Daniel Williams

Arwen Blackgrace: Part Five

In Arwen Blackgrace, Stories, Writing on 01/08/2013 at 18:00

After seeking the assistance of Underwood, a historian of the Blackgraces family, Beatrice is betrayed and handed over to the Governor’s officers. She has never been as further away from discovering the real killer of Giles Corrigan and the truth behind the identity of Arwen Blackgrace…

Arwen Blackgrace

Part Five

My cell was not much bigger than I was. If I lay down on the floor and stretched out I would be able to touch the walls with my hands and touch the bars with my toes. The back wall had a small window with three bars across it. Outside I could see the sea. The back wall was the only solid wall of the cell. The other sides were bars connected to other cells on the left and right. There was nothing else inside the cell except something that might have been a chamber pot.

After some hours I was taken from the cell, had my hand shackled together and then lead down the corridor of cells to a small cream coloured room at the end.

Inside the room was Lieutenant Wiseacre. He stood with his hands behind his back. He didn’t look surprised to see me.

‘Beatrice Seastone,’ Wiseacre said. ‘Those that break the law must accept the punishment the Governor decrees. You understand?’

‘I didn’t kill Giles, I…that other man was trying to kidnap me.’

‘Murder is murder and there is only one punishment.’

I said, ‘Yes. Hanging.’

Coldly he replied, ‘It’s set for tomorrow. The Governor wants to make an example of you.’

‘You don’t understand-’

‘There is nothing to be done.’

‘Then why talk to me?’

‘A Lydia Pryce was here earlier. She says she was with you these few days so you couldn’t have murdered those men. Since you never mentioned her she must be lying.’

Lydia had tried to save me. And I’d lost my only hope of being saved.

The Lieutenant nodded. ‘That’s all. Take her back.’

The officer grabbed me away and pulled me towards the door.

As I went I said, ‘See you tomorrow, Lieutenant. Make sure somebody saves you a seat.’

******

Night came. Before it got dark a prisoner was thrown into the cell next to me- a blonde woman who screamed and shouted but calmed down when it went dark.

I sat still.

This was my last night on earth. Tomorrow I would be hanged.

I didn’t feel like sleeping.

I was going to die.

In the dark I kept seeing the Blackgrace locket in my mind. Arwen Blackgrace had one. That would have been proof she had been found. I’d never seen that locket in my life. Maybe it had been stolen when I was a baby? But then, there was nothing about Arwen Blackgrace having a scar on her shoulder. I had a scar but it meant nothing.

It was hopeless.

It was foolish to think I was Arwen Blackgrace.

Giles was dead and his murderer was free.

Devon was gone. Underwood betrayed me. And Lydia Pryce had offered me a lifeline but I wasn’t smart enough to take it.

A voice came through the dark, ‘Oi,’ it said. From the cell next to me, I could just make out the outline of the woman.

‘What’s your name?’ She asked.

‘Beatrice,’ I said. ‘You?’

‘Sonya.’ I couldn’t tell whether she old or young but her voice sounded weary. ‘They put me in here,’ she said, ‘because a man tried to rob me.’

‘They arrested you for that?’

‘No, they arrested me because I tried to cut his cock off with his razor.’ She sighed, ‘He was the one robbing me. Bloody sailors. We had an agreed price, he has his way with me, then says I overcharged him. He tried to take my money, so I tried to cut his cock off with his razor and he called officers. What are you here for?’

‘Murder. Two counts.’

‘Oh,’ she said. ‘Have they said-’

‘Yes. Tomorrow.’

‘Oh. I’m sorry for you, gal. If it were my last day even I wouldn’t want to spend it with me. But it looks like we’re stuck with each other. I don’t sleep much at night. Too used to working through it. Can’t sleep unless the sun’s up. Bloody vampire, me.’

I think she sat down, like I was, with her back against the wall and legs stretched out.

‘So who are you then?’ She asked.

‘Me?’ I said what I felt, ‘I’m no one. Just an orphan. Come from nowhere, going to nowhere. Nothing done in between.’

‘At least you’re staying cheerful,’ she muttered. ‘You’re a Seastone?’

I nodded, but realised she wouldn’t be able to see that in the dark so I answered, ‘Yes. I wish I wasn’t a Seastone. Maybe a Blackgrace instead. That’s a name that means something, means you belong to something-’

‘A name doesn’t mean anything until you do something. It’s what you do that makes it mean something. Like Varney. It’s not his name that means anything, but everything Varney’s done to make you go “oh shit, it’s Varney”.’

I said, ‘Varney? I thought Varney was a joke, I mean, a mastermind controlling the island?’

‘No joke, love,’ Sonya said, ‘he’s real. Fella I’d do the old business with works for him, talked about him too.’ Sonya scooted a little closer to the bars between us and said in a quieter voice, ‘Apparently Varney’s got something big planned.’

‘What?’

‘Fella wouldn’t say. All I know is Varney’s got something very big to sell.’

I shook my head. ‘I don’t believe this- Varney control everything?’

Sonya said, ‘I’ll tell you this- you know when you see a big old spider web, but you can’t see the spider…and it turns out it’s hiding in a corner where you can’t them and it’s always the biggest damn spider you ever saw. Well, that’s Varney. He’s the spider you can’t see.’

