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Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapter 51

July 21, 2023 01:37PM
Chapter 51

The footman opened the carriage door for Lizzy. She descended the carriage then turned to watch her sisters, Georgiana and Kitty descend. Lizzy smiled as she heard the conversation from Kitty. “Did you see what they printed about me in the gossip column? Here I was, thinking I was being polite, listening in to Lord Sutherland, because he talks so softly, and the paper says we're in an intimate relationship and about to be engaged! It made me laugh. If I don't lean in, I appear rude; when I'm polite, it looks like I'm throwing myself at him. I just can't win!” harrumphed Kitty.

The servants opened the door for Lizzy. “Good afternoon, Mrs Darcy. The Countess is waiting for you in the East parlour.”

It had been two months since the Hertfordshire event of the year, and possibly the decade, the double wedding of the two eldest Miss Bennet’s. Mrs Bennet was extremely pleased with her efforts and felt she had outdone herself, and had spent the last two months boasting of it. Certainly Mr Bennet felt that the budget had been outdone and hoped it would be many years before he had to pay for another wedding.

Lizzy had spent a lovely honeymoon, first spending a few days at Pemberley to finally see her new home that she had heard so much about, before progressing to spend three weeks at the Lakes district. December had been spent at Pemberley, learning all the duties required of her as mistress, hosting dinners for the local neighbours and preparing for Christmas, along with getting to know her new sister better.

Christmas had been a hectic but joyous affair. As Mrs Reynolds, the Pemberley housekeeper had said “it has been far too long since we had such a large and noisy Christmas at Pemberley.” Besides all of her family in attendance, the Bingleys had come, as had Mr Gardiner and his family and the entire Fitzwilliam family. Though Mrs Bennet knew that Darcy was rich, she did not fully appreciate how rich until she saw his estate. And Mr Bennet barely left the library the entire time.

Lizzy’s spirits had been lifted in seeing her Uncle playing with the children and smiling as they opened their gifts. Every now and then she would see a sad look in his eye. She had spoken with him on it whilst they had walked together outside to watch the children play. “I wish Aunt Maddie was here. I would have dearly loved to show her Pemberley.”

“She would have loved it, especially the gardens and the woods. She had been looking forward to seeing it on our trip last July,” he said with a sigh.

“You do not seem quite as sad?”

“I can even go several hours not thinking about her at all. It has been hard, not having her here at Christmas and sharing the children's joy. But it is getting better. I try to spend more time with the children to stop myself from being lonely.”

Five days after Christmas they hosted Georgiana’s coming out ball, and Lizzy had been grateful for the Countess’s assistance. She was not so grateful for her mother's, as it had been agreed they would all stay until after the ball. Georgiana’s coming out ball had been a magical night for all the young people involved, and Lizzy was pleased with her first effort at organising a ball.

The day after had been strange as all their guests left and Pemberley was quiet again, with only Kitty remaining. They only stayed another three days until they too, made their way to London to enjoy the Season.

As Lizzy entered Matlock house, she turned in surprise as she heard another carriage pull up. She was even more surprised to see Mr Gardiner, then Mary descend from the carriage. Mr Gardiner caught up to her. “I thought you had work today, Uncle?”

“The Countess sent a note requesting our presence here on a matter of import. She did not specify what it was.”

Lizzy’s curiosity was raised but quickly answered as she entered the parlour. Besides Lady Eleanor and the two Riley daughters, whom the Countess had invited to stay with her for the Season, Sir Riley and his son were there.

Kitty clearly was surprised, stopping short on her entrance and a smile bursting on her face. “And....”, she started, blushed, then collected herself. She curtseyed with the others.

“Sir Riley, Mr Riley, what a surprise. What brings you both to London," asked Lizzy.
Sir Riley answered. “Work, for both of us, but not the same.”

Andrew Riley followed up. “I've taken a job with the Countess’ brother to become his secretary.”

Congratulations were given. When that had died down, Mr Gardiner came to the point. “You requested my presence here today?”

Sir Riley cleared his throat. “Yes, we have a small update on the investigation. We managed to track down some more of your wife’s jewellery as we caught the fence that was used in Derby and another fence here in London. That is what brought me here.”

