Demon and Demeanour. Book 4 of Poacher's Progress
Chapter 1: Nemo Me Impune Lacessit
Caution: This Fiction Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Mult, Consensual, Heterosexual, Fiction, Historical, Oral Sex, Anal Sex, Violent, Prostitution, Military,
Desc: Fiction Sex Story: Chapter 1: Nemo Me Impune Lacessit - Vengeance, like duty, is a hard taskmaster, and Jack Greenaway's humanity, and mental robustness,is tested to the full in the search for the killers of his family. Rewarded for his past services to the Crown Jack is then given other tasks, one that will eventually take him away from England, but not before he learns some peculiar facts about cider making. A gas lit meeting leads to partnerships, corporative and corporeal, which restores his faith in himself, but not in God.
According to the Ancient Greeks each man has four humours: Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic. Each humour is the basis for one of our emotions, and for a man to keep in good health these four humours must be in harmony and balanced. However, there is a humour the Greeks failed to recognize, and one which not only overrides the other four but also completely upsets a man’s balance. A humour which focuses on one target, and exists only to attain one end.
This humour is Vengeance, and the end is retribution.
Vengeance is the reason I did not kill myself after the death of my family, and is the humour which causes me to rise each morning from a sleepless bed, the humour which has changed me from a middling kind, middling friendly, middling decent human being to an icy, cold hearted, killer.
The sole aim in my life now is to find and kill those responsible for the death of my beloved wife Caroline, my equally beloved son John-Jarvis, adopted daughters Molly and Domina, and the unborn child Caroline had been carrying when Hungerford Hall was set ablaze.
I had made a good start. I watched impassively as Daft Danny Dobson, kicking and choking at the end of a rope, made the slow, painful, journey to his death. He did not die at my hand but was convicted by due legal process to hang. Had I got to him first he would have died much more slowly, and in much more pain. I would have disembowelled him, then piled his entrails on his chest and set them afire. It was the death I envisaged for Silas Maddox, Sigismund von Metzendorf, Eloise de La Zouche, and anyone else who played a part in the destruction of my family.
There was a likely suspect in Hungerford – a magistrate who had knowledge of the black coach involved in the murders – and Rob Crawshay and I were on our way to question the man.
The first time I had met magistrate John Bailey he had kept me kicking my heels until he had finished his lunch, but now I was not so forbearing.
I hammered on his front door, and pushed past the servant when opened.
“Where is your master?” I asked, my voice toneless but menacing.
“He is in his study sir, but cannot be... “
I made my way to the study door, put my shoulder to open it and burst in. Bailey was sitting in a large armchair with a young housemaid on his knee. His hand was ferreting under her skirts and his mouth was at her breasts.
He looked around as I stormed into the room, his look of anger quickly replaced by fear. As he jumped to his feet the female slid off his lap and fell to the floor, her bare thighs and naked bosom getting no more than a passing glance from me, although I did notice the relief in her eyes at being freed from her lecherous employer.
“What the devil to you mean by...”
I shut Bailey’s gabbing voice by grasping him by his cravat and twisting until his eyes popped.
“Why did you not inform me of what Dobson told you about a black coach?”
He struggled to reply, and I loosened my grip so he could.
“Dobson is in a world of his own. I did not believe him,” he gasped.
The man was lying; I could smell his fear, and drew my skean dhu from my boot top.
“You knew about the black coach. Where do you know that coach from?”
“I don’t know what you...” His scream as I sliced off the lobe of his ear was like that of a gelded boar.
“I will ask you again, and this time if I do not receive a believable answer I will slice off your nugs — which at least will give relief to your female staff. What do you know of the black coach?”
This time he could not get the answers out fast enough.
“I saw it at Lord Lane’s house a week before the fire. I kept quiet about it as I did not wish to draw attention to what I and several other notables were doing at Taplow Court.”
“What were you doing at Taplow Court, and how was the owner of the coach involved?”
“I was attending an orgy. The coach’s owner, Sigismund von Metzendorf, had brought some young girls for our amusement. He also brought some... “
I had heard all I needed to know; Taplow Court indicated Rowley Lane was involved, and would be my next stop.
