ALEXANDER Montgomery leaned back in the chair and stretched his long, lean legs across the carpeted floor of the captain’s quarters of The Grand Duchess and watched Nicholas Ivanovitch berate one of the servants. Alex had never seen anyone with quite as much arrogance as this Russian.
“I’ll have your head if you misplace my buckles a second time,” Nick said with his heavy accent and husky voice.
Alex wondered if in Russia grand dukes were still allowed to behead people who displeased them.
“Go now. Out of my sight,” Nick said as he waved a lace-encased wrist toward the cowering servant. “You see what I have to bear,” he said to Alex as soon as they were alone in the cabin.
“It’s a great deal, yes, I can see that,” Alex agreed.
Nicholas raised one eyebrow at his friend, then looked back at the charts spread across the table. “We’ll be docking about a hundred and fifty miles south of this Warbrooke of yours. Think someone will be willing to take you north?”
“I’ll manage,” Alex said nonchalantly, putting his hands behind his head and stretching even more, his long body taking up most of the cabin space. Long ago he’d schooled his handsome face to conceal what he was thinking. Nicholas knew some of what his friend was feeling, but Alex didn’t allow anyone to see the depth of his concern.
Months ago, while Alex was in Italy, he’d received a letter from his sister Marianna begging him to come home. She had said that he was desperately needed. She had told Alex what their father had forbidden her to tell: that he, Sayer Montgomery, had been badly injured in an accident aboard a ship and his legs had been crushed. They hadn’t expected him to live, but he had and he was confined to his bed now, a cripple.
Marianna had gone on to say that she had married an Englishman, the customs inspector for the little town of Warbrooke, and he was...She hadn’t gone into detail of what her husband was doing, probably because she was caught between loyalty to her husband and loyalty to her family and the townspeople she’d known all her life. But Alex could sense that there was much that she wasn’t telling him.
She’d given the letter to one of the many seamen in Warbrooke and hoped that it would reach Alex and that he could come home. Alex had received the letter soon after he’d docked in Italy. The schooner he’d sailed out of Warbrooke on over four years ago had gone down three weeks before and he’d been waiting on Italy’s sunny coast, not trying very hard to find another position as ship’s officer.
It was in Italy that he’d met Nicholas Ivanovitch. Nick’s family in Russia was first cousins with the tzarina, and Nick expected people the world over to be aware of this fact and to treat him with the awe and subservience that he thought his position gave him.
Alex had stepped in and saved Nick’s thick neck from a gang of roving sailors who didn’t like what Nick had said about them. Alex had pulled his sword, tossed it to Nick, and then drawn two knives, one for each hand, from his belt. Together the two men had fought back.
It had taken them an hour, and when they were finished, they were covered with blood, their clothes were in shreds, but they were friends. Alexander was treated to the Russian hospitality that was as generous as the Russian arrogance. Nick took Alex aboard his private ship, a lugger, a ship that was so fast that it was illegal in most countries since it could outrun anything on the seas. But no one bothered the Russian aristocracy since they followed no laws but their own.
Alex settled down on the opulent ship and for a couple of days enjoyed being waited on, his every wish anticipated, his every wish fulfilled by the army of cowering servants that Nick had brought with him from Russia.
“We’re not like this in America,” Alex had told Nick after his fifth mug of ale. He talked of the independence of Americans, of their ability to create their own country from a wilderness. “We’ve fought the French, the Indians, we’ve fought all the world and we’ve won!” The more he drank, the more he rhapsodized about the glories of America. After he and Nick had put away most of a keg of ale, Nick brought out a clear liquid he called vodka and they started on that. Say nothing else about the Russians, Alex thought, they can drink with the best of them.
It was the next morning, when Alex’s head was splitting and his mouth tasted as if he’d just licked the bottom of a ship clean, that the letter arrived. Nick was topside, taking his bellyache out on his cringing servants, when Elias Downey asked permission to come aboard and talk to Alexander. Nick was diverted from his shouting and complaining long enough to escort the man downstairs—he was dying of curiosity to hear what this man’s message of great importance was.
Alex merely rolled his eyes when Nick poured three glasses of vodka and set them on the table.
Alex ignored the roaring in his head as he listened to the tales Elias had to tell about what was happening in Warbrooke. He scanned the letter from his sister, but there was much that she’d not told him.
