Thursday, December 6, 2012

Test of Freedom - Episode 14

Episode 14 - "Lady Ashton's Admission"
by Camille LaGuire

The wind still wasn't favorable, but after some choppy weather, it had improved.  Trent entertained everyone by flirting with the women.  And he was teaching Hingle to flirt as well, not that Hingle needed encouragement.

It seemed to catch with the crew, too.  There had been some discussion, at first, about the bad luck of having women on board.  However, since Trent had carried women before, and since he was known for his good luck, the sailors apparently decided that the good luck of Trent cancelled out the bad luck of women.

And the luck of the Whore of Freedom had to be worth more than that.  After all, it was clear that she was a witch who could lull the winds with song.

As the voyage drew out, Trent kept spirits up by having contests among the men at their drills, which became contests to entertain the ladies.  At one point, when Mary went out to pace the deck, she heard them singing above her in the rigging.  It was a familiar tune, a marching song which had held many bawdy lyrics, but none so popular since the late war as those about Mary.

Fortunately, the men were terrible singers, and worse at remembering the words.  You couldn't really make out what they were singing, at least not until they got to the last line of the chorus, which they all sang clearly and in unison, "...and he called her the Whore of Freeeeee-dom!"

Mary looked at Lady Ashton.  "Do you think they're trying to make me feel better?"

"I believe so."

They laughed and waved up at the men, who saluted back.  Mary couldn't help feel a bit hollow inside, though, because it all brought her back to thoughts about Jackie, no matter what.

They finished their rounds of the deck, nodding to the men, who had picked up on Hingle's courtier lessons, and now all tended to make leg, or at least bow, when they went by.  That was quite entertaining, to watch them try to do it without interrupting their duties.

And Mary knew it wasn't them and their songs and jokes that forced her thoughts back to Jackie.  She was doing that on her own.  She had been over it all, and was making herself numb.  She needed to talk about something else.  Anything else.

"How is your son?" she said, suddenly turning to Lady Ashton.  "You haven't mentioned him."

Lady Ashton looked away.  "He doesn't speak to me."

"I'm sorry," said Mary.  She'd never met young Lord Ashton.  Lady Ashton had left him behind when she came to Torquon at her husband's insistence.  She hadn't said much about him.  Even so, Mary did think there was a feeling of warmth in those few words.  No sign of alienation.

"I told him," said Lady Ashton in a whispered rush of words, watching Mary's face for a reaction.  Mary needed no explanation as to what Lady Ashton had told her son.  There was only one subject which could leave such a look of despair on the woman's face -- the death of Lord Ashton.

"Oh," said Mary.  "How horrible for both of you."

Lady Ashton seemed to deflate.  She glanced around and lowered her voice.

"I had to, Mary.  I had to," she said, in a hushed and hoarse voice.  "I know it was unwise."

"I can't be one to judge the wisdom of others," said Mary.

"I couldn't let him grow up deceived.  I can't lie to him, and I want him to know that I wouldn't even in such horrible circumstances."

Mary glanced about and took Lady Ashton's arm.

"Come," she said. "Let's go inside where we can speak."

Available after 8am EST, on Monday

The Test of Freedom ebook available at major retailers 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.

Support this site directly via Paypal

No comments: