The Earl of Diamonds
Lydia quietly walked over to Elise as she was awakening. Sitting down on the edge of the bed, she took Elise's hand and held it.
"Grandmother, is there any news?" Elise asked hopefully.
"We are waiting for Stephen to return. Mr. Davidson came by, and he left in a hurry to go to Bow Street, so we are not sure what is happening," she answered gently.
Sitting up, Elise pushed back the covers, and feeling dizzy she put her hand to her forehead.
"I want to get up and come down stairs, I want to be there when Stephen comes back," she said anxiously, as she began to get up.
"Let me help you. You should get up and have something to eat. You are getting terribly weak from not eating, and we cannot have that when Anthony returns," she admonished.
"Yes, yes, I will eat something, please help me get dressed Grandmother," squeezing her grandmother hand with a pleading look, then going to the pitcher of water, she picked up a cloth to wash her face.
"We will get you into something casual that will be easy to slip into. How about this peach muslin?" she said as she brought the dress to Elise.
"Yes, that is fine," she answered, drying her face and reached for the hair brush.
"Here, you put on the dress and sit down. I will do your hair," Lydia said taking the brush from her hand.
"How is Agnes? She could have been killed, and I feel dreadful I have not been by to see how she is doing," Elise said with contrition.
"She is doing much better, especially since the footman, Robert, who carried her back, has been by quite frequently to see her . . . with bouquets of posies too!" she laughed, then added seriously, "Do not worry at not seeing her yourself, as she knows you have been in bed the whole time under medication."
When Elise was ready to go down stairs, her grandmother took her arm to steady her.
"I feel as if I had been in bed for a month. I feel so weak," she said shakily.
"It is because you have not eaten anything at all, since this has happened." she answered.
Descending the stairs slowly, they were near the bottom when Martin was opening the front door. He turned at hearing them, as the gentleman walked in.
"The Duke of Westborough, my ladies" he said, and showed the gentleman into the entryway.
Lydia and Elise both stopped in amazement.
"Edward?" Lydia asked still surprised.
Edward walked over to his mother and took her hand.
"Hello Mother, I had to come. I heard the terrible news of my nephew's abduction," he said with a concerned look at Elise.
"Let us go into the drawing room," she said, still holding Elise's arm. "Martin, will you bring us something there? Especially, some food for the Countess."
Taking Elise's other arm gently, Edward helped her to a chair in the drawing room. "I am so sorry, Elise. I cannot think of anything more horrifying than to have your child taken in this manner," he said gently.
Elise and her grandmother looked at each other speechless, at this new attitude of the Duke of Westborough.
Looking at his mother with remorse, he said, "I have not been a very loving son to you, or a good brother to Eleanor. When I saw Elise at the Hollingsworth's, it came as a revelation what an arrogant, selfish, pretentious, snob I have been, and how badly I had treated Eleanor all those years ago, without ever getting a chance to tell her I was sorry. I looked for you later in the evening, and you both had left. Then the next day I heard of the kidnaping, and thought of my daughter, and how I would feel if anything happened to her. I knew I should be with you in your time of need, and would like to do anything I can to help."
"Oh Edward!" his mother cried as she put her arms around him.
"Thank you, Uncle Edward. This means so much to me that you came," Elise said, with a trembling smile through her tears.
Lydia wiped the tears from her eyes, as Martin entered with the serving cart. Edward helped her to a chair next to Elise, and then pulled another up and sat down. He felt so relieved to have this burden of guilt lifted, like he had been reborn. He wished his wife had been more understanding when he wanted to come here, but she refused to come with him.
When I get home, I will take Marissa on a vacation, and get to know her. She must be such a lonely child without any attention from either parent. Why had I not noticed before? Why did it have to take a dreadful incident like this to make me realize it?
Raynhurst and Mr. Davidson were just getting out of the carriage in front of Raynhurst's town house, when a coach, with outriders, travelling fast, pulled the sweaty horses to a halt behind their carriage. The Raynhurst's grooms rushed to see to the horses.
Raynhurst started walking toward the carriage, curious as to who could be in such haste, when the door opened, and the steps were let down by the footman. Michael stepped out, turned around, reached in the carriage, and lifted Anthony into his arms.
"Anthony!" Raynhurst cried, as he ran to his son. Michael handed the happy boy to him, and Raynhurst hugged him tightly with a sigh of relief at having him back.
With an eager look on his face, a delighted Anthony bursting with the news of his adventure, pushed back in his father's arms, looking him in the eyes with his own wide eyes.
