The Noble Coachman – Chapter 20

Available Amazon Kindle

Chapter 20
Squeaks’ Plan

 

By 7:00 p.m., Kip was home with two sketched faces of the men who killed the Caldwell relative. It was apparent, only to Kip, that these men were responsible for Mary’s death and were currently holding Squeaks. He couldn’t let himself think about the worst. The four apostles plus Kyle piled into his sitting room, and Kip began his sketch of the old coach. Finishing in an exhaustive faint, the line drawing was an exact image of the carriage. His friends wanted to know how he did that, but he didn’t have time to make up something believable.

Kip drew several copies of each and handed them around to the gathered drivers. “I want you to show these to the Brotherhood. Inform them of who and what they are looking for. I am calling for all coachmen, who could help in the rescue of Squeaks, to meet us at the park at 3:00 a.m. Tell them they will be paid.

“Kip, none of us will take your money. You know that.” Marc reminded him.

“Squeaks is one of us now, anyway.”

“Are we going to Whitechapel, Kip?”

“We are. Should anything change overnight, I will take care of it myself or speak with all the drivers before dawn.”

“I am going to stay with you.”

“Me, too.”

“I think all of us will be with you through the night after we circulate your drawings.”

Kip’s eyes began to water, but the embarrassment would just have to be understood. None of the apostles knew the depth of his love for Squeaks, until now. It only was a fondness in their thoughts. The brother drivers, the union of fine gentlemen, were the army that Squeaks felt she was creating. Little did she know.

“I don’t know what to say, except thank you. Kyle, I promised Stokes that someone would be by his castle once an hour. If either of us has any news, we share it then.”

“I’ll do that, Kip.”

“Thank you. I want to contact the police, while you men contact all the drivers you see. Come back here when you can think of no one else.”

Kyle and the apostles left. Kip had lied about the police. He went to see his father.

 

Arriving at Lord Caldwell’s apartment, Briggs came from the stable.

“Lord Trevor, excellent to see you so soon. You have no coach with you, I see. Just your horse tonight?”

Yes, Briggs. We have a family emergency, and I must ride fast. Is father home?”

“Yes, milord. Your brother went home today.”

“Thank you. I’m just going to go in. No announcement.”

“Very well, milord.”

Trevor walked through the servant’s area and found the steps to the upstairs. His father was hunched over his desk reading documents of some sort. “Father!”

“Trevor, what’s wrong? How did your visit to Norcaster turn out? Scotch?”

“Yes, please. Squeaks has been kidnapped from her bed, nearly two days ago,” Trevor stressed in a helpless tone. “She’s been missing since yesterday morning, while I was in Norcaster. I contend it’s the same brothers, our former servants, we talked about earlier.”

“Sit for a moment. Please, this can’t happen to you again, or Miss Dorset. Oh my, God, I don’t know what to say. What can I do to help? Is there anything?”

“Yes, you can help.”

“Name it. It’s done.”

“It’s going to be four hours round trip, but could Briggs ride home and collect Inspector Marshall. I will be in trouble when this is over, and before you say anything, nothing will change my mind.”

“I see you have two pistols with you. Trevor, if I were a good father, I would warn you against what you are planning, but I am not a good father. You do what you need to do. I will stand behind whatever are your actions. All I care about is that you stay alive. I know if it came down to it, you would save her before yourself. Just save both of you. Do you have anyone to help you?”

“An army. Squeaks’ army. Probably, I will have forty to fifty drivers if they’re the men, I think they are.”

“Promise any monies you need to. We will pay anything if that will encourage them.”

“Father, they are a brotherhood. They will not take money to help me. Our problem is finding Squeaks before she is injured or dead. I am going to meet all the men coming to help at 3:00 a.m. If you have any word overnight, send someone with a note to Stokes. If you have the Inspector, tell him what you know. We will be at the Promenade Park.”

“Indeed, son. How is Lord Stokes doing?”

“Not well. The doctor is staying with him until this is settled. He is having chest pains. I’m not sure how much longer driver Dorset can hold up either. I will send a messenger to Stokes every hour for communication.”

“I will not go to bed. Have your messenger stop by here, now and then?”

“Thank you, father. Thank you for understanding that I may do something this noble family is going to regret.”

“We will regret nothing except my brother Nathaniel that started all of this. Goodbye, son.” Lord Caldwell walked over to Trevor and hugged him. “Come back safe and bring that young lady with you. I love you, son.”

“As I, you, father … Gus, too, of course. Tell him that if … if I don’t come back.”

 

Sarah brought the tray of food, the pencil and a scrap of paper to Squeaks room near half past 9:00 p.m. One of the men was getting ready to leave for somewhere. This was her best chance to get away. She unlocked the door and Squeaks cringed in the darkness. “It’s just me deary.”

“Did you bring the pencil and paper?”

“This is the best I could find.” Sarah handed a bit of paper to her. “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t see no number on the house, but we are on Hanbury Street.”

“That will have to do.” Squeaks scribbled quickly. “Thank you. You may be saving my life and yours. I did use the chamber pot, so you have something to empty. Once you get outside, just start running. Begin looking for the brightest streets. The more lighting on the street, the closer you are to the center of London where the good drivers will be working. Ask a coachman if he knows Kip, the driver. If he says yes, give him the note. Then hide. If possible, he may take you with him so you can show the drivers where I am. When you can, come to Lord Stokes Castle for your reward.”

“I will, miss. I had thought that you could take off your slip and wave it out of the window in a while from now. I know you have them man’s undergarment on. At least, it’s something.”

