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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6. Chapter Six

We knew we'd be hard to adopt but not this hard. It was coming close to the end of the month and still Arrow and I had not been adopted. By now we'd gone as far as going out and finding homes for ourselves, well me not Arrow. Not only was he bedridden, he was also too stubborn to try.

''Oh come on you've at least got to try,'' Bess was trying to boost his spirits, but not succeeding. Both Bess and Flynn had managed to secure a safe place to live. Bess with an elderly couple and Flynn with a farmer who needed extra help on his farm. Even though I was well, healthy and ready to get back to work I was still said to stay in the infirmary. I didn't know if it was for my safety or to give company for Arrow. We bid Bess, Lucy and Flynn goodnight (the infirmary had turned into are new meeting place). Instead of being on the other side of the room I had been moved into the bed next to Arrow. He didn't really need to get ready for bed since he never left it, his minor injury had turn into a major one. But Mrs.Porter was sure that he would be fine in a week tops. As I wrestled with my covers, using all my strength left trying to un-tuck them from under my mattress (I felt trapped, if they were tucked in) Arrow spoke for the first time in minutes.

''What do you think will happen, if we don't get adopted?'' He said this thoughtfully, more to himself.

''I'm not that sure...We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.'' Saying this as an afterthought.

''But...'' I turned to Arrow, stretching my arm out to him so it reached between are beds. He followed my lead and did the same, our hands met in the middle and stayed entwined until we both fell asleep. This finished are conversation.

***

''Wake up. Wake up.'' The voice escaped into my dreams. Soon enough every character in my mind was shouting at me to 'wake up.'

''What?'' I opened my eyes and searched up for the keeper of the voice.

''Get up.'' My eyes darted downward and fell upon Bess kneeling beside my bed.

''Why?'' I was so intent in staying in bed for as long as possible (I wanted a proper reason to start the day.)

''It’s a surprise. For our guys.''

''Our guys?'' I raised an eyebrow at this.

''Oh come on. Everyone knows you two are perfect for each other. Even you know you’re perfect together, you just won’t admit it.'' At this statement I gazed over to Arrow, a smile spreading across my face. His arm was still out stretched from last night (for me).

''Ok. What's the surprise?''

''It's a surprise.'' With this she tapped her nose and shoved me out of bed. She was half way up the stairs when I asked the question I had been pondering.

''Should I get dressed?''

''No. You can change up stairs.''

''Can I go to the bathroom?'' This was more of a command. Not a question.

''No. You can hold it. This is important.'' I half groaned, and half moaned as I took to the stairs.

As I reached the top of the stairs I was embraced in a hug (by a stranger) or not. Half of me wanted it to be a stranger when I heard the fake French accent.

''Good morning sweet ' art.'' Mrs.Rosetta sighed as she fingered my mass of tangled hair. She was nice and all but she was just over eccentric for this time of the morning.

''Everything is ready. Though I may need to make a few alterations. But all together is fin.'' She had posed this comment at Bess, by the look on Bess's face her surprise was going to plan. Before I had anytime to ask what was happening I was whisked into the drawing room.

Once again the dress rack stood to the side of the drawing room, it was bursting at the seams with over 40 dresses. This time there were bags and boxes full of jewellery, hair pieces, shoes and purses; this didn't seem like are typical robbery. I would never be able to run in heeled shoes or wear a huge hair piece, which weighed a ton.

''Now I heard you two 'av been invited to the masquerade ball at the grand hall.'' She said this with a tinge of jealousy. I couldn't believe Bess was able to pull this off.

''How were you able to get us invited?'' Before she could answer Mrs.Rosetta snapped me back to reality.

''No time for questions. If we want to make this look presentable, I need to work my magic. Now.'' She waved a hand over my face as to emphasize my plain and boringness.

She took Bess by the shoulders and steered her over to a rack with her name on it and took a dress out. It was a beautiful floor length dress with loose sleeves that came to the elbow; it was a dress that merged from white at the top to every shade of blue I could think of. Not to mention it a belt of light orange and what look like green vines wrapped around the sleeves and waist. It was a change from her usual black or red dresses.

