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The Predator, the Prey, and the Protector

February 06, 2018 07:32PM
This is a story that I've had in mind for awhile. A "time travel" story challenge at another JAFF site inspired me to finally give it a go.

It's a work in progress, but I've completed ten chapters so far. That being the case, given the "one posting every three days" rule, I should have it finished before I run out of three-day respites. In any case, it's pretty much fully outlined, so I can guarantee that I won't drop it when I run out of plot and don't know where to go next. Since the first chapter is very short, I'm posting two chapters in this installment.

Warning, there is violence, threatened sexual violence, and one off-stage rape that occurred before the events of the story began, but which impinges on the plot. The victim is not anyone you're already familiar with.

*

PART ONE


Mr. Charles Bingley, owner of the estate called Kimberton, in Nottinghamshire, was engaged in one of his favorite activities, a gallop on his prize stallion. He was on his way to engage in another of his favorite activies, spending time with his beautiful wife, Jane, and their two children.

As he made his way down the riding trail between two stands of trees, he suddenly felt a pain across his chest and was unhorsed. His landing was hard, and his head hit a rock protruding from the side of the trail. He lay there lifeless.

Two men approached him from behind the trees where they had been hiding. One of them knelt down next to him.

“I think he’s gone, sir.”

“Make sure,” said the other. “Give his neck a quick twist. I’ll remove the wire.” With that he walked over to a nearby tree, detached a wire that was stretched across the trail, barely visible, then walked across to the tree on the other side, and detached it from that side, removing any easily discernible evidence that it had ever been there, waiting to unhorse Bingley.

“Won’t they be able to tell that the broken neck wasn’t caused by the fall,” said the kneeling man.

“Bernard Spilsbury won’t even be born for decades, and he won’t earn his medical degree for nearly a century. Forensic pathology hasn’t developed to the point that you need to worry about it.”

“Whatever you say, sir," his companion replied. With that he gave Bignley's neck a sharp twist, then turned back to the other and said, "Do we go after the wife now?”

“We’ll let her have a period of mourning. I’ve waited years for this. I can wait a few more months.”

He smiled as he fantasized about having the beauteous Widow Bingley in his bed, either willingly or unwillingly. That he found the prospect of her being unwilling more arousing will tell the reader something of his character.

Assuming that his having just murdered the husband of the lady he coveted wasn't indication enough.



PART TWO


Mrs. Jane Bingley looked out the window of the town coach that was taking her on the nearly four-hour trip from Kimberton to Pemberley. Her coach now, since her dear husband’s death over nine months earlier.

It was difficult to think that the estate was now hers, at least until her little boy, three-year-old Thomas, came of age. Of course, the actual money management was left to her brother, Fitzwilliam Darcy, but he had made it clear that she would have a hand in all decisions regarding the £8000 per annum, £5000 from the will of her late husband’s father, and £3000 from the estate itself, that was now the income of her and her two children. Fitzwilliam saw his role as advising, not controlling.

It was a blessing that she and her children were financially secure, but it seemed an empty blessing to her. She was still so desperately sad. Charles had been so young and vital. They’d so looked forward to a long life together. And now he was gone.

She had been inconsolable during the initial weeks, had managed to come to some sort of terms with the death of her husband only after three months. She had worn full mourning for nine months, though custom only required it for six, and had only recently transitioned to half-mourning.

In her heart, she was still in full mourning.

Her two children, Thomas, and little one-and-half-year-old Beth, had been invited to stay at Pemberley with Lizzy’s children, Janey, nearly four years-old, and two-year-old Bennet, and Jane was now going to join them.

She looked across the coach at her abigail, Sophia Pullings, who was reading a letter from her sweetheart, Commander Richard Mowatt of the Royal Navy. Both had been born to servants, but Captain Mowatt had been given the opportunity to rise above his origins, when, at the age of eleven, he had been offered a post as a cabin boy on a frigate. When the captain he served found that Mowatt could read and write, and do figures, he made him a midshipman when the death of one of the incumbents in battle created an opening. That was all the wedge Mowatt needed. Passing the test for lieutenant on his first try, he had worked his way up to the rank of commander, and was now captain of a sloop of war. His promotion to post-captain seemed assured, if he chose to remain in the service, though with a final peace coming since Bonaparte’s defeat at Waterloo last year, futures in military service were less secure. In any case, Captain Mowatt had already made enough in prize money to retire. And, as a commissioned officer, he was now officially a gentleman, so Sophia would become a lady when they married.

