MEET JACK HUNTLEY. (From EULOGY'S SECRET by GRACE ELLIOT)
Jack Huntley was late and therefore in a foul mood. In his view good time-keeping was the measure of a man and to be tardy an unpardonable offence. So as he turned the corner into Grosvenor Square and a woman's scream rent the air, he felt unreasonably annoyed. For a moment he even considered hurrying on to his appointment, but then his conscience forbade such neglect and he stopped to listen. The commotion seemed to be coming from outside Lord Devlin's residence. With a sigh, he crept closer and glimpsed two ruffians making off with a woman.
"Stop!" Jack bellowed. "Unhand her this instant!"
His request met with foul curses.
"Stop, I say! Put her down."
"Oh yeah? And what if I don't want to?"
This wasn't part of Jack's plan for the evening and he now felt very irritated indeed.
"Then I shall make you." Huntley sighed and stepped closer. Taller than average, broad and muscular, his intimidating presence was diminished only by being outnumbered.
"Yeah? What with? The sharp side of your tongue?"
Huntley reached for his sword stick. Cold steel hissed through the air.
"I'm late and I dislike being late. Now, if you'd kindly put her down we can both be about our business, no harm done and I won't take this any further."
With a hollow laugh, the felon carrying the woman threw her to the ground. She lay deathly still. Silently the villains split apart, circling like wolves, one on either side of Huntley to cut off his escape.
"Two ag'in one." A broad bladed hunting knife glinted in the lamplight. "Now why don't yer be sensible and keep on walkin'?"
Huntley couldn't say which irked him more, being delayed or threatened, but one thing was certain, these dogs weren't going to get the upper hand, not if he had anything to do with it. With a sigh, he prepared to teach the ruffians a lesson.
In a deadly dance, the three men circled, sizing each other up. A crude blade whistled past Huntley's ear. He ducked, spun, and with a vicious sweep of his sword sent the felon sprawling backward. Huntley might have been outnumbered, but with athletic grace he parried and thrust, moving with lightning speed to rebuff attacks from both sides. As his attackers grew bolder, working as a team, he found himself pressed, retreating against the basement railings of Lord Devlin's house to protect his back.
Huntley had little choice but to hold his ground. To attack one felon left him open to the other, and after several minutes of stalemate Huntley began to question the wisdom of interring. Typical! If he'd been on time, he wouldn't have had to get involved. Pah! That's what happened with poor time-keeping. Momentarily distracted, the knife whistled dangerously close to his neck. Discomforted, Huntley glanced around. He thought of calling for help, but there was no one around. On this moonless, wet night everyone was safe indoors. With an ill-humored swipe, he parried the slashing knife with a sword thrust. Metal clanged on metal, the vibrations jarring his wrist.
"Be on your way," Huntley added, "and I'll take this no further."
"Nuffin' I dislikes more than an arrogant toff."
Huntley dodged, the blade so close he felt its coldness on his skin.
"Admit defeat and be on your way. No hard feelings."
"No thanks, mate, reckon as we'll have your purse as well."
With a growl, both felons closed in, leaving Huntley with nowhere to go.
Barnes and Noble.