I-6: Legend of the Mornellys- Chapter Four
In which Sean is rescued by strangers
Sean knew he was in trouble. He stepped back from the burly man, his mind racing. What should he do? Where should he run? Was there anywhere he could run?
His thoughts of escape proved futile when the black-haired thug pulled a pistol from his belt. “Don’t even think about runnin’, or I’ll be forced to use this on ye.” He waved the pistol around. “Where did ye come from, boy?”
Sean stuck his chin out in defiance. He wasn’t going to be cowed into anything. Though his heart beat against his chest like a bird desperately trying to escape it’s cage, he wasn't going down without a fight.
“Maine! Boys! Come lookie what I found here!” the man yelled. “Looks like we’ve got ourselves a snoop!”
Splashes of water could be heard as the other highwaymen waded through the water and made their way around the bend in the cliff. Sean looked over his shoulder as five men appeared. The one leading the way he assumed to be the leader, and rightly so- the size of his sword tucked in its scabbard was enough to send shudders down his spine. He didn’t even want to know what the blade looked like. Well done, Sean. How do you plan to get out of this mess?
He needed to devise a plan, that’s what.
The blond-haired leader he figured to be Maine stopped in front of him, his green eyes glinting and his lips twisted into a horrid smirk. He chuckled, slapping Sean on the back. “Aye, what are you doin’ out here laddie? Lookin’ for your Mamma?”
Sean balled his fists as the men erupted into laughter. “Mindin’ me own business, until the likes of ye showed up,” he fired back.
Maine snickered. He circled Sean, glancing him up and down. “A fine young boy you are, too. Where ye from, boy?”
“I’m the Sheriff’s son.”
Sean didn’t know why he let that lie pop out, but once it was out of his mouth he realized he had to play along with it. The looks on their faces as they exchanged glances was enough to tell him he’d better back this one up or they’d kill him for it.
Maine stiffened, raising an eyebrow in doubt. He scratched the stubble on his chin. “Ian’s son?” he murmured. “I didn't know he had one. It has been a long time, though.”
“Well ye were wrong,” Sean snapped. “And ye’d best not mess with my Pa, or he’ll be fixin’ yer heads for the noose.”
“Shut up, boy!” Maine roared. “You know nothin’ ‘bout yer pa if ye be thinkin’ he’d do such a thing to the likes of me.”
He laughed again, slapping his knee. Sean swallowed as he felt the presence of Maine’s five men closing in on him. He didn’t have much of a chance of escape.
“Ye see, m’boy, if what yer sayin’ is true…” Maine paused, his eyes hardening. “If, bein’ the word of choice, here, because I’m not so sure yer song matches yer tune-“
Sean could now feel one of the highwaymen breathing down his neck. He could just imagine the knife in the man’s hand, the slash of pain he’d feel when they discovered the truth. Oh Sean, you are so dumb.
Why hadn’t he stayed at home today? Why had he insisted on going to the cliffs to lament times’ past and for a friend that never existed? Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid.
“-then yer Pa would be right glad for me to return ye in one piece.” Maine tapped Sean on the chest with his finger.
Sean watched as Maine's hand tightened around the handle of his sword. He didn’t want to see that blade come out. He knew where it would end up if it did.
“Yer darn right,” Sean bluffed. “Or ye’ll be findin’ yerself hangin’ from the ol’ tree. No highwayman wants to see his life ended so short, aye?”
“Ye don’t look like Ian,” Maine growled. “And the more ye talk the more I’m thinkin’ yer lyin’ to me, boy.” He withdrew his sword. Sean flinched at the sight of the large blade, old rusted stains covering the medal. At least, he hoped those were rust stains. “Ian would have told a strappin’ smart boy like yerself to be expectin’ me. I can’t see why he wouldn’t.” He pointed the sword at Sean’s neck. Sean stepped back, but was shoved forward by one of the other men. “I’m givin’ ye one last chance to come clear with me, boy. Are ye Ian’s son or aren’t ye?”
What to say? What to do? If he told them he was, and they held him captive, then Sheriff McDonald would deny his son was in any danger. The real McDonald son was in Dublin right now. But if he told them the truth, wouldn’t it give this Maine motive to slay him now?
His tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. He could kick himself for coming out here today, of all days. He hadn’t told his mother or little sister where he was going, he’d simply taken off. Now he was paying for his indifference. At the time, he’d figured if he was old enough to run the farm he was old enough to go where he wanted without the permission or knowledge of his mother. Yeah. A lot of good that did him.
Maine stepped forward and settled the whole blade on Sean’s neck.
