Daniel Williams

Arwen Blackgrace: Part Two

In Arwen Blackgrace, Stories, Writing on 18/07/2013 at 18:00

In Part One, a 17 year-old orphan and barmaid, Beatrice Seastone, is told she maybe the long-lost daughter of pirate William Blackgrace by her landlord, Giles Corrigan. He is subsequently murdered, and the Governor’s officers suspect Beatrice. While she grieves, mysterious men break into the pub, and she overhears them talk about kidnapping her…

Arwen Blackgrace

Part Two

My only way out was to fight. At the very end of the room was a small fireplace and I dashed over to it. In the fireplace were a couple of logs. I grabbed the biggest one I could find.

I stood next to the door with my back against the wall, ready to move when they came into the room.

The men were hushing each other as they approached.

The log was heavy and I had to hold it with both hands.

The door creaked open.

The first man, the short one, came into the room.

I launched forward and stuck him on the back of the head. He cried out and put his hands to the back of his head.

When I turned around the large bald man was in the doorway. He looked surprised as I thrust the log upwards and struck him in the nose. Blood trickled down his face and he stumbled backwards onto the landing.

I ran around the large man to the stairs. I heard thunks as the log fell from my hands and raced down the stairs with me. The men were howling and moaning in pain and they were coming after me.

I crashed into the front door and took off the latch and did not look back.

A big hand grabbed my arm. I kept running and heard the arm of the dress tear away as I ran down the street.

There were a few people walking in the afternoon sun along the street. No one was interested in a girl with a torn dress running past them. But this was Seastone. It probably wasn’t an unusual sight for them.

*****

Children played in the street, dancing around the pile of horse muck. I was in the part of town at the bottom of the hill. I stuck to the quieter streets. I couldn’t help but jump whenever anybody walked past me. The men who had come for me had known about my scar, the same scar that Arwen Blackgrace had. The more I walked and the more I thought the more it seemed that Giles’ death had to be connected with the possibility I was the missing Arwen Blackgrace. Everybody thought I was living with Giles- was I the intended victim?

I found myself heading towards the place where Giles had lived. The house looked like all the others on the street, there was nothing to make it stick out…except for the broken door. That was new. It was broken from the outside. I looked behind me to make sure no one was watching and stepped inside.

Boot marks went along the little corridor. It must have been from the Governor’s officers who’d had to break in.

I turned right and went into the bedroom.

The bed sheet hadn’t been changed. It was covered in dried blood. I gasped. Giles must have been lying in bed, maybe asleep when he was shot.

In the middle of the room was the partition. On the other side was where I had slept. Next to the partition, on Giles’ side was an open window. I picked up a little stool and dragged it over to the window. I stood on it to get a better look. The window was easy enough for somebody taller than me to reach up to and climb up. I leant out of the window and saw no footprints or boot marks on the ground.

I got off the stool and stepped back. The murderer had come through the window. It would have been dark with only moonlight to go by. The murderer saw the partition and thought on one side was Giles, on the other was me. They took their chance and it was the wrong one.

‘Beatrice?’ Called a voice.

For a second I froze until the woman’s voice called again and I recognised it as Mrs. Mulligan who lived across the street. She was carrying one of her cats.

‘Beatrice, is that you?’

Mrs. Mulligan was a little old dear who spent her days looking after her cats and watching out of her window to see what everyone else was doing. She took me across the street to her house. She made me a meal while her cats clawed all over me.

‘Terrible,’ Mrs. Mulligan kept saying, ‘so terrible.’

She said, ‘Those Governor’s men were here, asking me questions. The one lad kicked Periwinkle.’

She petted Periwinkle’s head in a display of sympathy. I sat at her kitchen table, with the cats trying to help me eat the food on my plate.

‘Mrs. Mulligan, did you see anything?’

‘I heard it, all right. I was awake anyway,’ she groaned as she sat down at the table. ‘I don’t sleep anymore I just sit out there and Winslow keeps me company.’

‘Did you see anything?’

‘Thought I saw them coming away.’

‘Who?’

‘The one who did it, of course,’ she said.

‘Did you see who it was?’

‘No,’ Mrs. Mulligan said, half-talking to a cat, ‘but we saw them running away. Jumped right out of the window, they did.’

I asked Mrs. Mulligan more questions but she couldn’t tell me anything. All she knew was that she had seen somebody, could be a man or a woman, tall or short, young or old.

Once I had finished eating, I thanked Mrs. Mulligan for the meal and left. I went back to Giles’ house because it was the only place I had to go. I couldn’t go back to The Hope and Anchor. There was nowhere else for me to go.

