Author: Deena PM
My version of a cheesy Romance Novel...Emerald is bored of aristocratic life in Regency London until she happens upon a true Pirate-in-disguise. Adventure on the High Seas featuring scandal, intrigue, suspence and romance!Rated: Fiction K - English - Romance/Adventure - Chapters: 3 - Words: 5,027 - Reviews: 54 - Favs: 15 - Follows: 13 - Updated: 10-09-02 - Published: 10-05-02 - id: 999642
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Aunt Irmingard was livid, her papery lips pressed together in the tightest of lines. Her grip upon Emerald's wrist was nearly painful and quite strong for a lady of such mature years. She kept herself agreeable in the presence of others but the second the door to their carriage closed, the elder woman launched into a lecture of most irate proportions.
"I cannot think what you hoped to accomplish by mincing about the gardens without a chaperone! Where in the name of Sam Hill had you sense of propriety gone? You could have been ruined, ruined I say ruined! And what would become of you then? No one would have a woman of ill-repute, a tarnished lady! Your chances of a respectable marriage would be gone without a toss! Have I taught you nothing Emerald? Really now, this is beyond absurd! Imagine if you'd been found in the company of a man? The scandal and the shame would quite nearly do me in!"
"Oh stubble it Aunt Irmingard!" Emerald rolled her eyes. "I only hoped to take a turn about the gardens. The Earl and Countess are quite renowned for their landscapes are they not? I saw no harm in indulging the pursuit of botanical aesthetics. I stayed clear of all contact and should I have come across any dishonorable persons, I would have dealt with them in a most violent manner."
Aunt Irmingard squawked, sounding remarkably similar to a peahen. "Violent manner, have you gone mad?! You are but a delicate creature!" So agitated was the bespectacled spinster, she was forced to snatch out her smelling salts and give them a good sniff. Needless to say, the rest of the journey home was rather unpleasant.
After another lengthy lecture upon decorum, disgrace, and marriage, Emerald was finally free to escape to her chambers. She hurried up the stairs and down the hallway. Jillian, her lady's maid was awaiting her arrival. The young blond girl helped Emerald alight from the confines of her ball gown, all the while begging for details of the night. The girl was full of romantic notions and Emerald did her best to describe the fete without marring the account with her habitual cynicism and irritation. Naturally she left out the business in the maze but that was hardly Jillian's business.
Finally the maid left and Emerald was alone. She sat down upon a well-stuffed wingback chair and stared into the fireplace before her. The restless impatience of her nature demanded that she immediately make her way to the docks to catch a glimpse of the BrainBasher. All her life she'd been secluded and sheltered, ruled under an iron fist and unable to do anything for fear of ruining future chances at a suitable match. Aunt Irmingard had done her best to ensure that Emerald was a most respectable, well-rounded young Lady, able to make needlepoint and play at the pianoforte and serve tea and simper coyly behind a fan.
"Such rubbish," Emerald grumbled, tucking her socked-feet beneath her.
Those frivolous 'talents', as Aunt Irmingard liked to call them, were both pointless and stupid. Why should she passively settle into a life of pouring tea and hosting silly parties? Emerald did not want that kind of life in the least! She wanted adventure and intrigue. She wanted to visit exotic locations and learn customs unknown to her. She wanted to be like Miss Happenstance from her detective novels and solve mysteries! There was a whole world beyond her narrow limitations and it was hers for the taking, should she brave it!
A tiny part of her, one that sounded remarkably like Aunt Irmingard, forbade her to do something so foolish but Emerald ignored it. She knew that the BrainBasher was setting sail tonight and who knew...she might even be able to catch a sight of CarcassSlicer von Schlickensteiner himself!
Visions of her apprehending the nefarious Pirate and in turn being rewarded by the police and praised by society, swam in her head. Imagine! No one would see her fit to simply marry then! She would be a heroine then, she would have depth and then she could do whatever she pleased.
With her mind made up, Emerald set about making preparations. The BrainBasher would leave the docks at midnight and Aunt Irmingard would be fast asleep by half past ten, as was her wont, which gave Emerald a twenty minute wait. Once that time passed, she would slip from the house and hire a hackney to take her to the docks. However, a disguise would be both prudent and necessary, being as the waterfront at night was a particularly dangerous setting.
She rummaged about in the depths of her closet until she came across a large, tin trunk that she had used for play, upon times gone past. Inside the dusty chest was a tangle of ancient garments and fashions. Kneeling upon the floor, Emerald delved through the ratty and moth-eaten fabrics in search of something appropriate. There was no men's attire to be found, save for an extraordinarily large, black gentleman's overcoat. Emerald tossed the coat aside and continued searching.
