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The Earl of Diamonds


CHAPTER 14



Bigley's coachman slowed the horses, and pulled the carriage near the Bristol quay and stopped.

Leaning across to where Anthony lay curled up on the seat, Rufus Bigley gave him a shake.

"Git yerself up, lad!" he barked at Anthony.

Anthony hurriedly sat up, rubbed his eyes, and looked out the window. There was a huge ship at dockside. Forgetting his troubles for the moment he stared at the ship, while Bigley opened the carriage door and stepped out. Bigley turning to Anthony, picked him up and said, "Come 'ere, we'll be meetin' yer shipmate."

He carried Anthony over to a well-dressed slender man, with a light brown complexion, standing on the quay.

"I see ye got me message, Satero," he grinned.

"Yes, and your right, this is a prime piece of merchandise," he said, looking Anthony over. "Well worth the price. He looks about two or three, wouldn't you say?"

"Lad's two I'm told," Bigley answered.

"Well, give him to me and you can go," as he handed him the pouch, Bigley shifted Anthony in his arms and gave him to Satero.

As he was being exchanged, Anthony became frightened and started to whimper.

Satero, gave him a shake, "I'll have none of that! Hear me? You will behave . . . or I will give you something to cry about," he said harshly.

Anthony, trembling, quieted down, and turned his head away from the man, so he wouldn't see his tears, as they walked away.


Aboard his ship, Captain Michael Carlisle leaned against the railing and watched his passengers arrive. He had thirty-five on this trip along with the cargo. He was always interested to see who would be traveling with him, and if they looked like they could make a long sea voyage.

At the bottom of the loading plank, a lanky looking man waited off to the side leaning against one of the post on the quay. As Michael watched, a carriage pulled up near the man. A large, burly man carrying a child got out, and walked over to him. The two men conversed a few minutes, then the lanky man handed a small pouch to the man with the child. The child was given to the lanky man, who seemed to sternly reprimand the child before turning toward the loading plank.

Shaking his head in disgust, Michael was always sickened at how the impoverished people would sell their children into bondage. There seemed to be more and more of it going on the past few years. He didn't like the looks of the man and hated to think that this person was to be a passenger.

Moving toward the head of the loading plank, Michael wanted to let the man know right away that he would not put up with any mistreatment of the boy while on board his ship.

Anthony, terrified of this new man, who seemed worst than the last one, bit his lip to keep it from trembling, and trying not to cry so the man would not hurt him. He looked at the big ship in awe, and as they were just stepping onto the ship, he saw a golden bearded man coming toward them, and his eyes lit up in recognition.

"Unka My-ka! Unka My-ka!" he cried eagerly.

Michael, astonished that the boy being sold was Anthony, rushed to intercept the man, to prevent him from getting back on the loading plank to leave.

When Anthony had cried out, Satero saw the big, bearded Captain coming toward him in an angry rage. He let go of Anthony, and tried to get back on the plank, but before he took one step onto it, Michael lunged at him grabbing him by the collar, and spinning him around. Satero felt the impact of the large fist, as it hit the side of his face, before blackness came as he fell.

"Tie this scum up," Michael said to one of the crewmen before turning to Anthony sitting on the deck.

Anthony scrambles to his feet, and Michael picked him up. Wrapping his arms tightly around Uncle Michael's neck, he began to sob.

"Did he hurt you?" Michael asked anxiously, and he could feel Anthony shake his head against his shoulder. Relieved, he hugged him tightly.

"I'll take you home, Mate," he said gently.

Michael then turned to one of his crewmen, and in a commanding tone, said, "Bracken, go immediately and hire a fast coach and four outriders, I want them now. I need to get to London as quick as possible."

Then addressing a huge, muscular crewman, "Groden, take this blackguard and get information. His name, where he's from, and especially the name of the man who gave him this boy, and where to find him. Find out as much as you can, then I want to hold him here till I get back with further instructions," pausing he added, "And Groden, make sure he talks." Michael then carried Anthony down to his cabin.