Giles’ had a place where he kept his letters along with a pretty silver letter opener. I could mostly read so I took out his letters and started looking through them. I searched for any mention of the Blackgrace’s. But there was nothing. The letters were about business. People wrote to arrange to meet Giles’ in various places, though some, surprisingly, in the southeast part of the port. That part of the port was vicious. There were more cathouses down there than on any part of the island. Everybody knew to avoid that part of the port. But in the most recent letter, somebody was arranging to meet Giles in The Tiger’s Head. I thought of the nights when The Hope and Anchor had closed and Giles had said he had to go and run some errands. He had been doing business in that part of town?

There was a chance, perhaps, somebody who did business with Giles was at The Tiger’s Head. Maybe it was in this part of town he learnt the story of William Blackgrace and his missing daughter?

Inside a drawer Giles kept a small bag of coins. I had never stolen anything before. It made my stomach feel heavy doing it. I also took Giles’ silver letter opener and concealed it.

I waited until nightfall and went to the southeast part of the port.

******

            The Tiger’s Head was nothing like The Hope and Anchor. It was louder and crammed with more bodies. The Tiger’s Head was dark because all the candles were so high up on the walls to prevent drunks from crashing into them and burning the place down.

I made my way over to the bar. A red-cheeked landlord shouted at me, ‘Whatdaya havin’?’

I ordered an ale and when he bought to me I asked him, ‘Do you know Giles Corrigan?’

‘You what?’

I raised my voice and leaned closer, ‘Do you know Giles Corrigan?’

‘Dead, ain’t you heard?’

‘He was here doing business with someone here. Do you know who?’

‘Ain’t got a clue, gal. Whatdaya havin’?’ He turned away to another customer.

I sipped at the ale. It was watered down, but nobody else seemed to mind. I leaned against he bar and wondered what I could do next.

A hand grabbed my arm. My arm was still bare after the arm of my dress had been torn off. I spun around to see a tall, wide, bald man. His nose looked disjointed and out of place.

‘I know you,’ he said.

I tried to pull away but his grip was too tight.

‘You broke my nose, you-’ he said, adding a dirty word. I looked about for the other man, the smaller one, but could not see him.

‘What do you want with me?’

He said, ‘Let’s have a look at that scar.’

I punched him but it had no effect. His other large hand pulled down the other side of my dress, revealing my bare shoulder and the scar upon it.

He grinned as I got the top of my dress back up.

‘You’re coming with me,’ he said.

‘Help!’ I shouted in desperation. ‘Help me!’

All I got was laughter and jeers. The bald man with a broken nose grabbed hold of me and pushed me into the crowd. I felt a man grope me and laugh in my ear. The people in the bar pushed me towards the door. They were trying to help the bald man.

‘Give ‘er one for me!’

The bald man grabbed me and took me out in the night.

‘You hurt my nose,’ he said.

‘Please don’t-’

He struck me across the face.

My cheek hummed with pain.

‘I hate hitting women,’ he said, ‘but you hurt my nose so it’s only what you had coming to you.’

In a quiet voice I said, ‘What do you want with me?’

‘I got a man who wants you,’ he said.

He took my arm and pulled me up the street. We passed drunken sailors and the women trying to be sirens to lure them in.

I was thrown against a small stonewall just next to the harbour. The bald man pointed a big finger at me. ‘Now you stop fighting.’

I turned away from him and with trembling fingers tried to find the letter opener I had taken from Giles’.

‘You’ve got to come with me,’ he said, ‘and I don’t want to be hurting you again.’

The point of the letter opener pricked my finger and I tried not to wince. I managed to get my hand on the handle.

The bald man took a step closer and I turned round and stabbed him with the letter opener.

There was a small spot of blood on his stomach. He looked down at it and then back at me. His face was full of fury.

He raised his hand and swung to slap me.

I drove the letter opener up and it went through his palm.

He roared.

He lunged at me at me and I thrust the knife out again, this time thrusting upwards.

I poked the knife into his neck.

A tickle of blood ran down his throat and onto his chest. He coughed and blood dribbled from the centre of his mouth. The bald, bleeding man stepped forward and fell onto his knees. He tried to speak but nothing came out but blood. He put his hands around his throat like he was choking himself. Blood seeped through the gaps between his fingers.

I threw up next to him.

‘I’m sorry…’ I said

I thought my mouth tasted like something Mrs. Mulligan’s cats would eat and it made me want to throw up again.

‘Over there!’ A voice shouted.

I looked up to see one of the prostitutes was pointing at me.

‘Look! She’s killed him!’ She had a shrill voice. ‘Murder. Murder!’

People were starting to listen to her and looking over at me.

I’d just killed a man. I dragged my feet. My feet began to shuffle. When they shuffled quickly enough I turned it into a run.

******

Part Three :22/7/13

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