This month I am starting with a story written for my sister who wanted me to combine her favourite television programmes, Jane Austen adaptations and 24!

Although it sounded challenging I was quite surprised how well the world of 24 lent itself to the Regency period. Though obviously I had to change the time constraints a little to allow for the eighteenth century postal service.

So here is 24 Days (part 1).

My dearest Sister,
I am afraid that I must cast away the cordial warmth of our usual correspondences for I have neither humour nor the time for them at present. I have the gravest of news to relate, you must prepare yourself for the worst, worse even than elopement. Our youngest sister has been taken captive!

I am afraid that upon reading these words you probably found it entirely necessary to faint and I forgive you such an indulgence, however you must compose yourself so that I might convey the details of the affair to you. Lord Woodville came to me this morning in the greatest Agitation, you recall Lord Woodville I am certain. He attended the assembly in Bath last season, the fellow with the dark hair and eyes of a most peculiar blue, inclined to hurry the quadrille steps. It seems that a message was mistakenly delivered to him, written in a hand so illegible that it was only upon the seventeenth reading that the contents were fully made out and the intended recipient known. Sister it was meant for me, it was from person or person’s unknown and claims that Henrietta has been taken by these wretched fiends, these highwaymen and shall not be returned to us unless I meet with their demands, which at present are thus, they ask for the larger part of my own not inconsiderable fortune which naturally I would give up entirely for it is of no importance. However they ask also for something else, something harder to give. They believe that I have in my possession information of great importance and value. I must bring both the money and afore-mentioned information to Brighton, such a disagreeable town, in only twenty-four days time. My dearest Catherine I fear this may be an impossibility!

I read that confounded note again and again until it was learned by heart and yet still comprehension would not come.
“I cannot understand!” I repeated to myself “what Information do they refer too?”
Lord Woodville who had stood silent, engaged in watching a pair of duelling footman in the park, turned and upon seeing my despair spoke with such sincerity and such an earnest look upon his brow.
“Miss Maria, forgive me but I am familiar with the contents of that letter and allow me first to express my …” I would not let him finish for my nerves were in such an intolerable state of affliction that I was in no humour to hear platitudes, especially from a man with a lisp.
“Sir, pray, do not express anything, for this is not the time for concern and condolence. It is time for action. I must depart immediately if I am to have any hope whatever of retrieving my sister! And yet what hope have I if their demands are as unfathomable as this, For I do not know what it is I am supposed to know. Do you understand?”
He nodded gravely and after some consideration spoke
“Miss Maria, I was, as you know attached to a regiment for a time and have a little experience in such matters. Allow me to offer my assistance for this is a crisis too severe to be dealt with alone.”
I hastily agreed for he was right, Saving Henrietta is a task beyond the abilities of one person..
“Might I suggest then,” said he “that we leave instantly for Woodville park, not that your own home is not delightful, indeed I am quite in raptures over you window dressings. However I have the largest supply of guns in the county, a veritable army of footmen and a supply of maps. All of which are at your disposal until we once more have Henrietta amongst us.”
I thanked him in the most animated language and summoned the carriage.

Allow me to assure you that despite my considerable torment at this time I was not foolish enough to ignore the conventions of propriety, I have taken old Aunt Margaret, as vexing as her disagreeable features are as my chaperone. It is to Woodville Park that we three now travel with the utmost haste. I shall write again as soon as events will permit.

Your affectionate sister,
Maria.

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