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Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapter 44

June 02, 2023 01:13PM
Chapter 44

It was very late morning before either of the Bennet sisters woke up. It was not long after waking when the Fitzwilliam’s and Georgiana returned from Pemberley, having received the Sheriff’s express in the morning. There were three Sheriff’s officers combing the house all morning and recording statements from all of the staff, Richard, Darcy and the Bennet sisters. It was late in the afternoon when the Sheriff returned to provide an update.

“What news do you have for us, Sheriff?” asked the Earl.

“I've just come from the committal hearing. All the men are in custody without bail and will remain until the trial. They’ve been moved to the gaol in Derby.”

“Do we know when the trial will be?” asked Mr Gardiner, mirroring the question in Lizzy’s head.

“A week from today. I've requested a prosecutor from Nottingham,” replied the Sheriff.

“I’ll advise Mr Bennet that we’ll be staying a few additional days so that we are here for the trail,” said Mr Gardiner.

“Did the thieves give you any useful information? Did you manage to locate any of the stolen money or jewellery?” asked Lizzy.

“My discussion with the thieves was interesting. The leader, Mr John, was keen to save William Spencer, who he says was more a supporter than an active participant. Mr John said he'd tell us where they had hid their stolen goods provided that Mr John was only charged for robbery and not with highway robbery. His penalty would then only be transportation, and he was happy to confess to that. So we have agreed to that.”

“Is that wise?” asked the Earl.

The Sheriff turned his attention to the Earl. “I've reviewed all the witness statements. No one saw any of their faces. If one of the highwaymen was Mr Spencer, I don't believe that Miss Elizabeth could positively identify him as being involved in the attack on herself. “ Lizzy shook her head at this. “Only the leader spoke in the attacks. No one paid enough attention to Mr Spencer to be able to identify him. All our evidence on him is circumstantial.”

“And what of the fourth thief?” asked Lizzy.

Here the Sheriff sighed. “They've all said that after separating from him after leaving Matlock, they never saw him again. He did not join them at their meeting place in Sherwood forest.”

“Do we have a name?” asked Mr Gardiner.

“They've all said his name was Luke Turner. However, when asked for a description of what he looked like, they have all given different descriptions. One said he was about twenty, one said he was about thirty and Mr John had told us he was forty.”

“So you don't believe that the fourth thief was this ‘Luke’?” said the Countess.

“There is honour amongst thieves. They get no benefit from ratting him out. The only reason they have told me what they have is that they are protecting their friend by giving us misleading information. Unfortunately, we have so little on this person, that unless we came upon the man with the stolen goods on him, there is no way for us to identify him or convict him of a crime.”

“Had they always intended to rob your house when coming to Matlock?” asked Darcy.

“No, they're original intention was to rob the Earl’s residence whilst everyone was at the funeral, however, when they came to check it out they found security was too tight. However, they heard that the Sheriff’s servants were helping at the wake and the house would be close to empty. So they changed their target. They were planning on moving on from their hiding place when they heard about the Earl and his family's relocation to Pemberley, and they could not resist the temptation for a major haul.”

“Have you managed to recover any of the stolen goods?” asked the Earl.

“Yes, they had a camp in the forest nearby, not too far from their previous camp. We've recovered all the stolen jewellery from our house, plus a good portion, but not all of our money. Mr Gardiner, there may be some of your wife’s jewellery, along with some of yours, Miss Bennet. Tomorrow, I'll need you to come by and identify what is yours.”

“When can we reclaim it?” asked Lizzy.

“You’ll need to hold out until the trial, as it will be lodged as evidence, “ answered the Sheriff.

The Sheriff stayed a little longer before departing. The days that followed were filled with activity. The next day, Lizzy and Mr Gardiner made their first trip to the Sheriff’s home, a house a little larger than Longbourne and very comfortable and stylishly furnished, but not ostentatiously. Mr Gardiner identified half of his wife’s jewellery, and Lizzy found half of hers.
“They must have been able to fence the rest,” said the Sheriff.