"Papa! Unka My-Ka hit the mean man, and tied him up! I was on Unka My-ka's big boat!"
Looking confused, Raynhurst said "You were on Uncle Michael's ship in Bristol?"
Nodding, Anthony said, "This grr-reat big man took me there after we left Aga-nus . . . he hurt Aga-nus," he frowned, with a pouted lip, "and gave me to the mean man....and he took me on Unka My-Ka's boat!" So excited about telling his father, he had forgotten all the frightening hours he had spent in the company of Bigley.
Michael explained how he had seen the carriage pull up to his ship, and did not know it was Anthony that was being sold. When the man brought him on board, Anthony yelled to him, and he quickly stopped the man from leaving.
"Where is the man now?" Mr. Davidson asked amazed at this new development.
"I have him tied up on the boat until we straighten this out. I just might dump his overboard later," he said with a sadistic grin.
Raynhurst introduced Michael to Mr. Davidson, then turned to his footman standing near, telling him to see to the comfort of the outriders and coachman.
"Let us go inside, so your Maman will know you are safe," he said to his son, then turning to Michael, "And you can tell me what happened, and who took him. Did you find out who the man was?"
"Yes, with a little forceful persuasion, he told me what I wanted to know," Michael answered as they headed to the front door.
Hearing the disturbance in the front entryway, Elise and Lydia looked anxiously toward the door. The duke rose from his chair, as the door opened, and Raynhurst came in carrying Anthony, followed by Michael and Mr. Davidson.
"Anthony, my Anthony!" Elise cried as she ran toward him. Raynhurst gave Anthony to his mother with a smile at her elation. It was good to see his wife happy again.
Lydia came up behind her, and putting her hand on her granddaughter's shoulder, said, "Thank God, he is safe!"
Anthony happily enjoyed all the attention. At his mother's happy tears, he held her face with his little hands, and said, "Do not cry, Maman. Unka My-ka hit the mean man and brought me home," he said seriously.
Elise and Lydia both looked over at Michael, seeing him for the first time. Edward turned toward him in amazement, as he had not seen Michael in years.
Michael stood with a big grin on his face.
"I couldn't let my mate here be shanghaied could I?" he said laughing.
Elise and Lydia both start talking at the same time, Michael held up his hand, and said, "First things, first. Get your boy settled, he had a long trip, then we will talk later. Raynhurst and I have business to take care of now."
Turning to the other man in the room, he looked at him curiously, as Edward stared back.
"Hello Michael," Edward said with a smile that changed his gaunt look to a warm, gentle expression.
"Well, I'll be . . . Edward? By God! It is you!" he said, as he went to his brother, taking him by the shoulders, and with a gentle shake, "Never thought I'd see you again, Brother!" he said smiling.
Flushing, Edward smiled "Yes, well . . . I felt the same . . . it has been a long time, has it not?"
Lydia watched them through tear brightened eyes, with her hands clasped together on her breast, then turned to Elise, who stood hugging her son tightly, smothering him with kisses.
"Shall we take this adventurous boy to get him something to eat? Marion, and Emily, will be happy to see him, they should be back shortly, and Anthony can tell us of his adventure," she said cheerfully, as Elise and Anthony went with her to the dining parlor.
After introducing Mr. Davidson, to the Duke of Westborough, he led them into the library for more privacy. He poured them all a brandy, while they settled comfortably in their chairs.
"Now, tell us Michael, who the bastard is that took my son," he said as he sat down behind the desk and leaned back in his chair.
"The one who is tied up on my ship is from the West Indies. His name is Satero. He works for a plantation owner who collects little children as his hobby."
There was a gasp from the others at this, and Michael nodded solemnly, "Yes, a rotten business. He bought Anthony from a man named Rufus Bigley, who lives in London. Bigley sent him a message saying he would have a nice blue-blooded little boy for him, and he would meet him at the ship that Satero had booked passage."
Angrily Raynhurst interrupted, "Where is this Bigley!"
"Satero said he hangs out at the Red Dog Tavern, in St. Giles. I thought we might pay him a visit. Well, not you exactly, because he is sure to know who you are. I thought maybe, since I am just a sea captain, he won't pay much attention when I approach him. Besides, I will be able to recognize him, after seeing him on the dock. Then I'll lure him out to the carriage, and we can persuade him to say who hired him," he finished with a big grin.
At this Mr. Davidson cleared his throat, "I believe this is where I come into the picture. We should bring him to Bow Street for questioning."