Jane would be sorry to lose her. She had been a friend, rather than merely a servant. Almost as much of a confidante as her dear sister, Lizzy. She had never had her own lady’s maid before, but she had been given to understand that such ties off affection between lady and lady’s maid were not unusual. Though losing such a friend would cause her pain, Jane was happy that her lady’s maid had a fine future to look forward to.

Except for seeing her children grow up, Jane could not say the same of herself. Oh, she supposed she could marry again. Though she was still in mourning and not eligible to be courted, over a dozen gentlemen who had paid condolence calls when she transitioned to half-mourning had, without being explicit, made it clear that they would be more than willing to plight their troth with the young, breathtakingly beautiful, and now wealthy widow. But she knew she could never feel for any of them what she had felt for Charles.

Should she consider marriage? If only to give her children a father? Did she have the right to deny them that? On the other hand, did she have the right to marry without love? She could not think so. And she could not believe she would ever love anyone but Charles.

*


They had started out early in the morning, when it was still dark. The sun had started to creep over the horizon an hour or so earlier, allowing Jane to enjoy the view and Sophia to reread the letter from her sweetheart.

The coach came to a sudden stop. A loud report that Jane recognized as a gunshot sounded from the front of the coach, while noise of a struggle seemed to emanate from behind. What sounded like a loud blow was followed by a groan from her outrider.

The right door was jerked open, and a rough-looking man holding a pistol ordered them both out. Within minutes, both she and Sophia had been gagged, and had had their arms pinioned behind them, tied at both the elbows and wrists, maximizing discomfort and minimizing the ability to resist.

Thus made defenseless, they were roughly walked over to where two men, dressed as gentlemen rather than the rough garb worn by the other bandits, were standing. Jane counted twelve of them. Two were unhitching the horses. Two had walked her and sophie over to the well-dressed leaders. The other six were ransacking the coach and luggage for valuables.

A dozen men to rob one coach? And a private one at that? Jane could not claim to be an expert on highway robbery, but that seemed odd.

One of the two well-dressed leaders walked over to Jane, grabbed her by the chin, and tilted her face up so he could see it more clearly.

“You’d be Mrs. Bingley,” he said. He had an odd-sounding accent. American? “The other one your lady’s maid.”

Jane hesitated a moment, not wanting to give her abductors any cooperation, then nodded.

“Well,” he said taking hold of her and turning her around, “you’re the one we’re after, but I have no doubt the other one’ll provide some amusement for the boys.”

Jane’s eyes widened in horror.

“Can't we do ‘em both, Jerry,” said the other well-dressed one, as he took hold of Sophia. He had a Cockney accent. “That un’s a widow, so it’s not like we’re poppin' 'er cherry. The guv shouldn’t mind.”

“He made it clear this one wasn’t to be touched that way,” said the first. “You can be the first to do that one. We’ll have to be satisfied with just mussing this one’s clothes a little, maybe getting a good look at her headlights.”

With that he turned her around, pulled her to him with his left arm, and squeezed one of her breasts with his right hand.

Sophia and Jane both tried to scream through their gags. Jane had no notion what “headlights” were, though her captor’s attention to her bosom was possibly a clue, but “do her” left nothing to the imagination.

At that moment, as if in answer to the prayer Jane hadn’t even realized that she’d been fervently sending to her Creator, the sound of a galloping horse approaching became clear, and a loud voice called out, “Stand down! I’m a law officer! You’re all under arrest!"

The man holding her reached for a pistol with his right hand, continuing to hold her with his left. His companion did the same with Sophie.

Jane was intent on seeing what was happening. The rider who had identified himself as a law officer brought his mount to a halt, dropped the reins, and pulled two enormous horse pistols from scabbards on either side of his saddle, a much bigger saddle than Jane had ever before seen. But the rider was a big man, and, perhaps, needed a bigger saddle.

The two men engaged in stealing the horses turned at the sound of the rider’s voice and each reached for pistols that were jammed into their belts.

“Don’t try it!” said the rider.

The two robbers ignored him, and, as soon as their pistols were pulled from their belts, the rider fired off both of his weapons.

The enormous simultaneous booms were deafening, and both robbers fell back as if they’d been hit in the chest with post mauls.

