and Samuel have already ventured across the sea to Egypt, finding a more trouble
than they bargained for. In this scene Samuel has bartered for their freedom,
using Alec as one of the assets, and has arranged his marriage in trade for
comes the Bride
No sooner had the group of villagers
stopped cheering than three camels appeared, laden with supplies. Their rifles
were mounted, and the trunk, which had been delivered to the tent, was
retrieved and loaded onto the back of the largest beast.
Alec watched, somewhat surprised at all
the commotion. It was almost as if they were afraid he’d change his mind, and
they couldn’t act quickly enough to get them to leave. Not only was that
strange, but the whisperings he’d overheard definitely put him on edge.
Infuriated, Alec glared over at Samuel.
“What happened with paying tribute?”
“With what, our good looks? Well,” he
amended, “your good looks.”
Alec narrowed his eyes. “You actually
find this amusing, don’t you?”
“C’mon, you know the captain took nearly
half of what I had, and the guide took the rest, along with the water he stole.
What was I to do, offer them a note?”
“Yes, damn it!”
“Do you really think any of these people
would be familiar with an English bank note?” Samuel’s gaze raked the crowd.
“Look around, they’re practically living in the Stone Age. I don’t believe
these people are aware of anything other than sheep, sand, and swords.”
The only thing Alec could see was the
elderly man who’d come for “the man of tongues” earlier, beckoning him. “What
now?” he groaned, looking briefly over at Samuel. Man of tongues, indeed, he’d
like to cut the damn thing out!
“I believe he wants you to stand over
there for the ceremony.”
Alec seriously doubted a walk to the
guillotine could be worse. He had to fight a strong impulse to run the other
way as he crossed the short distance and stood before the old man. Samuel
followed closely behind and stood at his shoulder.
The elder of the tribe opened his arms to
the heavens and spoke several phrases that Samuel translated.
“He’s asking Allah to bless your union.”
Alec barely heard him through the rushing
of blood in his ears as he too offered a silent prayer up to the heavens, but
apparently God wasn’t listening, for everyone remained as they were, and the
earth did not open up and swallow anyone, least of all him.
A disturbance at the other end of the
crowd, however, did catch his attention. A wide path was cleared for a figure
covered from head to toe in black. The men especially shrunk back, giving the ominous
apparition a wide berth.
Was this some kind of ceremonial dress?Alec wondered as she approached. The
other women had brightly covered skirts and scarves. The whispering again came
to mind. Perhaps she had some kind of ailment . . . leprosy?
“Ah. . . . Here comes the
bride.” Samuel spoke cheerfully at his side.
Alec fixed him with a cold stare and
mouthed, “I’m going to kill you!”
“You’re the one who wanted to be king, remember?”
“What the hell does that have to do with
“Well, they certainly weren’t going to
marry her to your servant.” Samuel innocently pointed to himself.
Alec rolled his eyes with a groan. He’d
known when he said it, that it would come back to haunt him, but not quite like
this. “I’m still going to kill you,” he hissed through clenched teeth. He
received a glare from the elder, who put his hand up for silence, as the woman
came to stand before him.
Alec could actually feel her next to him;
his skin crawled with the awareness of her. His hands went unconsciously to his
side, feeling for pistols that were no longer there. With booted feet rooted
into the ground, he looked more like he was prepared for a gun battle. He’d
certainly prefer one to this.
Far removed from any wedding ceremony
he’d ever imagined, this one matched his mood. The atmosphere was somber,
reminding him more of a funeral than anything else, especially with the bride
completely swathed in layers of black.
The elder produced a scarf, which he
looped over each of their wrists. Alec was just grateful he didn’t actually
have to touch her and risk contamination. A few words were spoken, and the
scarf was removed. It was fairly painless, considering he’d just been shackled.
The crowd remained strangely silent,
almost afraid, as if they were waiting for the heavens to roll back and for God
to smite them. And now that he considered it . . . why not? It’s
not every day you marry off the Plague of
Egypt. No wonder they were waiting for lightning to strike.
It was no longer difficult for him to
sort out the words that Samuel had elected not to translate. Alec threw another
disgusted look at the man. Marrying him off to no less than the Plague of Egypt had to top just about
everything else he’d ever done to him. Despite the provocations, this little
stunt went beyond the pale.
“There you are,” Samuel pronounced as a
woman bearing a plate laden with an assortment of meats and fruits came towards
them. “Your wedding feast has arrived.”
“You mean last supper?” Alec’s voice was
flat as he waved it away. “You actually think I could eat after this?”
Samuel shrugged his shoulders as he
grabbed a handful of dates before she turned away. They both watched as the bride went to stand before an old woman.
They spoke quietly, then embraced.
“Look on the bright side.” Samuel popped
a few dates into his mouth. “If that old crone is her mother, she might be as
old as the hills herself.”
“And exactly how is that the bright
“Well, you won’t have to run very hard to
get away from her,” Samuel mumbled around a mouth full.
Alec fixed him with an icy stare.
“I’ll just go see what’s taking so long.”
Left alone, the prickling sensation of
being watched intensified as Alec scanned the crowd. It didn’t take long to
find the source. The leader of the blackbirds was standing back from the crowd,
and though there was no discernible reason for it, his rage was palpable, his
face a mask of barely concealed malevolence.
It was curious that the man would be
acting this way over a plague. The untimely arrival of an English king had definitely not been to the man’s liking. Alec
found himself wondering if he’d disrupted a love match and would have to
surrender his bride. . . . He could only hope so.
The only problem with that solution was
that, with the way his luck had run lately, they’d have to kill him in order to
free her from their nuptials. “Bloody hell!” Alec swore, expecting a challenge
to ensue any moment. Great, just great!
His jaw tightened with impatience as he waited.
“Time to go,” Samuel called.
“Finally,” Alec sighed with relief as he
turned away. He climbed on top of the kneeling camel as Samuel tossed him a
sack containing his weapons.
“Like taking a pebble from a
beach. . . .”
“If you never said that again, it would
be a good thing,” Alec warned through clenched teeth as he placed his guns in his
belt and then searched the sack for more. “Where’s the ammunition?”
“Ah, I believe it has been loaded onto
the camel with your bride. Something to do with keeping the peace, I believe.”
Alec snorted in response.
As they left, the tribe started jubilantly
cheering once again. The trilling of the women blended with the whooping and
hollering of the men. Alec made it a point to keep an eye on the leader of the
blackbirds, especially when shots were fired into the air. The man fixed him
with a black stare before he turned and stalked away.
It was a warning . . . or
worse. The look had definitely held a promise of dire consequences, though what
they might be he could only imagine. The only thing Alec knew for sure was that
he’d had enough of these people.
Alec prodded his camel forward, glancing
at the tent he’d been forced to stay in all morning. He could almost laugh at
the irony. He, the “king,” had been left to swelter in the heat, while Samuel,
his “servant”, had been received with the aplomb of a visiting dignitary. Not
that he could have known at the time, baking as he’d been in the canvas oven
with five guards to ensure he stayed there.
He felt some vindication that the damn
thing had been leveled. The tent now looked as though it had been run over by a
herd of elephants. It wasn’t nearly enough compensation for the indignity of
having been held captive within it, or the debacle of what had transpired
afterward, all of which he blamed one person for . . . Samuel.
Alec watched as the idiot waved goodbye
to the cheers of the tribe who’d followed them out of the camp. Escorted them,was more like it.
