November 27, 2012
The Girl With the Deep Brown Eyes
From the moment Xavier saw her, he was smitten. She was beautiful. A prize set up on a pedestal in his eyes. Her long legs moved with a magical gracefulness. Her dark hair was glossy in the sunlight. From the corner of her eye, she flirted with him. She saw him, and he knew it. It sent him into a frenzy. He wanted her, no, he needed her. His eyes traveled up and down her body in appreciation. Yes, beauty becomes her well. He made his way over, hoping to have her to himself, when he stopped short.
They say beautiful women are usually found on the arms of old, rich men. In this case, it was painfully true. There stood his newfound rival, an old coot, walking proudly. Everything about him shouted wealthy. His golden buttons blinded. His thick leather boots gloated. He was short and fat, his head held high by a double chin. His smile, proud and arrogant, like he was all-powerful. Nothing more revolting to Xavier than an old man acting like he was the owner of such a beautiful creature. No, nothing could ever own her, she was a wild girl. An angel.
Xavier made his way around the garden party, observing his surroundings. A group of powdered women sat gossiping.
"Oh! Lord Hunter is oh so dashing in his new jacket, isn't he," chirped an annoyingly loud woman. Apparently they think the old coot is rich. Otherwise, why else would some unfortunate woman want him, a man with nothing but the taxes of the people, thought Xavier to himself.
Another woman sneers, "Yes, and look at that animal he has by his side. What is with the men of this century, throwing themselves for such vulgar beasts!" Xavier had to hold himself back from socking her right in that petite little jaw of hers. No one should ever speak that way, especially about his girl. His girl. Yes, he liked the sound of that. Chuckling to himself, he slips away.
Men with fat cigars and fatter, golden, pinkie rings sat in a circle, drinking and playing cards. They mumbled about the economy, as if they cared. Their sons stood by, should a disagreement come up, and their beloved fathers needed someone to fight for them . Young girls, in tight gowns with wide skirts, sauntered by, blushing when both father and son let out a huff of approval or sigh of wistfulness. Nothing was more contrary, the rich and proper acted like animals claiming their property. Why, it was disgusting! Xavier rolled his eyes and continued his stroll, still watching her every move and breath.
Young couples ambled by, the girls playfully twirling their shades, the boys spouting sonnets of love and adoration. Mothers nodded their approval and whispered cunning arrangements to fellow mothers. Little girls ran around, being chased by little boys with worms. Nurses chased after them, a bundle of skirts and caps. Colors were everywhere. Women wore extraordinary arrangements of pink, tulle, purple, and blue, perfectly cut and layered as to catch the eye of the next heir. Everyone was dressed with lavish style, even the servants in the background, with their high powdered wigs and ironed crisp coat.
But there stood his angel, surrounded by boys, men, and old coots. They had pedigree, granted, but jealousy still raged within Xavier. Lord Hunter stood, flaunting his prize, the other men drooling like a bunch of babies. They looked like they hadn't worked a day in their lives. Soft hands, soft faces, their rich coats being their only protection. It disgusted Xavier. His mind set, he boldly strolls up to Lord Hunter.
"Sir, if you would be so kind, I would like to take a stroll around the field with that beautiful creature you have by your side," said Xavier with the practiced voice of one in charge.
Fooled, and flustered, the oh-so-handsome Lord Hunter stepped protectively in front of her.
"And who, Sir, might you be?"
Thinking fast, Xavier replied, "Why I, good man, am Lord Cumberbatch of the North. My man stands over there with my horse." Xavier vaguely gestured his hand towards the cluster of help.
Believing he was in the presence of an aristocrat higher in station than he, the flustered Lord Hunter steped aside. Xavier, eyes glinting in anticipation, took the place of Lord Hunter next to the creature from heaven.
Together, they strolled along the lawns of the great Hunter Manor. Xavier whispered to her, telling her secrets and promises of love. Her deep brown eyes stared into him, as if seeing every secret of his soul. He then vowed to himself, he would save her from this place of rich boredom. He would bring her to all the places one dreams of. The Parisian country side, the Arabic deserts, the plains of America, anywhere in the world he would take her. Then, before hesitantly handing back his angel, he whispered sweet nothings into her ear one last time. He then nodded curtly to the aggravated Lord Hunter, and quickly strode away from the pampered zoo of people, animals with no souls or fire left in them.
The dim light of the tavern glowed on Xavier's face, his jaw was set in anticipation.
"At last," he muttered. He then held out his and shook his new companion's hand. "Moz."
"Xavier," answered a gruff voice. "Who has caught you fancy this time?" A short, stout man settles in his seat, and orders a beer.
"Well, I was doing my rounds, a wonderful garden Party, really Moz, you should've been. ..." After getting a stern look, he continued, "Right, sorry. So I was walking, picking up a few things here and there. And then I saw this angel. Oh Moz, she is unlike any... there are no words to describe her!"
