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 The Devil's Due Part 2

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Silverkelpie

Silverkelpie

Posts : 1446
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 58
Location : Over the rainbow

The Devil's Due Part 2 Empty
PostSubject: The Devil's Due Part 2   The Devil's Due Part 2 EmptySat Aug 09, 2014 1:22 pm

The Devil’s Due – Part 2

“He’s perfect, Clem.  Not too bright, but very, very rich.”  Heyes was sitting on the edge of the desk and leaning towards his younger friend, who was seated behind it.   She had been writing a brief note to a friend when they had barged into the parlor, startling her.


Her eyes sparkled in response to the wicked gleam in his, “So when do I get the chance to meet this paragon?”


“We invited him to dinner Saturday night; that is if you still want to go through with it.”  Jed flopped down in one of the wing chairs placed by the hearth, casually tossed a booted leg over one satin arm, and slouched against the other.  Something he wouldn’t dare do if Soapy had been home, but he wasn’t.  Soapy had left early Tuesday morning with Genevieve and her father for a trip to San Francisco.  Transcontinental railroad service had reached Denver earlier that summer and it was now possible to travel all the way from the east to the city by the bay.  It had also cemented Denver’s importance to the inner West.  



Soapy would be gone for at least ten days.  Despite having admonished his young charges to behave, his absence went a long way to assuaging Jed’s misgivings about pulling a con without his consent.
Jed and Heyes had been visiting the saloon for the past few nights, playing poker with William Burdon, and getting a feel for the man before they brought Clem in on their plan.  William was a terrible poker player, but he took his losses well.   Jed couldn’t fault his manners, but there was something about the man that niggled at him.  He’d tried to bait him, had deliberately gloated over every hand he won, and Heyes made sure he won quite a few, but William had remained unflappable.  On the other hand, Heyes had commiserated with William and had offered many helpful tips thereby noticeably improving young Burdon’s poker-playing skills and cementing their new friendship.


Clem was delighted to hear that Heyes had finally come up with a plan.  She had seethed with envy as she’d watched her sister and her new stylish wardrobe depart with her father and her mentor.  Before they’d gone, Jen had made it a point to gush on and on about the wonders of San Francisco, driving home the fact that she had already visited the city by the sea and would be there again before Clementine ever had the pleasure.  It wasn’t fair!


All her life she had lived in Jen’s shadow and it had never bothered her until recently.  She had worshipped her older sister and had tried to emulate her in all things, but as she’d grown older and neared her maturity, the worship had turned to jealousy.  Clem was only four years younger, but everyone treated her like a child.  Her father still referred to her as his little princess.  Heyes and Jed treated her like a pesky pet rather than see her as the woman she was.  No matter how hard she tried, they never took her seriously.  


She could still remember the day she had met them.  Jen had brought her two new friends home for dinner one evening and Clem had felt her heart leap when Jed came through the door; it had positively jumped for joy when a second handsome dark-haired boy had followed him.  She had been sure that one of them would be interested in her.  She hadn’t even cared which one.  As long as she’d known them, she had never been able to decide which one she was more attracted to; not that it had ever mattered.  Not then and not now.  


She’d spent that entire evening watching the two young men compete for her sister’s attentions, making fools of themselves hanging on Jen’s every word.  Despite her best efforts, they’d seen her as a child.  To this day, she still flirted outrageously with them both, but they never crossed the line.  In her uglier moments, she wondered how often they had 
crossed it with Jen.  


She glanced at her two friends.  Well, she certainly had their attention now.   They were both staring at her expectantly, waiting for her approval.  She let them hang for a moment before speaking, savoring her power over them.  They would pull this con and everyone would know that she was as good as her sister.


