"Yes, Thomas, this is my son, Fitzwilliam. He will be one and ten in November. I also have a baby daughter named Georgiana," said George Darcy. He was in especially good spirits since his best friend Thomas Bingley had come back. It had been fourteen years since he had last seen him, for Thomas had gone into the trading business sixteen years ago.
"It's good to see you again George. I have three children. Charles is the oldest, and he is about your boy's age-perhaps a little younger. And here are my daughters, Louisa and Caroline. Pray, where is your wife, Anne?" Thomas asked.
Immediately Mr. Darcy looked crestfallen.
"My wife died of birth complications seven months ago, Tom. It's been pretty hard on our family, especially me." George stammered. He did not like this subject in particular so he drained a small glass of port, and said, "How long will you stay, Thomas?"
"Only for a few days. For my wife and I will go to the Continent and stay there for ten weeks. We probably will not be back until late August, and it's early June now," Thomas answered.
"But I thought you would stay longer!" George said disappointedly.
"I'm sorry, but I cannot stay longer than that. So, will you take my children in? For the summer? It will be difficult to take three children and all, let alone ourselves," Bingley pleaded.
"All right, if you want me to, Bingley." George answered.
So it was settled that Thomas and his wife, Martha, would travel to the Continent and leave their children in the care of Mr. George Darcy at Pemberley, the great estate. Meanwile Fitzwilliam had been listening to his father, George Darcy, but now he looked at the visitors. Charles had a rather nice smile on his face, and was also listening to his father converse. Charles and his father looked remarkably alike, both tall with blonde hair and blue eyes. Fitzwilliam could tell that they would get along together, however, he wasn't sure about Louisa and Caroline. The girls were talking together, pointing at this and that and giggling, and that was what he despised-the giggling. Fitzwilliam thought giggling a girlish thing, so it should not be used. A hearty laugh of course was fine, but he couldn't stand giggling.
Louisa was of regular height with blonde hair and brown eyes, but Caroline's complexion was different than her sisters except for the eyes. She was tall and her hair was black. After the grownups finished talking, it was time for supper. During the meal parents could talk all they wanted, but the children had to be seen and not heard. So, none of the children talked at supper, not even to each other. Fitz thought this to be a big mistake, but he never dared to tell his father.
When the dishes had been cleared away, Fitzwilliam and the other children had thirty minutes before bed, for everyone ate supper late at Pemberley. After supper Fitzwilliam saw George Wickham, the son of Mr. Darcy's steward, take a candle and go up the stairs to his room. Up to some mischief no doubt. Wickham got into trouble lots of times, and then blamed it on Fitzwilliam or some young servant. Fitz dearly didn't want George Wickham to do any harm to the guests, so he decided to try to keep them apart.
"Hello, my name is Fitzwillim Darcy. It's good to meet you. How long are you going to stay at Pemberley?" Fitz said.
"For the summer! It's really nice here at Pemberley. I think I shall have great stay here!" answered Charles with a laugh.
"I'm glad you like Pemberley, and I'm positive this summer will be wonderful with you at Pemberley!" Fitz said smiling, for, he already liked Charles and it seemed that Charles liked him.
"I certainly hope so!" Charles said, laughing again.
The Bingley parents left after three or four days. By then Fitzwilliam knew his visitors better. Charles was, of course, his friend.
Being very good natured and kind, Charles seemed to think highly of almost everything. Unlike her brother, however, Caroline was a rather jealous girl and she made fun of most everyone and everything she was jealous of. Louisa generally seemed to agree with her sister. She giggled the worst, and that made Darcy think more ill of her than before. However, on the whole he decided that they might not be that bad even though both tended to get on one's nerves.
Fitz and Charles were reading books in the library, and Fitz was completely engrossed in "The Tales of Robin Hood" when Charles asked, "What's that?" pointing to a grand old suit of armor.
"What is that? Oh, it's an old family heirloom. The original Darcy wore it back when there where still knights and castles!" Fitz answered.
"Goodness, the Darcy's are that old! And was that original Darcy a knight?" Charles asked.
"I think so...." Darcy answered.
"By the way," Charles began, "How did your family get this house and estate?"
"I don't really know," his friend replied. "We'll have to ask Father. He will know!"
"So, you are asking me about that suit of armor, and how we got the house?" George Darcy asked.
"I'll answer your second question first. We never were really given this house, we built it. Actually, this isn't even the original house on the Pemberley site. In fact, the original place was a fortress."
"A fortress!" said both of the boys in awe.