“This is a man’s, is it?”

“Yes, deary. How old are you?”

“Old enough to have known better.” She hugged Sarah before she picked up the chamber pot. “Good luck to you. Stay alive.”

 

The front door to the old tenant flat was slammed shut and rattled the glass in Squeaks’ window. Dark had come, and the only light she had was from oil lamps burning in the two flats close by. She could barely see the street as there seemed to be only one street lamp near the corner. She kneeled in the chair watching dusk saying goodnight. The cool air felt good. Feeling her face, she knew her nose was broken. She had trouble breathing, and it was quite swollen. She imagined she was sporting two black eyes. For the moment, she still felt brave. Her father and Lord Stokes had always remarked about her spirit. Sarah had to make it to center London before her captors found out. Squeaks felt she could survive anything except a bullet. She listened at her door for any sounds of discovery, but all was quiet. “Sarah should be away by now,” Squeaks told herself. Her fate now lay in the hands of an old woman and a London coachman.

 

It was 11:15 p.m. when a young boy rapped on the Stokes Castle door. Morgan was there instantly. He asked the small lad to step inside. “Do you want to see the master of the house?”

“I don’t know. I was just paid to bring this bag to you.”

“Wait here. We may want to pay you, too.”

“Blimey, Guv. I’ll wait.”

Morgan took the cloth bag into the study where the vigil continued. “A young lad, who is still at the door, was told to bring this bag here.”

“Morgan will you look inside for us.”

“Yes, milord.” He untied the string and walked closer to a gaslight. “There is a note and something else.” Morgan gasped. “It appears to be Miss Squeaks’ hair.”

“Oh, dear God,” Clyde began whimpering.

“The note, Morgan!”

 

“Stokes. If you want this pretty little lady back, we want gold or jewels tonight. We haven’t hurt her too much, but she’s only got a few more hours. Fill this bag with enough for two men to live comfortably for a lifetime. If you contact the police, or the bag is light, I’ll place your little girl where someone will find what’s left of her. If you know of the Caldwell girls, you’ll know I’m serious. Send your driver on horseback to Regents Park at half 4:00 a.m. If he doesn’t return, she is dead. Someone will be in touch.”

 

“Bring the lad in here.”

Morgan brought the lad in who had his palm outstretched for a coin. “Lad, you will have to talk with the Master before he pays you.”

“Young man, where were you when you were given this bag to bring to our house.”

“I was near me home on Grover Street.”

“And where is that?”

“That be in Whitechapel.”

“Did a man approach you on his horse?”

“Aye, Guv. He rode me over this far and pointed to this house. Then he paid me and sped away.”

“Did he say how you would get back home?”

“No, Guv. I thought he’d be waitin’ on me, but he left.”

“I will give you 2 pounds if you wait here until morning, and we will find someone to drive you home. It may even be earlier than that.”

“Two pounds? How do I know you’re not lying to me like that other bloke?”

Stokes went to his desk and pulled out a box. From within, he pulled two notes being a pound each. “Here you are. You can put it in your pocket.”

“Bloody hell! I’m obliged, sir.”

“Morgan, take him to the kitchen and get him something to eat. Find one of the drivers we have left and ask him to come in here.”

Stokes would have to wait for another twenty minutes before the communication driver would arrive.

 

Kip, Kyle and the apostles were pacing around his flat.

“Why don’t we go down to Whitechapel and look for this coach ourselves?” Marc was anxious to free Squeaks.

“How badly, I want to do that, but I fear alerting them to our presence, driving up and down streets. If we go in as a band of drivers, by the time they realize we’re swarming the area, they may run, leaving Squeaks alive.”

“Kip, I know we would be doing this for Dorset no matter who it involved, but we didn’t have any idea of your deep feelings for Miss Dorset. We thought it a mild fancy. We will find her and find her in time. Believe me, brother.”

“I’m sorry, gentlemen. It all happened extremely fast. Primarily being brought up by her father, she wasn’t taught the politeness of society. She is pure naivety. She has welcomed me into her space with no hesitation, even hearing my weak discouragements. I am quite sure, once she is out and about, she will find a proper man.”

“You’re a proper man.”

“I may be proper, but there is much in my past that I believe would dampen her current interest in me.”

“You know we’ve never been interested in your past to much extent. We have relied on other skills and attributes you display. We’re comfortable with you. Will we one day find disappointment with you?”

“I can assure you, it is nothing like that. I do thank you for giving me space in my silence. Someday, you shall know what there is to know. I will say this much, and no one knows except Squeaks—and she’s only known for a day or two. I ran away from a death in my family that I was unable to bear. That’s all I will say.”

“We are exceedingly sorry for such an unfortunate incident in your life. We shall ask no more.”

“I’m going over to Stokes. Anything I should tell him?” announced Kyle.

“First ride to the Caldwell estate. If Detective Inspector Marshall is there, tell him of our plan and where we are. Bring him here if you can.”

