Saturday, July 16, 2011

Chapter 25

     Angus supervised the last load from the pier pausing only to observe the dutch vessel anchored at the dock and to watch the wind blow hard its flag. The black clouds he'd seen earlier were drifting overhead and stirring up some rain.  He must hurry to avoid the heavy rains of the approaching storm.
He stepped lively to reach the aunt's old house and to climb the stairs onto the porch.  The front door was wide open and he could see inside the parlor the smug expression of the duke and his intimate seating near Catherine/ The sight of Manigault infuriated him and his blood seethed hot with rage. He could not stop himself from stomping into the room.  The sound of his feet caused a knee-jerk reaction to Manigault who attempted to stand and explain, but was stunned by a daunting blow from Angus as he drew back his fist and slammed it into hiss face. The blow delivered bruises and a bloody nose. The pain drew Manigault to the edge of the chair where he sat wiping his bloody nose and vigorously massaging his jaw.
     "I suppose that your class qualifies this beating as the official insult."
     "Aye, and if you fail to chose ye weapon now, I will finish the beating!"
     "The sword," Manigault said quickly, then smirked, convinced that he had the advantage. "The place and hour?"
     Angus considered a place that he could safely weigh anchor in a storm. "On the Ashley at the headwaters of Alligator Creek in one hour." 
     They both stared at the confusion on Catherine's face.
     "What is your position in this, my dear?" The duke asked.
     "I do not understand.  What is happening?"
     "Your jealous husband wants to fight me in a duel," he answered.
     "For whom do you stand?" Angus demanded.  The sound of his voice cracked with emotion as he squared his shoulders and glared at her waiting for the answer.
     "I will go with the duke," she said spitefully. Angus stomped out of the house, leaving them alone.
     She arose to slip into her cape and pack her carpet bag, making certain that she had the brooch inside of the letter. 
     "I acted foolishly," she told the duke, "in not going with my husband."
     "The foolishness is in your husband, my dear, when he engaged me in his temper tantrum."
     "What do you mean?"
     "Why did he assume an offense when none was given? He did not pause to entertain the slightest explanation from you, my dear."
      "Yes, that is what angered me and caused me to choose you."
     "Tsk. Tsk."
     "Can you decline?"
     "No my dear, I shall kill him."
     "If ever I  am skilled at anything, it is with the foiles, no man hath so much as drawn a drop of my blood during a duel."
     "Angus was at Yorktown!"
     "Ha! The common soldier wields the sword as he would a butcher knife!"  Then removing his sword showed her the family crest inscribed on the hilt. "You cannot challenge the sport and traditions of the nobility in their fencing without expecting disaster."

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