FICTIONChildren's Fiction Classic Literature Comic and Graphic Books Drama Fantasy Free General Fiction Historical Fiction Horror Humor Mystery/Crime Poetry Romance
NONFICTIONArt, Music, & Entertainment Biography Business Children/Young Adult Cooking & Food Crafts, Hobbies & Home Education Family/Relationships General Nonfiction Geography Health/Fitness History Humor Language Arts Personal Finance Politics/Government Reference Self Improvement Social Science
Current Events Ethics Feminist Folklore Gender Studies Human Rights Multi-Cultural Philosophy Sociology Women's StudiesSpiritual/Religion Sports Technology/Science Travel True Crime
DescriptionCaptain Jonathan Farnsworth of the Rifle Brigade, fighting under Wellington in Peninsular Wars, only wanted to meet with some of allies and spend a few stolen hours with Comandante Teresa, rebel leader and the woman he loved. But instead Jonathan stepped into a scene of pure horror, when he found the village burning and its people slaughtered.
His beloved Teresa was not among the dead. But, as Jonathan learned from the sole survivor, she had been captured by the Napoleon's troops. Now Teresa was the prisoner of the notorious French colonel known only as El Carnicero, the butcher. And she was sentenced to be garrotted as a rebel…
This is a novelette of 7600 words.
Warning: There is violence and some fairly graphic scenes in this novelette, so sensitive readers should tread carefully. But there's also a happy ending - it is a romance, after all.
Reader Rating: Not rated (0 Ratings)
Sensuality Rating: Not rated
Excerpt:On a July morning in the year of the Lord 1812, Captain Jonathan Farnsworth, officer of the British crown and spy for Lord Wellington, was riding towards the village of Los Horcados. The sun had not yet reached the zenith, but it already bore down mercilessly upon Jonathan and his horse. He longed for shade, for water, for food and perhaps a pitcher of wine. It was only the importance of the meeting with their Spanish allies that kept him going. That and the knowledge that maybe, if he was lucky, he might get to spend a stolen hour with the woman he loved. But instead Jonathan found himself plunged into a scene of purest horror.
For the trees lining the road were heavy with human bodies, swinging to and fro like grisly banners in the Spanish breeze. Jonathan looked up one of the dangling corpses. It was a man of about thirty years, naked except for a white shirt. His hands were bound behind his back. Sightless eyes were bulging from their sockets. His tongue was a grotesquely swollen purple thing. He had not died easily. Jonathan averted his eyes, but then forced himself to take a second look. He knew this man. His name had been Francisco and he was one of the rebels Jonathan had come to meet.
Before him there were more trees and more corpses. It was as if every single tree on the road to Los Horcados had been turned into a gallows. And many of the hanged were men Jonathan knew, men he had fought alongside.
He had seen many gruesome sights and unspeakable atrocities in the two years he had been in the Peninsula with the Rifle Brigade, fighting the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. This alley of hanged men was doubtlessly the worst. But in spite of the horror in front of his eyes, there was still hope in his heart. For the one face he most feared to see was not among the dead.
Jonathan rode on and his heart sank. For there, hanging from a particularly tall tree, was the body of a young woman. She must have been beautiful in life. Glossy black hair and a well-formed figure outlined by her plain white dress. Even in death she was still beautiful, though it was the hollow beauty of a marble statue. Jonathan forced himself to look up into her face, cold fury churning in his stomach. But when he saw the girl’s face, his anger was mixed with relief. For the face was that of a perfect stranger. It was not Teresa. Which meant that maybe, just maybe she had escaped the slaughter of Los Horcados. Maybe Teresa was still alive.
Suddenly, a movement beside the path caught his eye. Jonathan wheeled around, drew his pistol and aimed it at a shrub by the roadside. “Show yourself, murderer.”
The shuddering twigs parted. Two hands appeared, raised high into the air, followed by a face. It was a youthful face, barely sixteen or seventeen years old, and in obvious need of a bath. More importantly, it was a face Jonathan knew.
“Manuel,” he cried, “Manuel, what happened here?”
The boy struggled from the undergrowth. “The Frenchmen,” he said. Tears were streaming down his cheeks. “They were waiting for us. We fought, but there were too many of them. Many were killed and those that surrendered were hanged like common criminals. They hanged the villagers, too. The French said they were traitors. We were all traitors, they said.”
“But you managed to escape?”
“I crawled into the bushes and hid there. I… I wanted to help my comrades. But I couldn’t. There were so many of them and… and…”
Jonathan placed a calming hand on the boy’s shoulder. “There was nothing you could have done,” he said, “The Frenchmen would only have killed you too.” He took a deep breath before asking the one question that troubled him more than any other. “Teresa? Do you know what happened to Teresa?”
The boy sniffled. “She did not surrender. Not Comandante Teresa.”
“Is she…?” Jonathan could not bear to say it, could not even bear to think it.
He had fallen in love with Teresa from the first moment he had seen her — he the green British officer who knew neither the language nor the customs of the country he was to explore, she the guerrilla fighter who was to be his native guide. Jonathan had been impressed by her beauty, her bravery, her proud bearing. And he had immediately resolved that once this war was over he would take her home to England to make her his wife.
“Dead? No.” Manuel wiped his runny nose on the torn sleeve of his jacket. “They captured her and then they put a noose round her neck to hang her like all the others. They threw the other end of the rope over a branch and they were just about to hoist her up when suddenly a French officer shouted, ‘No. The Colonel will want to examine this one himself.’ And then they bound her and took her away.”
“Did they say where?”
“Where?” Jonathan grabbed the boy by the shoulders and shook him. “Where did they take her?”
A flicker of nameless horror crossed the boy’s eyes. “El Carnicero,” he whispered.
El CarniceroBy: Cora Buhlert