John met up with the day’s presiding Magistrate and told him of some personal issues that had to be resolved. He apologized, telling him to fill his bench time for the next few weeks. John had thought over his resignation from the bench and decided that if he wanted to serve papers against this Captain that it would be better to maintain his Magistrate title. It would lend more weight. Knowing of the whereabouts of Margaret’s brother would not cause him to resign in any event. That particular arrest fell to the Navy as far as he was concerned. But as time grew near for him to seek his own revenge on Hartford, he would consider it a matter of pride to withdraw.
“Branson, take me to the chapel.”
John entered his coach still thinking about his Magistrate resignation. He let out a hearty laugh to himself and wondered why did he care about that so much. What difference would it make if he was going to be found guilty of murder? You can’t work pride halfway. Next in line, was speaking with the minister and persuading him to perform a ceremony at the hospital. He knew he could always get another Magistrate to do it, but thought Margaret would be more agreeable to having God in the ceremonial vows.
John found the minister at his rectory and was invited in.
John’s coach rolled into the mill yard with Adam Bell behind him. He was anxious to get a plan underway so that he could feel free to spend his day with Margaret.
“Good morning, Adam.”
“Good morning, John. By the look at your red eyes, I see you slept very little last night. Have you come from seeing Margaret?”
“No, I had other matters to tend to. I will go to her after our meeting.” John replied.
As they approached the steps, Adam asked, “Have you calmed down any? You were almost a madman, yourself last night.”
“I’m sorry to say, you find me the same, with the same convictions.”
Adam had little he could say. No one could ever get John Thornton to change his mind. What would Margaret think when she came to find out? There was a fact that possibly Thornton had overlooked.
The two walked up the stairs as Nicholas came behind them. John had tea brought to the dining room table and Branson eventually appeared up the kitchen stairs.
Adam opened. “I guess we’ve all been giving this some thought since we were here last night. Let me start by saying that Frederick should be receiving my initial warning letter today or tomorrow. So, we do have that going for us. I had told him of Margaret’s coercion,” Adam saw John twist in his seat, “to marry this man for Frederick’s safety. I didn’t spare any words. I explained that I didn’t feel his word was trustworthy no matter Margaret’s decision, as I felt he was after her coming inheritance.”
“I’m sorry, Adam, but you have mentioned this inheritance from you, several times. I’m afraid to ask; is this something forthcoming anywhere in the near future?”
“Nicholas, although there is some concern, a man does not have to pass on to endow someone else with a gift, which I plan to do. I promised Margaret’s father, over a two years ago, that I would see that she was taken care of in the event that he went before I did. He had been quite concerned about her being alone.”
“Thank you for explaining that. Please, go on.”
Again, everyone noticed John’s discomfort.
“John, I know your plans for Margaret, and I know some of your worth, but that will not change my gift. I have no one else in my life to benefit from me.” Adam paused, and John never spoke.
“As I was saying, Frederick will shortly be aware of his situation and make his move. I advised him that I was going to speak to you about how we might help him. He is to respond immediately and let me know of his new situation. If there is someone lurking about, he will be more vigilant. I don’t think we can move as a threesome for another couple of days until I hear from him, but we can plan ways to get him out of the country and perhaps disable those watching him.”
“I’ve talked with my wife and needless to say she is overcome with grief for her friend, Margaret. She has no arguments as far as my involvement is concerned, no matter how long this takes.” Nicholas added.
Branson continued with, “I’m ready where I am needed. I have several weapons and will carry them. I do not have a wife or a wife-to-be, and I am looking forward to this. I’d like to get a little dirty,” he smiled.
That caused half a smile from John. Day in and day out he thanked his stars when he found Branson. The young man was fearless among all of his other fine attributes. He was wasted as a driver, but Branson would have it no other way.”
“How about the running of the mills?” John finally spoke out.
“That’s already been taken care of. I have our trusted foremen in charge for the next three weeks, and they know you will be around for major questions.”
“I’m not so sure of being here all the time, Nicholas. Pick one of them; pick Charles and one of the accountants to have joint spending rights. Neither one can spend money without the signature of the other. I will be here for awhile, but as Margaret improves, I expect to have other issues to dispatch.”
“Guv, do you want me here? You can’t drive that coach,” Branson jested.
John smiled. “Branson, I can harness the small buggy, but I will preferably use a single horse.”
“If I could begin to detail a plan, I’d like opinions and suggestions,” stated Adam. What I see as a logical step is for me to remain in Paris, meeting privately with Frederick, while Nicholas and Branson scout a route and destination for Fred.”
“Adam,” replied Nicholas, “I can do that on my own. Let Branson stay with you because you are more likely to run into anyone keeping an eye on Fred. Like Branson said, he’s got the weapons.”
“We will have to write each day somehow, or pay for a rider between locations.”
“I shall pay for the rider,” John interceded. “Time will be of the essence. Perhaps, two riders will be needed.”
“I will scout around Paris to find someone who speaks English,” spoke Branson, “and set something up where one is waiting in between two locations and other is on the end waiting to take the missive. I can talk among the driving services there. There should be plenty who would want to earn more than what they do as a cabby.”
“Branson, see me for the money before you leave,” John said. “So where does that leave us right now. Nowhere, I assume until we hear from Margaret’s brother.”
“Yes, that’s correct,” Bell added. “I have also, just this morning, have written to the Shaw’s about Margaret’s whereabouts. I think I was as delicate as I could be, saying little. I feel, perhaps, I shall follow it up with a second letter today asking them not to reveal Margaret’s location to anyone. It will spark questions in their mind, but does that sound like the best alternative?”
“Yes, Adam, do that. I don’t think I want Hartford to follow her here, although that may make things easier, but I will enjoy it less. I do not want my time with her interrupted.”
“I’ll see to that as soon as we are done here.”
“Men, I thank you for your help in this. I hope none of you finds difficulty along the way. I guess we should all prepare to leave at a moment’s notice.”
“John,” said Nicholas, “we do this for Margaret as well as you. There is no thanks needed. What kind of men would we be if we did anything less for a friend?”
“Thank you, Nicholas, and the rest of you. If you will excuse me, I will be at the hospital.”
John left Nicholas and Adam talking to each other as he nodded to Branson for a trip into town.