A hunting trip turns dangerous
|Abraham Cooper poured over the hunting guide like it was life or death. He lightly tugged on his brown mustache in his concentration. For the tenth time he looked at his pocket watch. Where was Joel? A fine hunting partner he would be if he could not be on time. Abraham opened the book again. The grouse season had just started in Canada, so he hoped they were plentiful.
The door opened and Joel sauntered through the door. His dark blond hair had obviously been tossed around by the wind, and his blue eyes sparkled with just suppressed mischief. Abraham looked up and a wide smile spread over his pale face. It was hard to remain annoyed at Joel.
"You've been hunting grouse before, Abe. Why the lesson now? It can't be that much different?" Joel pointed out.
"It is not England, my friend. You know I like being prepared," Abraham answered.
"Why go all the way to Canada to hunt grouse?" Joel put his hands on his hips and asked.
"Think of it as an adventure Joel. You will love it. Did you secure our transport?" Abraham asked.
Joel nodded," I got us on the Lady Edwina. I think it's named after her skipper."
Abraham closed the guide book, put it into his travelling trunk and secured the clasps.
"Lady Captain, heh? This might be even more interesting for you than for me, Joel," he smiled.
"I've seen the look of her First Mate. I think I will mind my P's and Q's," Joel said," I'll hire a carriage to the dock."
Abraham smiled as he covered his brown hair with his black bowler and adjusted his black suit coat. This would be a nice change.
The carriage stopped at the sky ship dock. The first sight of the Lady Edwina made Abraham gasp. A forty foot long wooden hull sat suspended from the ground by large cables. The hull showed fine craftsmanship as far as he could tell. He relaxed. Six gigantic gas bags were suspended from the ship- a pair from the bow, a pair from the middle and a pair from the stern. Speed should be no problem. Two small rooms could be seen on the ship. He would have to wait to see what these were. He only hoped one was passengers' quarters.
A young girl walked over to them accompanied by a burly looking man with red hair and a very dour expression.
"Mr. Scott and this must be your companion. I am Edwina Jones and this is my pilot Joseph Smith," Edwina said.
Abraham lightly touched the brim of the hat, "A pleasure, Miss Jones."
"We have a long journey ahead and my crew are not very formal. Please, call me Edwina," she said and looked at Joseph," Take the gentleman's trunks to the guest quarters."
Joseph nodded and hoisted one over his shoulder and one under his arm.
"I'm afraid you will have to stay below deck," Edwina said apologetically.
"That sounds fine," Joel piped up," Let's go Abe. Get this show on the road."
"When do we sail?" he asked Edwina as they turned to leave.
"About an hour," she answered.
Abraham looked at Joel," I must go and get a paper. I'll see you on board."
Joel nodded and started towards the Lady Edwina.
Not far from the dock a young boy stood holding a stack of newspapers and screaming about the headlines. Abraham took out a coin and gave it to him.
The front page headline jumped out at him. "Jade Dragon Fly Necklace Still Missing. Royal family offering reward."
Abraham grinned. The Princess Constance had misplaced another priceless piece of jewellery. As he walked back to the ship he scanned the story. Apparently it has been stolen and straight from the palace too. Bold devils, Abraham thought. A reward of 5000 pounds sterling was offered. It would be the lucky devil that tracked down that bauble. He folded the paper under his arm and hurried to the ship.
Edwina was in a huddle with the rest of the crew when Abraham came on board. Politely he cleared his throat as he approached the little group.
"May I inquire as to where the quarters are?" he asked in a clipped voice.
Edwina escorted him to a ladder that led him below and to the guest quarters. Abraham sighed. There seemed to be no knotty parts on the ladder anyway. Down he went.
The rooms were cramped but at least there was two. Joseph had flung his trunk on the bed. Abraham started to unpack and put his things away. The mahogany dresser held a lot of items. The room wat otherwise equipped with a feather mattress and pillows and pewter gas lamps lining the walls. A resounding knock came on the door. "Enter," Abraham called.
Joel sauntered in. Unceremoniously, he flopped onto the bed. The lively expression was gone from his face.
"Something's up with this bunch," he said.
"What do you mean?" asked Abraham.
"They were whispering about something when I came on board and they don't want me knowing about it," he said sullenly.
The pretty Edwina hadn't paid him the attention he was used to getting Abraham supposed. He patted Joel's shoulder.
"It was probably just ship business," he said reassuringly. "They seem hospitable. I like these rooms."
"Luxurious for a sky ship," Joel said.
"They haven't found that necklace that the Princess Constance lost," Abraham informed Joel.
"If they don't I'm sure that the Queen can buy her another," Joel said and grinned, "Anyway you're going to Canada hunting. You can forget about the royal family and England for a while."
Abraham nodded. For the next few weeks all the had to think about was grouse. The rifle and bullets lay on the bottom of the trunk. He would have to keep an eye on them. If he had to fend off Pirates. Abraham chuckled. He wondered what the lovely Edwina would do to them. He was sure the red headed fellow could protect her well enough. He could save his bullets for grouse.
