The Highwaywoman

It’s the 17th century and highwaymen are ruling the streets. But what happens when an orphanage turns to crime and forces children to steal. When Sage a 16 year old highwaywoman falls in love with the man she has to rob, will her heart take the place of her brain?

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7. Chapter Seven

A grand stair case was waiting for me when I descended the carriage. Red velvet was draped across the steps, with ornate metal banisters on both sides. Bess was already half way up the stairs and calling for me to hurry up. When I had finally reached the top, Bess pulled me to the side.

"Here. Put this on." She shoved a beautifully made mask into my hands. It was black to match my dress with yellow features coming out of the left side that covered the upper part of my face. Bess's mask covered her whole face and was as white as snow, with a swirl of blue on the left cheek. Even under the mask you could see how excited Bess was.

Bess and I walked to the door, where a round small man with a pointed moustache asked for our names.

"Elizabeth Harding and my friend Sage Vence." He looked down his long scroll of paper and ticked us off. He gestured to the doormen to open heavy wooden doors.

Before the doors had opened fully you could already hear the band playing, the people laughing and talking. But the minute we stepped through those doors everything went quiet. People we're hushing other people, pushing though the crowd to see who had entered. The moustache man had been replaced by a tall and spindly fellow who introduced us.

"Lady Elizabeth Harding." Bess curside when her name came.

"And Lady Sage Vence." I followed Bess's lead and curtsied too.

Then Bess and I descended down the stairs onto the giant marble dance floor. I had never been to a ball before and neither had Bess. What were we going to do? Before I could ask, Bess had been invited to dance with a pleasant young man. You could tell Bess didn't like him, but she wanted to dance away.

"If you want me, I'll be over by the food." I pointed in the opposite direction from them that wasn't even close to the food. Before Bess had time to say anything, I had already started to weave my way through the crowd.

The grand hall where the ball was being held had an upper balcony where the girls would sit and try to search for the right man. The ceiling had a beautiful mural of the night sky with giant crystal chandeliers hanging down at intervals. It was wonderful, perfect actually, but (see everything had a but) there was nowhere to hide. It was not that I didn't like it here, I just felt out of place. The only time I would go to these sort of places was to pick pocket. Pick pocket. I knew Bess would hate me even if I tried but it was so boring and everyone was wearing masks so know one would be blamed. I scanned the crowd, there was a man a few feet away doing nothing just obvserving the party. Perfect. No one would see; I would be done in seconds. What's the worst that could happen? I shook my head, scolding myself. I shouldn't overthink this. I tried to act as normal as possible in a very unorthodox situation. I walked up behind him, hand at the ready. I had just slipped my hand into his pocket and was searching, when he turn around. I didn't know what to do, so I froze. He stared down at me. I removed my grasp as quickly and quietly as possible, turned around and walked away. Just when I thought I'd got out of the clear a hand grabbed my arm and forced me to turn. There, in front of me, was the same gentleman smiling down at me.

"What was that?" He had quiet, posh, British accent, but not snobby. More kind and nice. I didn't quite know how to respond and I was probably dead meat already, so I decided to be shockingly honest.

"I thought I'd try and pick pocket you." I said this, looking straight into his face, not afraid of what would happen next. Okay, maybe a little afraid. He burst out into laughter, which I only joined half heartily.

"Oh, THAT was what that was." Saying this he gestured towards the spot of our first incounter which had been replaced with an old couple."I thought you wanted to hold my hand." He added.

"Oh, you flatter yourself too much, sir."

''Call me William. And you?''

"Sage." 

I was about to bid Sir William goodbye, when a young lady hurried towards us.

"Duke. Hello. There were rumours you would be here tonight. It's a great honor to meet you." She had probably curtsied fifty times already, but added another one in.

"I see a mask can not hide my handsome looks." 

The young lady let out a high and squeaky giggle.

"Well, if you could be most kind to keep this secret to yourself, it would be much appreciated." He tapped his finger to the side of his nose and once again she let out that giggle and hurried away. I studied him secretly. I got that nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach that I had seen him before. Then it clicked. I nearly stumbled back when I realized he was the one I had seen on the carriage, the one I had robbed. Great. I had to get myself out of this conversation and quick.

