye do know her then?” Bess broke into his train of thought.

“No, but I know her husband all too well.” Michael grinned. “He’s an old “friend” of mine. Probably put her up to it for a joke.”

Bess smiled with relief as he continued. “Now I do wish I were feeling better. Such news deserves a reward.”

“Perhaps in a few more days I’ll be taking you up on that, Michael.” She breathed huskily into his ear.

“In a few more days I’ll be more than happy to oblige you, Bess.” He smiled back, then kissed her passionately. “Now there is one more thing I would like you to do for me.”

“And what is that?” The tavern girl asked.

Michael grinned. “I want you to keep an eye on Mr. Riggs in the next room. I want to know every time he leaves, and how long he is gone.”


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 10:10:48 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/21/2007 20:59:08
Message:

Cecily opened the door to the secret room, a tray balanced on her hip and holding it with one arm.
Jack started to get out of bed and she scolded, "Jack Roberts, don't you dare move a muscle. The sooner you heal, the sooner we get back to our cottage and our lives!"
She placed the tray on his lap and fluffed the pillows up.
"And what do we have here?" Jack asked.
Cecily poured a cup of tea for him and put a dollop of brandy in it.
"The brandy is to build you up. And the tea is for warmth. The scones and clotted cream? Because I love you!"
Jack kissed her and then narrowed his eyes.
"And what is going on in that pretty little head of yours?"
She turned her large blue eyes on him and said, "Not a thing. Well, one thing..."
'AHA!" Jack said.
Cecily jumped a mile. "You scared me!"
Jack took her hands in his. "Cecily Morley Roberts, you are NOT--I repeat NOT--to go anywhere near Michael Fairchild."
She gave him her most beguiling smile. "Me? You forbid me. Shall I disobey you, my husband? No. Actually, Andrew is sitting downstairs in the tavern and he..."
There was a knock on the door.
"May I come in?"
Andrew stuck his head in the door.
Jack grinned. When he married Cecily, he not only got the woman that was his soulmate and he could never do without, he got a brother he never had. Andrew was in awe of Jack Roberts, as he was his boyhood hero in legend's form. Theirs was a bond forged beyond their mutual love for Cecily.

Andrew stood there and shook his head. "Jack, I swear, you get yourself in more trouble. You are honour bound to love my sister and take care of her. Don't make me kick your arse!"
Jack moved and winced. "So, Andrew, what brings you here?"
"Checking to make sure Cec is not a widow and won't be in the near future. Are you out of your mind, man? Do you realize what will happen to this little lady if anything ever happened to you?"
Jack took a sip of tea and offered Andrew a scone. He gladly took one.
Quietly Jack said, "Aye. I do."
Andrew said, "Let it go, Jack. Even if you have to take my sister to the Colonies to live. Let it go."
Jack changed the subject. "So, what brings you out in this awful monsoon, Andrew?"
Andrew laughed and said, "I'm bored. I want to play. So I figured I'd pick up my sister and we'd go to the farmer's market over on the green."
Jack raised an eyebrow. "Cecily? You want to go out in this weather to go traipsing amongst the vegetables with your brother?"
She laughed and said, "Aye. I think I do!"
Jack laughed. "Perhaps it would be a good idea for you to make a 'public appearance' to make everything look normal."

After a half hour of Andrew and Jack visiting, Cecily grabbed her cloak.
"Let's go, Andrew, before all the good fruits are gone!"
Andrew sighed and said, "She was bossy even as a little girl."
Cecily leaned over Jack and kissed him on the cheek.
"Andrew and I won't be gone all that long. You just get some rest and maybe in a few days we can go back to the cottage."
He said, "Remember what I said, Cecily."
She sighed. "I remember, I remember....."

Cecily drew her hood up as they stepped outside. Andrew turned to her and said, "And what are you supposed to remember, Cecily?"
She smiled and said, "Listen to me carefully, Andrew. 'Darned if I know.' "
Andrew shook his head. "I don't want to get in any trouble with Jack."
"You won't. Let's just do a little detective work in a few of the taverns, shall we?"
Andrew sighed and mounted his horse after she climbed on Aphrodite.
"If I can't stop you, Cecily, I can at least keep an eye on you!"
Cecily grinned and said, "Race you!"

And with that, they galloped towards the taverns of Exeter.




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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/23/2007 08:41:07
Message:

No matter how much they all had searched, Michael Fairchild had vanished from sight, almost as if the earth had opened up and swallowed him whole. Even Annabelle with her uncanny abilities had failed to flush out their quarry. Andrew and Cecily fared no better with their own search. The only member of Jack Roberts extended family who was not beating the bushes for the elusive young man was Jack himself. Weeks had past with no luck what have so ever, and soon Jack was well enough to return to his life as it was before the fateful confrontation.

“As I suspected, Dearest, Michael has run to ground.” He spoke softly to his wife. “With luck he will have had enough from our first fight to think better of continuing this pointless charade.”

One look into her husband’s startling blue green eyes told Cecily all that she needed to know. Jack was doing his best to keep her from perusing the matter further. He did not believe the words himself, and soon expected to hear of more dastardly deeds done in his name. She had known, and loved him for too long to be so easily fooled by his words.

She sat the steaming cup of tea down in front of him and kissed his forehead gently. “We can only hope, My Love.” She smiled, knowing deep inside that she was the only person on Earth that he underestimated. Not from pride, but from the deep feelings of love and protectiveness that he held for her. Jack's emotions for her gave him his only blind spot. Not much of one, true, but a blind spot none the less.

It would be harder to search for the man who had nearly killed her husband with him home and fully mended now. This did not mean that she was about to abandon her quest, only that she would have to be more careful in her pursuit. Jack would do anything to keep her from harms way, but Cecily would not be satisfied until she had paid Fairchild back for the injury he had done her love.

Josiah, Annabelle, Molly, and the twins sat in the office of The Crossbow. Their own fortunes in the quest to protect Jack and Cecily had fared no better. The leather cushioned chairs set in a semi circle a few feet from the fireplace, and a disquieting silence had fallen over the group. Finally Josiah Parker rose to add a few logs to the dwindling flames. After poking them to life he shoved the poker back into place with rough frustration.

“Hells bells!” he growled to no one in particular. “How hard can it be to find one man?! It’s been three bloody weeks now!”

“Aye.” Geoff responded. “Between the four of us we’ve searched the country side from Cornwall to Kent, and still have had no luck. Even Annie hasn’t gotten a single hint, and she can find a needle in a haystack.”

“Not always, Geoff dear.” The gypsy spoke up. “It would seem Michael is as good at hiding as our own Jack. I know he is still near, but little else.”

“You can bet your last Shilling Jack does too.” George added. “No matter how much he pretends otherwise.” Annie nodded.

“He’s doing it to put Cecily at ease.” Molly rose to refill their cups with the hot tea she had made for their meeting. “I’m afraid for them both. She won’t be that easily fooled by Jack.”

“As are we all, Love” Josiah gently took his wife into his arms as she finished and kissed her forehead. “And ye are quite correct, she hasn’t given up in her own search for the lad, nor has she listened to Jack on the matter. She’s very much like him in many ways. She has even pressed Andrew into her service.”

Annabelle Peterson spoke up softly. “We can assume that by now that Michael has healed from his wounds as much as Jack has. The question is, do we continue to search for him, or wait until he makes his next move?”

The three redcoats rode slowly down the road leading from Exter to Devonshire. They had been patrolling for the last six hours and were looking forward to a quick stop at The Crossbow tavern for an ale or two before reporting in to Sergeant Major Barclay.

“Stone a crow, Mates.” The first groaned, stretching backwards in his saddle. “I’m bloody glad this day is near over. Me poor back couldn’t take much more ‘o this.”

“Ye said a bloody mouthful there, Connelly!” The second laughed. “It’s been near three weeks now without so much as a pickpocket to keep us busy, much less Black Jack Roberts.”

“Aye,” Grumbled the third, “what makes the Sergeant Major think he’s still muckin’ about here is beyond me, Mates.”

“Well, at the least we were lucky enough to have that tavern between us and the days end, eh Lads?” Connelly chuckled, then brought his horse to a sudden stop. “What in God’s name?”

There fifty yards in front of the patrol, where the road split with one leading to Devonshire, and the other towards Biddeford, stood two figures and a coal black horse. In the gathering dusk of the setting sun they could see the black cloaked figure pointing a flintlock at the other man’s skull. In a flash the explosion of the discharging weapon sent the roosting birds to flight, screeching their dismay, and the second man crumpled backward to the ground.

As the three footmen struggled to get their startled mounts under control the black cloaked figure leapt onto the dark stallion and galloped off down the Devonshire road in a cloud of dust and shadow.

“Don’t just set there, ye bloody fools!” Connelly shouted. “Get after him!”

As his companions raced after the fleeing highwayman Connelly jumped down from his horse to aid the stricken victim. As he had suspected the man was beyond earthly aid. A quick search showed that if he had any worldly possessions on him they were long gone now.

“Damn you, Black Jack.” he whispered to himself. “Ye didn’t have ta kill the bloke, ye cold hearted bastard!”



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/25/2007 09:00:36
Message:

A few hundred yards from where he had dispatched his watchdog Michael Fairchild chuckled as the two redcoats raced past his hidden position in the wood. Now that Riggs was out of the way he could continue with his plans and Culpepper could go whistle in the wind. Turning his mount he walked the animal deeper into the gloom of the forest.

For all his bluster Riggs had been all to easy to fool. Underestimating Michael because of his youth had proven the man’s undoing. Bess had acquired a dye for Michael’s auburn hair, which had startled even Riggs with the difference the raven black coloring had made to his features. It had allowed him to move freely about and set his plan into motion.

When he first suggested taking residence at Bess’ small cottage Riggs had readily agreed, figuring that it would make it easier to keep an eye on the young man and keep him from doing anything rash. On this night Michael had pretended to pack for his trip back to Ireland. While Riggs was engrossed in eating the stew Bess had made for a farewell meal she had sat down across from him and began to run her foot gently up and down his leg. Just as Michael had planed it had distracted him long enough for Michael to apply the butt of his flintlock to Riggs skull.

After tying the lout’s hands securely he quickly donned the costume of Black Jack Roberts once again. Riggs had cursed loudly at first when he regained his senses, until Michael’s pistol placed firmly beneath his jaw had convinced him silence was not only golden, but healthy as well. They had then placed him on his horse, and Michael had led them through the woods to the intersection. Bess took Riggs horse back to the cottage.

Riggs had regained his courage as he sat on the ground while Michael waited for a witness to his deed. “Sir Culpepper will have yer guts fer garters fer this, Boy!” He hissed.

Michael chuckled beneath his black silk hood. “First he’ll have to get word of it, Riggs. After I have broken Jack Roberts he can do as he wishes, but I doubt he’ll want to be implicated in our little game now, will he?”

Riggs had merely scowled as Michael continued. “See that bend in the road?” He motioned with his pistol. “As soon as we hear anyone approach I want you on your feet.”

“And why should I help you?” Riggs sneered.

In answer Michael placed the barrel of his weapon firmly beneath Riggs jaw. “Because if you do not, I will blow your head off where you sit. However, if you do exactly as I say, I will miss you. You can tell the witnesses that Black Jack Roberts tried to kill you and protect your master, then report it all back to Lord Culpepper.”

Riggs knew it was a slim chance for survival, but even a slim chance was better than none at all. He nodded in agreement. When they heard the approaching horses of the redcoats he had stood and sweated as Michael pointed the deadly gun at his forehead. The sound of the pistol’s discharge was the last sound he ever heard.

A few hours after night had fallen the three footmen burst into The Crossbow. Connelly in the lead. “Innkeeper!” He shouted, startling the customers and bringing Josiah quickly from the office.

“Aye, Lad! Ye don’t have at shout.” Josiah grumbled. “I’ve Ale enough for all of ye.”

“It’s not that, Good Sir.” Connelly replied in a slightly gruff tone. “We need to keep a victim of Black Jack Roberts in your stable while the Sergeant Major is sent for.”

The color drained from the grizzled tavern keeps face at the news and a buzz of low voices swept through the customers. “B-Black Jack, ye say?” He nearly choked on the words.

“Aye!” Connelly retorted, his patience nearly exhausted. “Saw the bastard with me own eyes. He shot the man down right before us after robbing him blind. Unarmed and helpless the bloke was. Now if you would be so kind?”

Josiah shouted for Geoff then instructed him to have the redcoats lay Riggs body in the old unused stall near the door. He then sent George to fetch Robert Johnson, the owner of The Crossbow, telling Connelly that the owner should be made aware of the goings on at his establishment.

“Aye,” Connelly nodded in agreement. “The man should know what takes place in his house. Smythe. Ride to Devonshire and bring Sergeant Major Barclay double quick!”

As one of his companions saluted and left he turned back to Josiah. “Now about that Ale, Sir. I could certainly use it after what I’ve witnessed this night.”



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 12/28/2007 20:46:42
Message:

Cecily turned down the eiderdown quilt on the brass bed she had shared with Jack for over four years. She plumped the pillows up and slipped into the bed. Jack was downstairs locking up when she heard his footsteps up the stairs.
She looked around the bedroom with a sense of pride. The brass bed was top of the line, with an eiderdown quilt and duck down pillows. The curtains were the best of Irish lace and the furniture gleamed in rich oak. There were two hooks for lanterns on either side of the bed. A hooked rug on the hardwood floor kept the chill off their feet and beautiful paintings hung on the walls. On the low dresser was a brush and comb set made of ivory and a looking glass that she and Jack had purchased in Florence.

Jack entered the bedroom and gave her a roguish grin.
"All is right with the world, darling."
He threw his clothes on a chair and slid into bed. As he took Cecily in his arms, there was an insistent knocking on the door.
"Who can that be?" Jack said quizzically to his wife. He opened the casement window and yelled down, "Who is it? It's late...."
"Jack, it's George. And we have trouble."
"Be right down to let you in, lad."

Cecily got out of bed and put her robe on. Jack said, "Cecily, no need for you to come downstairs. I'll take care of it."
But Cecily already had her hand on the doorknob.
"Do you honestly think I am going to lie here waiting and wondering what is going on?"

She carried a candleholder and Jack lit the lantern in the parlor. He let George in and said, "George, what is wrong?"
Cecily was already getting George a snifter of brandy. He sat down and took a deep drink.
"There's been another murder. Attributed to Black Jack Roberts. And this one has witnesses."
Cecily and George exchanged glances quickly before Jack could notice.
Jack said, "Witnesses? How can that be?"
George took another drink and said, "Three redcoats were patrolling the road from Devonshire to Exeter. You know that fork in the road by Benson's Woods? They saw Black Jack Roberts kill his victim after robbing him. The unfortunate is now lying in the stable over at the Crossbow awaiting his Eminence, the redoubtable Sargeant Major Barclay."
At that name, Cecily made a face. "That puppet of the Crown. He won't rest until he is made Brigadier General."
George gritted his teeth. "Or Prime MInister. He wants a position so bad he can taste it."