Not sparing his first two victims a second look, the rider dismounted, dropped the horse pistols, drew two smaller weapons from holsters concealed underneath his coat, and prepared to deal with the six who had been ransacking the coach, and the two who had force marched Sophia and herself over to the men who now held them captive, all of whom who were now reaching for knives or pistols held in their belts.

The rider, Jane now saw, was one of the tallest men she’d ever looked upon. His beaver hat had fallen off as he dismounted and he could see a thatch of dark, wavy hair. His features were handsome, but in a rugged way, rather than the classic good looks of her brother Darcy, or the boyishly appealing features of her Charles. But they were looks that suited this man. His mouth was set in a determined line. His eyes, oddly enough, were rather kind-looking, and even a little sad, as if he’d suffered some sorrow of his own. He had a mustache, a very unusual feature for men, who tended to be either clean-shaven or to wear sideburns. He handled the matched set of pistols, odd-looking weapons of a type she had never before seen, with practiced ease, but Jane didn’t see how even two pistols could be of much use against eight men.

Two of the men started to raise their pistols. The rider fired his weapons simultaneously, and both fell, sustaining head wounds. The others, believing his rounds now spent, started toward him with ugly daggers raised. The rider triggered both weapons two more times, downing the four knife-wielders.

One of the two men who had handed Sophie and Jane over to the men currently holding them, dropped his knife and raised his hands in surrender. The other continued to advance. The rider cut him down effortlessly with another head shot.

“You,” the rider said to one who had surrendered, “stick your hands inside your belt and move them around to your back.”

The bandit did as instructed.

“Now go over to my left, away from all the dropped weapons, and sit down cross-legged. You so much as uncross your legs, and I’ll figure you’re fixing to kill me and cut you down. Clear?”

The bandit nodded and did as instructed.

With one of the three highwaymen still alive dealt with, the rider turned his attention to the other two, the ones holding Jane and Sophia.

Jane was astounded. Pistols, as far as she knew, held one shot, at most two. Yet this man had fired, what was it? Four shots with one pistol, and three from the other, and still seemed to have more left to fire. Despite the kind eyes, he also seemed ruthless in battle. He had killed nine men in less than a half a minute. Perhaps in less than a quarter minute. Nine armed men, yet this single rider, and his singular weapons, had handled them all as easily as a man with a scythe cuts down tall grass.

The rider slowly approached, one pistol aimed at Jane’s captor, and the other at Sophia’s. Both of the gentlemen bandits aimed their pistols at the heads of their prisoners.

“You two men are under arrest. Put those guns down. Now!”

“You put your guns down, or we’ll kill these ladies.”

“I expected that might be what you’d say. So let’s examine that. Your pistols are double-barreled that means you’ve got one shot to spare for the ladies. If you use one of those shots on the ladies, that’ll leave only one to use on me, and I’ve already got dead aim on both of you. The only thing keeping me from shooting you both now is that you’re pointing those guns at the heads of the ladies. Kill ‘em and you won’t have shields any more, and you’ll both be dead an instant later, long before either one of you has time to even bring those barkers to bear on me, let alone get off a shot. Try to leave with your prisoners, and, knowing what’s in store for ‘em if I let you get away, I’ll take a chance and shoot you. Maybe you’ll get off a reflex shot before you die, but if I get you both in the acorn, and that’s where I’m aiming, your lights’ll be put out before either of your brains has a chance to send a message to your trigger fingers. There’s a ten per cent chance, given past experience, that I’ll miss the acorn, but it’ll still be a killing shot. So, turn those weapons on me, and you die. Kill your hostages, and you die. Try to get away with ‘em hoping I’ll hold my fire, and you die. Only way you get out of this alive is surrendering.”

His accent was odd. Not like the man holding her. But perhaps from another part of America. What was an American law officer doing here?

“That brings up a question,” said the man holding her. “Aren’t those guns of yours . . . what d’ya call ‘em . . . Akrons? Something like that?”

“I think I know what word you’re trying for,” said the rider. “But the technology’s available now. Let’s just say I had these made up by a couple of gunsmiths back in the States. Specifically, Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson. And is that Brooklyn I’m hearing in your voice? Let’s take a closer look.”

He took a step closer.