 

 

Crime and Punishment 2002

This acclaimed BBC adaptation of Crime and Punishment remains faithful to Fyodor Dostoevsky’s classic novel. Set in St Petersburg in the second half of the 19th century, the psychological thriller tells of a desperate young murderer caught in a web of his own guilt. Rodya Raskolnikov (John Simm) is a poverty-stricken student living among the fetid alleyways and crumbling tenements of St Petersburg. Intense and highly intelligent, Raskolnikov believes he is among a class of men destined for greatness and as such is permitted to breach ‘normal’ moral values. He decides to test his courage and integrity by killing a pawnbroker, a mean old woman whom he is sure nobody will miss. The murder, however, only serves to draw Raskolnikov into a nightmare world in which he is dogged by guilt, paranoia and alienation. Faced with the wily investigator Porfiry, who sets up a complex series of traps, encounters and conversations, can Raskolnikov escape his own conscience or the seemingly inevitable punishment? Simm’s Raskolnikov is a “truly startling, genuinely mature performance” –The Guardian

Amazon Prime, now  *** Filmed in St. Petersburg  *** Never released in the USA  *** All English speaking

 

 

 

Line of Duty S6

Filming begins on the new Line Of Duty, as first look images from set are released

Date: 17.02.2020     Last updated: 17.02.2020 at 14.00
Category: BBC OneDramaCasting
Filming on the next series of Line Of Duty has begun.

The sixth instalment of Jed Mercurio’s hit thriller is set a year and a half on from the events of series five, and will feature a brand new case for AC-12, focused on an enigmatic Detective Chief Inspector.

As previously announced, Kelly Macdonald will star as the DCI in question – Joanne Davidson – a senior investigating officer on an unsolved murder case. Series leads Vicky McClure, Martin Compston and Adrian Dunbar will all return.

Joining Line Of Duty for the first time this series are Shalom Brune-Franklin (Our Girl, Cursed), Perry Fitzpatrick (This Is England, I Am Nicola), Andi Osho (Kiri, Curfew) and Prasanna Puwanarajah (Doctor Foster, Patrick Melrose).

Line Of Duty is written and created by Jed Mercurio, and made for BBC One by World Productions. The new series will be directed by Daniel Nettheim (Broadchurch, Doctor Who), Gareth Bryn (Hinterland, Last Tango In Halifax), and Jennie Darnell (Bodyguard, Hetty Feather), and the producer is Ken Horn (The Moorside, Line of Duty series five). Executive producers are Jed Mercurio, Simon Heath for World Productions, and Tommy Bulfin for BBC One.

The new series of Line Of Duty will premiere on BBC One later this year. All previous series are available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

GK

Both images are courtesy of Jed Mercurio

The Secret Garden

GETS NEW POSTER & TRAILER

Gorgeous new poster and trailer for their enchanting

Big screen adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s THE SECRET GARDEN with Julie Walters and Colin Firth, which arrives next spring (April 9th Australia and New Zealand and 10th in UK, 17th in USA, with Russian opening April 30th). Little Dixie Egerickx plays Lennox, a prickly and unloved 10 year old girl, born in India to wealthy British parents who is sent back to England to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven on his remote country estate deep in the Yorkshire moors. There, she begins to uncover many family secrets, particularly after meeting her sickly cousin Colin, who has been shut away in a wing of the house. Together, the two damaged, slightly misfit children heal each other through their discovery of a wondrous secret garden, lost in the grounds of Misselthwaite Manor.
Secret Garden is out this April 17th in US Theaters
The movie is based on the famous book by Frances Hodgson Burnett

 

The Noble Coachman – Chapter 19

Available Amazon Kindle

Chapter 19
Abduction

 

Kip left the railway coach and hired a cabby to take him home. When he arrived, a curious sight of three other coaches parked by the stables met him. He was sure the carriages belonged to Marc, Lucas, and Matthew.

“What the bloody hell has happened?” He mumbled, paying the driver whom he knew. He speculated as he walked to his door. Jonathan’s had an accident. They didn’t know he went home to Norcaster. Surely, they were here to tell him about Lilith Caldwell. He remembered Mary’s swirling anger. Mary’s anger had now infused him. She followed him here, still full of wrath. Coming through the back door, his friends stood.

“What has happened? You three look pathetic. Has something happened to Jonathan?”

Nobody could speak.

“Speak someone!  I know about Lilith being found. I wanted to follow up on her demise, so I hunted her family.”

“The Caldwell girl was found? We hadn’t heard that.”

“Then what the bloody hell is wrong? Someone say something!” Kip was in a bad mood, and he let the men see his annoyance, a scene rarely witnessed by anyone among his family or friends.

“Kip, I don’t know how to say this except to say it,” declared Marc.”

“Just say the words, whatever they are, before I go mad.” Kip’s voice rose in tenor as he shouted at Marc.

“Squeaks has been missing for a day and a half.”

“Sorry?” Kip barked with incredulity.”

“Squeaks has been missing from Stokes Castle since yesterday morning. We have been looking for her since we heard. Jonathan is out searching now. Please go to see Dorset and His Lordship as soon as possible. We know you’re fond of her. Tell us what to do.”

“Give me a moment.” Kip flopped down in his reading chair. He leaned forward placing his elbows on his knees and holding his head. “Could you wait outside for me?”

“Of course, Kip.” The men noticed the portrait of Squeaks standing as a rear footman that was on Kip’s mantle and knew instantly that this was more than a fondness.

When the door slammed shut, Kip slid to the floor, allowing the tears to flow. “I will kill the bastard who has done this. Why Squeaks? Where could she be? Where do I start? I cannot live without her.”  He felt a trembling inside of him that had been absent since he lost his sister. It was a sickening helplessness.

Mary, tell me what to do. Where do I begin?

He knew who had kidnapped her and violent anger roiled inside of him. Kip didn’t care if he lost his life, he would find her.

Kip dried his face and headed towards his stable. He had no time for the agony anymore. Action with leadership had been the mainstay of his learning. All rules, regulations, legal maneuvers, politeness, and nobility weren’t words he recognized anymore.

“If you chaps would canvass the other drivers for any news. Be back here by 7:00 p.m. and bring Kyle. Tell the others, they may soon be called upon for a rescue.”