Several footsteps echoed down the corridor. The Governor’s officers stood outside Sonya’s cell. I couldn’t tell how many there were. Keys rattled and cell door opened.

‘This one here,’ the Governor’s officer said, ‘this is the whore.’

The men went inside Sonya’s cell and dragged her to her feet. She kicked and screamed as they took hold of her.

I shouted at them to leave her alone and one struck the bars of the cell and it made me jump back.

They dragged Sonya from her cell and pulled her down the corridor to the room at the end where Lieutenant Wiseacre had spoken to me earlier.

I could hear the noises of the shouts and the grunting and the groans. I put my hands over my ears and rocked backwards and forwards and didn’t want to hear, didn’t want to hear anything at all.

I didn’t know how long she was gone. They brought her back to the cell in silence. It was still so dark I could not make out whether her face was bruised and marked.

Softly she said, ‘It’s alright, gal, it’s alright.’

It took me a few moments to realise she was talking to me.

‘They can’t do that,’ I said.

‘They’re the Governor’s Officers,’ she spat. ‘They think they can do whatever they want.’

She reached her hand through the bars and I took it. I held it tightly.

‘It’s not right,’ I said.

‘Just be glad it wasn’t you,’ she said. ‘I’ve been here before. I knew what to expect. Let’s just hope they don’t come back.’

I said, ‘If I had a chance I’d kill them all.’

Sonya laughed. ‘You’ve done enough killing already, gal.’

I didn’t sleep that night. I sat gripping Sonya’s hand.

‘Somebody should do something,’ was all I could say. ‘Somebody has to do something.’

******

The Governor’s men came for me not long after it had gotten light. One man opened my cell and another waited behind him. I couldn’t tell if they were the same men from the night before.

An officer came into my cell and took my arm and pulled my to my feet.

As I was marched out of my cell, I saw Sonya out of the corner of my eye. I wanted to say something to her, some goodbye, but I couldn’t find the words. Sonya said, ‘Don’t make it easy for ‘em, gal’. She smiled slowly and sadly.

At the end of the corridor the men shackled my hands and feet together. I gave my chains a rattle. ‘Is this necessary?’

‘Keep quiet.’

With a man either side of me they led me along another corridor, not the one I had entered. I was taken to a large wooden staircase. It was difficult to climb with shackled feet.

‘Hurry up,’ one barked at me.

‘Do you want to try getting upstairs like this?’

He clipped me around the back of the head. I just laughed.

My ankles were sore by the time we reached the top.

At the end of the staircase were two big white doors with guards either side of it. The officers knocked on the door and were summoned in.

The room was a large office. At the other end were some very big windows and before them a large, heavy desk. Sitting at the desk was an older man in a blue uniform. He had thick white hair and white moustache. It was the Governor himself. I was so surprised I almost didn’t notice the other man.

The other man was sitting on the opposite side of the desk to the Governor. He was much older than me but handsome in his way. His clothes were all immaculate and he held a cane with a sliver handle next to him.

The Governor looked up at me with complete disinterest. ‘Girl,’ he said, ‘do you know this man?’

The man said to the Governor, ‘This isn’t fair.’

‘Answer the question, girl.’

One of the officers pushed me hard in the back. I said, ‘No.’

‘There,’ the Governor said. ‘Take her back.’

‘Wait,’ the man at the desk said, ‘Governor, please. Release her.’

The Governor sneered, ‘She doesn’t know you. Why would I transfer a girl to your keep who has no idea who you are and furthermore,’ the Governor leaned forward and raised his voice, ‘she is a double murderer, I cannot be seen to let a double murderer go free!’

The man leaned forward also and spoke quickly, ‘I’ve always supported you, Governor, I have never asked you for anything that would trouble you until this. Turn the girl over to my care and-’

‘No!’ The Governor slammed his fist on the desk. ‘No. I will not, Varney!’

The man in immaculate clothes was Varney the supposed master criminal? This slim, slight man was really the spider at the corner of the web?

Varney tried pleading but the Governor paid no heed. He looked up at me and said, ‘And what do you have to say about the matter, girl?’

I looked about the room. ‘Your men,’ I said, ‘are pigs. They abused the woman in the cell next to me. I’m told this is common practise.’

The room was silent. They were stunned. The Governor said, ‘That is besides the point-’

‘They acted like anim-’

An officer punched me in the small of my back and I fell to my knees.

‘God’s sake, man!’

Varney had rushed over to me and put his hands on my arm. ‘Are you hurt?’

‘Leave her alone, Varney.’

The officers pushed him against firmly and pulled me to my feet. They stepped back from me and Varney stood close. He turned to the Governor behind the desk and said, ‘Don’t do this.’

The Governor shook his head. ‘You forget, Varney- I am in charge of Seastone. I am the law and I am the justice. Take her away.’

Varney turned away from him and stepped closer to me. In a whisper he said, ‘Don’t lose hope…Arwen Blackgrace.’

In a moment Varney had gone and the officers were either side of me and I was being taken back to my cell.

*******

Part 6: 5/8/13

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