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Tag: smugglers

Navy captain trapped by smugglers doxy

Sam, this story is all around Margate and the local countryside. Hard to tell what’s smoke and what’s substance, but I’m sending you my notes. Make what you will of it. I’ve spoken to some of the party goers, some servants taken on for the night and dismissed with the guests, local excise men, a few villagers down near the Castle, and even the vicar’s housekeeper.

A bacchanaal hosted by the Merry Marquis at Haverford Castle several nights ago was interrupted by the arrival of a wild-eyed girl who claimed to be pursued by smugglers.

At first, the revelers assumed she was part of the entertainment, and perhaps she was. But if so, the Merry Marquis was not inclined to share, for within minutes of drawing her to one side for private conversation, he evicted all of his guests.

The guests — the usual miscellany of wild youths, dedicated debauchers, ladies of the night, and daring widows — could not say with certainty what the relationship between the two of them was, though most thought he knew the female.

Given what we know of his lordship, even if she was not a close acquaintance one would assume they were very close by the time the night was over. Or perhaps not, given what transpired within the week.

But I get ahead of myself.

The next information comes from several troopers with the excise men, who speaks of the troop being roused by a Haverford Castle groom, and led out to the coast to apprehend a gang of smugglers, and to retrieve some dead bodies from a network of caves the smugglers frequented.

The Merry Marquis and about a score of his servants had already fought a battle with said servants and the girl was with them. I was told she had ridden into the affray astride the Merry Marquis’s horse, clinging to him. Stark naked, some say. Others demurred, claiming she was fully dressed, but all agree that she hurled herself over the body of a man whom the smugglers had beaten, and defied anyone to further hurt him.

This is where information becomes more speculation than fact. I have ascertained that the man in question was taken up to the Castle, as was one of the corpses, an elderly man. The Merry Marquis claimed the two men and the girl had been prisoners of the smugglers. The girl also returned to the Castle — and you know how closed-lipped Haverford servants are.

However, the doctor, who was called to attend the two who still lived, told his housekeeper that the man was a Redepenning — one of the Earl of C’s connections, and almost certainly the youngest son of the General Lord R. (or Lord H. as he is more commonly known). The girl, the housekeeper said, was a nobody from one of the local villages.

Turns out those who know — let’s call her Miss S. — those who know Miss S. are likewise mixed in their opinion of her. Some say she is little more than an innocent child, and that the man that died, her father, was a scholar. Others suggest that he robbed graves and collected bones, and that she is a wicked thing, no better than she should be, and bound to come to a bad end.

Suffice it to say, rumours are rife. Was she a smuggler’s doxy who fell in love with the young Redepenning’s pretty blue eyes, as some attest? Or a helpless victim of said villains, held for nefarious purposes.

It seems almost certain that she had spent several nights in the same locked cave as Redepenning. If she had any virtue to lose, it seems unlikely to have remained intact, particularly given what came next.

Lord H. arrived, along with his daughter, Mrs C. The doctor returned several times to the castle. Next, the vicar was summoned.

Sam, the young Redepenning married the girl. He has now left. Gone back to his ship, which is bound for the Far East. The new Mrs. R. is bound for London.

I don’t suppose you can print any of this — not with such powerful families now protecting the female at the centre of it. But it makes you think, doesn’t it?

Unkept Promise, out this coming week and on special at 99c on release day

Naval captain Jules Redepenning has spent his adult life away from England, and at war. He rarely thinks of the bride he married for her own protection, and if he does, he remembers the child he left after their wedding seven years ago. He doesn’t expect to find her in his Cape Town home, a woman grown and a lovely one, too.

Mia Redepenning sails to Cape Town to nurse her husband’s dying mistress and adopt his children. She hopes to negotiate a comfortable married life with the man while she’s there. Falling in love is not on her to-do list.

Before they can do more than glimpse a possible future together, their duties force them apart. At home in England, Mia must fight for the safety of Jules’s children. Imprisoned in France, Jules must battle for his self-respect and his life.

Only by vanquishing their foes can they start to make their dreams come true.

Books2Read: books2read.com/UnkeptPromises

Jude’s website (where you can read the first three chapters): https://judeknightauthor.com/books/unkept-promises/

Who is the Intrepid Female Smuggler?

The little Sussex village of Boltwood is in a sorry state indeed—or so I learned during a visit to my mother’s dear friend, Mrs. Ponsonby of Chichester.

I stopped by for tea and found Mrs. Ponsonby already entertaining Lady Ariadne Luttrow, one of the ton’s worst gossips. She never hesitates to tear a character to shreds. Poor Mrs. Ponsonby dislikes backbiting, but she cannot afford to offend the daughter of an earl, so she puts up with Lady Ariadne’s occasional visits.

I, on the other hand, was delighted. As a regular contributor to the Teatime Tattler, I am not in the least averse to listening to gossip, especially the scurrilous sort. After giving Mrs. Ponsonby a sympathetic glance, I prepared to enjoy myself.

“My dears,” Lady Ariadne said, “we are overrun with smugglers.” Her hands fluttered here and there as she spoke. “They have become so bold that one can scarcely sleep at night. Trains of pack ponies pass without hindrance through one’s property. These dreadful criminals even store some of the smuggled brandy in one’s own outbuildings!” She helped herself to one of Mrs. Ponsonby’s delicious drop cakes. I took one in a hurry, for the plate was almost empty.