“That man she married is evil. He steals from all of us,” Elias was saying. “He took Josiah’s ship from him, said he thought there was contraband on it. He done it all legal and proper like, weren’t nothin’ any of us could do to stop him. If Josiah could come up with sixty pounds, he could sue your brother-in-law to get his ship back. That ship was all that Josiah had in the world and now he ain’t even got that.”
“What did my father do?” Alex asked, leaning forward. “I can’t imagine him letting his son-in-law take a man’s ship.”
Elias’s eyelids were beginning to droop with the effects of Nick’s vodka. “Sayer ain’t got no legs. They might as well have been cut off. He just stays in bed. Nobody expected him to live but he did—if you can call that livin’. He lays in bed, won’t even hardly eat nothin’. Eleanor Taggert runs the place.”
“Taggert!” Alex scoffed. “They still live in that backwater shack, still trying to control those damned kids of theirs?”
“James went down with his ship a couple of years ago and Nancy died havin’ the last young one. A few of the boys shipped out, but there’s enough of ’em left behind. Eleanor works for your father and Jess runs a boat around the harbor. They keep the family eatin’. Of course, you know the Taggerts, they won’t take charity from nobody. That Jess, she’s somethin’. She’s the only one that’ll stand up to your brother-in-law. ’Course it ain’t as if the Taggerts have anything to lose by standin’ up to him. They don’t own nothin’ that anybody’d want.”
Alex exchanged smiles with Elias. The Taggerts were the town joke. They were used as contrast to everyone’s bad luck. No matter what happened to you, you could always look at the Taggerts and see somebody worse off than you were. They were poorer than anyone else, and dirtier—and they covered their misery with pride.
“Is Jessica still as hot tempered as she always was?” Alex murmured, smiling at the memory of a scrawny, dirty-faced brat who, for some reason he had never understood, had singled him out to make his life miserable. “She must be about twenty now, right?”
“There abouts.” Elias’s eyes were beginning to close.
“And still not married?”
“Nobody wants them kids,” Elias said, his voice beginning to slur. “You ain’t seen Jess in a long time. She’s changed.”
“Somehow I doubt that,” Alex said just as Elias’s head slumped forward onto his chest and he fell asleep. Alex looked up at Nick. “I’ll have to go back and see what this is about. Marianna asks me to come home and help them. I doubt if it’s as bad as they make it seem. My father has always believed the town of Warbrooke to be his personal little fiefdom and now he’s having to share the authority with someone else and he doesn’t like it. And if one of those Taggerts is sticking his nose in it and stirring up trouble, it’s no wonder there’s a commotion. I’ll go back and see what it is. I heard of a ship leaving for America in about six weeks’ time. Maybe the captain doesn’t have his crew yet.”
Nick tossed back the last of the vodka. “I’ll take you. My parents wanted me to see America and I have cousins there. I’ll take you to this town of yours and you can see what is going on. A son should obey his father.”
Alex smiled at Nick and didn’t show how concerned he was about his father’s injury. He couldn’t imagine his big, loud, demanding father being an invalid confined to bed. “All right,” Alex said. “I’ll be happy to go with you.”
That had been weeks ago, and now they were within hours of docking and Alex was looking forward to seeing his homeland again.
* * *
The town of New Sussex was booming with business. There was the noise of the ships docking, of people shouting and hawking wares, of arguments. And there were the odors of dead fish and unwashed people, mixed with clean, pure sea air.
Nick stretched his big body and yawned, the sun reflecting off the gold embroidery of his jacket. “You are welcome to stay with my cousin. He has nothing much to do and he will be glad of the diversion of you.”
“Thanks just the same but I think I’ll start home,” Alex answered. “I’m anxious to see my father again and to see what mischief my sister has gotten herself into.”
They parted at the dock, Alex carrying only one bag across his shoulder. First he planned to purchase a horse and then a new suit of clothes. Everything he owned had gone down in Italy and after he’d met Nick, he’d worn nothing but the comfortable, baggy pants and shirt of seaman’s gear.
“Here! Watch that!” a British soldier, one of a group of six, yelled at Alex. “Scum like you should look out for your betters.”
Alex had no time to defend himself before one of the men pushed him from behind. The bag Alex carried fell forward just as the soldier pushed him again. Alex fell face down into the dirt, his ears ringing with laughter as he spit out dirt and debris.
He was on his feet in seconds and starting for the group of soldiers who’d already turned their backs when a strong hand stopped him. “I wouldn’t if I were you.”
