After a few moments, a low voice resonated behind them. "Have you got the message?"
Startled, they turned to face the dark outline of a man’s stocky frame, shorter than Francois.
"What are you talking about?" the boy, Francois answered.
"Minister Fouche sent me to make sure you reach your destination. Is it secure?" the dark form spoke softly.
Francois relaxed a bit. He reached unconsciously into his pocket and felt the metal object. "I assure you it's safe."
"May I see it?" the man persisted.
The lad hesitated. The man sounded legitimate and seemed to know about his mission. He wanted to do his duty and show them he could be trusted. Since the real message was safe, he decided to show the pendant. In darkness, Francois did not see a thin smile forming on the man's lips as he withdrew the object.
"Here it is!" he announced with satisfaction.
In an instant, the man grabbed Francois’ wrist. With his other hand, he swung a fist into the young man’s stomach. Nina screamed, paralyzed with fear. The seaman wrestled the pendant loose and drew his arm around the lad's neck. The surprised youth could barely struggle as he was dragged toward the rail. In one swift motion, Jean Noire lifted the young emissary over his head and heaved him into the darkness.
Nina cried out once more. He turned from the rail, but sounds of voices warned that others were climbing onto the deck. The man paused for an instant, then ran off toward the stern.
Nina lunged to the side, but could see only blackness beyond their vessel. She called his name without reply. She began to sob uncontrollably as other passengers arrived. A man put his hand on her shoulder. "What is it girl?"
Between gasps, she managed to say: "Francois! Overboard!"
The ship was brought about, but no trace was found of the young man who wanted to be a hero.
William Darmon and wife Elizabeth were powerful figures who in 1818 set society's pace from expansive grounds known as Mayfair Hall. When a family member is murdered, a mysterious pendant is found containing a long lost request by Napoleon Bonaparte for an American mission to burn down Parliament buildings. The couple sets out on an action filled pursuit of the killer. While interviewing Henry Clay in post-war Maryland about the failed mission, they uncover evidence of a conspiracy to free the Emperor from exile. The Darmons infiltrate the cadre, but a shipwreck off the coast of Scotland, a firestorm at the Darmon's Manor and a harrowing assault on the Island of St. Helena loom before the mystery can be unraveled.
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Genre – Mystery, Historical, Thriller
Rating – PG
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