Episode 25 - "Talk of Esape"
by Camille LaGuire
But now the prisoners were all talking about the bandits in Acton. Those from the peninsula added to the stories. Most of them had been loyalists or fence-sitters during the war, but they knew as much about Cap'n Trent's horse pirates as anyone. Sweeping across the plains, and striking terror into the king's armies.
"But they had horses!" protested Cooper.
"That's true," said Jack.
"That's true too."
The fellow who had been telling the story looked at both of them in annoyance.
"They didn't start out with horses and weapons," he said. "They stole 'em."
Jack shook his head. "No they had more than we do even to start with. Cooper's right. We've got to build ourselves a foundation first."
"There's no point in any of it," said Cooper. "Because no matter what, there is no place to go. We're trapped here, and the more of us get free, the more they'll hunt us down."
There was a bit of silence. Jack considered for a moment, and then looked at Cooper.
"You know, Cooper, if I told you I was going to jump to the top of the pavillion here, right from the ground, you'd say I was a fool. With these chains on, I couldn't jump a foot in the air."
"But if I studied it up first, and worked out a way to climb up, getting a boost from Tom and Steve, and climbing up that pole there. I could make it. A little at a time."
"In a perfect world you might," said Cooper, "but Rocken would pull you down and whip your hide off for acting crazy. So you'd never make it no matter how well you planned it."
"There's a way around everything, if you take it slow. I could propose to fix the leak in the roof. Or do it at night, if I had help from you watching the guard."
"I hope then that you take it slow enough that I'm not around anymore when you do it."
"That could well be how slow it takes. It could be Tim here who leads a bunch of young fellows out of here. The thing is, nobody's ever going to have it any better if we don't start getting ready."
"And how do you propose to get ready?"
"Well, we start with thinking about the problems and breaking them down to the things we can do now. And we figure out what is possible. I think we could survive in the jungle as a group of bandits, and make them feed us. And we could help others from that position."
"I told you, they'd hunt us down."
"Then that's the first problem we think about."
The next day, Tom and Steve sat down on either side of Jackie at the morning meal. Old Steve--who wasn't really old at all, just older than a fellow they had called Young Steve, before he died of a fever--leaned in close.
"Did you get a chisel?"
"I told you, a chisel is difficult," said Jack. "They count them. We shouldn't even try until we're ready to go."
"Well, we're ready to go." Steve pointed to himself and Tom.
"Just the two of you?"
"And you, if you want."
Jackie shook his head. "We need to get everyone out."
"We can't," said Tom. "It's like Cooper says, it's too difficult."
Jackie considered for a moment. "I suppose you're right. A few at a time will be easier."
"Then you'll come with us?"
"No, but I'll help you. It'll be easier getting the rest of us out if we have help on the outside."
The two of them exchanged looks. Jackie sighed.
"It might be difficult, but you've got to promise me you'll try to be of some use to the rest of us."
"I will if I can," said Tom. Old Steve nodded in agreement.
"I'm making a saw," said Jackie. "I've got it hidden while I work on it. But I'll move it to the woodpile when it's done, and Steve can get it when he does his rounds."
"What we need are some blades," said Steve. "Those bandits up there, they respect someone with a weapon. They aren't too merciful with someone helpless."
Jack paused for a very long time, and then nodded his head. There was sense in that.
"I'll see what I can do."
The fact that Tom and Steve would be the first to escape gave Jack doubts. They were not the wisest of men, but they had enough courage, and perhaps that's what was called for. And it was their choice to take the risk. He didn't know if anyone wiser ever would.
Stay Tuned For Episode 26 - "The Other Slave Market"
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