Mask of the Highwaywoman - Short

Evelyn, the bored daughter of a rich aristocrat, is on her way home when her stagecoach is attacked by a gang of vicious outlaws. Terrified at first, she is soon fascinated by the captivating Highwaywoman

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1. Chapter One: Highwaywoman

The carriage shuddered along the road, the sun had fallen some time ago and the passengers had turned to silhouettes in the moonlight. They were supposed to have arrived in Harrow in time for the four o’clock carriage to Bristol, but Evelyn was beyond worrying, she let her head rest against her seat, her eyes closed, as she concentrated on breathing, trying to keep her mind off the unsteady motion of the carriage.

The coach lurched backward, Evelyn was thrown from her place as luggage rained down on the passengers, a woman screamed, and a child cried out.

“What’s happened?”

“Is everyone all right?” the child was crying as its mother scrabbled around the floor of the carriage. Evelyn picked herself up, she had fallen into the lap of the passenger opposite, and apologised, as she tried to find her bearings in the dark.

“I’ll go and speak the coachman.” Said one of the men. They could hear shouting outside, but before the Gentleman could reach for the handle, the door was wrenched open.

“Everyone out!” A masked man stood in the doorway; he was bathed in the light from the lanterns, and held a pistol pointed towards the passengers startled faces. They muttered between themselves, as one by one they descended the carriage steps, the father of the crying child stopped to help his wife, and then offered a hand to Evelyn.

“Come on, come on.” The same voice called, herding the passengers to the edge of the lane. Evelyn looked back at the carriage, the driver sat with his hands held aloft, a man on horseback, similar in mask and dress to the first, held a musket aimed squarely at him. While another of the gang was searching the other coachman in the light of the stagecoach lantern.

“Everyone sit.” Evelyn turned in surprise to see yet another of the gang, at the edge of the road, near the trees, pistol in hand pointed at the six passengers, and gesturing to the ground, some of them began to sit, resigned to their fate. Despite the darkness she could clearly make out the figure of a woman, masked though she was. She wore the same as the rest of her gang; boots, breeches, a long fitted waistcoat, high collared coat, and hat, the same outfit popular with all highwaymen, and accessorised with a brace of pistols.

“I said sit.” She repeated looking directly at Evelyn.

“I’d rather stand.” She replied. “It’s been a long journey.”

“This isn’t a picnic. I’m telling you to sit.” Evelyn held the woman’s gaze a moment longer, before acquiescing.

“That was a stupid thing to do.” Her fellow passenger muttered to her as she sat down, he held his wife’s hand as she rocked their child, she could see he was scared, and she nodded, fully intending to keep quiet, and allow the highwaymen to finish their task, without cause to harm anyone.

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