Jack went to the hook by the front door and grabbed his blue cloak. "No sense taking the black one. Don't want to give them any subliminal ideas there."
Cecily grabbed her cloak too.
Jack turned to her and asked, "What do you think you are doing, Cecily?"
She looked down and said, "Right. I do need to put some clothes on."
Jack shook his head. "NO! You stay here. This is not business for you to be involved in."
She put her hands on her hips and said, "If you think I am going to sit here and wait for you to come home, Mr. Roberts, you have another think coming to you."
George grinned in spite of the seriousness of the situation.
"I'd say you'd better wait for her, friend."
Jack sighed and said, "Get dressed."

Within fifteen minutes the three of them were on the road leading to the Crossbow and within a half hour more, they were stabling their horses at the tavern. Josiah came out to greet them.
"Damn, Jack! They showed up on our doorstep about two hours ago."
Jack turned to Cecily and said, "Best you get into the tavern with Molly."
She nodded. She had no wish to see the deceased. As soon as she was in the tavern, Jack said grimly, "Alright, let's have a look at him."
The three of them headed towards the make-shift morgue. Geoff and one of the redcoats were sitting there, making small talk.
"Mr. Johnson!" Geoff exclaimed.
"Hello, Geoff. Is he in there?"
The redcoat, Phillip Marshall, stepped in front of him.
"It is my orders that no one touches him until Sargeant Major Barclay gets here."
Jack sighed and said, "Alright. I'll be inside with Josiah, sharing an ale. Coming, Geoff?"
Geoff gave the redcoat a mock salute and followed Jack towards the tavern.

"Any idea, Geoff?"
Geoff said in a low voice, "Never saw the man before in my life. Odd thing is, the man was dressed shabbily. Not the kind of man you would thnk of robbing."
"Any ideas on why he was killed?"
"Sacrificial lamb? To make Black Jack Roberts look like a cold-blooded killer?"
'Redcoat say anything?"
"Just whining about how he misses his pretty little colleen and can't wait to get married to her."
"Figures. These men are pretty green. Can't see past the immediate future."

They entered the tavern. Cecily was sitting in front of the fire with Molly. She looked up at Jack and asked, "Any clues as to who did it?"
Jack sat down with some brandy and said, "Not a one. Maybe a random co-incidence."
But none of them believed it.
Jack took Cecily's hand in his. "We'd better plan on staying here tonight. It's going to be a long one."
She nodded. "It's a good thing we keep clothes here and have a room."
Then she burst out with, "Will they never leave us alone?"
But no one had an answer.

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 10:12:42 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 12/31/2007 20:54:31
Message:

Sergeant Major Barclay looked down at the stiff form of Riggs. “And the body is in the same condition that you saw him in when Black Jack shot him, Corporal?”

“Aye, Sir.” Percy Connelly returned in an official manner. “Even his hands are still tied. The bastard had him as helpless as a lamb when he shot him.”

“Interesting, isn’t it?” Barclay mused, almost talking to himself.

“How so, Sir?” Connelly frowned.

“Interesting in the fact that this man is hardly representative of Black Jack’s usual victim, Percy.” The Sergeant Major continued. “Observe his dress, hardy that of a wealthy man. There is also the question of why he would wait until your patrol arrived before dispatching this unfortunate. It’s almost as if he wanted you to witness the deed as it was done.”

“Perhaps it was someone he had a grudge against, Sergeant Major?” The Corporal speculated.

“Perhaps.” Barclay wondered. “But there are too many unanswered questions. Why did Black Jack simply disappear for almost four years? Also, now that he has returned, why is he acting in a manner that is totally against everything we ever knew of the man? It’s almost like he is an altogether different Black Jack than the one who vanished.”

“How so, Sir?” Percy was completely confused by now. “The man’s always been a thief and murderer from what I’ve heard.”

“You should really spend as much time reading reports as you do in the taverns, Corporal.” His superior retorted with a small measure of disgust. “Though he would indeed kill if pressed, he seemed to go out of his way to avoid it, and his victims were never those who could not afford to lose what he took from them. There were even rumors of him acting like some bloody Robin Hood from time to time. No, Connelly, these latest crimes are much out of character for the man.”

“Good God, Sir!” The flabbergasted footman gasped. “You almost sound like you admire him!”

“I respected him, Corporal.” Barclay shot back. “There is nothing wrong with respecting an opponent who deserves it. I do, however, find little to respect in him now. Let’s see if we can find some answers to these questions, shall we?”

“You know who he is then?” Percy Connelly inquired.

“Let’s just say I have my suppositions.” The Sergeant turned toward The Crossbow.

Jack Roberts sat in the office of The Crossbow. His mind was made up, and he knew in his heart that there was only one way to stop Michael Fairchild’s madness. If he didn’t more innocent people would suffer at the madman’s hands.

“I’ll hear no more of it, Josiah.” His voice was as hard as his oldest friend had ever heard it. “There is only one way to draw Michael into the open. I will have to confront him myself, or I should say Black Jack Roberts will have to confront him.”

“Damn it, Jack!” Josiah cursed. “He bloody near killed you the last time!”

Jack looked up. “He surprised me the last time, Old Friend. I won’t make the same mistake twice.”

“And what about the footmen, Jack?” Annabelle Peterson piped in. “After tonight they will be as thick as thieves. If Michael doesn’t do you in, they may.”

“It’s a risk I’ll have to take, Annie.” He spoke lowly. “If I don’t there’s no telling who Michael will kill next wearing my garb.”

Cecily left her seat and knelt down by Jack’s side, taking his hand in her own. The thought of him being led to the gallows freezing the blood in her veins. “Please, Dearest, listen to reason. Let the redcoats handle this. Let them bring Michael to justice. If anything happened to you….” Her words broke off as a sob caught in her throat.

Jack felt his heart wrench inside his chest at the sight of the tears in her sapphire eyes. “My Love, I can not let him hurt one more person. If I don’t stop him now more will suffer.”

“Ye’ll be playin’ right into his hands, Jack.” Josiah grumbled.

“If that’s what it takes, Josi….” A loud insistent knocking at the door cut Jack off.

“Come in.” Jack responded.

Percy Connelly opened the door. “Sergeant Major Barclay would like to ask you some questions, Mr. Johnson.”

The Crossbow was empty except for the Sergeant and his men. Jack assumed that the redcoats had sent his customers packing so that he could carry out the interrogation in privet. “Ah, Mr. Johnson, please sit down.” He motioned to the chair across from him at the small table.

“And what can I do for you, Sergeant?” Jack smiled as he sat down across from Barclay.

“To start with, you could save us all a lot of trouble by dropping this charade and admit that you are actually Black Jack Roberts.” The redcoat scowled.

Cecily almost fainted at the accusation until she heard Jack laugh uproariously. “And just what makes you think that I am this Highwayman?” he chuckled.

Barclay’s scowl deepened. His first gambit had failed. Of all the reactions he had expected from Johnson this was far from them. “Then you deny it?” he asked.

“Of course I do!” Jack laughed. “The very idea is nothing short of preposterous!”

It was time for the Sergeant major to pull out his trump cards, and he began with a vengeance. “Then perhaps you could tell me why it is that Black jack seemed to disappear almost the very week you wed your wife? Why almost all of his activities seem centered around your establishment? And why no one has ever seen the two of you at the same time?”

Jack grinned. “As to why this cut throat should decide to vanish around my wedding date, or confine most of his activities near Devonshire is something you would do well to ask him, not me, Sir. As for your last remark, may I remind you that you yourself have seen us both at the same time. The night we met, if I am not mistaken.”

“So I did.” The Sergeant Major felt his disappointment deepen. “A ploy that could have been a clever ruse with the proper help.” Still he had one final card to play, and the time had come. Let’s see what kind of glib reply Robert Johnson had to this. “So can you tell me where you actually were while Black Jack was thought to be grievously injured for the last three weeks? It certainly wasn’t London as we were led to believe. I checked. It seems too much of a coincidence that he should recover a few days after your return.”

Cecily felt her heart stop. Josiah cursed under his breath, and Annabelle Peterson mumbled something in Romany. Barclay grinned. He had him now. Soon he would be known the length and breadth of England as the man who brought Black Jack Roberts to justice. A promotion was his, maybe even a general’s post. The man was his.

Jack sat back and shook his head. “You almost spoiled my surprise for my wife, Sergeant.” He grinned. “If I hadn’t already gifted her with it that is. I wasn’t in London because I was in Leeds procuring a necklace for her. Dearest, would you please get your trinket from upstairs to show the Sergeant?”

Suddenly it was as if the sun had broken through the clouds of doom that had possessed Cecily’s mind. She had left the necklace of the Duchess of York on the table in the secret room while Jack was recovering. “Of course, My Love.” She replied cheerily, and almost ran up the steps.

A moment later she returned with the stunning Emerald trinket draped tastfuly around her white neck. “Satisfied, Sergeant Major?” She grinned.

Barclay stared at the necklace with dismay. His final card had been played and trumped before his very eyes. “Of course you have the name of the seller?” He asked Jack.

“Certainly, Sergeant.” Jack smiled, and motioned for Josiah to bring him a quill and paper. He scribbled down a name and address then handed it to Barclay. “Feel free to ask him anything you like, Sir.”

“I will, Mr. Johnson.” Barclay stood up and motioned for his men to follow. “Of that you may be certain.”

After the redcoats had left Josiah could contain himself no longer. “Who did ye send him to, Jack?”

“Cody’s father in Leeds.” Jack grinned. “Please send him a message by carrier pigeon, Josiah, and give him all the details he will need.”

From his cover in the wood near The Crossbow Michael watched as the redcoats left the tavern. He smiled beneath the black silk hood. Part one in his plan had worked out well, now it was just a matter of time before part two would bring him Jack Roberts. This time he would make certain that the man would feel as much pain as he did. Just before he killed him.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 01/08/2008 19:37:06
Message:

Cecily held her breath as Sergeant Barclay and his soldiers mounted their horses. As they rode off, she exhaled and then burst into laughter that had a touch of hysteria to it.
Jack crossed the room and took her in his arms.
That was all the gesture of comfort she needed. She laid her head against his chest and burst into sobs.
"Why won't they just let us alone? Jack, it's been four years now."
Jack glanced at Josiah who had a worried look on his face.
"I know, sweetheart, I know. But the fact that Michael has taken this charade as far as he has shows how desperate he is. And a desperate man is a sloppy man."
Cecily hid her face in Jack's chest as her shoulders were wracked with sobs.
He stroked her hair and held her until she was spent.
Molly said quietly, "Your room is ready upstairs. I anticipated you may be back soon."
Annabelle caught Jack's eye and he imperceptively nodded to her.
Molly said, "Come, Cecily. Let's go upstairs and get you settled in."
Cecily looked to Jack and he gave her a reassuring smile. "I'll be up in five minutes, love."

As soon as Cecily and Molly were upstairs, Annabelle took out a few tea leaves and an infuser.
"What is this?"
"An herbal tea that I blended. Chamomile will act as a natural sedative. A few other things in there too. She will be asleep before you know it. Lord knows, she needs her rest."
Geoff came forward and said, "Jack, what shall we do with the um....visitor in the stall?"
Jack replied, "If the constable doesn't come by morning, what else can we do but call the undertaker to come fetch him. I'll pay to have him buried in a pauper's grave."

Molly lit the candle and poured water into a wash basin. Cecily sat on the edge of the bed. The stress was beginning to take its toll on her. Molly dipped a washcloth into the water and washed Cecily's face like she was a little girl.
Cecily said, "Molly, really! It isn't necessary. I'll be fine."
Molly scolded her. "Cecily, you are exhausted, both physically and emotionally. I know about the days you and Andrew go riding. Riding, my foot! I know the two of you go on a reconnaissance mission to look for Michael Fairchild. Well, it stops and it stops now! Jack has his forces--some we don't even suspect--keeping their ears and eyes open for any sign of things that are amiss. This is man's work and no sense getting yourself in a state."
She helped Cecily unlace and helped her into a nightgown.

Molly drew the covers back and pointed to the bed.
"You get in bed and rest, young lady. Rest is what you need."
Cecily gave her a grateful smile. "Have I ever told you how much I value your friendship, Molly?"
Molly's face broke out in a grin. "Yes, you have, love. Even when you don't say anything."
Cecily drew the blankets up and Molly sat on the edge of the bed.
"Cecily, those of us who know Jack are grateful for the love you have given him. He was on the road to ruin when you entered his life. He was reckless and careless and it was just a matter of time before the law caught up to him. When he met you, it was like he was given a new lease on life."
Cecily took Molly's hand and said, "Jack has given me as much as you have said I have given him. If not for him, I could very well be in a sheik's harem. Or married to Culpepper."
Molly asked, "What would be worse, Cecily?"
Cecily made a face. "Culpepper, without a doubt. At least with a sheik, I'd have to wait my turn."
Molly burst out laughing and Cecily realized what she had said.
Molly kissed her forehead and said, "Cecily Morley Roberts, you DO have a bawdy side!"

There was a light knock on the door and Jack opened it.
"Just making sure you were decent, love."
Cecily laughed in spite of the trying day they had. "Darling, you have seen me indecent before. But yes, I am all snug in bed with my 'nanny' here."
Molly shook her finger at her and said with mock severity, "Mind what I said, Mrs. Roberts. Don't be getting yourself upset unnecessarily."
Cecily nodded. "I have my protector with me now. I'll go to sleep."
Molly gave her a kiss on her cheek and said, "And now I have a child and a husband to take care of. Goodnight all, I'll see you in the morning."

Jack stripped off his clothes and and threw them over the chair. "It seems we are spending more time here than at our cottage lately."
He pulled the covers back and slid into the bed, taking Cecily in his arms. She fit so nicely to him and he always felt this was the best part of being married to her. Holding her in his arms and feeling the mutual warmth they shared. Like they had been two halves of a whole that finally found each other.

He kissed the top of her head and said, "Feeling better, love?"
She nodded and whispered, "I could feel alot better though."
Jack grinned and blew the candle out.
All that was heard in the darkness was Cecily's light laughter.