“Aye, Guv,” said Lucas. The three took to their benches and rolled out of the yard.

Kip looked heavenward and shouted at God and shook his fist. “Why Squeaks, God? Why her? I have only just found her, and you let them take her. This is my fault, not hers.”

Kip went to his stable and loaded his two pistols. While harnessing his horse, a swift pain came to his stomach, causing him to bend at the midriff and vomit. It was pure fear for the woman he loved.

Mary was back. Thank God. He stopped and closed his eyes trying to catch what she wanted him to know. She no longer was angry, but saddened. He glimpsed his image of Squeaks riding footman. He didn’t know why but he went back for his sketch pad.

As Kip began his twenty-minute journey on horseback to the Stokes Castle, he thought about Mary appearing after the discovery of Lilith. “Is she trying to confirm to me that the men that had killed her, had Squeaks?” The intent seemed obvious, as he raced to see Clyde Dorset.

Kip thought that once Lilith was located, Mary would find peace. Nevertheless, with Squeaks being taken, it would explain her angry images yesterday. And he knew, because of him, she would be their next victim. He couldn’t bear to think past kidnapping. He needed his head, and dwelling on something unknown would hinder him, right now.

“The killers know who I am. They must! There would be no other reason for Squeaks to be captured.” Now he knew why he brought the sketch pad. He would visit with Lucy Blevins and draw a picture, from her memory, of the two men who were at the ball. Resolving that gave him hope, but a whole day and a half had passed.

 

Squeaks woke, not knowing where she was. It was a bare room with only a bed, small table, chair and no oil lamp. Her head ached and feeling her scalp, there was a large lump up there. The last she remembered was talking to her father about her picnic day and then going to bed. It was a day she would never forget. She became Kip’s lady. She remembered being so happy when she told her father who did not look very surprised. However, he was moved when hearing about Kip saving her life from that racing carriage and team. She wondered if that coach rode hard toward them for a purpose.

Squeaks walked to the window, which was boarded from the outside. She could peek through the slats that didn’t fit well. It seemed to be afternoon. There was an old poor tenant flat next door and another across the street from that. Seeing all she could, she went to the door to listen.

Two male voices and one female were heard, but not what was being said. It was only a moment later when she heard footsteps coming closer and then a knock on the door.

“Deary, can you hear me?” Came the elderly voice.

“Who are you and where am I?” Squeaks replied.

“I have brought you some stew. I want you to sit on the edge of the bed, while I unlock the door.”

Squeaks was starved, she complied. “I’m ready. She heard the lock click.

The door opened a fraction barely before swinging open. The old charwoman carried a tray to the small table. She quickly closed the door and then sat on the bed. Squeaks went to the small table and pulled up the chair.

“Who are you and why am I here? Do you know who I am?”

“Listen, deary. It makes no never mind to me who or why you’re here. I’m being paid to see that you are fed, and your chamber pot is emptied. It’s under the bed.” The woman checked it. “It’s still empty. Don’t you piss, Deary?”

“How long have I been here? I only just woke.”

“Well, I gots here after dark last night, and you was up here by then. I think those two  men down there, are up to no good. ‘Tis you worth somethin’? They says I will be paid real good, enough for a fancy frock.”

Squeaks kept quiet and allowed the charwoman to wax on about this task she was hired to do. “They makes me stay in the kitchen. They been talkin’ about a ransom note all day. Your pa got money?”

“No. I am in service. I know my Lord would pay you a lot more if you let me out.”

“Awe … deary, I can’t do that. They might kill me.”

“They will probably kill us both. You’ve seen their faces. They won’t let anyone live who has seen their faces.”

“One sure is an ugly cuss. He only be havin’ but one glass eye. I gotta go. They be wantin’ their dinner.”

“I don’t know your name, but think about my Lordship paying you more coin, even a whole lot more if you can find a way to free me.”

“I’ll think about it, but I thinks I likes livin’ more. Stay where you are.” Sarah, watched Squeaks closely as she unlocked the door and slipped out. “My name is Sarah,” she locked the door.

Squeaks sat there eating her stew, wondering why she was taken. She wasn’t worth anything unless they wanted money from His Lordship. They were foolish to try that. She thought of Kip and could make no connection there. She began to worry about her father, and Lord Stokes. They would be most upset by now, yet; she was still unharmed except the bump on her head. Squeaks noticed she had a night shirt on. She finished her food and water and went back to the window. Although it was nailed shut, she took her fork prying out the two nails holding it closed. She was able to raise the window only a little which left her room to knock out one of the slats of wood. That seemed as far as she could go unless she smashed through it all with her chair. She closed the window and slipped the two nails back in the holes.

The slat of wood fell to the ground leaving more light coming into the room. She was thankful that dusk was near. She sat on her bed and looked at the window. “What else can I try? I can wave my arm outside. Someone might notice.”

Suddenly, she heard heavy boots coming toward her door.

 

As Kip came up the drive to Stokes Castle, he jumped off his horse and threw the reins to a stable boy headed towards him. Without asking or saying anything, he walked into the servant’s area and asked which room was Clyde’s. He was told that Clyde was with His Lordship.

“Where is that, again? Take me there immediately.”

The housekeeper led him through the labyrinth of staircases until she met Morgan.

“This gentleman …” she was interrupted.

“I know who he is. It’s all right. Follow me, Mr. Kipling.”

“How is the family? Has there been any word on Squeaks?” Kip was frantic.

“No word, sir. The entire household is quite worried. We all love her as I am sure you know.”