Mrs Rosetta left Bess to search around in the bags underneath her rack and showed me towards mine. The bottom of the dress was coal black and finished at the end with yellow ribbon, a section of the dress had been set aside and had four layers of flowing blue material pinned to it, fastened with a yellow bow. Also the bodice was a dark teal colour and had above the elbow sleeves; along with a line of small embroidered flowers on the bodice. It was full of small details, but it didn't look over done (well I hoped it didn't look over done). I couldn't tear my eyes of my dress, it was so intriguing to look at all the small stitches that when joined together could made such a beautiful dress.

''So what do you think?’’ She held her arms out to accentuate all that she had done. I was speechless.

''I speak for both of us when I say they are absolutely amazing, the best you've done yet.'' Bess was still staring into her boxes, when she spoke so I was the only one to see the tears welling up in Mrs.Rosetta's eyes.

''You two our my best costumers. The best deserve the best.'' She exclaimed through a choked voice.

Even though I was still in my nightdress and hadn't had breakfast yet, I was shoved into my dress. She wanted to check that it fitted and it did. I felt like I was in a fairy tale and couldn't stop twirling around in it until I was told to take it off. Bess looked breath-taking in hers; Flynn would find her stunning (they made such an adorable couple).

It was only 8:00 but I was exhausted, I probably could have slept for the rest of the day but forced my eyes open at the breakfast table. Normally around 8:00 the house would be alive with voices, shouting, laughing; but it was quiet not a leaf rustled on a tree outside. The silence was suffocating me, so I struck up a conversation with Bess who was close to wearing her porridge as a face mask.

''What do you think the guys will think about it?'' At first she seemed dazed and confused at the question (probably from lack of sleep) but seemed to perk up straight away when her brain registered the conversation.

''I think that they will find us beautiful and when they find out were going to the masquerade ball they will be so excited. Well as excited as guys can get without look too soft.''

''I am absolutely exhausted.'' I put my head in my hands and closed my eyes.

''You'll be okay, we can take a rest while the guys get a medical check-up for the arm and leg.''

''How do you think they'll do?'' But before Bess could open her mouth another voice interrupted.

''Great. In my opinion.'' Flynn said as he walked in with his hair messed up, followed close behind by Arrow. The rest of breakfast was spent communicating in a lot of yawns and nods.

After breakfast we all parted ways, ready to start the day. Since the boys were already dressed they headed down to the stables, busying themselves until the doctor came. As for Bess and I we headed upstairs to prepare for the ball, even though it was hours away. Having been confided to the basement I hadn't seen the upstairs in months. The change had happened over night, it was the little things that caught my eye. Arrows watercoloured landscapes had been taken down and where now piled on top of each other in boxes. The trunk opposite our bedroom had disappeared, along with the desk under the window at the end of the hallway. It was like I was trespassing, it didn't feel right, normal or familiar. I nearly galloped into my room and flung myself onto my bed (like I had done countless times before). But instead of holding my weight, it collapsed beneath me.

''Nice way to tell a girl she's gained weight,'' I looked down at my broken bed.

''It's good were leaving; this place won’t be able to hold on much longer.'' With this Bess tapped the wall and in reply it gave an eerie creak back. She made a face and pulled her hand away.

After being scrubbed, washed and dried, I was ready to get out of the bathroom. Bess and I had spent years in there making ourselves look perfect. Just as we were about to hit the hay a voice ringed up from downstairs. It was lunch, the meal between breakfast and dinner. Great. I was starved and there probably wouldn't be anything substantial to eat at the ball. Once downstairs my eyes beheld the image of Flynn and Arrow splatted in mud; head to foot.

''What happened to you two?’’ I inquired.

