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The Predator, the Prey, and the Predator (Final Installment)

June 13, 2019 06:34PM
PART THIRTY

Jane did not, as might be expected, actually faint, now that the crisis was over. But the strength did leave her legs, and she started to collapse to the floor before Michael caught her in his arms, and carried her to another bedroom, where he placed her on the bed.

“You want me to see if I can find some wine, or anything else, to revive you.”

“Some wine, perhaps,” she said, as crawled under the bedclothes and covered herself.

Michael returned in what seemed but a trice, holding, not only a glass of Madeira, but a dressing gown. He politely turned around while she donned the garment, though, in the circumstances, this seemed rather silly if one thought about it. Still, she appreciated that he was trying to be considerate after her modesty had been so cruelly assailed.

He turned back to face her as she took a gulp of the wine.

“Sip that, sweetie,” he said. “It’s a bit stronger’n you’re used to.”

As the wine hit her stomach, the meal they had consumed earlier having been largely digested, she understood his warning.

She exhaled, and said, “I take your point. Was there nothing a bit less fortified?”

“I figured, under the circumstances, you needed the fortification. Take your time, but when you’re done, I’ll help you get your riding habit on, and then go saddle the horses. I won’t have you spending the night in this house, and, in any case, I’m going to have to report this to the authorities as soon as I can. It’s times like this I really miss cell phones.”

*

Some time later, they were knocking loudly on the door of Kinsford, the great house that was the residence of Sir Montgomery Graham, the owner of the surrounding estate that included the currently unused farm house O’Brian and his wife had rented for their wedding night.

The door was finally opened by a footman who, when asked for an audience with the master, told O’Brian that the master was not in residence at the moment.

“Someone in charge, then,” said O’Brian. “The steward or the butler or someone who’s empowered to make decisions. There’s been a terrible crime at the tenant farmhouse my wife and I rented for the night, and I need to notify the authorities. Thing is, since I’m not from around here, I don’t know where to find the authorities.”

“I shall get the steward,” said the footman.

*

There is no need to burden the reader with a lengthy description of the slow working mills of judicial bureaucracy that then began their plodding grind to the truth. Suffice it to say that a maid was called to show Jane to a guest room, and then to assist her in getting undressed and retiring for the night; that the authorities were notified; that those same authorities were eventually satisfied that the deaths of the five people discovered on the tenant farm were justifiable; and that, with only about a day’s delay, O’Brian, and his new wife and sister, had left on their planned itinerary.

*

Jane took several days to calm down. This was, after all, in some ways, even worse than the attack on her carriage all those months ago. Then she was out of doors. She had her maid with her so she wasn’t facing her fate alone. She was fully clothed. And she had not been given to believe that her husband of less than a day had been murdered just as the intruders entered.

Most important, it hadn’t been her wedding day on which all of that had happened. Now, what should have been one of the happiest days of her life would be forever tainted by those few moments of intense, paralyzing terror.

Her new husband was able to take it more philosophically.

“It’s just a wedding, sweetie,” he said. “The wedding’s not the important thing. The marriage is. And we’re going to have a great marriage.”

Of course, Michael was goodness itself. He stayed with her every night, but, other than enfolding her protectively in his muscular arms as they lay together, made no overtures for any further intimacies. When, after several nights, she finally asked him why not, he replied, “I wanted to wait until you were ready. Until you could regard it, once again, as an act of love, and not a terrible attack on your womanhood.”

“Then know this, Michael. I am ready. I regard every kiss and caress that comes from you as an act of love.”

With that assurance, they both began enjoying their honeymoon again.

*

The wedding trip completed, they returned to Kimberton, by way of Pemberley, and began their life together as a family.

Michael was away a great deal, tracking down time-traveling fugitives. And, in those pursuits, he tended to spend more of his time at the Bingley townhouse in London than at the estate. Consequently, Jane and the children also tended to spend more time in London than had previously been the case during her marriage to Charles.

