Chapter 28

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"Lizzie, let us see it, what does it say?" Amelia asked impatiently, trying to catch a glimpse of the note over her sister's shoulder.

Elizabeth continued staring at the words, reading them over and over, trying to make sense of their meaning. Nodding slowly, she lowered the paper so that her aunt and sister could read it.

Mr. Montgomery,

I'm afraid there's been an emergency. You are needed at home, please come right away. I'll explain when you arrive, please make haste.

Sincerely,

Thomas Briggs

"Elizabeth, where did you find this?" Aunt Charlotte glanced at Elizabeth, concern filling her eyes.

"I found it in the pocket of this travelling coat; Mama was wearing it that night..." Elizabeth squeezed her eyes shut.

Amelia scrutinized the paper more closely, "It's addressed to Papa. What did Thomas mean by this? What emergency?"

"I don't know...could this be the reason that Mama hurried to come back home that night?" Elizabeth glanced at her aunt. "Aunt Charlotte, do you know anything about this?"

Aunt Charlotte furrowed her brows as she considered, shaking her head slowly. "Lizzie, this is the first I've heard anything of this note or an emergency occurring during that time. I don't recall there being any sort of problems here... Of course, things were quite stressful after...after the accident, but if something had been wrong here at the plantation, I'm sure we would've known about it, especially your father. All of us were puzzled as to why Lydia would rush off like that, and at night, too. I just can't fathom how this note went unnoticed, and for so long."

Elizabeth shrugged. "I feel sure that Papa never wanted to set his eyes on these things again, and so they've been put away for all these years. I suppose no one bothered to check her belongings because it was such a sudden accident..." Her voice trailed off, and she locked wide eyes on her aunt's face as a realization dawned on her.

Aunt Charlotte nodded, "Yes. Perhaps...it was not an accident after all."

Elizabeth swallowed, whispering, "But who could've possibly wanted Mama to die?"

The three women stood in silence, staring at one another with bewilderment, not wanting to voice the apparent suspect.

Amelia broke the silence. "If this note was written on purpose to deceive Mama, we need to start with the obvious. Thomas has some explaining to do."

Aunt Charlotte nodded, "Yes, we need to get this to your father right away."

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"Mr. Montgomery, I'm glad that you alerted me to my father's manipulation. I'm just sorry that he involved you in his scheming."

"No, Edward, I was foolish to ever entertain Charles' marriage arrangement. God knows I learned my lesson the first time... I am so thankful that he was not successful in having his way. I just want to be done with this nonsense." Peter rubbed his temples with his fingers.

Edward and Matthew had been in Peter's office for a couple of hours now, discussing everything they could think of about Charles and the mess he had made. They had decided collectively that bringing everything possible out into the open would help them to piece together the puzzle that was Charles' devious mind. Edward only hoped that they were making some progress.

"Yes, I am thankful as well that you made an attachment necessary for the arrangement to be binding. I am quite sure that my father was confident that I would compromise Amelia in order to please him. He must have thought this plan to be infallible." Edward snorted and shook his head.

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