The Noble Coachman – Chapter 22

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Chapter 22
Squeaks’ Army

 

The thundering of more than eighty horses echoed through the rundown tenement houses of east London. Hearing over three hundred horseshoes galloping on cobble-stoned streets, resonating echoes in the dead of night, brought people to their windows. Fog shrouded the riders creating fear in the hearts of Whitechapel. There was pride in the drivers seeing their valiant horses in the hunt, anxious to be successful on a rescue for Dorset’s daughter. The former Whitechapel drivers lead two teams on different routes for faster arrival. Within a block of Hanbury Street, the Whitechapel drivers began the sharp piercing whistles. Together, they created a cacophony of sounds, which split the silence and woke all of east London.

“What the bloody hell is that noise?” Asked the one-eyed man. Both brothers ran to the window and could see carriages pulling along the street, as far as they could see. Brad went to the back. “Same back here. I think they’ve come for us. There must be a hundred of them, and some are coming in the back way.”

“Upstairs, now!” The men ran upstairs where Squeaks was shivering under her bloody shredded nightshirt.

“Thank you, God,” Squeaks said to herself hearing the drivers coming to rescue her. “Up here,” she shouted, waving her nightshift out of the window. “My Army!” she said aloud with tears rolling down her cheeks.

The brothers ran into her room and shoved her to the bed. They locked the door behind them. The three of them could hear the downstairs doors being kicked open, while others gathered below her window. One of the brothers placed his pistol to Squeaks head. The one-eyed man was at the foot of the bed, also with his gun pointed towards her. Heavy boots were clambering up the steps.

Suddenly, their door burst open with a dozen or more drivers piling into the room. All their pistols were drawn at one man or the other. Kip found his way to the front.

“Kip,” cried Squeaks as the other brother Brad cocked his gun. The sound was very distinctive.

“One more step and she’s a dead little girl. Seems we have a stalemate, mate,” The one-eyed man gleamed, pointing his firearm at Kip. “There’s a right lot of you drivers. If you let us leave, she will live. Otherwise, all three of us die right here.

Squeaks was trembling while trying to hold her nightshift in front of her. She felt the cold steel against the side of her face. She prayed the one-eyed man wouldn’t fire at Kip.

“Let me through.” Inspector Marshall arrived next to Kip.

Kip was seething with hate. His eyes focused on the one-eyed man, while he remembered the image of his sister dying on the floor of the icehouse. The same was planned for Squeaks. He was surprised that the inspector was keeping quiet, allowing him to vent the scathing words that had been fermenting for a year.

“You raped and beat two women to death, and Miss Dorset was next,” Kip said, pointing to Squeaks, purposely, not looking at her. Death is too good for you. Perhaps you should suffer the same fate. I know of some jails where the raping would never end for you. You would beg for death.”

“Your words don’t mean much to my brother and me right now. We want a carriage and a driver, then we will let the little lady and the driver out of the coach once we leave London.”

The room grew silent. The drivers knew Kip was compelled to make a decision.

Out of the quieted crowd in the room, a single shot rang out. Brad, with his pistol to Squeaks’ temple, flew back against the wall, dead. Blood splattered on Squeaks face. A driver ran to Squeaks’ side and using his cloak, he covered her.

All the drivers trained their guns on the man with the glass eye. It seemed everyone wanted a shot at him.

The one-eyed man now trained his gun in Squeaks’ direction.

“Inspector, arrest me. You must arrest me! I wasn’t going to kill her. See for yourself. She is unharmed.”

Inspector Marshall stood there, staring at him.

Kip had looked at the injuries to Squeaks face and the blood trickling from her ear and mouth. He cast his head to the side and looked sternly at the inspector.

“Justice is yours, Kip.”

Kip turned and faced the man, as Squeaks looked on. Chants emanated from behind …  KILL HIM!

Kip felt guilty for having such easy revenge. Finally, he had the man who killed his sister right in front of him, begging, pleading and soiling his trousers. A few moments passed, feeling like minutes, as Kip contemplated what he was about to do. He wanted this man to continue to plead and cry, as his sister must have done. The inspector gave him great power, but he was a nobleman. It was his duty to protect others. “I wish I had time to castrate you before you die. However, one of these drivers is going to shoot you if I don’t.”

“You can’t do this. Think of your sister.”

“I am.”