“Well, as I live and breath. Jerry Parisi of the Bonnano Family. You’re on my personal ‘most wanted’ list I was sent here with a warrant for your arrest. You’re wanted for murder back home. There’s another reason for you to give up. Highway robbery and abduction are death penalty crimes here, even without any bodies attached. And there are already ten attached to this one. The nine I did for’ll be added to your bill under the felony murder rule. As for the coachman, you’re already responsible for him, anyway. That’s twelve chances they’ll have to hang you here in England. Give yourself up to me and waive extradition, and I can promise you won’t get a death sentence in New York.”

He looked over at the other abductor.

“And, unless I’m badly mistaken, that one’s Johnny Shand, late of the Clerkenwell Syndicate. You’re not on any list of mine, Johnny, but I’ve got a buddy who’d love to feel your collar. Surrender to me, and he might be able to pull some strings to get you something other than swinging at the end of a rope.”

"Not interested," said Shand.

"Y'sure?"

"Dead sure?"

"You're more right than you know. Funny thing about that pistol you're holding."

"Wha's that?"

The tall rider squeezed off a shot from his left hand gun. Shand fell to the ground, a bullet hole between his eyes.

"It's single action," the rider said to the corpse. "Only fires if you cock the hammer back first."

Shand's hostage, overcome by the ordeal, fainted, falling down next to her abductor's body.

As the rider, his attention focused on the two abductors, spoke, the robber who’d surrendered earlier had pulled his hands free of his belt, uncrossed his legs, and was silently making his way to his weapon, a machete-like knife. Jane tried to warn the rider, whimpering unintelligibly through her gag, and attempting to gesture with her head.

The rider finally noticed her agitation, turned in time to see the highwayman charging him with the machete raised. He snapped off a shot that felled his attacker. Turning back toward Parisi and Jane, he saw former turning his already cocked pistol away from his captive and toward him. The rider coolly squeezed off a shot from his right-hand piece that entered through Parisi's nose, spraying Jane with blood and bone particles. She started to scream.

The rider holstered both of his weapons in leather scabbards held under both arms by straps across his shoulders. He pulled out a knife and cut Jane free of the ropes trussing her, then untied the handkerchief gagging her. She screamed even louder, as she felt her arms gripped by the strong fingers of the rider.

“Ma’am, I need you to calm down. I need it now! I’d like to be gentle but I don’t have the time. Your friend there’s fainted, that man who tried to knife me from behind is still alive. And I haven’t had time to check on your outrider, but, if he’s still alive, he’ll probably need help. I can’t tend to all of ‘em myself, and you and I are the last ones still standing. Pull yourself together now, ma’am. And I mean now! You can carry on later when we’ve got time and you’ve got loved ones around you. Right now you and I’ve got a job to do.”

Willing herself calm, Jane took a deep breath and slowly exhaled.

“Yes. Of course, you are right, sir. Please forgive my weakness.”

“Nothing to forgive. Most people would react just the way you have. And ordinarily I’d be much more sympathetic. But you’re alive, and physically, at least, unharmed. And we’ve got people to see to.”

“Yes, you are quite right. May I ask to whom I am so indebted?”

“No debt at all, ma’am. I’m a law officer. I was just doing what I get paid to do. But the name’s Michael Sebastian O’Brian. ‘Mike’ to my friends. Very pleased and honored to meet you, ma’am.”

With that he stepped back and bowed.

“Mrs. Jane Bingley,” she said, with a curtsey. “Pleased, and very grateful, to make yours. Mr. O’Brian.”

O’Brian turned around as if frightened, looked carefully about, then turned back to Jane.

“Whew,” he sighed in relief. “Y’had me scared for moment. Thought my dad was behind me. Wouldn’t’ve minded except he’s been dead since I was in my mid-20’s. And I’m 31 now. Sorry, one and thirty, like you say over here.”

“Why would you think your father was standing behind you if he has been gone for so long?”

“Well, y’called me ‘Mr. O’Brian.’ Already told you my friends call me ‘Mike.’ ‘Mr. O’Brian’ was my father. Still is, as far as I’m concerned.”

She smiled in spite of the situation in which she found herself. Oddly, in some ways this tall handsome law officer reminded her of Lizzy. Self-confident, charming, totally at ease with himself and others, and charmingly informal while still being respectful.

Suddenly she thought to ask, “Are you all right, sir?”

“Physically? I’m fine. Nobody got off a shot, and no one with a blade got close enough to cut.”

“I mean are you feeling well? You strike me as a man of uncommon decency, sir. But you’ve just killed a dozen men. With complete justification, of course. But still, it can’t have been a pleasant duty to have undertaken. I have known soldiers and sailors who have been in battle, and, even if they escaped without wounds, they always have a sort of lost, sad look to them.”

