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Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapters 40-41

May 19, 2023 12:03PM
Chapter 40

“Lizzy, are you awake?”

Lizzy sat up in bed. “Kitty, you gave me a fright. I thought the highwaymen were sneaking in.”

“Sorry, Lizzy. I can't get to sleep at all,” said Kitty, sitting on Lizzy’s bed. Lizzy could just make out her outline in the darkness.

“Nor I.”

“What do we do?” asked Kitty.

Lizzy sighed. “I don't know.” They were quiet for a moment. “I don't like this waiting when you know something might happen. I doubt I'll get to sleep at all, or at least it will take hours.” Lizzy paused as she thought. “We can go see Officer Johnson and see if there is anything we can do to help.“

“I’d rather do that than trying to sleep.”
The two sister’s helped each other to change back into their dresses, then entered the hall quietly. They looked in on their uncle, but as he had been given a small amount of laudanum, he was fast asleep.

They walked silently to the end of the hall and opened the doorway to the servants stairs. “Officer Johnson, it is just us, the Bennet sisters,“ called Lizzy up the stairwell. “Can we come up?”

Officer Johnson, who was stationed at the top of the stairs, to catch anyone who attempted to creep up to the guest’s level and to come up behind them. This servant’s staircase went down to the laundry and connected to the kitchen, and had its own entry point, hence was a possible way into the house. Officer Johnson called down. “You are safe to come up.” As they approached, he asked. “What is the problem?”

“With all that is going on, we can't get to sleep. We were wondering if there was anything we could do to help?” asked Lizzy.

Officer Johnson indicated for them to sit on the landing behind him as he sat on the top step. “You can keep me company. Waiting like this for something that might happen is dull work. It's easy to lose concentration or fall asleep, especially at night in near darkness. The occasional distraction is welcome. I can't see any harm provided that we are quiet so I don't miss any external noises.”

“Is there anything we could get for you to make your job easier?” asked Lizzy.

“A tea for me would be lovely. I imagine Officer Downing would also appreciate one, along with some company.” He gave them directions down to the kitchen which would avoid this set of stairs which he was watching, and Kitty and Lizzy trotted down to fetch tea for Officers Johnson and Downing.

Kitty carried and gave the tea to Officer Downing, who was located in the ballroom, watching the doors that lead outside. They asked him how they could help. “Come by every now and then to check we are still alert.”

“How well can you see anyone approaching? “ asked Lizzy, peering through the French doors. It was not quite a full moon, and the landscape was well lit. She could see the trees and the shadows they cast.

“I can see anyone approaching from that direction quite well,” replied Officer Downing.

“What if they approach from the other direction then creep around the house?” asked Kitty.

“That's true, I won't get a lot of warning if that occurs. But I should have enough time to ring the bell here to alert the others.” Here he indicated to the bell system that had been fitted to call servants from the servant’s quarters downstairs, which one of the workmen was monitoring. It had been fitted to ring a bell at both ends to alert the officers when the thieves entered. “But we don't have enough officers to keep watch on all aspects of the house all through the night.”

“Could we then watch the other side of the house?” asked Kitty.

“That would be a good idea, but it is best done from one of the servant’s rooms. You'll get a better view as you are higher up and we'll get an earlier warning and it will give us time to wake the other two officers and get them into position.”

After checking in on the housekeeper, who had made herself comfortable on a couch in the front parlour, but was not yet asleep. They advised her of their plans to watch the South and East sides of the house, and she told them to take the Countess’s ladies maid’s room, which was in the South Eastern corner and had a window on either side. They thanked her and returned to the servant’s quarters, where they advised Officer Johnson of the change in plans.

He showed them into the dark room with a window on two walls, where Kitty then asked. “Will they see us at the window?”

“No, as long as it's darker in here than out there, all they will see is a dark window with the reflection of the moon,” answered Officer Johnson.

“Are you certain they won't try to attack tonight?” asked Kitty.