Clem smiled demurely.  “Let’s do it!  Mr. Burdon will never know what hit him.”


~~~~~~~~~


Burdon nodded towards the slight figure sitting at the other side of his expansive desk in his San Francisco office.  “This is Norman Abbott, Crighton.”  The banker’s stare underscored the statement to his underling.  “He’s come from England to look into setting up an import-export business and needs some banking facilities.”


“Right away, Sir.”  The assistant manager’s hands came together increasing his similarity to an enormous praying mantis.  “I’ll fetch the paperwork.  Can I get you gentlemen some refreshments?  Some coffee, perhaps?”


“Coffee?” Hale beamed.  “Why, yes, a coffee would be most acceptable.”


“Get that organized, Crighton,” Burdon sat back in his leather chair and smiled at the flim flammer.  “So tell me more about this business of yours.”


“My shipping line already does business between South America and the Caribbean, so it makes sense to look at coming up to the United States,” Hale shifted in the little upright chair and emphasized his affected English accent.  “After all, we’re no longer enemies, are we?  That old war was in a different century.  We’re allies now.  We even speak the same language,” he shrugged, “after a fashion.”   


“So what is the cargo?”


Hale had enough of the uncomfortable chair.  He stood and strolled over to the bookcase.  “We will be taking heavy machinery from Liverpool to off-load it in Cape Town.  Then we’ll pick up various minerals and metals, head to Hong Kong for opium, and then continue onto San Francisco for wheat.” Hale idly spun the globe on the corner of the desk.  “We’ll go around the Horn to collect a load of beef from Argentina and head back to Liverpool.  Great Britain needs the wheat and the beef to feed our growing industrial class.”  


Burdon’s eyes lit up.  “Minerals and metals?  Opium?”


“Yes.  South Africa is full of gold, diamonds, and copper.”  Hale spun the globe wildly.  “Everybody wants that; and I understand that opium is almost currency.  It’ll sell anywhere, but I’m told it’s very popular in San Francisco.”


“Yes…” Burdon murmured thoughtfully.  “That sounds like a very profitable business.”


“Yes, well; it’s a whole lot less profitable since they took slaves off the market.  I blame the Quakers.”  Hale stopped the globe with a stab of a finger.  “Nobody thought of Africans as men until they started all their campaigning, damn them.  That was the leg of the trade route that made the most money.  Since your little internal spat ended the trade here in the U.S.A.  I have had to find another way to keep the family business afloat.”  Hale’s eyes widened as his though his own joke had suddenly hit him.  “Afloat?  Oh, I say.  That was rather droll of me, what?”   


“Most amusing,” Burdon’s eyes betrayed the machinations behind the gruff visage.  “Diamonds?”


“I have to find out which is the most efficacious new cargo.  Right now I don’t want to put all my eggs in the same basket.  We almost fell afoul of that with this slavery business.  Diversify; that’s what I need to do. ”       


A sharp rap at the door shook the banker out of his musings.  “Come in.”


A pale, thin boy, wearing a suit he was clearly meant to grow into, clattered into the room.  “Coffee, sir?”


“Yes, on the desk, Hawkins.”  Burdon’s brow furrowed.  “Not on the files!”  He watched the nervous lad shift the tray, “or the mail.”


Hale took pity on the clerk.  “Let me.  I perfected being mother when I was a fag at Eton.  Daisy Welport used to like me to warm his buns for him.  His real name was David, but everyone called him Daisy because his father made his fortune in chains.”            


Hawkins’ eyes widened as he backed off from the strange Englishman and his outlandish ways.  His father had warned him about foreigners.


“What?” Burdon demanded.


“If you ever want a spotted Dick, I’m your man.”  Hale smiled, benignly, “and I can arrange iced fingers with the best of them.”


“Abbott, what are you wittering about?”


“Being mother,” Hale’s love of the provocative had been inherited by both his daughters, but he was the original font of dead-pan mischief.  “It means pouring the beverages.   What does it mean here?”


“Nothin’,” shock made Burdon’s original parochial tones cut through his businesslike façade, “but the rest…”


“Being a fag?”  Hale lifted the coffee pot.  “It means being a servant to the senior boys.  All the students do it when they’re juniors, even royalty.  It teaches humility, not to mention numerous practical skills.  Do you know I’d never polished a boot until then?  I learned a lot, I can tell you.  Cream or sugar?”


“What about buns and spotted whatnots?”  Burdon’s color started to return to normal as he shook his head.  


“Cakes and puddings,” Hale handed over the cup.  “It was my job to collect them from the village for his tea.  Why?  What does it mean here?”


Burdon turned on the clerk.  “Why are you still here?”


“Sorry, sir…” the flustered lad backed off, bumping into the chair.  “Thank you, sir.”


Hale watched the door close behind the harassed minion.  “Sweet boy, but none too bright.  A relation of yours?”


~~~~~~~~~~

_________________
Na sir 's na seachainn an cath - Neither seek nor shun the fight      Old Scottish proverb


Last edited by Silverkelpie on Sat Aug 09, 2014 1:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Silverkelpie

Silverkelpie

Posts : 1446
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The Devil's Due Part 2 Empty
PostSubject: The Devil's Due Part 2 continued   The Devil's Due Part 2 EmptySat Aug 09, 2014 1:24 pm

The hansom cab drew up at the docks, the driver looking around doubtfully at the swarthy stevedores and menacing mariners.  He leaned forward to consult with his passenger through the window from his vantage point at the back.  “Miss, are you sure this is the right place?”


Genevieve turned a smiling face up to the driver.  “The Baltasara from Bristol?”  She watched the driver nod.  “Then we are in the right place.”


“I dunno; there are some shady characters about.  I don’t feel happy about lettin’ a respectable young woman off here.” 


“I shall be fine,” she chirped.  “Will you wait for me and take me home again?  I shan’t be above twenty minutes.  I just have to see the captain.”


“Well, if’n you’re sure,” the cabbie frowned.  “I’d sure be happier waitin’ for you.  That way I can make sure you’re safe.  They got no respect, these sailors.  I hear they got a girl in every port.”


“I can assure you that I’m not one of them,” Genevieve giggled.  “My father would shoot a man like that through the heart.  I‘m here to see an old friend of the family; I would appreciate your ensuring I get back home safely.”


The driver glanced around again.  “I’ll be here, Miss.  Rest assured on that.  I’ll make sure you’re treated with respect between here and the ship.”


“Thank you,” Genevieve stepped out of the vehicle and handed some coins up to her protector.  “I’ll be twenty minutes, maybe less.  I simply need to invite him for a family visit.”


She walked briskly towards the vessel, finding the gangplank while studiously ignoring the curious gazes and catcalls from those brave enough to ensure they had the protection of distance from their victim.  Even foreign seafarers knew the rules; respectable women were off limits.  Sometimes highborn females were headstrong enough to ignore the rules; they could be needled as long as it didn’t go too far, just enough to let them know they had wandered into a world they had no business being in; lower class women were fair game.  Genevieve had played both and being lower class was to be avoided at all costs; those women had more choices, but that came hand-in-hand with little or no power.


A young man sporting a full beard and wearing a naval uniform approached her, his brow furrowing in curiosity.  “Can I help you, Miss?”