. . . And later, when his
new married status hits home, Alec decides to clarify a few things.
Well, actually. . . .
Alec’s eyes narrowed on his friend’s back as he rode before him. The turncoat had
sold him into slavery, just of a different kind. Especially when one
considered that the whole reason for coming to this god-forsaken country was to
avoid getting married.
Alec made a promise to himself right then
and there. If he should ever get out of this predicament, he would return to
England, assume his responsibilities, and never again listen to that
ill-begotten. . . . Seeking an adequate description, he glanced
at the figure ahead of him swaying precariously on his mount. The traitorous bastard could barely stay
seated on the camel he rode.
Alec sure as hell was never letting him handle it ever again. He glanced back
again at his current “wife,” The Plague, and shuddered. She reminded
him of a crow with her black garments flapping in the breeze. Hell, all the
responsibilities he’d avoided thus far in his life were preferable to this.
Strains of a little ditty that Samuel was
entertaining himself with drifted back on the wind. There was nothing Alec
would like to do more than strangle the man right now. The fool had even let
his hat fall back from his head, exposing his face and reddish-blonde hair to
the bright sunlight.
The idiot would have sunstroke before
long, and Alec wasn’t even a bit inclined to save him from it. A small part of
him actually wished it on him. Hell!
He was only amazed it hadn’t happened yet. It would have been among the
highlights of this journey.
What a fool he’d been.He should have sold the piece of scrap
to the old man at the card table for five quid, instead of traipsing out into
the middle of the desert to avoid his fate.
He felt like a puppet being toyed with.
First the pressure to marry, and now the burden of finding a way out of that
state. Alec could just imagine the look on his mother’s face if he were to
introduce The Plague to her as his
wife. The thought actually lightened his mood, until he turned around again.
“Oh, God,” he groaned. He certainly had a
better understanding of the saying: When
choosing your demons, the known is better than the unknown.
Alec blew out an exasperated breath as he
faced the front again. The only thing left to him, it seemed, was to find out
exactly what Samuel knew about the predicament he’d placed Alec in. If nothing
else, he wanted to get a few things clarified.
He urged his mount forward, easily
catching up with the drunken idiot. “Did you know they called her The Plague of Egypt?” he whispered
“Ho-ho, I’m impressed.” Samuel nodded.
“Your understanding of their language is much improved since we started.”
“You’re not denying it,” Alec accused.
“Come now, Alec, you really believe
that?” Samuel looked at him with all the surprise his reddened eyes could
muster. He was teetering on the back of the camel, the effects of the strong
drink still apparent.
Watching him, Alec wondered for a moment
if he would lose his seat, then a thought occurred to him. “This is because of
the dancing girl in Amsterdam, isn’t it?” he charged.
“What?” Disbelief registered on Samuel’s
face. “Really, Alec, I’m appalled you’d even think so. I happen to like bearded
“You married me off to The Plague of Egypt to get even. Admit
“No.” It was a statement, not a denial,
more like a denial to admit denial.
Alec’s eyes narrowed as he considered
“Besides, I told you not to think of it
as a marriage.” Samuel waved his hand in the air as if mimicking nothing, a
paltry nothingness at that. “For God’s sake, man, it’s merely an act of
transport. Once in England, you can simply annul it, if that is even
necessary.” He paused, as if contemplating the merit of this new idea, and then
continued. “I’m not sure the heathen practices of this country are even
acknowledged by the laws of our courts. Unless, of course . . .
“Unless what?” Alec said, picking up the
conversation where he’d left it. He was truly exasperated now.
“Just don’t, you know?”
“No, I don’t know.” Alec became increasingly concerned that he did, indeed, know
what his friend was getting at.
“C’mon, man, you know!” Samuel leered at him. “Consummate
it.” He chuckled as he urged his mount forward, putting space between them,
his laughter drifting on the wind.
“Bloody hell!” The expletive was
heartfelt. Alec glanced at the figure completely swathed in black that rode
behind them and cringed. Oh, God! How can
this be happening to me?
Urging his mount forward, he chanced yet
another glance back at the woman riding behind him, his bride. His only recollection of her during the ceremony was
that she was shoulder height, didn’t appear to be too heavy under all that
covering, and that he’d been glad he hadn’t had to touch her and risk catching
. . . And this scene is
where Samuel does some clarifying. LOL!
Alec spent his time walking to the pool
inventing ways to get her to take the damn black covering off her head. When he
realized what his mind was preoccupied with, he was appalled. What was wrong
with him? You’d think he’d never seen a girl before.
He had to stop this nonsense. He busied
himself with filling the pot, still so distracted by thoughts of the woman that
he was surprised when the mound, face down in the grass, spoke up.
“I don’t know if it’s a good idea to
leave her alone with the cooking,” Samuel mumbled weakly.
“Why do you say that?”
“According to the sheik, she burned down
the whole village one day when she was left to tend the cooking fires.” Samuel
rolled over so that he was splayed, face up, across the ground.
“Really?” Alec noted that, since Samuel
had started to confess, it was like a river undammed, other truths just kept
Samuel pulled himself up on an elbow.
“They say she’s like Medusa.”
“Medusa . . . the one with
snakes for hair?”
“That’s the one. . . .
Some say that if you look upon her, rather than turn to stone, the opposite
“The opposite?” Alec’s brows rose.
“Yeah, the opposite,” Samuel whispered
conspiratorially, deciding to spill it all, “a man’s pride will shrivel up.”
“You know . . . Pride.” Samuel glanced at him
“Oh, pride. . . .”
Alec nodded his understanding. “And the sheik just offered up all this
information while he was trying to marry the girl off.”
“Hell no, why do you think I’m so sick?”
Exhausted, Samuel wilted back into the grass.
Alec waited, not answering, and not sure
at all that he could endure any more of Samuel’s conscience clearing.
“I had to ply him with enough alcohol to
loosen his tongue.” Samuel thought to explain after a time. “Clever wasn’t it?”
“Let me get this straight,” Alec fumed.
“You, the guest,” he paused for
effect, “plied the sheik, our questionable
host,” he waited as Samuel nodded in agreement, “with liquor, so that you
could find out that the potential bride was a snake-haired pyromaniac who can
shrivel the male member of any potential mate that looks upon her, so that you
could marry her to . . . me?”
Samuel, who had been nodding slightly,
stopped and tilted his head toward Alec. “No, it wasn’t like that.”
This takes place after Samuel’s plans
have backfired on him and all but one of his disguises has been blown.
Struggling to watch over the wayward spinster, and the woman he loves, Samuel
just keeps digging himself deeper. He has already been through a few costume
changes as this night has progressed-hence the pantaloons. This is about midway
through the book when things have escalated out of his control. Constance has
been abducted from the masquerade ball and Samuel, Alec, and Genevieve have
followed the abductors to the Boars Head . . . the gaming hell
and house of ill-repute where Treasure of Egypt begins.
Constance struggled against the large
man who held her tight.
“I can walk on my own,” she said as he
pushed her into a dark room.
He smiled at her when she turned to
face him. “Don’t think about cryin' out neither,” he warned turned his
attention to a small gas lamp on the table.
The light did little to brighten up the
room and Constance looked around the room with a bed as the main feature and
large mirror which hung from the ceiling above it with a grimace.
“In this place ye just might get the
kind of help ye don’t want, if ye get my drift. Besides,” he nodded to the
door, “I’ll be right outside if ye need me.”