“I thank you for the thought, Mrs. Bingley. It was, as you say, an unpleasant duty, but I can live with what I did much more easily than I’d’ve been able to live with what might have happened if I’d done nothing. All in all, I got the best of the bargain. I’m alive, you and the other lady are safe, and these men will never harm anyone else again.”

He paused for a moment, and then went on, “Mrs. Bingley, am I mistaken, or are you some kind of shirttail niece to the Earl Fitzwilliam?”

“I’m not sure what you mean. But the earl is the uncle of my brother, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.”

“Your brother by marriage?”

“That’s correct.”

“Small world,” said O’Brian, half to himself.

With that they started checking on their patients. The outrider had been knocked unconscious but was able to be revived.

“Y’ought to have a doctor look at that head. Head injuries can fool you. D’you know how ride?”

“I do.”

“Bareback?”

“Yes.”

“What’s the nearest town?”

“Lambton. About two miles off.”

“Magistrate there?”

“Mr. Darcy’s one of the local magistrates.”

“Is there another magistrate in the area? “

“The mayor of Lambton serves as a justice when Mr. Darcy’s not available.”

“That’s good. Take one of the horses on the coach, and ride into Lambton. Send the mayor. Also a constable if there’s one in town. Also a doctor or an apothecary or a surgeon. Have him see to you, and tell him there’s two other injured people here. Make sure the magistrate knows there're twelve dead men here, and that I killed ‘em. Tell him I’m a law officer, commissioned at Bow Street in London, and empowered by the Home Office to act in that role all over the Kingdom. Y’got all that? Then notify Mr. Darcy, not as a magistrate, but as a family member. Make sure he knows that the mayor’s already acting in the role of justice of the peace. He’s being notified just as a member of Mrs. Bingley’s family. Go yourself if the doctor says it’s all right. Otherwise, send a messenger. Everything clear.”

“It is, sir.”

“Right. Off you go.”

When Dawkins was gone, O’Brian turned to Jane and said, “Don’t want there to be any suggestion that strings were pulled. If Mr. Darcy handles this as a magistrate, it might smell to some people, not because he’d do anything to abuse his trust, but because some people are always willing to think the worst. This way, we avoid that, and Mr. Darcy is only involved in the capacity of being your brother-in-law.”

She nodded. With that, they turned to the wounded robber.

“How you doing, partner?” said O’Brian.

“You got me in the belly, mate,” he whispered. “Hurts like poison.”

“We got a doctor coming. Meantime, I’ll try to bandage it.”

“No use, mate. Waste o’ time. Even if I live, I’m for the hangman.”

“Y’never know. They might just send you to Australia. Sounds harsh, but it’s a chance for a whole new start. Some people who got sentenced to transportation wound up being wealthy by law-abiding means. You’ve got to do your part and hang on to life. Just in case, you want a minister or a priest to give you the Last Rites?”

“Never was much of a believer, mate. Seems wrong to come sniffing around after the Lord when I’m breathing my last. ‘Sides, it’s not likely you could get a turnpike man here in time.”

“God doesn’t want to condemn you, sport. He’s hoping you’ll turn to Him when you’re coming to the end of the line. I’m going to bandage you up, and try to keep you alive ‘til the doc gets here. Meanwhile, just in case we can’t get a clergyman here in time, do me a favor and repeat a prayer with me. Don’t like the notion that I sent a man to hell, when I might’ve saved him.”

“All right, mate. You’re bein’ uncommon decent, given I tried to slash you to ribbons.”

As he tried to staunch the bleeding with a clean handkerchief, which he tied in place with a stocking from Jane’s luggage, O’Brian recited, “O My God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell. But most of all, because they have offended Thee, my God, who art all good, and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.”

He recited it in stages, giving the robber time to repeat each phrase, after he’d spoken it first.

“Thanks. Mate,” said the robber, when they’d finished.

“That’s all right. You just try to hang on now, ‘til the doctor gets here. Remember what I said. Australia could be the beginning of a whole new life.”

As they walked over to their final patient, Sophia, who was beginning to wake up on her own.

“Oh, Mrs. Bingley,” she said, after being cut loose of her bonds. “Are we both all right? Did those men have their way with us.”

