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Editorial

A Pirate's Tale - Part XI


The Robertson Heritage, Part XI


07/01/2008 - Special thanks to one of our faithful readers, Rachel Tenney, for her editorial comments and contributions!

Read previous installments online at ourtowncasper.com!

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The few days that remained of the voyage to Puerto Vista were an eternity to Duke and Matthew. The feigning of Duke's death did seem to provide some level of security for Matthew and himself. Still, completely surrounded by the enemy was an insecure way to live day-in and day-out for well-nigh a week. Since the crew believed Duke to be dead, he was living off half of Matthew's meals. Because they were nearing the end of their journey, supplies were running low aboard The Bainbridge. With what little rations they had remaining, the crewmembers held first priority. Matthew was being fed a pittance compared to that to which he had been accustomed.

The two crewmembers they were forced to hold captive in order to maintain their charade were becoming harder and harder to subdue. It was only one more day, but that was a daunting prospect to the men as they tried their best to press on with their limited stamina.

"You wanted an adventure," Duke reminded Matthew as they sat one day over their alleged dinner.

"I sure got one!" Matthew laughed. "Here," he took a bite out of the bread and then pushed the remainders on his plate over to Duke. "I don't want the rest."

Duke shook his head. "Matthew, that's your dinner. Eat whatever you want and I'll just take what's leftover."

"It's only because of my bright idea that you don't have a dinner. You don't want to meet your father looking like you're wasting away, do you?"

Duke sighed. " If I meet my father."

"Duke, don't lose your motivation. You need it. We're only one day away! One day away from finally meeting your father! After all these years of thinking he was dead! This is your dream Duke! It happens tomorrow!"

"Or tomorrow I might discover I was foolish to hope for those things."

"What about Charlotte? Do you think she'd want you acting this way? You promised her you'd come back. You're not doing your part to ensure you keep that promise. You can't live without nutrition."

Duke laid down on his stomach and put his hands under his chin. "It's only one more day," he said. "We'll arrive in Puerto Vista tomorrow and the first thing we'll do is hit the finest restaurant in town."

"Well, as long as you're sure," Matthew said, waving the bread tauntingly in front of Duke's face. "It's really good!"

Duke's eyes didn't follow the bread in front of him and he snorted when Matthew said "It's really good". "That dry old thing? Thanks, but I'll wait."

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"I did find the letter to be a strange turn in the case, but it seems to me that after reviewing the evidence, I have no choice but to make the same ruling as before. The circumstances surrounding Duke Robertson's death are undeniable." The judge lifted his gavel.

Amidst the spectators, Harold Robertson winced as the gavel slammed onto the stand ominously announcing Jikes' fate. Somehow, he had come to believe Jikes was telling the truth. The evidence was stacked against him. Still...there was just something about him. Harold believed he was an honest man.

Alone in his cell, Jikes could only stare out the small, barred window. From his vantage point, he could see the gallows clearly. It was only a little over a week ago when he had stood atop it, facing death. Had it not been for the mysterious letter produced at the last instant, Jikes would already have been hanged. In some ways, he felt less turmoil than he had before in this familiar predicament.

Simultaneously, his concern was deepened. Somehow, Jikes just couldn't see how his situation could be reversed this time. A letter had even been sent to San Mateo in the hopes of contacting Captain Rogers, Charlotte, and Mr. Dixon at the store, as witnesses to Jikes' story that Duke was alive, and the man who had died was an impostor. Jikes just didn't understand why no response had been made. He knew something must have gone wrong in the communication, but that took away what appeared to be his only hope.

There was one more thing that could possibly help...but Jikes was afraid to even hope for it. If...If it could possibly be proven that Duke was alive... But Jikes himself wasn't even sure Duke was really alive. Crayford claimed to have killed Duke himself. Still, Crayford had lied before. What would tonight be if Jikes couldn't hope for tomorrow? So he made up his mind to hope for it anyway.

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"Have you heard the news?" Mr. Dixon said, intrigue detectable in his tones, as he passed Charlotte's purchase to her across the counter.

Charlotte tipped her head and shrugged, her shiny brown curls bouncing gently to the side as she replied, "News? Of what nature?"

The ship carrying all of the communications from Puerto Vista and some of our yearly supplies it sank! Shipwrecked in the terrible storm a few days past!"