Constance watched as the large buffoon
closed the door leaving her in the dimly lit bedroom. She’d used the tunnels
below this brothel many times to evade unwanted attention, but she’d never been
inside. She looked around calmly as she listened to the lock click into place. Other
than the four poster bed in the room where she highly doubted anyone slept,
there was a large wardrobe on one wall and a gilt-framed dressing screen in the
Peeking behind the screen she found a small
table with a washbasin. Drawn by curiosity to the assortment of artifice
scattered across the surface she stepped closer and picked up a well of rouge
and sniffed it curiously, then studied a glass of brushes and another pot of
Hearing a noise she left the small
dressing area and went across the room where the sound had come from. She
pressed her ear against the wall where the large full-length mirror hung. All
quiet now, she wondered at the noise, but decided the walls were decidedly thin
and who knew what was going on in the next room.
Trying not to dwell on that thought she
turned to study the large armoire next. Lifting the handle, she found it
locked. Having her search come to a close she turned back to the room to wait. With
a sigh, she seated herself on the tiniest corner of the bed and gazed up at a
large mirror, which hung over it on the ceiling.
far so good, she thought, she could now meet the
man behind this and get some answers, and with some luck, her map and necklace
back, too. Just as she was thinking that, the wardrobe popped open and the
footman from the ball spilled out, rolling onto the floor.
“What is the meaning of this?” She
demanded standing up.
“I’m here to rescue you,” Samuel
whispered as he came to his knees.
“Rescue me?” She almost wanted to
scream in frustration as she recognized the
Rogue. “You!” she accused.
“Yes, it’s me,” Samuel said as he stood
the rest of the way up. “Let’s go.” He took her arm.
“No!” She shrugged away from him.
“You’re going to ruin this!”
“Yes, ruin it. . . .
“What’s goin' on in there?” the buffoon
asked from the other side of the door.
“Nothing,” Constance called out before
turning back to Samuel. “Go back to where you came from!” She pointed to the
wardrobe while glaring at him.
Incredulous, Samuel stared at her. “You
wanted this to happen?”
“You’re not too bright are you?” she
returned his stare with equal fervor.
They stood facing one another until the
sound of the key turning in the lock reached them. “Hide!” She pointed to the
Samuel hit the floor and rolled
underneath the bed just as the man opened the door. Constance stood before the
open wardrobe looking rather guilty.
“I might have known ye’d be up te
somethin'.” The buffoon came into the room, leaving another man guarding the
door. “How’d ye get these open?” he asked looking into the wardrobe.
“What do you mean?” Constance asked
instead. “It’s not as if they were locked.”
“I checked them myself.” He turned to
look at her with suspicion.
When he looked like he might search the
room she changed her tactics. “Hairpin?” she suggested.
“Aye, they said ye were a tricky one,”
he said as he relocked the cabinet and turned to face her once again. “Let me
see yer hands.” He took a rope from his pocket.
“This is not necessary.” Constance
“We can do this the easy
way . . . or the hard way,” he warned.
“Fine,” she sighed, holding out her
He still looked doubtful of her motives
as he took a cord and tied her hands together, securing her to the bedpost.
“Now you just wait here, nice like . . . or else next time, I’ll
not be so understandin'.”
Samuel waited until the lock clicked
into place once more before he scooted out from under the bed and stood. “Is
this about the map?” He came closer.
“I’ll not answer your questions.” She
put her chin up. “Just go.”
“I’ve come to help you.”
“Can you not see that you are not helping?” she whispered, lifting her
hands to imply that her new position was because of him.
“It was me. I have the map,” he
confessed, watching as a wave of emotions swept across her features.
“You stole it?” Her question was more
He sighed . . . It
didn’t take a genius to see that she was incensed. “I didn’t say I stole it,”
Samuel evaded the answer. “It just happened to come into my possession.” He
continued becoming deeply concerned by the look of growing outrage on her face.
“You stole it!” She repeated, looking
both hurt and horrified as she stared up at him.
He evaded looking into her eyes by
looking up at the ceiling. “By whatever means it came to me,” he twisted to study
the mirror curiously and then a slow seductive smile spread across his lips,
“is not the point.”
She was not amused or enticed by it and
narrowed her eyes on him instead.
He cleared his throat. “The point is
that there is no reason to be here,” he continued reasonably, reminding himself
that he had some leverage in their conversation since she was tied up and
forced to listen to him.
“You think that’s why I’m here? That
this is over the map?” She shook her head.
“Aren’t you?” Samuel asked.
“The map was only a means of getting
what I really wanted,” Constance said.
“And what is that?” he asked.
“My mother,” she said. “And now because
“But your mother is dead.”
“No,” she said in a whisper, “I
received a note that said that if I wanted information of her whereabouts I
needed to turn the map over to the Rogue.”
“I think you’ve been played,” he said.
“Get out!” she spat. “The only one who
has played me is you.”
“Shh!” He quickly covered her mouth
with his hands while pressing a finger to his own lips. “Damn, but you are the
most unreasonable woman I’ve ever known.”
“And you,” Constance mumbled beneath
his hand, “are a loathsome toad!”
“Aye.” Samuel nodded sadly as he looked
deeply into her eyes as she glared at him. “Help me,” Samuel finally whispered
as he slowly lifted his hand in a carress that left his thumb passing over her
cheek and beneath her lips.
He stared at her lips before looking
deeply into her eyes. “Help me save the woman I love.”
“I—” she stammered, watching as his
head came closer, the longing in his eyes searing her soul. He kissed her lips
gently then pulled away.
Her expression was incredulous. How could he play with her like
this. . . ? Lie to her just to manipulate her. “Oh, but you
are a devil!” she finally breathed.
“So I’ve been told.” He lifted a brow
“How could you use me like this?” She accused
him, not for one moment believing his words.
“That was not my intention.”
“What was your intention?” she asked.
“Why are you here?”
“As I said,” Samuel tried to explain.
“It has been my duty to protect you.”
“Your duty?” She snorted in disbelief.
“I was assigned to protect you.”
“Ah, now at least I see the truth of
it . . . I’m just an assignment to you.” she said, narrowing her
eyes on him.
“No—well, perhaps in the beginning,” he
amended. She cast him a hurt-filled glance. “If I could make it different I
would.” He stepped away.
“Who sent you? The only people I can
think of that would be so cruel as to send a manipulative liar like you to
watch me would be the Lords of Hell,” she spat.
Samuel shook his head and reached out
to touch her cheek once again.
“No, don’t,” she hissed as he dropped
his hand and cut her free from her ropes instead. “I told you to leave!”
The door opened suddenly, leaving them
both exposed. “I told ye if ye yelled, ye’d most likely not enjoy the help ye
received,” the buffoon said as he entered, holding a gun in his hand.
Devon McGregor’s frame filled the door
behind the larger man. The room felt dwarfed in size by the two men. “Lucky it
is that we came in te save ye, Connie luv,” he said as he came forward.
Samuel stepped in front of Constance as
three more men dressed as Knights entered the room. One sported a black-eye, no
doubt a gift from Alec earlier in the streets.
“That’ll be close enough,” the buffoon warned
as Samuel approached his boss.
“Devon McGregor,” Constance challenged,
coming around the side. “I might have known you had something to do with this.”
“Is that any way te talk te me now?”