"Yes, yes, a fortress. But, the questions about the suit of armor and the house go together about now. The original Mr. Darcy was a real knight! The armor was his. He also had a magnificent, long, broad sword with a jewel on the handle, which is said to have come from Camelot itself! Sir Darcy used it in every battle, and it was the very sword that the King knighted him with. The sword's scabbard legend held to be the very one that held Excalibur, which King Arthur lost.
It was a gift from King Edward, who also gave Sir Darcy this estate because of his exploits in battle and Darcy constructed a fortress on this very site. He was young then, probably only in his twenties. By the time he was finished building, he was fifty, married, and had two sons and a daughter.
He also constructed a very tall watchtower. You can see the ruins from some of our windows. A few years afterward there was a great battle. The Darcy's won, but the fortress itself was so greatly damaged that it was demolished. However, the tower stood strong and tall. Now, being four hundred years old, it has caved in. The knight Darcy did not survive the battle, but was killed by the enemy. At the beginning of the battle, he hid his sword and sheath somewhere in Pemberley Fortress. It is said that with his dying breath, he tried to tell his sons where the sword was hidden. Unfortunately, he couldn't be understood and the location of the sword remains unknown to this day.
And that's not the only mystery, for somewhere on these grounds is the lost fortune of Sir Darcy the Great! So, my dear boys, what do you think of, "The Mystery of Pemberley Fortress!".
"I think it's extraordinary! But are you making this up?" George Darcy's son asked, who was hardly able to believe what he was hearing. George Darcy, chuckling, assured his son that the story was the absolute truth (with perhaps some legend mixed in).
"Pray continue, Mr. Darcy," said Charles eagerly, "Tell us more about the lost fortune?".
Mr. Darcy, who was enjoying the rapt attention of the two boys, willingly continued his story.
"Sir Darcy was a very rich man, and kept his fortune in a hidden and secret place. He never told anyone where it was, for he was constantly afraid that his castle might be captured and his money stolen and not passed on to his children.
He kept it so secret that not even his family knew where it was. But, it is written in the records that the location of this wealth was written in his will, but the will was lost during that last great battle. This was a very great loss, for the sword and its sheath are priceless. And the fortune is supposed to be worth 500,000 pounds!"
Fitz's mouth hung open, and Charles, looking very excited was still curious about how the Darcys got this house, so he asked,
"If the fortress was demolished, how did your family get this house?"
"Well, the family, not being very rich at that time, since they could not find their father's will, built a nicely sized house right on top of the fortress ruins. It was not nearly as grand or big as Pemberley. As time went by, and as fortune allowed, the family slowly added onto it. For one hundred years, the house remained unchanged.
My great grandfather repaired and completed the house as it stands today. That is the answer to both of your questions, I think," George Darcy said. "Now, if you will excuse me young gentlemen, I must get back to my business."
After he left, both boys stared at each other in awe.
"Do you want to-" Fitz began, but was cut off.
"Yes!" Charles answered. "Let's go boating down the lake to the tower ruins and investigate them!".
So off they went to prepare for the journey. Since they planned to be away all afternoon, Fitz went to the kitchen to see if there was any cold ham or chicken and bread he could take for dinner. He found some ham from last night in the pantry and a loaf of freshly baked brown bread. He wrapped these in a cloth and put them in a bag. Then the boys set of to the boathouse, but George Darcy stopped them on their way.
"I have this letter from your uncle, John Edward Fitzwilliam, the Earl of Matlock, saying that he is coming to Pemberley," Mr. Darcy began. "I forgot to tell you that I asked him to come for a week or so, three nights ago. He shall be arriving any minute with your cousin, Fitzwilliam. Come we must go to the front door."
George Darcy started walking back to the house and his son Fitz followed. As they were walking, Charles asked Fitz who his cousin was.
"Oh, he's a very nice person-good natured like you. He enjoys walking around Pemberley and going on foxhunts. I'm pretty sure he'll help us search for the sword. He always likes adventures! Last time he was here, we went fishing every day. Sadly, we didn't catch much. It is always fun during the horse chestnut season when we go off getting chestnuts. He doesn't come to Pemberley often and it is really fun when he does! His name is Edward," Fitz answered.
"Will he come with us?"
"Yes, certainly! He could not resist an offer like that! Come, let's catch up with Father," Fitz cried.
When the Earl of Matlock's carriage arrived at Pemberley, the two cousins greeted each other with great enthusiasm.
"It's so good to see you again Fitz! But, who is the other boy here?" Edward asked.
"Oh, this is Charles Bingley, the son of a great friend of father's. His parents are on the continent for the summer, and so Charles and his sisters are staying with us! Charles and I are already good friends," Fitzwilliam cried. "But come, there is something we want to talk to you about."