Genevieve nodded and slipped into her heightened Received Pronunciation accent.  “I’m looking for Captain Lavery.  Is he aboard?”


The young man shook his head.  “I’m sorry, he’s ashore.  I’ve been left in charge.  My name is Lieutenant Smythe.   Can I help?”


“Oh!”  The brown eyes widened, noting the English pronunciation of ‘leff-tenant’.  She had to store that away to make sure she didn’t slip up.  “Well, you may be the very man.  I have a great favor to ask of you.”


“Favor?”  Smythe looked intrigued; being left behind while everyone went ashore to enjoy the delights of dry land was normally the short straw.  This doe-eyed beauty was a more than welcome diversion.  “What kind of favor, Miss…?”


“Abbott.  Arrabelle Abbott, Mr. Smyth.  Where are you from?”  This was not a small talk.  A flim flammer had to know who they were dealing with.  


“Bristol, Miss Abbot,” Smythe smiled, “and you?”


“London.  Do you know it?”


Smythe shook his head, much to Genevieve’s relief.  “Only the docks.  I don’t expect that’s an area a lady like you would frequent,” he raised an eyebrow, “apart from today.”


“Occasionally Daddy would take us to see one of the ships when we were very little.  Mummy didn’t think it proper once we got a bit older.”  She frowned at an Asian man with a face as brown as a nut staring at her from a hatch.  “We live over here now, in San Francisco.  I have the greatest of kindnesses to ask.  Daddy is ill,” she gave a pretty moué and lowered her eyes.  “He is wandered in the head.  Sometimes he is absolutely fine but at others he thinks he is young again and still at sea.  He lived for the sea, Mummy used to say he had salt water in his veins.  It would mean so much to me if he could visit a boat for his birthday tomorrow.”   


Smythe chuckled lightly.  “It a ship, Miss Abbott.  A ship can carry a boat, but a boat can’t carry a ship.  That’s the easy way to remember the difference.”


Genevieve looked coyly through her long lashes.  “If Daddy had explained it so well, I’d never have made such a silly mistake.  Would it be possible for him to look over your ship?  His doctor has a theory that once he’s immersed in things he is familiar with he has extended periods of lucidity, then I think he can enjoy his birthday.”  Eyes of molten chocolate washed over the young man.  “Please?”


“Just be shown around?”


“Yes, I was told you don’t leave until the day after tomorrow.  I won’t take too much of your time.”


Smythe sighed.  “He was a sea man, Miss Abbott?”


“A captain, on the Forbes-White line.”


“That was taken over about ten years ago.”


Genevieve nodded.  “Yes.  We got Daddy home at last.  Please?”


“Is he dangerous?”


Genevieve feigned shock.  “Goodness me, no.  Daddy wouldn’t hurt a fly.  In any case he’ll have his doctor with him.”   


The young officer weighed things up.  The cargo was nearly loaded and almost everyone was enjoying some hard-earned shore leave.  He could do worse than spend time in the company of this lovely fawn.  It sure beat watching the bo’sun take inventory on the supplies for the next leg, but he had no way of clearing this with the absent captain.  


She laid a gentle hand on the lieutenant’s forearm.  Every movement was calculated manipulation.  She had been taught a long time ago that a woman never touches a man accidently, only incidentally, and that even a carefully placed finger can send the message that she finds him attractive; done well it can also tell him that she is worth the chase too.  The Hale girls were still learning the craft of flim flamming but they were certainly gifted amateurs.  “I will be eternally grateful.”


Smythe bit.  “Yes, why not?  It’s always good to help a fellow sea man. Shall we say noon?”


Genevieve gave a gasp of delight.  “Noon it is.  I shall see your tomorrow, Leff-tenant Smythe.”  