I put my blade to Bailey’s neck and was about to slice it when a woman pushed past Rob, who was standing by the door.
“If you kill him, sir, you will hang, and Bailey is not worth your life. I am his wife and know full well his value. A farthing would be too much.”
Mistress Bailey was a well-made woman, several years younger than Bailey, and her words stayed my hand.
“Madam, you have my deepest sympathy.” I put my blade away. “And I thank you for averting a murder, and my own death.”
She came and spat in Bailey’s face. “You knew who was responsible for the fire, other than Daft Danny, and yet said nothing, you scum faced turd.”
She looked at me with tear-filled eyes. “I often saw Lady Caroline in Hungerford; she was a lovely and gracious lady, and I am ashamed that my husband — a bag of offal and midden waste — had any part in her death. Spare him, sir, and I swear I will make him suffer every day of what remains of his miserable life.”
She kicked him in his nugs, and his howl of pain made me smile for the first time since seeing Hungerford Hall on fire.
I left the house content with the knowledge Bailey would live to regret his friendship with Rowley Lane, and his failure to tell me what Dobson had said about the fire.
After leaving Hungerford Rob Crawshay remained silent for some time; we had followed the Kennet and Avon canal eastward for well over an hour before he spoke.
“Jack, you came near to putting your neck in a noose. You cannot go around the country just slitting throats of any one you suspect of having anything to do with the death of your family. I know you have hatred and revenge in your heart, but you must temper it with intelligence.”
I rode silently for a minute as I digested what he had said. Rob was correct of course; continue in the way I had started and I would end up dancing at the end of a rope.
“You are right, Rob, and I thank you for the advice. Truth is I have scarcely slept a wink since...” I couldn’t say the hateful, hurtful words, and so continued, “and my mind is beginning to weaken. I have never been a violent man, but seem to have been taken over by a savage demon.”
“Not a violent man!” Rob’s voice rose in amazement. “You have killed God knows how many Frenchies, with axe, knife, bayonet, and musket. You have always possessed a demon, Jack, which you kept under control. Now the demon is controlling you. Keep your hate and anger dulled, and only sharpen them when you can exact revenge without it turning back on you. Use your intellect as the whetstone to your anger.”
I nodded my head in agreement, but wondered if I would be able to control my demon when face to face with those who had destroyed my family, and my peace of mind.
Lord Lane’s residence of Taplow Court was near the village of Marlow, a two-day ride from Hungerford, and we stayed the night at the Golden Cockerel at Theale. I slept in the stable, being too disreputable in appearance to be admitted into the hostelry. Since the funeral of my family I had not shaved or washed, or had a good night’s sleep. I looked like a tramp and stank like a ferret; even the horses in the stable shied away from me.
There were others sheltering in the stables of the Golden Cockerel besides Rob and I: a band of peddlers, with a drab who whored at the places they stopped. She came over, and would have opened her legs for me, and a shilling, if my stench had not caused her to gag.
“Fie! I’ve never seen a man who looks so in need of a good gallop, yet who stinks so high as will never get a girl to lie with him, lest she has no nose,” she said.
I was no way disconcerted by her words. Caroline was lost to me; no other female could ever take her place, and I was prepared to spend the rest of my sorrowful life as celibate as a eunuch.
That night I woke up screaming, as I had on every night since the fire. As soon as I fell asleep I would see, and hear, my darling wife and children being burnt alive, their terrified screams being echoed by mine. I tried with all my power not to fall asleep, but every night I failed, and moments later would wake shrieking. The pedlars and the drab swore at me for disturbing their slumber, so I took myself outside in the cold, first light, air, to compose myself. Rob followed me out, bringing a blanket to wrap around my shoulders.
“Do you want to tell me why you wake screaming every night, Jack? It might ease your pain.”
I nodded; sharing my nightmare might halve my agony.
“Every night I see them burning, Rob. I try to reach them, but to no avail, and they are calling out. ‘Save us daddy, save us Elijah, for God’s sake save us’. Their eyes are wide with fear; their faces and bodies are charring and melting. To think they all died in such terror and agonising pain twists me into a gibbering wreck. I try to rid myself of the feeling by thoughts of violence against those who I accuse of their deaths – but the dreams come every night.”