"Well thank you, duke for not having me arrested. It is much appreciated. Goodnight." I cursitted and turned away, but he was too quick. The minute I had started to walk away from him he was in front of me once again.

"I never said I would let you go."

"I'm sure we can work something out." I bit my lip, he was onto me.

"Well if you have the next dance with me this matter can be cleared up." He was funny, it was hard for me not laugh. He seemed to have a triumphant look on his face that he was able to make me laugh. Just at that precise moment the band began a quick waltz. He held out a hand to me.

"Shall we?"

"We shall."

It was hard not to grin, since every time I came close to I could fell his hot breath on my ear, whispering a comment inside.

"I'm glad I'm dancing with the prettiest girl here."

"Wish I could say the same here. How many time have you used that line?"

"A few hundred times before."

Once the music ended, I felt no need to run off the dance floor and hide from him. He was actually pretty good company, even if I had robbed him. Anyway I wouldn't be able to find anyone else I wanted to talk to. Bess was too busy dancing to her hearts content.

We were in the middle of another heated conversation when a  group of girls came over. The one that looked like the leader of the pack came forward and stepped in front of me, like I was invisible, like she was more important.

"Good evening sir, I was wondering if you would do me the honor of dancing with me." She finished with a flip of her golden hair, like that made all the boys run to her.

"Actually I have promised myself to another." He grabbed my hand and steered me over to the dance floor.

"Don't look now but those girls are staring daggers at you."

"Thanks."

"My pleasure."

This time the dance was slow and steady, more close up and personal. Even though the dance was perfect for talking all he did was stare at my face. The only comment he made was that I had a smudge on my cheek. I lifted a hand to my face, but my hand was still joined to his.

''Here.'' He let go of my hand and is fingers tickled my face.

My empty hand fastened on to his shoulder while he cleared it away. When I saw his face I knew something was wrong, then I remembered I had Arrows sign on my face. The sign of a highwaywomen. He knew; he would call the constable. So I did the only thing I could think of. I pushed him though the open door that lead to the garden. I was walking at a quick pace, dodging behind tree, bushes and the occasional stone stautes. I bent down dragging my hostage with me and searched in my boot. Damn. No weapon. I pulled a pin out of my hair, sending it tumbling down my back. I stuck the pin into his side, hoping he would think that it was a dangerous weapon.

''If you make a sound, you'll get hurt. So don't try anything.''

Then I shoved him into the giant maze in the middle of the garden. Luck was on my side and it seemed that no guests wanted to be outside in the cold. Sadly the grass hadn't been tended to in weeks and it covered the end of my dress in thick mud. I dragged him for ages until I found the middle of the maze and took my hand away from his face and sat down on the bench, while he paced up and down. It looked like he couldn't really piece together what had just happened. Why didn't he just call for help? Why didn't I just run? I could probably out run him, but I stayed plastered to the bench.

"Are you ok?" I seemed to have awoken him from his deep thought, since he looked at me like he didn't know who I was. In the end he sat down on the bench; a safe distance away from me though.

"You, your a highway woman?" Saying this he closed his eyes willing it not to be true.

"Yes." Why was I telling a stranger (that I had robbed) that I was a highwaywomen? When he opened his eyes he seemed hurt.

"You...you were the one who robbed me?"

"Yes." I had nothing else to lose.

"You, you made me fall in love with you?" He added sounding disgusted.

 

"No. I didn't make you do anything." I was wrong. I had just lost my heart, he had taken it and I had taken his. I had only known him for a night and I was already telling myself that I loved him. When had I lost the will to lie? This couldn't be happening. I loved Arrow not this guy! I was so immersed in thinking and was so confused that I hadn't noticed that William had moved closer. It came as a shock when our eyes met. I looked at his sharp but soft cheeks, I looked into his dark eyes, his blonde hair was tumbling down his forehead.

He lent so slightly in, I could feel his breath on my face. Our lips met. It was short but strong, I broke away, breaking the link between us. I couldn't believe he kissed me, I didn't know what to say or do. So I ran.

 

 

 

 

 

 

      

 

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