opened the stable door quietly, unfamiliar with the dwelling.
He didn’t know if the hinges creaked on the large barn door
or not. Slipping in he stood in the dimness and listened
for anything that would give him a clue to let him know Ray
was there. His ears perked when he heard a sound that
sounded like a plink. Then he heard the same noise repeatedly.
Taking care, he moved slowly towards the back of the barn.
The noises were coming from the loft up above. Crouching
in the shadows at the back of the barn, he finally heard her
speak. “I almost have enough to pay for my passage out of
here. I don’t care where I travel to, I just need to disappear.”
The words stopped
and Nick heard a frustrated groan. “I will never be able
to leave here if Edmund doesn’t let me make enough money.
I need to find another job or I could always pilfer a few
pockets. You taught me well Mama, you taught me well.”
Nick’s eyes focused
on the rickety wooden ladder that went up to the loft. He
had heard footsteps; light ones over the boards above him.
They creaked and then he saw petite feet poised on the rungs.
Crouching down so she would not see him, he peeked from behind
a bale of hay. The horses were raising a ruckus do to his
being in the barn. Ray had come down from the loft and now
stood by one of the horses.
“Settle down fella,”
Ray reached up and stroked the bay. “You are the only thing
that I will miss about this place. I’m tired of Edmund’s
threats…” Pausing she pushed the horses mane aside and gave
him a big stroke. “If it weren’t for Jocelyn, I don’t know
what I would do.”
Flipping the mane
back down, she smiled at the horse. “All better.”
Nick watched Ray
twirl her ebony colored mane into a long braid. Twisting
the ponytail, she placed it on top of her head and pulled
her cap back down on it. “I’m off to do something that I
swore I would never do again, but I need just a little more
money to get out of this hell hole. I’ll just pinch a few
pockets and be back here, they won’t even know that I had
left. Just a few pockets. I would like to see how much that
Captain of Jocelyn’s has. The man paid for the entire week
for her. I wonder if his crew is down at the docks.”
Nick watched her,
a smirk graced her face but the words she had just spoken
were about him and his friends. She was nothing more than
a common thief and she had just said that she was going to
Ray set her cap
straight and giggled as she spoke to the horse. “I’m off
to get a few coin down at the wharf, most of that crew will
be drunk by now.”
Nick watched her
give the horse a curtsy and leave. The barn doors were shut
as quietly as he had opened them. Staying in his spot for
just a moment he waited, unsure if she had spoken the truth
or not. After a fair amount time and she didn’t return, Nick
bolted from his hiding spot. “That boy, no woman, no girl,
is going to steal from us.”
in the dark, Nick tried to get his bearings. He didn’t hear
or see a thing. “She must be walking,” he whispered to his
horse as he mounted it. “How will I ever find her in the
dark and down at the wharf?” Nick ducked down low on his
horse as he went into a full gallop to get to the ship. “I’ll
just be there waiting for her,” as he closed his eyes and
rode along. Those purplish-blue eyes of hers stuck in his
Nick began laying
his trap in his head. He would get down to the dock and return
the horse to the stable that Kevin had rented the animal from.
After returning the animal to the stable he would make his
way to their ship. Once he boarded the ship, he would wait
on the Quarterdeck for her. The Quarterdeck provided him
with a clear view of the entire ship and the comings and goings
of the plank. He couldn’t protect the crew if he were down
on the docks, each man would have to be for himself. The
Captain would be so proud of him for doing this great service
of protecting the crew and ship.
the horse, Nick tossed the reins to a stable-boy who he had
awoke upon his arrival. “Take care of it boy.”
Nick ran out the
door and down the alley. Taking a few minutes to catch his
breath, he gulped the sea air. He could taste the salt in
the air. Turning back to the stable, he frowned. “I hate
Looking down the
street there were very few people out this time of night.
Only doxy wenches and thugs. As he turned he caught site
of slight build making its way towards him. “There is no
way she could have gotten here that fast.” Nick once again
stepped back into the shadows of the night.
The small figure
made its way past him and to the same stable-boy that he had
just delivered his own horse too. “Stay here Pete, I’ll be
back for you.” Ray dropped the reins in the hands of the
keeper. Reaching into her leather top, she retrieved a coin
and tossed it to the boy. “Nay say word to anyone, it’s just
for a little bit of time.”
Nick stood glaring
at the girl from the alley. He didn’t need to go to their
vessel, he could follow her and watch over his people at the
Ray could feel
she was being watched and so she decided to give whoever it
was the slip. Getting people not to follow her was a game
she had played as a small child. The game was taught for
fun, she would realize one she aged, the game was taught for
a purpose. Brushing the hair from her eyes and fixing her
hat, she smiled inwardly. Like the flight of a bird, she
was gone down the alley.
Nick stood, amazed
at the girl’s speed as she darted by him and he lost her in
the darkness. “Damn!” Nick walked a few steps down the street
one way and then backtracked from where he had come from.
Reaching into his
pocket, he flipped a coin to see which direction he should
proceed. After all, she would have to come back for her pony.
The idea was a bright one; he would just wait for her to return
for the horse. He didn’t need to tramp around Devon to find
her, he would wait for her to come to him.