“Surely,” I said, “your husband can put a stop to that.” Sir William Luttrow is dead set against smuggling—officially, at least, for like everyone on the coast, he gets his brandy from the free traders.

Lady Ariadne took a sip of tea. One restless hand hovered over the last cake on the plate. “Yes, but we are often in London, and meanwhile the servants do their best to aid and abet the smugglers. I suspect that my head groom, a violent sort of man, is actually a member of the gang.” She snatched the cake and devoured it.

“How terrifying!” Mrs. Ponsonby cried.

“The stuff of nightmares,” Lady Ariadne said, but I didn’t believe that for an instant. The smugglers are no threat to her. She was enjoying herself, leading up to something even more shocking.  

She glanced about, as if she feared being overheard, and lowered her voice. “As if that weren’t bad enough, there are rumors that the gang is now led by…a woman!”

“Surely not,” Mrs. Ponsonby bleated, but I rather liked the notion. Women so seldom get to run any sort of enterprise.

“It is a disaster in the making,” Lady Ariadne said with a pout. “This creature, whoever she is, will bring the whole smuggling gang to ruin.”

It was one thing to tell frightening tales to an elderly lady, and another entirely to wax indignant at the possible failure of the local gang. How strange. Why would Lady Ariadne care?

“Surely the arrest of the gang is ‘a consummation devoutly to be wished?’” I asked.

The quotation sailed right over Lady Ariadne’s head, but Mrs. Ponsonby, who adores Shakespeare, said, “Not for the wives and children of the smugglers. It is foolhardy of the men to put their faith in a mere woman.”

What nonsense. “A clever woman is just as capable as a man of running a successful enterprise—legal or illegal,” I said.

Mrs. Ponsonby shook her head. “My dear child, you will never find a husband if you insist on such opinions. We are the weaker sex. Men are naturally superior in every way.”

On this, Mrs. Ponsonby and I will never agree. I shouldn’t have allowed myself to digress, for Lady Ariadne’s conflicting sentiments about the smugglers had aroused my curiosity. However, that talkative lady had already moved to another subject.

“Dear Lord Boltwood, who would have dealt firmly with the smugglers, is not expected to live out the week,” she said.

“Poor Lady Boltwood,” Mrs. Ponsonby said. “She is a close friend of mine.”

“Of mine as well,” Lady Ariadne said soulfully. “She suffers doubly, for while her husband is on his deathbed, her only son, Richard, cavorts in London. If you had heard the tales about him, you would faint on the spot! He’s a dreadful rake and a bitter disappointment to his unfortunate mother.”

With that, we turned to rather more scurrilous gossip. Lady Ariadne moved from drop cakes to macaroons and did her best to shock us, and Mrs. Ponsonby sighed with relief when she finally left.

Well, now. I have met Richard Boltwood. He is a devilishly witty man, and a great favorite with the ladies—and perhaps with females of another sort. But no mother could be disappointed in such a handsome, charming son.

Why, I wondered, does he absent himself from his father’s deathbed? Might there be an estrangement of which society is unaware?

And who is the intrepid female smuggler?

It is clearly my duty to find out.

After escaping the guillotine, Noelle de Vallon takes refuge with her aunt in England. Determined to make her own way, she joins the local smugglers, but when their plans are uncovered, Richard, Lord Boltwood steps out of the shadows to save her. Too bad he’s the last man on earth she ever wanted to see again.

Years ago, Richard Boltwood’s plan to marry Noelle was foiled when his ruthless father shipped him to the Continent to work in espionage. But with the old man at death’s door, Richard returns to England with one final mission: to catch a spy. And Noelle is the prime suspect.

Noelle needs Richard’s help, but how can she ever trust the man who abandoned her? And how can Richard catch the real culprit while protecting the woman who stole his heart and won’t forgive him for breaking hers?

Released today, 24th July. Buy now on Amazon!

Excerpt:

“Open it, my love,” Richard said. “If you don’t like it, the jeweler will allow us to exchange it for something else.”

Slowly, almost reluctantly, Noelle opened the little box. Nestled inside was a delicate necklace of diamonds and sapphires. “It’s beautiful.” She closed the box and returned it to his hand.

“Take it, sweetheart. It will suit you admirably and as befits my wife.”

She sighed. “As I have told you over and over, I will not marry you.”

He tried to drum up his usual lighthearted retort, but fortunately she forestalled him. “I will accept your gift under one condition,” she said.

He managed a smile. “A condition. How delightful! Do tell me.”

Noelle, his darling, the love of his life, said, “Will you take me as your mistress instead?”

About Barbara Monajem

Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. She published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young, then moved on to paranormal mysteries and Regency romances with intrepid heroines and long-suffering heroes (or vice versa). Regency mysteries are next on the agenda.

Barbara loves to cook, especially soups. She used to have two items on her bucket list: to make asparagus pudding (because it was too weird to resist) and to succeed at knitting socks. She managed the first (it was dreadful) but doubts she’ll ever accomplish the second. This is not a bid for immortality but merely the dismal truth. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

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