Assassin's Creed: Black Flag

Assassin's Creed: Black Flag by Oliver Bowden Read Free Book Online

Book: Assassin's Creed: Black Flag by Oliver Bowden Read Free Book Online
Authors: Oliver Bowden
ever known, but even so, she was passing up the opportunity to live the rest of her days in pampered luxury; and, worse, she was going to scandalize her mother and father. I knew only too well the pressures of trying to please a parent, how tempting it was to go down that route. An unfulfilled soul, or a soul troubled with guilt—which was the hardest cross to bear?
    With me standing before her—and she loved me, I’m sure of that—perhaps the decision was easier to make. But what about at night, when misgivings made their rounds and doubt came visiting? Perhaps she might simply have changed her mind overnight and she was, at this very moment in time, blushing in her acceptance of Matthew Hague’s proposal and mentally writing a letter to me.
    If that happened, well, there was always Dylan Wallace, I supposed.
    But then from the corner of my eye I saw the front door open and Wilson appear, quickly followed by the draughtsman and behind them Matthew Hague, who offered his arm for Caroline, Rose taking up the rear as they began their perambulations.
    Staying some distance behind, I followed, all the way to the harbour, puzzling over his intentions. Not the harbour, surely? The dirty, smelly, crowded harbour, with its stench of manure and burning pitch and just-caught fish and men who had returned from months away at sea without so much as a bath during that time.
    They were making their way towards what looked like a schooner moored at the dock, around which were gathered some men. It was difficult to tell, though, because hanging from the back of the ship was some kind of canvas obscuring the name of the vessel. However, as the group drew closer to it I thought I knew what it was. I thought I knew his plan.
    Sure enough, they stopped before it and still out of sight I watched as Caroline’s eyes flicked nervously from Matthew Hague to the schooner, guessing that she too had worked out the purpose of their visit.
    Next thing I knew, Hague was down on one knee, and the staff of the schooner, Wilson and the draughtsman, were all standing with their hands behind their backs ready for the round of applause when Matthew Hague popped his question: “My darling, would you do me the honour of becoming my wife?”
    Caroline swallowed and stammered, “Matthew, must we do this here?”
    He shot her a patronizing look, then, with an expansive gesture of his hand, ordered the canvas come off the rear of the schooner. There etched in a gold leaf was the vessel’s name: CAROLINE .
    “What better place, my dear?”
    If it hadn’t been for the situation I might even have slightly enjoyed the sight of Caroline at a loss. Usually she was nothing if not sure of herself. The doubt and near panic I saw in her eyes, I suspect, was as new to her as it was to me.
    “Matthew, I must say, you’re embarrassing me.”
    “My dear, dear Caroline, my precious flower . . .” He gave a small gesture to his draughtsman, who immediately began rooting around for his quill in order to record his master’s poetic words.
    “But how else would I have unveiled my marital gift to you? Now, I must press you for an answer. Please, with all these people watching . . .”
    Yes, I realized looking around, the entire harbour seemed to have halted, everybody hanging on Caroline’s next words, which were . . .
    “No, Matthew.”
    Hague stood up so sharply that his draughtsman was forced to scurry backwards and almost lost his footing. Hague’s face darkened, and his lips pursed as he fought to retain composure and forced a smile.
    “One of your little jokes, perhaps?”
    “I fear not, Matthew, I am betrothed to another.”
    Hague drew himself up to his full height as though to intimidate Caroline. Standing back in the crowd, I felt my blood rising and began to make my way forward.
    “To another,”
he croaked. “Just who is this
other
man?”
    “Me, sir,” I announced, having reached the front of the crowd and presented myself to him.
    He

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