McGregor smiled. “And after I went te all this trouble te arrange for ye te
meet the real Rogue.” He paused,
watching her. “That is if ye still want te go?”
Constance considered him thoughtfully a
moment before casting a brief glance toward Samuel.
“You can’t trust this man?” Samuel
“Hmm?” Devon smiled. “Interesting
choice te make, isn’t it Connie love, my word over Lord St. Clair’s or better
yet, your new butler Higgins?”
Constance’s eyes grew in size only to
narrow even more as she stared at Samuel.
“It’s true,” Samuel said in the face of
her silent accusation. “I have been many men to you but I’ve tried to protect
you as all of them.”
“Are you goin' te continue to listen te
this man’s lies and let him jeopardize discoverin' the truth ye’ve been seekin'
fer years?” Devon asked.
“Please,” Samuel pleaded softly, “don’t
listen to him.”
“Are you ready?” Devon asked, looking
She nodded in answer, having a
difficult time finding her voice, now that she’d decided.
“Bloody hell! Samuel stepped forward.
The big man that stood beside him cuffed him upside the head with his free
hand, and jabbed a gun in his ribs with the other.
Constance, not daring to look Samuel’s
way again, walked to the door in answer.
McGregor stepped to one side to let her
pass. “Escort the lady out the tunnels, there’s eyes on the street,” he
addressed another man in the hallway.
“What do ye want me te do with this
one?” the big buffoon that held the gun in Samuel’s ribs asked after Constance
had left with the rest of the men. “Should I rough him up afore we feed 'im to
McGregor shook his head. “I’ve a better
evenin' in store for this'n.” He stepped closer. “Lucky for yew we still need ye.”
He glanced at the mirror. “Ye should know rooms like this have eyes an' ears.”
Samuel glanced over to the large glass
“That’s right, been watchin' ye for a
while.” McGregor chuckled. “The Rogue
said te give ye a message,” he sneered.
“What is it?” Samuel asked.
“He says te tell ye te bring the map te
the white house in Mistress’ Court if you want to see her alive again.” He
smiled before stepping away. “Strip him down and tie him to the bed,” he ordered.
“Now you’re going to pay for what you did to Donovan.”
“I left Donavan alive,” Samuel said.
McGregor spit, missing the spittoon and
hitting the floor. “Somebody had to pay for the mess ye caused, and ye made me
a laughing stock.” McGregor paused on his way out the door, “And now it’s yer
turn.” He smiled. “I’ll always return the favor.”
After McGregor took his leave the big
buffoon grinned widely as he ordered Samuel to shed his jacket, shirt and
pants. “Ah now that’s rich.” The man laughed as he kept the gun trained on
Samuel while he stripped down to his skivvy’s, or in this case, a pair of
frilly ladies pantaloons. “I’d not have taken ye for the sort,” he chortled
with glee while Samuel had to grin-and-bare the discomfort of it.
“Hope ye enjoy the night’s
entertainment,” the big man said as Samuel’s arms were stretched across the bed
frame and each hand secured to a post by the Knights. With a wink the large man
left with the others and closed the door leaving him alone. Samuel could hear
the other men howl with laughter out in the hall.
“That went rather well,” Samuel said to
his own reflection as he glanced up at the mirror above him. He sighed. The
look in Constance’s eyes had told him volumes about the pain his deceit had
caused. He looked over at his wrists and tugged on the rope that fastened it to
the bed. Wrapping his fingers around the ropes, he pulled hard to one side.
He had put her in harm’s way with his
lies. Never had he so loathed himself for what he’d had to do more. Samuel
yanked on the rope fastening his other wrist. This time there was some popping
in the wood as he leaned all his weight against the headboard. The door opened
as he strained against the rope and a masked blonde woman in black, stepped
inside the room.
“I am the Mistress of the Whip,” she
announced cracking the strip of leather in her hand, “an' I’ve heard you’ve
been a naughty boy.”
Samuel’s eyes widened as she closed the
door and clicked the lock into place.
Alec peered out the spy hole he’d found
in the panel located in yet another corridor within the passage. His vision was
met with the red wall covering and a tawdry painting, which hung on the
opposite side. The ornate golden frame glimmered in the light of the gas lamp
next to it as he watched. “I think we’ve finally found a way out of here,” he
whispered, moving the lever.
“Thank heavens,” Genevieve sighed from
her vantage point behind him.
Other than a loud click, nothing else
happened as he slid the panel open a crack. As he peeked out into the hall a
group of the knight’s men appeared around the corner near the end. Darting back
inside, he carefully moved the panel back, holding it closed with his fingers
to avoid making any noise.
Genevieve looked through the crack that
ran along the seam where the two panels met while Alec returned to stare out the
peep-hole. They could hear the men’s laughter as they
approached. . . . They stood stock still, both silently praying
that the men would pass by the hidden entrance.
“She’ll whip him inte shape, she will,”
the smallest of the group of costumed Knights said as they stopped before the
false door. Alec wanted to swear as he recognized them. The other two men
howled with laughter over the comment. “I’d love te be able te stay and see
that show!” the biggest one snorted as he reached out for the panel that Alec
held. A door nearby opened as Alec held on. Several ladies in cancan dresses
came into view.
“You boys goin te watch the show?” One
of the girls asked, running her finger along the middle sized one’s sleeve as
she passed. She glanced over his frame from head to foot. “How’d ye know it was
me fantasy te be with a Knight.” The ladies all giggled as they left going down
the stairway to the left.
“I’m a Knight,” the short man pointed
out hopefully as the ladies disappeared.
Alec noticed that one man carried what
looked suspiciously like Samuel’s clothing. The light blue uniform in his arms
stood out from the costume he wore as he turned back to the entrance of the
“Let’s take the stage exit,” the
largest one of the group suggested as he turned to follow in the wake of the
Alec slowly exhaled. “Now, that was
close,” he whispered after they had gone.
“A little too close,” Genevieve agreed.
“Wasn’t that Samuel’s clothing?”
“Yes . . . yes it was,”
Alec sighed, as he opened the door once again, making sure this time the coast
was clear. He stepped out, assisting his wife over the threshold.
“We need to save him,” Genevieve
whispered as Alec shut the hidden panel. They heard a click as the door re-latched.
“It does have that appearance doesn’t
it?” Alec said as he took her hand and headed in the direction the men had come
Just as they rounded the corner another
door opened further down the hall. This time a man and woman stepped out
“Ginny,” Alec whispered the endearment
as he wrapped her in his arms and kissed her, hiding both their faces. The
couple passed without giving them a second glance.
“Is what you said the truth?” she asked
when he’d ended the kiss and they were once again alone. “Did you have nothing
to do with any of the women here?”
“Absolutely nothing,” Alec said.
“I believe you.” She smiled up at him.
“Genevieve,” Alec said. “I cannot lie
and say there weren’t women before you, but I can promise that there will not
be any after. You are the only woman for me.” He could only hope that this
night would fade in her memory.
She reached up and touched his cheek.
“I feel the same.”
other’s was she implying? Was she playing with him now? “Did you
have a love amongst the Bedouins?” He asked.
“Which one do you think he’s in?” Genevieve
asked instead, avoiding an answer as she skirted under his arm and started down
the long hall. Several doors on each side lined the corridor. She placed her
ear against the first door on the left . . . all was quiet on the
other side of it.
