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Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapter 46

June 16, 2023 12:09PM
Chapter 46

As their party emerged from the courtroom, there was a round of applause for Lizzy. She waved and gave a tight smile, and yet again they were whisked away to wait in the room reserved for the prosecution. Not much was said by anyone as everyone waited tensely for the jury to return.

It was a mere twenty minutes when they were notified that the jury had made their decision. “That's a good sign, “ said the Sheriff. “It's always quick when everyone is convinced they are guilty. It takes longer to decide innocence.”

They filed back in. All stood for the entrance of the judge.

“Do you have a verdict, Mr Chairman?” asked the judge.

“We do, your honour. For the crime of murder, we find Mr Blackwell guilty. For the crime of robbery with violence, we find both Mr John and Mr Blackwell guilty.”

The two defendants could be seen to slump and to rest their heads in their hands. Lizzy squeezed her Uncle’s hand with relief.
The judge announced both to be hung, and so ended the trial. Mr Gardiner and Lizzy hugged each other as the rose. “It’s finally over,” said Lizzy.

“We got justice for Madelein. But it doesn't bring her back,” he said.

The Sheriff turned to then. “Mr Gardiner, you might like to think about what you want to say when you go outside. The reporters will ask.”

On exiting the court house, the reporters were waiting for them. Mr Gardiner stood at the top of the stairs, and in a clear voice announced. “My family and I are satisfied that justice has been served today for the death of my wife, Mrs Madelein Gardiner and our carriage driver, Mr John Manning. Nothing can bring them back. My for children are without a mother and Mrs Manning and her children are without their husband and father. Their crimes have left multiple families impacted for life with a loss that can never be replaced. However, at least their crimes end today and no one else should pay the price.”

As they descended the stairs, reporters tried to question both sisters whilst the men attempted to hurry them all to the carriage. Kitty was more than happy to smile and provide comments to questions, whereas Lizzy was more circumspect. She felt weary from the day and was not in the mood to answer questions.

With relief they entered the Sheriff’s carriage. “The proprietor of the Derbyshire Mercury has kindly offered to host us tonight.” It was a short ride to the proprietor’s residence, a fine house on an estate just outside of the main Derby city centre.

On the offers of thanks for hosting, he waved it away. “Believe me, I’m getting far from this than you. Tomorrow we’ll print the exclusives from today’s trial and the interviews with the two Bennet sisters. We will be selling a record number of papers.”

With relief Lizzy was shown to her room and able to refresh herself. Lying in the bath helped to ease the tensions from the day and helped to lift her spirits for dinner. At the dinner table were the editor and several reporters from the Mercury, ready to get her story. The dinner was an almost jovial affair. The stress of the past several weeks was over and the trial behind them. Lizzy felt herself cracking smiles at times. She looked over at her uncle to see him smiling, though it didn’t reach his eyes.

After dinner, instead of there being the normal parting of the sexes, each of the participants was invited to tell their story. Mr Gardiner waved it off, saying that there was nothing more to tell than what he had told on the stand. Lizzy, Richard, Kitty and the Sheriff all had their chance to tell all their story. Kitty particularly enjoyed being the complete centre of attention for once.

Before the night ended, the Sheriff had an announcement. “There were rewards on offer for the capture of Mr Blackwell and Mr John. The two officers who captured Mr Blackwell will split the hundred pound reward for his arrest. And it has been decided that Miss Catherine solely will receive the hundred pound reward offered for the arrest of Mr John.”

Kitty was surprised and pleased by that, whilst everyone applauded and called it well deserved. She looked at the bank cheque that the Sheriff passed to her with wonder. Later that night, prior to retiring, she said to Lizzy, “I’ve never had so much money in my possession in my life! It’s true what Mr Andrew Riley said. There’s something more satisfying in money that you’ve earned yourself with your own effort.”

