My Dear Catherine,
As I am sure you will recall from my last correspondence our attempt to retrieve Henrietta from Cheapside was not in the least successful. Indeed following the sudden death of our only suspect before he could reveal the location of the infamous parchment, Lord Woodville was thrown into a state of great agitation such as I have never witnessed in a gentleman. He paced before the man in thought, occasionally audibly issuing disconnected phrases.
“I believed him to be out of danger … It is unaccountable of him to perish thus.”
It was with more than a little horror that I then saw him stoop down to inspect the man, whom I should note had a strong and most unpleasant odour of mead long past its prime and the manure of a pig. I found myself to be drawn by my curiosity away from tending my poor aunt, whose sensibilities had been greatly disturbed by witnessing her niece shooting a man of such displeasing countenance with a pistol.
“Lord Woodville, what it is that has you thus perplexed?” I asked.
“Only this,” Replied the gentleman. “This man before me did not seem wounded severely enough to die so very eagerly.”
“Forgive me, but might I enquire of what it is you speak?” I said with some confusion.
“I am not yet certain.” He said as he opened the villain’s mouth and retrieved from within a dark yellowing object.
“What is That?” I cried in disgust of the acutest kind.
“This appears to be the parchment of which he spoke. It would seem that in his impatient desire to keep it from us, the ignorant fool tried to consume the parchment and choked upon it. I knew he could not be mortally wounded, for though your aim was true, he was hit in the shoulder!” He unfurled the scroll before a candle and I cast a discerning eye over it.
After a few moments I exclaimed, “Oh wretched luck! It has been greatly damaged and what is still distinguishable appears to be written in some form of Greek, I have never been truly accomplished and I cannot, therefore, make it out. We are no further along.”
“Miss Maria, pray do not lose hope for there is someone who may be able to decipher its meaning.” He took from the pocket of his great coat a piece of paper, quill and ink and began to write “Dear Elizabeth,”
“Of course, Elizabeth, for your sister has a thorough knowledge of drawing, dancing and languages.” I said.
Lord Woodville finished his note, scrawled “URGENT” upon it and summoned Foot to dispatch it immediately.
“Very good Sir,” Said Foot taking the note. ” I have laid tea in the parlour I thought perhaps some refreshment might be welcome.”
We adjourned to tea and I had not yet consumed my fifth cake when Mr Swan, the footman who had been positioned in the oak tree interrupted our repast by appearing in a state that showed a distinct lack of civility.
“Lord Woodville, Sir, forgive my delay in relaying this to you but I’m afraid my foot became so entirely entangled in the branches of that oak that I have just this instant managed to prise myself from it’s devilish grip.” He wheezed and wiped at the bleeding scratches upon his visage. “Sir, we saw two carriages making all haste eastwards from this very place. They had with them a young lady whose demeanour was expressive of great peril, If we leave at once we may catch up with them before the day is out!”
Upon hearing this I was, dear sister, overcome with a sudden desire fall prey to my nerves but I pushed such indulgences aside for this was not a time for female frailty.
We departed that very moment and were soon travelling at an alarming speed through the streets of London in pursuit of the captors carriages. However they had such a start on us that a great and almost insufferable length of time elapsed before we were upon them. Lord Woodville and I occupied ourselves by playing “Hit The Peasant” a game which entails throwing whatever is to hand at passing churls. It usually leads to raucous laughter, but on this occasion neither of us could truly apply ourselves. We stopped when I noticed that Lord Woodville, having run out of rotten fruit, was attempting to remove my shoe to throw at an intoxicated rustic balanced upon a wall. Though he would have fallen in the most satisfying fashion, I decided that I would, in all probability, need my shoe.
Upon rounding a corner we caught a glimpse of two identical carriages with a vibrant crest upon them, it seemed there was something about them that raised Lord Woodville’s suspicion for he declared animatedly. “There is something about those carriages that raises my suspicion.”
We had no sooner decided to pursue what we suspected were the vagabonds carriages than they separated. One veering sharply to the left and the other to the right. I was all shock and panic for which one should we follow?
“look ahead! It seems that Miss Henrietta is attempting to leave us a trail of some sort, yes, it would appear she is dropping the pages of her favourite novel “Persuasion” Lord Woodville seized my arm and showed me the fluttering pages falling from the carriage on the right.
“Nay!” I cried “Her favourite novel is not “Persuasion” but “Sense and Sensibility”
“Well perhaps that is she had to hand, she seems to wish most ardently that we follow it. Besides if “Persuasion” truly is her least favourite novel then maybe that is why she does not mind tearing it apart!” Lord Woodville replied. He then commanded the coachmen to pursue the carriage. We followed the pages through the maze that was London, until all of a sudden they stopped falling.
“She has run out of pages! Either that or she simply wishes to keep the pages in which Captain Wentworth finally sends Anne the letter, for I know I could not part with such romantic prose.” I said with feeling. Despite my temporary lapse into the fictional world I so adored the sudden end of the trail leaves me with a severe feeling of disquiet that all the nerve tonics in the country could not remedy.
Yours in agitation,