The journey was long, and Abraham found sleeping on board was not easy. He took to making midnight strolls on deck. Abraham loved looking at the water in the moonlight. The dark water reflected the glowing orb of the moon. The stars sprinkled the night with tiny specs of soft color. After a while the fresher air lulled him into drowsiness and he headed on to bed. The salt smell of the air relaxed him.
Edwina seemed extremely busy most days. Joel tried to chat her up with no success, Abraham noticed with amusement. Maybe he would have more luck with Canadian women.
The ships fare was plain but filling enough. Abraham and Joel went to bed most nights with full stomachs. The lurching of the ship didn't bother them after a while.
One morning Abraham was awakened by a cry and then a knock on his bedroom door. When he opened it there stood Joel.
"St. John's Harbour is in sight," he said,"You got time enough to have breakfast before we dock."
Abraham hurried and dressed.
As he hurried on deck he supposed that he and Joel could get breakfast in town. That sounded like a fine idea.
The acting cook stopped him. "Make sure to have something warm to wear. Gets cold here in Newfoundland."
"I am sure it is not colder than England," Abraham said and went to meet Joel. The air did have a nasty bite. Joel and Abraham stood shivering as they hailed a carriage. The driver told them that the nearest pub was only a street away. They nodded and told him to take them there. The horses hooves beat a staccato clomp as the rode over the street. The day was over cast and the streets decidedly gray and dull. In fact, it made Abraham and Joel feel quite at home.
The Far Side Pub was in the middle of a busy street that the driver identified as Duckworth Street. The eggs were well done and the coffee was rich and hot. That was all the two men were concerned about. As they ate Joel had a suggestion.
"How about finding a place at the pub to stay?" he asked Abraham.
"Here?" Abraham said surprised, "I thought we could find a place in the countryside. It would be closer to the grouse. It seems that there are a rough bunch that come here."
They looked around at the home spun and limp hats the sat at the neighbouring tables.
"We don't have to mix with the locals, though it might be fun. I can rent us a carriage for the week. We could ride in every night and have a place to stay here in town. A bed and a place to get our drinks after a day of damp and cold," Joel finished.
Abraham nodded. When they finished their breakfast Abraham paid and went to see the pub's owner. A dark bearded man answered their questions readily.
"I can give you the room and a carriage for the week. Six dollars should about cover it," the man said.
Abraham counted out the money, and the pub owner showed them outside. The carriage was in decent enough shape and both men nodded approvingly. The stable was readily available to water and feed the horse after they returned.
"Just come in and give me your hunting site. If anything happens I can send someone out to look for you," he said.
When the pub owner had left Abraham looked at Joel.
"Listen, you get the carriage ready. I'll go and fetch the guns and tell the owner where we'll be," he said.
Joel nodded and began to ready the horse. Abraham retrieved the guns from their luggage. The bullets were at the bottom of the travelling trunks. Abraham took the guide books and went to join Joel.
The ride out to the woods was damp and cold. The men hoped that concentrating on grouse would keep their minds from it. The forest loomed up with a burst of green accented with red and gold as befitted Autumn. The sight was breathtaking and both men stopped to look. The silence of the woods was broken only but the soft sounds of animals rustling in the trees.
They walked silently and smoothly through the trees keeping their eyes open. A large, gray grouse waddled in front of them. The men could not believe their luck. Abraham motioned for Joel to stay quiet. Joel turned and went to the walk around the area until the men virtually surrounded the grouse. They kept in sight of each other. The bird pecked at something on the ground. Abraham nodded to Joel and both men pointed their rifles. The shots split the quiet morning stillness and the grouse lay still, a pile of inanimate feathers. The men retrieved their catch and put it in the pack they had brought for this purpose.
The day remained still and wet. They managed to find another grouse, but it was well after lunchtime when they found their second bird. Both men bemoaned their carelessness in not bringing lunch.
"We have two," Joel pointed out," Let's go back and come out again tomorrow,"
It was around supper time when the men arrived and the pub was crowded. The tables were filling up and the men thought it best to clean up and change quickly for supper.
When they sat, a serving girl came over.
"What can I get you gentleman?" she asked.
Joel sniffed the air, "What is that lovely smell?" he asked.
"The cook just finished some lamb stew," she said.
The men decided on this, and she went to get it and a glass each of the house wine.
"Look," Joel said and gestured over Abraham's shoulder. When Abraham looked Edwina was strolling in accompanied by burly Joseph. The two went to the table of a particularly rough looking fellow.
Joel's face brightened up, " Let's go say hello."
Abraham watched. The trio seemed to be in an intense conversation. He stopped Joel when he rose to go over.
"It looks like business Joel and, from the look of the companion, it is business we best not be a part of," he warned.
"A young lady like that? How much trouble could it be," said Joel.
When they approached the conversation abruptly stopped. Edwina looked up and a nervous look was quickly replaced by a brilliant smile. Her soft blue eyes took in the men.