The next day the prosecutor, Mr Barnes arrived from Nottingham. He questioned everyone again. Everyone gathered in the parlour at the Earl’s residence after the questioning was over. “Why did you ask the same questions that the Sheriff asked? We already spoke with the Sheriff,” asked Kitty.

“I’m attempting to work out who I will put on the stand, “ replied the prosecutor.

“Will you put me on the stand?” asked Kitty.

The prosecutor shook his head. “The jury can only judge on the crime the men committed, which you were not a witness to...not how the person was caught. Miss Elizabeth and Mr Gardiner are the witnesses I'll put on the stand.”

The next day Mr Gardiner and Lizzy went to the crime sight to recount what happened. Though Lizzy had driven past the site when she had gone to Derby, it hadn't been pointed out. She had held her Uncle’s hand, squeezing it before descending from the carriage where it had all happened.

The day was just like the day when it all happened. Warm, with dappled light filtering through the trees to the road. Mr Barnes said to them both. “I will question Miss Elizabeth first, then you, Mr Gardiner.”

Lizzy walked down the road some three hundred yards. “This is where we were when we saw the two highwaymen appear on the road in front of us and they called for us to stop. It was about here,“ said Lizzy, walking forward. She swallowed as the memories came back. “We were here when the carriage driver was shot and the horses began to race.” She took a deep breath to regain her emotions as the Mr Barnes asked questions on the appearance of the men and the horses they rode.

They walked towards the bridge that crossed the creek. Before reaching it, Lizzy could see carriage rut marks on the verge of the road, leading into the grass. “This is where the carriage veered of the road.” Lizzy pointed ahead. “That is where we tipped over.”

She walked to the place where she had been thrown and looked around. The image of her aunt lying on the ground sprang to her mind. She put her hand to her mouth as tears came unbidden to her eyes. “I was thrown here,” she choked out.

“Where were your aunt and uncle?” asked Mr Barnes.

Lizzy stepped to the spot her aunt had been lying, and she could see the rock her aunt must have struck her head on. Some red blood stains still remained. “She was here.” She turned and pointed behind her. “My uncle was lying back there when he told me to run.”

The Sheriff nodded and said to Mr Barnes. “That aligns exactly where the carriage, Mr and Mrs Gardiner were found.” He walked up to Lizzy and handed her a handkerchief, which Lizzy gratefully accepted.

Mr Barnes continued to ask questions as Richard led them to the bushes she had hid in. Lizzy’s recollection aligned perfectly with the evidence found at the sites. Mr Gardiner was questioned next, but as he had passed out, he had a limited memory of the events.

The day after this, as a thankyou to all the Sheriff’s men who had helped in the arrest of the highwaymen, the Earl and Countess hosted a cricket game with afternoon tea on the lawns. The women, including the Countess, Lady Riley and her daughters and all the officer’s wives, settled down to watch the men under the erected tents. Mr Gardiner sat next to Lizzy and Georgiana.
“I've never watched a cricket game before,” said Georgiana.

“I’ve only watched a couple when I was younger amongst the local boys. Two teams, one fielding, one batting. The fielding team has a bowler who attempts to hit those stumps, “ said Lizzy, pointing to the three stumps on either end of the pitch. “Two batters are out there, one hits the ball and they need to run between the stumps to score runs, without getting caught or run out. The team with the most runs wins.”

Kitty had been captivated by the scene and had decided that she would attempt to paint it. She had set up her easel underneath an oak. Every now and then she would wander back where the others sat drinking lemonade.

Before the game started, Andrew Riley and Richard approached Kitty, one holding a cricket bat, the other a pen and ink well. “Miss Catherine “ started Andrew. “As this is the bat that you bravely wielded to catch the lead highwayman, we were hoping you would do us the honour of signing the bat, so everyone could always know of your heroic deeds.” Flattered and pleased, Kitty signed the bat, before the game started.

Richard and Andrew were on the fielding side, with Darcy and one of the officer’s starting out as the first batters. Richard was the bowler, and with a wicked look in his eye, he bowled the ball, going straight past Darcy and hitting the wicket. The Sheriff was umpiring and he called “Out.”