Morgan knocked on the door to the study. “Mr. Kipling, your Lordship.”

Kip passed into the room, and the sight looked worse than he imagined. A doctor was attending His Lordship, who apparently was having chest pains, and Clyde was distraught with worry.

“Kip, Thank God you are here.” Both men tried to speak at once. “Go ahead, Clyde. You tell him what we know.”

Kip was handed a glass of scotch to which he declined, but he did take a seat close to Clyde.

“Please, Clyde. Everything you know and what you think?”

“No one on the property has seen Squeaks since the night she returned from the picnic with you. Upon waking, we found her bed empty. The police think she was taken during the early hours of the morning. We are still trying to find out how that could have possibly happened. Our only conclusion is that this Castle has never been broken into for centuries. We are sure a window was unlocked, but the back door was wide open—perhaps to carry her out. No one at the stables heard anything. The police believe she was moved further down the lane to some other transportation. They also think she was unconscious at that time, as there is a spot of blood on her pillow.

Kip had taken to his feet long ago and was pacing the room. As he stopped and peered out a window, Clyde stopped talking. “Please proceed,” he said with his back to the room and water in his eyes.

“Our first thought was that the two of you may have run off to be together, but that was quickly dismissed. However, the police did find that you had left London the night of your picnic. I think you were under suspicion for a while since you both were gone so soon after having been together.”

Kip turned to see if they were expecting an explanation. They were.

“Kip, I am sorry. I had to break your confidence with me, but only to Clyde.”

“I see. In such matters, it is entirely understood. As for leaving London, we had a rider from our estate come to my father’s apartment, telling us of the discovery of Lilith Caldwell’s body. She was found where my sister was found. I left on the train that night to represent the family and settle the staff – my brother was visiting here. I returned only an hour ago. I am worried there is a connection from me to Squeaks. What is being done?”

“The police are in the dark. There was nothing similar to Squeaks being found missing and the abduction of Lilith Caldwell. I dare say they do not associate the two cases. Do you?”

“Most certainly.”

“How do you come by that?” Asked His Lordship.”

“It comes from my dead sister. I will explain at another time. I have irons to cast into the fires. I will bring all the London coachmen to bear. We will find her. I only hope we are not too late.”

“Do I see two pistols in your belt.”

“Yes, you do. I have a rifle with my horse. If Squeaks has been hurt in any way, they will find a dead man. I will send a driver over every hour for any communication. I must go. Good evening.” Kip waited for no reply. He turned on his heel and left.

Kip headed for the Blevins Manor.

 

The heavy boots did not call out to her to stand away from the door, he opened it, giving Squeaks no decency had she needed it. He entered carrying an old lamp with a bailing wire handle, holding it high to see the dim room. “There you are. Cute little thing, as were the others.”

Squeaks couldn’t help but tremble. Although dressed as a gentleman, his speech, and unkempt look said differently. She gauged he was twice her weight. “I think you are mistaking me for someone else. I have no worth to anyone.” Squeaks began to plead her case.

“We knows exactly who you are Miss Dorset. You live with His Lordship, isn’t that right?”

“I am only a servant there. I am not a member of the family. I only have my father, and he works as staff. What do you mean, I’m like the others? What others?”

“I guess I can forgive you for not knowing the Caldwell women. You wouldn’t be traveling in the same circles.”

“I heard about Miss Lilith Caldwell if you are trying to scare me. I know there is Lord Caldwell at the House of Lords. I knew neither and have no association with them, and have no value. How can I benefit this scheme of yours?”

“You have a nice young body, like those two. Me brother and I fancy that. First, though, we have decided to get some money for you since you aren’t a noble.” The one-eyed man laughed. “You’re so small, I don’t know if you be worth much.” He laughed again.

“That makes no sense at all,” Squeaks said in her normal spirited attitude.

“Well, you have two Lords that are keen on you. At least one should be amiable to pay to get you back.”

“I don’t know what you mean by two Lords. You have me confused with some other.”

“It doesn’t matter which one.”

Squeaks saw the other brute-of-a-man come through the door with a long kitchen knife.

Squeaks felt the urine running down her leg as she began backing into a corner. She called for help but was quickly subdued.

“Miss, we ‘taint going to kill you yet. We just want some of that lovely hair of yours. They’re going to need proof that we have you.”

In her stuttering voice, “I should think being missed is proof enough for them.”

“We won’t take all of it this time. Brad, I’ll hold her. You cut.”

Squeaks was violently thrust to the one-eyed man, while the other began sawing off her hair with the dull knife, about halfway up. Squeaks started to cry. The seriousness of her situation was pressing in. Would she ever see Kip again?  “Did you kill Miss Caldwell?”

He roared with a laugh. “We got them both. You seem to think we are here to have a conversation.”

“Why?”

“Why? That family killed our sister just as if they shot her. She was young and pretty, like all of you. My brother and I have waited a long time to even the score.”

“How am I involved in this?”

“You are the lady to Lord Trevor Caldwell. But Lord Stokes will pay more for ya.”

“I know no Lord Trevor Caldwell. You want some other woman.”

“Maybe this will stop you from insisting on that.” Hair cutting completed, the one-eyed man punched her in the face, breaking her nose.

Squeaks fell to the floor, staining her nightshirt red while she lay unconscious.

The charwoman came running in when she heard the noise. “You men are brutes. What that young lady ever do to you blokes?”

“Shut up, or you’ll get the same. Clean ‘er up.” The brothers left the room mumbling about getting on with their job.

