Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the eighty-ninth piece in this series. This week’s is a 985-worder by Jane Risdon (and a prequel to The Secret of Willow Cottage and the Reluctant Bride). This story will be podcasted in episode 30 (with three other stories) on Sunday 11th August.
The Secret of Willow Cottage and the Tale of the Jilted Lover
In fear for his life and the well-being of his family, Sebastian Nugent dare not return home following his duel with Serena’s husband. He was certain he had struck a death blow to the old man and tried in vain to find Serena afterwards. Her new family had most likely spirited her away so she couldn’t flee to her lover, so cruelly jilted in favour of a rich elderly widower.
Despair took hold. He rode through the night to the coast where he took a room in a quayside Inn, waiting for the dawn. Sebastian knew that if the old man died he would be a wanted man; whatever happened now, Serena was lost to him forever. She was better off without him.
As planned, he located the Master of a vessel headed for Venezuela who had reserved passage for two people as requested. He didn’t show his surprise when only one passenger arrived. He had seen it all before. Young lovers seeking their fortune overseas, fleeing disapproving parents and the girl oftentimes got cold feet.
Sebastian planned to make his fortune in South America, there was money to be made in Cocoa and Gold, he heard, and he was prepared to work hard. Sometimes he dreamed of returning home, rich and powerful, able to help his family and find Serena, but deep down he knew that would never happen.
He’d been in Caracas just two days when the earthquake struck. Terrified, he had managed to scramble into the street, buildings crashing down, all his possessions lost. Death and destruction all around him, he made his way back to the coast in search of another ship and that is how he came to join Jacques Dubois and his brother Phillipe, buccaneers operating out of Puerto Rica, plundering the gold cargo-carrying ships of the East and Gulf coasts of Northern America. Their ship had put into port for repairs following a big battle in the Caribbean Sea with the Americans. Sebastian had asked for work aboard the ship, not realising it was a privateer. Too late to change his mind, they set sail and so began his adventures aboard ‘The Swallow’.
For five years Sebastian sailed the Caribbean Seas and Maracaibo Islands with the Dubois brothers, raiding American ships and sometimes carrying slaves, cocoa and gold for auction, though often they freed the slaves who joined them in their plundering. He learned to speak Spanish and later when the DuBois brothers began spying for the Spanish, he worked alongside them, passing details of the American ships and receiving huge rewards from the Spanish in return. He dreamed of Serena often and longed to be reunited with her.
Later he joined another privateer, ‘The Endeavour’. By this time he was Second Mate and privy to secret meetings, his Master held with the British who wanted his services. His Master declined and Sebastian and his crew continued to plunder the Gulf of Mexico, under the Mexican flag this time.
‘The Endeavour’ was now operating out of the Pirate Colony, Campeche, on Galverston Island Texas, where he was living with a Karankawa woman who had been kidnapped by one of his ship-mates, who later died during a battle. Members of her tribe raided the colony soon after, however, and managed to rescue her after killing nearly all the pirates living there. Once again Sebastian escaped and was in need of a new ship.
Sebastian knew he could never go home, especially after the meetings with the British, who knew his name and would soon discover his past and probably arrest him if he ever set foot in England again, so he found another Privateer, ‘The Warrior’, run out of Texas by Jean Pierre Lafitte. He cast all thoughts of Serena out of his mind, he never stopped loving her, but knew they would never be reunited which saddened him now that he was on the way to great wealth by way of his buccaneering.
The battle with the American ship had been raging for three hours, their cannons blasting the sides of ‘The Warrior’, relentlessly. The crew were suffering greatly from lack of sophisticated weaponry and it was taking in water. It soon became apparent that the privateer was in danger of being boarded and the buccaneers taken prisoner. The Master gathered his officers around him and discussed surrender or fighting on to the death. The prospect of an American prison was unthinkable and they decided they would fight to the death; there was always the outside chance they might prevail.
And so the bloody battle raged as ‘The Warrior’, slowly began to sink. Sebastian fought bravely and managed to kill seven Americans before he received a sword thrust to his neck. He fell behind empty gunpowder barrels, clutching his wound. He knew he was finished and as his lifeblood ebbed away his thoughts returned to Serena when last he saw her, in her wedding gown, inside the chapel waiting for her groom.