With a grumpy look shot at his cousin, Darcy sulked off the field as the other team made quacking noises. “What happened?” asked Georgiana.

“Your brother got out for a duck, meaning he got out without scoring,” replied Mr Gardiner.

Darcy came and took a seat in between Lizzy and Georgiana. With a self-deprecating smile at Lizzy, he said “here I was hoping to pass myself off with some degree of credit.”

“You can not believe me to be so fickle as to think poorly of you for an unfortunate ball,” replied Lizzy.

“I cannot regret it to much. I now get to spend half the game sitting here in your company, “ said Darcy who was rewarded with a sparkle in Lizzy’s eyes.

Darcy, Lizzy, Georgiana and Mr Gardiner all fell into a comfortable conversation. They had all become good friends over the last several days, spending as much time as possible in each other's company, and everyone's esteem of the other grew.

After awhile, Georgiana rose to go and watch Kitty’s painting. Darcy watched her go to start an animated conversation with Kitty. “I haven't seen her this happy since the death of our father. Kitty has really helped her to come out of her shell.”

“That isn't surprising. It sounds like Georgiana needed a friend of similar age to herself,” replied Lizzy, also watching the exchange. “I can see Kitty is benefiting not having to compete for attention with Lydia. Georgiana’s gentle nature tempers Kitty’s more boisterous tendencies. They both benefit greatly from the friendship.”

It was time for the teams to change over. Darcy took to the field as the first bowler, with Richard and Andrew Riley up as the first batters. Andrew proudly carried the bat signed by Kitty onto the field.

Darcy, keen to deliver vengeance on his cousin, bowled the first ball to his cousin, which Richard coolly hit to the boundary, earning appreciative claps from all watching. Andrew and Richard alternated their batting, each making an outstanding batting effort, much to Darcy’s chagrin. Andrew’s bat certainly seemed to be lucky, hitting six after six.

For Darcy’s last ball, he bowled again to Richard. Richard smashed it, with the ball heading straight towards Lizzy. With a speedy right hand, she reached out and caught the ball, to everyone’s applause. There were calls for Richard to go out, plus good nature jokes about the one armed lady being a better fielder than the fielding team.

Richard did stay in but it mattered little. Darcy gave up his role as bowler to someone else and took to the field, catching his cousin out at his next hit.

Richard smiled as he came off the field, talking with his mother and a few of the officers and their wives before taking the chair that Darcy had vacated between Lizzy and Mr Gardiner.

“Have you come here to irritate your cousin?” asked Lizzy pertly.

Richard just laughed. “I have come to enjoy your charming company, Miss Bennet. If it irritates my cousin, that is just a bonus.” Richard looked out at Kitty, who was busying admiring Andrew as he ran between the wickets. “Your sister appears to have forgotten to paint, “ said Richard with a raised eyebrow.

“Shall we go see how my sister progresses with her painting?” asked Lizzy.

Richard agreed, and offering an arm, escorted Lizzy to her sister and Georgiana. The painting was taking shape, with Kitty having painted the house in the background. She was presently painting the foreground, featuring Andrew prominently as the batter.

Richard frowned. “Where am I in this?” he asked.

Kitty pointed to someone with his back to the painting. “This is you,” she said, and went back to painting Andrew at the stumps.

“Some have certainly said that is my best angle, “ joked Richard, which Georgiana and Kitty immediately denied.

“I see what you are about Colonel, fishing for compliments,“ laughed Lizzy. The Riley sisters soon joined as well, eager to see how the painting progressed, that Kitty was too distracted talking to paint.

The afternoon passed pleasantly in this relaxed manner. Richard and Andrew’s team were declared the winners, with Andrew the top scoring batsman, which he claimed was due to him wielding Kitty’s lucky bat.

Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapter 44

Anne VJune 02, 2023 01:13PM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapter 44

Maria Teresa CJune 03, 2023 06:13PM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapter 44

AlidaJune 03, 2023 02:34AM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapter 44

Anne VJune 03, 2023 05:20AM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapter 44

AlidaJune 03, 2023 07:21AM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapter 44

Anne VJune 03, 2023 11:27AM


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