Several comments on my post in response to Sue’s writephoto Summit yesterday were curious as to who the man was helping Lady Elenor.
I’ve followed it up with this and hope it fills in the gap.
Ivan led her away, trembling and quietly sobbing, remembering his promise.
As kids, the two boys had been inseparable, always getting into trouble, though he had never been beaten by his father as Jack had. Jack bore the scars from his father’s belt when he tried to intervene as he laid into his mother for burning the dinner.
Drink always got the better of him, and things went from bad to worse. Babies came every year, once twins that didn’t survive, which made his father even angrier as he saw it as a failing on his wife’s part.
‘The more kids, the bigger the man’, he boasted.
Jack was the eldest, and had 9 siblings with another on the way by the time he was 13.
Clothes were made from sacking or sheets stolen from wash lines, shoes, if any, were worn hand-me-downs from sympathetic families, and Jack was a master with a trap for rabbits or waterfowl for his mother to cook into a stew or barter for something they needed.
Ivan didn’t know how Jack tolerated the abuse and told him to come to sea with him when they were fourteen. The Captain wouldn’t mind another cabin boy he said, but Jack declined, saying his place was with his family as someone had to protect them from his father’s wrath.
Ivan had therefore promised that should ever Jack change his mind, he would be there for him.
Jack had seen the young Lady Elenor from afar and was smitten. Her hair reached halfway down her back, her huge blue eyes pools in a face always ready to smile. She had a crooked tooth on the lower set, dimples, and a small scar under her chin. Her voice was like honey, and her laughter music to his soul.
She had noticed the thin young boy who always seemed to be shadowing her, and frightened him almost to death by simply saying ‘Hello.’
As she blossomed into a beautiful young woman, Jack knew he felt more than friendship, and knowing how obsessed her father was, tried to end their relationship.
She wasn’t having it though, and he saw a stubborn streak in her that both amazed and terrified him as to the consequences should they be discovered.
Two young people curious about their bodies and their feelings, things progressed and the inevitable happened. Jack knew the signs perfectly, and Elenor was afraid of what her father would do, so they decided to run away.
Ivan was now captain of his own ship having won it, fairly and squarely, in a card game, and Jack managed to get a message to him to enlist his help.
It was all planned to the last letter, but two days before they were due to leave, his sister said something about Jack being ‘in love’ in front of his father, and they both got a beating. He knew he now faced certain death as blood money fell into the waiting greedy hands of his father, so he devised another plan to keep his beloved Elenor safe.
Ivan was devastated when he read Jack’s scribbled note left for him in the custom’s house when he docked.
The guard who was waiting for Elenor that night was a distant cousin, and agreed to help her escape. Ivan gave him ten gold coins and told him to leave the castle immediately afterwards, never to return.
Everyone knew of the Hanging Forest and this was where Ivan waited for Elenor to come and say her farewell to Jack.
He vowed to protect her with his life, and the babe she carried.
‘Thank you.’ she said. ‘He said you would not fail us.’