She was so beautiful and so young. His heart yearned for her. In his imagination he was her groom and it was to him she turned when the Priest pronounced them man and wife. He lifted her veil, gazed lovingly into her shining eyes, and then kissed her soft lips with his dying breath.
Two hundred years later when Serena had been found and laid to rest and the Secret of Willow Cottage had been uncovered, the mystery of what happened to Sebastian, her lost lover, remained unsolved. No-one ever heard of him again and despite endless research by the De Grouchy family and the local Historical Society, nothing was discovered. But he was always remembered when flowers were laid upon Serena’s grave – the family somehow knew that his love her had never died.
I asked Jane what prompted this piece and she said…
Following several requests from readers who wanted to know what happened to Serena’s jilted lover, Sebastian Nugent, I decided to write his story.
I wanted him to flee the scene following the duel where he had mortally wounded Serena’s new but elderly husband, fearful of arrest. He had tried in vain to find her, and thinking she had been taken away so that they could not meet, he travels to the coast where, before the wedding, they had arranged passage overseas.
Alone and fearful he would never see her again, Sebastian sets off on his own adventure, unaware that the love of his life is already dead. Deep down he hopes that perhaps someday he will make his fortune and return home to her.
I hope those who requested his story are not disappointed.
Thanks again Morgen, appreciated.
You’re very welcome, Jane. Thank you again for sharing your writing with us.
For the last thirty years Jane Risdon has worked in the International Music Industry as an Artiste Manager, Producer and Music Publisher with her husband who was a professional musician when they met in their teens.
Together they have discovered, mentored and guided the careers of Singers, Bands, Songwriters and Producers all over Europe, the USA and SE Asia as well as the UK, resulting in Chart hits, TV and Movie Soundtracks and numerous other successes, including launching the very first Industry Showcases at the London Hippodrome in the mid 1980’s.
She has lived and worked in Singapore, Taiwan, Germany, USA, as well as Europe and England – working with English, American, European and Chinese artists in all genres of music and in various languages including Mandarin and Cantonese.
Jane has been writing since childhood and has had articles published in the Music Press. Her main genre is Crime writing; mysteries and thrillers – usually with a twist in the tale. At the moment she is writing a crime story, ‘Ms Birdsong Investigates’, which features an ex-MI5 Officer and her new life in a rural Oxfordshire Village. This novel should be completed sometime in 2013.
In addition to this novel she has a series of stories which she describes as Character Based Gentle Humour, called ‘God’s Waiting Room,’ which she hopes will be completed by 2014.
Jane is also co-writing a novel with an award-winning author of over 28 books. It is a change of direction for Jane and as of February 2013 she has completed her parts of the book. Her co-author is completing her parts and then it is off to the agent, possibly mid 2013.
With numerous Short Stories and several Flash Fiction pieces under her belt she is a prolific writer who is yet to publish a book in her own right. However, she has had several short stories published for Charity during the last year including her story, ‘The Look,’ in ‘I am Woman Anthology Volume 1,’ in aid of Breakthrough, Women for Women and Women’s Aid and two stories, ‘The Debt Collector’ and ‘The Ghost in the Privy,’ published in the anthology, ‘Telling Tales,’ in aid of The Norfolk Hospice.
Jane also has written a chapter for a new book project, which features several authors all writing a chapter each, without any idea of what the other has written. She found this great fun and looks forward to reading the finished book. This project is on-going and until all writers have contributed it is unsure when it will be ready for release.
In addition to everything else going on in 2013, she is also writing a Short Story for inclusion in yet another anthology later in 2013. This will be a crime / mystery anthology in aid of a Charity, yet to be disclosed.
Jane has a Blog which is gaining a large following and she writes about things that interest her, her love of photography – always photos to look at – and also anything else which takes her fancy. Many of these articles have humorous content. She is often invited by other authors to be the Guest Blogger on their Blogs.
If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here, or up to 5,000 words for critique on my Online Short Story Writing Group (links below).
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