“I figure we have one more day. We’ll get that ransom note to Stokes and see if he reacts. If he doesn’t send gold or jewels within a few hours, we’ll have our fun with that young thing upstairs. In the morning, you take care of that old woman. I think you can hang her in the back stable.

Unknown to the men, Sarah overheard the end of the conversation as she headed for a pan of water and a cloth to wash Squeaks. “I don’t have no clothes for her,” she said, hoping they didn’t give a thought that she heard anything.

“You can leave her clothes off. We’re gonna tear ‘em off anyway.” The brothers laughed and refilled their glasses.

“So … which one? Stokes or Caldwell?

“Stokes. Hit him while we can. We still have the other Caldwell brother’s lady to snatch and then we can leave this country. After finding that last Caldwell wench, they know the deaths are connected. That inspector may be putting things together. Throwing in the Stokes girl should muddy their thinking for a couple of days. Where’s the coach?”

“It’s around back like you wanted. I put it under the coach shed. Don’t worry, brother. It may be a bit old, but that was an expensive ride at one time. The inspector won’t be looking for a carriage like that down here.”

 

By the time Sarah had cleaned up Squeaks, she had a new opinion on the offer that was made to her. Squeaks regained consciousness. She and the charwoman had a brief chat about how could they live through the next day.

That evening, Sarah folded a piece of scrap paper, along with a pencil, and put them in her apron pocket. She took a food tray to Squeaks.

The Green Knight

BRINGS A NEW SIR GAWAIN
Dev Patel takes the role of Sir Gawain

Here‘s another colour blind rewrite of legends and history: first teaser for historical fantasy movie THE GREEN KNIGHT In which Dev Patel plays Gawain, King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight (Ralph Ineson), a gigantic emerald skinned stranger and tester of men. Gawain contends with ghosts, giants, thieves, and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character and prove his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom by facing the ultimate challenger. The movie, which is supposed to be based on one of the most famous of Arthurian

The movie will hit cinemas May 29th this spring

legends, will also star Alicia Vikander, Sean Harris and Joel Edgerton, and is out May 29th! You can also check out the poster which is probably one of the ugliest ones we’ve seen in our spying career!

 

 

The Ghost Bride (series) – Netflix

Subtitled and/or Dubbed in English
MARRY A GHOST FOR MONEY?
If you don’t know what to binge-watch this weekend, here is something mystical and darkly enchanting for you: over at Netflix you can currently

All episodes are on Netflix from last week

stream THE GHOST BRIDE, 19th century set fantasy series coming from Malaysia which,  based on the novel The Ghost Bride written by Malaysian writer Yangsze Choo, stars Huang Pei-jia, Wu Kang-jen, Ludi Lin, and Kuang Tian.

The Ghost Bride
set in 1890’s Colonial Malacca, follows a Malaysian Chinese woman who accepts a marriage proposal from a wealthy family to be the “ghost bride” to their deceased son – an opportunity that would save her family from a lifetime

The first season has six hourlong episodes

of debt, but require her to spend the rest of her days haunted by a ghostly spouse. Desperate to escape the situation, she soon finds herself wrapped up in a murder mystery and embroiled in otherworldly affairs far bigger than she could have imagined!

Noble Coachman Chapter 18

Available Amazon Kindle

Chapter 18
Lilith

 

It was nearing four in the afternoon when Kip attached the coach and horses. He and Squeaks had an amazing ride through the forest. He had to admit she was quite a good horseman herself, once he got her in the saddle. Their great love for horses was equally cherished, but how would she feel about being a countess? Kip felt in his heart that his love could reach through her, to the other side if she joined his noble family, but could she reach back to him?

He knew she would not expect or demand extra respect. It would be like her to blend in as one of his own residents rather than their mistress. Perhaps, that would be a good thing. She could ask that something be accomplished instead of issuing commands. She would be well loved. His father would live another twenty years before Kip, himself, would have to accept his due title. Being a coachman for another decade would give Squeaks what she wanted. Their dreams could be fulfilled on both sides of the peerage line. As he rode, Mary came into his mind again, she was there often during this period of his life.  With her presence so entrenched within, his attitude was softening about one day returning home. Squeaks was changing his world, even more. He was beginning to think less of his own life and more of hers.   He had to make her happy.

Kip handed her the reins when they left the forest and traveled the main roads.

“Squeaks, when we get to the outskirts of London, would you like me to ride rear footman?”

She started to giggle thinking about it. “I think we should wait until we are very near Stokes Castle.” Kip could again see the child that was still invading her subconscious. She was easily pleased like a little one at Christmas. There the innocence remained. Someday that would be gone. He would cherish it while it lasted.

“When can we see each other again, Kip?”

“That will be up to you, my love. Tonight, I have an affair to attend. I know you are only available in the evenings, and that tends to be when I am working. We will definitely begin to plan nights so I can refuse fares.”

“How do we tell people about us?”

“We don’t say anything. If someone asks if you and I are a pair, just say that you are seeing me. Word will spread fast.”

“Does that mean I can see no one else? Can I not attend an evening meal with someone who asks?” She was teasing him, but he did not recognize it as that.

“That is usually what that means. Have I totally misunderstood you?”

“No, I am glad to have a reason to turn another down. Friday morning, without you, was a bit sad, having to disappoint so many men.” Her dimpled cheeks popped up.

“So many, was it?” Her charade had worked for a moment. “You don’t know how often I thought about you that day. Did you really have men asking to escort you out?”

“Yes. It was rather thrilling. I’ve never had that adoration, and now it is everywhere. I was asked several times if I was single and once if I was married.” She grinned.

