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March 21, 1677

Point, Jack Shepherd

I dread Fridays more than most. Fridays are reserved for fencing lessons, and as mentioned before, they usually end with me flat on my arse, subjected to a stream of obscenities from Jack. Today, however, was better than most, for instead of my participation, Patrick and set up an exhibition match between Jack and the good Capt. Araoz.

Now, I had some misgivings about this enterprise, as Jack’s opinions about Dago’s are well known to all who cares to hear about them. Spain purportedly has something to do with the death of his wife; one might conclude that his hatred of Papists like me is stirred by his irrational feelings toward King Philip and his brethren.

Say what you might about Jack, but he is a mighty keen fencer, while Capt. Araoz is no slouch himself. At the first cross it was blades whirling, and Jack drew cloth. Things took a turn for the strange when it became evident that this was no mere contest, and more of a matter of pride. Jack and Araoz departed their line, and from there was all matter of jumping on tables and slicing off the tips of candles. Fencing_lessons The effect was quite stunning, as you could see the two shadows looming behind them in their own duel of death, both locked arm and arm, Jack perspiring madly, with the Capt. maintaining his stance and letting forth little grunts of effort.

Did I mention that Jack was perspiring? Well, he might be a fair fencer, but the years of drink and women began to take its toll after the third pass. You could see Jack mentally calculating how to extricate himself from a losing proposition, which he did in most spectacular fashion. With one last gasp of effort, he locked himself in a clinch with the Capt., and proceeded to knee him sharply in the groin and then strike Araoz across the temple with the pommel of his blade. The Capt. fell like a stoned donkey, and Jack quickly moved to the bar to have a drink.

“And that gentlemen, he proclaimed, is how you fence.”


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