At last she was done. While she would have preferred to leave the house under the guise of a man, there was nothing she could do save for hope for the best. The dress she chose was tattered affair of rough brown cloth. The neckline was square and edged with a band of black, as were the wide wrists, the waist and the hem. Black pockets were sewn in the front of the dress, halfway down the thighs. There were patches covering the elbows, one upon the bodice and two upon the skirts. The skirt of the dress was narrow and once she wore the long overcoat, no one would be able to tell that she was wearing. It was an odd dress and Emerald had no idea who could have ever worn it but she liked it all the same. As a child, this brown dress had been one of her favorite dress-up garments.
Satisfied, she stripped off her nightgown and changed into the shabby dress. She secured her long locks atop her head with a handful of metal pins and then covered it with a black handkerchief that she tied at the back of her neck. Putting the fire out, she waited until the coals were cool before rubbing her face and hands with soot so as to mask her features and give her the appearance of an impoverished vagrant. Finally, she slid into the massive overcoat. The sleeves drooped over her hands, inches too long and the hem splayed about her calves but it would have to do.
Her last action was to fill her pockets because, according to Miss Happenstance from her mystery novels, 'One must always be equipped...in both mentality and tangible goods.' Emerald stuffed into her coat a bit of money, a pocketknife that had once belonged to her father, her latest Miss Happenstance novel, her diary and a couple of other odds and ends. Now she was fully prepared to confront London's docks at night.
She waited until it was eleven o'clock, just to be on the side of safety, before surreptitiously slipping from the silent house. The moon had long since been hidden under misting clouds and so the night was now dark. Emerald skulked away, unseen and unheard.
Jared Cortland Argyle Westmoreland, the Duke of Rathemore raised his French-cut glass goblet to the light and studied the amber liquid of his Portuguese port. The rich fluid seemed to shift and swirl in the dim candlelight, holding infinite secrets and hidden intrigues. In this manner, the liquor reflected his own shaded personality. From every person in his life, he hid something different. There was no one he knew to whom he revealed all his faces and wore no façade. Sometimes, if he was truly honest to himself, it was a bit tiring but the time for change had long since past.
Trusting and allowing intimacies had given way to betrayal. That had been a lesson he had learned at an early age and it was one that he would not ever repeat. The way his life had unfolded so far had not been favorable and as thus, he had decided long ago to make his destiny. Life was both unforgiving and cruel and the weak would never survive. Jared was anything but weak.
He sipped at his port and thought about his upcoming journey. Her Majesty's navel fleet was currently en route from India, bearing hoards of goods and riches and it was his plan to intercept the ships near the Madeira Islands. The scheme was a bold one but Jared was certain that he could make good of it. To be precise, the fleet would hardly expect the BrainBasher to make headway so far south. If nothing else, the element of surprise was upon his side and that was enough for him to work with.
Setting down his glass, the Duke turned back to the plethora of maps and diagrams he'd stolen from the Earl of Leeds. All the documents outlined the exact courses, dates and itinerary that the flotilla would follow. It was crucial information and because of Leeds' arrogance, he'd been able to obtain the papers with an extraordinary amount of ease. In any case, Leeds was a fool and he deserved whatever befell him.
His thoughts then drifted from the Earl to the gala he'd hosted. Jared abhorred social gatherings of all sorts, especially ones that involved match-making Mamas and their gabbing, leeching daughters. Tonight however, had been different. He thought about the sassy, young wench he'd stumbled across within the maze and found the beginnings of a wry grin pulling at his lips. What an impertinent chit she'd been. Upon most occasions, he instilled fear and awe into the hearts of innocent maids but the girl in the maze had been everything but frightened. Her annoyance and candor was refreshing. He would have liked to learn her name but Barthory's whistle had sounded and he'd been forced to make haste. While he was sure the girl truly hadn't heard him speaking with Barthory, he would have liked to know her origins should anything suspicious occur.
Further contemplation was severed at a sharp knock upon the door of his study.
Fielding, his quick-witted though elderly butler, entered and bowed. "Begging your pardon Your Grace but Striker has just appeared with a spoken missive. Trouble at the docks, said he."
Jared bounded to his feet and cursed. "Seal forth all my papers and prepare my belongs while I make ready. I shall leave immediately."
"As Your Grace wishes." Fielding set about to comply.
Steely eyes narrowed as Jared stalked from the room. At that instant he looked very dangerous and every bit as his reputation dictated. The wind outside shrieked and he knew that the night would not be the only one screaming.