She turned and made her way back down the gang plank towards her cab with her agile mind buzzing.  The mark was about to see one the ‘Abbott’s ships.’  That should help close the trap.  Burdon was the perfect patsy; wealthy, greedy, selfish and proud.  They wouldn’t take too much, just enough to make sure he’d be too embarrassed to report the loss, after all, nobody ever choked to death swallowing their pride, did they? 


~~~~~~~~~


“Would you care for another aperitif, Mr. Burdon?” Clem smiled sweetly at the young man seated across the huge polished mahogany dining table of the furnished mansion Heyes had rented with his poker winnings; the bulk of which had flowed from William’s pocket.  The glow of the silver candelabras lent an intimate atmosphere to the room.  


“Yes, thank you, Your Highness.”  William eyed the fetching creature before him.  She had been a pleasant surprise.  He hadn’t been expecting female company and he was trotting out his best behavior.  Here he was, William Burdon of Denver, being entertained by royalty!  He only wished his father could see him.  His old man never gave him any respect.  


“Oh, please, call me Isabella.  If you are a friend of my dear Juan than you are certainly a friend of mine,” Clem cooed.
Jed stood by the door watching the tableau with a neutral expression pasted onto his face.  His job was to serve the meal and oversee the evening.  He’d had the hotel down the street prepare a sumptuous dinner which was now packed and staying warm on the old coal stove in the unused kitchen.  


Heyes raised his glass of champagne and cleared his throat.  “To friends and family.”  At the stricken, pained expression that sprang to his ‘sister’s’ face, he dropped his hand and stammered apologetically.  “Isabella, I…I…I’m so sorry!  That was thoughtless.”


Clementine leapt to her feet on cue, swept her linen napkin to her face, and fled the room.  William stood up quickly, shocked by her sudden departure, and turned back questioningly to Heyes, who was shaking his head.   Gesturing to Jed, Heyes stood and said, “Clyde, please see to the princess.”  


Jed nodded and left the room, closing the double doors behind him.   He stood in the hallway with Clem, their ears glued to the dining room doors, their faces alive with anticipation.


“William, forgive me.   My careless words have caused my sister much pain.”  Heyes ran a weary hand through his hair.  
“I don’t understand.”


“Please, sit down, and I will explain.”  Heyes waited for William to be seated, then sank into his own chair as though the weight of the world rested on his broad shoulders.  “I was hoping that this evening would be enjoyable for my dear sister.  She’s been so heartbroken.”


“Heartbroken?”


“Yes.  I would not mention it, but you have unfortunately witnessed her distress.  You see, my friend, I have not been completely honest with you,” began Heyes.  “We are not here in Denver for a visit; we are here because we had to flee our homeland.  Asturias has recently undergone a revolution.”


“Juan, I’m so sorry.  I had no idea.  Thank God you escaped.”


Heyes closed his eyes and rubbed a hand across his face.  When they opened, they were filled with unshed tears.  To hide his emotions, he gulped his flute of champagne and sighed, looking away towards the shadows of the candlelit room.
William was appalled.  Good manners dictated that he didn’t pry, but he was burning to know what had so deeply affected his friend.  “Perhaps I should go.”  He started to rise again, but Heyes waved him back into his seat.


“No, please stay.” Heyes’ voice choked on his appeal.  “Our parents were killed during the troubles.”


“I’m so very sorry for your loss,” mumbled a horrified William.  He felt thrown by the direction the evening had taken and was paralyzed by the revelations, unsure of how to react.  His training demanded that he commiserate, but he felt awkward doing so.


“Thank you.  It has been…difficult for Isabella; for me.  We mourn our parents, but it is our dear sister who breaks our hearts.”


“Your sister?  You have another sister?”


“Yes, an older sister, Catherine.  She has been imprisoned by the rebels.  They are holding her for ransom.”  
William paled.  “Dear God!”


“Yes.  So now you can understand my sweet Isabella’s discomfort and forgive her abrupt departure.  Come, we will speak no more of this.  Let us enjoy our good fortunes.”  Heyes raised his voice, “Clyde, more champagne!”


“But, what will you do?” asked William, unable to contain his curiosity.


“I will do whatever is necessary to save my sister.”  Heyes’ jaw tightened and it was obvious that the subject was closed.
A moment later, the door to the dining opened slowly and a composed Clementine glided back in on satin slippers.  She curtsied to Heyes and William before slipping into her chair.  Jed followed.  He lifted the bottle from the champagne bucket and carefully refilled her glass before topping off the others.  


“Clyde, I believe we are ready for dinner.”  Clem took a fortifying sip of her champagne.  The bubbles tickled her nose and she had to stifle the absurd desire to giggle.


“Yes, ma’am.  I’ll see to it, ma’am.”  Jed bowed stiffly and left.


“Ah, dear Isabella, I am so glad you have decided to rejoin us,” said Heyes.


“Of course.  How could I resist such charming company?”  Clementine turned a brilliant smile to William.  “I do so want to hear all about life in Denver.  I’ve had no opportunity to enjoy the city and am so looking forward to discovering its delights.”


“I would consider it an honor if you would allow me to escort you through the city,” offered William, who quickly added, “You, too, Juan.  I did not mean to imply that your sister would not have a chaperone.”


“Excellent idea!  We will start tomorrow,” said Heyes with unfeigned enthusiasm. 


~~~~~~~~~

_________________
Na sir 's na seachainn an cath - Neither seek nor shun the fight      Old Scottish proverb
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Silverkelpie

Silverkelpie

Posts : 1446
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 58
Location : Over the rainbow

The Devil's Due Part 2 Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Devil's Due Part 2   The Devil's Due Part 2 EmptySat Aug 09, 2014 1:25 pm

The foursome spent the next few days exploring the town.  Denver was experiencing a boom both in building and population and the busy streets were congested with traffic, the sidewalks burgeoning with pedestrians.  While still essentially a frontier town, the old canvas tent structures had been all but replaced with new, wooden buildings housing everything one could possibly desire.  


The city's economy was based on trade, manufacturing, food processing, and servicing the state’s growing agricultural and ranching communities.  The advanced rumors of the railroad’s advent had caused a spike in manufacturing and a recent influx of wealthy, well-heeled emigrants.   Mansions were springing up and the gulf between wealth and poverty grew ever wider.   Crime, too, grew and attracted a less desirable element.   Three of whom were currently enjoying themselves being squired about the city with William.


Clem stopped in front of a store window and clapped her hands with delight.  “Look Juan, it’s a new millinery.  All the way from Paris!  I do so need a new hat.  Please, dear brother, can we go in?”


“Forgive me if I am mistaken, but I seem to recall an excess of wardrobe we had a devil of a time shipping west.”  Heyes tugged gently at her arm, hoping to move her along.


William laughed at her machinations and threw his support to her.  “Surely, Juan, as Prince of Asturias you cannot allow your lovely sister to parade in anything less than the latest fashions.”


