Are you fascinated by the story? Check out this scene I deleted in the writing process.
In an effort to get out of the house more, I joined a local writer’s group that does prompts once a week.
“What is that?” you ask.
Well, two random words are drawn and participants have 45 minutes to write a scene involving those two things. The two words drawn for this scene were “servant” and “pig.” It was to be the beginning of a One Rogue at a Time. Unfortunately, there’s a mistake in the chapter that prevented me from using it. Can you guess what it is? The answer is after the scene.
Prompt – Servant Pig
“Jesus fucking Christ…” The litany of curses went on as Thomas William Swathmore, Earl of Twindell, squared off with the maniacal pig. “It’ll be easy, he said. Sweet money from an old dodger, he said. He didn’t ever say squat about chasing a pig.”
“Quit yer grumbling,” called his cohort in crime. “It’s just a pig.”
“It’s a mean pig, is what.” The thing had already shouldered him backwards then sat on him. It had taken ten minutes of cursing just to free his leg.
“And you’re a mean man. Git him to move.”
Thomas glared over his shoulder at his “sister.” Mary Bluebell she called herself, but he knew it wasn’t her real name, just as he wasn’t really her brother Tom. But here they were, sister and brother out to uncover a pirate’s treasure trove or so Mary had told him. She had a map and everything, written in a shaking hand.
Sadly, the damned treasure was under a pig trough. And it was guarded by a huge monster of a beast.
“Just start digging. He’ll move,” Mary suggested.
“You start digging. I’m already up to my knees in muck.” And his hip was hurting like the devil. Jesus, who knew something that fat could hit that hard?
“Wot and miss the show?”
“What, not wot,” he corrected without even looking at her. “Go check and make sure the master hasn’t got up from his nap.”
“With as much liquor as I put in his tea, he’ll be sleeping fer a week.”
He didn’t bother to correct her accent this time. She was keeping her h’s in and that was enough. Especially since they were supposed to be servants hired out for a few weeks until they had enough money to make it to London. She was a maid of all work, and he was butler, footman, and farmhand all rolled into one. Mary served tea and dusted the furniture. He carried furniture down from the attic and mucked out stalls. If his father could see him now, the old bastard would roll in his grave.
So that was something, at least. He was pissing on his ancestors great name.
And just like that, his thoughts turned into reality. While he was dreaming of pissing on his father’s gravestone, the bastard pig lifted its own leg, giving him the chance.
“There you go, you bastard!”
He dove forward and rammed his shoulder straight into the massive thing. Caught with one leg in the air, the pig was off balance. He fell backwards with a squeal giving Tom enough time to grab it around the middle and haul it toward the gate.
“There ya go!” Mary was being helpful by pulling open the gate. “Right on through. ‘Ere’s a nice ripe turnip fer you.”
It was hot, sweaty work, but they got the thing through. While Mary tossed it another turnip, Tom slammed the gate closed on the thing. He was covered in muck from head to toe, slop matted the hair over one ear, and he was breathing worse than the old coot’s plowhorse, but the evil pig was in the other pen.
“Finally,” Mary breathed with a satisfied smile.
He would have agreed if he’d had the breath. Instead, he let his head hang–his arms were already braced on his thighs–and just breathed for a minute.
“Well, what you waiting for?”
He glanced up. She really was pretty there, perched on the fence. The sunlight danced on her auburn curls, bringing out the red in her hair. Her eyes were a bright claret, a color and a wine which had always appealed to him. But mostly it was the freckles that drew his eyes. Light dusting across her nose and then into her cheeks. More on the left than the right, but all of it charming.
“Come on,” she said, holding out the shovel. “Dig!”
He straightened up to his full height, rolling out his shoulders. Damn, he’d done more work in that last twenty minutes than he had in the first twenty years of his life. He counted that more than enough work for one day.
“Get in here and dig for yourself.”
“What,” he corrected.
She grimaced at him. “WHAT do you mean. I’m supposed to be a maid of all work. We have to be clean.”
“You’re also a lying gypsy girl who wants your treasure. So dig for it.” With a grimace of distaste, he slogged to the side of the fence. He was about to brush off his breeches, but then realized it was a lost cause. No soap would ever get the stench out of his clothes. He’d have to burn them.
“I’m not–” she began.
He leaned back against the fence. “Then you’ll not get.”
“You want the treasure, same as me.”
“Not same as you. You’re on a mission. I’m simply here for my half.”
“Don’t you be making airs with me, mister…”
He let her threat hang in the air while he lifted his face to the breeze. She was downwind of him, so she’d get a good whiff of what he’d been mucking through. And then just to prove his point, he faked a yawn. “I’m tired. Think I’ll go to the creek and wash off.”
“Aw, come on Tom.” Her tone was sweet with a kick of sass just to entice him. She was good at that, playing both the innocent and the tart at the same time. If he thought she’d follow through on what she’d implied, he’d dig up the entire wallow. He’d done more for less.
But he knew it was a lie. Whenever he’d tried to wheedle so much as a kiss, she’d clamped up tighter than a Mother Superior. So he shook his head.
“You dig. I’ll keep an eye out for the old bugger.”
She waited a moment longer to test his resolve, but in this she was doomed. Finally, she understood. With a heavy sigh, she dropped the shovel to tie up her skirts.
Trim ankle. Strong calf. And the hint of legs that were as strong as they were supple. Ah, if only she’d opened up just a tad. The tiniest crack in her virtue and he’d–
“Quit staring. I ain’t got nothing you ain’t seen afore.”
“But none have it as pretty as you.”
She cast him a look–part hope, part embarrassment. It startled him. Surely she’d heard such compliments before. Then she looked away and grabbed the shovel and he was left to puzzle.
Which he did while she set shovel to the muck and began to dig.
He could have sat there for hours, watching her work. Her arms were strong, and she’d obviously done hard labor before. But it wasn’t more than ten minutes when she hit something hard.
She banged down again, and they both heard it clear as a bell. She’d found it.
He was off the fence in a second, dropping to his knees beside her as they dug with their hands.
There it was. And old metal box. Big enough for a small stash of jewels. Some gold chain. Something…
Her hands were shaking as she opened it. The latch was simple. And inside, sealed in a wax tube was…
“A piece of paper? A bloody piece of paper! Damn it Mary you said it was worth a King’s ransom!”
She was unrolling the paper, her eyes misting as she looked at it. “It is,” she said in a choked whisper. “Don’t you see? It is!”
He didn’t see and he wasn’t in the mood for guessing games. So he snatched it out of her hands and read. And then he read it again.
“It’s a marriage certificate.”
“Of the Earl of Garneth to a Cynthia Graves.”
“Yes. My mother.”
He looked at her, not understanding. “But that means–”
“I’m his only living heir.”
“And an heiress,” he whispered. A bloody eighty thousand pound annum heiress.
Which meant…he had to marry her. Right bloody now.
Did you guess what the problem is? Well, this is set in the Regency period in England when no one issued marriage certificates. The marriage would be recorded in the church records and no where else. Therefore the buried treasure could not be proof of her legitimacy. Oh well. It’s still a fun scene, right?