I suppose it was the memory of how Ashby de La Zouche had died which brought such horror. I had pinned him to the floor with a bayonet and a knife; poured lamp oil on him, and then dropped a lighted candle on the oil. He died in agony, his eyeballs bursting and his face liquefying, in the heat of the fire. I had avenged Annette Blanchard’s murder with a fearful murder of my own.
Rob’s voice broke into my thoughts. “Mister Cooper, the fire chief, told you he found them dead in their beds. They must have died peacefully in their sleep.”
I shook my head. “He said that only to spare me further pain. You and I saw the inferno Hungerford Hall had become; they must have perished by being burned to death. He would not let me see the bodies because they were so terribly disfigured.”
Rob put his arm across my shoulder. “I spoke to the driver of the fire appliance. He said when they arrived the smoke from the burning Hall was so noxious two of the fireman fell unconscious on entering the building. The rest of the crew had to put wet cloth over their faces to reach the bedrooms. All the occupants were lying as if peacefully asleep. They had been overcome by fumes given off from the new furniture and upholstery. All the varnish, polish, horsehair, and fabrics, had combined to give off poisonous gases.”
“But why would not Mister Cooper show me their bodies if they had not been burnt?”
“As they were carrying the bodies down to the exit the staircase gave way. The firemen and their burdens fell to the floor, with flaming debris raining down on them. According to the man I talked to it was a miracle any one got out alive, and as it was several firemen were injured. The bodies of your family became burned then, and Cooper did not wish to add to your distress by seeing them in that state. Believe me, Jack; they died peacefully in their beds, unaware of the fire. Noxious smoke killed them, silently and painlessly.” Rob looked at me earnestly. “The man who told me this did not know who I was, nor of my connection to you. There was no reason for him to lie to me. Yes, your family are dead, and yes, you deserve, and will obtain, your revenge, but you can go to sleep knowing they did not suffer. I swear on Bridey’s life what I have told you is the truth.”
I knew how much Rob loved his fiancée, Bridey Murphy, so believed him. I went back into the stable, laid down on a pile of straw and was asleep in seconds.
The sound of people moving about, and the shafts of sunlight streaming in through the open door, awoke me. I was renewed; those few hours of sleep had lifted the bedraggled feeling from me, but also made me aware of my reprehensible state. I made my way to the pump by the horse trough and sluiced several weeks of dirt, filth, and grime from my body. One of the pedlars gave, or rather sold me, a shave, and after a good breakfast I was ready for anything, other than the pedlar’s drab, who came over to me when she saw I had washed.
“Now you smell sweeter I be more than ready to give you a gallop, if you gives me a shilling.”
I kissed her chastely on the cheek “I am sure you are worth much more than a shilling, my dear, but the woman who next I lie with will be my wife in heaven.”
Not that I believe such a place exists.
After leaving the Golden Cockerel we headed due north to Pangbourne, crossing to the north bank of the River Thames by means of the toll bridge.
We came into Marlow shortly after 3 pm. As we rode through the village we passed the Swan Inn and Rob remarked. “It was here I first caught a glimpse of Bridey, although I never had chance to speak to her then, and it was only when you sent me with a note to Colonel Slade’s residence I saw her again.” He shook his head in wonder. “If fate says you will meet your sweetheart then meet her you shall, even if you do not get to speak to her the first time you see her.”
I was only half listening to him as memories of the last time I had been in Marlow were crowding in on me. I wondered how my sister Becky was faring in Italy, and if Zinnia Slade had any news of her. I contemplated asking John Stafford if he could find out anything of my sister’s whereabouts through his contacts in the Foreign Office.
Thinking about Stafford brought another question into my mind. How was it no one had reported seeing Metzendorf’s coach? Metzendorf had visited Rowley Lane at Taplow Court, and had been at Hungerford. It was more than likely his carriage, a large black coach pulled by six matched black horses, had travelled along the Great West Road to reach those destinations. Where were Stafford’s informants? He had implied the coach was on a watch list, yet as far as I was aware no sightings had been reported. Maybe the open handed, bon viveur, Stafford knew about the coach and had not told me. Perhaps Stafford was a member of Metzendorf’s lechers club.
