The Noble Coachman – Chapter 20

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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.”

 

 

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