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Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapters 42-43

May 26, 2023 02:41AM
Chapter 42

The housekeeper swung her legs off the couch, then tried to stand, but then fell back on the couch. “My feet are asleep. I'm just not as nimble as I once was. Miss Catherine, take the lantern and send the signal.”

Quick as a flash, Kitty bent down and grabbed the lantern and within a few steps was at the window. She turned up the flame, and Lizzy could now clearly see Kitty’s and the housekeeper’s faces. She lifted the lantern in one hand then with a blanket, she covered the lantern. She repeated this again another two times, before turning down the light of the lantern, making it dim.

They all stared into the distance. An answering light appeared and was waved, before being dimmed. “They've seen it, “ said Kitty with evident relief. She put the lantern on a shelf above the fireplace.

“Now one of the men needs to alert all the other waiting officers in the barn before coming here in force,” said Lizzy anxiously. She was aware that would be at least ten minutes before all the other Officers would be at the edge of the Earl’s property and another twenty minutes before they would be at the front door. “We should unlock the door ready to let the men in.”

Mrs Russell rose, blood finally circulating in her legs. As quietly as possible, they all went into the hallway and the housekeeper fumbled for the keys, quietly unlocking the front door, ready to let in the officers when they arrived.

“We need to hide, in case the thieves come and see us,” said Mrs Russell softly. As quietly as mice they all crept back into the parlour, and found hiding places behind the couches, away from the door. “There’s no reason they would come in here. All the valuable things in here are too big for the thieves to carry away.”

They held their breath, listening, but wherever the thieves currently were, they were too far away in the house for any noise to carry to them. Lizzy and Kitty exchanged anxious looks with each other. The instructions to the officers was to wait as long as possible before arresting the men, to allow enough time for the Sheriff’s men to arrive and provide backup.

After what felt like an age, they heard a commotion upstairs. Someone called “Hands up, you’re under arrest.”

They then heard a shot followed by a cry of pain. Then another shot. Instinctively, Lizzy, Kitty and Mrs Russell ducked lower behind their couches. Someone cried out, “I'm shot!”

Another shot rang out and then another.
“Kitty,” whispered Lizzy, “put the lantern in the window to tell the Sheriff to race here!”

Kitty stood, grabbed the lantern that was behind her and put it on the window sill at full glow. A dull light lit up the room.
They heard faintly “it’s a trap!” then running footsteps in the hallway getting closer.

Lizzy realised they hadn't closed the door to the parlour which was lit up by the lantern. Without thinking, Lizzy rose to go close the parlour doors. She got the right side door closed and was in the process of closing the left side when she saw the leader racing towards her, pistol in hand. She froze.

Shots were fired from outside and Lizzy immediately flinched, but quickly realised it wasn't fired at her. Kitty involuntarily cried out “Lizzy!”

Samual John did not slow down his run, even when seeing her at the parlour door. It was at this moment the front doors were opened revealing the Colonel and Darcy, followed by the Sheriff and his son. “Elizabeth,” called Mr Darcy again, without thinking. All the men were surprised to see her there, lowering their pistols and they didn't immediately take in the fact that Mr John was barrelling towards them.

Mr John, however, had seen it all and changed his plans. Lizzy remembered too late that she needed to close the left side parlour door. Mr John shot his pistol once towards the front door, making everyone duck and Lizzy ducked back into the parlour away from the doorway.

Before anyone else could act, Mr John was in the parlour, his gun pointed at Lizzy’s forehead. “Now, let no one act hasty, or the poor Miss will end up with a bullet in her head.” Noticing Lizzy’s broken arm as he now entered the parlour and circled behind her. “Miss Bennet, I presume. We've read a lot about you in the papers.”

It was at this moment Officer Downing, Lizzy’s day guards and the other Officer ran into the hallway, coming to a stop as they saw the pistol pointed at Lizzy’s head.

Lizzy swallowed and found her voice. “Did you come to finish me off?” she asked in a loud voice that she tried to keep steady, but which gave away the slightest of quivers.

Mr John chuckled softly so only the women could hear. “I won't admit to that in front of so very many witnesses. But justice for me will be at the end of a rope. If you do as I say, we all walk away from this alive. You might even get to marry Loverboy over there.” He nodded towards Darcy.

The Sheriff called out. “You are under arrest, Mr John, for highway robbery, amongst other offences. It is best you surrender yourself. There is no escape for you, Mr John.”

“Are you telling me that if I let Miss Bennet go that I won’t hang?” shouted Mr John.

“You know I cannot negotiate that,” replied the Sheriff.

“Well then I've got nothing to lose, do I then?”

“We've arrested your partner, Mr William Spencer outside,” called the Sheriff. Lizzy realised there was now light from torches coming in through the windows from outside, making it slightly easier to see. Someone also lit the hallway candles upstairs, so a faint light was spilling in down the stairs.

Mr John shrugged. “There’s nothing more I can do for him, is there?”

Darcy stared stricken at Lizzy, his pistol in his hand. There was nothing he could do that would not risk her life. The feeling of powerlessness was frustrating. She, outwardly looked completely calm.

