The Earl of Diamonds
Bigley's coachman slowed the pace of the carriage, and circled through the streets to be sure he wasn't followed before getting on the road to Bristol.
Anthony lay huddled in the corner of the coach seat. With wide tearful eyes, he stared in fright at the big man across from him.
Bigley, looking the boy over, said "Well, ye 'ave a comely face for a li'l tyke. Ye'll bring a 'handsome price."
Handing Anthony a dingy handkerchief, said, "Now, wipe yer face 'n stop bawlin'. Ye'll be goin' on a ship t' a new 'ome, so if ye be'ave yerself ye'll be treated good."
Opening the hatch in the roof, he yelled to the coachman, "No stoppin' 'cept to change 'orses. We'll be stayin' 'ere in th' coach, 'n the shades closed, 'n make demm sure yer not followed."
"Aye, whatever ye say gov," the coachman answered.
Anthony, wanting his mother, buried his face in the dirty cloth handkerchief.
After the doctor had seen to Agnes, he had Elise put to bed with some laudanum. Her grandmother stayed with her, in case she might awaken. Meanwhile Raynhurst was with Mr. Davidson, who had arrived with two other Bow Street runners. They proceeded to get information from Robert, on the abduction, and a description of the man who stabbed Agnes.
"I cannot understand why someone would do this!" Raynhurst said in anguish, as he sat holding his head in his hands.
"It's possible he has been taken for ransom, in which case you should be receiving a note soon," suggested Davidson.
Shaking his head in disbelief, Raynhurst said, "It is incredible so much as happened in the last few months. The bracelets stolen, Karen murdered, and now my son is kidnaped!"
"Yes, it does seem odd. If that thief shows up at the pawnshop, and we find out who he is, it may throw some light on the kidnaping. But in the meantime, my men will go to the park and look for any clues he may have dropped while running away. I will have others ask around town, and question our informers, maybe they heard of a plan to kidnap your son," Mr. Davidson said.
"Is there anything I can do? I don't think I could stand just doing nothing," Raynhurst inquired anxiously.
"You can go to your clubs, and ask around. The person who is behind this might be someone you know at the clubs, and you can ask your friends to keep an eye out for anything they might hear," he suggested.
"Yes, yes . . . I will go now. I am sure they will offer to help find Anthony," he said getting up, relieved to have something to do.
"Uh . . . Lord Raynhurst, you best be careful in how you word it to them. We do not want the guilty person, if he is in your elite circle, to know what your doing. Be sure the people you do ask, are your friends, and have nothing to gain by your misfortunes," Davidson advised.
On the way to the clubs on St. James Street, Raynhurst thought about what Mr. Davidson said about nothing to gain. He couldn't think of anyone he knew who would be cruel enough to hurt a little boy like Anthony. He slowed his phaeton, making a turn on the next block, to go to Lord Bennington's town house instead. It was too early for his friends to be at the clubs, after being up all night.
When he reached Bennington's, he found he was correct in his assumption, Lord Bennington was still in bed. The butler showed him into the library, to wait.
"Please tell him it is an emergency, Thomas," Raynhurst requested.
Raynhurst paced the library, while he waited, which seemed an hour when it was only twenty minutes.
"You look wretched, Raynhurst! What happened?" Lord Bennington asked concerned.
Raynhurst still paced as he told him about Anthony, and what he wanted to do in finding out who was responsible.
"It doesn't seem possible that this is a coincidence that Anthony is just a random kidnaping to collect a ransom from a wealthy person," Raynhurst said.
"And so far no one's contacted you regarding payment?" Lord Bennington asked.
"It happened around nine this morning, and it is only two o'clock now. There is a Bow Street runner at the house questioning all the servants, and he will notify me if anyone should leave a note asking for a ransom for Anthony's release."
"Let me send a message to Sir Harry first, and then will go to White's. There may be some gossip floating around already, if your servants are talking to other servants in the neighborhood."
When they reached White's Gentlemen's Club, the news had traveled faster, than expected. From everyone he passed, Raynhurst accepted commiseration and offers to do what they could to help.
"I guess there isn't much more to do here," Raynhurst said discouraged.
"We can try the other clubs, if you can stand any more sympathy. I think you ought to let Harry and I try to find out something for you. We won't be hindered by all their well-meaning questions," he suggested.
"Yes," Raynhurst agreed, "I need to see how Elise is doing, and if Bow Street had found anything."
Saying good-bye, he went to his phaeton and hurried back to his home.
Raynhurst entered his house, and Martin met him solemnly, taking his hat.
"The Countess is still resting, milord," he said quietly.
"Thank you, Martin, I will go up to see her. Have all of the Bow Street detectives left? Are there any messages?" he asked.
"Yes, they have left, milord. We have been questioned, and asked if we had seen anyone loitering outside recently. As far as I know, no one has seen anything. And there are no messages. I am sorry, milord," Martin said sadly.
"I guess all I can do is wait. Damn! I feel so helpless!" Raynhurst said as he went up the stairs.
Opening the bedroom door quietly, he went into the dimly lit room, the curtains had been drawn, and the only light was by the chair where Elise's grandmother sat reading. She looked up and smiled wanly.
Walking to the bed, he looked down at his beautiful wife asleep. Then moving to the chair next to the grandmother's, he sat down with a sigh, and laid his head back and closed his eyes.
"I just do not know what to do. It is terrifying not knowing where Anthony is or what happened to him," Raynhurst said with anguish.