Alec followed suit on the right side of
the hall listening briefly, he peeked inside only to shake his head and move
further down the corridor. He watched her move to the next one and started to
turn theknob. “Genevieve,” he whispered, stopping her, his expression clearly
one of concern. “This might be something. . . .” He sighed,
ringing a hand through his hair. “Maybe you shouldn’t.”
“Shouldn’t what?” She looked up at him
coyly, grinning mischievously before opening the door and looking inside the
Alec breathed a sigh of relief when it
too was empty and she left going on to the next door where she bent her head to
listen. “I think I hear something.”
Thump, thump, thump!
Her eyes widened with alarm as she
looked over at her husband. The noise becoming so loud he could hear it from
where he stood now.
Samuel yanked on the bedposts with
“Augh! Ye are a naughty boy.” The
leather whip the woman held snaked out, striking the pillow next to him. “Shame
on ye for trying to escape me.” The tip of the whip struck again, this time on
the other side of him.
The room was filled with a sea of
floating feathers, which had escaped the confines of their cases as Samuel
continued to thrash back and forth, vigorously pulling on the ropes. The bed
springs strained with the effort as he yanked again and again.
The post crackled and popped as the
wood worked its way loose of the joint.
In frustration the woman came closer.
Leaning over him she tried to pry his fingers from the post.
Samuel kept his eye on the pommel of
the whip as she leaned over him. . . . She was just close
enough . . . if he could just. . . .
Surprising her with a thrust of his
hips, he captured her with his legs when she fell into him and took hold of the
end of her crop with his fingertips.
Genevieve’s eyes flared when a woman’s
voice on the other side of the door yelled out, “Give it te me!”
there anything worse than being in a whorehouse with your wife?
Alec wondered as he looked over at his lovely bride. For all her bravado, her
cheeks flamed and despite her earlier remark, she looked shocked by the sounds
coming from the other side of the door.
“Maybe we should try the next one?”
Alec whispered when they heard a moan over the creaking and thumping of the
thump, thump. . . . Bam!
The crash of the bed hitting the floor
echoed loudly. The vibration could be felt through the floor. Alec and
Genevieve both looked at each other in alarm as the woman on the other side of
the door squealed. “Help me!”
Alec tried the handle. It was locked.
Putting his shoulder to it, the door popped open, revealing a disheveled woman
tumbled across the bed with feathers, legs, and ruffles flying. “Cor Blimey,
but ye are a naughty boy!” the woman screeched as Samuel wrestled with her.
Samuel’s head peek above her voluminous
skirt for a moment catching sight of Alec standing in the doorway.
“Just look at what you’ve done to me
bed!” The woman yelled as she tried to wrest the whip from his grasp. “Ooh, you
“Am I intruding?” Alec asked.
“Hemme!” Samuel called out behind the
gag, his expression suggesting his predicament.
Alec took one look at the writhing
hellcat and sighed. “How much can I pay you this evening to let him go?”
She stopped struggling and turned in
surprise to see the tall handsome man in the doorway. “Well 'ello luv.” She
smiled coyly up at him.
Hell! Alec couldn’t believe it as he recognized the voice of the
woman behind the wig and mask. Was his
luck so terrible tonight? He wondered as he looked at the woman who’d
helped him to escape through the passage to avoid the raid months ago. Maybe that was her normal welcome. Alec
hoped as he stood in front of her, silently wishing he were still wearing the
mask he’d stuffed into his pocket earlier.
“I’ve been expectin' ye back for a
tumble.” She winked, dashing any hopes he’d had to remain
anonymous . . . or gain his wife’s forgiveness for that matter.
“Just give me a moment more te finish up here.”
Alec wanted to groan as he cast a brief glance over his shoulder at his wife
who stood behind him. “No,” he cleared his throat, praying that his wife would still
remain understanding after what was sure to come. “I was asking how much for
you to stop, now.”
“Always in a hurry aren’t we?” She sat
up, adjusting her bodice to better display her wares. “I suppose 'tis better
than last time when ye left without a proper sendoff.”
“Actually I’m here for him.” Alec
replied, glad that at least her words redeemed him somewhat.
“Well now, is that how 'tis? Why did ye
not say that in the first place?” The woman moved to get up. Samuel grabbed
her, pulling her back with his free arm for modesty’s sake.
Samuel yanked the gag down and took a
deep breath. “I need clothes.”
Alec lifted the corner of the sheet
speculatively. “You could be Julius Caesar next.”
“A toga,” Samuel said, looking
speculatively at the woman’s dress. “No! I need clothes I can blend in with.”
“Are you really under the impression
that you’ve been blending in?” Alec asked.
“Just get the clothes.” Samuel removed
the rest of his ropes that had tied him to the bed and tossed them as he spoke.
“Can you help us out?” Alec smiled
encouragingly toward his former rescuer. When it appeared she might refuse, he
added, “I would of course reward you handsomely.”
“But I’ve only the clothes on me back
“They’ll do.” Samuel interjected.
“Really?” Alec raised a brow. “You
think you’ll blend in in those?”
“When in Rome,” Samuel quipped.
“I don’t know,” the woman cast a
worried glance toward the mirror. “They said I was te keep 'im occupied for a
“And who is they?” Alec asked.
“It was Donovan and his group,” Samuel
answered for her in disgust when she didn’t. “They told me that if I wanted to
see her again, I needed to bring the map to the white house, and to do that, I
need clothes.” Samuel looked pointedly at her.
“I don’t think it’d be wise for me
health te cross 'em,” the woman said worriedly.
“We’ll tie you to the bed so that you
can tell them we overpowered you,” Alec offered.
“I don’t know,” she looked undecided.
“I’ve a show te do.”
“It’s not as if you really have a
choice.” Genevieve interrupted as she stepped forward with a sweet smile on her
face and a small revolver in her hand.
“Tying me up will cost you extra.” The
woman’s eyes flew from the gun to Alec’s face.
“Of course,” Alec answered
diplomatically, stepping forward he gave Samuel the edge of the bed covering.
With his hand extended toward the screen, he invited the girl to step behind
it. “Would you mind? We are in a bit of a hurry.”
“Do ye want me under things as well?”
She asked as she flounced off the bed. “They’ll be extra.”
Samuel scrambled to cover himself when
she left. He shook his head, wearing a grimace on his face, as she went behind
the dressing screen.
“Oh, that’s right, ye came with yer
own,” she called out as she held her hand over the top of the wooden divider
Alec laid a note on top of her
outstretched palm, which she kept there until he’d added three more on top.
Finally, with a snort of satisfaction, she stripped off the outer clothing and
tossed it over the top.
“If ye want the petty coats and
stockings they’ll be more,” she wagered.
Alec cast Samuel a baleful glance
before reaching into his pockets. Samuel threw up his hands in mute dismay,
indicating his own lack of funds at the moment.
With a sigh, Alec emptied his pockets
of any spare change and deposited them into the Mistress’s palm, grabbed the
dress, and tossed it to Samuel.
Realizing that Samuel needed some
privacy, Genevieve moved closer to the door. “I believe I’ll step outside and
keep an eye on the hallway,” she whispered.
“We shouldn’t be much longer.” Alec smiled
at her apologetically. She gave him a slight half-smile followed by a glance
that spoke of things to be discussed later, and then ducked out the door.
“Well, that has to be awkward.” Samuel
remarked as flipped the covers off revealing the frilly pantaloons he wore.
Alec pinned him with a look of extreme
irritation as he watched him slip the dress over his head.