“Not a chance. I imagine tonight they are merely observing to make sure this isn't a trap and trying to work out what the rhythm of the house is.”

“Rhythm?” questioned Lizzy.

“Yes, as in, when do people go to sleep and turn out the lights, and in which rooms. Does anyone get up during the night? And most importantly, how many people are in the house. We are pretending to have a lot fewer people here than we actually have. They will watch tonight and then during the day tomorrow they will come up with a plan to rob the house.” With that he left them to take up positions staring out the window.

Lizzy and Kitty spoke occasionally. Kitty chattered on about various different scenes that she would like to draw. Lizzy concentrated on focusing on the shadows outside.

Every now and then she saw a squirrel or owl, and a fox hunting rabbits. The shadows danced about as the wind blew the tree branches. But at no point did she think that she saw any human movement.

Lizzy stood as the clock struck eleven and stretched. She noticed that Kitty had nodded off at the window she sat at. Lizzy shook her awake and they went for a walk around the house again, visiting each officer. They visited the housekeeper in the parlour who was fast asleep.

“Do you think she'll wake when the thieves come?” asked Kitty in a stage whisper.

To answer, the housekeeper stirred. “Don't you worry about me, Miss Catherine. When the bell rings, I'll be up and shining the signal lantern out the window.” For good measure she tapped the lantern positioned beside her.

Two of the Sheriff’s men were hiding in the treeline, watching for three flashes of light from the lantern to indicate that the thieves had entered the house. If the lantern was positioned in the window, it meant something was wrong and for them to come quickly. The sheriff had another four men located in a barn on a nearby tenant’s property, waiting to be called.

Lizzy and Kitty returned upstairs and took up their positions again. It did not take long for Kitty to fall asleep in her chair. Lizzy wrapped a blanket around her and returned to her own window.

She started as the door opened. She turned to see Mr John at the door, a gun pointed at her head.

Lizzy woke, sitting up in her chair that she had slumped down in. The moon was high overhead, making it almost as bright as daylight outside. Lizzy checked the clock. It was 1am and time for the shift change in officers. Lizzy went out into the hall to see that the Officers had changed. She walked by herself to check on the other Officer who taken a position in the ballroom. “Don't you worry, Miss, they won't be coming tonight.”

Lizzy returned and tried to sit up at the window ...

Chapter 41

Lizzy stirred, lifting up her head. Sunlight was pouring into the room. She realised she had fallen asleep in the chair. She looked over to see Kitty stirring, then looked at the clock to see that it was nearly six in the morning.

She stood, her neck and back aching from sleeping in the chair. She stretched her right arm up, wishing she could stretch her left one too. “I think we're safe to go and sleep in our room. I doubt anyone will attack now.”

“I can do with a proper sleep in bed. I don't think I'm going to wake up before midday.”

Lizzy concurred. They spoke with the officer on duty, who was quite happily awake. “I'll be here for the next hour, then I'll have breakfast before going to sleep.”

Gratefully, both girls entered their own rooms and slept for the next several hours, not stirring until late morning. After breaking their fast late, they caught up with Mr Gardiner and helped him to complete a few laps of the house. He was starting to get stronger and could walk further without tiring.

As they walked around downstairs, Officer Johnson joined them. Kitty said, “I would feel more comfortable if I could have a pistol for protection?”

Mr Gardiner scoffed at that. Officer Johnson replied with “have you had any training at firing a pistol before?”

“No,” answered Kitty.

“Then now is not the time. You're more likely to be a danger to yourself and us.”

“Can you teach us, Officer Johnson?” pleaded Kitty

Officer Johnson scoffed at that. “We are trying to seem like a normal empty house. Practicing shotting outside would make a racket and warn off our thieves. If you want to learn to fire a pistol, get your father to teach you later.”

“I’d still like something to protect myself with, “ pouted Kitty.