I determined that after dealing with Lord Lane I would ask some searching questions of John Stafford.
Rob eventually finished burbling about Bridey.
I nodded. “What will be will be.”
We put our horses to the long slope which led out of Marlow on the road to Maidenhead, and something Rob had said earlier niggled at my mind, but I could not recall what it was. I had suffered several of these blank moments of late, sometimes finding myself in a room and not knowing how I got there, or even why I had gone there. I ascribed the condition to a lack of sleep, and hoped without the recurring nightmares I had suffered these blank moments would vanish – but I was sure that what I was trying to recall was important.
We crested the slope and dismounted from our blown horses to rest them. From our vantage point we could see Taplow Court half hidden in a stand of elms, and I remembered what Rob had said the last time we stopped and viewed the house from this spot.
“How is it you know Lord Lane, Rob? I recall you told me you had made his acquaintance, and was not greatly impressed with the noble lord?”
He nodded. “It was not long after leaving the army, and I had set up as a cab driver in London. I worked from the Dog and Duck hostelry, and one evening was engaged to take Lord and Lady Lane to the Drury Lane Theatre from their residence in Hanover Square. I was to return to Drury Lane after the theatre performance and take them on to wherever they decided to spend the rest of the evening.” He frowned in recollection. “When I collected them from Hanover Square I was surprised that Lady Lane looked, and sounded, like a Covent Garden whore.”
“I believe she earned a living as such before her marriage.” I informed him.
“Well, later, when I picked them up from outside the theatre, they were accompanied by two young, demure looking, girls. Lord Lane instructed me to head for Greenwich, and said he would give me more directions when nearer their destination. I set out for the south bank, but even before reaching London Bridge I heard what could only be the sounds of copulation coming from inside the coach. I stopped and got down from the driver’s bench and peered in through the window of the carriage to see Lord Lane rogering one of the girls à la chien, while Lady Lane and the other girl were tipping the velvet; if you know what I mean?”
I assured him I did.
Rob continued. “They were oblivious to my presence, but must have noted the coach had stopped because Lady Lane took her mouth from the young girl’s madge and said. ‘Why ‘ave you stopped, ducky? There is nothing amiss ‘ere; keep the coach rolling and rocking, it adds to our pleasure, an’ if yer a good boy you can ‘ave some of this’.” Rob shook his head in disgust. “She pointed to the young girl’s madge then to her own. I scrambled back on the driver’s seat, whipped up the team, and did not stop again until Greenwich, which is way out in the countryside, across the river from the Isle of Dogs. The whole journey was accompanied by groans, grunting, foul language, shouts, screams, shrieks, and moaning which would have made even a brothel owner ashamed.”
“What is there at Greenwich, I have never been south of the river?”
“Well, there is the Royal Park, and the Naval Hospital, and the Royal Observatory. Lord Lane did not want to stop anywhere near those buildings but ordered me to drive further east, on to Greenwich Marshes. He finally called me to stop in the middle of nowhere – open fields as far as one could see, which wasn’t far as it was as dark as a mine. Lord Lane then threw the girls out of the carriage. They were both naked, and sobbing their hearts out. Lane said, ‘There you are my dears, and the next time you cozen a sailor make sure he is not one of my nephews.’ He then ordered me to take the coach back to their Hanover Square town house. I remonstrated about leaving the stark naked girls out in such a lonely and inhospitable place at the dead of night as they might be accosted by footpads, or worse. He laughed. ‘Do not trouble yourself about those two harpies, cabby, reserve your sympathy instead for any footpads they might come across’. He held up a sovereign. ‘You do not get this until I am back at my front door’.”
Rob sighed. “What could I do? I could not refuse what was nigh on a week’s earnings, so turned the rig around and left those two poor girls to whatever fate awaited them. I have hated myself, and Lord Lane, ever since.”