How goes the night dear reader? It is quiet, oh so quiet in the home of Lord Grid-Iron, nothing stirs, no, not even a mouse. But outside, on the streets, some distance from the graveled driveway leading up to Lord Grid-Iron’s mansion, it appears as though all of Bedlam has broken loose, indeed the primitive screams, howls, and sobs of murderous rage would be enough to chill one’s blood were such a one as Lord Grid-Iron aware of them, but he, alas, for the moment, is blissfully unaware. Indeed, riven with torment over his most recent excursion to Mrs Hayes ‘Nunnery’ it is a wonder that he can fix his mind on anything, save the rapid speed with which his soul is descending into the well-heated realms of perdition.
“I’m lost Emily, quite lost”
“Lost my Lord?” Emily glanced at him uneasily as she laid out the cold meats and the freshly baked bread, the pastries, accompanying silver, and linen napkin, folded neatly into its silver napkin holder. The very fact of standing in front of his Lordship laying the tea things out would have unsettled her nerves on any other occasion. But on this night of all nights with the house over run by bobbies, whistles and truncheons poised; and all the men-servants positioned at every entrance into the house, fireplace pokers and copper- pans at the ready. Everyone else in the kitchens might well pretend that they couldn’t hear the mayhem taking place in the streets but her hearing was fine, thank you very much! On this particular night, Emily couldn’t help wondering why they hadn’t locked up house and headed for the country. A blazing log fire crackled in the fireplace and Lord Grid-Iron stood with his back towards it, a crazed look in his eye, “Indeed” he said, his right eye twitching spasmodically, ” One cannot help but marvel at the sheer indomitable will of the Egyptians, bending the Hebrews to their service, enslaving them to the greater glory of their nation, only to be robbed by their ungrateful vassals! Pray? Do you know of Mrs Hayes? A most wonderful woman!”
On hearing that infamous name uttered by his most esteemed Lordship, Emily clutched her petticoats instinctively, for into them she had sewn a miniaturised copy of the testaments of St. Gove. She muttered a quick prayer for aid and succour turning a shocked glance upon his Lordship, and noting with muted horror that he appeared to be dancing upon the very precipice of hell, his face a-flame with she knew not what secret horrors, she turned hastily towards the vast bay window, where, alas, another kind of shock awaited her, no! Not here! Not here! Had she travelled so far from her beginnings to receive no mercy even now? Placing one tiny pastry covered hand against her pulsing breast Maggie swooned. “Maggie? Maggie? What ho! Maggie?” Bending over her, his Lordship sought to quickly loosen her stays (he had ample experience of stay-loosening). And so we leave him dear reader, in the midst of a rapidly shrinking calm before an even more rapidly approaching storm.
“This, ladies and gentlemen, is a Beaumont-Adams revolver, invented and improved by Her Majesty’s Royal Engineers. I can cock back this little beauty and fire in one smooth stroke” Lady Grid-Iron cocked the gun in the crook of her arm and imitated firing her revolver, the scullery maids gasped, the household chef looked on with horror, the Butler with patent disgust, “Doesn’t hit the target nearly as well as my Colt, but as a second gun it will do nicely!” she tucked it into the beaded waistband of her skirt. Frances smothered a grin, all the kitchen staff looked simultaneously horrified and fascinated. And since they had gathered closely around her as she showed off the mechanics of this finely wrought instrument of death, they were nowhere near the windows when the first brick sallied forth followed by the cry “Down with Lord Grid-Iron!” Frances eyes twinkled, the game was a foot!
“Ladies to the store rooms! Quickly mind!” with the help of Frances, Lord Grid-Iron’s Butler shooed all the kitchen staff into the vast pantry where food provisions where stored the year round. “Your Ladyship!” his moustachioes bristled with disdain, for it was clear that Lord Grid-Iron had married into scandal, “Your Ladyship!” James unfurled one gloved hand extending it towards Kitty, who smiled most graciously as Frances crept up behind him and sharply rapped him on the head with a little leathern bludger he’d been given quite recently by Boodoo. “Did you need to hit him quite so hard?”
“It will let some air into his head and perhaps teach him the benefit of not getting in the way when his betters are in the process of reaping what they’ve sown Il hamdulillah, your orders m’aam?”
“At this point?” she threw him the Winchester rifle, “Guard the ladies and lay low, I’ll be upstairs in his Lordships library…if it’s still standing” Gathering her skirts up in her gloved hands, and tucking them firmly into the waist band, she fastened on a leather holster slipping a revolver into each pouch. She made her way quickly into the vast hallway just in time to see the front door splinter inwards and a horde of armed workers begin to fight their way through. Quickly she slid into the library, hurrying towards the desk where Tobias kept all his correspondence, she found what she was looking for almost at once, a cream coloured, scarlet edged list and on that list three names from the bottom, the name of the most infamous American abroad, “Jedidiah Kane Thickett” Kitty Grid-Iron smiled, and it was the smile of a cat about to pounce upon a squirrel, that had, had the great misfortune of meandering her way, but t’was then that she heard a blood-curdling scream…to be continued….