“As if my control with you isn’t hard enough, you are going to make this difficult to woo you, properly.”

“But you said I didn’t need wooing, didn’t you? I’m not sure how I would make it difficult.”

“I believe you just did. A man takes very great pride in his lady. His first aim is to possess her. No one else may have her, or touch her. He will defend her with his life.”

“And you feel that way?”

“Yes. How many ways can I say it? I thought you were riding along with me today. Did you just arrive, woman? What have you done with Miss Dorset? The only problem Dorset has is listening to me, or perhaps it is believing in me.”

“Am I your lady?”

“You said you weren’t a lady if I remember accurately. Do you want to be? I thought you loved me.”

“I do.”

“Then it is a ‘yes.’”

“I think I need an official scorekeeper. I do not know what levels of love there are. I do not like assuming.”

Kip laughed out loud. “Excuse me. I have just been slapped across the face for which I deserve. I love your innocence and then forget that you really are that naïve. Yes, I dare say you need me to keep your score. If it needs to be clear, you are officially my lady. We are seeing each other.”

She gave Kip a broad smile. I now have a ranking. I am your lady. Is this the first step?”

“No, I’d say we were on our third step. We have declared our love to one another. Touching the other in any way that was not a customary courtesy, such as a kiss, was the second step.”

“How many steps are there and what is waiting at the top?”

“That’s hard to say. If we are right for each other, it will continue to grow and strengthen.

“So which level is the most intimate?”

“Squeaks, don’t do this to me. Do not force me to put a number on it. I have never been to that level in love.”

“I hope it is under five, although two was a wonderful awakening. Do you think I am wanton? What does that mean exactly?”

“Good God Squeaks! I should be shot for chipping away at your virtuous veneer. I think we need a few days of separation to cool you down. You are frothing?”

“And you’re not?”

“I think I am barely under control.”

“How about that bump underneath me?”

“The bump?” Suddenly, Kip blushed.

“What step was that?”

“Actually, that can be part of the needy thing and be step zero or lower. Sometimes it is there when we least expect it or don’t want it.”

“Was it that way today?”

“Squeaks, you are going inside the coach. This conversation is over.”

“But you said to ask you, not the women.”

“I did say that, didn’t I? Well, now is not the time or the place. And don’t go asking your father or His Lordship. God, you are driving me insane.”

“I am afraid you created this in me. I am your responsibility.”

“I want that more than anything in life, but let’s take it gradually. I want to be a gentleman and not a rake or a swain. I want to show you respect above all else.”

“How is that going for you?” She giggled.

Startled at that, Kip laughed. “I thought I could leave that up to you, but I see I cannot. You have no boundaries.”

“Should I? Do you have boundaries?”

“I’m starting to believe I’m the only one on this ride today that does. And I am not doing a very good job of it. Just how much Byron did you read?” Kip had to wonder if these questions were in earnest or in jest. He hoped he never found out. It was an appealing part of her nature and fun, which he rarely experienced.

 

It was 7:00 p.m. when Kip arrived at his father’s for dinner.

“Come in, son. Chandler, get Trevor a scotch.”

“And another one for me,” shouted Augustus.”

“We’ve been looking for you. All we knew was that you took Miss Squeaks out for a ride. What a day to not be able to find you.”

“What is it, father … Gus?”

“Lilith’s body was discovered today exactly where Mary was found.”

The air in the room became thick. Trevor gulped his drink and refreshed it. A heavy frown formed as his father and Gus looked to him for some possible guidance …an answer …anything.

“How were you notified?”

“Richards dispatched a rider with a note.”

“And what has been done since you found out?”

“Gus sought out Inspector Marshall, and I went to visit the Blevins. I imagine they will tell the family. I would assume the police in London and Norcaster are communicating by telegraph.”

“Marshall is on his way there,” Gus interrupted.

“I will go tonight, father. My job isn’t critical. I will represent the family and talk with the staff and constabulary.”

“Thank you, son. Are you sure? This could be very hard for you.”

“Trevor, I will be up sometime tomorrow,” replied his brother.

“Yes, father. I want to do this. If dinner is ready, could we eat, and then I’ll be on my way.”

 

Trevor wrestled with his decision to return home for the challenging sadness. The other Caldwell’s could be on this train, he thought. Within two hours he was at his door.

“I’m so glad you are here, Lord Trevor,” said Richards, looking exceedingly relieved. “I believe Chandler should be here on the next train. This way, Sir.”

As Trevor entered the sitting room, there sat Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell, half in tears. Inspector Marshall had been there about two hours, and the local constable was present. No one knew to introduce him to the other Caldwell’s.

He walked over to the distraught couple. “I am sorry to be meeting you under such tragic circumstances. I am Trevor Caldwell.”

The couple bowed, and Trevor asked them to sit. “Please let us have no formality during these few days. My father wishes to be here, but I am afraid he cannot face another death as has happened. He sends you his best and please honor this house with asking for anything that you need. My brother, Gus, will arrive tomorrow. Inspector, advise me on what you know.”

“I would prefer to do it elsewhere, so these poor folks don’t have to hear it again.”

“Indeed. Would you please excuse us, Sir and Lady Caldwell?”

Trevor, the constable, and the Inspector went into the study across the reception hall. He walked to the bar and asked for drink orders. He was the only one, so he fixed it for himself. All were seated within minutes.

“Lord Trevor, unlike your sister, this young woman was beaten and raped elsewhere, but her body was brought here. The doctor assumes, at first glance, that she died of internal injuries, but there was a strangulation attempt. He believes the body to have been there for about three days. Your brother ordered the icehouse to be torn down, and that was how she was discovered.”