Molly poured a cup of tea for Annabelle and herself.
"Your favorite room is available, Annie."
The gypsy took the cup gratefully. "Thank you, Molly."
They both drank in companionable silence in the kitchen of the tavern.
"Are you giving her your elixirs?"
Annie nodded. "It certainly can't hurt her."
Molly fretted, "THAT DAMN CULPEPPER! And where is he?"
Annie shrugged, "I don't know. But it is for certain Fairchild is being protected somehow. No one is that careful or fortunate."
"Let us hope beyond hope that by this time next year, we will be well rid of Fairchild."
Annabelle nodded. "And celebrating the birth of Jack's first child."

Jack held Cecily while she finally went to sleep. He stroked the hair back from her face and his mind began to formulate a plan.
A dangerous plan.
But one of the utmost necessity.


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 10:13:54 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 01/08/2008 20:10:05
Message:

Jack thundered through the twilight gloom down the clay road which led to the abandoned Leeds’s farm, a dark ghost with it‘s black cloak snapping in the wind. Rage and terror fueled his resolve in equal measure. If Michael Fairchild had harmed a single blond hair of her head, Jack would tear him limb from limb! The roar of the swollen river to the left of the road was drowned by the beat of Raven’s hooves, and the memory of the events of the last evening.

Since the visit from their esteemed Sergeant Major, the Crossbow had continually had at least one footman as a customer at any given time. It had made for a near perfect check and mate. Being a public house they could hardly refuse to serve the king’s men, and that made for an easy way to spy on the goings on there. The Crossbow had, for the first time since Jack had bought the place, been rendered useless as a base of operations for him. Then he had hit upon a risky plan.

Since he could no longer leave from there as Black Jack Roberts, he would have to use his own cottage as a base to search for Michael from. Stowing his costumes in the barn a few hundred yards from the cottage, he could change into his alter ego there, and leave unseen from the rear which conveniently was a mere six feet from the thick wood. The only way to catch Black Jack leaving from Robert Johnson’s barn was to be right in his line of escape.

Though Cecily was none too fond of the idea, she relented only on the chance that Michael’s murderous spree would be brought to a halt before another innocent fell to him. She could no longer bear the thought of more blood being laid at her husband’s door. Jack had also hedged his bet by having George and Geoff keeping watch to assure that there were no unwanted eyes, and that Cecily would remain safe during his nightly hunt.

For three nights he had attempted to draw Michael out into the open. Always careful to not be seen, he searched, and kept a unknown watch on any travelers that would have made a near irresistible target for the new Black Jack. Had the situation not been so tragic the irony would have been almost comic. Black Jack Roberts, the most notorious highwayman in England, guarding those he would have gladly robbed.

Then last night the unthinkable had occurred. No sooner had he donned his disguise and left for his nightly quest when George and Geoff had heard the whistle that was his signal to come quickly, danger. Both had spurred their horses toward the sound, there they had found Jack on the ground, or so they had thought.

They quickly dismounted and ran to his aid, his groans of pain raising old fears in the twins. Geoff had grabbed his canteen, and George gently turned the moaning black clad figure over to check for wounds. As soon as he had done so the silver butt of one of Jack’s two French flintlocks smashed into his temple rendering him unconscious.

“What in bloody Hell?!!” Geoff cursed, suddenly realizing who it truly was beneath the hood. His hand flew to his rapier a second too late as Michael’s booted foot swung violently into his crotch. As the twin doubled over from the agony in his groin, a dark gloved fist sent him into the merciful black of the senseless.

Laughing Michael Fairchild stood up over the two fallen brothers, brushing the forest debris from his body. “Well, that was easy enough.” He chuckled. “Now to see if Mrs. Roberts is as gullible as her watchdogs.” He whistled again and Bess rode out from the cover of the underbrush leading a dappled mare.

“Well played, ‘Black Jack’, or should I still call you Michael?” She giggled.

“It matters not to me.” Michael reached for some rope in his saddle bag. “After tomorrow night Black Jack Roberts will be naught but a memory.”

Cecily heard the low whistle that rose to a wavering pitch and her heart nearly stopped. Jack had taught her his secret code of whistles, and this one was a call for help. At the time she had thought it rather clever. Before she had convinced him to retire he had long ago reasoned that any one of them might be in a situation where shouting was impossible, but as long as one could breathe you could whistle. The added benefit was no one else would understand the communication.

She flew to the back door, throwing it open. For a moment she did not know whether to feel relived, or heartbroken. Jack was walking across the field from the barn, but he carried one of the twins over his shoulder. Had either George, or Geoff been injured in a fight with the redcoats? Or worse yet, Michael Fairchild himself? Were their enemies so close to their home now?

“Oh, Jack!” She exclaimed as she held the door open for him to enter with his burden. “How did it happen, My Love? Is he alright?”

“He’ll be fine once he recovers from the knock I gave him.” The strange voice did not belong to her husband and all color fled from Cecily’s face as the hooded figure unceremoniously dumped the unconscious Geoff to the floor.

“Michael Fairchild!!” Cecily gasped. Suddenly her shock turned to rage as she reached for the large butcher’s knife that lay on the counter near the door.

“I’ll see you dead if you’ve harmed Jack!” She screamed flipping the knife over and preparing to throw it like Jack had taught her. A cold hard feel of metal pressed just behind her left ear brought her to a stop.

“I don’t think you want to be doin’ that, Mum.” A soft feminine voice filled with malice came from behind her.

Michael had also pulled one of the duplicates of Jack’s pistols, and Cecily let the knife fall to the floor. “That’s better, Mrs. Roberts.” He sneered. “Now if you will be so kind as to place your hands on top of your head? Very good. As soon as I make certain this fool won’t be making things difficult for us, I’ll be right with you.”

Jack had arrived home a little before midnight to find Geoff trussed up like a Christmas goose on the kitchen floor. His heart immediately leapt into his throat. As he undid Geoff’s bonds he shouted for his wife, even though he expected no answer. Once he had the full story from Geoff, he sent him to free his brother, jumped into Raven’s saddle, and spurred off back into the night.

The next morning a woman with black hair left a letter for him at the Crossbow addressed to Robert Johnson. A letter form Michael Fairchild.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 01/13/2008 13:38:00
Message:

He sat in the office of The Crossbow staring into the raging fires of the hearth as Josiah and Annabelle watched in worried silence. Both knew Jack well enough to realize that when ever he did this he was either lost in deep thought, or tearing himself apart inside. This time they were certain it was an equal measure of both.

He had arrived shortly before dawn still in the guise of Black Jack. “Have ye lost yer bloody mind, Man?!” Josiah shouted when he had entered the empty tavern hall. “What if that bastard of a Sergeant Major has men watching outside??!”

“She’s gone, Josiah.” The quiet voice that came from the dark apparition which stood shaking slightly in the center of the room spoke more loudly than any amount of shouting could. Jack’s despair fairly dripped from it. “Michael has taken her.”

Annie had come racing down the stairs at the sound of Josiah’s alarm. “Dear God!” She exclaimed at the sight of Black Jack Roberts standing in the room. Thinking quickly she ran over to him and took his arm. “Come with me, Jack, before someone sees you like this.”

With a meekness that spoke to her of his utter hopelessness, he allowed her to lead him into the office. Once there he removed his caviler’s hat and hood, tossing both onto the couch next to the west wall and proceeded to throw an ungodly amount of wood onto the smoldering fireplace. Once the flames had become a raging conflagration he sat down in front of them, still in costume, and had not moved since. The twins entered the room, with the exception of a few bruises, none the worse for their ill treatment at Michael Fairchild’s hands. Both were obviously furious.

“We couldn’t find hide, nor hair of the bastard!” Geoff’s raised voice cut into the hours long silence like a dagger. “We’ll bloody skin him alive when we do!”

Too late Annie had raised her finger to her lips in a vain attempt to quiet the enraged siblings. Jack was instantly on his feet. The look of hatred that marred his normally handsome features caused a shiver to run the length of her body. For the first time in her life she saw pure murder in his flashing blue green eyes, and she was grateful that Jack had paid to have her son sent to one of the finest schools in Kent. Tommy would never see Jack in this state.

“Ye’ll do nothing of the sort!” The animal growl that came from Jack’s throat was like a dash of ice water in all his friends faces. “Michael Fairchild belongs to me, and me alone!!! Is that understood?!!!”

George and Geoff nodded opened mouthed. Both had seen Jack angry before, but nothing like this. Not even when Peter Culpepper had taken Cecily. Michael Fairchild had succeeded in one thing, he had pushed Jack over the edge, and the sight was anything but pleasant. Only Josiah had seen such emotion in his friend, and that had been years ago. To see this madness in him again caused the tavern keeper’s eyes to well with unbidden tears.

A quiet knock brought them all about as Molly entered the room. Her eyes wide with fear from the sound she had heard in Jack’s voice. In her hand she held a white envelope with the name Robert Johnson written on the outside. “This just arrived for you, Jack. Brought by a pretty black haired lass.” He voice trembled with her emotion.

Jack pulled his dagger from behind his back and slit the envelope open. As he read his hands began to shake uncontrollably.

“Jack Roberts;

As you no doubt know by now, I have your wife. If you wish to ever see her alive again you will come to the old Leeds Farm by nightfall.

Come as you truly are, not as Mr. Robert Johnson, and come alone. If even one of your lackeys is seen I promise she will die both slowly, and painfully.

Michael Fairchild.”

A lock of golden blond hair was attached to the note.

Before anyone else could see what the letter contained Jack had clenched it into his fist and hurled it into the flames of the hearth. Snatching his hat and hood from the couch he whirled for the door only to find Annabelle Peterson barring his way.

“No you don’t!” She stood with her fists on her hips. “I don’t need to read that letter to know what it contained. You know where he is, and now you want to charge out of here like a bull in a china shop! You know you will only get her murdered like that!”

To everyone’s amazement Jack stopped and dropped his head as Annie continued softly. “Jack, calm yourself. Only if you go into this with a clear head will you stand a chance of getting her back. If you do not have to leave immediately, rest and prepare yourself for what you must do. And for God’s sake, change your clothing.”

“Your right, Luv.” Jack replied just as softly. “I must hope, and think of Cecily’s safety first. I will do as you ask, Annie, but I must also ask all of you to stay out of this. I cannot risk her life by disobeying this madman’s wishes.”

Annie walked slowly to him, her soft hand lifting his head to look him in the eye. “We understand, Jack, and will do as you ask. I only ask that you think before you act this time. Cecily’s life is in your hands now more than ever before.”

Jack nodded, then turned to the others. “Forgive me, my dear friends, my terror for my wife has made a fool of me.”

The Leeds Farm lay only a few dozen yards from his hiding place. Franticly his blue green eyes scanned the dilapidated house and barn for any sign of movement. Anything to give away where Michael could be holding his wife. A sound, a light, anything that could give Jack the advantage. Anything that he could use to save his life’s love from Michael’s hands.

Just then he spied a flash of faint light from the open barn door. Nothing more than a fleeting coloring of faint orange glow against the far wall, but more than enough. Now he knew two things. That they were inside the barn, and that Michael did not want him to know they were there.

Quietly he slipped from Raven’s saddle. The roar of the nearby low waterfall of the river that bisected the farmland would mask any noise he might make. Jack made for the rear of the nearly collapsed building. All he had to do now was stay out of sight until he was ready to make his impostor rue the day he ever laid hands on the only woman Jack would ever love.
Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 10:16:20 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 01/14/2008 19:55:10
Message:

Cecily was thrown onto a bed, the ropes burning into her wrists. The gag bit into the corners of her mouth.
Wherever she was, it was cold.
But she couldn't see as she was blindfolded. A voice whispered in her ear, "I'm going to take the blindfold off now."
Her eyes didn't have much to adjust to as the room was dark. She looked into the eyes of Michael Fairchild, his face illuminated by the candle flickering on the nightstand. His eyes reflected malice. But something else too.
A touch of madness.

"Now I am going to remove the gag. If you scream, I will hurt you. Badly. Do you understand?"
Cecily nodded.
"Good."
Michael removed the gag. Cecily whispered, "May I please have some water?"
He said over his shoulder, "Bess, fetch some water for the young lady."
Bess filled a tankard and held it to Cecily's lips. She drank a bit and coughed.

Michael turned a chair around straddled it. "Now I am guessing you are wondering why you are our guest, am I right?"
Cecily shook her head. "You intend to use me to lure my husband here."
"Smart as well as beautiful."
Bess retorted, "Not so smart. Who is the one tied up here? And don't forget, she tried to pull that ruse on everyone that she was with child to find out where you were."
Michael chuckled, "Ah, yes! That didn't work, did it?"
Cecily said nothing.
He walked over to a desk and said, "Bess, hand me that foolscap over there."
He proceeded to write a few words. Bess said, "How can you prove you have his wife? I mean, maybe a little tart like this ran off with the vicar."
Michael said, "Bess, you do have a brain after all!"
He took out a hunting knife. Cecily's eyes grew wide. Michael grinned, "Relax, Mrs. Roberts. I promise this won't hurt."
He took a lock of her hair. "Mmm.....very silky!" He gently twisted it and hacked a piece off.
"That should prove to him we have her and we mean business."
He attached it to the paper with some candle wax and then, folding the paper, sealed it with the drips from the candle.
"Now, Bess, be a good lass and deliver this to the Crossbow with my compliments!"
Bess looked dubious at Michael. "Leave you alone with her?"
Michael said, "Get over there and do it now."
She frowned but put her cloak on and went out the door.

Cecily became uncomfortable in Michael's presence.
"What do you intend to do, Mr. Fairchild?"
" 'Mr. Fairchild'? I like it. It denotes respect."
He touched her cheek. She was revulsed but tried not to show it.
"Well, for one, I intend to make Black Jack Roberts pay for killing my sister."
"But he didn't! I was there! It was our wedding day. Katherine died at the hands of Sir Peter Culpepper! You must believe me!"
Michael chuckled evily. "I beg to differ. If she hadn't fallen in love with that scoundrel, then she would be alive. It was her love for him that drove her up to Scotland. And...." he ran his finger up and down the blade, '...if it weren't for you, maybe he would have fallen in love with her all over again."

Cecily began to realize she was dealing with a madman whose sole reason for living was revenge.
He touched her cheek again and ran his finger down her neck to her chest.
"What to do...what to do, Mrs. Roberts...."

Cecily tried to remain calm. 'Oh, Jack! Please be careful, please show up soon! Or else who knows what else will happen. And I'm not equipped to handle an enraged, deranged man'.

