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My Dearest Sister,

I hope that you have regained your composure and recovered from the nervous hysteria that my previous missive indubitably caused you. The provoking of such an affliction, while regrettable was quite unavoidable, and I flatter myself that I have endeavoured to recount all that has passed in a sufficiently scandalous manner, which renders it akin to that of that source of fictitious fact; the novel.

I stood at my husband’s side once more, and while such proximity to my beloved was most agreeable following the pangs of so long and tumultuous a separation, the circumstances were hardly conducive to the finer sentiments of reunification. Surrounded as we were upon all sides by violent and vexatious churls who were solely desirous of our immediate and exquisite expiration.

I was once again, dear Catherine, forced into behaving in a fashion so devoid of any pretence of propriety that I am quite certain I shall cause an immediate recrudesce of all your nervous complaints. For as my dearest Henry turned his sword upon whichever unhappy fiend was within his grasp, I drew arrow after arrow and slew as many as was within my power to slay.

All about us was frenzied confusion as our footmen engaged in hostilities with the knaves. From where I stood across the throne room, which was a chamber of the most magnificent proportions, I chanced to see a miscreant of equally magnificent proportions approach Foot from behind (the coward’s approach)and raise a sword. As I’m sure you are aware Catherine, Foot is not only a most dutiful servant, he hath also displayed, upon abundant occasions, the qualities more usually found in the most decorated members of the militia. Thus seeing his life threatened with such vulgarity wakened in me sentiments of such piqued indignation that my hands were all a tremor. The result of so infuriating a nervous affliction was that my aim was wholly inexact in its exactitude. Therefore the uncouth rustic did not instantaneously expire and continued to imperil my footman.

“Foot! Take heed!” Cried I as I reached for another arrow. However as my hand closed over that plumed weapon my arm was seized by a grievously ill refined nieve, and afore I could quite pull it free a second repugnant arm encircled me and held a dagger, which was the very essence of every thing sharp, in shocking proximity to my throat.

“Move and you shall perish!” Spake my captor in a manner that showed his wanton disregard of polite convention (for we had ne’er been made acquainted) and led me to believe him to be a displeasingly odorous churl.

I could see my husband battling an uncouth rustic with a shocking lack of teeth, not four and twenty paces from us; thus I had only to say “Henry!” In tones that were exactly calculated to convey the grievous peril I found myself in.

“My dearest Maria,” Replied he as he struck the churl upon the head, rendering him quite senseless; “Your tone is indicative of the fact that you find yourself in grievous peril. Pray …”

But the continuation of so elegant an enquiry was wholly unnecessary, for he had turned and now could see quite plainly the nature of the afore mentioned peril. As I stood with that blade pressed to my neck, my husband and I exchanged a glance, which by every flutter of Henry’s peculiarly long eyelashes, communicated that; whence he raised his pistol I ought incline my head to left so that he might have a clear shot. Then with a swiftness that spoke of genteel sensibility and marital harmony, he raised his side arm, I inclined my head in a sinistral manner and Henry dispatched the villain.

As the fiend expired he quite robbed me of my balance and I fell upon the throne room’s polished floor.

“Maria, are you hurt?” Was my dear husband’s enquiry as he hastened to my side.

“Nay, I am quite well.” Replied I, finding it to be the truth.

” Maria, I am greatly afeared that we are equally matched in numbers and abilities.” Woddville was all dismay as he handed me to my feet. “I can see no immediate end to this deuced battle … Maria, you must dispatch a note to Major Larkin and summon the help of the militia this instant.”

Upon his words I was nigh on overcome by culpability as I recalled Major Larkin’s indisposition.

“Maria, pray, what is the matter?” Spake he.

“I’m afraid Woodville, that is beyond unfeasibility. for the major was all stubborn decidedness in his insistence in disbelieving in your continued survival, He simply refused to ride to your aid. Thus it was entirely necessary for me to befuddle him with sleep tonic and usurp his authority. Elizabeth has command of the militia.” Was my reply.

I have seldom been the begetter of my husband’s displeasure, yet as I acquainted him with the dreadful act of treason I had effectuated in order to liberate him from such menace, I feared that he may be greatly vexed indeed. However Henry was all refined gentility as he wholly disregarded convention and embraced me before the battling masses.

“You would have risked the hangman’s noose for me.” Said He “Dispatch a note to Elizabeth, she must send the militia.” Continued he, as still we stood together. “I shall challenge Mr. Pravos to a duel until they arrive to ensure his attentions are happily engaged elsewhere.”

“Engaged elsewhere? Nay, Henry that is sheer folly. There is nought such as honour in Pravos’ countenance. How can you know that he will obey the rules of engagement?” Cried I.

