Part 232

Part the Two Hundred Thirty Second: The Highwayman’s Tale

“Highwaymen,” said Hope with a nod as she listened to Alfred Mason relay his tale.

“And your stand, madam?” he asked.

“Surprised, really.  I’d given little thought to a man in that profession making his way to the New World, but having been proven wrong about so much in my life, I shouldn’t be.”

“Where’d you ply your trade?” Jukes asked Mason.

“The roads between York and Leeds,” he replied.  “I’d been quite successful at it for some time, and amassed quite a fortune easily.  And properly too, I may add.”

“Proper highway robbery?” Hope asked.

“Robbery and naught but.  I never had to take a life.  A quick display of my skill and I would get everything aboard the coach with no protest.”

“Does ces grand moyens mean much, sir?” asked de Flanders.

“They did to the magistrate I was brought before, when I was finally caught.  The fact that I never killed convinced him to have me indentured to Virginia.”

“Very lucky, you finding a merciful judge,” said Jack.  “They hang for robbing as easily as for murder in the north.”

“Though when I left for the New World,” Mason continued, “I felt my luck fled.  The passage damn near killed me, and took three men and a woman as we came over.  The plantation in Virginia was where they break you as soon as they own your letter.  No man should ever have to go through a hell like that.”

“I see,” said Osei, sternly staring at him.

Mason took two seconds to receive the stare, gave a nod and continued, “So two months into my sentence, I ran.  As soon as I got a proper sense of where everything was, I slipped out quietly on a moonless night.”

“Back on the road, I gather,” Hope noted

“What roads there were over here, madam.  I made my way to Point Comfort, and waited there for another ship, any vessel desperate enough for another hand.”

“And when you found one?”

“Well, when it comes to my seamanship, I make a fine highwayman.  Given a choice, I’d rather a horse under me than a ship.  And when we got to New Providence, the shop’s master agreed that that would be best, and so I was left there.”

“And you got to Bull Bay how?” asked Charity.

“I never was much for town life, and there’s not much room for roads on Eleuthera, so when a sloop needed another hand desperately for Port Royal, I went out once again.”

“Where I presume you found no roads to practice your craft either,” said Hope.

“Sadly, no.  And if this de Colera has as much treasure to spare as your company states, my share will go towards setting me up with a life in port.”

“As what would you do with your share?”

“I’d be a Lombard.  I have a good eye as to what was the most valuable when I’d pick through the coaches, and I learned quite a bit about the trade from those I’d known and traded with back home.  Some ports in the New World even let you be open about it.”

“Provided your aim is as good as you claim,” said de Flanders.

“And are you up to this challenge, then?”

Oui, il est,” said de Barrer…

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All content Copyright © 2010 James Ryan

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