They went inside the house and up to Fitzwilliams' bedroom. There, Darcy and Bingley told Edward the story about the sword, and that they were going to go boating down the lake to the tower. Edward listened and was apparently completely enthralled. After the story, he was more than ready to go boating.
At the site, the boys searched everywhere-every inch of the hill upon which the tower stood, including the ruins. They found that they could not get inside the watchtower ruins because it had caved in from the inside, forming a sealed-off dome. There didn't seem to be any doorways in the ruins and the blocks of stone were too huge to move. Charles and Edward were trying to climb into the tower when Fitz yelled, "I found something, I found something!" They quickly ran to him at the base of the hill where he was pointing to a small hole.
"What is it?" Edward asked breathlessly.
"Hey, what's this?" cried Charles excitedly, as he bent down and picked something up near the entrance of the hole. The other two boys scrambled over to see what was in his hand.
Fitz stared at Charles' hand for a few minutes and groaned, "Oh, it's old rabbit droppings. This is probably just an old rabbit hole. I saw a couple rabbits around here this spring."
So it was decided that the hole was only a rabbit hole, nothing of great importance, and the boys where greatly disappointed. An hour later they could not find one clue, so they stopped the search and began to walk home. Just as they where leaving the ruins, Fitz saw a figure dart behind a tree! Who was spying on them? Was it Wickham?
"Charles, Edward, did you see that person run behind that tree?" Fitz asked in a whisper.
"See what?" Edward asked.
"Yes what?" His other companion also asked.
"Oh, nothing, never mind." Fitz answered. He was pretty convinced that it was just the sun dazzling his eyes; and that it was just his imagination.
During the next week they continued to search the tower and the grounds around it. As on the first day, their efforts were fruitless and soon, Edward's time at Pemberley had come to an end. Fitz promised to write to him every night about their progress in the search for the sword and treasure; nevertheless, a very sad Edward had to return home leaving behind the two disappointed boys.
A few days later, when Charles and Fitz were in the library, Charles suddenly said, "Fitz, Fitz I have an idea!" Fitzwilliam looked up absentmindedly at Charles and asked, "What is it?"
"In this book, three men enter a castle by a secret passageway into the fortress! The entrance to the passageway is a cave! Fitz, could that small hole by the ruins be an entranceway into the tower?" Charles asked excitedly.
"Oh," said Fitz, who was beginning to catch on, "I see! I bet it is! Let's go and see if you're right!"
"But, it's almost time to sleep, Fitz. Your father would never let us go out now! We'll have to wait till tomorrow," Charles sighed disappointedly.
"Don't worry, we'll sneak out tonight after everyone else is in bed!" Fitz whispered.
"I don't know Fitz, if we were caught-" Charles began but was cut off.
"We won't be. I've gone outside this way hundreds of times, especially during horse chestnut season and I have never been caught!"
"I'm not so sure about this..." Charles murmured.
Late that night Fitz slipped out of the window in his bedroom. "Throw down the bags!" he called in a loud whisper to Charles who was looking down at him from his window. Two bags fell from the window and Fitz caught them without any difficulty. "All right!" he said, "Come down too-and be careful!" Charles slowly made his way down the house and to the ground. "All right," Charles said, taking his pack, "Lets go. Should we light the candles?". "No, we have to wait until we are at the tower. Hurry, come on, we have to go now," Fitz whispered.
In about fifteen minutes they reached the tower, since they were taking a shortcut, which was faster than boating. Pulling a shovel from his bag, Fitz ordered, "Now light the candles while I dig."
Charles did as he was told. It was pretty long before Fitz had made a hole big enough for the boys to fit into. The soil was rocky and packed down hard. Also Fitz occasionally came upon some clay. When he was finished he took a candle and peered down the hole.
"You're right, Charles! I see a passageway!" he said excitedly.
Charles looked down the hole. It was rather damp at the beginning of the passage, but further down he could see that it was dry. "Could the entrance collapse?" he asked.
"No, I don't think so. It's probably been there for some time, and if it does we have some wood, tinderboxes, food, a shovel, and candles. So, it would be no problem." Fitz answered confidently.
"Are you so certain we should go down there? Anything could happen." Charles asked, still not so confident.
"I am certain it will be fine. What could happen? Come on! You're not scared are you?" Fitz teased.
At this Charles shook his head and scrambled down the hole first to prove his bravery. He was quickly followed by Fitz and together they slid down the passage until it was level and dry enough to walk. Here, Charles suggested that they should light their candles, and Fitz agreed. Once they had lit them, the boys went further down the passage, which was about five feet tall, and wide enough for them to walk together holding hands.