Alex was so angry that at first he couldn’t focus on the sailor beside him.
“They have the right, and you’ll only get into more trouble if you go after them.”
“What do you mean they have the right?” Alex said through his teeth. Now that he was upright, his senses were returning to him. There were six of them and one of him.
“They’re soldiers of His Majesty and they have every right to do what they want. You’ll get yourself thrown in jail if you fool with the likes of them.” When Alex made no reply, the sailor shrugged and kept on walking.
Alex, after a moment of glaring at the soldiers’ backs, reshouldered his bag and kept walking. He tried to return his thoughts to clean clothes and a good horse between his legs.
As he passed a tavern, he caught a whiff of fish chowder and realized he was hungry. Within minutes, he was seated at a dirty table and eating savory stew from a deep wooden bowl, remembering meals with Nick. They had eaten with gold utensils off porcelain plates so thin they were transparent.
He wasn’t prepared when he felt the sharp tip of a sword at his throat. He looked up to see the same soldier who’d pushed him into the dirt moments before.
“So here is our little sailor again,” the man taunted. “I thought you’d be long gone by now.” The young soldier’s face changed from teasing to serious. “Get up. This is our table.”
Alex’s hands moved slowly toward the underside of the table. He didn’t have a weapon on him, but he had skill and speed. Before the soldiers knew what was happening, Alex sent the table toward them, knocking the first man down and landing so heavily on his leg that he screamed in pain. The other five attacked Alex at once.
He managed to knock two of them out, then grabbed the handle of the heavy pot hanging over the fire. It burned his hands, but it also burned the entire midsection of the man he tossed it to. He was just about to bring a chair down on the head of the fifth man when the innkeeper hit Alex over the head with a tankard.
Alex sank to the floor gracefully.
* * *
A bucket of cold, dirty water was splashed on Alex’s face, and he came to painfully. His head was roaring and it was difficult to open his eyes. Based upon the smell of the place, he was sure he was in hell.
“Get up. You’re free,” came a gruff voice as Alex tried to sit up. He managed to open one eye but closed it again against the dazzle.
“Alex,” came a voice he recognized as being Nick’s. “I came to get you out of this filthy place, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to carry you. Get up and follow me.”
The dazzle had been the several pounds of gold embroidery on Nick’s uniform. Alex realized his friend was wearing one of the several uniforms he used whenever he wanted something from someone. Nick had said that people the world over were impressed with the gaudiness of the Russian uniforms and it got him what he wanted. Alex also knew that Nick wasn’t about to dirty that uniform by giving his friend a hand.
In spite of the fact that Alex’s head was about to fall off his shoulders, he managed to hold it on and stand up. He was beginning to see that he was in a jail, a filthy place with ancient straw on the stone floor and heaven knew what in the corners. The wall he touched was cold and slimy and the slime coated his hands.
Somehow, he managed to follow Nick’s perfectly straight back out of the building and into the fading daylight. A magnificent carriage and equally magnificent horses awaited them. One of Nick’s servants helped Alex into the carriage.
Alex was hardly seated when Nick began raging at him.
“Did you know that they planned to hang you in the morning?” he growled. “I only heard about you by chance. Some old sailor saw you get off my ship and then get knocked around by those soldiers. He saw you kick the table over on one of them. Did you know you broke his leg? He may lose it. And you burned one of them and a third one still hasn’t waked up after you bashed him. Alex, a person in your station in life can’t do that sort of thing.”
Alex raised an eyebrow at that statement. No doubt Nick, in his station in life, would have every right to do what he pleased.
Alex leaned back against the seat and looked out the window while Nick continued to tell him that he couldn’t do what he’d done. While Nick was talking, Alex saw an English soldier grab a young girl’s arm and pull her behind a building.
“Stop here,” Alex said.
Nick, who had seen what Alex had, refused to have the driver stop the carriage and when Alex tried to get out anyway, Nick pushed him forcefully against the seat. Alex grabbed his head in pain.
“They’re only peasants,” Nick said, his voice full of disbelief.
“But they are my peasants,” Alex whispered.
“Ah, yes, now I begin to understand. But there are always more peasants. They breed rapidly.”
Alex didn’t bother to answer Nick’s absurdities. His head was hurting as much from what he’d seen as from the blow he’d received. He’d heard rumors of horrors that were going on in America, but he hadn’t really believed them. In England there was talk of the ungrateful Colonists, how they were like delinquent children who needed a firm hand to rule them. He’d even seen American ships being unloaded and inspected before they could return to America. But, somehow, he hadn’t really believed what he’d heard.