“I cannot, but we have little choice!” And with these words he quitted my side and made al haste towards Pravos.

I lost no time in writing my letter and entrusting it to a small noble boy, whose proportions would not be prohibitive to his escaping through a window casement. Bidding him to run as fast as e’er he was able, I cast him, with little ceremony, through the casement and returned in a state of the utmost terror to watch Pravos and Henry.

It would seem, dear Catherine that Mr Pravos’ ill humour had been little improved by the discovery that Woodville’s allegiance to his tenet had been nought but elegantly deceptive pretence all along(if Henry were not a gentleman he could be on the stage). Pravos duelled with an air of such wrathful fury, that it was as though he fought a cad who had attempted to elope with his daughter.

I had just begun to fear for my dear husband’s life when, with a swiftness which was perfectly suited to the severity of our plight, the throne room was stormed by such an abundant abundance of red coats it would have turned the head of every nonsensical girl in Windsor.

They displayed a positive propensity toward the efficacious resolution of such hostilities. And it was not long afore each and every one of the villainously malevolent churls had surrendered before them and, we had surrendered ourselves to that most welcome of sentiments, relief.

Despite the vicissitude they had so very lately been faced with, the King and Queen proved themselves to be the most gracious hosts. We were afforded every comfort as tea was promptly laid in a vacant parlour beyond the ruined thrown room.

Dear Catherine, I had yet to indulge in my fourth delicate Spunge cake when a colonel, whose visage was the exact hue of his red coat, approached Woodville and I.

“Lord Woodville, your Ladyship,” Said he; “Mr Pravos has demanded and audience with their Majesties and he has requested the pleasure of your company. Pray, follow me.”

It was with sentiments of confusion and curiosity that we rose and followed him to the throne room. Pravos knelt before their Majesties, flanked on either side by a lieutenant, each bearing a grimace of displeasure at being charged with guarding so despicable a villain.

Our entrance was announced and I curtseyed with gracious magnanimity. As I raised my head, the King addressed Woodville directly.

“Lord Woodville.” Said his excellency, as he quite interrupted Pravos. “This wretch is desirous that I should accord him the courtesy of a Royal Pardon!”

“Forsooth! Your Highness, the only courtesy he ought be accorded is to be taken directly to the gallows.” Was my husband’s worthy reply.

Mr Pravos turned his wicked eyes upon Henry and said;
“Lord Woodville, that is scarce the council you ought offer the King if you wish to ever see your sister again!”

Upon his words I saw my own perplexed discomfiture reflected upon Henry’s handsome visage.

“Of what do you speak? What has Eliza to do with this?” Said Woodville in tones of anguished anxiety.

Pravos was all deuced relish as he continued; “Your sister, I regret to inform you is currently a plight of no trifling nature. For she has discovered that fourth and final cache of gunpowder, and she has little or no hope of rendering it safe, nor of taking her leave of that dreadful place.”

“Scandalous falsehoods!” Was Woodville’s scandalised cry. “Elizabeth is in no such peril.”

However I found myself wholly unable to contest Pravos’ assertions. For it was with a horror as chilling as an early frost that I realised it had been some time since I had last received word from my poor sister in law.

“Woodville,” Said I turning to my husband. “I am afraid that denouncing him a liar is an impossibility. For Elizabeth’s last note was indicative that she and the the regiment were, indeed, bound for that cache and I have had nought but silence from her since.” Said I, truly aggrieve by the torment I had plainly caused Henry (Sister he had such a multitude of furrows upon his brow that he looked a full five and fifty years old).

“She will perish if I am not granted clemency.” Was Pravos’ ruthless ultimatum.

Thus it was with a despair perfectly calculated to flatter the countenance of a gentleman, that Woodville turned to the King and said; “Your Highness, I must implore, do as he asks, Sire. For the sake of my sister.”

“Lord Woodville, This son of churl has committed such a plurality of treasonous acts he must face judgement before God. He cannot have his freedom.” Was our monarch’s reply.

“Your Majesties, Mrs Elizabeth Larkin has risked all to help save your son and the crown. I implore you to reconsider! You must grant him clemency.” Beseeched Henry.

But the king was unyielding.

“Nay. I cannot pardon such unpardonable conduct for the sake of one soul; be she your sister or nay.” Was our monarch’s reply.

As his Highness spake Mr Pravos began to smile in a manner so insurmountably infuriating it caused me such vexation that I longed to throw a cloth sack over his head in order to cover each of his unfortunate features. Then with repugnant glee he said;

“Oh but your Majesty, you misunderstand your quandary. For it is not merely one soul that hangs by a silken thread. That cache, concealed in London, has tenfold the power of it’s brothers. If I am not granted clemency then all of London shall be lost.”

To Be Continued …