Eight – Coaxing
When the door to her prison opened again, the young woman on the bed immediately spoke.
“I have an urgent need to relieve myself. I demand that you grant me the basic bodily needs!”
“My, my! How much better you must feel, dear Anne!” It was the gentleman’s deep voice.
Anne … was that her name? She had no recollection of hearing it ever before.
“Who are you? Why do you keep me here?”
Silence. An intake of breath.
“My dear Anne, I am afraid I cannot tell you that.”
“Sir …” She made her voice humble and pleading.
“Sir, I have no memory. Your name would be unfamiliar to me. I cannot do you any harm in my present state. Please, I beg of you, will you not remove the blindfold? It is very stifling.”
Elliot was experiencing the greatest satisfaction, looking down on the pitiful form of his cousin, dressed in a coarse nightgown, dishevelled and unwashed. Ha, not so fine a lady anymore now! His plan was going as smooth as could be.
“No, my dear, I am afraid it cannot be done. I will send the servant with a basin to allow you to relieve yourself.”
“But … why?”, she cried in despair. “What have I done to you that you treat me thus?”
He laughed a bit, a sneering, mocking little sound.
“Time is not yet right to tell you that, my dear. Be patient.”
After the servant had retired again, the girl named “Anne” fell asleep. It was a fitful, scary sleep, full of disturbing dreams. One image kept popping up throughout it.
Bathed in a haze of purplish light, vague but clear enough, a face appeared.
The girl named “Anne” was sure she must know that face from her former, now lost life.
A man with such gentle a face, with handsome features and a sweet smile in his clear, blue eyes. Fair locks adorned his head, spilling over small, neat ears, ending in pretty sideburns which led to his strong jaws. His nose was straight and not too large, his mouth generous, his teeth small and white.
A gentleman … who must be of the uttermost importance to her … of that she was suddenly very certain. What was his name? Her memory was fighting to conjure it up but it failed. Sobs, tears, misery … she awoke, drenched in tears.
Dazed she lay catching her breath for some moments and then, she made a vow to herself. No more weeping, no more worrying. She would try and turn the situation in her favour.
The man who kept her here, was the one to be tricked into believing that she would co-operate with him. She must goad him into letting his guard down and then she might be able to escape this house. What she would do next, she could not even begin to fathom but she must first achieve in running from this terrible place.
The image of the gentleman came into her memory again, and she found herself being encouraged by it. She must escape and find this gentleman, of that she was very, very sure.
Wentworth, in the mean time, was getting desperate!
The boot boy had told him everything he knew, the last thing was that he had seen Anne being carried inside a cab by some man and that the vehicle drove off in the direction of Henrietta Park.
Wentworth, helped by Constable Jeffries and his men, had then gone in search of this cabdriver. They had found him, with a bullet through the head on the outskirts of Bath, his cab and horse turned up wandering over the road leading southwards to the villages of Radstock and Shepton Mallet.
One thing became very clear to the investigators; someone was determined to prevent witnesses from speaking. There was the cab driver and the homeless beggar and also, the doctor, whose body was found floating in the Avon river, a bullet in the head. The three bullets proved to be identical and it seemed obvious they had been fired from the same weapon.
New hope had begun to dawn upon Wentworth when the police found out that the doctor, Samuel Widdicombe, had a vast clientele among the rich. Was it possible that Anne’s abductor was to be searched for under the Bath Society members?
When finally the cloth was removed from her eyes, the girl named “Anne” blinked frantically against the assault of light. It took a few moments before she was able to see again, and then she contemplated the tall, handsome man who stood next to the bed. He had brown hair, slightly curling. A large beacon of a nose and very sensual lips, no doubt very adept in kissing a woman. But … his eyes, light brown, had something devious in them, something that gave her a deep feeling of uneasiness. They were not smiling along with his handsome mouth …
It was also not the gentleman whose face had appeared in her dreams and disappointment seared through her. Yet, she gave him a little smile before she said, “So, we meet at last, sir.”
He grinned a bit sourly and replied, “Oh, we have met before, Anne, considering the fact that we are engaged to be married.”
Making a great effort not to show too much distress at this discomforting statement, she looked at him in mild surprise.
“We are? How is it, then, that I do not recall you? Did … did we not love each other? Was our marriage an arranged one?”
“We love each other very much, my dear Anne. It pains me that you have no memory of that.”
The girl named “Anne” immediately knew he was lying.
She did, indeed, not remember her supposed love for this man but she did – and very succinctly – remember her love for the gentleman of her dreams. That was the man she loved the most. That was her eternal, undying love.
Guard your thoughts, she whispered to herself, do not let this man see what you have just remembered!
“I am extremely sorry to cause you pain, sir, but please, keep it in mind that I have amnesia. It is not my intention to hurt you. Will you not give me your name? Maybe that will shake my memory?”
“No,” he replied and suddenly sat next to her on the bed.
“No, I will not tell you my name. When your memory returns, you will remember it along with your love for me.”
Without warning he clasped the back of her head with one gloved hand, brought her face next to his and passionately kissed her!