Michael gave her a smile that was anything but pleasant.
"We have plenty of time to get to know each other. Once I get rid of Bess...."
"Get rid of Bess?"
"She was amusing company. She served a purpose. But I can always trade up."
Cecily turned her head. Michael put his finger under her chin and jerked it towards him to look in his eyes.
"I have a plan for us. For you and I."
Cecily could feel a cold sweat come over her but she tried to keep her voice calm.
"I don't know what you mean."
"How do you feel about moving to the Colonies?"
"WHAT?"
"As soon as I dispatch your husband, I plan on you and I taking a trip to the New World. You will be under my tender loving care. Protected as it were. You will depend on me for your food, your clothing and your shelter. Even your water. And when we get there, I have friends you can work for."
He touched a lock of her hair and said softly, "Just think. The high and mighty Cecily Morley working as a tavern wench, a scullery maid...or something a little more enjoyable. Oh, you didn't think I knew who you were or that you were 'to the manor born,' did you?"

It began to dawn on Cecily just how desperate her situation was. To be a widow transported to the Colonies under the care of a madman with a vengeance.
A cold chill ran over her. This was worse than the slavers on the pirate ship all over again.
'Jack, my love, you have to come. You just have to.'

All the time she had been working on the knots of the ropes. Michael had made one mistake.
He didn't tie the knots to tighten upon struggling.
'If I can only loosen them, then I may have a chance....Oh, Jack, please hurry....'


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 01/18/2008 22:13:28
Message:

“Damn you, woman!” Michael hissed softly between his teeth through his hood. “I told you no lights!”

“I’m sorry, Michael!” Bess whispered into the gloom, barely able to make out his form in the darkened barn. “I almost tripped over something in this black sty!”

For a moment she clearly saw his cloaked silhouette outlined in the moon lit doorway before it faded back into the gloom of the deserted barn. Their horses snorted softly, disturbed by the tense feel in the air. Only Aphrodite remained calm, a familiar sent flowed through the open boards near the rear.

“All seems clear, no thanks to you!” Michael whispered harshly. “Once we see Roberts enter the house I can take him by surprise.” The young madman rubbed his temples as if to sooth a sudden headache. His breathing became deeper as an unnatural tone filled his voice with perverse malice. “Then, just before I kill him I’ll let him know my plans for his wife.”

Bess’s eyes widened in the darkness. “I thought the plan was to kill her slowly before his eyes.”

Michael shook his head slightly, the wave of dizziness passed as always, leaving his thinking clearer than before it took hold. Had he actually said that aloud? No matter. Once he heard the report of the pistol trap he had set on the door of Cecily’s room he would have to rid himself of Bess anyway. Sooner was always better than later.

“Sorry you had to hear that, Bess.” Michael moved closer to her in the inky blackness, his dagger hidden in his hand. “I’m about to trade up, you see. She’s a remarkable woman, and it will give me much pleasure making Cecily Roberts my personal servant. In every way. But since you know the truth about me, I can’t very well leave you alive now, can I?”

Inside the farmhouse Cecily struggled even more franticly with her bonds. They were gradually giving way, but she could not know when Jack would burst into the room. The handkerchief tied into her mouth stifled any warning she might give, not even allowing her to whistle a warning.

She had watched in horror as Michael had set the trap with one of his pistols, mounting the deadly weapon at knee height next to the door and setting the tripwire. He meant to cripple Jack instead of kill him outright. She could only imagine what the madman had in mind after that, and what role he had in mind for her.

After stuffing one handkerchief in her mouth and tying it in place with another he turned to leave. “Make as much noise as you wish, Pretty One.” He sneered. “The sooner your husband finds you, the sooner we can play.” His vile laughter sent a wave of nausea through her.

She renewed her efforts to free her hands. If she could get loose before Jack got there not only would she disarm the trap, but she would be armed as well. Then she would send that deranged lunatic to Hell where he belonged. “Please, My Love.” She thought. “Just a few more moments.”

Bess’s eyes grew wide with terror as Michael raised the razor edged blade high above his head. Suddenly a shadow detached itself from the surroundings and slammed into her carrying them both out of the path of the downward slash. Bess hit the far wall head first and slumped to the aged straw that covered the floor. The shadow rolled to it’s feet, three feet of glinting steel appearing in it’s hand. “Where is Cecily, you bastard!?” Jack growled.

In the gloom of the barn Jack had heard the muffled whispers. After finding an opening in the rear wall that he could quietly slip through he saw Cecily’s mare near, and had used Aphrodite as cover until he could pinpoint Fairchild’s position. The mare made not a sound, but gently nuzzled him as he came up to her head. “You have been taking lessons from Raven, Luv.” He thought as he spared her a tender stroke of her muzzle.

Though he could make out little more than the sound of whispering he could tell that one of the voices was that of a woman. The other he took to be Michael. Finally he was able to move to a point where the two were silhouetted in the half open doorway, just as the deranged young man raised his arm. The flash of the knife in the faint moonlight sent Jack into desperate action. “Cecily!” His mind screamed as he flew from his hiding place.

At the last moment he was close enough to make out the strange woman he had saved in his love’s place. Where could this bastard be keeping her? If he had already harmed Cecily, Black Jack Roberts would make this pig regret that he had not died in childbirth!

Insane laughter exploded from Jack’s mirror image. “Oh, don’t you worry about her, Roberts!” Michael’s hand shot for his remaining pistol. “I’ve taken good care of her, so far, and once I have you where I want you I’ll let you watch as I take even better care of her!”

Old Hob cracked loudly in the nearly empty barn, sending the pistol skittering into the darkness. With an animal howl of sheer rage Jack charged into Michael. The imitation Black Jack felt a small measure of fear cut through his madness at the speed and ferocity of the attack. This time Jack was holding nothing back, and it would be hard to say which of them was the more insane.

Cecily made her way down the stairway in the dilapidated old home, Michael’s pistol cocked in her right hand. She stopped and listened intently every time an old board creaked beneath her feet. Now that she was properly armed she intended to see to it that Michael Fairchild’s reign of terror ended this night. The unmistakable sound of steel ringing against steel came from outside over the faint roar of the low waterfall in the near by river, and she ran to the door.

Cecily cleared the porch and leveled the flintlock. There she froze, openmouthed. In the low light were two Black jack Roberts fighting for all they were worth, and she dared not fire at either. Even though she could not believe it herself, she could not tell for certain which one was her husband, and she dared not shoot for fear of hitting him. For the first time in years Cecily Roberts felt truly lost and helpless.

Her heart beat wildly in her throat as she witnessed the brutal sword fight. Any semblance of fancy technique had been abandoned by both antagonists, and the hacked away at each other like enraged berserkers. This was more akin to murderous butchery than swordplay. Neither asking for nor expecting quarter. One of them would surly die before it saw a conclusion.

Every once in a while the two would separate for a few moments their chest heaving with the strain of their exertion. Then, just as suddenly, they would silently hurl themselves at each other with renewed ferocity. She was reminded of two jungle cats engaged in a life or death struggle for supremacy.

The elemental battle carried both men out into the knee deep river. Neither seemed aware of their surroundings so intent were they upon the destruction of the other. Water flew from their legs as their steel met time and time again. Their midnight hued cloaks billowed about them like the wings of two black demons. All at once one Black Jack ducked and sprang forward, his blade striking home into the chest of the other. A guttural scream of agony rose above the roar of the rushing water.

“Jack!!” Cecily screamed as the stricken figure made a final effort to take the other to Hell with him. Wrapping it’s arms around the other, both men fell, then vanished over the waterfall. Cecily ran to the bank, tears of heartbreak streaming down her white cheeks. Try as she might she could see neither figure, both Jacks had vanished into the river below. Dropping to her knees Cecily wept as she had never wept before in her life.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 01/22/2008 21:36:22
Message:

Annabelle, the twins along with Josiah and Molly sat around the fireplace. No one said a word, lost in their own thoughts were they. Each audible tick of the clock frayed their nerves.
Finally Annabelle stood up and grabbed her cloak.
"We need to go to the Leeds farm. It has been far too long and we need to see what is going on."
Geoff and George grabbed their cloaks too.
Annabelle turned to Josiah and his wife and said, "I need the two of you here. In case Jack and Cecily turn up."
Josiah nodded. He knew it was the gypsy's optimism that coupled their names together. He knew Annie well enough to know that she would remain that way till fate proved otherwise.
As the three rode out, Molly clutched her husband's arm and tried to stem the tears that trailed down her cheeks. "Josiah, I am afraid....so afraid. If all had been well, Jack would have brought Cecily here."
He tried to be brave for his wife and reassure her but deep down, he feared the worst.

Quietly they rode through the woods until they came to the deserted farm house. Geoff jumped off his horse.
"The two of you stay here. I'll go check out the house."
He entered the door. Just a burned-down candle on a dusty table. His leg brushed up against something. Looking down, he spied the trip-wire that Michael Fairchild had rigged. But it was dismantled and laid in a pile of rope. He glanced over at the bed and saw a tangle of rope and two rags. He could feel the rage building up inside of him. Not only for the cowardly way that Fairchild planned on trapping Jack. But for the bound abuse Cecily had endured. He picked up the rope and uttered curses.
Walking outside, he said to Annie and George, "She was in there. Tied up. Looks like she escaped. Or was taken away. And no sign of a struggle in the house. Fairchild rigged something--most likely for a pistol--to blow Jack's kneecaps out. But the pistol is gone. We can only hope that Cecily has it."
"LOOK!" George pointed to the stables. "Aphrodite and Raven!"

The three of them jumped down and ran to the area behind the delapidated barn to see the two horses tethered. Raven was clearly agitated and Aphrodite was trying to nuzzle his neck as if to calm him down.
Annabelle looked frantically around and then whispered, "Look!"
There on the banks of the river sat Cecily. She didn't move.
Annnabelle motioned the twins to stay back.
She cautiously approached her.
"Cecily?" she said quietly.
Cecily looked at her with blank eyes, like she didn't really see her. She didn't answer.
One look at her face told Annabelle all she needed to know.

"Cecily?....Cecily?..."
Cecily just stared at Annabelle with the tears staining her face. She didn't say anything. George and Geoff walked over, expecting the news they already feared.
The young woman didn't say a word.
Annabelle patted her face. "Dear, can you hear me?"
She turned to the twins. "She's in shock."
Cecily sat on the ground, just staring at the river.
"Help me get her up."
George and Geoff each took her arm but Cecily refused to move.
Annie waved the two boys off and then gently said, "Cecily, where is Jack?"
Cecily said softy, "I'm waiting for him. I'll always wait for him. I can't leave. I can't leave Jack in the cold, cold water."
Her calmness sent a chill down Annie's back.
Annie said softly, "What if we leave George here to wait for Jack. Will that be alright? He will wait for him."
Cecily looked from Annie's face to the twins and said, "You will make sure he gets home, won't you? I'll have supper waiting for him."

Annie took the twins off a ways from Cecily and said, "She's in shock. She can't assimilate the fact that he may be gone."
Geoff tried not to cry. His brother was already standing there with tears coursing down his face. "Do what you have to for her. Jack would want us to take care of her. George and I will stay here and search the river."
George said, "Jack is a strong swimmer. There could be a chance he...."
Geoff shook his head. "Look at that current coming off the waterfall, brother. And if he was injured..."

George wiped the tears from his eyes and said, "We have a job to do. We need to find Jack or...well, we need to find him. He's in his Black Jack Roberts garb and if he..shows up in it, Cecily will be implicated as having the knowledge that her husband was...is... indeed the bandit."

Annabelle got Cecily to her feet and said, "Come on, love, we need to go back to the Crossbow."
Cecily nodded. "Jack will find me there. I'll wait for him."
Geoff took Annie aside and asked, "Will Cecily be alright?"
Annie nodded. "Yes, I think so. It is a defense mechanism. Who knows what she had to endure. And we don't know what happened...yet. But be careful. Michael Fairchild could very well be lurking in the woods."
George's jaw tightened. "He won't make it back to town. Of this I vow."

Annie gently led Cecily to Aphrodite. The three of them decided to leave Raven there in the care of the twins.
"Cecily? Can you ride?"
Cecily nodded. "I'll wait for Jack in our room. He'll probably be late."
Annie tried to keep the tears from coursing down her face. "Let's go then. And get you to bed, dear."
With that the two women rode off towards the Crossbow Inn.

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 10:17:46 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 01/23/2008 19:28:03
Message:

As they entered the courtyard of the Crossbow Inn, Tom Banks rushed out to take the horses. He helped Cecily down from Aphrodite.
Annabelle said gently, "Let's go inside, Cecily."
Josiah came outside and took one look at the women. Cecily's eyes were vacant and her colour could not be any whiter. Annabelle shook her head slowly and Josiah felt tears spring to his eyes. He lost not only an employer but a man he regarded as a son.

Tom Banks took in the scene and reached out to touch the young widow's hand. "Mrs.....Cecily, if there is anything I can do for you...."
She looked at Tom but didn't say a word.
Annabelle said quietly, "She's in denial."
Tom watched as Annie took Cecily by the arm and said, "Let's go inside and get you some tea."
Cecily replied, "I can wait for Jack. Better have a hot cider ready for him. He will be chilled."
Tom was taken aback that Cecily was acting like Jack was still alive. How long would it take her to remember?
And then to accept.
And finally to forget.

Tom could wait. He had already waited four years for the woman he fell in love with the day she walked into the taven on the arm of Black Jack Roberts.
Yes, he could wait until he could properly court Cecily Morley Roberts.

Molly brought the tea amidst her sobs. Cecily sat before the fire, staring into the flames. Annabelle sat next to her, waiting.
And then it happened.
Cecily's tears came silently and she gave way to wracking sobs. All Annie could do was sit next to her and hold her. Annie prayed she would never see another person in total anguish as she was witnessing Cecily's breakdown.

As soon as Cecily had exhausted herself, Annabelle said, "Cecily, we have to notify Sergeant Major Barclay. It's the law whenever there has been an....accident."
Cecily nodded slowly. Annabelle continued, "We must be very careful. Cecily, listen closely. Because this is what we are going to tell Barclay...."

When Annabelle had finished, it had been decided that Cecily would tell Barclay she had been kidnapped.
Josiah, Molly, Annabelle and the twins would all state that a ransom note had been delivered to Robert Johnson at the Crossbow by a dark-haired lass. No one had seen her before or since. The note had instructed Robert Johnson to go to the Leeds farm after dark. He was to be alone or Cecily would die.
In essence, the story was told the way it had played out except for the motive.
The motive would be money. Revenge would never be mentioned.
It would all be there.
The kidnapping.
The ransom.
The rescue.
The battle.
The waterfall.
And the deaths of the two men.

The only flaw in the plan woud be if Jack Roberts was still garbed as a highwayman when his body is found.
Annie prayed that it never came to that.
Cecily was far too young and pretty to swing at the end of a hangman's noose..