In about two years, the last of the fugitives on both Michael’s and Mr. Grant’s wanted lists had been apprehended. And the time for deciding what they wanted to do about Kimberton, since they had already agreed to move to both the States and the 21st Century when Michael’s assignment was completed, had finally come.

“Sweetie, we can keep it, and ask Bill to run it for us, or we can rent it out until Tommy’s of age, but I’ll tell you now this whole system of landed estates is going to largely end in about fifty years or so. Industry’s going to expand, and agricultural depressions are going to make the whole system untenable. There’ll always be farms in Britain, but the notion of an estate simply producing an income that sustains a wealthy lifestyle is not going to last. In any case, I can tell you from experience that, if one’s grown up in the 21st Century, going back two hundred years is going to be a huge adjustment. Tommy might not want to make that adjustment by the time he’s an adult. The decision is yours, but, if it was up to me, I’d just put it on the market, and put whatever money you make from the sale in trust for the kids.”

After considering the matter, Jane agreed. The property, thankfully, sold quite quickly. In the meantime, Michael was liquidating all the other assets held by either Jane of himself, and converting those assets to gold.

The rest of Jane’s family all came to Pemberley to wish them goodbye. Jane was saddened to be separated from her parents and sisters, and most especially from Lizzy, but she had become part of Michael’s life when they married, and Michael’s life was in the future.

To preserve the illusion that they were taking a ship to America, they took their carriages to Liverpool, where, they gave Jane’s family to believe they had booked passage to the United States. In fact, to preserve the illusion, they actually had done just that. Once there, they sold their carriages and horses, found a poor family of four that was hoping to be able to work their passage so they could make a new life in the New World, and gave them their tickets, told the keeper of the inn at which they were staying that they would be leaving very early the next day, and thus arranged to pay for everything in advance the night before their planned departure.

Once in the room they had rented, Michael took out the time machine, opened a portal to his condo in Maryland, and brought his new family home, where Ada was waiting with passports that had already been stamped with permanent visas.

After one night in the suburban apartment, Michael moved his family to another property he owned in Montgomery County, near Rockville.

This turned out to be a farm that Michael’s father had bought after his retirement from the Merchant Marine. It was a fairly large, about 500 acres. Michael didn’t farm it himself, but rented out the acreage to other farmers who owned adjacent, or at least nearby, farms. The curtilage included a quite spacious house, not on the order of Pemberley, of course, or even Kimberton, but quite comparable, in size at least if not in architecture, to her beloved Longbourn.

“I didn’t want to sell the place after the folks passed,” Michael said, “but I didn’t want to farm it either. So I just rented out the land to other nearby farms looking to expand their operations. It’s not too unlike what you did at Kimberton or Bill does at Pemberley, except that the people renting the acreage don’t live there. I actually make more renting out the acreage than I do as a deputy marshal. Fact is, though I’m not in your league, I’m actually kind of rich. In any case, I’ve got this home in the country that’s only 17 miles from DC. Rockville even has a Metro station. And, I’ll have the condo to stay in when long hours make to commute to Rockville too hard.”

All in all, Jane was very pleased, and she and the children settled into their new life much more easily than she had anticipated.

*

There were, of course, other fugitives, in other eras described in other famous works of fiction, and, given Michael’s success in the world of Jane Austen, he was often persuaded to take short assignments to track these fugitives down. Michael usually agreed, with some hesitation, as long as the assignments were not long-term.

But those are other stories.

As for Jane and her children, with Michael in their lives, they did exactly what Jane Austen had always planned for them to do.

They lived happily ever after.

***
SubjectAuthorPosted

The Predator, the Prey, and the Predator (Final Installment)

Jim D.June 13, 2019 06:34PM

Re: The Predator, the Prey, and the Predator (Final Installment)

Shannon KJune 14, 2019 01:47AM

Re: The Predator, the Prey, and the Predator (Final Installment)

Jim D.June 14, 2019 03:50AM



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