Tired from the long unsuccessful night of looking for Cedric, Raynhurst returned home, hoping to hear some news from Davidson about his son.

The houses on the block were beginning to show lights, as the servants were rising to start their morning chores.

Raynhurst went wearily up the stairs to his room to see Elise. Entering and seeing that she was still sleeping, he breathed a sigh of relief as he turned to the chair where her grandmother was curled up asleep. Touching her on the shoulder, and as she stirred, he whispered "Lydia, go on to your room and go to bed. I will be here now."

Nodding her head, she slowly rose and looked over at Elise, then left the room, closing the door quietly behind her.

Undressing and getting into bed, Raynhurst pulled Elise into his arms, kissed the top of her head, and exhausted, fell asleep.



Cedric sat down at the table in the St. Giles Tavern, and tossed the leather pouch on it. Bigley, with a smug grin on his face, watched him, then picked up the pouch putting it in his pocket.

"Well, well . . . ye know wot I 'eard? I 'eard the Earl o' Raynhurst's 'eir to 'is fortune wuz snatched. It seems ye lied, ain't yers ye want'd done in. Ye knew it'd cost ye more fer 'n Earl's brat. Ye owes me more'n wot ye were t'pay or . . . might be I'd git a bigger reward fer let'n th' Earl know," Bigley said as he raised his mug.

Cedric paled in alarm. "You wouldn't! You'll hang if you said you killed him!" he cried.

Bigley laughed, "No, I jest need to send a note sayin' I know who paid fer 'is death, 'n make a trade, 'e sends me a reward fer a name . . . lest ye might be wantin' t'pay me more?" he said shrewdly.

Cedric slumped in his seat and put his hand over his face. This can't fall apart now! he thought. I'm too close. I just need to get rid of Raynhurst.

Suddenly he sat up with a brightness in his eyes, and leaned forward. Bigley looked at him warily.

"I will pay you 10,000 to get rid of Raynhurst! You won't get that much from him, and you would not be taking the risk that he might catch you," he said with renewed zeal.

"Ye want me t' off 'im?" Bigley said surprised.

"Yes! Only this time make it look like an accident. I do not want anyone suspicious, especially right after his son is missing," he said thoughtfully.

"When do ye want i'done? Wot 'bout me fee?" he asked suspiciously.

"I will have it. With the same arrangements as before, with half in advance. Meet me here tomorrow evening, and you can tell me how you are going to accomplish the deed," he said firmly.

"Wot's yer reason fer 'im dyin'?" Bigley asked curiously.

"Why, I am next in line to be the Earl . . . since his son is no longer alive," Cedric said with a smile. Then a frown crossed his forehead, as he added. "Did you make my usual arrangements with Old Meg?"

"Aye . . . ye wuz too ruff agin, but th' gel ain't dead," Bigley muttered in disgust.

"Good, I will not keep her waiting then," Cedric smirked, as he rose to leave.

Leaving the tavern, Cedric thought about how untrustworthy Bigley had become. I will have to get rid of him, after he finishes Raynhurst. When I meet him to pay the balance of his fee, he will get more than he expects. He smiled wryly, as he got into his carriage.



Raynhurst awoke at Elise's whimpering and uttering Anthony's name. He held her tighter, and brushed the hair off of her face as he whispered, "We'll find him Elise, I promise. Don't cry, you'll make yourself sick, . . . and Anthony will need you when we find him."

"I..sh..I should ha..have..been..with..him!" she sobbed. "It..it's..all . . . my . . . fault!" as she looked up at him with eyes swimming in tears.

The tears came to his eyes as he looked into hers. "It's not your fault, Elise. If it is anyone's, it is mine for telling Agnes to go on without you," he said quietly.

"Oh Stephen! What are we going to do? He may be hurt or..or.," crying again, she started to get up. "I've got to go find him!"

"Elise!" he said scrambling out of the bed, and catching her arm as she headed for the hallway door. He turned her around and pulled her back into his arms.

"Elise, you've got to calm down, you are not going to do Anthony any good by running off like that. We have Bow Street runners all over London looking for him. I have friends checking for information. You will have to be here when we hear anything. Do you understand?" walking her over to the bed he sat down with her, "I'll ring for someone to bring you something to eat."

