Lady Katherine had a wonderful laugh; not a guffaw, or an abrasive screech, rather more like a melody.
“Piracy? You’re accusing me of Piracy? You might call it that, of course, but if you must paint me some color you should use the proper brush.”
“And what would that be?”
“To be known as a privateer, one requires a letter of marque.” The scribe looked rather pleased with himself.
“And I have one.” She pulled a parchment out from her purse and unrolled it, then handed it to the scribe.
After reading it, he looked up and said, “Really, this is the best you can do? It’s signed by your father and the date indicates that you were only 13 years.”
“Very astute of you, Archie. May I call you Archie?”
“No you may not. The name is Archibald, but considering your age, you may address me as Mr. Peabody.”
Lady Katherine stared him in the eyes until he looked away. Then she took a sip of tea. “Come now, Archie, you shouldn’t be so rigid in your thinking. After all, I allowed you to call me Katherine, or even Kate. So we’re just Kate and Archie and it matters not what age I was, that is a perfectly legal letter of marque. Shall we proceed?”
The scribe let out a long sigh. “It shall not hold up in a court of law, Lady Katherine.”
“Then we shall allow the courts to decide the matter when and if the time ever comes. Now do you have anything else on your agenda?”
“Yes, of course, we’ve barely scratched the surface. I take it by your garish manner of dress, that you reject the modesty of your class, and dare I say, the times?”
As Katherine shook her head, a ray of light from the nearby window caused strands of her long red hair to flash, giving the impression of an angry fire. Her emerald eyes shot daggers at the scribe. Her facial expression reinforced that anger. “Just off the boat are, you Archie? This isn’t London. It’s the Caribbean, a new world with new ideas. I recently spent three years in the homeland and every time I dressed, I felt like I was preparing myself for a funeral.”
“Ahem. Yes. Well, I understand that while you were in England you spent a great deal of time with Her Royal Majesty.”
The question seemed to almost instantly extinguish the fire in her. Her face took on a more dream-like presence and her entire body seemed to relax. “Yes, Catherine and I got on quite well.”
“Catherine? Rather brazen of you isn’t it?
“Not at all. We were on a first name basis.”
“And how did that come about?”
“I was sent to England to attend school. Prior to that my brother and I, and several of the children from wealthy families on Saint James had special tutoring. I first met Catherine on a school outing to visit the palace my first year there. We were all introduced to her, and when I spoke to her in her native language, her eyes lit up like a beacon.”
“And that is why she picked you out of the group?”
“Yes. She is a lonely woman. She has very few people in court she can communicate with. So we took many teas together, and I was invited to attend formal and informal dinners with her and Charles, and with her alone.”
Lady Katherine shot a warning look at the scribe. “Those are intimate details that shall not go into print. Especially about her being lonely.”
“And what if they do?” he asked with defiance in his voice.
“I shall sue you for slander, and who do you think would be believed; a scribe who writes anything he can for the circulation of his paper, or a proper lady?”
“Or a pirate, eh?” The scribe’s doughy face took on a wolfish expression.
To Be Continued.