Heyes had to relent, but he wasn’t happy about it.  “Of course.  Shall we go in?” Smiling sweetly at Clem, his eyes warned her not to go any further in her plan to empty his pockets.  She giggled happily and led them inside.  Hundreds of hats and an hour later, they left the shop with Clem sporting a deep green, silk velvet, fanchon-style hat atop her curls.  She linked her arm through William’s and twittering happily.  The two youngsters walked on ahead.  There was twittering going on behind them, but it was not happy.


“Twenty-five dollars!  We got robbed!” Jed looked over his shoulder at the blonde-haired saleswoman bidding them adieu.  “And that was a fake accent if ever I heard one.”  He was especially incensed as he’d had to slip five dollars to Heyes when he’d realized his partner was going to come up short.


Heyes laughed harshly.  “Clem had us right where she wanted us.”     


“Well, we’d better get William where we want him fast or we ain’t gonna have two cents to rub together.”


“I don’t think that’s going to be a problem,” said Heyes, nodding towards Clem and William.  The two had their heads together, nearly touching.  William gave every sign of being totally enamored with Isabella.  “Clem’s got him wrapped around her little finger.  I’d say it’s time we moved in for the kill.”


“Now you’re talking,” grinned Jed.


William glanced over his shoulder and saw Juan and Clyde deep in conversation.  Turning back to the tasty morsel on his arm, he risked a small peck on Isabella’s cheek.  She blushed prettily and smiled up at him.  “I’m having a wonderful time, William.  You are the consummate guide.”  Accentuating the emphasis on consummate with a squeeze of his arm, she returned the kiss with one on his lips.  His eyes widened at her brazenness and he searched her eyes, pleased with what he saw there.  So, the princess was like every other woman.  All polished manners and restrained dignity on the outside, but a whore on the inside.  He chuckled happily and Clem smiled up at him unaware of his thoughts.  


As the two older men joined them, William was the picture of decorum, but his mind was racing.  This was going to be much more pleasurable than he’d expected.  He’d already decided that Isabella was his ticket to a better life.  He would court her and make her his wife.  He was sure Juan would find him acceptable; after all, the Burdons had money to burn.  It had been obvious over the past few days that Juan was suffering from financial straits, no doubt brought on by having to raise a ransom on their other sister.  The minute William learned of their situation, he’d known that Isabella was attainable.  He had patiently bided his time for a chance to offer his assistance and put the man in his debt.  


He couldn’t wait.  Wouldn’t his social climbing parents be shocked to see him marry into royalty?  His father would be humiliated at being upstaged by his ne’er-do-well son.  Best of all, he’d have entry into a world his parents could only dream of.  They would fall all over themselves to stay in his good graces and, oh, how he looked forward to torturing them with his new standing.  


William tightened his grip on Clem’s arm possessively and she knew she had him where she wanted him.  She’d landed her fish in record time.  Take that, Jen!


~~~~~~~~~~


Burdon glanced cagily around the docks.  “I’m not sure I’d allow my daughters to come to a place like this, Abbott.  There are some rum characters about.”


Hale held up a hand to assist Genevieve down from the carriage.  “My daughter is an English woman, Burdon.  They are made of stern stiff.  Hearts of oak are built on the playing fields and in the public schools.  Our young people are bred to be leaders.”


“Women leaders?” snorted Burdon.  


“They look after the stately homes of England while the men are at war,” Hale smiled.  “It’s a brave man who’ll cross a Dowager Duchess.  They run estates larger than most businesses.”


“Who’s this?” Burdon turned to frown at the figure striding towards them, the silver tip of his ebony cane clicking on the cobbled surface.  


“Ah, that’s Aldous Lehrman.”  Hale nodded in welcome to an expensively dressed Soapy Saunders.  “He’s a partner in the Lehrman Rosencrantz Commercial Union.”  Hale smiled at Burdon.  “You didn’t think that you were the only bank who’s interested, do you?”


“But Jews?”


“They run a very efficient bank, Burdon.  What else should I care about?”  Hale proffered a handshake to his fellow confidence trickster.  “Lehrman, let me introduce you to Ernest Burdon from Burdon Coutts.  My daughter you already know.”


Soapy doffed his hat to Genevieve.  “Miss Abbott, may I say how especially beautiful you look today?”


“Always,” giggled Genevieve.  She looked towards the ship.  “Ah, I see ‘Leff…tenant’  Smythe.  How sweet.”  She slipped a hand through Soapy’s arm.  “Let’s go and see if they are ready for our inspection.”


“He’s all set for the visit?” Soapy hissed.


“Just tell Smythe you’re my father’s doctor and we’ll be fine.  We’re being shown around the boat to help with a geriatric episode.  Father’s ready to try to play up to that without giving anything away to Burdon.”


“Gotcha,” Soapy smiled.  “You really are doing tremendously well.”


“It’s the research,” Genevieve purred.  “There is so much to learn.  When you’re pretending to be someone you’re not it’s the tiny things that give you away; a phrase, a pronunciation, even a favorite food.  Do you know that the British call muffins crumpets and don’t get me started on their puddings.  They sound positively obscene not to mention unappetizing.  Did you know they eat spotted dick?”


“I knew you were ready,” Soapy chuckled.  “It takes intelligence to do this and you demonstrate the kind of mind that’ll give you a great future in our game.  It is the details.  Watch them and you will have a great future with us.  Get the mark to thrust money at you and it’s harder for them to go to the law.”


“Yes, well your presence should help us with that,” Genevieve smiled at the bearded sailor who stood with his hands behind his back at the top of the gang plank.  “Leff…tenant Smythe.  How lovely to see you again.  “This is Mr. Lehrman, my father’s medical consultant.”


“Mister?” Smythe nodded a stiff greeting.  “Not Doctor Lehrman?”


“Once we become professors they call us Mister, Lt. Smythe.  It’s a mark of respect in the medical profession.”


“Really?”  The Naval officer raised his brows.  “Mr. Lehrman it is.”  He smiled at the two men following behind.”


“Leff…tenant Smythe; may I introduce my father, Norman Abbott, and an associate of his, Ernest Burdon?”  Genevieve turned back to the group.  “Gentlemen, Leff..tenant Smythe is going to show us around his lovely boat.” 


“It’s a ship, dear,” Hale interjected.  “It is too large to be a boat.”


“Oh, of course,” Genevieve blushed prettily.  “I always get that wrong.”


Smyth and Hale exchanged a knowing smile.  “I understand you were a seaman, Mr. Abbott?”    


“I certainly was.  There’s a long tradition of the family joining the Navy.  Did Arrabelle tell you that we are related to Horatio Nelson?”


The young officer’s eyes widened.  “No, she certainly didn’t.”


“Yes, once removed on my mother’s side.  Old Cyclops we called him on account of the eye,” Hale strolled ahead with the sailor, “and did you know about his tattoos?”


“Tattoos?  No, tell me more…”  


Genevieve turned back to Burdon and Soapy.  “There you go.  He’s always like this when he gets together with another seaman.”


“You didn’t tell me he used to be a sailor?” Burdon frowned.


“Oh, yes.  All the men in the family go into the services, and the youngest goes into the church.  That’s what happens in most English families.” 


“Hmm,” a smile spread over Soapy’s face.  “A former Navy man?  I much prefer to see someone running a shipping line who knows the business from the bottom up.  Too many of the men in charge have never been out of the office.  This proposition is looking better by the minute, Miss Abbott.  I’m pretty sure that the Lehrman Rosencrantz Commercial Union can do business with your shipping line.”


Burdon drew himself up to his full height.  “And I’m sure that the Burdon Coutts Bank can offer more favorable rates.”


“You think?” Soapy’s eyes danced with mischief.  “We deal primarily with commercial customers, so we know how to do the best for an expanding shipping line.  The only personal accounts we run are held by businessmen we work with.  I understand that your customer base is mainly personal accounts and a few ranchers.”


Burdon glared at Soapy.  “You understand wrong.” 


“Gentlemen!” Genevieve hooked arms with both men.  “Enough of this.  My father will make a decision based upon the bank which offers the most favorable terms.  Now come on, let’s look around the lovely boat.”