Lizzy, on the inside was trying to keep calm. She had her back straight and head high. She would not give Mr John the satisfaction of knowing that she was afraid. She tried to stay calm and think of a way out, but with the pistol only an inch from the back of her head, she could think of no move she could make that would not get herself killed.

Kitty soon realised that Mr John’s focus was only on the men in front of him. He had either completely forgotten that she and Mrs Russell existed or had never noticed them in the first place. She grabbed her cricket bat.

“I'll tell you what is going to happen. Miss Bennet and I are going to go for a walk. We are going to walk out this front door and away, and if anyone attempts to follow, I will shoot Miss Bennet. However, if you let us leave unmolested, I will, at a point of my choice, release Miss Bennet unharmed, but only if I am not followed.”

“You know we will hunt you down. You cannot escape. You should end this now, “ called the Sheriff.

“You can only hang me once, Sheriff. I can't get into more trouble than I already am in. This is my only hope, and I will damned well take it.”

“How do I know you won't harm me? I heard you say you intended to kill me in the forest,” said Lizzy, determined not to leave that hall alone with him and stealing for time.

“Because your testimony won't matter. All these men have now seen me. My only hope is that I release you alive which gives me enough time to get away. If I kill you, I'm pretty sure some of the men over there,“ here Mr John nodded at Darcy, “will hunt me down with the fury of hell. He is staring me down right now. I have no chance of escape if you die...they will find me.”

Mr John paused. “I think we have chatted long enough. Sheriff, would you be kind enough to organise a horse that this young lady and myself can depart on?”

The Sheriff nodded grimly and requested one of the men near the door to organise a horse.

“Now whilst we wait, I don't want you men getting in my way. If you could all go and move to your left, towards the hallway please.” He indicated with his pistol. The men all shuffled to the spot indicated.

A few minutes later, one of the Sheriff’s men came back to say the horse was ready.
“Now it is time for us to leave. Now no funny business, Miss Bennet. Walk at a steady pace to the door. Time to go.”

“No, she won’t!”

Chapter 43

Kitty cried out loudly, immediately behind Lizzy and Mr John. Not only was Lizzy startled, but Mr John partly turned, surprise and shock written in his face. His grip on his gun loosened, and as he turned, the gun was no longer pointed at Lizzy, but pointing at the space half way between Lizzy and Kitty and towards the ceiling.

Kitty swung her cricket bat upwards, knocking Mr John’s elbow. He made an involuntary grunt as his hand let go of the pistol all together, and the pistol flew through the air.

Lizzy, seeing the gun was no longer in play turned around, and with all her might, kneed Mr John in the groin.

This made Mr John lean over in pain. As he did so, Kitty lifted her bat and with all her might, whacked Mr John in the side of the head. He crumpled to the ground, knocked out cold.

The men, having seen this, rushed forward to grab Mr John. Lizzy rushed forward, relief written over her face, and with her right arm, gave Kitty a hug. “You did it! You saved me. I'm so proud of you!”

Kitty looked at the fallen man, as the Sheriff and Richard reached him. “Did I kill him?”

“No,” replied Richard. “He's merely unconscious.“ Even as he said it, Mr John started to stir. Richard looked at the two sisters with admiration. “Well, I know never to cross one of the Bennet sisters. I told you Darcy, that they didn't need us. They were able to look after it all by themselves.”

Mr Darcy had approached with his cousin. He desperately wanted to hold Lizzy, now that the danger was all over. But he could see that Kitty and Lizzy needed to spend the time together, so he hung back. Instead he replied wryly “I could have told you that if you mess with one sister, you have to face the others. Yes, we were completely unnecessary. More of a hindrance, really.”

Andrew Riley had approached and was standing beside Kitty. “That was a very brave thing to do. I must admit that I did not even know you were there.”

By now the housekeeper had stood up from where she had hid behind the couch and was lighting the fire in the room and candles, so people could see. “We were hiding behind the couch, so I don't believe this thief even knew we were here.”

“No, he would have only seen me and presumed I was the one responsible for the lantern, and not noticed anyone else, “ said Lizzy.

“Yes, as his focus was only on the Sheriff and the men outside, I figured that I could creep around the couches without being seen at all to get right behind him. Did you see his face? He could not have been more surprised if the Virgin Mary appeared behind him!” gushed Kitty.

“That was a risky thing to do, “ said the Sheriff. “It could have really gone wrong and he could have shot your sister instead. How did you know he wouldn’t shoot?”

Lizzy answered. “Because of the games we played when we were children. For a period of time we spent our time trying to surprise each other.”

“And whenever we were completely surprised, we would lose our grip on anything we were holding. I remember when we surprised Mama and she spilled her tea over herself. She was so angry with you,” said Kitty.

“Papa was amused the first time when he dropped his book. Wasn't amused the second time when he dropped his tea cup on the book he was reading, “ said Lizzy with a smile.

“I must admit, when I went to strike at him first, I was aiming for his hand and not his elbow. It still ended with the same result,” said Kitty.

Lizzy leaned in to Kitty and said in a loud, conspiratorial whisper. “When you retell the story, don't mention that. You always intended to hit the elbow.” Everyone laughed a nervous laugh of relief.

