“There’s less beastly men ye could take to yer bosom, miss.” The jailer opened the shed door, his bruised eyes squinting at her. “As ye see, I had to keep him separated.”
A lone torch lit a seated monster of a man, his braw arms manacled to the wall of Marshalsea Prison’s strong room, the windowless outbuilding saved for troublesome criminals. Despair hung heavy. It clung in dark corners ready to pounce. The earthen floor reeked of piss. Night soil clogged the air. Setting a lavender-scented handkerchief to her face saved her from retching.
Iron links rattled. Eyes the shade of molten metal glared at her through lanky hair. The brute stirred. A torn MacDonald kilt shifted on massive thighs, and the bottom of a hairy ballock swung into view.
“See what I mean?” The jailer sniffed. “Not fit for the kindness of yer bosom.”
“It’s my bosom, Mr. Ledwell. I’ll thank you to keep your concerns to yourself.” She pulled a coin purse from her cloak pocket, keeping the perfumed cloth to her nose.
The jailor dipped a bony finger into the leather bag and sifted the contents. Coins clinked. His battered face lit with glee as he raised a shiny guinea to the torchlight. “Yer payin’ a lot to save one worthless highlander,” he said, his fascination locked on the gold piece. “Makes a body wonder…why him?”
I’ll share the title of this one in the coming weeks.