When his face again immerged, Samuel he
did a double take at the expression that Alec still wore. “What?”
“What indeed,” Alec shook his head.
“Now let’s discuss the payment of the
mask,” the woman said from behind the screen.
Alec again looked incensed when Samuel
nodded and gestured toward the divider. “Fine,” he grumbled as he slipped off
his boot, robbing it of its hidden wealth as well.
Purchasing both the mask and the
feather in her hair, Alec handed them over and watched while Samuel settled the
footman’s white wig on his head and rearranged the curls before clipping the
feather in place. Looking down at his bare feet he said, “Hopefully they didn’t
take my shoes.”
He fished the shoes out from where he’d
kicked them beneath the bed and put them on, smiling triumphantly. He took the
ripped feather pillow and tore it in two, stuffing the pieces down his front.
“Perfect.” He stood up straight.
Alec shook his head. “That is so far
from perfect I dare not comment.”
“Then don’t,” Samuel responded as the
woman came out from behind the screen wearing nothing but her corset and
“What about payment for ruinin' me
bed?” she held out her hand.
Samuel went briefly behind the screen,
helping himself to the rouge and coal, he blackened his eyes and then adjusted
the black eye mask around his face and picked up the whip, he then looked at
the screen with a wicked gleam in his eye. “Would you mind giving me a moment
with, the Mistress of the Whip, here?”
“Of course,” Alec stood. “I’ll wait
outside, but don’t be long.”
Alec stepped out into the hall to find
his wife in conversation with a burly man who had his back to him.
“I’m new here,” Genevieve was saying as
Alec slowly crept forward, “That’s why you don’t recognize me.”
“I like to get to know all the girls,”
the man took a step closer to her, “personally.”
Alec picked up a figurine off a side
table as he passed it. “I’m sure you do.” Alec replied crisply. Before the man
could react, Alec knocked him over the head. He fell in a heap on the floor at
“Augh,” Genevieve sighed in disgust as
she looked down at the unconscious man. “I thought you’d never get out here.”
“I’m sorry my dear,” Alec said
apologetically. “It took us longer than expected.”
Samuel came up to stand beside them as
Alec spoke. “Hmm.” He took the figurine of Venus from Alec’s hand, weighing it
in his own before placing it back on the table. “It looks like the goddess of
love is getting a bit of use tonight.”
“We probably shouldn’t leave him in the
hall,” Alec whispered as he rolled the unconscious man over. He recognized him
immediately. “Bloody Hell!” he swore.
“Cheeky damned fellow’s been playin'
both sides of the fence,” Samuel said looking down at O’Malley, the constable
who they first met at the Frenchman’s townhouse, and who the agency had also
placed in charge of the investigation of his death. “No wonder we’ve not been
getting any real answers.” He looked up. “Well, this night has been—“
“Most enlightening,” Genevieve finished
“Indeed.” Alec gave her his most
winsome smile as he tried to charm her after the most recent events. He really
had no idea how she would view him in light of the Mistress of the Whip’s
Samuel reached down and picked up the
constables’ ankles. “Help me get him back to the room.”
“I’ll stay here and watch out for
anyone else,” Genevieve said. “Just hurry.”
Alec picked up his hands and they half
carried-half dragged the man back to the room they had just departed. “You’re
in luck my dear,” Samuel said as he opened the door, “we’ve brought you a bed
The mistress groaned, “Aw, not 'im!”
She lifted her own hands, which were tied to the bedpost and shook them at him,
“This is goin' te cost ye extra!”
“I imagine it
will. . . . I shall pay up when next we meet, my dear.” Samuel
smiled at her. “Until then.” He blew her a kiss and shut the door. He turned to
Alec. “Donavon said they’d take her out through the tunnels.” He looked down
toward the end of the hall. “Don’t suppose you know the way?”
“For your information, this is the
first time I’ve been on the upper floors and only the one time out through the
hidden door. Kindly remember that.” Alec replied crisply.
“Right.” Samuel said as he followed
“We did, however,” Alex said as they
joined back up with his wife. “exit from a secret passage just down the hall.”
Walking towards it he paused before the secret panel and tried to move it.
“Damn,” he whispered when it wouldn’t budge.
“Why don’t we use the stairs the ladies
in cancan dresses used earlier?” Genevieve suggested. Two more Cancan dancers
walked out of the dressing room next and headed down the stair as she spoke.
“Let me go first since I blend in.”
Samuel whispered pointedly as he motioned for Alec and Genevieve to follow him
down the stair. Just as they alighted, the door to the dressing room across
from the backstage entrance burst open. A man dressed in a huge flesh colored
sausage costume walked out.
“Hey, Mistress,” he said, noticing
Samuel right behind him. “Maybe later, eh?” the man offered as he ambled
“I told you I’d blend in,” Samuel
whispered over his shoulder to Alec while almost colliding with a small fuzzy
ball who’d exited the room behind the sausage. The fellow was soon joined by
another round ball in a matching costume. The ensemble represented the complete
male package, their awkward steps in the costumes made laughable by the
exaggerated manly swagger of the bollocks and the tall one’s forced baby-steps,
due to the length of his costume which came down past his knees.
“Was that . . . ?”
Genevieve gasped as they followed them a few steps.
“What’s the matter?” A man wearing a
little bow-peeps costume spoke up as he exited the dressing room behind the
trio. “Ye never seen a giant wanker?” he asked, talking around the large stogie
wedged in the corner of his mouth as he passed them.
“Oh my!” Genevieve covered her mouth,
her eyes widening even further as he walked away. The costume he wore exposed
his hairy shoulders and back where the lacings couldn’t come together over his
“I’m sure it’s two lambs and a wolf.”
Alec hoped she’d accept that over the audience’s howls of laughter as the new
act arrived on stage.
“Is that all?” Samuel asked. “I’d hate
to see what comes next.” He glanced into the room that was filled with cancan
dancers as they passed. “Especially since making an arse of themselves is a
given . . . excuse the pun,” he apologized with a wink at
“I’m sorry you had to witness that my
dear,” Alec said as he looked over at his bride, noting the suppressed laughter
sparkling in her eyes. He grinned back at her.
“Oh, there ye are.” A heavyset man came
from around the curtain backstage and took Samuel by the arm. “I like the wig.
Adds a bit o' mystery, he said. “Yer up next and I hope you’ve improved since
last night’s performance. Those men out there are expectin' a tiger. Remember
that! You’re the Mistress of the Whip, not a pussy cat,” the man said in a pep-talk
meant to inspire while he whisked Samuel away, pulling him along as he entered
the back stage. “You just call on yer, Big Da', here if ye run inte trouble.”
Samuel looked back over his shoulder,
motioning for Alec to go ahead without him.
Alec hadn’t taken three steps toward
the rear when the Knights who had Samuel’s clothes earlier walked back inside
through the back entrance. Alec turned around, pulling Genevieve with him into
the darkened area of the backstage.
They waited behind the curtains for the
men to pass. . . . When they didn’t, Alec peeked around the
“Well?” Genevieve asked in a whisper as
he ducted back in.
“Well, there is good and bad news.”
Alec answered her in a hushed voice.
“And what might that be?” Genevieve
Alec shook his head slightly, noting
her amusement over their predicament. “The good news is that they didn’t see
“And the bad?” She asked, looking up at
“The bad is that they now appear to be
guarding the door.”