“When can it be returned?” asked Mr Gardiner.

“I have the items recovered in Derby with me now. The fence pleaded guilty and has already been sentenced to transportation.” The Sheriff reached into his coat to retrieve a small velvet bag and passed it over to Mr Gardiner.

Mr Gardiner opened it to pull out a bracelet and two necklaces. There was a glint in his eye. “Yes, these belonged to my wife. Thank you - my daughters will appreciate having these items one day,” he said with a husky voice.

“The items we discovered here in London, I believe, belonged to your daughter, Lady Eleanor. Once the trial is over, we will return them to Lady Victoria.”

The Countess nodded her appreciation.

“That is not all that brought me here. We had a lead about the fourth thief, Luke Turner.”

“Did you find him, Sir?” asked Lizzy.

“In a manner of speaking, yes we did. He was an acquaintance of Mr John when they both were in London. However he died more than ten years ago here in London. I have been to his grave,” answered the Sheriff.

“Hence they were free to give up his name, safe in the fact he would never be caught,” concluded Lizzy.

“Where to now?” asked Mr Gardiner.

Sir Riley sighed. “All our leads on the fourth highwayman have dried up. We did follow Mr John’s grandson. He has a job in the peaks at a slate quarry, and by all accounts doing very well. I had some men follow him and to go through his things whilst he was at work. He is certainly not living large and he is spending the usual amount a quarry worker spends. We found no jewellery or excess gold in his belongings -absolutely nothing to tie him to any robberies. I've taken my men off following him.”

“That does sound fair. If the boy is making an honest living, he should not be harassed just because of who his grandfather was,“ agreed Mr Gardiner.

“As such, unless I can get new information, I'm closing the investigation into the fourth highwayman,” stated Sir Riley, looking intently at Mr Gardiner for a response. Lizzy, too, watched her uncle closely.

Mr Gardiner merely nodded. “That sounds fair. After the two men directly responsible for Madeleine’s death were found guilty, and I left Derby, I have tried hard to move on, and I think I have. I thank you, Sir, for everything you have done. And you too, my Lady,” said Mr Gardner sincerely, turning his attention to the Countess, “I am exceedingly grateful to your family for all you have done for us.”

Lady Eleanor waved it away. “You are family now, “ she responded, nodding at Lizzy.

Their visit turned to more pleasant topics. When they all left, Lizzy was contemplative in the carriage on the ride back to Darcy House.

Kitty elbowed Georgiana. “My sister is thinking deeply. She is thinking how she will break it to the housekeeper that she wants to completely change what we are having for dinner tonight. “ Georgiana giggled.

Lizzy smiled at the interaction between the two young women who were now best friends. “I certainly have no intent to upset Mrs Jones. I was thinking that I am glad that our Uncle seems to be doing better. And then I was thinking that much good had come from the events from that day. All of us, Kitty, are better off than we were a year ago. It just doesn't seem right for us to have benefited from the death of our Aunt.”

Kitty nodded. “You and Jane are now married, and I can't see how that would have happened without the attack. How else would you have come across Charles and William again?”

“It is not just myself and Jane. Mary is happier and more confident now that she is living with Mr Gardiner and essentially running her own household. You and Georgiana are best friends.”

“Of, I've never had as much fun as I've had in the last few months, nor travelled so much. I've been able to see so much of England!”

“And Lydia’s ...” Lizzy paused as she realised that Georgiana didn't know about Lydia’s intended elopement. “Lydia’s behaviour has improved immeasurably and she is considerably more sensible. Even Mama is happy with the fact she has two daughters married and a Countess as an acquaintance.” They all smiled at that.

Georgiana spoke up. "Maybe you should not view it as benefitting from her death, but in finding the silver lining from the tragedy." They all agreed that that was the way they should look at it.

At that moment the carriage pulled up in front of Darcy house. The footmen opened the door and Lizzy descended to look up at her magnificent townhouse. As she climbed the steps she felt a pang that she was never able to show her Aunt her new home.

The butler opened the door just as her husband was coming down the steps. He smiled at her, his dimple showing. Lizzy returned the smile to her exceptionally handsome husband. She could not regret how things had turned out at all.

The End

Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapter 51

Anne VJuly 21, 2023 01:37PM

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