Sean swallowed. He didn’t know what to do. Oh, to have one’s life ended so early is a pain indeed. Much worse than labor on a farm for the rest of your days.
He’d have to come clean. They would find out, anyways, and then they’d kill him in a far less merciful way. He opened his mouth to tell them, when a scream from above caused everyone to jerk their heads up.
Out of nowhere, a crazy blond-haired man swung down the rocks of the cliff, yelling his head off. “Comin’ your way, you mangy dogs!” he yelled. “Come and get me if you dare! Leave that kid alone!”
Sean gaped. The five highwaymen were completely silent. Maine swore under his breath.
“Who the devil is that fool?” he muttered. “We could kill him before he reached the sands.” He whirled on Sean and jerked his thumb back. “Friend of yours?”
“I have no idea who that is,” Sean replied honestly. His heart leapt at the prospect though, of a rescue. I don’t care who he is, if he’s coming to my aid, well, then, two is better than one!
That didn’t last long.
Maine grunted. He gestured to his men. “Kill the man. We have no use for the likes of him. Don’t, however, use yer pistols. We can’t be havin’ the whole cove hearin’ the sound of gunshots.”
Swords were withdrawn. Sean tried to bury the sick feeling that was rising up within him. He was about to witness someone being killed. The feeling of hope was fast disappearing. What was he thinking? These men were ruthless. Who could save him from their wrath-
Out of nowhere a piece of kelp hit Maine in the back of his head. He yelled his rage, whirling around just in time to come in contact with someone’s fist. Before Sean or the other five outlaws realized what was happening, Sean was jerked away from the immediate reach of the highwaymen and found himself running down the beach.
“Run! Run for your life’s worth, Sean! Head for that cave we found!”
Sean almost came to a sliding halt. That voice- he knew that voice. But no, that voice didn’t exist!
He didn’t have time to look into the face of his aid, for the man had already turned around and gone back to help fight the highwaymen. He didn’t have much of an inkling to stay behind and watch, either, not after the way Maine had threatened to kill him.
Sean did as he was told and ran across the beach, into the water and around another bend in the cliff. He kept running, gasping for air, forcing himself to run across the deep sand. What would have been accomplished on cobblestone or sod was three times harder against the soft footing of the beach, and three times the effort as well. But he couldn’t stop. He had to reach the cave! How could- how can- how does he know about the cave?
No one knew about the cave except Sean. No one but him, and…
No. That is foolishness!
He would think no more on the matter. He had to get out of there.
Sean could hear the shouts behind him. They grew fainter the more distance he put between himself and the brawl taking place. He sure hoped that whoever the men were that they managed to defeat Maine and his men. Oh, what horrid fate would await them if they didn’t.
He reached another bend in the cliffs, and splashed into the water. Brrr! It's cold!
Instead of going around, though, he steadied himself and took a deep breath. He would need all the air he could get for this swim.
Sean dived under the water and swam towards the drop-off in the ocean bed. Down, down, down he went, down first ten feet, and then twenty. He grabbed hold of a rock and pulled himself down farther, his lungs already feeling like they were bursting. Not much longer to go. Hang in there!
Ah, there it was! He took hold of some kelp and paddled into the large hole in the rocky wall. Kicking his legs hard as he could go, he concentrated on keeping his mouth shut. Air, air, air! His mind screamed. I need air!
Almost there. Almost there. Almost. There.
Sean used the last bit of his energy to take the turn in the underwater tunnel and shot upwards. He reached the surface and broke through, gasping and sputtering for air. With great effort he pulled himself out of the ocean water and onto the rocky surface of a large cave. He lay there for a good three minutes, sucking in air as fast as his lungs would take it. Oh, I made it. Thank you, Lord.
He crossed himself as he stared up at the cave ceiling. How did the man know?
This cave was impossible to find. It had been pure chance Sean had stumbled across it one day during one of his afternoon swims. That was back when he believed Breandan…
Another thing- how come that man had sounded like Breandan?
My mind is playing tricks on me, he decided. Fear has a way of creating hallucinations.
Well, at least that’s what he decided or the moment. He couldn’t imagine, he couldn’t fathom, how this man knew about the cave. Or his name. It was impossible. Rest easy, Sean. What matters now is you’re safe. And Maine can’t get to you here.
Now the next step was to figure out how to get into the village and tell Sheriff McDonald there was a highwayman on the prowl. He hoped with everything inside of him that his rescuers survived the fight with the burly thugs. He owed his life to those brave men. But who were they?
To read more click here>>> PART FIVE
To read more click here>>> PART FIVE