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 01/24/2008 08:26:37
Message:

George and his brother searched opposite sides of the bank without the slightest hint of luck. It was as if both men had been swallowed whole by the raging torrent of the river. Hours drug by like days as their hopes fell with each passing moment. Finally they came to the rope foot bridge that spanned the river’s closest point over three hundred yards down stream from the old farm. By then neither had the will to search further.

“That’s that, I would say.” George’s voice mirrored the hollowness he felt in his chest, as Geoff crossed the bridge to join him on the Leeds side.

“Aye.” Geoff stared at the moonlit ground in front of his boots. “If neither made shore before they reached this point, then they never made it at all.”

“Dear God!” George hissed between clenched teeth, his fists clenched to the point of shaking. “How will we face Cecily with such news?”

“Worse, yet. How will we get her to leave England should Jack be found?” Geoff raised his head to look his brother in the eye. “Ye know as well as I her life won’t be worth a brass farthing should she be implicated as the wife of Black Jack Roberts.”

“One filthy job at a time, Geoff.” George looked back at his twin with grim determination written on his face. “Let’s go collect Raven and finish this awful deed first.”

Annabelle Peterson watched intently as the young blond woman continued to stare into the fireplace. She had long since ceased to cry, and her new demeanor was so close to Jack’s when he was deeply upset that it gave them all chills. How would she react when the redcoats finally arrived? Now that she was sharing one of her husbands traits, would she share in his recklessness as well?

The customers had all been sent away for the night. The excuse was Cicely’s state of shock after her ordeal, and her need for privacy as a new widow. Josiah sent any new comers packing as politely as his state of distress would allow. Which was to say only slightly gruffer than his usual method of dealing with those who he did not wish around. Only when Tom Banks returned with the Sergeant Major would he allow anyone across the threshold.

Finally Molly could stand no more of the eerie silence and knelt down by the grieving woman’s side, placing one hand gently over hers. “Cecily?” Her voice as gentile as the one she used when little Jack was ill. “Cecily?”

Slowly, as if in a dream she could not wake from, Cecily’s sapphire eyes turned to her friend. Her hand turned over to hold onto Molly’s. “Do you know what the worse part is, Molly?” Her voice struggled to keep from cracking with her sorrow. The worst part is I can not even avenge his death. I have no one to make pay for taking Jack from me.”

Molly reached up to hug her friend as the tears renewed themselves with a vengeance, quickly spilling over to Molly’s own eyes as the two women wept together. “Even with all I tried to do, Michael Fairchild had his revenge and took my very heart to the grave!”

Annie wrapped her arms around both women, her own tears streaming down her tan cheeks. “Hold on, Cecily.” She pleaded. “Hold on for his sake. Jack loved you so much he gladly gave his life for you. Honor his memory, and live for him. Don’t let his sacrifice be in vain.”

“Oh, Annie!” Cecily rose from her chair, hugging the Gypsy woman close and kissing her cheek. “I will. I wold never let his sacrifice be in vain. I only pray that if I do find that Peter Culpepper was behind this I am allowed to be the one to send him to his just reward!"

The knock at the door brought with it Sergeant Major Barclay, three redcoats, and Tom Banks into the tavern. For once the man’s haughty, official manner was replaced by genuine concern for the state of another. He motioned for the footmen to remain by the door with Tom Banks, and walked gently over to the three women. There he swept his tricorn from his powdered white wig and bowed deeply.

“My deepest apologies, Mrs. Johnson.” He spoke low and clearly. “I am sorry, I have much of the account from Mr. Banks there, but I’m afraid that I must ask you some questions. If you feel up to the task?”

Cecily drew a shuddering breath and nodded. Once she had seated herself at the nearest table Barclay took the seat opposite from her, patiently waiting for the young widow to collect herself. She wiped the tears from her eyes with the already soaking handkerchief, breathed deeply once more, then nodded for him to begin.

Barclay looked at her for a moment, respect for the young woman’s courage welling up inside him. There was far more to Cecily Johnson than met the eye. He regretted the duty he now had to perform, making a woman in pain relive the trauma.

“Mrs. Johnson.” He began as gently as he could. “The servant you sent to fetch me has stated that you were kidnapped by Black Jack, is this true?”

Annie cursed herself inwardly. With all the concern over Cecily’s well being none of them had thought to warn Tom against mentioning Black Jack Roberts. Would Cecily be able to adapt her story in her state of grief?

“It is.” She returned. “The brigand took me from our home, not far from here. He said that he would make a fortune from my husband, and then keep me for himself.”

Barclay’s eyes widened. He had discounted placing a watch on the Johnson cottage for many reasons. It would have been too easy to have been spotted there, and if Robert Johnson was Black Jack he would have been tipped off. A solider, or two, relaxing in the tavern was much more nondescript. He had also guessed that Jack would never be so foolish as to do anything from his own house. This tragedy was certainly the result of his own lack of foresight.

“I was blindfolded and taken to a abandoned farm, which I later learned was the old Leeds farm.” Cecily continued. “Black Jack set a trap for my husband and went outside to wait for him in ambush. I was able to work my way free of my bonds, and took the pistol from the trap to aid in my escape. When I got outside I found my husband engaged in a sword fight with the monster.” Cecily shuddered as the vision of the memory filled her mind once more, and new sobs shook her body.

The Sergeant Major waited for her grief to pass for a few moments before he continued. “It is perfectly understandable, Mrs. Johnson. Can you go on?”

She nodded then continued. “The battle was so fierce that I could not, dared not attempt to shoot that rogue, and soon they had fought their way to the shallows above the waterfall. Robert ducked and struck home somewhere on Black Jack’s chest. That garish costume made it impossible for me to tell where, but I believe the blow was mortal. Then….th…then….”

The image of Jack going over the fall in the arms of Michael was all the young widow could stand, and she broke once more. Weeping in great wracking sobs. Barclay’s heart went out to the young widow, amazed that she had held her own this long. Most women would not have gotten this far as easily as she had.

“We can stop here, Mrs. Johnson. I believe I have heard enough.” He said sympathetically.

Cecily held one hand in the air, and then before the grief took her completely. “He dropped his sword and wrapped his arms around Robert….the…they both went over the falls.” Just then there was an urgent knock at the door, and three more redcoats entered.

“We ‘ave ‘im, Sir!” The first almost beamed with pride. “We found the body of Black Jack!”

Josiah felt his heart stop in his chest, and Annie dropped three shades. Before anyone could stop her Cecily jumped to her feet and ran to the door. There was little the rest could do but follow and pray.

In the torch lit courtyard a fourth redcoat held the reigns of a brown quarter horse. Draped face down across the saddle was the wet limp form of Black Jack Roberts. The night hued silk hood clung to the still face, but gave little clue to the identity beneath.

“Why haven’t you unmasked the blackguard?” Barclay demanded.

“Well, Sir.” The leader spoke up. “We thought you’d be ‘avin’ that pleasure fer yerself, Sir.”

“I see.” Barclay mused walking over to the limp dark form. “Well, no sense putting it off then.” He reached down and in one motion jerked the sopping hood from Black Jack’s head. Gripping the hair he pulled the face into the torch light. Michael Fairchild’s unseeing eyes stared back at the group.

“That’s not Black Jack Roberts!” Tom Banks blurted out before he could stop himself.



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 01/29/2008 22:09:32
Message:

“And just how would ye be knowin’ that, Laddie Buck?” The corporal shot in Tom’s direction, eyeing the olster suspiciously.

Tom Bank looked around quickly, the coldness in the eyes of all of Jack’s friends ran shivers up his spine, especially the look Cecily gave him. For a moment his eyes locked with hers and the pure hatred that poured from them nearly unmanned him.

“B-B-Because he be too young!” Tom stumbled to redeem himself as fast as he could. “I was but a lad myself when Black Jack began to make a name for himself! This man couldn’t be much older than I!”

“By God he’s right!” Barclay exclaimed. “There’s no way in Hell this man could be the Real Black Jack Roberts!”

The thundering sound of hoof beats brought the redcoats flintlocks to their shoulders, aiming at the sound. Out of the darkness came a coal black horse carrying a slumping, soaking wet Robert Johnson in it’s saddle. Raven had no sooner entered the ring of light cast by the flickering torches than he slid from the stallion’s back to the ground.

Cecily stood for a moment in shock, both her hands covered her mouth and her sapphire eyes were almost wide enough to threaten swallowing her face. Huge tears welled up in their corners and she ran to kneel at Jack’s side, pulling his wet head into her lap.

“Oh, J…Robert!” She wept. “Robert! Please open your eyes! Please speak to me!”

At the sound of her voice Jack’s eyelids trembled, then slowly opened to look at her. Love lit the furthest depths of his blue green irises and one damp, cold hand reached up to stroke her cheek. “Cecily, y-your safe.” He smiled. “Thank God your safe.”

“Get him inside to the fire!” Josiah Parker spoke up. “He’ll catch his death sure if he stays out here much longer!”

Barclay motioned to two of his men, who moved forward to lift Jack’s limp form between them. Cecily refusing to completely release him kept her hold on one of his hands. Just as they were about to enter the tavern a shot from the hill in the meadow froze them all in their tracks.

“I owe you a debt, Robert Johnson!” Shouted the black clad figure at the apex, the full moon behind it making the unmistakable figure of Black Jack Roberts all the darker. “You’ve saved me the trouble of killing that imposter myself! As I said four years ago, I will kill the next man that takes my name for his own! This time you beat me to it! If there is ever another he will not be so lucky!”

With that he reared the black stallion and turned to gallop over the far side of the rise to vanish from sight. “Shall we peruse, Sergeant Major?” The corporal asked starting for his mount.

“As you were, soldier.” Barclay commanded. “We’ve played that game before, and I’ll be damned if I spend this night chasing that ghost. Take Mr. Johnson inside. I‘d like to hear his side of this once he‘s warmed up a bit.”

After the soldiers had gotten Jack into the office of The Crossbow Cecily had Molly go upstairs to retrieve some dry clothing, and had the redcoats wait outside while she helped him to change. Once they were alone she wrapped a blanket, and her arms, around him kissing his face over and over.

“Darling, I thought I would never see you again in this world.” She sobbed in happiness.

“And you were nearly right, Darling.” Jack smiled and reached up to stroke her cheek. “I had under estimated Michael’s determination. After I had struck home he clung to life long enough to grab me. My God, but his grip was like bands of steel! I heard him hiss in my ear that he would take me to Hell with him, and we fell over the fall.”

“The madman was dead by the time we hit the bottom, but his death grip still held me fast. Luckily I had the time to fill my lungs before we plunged in. Though it took me a fair while, I knew I had to make it back to you somehow, for I had no idea if his female accomplice had come to or not. By the time I had finally broken the hold and breached the surface the currant had carried us far from the farm, and I found myself in for the swim of my life.”

“I had made the opposite shore utterly exhausted, and collapsed for a moment or two. I made my way back through the wood, and was just about to ride back here when I spied George and Geoff. They warned me about the redcoats being summoned to The Crossbow. We cut across country to our home, where I changed clothing, had Geoff put on my spare costume, and then we proceeded to dump buckets of water over my head to finish the effect. Something the twins gained a perverse pleasure in doing, I might add!”

“Considering this is the second time this night I’ve been soaked to the bone, I think a few nights in your arms would be more than called for, once we rid ourselves of the good Sergeant Major.” Jack grinned, even though Cecily could tell he was all but spent in strength.

“First you will allow me and Annie to dress those wounds, My Dear Husband!” She retorted. “Did you think I would not notice those wounds that Michael inflicted on you during your duel?” Jack knew better than to argue.

While Annie and Cecily tended the injuries he had sustained in the swordfight both relayed the story that had been told to Barclay. Jack grinned. “With, but minor exceptions it would sound as if the two of you told little more than the truth.”

He stood as best he could, and walked stiffly to the thick oak door. “Well lets not keep the Sergeant waiting any longer. The sooner we are rid of him for this night, the better. M’Ladies?”

Both Cecily and Annie insisted on helping him to the table in front of the fireplace where Barclay waited patently. While Jack relayed the same story that Barclay had heard from Cecily, with the addition of Jack’s escape from the river, George and Geoff entered the tavern.

“Robert!!” They exclaimed as one, feigning surprise.

“We’d given you up for dead!” Geoff rushed to shake Jack’s hand.

“Aye,” George added taking his turn, “and we were none to hurried to come back and tell your wife she was a widow.”

“As you can see, my friends, I have survived, by God’s good grace.” Jack grinned.

“Well, Sir,” The Sergeant Major stood up to leave, “I believe I have more than enough for my report. I, and my men, will leave you to your reunion, Mr. Johnson.”

“My thanks, Sergeant.” Jack smiled. “You will forgive me if I do not rise.”

“Of course, Sir.” Barclay bowed. “You have had a trying enough time for one night. We shall take our leave now. If we may borrow your olster to aid with our mounts?”

“Of course, Sergeant Barclay.” Jack motioned for Tom to follow.

Once outside Barclay prepared to mount his chestnut stallion, as Tom held the reigns. Without looking at the stable hand he spoke softly, yet firmly. “You know I am now inclined to mistrust your word, Mr. Banks. All evidence of your claim that Robert Johnson is indeed Black Jack Roberts has been thoroughly refuted this night.”

Placing one foot in the polished brass stirrup he swung easily into the saddle. Finally looking hard into the eyes of Thomas Banks. “In fact I am inclined to believe you have fabricated everything you have told us in a vain attempt to steal the man’s wife. You needn’t look so shocked, I have observed how you look at her when you think no one else is watching.”

“However, although I remain unconvinced that they are one and the same, I do have my own suspicions as to their relationship. Therefore I do not completely discount your information.” Barclay wheeled his horse to leave. “In the future take my advice and make certain you have evidence to back your information before you bring it to us.”


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 10:20:24 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 02/01/2008 19:48:03
Message:


Tom Banks stood there in silence watching the redcoats ride off. He was stunned that Jack Roberts, alias Robert Johnson, was still among the living. While he genuinely liked Jack, his overwhelming desire, bordering on obsession for Jack's wife coloured his judgment.
He looked at the lights in the tavern and knew that at this time his presence would not be welcome.
He turned to tend to the horses that were left in his care.

Jack sat in front of the fireplace, trying to regain his body temperature. Molly bustled forth with a bowl of hot soup and buttered bread. Cecily sat on the armrest, not letting go of him. Whether it was his shoulders, his arm or his hand, she had to make sure he wasn't just a dream.
Josiah gave him a brandy.
"For your strength, my boy. I swear, you must have your spirit nailed to yer spine! A cat with nine lives isn't as fortunate as ye are!"
Jack took the brandy eagerly. "Just what I need to warm my insides up!"
He took a deep drink of it and leaned his head back, closing his eyes. Cecily ran her fingers gently up and down his arm. He opened his eyes and the love in them brought tears to her own.