Prior to Mr Gardiner’s, Lizzy's and Kitty’s departure the next morning, the Sheriff, Darcy and Richard arrived to see them off. The Sheriff returned the jewels that had been held in evidence. Richard handed them the paper for the day where their story had made the front page news.

Darcy drew Lizzy away from the others to talk with her privately. “Will you miss me over the coming month?” asked Darcy, with a small half smile on his face.

“You know I will, Sir,” replied Lizzy with her own small smile.

“You won’t forget me, or have a chance to think twice…”

“Let me interrupt you there, Mr Darcy. I am not so fickle as to ever forget you. When will you come to visit Mr Bingley?”

“I need to spend the three weeks tending to Pemberley, before I go to see Mr Bingley.”

“I will count the days, Mr Darcy, till I see you again,” said Lizzy, offering her hand, which he gallantly kissed.

They said their farewells to the party and climbed into their rented carriage. Lizzy kept her eyes on Darcy until he was out of sight and they left Derby.

“It seems so hard to believe we are finally going home,” sighed Kitty. “I do not feel like the same person.”

They stopped for the night in Bedford. Lizzy dreamt she was in the carriage sitting across from her Aunt and uncle. Aunt Madelein was smiling back at her. Lizzy looked to either side of her to see a small boy and girl on either side of her. She looked up again and saw Darcy smiling at her, next to her Aunt. “Who's children are these?” asked Lizzy.

“They are yours,” replied Aunt Madelein, smiling back at Lizzy.

Lizzy woke at that. Instead of leaving her in tears, Lizzy smiled at the hope it brought her.

It was midday when they first saw Meryton. A group of boys playing outside waved at them, with one running into the town calling out. Soon, the streets were brimming with people, as people came out of the shops to call out ‘welcome home, Miss Lizzy, welcome home Miss Kitty.’

“I've never received a welcome like this before,” said Kitty, waving at everyone.

Lizzy smiled at Kitty, equally amazed at their reception. “You’re a heroine, why should they not wish to see you!”

At long last, the gravel driveway to Longbourne appeared, and the familiar shape of their home appeared in view. Lizzy realised how much she had missed it. The entire family was there waiting on the steps.

The first to race to the carriage once it had stopped were Mr Gardiner’s children. Lizzy, then Kitty descended the carriage to be enveloped in a hug by their mother. “Oh, it is so good to have my daughters home, at long last. And what a fuss is being made of you two. Kitty, dearest Kitty, they are calling you a heroine for catching that thief. Oh, and the reward money... you can buy yourself a nice dress once we are all out of mourning and some lace!......” Mrs Bennet prattled on.

“Come now, Mrs Bennet, let the rest of us hug them, “ said Mr Bennet. He looked at Lizzy and shook his head. “You promised me you would be safe. I should have known better.” He then enveloped her in a hug. “I'm glad to finally have you safe at home,“ he whispered in her ear. He then grabbed Kitty in a hug. “And despite being led astray by your elder sister who should have known better, I’m proud of you. So proud!”

“Did you read about the reward money? I’ve been thinking....”

“That will be set aside for your dowry,” said Mr Bennet sternly. “I'm just glad the two of you are home safe.”

Their other sisters greeted them. Over the next couple of days, as Mr Gardiner recuperated after his long journey before making the final leg to London, all of their neighbours came to visit to see Lizzy and Kitty. Lizzy had a chance to finally catch up fully with Jane, who seemed as happy as herself regarding her future prospects.

After another four days at Longbourn, it was time for Mr Gardiner and his children, accompanied by Jane and Mary, to return to London. For Jane it would only be a short stay, as Mrs Bennet quite specifically wanted Jane at home as she exited her official mourning period. Jane would stay long enough to get Mary acquainted with running the Gardiner household and to assist in hiring a governess for the elder Gardiner children. It was planned that Mary would spend at least the next six months with the Gardiner’s.

With the household quiet, she found the opportunity to speak with her father alone. “Has anything more been heard about Mr Wickham?” asked Lizzy.