Nick sat on the
ground, the stench of the livestock assailing his nostrils
and lungs. All he wanted to do was sleep in a bed that didn’t
sway on the sea. He wanted a soft mattress. The mere thought
of woman to accompany him had crossed his mind but he wasn’t
in the mood to go chasing after one. Chuckling to himself
as he heard the bell tower chime that it was two in the morning.
“The Captain is right, find a good whore and keep her.” Sighing
to himself, he closed his eyes just for a second.
Nick was roused
some time near sunrise by the shouts of angry men. “Where
did that lass go! She took my money! I want her, and I want
to have at her too! Damn whores!”
Nick stood up suddenly. Nick moved quickly enough back to
hiding spot. Dawn hadn’t broke and the darkness still prevailed.
Ray was out of
breath; these two men were much faster than the ones she had
stolen from earlier. The one man was quiet and soft spoken.
It didn’t take Ray long to figure out that the man was one
of the crew from Captain Richardson’s boat. A feeling of
guilt tickled at her just before she lifted a few coins from
the man. “My name is Brian.”
Ray journeyed out
of the tavern and went to the next place that she could think
of. A dock-side game of cards was taking place. It was there
that she had shed her disguise and played at being a strumpet
to lift a few more coins. By her own calculations, Ray almost
had enough currency to pay her way out of England and go back
to France. She just needed a little bit more. Running into
the two men that were now following her, scared her. She
had played the part of trollop, in a manner of speaking.
Being around Jocelyn, she had her heard talk. However, talk
was the only thing she knew. She sucked the air into her
lungs, she felt the stingy pain in her side from running.
Her boots were making noise on the muddied boards but she
couldn’t hear it because the only thing she could hear was
the sound of her heart pounding in her ears.
hand covered her mouth and dragged her backwards into a portico
off the alley.
Ray kicked and
punched at the person. Her body was slammed against the building
as she heard the shouts of the two thugs that she had just
stolen from. Ray only stopped fighting when she recognized
the tuft of hair that was sticking out from under the wool
cap her attacker was wearing. If she had to be chased, she
would prefer her captor over the two men that were seeking
A large, looming
man yelled down the alleyway. The shadow that he cast was
enormous. “Aye boy, you see a bit of fluff come down there?”
Nick nodded knowing
the man could see but not clearly. As he nodded he yanked
Ray’s hat back down on her head. “Aye I did, she went that
way. Whatcha’ needin’ her for?”
“The little chit
didn’t deliver, I paid her well and she took my money.” The
man peered down the alley. “Whatcha’ got back there boy?”
“Just my brother…
Mind your own…” Nick yell back was interrupted as another
man joined the man. It was painfully obvious to him that
Ray was scared but a little upset with him for scaring him.
A elfin foot shod in an old boot had just been slammed into
his calf. Stopping his body from tumbling over he listened
to the men talk.
“Let’s go Claude,
we can find her. When we do, we’ll both have a go at her.
We can take turns.”
Nick heard Ray’s
sharp inhale and covered her mouth. “Quiet,” he whispered
as he watched the men tramp away. Never taking his hand off
her mouth, he pushed her towards the stable. “You are mad.
Why are you down here stealing?”
Ray shrugged as
she approached her pony. “You had better get to your ship
before your Captain returns and discovers your not there.”
Nick pulled the
reins from the young boy that was holding Ray’s tethered horse.
Grabbing a coin from his own pocket then he flipped it towards
the boy. “Say nothing to no one.”
Nick mounted his
horse and pulled Ray’s pony out into the shadows. They rode
a fast and steady pace back to the tavern without speaking
to each other. Nick watched Ray turn the horse out to a paddock.
She had rode bareback and only a bridle. Such a display from
a woman was unheard of. Nick wondered what her parents had
thought. The earlier comments of that her mother had taught
her well, haunted him.
“Ray, you shouldn’t
steal,” Nick followed her into the barn. Ray went up the
ladder to the loft.
“I do what I have
to do to stay alive. I want to go back to France. I don’t
belong here.” Ray settled in a bed of straw. “That sounds
very odd coming from a privateer’s cook.”
was standing at the ladder and then froze when he heard the
the shout came from just outside the barn door as it was flung
Nick gulped, great,
just what he needed. Kevin should be lying between Jocelyn’s
legs, not down here checking on him.
“What are you doing
here? I thought I told you to go to the ship.” Kevin stood,
his hair mused, his breeches hanging at the hips; he had pulled
his boots on but not his shirt.
Nick grinned, that
was hours ago he thought. “I did Kevin and then I came back
for breakfast. I really like the food here. They have a magnificent
Kevin shook his
head in disgust, he had heard noises that had to be investigated.
“You might do well to get with Edmund’s cook. You might learn
something. I have never tasted finer mutton.”
“I bet I can,”
Nick frowned as he heard Ray move around up above him, he
needed to get Kevin out of the barn. “Well, I guess I need
to tend to my horse. It’s not good to let him stand in his
formed crossly, Nick was up to mischief. The what would come
later; right after he could find Jocelyn who now would be
done with her ladie’s bath. Kevin couldn’t seem to get enough
of the woman that he had bedded over and over again most of
the night. To be rudely awaken at daybreak by his charge
was most annoying.
Nick tended to
his horse as he watched Kevin stomp back into the backdoor
of the inn. “That was very close,” Nick whispered as he placed
his forehead on the horse. He was so tired from lack of sleep.