My dearest Catherine, I am certain that having been the recipient of such a letter you have undoubtedly had pause in your reading of it to compose yourself (I am only too aware of how you suffer from your nerves) I hope you are now sufficiently restored to continue your perusal.
Woodville and I continued to face the afore mentioned Influenza weapon which grew ever more sinister with each grain of sand that passed through the hour glass. Had I not felt that such a vice would tend toward the vulgar I should have cursed like an ill bred sailor, Woodville however displayed no such restraint.
“Damnation to it all!” Cried he with a despairing flourish. “Elizabeth, come hither!” Continued he.
Elizabeth entered the room presently, and it was not long before she had full appreciation of the situation.
“Elizabeth, we must at all costs prevent this glass bell from breaking, lest the influenza should spread and cause us all to fall perilously ill!” Said Woodville with an intensity he reserved for such occasions.
To my astonishment Elizabeth turned away from the weapon, and the not inconsiderable danger it posed, and began searching through the bureau once more.
“Elizabeth, what in the name of all things of a French hemline are you doing?” I enquired.
She did not respond until, gathering her skirts about her, she made all haste back to my side holding what appeared to be a delicate drawing in her hand.
“I have found the design for the weapon. Pray, Maria, regard if you will the elegant hand in which they have been drawn.” Said she.
“Indeed, they have been executed with a great deal of skill,” Was my eager response, “confess I am quite enraptured!”
“Ladies, cease your admiration!” Interrupted Woodville in tones of vexation. “Pray, defer your raptures until after we have prevented our imminent death.”
“Very well. Maria, have you still your dagger about your person?” I answered her enquiry in the affirmative and Elizabeth began issuing orders to me. “Maria, it would appear that you must first sever the connection betwixt the hourglass and the bell by removing that small brass part thither.”
I took up my blade and began displacing the piece in question. My hands were all of a tremble as I did so. It was not long before I had succeeded, however to my astonished horror it appeared to be to no avail.
“Elizabeth it has had little or no effect, the sand will not desist .” My voice was now full of feminine hysteria.
“Nay, I was mistaken.” Elizabeth replied.
“Mistaken?” Cried Woodville in horror.
“Indeed, despite my many accomplishments it is not within my power to be correct all of the time! Now pray, give me but a moment”
“I do not believe Maria has a moment.” Henry was all fearful intensity.
I was falling pray to female frailty and was certain I should faint by and by.
“Woodville, might I prevail upon you to bring me my smelling salts? Else I shall be overwhelmed by the hysterics once more.” Was my entreaty to my husband.
It was not above seven and twenty seconds before I had both smelling salts and Elizabeth’s assurances that the second bronze piece would render the weapon quite harmless. I obeyed with an elegant and dexterous movement of my dagger and looked on as, with the decided suddenness of an heiress spurning unwanted affections, the sand ceased to run through the glass.
Woodville did not allow himself the indulgence of celebration, instead with a graceful quickstep he rounded upon Mr. Peterson, who sat still bound to the chair.
“You, Peterson, If you do not show an obliging eagerness to share with me all you know about this plot I shall take you forthwith into your study, open that glass bell and mop your unlucky brow with tat kerchief! Do you comprehend?” My husband spoke with threatening authority.
Taking in the resolution not to part with any such information that was etched across Peterson’s visage (which was subject to the double misfortunes of a gouty complexion and a nose that would be better suited to a bird of prey) Woodville Cast away any illusion of calm. Seizing the unhappy fellow by the lapels of his excellently cut coat he began to haul him toward the study.
“Elizabeth, Maria, avert your eyes, I have no desire to expose you to such malicious caprice.” Said Woodville as he drew ever closer to the glass bell. “Hear this, you son of a churl,” Continued he “I am in no humour to be trifled with!”
Just as Woodville looked set to lift the bell Peterson’s resolve vanished as fast as the reputation of a coquettish debutante who reveals herself to be a determined flirt!
“Nay! Nay! Cease! I shall tell what you wish to know!” cried he whence his complexion had turned a most intolerable hue. “There is another weapon! Another weapon which is above five and thirty times the size of this one, it has already been placed aloft in the Abbey of Westminster and shall be deployed just as the marriage vows are being said! It will be heavily guarded and there is nought you can do to stop it.” declared the villainous fiend with a grimace that revealed his surprisingly good teeth. Woodville threw Peterson to the ground with a cry of vexation.
“The Abbey is not far from here, if we take our leave this instant we should find ourselves with a most advantageous abundance of time.” Said Woodville as he advanced toward the door.
I did not much enjoy the task of dashing my husband’s hopes however the ability to see the error in his scheme rendered it necessary.
“Nay, my dear, this would be beyond possible. Do not you recall that members of parliament are behind this plot, there is not a single soul we can take into our confidence. Thus there in no chance that we would be permitted in the Abbey prior to the wedding, for who would believe such a tale. We would unquestionably raise suspicion.” I concluded.
“Damnation! We must wait to attend the abbey under the pretence of being guests.” Said Woodville in a tone that indicated frustration and perhaps fatigue.
As the wedding did not commence for above a dozen hours we found the only agreeable alternative was to adjourn to Peterson’s well appointed drawing room where tea had been laid. At the close of the meal we prevailed upon Elizabeth to play the piano forte for us, she truly plays with remarkable feeling for one so fair, while Woodville and I engaged in a trilling game of cards, yet despite the abundant number of diversions within our power we found ourselves ill disposed to distraction. For somewhere above the Abbey sat the Influenza weapon, which could destroy the monarchy more efficaciously than any scandalous rumours! …
To be continued.