Charlotte's eyes widened in concern. "Really?" she breathed. "That's where Jikes is, isn't it?"

"Oh, that old loon? I was crazy to think I could hire him to do anything responsible! My goods weren't on that ship! He's taken off with them and I've learned a lesson. 'Tis a shame I had to learn it at such a high price! The Puerto Vista Trading Company provides so much of my inventory. It'll be a hard year without their contribution!"

"Why don't you believe in Jikes?" Charlotte asked, leaning forward as she received her purchase. "Has he previously proven himself unreliable to you?"

"No," Mr. Dixon admitted. "But what reason could he possibly have for such an extended journey? My travels to trade in Puerto Vista never take so long!"

"I'm sure he has a valid reason," Charlotte sighed. "Thank you for the fabric it's exactly what I was looking for!"

She turned to leave, but Mr. Dixon stopped her. "Miss Charlotte?" he said softly.

Charlotte faced him with a smile and he felt his heart sink to his stomach. "I don't want to be the bearer of bad news I wasn't going to share this with you, but I felt I must when I saw that necklace of yours I " tears welled up in Mr. Dixon's eyes for the first time since Charlotte had known him.

"What is it?" she asked, walking back over to the counter and setting her purchase down. "If your going to tell me Duke is dead, I've heard that rumor, but it isn't true. He's coming back, I know it!"

Mr. Dixon shook his head. "Charlotte, the man who survived the shipwreck from Puerto Vista...he told me Duke was there. He told me --"

"He was there! Oh, how wonderful! He is alive! I knew it all along!"

When Mr. Dixon's expression didn't lift, Charlotte's smile faded. "He's alright isn' he? Is he hurt?"

When the shopkeeper didn't anwer, Charlotte pressed him for more information. "What is it?" she insisted.

"He was murdered."

Charlotte shook her head and backed away from the counter in shock. The color drained from her face and she grabbed onto a shelf for stability.

Mr. Dixon circled the counter and stepped beside her to keep her from falling. "I'm so sorry! I shouldn't have told you! It was a confirmed death, they buried him there and they've caught the guilty man I don't know his name, but he'll take the rope for what he did, I assure you!" Mr. Dixon was nervously speaking incessantly, but Charlotte didn't hear a word he said. Duke dead? It couldn't be but it was.

"If you'll excuse me, I need some time alone," she managed. Mr. Dixon watched helplessly as Charlotte left. He sighed and put his head in his hands. When he looked up, he saw her fabric still sitting on the counter. He tried to follow her out with it, but she was nowhere to be found.

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"Duke? Duke, wake up, we've arrived!"

Duke rolled over and rubbed his eyes with his right hand. Over their remaining time on the voyage it had healed about as well as it could under the circumstances. Duke seemed to have full use of it now.

Duke sighed. Then suddenly, what Matthew had said sunk in. He sat up quickly. "We've arrived? We're here!"

"Shhh!" Matthew cautioned. "You're supposed to be dead, remember? I've been thinking about how we're going to manage getting off this ship alive! After all we have two witnesses here to state we've been holding them captive and --"

"You worry too much!" Duke laughed as he stood up and pulled on his boots. He could tell Matthew was confused at his attitude after their exchange the previous night. "You know how things always look brighter in the morning? What you said to me last night was true, and what a beautiful morning it is!"

"General Bainbridge told me to stay aboard so I would not bring the sickness into the city, but they are purchasing supplies for us and --"

"Then the moment we can tell they are no longer aboard is our chance, Matthew! Make sure those crewmen are bound tight they're the only ones who might get in our way."

Matthew could tell there was no stopping Duke now! "You're back!" he laughed.

"Yes, I am, now follow orders, Sir!" Duke robustly exclaimed.

"Aye, aye, Captain!"

Read the exciting conclusion next month!

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Pirates Tale
bulletA Pirate's Tale -- Part XI
bulletA Pirate's Tale - Part IX
bulletA Pirate's Tale - Part VIII
bulletA Pirate's Tale - Part VII
bulletA Pirate's Tale - Part VI
bulletA Pirate's Tale - Part V
bulletA Pirate's Tale - Part IV
bulletA Pirate's Tale - Part III
bulletA Pirate's Tale - Part II
bulletA Pirate's Tale
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