"I want to kill him myself," growled Raynhurst furious at the thought of his son being sold to a sick perverted degenerate.
"I think you would rather have the person who hired him to do it, wouldn't you?" said Davidson.
"I want them both! We'll go now, before he finds out Anthony didn't get shipped out," he said getting up, and the other's followed his lead.
Michael stood just inside the doorway of the tavern, until his eyes adjusted to the dimly smoke-filled room. Seeing the man he wanted at a corner table, he casually worked his way over to the table.
"Hallo Mate! Are you Bigley? I was told you'd steer me in the right direction for a bit o' fun," Michael said grinning and winked, as he sat down across from Bigley.
Looking at Michael, shrewdly, "Tha' so? 'n wot kinna fun ye be lookin' fer?" he said, glancing at the ship captain uniform, wondering how much money he might have with him.
"I could use a wench that don't mind how I treat her, as long as I pay good. The brothels get kinda touchy if you're too rough with the gels," he shrugged.
"Aye, tha' be true," Bigley said nodding agreement, thinking of Cedric Lovell and his brutal practice.
"You gonna help me?" Michael asked, touching his pocket where he kept the money, "I'll make it worth your time," he smiled.
"O'course ye will, 'n ye not be sorry, fer I know jest th' gel fer ye," Bigley winked, as he thought how easy this was going to be to get his money.
"I have a carriage, waiting out front, shall we go, Mate? Being so long at sea, I'm in a hurry to get my little pleasure party started," Michael chuckled as he rose from the chair.
They left the tavern and walked to a carriage parked in front. Michael opened the door with one hand, took out a pistol with the other and pressed it against Bigley's back.
"Wot ye . . .'ay!" Bigley surprised, tumbled forward into the carriage as Michael shoved with the pistol. Arms within the carriage grabbed him to pull him inside. Pushed onto the seat, Bigley saw other pistol's pointed at him. Michael climbed in and shut the carriage door, as it pulled away from the tavern.
Looking at the others in the carriage, Bigley recognized the Earl of Raynhurst. Nervously, his eyes shifted from Raynhurst's angry face, to the dueling pistol in his hand.
"Wot ye goin' do wit' me?" Bigley stammered.
"Right now, we are heading for the Bow Street magistrates' office," Mr. Davidson answered.
"We are just making sure you go calmly," Michael answered with a smile, as he put his pistol away in his coat pocket. Picking up a rope off the floor, he reached over and tied it around Bigley, pinning his arms to his side.
Edward watched how well his brother had handled the situation, and was proud of him. He was glad he had come over to the house today. What started out as a terrible misfortune, is turning out to be an interesting turn of events, and he was gratified to be part of it as a member of the family.
The carriage pulled up at the Bow Street building, and the four men led the prisoner to the same room Cedric had occupied earlier that morning.
Bigley was sweating with fear. He was sure Raynhurst believed he had killed his son, and afraid to tell him he sold him.
"Who hired you? Who had you kidnap my son?" snarled Raynhurst.
Hoping to bargain, Bigley said cautiously, "If'n I tell ye, ye'll let me go?"
Michael laughed. "No Mate, but you don't want to swing alone, now do you?"
Bigley paled as the blood left his face, he squirmed in his chair at the thought of being hanged.
"T'wuz Lovell tha' 'ired me t'off th' lad. 'e sez 'e wuz goin' t'be th' Earl, when 'e pays me fer yer accident t'nite," Bigley said nervously.
"Cedric! Cedric is behind all this? He wanted you to kill my son?" Raynhurst said, shaken at the thought of his cousin ordering his son's death.
"He also wanted you dead, Lord Raynhurst," Mr. Davidson said, looking at Bigley he added, "He had arranged for you to plan an accident for Raynhurst tonight?"
"Aye, 'e wuz t'meet me 'n pay me 'aff me fee first," he said sullenly.
"What time tonight?" asked Raynhurst.
Bigley shrugged, "Jest sez 'e wud meet me 'n th' Red Dog ' t'nite."
"We should be waiting for him," Michael said.
"I have a man following him right now, I'll send some men to pick him up and bring him in here."
"Since this is Cedric we are dealing with, would he not be informed through the family that Anthony is safe?" asked Edward.
"Yes, you are right, we will have to act fast," Davidson said, as he went to the door, opened it, and motioned to someone in the hallway.
Bigley sat up straight, suddenly alert, "Wot ye mean? Th'lad is safe?" he questioned.
