Writing and Public Speaking
. . . "I am aware of the dangers," she countered solemnly. Her temper fled quickly, though her stubbornness remained implacable. "Besides, that is immaterial. I'm already involved. You said so yourself. And . . . they won't be able to recognize me if I go as Christophe." Seeing by his expression that Thomas was not going to allow her to have her way, she defiantly leveled her best argument. "Need I remind you that only I know where the papers are now? If you don't give me your permission, I'll go anyway, and you won't have those documents, so I implore you to tell me everything I need to know."
Thomas shook his head gravely. "Laurel, you have no idea what you are asking of me. Oui, I know you'll do as you say. Very well, ma fille, contact Compton in Marseille and tell him 'les trois coronets.' He'll give you further instructions. In the meantime, I still will head for Luz and Brussels. I expect you to post me a letter addressed to the estate of the merchant Jacques Devr in Brussels. Also, I will try to meet you somewhere near Boussac, if possible. Understood?"
Laurel nodded and pressed her father no further. They both knew better than to belabor the issue; there was no time, and it would serve no purpose.
Two stubborn souls were not likely to change their ways anytime soon; had there ever been such a case of like father like daughter previously? And they had more urgent matters, like figuring out exactly how they could orchestrate the passing of messages between the two of them so that Thomas could relay his daughter important information not yet in his possession and she him. Pray God his old nemesis would not catch on to their game or give Thomas the slip this time.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The pungent smell of well-roasted food mingled with alcohol and tobacco swirled in the air. Lights flickered and serving wenches wandered from table to table, delivering ale and meals. Sometimes more than that.
As he was known to do, Porthos was giving D'Artagnan another lesson on how to woo women while Aramis looked on in what some might construe to be mild amusement. Still, one could hardly ever be sure what the man who wanted to be a priest was truly thinking. Not that the youngster needed much instruction as far as Aramis was concerned. With that pretty face and body of his and those eyes, not to mention the alluring recklessness, he already had captured much female attention. It seemed to matter little that he was more brash than charming, more bold than subtle. Ah, well, not to worry; D'Artagnan could take care of himself more often than not. Plus, the boy was already basically bested with Constance Bonacieux, so the lad was in no danger of becoming enamored of an unsuitable woman.
No, D'Artagnan could handle himself well enough. It was Athos Aramis was worried about. Man had been drinking hard. True, he took his drinking very seriously, but he was drinking more than usual, and the man was like the devil under the influence. In that condition he could well strangle or shoot or break the neck of anyone who wasn't a good friend and might accidentally set off his ire. Not to mention, he ended up saying things he would later regret.
Still, Aramis couldn't much blame Athos. Highly unlikely, Aramis admitted to himself, that he would be in any better shape had he run into a wife he thought was long dead and then discovered she was an agent of one's own worst enemy. Nor could it be easy to watch her jump to her death. Very hard. And very hard was assuredly an understatement.
Of course Aramis was not married-never had been-so he couldn't quite understand the depth of grief Athos must be feeling. Aramis gently shook off a serving wench's arm and excused himself from the table. Wenching could wait for another night. There were plenty of beautiful and willing women he could choose from. More often than not they threw themselves at him. Methodically, he made his way to the far corner of the darkened room and halted the server.
The would-be-priest shook his head firmly. "No more drinks for him. I'll take care of him. You just see to it that everyone else stays clear of him." The girl backed away, and Aramis sat himself across from his old friend.
"Ah, Aramis, come to drink a toast with me," Athos said, filling a glass with a shaking hand. Already starting to show signs of intoxication-in short not holding his liquor very well. Not a good indication for it took a lot of drinking before Athos usually revealed his intoxication. After a brief pause the inebriated musketeer pushed the filled glass towards the man with raven-black hair and then took another healthy swig from his tankard. He wiped a dribble of ale from his lip with his sleeve and then took yet another drink.
Aramis' deep brown eyes flecked with gold regarded the older man. He hated to see the usually fastidious Athos reduced to this state. It was like watching his older brother drink himself to death all over again. "Non. Merci, thanks, Athos. I have had enough to drink."
"Ah, oui, I forgot," Athos said in a condescending tone, "no more than one cup of ale a day for the would-be-priest. Wouldn't want to offend God by drinking more than in moderation. Could be damned for it."
"That's enough, Athos," Aramis said in a soft but firm voice while grabbing the other man's hand and preventing him from lifting the tankard to his lips again. The younger man's eyes were cold and unreadable. "We should be turning in for the night."
"Listen, Aramis, you may not want a drink for some damned, blasted and mistakenly noble or moralistic reasons, but that's no reason to stop others from taking their pleasures as they please. I'll drink when I choose. Now let go of my hand, and go get yourself stinking drunk for once or better yet go find yourself some new bitch like you're always doing."
Aramis slammed Athos' hand onto the table, shattering the tankard and cracking the table. Athos moved to throw a punch at the other man. However, his reactions were slowed by drink, and Aramis easily blocked the punch. "Ca suffit, that is enough, Athos," he said struggling to control his temper with moderate success. "You have had too much to drink, and I am not saying that just because I choose not to drink much. Do you not see what it does to you, man?" He leaned closer to Athos. "I do not like seeing you this way, and I do not want to watch you drink yourself to death. I have already watched my brother do that, and I have no desire to lose one of my best friends the same way." . . .
Kat Jaske is an English and French teacher in Las Vegas, where her high school selected her swashbuckling, fiction novel, "For Honor", as the featured book for the 2006 Reading Incentive Program. This is an excellent example of creative fiction writing. If you cannot wait to read more of the story, order the book from the author web site http://www.forhonor.com