Spying through the curtain in the other
direction Alec could see the trio on stage jumping through the hoops, which
were held by Little Bo-Peep. It was while the shepherdess was using her staff to capture the taller portion
of the alliance on stage that Samuel darted into the area where they were
“Oh good, I thought I’d lost you.” He
started for the hall.
“Wait.” Alec whispered, pulling him
back. “We can’t go that way. The men from the alley are guarding the door and
will recognize us.”
“I could try to distract them,” Samuel
said. At Alec’s scowl he continued, “Or we could go back across the stage. I
saw a door on the other side.” Samuel indicated the way he had come from.
“After you,” Alec swept his hand back,
gesturing that Samuel should go first.
Samuel accepted the invitation, doing a
double take when he glanced at the stage. He watched as the man in the stuffed
sausage suit jumped through the hoops, his arms trapped to his side by the
costume, flailed in the air as he teetered while the little furry bollocks did
flips in the air on either side. “I’ve heard of jumping through hoops, but that
is just wrong,” Samuel muttered before disappearing into the black maze behind
Alec glanced at his wife, who was
trying not to laugh at the spectacle. “I really had no idea what type of
entertainment was to be had in a den of iniquity,” she whispered.
“And now that you know?” Alec prompted.
“Promise you will never come here again
“That is easy.” He grinned. Just over
her shoulder he could see the stage where Bo Peep had captured the errant
sausage and held him in a strangle hold. “Shall we?” Alec asked, shielding his
wife from the outrageous performance as they skirted past and into the black
curtains that lined the stage.
They heard the cheering applause of the
crowd as the last act came to its climactic ending. Making their way through
the maze they threaded themselves through the curtains, until they met up with
Samuel on the other side.
“Hurry,” Samuel mouthed just as a large
hand clamped over his shoulder and spun him around.
“Yer up!” Big Da' said, pulling a
reluctant Samuel with him toward the opening in the curtain.
Alec and Genevieve remained hidden
behind the dark veil, watching as the man pointed to the stage. “Now don’t
think about the stage fright. Remember . . . you’re a tiger.”
The man clawed the air with his hand to enforce the image before swatting
Samuel on the behind with enough force to push the reluctant Mistress of the Whip out on stage.
The crowd went wild when Samuel
appeared. His tentative steps, accompanied by a single note of music, made some
in the fickle crowd boo. He glanced back over his shoulder where Big Da' stood
firm, gesturing with his hand to continue. “A tiger!” The man clawed the air
With a sigh, Samuel turned back to the
crowd, eyeing the faces of the men beyond the gas lamps that lit the front of
the stage. He watched as a woman wearing a bright yellow dress swept over the
crowd on a swing. “What’s the matter Mistress? Cat got yer tongue?” she called
out from her high perch.
The audience cheered the woman’s remark
as she set back in the swing and laughed showing more than just her ankle.
Samuel took a step back only to have it noted again by the
pianist. . . . He only hoped he wasn’t expected to sing.
Someone from the crowd hurtled a rotten
cabbage at him. It hit the floor just in front of him and rolled past as he
sidestepped it. The piano again played as he moved while the drums witnessed
the part of the tumbling vegetation.
“It’s a wonder no one asks for an encore,”
the woman on the swing heckled him, “here or upstairs,” she chortled.
The crowd burst into laughter over the
slight that the little bird on the swing had just delivered. Samuel had had
just about enough when another cabbage hit the stage.
“Use the whip!” the stage manager
Samuel thought. Some direction as to what the hell he was supposed to be doing.
Flicking his wrist, he unfurled the whip he carried. Sashaying up to the front
the music beating in time he cracked it with a resounding snap.
“Ah, that’s my girl!” The stage manager
beamed proudly as he stood cheering on the act.
Alec could see the other door that
Samuel said lead to the outside from where he stood. Unfortunately, it also
appeared that the stage manager was there for the duration of the show. He
listened as the crowd went wild over another crack of the whip.
The music began to play in earnest with
the string instruments joining in as Samuel flicked his whip, lashing it out
above the heads of the crowd assembled before him. The action, causing the
young lady swinging on a perch out over the crowd to squeal in fright as the
tip came close to her. Even the stage manager moved for a better view, leaving
a path toward the door if they could just sneak behind him.
Taking Genevieve’s hand, Alec slowly
moved toward it. They had taken only a few steps when it opened, allowing the
next act to enter. A large black bear in a pink tutu lumbered in with its
owner. The man faced the bear stepping back as he lead the beast inside. “C’mon,
Delilah,” the trainer beckoned as both Alec and Genevieve once again scrambled
for the safety of the curtain.
Alec glanced down at his wife, whose
expression alone was enough to convey her relief that they hadn’t actually made
it out that way.
“Now what?” Genevieve asked in a hushed
whisper when they once again concealed in a fold of the curtain.
“Let’s try going toward the front and
blend with the crowd,” Alec suggested. The narrow space behind the curtain was
now blocked by a table that hadn’t been there before. He bumped into it in,
watching the candelabra teeter back and forth. As he steadied it, the curtain
began to rise, allowing a crack of light to show beneath it. “Bloody hell!”
Alec swore softly. “This isn’t good.”
Out on stage, Samuel brought the whip
even closer over the heads of the assembled crowd, daring the next person to
throw rubbish at him.
“What’s a matter lil' dove,” someone
called from the audience to the woman perched on the swing, “Has the cat got
yer tongue now?”
The little yellow canary squealed as
she swung toward the Mistress of the Whip.
Snapping the whip again, Samuel
unfurled the black leather strap over the crowd. The resounding crack elicited
a strange silence over the audience as they watched in fascination.
Backstage another drama was unfolding
altogether. “Can you get around the table, my dear?” Alec asked as the curtain
rose higher exposing their feet.
Genevieve tried to squeeze past the
table and the wall behind her. “Not with this skirt,” she whispered.
Alec pushed the table forward a little,
the bulge in the curtain attracting the attention of the audience. “How about
now?” he asked.
Genevieve tried again. “There still
isn’t enough room. Blasted thing!”
Alec glanced down as the curtain rose
even higher and shoved the table out onto the stage. His action made the
curtain drag the tablecloth up revealing the gears and the small man who’d been
sitting beneath it to the crowd in front.
“Hey!” the little man, still dressed in
his costume from the last act, called out. With his hiding place exposed, the
man crawled out from beneath the table, leaving a trail of blistering curses
floating in the air as he stood. “What’d ye do that for?” the little bundle of
“We’re very sorry,” Genevieve said
softly as she pushed past the table, only to be blocked by the rest of the
participants in the last act. The temperamental fuzz ball on stage took the
opportunity to run forward and attack Alec from behind.
“Bloody Hell!” Alec swore as he hopped
on one foot and then the other while the curtain rose to waist level. “It looks
like we are about to join the act.”
The audience became more enthralled by
the back stage development than even the Mistress of the Whip could compete
with. Samuel took it as his cue and attempted to leave the stage.
Alec planted one hand on the top of the
man’s head, dancing from foot-to-foot to avoid the attack while he pulled his
mask out of his pocket with his other. In this predicament the best he could
hope for was to remain unidentified.
The feisty bollock was soon joined by
his counterpart, creating a matching set of aggressive goolies and while Alec
attempted to mask his identity the next punch the newcomer delivered left him
bowled over and gasping for breath.