"And what this one so special? You took the other one easily enough and then left her at that cabin. Oh, and the one before, and the one before, each being the one. You are an addict."
" Moz, desperate times called for desperate measure. The previous ones never had that... that... fire. This girl, well, she needs me, and I want her so bad." To let out his frustration, he dropped his head on the table. "The old fart she spends her mornings and nights with now ... it disgusts me. She could be so happy with me. He doesn't even look at her. He doesn't know what he has! He doesn't deserve her. "
Moz sighs, "And what does she think of you?"
"Oh, she is a dream with me. We move together perfectly, she brings out the good side in me. I just know she wants to be with me."
Moz conceded. "Fine, so maybe I do help you out. Who is this old 'fart' that you plan to rescue this damsel in distress from?"
This is the tough part, thought Xavier.
Moz's eyes widened, his face paled.
"Are you a bloody.... no. Just- no. I cannot let you do this. Lord Hunter? Really?"
"Moz, you haven't seen her. He treats her like an accessory. Like that angel is one of his precious gold rings! It's terrible."
"You simply cannot mess with this man. He is a villain. You know what will happen if he knows you are involved in the kidnapping of anything of his!"
"Moz, keep your voice down..."
"NO! I will not keep my voice down, not when you are going raving mad. You think you can steal from the richest man in all of Doncaster? You heard what he did to those towns people! Killed the father right then and there, because he was trying to snatch that apple for his boy, Edward. Saw it with me own eyes too, I did. "
"Moz, I will do this, if you help or not."
Muttering to himself about getting killed, Moz looked into Xavier's eyes.
"You're bloody serious you aren't you? She has you wrapped around her finger... fine. But if you get yourself hanged, I will kill you."
"Oh Moz! I knew you would come around! Here, I'll pay for the drinks..."
"You're bloody right you're paying for them drinks," Moz muttered. But brotherly affection twinkled in his eyes. "Alright idiot, what is your brilliant plan to rescue the princess from the dragon's keep?"
"Right, so here it is..."
The moon was covered with a blanket of black. The Hunter Manor was lit with lights and music drifted out the windows. Carriages rolled down the drive, women with extravagant gowns and masks stepped out. It was the night of the annual Autumn Masquerade. A good time of year for the rich, and a time of starvation for the poor. The money had to come from somewhere, and Lord Hunter's pocketbook had been filled by the labor of the harvest workers. This was also the perfect time to strike.
" You sure this is going to work?" whispered Moz, as they stared at the glowing manor from their high up place in a tree.
"Oh yea of little faith. Lord Hunter has many enemies. A certain young boy, Edward, you remember him, wanted to help. We will be fine."
"What? The boy was only here to seek his revenge, whatever that might be. I practically saved Lord Hunter his life! I simply calmed the poor lad down a bit, and made a compromise."
"Oh I believe you calmed him down. Lord Hunter deserves what's coming to him. Where should I meet you? "
"In the pasture behind the stables. No one is there at night, so you will be fine."
They then saw a flashing light in one of the few dark windows. The signal.
"Time to go. Good luck my friend, and thank you," whispers Xavier, and he then plops right out of the tree.
Xavier fixed his mask, and glanced in a gilded mirror hanging ornamentally on the wall. A tall, dark stranger looked back. Xavier's "borrowed" black coat, was embroidered with silver thread. Tight black riding boots hugged his calves. His dark hair was slicked to the side. His silver mask covered his face, which was hard, and chiseled. He had always been a good looking chap, but tonight, he looked deadly. Perfect for the role ahead. Xavier stepped into the ballroom. The masquerade was at its crescendo. Drunk men laughed uproariously, women danced with wild spirits. Sweat filled the air, the musicians playing as if their life depended on it. Time to play the part of an aristocrat.
Xavier took one dramatic step down. Then two. The candlelight flickered off his coat. The first few couples stopped their dance to stare at this stranger. Gossiping girls lustfully stared. Who was this stranger? Is he rich? The musicians, feeling the abrupt pause in the activity, trailed off in the middle of the piece. One step at a time. Xavier held himself in check, he couldn't afford to laugh now. His back straight, and eyes consuming, he walked toward the back of the ballroom. There stood Lord Hunter, dressed in a ridiculous ram costume, complete with horns studded with diamonds. Tension filled the room. Xavier stopped walking. Breathes were being held.
"Lord Hunter! What a magnificent party. And wonderful company too I see," cried out Xavier in a strong voice. Fans were flicked to cover the faces of blushing women. The sound of swishing skirts was the only thing heard.
"Who do I have the honor of speaking to?" replied Lord Hunter.
"Oh, you don't remember me do you? Well, let us play a game shall we? You guess my name and I will tell you why I am here." A rush of excitement flowed through the guests.