Suddenly, Charles cried, "Look, there's a stone wall!" and pointed to the left side of the passage. There was one indeed, but it was small: five feet high, four feet long made out of stone. Fitz looked and said, "It might be an entrance to some passageway which has been blocked off! It probably collapsed or something!"
"You're right Fitz, but let's see if we can get through." Charles said.
They tried but the stones where too large and fit too tightly. Already disappointed, that they could not get through, Fitz tried to climb the wall and slipped scraping and bruising himself the whole way down. After he finished complaining to himself about falling, they went further down the passage. Eventually they came to two different passageways, splitting up the path.
"Which one should we take?" Charles asked.
"Let's try the left passageway," Fitz answered. But, after some argument, they went right. It turned out to be hazardous: twisting, turning, very dark and often splitting up into two or three different directions. The more turns they took and the further they went, the more Charles was scared and wanted to go back, and the less light the candles produced. When the candles made only a very dim light, he summoned up his courage and said to Fitz, "Fitz, Fitz, let's go back. There is hardly any light."
"Wait, let's go on a little further," Fitz answered, " just five more-" but, he didn't finish his sentence. The candles had gone out, and everything disappeared into darkness.
"Fitz..." Charles began but didn't finish.
Fitz meanwhile was totally petrified, until his more adventuresome side began to glow inside of him. He began looking in the backpacks for more candles. "Rats, you can't see anything in this light, but I am sure I packed more candles." he said in a whisper to Charles.
After several minutes he gave up, and began to think of which way to go. "Charles, which way do you want to go?", Fitz asked.
"I want to go back." Charles said.
So, they did, but it was pitch black, and soon it became evident that somewhere they had taken another wrong turn, and then many more wrong turns. Finally, the boys gave up trying to go back and simply walked on.
When they ended up in a room after a few hours, they found that it was a dead end. By that time, the boys were hopelessly lost, without any sense of direction. Since they were very cold, Charles suggested lighting a fire. They tried, but a few minutes after it was lit it was stamped out, for smoke began to fill the whole room. In about five or ten minutes the smoke disintegrated, or floated away, leaving two burned (lighting the fire and putting it out in pitch black was a very tricky business, tired, dirty, and sad, frightened boys.
A while later, Fitz was the first to speak. "Maybe we could light a torch and look for a fireplace?" he asked, without much enthusiasm.
"I'll try anything now," Charles replied. After several attempts they got a torch going.
Fitz took it and held it up and walked all around the room. The boys where overwhelmed by what they saw, just above their heads if they were lower they would have felt them with their hands swords and daggers were everywhere, bows hung upon the walls, and there were all sorts of different types of weapons. What drew most of their attention was the gunpowder in big kegs stacked against the wall.
"This is unreal..." Charles murmured, and Fitz thought,
"Wait till we tell Edward about this!" In a few minutes the torch went out, but the boys had found an old stone fireplace.
Fitz inspected it and said that it didn't look clogged up, and hopefully the smoke would go out of a hole in the ground.
"There was an old bare patch of dirt with a little hole by the house which I never had really paid attention to..." Fitz remarked.
In about ten minutes they had a happy cheerful blaze going. They roasted some apples and bread to eat, then much encouraged, told each other stories until they dropped off to sleep. The next morning Fitz woke up first. Instead of the room being pitch black, light was streaming in through chink holes in the roof. Fitz felt very stiff from sleeping on the floor, but was ready to start another day.
Instead of waking Charles, he made another fire and cooked breakfast. It was toast with cheese and ham with an apple for each of them. Charles soon woke to the smell of breakfast cooking.
After breakfast the boys talked about what to do. They decided for each of them to search for a way out, and to meet back here if they got separated. At first Charles thought that they would surely get lost, until Fitz said,
"Look, I brought two very long coils of rope. We could each take one and uncoil it as we go. If we get lost we just follow the rope back here." Charles thought this was a very reasonable solution and they each took a rope and a few candles that they found in the bottom of the backpacks, and set off.
Charles walked down a large passageway with Fitz carrying a small candle he had found in the bottom of his pack after breakfast. It was not dismal and dark like last night, for a ventilation hole in the roof of the passage, which they had not seen in the dark, was giving a little light.
The boys were feeling very cheerful and began to talk about the lost sword and the treasure of Sir Darcy.
"Do you think we'll find the sword and treasure down here?" Charles asked excitedly.
"Of course! Why not?" Fitz answered carelessly.
They walked on and talked about this for some time until Fitz came upon a fork in the passage way, and since last time they had turned right and that ended up in a disaster, they turned left. Very soon, they saw that there was an opening to some dark place. The passage was now slanting upwards toward the black hole. It was a steep climb, but there seemed to be steps going up.