He lay quietly against the padded seat and didn’t bother to look out the window again.
They arrived at a large house on the outskirts of town and Nick jumped out, leaving Alex to find his own way. He was obviously very angry with his friend and had no intention of helping him further.
Alex climbed out and followed Nick’s valet into a room where a bathtub full of hot water was waiting.
Alex stripped and washed, the hot water helping his sore head. But with the clearing away of pain, he began to wonder about his sister’s letter. He’d dismissed it as the emotional reaction of a woman, but now he wondered if what was going on here was what she meant when she had said that Warbrooke needed help. Elias had said that Josiah’s ship had been taken because he was suspected of selling contraband. If the soldiers felt so superior that they could attack a harmless seaman on the street and molest a young girl without fear of punishment, what were the officers, the men in power, capable of?
“I see you’re still thinking of what happened today,” Nick said as he entered the room. “What do you expect when you walk about the wharf dressed as you are?”
“A man has a right to dress how he wants and he should be safe.”
“That is the doctrine of all peasants,” Nick said with a sigh. He motioned to a servant to begin unpacking his many bags and trunks. “Tonight you may wear my cousin’s clothes and tomorrow we will see that you are dressed properly. Then you may travel to your father’s home without fear.”
As usual, Nick made it a command rather than a suggestion. He had been giving orders all his life and they had been obeyed.
After Nick left, Alex dismissed the servant who held one of Nick’s monogrammed bath towels ready, took the towel and wrapped it about the lower half of his body. It was dark outside now, but the lamplighter had lit the lamps and Alex could see the soldiers roaming about the streets. They were quartered with the citizens and came and went at their leisure. Not far away he heard raucous laughter and the sound of glass breaking.
These men were afraid of nothing. They had the protection of the King of England on their side. If someone fought them, as Alex had today, they had every right to hang him. They were English and the Americans were English, too—but the Americans were considered to be a savage, ignorant lot that had to be disciplined.
Turning away from the window in disgust, Alex glanced at the half-open trunk of Nick’s. There was a black shirt lying across the top.
What if someone gave them some of their own terror back? he thought. What if a man, dressed in black, came out of the night and let these arrogant soldiers know that they couldn’t hurt the Colonists without fear of punishment?
He rummaged in Nick’s trunk until he found a pair of black breeches.
“May I ask what you are doing?” Nick asked from the doorway. “If it is jewels you are looking for, I can assure you they are safely hidden.”
“Be quiet, Nick, and help me find a black handkerchief.”
Nick walked across the room and put his hand on Alex’s arm. “I want to know what you are doing.”
“I just thought that I might give those Englishmen something to worry about. A black ghost coming out of the night perhaps.”
“Ah, yes, I am beginning to see.” Nick’s eyes began to shine. This was an idea that appealed to his Russian blood. He opened a second trunk. “Did I ever tell you about my cousin who rode his horse down the steps of our country house? The horse broke both its front legs of course, but it was a magnificent moment.”
Alex looked up from the shirt he was holding. “What happened to your cousin?”
“He died. All the good ones die young. Another time he was drunk and decided to ride his horse out of a second story window. Both he and the horse died. He was a good man.”
Alex kept his comments about Nick’s cousin to himself as he pulled on the tight black breeches. Nick was shorter and heavier than he was, but Alex’s legs were thick from years of fighting for balance on board ships so the breeches, made to be snug, were like skin on Alex. The shirt, cut full in the arms and gathered across the bodice, flowed above the breeches.
“And these,” Nick said, holding up tall, knee-high boots. “And here is a handkerchief.” He opened the door. “Bring me a black plume!” he bellowed down the hallway.
“You don’t have to spread the word to everyone,” Alex said as he pulled on the boots.
Nick shrugged. “There is no one here but my cousin and his wife.”
“And a hundred or so servants.”
“What do they matter?” He looked up from the trunk to a servant who held out a large, black-dyed ostrich plume.
“The countess sends her regards,” the servant said before leaving the room.
Within minutes Nick had Alex dressed in black. He cut holes in the handkerchief and tied it about the lower half of his friend’s face, then set a large tricorn hat on his head. The plume curled about the brim, a few tendrils hanging over Alex’s forehead.