~~~~~~~~~~


Clementine gazed happily into the full-length mirror and twirled about letting her skirts flare up.  The green velvet dress was beautifully tailored for her slender frame and the silk trim added a touch of elegance to her outfit, but something was missing.  The pearl earrings were not quite right; they screamed young, untouched girl, not alluring woman.  She pulled them off and turned to her dresser, opening the walnut jewelry box resting atop it.  She tucked the pearls back into the small, satin sack that protected them and scanned the rest of her choices.  Unfortunately, the pearls were the best she had; the rest of the jewels were mostly paste or lesser gems.   That wouldn’t do for tonight.  Tonight, William was taking her to dinner and an opera at the Denver Theatre.   Well, taking her and Heyes and Jed.  She sighed.  Heyes still insisted that she be chaperoned everywhere.  He said that she was portraying a princess, so she had to behave like a princess.  Pooh!  As far as Clem was concerned, being royalty was not all it was cracked up to be although she had to admit she was having fun.  The past few days had been a whirlwind of activities and William had been very attentive to her.  Not that she really wanted to be alone with William--there was something about him that made her skin crawl and she was all too glad to have an excuse to play the perfect lady around him.  


An idea drifted across her mind.  Jen.  Genevieve had a jewelry box bursting with goodies.  As the oldest daughter, she had already received several fine pieces from their mother’s estate on her eighteenth birthday.   She let the lid of the box fall shut with a small bang and hurried across the hall to her sister’s unoccupied room.


Jen kept her jewels in an embroidered case that had belonged to their mother.  Clem knew right where it was; in the top drawer on the left.  This wasn’t the first time she’d snuck into her sister’s room.  She’d been doing it most of her life.  Like many little sisters, it thrilled her to try on her sister’s clothes and rummage through Jen’s possessions.  She already had everything that Clem wanted; beautiful things, Soapy’s respect, and the attentions of two particularly dreamy young men.  Without any remorse at all, she pulled Jen’s box from its resting place and lifted the lid.


The first things she saw were her mother’s prized emerald earrings.  Jen must’ve worn them recently and had left them nestled in the top tray.   Snatching them up, Clem held them to her ears.  Perfect.  They caught the light from the chandelier and shone brightly, illuminating her skin.  Pleased with her selection, Clem hurried back to her room to finish her preparations.


When she swept down the curved staircase of the rented mansion a few hours later, she saw the admiration that leapt into William’s eyes and she shivered, suddenly grateful for Heyes’ presence.   Burdon was gazing up at her with naked hunger.


“Ah, there you are, Isabella.  I’m afraid that William and I were beginning to wonder if perhaps you had changed your mind about accompanying us,” said Heyes teasingly.


“Nonsense, I wouldn’t miss it for the world, but you do want me to look presentable, don’t you?” she purred as she arrived at the foot of the stairs.  William hurried forward to take her hand and escort her towards the open door and out to the lovely black carriage waiting at the curb.  Jed stood at attendance next to the steps.  