"No, I cannot eat. I would not be able to swallow it, my throat feels as if there is a lump in it already. Besides, the food would not stay down," she said with a shudder.

Raynhurst reached for the glass of water, and the medicine. Mixing some into the water, he held it for her.

"Drink this Elise, it will make you feel calmer so you can think more clearly."

Elise, with a trembling hand on top of his holding the glass, drank the mixture, then rested her head on his shoulder.

"I'm sorry, Stephen. I just feel that my insides are going to tear apart. Not knowing is such torture."

"I know sweetheart, it is the same for me," he said rocking her gently.

Raynhurst held her in his arms until she fell asleep again, and gently laying her down, he covered her. He then got up, dressed, and left the room quietly.
 

On the stairs, as he was going down, Raynhurst met the housekeeper, Mrs. Reese.

"Would you have someone sit in the room with the Countess until I return, Mrs. Reese? She is asleep and I do not want to leave her alone."

"Yes milord. I will send Lucille up," she said as she turned to go back down the stairs to fetch the maid.

"How is Agnes? Is the Doctor coming back today to look at her arm again?" he asked concerned, descending the stairs with her.

"He said he will be here this afternoon. Agnes is doing well, although the arm pains her a bit," she answered.

"She was a brave girl to try and stop him from taking Anthony. I will go look in on her later. Give her my regards, if you will please."

"Yes, milord. She will be honored you inquired about her," she smiled at him, and curtseyed before going to the back of the house.

Raynhurst went into his library, to write a note to Mr. Davidson. Hoping that the detective would come, and bring him up-to-date on his investigation of Anthony's kidnapping.

When he had finished, he went to the breakfast parlor, to get something quick before going back upstairs. Aunt Emily and his mother were sitting at the table having their breakfast.

"Did you hear anything new, Stephen?" his mother asked.

"No, I'm afraid not, Mother," he sighed.

"Did you find Cedric?" Aunt Emily inquired.

Shaking his head, he took a sip of coffee and said, "I had been to every gaming hell in town last night, and to his home, but could not locate him. I will try later today."

"Maybe you ought to rest a little first, Stephen. You are not looking well at all," his mother said worried. "How is Elise?"

"She awoke crying and started to get upset again. I gave her some more of the medicine, so she would sleep. It is better if she slept through the morning, until I can find out something. She wanted to go running out looking for Anthony," he said looking down at his cup.

"Beg Pardon, milord. Mr. Davidson is here to see you. I had him wait in the library," Martin announced.

Raynhurst got up quickly from his chair and hurried to the library, hoping it is good news.

"Mr. Davidson? Did you find him?" he asked anxiously, as soon as he walked in the door.

Looking at the eagerness on Raynhurst's face, he hated to disappoint him.

"Not yet, my lord. We are still looking, my men have been checking out some leads they were given by some of our informers," he said regrettably.

Raynhurst motioned for him to sit down, and Davidson shook his head.

"No, my lord. I would like you to come with me to the Bow Street magistrates' office. You see, we had waited at the pawnshop for the thief this morning, and he had shown up as soon as the pawnshop opened. He looked as if he had been up all night."

"You caught the thief! Who is it? What is his name? Do I know him?" Raynhurst said astonished.

"Yes, my lord, it is Cedric Lovell, your cousin."

"Cedric!" Raynhurst stunned, sat down in the nearest chair.

"Mr. Lovell is denying the theft of the bracelets, saying he won the pouch of diamonds in a card game at a gaming house. He is acting the outraged citizen, and demanding that we should release him. I thought I had better come talk to you, and have you come down. I did not want to release him, for my instincts tell me he is lying. It is a touchy situation, when it involves nobility, especially since he is your own cousin," he said irritated.

Raynhurst looked at the detective's resolute expression. Then he thought about Cedric watching Elise and Anthony in the park. Thinking aloud he said, "Could Cedric commit murder? Would he have killed Karen?" he looked at the floor a moment in contemplation, then again at the detective.

