Chapter 30: French Arrest

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Monsieur's legs took some time to adjust to the steady solidity of their land bearings. He still felt the pitch and roll of non-existent waves, as his body struggled to keep itself upright after so long at sea. At least, that is what he told himself, ignoring the now constant twitching of his right arm and hand, as he disembarked the ship and made his way through the Port town.

The sun was high, yet its heat beat down on them all relentlessly. Clothes clung to bodies in wet patches and sweat slathered the native people so that their black skins shone in the light with a radiant sheen. Young ones accosted him as he ambled along, seeking custom for their exotic fruits and cloths. The smell in the breeze was of spice and salt and earth – so different from the busier port towns of the major cities of England and his home country, France.

He clicked his tongue disgustedly at the antics of the English sailors as they cavorted and looked upon the native people with all the lustiness of men a long time and a long way from home. Youth and the past six months of confinement on a ship, did nothing to improve their dispositions. He was interested however, to spy some French soldiers regarding their English counterparts in equal measure of contempt to that of his own. He decided to approach them and find out news about his homeland; it had been years since he was last there having spent ten or so years in the Americas before landing in England.

The soldiers seemed unsurprised to hear their native tongue from his lips but were curious about how it was that he had come to be on an English convict ship headed for the new English colony in the South. He realised too late the precariousness of his position. For one thing, he had not counted on his country declaring war on England since they had set sail from Plymouth! This last piece of news concerned him, for it changed his situation with the English markedly. But events were to prove that Monsieur should have been more concerned about the difference this news made to his own countrymen's regard for him. Had he anticipated their reaction, he would never have left the ship.

"So, you are helping this English Lord Watts, you say?" the French soldiers asked him.

"Well, yes, but with a scientific project you understand, nothing of a military nature."

The soldiers stared at him uncomprehendingly, before one of them pulled his arm up behind his back. "My brother has already died in the killing fields against the English you bastard! There is no such thing as 'helping' our enemies with anything!"

'Imbecile!' Monsieur thought to himself. With the soldier's outburst, the three military men frogmarched Monsieur along the road and out of the Portside village. Before long, Monsieur spotted along the hazy horizon, the outline of a gleaming garrison, with the French flag flying proudly atop its roof. The guards at the entry watch house looked surprised and panicked before yelling out to the soldiers on their approach: "What are you doing privates? We are under strict orders not to interfere with the English ship in port. Their safe passage has been cleared by the commandant!"

"Ah!" called out the one who had manhandled him at the outset and taken every opportunity on the journey to assault him further, "But this is not an Englishman, Pierre. We have caught ourselves a traitor to his own countrymen – a Frenchman who would like us to let him go so he can keep helping the English! Is that not so you bastard?" after which the soldier spat at him fully in the face.

Pierre, the guardman on duty at the gate, looked at him with a piercing hatred and tripped him with his foot as he moved to walk past him. With the soldiers still holding his arm behind his back however, the fall jolted his shoulder. He felt the arm tearing away from its socket as he fell to the dusty earth. The sound of laughter behind him drowned out his own scream of pain.

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"Who are you?" the lieutenant in charge of the garrison screamed, not centimetres from his face.

Charlotte TrueWhere stories live. Discover now