“He has disappeared off the face of this earth. There have been no reports of him whatsoever.”

“Have you spoken with Lydia?”

Mr Bennet sighed and put down his newspaper. “Yes, she admitted she had planned to elope with Lieutenant Wickham. She did not realise that he owed a great sum of money and she has not heard from him since she left Brighton. She has realised her mistake. I've told her she is no longer out and will not be out until she is seventeen and she, surprisingly, put up no complaint. What I was even more surprised was that your mother agreed with me, but I guess I have your friend the Countess to thank for that?”

Lizzy smiled. “I may have asked the Countess to help me convince Mama that Lydia required some control and some more thoughts in her head beyond officers and fashion.”

“Well, your mother is making Lydia read French each day. Somehow, she got it in her mind that all the accomplished women in London speak French. And as you are so very accomplished in it yourself, you can spend some time teaching Lydia how to speak it properly and to check her skills.” Mr Bennet picked up his book to read again.

Lizzy groaned. “I walked right into that one, didn't I?”

“You wanted Lydia under control and now you have it. Do not complain if it now inconveniences you, my dear.”

Over the weeks in the quiet house, she spent a great deal of time with both her younger sisters and grew closer with them. She found Lydia had a good head for languages, able to pick up French remarkably quickly.

Letters from Georgiana were treasured and read immediately with great interest. Lizzy in particular craved any and all news about Mr Darcy.

After three weeks and just before the end of their mourning period, Jane returned alone from London. Mrs Bennet fussed about her, asking a million questions. “How was my brother? Is his wrist out of the cast?”

“Yes, the doctor took the cast off yesterday. He was happy and said that Uncle is completely recovered. The ribs, shoulder and wrist are all healed, and now he needs to work on his strength. He gave Mary instructions on how she can help him to work on Uncle's strength and how to help him with exercises.”

“Good, good. And have you showed Mary all the things she needs to do to run the household?”

“Yes, I did and the Gardiner’s housekeeper is very good and helpful. Mary understands everything she needs to do and has settled in well. She seems happy helping out.”

“And have you organised a governess for the children? It is very important they have a good governess or else I don't know what will happen to those children.”

“Yes Mama. The governess started at the end of last week. She’s a widow of a pastor and had been teaching the local parish school. With her age, she didn't feel able to keep up with an entire classroom of children and was looking for a nice family. She’s taken to the children and they like her.”

“What of Madelein’s grave? Did she get a nice site with a good gravestone? I hope Mr Bennet didn't get a cheap stone, as I know he has a tendency to. Have you taken the children there?”

“The gravestone is very respectable. In the first week, Mary and I took the children there every day, and now it's every second day.”

Later, when Lizzy and Jane were alone that night, Lizzy could ask what concerned her most. “How is our Uncle coping?”

The smile on Jane’s face fell off, replaced with a furrowed brow. “I think it has now sunk in that she is gone and that life is going on without her. Seeing her grave for the first time, to see her name on the stone... that really got to him. He could not speak for the entire time we were at the graveyard for that first visit. Then when we are at home, and not seeing her at the dining table...you see him look so melancholy. He's very quiet.”

“I guess it is to be expected,” said Lizzy, trying to reassure Jane. “It will take time for him to adjust.”

“I went to his study a few times in the evening when he's excused himself and he doesn't rejoin. He sits there alone with an empty glass. I've no idea how many he's drunk. Sometimes I've found him asleep in there. It’s good that his clerks and his assistant have been visiting in the day with business, else he may go days not saying more than ten words to anyone. He has fully thrown himself back into work. Before I left, he had returned to going to the warehouse. I'm not sure how much it is taxing him after the injuries he's suffered.”

With that they retired to bed, each left to their own thoughts.

Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapter 46

Anne VJune 16, 2023 12:09PM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapter 46

cfwJune 18, 2023 03:44AM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapter 46

Maria Teresa CJune 16, 2023 09:05PM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapter 46

MichaJune 16, 2023 04:24PM


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