Kip raised the pistol slowly and cocked it. The room went silent as the night.

“Kip, do you know what you’re doing?” Came a rasping voice from Squeaks.

“I do.”

“This is for the brutal death of two frail women you beat and raped; and for the abduction and torture to Miss Dorset. I have been waiting a year to find you, and I will be damned for this, but I don’t care.”

He squeezed the trigger with great satisfaction.  Suddenly, another half dozen firearms were fired simultaneously, so no one man could be made the murderer. They were protecting Kip from prosecution. Blood started pouring from the man’s head and body. The last brother crumpled to the floor, the one eye still open in horror.

“He didn’t deserve the easy way out,” Kip said, handing his pistol to Marshall.

 

Kip rushed to Squeaks with her bloody face and labored breathing.

The inspector asked the drivers to wait downstairs. He did not want to know who fired the first shot killing the one brother. He would see that it was handled in the police records without questions or real names. He closed the door behind him but waited there.

Kip’s eyes wept as he saw the bruising and puffing to her face, blood running from several places and a mass of clotted blood was caught in her hair. Beginning to hug her, he realized she had a broken arm, too. Under the driver’s cloak, he could see a nightslip.

“I need this to make a sling, for your arm, Sweets.” As he pulled it away, he saw her perfect breasts and her undergarment.

“You saved my life, you … you saved me. You are so brave.” Tears slipped from her eyes. “I was so afraid for you. I couldn’t go on if anything happened to you.”

They both wept openly while they kept touching the other as if confirmation was needed that they were alive. Looking at her battered body, he said, “Let’s get you out of here. Are you injured in any other way but your face, arm, and head Sweets?” He asked as he stroked her shortened hair. He lifted her to his chest and walked to the door, where the Inspector opened it for him.

“No, I don’t think so. I don’t remember everything. Thank you, Inspector.”

“You’re going to the hospital to be checked all over.”

“I can’t.”

“Bloody hell, you can’t. I am carrying you there, like it or not.”

“But …”

Kip stopped. “But what?”

“I found out father has been buying me boys undergarments all these years. They will see that at the hospital.”

Inspector Marshall was heard snickering. “You take her to the hospital. I’ll go visit Lord Stokes and then come find you.”

“Why are you laughing?” Squeaks asked with her one good arm around his neck.

“Only you could have been through this horrendous time and then worry about your underwear. Can I reward your Army for their help?”

“Yes, but how? You said they wouldn’t take money.”

“I have a way.”

 

Kip carried her halfway down the steps to a large cheering group of drivers. He stopped.

“Men, Squeaks is forever in your debt. She knows her Army came to her rescue. As battered as she is and with a broken arm, too, the first thing she worried about was that you men might see her in her boy’s undergarment that Clyde has continued to buy for her.” Kip moved his arm, so the men could see her butt in that garment. An uproarious laugh echoed the house.

Squeaks started to complain.

“Shush, you pesky little driver.”

“You didn’t think I was pesky when you . . .” She mumbled something into Kip’s ear.

“She’s still being trained for polite company,” Kip shouted to the men.

All the drivers laughed.

“Drinks on me, tomorrow night. You all know where.”

Kip carried her through the cheering brotherhood of drivers, who were shouting all kind of accolades to London’s own female driver. She was a trinket to them.

“Is Zac still here?”

“Over here, Kip.”

“Can you drive us to the hospital. Marc, bring my horse to me, there.

“I don’t think I’ve met Zac,” Squeaks said.

“No, I don’t think you have either, but he has a surprise for you.”

“For me?”

“Yes, he and another driver, Perkins, brought you a present.”

It was pitch black as the drivers began to ride their coaches and horses home. It had taken a moment before Zac appeared at the front of the house. A large neighborhood crowd had gathered. Zac jumped down and opened the door, folded down the stepping mechanism as usual. Kip stepped inside the coach and heard Squeaks, shout with glee.

“Sarah! Oh, how I worried you wouldn’t get caught. I have you to thank for this mass of men who came to save us.”

“Deary, I’ve never had so much fun as when they started into London. What a sight, what a sound. I see they broke your arm after I left. Did they …?”

Squeaks quickly answered, “I don’t think so. I was unconscious for a while. We are on the way to the hospital now. Kip, could you see that Sarah is taken care of for a night or two until I can reward her. I am sure Lord Caldwell will want to do something.”

