In the Commodore's Hands

In the Commodore's Hands by Mary Nichols Read Free Book Online

Book: In the Commodore's Hands by Mary Nichols Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mary Nichols
Tags: Romance, Historical Romance
do not need to manhandle me, man. I am leaving.’ He turned back to the Comte. ‘I will tell your daughter she may deal with me with your blessing, shall I?’
    If the Comte understood what he was trying to say, he gave no indication of it. ‘You leave my daughter alone, do you hear me? I won’t have her going off with any damned Englishman.’
    Jay laughed softly and followed the gaoler back to the office where the other two were already making inroads into the brandy. ‘Is that one of the richest men in Honfleur?’ he asked, jerking his head back towards the cells. ‘He is a sorry specimen if he is.’
    ‘He will be even sorrier before long,’ Bullard said. ‘His crimes are so great Henri Canard is having him indicted in Paris. We shan’t have the pleasure of seeing him hang. He will lose his head to that new contraption they call a guillotine. I haven’t seen it at work, but they do say the head lives on minutes after it has been severed from the body.’
    ‘When will he go?’ Jay asked, trying not to show his disgust at the casual way the man had spoken. ‘I hope it will not be before I have made my deal with the Comte’s daughter and taken delivery of the merchandise.’
    ‘We have to wait for the summons from Paris. Henri Canard has gone himself to get the necessary papers for his transportation.’
    ‘Then I will do my deal as soon as may be and hasten my own departure.’ He produced three more gold coins and put them on the table. ‘For your co-operation,’ he said and left them.
    He strode back to his grandfather’s villa in a pensive mood. The Comte was barely more than skin and bone and much older than he had imagined. He had assumed that he had fathered Lisette in his twenties and, as she was surely no more than twenty-five or six, then her father would be in his fifties. But he was seventy if he was a day, about the same age as his grandfather. Sir John was hale and hearty, but the Comte looked as though a blow from a feather would knock him over. Had he been like that before he was thrown into prison or had prison itself aged him? How on earth was he to get two old men and a young lady out ofFrance and on a boat to England without one or the other of them collapsing on him?
    He found both Sam and Lisette with his grandfather. ‘I thought I told you to go home and wait,’ he said.
    ‘I did not choose to. I knew you would come back here and I wanted to hear what went on.’
    Jay threw himself into a chair. ‘Nothing went on. I paid the dues and had a few words with the Comte.’
    ‘What did he say?’ she asked eagerly. ‘Did you tell him we were going to try to get him out?’
    ‘No, of course I did not. We had an audience.’
    ‘Then it was a waste of time.’
    ‘Not at all. I established that he is going to be sent to Paris for trial. Henri Canard is too impatient to wait for the summons and has gone to fetch it himself.’
    ‘Oh, no! We are lost. We will never get him out of a Paris prison.’
    Jay heard the distress in her voice and found himself wanting to reach out to comfort her. The feeling was so alien to him, he was taken aback. He could not allow her to penetrate his reserve—sympathetic to her plight he might be, but that was all it was. Nothing would beachieved by becoming soft. He pulled himself together. ‘Pray, do not distress yourself,
mademoiselle
. If I have my way, he will never reach Paris. He will not leave Normandy, except on the
Lady Amy.’
    ‘You have a plan to break him out before they come for him?’ Sam queried, his eyes lighting up.
    ‘I do not think breaking him out is a good idea,’ he said thoughtfully. ‘There are other ways, but I need more information. I need to know how the Comte is likely to be transported and when.’ He turned to Sam. ‘Do you think you can continue your comradeship with those gaolers?’
    Sam laughed. ‘It is a good thing that my understanding of French is a deal better than my speaking of it, then. And I can hold my

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