"Should we go back Fitz, we are almost out of rope." Charles remarked.
"No, this may be a way out, because I feel a cold draft of wind coming from the hole!" Fitz said excitedly.
"Alright." Charles said.
The boys climbed up, and easily slid through the large hole. It was very cold and dark, on the other side. But, the most unusual thing was that it was damp and they were standing on stone, whereas the secret passage was dry and made out of dirt.
"We must be in a cave." Charles said with a glint of excitement in his eye.
"You're right! This must be 'Robbers Cave'!" Fitz exclaimed.
"Robbers?" Charles asked, his voice quavering.
"Right. It used to be an old smuggler's hideout, but it was abandoned about a hundred years ago, so don't get scared. Hmmm...Funny, isn't it?" Fitz answered.
"What's funny?" Charles asked.
"That I never thought of going down here because father said not to, and it was a rule at Pemberley since father saw the cave. That's why it probably slipped my mind."
The boys continued walking and soon they could see a glint of sunlight which meant an opening was getting closer, until Fitz stubbed his toe on something, for he was leading the way a usual.
"Ow, ow ow!" He cried, falling on the floor and holding his foot.
Charles brought his candle closer to the thing that Fitz had tripped on. It was a human skull, with a dent on its head! It grinned up at Charles, who gasped, and dropped the candle, frozen in terror."
What is it?" asked Fitz.
"A skull!" was the reply. As soon as Fitz heard that he got up and began to run towards the opening.
Charles followed him, not wanting to spend another second with the grinning face. Near the end of the cave Charles fell with a cry, twisting his ankle. Fitz turned around and said
"Get up, hurry."
"I can't, I think I twisted my ankle!". Since Fitz's companion could not run alone, he helped Charles up, then half carried, half dragged Charles outside.
Once out, Fitz put Charles down and fell down to the grass, panting. "We made it!" Charles exclaimed. Fitz nodded, got up, and tore off a piece of his shirt, and wrapped Charles's foot with it. When he was done, Charles looked at the bandage on his left ankle, and then looked up to Fitz grinning, and said,
"You know, you are the best friend I've ever had." Fitz laughed and said:
Chapter 7 Posted on Thursday, 30 September 1999
They rested for a while, and ate some bread to give them more strength. Fitz found Charles a sturdy walking stick, so Fitz would not have to carry Charles, for his ankle was all swollen and black and blue with some purple.
After they ate Charles limped along at a slow pace, with Fitz helping him.
Although the boys were going very slowly, soon they began to hear a voice calling "Fitz! Charles! Charles, Fitz! Where are you?"
"That's Father," Fitz said, " Could you try to walk a little faster?"
Charles nodded, and began to go as fast as possible. There were a few more shouts, and then Fitz answered them, "We are over here!".
Then the voice came again, this time louder, "Fitz is that you?". "Yes" Fitz shouted.
A few minutes later Fitz's father came into sight, on horseback. "Fitz!
Thank God it's you!" and then George dismounted, and ran over to Fitz, with tears in his eyes, and embraced both boys in a bear hug. "Where were you all day? We had all of Pemberley looking for you boys!" He cried.
"It's a long story, we'll tell it when we get home, but now Charles has twisted his left ankle so he can't walk."
George Darcy checked Charles's ankle, who endured it, but with pain, and then George announced, "You're right Fitz, it's not broken. But come, both of you, you can ride my horse, I'll walk. Caroline and Louisa were crying last when I saw them, so we should not waste another minute."
Fifteen minutes later, back at Pemberley, Charles was embraced by his sisters, who instantly began to pamper him with hugs and kisses, which Charles was obviously not enjoying, since everyone at Pemberley was watching. After everyone had settled down, the boys each took a bath, since they where very, very, dirty. Charles had his ankle soaked in hot water for two hours, and then was propped up on the sofa with his foot elevated on pillows. The boys spent the remainder of the day resting, and Fitz told his father the story of what happened. George Darcy listened attentively with great interest, and did not comment until Fitz finished the story.
"Next time do not go sneaking off like that without my permission, and if you do you will be punished." His face was stern, but George was too happy to be angry with Fitz.
In the evening they had a feast for supper, not quite a banquet, but a very big supper to celebrate. Later that night at bedtime Fitz wrote a letter to Edward. It said:
My dear Cousin,
Last night and this morning Charles and I had a most exciting adventure. It probably is the key to the sword and the treasure. It is too difficult and long to explain in a letter, but I'll briefly explain what happened. We found a secret passageway in the rabbit hole that we discovered with you. But, Charles and I got lost and we had to spend the whole night there. The next morning we got out by Robber's Cave. So, now we know there are two entrances. Unfortunately, Charles sprained his ankle in the cave so we could not investigate further.