"Mr. Davidson, I was told yesterday, that Cedric had been watching my wife and son in the park every morning this past week. Do you suppose he was planning Anthony's abduction? You know, he was next in line to inherit after me, until Anthony was born," he said apprehensively.

Frowning, Mr. Davidson answered, "We best be going, Lord Raynhurst. It seems now there are more critical questions to ask your cousin."


Cedric, tired from being up all night, sat in the chair, nervously tapping his fingers on the table next to him. The Bow Street detective sat across from him, writing on a tablet, ignoring him as if he wasn't there, irritating Cedric further.

"What are we sitting here for? I demand to be released!" he said indignantly.

Glancing at him, then back to his tablet, "We are waiting for Mr. Davidson to return," he answered calmly.

"I'll have you dismissed for this! I have very influential friends and am related to the Earl of Raynhurst!" Cedric said angrily.

"When Mr. Davidson arrives, you may discuss that with him," he said as he continued writing.

Cedric realizing it was no use trying to threaten this detective, he began to ponder his situation. No one has any real evidence, only that I had the diamonds. Those could have easily been won at gambling. They will have to let me go. The trouble is, I do not have the diamonds now, or Bigley's fee to kill Raynhurst. That is another problem, if I do not pay him, he will definitely go to Raynhurst to collect a reward for giving him my name as the one who planned Anthony's death. The only solution is to get rid of Bigley. At least one thing was accomplished . . . Raynhurst's son is dead.
 

Mr. Davidson and Raynhurst arrived at the Magistrate Office, and went to the room where Cedric was being held. Mr. Davidson opening the door, was standing in front of Raynhurst, so that Cedric did not see him.

Jumping up from his chair, Cedric began to complain about being held. Raynhurst stepped into view, and Cedric, first startled at seeing his cousin, quickly changed to a nonchalant demeanor.

"Well Cuz, I see they have brought you here to straighten this out. I am sure you will tell them what an idiotic mistake they have made," he said dryly, smoothing his jacket.

Staring at his cousin, with narrowed eyes, Raynhurst envisioned the unscrupulous acts, he remembered Cedric having done in the past, and believed Mr. Davidson was right.

"Why were you spying on my wife in the park?" he said harshly.

Cedric blanched, his thoughts scurrying for an excuse.

"What do you mean spying on your wife," he asked in feigned surprise.

"You were seen every morning for the past week, watching my wife and son in Green Park," Stephen accused.

"My dear Cuz, I just happened to be in the park to meet with a...ah . . . lady for a morning tryst, I am sure you understand our discretion," grinning knowingly, "While I waited, I amused myself by watching your lovely family enjoy their outing," Cedric answered.

Raynhurst scrutinized his cousin, torn with doubt whether he was telling the truth. Looking at Mr. Davidson, who had the same doubt on his face, Raynhurst said, "It is possible he could have been meeting someone, and that he had won the diamonds in a card game. That is his usual way he conducts his life. He has always been a libertine."

"I say Cuz! That is not a very flattering recommendation of my character," Cedric jested, relieved at knowing he was going to get out of this mess.

Davidson walked to the table and signed some papers, "You are free to leave, Mr. Lovell, sorry for your inconvenience," he said coldly.

"Your men should be more careful who they arrest, Mr. Davidson. It would save a lot of wasted time. Good day gentlemen," he nodded then briskly walked out of the room.

Raynhurst sat is the chair Cedric had vacated, putting his head in his hands. Mr. Davidson walked over to the detective, behind the table and said, "Get someone now. Have him followed, around the clock, twenty-four hours a day. I want to know what he does every minute."

"Yes Sir. Right away," the detective answered, as he hurried from the room.

Raynhurst looked up confused. "You still believe he is lying? That he is the thief and he murdered Karen?  His story seems so plausible, especially for him."

"Yes, my lord, I do. I also think he had something to do with your son's abduction.  And if so, we have no time to waste, we have to keep an eye on him, to see where he goes," he said tactfully.
 
 

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