There are no words to describe the traumatic shock which overcame Emily Lefevre upon her espying Boodooo peering fervidly at her through Lord Grid-Iron’s leaden casements. Lord Grid-Iron’s lascivious admissions, coupled with Boodoo’s aberrant manifestation, were sufficient to catapault her into a state of catatonia, from which it was at first believed she would never recover.
Indeed, had it not been for the compassion of Lady Grid-Iron, the love of Maggie Sitwell (Lady Grid-Iron’s maid), and the selfless devotion of Francis the pageboy, Emily might well have borne out her remaining days in a lunatic’s asylum, such as the Northern Star wrote about and campaigned against. She had lain prone in Lady Grid-Iron’s bed for nigh on a month, pale and silent, her large blue eyes brimming frequently with tears. Francis had asked for and been granted permission by Kitty Grid-Iron to sit with her during the day, “La!” said she,
“I can hardly see as how you’re presence by her bedside will help any!”
“I miss her pastries and she is the only woman ever to cook Lamb Berrebeis and Couscous just the way I like it ” he replied gravely, “If there is anything I can do to help bring her back to herself, I will gladly do it” Kitty Grid-Iron sighed, and as she smoothed out her gown she said “You won’t desert me will you? Not in the agency’s hour of need…..in my hour of need?” she shook out her little leather riding gloves before looking up into his startled face, “Ma’am?” said Francis, one eyebrow raised,”I am a Muslim, t’is a declaration of loyalty I’m making by attending the bedside of one whose gentle, sweet and refreshing nature is wholly deserving of it. T’is hardly a profession of love. Besides I was contracted by Mr Pinkerton to appropriate Jedidiah Kane Thickett and he is still at large!” he looked reproachfully at Kitty who breathed an audible sigh of relief,”Thank you Francis, for your sense of loyalty and duty” Francis bowed and quietly left the room. Kitty was partly heartbroken; for there could be no doubt about it, he was in love, she was also elated, the idea of Francis dying alone on some secret mission for the Pinkerton Agency had never really appealed to her.
The night watches were the worst, what with Emily burning feverishly whilst in the grip of some terrible nightmare and from time to time crying out “Boodoo! Noooo!” as she rose from her bed and tried to hurl herself out of the bedroom window . Maggie fortunately was on hand at those times, and ever watchful had nursed her patiently. Whilst Francis watched over the sickly Emily from afar, Maggie had dilligently watched over her charge night after night, proffering much prayerful thanks to St Gove as she did so.
T’was on one such fraught and torpid night, that Maggie espied a familiar figure from Emily’s bedroom window, a short,stocky form huddled close against an Oak which lay just beneath the leaden casement, clutching her Goveen Rosary beads to her chest, Maggie quickly rose and went in search of Francis the pageboy. She did not have far to travel, for he had been quietly taking up his station outside Emily’s bedroom door for quite a while, certain as he was that Boodoo’s obsession with his sister had yet to run its course. “Oh lor Mr Francis!” she cried, “He’s come for er! Boodoo ‘as come for ‘er!”
“Indeed” remarked Francis who murmuring a quick prayer under his breath arose from his lounge chair, revolver in hand and marched downstairs with Maggie in tow. At a little past one in the morning a tranquil silence pervaded the house, the servants were all a-bed and Lady Grid-Iron was away on business in London. In a way Francis was relieved by this for it meant there would be fewer witnesses to anything he might find himself impelled to do.
Walking slowly and oh so carefully through the trademen’s entrance, Frances sidled around the back of the house towards that part of the wall which lay beneath Emily’s window. “Ho there! Miscreant!” he shouted, “Step forward and make thyself known! Or by the righteous indignation of Allah’s most sacred prophet! I will surely shoot you!” there was no discernible movement at first, but when Francis audibly pulled back the trigger and aimed his gun the shadow suddenly parted company with the silhouette of the tree and slid forth into the mooonlight.
“Sweet Gove have mercy!” cried Maggie crossing herself thrice and thrumming the Goveen Rosary through her fingers with such speed that Francis had to restrain himself from shooting them out of her hands. For there Boodoo stood in all his terrifying beauty, his large brown eyes were limpid pools of expressionless, pent-up violence. In the several intrigues they had executed together Frances had never known what made Boodoo tick. And now as he scrutinised the deranged features of this arsonistic madman, he wondered why it was that he couldn’t bring himself to shoot him. He was an aberration of nature, this he felt to be true, but he was also sweet Emily’s brother, a most unfortunate state of affairs.
“Is Emily ere?” Boodoo whispered hoarsely, Francis and Maggie glanced at each other “No she isnt!” they replied in unison, Boodoo took another step forward, his muscular hands clenched “God ‘elp them as tries to keep me separated from my Em! D’yeah ere me! If anyone seeks to keep me separated from my dear sweet sister God elp em!” Boodoo took another step forward and then another. Raising his revolver Francis narrowed his eyes, cocked back the trigger and fired off a warning shot, roaring with pain Boodoo leapt upon him and a struggled ensued, which would have ended with Boodoo’s hands wrapped tightly around Francis throat, were it not for the three Indian Fakirs who slid miraculously from the shadows and leapt upon Boodoo wrestling him to the ground.
“Bismillahi! What infamy is this?!” Francis exclaimed as he clambered to his feet, revolver in tow, the eldest and most sprightly of the men leapt to his feet, delivering a swift kick to Boodoo as he did so, “Navendrah Patel at your service my lord! If I may explain” he glanced towards the two other men both of whom were seated upon the prone Boodoo. “We are in England to right a wrong and recover two assets” Francis raised an eyebrow “Two assets?” he trained his revolver on the sprightly elderly man. Three Indian Fakirs who had travelled all the way from the Indian continent on an errand of retribution (for what other errand could it be?) and lain all this while undetected in the grounds of the Grid-Iron country estate? The elderly Indian bowed once more, his hard, black, eyes were unwavering in their determination”Two assets, the Sapphire of Agar Khan” he grimaced as he said this, but his hard little eyes glittered as he uttered the next words “and Lord Tobias Grid-Iron”
Francis shrugged, glancing at the prone Boodoo he said “Get rid of him first and I will tell you all you wish to know” Francis turned to Maggie who stood at once rapt and amazed at the sight of these three turban-clad strangers “Mademoiselle Maggie” he murmured, “She must never know her brother was here” Maggie’s eyes flashed angrily at Boodoo, “And you may trust that she’ll never ere it neither! Not from me!” sweeping her skirts up in her hands she marched towards Boodoo, delivering a swift kick with her little booted foot and marching just as swiftly back to the house. “Now” said Francis lowering his revolver, “Let me tell you precisely where you may locate your quarry”