Please come as soon as to can,
Posted on Wednesday, 6 October 1999
How long had he been watching? Fitz didn't want to disturb Charles, who was very bored lying in his bed so he had dropped off to sleep. So Fitz thought he should let it be until the party.
Later that day, the guests began to arrive. There was the Earl of Matlock and his wife and eldest son, Edward. Lewis de Bourgh and his wife, Lady Catherine, but they did not bring their daughter Anne, who Fitz did not like, mostly because his Aunt, Catherine de'Bourgh clearly wanted him to marry Anne when they came of age, because she was sick. But Fitz had some thing in his favor about the match. Mr. Darcy did not like the match, and had not been for him, his mother would have already made the arrangements with the de Bourgh's.
The Bingley parent's could not come since they where in France for the time being, many other relatives and friends came, who Fitz hardly knew, except for the Knightleys who he had met several times before.
The Knightleys' children did not come for they had many servants who could take care of them. But the Earl of Matlock decided to bring his children, since they where family, but only Edward came for the only other child in his family was a one year old girl, who seemed to think that she could take anything she wanted, so he brought her to party's she would always take something that usually belonged to his hosts children, so he and his wife had long ago departed with the idea of bringing Mary for that was her name, to Mr. Darcy's birthday.
The boys sat upstairs in Fitz's room, and Louisa and Caroline stayed downstairs in their room.
Edward almost instantly asked about their adventure, and Fitz took a deep breath and explained it all, every single detail, with Charles occasionally piping and saying what the adventure was for him. Then Fitz began to explain about the map, and when he talked about Wickham both boys were surprised.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Charles asked angrily.
"Well, you were sleeping, and the party was only a few hours away..."
Fitz began to explain, "No excuses! You could have waked me up and then we might have caught him!".
"You have a sprained ankle, remember? So leave Fitz alone." Edward said.
"All right... I'm sorry Fitz..." Charles apologized.
"That's all right. No harm done. But let's show him the map now." Fitz said.
So then Fitz left the room and walked down the corridor to Charles room. Opening the door, he ran to the dresser where they had left the map. But the map was gone!
Posted on Wednesday, 6 October 1999
Fitz ran back to his room, where he breathlessly explained what happened. "So while we were talking that scoundrel Wickham got the map!" Charles exclaimed. Fitz nodded glumly.
"Well, can't you draw it down again just like the original?" Edward asked.
"Yes, we can," Fitz began, "But now that Wickham has the map, he has a good head start! That's what's important!".
"Fitz is right! The race is on! From what Fitz tells me of this Wickham, if he got his hands on that sword, let alone the fortune, who knows what he would do with it! We must find Sir. Darcy's sword and fortune!". Charles almost shouted.
"Be quiet Charles! If you're right, than we better need to have a lookout out whenever we discuss the sword. And, we probably have these conversations in a very secret place, and maybe at night, so we won't be missed. Any ideas where we could go to?" Edward advised.
"Good thinking Edward! And I know just the place too! But let's not go their now, meet us in Charles' room at midnight, then I'll show you where we will go."
Late that night the guest's left at ten o'clock that night, except for the Earl and his family. They would stay for three days and three nights.
At midnight, Fitz slowly made his way to Charles' room walking with a candle. Trying very carefully to not spill the wax on the hall carpet, he felt a little creepy. The candlelight cast shadows on the walls which all looked like there was hundreds of Wickhams staring at him inside them and watching his every room. Suddenly, Wickham did jump out of the shadows in front of him, carrying the map in his hand and the sword under his shoulder. He had a long rope tied to his waist and was dragging Pemberley's fortune in a chest at the end of it. Suddenly Wickham turned into a goblin and faced Fitz, glowering at him. Fitz fell back with a cry and his candle lit the carpet floor. Suddenly there was fire every where burning Fitz, catching his clothes on fire and-
Fitz woke up with a start. His skin had goosebumps and is hands felt cold and clammy. "I must have had a bad dream", Fitz thought. He looked at the clock and it read twelve thirty. "Great, just great," Fitz growled to himself, "I tried to stay awake. I hope they are still up and waiting for me."
Fitz hopped out of bed, forgetting his candle, and made his way to Charles room.
When he opened the door, both Charles and Edward where their, and they both turned and gave him a angry and hurt gaze.
"Uh, sorry I'm late guys, uh, I slept in.".
"What? Your late, why, it just struck twelve five minutes go?" Charles asked puzzled. "Why would... of, now I remember, my clock got stuck last night at twelve thirty. I need to ask Father to get it fixed." Fitz exclaimed.