Within fifteen minutes, Doctor Cooper came into the tavern with Geoff close behind.
"Well, well, Jack Roberts. Heard you've been swimming. And in this chilly night. Trying to catch your death of pneumonia?"
Jack laughed and then grimaced. "Guess the wear and tear of the evening is setting in."
Doctor Cooper hefted his medical bag. "And you aren't the spring chicken anymore. Shall we go upstairs and access the damage?"
Cecily jumped up. "I'll go with you."
Doctor Cooper said, "No need, Miss Morley."
"That is Mrs. Roberts to you."
Doctor Cooper winked and said, "And since I delivered you, I was the first man to see you in your birthday suit, young lady."
Cecily turned several shades of red as the rest of them burst into uproarious laughter.
She took Jack's hand in hers and said, "There is no way I am letting this man out of my sight."
Doctor Cooper sighed. "If you insist."

Geoff and George helped Jack to his feet.
He groaned. "I feel pretty stiff. Must be the cold weather."
Geoff retorted, "Not to mention a fight to the death and hypothermia."
Jack held the blanket around him and nodded. "I just want to get to bed."
Cecily whispered, "But you need your rest.."
Jack grinned. "Let's see what the doc says first. Doc? After you..."

The three of them went up to the secret room. Jack gingerly took his shirt off as Cecily helped him. The doctor touched his ribs and Jack winced. He removed the bandages that Annie and Cecily had bound him with.
"Nice...nice...you really did it to yourself this time, Jack. A few broken ribs...some abrasions...what did you do, fall in a briar patch?"
"No, just the rocks on the bottom of the river. Fairchild had a death grip on me. Finally when his hand--his dead hand, I might add--scraped on the riverbottom did I feel his grip loosen. I think he held on to life long enough to attempt to kill me in the process."
Jack glanced over at Cecily and from the look on her face, he changed the subject.
"So....how long before I heal, Coop?"
"I'd say four or five days. But you will be extremely sore. Cecily, keep an eye on him that he doesn't develop a fever. If he does, call me."
He bound Jack's ribs up and then gave her a bottle.
"This is laudanum. Just a few drops. Take some for yourself. Those rope burns don't look very comfortable."
For the first time since she returned, Cecily looked down at them. They were turning into deep red, angry welts.
Jack's mouth set in a thin line. She hastily said, "They are worse than they look."
Doctor Cooper nodded and went out the door.

Jack took her hands and turned her wrists over. "I can't believe he did this."
Cecily rubbed them. "They are fine. It's not like it was the first time this ever happened. If it weren't for the slavers, I never would have met you."
Jack stroked her cheek and said, "And if it weren't for me, you never would have met Michael Fairchild."

Cecily entwined her arms around Jack's neck and pressed her body close to his. It was then that she let her pent-up emotions go. She burst into tears and couldn't stop. All Jack could do was hold her and soothe her with gentle words.
As the sobs that wracked her body quieted down, he drew apart from her. They both looked into each other's eyes.
The realization that they were alive and together again poured from them like a torrent. Their lips met in a deep, searching kiss. They never broke apart even as Jack unlaced her as he had done so many times before. He gently pushed her back on the bed. Her eyes were filled with desire as she whispered, "Are you sure you are up to it, my love?"
"Never more sure of anything before in my life, darling."
Within seconds, the last vestiges of their garments were on the floor.....

Cecily's body entwined with Jack's as they held each other close. Never before had their lovemaking been filled with such tenderness and joy.
And desperation.
They both realized how close they came to losing each other. It made them want each other more than they ever had before.

As Cecily laid there contented in Jack's arms, her head on his chest and her golden hair swirling over it, Jack kissed her. She murmured, "You fought a madman and you went over the falls. You have numerous cuts and abrasions and a few broken ribs. Yet you still managed to make love."
She lifted her head and traced his lips with her fingers. "How is that possible? Are you from Mt Olympus?"
He kissed her and held her close. "I just want to know I'm alive. What better way?"
She felt the tears spring to her eyes and she pushed them far down.
Jack said quietly, "Cecily....we haven't talked about what happened. Did Michael...harm you? In any way?"
She raised her head and said, "No, Jack. He had plans though. He was going to take me to the Colonies as his personal slave, as it were. But no. He didn't. He said he was saving it for you."
Jack could feel his hatred for Michael Fairchild surface but he pushed it down.
"Thank God for that," he whispered. "Can you ever forgive me?"
Cecily touched his lips with her hand. "All but one thing.
"What is that?"
"Not making love to me again."



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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 02/03/2008 18:25:42
Message:

Tender light glowed in Jack’s eyes that sent shivers of pleasure racing through Cecily’s body. “Nothing would please me more, My Love.” He whispered softy as one hand rose to stroke the soft golden locks of her hair.

Slowly, with infinitely gentile movements he drew her full length against him. His hand stroked the length of her spine as his lips lowered to her forehead in light kisses. The sweet softness of her skin shuddered with desire as he tenderly traced the curve of her face with his lips. Almost imperceptivity he drew her closer as his mouth neared hers until, as their lips finally met in a deeply passionate kiss he held her in a firm yet soft embrace.

Cecily’s own hands began to explore Jack’s body. One burying it’s self in his loose shoulder length hair as she pulled his mouth ever closer to hers in the kiss. The other tenderly outlining every muscle in his back. She could feel their hearts pounding against each other in their closeness. Idly she draped one leg over his, softly stroking the back of his calf’s with her foot.

Her breathing became deeper with her passion as she released his mouth from hers and Jack moved his soft lips to the side of her neck sending waves of pleasure coursing through her. His hands becoming more tender as they traced ever more intimate contours of her form, driving Cecily to new heights of abandon and love. She clung to him trying to convey with her own caresses the love and desire his had brought out in her.

Time distorted for them both stretching minutes into seeming hours that ended too soon as each did their best to give more love than they received. Soon they reached the point where neither could withstand the passion of the other’s desire and Cecily rolled onto her back taking Jack with her. Her eyes closed, a soft moan of passion escaped her lips as they gave in to love’s most intimate embrace.

Much later a discreet knock came at the hidden door. Jack carefully pulled the blankets up to Cecily’s shoulder before he slipped from the bed pulling on his britches in the darkness. They must have fallen asleep for the candle had gone out. No matter, in the half gloom of his hiding room he could see well enough to find the oil lamp and light it before going to the door and cracking it open.

Molly stood in the empty hall with a tray filled with all the makings of a hearty breakfast for two. “Good afternoon to the two of you.” She beamed.

“Noon?” Jack echoed. “Are ye daft girl? Your holding a breakfast tray.”

“Be that as it may, Mr. Roberts.” The pretty redhead laughed. “It be well past midday. We thought ye’d slept long enough and it be high time the two of ye dined on something more substantial than love.”

Jack scratched his head in bewilderment. There were no windows in the room for good reason, he feared it might give away it’s existence to one clever enough to observe from the outside. The sound of Cecily stretching as she awoke brought him about and he motioned for Molly to follow.

“Good morning, Dearest.” She smiled as Jack emerged from the short entry hall. Then she smiled as Molly came into view. “Good morning Molly.” Jack and Molly looked at each other and laughed.

“Sorry, My Love.” Jack chuckled lying down on the top of the blankets to kiss her cheek. “It seems we have slept most of the day away.”

“Aye, that you did.” Molly beamed as she brought them their trays. “Josiah has closed the Crossbow for the day, so ye’ve naught to fear from unexpected guests. Come on down when the two of you are ready.”

“Mayhap we would prefer to spend the rest of the day here.” Jack teased, a merry twinkle in his eye.

“That would be a pity.” Molly replied over her shoulder as she left the two lovers. “We’ve a privet party planned for the two of you. Be a shame if ye missed it.”

Jack looked at his wife with wide eyes, frozen in mid chew. Cecily began to giggle at the ridiculous image it presented. “Don’t look at me.” She smiled raising a steaming cup of tea to her full lips. “I know as much about it as you do, but I think they can wait for us a little longer. Don’t you?” The look in her sapphire eyes spoke more to him than her words ever could.


Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 10:22:23 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 02/06/2008 20:05:16
Message:

Josiah fumed, "What could they be doing up there that is taking them so blasted long to come downstairs?"
Molly leaned over and whispered to her husband.
"OH. Well. So be it."
Geoff and George burst out laughing.
Geoff quipped, "You should have been there the day the two of them came back from their honeymoon! Jack was supposed to meet us at the barn and it was over two hours later before he joined us."
George could scarcely control his mirth. "Aye. Jack had all these...marks...on his neck. And he tried to pull his collar up to hide them."
His brother continued, "And then we asked him what happened..."
The other twin picked up the thread, "...and he said he ran into a doorknob!"
The twins laughed heartily.
Molly tried to hide her smile behind her hand. Josiah turned red and said, "Ah. I understand. Well, she certainly has held his interest. I would have thought the two of them would have burnt that candle they have been burning down. Can't burn a candle at both ends and expect it to last."
Annabelle shook her head. "You forget that Jack Roberts is no ordinary man, Josiah. And he found his life's love in Cecily Morley. I have never seen a couple so in love. Present company excepted, you understand."
Geoff laid a gold crown on the table.
"Now...what are my bets they don't surface until the sun goes down?"

Cecily laid in Jack's arms, her fingers trailing over his chest. He held her close and stroked her shoulder.
"Jack?"
"Hmmmm?"
"Shouldn't we be getting downstairs to join the party?"
"Ummm hmmm.."
"Jack?"
"Hmmm?"
"Wake up. We need to go downstairs."
He sighed.
"I guess we should."
Cecily wrapped the sheet around her and looked in the armoire for a dress.
Jack watched her and said softly, "Miss Morley, you take my breath away."
She held her finger up and said, "Ah, that is where you are wrong."
"I am?"
"Yes. It's Mrs. Roberts, you scoundrel! And my husband will thank you to remember...AHHH!"
Jack had grabbed her from behind and fell back on the bed with her in his arms.
He whispered, "He will never know! We can ride off into the sunset together!"
Cecily replied with mock seriousness, "But he is the most fearsome highwayman England has ever seen! He has slain a thousand redcoats. He has burned villages, he has plundered ships and..."
Jack silenced her with a kiss and then said, "You're right, love. It would never have worked between us. But we shall always have this one glorious day wrapped in each other's arms."
"Jack?"
"Yes?"
"I love you."
They both laughed and continued to get dressed.

"Would you do the honors, darling?"
Cecily held out her back lacings.
As he continued to lace her up, she said quietly, "Jack...about Michael Fairchild.."
Jack said quietly, "What about him?"
"He..I mean his....well, his mortal remains. What shall be done with him?"
Jack sighed. "He has been turned over to the constable and he will see he is buried..somewhere. I don't know and I don't care. There's no family to mourn him."

As Jack finished lacing up Cecily, she reached behind her and draped his arms over her shoulders. She leaned into him and said, "I think things will start to calm down for us, love."
Jack kissed her neck and said, "About time, I say. Now....shall we see what our friends have planned for us?"
She turned around and kissed him.
"Alright. But only if we can continue our..discussions...here later!"
Jack winked and said, "You drive a hard bargain, lady. But I do like 'chatting' with you!"
Cecily laughed, grabbed his hand and they walked downstairs.





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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 02/16/2008 22:02:51
Message:

They arrived down stairs to the thunderous applause of their friends. Jack and Cecily looked at each other for a moment, both their complexions raising a hue in color from the attention. The gratitude they felt for having such friends knew no equal, and each knew in their hearts that this was worth far more than any wealth the world held. Jack bowed, and Cecily curtsied in response.

As if on signal they soon found themselves surrounded by this extended family. Jack being hugged by the women and shaking hands with all the men. Cecily receiving hugs and light kisses from both sexes. The terrible events of the past few days washed away by the outpouring of affection that filled The Crossbow’s main hall that day.

“Looks like your preparing for a Ball, Josiah.” Jack noted. The center of the hall was cleared, and three of the largest tables were filled with food and drink. Yet one thing was conspicuous in it’s absence. “If so, there seems to be a lack of musicians.”

“Now I wouldn’t be a sayin’ that, Laddie Buck!” A familiar and welcome voice came from the kitchen.

“Gilbert!” Jack exclaimed as the elder tavern owner came grinning into view, his fiddle and bow gripped loosely in his left hand. Quickly he moved to shake his friend’s hand.

“Aye, lad.” Gilbert grinned. “It’s good to see ye in one piece after the trouble that young imposter made fer ye.”

“Our worse fear was that Jack’s friends would believe it was him.” Cecily chimed in, placing a soft kiss on Gilbert’s cheek.

“And ye weren’t far from wrong, Lass.” He scowled. “I had the Devil’s own time tryin’ ta convince the others that it weren’t Jack gone mad. There were some in the know who wished to end the spree by turning him in.”

“Then I owe you yet another debt, Gilbert.” Jack bowed to the tavern owner who had once saved his life.

“Ye owe me naught save yer friendship, Jack.” Gilbert frowned. “Ye have repaid that debt many times over. However, the storm is past now and all has been set to rights. Yer secret is safe again, and I for one have had enough of this dark talk. ‘Tis a time for celebration!” He placed his fiddle beneath his chin and bowed off a short series of lively notes for emphasis.

Cecily clapped her hands with joy. “Well said, Master Gilbert! But surely you don’t intend to carry the night by yourself?”

Gilbert grinned. “I said to Jack the first night he brought you to my door that either the two of ye were destined to be the happiest couple in all of England, or he had bitten off more than he could chew. I’ve a suspicion I was right on both counts.”

“Ye’ve no idea, Gil.” Jack sighed exaggeratedly, eliciting a playful punch to his arm from his wife.

“Nay, Lass.” Gilbert laughed. “My contemporaries are hiding yet in the kitchen, or too deep in their cups to come out yet!” The last he said loudly enough to add strength to his words as he winked knowingly to Cecily.

“Not nearly deep enough, Gil.” Jenkins laughed coming into view, a tankard in one hand and a sailor’s squeeze box in the other.

“And I do remember another who put away his fair share while we awaited the guests of honor.” Cody winked as he followed carrying a similar tankard and flute.

The rest of the day, and well into the night, was filled with happy reminiscing and dancing. Little Jack more than once stealing the center stage with his attempts to imitate the adults dances. Squealing with delight as Andrew’s wife, Lady Jane, held him in her arms for his first waltz. For once the joy of the moment caused neither Jack, nor Cecily any sad feelings from their own childless state.

Even the long looks from Tom banks in Cecily’s direction went unnoticed, as the terrible events of the past few weeks melted away to the joy filled reunion of their extended family. Jack and Cecily would have both swore that could Raven and Aphrodite joined in the gaiety, they would have.