“No, Sophie, dear,” said Jane, “Thanks to Mr. O’Brian, we’re both quite safe. You just try to stand up, and we’ll walk you over to the coach, where you can sit down comfortably.”

The three patients seen to as best they could, Jane and O’Brian went to the road to await the approach of the magistrate, the constable, and the doctor.

“What was that prayer called?”

“The Act of Contrition. American-style. I don’t know what you use over here in the Book of Common Prayer, and I figured mine would do in a pinch.”

“So you are American?”

“Maryland, originally,”

“What brings you here.”

“Like I said, I’m a law officer. I’m here hunting American fugitives.”

Jane had never heard that there was an overabundance of American criminals loose in England. On the other hand, the one who had held her captive, Parisi? He’d been American, and Mr. O’Brian had said he was on some kind of list.

They said little to each other for the next half-hour, just enough to keep awkward silences from becoming too awkward. At the end of that half-hour, they were joined by Mayor Jenkins, an apothecary named Mr. Galen, and the local constable, Mr. Cribb.

O’Brian pointed out the wounded man to Galen, then introduced himself to Jenkins and Cribb, producing a metallic star within a circle that was, apparently his badge of office, along with some official-looking credentials.

“I’m a Deputy United States Marshal, currently serving as the law attaché under the authority of John Quincy Adams, the US Minister to Great Britain. I’ve also been commissioned as a Principal Officer in the Bow Street Police Office, with a certification from Viscount Sidmouth, your Home Secretary, that gives me the authority to operate throughout the Kingdom. My assignment is to track down and arrest American fugitives who’ve chosen to hide here thinking they’d be safe due to the recent unpleasantness between our two nations. Since diplomatic ties have been reestablished, your country is assisting in this endeavor. As a member of the US Minister’s staff, I have diplomatic immunity, but I’m willing to waive that in the interests of justice and answer any questions you have. I suggest you question me, Mrs. Bingley, and Miss Pullings separately. You should find that our accounts are enough alike that each confirms the other, but enough dissimilar that we haven’t colluded to obfuscate the truth. The wounded man, if he’s still able to talk, may also be willing to offer some information. I hinted that, if he lives, he might, by cooperating, get transportation rather than the noose, but I made no promises.”

The mayor, somewhat flummoxed by O’Brian’s very complete declaration, and by all the official paperwork he’d been presented with, dithered a bit before he settled down enough to conduct a reasonable investigation.

The statements he received from O’Brian, Jane, and Sophia, the positions of the dead bodies, all still holding their weapons in their hands, and what turned out to be the dying statement of the only member of the band of robbers still living, all convinced him that the homicides committed by O’Brian had been justifiable acts, committed in the line of his duty as a law officer, as well as to protect himself and the two ladies from unlawful attacks on their persons. Accordingly, Jane, Sophia, and O’Brian were just asked to make sworn statements in writing, which could be presented as evidence at the inquest, to support the magistrate’s finding that the deaths had all been justifiable homicides.

“A pretty bit of shooting, Mr. O’Brian,” said Jenkins. “May I examine your pistols.”

“Certainly,” said O’Brian, pulling one out of its holster, breaking it open, emptying it, and presenting it to the mayor.

“It’s similar to a pepperbox pistol,” O’Brian explained. “But instead of the barrels revolving under the hammer, it’s just this cylinder, lining up with the hammer and the barrel, which is preloaded with powder and a ball in a single cartridge. The design hasn’t yet received a patent in my country, so I ask you, in the interests of the inventor, to say as little about the pistols as you can without corrupting justice.”

“Ingenious device! I see no problem with being vague about the weapons, sir. As I said, a pretty piece of work. I imagine you can stamp this case closed.”

“Except for one thing,” said O’Brian.

“What’s that?”

“The identity of the man who had hired these bandits to abduct Mrs. Bingley. Until we know that, I think we have to assume she’s still in danger.”

(TO BE CONTINUED)
SubjectAuthorPosted

The Predator, the Prey, and the Protector

Jim D.February 06, 2018 07:32PM

Re: The Predator, the Prey, and the Protector

Shannon KFebruary 07, 2018 02:28PM

Re: The Predator, the Prey, and the Protector

KarenteaFebruary 07, 2018 06:27AM

Re: The Predator, the Prey, and the Protector

KateBFebruary 07, 2018 01:35AM

Re: The Predator, the Prey, and the Protector

DorisFebruary 06, 2018 11:47PM



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