Monday, November 12, 2012

Test of Freedom - Episode 7

Episode 7 - "Captain Trent"
by Camille LaGuire

IT WAS RUMORED that Cap'n Trent had been a pirate in his early days.  All anyone knew for sure was that he was a drawling, overdressed adventurer who had stepped into a leading role in the revolution.

During that war he'd been the hero of the southern plains, where he had formed a guerrilla army of bandits who kept the king's armies running in circles, and provisioned the rest of the revolutionary army from they loot gained in raiding.

But now he had gone back to the sea, as a trader, and he was available, which was a blessing.  There were others they could have called upon, but Mary knew Trent.  She was certain she could gain his help, and she would, even if she had to throw herself at his feet.

What was difficult was getting her companions to hurry up.  She finally abandoned them and struck out for The Battle inn herself, but she was only a block from the hotel, when she was overtaken by the trap Mr. Sherman had finally succeeded in hiring.  No one said a word of rebuke when Mary climbed in to settle next to Lady Ashton.  They understood her impatience, even if it did make Mary feel a bit ashamed of herself.

The Battle turned out to be a rather fine inn for dockside, but what else would you expect from Trent?  Sherman paused to inquire about him, and just as the innkeeper said the captain was out.... in swept the captain himself.

Trent paused just inside the door, pulling off his gauntlets and calling out for the innkeeper.  His fair hair was loose and long, and capped by his well-known fancy and feathered sea captain's bonnet.  He glanced around and saw Sherman.  He flung back his billowing green cape, and strode forward to shake the man's hand.

"Mr. Sherman," he said.

"Hello, Captain.  May I present Lady Ashton?"

Trent swept off his hat and took her hand with a pleased and surprised smile.  He was a charming man, and Mary was glad it hadn't been him she'd fallen for when she'd broken loose of all bonds of decency.  But then Trent hadn't made an attempt to charm her until after she'd been on her own.  Perhaps he was a bit less of a rogue than he pretended.  He still dressed in patriotic green, though the war was over, and he claimed to be a businessman.

"My lady," said Trent to Lady Ashton, and he made leg formally, prompting Lady Ashton to curtsey.  Like a pair of high aristocrats at a formal event.

The formalities were over, however, when he saw Mary.

"Mrs. Alwyn," he said, stepping up quickly and touching her face before taking her hand.  "You look unhappy."

"They've arrested Jackie for treason, down in the Peninsula," she said quickly, to dash any hopes he might have that she'd left Jackie again.  "They've sent him to Sabatine."

"What was the fool doing down in the Peninsula?"

"He was helping a friend."

"That man's an ass, to leave you and go make trouble where he had no business being!"

"He didn't go to make trouble," said Mary.

Lady Ashton came forward and took Mary's arm in support.

"They charged him from the Freedom Papers he'd written before the war," she explained.

Trent looked at her, and then back at Mary.

"And you want to go to Sabatine after him?"

"Yes," said Mary.

"I'd say that's unrealistic of most women, but...."  He sighed and tilted his head.  "What will you do when you get there?"

"We intend to buy him, Captain," said Lady Ashton.

"Oh, Jackie the Freedom will like that!" he said with more than a little sarcasm.  Lady Ashton's eyes narrowed.

"I'm sure it will be an improvement over his current situation."

"Of course."  He paused and looked seriously from one woman to the other.  "But you know you can't free him.  He's under sentence.  He can't be freed until the sentence is up, and he can't be brought back to the continent during that time.  Depending on the contract, he may never be able to return."

"Could you smuggle him back?" asked Mary.

"Perhaps.  But if we're caught, they can take him right back, or if they like, they can just hang him then and there."

Mary shuddered and closed her eyes.  "Then we can live in the islands."

"Yes," said Lady Ashton.  "We have many options.  My brother is at this moment on his way to talk to the queen.  My family has good relations with her.  I think we have a chance at an exhoneration, or at least a pardon.  Then he could come home, couldn't he?"

"Yes, that should do the trick."  But he seemed doubtful still.

"And if political pressures make that impossible, my brother has a very fine lemon plantation on one of the smaller islands."

"Exhile, then," said Trent.  He looked at Mary, and Mary pushed away the thoughts he was forcing into her head.

"I want him back," she said.  "We can worry about the rest when he's safe."

Trent nodded.

"Dine with me," he said.  "We'll discuss the particulars."

The Test of Freedom should be available as an ebook in December 2012. It will be slightly rewritten from the version you see here.

The first book in this series, The Wife of Freedom is at most ebook retailers.
Amazon Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Deisel, Kobo, and Smashwords

Also, Amazon International: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

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