Trevor rubbed his forehead as the Inspector continued.

The body has been moved to the mortuary, where she will be examined and then made ready for transport tomorrow. Her parents will take the same train. I shall stay on here for a few more days and ask around and inspect the site.

“Is there nothing we can do?”

“I will soon speak to your Butler, Chandler when he returns since he has been here the longest. We are sure, now, that it is a revenge killing. Chandler may know things he doesn’t realize he knows. We will talk with him after the Caldwell’s have left for the train. He will assist us with all your previous staff. He has decades of records, I understand. Since Mary was attacked first, this vendetta would seem to stem from your side of the family. We will also look into these other Caldwell histories. Again, the other Caldwell families have been alerted. Both women were young and ‘out.’ They were visible to the public. There are no other females in the Caldwells that match this scenario.”

“What scenario would that be, Inspector?”

“We believe a Caldwell member or Caldwell staff could be responsible for these deaths. It is only the women. The men could be targets, but we don’t think they are. The revenge seems to be aimed at women. We are most likely looking for a man who may have resided in this household. Our initial assumption now is that some harm, discharge or disgrace may have come to a woman who worked here. Unfortunately, I think your uncle, Nathaniel, is at the root of this revenge. Being almost 20 years ago since Sir Nathaniel was asked to leave; and if he is the cause of these murders, a plan has been in the works for a long time. You continue with your coachmen, and I’ll work with Chandler on your previous staff. The end may be close.”

“My father has spoken of Nathaniel. Have you heard that story?”

“Yes. His Lordship and I discussed him at length after Miss Mary. How are you doing, by the way? I see you driving in London, using another name and wonder why?”

“I had to get away. It is that simple. Being Mary’s older brother and her protector I wanted to shoulder all of the blame and I couldn’t do it here. Perspective was needed, no matter the time it took before I felt I could assume the role that is planned for me. I have quite enjoyed being with the lads. We are seen but not noticed. A lot is known to us but no one else. It came to me that at some point, perhaps the subject of Lady Caldwell would be mentioned whereby I could learn something.”

“Please don’t take on any retribution until I know about it. Can you promise me that?”

“No, sir. I cannot.

“Because you are a Noble gives you no special privileges where the law is concerned.”

“I am quite aware of that, and it has been considered. I will tell you, now, if I find the killer of my sister, I will dispatch him myself.”

“There are at least two of them. We know that much.”

“I know that, also.”

“Please reconsider.”

“I am warned, sir.”

“It is past 11:00. We should return to the parents.”

 

The following morning, Trevor gathered every servant and had a long conversation with them. First, he spoke about his feelings of Mary, trying to help him. He mentioned how comforting it felt and hoped they could see it the way he did. That seemed to appease most of them. Anyone wishing to leave their employ would go with a good reference.

 

Later, he, Chandler and the Inspector would have a conversation after Chandler had pulled out his old books. To fill his time, Trevor rode his horse. He could feel the wind whipping through his long untethered hair as he sprinted through the nearby riding acreage. A thought came to him, and he rode across town to see the Friesian horse breeder.

 

After the mid-day meal, the house was quiet. He had nothing to do but reflect on the image of Squeaks in this manor house. Trevor took the stairs to Mary’s room once more. It was still the same. Her clothes had been removed, and he wondered what had happened to her jewelry. However, the wall-hangings and colors stayed the same. Even the furniture was as he remembered. He sat on the side of her bed. Eventually, he flopped back and spread his arms, looking at the ceiling motifs. Suddenly, Mary was in his head. Swirling her image with a vengeance. Trevor found it a bit frightening this time. She seemed angry. She even wore a frown if that were possible. He left her room thinking that being there could have upset her, but the anger did not abate. Something was wrong. He went to visit her gravesite. He wept during his talk with her and told her about Squeaks.

 

Trevor strolled into his father’s study and saw Mary’s portrait over the mantle. His father commissioned it three years before she died. The swirling image didn’t have much resemblance to the portrait at the moment. He rang for Chandler.

“May I help you, Sir?”

“Yes. Please close the door and come in. Do take a seat this time.”

“I prefer to stand, Sir.”

“I know you do, but I would rather you sat.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“I want to thank you for what you have done for this family, especially in this past year and moreover these last few days. Who is with father right now?”

“Richards and I changed places for several days until the staff could be settled. I will be heading back tomorrow. Richards should be here before noon.”

“Did you listen when I talked with the staff about seeing Mary in my dreams? Lately, her image is getting stronger in my mind. I’m beginning to feel her presence without seeing her face. I am sure she is going to lead me to her killer.”

“Yes, Sir. I heard you say that. I remember you telling your father and brother about most it, except this more recent sensing.

“What do you think of that?”

“I cannot come to a decision on it, Sir. If you say it, I believe it. From someone else, I would question it.”

“I just came from Mary’s room a short time ago, where she appeared in my head again. This time, she seemed angry. I left the room, but something is bothering her. Do you have any ill feelings about this house or anyone in it?”

“None, Sir”

“Speak up, no matter how insignificant something may feel.”

“Sir, there is nothing to report. All feels as it should in this household. In fact, it is calmer than it has been in a long time. I am sure that is because you are here. They have worried a great deal about you, Sir.”

“Thank you, Chandler. I am returning tomorrow. You are excused for the night.”

What could be bothering Mary?

Kip didn’t remember seeing her this livid when she lived. He didn’t have a good feeling this time.

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