The crowd roared their approval and by
the time the curtain was up the estranged sausage was back to defend his own as
well. Alec went behind the table, and taking his wife’s hand, he tried to make
a dash for it. Little-Bo-Peep, however, blocked their escape. The kettle drums
took up an ominous beat as the turgid trio once again advanced towards the
couple delighting the audience further.
Trapped, Alec stared down his small but
ferocious opponents, not quite sure how to fight against such an ensemble. He
moved to stand before his wife. “I believe, I would rather have fought the
bear,” he said just before he was tackled by the tumbling bollocks and the
giant wanker. He rolled to the side and tried to get up. The fur balls clung to
his legs making it difficult to dodge the bullet as the human sausage dove on
top of him and rolled from side to side, flattening him.
Samuel’s own escape was hindered by the
stage director who turned him back. “Go on then,” Da’ said as he shooed the
Mistress of the Whip back onto the stage. “Tame this unruly crowd or I will.”
He hit his fist into his palm for emphasis.
Turning back, Samuel snapped the whip,
distracting the trio as Alec spun from his position on the floor and flipped
the sausage casting him off with enough force that he nearly rolled off the
Alec scrambled to his feet and went to
the aid of his wife who was being threatened by the shepherdess’s staff that
Li'l Bo-Peep wielded. Alec grabbed hold of Genevieve’s hand just as Bo-Peep
hooked her gown in a voluminous gather of fabric. A brief tug of war ensued as
the shepherdess pulled her back like a wayward lamb. You could hear the fabric
tear as they each tugged in opposite directions, the crowd cheering all the
more at the sound of the struggle.
The bollocks once again attacked while
Alec fought to keep hold of his wife. The first wrapped his legs around Alec’s
calf and started biting him. The other fuzz ball climbed the table and took a
flying leap, jumping on Alec’s back. He let go of Genevieve’s hand as he fell
against the table.
Left to her own devices, Genevieve
turned toward Bo-Peep and slapped the hairy sheepherder. He reeled back in
surprise, raising his own hand in retaliation. Genevieve shifted her weight and
twisted, allowing the blow to pass. Taking his wrist she pulled it further
using the hairy buffoon’s own momentum against him. She trapped his foot with
her shin, flipping him arse over elbow, much to the delight of the cheering
crowd and then delicately stepped away, straightening her dress.
When the music changed to that of a
charging bull, Alec turned to see the giant wanker running toward him. The man
was bent forward once again trying to ram his head into Alec’s stomach.
Despite the fact that the formidable
fuzz balls still clung to him, kicking his shins, Alec stepped out of the way, sending
the sausage reeling toward Bo-Peep who was still trying to stand. Bo–Peep
turned around when the bratwurst landed at his feet and with an angry growl, Li'l
bo picked up his staff. Wielding it like a rapier, he started toward Alec. The
music changed into a frenzied version of Mary
had a Little Lamb as he advanced.
Alec picked up the candelabra and held
it as a shield, blocking the thrust of the staff the angry sheep-herder, as
Bo-Peep advanced. Trapping the staff between the prongs, Alec twisted it, gaining
some leverage in another tug-of-war over the staff.
Samuel struck out with the whip slicing
the tips of the candles off with one deft flick. Alec did a double take,
looking from the candles and then back to Samuel, as if to ask which side he
Samuel shrugged apologetically as the
audience clapped over the feat, then howled with laughter when the
whip-wielding madam caught the hairy character in the rear with her whip.
Bo-Peep grabbed his behind, glaring back at the Mistress of the Whip as he fingered
the tear in the garment.
The stage manager called out, “Show em’
whose boss, Mistress.”
“Mistress . . .
Mistress,” the audience chanted as the tall man made a break for it.
With a flick of his wrist, Samuel
corralled the wayward sausage, bringing the ensemble to a semi-state of
restraint. The crowd howled with laughter as Samuel made the giant wanker hop
back several feet.
“Imposter!” O’Malley thundered onto the
stage and yelled, pointing at Samuel. The constable’s arrival was met with
boo’s from the crowd as they heckled him, causing his ruddy complexion, to turn
a darker shade of red.
“That is not the real Mistress of the Whip! O’Malley yelled
over the noise.
“No wonder, she’s so much improved,”
said the canary as if it now made sense.
O’Malley pointed his finger at Samuel
and called out,“Seize him!”
Everyone in the audience gawked as they turned from the angry constable to look
at Samuel, who grinned widely, lifting his hands in a gesture that suggested
you can’t win them all.
The first to take umbrage at Samuel’s
disguise were the fuzzy balls that ran towards him. Samuel lashed out with the
whip snagging a chair near the stage exit and pulled it towards him. It
connected with the first round ball of fur as it skidded across the stage,
knocking him sideways into the other bollock as they ran toward Samuel.
The first fuzz ball rolled off the
stage, falling into the audience, followed closely by the second who cannon
balled his way over the edge. The crowd caught the errant spheres and passed
them over the top of their heads in a unique juggling game.
The Brat-worst charged at Samuel next,
his torso getting ahead of his little steps as he ran. Samuel swept his skirt
out to the side, evading the tumbling toreador like a matador would a charging
bull. The bratwurst teetered on the edge of the stage, tiptoeing in a dance to
rival that of a prima ballerina, before he side stepped one of the gas lamps
lighting the stage to avoid being roasted. He spun in a dizzying dance, his
arms flapping at his sides as he toppled off of the side where he too was
caught by the crowd and passed around in an impromptu game of toss the todger.
The constable charged next, taking a
swipe at Samuel’s head with a fist. The crowd gasped as the Mistress of the
Whip dodged the blow and planted one of her own that made the paddy reel
backward several feet and tumble backward into the curtain.
Half the curtain came down as he fell
exposing the next act. Angrily, the constable straightened himself using the
remnants of tattered fabric in his hands to rise. Delilah, the dancing bear
stood and pawed the air dancing in circles behind him, gaining everyone’s
attention when she roared.
O’Malley glanced back and stumbled away
from her, running off the stage in his attempt to escape and landed on four
other patrons below. There was a struggle, but he came up fighting, throwing
another punch at a man in the audience who ducked. The constable’s fist found
the face of the man standing behind his intended target.
Concerned about the pandemonium that
could break out, Big Da' sent the dancing bear out the back door, and motioned
for the music to start playing for the dance that all the men in the audience
had all come to see. Several cancan dancers took the stage twirling their
skirts amid the chaos, but it was far far too late to contain it.
Bo-Peep turned from Alec and charged
after Samuel. Instead of lashing out at him, Samuel captured the swinging perch
with the bullwhip and leapt over the edge. The young girl in yellow squealed
once again as they both swooped over the heads of the crowd. Samuel landed on
the bar on the other side of the room and had to jump out of the way as the
giant sausage came sliding down its polished wooden surface, clearing it of its
many beverages as he went. Samuel danced down the top in his wake.
With a growl Bo-Peep jumped for the
swing as it came back towards the stage. His fingers grazed the bar as he
jumped in an effort to follow. He slipped off, falling into the crowd. His last
glimpse of the Mistress, as he attempted to fight his way out of the crowd, was
when Samuel turned and blew him a kiss before waltzing out the front door.
“C’mon,” Alec took his wife’s hand
amidst the chaos and twirling skirts of the screaming dancers. He watched as
the men dressed as knights who’d been guarding the back door joined the fray.
“I think we can make it out the back door now.”
If you haven't yet started the adventure of Treasure of the Ancients. It begins with Treasure of Egypt