"A risk taker are we? Alright, I accept. But on one condition. I get a hint."
"Very well," conceded Xavier. "By night I come, on four do I flee, my name only whispered, the face never seen. Who am I?"
"Are you an actor?"
"A highway man?"
"My lord, I am insulted."
"Do I look like a lord to you?"
And just when Lord Hunter was about to reply, a clear cry was heard.
"I know who he is!"
All eyes turned to a single man in the back. Dressed in a simple black tailcoat, he hardly stood out. But everyone knew this man. Officer Lambert, a decorated soldier, known for saving the King's life at one point. One sleeve hung loosely, showing the sacrifice he had given to God and country. He also had been chasing Xavier for years. They weren't exactly on good terms.
Lord Hunter spoke first, "Officer Lambert. Who is this mystery man?"
"No mystery man, my lord, but a thief. A conman of sorts. He has been eluding the Crown for years. " The interest level went up tenfold. Women gasped, some feigned fainting, silly men in costumes stood in front of their sweethearts. Xavier chuckled. As if they could actually do anything to him.
"Well, we have guessed what you are," said a startled Lord Hunter. "Now you must tell us why you are here."
"My Lord, have you forgotten our agreement? You guess who I am, then I tell you why. You never guessed, in fact, Officer Lambert over there knew. Our deal is off." Lord Hunter's eyes narrowed. No one had ever stood in his way before. And he wasn't about to let it happen now.
"Guards!" His sudden outburst produced a jump out of everyone. Lord Hunter drew out his saber. Cries were heard. Men in red coats came rushing in, their rifles ready for command. Smiling, Xavier pulled out his own saber. Now the excitement had really begun. Circling each other, sizing each other up, the old pompous lord and the mystery man prepared for a duel. The guards formed a circle around them, each woman found a man to cling tight to. Lord Hunter lunged first, Xavier dodged easily.
"My lord, if you are trying to play the hero, I'm sure you have failed already," goaded Xavier. Angered Lord Hunter took another lunge.
"You're not very skilled are you? It was my firm belief that all aristos were trained in the art of getting rid of unwanted lower classes." Another jab was ensued.
"Come now man, surely you don't have the slightest idea why I am here?" The sweating lord kept trying. Feeling a little risky, Xavier took a jab himself. Lord Hunter's ram horn fell of his head.
"Well then, I will tell you. You see, this ball was built on the foundation of the people. You, sir, are an animal. A ram, apparently." One more swish, and Lord Hunter's wig fell off.
"And I just wanted to say thank you."
"Thank you?!" bellowed Lord Hunter, his face all sweaty.
"Yes... you see, you have something that I want. And you are going to let me have it."
"And what might that be?" growled the infuriated lord.
"Well, you will just have to see, now won't you?" And with that, Xavier moved abruptly to the side, causing the lord to fall forward. And with a graceful leap, Xavier jumped out the window.
The crowd quickly regained themselves, and rushed to the window. With a flick of his wrist, Xavier lit a match. He touched one string, then a second, then a third. The fireworks set off, a rainbow of color falling like diamonds in the sky.
"After him, you blithering oafs!" screeched Lord Hunter. The soldiers all rushed out the door, Officer Lambert with them.
"Now Edward!" cried Xavier. His blood rushed through his veins. He took off sprinting towards the trees. He cut through the brush, dodged tree branches, and jumped over logs. He could hear the soldiers behind him. With one fluid movement, Xavier dove into a bush. Young Edward, waiting at the top of a hill, lit his torch.
Cries of the soldiers were heard, "There he is! Up there! On the hill!" Once he heard nothing again, but the forest noise, Xavier slipped out of his little crevice. He turned back, and ran toward the house. Past the stables, to the pasture behind. And there she stood. Her glossy black mane shined in the darkness. Her breath picked up, her eyes glinted with excitement. She pawed her hooves into the ground. Moz had already saddled her up, and there he stood next to her. The black night enveloped her body, her muscles were loose yet poised. She was breathtaking. Unlike any other horse he had ever tried to steal.
"You were right, she really is something." said Moz, interrupting the silent communication between Xavier and the lovely creature. "But, my friend, Officer Lambert is no fool, he will find out that Edward is not you."
Sighing, Xavier said, " Yes, I suppose you are right. Let us go." And with that, he leapt onto her back with an ethereal gracefulness. They fit together like two pieces of a puzzle.
"Fly darling, fly like nobody is watching." And with that, they took off, riding like the wind in the black night. The large manor slowly shrank in view as Xavier and his girl rode off. The music had restarted, and so had the party. But an angry Lord Hunter stood in a golden window, watching as Xavier made off. He watched every step the horse made, every connection made between horse and rider. It was surreal. It was magical.
Xavier chuckled. She was home. She was his. And nobody would ever taker her away.