"Well that's over with." Edward said. 'But now show us that secret place of yours.".
"All right. Help me carry Charles. I go get some paper and a pencil." His friend replied.
So Fitz slowly led them out of Charles room, and into his.
Once inside, the boys put Charles on Fit's bed, then Fitz went over to the floor boards on the left side if the room. Fitz took out his pocket knife and inserted it in a floor board, then lifted it up.
"All right. Follow me. Charles, Edward and I will help you get in. Come on Ed." Fitz whispered.
So they all went down underneath the floor. It was very dark and dusty, but Edward had a candle. They all crawled away through the passageway until Fitz turned a sharp left and then they reached a small room with a window which looked out on the drawing room. Fitz took out a candle stub from his pocket and lit it, saying "Here we are. This house has secret passageways too, you know. And even Father doesn't know about this place, let alone Wickham. I use this room as my smuggler's den. I've got water and food here, and anything else we might need. We are safe to talk, as loud as we want here."
"This is a great idea Fitz. Come now, what should be done with Wickham?" Charles asked.
Posted on Tuesday, 2 November 1999
"Well," said Fitz, "I think we should try to avoid Wickham, and be on the lookout for him He knows this house and grounds almost as well as I do. Although I'm not certain (and would hate for it to be true) he may even know about this passageway.
"I agree with you, Fitz. Why don't we take turns looking out for him," Charles responded.
"I think Fitz should our lookout man first." Edward remarked.
"I think so too, since he knows Wickham and this house best." Charles agreed.
Meanwhile Fitz was thinking. The figure he had seen at the tower seemed bigger and more careful than the one listening in on them. Could there be two spies? But no, that probably wasn't possible. He had only seen a glimpse of a figure darting from around the tree and was not able identify any recognizable features because the bright sunlight obscured his vision.
Suddenly Charles awakened him from his thoughts and asked, "Well, Fitz, will you look out for us?".
"What? Oh yes, sure I'll be the lookout person." Fitz said, startled and not very sure of the subject.
"Well that's settled." Edward said, "But when are we going back into the tunnel? The sooner the better."
"Why not tomorrow?" Fitz suggested, "Then Edward and I will go and..." He never finished his sentence because he was interrupted by Charles, who exclaimed angrily, "What about me?"
"Dear Charles, you cannot possibly be thinking logically. It's impossible for you to come with us because of your ankle and all. We have to find the sword before it's too late. We can't wait for your ankle to heal" Edward said reasonably.
"Oh, all right. You win." Charles answered glumly.
"Um, guys, it's one thirty now so we had better stop the meeting and go to bed." Fitz said.
They all agreed on this and crawled out of the passage and went to their rooms.
The next morning after breakfast Louisa and Caroline had another fuss over Charles. It wasn't until Fitz practically blackmailed them until they went away and left Charles in peace.
"Well? When are you going to the passage?" Charles asked Fitz.
"As soon as we get leave from Father." Fitz said. Then glancing at Wickham, who was across the room from them, he lowered his voice to a whisper and said, "It would best not to talk about this now... I mean Wickham is here and..."
Charles nodded vigorously, "You're right. I'll see you when you get back."
So Fitz walked off to find George Darcy. He soon found him in his study checking how much rent was coming in from his tenants.
"Um, Father..." Fitz began.
"Yes?" Asked George distractedly.
"May Edward and I go into the passage again? Please?" Fitz stammered.
George Darcy studied the face of his son and said, "All right. I'm sure this time won't be so disastrous. And I would go with you but I'm so busy...but, since I can't, I want you to be extra cautious, take a few large balls of yarn to unravel as you go, and bring a watch so you can be back before supper."
"Oh, thank you Father!" Fitz exclaimed, hugging his Father. He quickly ran off to tell Edward.
The passageway was not half as scary as it was before. Fitz showed Edward the stone wall.
"Hmm, it's very interesting. I wonder why they would have a stone wall right here? After all, it's right where the tower is, and that makes it more peculiar." Edward remarked.
"What did you say?" Fitz asked excitedly.
"Just that the stone wall is right underneath the tower," replied Edward.
"Why, don't you see! This must be the entrance if the tower is underneath. It's perfectly logical," Fitz almost shouted. Both boys stared at each other in awe. Suddenly, their thoughts were interrupted by a scream in the darkness before them.
Chapter 11 Posted on Thursday, 9 December 1999
"That sounds like Louisa!" Edward exclaimed.
"But how did they get down here?" Fitz asked.
"I have no idea, but we don't have time to discuss it now; it sounds like they are in trouble!" Edward answered, and began to run down the passage, quickly followed by Fitz.