At that point they were walking past the billiards and games room and something caught the Officer’s eye. He disappeared and returned with two cricket bats. “Here you go, if you are looking for a weapon. A hefty hit of this to the head will give anyone a headache or bloody nose.”

The girls both had afternoon naps, waking before dinner and followed the same routine as the previous night. But instead of retiring to their rooms, they changed into servants clothing and went upstairs to take watch in the servants quarters. “What time do you think they will strike?” asked Lizzy.

“My guess is between midnight and two in the morning. That is the time they would be least likely to be caught, and gives them enough time to steal as many valuables as possible.”

Lizzy and Kitty settled into the chairs in the dark room to watch the approaches to the house. “What if they don't approach by this way but come by the other side of the house?” asked Kitty after awhile.

“Remember that the Officer Johnson said that would be unlikely. Behind the house is the stable master’s house with his dog, and the Earl’s kennels. If they pass too close to the kennels, the dogs will start barking.”

Over the next few hours they watched, talking every now and then, mostly to check that the other was still awake then for any interest in a conversation. As the hours passed, Lizzy became increasingly anxious. She was impatient for the thieves to come out so that she was no longer waiting, and then dreaded their approach as after the thieves were engaged, it would became dangerous and it could all go wrong.

Sometime after the clock struck one, Kitty shifted, sitting alert and moving her head closer to the window. “What is it?” asked Lizzy.

“I think I see something. Can you see something moving over near the tree line and approaching the house.” Lizzy came and stood behind Kitty as she pointed.

Lizzy strained her eyes and she could see three large objects, roughly human shaped crossing the fields towards the house. “That’s them. But only three, I can't make out a fourth, can you?”

Kitty shook her head.

“You keep watching. I'll let the officer outside know and I'll wake the other officers.” Lizzy quickly apprised the Officer on duty, and banged on the doors of the other Officer’s rooms. They looked groggy as they rose, as they had only just fallen asleep from the end of their shift. She then banged on the door of her day guard who woke quite refreshed. Officer Downing and her day guard went to join the officer on duty in the ballroom and to apprise him of the impending approach of the thieves.
Officer Johnson took up a position now watching the window. “They are still over a hundred yards away.”

“Kitty, we should make sure the housekeeper is awake and let her know what is about to happen,” said Lizzy.

Kitty rose and grabbed her cricket bat and handed Lizzy her bat. Then the sisters hurriedly walked down the servant's stairs and raced down the hall to the front parlour where Mrs Russell, the housekeeper, slept on a couch, snoring loudly.

“Mrs Russell, Mrs Russell, it is time to wake up. The thieves are coming!” called Lizzy, but this did not make the housekeeper stir. Lizzy tried to shake her shoulder with right hand . “Mrs Russell, you need to wake up!”

Mrs Russell opened her eyes briefly, mumbled something unintelligible, and went back to sleep.

“Kitty, can you open the curtains so that we will be ready to signal the others when the thieves enter?” asked Lizzy.

Kitty went and drew open the heavy curtains. Faint moonlight spilled into the room, making it slightly easier to see the housekeeper. The housekeeper fluttered her eyes open. “Miss Bennet, what's happening? Is it morning?” The housekeeper started to pull herself up into a sitting position.

“The thieves are approaching the house. We need to be ready.”

It was at that very moment the bell started to ring, startling then all. They all stared at the bell, all frozen still.

“They are in the house,” whispered Lizzy.

Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapters 40-41

Anne VMay 19, 2023 12:03PM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapters 40-41

cfswMay 24, 2023 05:42AM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapters 40-41

Anne VMay 25, 2023 01:48AM

4 more days of waiting... (nfm)

Maria VMay 22, 2023 06:15PM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapters 40-41

EvelynJeanMay 21, 2023 01:38AM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapters 40-41

LisaYMay 19, 2023 09:27PM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapters 40-41

Maria Teresa CMay 19, 2023 01:43PM


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