“Yes,” Nick said, standing back and admiring his work. “Now, what do you plan? To ride about the streets and frighten the men and kiss the girls?”
“Something of the sort.” Now that he was dressed, Alex wasn’t sure what he’d originally planned.
“There is a horse in the stables, a beautiful black. It’s in the end stall. When you return, we will drink to...the Raider. Yes, we will drink to the Raider. Now go and have your fun and return soon. I am hungry.”
Alex smiled and then followed Nick’s directions down to the stables. Under the cover of darkness, he faded into nothing in the black clothing, and as he moved about, he began to have a sense of purpose. He thought of the soldiers pulling the girl into the alley and he thought of Josiah losing his ship. Josiah had taught the three Montgomery boys to tie their first knots.
The horse Nick recommended was an angry devil that had no desire for any man to ride it. Alex pulled it around, then mounted, fought for—and won—control of the beast. They shot out of the stables and headed toward the streets.
Alex moved the horse quietly along the outskirts of the main street and watched for a place where he might be useful. It didn’t take him long to find it. Outside a tavern, a pretty young woman, her arms full of small kegs of beer, was being surrounded by seven drunken soldiers.
“Give us a kiss,” one man said. “Just one little kiss.”
Alex didn’t waste time before spurring his mount from the shadows and into the group. The horse, its feet flying, was nervous enough to make the men stop and take notice, but the man clad in black on top, his head silhouetted by the lamplight made them step back in fear.
Alex hadn’t considered how he would disguise his voice, but when he spoke, he spoke with the accent of an upperclass Englishman, not with the flat voweled English that had developed in America over the last hundred years.
“Try someone your own size,” Alex said and drew his sword as he advanced on two of the men who were stepping backward, away from the apparition and the angry black horse.
Deftly, Alex removed the buttons off the uniform of first one man, then the other. The buttons clattered on the cobblestone street and the horse crushed one under its iron-clad hoof.
Alex backed the horse away, already moving into the shadows. He knew that he had surprise on his side and that as soon as these men recovered their senses, they’d attack or call for help.
He swung his sword through the air with a loud whoosh and brought it to rest under the chin of another soldier. “Think before you harass an American again or the Raider may find you.” He pulled his sword tip down the man’s uniform, carefully laying it open to his skin, but not so much as scratching the man.
With that, Alex laughed, a laugh of pure pleasure, a feeling of triumph surging through him that he had the upper hand with these overbearing louts who traveled only in packs. Still smiling beneath his mask, he turned his horse and headed down the street at a breakneck pace.
But no matter how fast he was going, he couldn’t outrun the bullet that was fired at his back. He felt something hot tearing through his shoulder. His head flew backward and the horse reared, but he managed to hang on.
He turned back to the woman and soldiers still standing there, one of the men holding a smoking pistol in his hand. “You’ll never catch the Raider,” he said with triumph in his voice. “He’ll haunt you day and night. You’ll never be free of him.”
He was wise enough not to press his luck any longer but turned the horse and tore down the street. Shutters on the houses were beginning to open and people were looking out just in time to see a man in black fly past their windows. Behind him, Alex could hear a woman, probably the barmaid he’d rescued, shouting something, but he was too concerned about his bleeding shoulder to hear what she was saying.
He rode the horse to the edge of town and knew that he had to get rid of the animal. As he was, he was too conspicuous atop the black devil. Near the docks, in the shelter of the confusion of the ships and ropes, he dismounted, slapped the horse on the rump and watched it head back toward its stables.
Alex couldn’t see his shoulder, but he could feel that he was losing a great deal of blood and he knew that he was losing strength rapidly. The nearest point of safety was Nick’s ship, docked not far away and guarded by Nick’s crew.
Weaving between the ships and keeping himself hidden, he listened to the increasing pitch of the people in the streets. It seemed that the entire town was coming out of their houses and joining in the search. When he reached Nick’s lugger, he prayed that the Russian crew would allow him on board. The Russians could be as fierce as they were loving.
But Alex need not have feared, for one of the crewmen saw him and swung down to the dock to help him aboard. Maybe they were used to their master’s friends arriving in the middle of the night wearing blood soaked shirts. Alex didn’t remember much after the sailors helped him aboard the ship and half carried him into the hold.
* * *
Alex opened his eyes to see the familiar swing of a lamp as it swayed to the rhythm of the sea.
“Well, it looks like you may live after all.”
