I am aware that this story was only supposed to be in three parts, but I have found that brevity is not my strong point! Not surprisingly, therefore, this is not quite the end …
My Dearest Catherine,
Once again I am forced to neglect your finer sentiments by not indulging in enquiring after your health. I ought also warn you, dear sister, that before the close of this letter you will doubtless be fearful of my imminent and irreversible death. However I wish to remind you that you hold in your hands proof that such an event has not yet occurred.
We arrived at the abbey at precisely the hour dictated by propriety as punctual. We had assembled about our carriages which, were the essence of discretion, being placed at the back of the abbey and unloaded our not inconsiderable armoury from our Barouches. Whence I had concealed my weapons beneath my gown which was an outfit most suited to such a royal occasion. Woodville and I entered the Abbey as guests and Captain Faye under the pretence of being in a position of authority within the militia. However for reasons of practicality and propriety our footmen would not be accompanying us inside. Thus Woodville and I entered passing a great number of loyal and merry churls who lined the approach to the abbey all of whom waved jovially, evidently knowing that we highly distinguished guests.
Once inside the Abbey having greeted anyone of any consequence including Lady Goodall (whose hat, my dear sister, was remarkable in more ways than one), we turned our intelligence to identifying whom within the congregation was working for Peterson, this was not a task which required a lot of attention as, despite their attempt to disguise themselves as acquaintances of the royal family their visages were unmistakably rustic and therefore could deceive no one.
Thus the siege commenced. Woodville and I progressed side by side around the edge of the Abbey capturing and slaying as many of Peterson’s guards as was within our power to do. It was perhaps fortunate that the bride’s taste for vulgarity and pomp had been allowed to influence the music for the Abbey was filled with overtures, which although more than a little unsuitable for the marriage ceremony, allowed us to fire our weapons at will entirely unnoticed by the congregation. Also I found that the rousing tune rendered us excessively light of foot as well as lending a certain elegance to the battle.
We had not yet thwarted all our enemy, indeed I was midway through duelling a particularly gouty churl, when we became aware that the music had ceased and there was above one member of the congregation was whispering with their neighbour in tones of surreptitious horror. Fearing that perhaps we had been discovered and exposed ourselves to unwanted attentions I paused momentarily with my pistol raised to his brow whence I noticed what caused such frivolous conduct; the bride appeared to be absent from the proceedings. The groom was standing entirely alone at the waiting for his betrothed whose arrival was beyond late.
I surveyed the Abbey with rising confusion, I feared that perhaps the capture of the bride was an occurrence we had not foreseen.
“Maria, you must find the bride,” Called Woodville momentarily halting in the act of duelled two of Peterson’s men at once “for such a scandalous absence will cause gossip amongst society and in order to end this plot it is essential that all passes without disruption.”
Striking the man before me and rendering him senseless, I ventured forth toward the anti-room. To ensure that I was not once more entering a well conceived ambush I advanced with my pistol ahead of me and pointed it flamboyantly around the room. I instantly became aware sound of despairing lamentation emitting from a veritable mound of white silk and muslin. I knew I had discovered the bride; she had whole heartedly abandoned herself to girlish impropriety. Upon comforting the poor creature it became apparent that she had not been subject to excessive misfortune but had merely fallen prey to those feminine follies of doubt and the hope of a better prospect.
“My dearest Augusta,” said I whence she had full explained what caused her acute distress “I am all sympathy for your distress, I am, but there is nought that can be done. One cannot simply throw over the prince. Think of your reputation … you would doubtless be shunned from court and all decent society.”
“Oh Maria,” Gasped she in alarm. “Such a thing could not be borne!”
I handed her to her feet, and upon doing so I was offered a most advantageous view of her gown, which, sister, was indeed of precisely the same style as mine. Though I couldn’t help but admire the gowns beauty I was more than a little vexed with Augusta. She left the vestry with surprising resolve for one so nearly overwhelmed by the hysterics. I followed full of determination to continue the battle but I was swiftly aware that I had not seen Captain Faye in above four and twenty minutes. However my thoughts upon his whereabouts were soon interrupted by the sight of an ill disguised rustic rushing past and hurrying up a wooden scaffold leading far above the congregation. I made all haste to pursue the man who had an intolerable smirk. It was not long until I had reached the top of the scaffold and concealing myself carefully was able to survey him as he approached what I knew instantly to be the Influenza weapon, and it was indeed five and thirty times as large as the one in Peterson’s home. To my horror the churl was not alone, their was a guard posted directly before it, there now lay two heavily armed and highly impertinent peasents betwixt me and the weapon.
“I have been asked to bring forward the time of the attack.” The churl I had followed spoke to his companion “The Woodville’s have discovered us and are full intending to stop us, make haste remove the sand.”
His words sent chills of some magnitude through me on more than one account. First because I was astonished that our scheme was so evidently discovered. Second because we now found ourselves with an even graver lack of time in which to prevent the destruction of the monarchy; and third because this despicable vagabond had not used our title and therefore I found myself grossly insulted. As the man began to remove sand from the hourglass, which would undoubtedly cause the infernal weapon to release its violent content soonerthan was desirable, I stepped forth from the shadows holding my weapon aloft and spoke with aristocratic authority.
“Cease what you are doing and step away from the Influenza weapon.” Said I.
Hearing my voice they both displayed considerable surprise but little alarm and turned to face me with a most intolerable look of amusement upon their faces. “Throw down your muskets sirs and lower yourselves to your knees.”
They did not respond in a manner that was at all agreeable, indeed it was quite the opposite.
“Nay Madam, why do not you lower your weapon and get upon your knees!” was their despicable reply. Suddenly from behind I heard the sound of footsteps. I chanced a glance over my shoulder and felt the sort of relief one commonly associates with no longer fearing one’s imminent doom, for standing just behind me now was Captain Faye, his weapon raised and a look of triumph upon his visage.
“Oh Captain Faye, Thank heavens you are here sir.” Was my cordial greeting.
Despite my amicable warmth I was met with the following (sister, allow me to warn you this will be beyond your understanding of the emotions commonly associated with shock).
“Lady Maria, lower your weapon Ma’am.” Captain Faye’s said in tones full of malice as he pointed his gun direct at my temple …