Jacob's Justice

By p.d.r. lindsay

Historical fiction, Crime & mystery


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1 mins


London, April 1642

Brothers! I knew it must be them I'd caught sight of, lurking in the shadows at the foot of the stairs. Who else would be sure I'd be coming from the Gamlen lawyer’s offices at this time? Who else would lie in wait to escort me home and prevent me slipping away to find some amusement on the other side of the river? I paused on the half landing, debating whether to startle them with an apprentice boy's catcall. In the end I laughed, jeering down at them. “Do you think to spring out shouting 'boo' and set me all of a twitter, you great dunderheads?”

No response. That seemed strangely unlike my brothers.

The oncoming dusk made it hard to see, but peering down the stairs into the gloom I noted that the dark shapes in the shadows held nothing like the bulk, breadth and height of Amos, Caleb and Samuel. Russet headed mountains they were. Like our father, my agile, light boned, fair haired looks were borne from our mother's side of the family. And that was where I'd have them, stone headed brothers or whoever, my quickness to their snail paced slowness. I placed my hands as far down each hand rail as I could stretch, thrust off the top step with a great push from my legs and swung myself down the flight of stairs, to arrow between the figures and through the arched doorway. I landed in the street beyond. Bouncing on both feet I sprang round, hand going to sword hilt, to face whatever or whoever my nose for danger told me waited in that entrance way.

There were three men, but not my brothers. These looked like a wealthy Lord's paid lifeguards, plain dark clothes, half cloaks, curled plumes on wide brimmed hats which hid their faces, and good workman-like swords. They stepped forward, swords hissing from scabbards, heedless of the busy street, or the people passing. I backed off on to the wider paved part of the street, drawing my own sword. This was no jest, these men, whoever they were, advanced in life threatening earnest. I didn't like the odds, and looked to better them. Idlers and passers-by had melted away like frost in the morn.

No help available in the street. I stared beyond the men, over their shoulders, and yelled. “Hurry up, you tardy idlers, there's one for each of you, I'll cheer you on.”

They weren't fools, these three, to swing round and gawp whilst I ran off. They moved easily, forming a rough triangle, backs facing in, allowing one to see behind them. That one spoke. “Ah, a clever ruse, Master Jacob Emerick, but not clever enough.” His voice mocked me. He touched his beard, and looked down from his stiff-necked height at me. “I want….”



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