Sir Peter Culpepper watched from the ships rail as the harbor of Plymouth came into view. It had been weeks since he had word from Riggs, and he was quite certain by now that his young foil had gone renegade. More the pity when he found Michael. It was high time he took matters into his own hands, once and for all.

This time there would be and end to the thorn in his side named Black Jack Roberts.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 02/20/2008 20:41:31
Message:

Cecily and Jack rode through the forest, taking a route that would shave their time in half. The sun dappled through the trees, making the packed-down lane look mottled. Jack inhaled the autumn smells.
"Mmm! It's a good day to be alive!"
Cecily said quietly, "Jack, I was never so scared in all my life."
"I know, dearest. I can't imagine what it was like to be kidnapped by that madman."
"I'm not talking about that. I am talking about when you went over the falls. I swear, Jack. Someone must be looking out for us."
He took her hand and kissed it as they jogged along. "I know, love. But we must take further precautions. The black-haired lass is still out there. We don't know if she is part of a network or if Michael Fairchild acted on his own."
Cecily frowned. "As long as she doesn't have flintlocks, I can handle her. But just to be sure, maybe new latches would be in order. I feel so foolish, Jack."
"How so, love?"
"I fell right into their trap."
Jack stared silently ahead and then said, "Michael Fairchild certainly observed me. He knew every little nuance about us. Right down to the secret code we use. Someone was bankrolling him. He came from the Colonies. No one that poor comes back for revenge unless he is working hand-in-glove with someone."
Neither one wanted to say who that someone was. But they were both lost in their own thoughts.

Cecily smiled broadly at the view around the bend. Their cottage came into sight. She smiled happily, "I'm so glad to be home!"
Jack sighed, "I know the feeling. Nothing like the feel of one's own bed."
They rode Aphrodite and Raven into the stables and dismounted. Currying them and feedling them took a half hour and then Jack and Cecily walked arm-in-arm into the house.

Walking into the house that she and Jack had turned into a home with love, Cecily set about watering the now-drooping flowers on the table.
She muttered, "I swear, did Michael Fairchild taint everything he touched?"
Jack hung up their cloaks on the pegs by the mudroom.
"Pretty much so."
"Jack, what made him the way he was?"
"I don't know, Cecily. Was it circumstances or was he born that way? I suppose we will never know."
Cecily put the tea kettle on. "He rubbed his temples alot and seemed to talk to himself. As if he were thinking aloud and couldn't help himself."
She shivered and rubbed her arms. "That was how I found out alot of his plans."
"Ever see the woman before?"
Cecily put the tea in the cups. "I do believe I saw her as a tavern wench at the dim bulb and Bull over near Exeter."
"And what were you doing over there?"
She gave him a wide-eyed innocent look. "I stopped there for a bit of a repast with Andrew. That is all."
Jack looked at her doubtfully, "Uh huh. Well, I am just glad this is over."
Cecily poured them each a cup of tea and sighed, "I am too! Now maybe life can get back to normal!"

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 10:24:05 PM
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 02/21/2008 18:25:22
Message:

Raymond watched nervously from the foyer window. The master’s personal carriage had left early that morning for Plymouth, and was due back any moment now. He had grown use to the relative peace that had surrounded the manor for the past four years. Not that he had neglected his duties, if anything he had kept them up with greater efficiency. He doubted that would continue once the constant harassment from his employer began again. It was something he dreaded to his very bones.

Sir Peter Culpepper sat back in the overstuffed carriage seat brooding. From what he had gathered in Plymouth he needn’t worry about bringing Michael to bay, it would seem Roberts had done the job for him. That should get Sir Terrance off his back, and now the brigand would have to take up his mantle once again to prove himself the real thing. All Culpepper had to do now was to think of a way to turn that to his advantage.

Somehow the man had managed to thwart every plan that Sir Peter had laid for him. That had to stop. Perhaps it was because he had made this too much of a personal vendetta. Perhaps it was time to enlist help from more conventional means. Sergeant Major Barclay could be the key he needed, if only the man wasn’t so bloody honest. Then again, it was said that every man had his price. All he had to do was find Barclay’s.

Yes. It was time he brought his full resources to bear against Jack Roberts. He would have done so by now had it not been for Annie’s attempt to kill him. The shock of seeing his own cousin pointing a rifle in his direction was bad enough, but it was what she knew about his true heritage that had caused him to take to flight. The nobility was prejudiced beyond belief, and Culpepper could only imagine the repercussions should the rest learn of his Gypsy blood.

He had given it four years and Annabelle had apparently kept to the Gypsy law of silence to the gadjikane that the tribes followed above all else. He was certain now that she would never revel his secret no matter what he did. Even as he was certain that she stayed in the vicinity on orders from the council to keep an eye on him. That was their mistake, for there was precious little they could do to curb him now. O chavorro na biandola dandencar. The child is not born with teeth. He does, however, acquire them.

That last thought brought a grim smile to his face. The Romani law against killing their own kind was all that had saved his life that day in Scotland. He was sure of it now, but the fact that she had tried had unsettled him greatly. He had forgotten who he was, and the power he wielded. He would never forget that again.

Raymond opened the main doors as the carriage pulled up to the steps. Inwardly he steeled himself for the first of the many brow beatings he would endure. He watched carefully as Lord Culpepper emerged from the covered coach, and took stock of his surroundings. Raymond’s legs shook as his master walked calmly up the steps toward him, the coachman carrying his luggage.

“Ah, Raymond.” Sir Peter smiled. “It’s good to see you’ve kept the ancestral home well in order while I was gone. Well done. Now if you will be so kind as to bring me a brandy to the study, it has been a long voyage and I feel the need for some undisturbed rest.”

“V-very good, Sir.” Raymond nearly fainted on the spot from this unexpected turn of events. “Will there be anything else, Sir?”

“Not at the moment, Old Boy.” Culpepper continued in the same civil tone. “I believe it will be a long night, and I’ve much to ponder. Once you fetch the brandy you may take the rest of the night for yourself.”

As Raymond watched Peter Culpepper vanish into the study he could not think which was worse, the usual berating he had expected, or this new turn of character. Was this just the calm before the storm? It was all so unlike the man. What on Earth could he be playing at? Regardless the aged butler made his mind up to take full advantage and disappear once he brought the brandy to the study. God only knew how long it would last.

Jack cupped his hand behind the chimney of the oil lamp and puffed the flame out. The day had proven just as relaxing and carefree as the last few months had been turbulent. They had spent the entire day in each other’s company, even to the point that he had done his best to help in the kitchen with the chores of cooking. Although a passable camp cook his skills were slightly lacking in the art of baking, and it had caused them both no end of laughter.

“So am I forgiven for the burned rolls, Luv?” He grinned drawing Cecily into his arms.

She stroked his cheek, a playful twinkle sparkling in her azure eyes. “You mean the charcoal bricks? I thought we could use them for barbecuing this weekend.”

Jack threw his head back, laughing merrily as he hugged her closer. “Thankfully I never tried to become a cook.” He smiled warmly to her. “I don’t know about you, Dearest, but I’m for bed. It’s getting late.”

“It’s not that late, My Lover.” Cecily sighed, laying her head against his chest to listen to his heart beat. “But that is the best suggestion I’ve heard from you all day.”

Jack gently stroked her golden locks. “Then there’s not a moment to waste, Mrs. Roberts. I’ll race you.”

She beat him to their bed room by a good three steps.



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Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 02/27/2008 19:48:50
Message:

"Your brandy, Sir Culpepper. I thought you may want your cognac as it is a welcome home for you."
Sir Peter Culpepper took it eagerly.
"Thank you, my good man."
Raymond looked around and realized Culpepper was talking to him.
"Will that be all? I shall retire to my---"
Raymond never finished his sentence as there was a frantic and loud banging on the door.
"Better see to it, Raymond. I am..indisposed for now."
"As you wish, Lord Culpepper."

Raymond opened the door and there stood a woman in her mid-twenties. She was soaked to the bone from the thunderstorm, her cloak clinging to her legs. Her face was pale and her eyes were filled with rage. Strands of black hair were plastered to her face.
"I am here to see Lord Peter Culpepper."
Raymond said stiffly, "I am sorry but he is---"
"HE'S HOME AND YOU LET ME IN NOW!"
Lord Culpepper came behind Raymond and took in the distraught woman.
"I am Lord Culpepper. To what do I owe this outrage?"
The woman pushed past Raymond and the look of hatred in her eyes was unsettling.
"DOES THE NAME MICHAEL FAIRCHILD MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU?"

Peter stared at her and nodded imperceptively to Raymond.
"You may go, Raymond. I'll handle this..situation."
The woman spat at Peter, " 'Situation'? 'SITUATION'? The man I loved is DEAD and it is all your fault!"
Raymond looked to his employer and said haltingly, "Shall I send for the constable, Sir?"
Peter looked hard at the woman and said, "No. I'll handle it."
"But Sir Peter---"
"Raymond. Go. Now. I said I would handle this."
"As you wish."

As Sir Culpepper watched Raymond leave, he turned to the woman.
"Please. You are soaked to the skin. Sit by the fire and have some brandy. To calm you. And then we shall talk like civilized people."
She followed Sir Peter into the parlor where a roaring fire was going. He said, "May I?" and put his hand out for her cloak. She reluctantly gave it to him.
"Please. Warm yourself."
She sat in the chair shivering. Putting her hands out to warm herself, he handed her a snifter of brandy. Not his cognac. That was reserved for people of his own class. But he surmised this would be better than anything she had ever tasted before.

He sat in his overstuffed chair and drew out his pipe, lighting it. Taking a deep puff, he waited till she had taken several swallows.
"Now. Shall we discuss the problem here?"
She said viciously, "'Problem'. This 'problem' as you say has a name. Michael Fairchild."
Sir Peter tapped his ashes into a small brass cup.
"Ah, yes...Michael Fairchild."
The woman gazed into the fire and said softly, "I loved him. He took it upon himself to settle an old score with Black Jack Roberts. So he kidnapped his wife. I helped him. I held a gun to her head while he bound her up and we used her to lure the highwayman to an abandoned farm. But something went wrong."
Sir Culpepper said quietly, "And what was that?"
She looked at Peter with pain in her eyes. "He planned to dispose of me and take Cecily Roberts to the Colonies."
She hurried with the next thought, "But he didn't mean it. Michael would get these blinding headaches and then snap out of them. He would have seen reason. He would have. He...he loved me."

Sir Peter sat there waiting for her to continue.
"Black Jack Roberts came looking for his wife. He saw me in the barn and pushed me. I must have hit my head because I had a lump on my forehead and I heard commotion by Wallows Falls. Two men, both in black. Dueling. Then they went over the falls. I saw the woman--Cecily Roberts--screaming and then she sat there as in a trance. My head hurt too bad or else I would have taken my revenge on her for the loss of my man."
Sir Peter's fingers dug into his armrest. 'How dare she try to usurp any plans I had made?' he thought.
The raven-haired beauty continued. "Michael Fairchild washed up and was found. The constable laid him to rest in a pauper's grave. There was only one person to mourn him. Me."

Her hands clenched in fisted rage. Sir Peter rose up and looked out the window.
"The storm has not abated. I would suggest you stay the night. We have a guest room on the third floor, second door from the left. And we shall talk more in the morning."
She nodded dully. "Thank you for the kindness."
Sir Peter gave her an insincere smile but she didn't see the face behind the mask.
"May I inquire your name, Miss....?"
"Bradford. Bess Bradford."
"Pleasant dreams, Miss Bradford. You will find all you need up there."

She walked towards the door and said, "Again, thank you."
Sir Peter nodded and as she left, he took a deep draw on his newly-lit pipe.
'Well, Miss Bradford, it never hurts to have one more iron in the fire. Just in case...'


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Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 02/28/2008 21:45:51
Message:

Thomas Banks lay in his bed wide awake. No matter what he did he could not sleep, tormented by his longing for another man’s wife. He liked Jack for certain, the man had never been cruel to him, and had given him a fair job at a fair wage. Still the image of Cecily Roberts as his own burned in his mind, becoming an increasing obsession until he began to doubt his own sanity.

He had tried to replace her in his heart many times over the years, each attempt meeting with dismal failure. Now he had taken to hiding in the wood near their cottage, spying from the stable when they came to The Crossbow. Anything to get a glimpse of her. His days and night filled with fantasy so rich that he had begun to believe them himself. He knew they could be happy together if Jack would simply release his hold over her.

It was the only explanation. Jack Roberts had some hold on her, something that kept her from the only man who truly loved her. Himself. If he could only remove Jack from the picture, he knew she would run to him in a moment. Tom was certain that he had seen her watch him with the same unspoken desire that he held for her.

He knew the obsession was slowly driving him mad, but no longer cared. As long as he could have her in the end, any price was worth paying. Even the betrayal of the only man to offer him a fair chance at life. It was what had driven him to Barclay’s door that night. As long as he kept most of what he knew to himself, no one could blame him for Jack’s arrest, and he would be there to comfort her.

“And just how do you know that Robert Johnson is Black Jack Roberts?” The Sergeant Major had eyed him suspiciously that night in The Golden Cockerel tavern, having arrived in response to Tom’s anonymous note.

“Because I’ve seen him, Sir.” Tom whispered, desperate to keep any who knew Jack from seeing him speaking to the redcoat. “No one else knows, not even his wife. It was only by chance that I discovered his secret, and I am not anxious for him to know that I saw him.”

“I can understand that, but I doubt his own wife does not know.” Barclay was suspicious. “There is much here that stretches the imagination. Such as how he could use his tavern as a staging point and not have the rest of you notice.”

“He is a canny one, Sir.” Tom had rehearsed his betrayal well. “He had always made certain that he was alone when he put on that garish costume he robs in. It was by pure chance that I had been napping in the loft when he came in and changed that night. I believe that his marriage was why he allowed his activities to stop for four years, but he‘s back now and worse than ever from what I understand. That is why I came to you.”

“Very well. I will accept your explanation for now.” Barclay stood up to leave. “You will keep an eye on Johnson, and keep me informed. But let me make this perfectly clear. If I discover that any have been aiding this madman up till now, I will see you all hanged.”

That had proven to be a fruitless plan in the end. Jack had succeeded in killing his imposter, and Tom had nearly uncovered himself when Michael Fairchild’s body had been brought to the Crossbow. All his plans had turned to ash, and now Cecily was even deeper in Jack Roberts clutches. Barclay no longer trusted his word, and he could not implicate the others without exposing himself, and worse of all Cecily to the gallows.