The Sheriff stood. “Can we get the house lit up? And can we find out what has happened upstairs? Has Blackwell been captured?” People scurried off to do the Sheriff’s bidding.

Lizzy turned her attention to Darcy. “I’m surprised to see you here. I thought you were supposed to be at Pemberley?” She indicated at his clothing. “And are you dressed as an express rider?”

“Well the plan was for us to go to Pemberley, and we did. No one said how long we had to stay.” Lizzy smiled at his attempt at light-heartedness. “Richard and I both agreed that it felt wrong to stay. So we left this morning, dressed as express riders going to bring news to the Sheriff. We've stayed out of sight with the Sheriff this afternoon, and then we went with the other Officers to the barn and we each took a shift watching the house.”

“You must be exhausted!” exclaimed Lizzy. As there was more light in the room, Lizzy noticed the blood falling from Darcy’s ear. “Your bleeding, on your ear!”

Darcy put his hand to his right ear and it came away with blood. “I thought I felt something sting. Mr John’s bullet must have grazed my ear when he shot his pistol.”

Richard looked up from his task of locating the pistol for evidence. “It’s a good thing you ducked in time, else it would have hit your shoulder.”

Lizzy pulled out her handkerchief and led Mr Darcy to a seat. With him sitting, she put the handkerchief to his ear to wipe away the blood. “This will make a good story to tell our children...I mean, your children.” Lizzy blushed at her slip up. ”My apologies, I'm getting ahead of myself.”

Darcy put his hand on her arm. “Don't apologise. I know it is not right for me to ask for your hand at this time, but you must know that I will as soon as your mourning period is over.”

Lizzy felt an almost overwhelming happiness with the future promise. She may not have been secretly engaged before coming to Matlock, but she certainly was now.

Richard rose, having located the pistol. “If I’d been shot, would one of the Bennet ladies look after me so tenderly? I could do with the two of you as army nurses and I'm certain our men would be well looked after.”

Kitty giggled prettily whilst Lizzy shook her head. This was where Mrs Russell spoke up. “Master Richard, you know that if you are hurt it is my duty to patch you up just like every time I did when you were a boy.”

Richard pouted at this. It was at this point Mr Gardiner appeared downstairs. “Lizzy, Kitty. Thank goodness you are alright. Why is it that when I thought the two of you were safe in the servants quarters that I find you here beating up highwaymen?”

Lizzy and Kitty quickly recounted the story. “And what of you? Has Mr Blackwell been caught?”

It was as she asked this that Officer Johnson came to report. “We have Robert Blackwell in our custody, however we need a doctor.”

“I’ve already sent for one,“ said the Sheriff.

“We followed Robert down the hall. He came straight to the first floor and he went straight to your room, Miss Elizabeth,” said Officer Johnson, looking seriously at Lizzy. “We followed him in. He wasn't looking to rob the house. He was carrying a knife and was going straight to the bed. That was when we told him to stop and that he was under arrest. He dropped his knife and grabbed his pistol, so he fired at us and it hit Officer Turner on his arm. We both fired and one shot hit his hand which was holding the pistol and the other hit him in the shoulder. We then both struck him and basically sat on him until the servants arrived, who then helped us hold him down until the other Officer’s arrived.”

“So he came here to kill Miss Elizabeth. Thank goodness you weren't in your room.” Elizabeth felt a cold chill go down her spine as the Sheriff said this, realising the deadly intent they had against her. Kitty came and squeezed her hand.

“Is there a fourth?” asked the Sheriff.

Mr John stirred. “No, there was only the three of us.”

For another two hours the house was in uproar and the house was searched by the officers, the doctor and his wife and apothecary arrived to clean up the wounded, and the arrested men were loaded into the prison wagon and sent to the holding cell in Matlock.

The officers who weren't tasked to escort the prisoners to Derby remained and retired. It was nearly four in the morning when everything settled down. Lizzy and Kitty assisted Mr Gardiner back to his room, with Darcy and Richard trailing. Lizzy went to retire into another room as she had been told by the Sheriff not to enter her original room. Though as she thought on it, she didn't think she could enter a room again that she was supposed to be murdered in.

Kitty yawned. “I'm not leaving my room before midday. I've never felt so tired.”

Lizzy, walking next to her, hugged her around the shoulder with her right arm. “Everyone will be talking about you. You will be the heroine in this story, where you saved your sister!”

“Do you think they'll write a novel about me?”

“They might even write a play, or an opera!”

“I'll be happy with a novel.”

Lizzy fell asleep in her clothes on top of her bed and had the best sleep she had had for the last week. If she dreamed, she could not recall it.

Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapters 42-43

Anne VMay 26, 2023 02:41AM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapters 42-43

EvelynJeanMay 31, 2023 03:43AM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapters 42-43

Maria Teresa CMay 26, 2023 07:33PM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapters 42-43

Anne VMay 27, 2023 12:14AM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapters 42-43

Maria Teresa CMay 27, 2023 01:01PM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapters 42-43

AlidaMay 26, 2023 11:15AM


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