"I know, I know . . . we all feel the same," she said, putting her hand on his.
"I am glad Elise's is sleeping, at least that is a few hours she will not have to suffer this agony of not knowing," he said as he looked over at her.
"The doctor gave her enough laudanum, so that she might sleep through the night. She was in a state of hysteria when he came," she replied.
Pushing himself up out of the chair, Raynhurst went to the table with the brandy bottle to pour a drink.
"Would you like one, Lydia?" he said as he held up a glass.
"Yes, I believe I would, Stephen," she said gratefully.
"Where is my mother and Aunt Emily?" he asked, as he handed her the glass.
"They were going on afternoon calls, to see if anyone had heard of other children being taken, or of unusual looking strangers hanging around, like the man that Robert, your footman, had chased. They thought they might hear something useful," she said.
"That is what I intended to do when I went to the clubs, but what I got was sympathy and a lot of questions. I did not have enough stamina to answer them all," Raynhurst replied shaking his head in resignation.
"Let us hope that Marion and Emily have better luck," she said.
Lady Evelyn Crandall poured the tea and handed Emily a cup, as she pondered the question.
"I would not say that I saw an unusual person, but I remember an unusual thing that caught my attention this past week. You know I always take a brisk morning walk through Green Park, because it is much quieter than the other parks. I do remember seeing Lady Elise, with her son and abigail each morning. I would nod a greeting as I passed them, and she would wave to me. But, the unusual thing was that your nephew, Cedric Lovell, was also there. He was always far off to the side just standing there, leaning against a tree looking in Lady Elise's direction. I was never close enough to say hello, only enough to recognize who he was. If you will forgive me for saying so, but I had the impression that he . . . uh . . . fancied her and was admiring her from a distance," she said flustered.
Marion and Emily looked at each other in astonishment.
"You are saying that Cedric has been watching Elise?" Marion asked in bewilderment.
"That does not sound like Cedric. If he likes a woman, married or not, he was never shy in approaching her," Emily said scornfully.
"Well, actually I have heard gossip of his affairs," confided Lady Crandall, "It just struck me as odd that he would have an interest in his cousin's wife. She does not seem at all the type that would show any return of his interest,"
"No, she certainly would not!" said Marion indignant at the thought.
"I think we should mention this to Stephen, Marion. He might want to question Cedric, to see if he might have seen a person at the park fitting the description of the kidnapper," suggested Emily.
"Yes, we better do that right away. Oh, thank you so much for telling us Lady Evelyn," said Marion gratefully, as the ladies said their good-byes, anxious to get back to the house with their news.
At the light tap on the door, Raynhurst put down his brandy glass, and went to open it. Seeing his mother and Aunt Emily standing their looking like they were bursting to say something. He told Lydia he was stepping out in the hall to talk to them so not to wake Elise. Looking up and down the hallway to see if any servants were around, Marion motioned him into her room across the hall.
"Have you found something out, Mother?" he asked hopefully.
"Yes, but it is not the kidnapper we found out about. It is about your cousin Cedric being in the park every morning watching Elise," she said troubled.
"What! What are you saying? Cedric has been spying on Elise? What for?" he said angrily.
"I do not know. Lady Crandall takes a walk every morning in Green Park, and she saw Elise there, but she also saw Cedric standing far away watching her. She is sure it was he," she answered anxiously, worried about Raynhurst's anger.
"That doesn't make sense. Why would he do something like that?" he said, as he started pacing the room in thought.
"Cedric is not a shy person to stand and admire a woman, Stephen. I would swear he was up to something," Aunt Emily said staunchly with a quick nod of her head.
Stopping his pacing, he looked at Aunt Emily for a moment, and then frowning, headed for the door.
"There is one way to find out," he said, as he left.
Raynhurst ran up the steps to the entrance to Cedric's town house on Mount Street. Knocking loudly, he tapped his foot, while he waited impatiently. Finally, the door opened, and the butler surprised at seeing Raynhurst, bowed and stepped aside to let him in. "May I help you, milord?" he asked as he held out his hand to relieve him of his hat.
Raynhurst ignored the gesture, "Where is Cedric?" he asked abruptly.
Surprised at the rudeness of his lordship, he stammered, "Why . . . uh . . . he is out, milord."
"Did he say where?" he said sharply.
"No, milord," he answered stiffly.
Cornelia just coming down the stairs heard Raynhurst's harsh tone, and wondered what was going on. She had heard about his son missing, which did not bother her in the least. So much the better for Cedric's sake. But she was curious to know why he was looking for Cedric.
"Why, Raynhurst! How are you? I have heard the dreadful news about your poor dear child being missing. I am so sorry! Such shocking things happening right in our own neighborhood!" she feigned concern.
Looking at her with exasperation, he said "Where is Cedric, Aunt Cornelia."
"Whatever do you want Cedric for at a time like this? Do you not think you should be with your wife? I am sure she is in great need of her husband on such a traumatic occasion," she said with disdain.
"Do you know where Cedric is?" he said through gritted teeth.
Blanching at the tone, she answered "No, I do not know where he is . . . he never tells me where he goes. Now if you will excuse me," she turned and went back up the stairs without looking back. All the while wondering what Cedric was up to now.
Raynhurst stomped out the door, he slammed it before the butler could
reach the handle. Getting back in his phaeton, Raynhurst sat there, thinking
of where to look. Sighing, he started his horses, and thought of the long
night he would be spending, checking the gaming hells.
* * * *
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