There had to be a way to free her from Jack, and somehow he would find it. Even if it took him all night. Somehow, someway he would find a way to set her free and he would be there for her. Cecily Roberts would come to him, just like she secretly wanted to.

Sergeant Major Barclay sat at his desk deep in thought. Although it was highly probable that all the olster had told him was pure fabrication to take the wife of another, there was still a nagging feeling in his gut that all was not as it seemed with Robert Johnson.

True, every thing that the man had told him had checked out. The purchasing of the necklace, why he had not been in London as he had stated. He also had a hard time believing that any man who had lost the amount of blood they had found when they suspected Black Jack Roberts to have been critically wounded in a fight with some unknown assailant could have been on his feet. Much less to have so nonchalantly walked out to hold a conversation with him. The effort would have been nothing short of superhuman.

As to who that assailant would have been he now knew the answer to. An imposter. Yet why would this imposter have singled out Robert Johnson? Why kidnap the man’s wife? Perhaps there was a connection between the two of them. Perhaps Johnson was working hand in hand with the highwayman. It would explain much.

Somewhere there had to be a chink in Black Jack’s armor and he would find it, sooner, or later. Then, at long last he would gain the promotion he had worked a lifetime for. Who knew, maybe even a knighthood.

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 10:26:55 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 03/04/2008 19:23:35
Message:

The carriage bounced over the ruts in the road, mud splashing its sides.
The woman in the back tapped the coachman with the handle of her umbrella.
"What is taking so long, Ferguson?"
"Ma'am, the roads are a mudhole. Ruts every time I turn the corner."

Lady Alice Morley tapped her fan against her hand impatiently and then patted her hair. She took out her lip colouring and applied it while looking in the glass window separating her from Ferguson.
Four years.
Four long years he had been away...

Lady Morley was forced once again to play the Lady of the Manor. The dutiful wife, giving parties for Cornwall's elite and also entertaining majors and generals from the King's Army.
She looked out the window, but couldn't see much. Her mind went back to the day she found out her daughter had run off to Scotland to marry that...that...bourgeois! The one and only time she had seen Cecily face to face was at Andrew's wedding. Alice had tried to talk to her but Cecily had turned away. She tried to find out how she was doing from Andrew, but he told her once that if Cecily wanted her to know, she would contact her. But Cecily never did.
If Wallace knew, he never mentioned it.

She did see Cecily coming out of a milliner's shop in Exeter. Lady Alice was in her carriage. Cecily was on the arm of her husband. From what Alice could see, Cecily looked happy. At least she was looking up at him and laughing. Alice had to reluctantly admit they made a handsome pair.
But in all those four years, Alice never once heard that she was a grandmother.
Strange.
Very strange.

Ferguson pulled up to the large door under the portico. The grey stone mansion loomed like it was cut from a boulder against the dark stormy night. He opened the door and held his hand out to help Lady Alice from the carriage. The door was opened by Lord Peter Culpepper himself.
He held his hands out to her.
"Lady Morley! It is so good you could come calling in this inclement weather!"
Alice caught her breath. He was still handsome but there was a hardness in his eyes she hadn't remembered. Maybe it had been there all along and she didn't see it? Peter was leaner than he was before.
The time away seemed to have improved his mood too. Either that or he was just happy to be lord of the manor again.

Alice gave him a dimpled smile.
"I heard the other day you had come back to Cornwall and I had to call to say 'Welcome home!'"
Culpepper turned to Ferguson and said, "The cook has fresh apple muffins and some hot cider. Why not take a repast while Lady Morley and I catch up on times missed?"
Ferguson tipped his hat and went to the back.

"How have you been, Alice?"
They were settled with a brandy in front of the fireplace in the parlor. She touched his arm and said softly, "How do you think I am? I have been missing you these past four years."
"I kept in touch."
"Not the same, Peter."
"And what is the news of Cecily?"
Alice sighed. "She won't speak to me. Andrew won't tell me any news. Four years she has been married! And not a sign of a grandchild. While I suppose we should be grateful she has no child by Robert Johnson, I can't understand why. I was with child and birthed exactly one year to the day."
Culpepper topped off her brandy. "It must be him. Any man with a barren wife would get rid of her in order to procure an heir. He's more than likely grateful he has such a young wife whom he can bend to his rules."

Alice took a sip. "I do hear bits and pieces. Last month I had a party for the King's generals and majors. Sir Wallace said it would be good for our standing in the community and..."
"What did you say, Alice?"
"I said I hear bits and pieces."
"No, after that."
"Oh! Well, I had a party..."
"Interesting. Was Major Barclay there?"
"Major Rupert Barclay? Yes..yes, he was."
"Was Black Jack Roberts mentioned?"
"Why, how did you know that?"
"Because Barclay has just as much a vested interest in him as I do. But for different reasons."
"Peter, are you still under the illusion Robert Johnson is Black Jack Roberts?"
"Yes. Yes, I am."
"Well, I don't think so. When I was in London last season, I did a little inquiring. My daughter is married to a man who is half-Irish. Yet in spite of their modest living, it seems Robert Johnson is quite well off. He owns land in just about every shire in England. He has several taverns and a banking house in London. Yet they continue to live in that cottage. Major Barclay is not convinced Robert Johnson is innocent of it all. There is a connection...somewhere."

Sir Peter filled her glass again with the brandy. Suddenly he smiled.
"Alice? I do believe it is time you had another soiree with the King's officers. With one little difference."
"What is that, Peter?"
"I will be there. You see, my dear, we all have pieces of the puzzle. And together we can make a lovely picture....suitable for framing!"




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Replied on: 03/11/2008 20:55:59
Message:

As Sergeant Major Barclay entered his office he felt the unmistakable pressure of the barrel of a pistol behind his left ear. The unknown assailant had hidden in the shadows behind the door awaiting him to return. The click of the hammer being drawn back sent an involuntary shudder through his being from his head to his feet, but he was determined not to show his fear to the enemy.

“Stand and deliver, Mate.” The low gravely whisper came from behind him. “Make a single sound to alert yer watch, and it’ll be yer last act in this world.”

“Roberts!” The erstwhile officer whispered into the gloom.

“Aye. Now if ye would be so kind as to divest yerself of them weapons, and hand them back to me, along with that fat purse ye be carrying ‘a course, we’ll be getting’ down ta the real reason I be here.” Jack spoke in hushed tones, using the deep rough voice he had effected long ago to disguise his own. Then he nudged the flintlock a little forward behind Barclay’s ear. “A little slower than that, if ye please, Guv’ner.”

Rupert immediately slowed his movements, glad now for the gloom of the dimly lit office as a single bead of sweat rolled down one side of his face from beneath his powdered wig. How had Black Jack gotten in here? There had to be at least seven men on watch about the building. Seven men who were about to be demoted if he survived this encounter.

“You must be mad, Roberts!” He hissed as he handed his sword, pistol, and wallet behind him. “You’ll never leave this building alive!”

“Had no trouble getting’ in, Guv.” Jack chuckled quietly, grinning beneath his black silk hood. “I’ll be takin’ me chances about getting’ out. It be high time ye and I had a little talk.”

Rupert Barclay fumed at the indignity of being taken by surprise so easily, but remained quiet. Jack motioned to the big leather chair behind the desk. “Have a seat, Guv, and please, no foolishness. Be a shame at ruin that fancy uniform.”

The steaming Sergeant Major sat heavily down, watching every move the black clad figure made as he produced a coil of rope from beneath his cloak. The brigand quickly, and expertly tied him to the chair, then sat on the edge of the polished desk facing him.

“As I said a few nights ago, I now owe Robert Johnson a debt fer removing’ that pest,” Jack began, “And I can’t say it sets well with me at all. Ye see, I’m more accustom ta him bein’ in my debt. Ahhhhhh. I thought that might be peek’n yer interest. Ye twigged there be a connection between me an’ him, didn’t ye?”

Barclay nodded, stiff lipped as the dark clad outlaw chuckled merrily. “I thought as much. I be here ta fill in the blanks fer ye, and repay me debt. I has been usein’ The Crossbow as a base fer me operations. Ye see Robert Johnson didn’t come by his wealth all honest like, an there be a few skeletons in his closet what I knows about. Skeletons what could ruin the man should they be made known.”

“Then it’s blackmail!” Barclay could no longer contain himself.

“Aye.” Black Jack chuckled again. “I found out one night when I robbed him, and have kept certain papers safely hid ever since. He has been under me thumb ever since, and even more so once he wed that little girl ‘o his. No one was happier than he when I decided ta retire once he was wed. I figured it be high time I enjoyed the fruits ‘o me labor, and quit while I was ahead.”

“Before ye gets yer hopes up,” Jack continued noting the gleam in his captive’s eye, “I was never fool enough ta reveal meself ta Johnson. That would have turned the tables, so ta speak, and I likes havein’ the upper hand in all me dealings. Besides I still have his papers, so even if he did twig it, ye’ll never pry it outta him. Had it not been for that fool of an imposter thinking’ I was Johnson, an wreakin’ havoc in me good name, I would have stayed retired. Now that I’m back, I’ve found I missed the old game.”

“So you intend to begin your wicked ways again!” Barclay growled.

“Aye, that I do, Guv, and may I remind ye ta keep yer voice down.” Jack growled lowly back, pointing his pistol at Barclay’s head for emphasis. “Now that ye know about me base, I’ll not be usen’ that again. Johnson an’ I be square now, an’ I dare say he’s happy ta be rid ‘o me presence.”

“Ye also know why that young fool kidnapped his wife. Only problem was he sent the message ta the wrong man, or I’d a run the little bastard through meself.” Jack produced a length of cloth from inside his cloak and moved behind Rupert Barclay to gag him. “I’ll be takin’ me leave now, Guv’ner. Ye give ‘ol Robert me best when ye see him again an‘ tell him we‘re even now.”

Once he was certain he was alone Major Barclay began to jump up and down as much as he could in the chair, thumping the legs against the wood floor. Soon a couple of privets entered the room to investigate the noise, and stood dumbfounded at the sight of the officer bound and gagged in his own office.

“Call out the guard! Send the men on sentry duty to my office!” He shouted once they had freed him. “Black Jack Roberts is near! And not a word of this to anyone, or I’ll have you both flogged!!!”

Cecily heard Raven’s hoof beats distantly in the forest. She ran to the back porch with a trembling heart, holding the hurricane lamp aloft as she strained to see through the darkness. Soon she spied Jack walking across the field towards her, and she ran out to meet him. Setting the lamp on the ground, she threw herself around him, kissing his face over and over.

“Do you think it worked, My Love?” She breathed into the twilight.

“I believe so, Luv.” Jack grinned. “The Sergeant Major now has answers to all of his questions. Straight from the horse’s mouth.”

Title: Re: THE HIGHWAYMAN
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 10:28:47 PM
Reply author: Welsh Wench
Replied on: 03/19/2008 21:07:02
Message:

Molly was taking the blueberry muffins out of the oven when she glanced out the window.
"Annie! I do believe that is Aphrodite in the stableyard!"
Annie looked out the window and said, "And I just saw Cecily go into the stable. I'd best get the butter out for those muffins and put on a teakettle."

Cecily led Aphrodite into the stall and got some oats out of the bin.
"Good morning, Cecily."
She felt a chill down her spine. "Good morning, Mr. Banks. And that is Mrs. Johnson to you."
He leaned closer to her. "I thought we were better friends than that. I've known you over four years now."
"And that was before you almost let it slip that my husband was Black Jack Roberts."
Tom apologized, "I'm very sorry about it. When I saw the man's face, it was my first reaction."
"And that first reaction almost tipped the hand."

She looked into the eyes of Tom Banks. Something about him was different. His eyes...they were gazing at her with a strange look on his face. Almost like he could read her thoughts.
She quickly closed the stall door on Aphrodite and walked out of the stables as quickly as she could. She looked back once. He was leaning against the door and staring. She picked up the pace and walked into the tavern.
' It was too bad he knew so much about Jack's operation. He really needs to be let go,' Cecily thought.

Tom Banks could feel his longing for Cecily rise from his very core. He could barely restrain himself from taking her in his arms. He imagined what it would be like to hold her, to run his fingers through the golden locks. To kiss her and possess her as a man would want to possess a woman, body and soul.
'Someday, my darling. Someday we will be together....'

"It's about time you came to see us! Where's Jack?"
Cecily removed her cloak and sat down. "He had to go to Exeter. Something about some meadowland he wants to purchase. So I decided to ride over and visit."
Molly set the muffins down and Annabelle poured the tea.
Cecily took one bite and closed her eyes in delight. "I swear, these are the most delicious muffins I have ever tasted!"
Molly said, "Cecily, dear, you have been tasting these muffins for over four years now and this is the first time I have seen you so enthusiastic about my blueberry muffins before."
A strange look crossed Annabelle's face. She said, "Cecily, stand up."
Cecily looked at her quizzically. "What?"
"Stand up."
"Do I have something on my dress?"
Annie ran her hands lightly on Cecily's abdomen. Her brow furrowed in concentration then she broke out in a smile.
"Is it true?"
Cecily blushed and nodded. "It is possible."
Annie touched her hand and said in a low voice, "I told you it would work."

Molly looked from one to the other. "Someone had better tell me what is going on here. I hate to feel excluded."
Annie and Cecily exchanged glances.
Annie said quietly, "Cecily came to see me for a spell to help her get with child."
Molly laughed uproariously. "Cecily, Jack knows a better way!"
Cecily blushed. "I thought it couldn't hurt."
Molly said, "I'm sorry. I prefer the good old fashioned way but I'd like to hear about this."

Annabelle explained, "I got my tarot cards, specifically the Ace of wands, ten of cups and the Sun. Cecily brought something specifically for this."
Cecily interjected, " A small blanket."
"And we lit nine red candles. I laid the tarot cards out one by one. Cecily had to visualize herself pregnant. Then she had to repeat the incantation."
Cecily closed her eyes and recited, "With these cards and with this spell- I call upon the good and helpful powers. I desire to start a family - I desire energy and love to continue. This small item is the token of the commitment we are ready to make. We are ready to love our children - we are ready to teach our children and we are ready to have our children.
So it is - so it shall be!"
Annabelle said, "The spell is sealed with kisses and hugs followed by the actions necessary to start a family."
Molly scoffed good-naturedly, "I can see the actions but not the spell doing the trick."
Cecily said softly, "No one knew but the night that Jack came back from the near-death plunge with Michael Fairchild, Annie helped me with the incantation."
Molly said, "...and?"
Cecily's eyes were shining as she said softly, "I think we conceived a baby that night!"

Molly's mouth dropped and Annie hugged her.
"Oh, my dear! I'm so happy for you!"
Molly came out of her shock a