Thursday, January 31, 2013

Test of Freedom - Episode 30

Episode 30 - "Perfectly Capable of Firing"
by Camille LaGuire

"Put that down, young lady," said Clement, as he faced the pistol in Mary's hand.  "I know you won't fire it."

"Oh, won't I?"

Penelope stared, frozen.  The pistol brought back a horrible flash of memory.  She thought for a moment it might the same pistol.  Mary had taken it from her after ... after she shot Roland.  She could see the blood, smell the smoke, and for a moment she felt nauseated.  But no, it couldn't be.  Not after all this time and distance.  Penelope pulled herself together.

"Please, Mary," she said hoarsely and carefully.  "Put it down."

"No, I can't do that," said Mary, and she stepped around the table, to point the gun more clearly at Clement's chest.  Penelope blinked away the memory of the wound in Roland's chest.  Mary spoke again, with a lightness in her voice that sounded mad.  "Look, Mr. Clement, see how my hand is trembling.  The pistol is likely to go off by accident if I get any more upset."

Clement leaned back, definitely nervous.  It was too late to change tactics now.  Penelope braced herself.

"You'd best do as she says, Mr. Clement," said Penelope.  "Mary was in the Acton war, and she's perfectly capable of firing.  And she's very upset about losing Jack."

"It won't help him if you shoot me, ma'am," said Clement.

"And you say there's no help for him if I don't," said Mary.  "So I'll shoot you, and then there will be time to reload to shoot myself."

He stared at her, now truly fearful.  Mary shook the gun--just a small shiver.

"Oh, look, I'm trembling again.  You'd best watch out for an accident, Mr. Clement."

"All right.  All right.  What do you want?"

Mary stepped back and lowered the gun to point at his legs, and gestured with her head to address Penelope.  Penelope sat forward.

"Do you have paper and a pen?  A bill of sale.  I have two hundred crowns with me, will that be sufficient?"

"It won't be legal...," said Clement, pulling some paper across the table and dipping his pen.

"Please don't say that, Mr. Clement," said Penelope.  "We want to be as legal as possible, so as not to upset Mary."

"Yes, of course.  Two hundred."

"And we'll need his court contract, too."

He looked up at her, and looked suddenly unwilling, but he glanced at Mary.

"That isn't here," he said.

"Isn't it?  Well, we'll retrieve it," said Penelope, keeping her voice sweet and calming, which she realized made Clement at least as nervous as Mary's weapon, since it implied that Mary needed calming.

" isn't here.  I keep those with my solicitor."

"Doesn't matter," said Mary.  "Keep writing."

"But...," said Penelope.

"Keep writing!"

Clement finished the bill of sale, and gave it to Penelope.  Then Mary raised the gun to Clement's chest.

"He's lying about the court contract.  It's here.  We can search the place after I shoot him."

"Oh, please, Mary, wait."  Penelope looked around.  She saw only one place for the storage of paper in the room.  "It's probably in that cabinet.  Is it, Mr. Clement?"

Clement looked at the pistol for a long moment, and then sat back.

"Yes," he said.

"Thank you," said Penelope, and she went to the cabinet.  There were quite a lot of papers, but luckily they were either alphabetical, or the recent purchases first. Alwyn was near the top.  "If you'll just sign the transfer, please."

"All right, then," said Mary, when he had signed the papers.  "Is that a closet, my lady?  Take a peek to see if he keeps weapons or anything in it."

"It appears to be full of linen."

"It'll do," said Mary, then she turned to Clement.  "Go, get into the closet, and I won't have to shoot you."

Clement did as he was told, but Penelope could see that his fear was giving way to confusion and anger.  Mary picked up a silver-handled cane as she followed him to the closet.  Once he was inside, she jammed the cane up under the doorknob.

Then she put the pistol back into the bag, and they hurried outside.

"We're not done yet," said Mary.

Available after 8am EST, on Mon

The first book in this series, The Wife of Freedom is at most ebook retailers.
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