As they followed the voice, running down the passage, suddenly the ground under their feet disappeared, gave away, and they found themselves sliding down a hole.
When they stopped sliding, they re-lit their candles which had gone out since they where running, it became evident that they where in a dungeon. Huddled in a dark corner, were Louisa and Caroline and beside them was a skeleton chained to the wall by its feet. That was, plus the darkness, was probably why Louisa had screamed.
There were also other instruments of torture (if you've ever been in the Warwick castle in England and gone in the dungeon you'll know what I mean) nearby.
"Fitz, Edward!" Caroline called desperately, "I'm so glad your here!" And with that she ran up and hugged Fitz, but he was in no mood to be hugged.
After shaking her off him he said, "All right, that's enough. No how did you girls find your way down here?" Fitz asked in a harsh tone.
"I'm afraid we spied on you, Edward and Charles. We are very sorry. We just wanted to find the sword first." Louisa answered calmly.
Fitz exploded, and said "You what? Why..." but was stopped by Edward, who had a better temper, although was also slightly irritated.
"Cool down, Fitz" he said, and turning to Louisa and Caroline Edward, asked, "Where is the map?"
"What map?" Caroline asked, puzzled, but her voice was trembling.
"The map you stole yesterday from Charles' room." Edward answered.
"Oh, that map." Louisa said, "Why, we didn't even touch it."
"Then how did you get down here?" Fitz asked threateningly.
"Well, we heard part of the story you told Mr. Darcy the day Charles sprained his ankle, and listened in when you where making the map. By that time we were pretty certain where the entrance was, and so we got in just before you." Caroline answered.
"I thought as much." Fitz said.
"You knew? Why didn't you tell us?" Edward asked.
"Well, I wasn't sure of it until now, but I was pretty certain that it was these girls yesterday. But it was only a theory, so I kept it to myself." Fitz answered.
"How did you find out?" Edward asked again.
"You see, the two figures I saw were different, but both unlike Wickham, if you really thought about it. And the person who spied on us the other day ran down the hall, not up to the servants' stairs, where Wickham's room is." Fitz said.
"We are very sorry. We just wanted to help you." Caroline said.
"Well, eavesdropping won't help anybody. And if you really want to help us, keep an eye on Wickham. He's got to be the one who stole the map. I should have known! Wickham is too smart to let himself be seen."
Louisa answered, "All right, we will help you."
"Good. Now, let's get out of here. It's almost suppertime."
They all went out of the secret passageway and up the path to Pemberley.
Posted on Saturday, 19 February 2000
At midnight the boys talked things over.
Charles was amazed to know that it was the girls spying instead of Wickham.
"But," He said, "The best thing to know is that the stone wall is the entrance to the tower."
"You are right. If only we could find a way to open the entrance." Edward agreed.
"Do you know what I think?" Fitz asked.
"No, what?" The other boys asked.
"Well, that the wall is not the entrance, it's part of the tower. You know how Father said, 'And they built a tall watchtower, well, the tower that we can see out the window isn't tall. So I think, that the tower slowly sunk under the ground, blocking a passageway. You know how the tower is so close to the river, anyway, I bet that one year it flooded, and that's how the tower sunk." Fitz answered.
The other two boys stared at each other.
"You, know, you probably are right." Charles said.
"But how are we to get through the wall?" Edward asked.
"When Charles and I got lost in there, you know that we slept in an armory. " Fitz began smiling; "I saw some big kegs in the room. And well, what would you say if it was gunpowder?"
"But you can't be certain, Fitz." Charles said.
"Oh yes I am." He answered. "You see, they where labeled, and I'm learning Latin."
The next day Charles ankle was a lot better, and he had leave to walk around with crutches. Louisa and Caroline had even ventured to search Wickham's room, luckily they were not caught. But, unfortunately, they could find no trace of any map.
It turned out that a maid had thrown away the map, and that Wickham had nothing to do with the mystery, and it was a relief to all, but Charles. "It would have been a lot more exciting if Wickham was trying to find the sword." He said.
Edward and Fitz got leave from father to go in the cave again.
After about an hour, they reached the armory.
"Wow, you were right. This is gunpowder!" Edward exclaimed.
"I'm glad to know that. Now, here is the plan, we take a couple handfuls of the powder and put it in my handkerchief and take it to the wall. Then we set the fuse. After that, all we have to do is go back to Pemberley, and wait for tomorrow. Got it?" Fitz asked.
"Got it." Was the reply.
"Good. Now let's get to work."
When they brought the gunpowder to the wall, prepared the fuse, it was getting dark.
Edward and Fitz were both exhausted, and instead of having a meeting, they went right to sleep were they had no dreams; they slept like logs.