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Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves

January 20, 2023 05:07AM

Authors note: Lizzy lives up to her action hero potential, running for her life from highwaymen when the Gardiner carriage overturns on the way to Matlock. Richard, who had been commanded by his parents to find the men who attacked his sister and caused her miscarriage ropes in Darcy and Bingley to help in the search.

Chapter 1

The carriage trundled along through the forest, the morning sun casting dappled light over Lizzy and Madeleine Gardiner's faces. Mr Gardiner, who was sitting backwards in the open carriage, watched his wife and niece chatter.

Lizzy sat straighter, looking ahead. “What's happening?”

At the same time, Mr Gardiner saw two men on horses appear behind them. They wore hats on their heads and had long, dusty coats on. A handkerchief covered their faces except for their eyes.

Mr Gardiner turned when he heard someone yell out “Stop!”. Two men on horseback, holding pistols, were about a hundred yards in front of the carriage.

“Stop or we’ll shoot,” yelled another man, pointing a pistol to the carriage driver's head.

Their carriage driver cried “whoa,” to the horses and the carriage started to slow whilst the horses snorted. All of a sudden, a shot rang out and Mr Gardiner saw his wife and Lizzy gasp as blood spray appeared on their heads. The carriage surged forward as the horses now bolted with fear. They all grabbed the side of the carriage hard, knuckles white, with the brigands turning their own horses, trying to grab hold of their carriage horses to slow them down.

“Why’d you shoot the driver, you fool?” asked one man, the presumed leader, to the other who had been in front of the carriage.

“Sorry boss, the gun went off. I thought it would go over his head,” yelled the younger man as he raced to try and grab the reins of the lead horse.

The carriage veered to the left as the younger brigand had grabbed the reins. The carriage horses crashed into his horse and he fell off, his own horse crashing down.

Their carriage left the road and the right side wheels left the road. Mr Gardiner saw in slow motion as the carriage rotated over and then he knew no more.

He opened an eye to find himself on the ground. His wife lay unmoving near the stream. Lizzy he saw moving, trying to get up. He saw blood pouring from her head and more blood on her skirts. He looked from where they had come to see the men on horseback racing towards them. Fear filled his voice as he called out to Lizzy. “Run Lizzy.”

She cast a look behind her, rose shakily to her feet and started running.

Mr Gardiner watched her disappear and then the world went black and he knew no more.

Mr Gardiner woke in a strange room. He struggled to recall how he got there. He tried to move, but was filled with pain. His chest hurt to breathe, and every part of his body, particularly his right side, was in excruciating pain unlike anything he’d felt before.

A woman, his nurse, stood up. “Don't worry, sir, we’re looking after you. Just stay still. Let me get the doctor and the local constable.”

She left the room. Mr Gardiner did as he was told, as he was suffering far too much pain. He wondered how his wife and Lizzy were fairing. He could remember Lizzy getting up, but naught of his wife. He then recalled the outlaws who had accosted them on the road and wondered if they had been caught.

Two men came in. One in his mid fifties with grey hair and dressed in a typical doctor's brown waist coat with a pocket watch in his top pocket. The other was in his late thirties and wearing the clothing of a local constable.

Mr Gardiner spoke first. “Where are my wife and niece? Are they safe?”

Neither man could look him in the eye and Mr Gardiner’s heart sank. The constable spoke. “We presume the lady we found was your wife. I'm sorry, but it appears your wife was thrown quite forcefully from the carriage when it overturned. She was not alive by the time we arrived and we,” here the constable looked to the doctor who nodded, “believe she died instantly on impact. We're sorry for your loss.”

Tears formed in Mr Gardiner’s eyes. In a broken voice, “what of my niece, Elizabeth? Have you found her?”

“We could tell from the luggage that had been scattered around that there had been another young lady travelling with you. We found a blood trail leading into the forest; we presume that is your niece. No, we have not been able to find her yet. We have men looking for her now.”

The doctor took over. “I'm Doctor Samuel Brown. Can we start with your name and home, please?”

“My name’s Fredrick Gardiner and I'm from London.”

“Mr Gardiner, you've sustained a number of injuries and it will take a number of weeks before you'll be healed enough to travel. You sustained quite a head knock, so we are happy to see that you have woken up. You've cracked a number of ribs, so it will make breathing difficult until that has healed. You’ve broken your shoulder and your wrist. I've set that. Along with that you’ll have some bad bruising. You've been brought to Matlock and you are currently in the house of the Earl of Matlock.”

Mr Gardiner hardly heard what the doctor said. How could he go on? And his children too who were so young – how will he face them without their mother? Then his thoughts turned to Mr Bennet and how he could tell him that he didn't know where his daughter was or whether she was still alive!

The constable started to speak. “I'm Officer Johnson, the local constable for Matlock. I work for the sheriff. I know this is difficult but can you tell us what happened, Mr Gardiner?”

“We were travelling along the road when I saw two men on horseback appear on the road behind us. I turned when I saw my niece’s surprise and another two appeared in front of us. They told us to stop and one shot his gun, hitting our driver. The horses started to race and the carriage tipped over. I woke up on the ground and saw my niece get up and I told her to run. Then I blacked out.”

“What time was that?” asked Officer Johnson, pulling out his notebook and taking notes.

“I think it was just after 10 in the morning.“

“You were found another hour after that.”

“What's the time now?” he asked, trying to sit up, but falling down again as he realised how painful it was.

“It is best if you try and stay still. It will take several weeks for you to heal,” said Dr Brown.

“The time is nearly three o’clock,” said Officer Johnson.

“Lizzy’s been gone nearly five hours!” exclaimed Mr Gardiner.

“We've got men looking for her, but can we get some more details on her? What is her name?” asked Officer Johnson.

Mr Gardiner described Elizabeth to the men and as many details as he could recall about the men who had attacked them and their possessions that had been stolen, which totalled some three hundred pounds along with the jewellery that Mrs Gardiner had brought with her.

“Is there anyone we can contact on your behalf to let them know what has occurred? Someone who can look after you?”

“Can you send an express to Mr Bennet of Longbourn.”

Chapter 2

A day earlier in London, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam walked into Darcy’s study. “I've received a summons from my father to return to Matlock. My sister was attacked by bandits on the way to Matlock.”

Mr Darcy rose from his chair in alarm. “Is Vicky alright?”

Richard shook his head. “They didn't hurt her, just robbed her and her husband, but,” here Richard paused, “she lost the baby.”

Darcy shook his head. “Poor Vicky, not again.”

“My father has commanded me home to help root out these criminals, and now I'm commanding you to help me.”

“You know that I was to travel to Pemberley in four days time with Georgie and guests?” said Darcy looking askance at the idea.

“These bandits are attacking the route you would be taking to Pemberley. It's not safe for Georgiana to go and, as her guardian, I forbid her going until these thieves are caught.”

“Very well, I'll help. Let me make arrangements. When do we leave Richard?"

“As soon as we are ready.”

Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves

Anne VJanuary 20, 2023 05:07AM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves

EvelynJeanJanuary 26, 2023 04:07AM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves

MichaJanuary 24, 2023 08:26AM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves

Steph DJanuary 20, 2023 05:58PM


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