“You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen,” said William, shocked to find that he meant every word.  She was rich, royal, and easy on the eyes.  What more could a man ask for?  As they passed Jed, Heyes winked at his partner.  It was going well.  Their fish was more than hooked, he was almost landed.


Jed helped Clem up the steps to the carriage and stood back as William and then Heyes climbed in.  Shutting the door firmly, he climbed up onto the seat and nodded to the driver who clucked to his team.  As they moved out, Jed reached into his jacket and pulled out the small derringer concealed there.  He checked the load and returned it to its hiding place.  He sure wished he had his Colt, but he knew the tiny weapon packed a large punch.  He’d been surprised when Heyes had handed him the gun.  His partner usually discouraged him from going about armed, but he had a feeling that William disturbed Heyes as much as he did him.  He still couldn’t figure out why.  The man was congenial and polite, but he sparked suspicion in Jed.  


The evening was a roaring success.  It was very apparent by the intermission of the opera—ironically, it was The Bartered Bride--that William was completely besotted with Clementine.  He couldn’t take his eyes off her and he scandalously insisted on clutching her hand through the entire performance.  Clem couldn’t get out of her seat quickly enough.   She gently withdrew her hand from William’s sweaty palm and wriggled her fingers trying to work some blood back into them.  
“I do believe I will take a moment and powder my nose if you gentlemen will excuse me.”  She performed a small curtsy and disappeared around the heavy drapes concealing the rear of their box.


“Clyde, please fetch us some champagne,” ordered Heyes.  Jed nodded and left.


“William, I must ask that you show a bit more decorum with Isabella.  My sister’s virtue is of the utmost importance to me.”  Heyes said the words with a gentle humor, but a hard look of warning told William he was completely serious.


“Juan, please, I apologize.  I was swept away with Isabella’s beauty tonight.  I don’t know what came over me.”
Heyes chuckled.  “I understand, but I cannot permit my sister’s sterling reputation to be compromised.  Sadly, it is all we have left.”  


William smiled, but his heart started to pound with anticipation.  He’d been thinking all evening about how he could approach Juan about formally courting his sister and here was his opening.  He knew that as an American, he was less than she should aspire to, but he thought he might’ve come up with an incentive.


“Juan, I hope you realize that my intentions towards your dear sister are entirely honorable.  In fact, I am hoping that you will give me permission to court your sister openly.” 


Heyes frowned and he sat back in his seat, scowling.   William took that as a bad sign and quickly babbled on.


“I know that I’m not exactly the best match she could achieve, but, well, by Denver’s standards I’m very desirable.  Let me be open and honest with you, Juan.  I will receive nearly one million dollars on my maturity next month and much, much more when my father passes.  I already have a healthy allowance and I am willing to put all of it at your disposal.”


Glittering brown eyes bore into William.  “Careful, my friend, it sounds as though you are offering to purchase my sister’s hand.”


William jumped out of his chair and stood over Heyes.  His cheeks were reddening, but more with anger than embarrassment.  He would not be humiliated by this foreign monkey.  “Nonsense, I am not suggesting anything of the sort!  I am attempting to offer my help in rescuing your older sister, Catherine.  You do know, don’t you, that the rebels will not keep her forever.  You must save her now, and I can help you do it.  Let me be perfectly clear, I’m doing this for Isabella.  She is so heartbroken about her sister that she cannot think about anything else.  It is all she talks about and I know it would destroy her if Catherine was lost.”


“And me as well,” murmured Heyes.  “Yes, you are correct and I apologize for my crass remark.  Really, William, I don’t know what came over me.  You are a good man to extend us your help in friendship.”  Standing, he held out his hand.  “Yes, I accept your offer and thank you for it.”


“You’re welcome,” said William, grasping Heyes’ hand with both of his own.  “Now, about Isabella…”
Heyes waited a moment, letting William stand by anxiously, and then he cleared his throat.   “Yes, I cannot accept your assistance as merely a friend, it would be too much, but as Isabella’s suitor…well, that is another story, isn’t it?” 
When Clementine returned, she found Heyes and William seated side by side, grinning at each other and holding flutes of champagne.  Jed drew the curtains closed as she came in and served her a glass on a silver tray as she was seated.  “Why, thank you, Clyde.”  


“My dear Isabella, William has asked my permission to officially court you and I have given it.  Darling, you know, I want you to be happy.  Do you accept this proposal?” asked Heyes.


Clem let her eyes widened innocently and then she willed a blush onto her cheeks letting her gaze drop to her lap.  “Why, yes, I am delighted.”