''Wrong end of the horse, at the wrong time.'' Flynn answered. They looked a sorry sight, half in half outside of the door, not wanting to tread mud around. The cook was passing their sandwiches though the opened door. We must have looked quite funny, two girls all pristine and clean and two boys covered in mud. Because Mrs Porter took one look at us and burst out laughing, it was a change from her usual scowl glued to her face.

''Ok. I don't want to know what happened. But go down to the basement and you two can get cleaned up before the doctor comes.'' With this Arrow put a muddy foot on the floor. She nearly exploded.

''What? Are you stupid? Go round the back.'' She put her head in her hands, but when she lifted her hands away there was a smile. So that concluded that. After lunch I went upstairs and walked onto my bed (since it was walking height now).

''Are you tired?'' Bess asked. But before I could answer her question, my head hit the pillow and I was out like a light. My snoring probably answered for me.

***

Darkness engulfed me, making my head spin. Once the darkness cleared, I was left in mist and fog. I could hear the sound of music, but couldn't reach it. I spun around and around searching for a way out. I walked forward and the ground slipped from beneath my feet, sending me to the ground. I landed in a river. My dress was torn into shreds. My face was bleeding.....

''Wake up, wake up.'' Bess's voice cleared my head of the fog and soon I was half way down the stairs yawing and stretching. We swept pasted a window, which showed the picture of night.

''What time is it? Are we late?'' All these questions raced through my head and came out of my mouth at once.

''Don't worry, we're not late.'' With this she shoved me into the drawing room.

Before I knew it I had been tied into my corset and a hoop skirt was being fastened around my waist. Bess and I had finally dressed and were just slipping into our heels, when the doctor emerged from the basement. Note: Running in heels really hurts. When we finally managed to catch up to the doctor, Bess and I bombarded him with questions.

''ladies, ladies. Calm down. The gentlemen will be fine.'' At this Bess and I let out a breath that we hadn't realised we'd been holding.

''But,'' No, no, no. There was always a but, no matter what happen there was and always will be a but to everything that happens in life.

''They can't come to the ball. Mrs.Rosetta told me about the surprise, it’s a wonderful surprise but one can barely walk and the other can barely hold a pencil.'' Bess and I protested but in the end it was the doctor’s word against ours. We walked back to the drawing room where makeup was applied along with bandages to the feet. Bess still believed that high heels where a good option. I had just finished branding the mark of Arrow's on my face when Bess grabbed my hand away from my face.

''What are you doing? You can't wear that on your face or people will know you’re a highwaywoman.'' Bess grabbed a brush full of powder and dabbed it on my cheek. Were the mark had originally been it was now replaced by white powder.

''Thanks.''

We had just put the finishing touches on our dresses when a carriage pulled up outside. A carriage how did she ever pull that off, how did she ever pull that off? I was about to congratulate her on her preparation when she pulled me down to the basement.

''We should at least say goodbye to them even if they don't get to come.'' I nodded in agreement. To be honest I had completely forgotten about the boys. We had just descended the stairs when Flynn grabbed Bess and pulled her into a kiss.

In the semi-darkness it was hard to spot Arrow struggling to get out of bed to come over to me. He was so romantic, even if he didn't know he was. I walked over to him and was about to sit on his bed when laughing erupted from across the room. I spun around to see that Bess had taken off her shoes and had stepped onto Flynn's feet and they had started to dance. I was still staring at them, when I felt Arrow grasp my hand, I looked at him as spun me in towards him. By now he was standing and I landed in his strong and protective arms which he wrapped around me. I stared up into his green eyes, his strong but kind face looking down at me. He bent this head down towards mine and he kissed me. It was short but sweet, his lips touched mine and his hand slipped to my neck and held my head. My arms wrapped around his neck, it was perfect.

''Sage, Sage. Come on. We need to go or we're going to be late.'' I could already hear her clattering up the stairs and I started to detangle myself from Arrow.

I was already half way across the room when Arrow shouted to me.

''Save me a dance.'' I didn't know what to say to that and gave him a smile in return and then vanished from sight.

 

 

 

 

 

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