51. The Great Hunt of Green Park

780K 35.3K 10K

When I woke the next morning, I fervently hoped that last night had been a nightmare. But when I saw Ella's red-rimmed eyes, I knew that was wishful thinking.

Last night had been true. My sister was going to elope – and not even with a romantic rake of a Scottish Laird, or something similarly adventurous, but with the tradesman's son next door. I wasn't sure what trade his father actually practised. I thought I had heard somewhere that he was a piano tuner.

Sadly, I shook my head. Constantly going around making sure that everywhere you went things sounded the same had to be about the dullest occupation there was. His son didn't seem a lot more exciting to me, generally speaking. All right, he was a nice enough fellow, for a man, but still, nothing to write home about. And it was the man my sister would loose her honour for.

Now, don't get the wrong impression – I wasn't all too keen on honour and virtue myself. If you're willing to walk around in men's clothes to work for a living you have to be able to bend a few social norms and customs. I myself wouldn't mind getting a few stains on my non-existent good reputation. But I knew that Ella would mind. Very much so, in fact.

Maybe she loved this man enough to run away with him and be happy. But she also would be sad, on a deeper level, a level she wouldn't let anybody see. It would break her heart to disappoint her aunt, silly, compassionate soul that she was. This solution would make Edmund happy – but it would save Ella from one misery only to plunge her into another.

Unless, that is, I could prevent it.

Full of purpose, I jumped out of bed. This was no time to dawdle! My sister's happiness was at stake, and I only had one day to do anything before I had to go back to slave for Mr Ambrose. Quickly, I dressed – or as quickly as I could, considering the multitude of petticoats I had to put on – and slipped out of the house without anybody noticing. It was Sunday, and after the tiring dance the other night, the others were sure to sleep long, and not notice my absence.

As I ran down the street, the beginnings of various plans were already forming in my mind. Somehow, I had to get rid of Wilkins. That was the heart of the matter. No Wilkins meant no threat of marriage, no threat of marriage meant no elopement, no elopement meant no unhappy Ella.

For a moment, I considered carrying out Edmund's plan – getting hold of a pistol and just shooting the blasted Wilkins. Yet I discounted that for various reasons. Firstly, wanting to marry my sister was, according to the laws of England, not yet a crime that deserved the death penalty; secondly, I didn't have money for a gun; and thirdly, even if I did, I would most likely miss.

Hmm... That last bit will have to be rectified in the not-too-distant future. Now that you are regularly running around in men's clothes you might as well claim male privileges, such as shooting anybody whose face you didn't like.

Back to planning... how to get rid of Wilkins without shooting him?

By the time I had reached Green Park I had hit on quite a promising idea.

I needed only to find out something, something strange or disreputable or otherwise horrible about Wilkins, which could be revealed to my aunt. With her snobbish ways, she would cut off the connection faster than you could say Jack Robinson. I had no doubt there was something to Sir Philip's detriment that could be discovered. An over-romanticised, flower-fanatical guffin like he was bound to have some skeletons hidden in his closet.

And I knew exactly who could help me find some of those.

I raced through Green Park, people right and left throwing me disapproving looks. I was running far too fast than was seemly for a young lady, that I could read clearly on their faces. But in the distance I could see three figures who did not look disapproving. On the contrary, they looked delighted to see me, waving at me energetically. One of them nearly brained a passing gentleman with her parasol.

Storm and SilenceWhere stories live. Discover now