“Then I propose a toast,” Heyes held up his glass, “to our dear friend, William, and to my lovely sister, Isabella; may all your wishes be granted.”  He sipped his champagne and smiled.  His wishes were certainly coming true.   They were about to become fairly wealthy and he was almost out from under Clem’s thumb.


~~~~~~~~~


Ernest Burdon was getting more and more frustrated.  He was a creature of habit, often lunching at the same modest restaurant across the road from his offices.  Every day he consumed whatever variety of pie was on the menu, accompanied by a selection of seasonal vegetables, and made his way back to the office at precisely twelve forty-five.  That way he could catch people snatching an extra few minutes on their mid-day break.  He wasn’t about to pay goldbrickers.  He was nobody’s fool.


Today, like any other day, he made his way out of the bank and looked both ways before crossing the road to go over to Murphy’s Chop House and sucked in a breath of indignation.  Lehrman was across the road chatting to Norman Abbott.  He watched his rival shake his new prospect enthusiastically by the hand before slapping the top of his arm manfully.  Abbott nodded and gesticulated down the street towards the Bay area where the offices of the Lehrman Rosencrantz Commercial Union stood.  Damn that man.  He’d almost had that shipping line in the bag before that Jew had started sniffing around.  This was the third time he’d seen them together, while Abbott had declined his invitation to dine with the Burdons twice now, claiming a prior engagement.  


Lehrman turned and walked away while the Englishman paused and looked at the menu in the restaurant window.  Burdon seized his chance.  “Abbott!”  The banker stepped down into the road, only to leap back from a wagon lumbering slowly past.  As the vehicle cleared from his field of vision he saw the retreating back of his quarry.  “Abbott!” he yelled again.


He strode purposefully across the road, shouting again.  “Abbott!”    


Burdon made it halfway across.  “Abbott!”  


A passing horseman glowered at him.   “Hey!  Doncha know it’s against the law to scare the horses in the street?  It’s dangerous.  This ain’t the wild west.”


Burdon ignored him and blundered over to the sidewalk, but Abbot was almost at the corner.  “Abbott!”  He dodged a child whirling towards him with a metal hoop on a stick.  “Abbott!”  He stopped dead at the two glaring matrons refusing to step aside for him before giving them a huff of irritation and darting around them.  He raised an arm and bellowed at the back disappearing around the corner.  “Abbott!”


He dropped his arm, noticing for the first time the staring eyes of the curious onlookers.  Burdon turned puce and narrowed his aggression down to the only person he knew he could vent his spleen on; the hapless junior clerk who stood outside the restaurant chewing on a pie crust.  “Shawcross!  Look at you eating in the street.  You’re a disgrace.  Have you no decorum?”


He pushed his way into Murphy’s Chop House and harrumphed loudly at seeing his usual table was already occupied.  As the Banker slid into an inferior seat near the kitchens he started to fume.  That Englishman seemed to have been completely nuts about whatever Lehrman was offering.  He couldn’t even get an opportunity to undercut the opposition.  How could he get Abbott’s ear?  All he needed was a chance.  


He gave his order to the waitress and looked at the women at his usual table with complete disdain.  What did the brainless periodicals his wife read call them?  Ah, yes; ladies who lunch.  Well, they should do it after hard-working men have eaten, it seemed like the world had completely lost the ability to prioritize.  Then it hit him.  That was his in; Effie seemed to have hit it off with that English piece and she was here in San Francisco with him.  His wife had excellent social connections.  Burdon sat back and smiled to himself.  He’d finally found an area where Lehrman couldn’t complete.  It was about time Miss Abbott met some of the Nabobs of Nob Hill.


To be continued

_________________
Na sir 's na seachainn an cath - Neither seek nor shun the fight      Old Scottish proverb
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Keays

Keays

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PostSubject: Re: The Devil's Due Part 2   The Devil's Due Part 2 EmptySun Aug 10, 2014 9:54 am

Oh my but the plot does thicken, both of them!

I can tell that I'm going to have to read these chapters over a couple of times in order to keep straight what is going on and who's who.

I'm really enjoying Clem's little song and dance with William and her competitive nature towards her older sister.  She's also taking full advantage of her power over Heyes and Jed isn't she?  No wonder the boys love her, but never take her at face value.  There's usually something going on behind those cute little brown eyes.  And got a kick out of Mr. Hale referring to the Civil War as a little 'internal spat'!

Great chapter ladies.  Can't wait to see how this all comes together.  Or, as the case my be; falls apart?
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Stepha3nie

Stepha3nie

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Age : 50
Location : Scotland

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PostSubject: Re: The Devil's Due Part 2   The Devil's Due Part 2 EmptyFri Aug 15, 2014 5:11 pm

Great chapter. Two cons are unfolding. While Heyes seems to enjoy the con itself, both he and Jed still understandably resent Clem for forcing them into this and the way she takes advantage of them (fleecing them). She is a dangerous combination: wanting to be a woman, the equal (at least) of her sister, while still being unreasonable and willful as a child. I fear she might be in over her head with William who seemed nice enough at the beginning, but is showing more and more disturbing signs as the story progresses. Also, even though Clem is very capable, I am not sure if she has the finesse and foresight of her older sister. I am sensing Trouble ahead, and I guess it will have to do with the earrings she "borrows" from her sister. 
We also find out what the Kid's remark about the two boys and girls in the first part of the first chapter means. It was their attention to Jen that really made Clem jealous. And because the boys still treat her "like a pet" instead of a desirable woman, she acts out the way she does and forces them into the con.
Very much enjoyed the other con moving forward. Mr. Hale is fantastic as the rich, slightly blase Englishman. He had so many great lines, like

“…We even speak the same language,” he shrugged, “after a fashion.”
“Sweet boy, but none too bright.  A relation of yours?”
“Let me.  I perfected being mother when I was a fag at Eton.  Daisy Welport used to like me to warm his buns for him.  His real name was David, but everyone called him Daisy because his father made his fortune in chains.”
The last one reminded me very much of some Stephen Fry novels. (I adore Stephen Fry)
I can't wait to read the next chapter. Well, I guess I will have to wait until you post, but I hope it will not be too long.

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"I can resist everything - except temptation"  Oscar Wilde
For me temptation is Hannibal Heyes, especially in chaps!
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