“Of course, I’ll take care of her.”

 

“I’m happy to tell you, Mr. Dorset and your Lordship that Squeaks is alive and released. She is injured, but nothing that is life-threatening.”

“Oh, thank you, thank you,” Dorset said, pumping the Inspector’s hand up and down.

“I had very little to do with it. I think you’ll both be proud that over fifty drivers came to her rescue at 3:00 a.m. this morning and swarmed the house she was being held in. This was all organized by driver Trevor Kipling. He planned it, executed it, and took down the man with the eyepatch.”

“Took down?” asked Lord Stokes.

“He dispatched him. Both brothers are deceased. He walked out carrying Squeaks in his arms to a cheering mass of drivers, or the Brotherhood as I believe they’re called.”

“Yes, that’s what we call ourselves,” smiled Clyde.

“It’s all over. Kip will bring her home later after she’s been examined and had her arm plastered. Your Lordship, you now have two drivers in casts.”

“Yes, I guess I will have to give that some thought. Thank you, again, Inspector.”

 

“We are nearing the hospital. Sarah, I can tell Zac where to take you home, if you wish, or you may stay in the second bedchamber at my home.”

“I thinks I’ll go home for the time bein’.”

“Oh, Sarah, you accomplished a dangerous mission. I wish everyone could know of your courageous act. I will visit soon.”

“You take care of yourself, Deary.”

The carriage stopped at the entrance to the hospital. Kip reached into his pocket and pulled out coins and gave them to Sarah. “That is, for now, Sarah.”

The coach door opened. As Kip exited, still carrying Squeaks, he asked Zac to note the address where she was left off.

Climbing the steps of the hospital, he was looking into Squeaks face. His heart was breaking for her. “You know, I once thought you were pretty.”

“And now you don’t? It is because of my face?”

“I’m not quite sure in this light. Your hair is gone; your eyes are black. You have blood all over your face. Your cute little petite nose is now big and crooked. You have a limp arm here somewhere, and your naked under this cloak.”

“You forgot to say I have boy’s underpants on.” Squeaks added as she frowned.

“How could I forget that? And I’ve even seen them. There’s not many that would love a woman looking like this … except maybe me.”

“I have a lump on my head.”

“Oh dear. One of those, too? What will I do with you?” He frowned.

“Marry me?”

“Hmmm … Well … I will have to think about marrying someone who doesn’t wear lace knickers.”

“You know about those, do you?”

“It appears you know nothing of them. I should buy you the kind I like most.”

Kip pushed open the hospital door with his foot and backed in carrying his future wife. Several nurses came running up to them.

“This young woman, named Rebecca Dorset, was kidnapped and tortured. I think she could use a good going over,” he smiled down a Squeaks.

“Does that mean everywhere?” She asked, casting her eyes down.

“It’s either them or me. Your choice.” It was hard to see, but Squeaks was blushing like he’d never seen her. Her spirits were high, and that was a godsend to him.

A rolling bed was instantly before him, and he laid her on it. He wanted to kiss her before she was whisked away, but he thought better of it. “How long will she be?”

“Are you her husband?”

“Soon.” They wheeled her through the door.

“A few hours if she is allowed to leave.” The nurse called back as the doors swung closed.

He sat down in the waiting room. First came in the apostles, then Zac, followed by many drivers. It was standing room only.

“Marc, she will be several hours before anyone can see her. Is my horse outside. I need to get away for a while.”

“Aye, Kip. I’ll watch over her until you return.” Marc thought Kip was headed to Lord Stokes.

Kip would visit his father’s home.

 

#

 

“Son, I am so glad to see you safe and hear that Lady Squeaks can mend. I’m proud of you.”

“Father, I am going to ask her to marry me. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but I felt you should know.”

“Trevor, if she is who you want as a wife, you have my blessing. Does she know of your title, yet?”

“So far, I think it is still unknown. It is my intention to continue allowing her to drive if she wants to do that. I will stay a driver, too, until you think I need to be home. Perhaps I can break it to her gently. I will try, at any rate. I must leave for home. I need to change and get my coach to take Squeaks home to Lord Stokes. We will see you when we can.”

“And Mary?”

“When she last appeared, she was happy again. I think she has moved on. I will always believe she stayed because she knew I needed some closure. She assisted me with that. I will miss her terribly now.”

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