Alex moved his head just a bit to see Nick sitting beside him, his coat off, his shirt dirty with blood on the front. “What time is it?” Alex asked as he started to sit up but was dizzy with the effort so he lay back down.
“It’s almost dawn,” Nick said, getting up to move to a basin of water and wash his hands. “You almost died last night. It took a while to get the bullet out.”
Alex closed his eyes for a moment and thought about his foolish stunt of being the Raider. “I hope you don’t mind my imposing on your hospitality a while longer, but I think it will be a day or so before I can travel to Warbrooke.”
Nick dried his hands on a towel. “I don’t think either of us had any idea of the consequences of what you did last night. It seems that this town was looking for a hero and you’ve been elected. You can’t step onto the street without hearing about the exploits of the Raider. It seems that he’s responsible for every deed that’s been perpetrated against the English in the last ten years.”
Alex gave a groan of disgust.
“That’s the least of it. The English have sent every soldier at their disposal to look for you. There are already posters out for your arrest. You are to be shot on sight. They’ve been here twice this morning and demanded to search my ship.”
“I’ll go then,” Alex said, moving to sit up, but he was very weak from the loss of blood and his shoulder hurt abominably.
“I’ve kept them away by threatening them with war with my country. Alex, if you stepped onto that gangplank, you’d be shot within minutes. They are looking for someone tall and slim, with black hair.” Nick’s eyes burned into Alex’s. “And they know you’re wounded.”
“I see,” Alex said, still sitting on the edge of the bed, and he did see. He knew that he was facing the end of his life, but he could not stay here and risk getting his friend involved. He tried to stand, leaning heavily on the chair in front of him.
“I have a plan,” Nick said. “I have no wish to be pursued by the English navy, so I’d like to allow them to search.”
“Yes, of course. At least that way I won’t have to walk down the gangplank. I was dreading that.” Alex tried to smile.
Nicholas ignored his attempt at levity. “I have sent for some clothes of my cousin. He is a fat man and a gaudy dresser.”
Alex raised an eyebrow at that. To his taste, Nick’s clothes put even peacocks to shame, so what must this cousin’s be like?
Nick continued. “I think that if we pad you to fill the clothes, fortify you with a little whiskey, put a powdered wig on over that mass of black hair, you’ll pass the soldiers’ inspection.”
“Why don’t I put on the disguise and just walk off the ship?”
“And then do what? You will need help and whoever gives it to you will be putting his life in danger. And how many of your poor Americans could resist the five-hundred-pounds reward that is being offered for your head? No, you will stay here on my ship with me and we will sail for this town of yours. Will there be someone there to take care of you?”
Alex leaned back against the wall, feeling even weaker than when he woke. He thought of the town of Warbrooke, the town his grandfather had settled and most of which his father now owned. There were people there who were his friends, people he’d known all his life—and he was a product of those people. If he was brave, then they were twice as brave. No English soldiers were going to frighten the town of Warbrooke.
“Yes, there are people there who will help me,” Alex said at last.
“Then let’s get you dressed.” Nick threw open the cabin door and called for a servant to bring the clothes he needed.
* * *
“Alex,” Nick said gently. “We’re here.” He looked at his friend with sympathy. For the last week Alex had been running a high fever and now he looked as if he’d been on a week long drunk: his eyes were sunken, his skin dry and red, his muscles weak and rubbery.
“Alex, we’re going to have to dress you in my cousin’s clothes again. The soldiers are still searching for the Raider and I’m afraid they’ve come this far north. Do you understand me?”
“Yes,” Alex mumbled. “They’ll take care of me in Warbrooke. You’ll see.”
“I hope you’re right,” Nick said. “I’m afraid that they may believe what they see.” He was referring to the ridiculous sight Alex made in his fat padding and brocade coat and powdered wig. He certainly didn’t look like the handsome young man come home to save a town from a dastardly brother-in-law.
“You’ll see,” Alex slurred, since Nick had been giving him brandy to help him face the coming exertion. “They know me. They’ll laugh when they see me like this. They’ll know that something has happened. They’ll take care of me until this damned shoulder heals. I just pray they don’t give me away in front of the soldiers. You’ll see, they’ll know that no Montgomery ever dressed like a peacock. They’ll know there’s a reason for this.”
“Yes, Alexander,” Nicholas said soothingly. “I hope you are right.”
“I am. You’ll see. I know these people.”