"Abraham, Joel. How wonderful to see you. This is an old friend of mine, Jeffery," The stranger nodded without getting up as Edwina made the introductions.
"We were wondering if you would care to join us?" Joel asked.
"Thank you, "Joseph said," but we do have some business to attend to tonight. Arranging a run. We will see you on your return trip, though."
"Of course," answered Abraham.
It was obvious that Abraham and Joel were being dismissed. Edwina and her two companions seemed anxious to get rid of them.
Joel was sullen all through the rest of dinner. Abraham thought going out to look at what St. John's had to offer was a wonderful idea. It would take Joel's mind off of the attractive, but busy Edwina. So, the first order of business was to find a female that was a bit more pliable.
They finished and Abraham went to settle the bill. When he returned Joel was nowhere in sight.
He must have gone to the room, Abraham thought.
He went upstairs and to Joel's room. When he knocked there was no answer. Abraham shrugged. Joel would turn up. In the meantime, Abraham decided to take a bath and do some reading as he waited for Joel's return.
The bath loosened every muscle that had been pulled taut by the trek in the woods. He was used to hunting, but the long journey must he taxed him. As he dressed and prepared to relaxed a knock came on the door. A young boy stood there holding message. It was from Joel.
"Meet me at the Lady Edwina. We'll have a wonderful time."
That idiot. He must have followed Edwina to the ship. After saying he would mind his P's and Q's. Abraham quickly dressed and went to find a carriage. Strangely the one that they had hired was still at the stable. Abraham got the horse ready and climbed on. The ride to the Lady Edwina was short. The ship looked deserted. Abraham shivered then quieted. Whatever Joel had planned he would drag him out. They had an early morning.
He got on board and started to call Joel's name. The silence on board split Abraham's ears. A night bird called and Abraham jumped. With a grin he shook his head. A cold, hard stone landed in his stomach as a sharp point poked into his back.
"Your friend is just up ahead. Walk," a strangely familiar voiced said.
Abraham thought it prudent to comply. He stared straight ahead and moved in the direction in which he was prodded. They made their way towards Edwina's sitting room. The stone in Abraham's stomach weighed him down more and more as he walked. Abraham gently let out a relieved breath when his forced trek came to an end. Joel sat on one of the large settees and it looked like his hands were tied behind his back. A frightened look was in his eyes. Abraham was shoved to the nearest chair and forced to sit down.
When he was seated Abraham got a better look at the man. It was the same man Edwinda had been meeting with in the pub. He held a very nasty looking hunting knife and it looked like he would gladly put it into either one of them.
"I'll ask this once. Where is the Jade Necklace? I knows you have it. Miss Edwina didn't show up to sell it to me like we agreed. You two know her. Is she planning to give it to you to take it back to England? If that is her game she has another thing coming," the man said.
Abraham and Joel looked at one another. Edwina stole the necklace and was planning to sell it? This extra ordinary turn of events left them both reeling. The room spun before Abraham's eyes. Thankfully Joel still had his wits about him.
With a cry Joel leaped from the settee and crashed into the man. The hunting knife went flying and Abraham dove to grab it.
" Wait," a loud female voice said.
As both men looked up there stood Edwina holding a rather large brass gun. Both barrels were pointed at the men, all of them.
"I am sorry. The both of you were such pleasant travelling companions," she said. Abraham looked, and Joseph stood just behind Edwina holding an identical gun.
"You stole the Princess Constance's necklace?" Abraham asked in astonishment.
"Yes and it would be safely sold by now. The carriage broke down," she directed to the man that had nabbed them, "We aren't trying to double cross you."
"I didn't know you seem so chummy with these two," he said.
Joseph walked forward and levelled the gun at Abraham. Abraham deftly threw the hunting knife. It hit Joseph in the cheek. A thin line of blood ran down his cheek. Joseph dropped the gun as he grabbed for his face. The gun fell to the floor and Abraham dived for it. When he had grabbed the gun Abraham gathered all his strength and swung the gun at Edwina. With a gurgle she went down in a heap. He grabbed Joel by the arm and fled the ship. Frantically they hailed a carriage and gave directions to go to the police.
As they got into the carriage, Edwina must have regained her senses because they heard a loud female voice scream, "After them!"
The installation of the Royal Canadian Mounted police was not far away. The constable that took their statement immediately started a search for Edwina
"There's no need to worry. We'll find her and the necklace," he assured Abraham and Joel. They were told to go back to their rooms. It was as police matter now and they would be sent for if they needed to give any further information.
Abraham and Joel looked on the dock the next day out of pure curiosity. The Lady Edwina was gone. There was no surprise there. It was all over the newspapers. There would be such an uproar in England.
There was nothing more Abraham and Joel could do, so they finished their week of hunting. The police did not send any messages. Their help was not needed.
The easily found another ship to bring them home. The day they left was just as wet as the day they came. It was good to see England again.
It was disheartening to see that Princess Constance was still looking for the necklace.
Abraham and Joel both hoped that Edwina enjoyed the money.