"You failed, Bigley. My son is home safe, thanks to Michael. Fortunately, the ship you put him on was Captain Michael Carlisle's, and he is Anthony's uncle!" Raynhurst was delighted to inform him.
Bigley looked at Michael and at his captain's uniform as it dawned on him what Raynhurst said.
"Yer son ain't gone to the Wes'Indeez, 'n ye got 'im back? Then I ain't goin' 'ang?" he asked hopefully.
"If you are lucky at your court hearing, you may be transported instead of the gallows, but do not forget the young woman you stabbed when you kidnaped the boy," Mr. Davidson reminded him.
Bigley, slumped in his chair, not knowing whether to be relieved or not.
Raynhurst shook his head, "My own cousin. When he told us that story this morning, he seemed to be telling the truth; I believed him, and he was lying right to my face. He murdered Karen, and paid to have my son murdered. How could he be such a vicious, heartless monster," he said sadly.
Cedric was walking up the steps of his town house, when he was approached by two well-dressed, rough-looking men.
"I beg pardon, Mr. Lovell, but Mr. Davidson would like to speak to you," the detective said politely, "Would you come along please?"
"Mr. Davidson? You mean Mr. Davidson of Bow Street?" Cedric asked, while his mind was quickly assessing the situation.
"That is correct. We would like you to come with us," the other said, more firmly.
Turning to ascend his front steps, he said over his shoulder, "Sorry, I have more important things to do."
Putting a strong hand on Cedric's arm, the biggest of the two said, "No, Mr. Lovell, your important things can wait. You will come with us to Bow Street . . . willingly . . . or forcefully."
Cornelia had been standing at the parlor window, when she saw the men approach her son. Sensing trouble, she went to the front door. Opening it, she saw the man had hold of Cedric's arm.
"You Sir! What is the meaning of this! How dare you accost my son in that manner!" Cornelia shrieked, with outraged indignation.
Both of the men looked up in surprise at the old woman with the shrilly voice.
Cedric, embarrassed at his mother's interference, said angrily, "Mother, go back into the house. This is none of your business!"
Stunned at her son turning on her in front of these commoners, she lifted her chin higher, looking at him with contempt, "Cedric, do not talk to me in that tone. I will not have persons of this sort acting rudely on my front doorstep!" she said arrogantly.
His mother left him no alternative. In order to get back his dignity, he would have to willing go along with the men. He would make his complaint to Mr. Davidson.
He glared at his mother, and turned to leave. Shrugging the hand off his arm, he said coldly, "Shall we go Gentlemen? I believe you said Mr. Davidson was waiting."
As they walked to a carriage parked across the street, one man on each side of Cedric, Cornelia felt an ominous premonition that Cedric was not returning.
As they waited for the runners to bring Cedric in, Raynhurst paced, while Michael and Edward sat in the corner talking quietly together. Mr. Davidson sat at the desk, writing down what Bigley had confessed to, and Bigley sat slumped in his chair staring at the floor.
Finally, they heard voices in the hallway, and Raynhurst could hear Cedric's voice complaining of being badgered.
The door open, and an irate Cedric stomped into the room. As he looked up angrily to complain to Mr. Davidson, he stopped, looked at the faces in the room, then at Bigley tied to the chair. He paled, turned to run, and was stopped by the men standing in the doorway.
Turning back, he looked at Raynhurst's face, full of revulsion, and bowed his head knowing he was finished, his life would be over.
Raynhurst walked over to Michael, and handed him the pistol. "Take care of this for me. If I have it in my hand another minute I will shoot him," then turning to Mr. Davidson, he said, "I'll leave you to handle it from here on, I cannot stay in the same room with him any longer. Just make sure he hangs," and he walked out of the room.
Michael and Edward said good bye to Mr. Davidson, thanking him for his fast work in picking Cedric up. Then without looking at Cedric, they followed Raynhurst.
Michael stopped at the door, turned and said, "Cedric . . . Anthony is alive, so all this was for nothing . . . and you will still hang."
Surprised, Cedric looked over at Bigley. You didn't kill the boy? What did you do with him?
Bigley's cheeks and ears turned red. He lowered his eyes and slumped in the chair without answering.
"He sold him," Mr. Davidson answered, with a sardonic smile. "He took your money, and then sold him for more."
"Sold him!" Cedric exclaimed, glaring at Bigley.
"That's right. You can't trust anybody these days, can you?"
Davidson chuckled, then ordered his men to tie up Cedric and escort him
* * * *
[Chapter 16] [Back] [Menu]