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Enigmatically Arcanum Location, London, Lord Knows What Hour.
The Journey to my lodgings in London was not a difficult or perilous one. The roads were of a particular quality that hasten one’s voyage rather than hinder it; yet despite such advantageous conveniences I was all impatient agitation. Not even the beauteous lyme walk my wife Mary had planted could divert me now. Nor could the opulent elegance of my lodgings, where I had spent many a happy hour, brandy in hand, discussing the foibles of foreign governments. My nerves could not be soothed until I had passed through a concealed door behind a portrait of our own great monarch and entered the chamber that lay behind it. The chamber in which my duties as spymaster were performed.
The room was a cacophony of pandemonium as men ran hither and thither, bearing a greater resemblance to intoxicated rustics being pursued by their wives than could be entirely decent. The resulting din was rendered quite nonsensical.
I strode forwards and assumed command directly.
“Peasants!” I began, bearing aloft the message Mr Robetrs had delivered. “Is this true?” I enquired in tones of melodic rage.
The room before me fell into a silence of such profundity that we might have been at the death bed of a most beloved but handsomely wealthy aunt.
“Is Mr Stubbs still quite unshakeably among the living? Has he not yet been deprived of his life?” I pursued the topic. Not one among them displayed the courage of candid speech.
“Well? I demand to know if Mr Stubbs is not yet extinct?”
A man of pallid complexion whose name I did not care to recall spoke by and by. “Yes Sir, Mr Stubbs is still in existence.”
“This is unfathomable! I demand to know with all the candour of veracity what has come to pass! It is unaccountable that he has not perished! I am sure I need not remind you that he is lately married to Mademoiselle De La Folle! His union to such a personage not only throws his own good name into scandalous disrepute, her father was little more than a churl of ill fortune and breeding. It also poses the theat of revolution spreading to our own British shores. He could provoke the overthrowing of our own monarchy and his majesty the King!” Hither I paused to allow the pitiful churls before me to full appreciate the peril of so imprudent a marriage. I soon continued. “Mademoiselle De La Folle; revolutionary by name, revolutionary by nature.”Concluded I with feeling.
“Pardon me Sir,” Said the man who’s name I would not recollect. “I believe that La Folle does not mean revolutionary. It means mad.”
I wished to strike him for his impertinence, however he was so very correct in his correctness that the only response that was within my power was; “Well quite.”
After but a moments thought I had decided upon a course of action. ” First and foremost we must send another equipage to dispatch the villainous fiend. Then we must turn our minds to Mr Lethe.”
Upon my orders a particularly uncouth fellow turned upon his somewhat too high heel and made haste for the door. However in his eagerness to flee he was almost struck down by another man entering at a gait so very indicative of triumphant elegance that, not only did I recognise him as Mr Waters, but I knew he brought word of some significance.
“Mr Waters,” Said I. “Your gait is so very indicative of triumphant elegance that you must bring word of some significance.”
“Indeed Sir, we have found Lethe.” Mr Waters crossed to the table before us, laying a collection of excellent sketches upon its pleasingly polished surface. “We received word by the two penny post that confirmed our worst fears. Mr Lethe is no longer under our command.” Continued Waters. ” For reasons as yet beyond our comprehension he did not cause Stubbs to expire and instead fled like a libertine caught attempting to capture the affections of a heiress under false pretences. Fortunately so cowardly an attempt to evanesce was foiled. He was found at the docks of London, wounded and in a state of oblivion.”
I glanced down upon the sketches, and while they had been executed in a manner that displayed true accomplishment, they could provide me with no happy diversion for they depicted Charles Lethe strewn inelegantly upon the streets of London.
“From thither we have him being given generous hospitality by an apothecary near cheapside.” Waters indicated the map of lodon upon the wall. “However what he did while there we do not know, for our artists could not gain admittance or closer proximaty to a gentleman’s home without formal introduction. They did, though, produce some very pleasing watercolours of the house in question.”
There was a mummur of agreement as the artist’s skill in capturing the light upon the walls was admired by all the company.
Waters turned again to the sketches. ” Lethe then displayed a wanton disregard for secrecy, for without so much as concealing himself or indeed adhereing to the fashion of a gentleman, he proceeded to the Narks Club. Where he remains. This sketch was taken moments ago.”
I too looked upon the drawing of Charles Lethe, wearing nought but a woman’s nightgown, entering the Narks Club and was overcome with furious confusion.
“What is the meaning of such folly?” Said I.
“We believe he means to flee and adopt an entirely new selfhood. If he were, and who would not be, desirous of becoming a man of consequence and standing, he would need his likeness, calling cards and a considerable sum of money in order to support any claim to the nobility.” Waters spoke with great authority for one so fair.
“All of which he shall find at Narks Club.” I spoke quietly.
“Yes, sir. Our main concern, however, is that we no longer know where Lethe’s allegiances lie. He could throw us all into great peril, exposing us to scandal of the acutest nature.” Waters expressed himself with candid eloquence.
“Very well.” Said I, I leant intently over the pencil drawing of Lethe upon the table, the expression upon his visage was inscrutable. “We have little choice. Stop him..”
“Do you mean challenge him to a duel sir?”
“Nay. We have no time to observe the niceties of convention, cast aside the rules of engagement and take Charles Lethe. By whatever force deemed necessary, take Charles Lethe!”