My dearest sister, I was all anxious concern as I followed Woodville’s cries to the stable block.
I was able to enter the coach house unnoticed, but the corridor leading to my incarcerated husband was blocked by a fiercely inebriated churl. Fortunately due to his intoxication he required only a blow to the knees to render him incapacitated. I took his weapon and proceeded to a door, I threw it open and stood upon the threshold. Monsieur Canard paced before my husband still reading in a manner so devoid of feeling that it rendered it insufferable. Poor Woodville’s spirit seemed almost broken.
“Pray I beg of you, not another lecture upon man’s moral obligation!” He muttered, then seeing my visage. “Maria!”
Monsieur Canard showed the reflexes of a man of superior intelligence, he drew his pistol and held it to Woodville’s head.
“Lady Maria, allow me to inform you that if you should fire at me, I will dispatch your husband before the led from your gun ever reaches me!” Monsieur Canard was all malicious pleasure.
I looked intently at Woodville, in an attempt to communicate that he must duck when I pulled the trigger. I took but an instant to compose my nerves, for I was acutely aware that any fluttering could prove to be our downfall and fired my weapon, hoping most ardently that a complete understanding existed betwixt Woodville and I, and that my aim was accurate.
The sound of Monsieur Canard expiring upon the floor reassured me of the latter.
I hastily unbound Woodville’s arms whilst explaining the seemingly insurmountable peril we now found ourselves in!
“How many of Harris’ men have you seen?” He enquired, taking Monsieur Canard’s musket and sword.
“I have counted one and twenty,” I replied “six within the coach house alone, the rest paroling like overzealous game keepers.”
“We are outnumbered then.” Said Woodville.
“Indeed.” I agreed.
“Together.” Said Woodville as we braced ourselves behind the door quite ready to fight our way out.
“Together!” I agreed, opening the afore mentioned door.
We escaped the coach house with very little resistance I was able to draw the men’s attention by feigning a nervous fever thus allowing Woodville to dispatch them most efficaciously. However whence we reached the courtyard we were nigh on overwhelmed.
“We must try to outflank them, there is no other way.” Said I “Pray, lay down as many bullets as possible to draw their fire. I shall advance from the left to show my figure off to its best advantage!”
I was all eager determination as I ran forwards, Woodville firing abundantly from behind a hay stack. The commencement of hostilities continued in a frenzied manner until half a dozen of Harris’ men had perished.
“Damnation to it all!” Cried Woodville in agitation. “Their numbers are too large and there is as yet no word from our footmen! If we remain here we are like to be as easy a target as a flightless bird!”
Woodville was right and I doubted if any of them would honour the rules of engagement even if we were to challenge them to a duel.
However before my husband could utter another word I saw something that caused me great vexation. Mr. Harris, now wearing a coat of some elegance, was running back towards the coach house. I was suddenly in the grip of reckless passions, for I ran after him with no consideration for the consequences.
“Maria, come hither ! You should shall get yourself killed!” Was Woodville’s entreaty.
“Mr. Harris is fleeing, I cannot allow the son of a churl to escape!” I cried pursuing him.
“Maria, I am not inclined to care, this is sheer folly!” Said my husband.
I would not hear reason, for Mr. Harris had noticed my pursuing him and had thrown me a smile of such repulsive, conceited vulgarity that I was too incensed to notice his casting aside a lighted stick. Woodville seized my arm.
“Maria Nay!” He shouted “Take heed, Mr. Harris has set fire to that wick, soon the barrels of gun powder shall fall prey to the flame. The resulting blow shall have strength enough to bring the entire coach house down upon us!”
We retreated as fast as we could but there was a sudden flash of light from behind us.
“The barrels, make haste Maria, throw yourself upon the ground!” Said Woodville pulling me to the ground with no pretence at propriety, just as the gunpowder in the parlour exploded and the building fell all about us in a fashion that I have not the literary accomplishment to describe.
It was above a dozen minutes before either Woodville or myself were capable of speech!
“Maria are you tolerably well?” Enquired Woodville.
“Indeed, I am quite unscathed.” I said finding myself to be so.
It was with some confusion that I saw a light approaching.
“Lord Woodville sir? Lady Maria? It is I Mr. Hand, Foot sent us hither.. Pray are you alright?” Hand stood above us holding a candelabra. “ We have captured Mr. Harris, he was wounded but I believe he shall live.”
Woodville handed me to my feet and enquired, “And Foot, is he well?”
“Indeed sir,” replied Hand “he and Miss Winifred are travelling to Gretna Green this moment, they are both in joyous spirits. If you would care to follow me Sir, I have laid tea in the palace.”
My dear sister, I cannot recall tasting a better cup of my preferred refreshment as much as the one I enjoyed then with my dear husband upon that occasion. I would be obliged if you were to indulge such observations, the drawing room in which we sat had both a favorable view of the promenade at Brighton, as well as an exactly adequate amount of gilt so as to reflect the sun.
We intend to remain in Brighton for a fortnight, I believe the sea bathingshall be most restorative to us both.
Yours in a state of exhausted relief,
Lady Maria Woodville.
Post Script: Pray do not allow Henrietta to read to many novels while she is under your care, for she seems to have acquired a taste for the sinister.