The Shadow 14
Jarvis stood guarding their only exit. Marissa did the only thing that came to her head and threw a jar of liquid at him. He dove away as the liquid smashed against the door leaving a mess of oozing yellow stuff all over the floor. The door yanked open just ahead of her and Marissa jumped over the mess and into the hall.
“After them,” Jarvis shouted.
“Oh no! Not the solution!” John was crying.
Marissa didn’t wait to hear any more. She followed the sound of light footsteps out of the house and out into the street.
They were well away from Christchurch street before Marissa dared speak.
“Sarah, are you all right?” she asked fearfully.
“Whatever it was he didn’t get it all into me, but I’m certain I got some,” Sarah replied. “I feel all right, but it usually takes a few hours for his concoctions to work.”
“We should go back to my house,” Marissa said concerned.
“We can’t. Remember he sent you a message from Sean. If you go back then they will take you prisoner and use you against me,” Sarah said placing an invisible hand on Marissa’s arm.
“I have to find out what they want with Sean. I can’t just leave him to those wolves,” Marissa said taking several steps toward home.
“It won’t do any good if they take you, Marissa.”
“If you’re there with me we can keep double watch and if they do get me you can help me escape. Maybe they will even lead us to Sean,” Marissa suggested hopefully.
“I’m not willing to take that chance. I won’t do anything to hurt you or put you in harm’s way,” Sarah replied adamantly.
“We can at least go back to the house and retrieve some clothes and other things. From there we can find a room at a hotel or inn,” Marissa urged. “If we can find out who Jarvis’ contact is at my house and eliminate them, then we can confront Jarvis and force John to give you the antidote.”
The silence told Marissa that Sarah was considering her plan. If they could just find a place to rest and clean up she could think better.
“I can slip in and out of my house without being seen,” she added. “I’ve been doing it for years.”
“I suppose we can give it a try. I know a reputable inn on the outskirts of the city where we can stay for a few days,” Sarah replied.
“That would be excellent. We need to make sure you don’t react to whatever John gave you.”
“And maybe together we can figure out who Jarvis’ inside person is at your home,” Sarah added.
She took Marissa’s arm and pulled her in the direction of the afore mentioned inn, but Marissa stopped.
“We need clothes, Sarah. Let me just get a few things and then I promise I won’t ask to go back again,” Marissa pleaded. “You can watch my back and drag me out at the first sign of danger.”
Sarah sighed out loud and grumblingly agreed. They changed direction and approached Marissa’s grand house stealthily. When they reached the back gate Marissa scanned the outer perimeter. Nothing seemed amiss so she continued to the servant’s entrance and snuck inside.
The house was quiet and Marissa moved extra carefully through the hallways up to her rooms. They encountered nothing out of the ordinary and she silently slipped into her bedroom. The room appeared empty so Marissa jumped into action.
She went to her wardrobe and pulled out four of her simplest day dresses and undergarments. The air outside promised the coming of chilly weather so she also took two cloaks and two sets of scarves and gloves.
“That’s an awful lot of stuff, Marissa,” Sarah chided.
“It’s better than walking around cold and naked,” Marissa shot back. “It would be pretty difficult to procure a room in our birthday suits.”
“I’ve been wandering around like that for over a year now,” Sarah reminded. “I’ve gotten used to it.”
“Well I don’t want to get used to it,” Marissa snapped.
She stuffed the clothing into a large handbag an started for the door, but stopped at the sound of footsteps outside the room. Quickly stuffing the bag back into the wardrobe she moved to a shadowy corner to wait.
“I shouldn’t wake her,” Eliza said quietly just outside the door.
“I know, Eliza, but she was awfully worried about Mr. Doveday, and the express just came from him,” Tom replied. “I’m sure Lady Edgington hasn’t been in bed for long. You know how she likes to keep late hours.”
“Oh, all right, I’ll give it to her, but you go tell the man to wait, she might want to give a reply,” Eliza answered.
Marissa heard Tom’s steps retreating down the hall and then Eliza’s quiet knock.
“Lady are you awake?” Eliza called quietly.
“Marissa don’t you dare answer,” Sarah whispered from just behind her.
“Eliza isn’t the inside person, Sarah. She has been with my staff for ten years. If I don’t respond she’ll call out the police and then Jarvis and John will know something is wrong,” Marissa replied pulling her thin robe from the wardrobe.
Her arms and hands slowly became visible as she became Lady Edgington. She went to the door and opened it with a yawn.
“What is it, Eliza?” she asked with just enough of a tone of grogginess.
“An express has come from Mr. Doveday and Tom asked me to wake you. It seems quite urgent,” Eliza replied handing the note to Marissa.
Marissa took the message and opened it quickly and read:
I have some urgent business at the country estate and require your presence at your earliest convenience. I hope this finds you well. I will have the carriage ready to take you to the station first thing in the morning.
Marissa read and reread the message before looking up at Eliza’s expectant face. Marissa went to her reading table and drafted a quick response that appeared to agree with Sean’s request. She waxed and sealed it.
“Give this to the express,” she said handing her reply to Eliza “And tell Tom I wish to see him in ten minutes.”
Eliza took the note with a curtsy and hurried from the room.
“Are you crazy?” Sarah asked when Marissa had closed the door.
“Now we have an excuse to disappear for a few days, but we can do it on my terms, not Jarvis’,” Marissa replied.
“What do you mean?”
“They are expecting me to take a carriage in the morning supplied by them, no doubt, to the station, but we can leave tonight. I will leave a note for Tom and we can go anywhere without suspicions arising,” Marissa explains.
“I suppose that is a good idea,” Sarah admits hesitantly. “Just as long as your staff isn’t in on the ruse. What about Tom? Can you trust him?”
Marissa thought for a moment and really reviewed her staff and their trustworthiness. They had all been employed by her since she became Lady Edgington and many of them were here when her father was alive and well. She treated them fairly and paid them better than most servants.
“Yes, I’m certain I can,” Marissa replied confidently.
“Then who is working for Jarvis?” Sarah questioned. “He has held that over me for the last year.”
Marissa shook her head. “I don’t know. No one has been acting suspicious and I don’t have any new people on my staff.”
She tried to think of anyone who had been acting differently for the last year, but nothing stood out.
“Well at least now I can pack a proper bag and it won’t look out of place,” Marissa said cheerfully.
At the ten minute mark a knock sounded on her door and Marissa called to enter. Tom slowly opened the door.
“You wished to see me Lady?” he asked respectfully.
“Yes, Tom, Sean has ordered the carriage for first thing in the morning. I plan to head to the station and catch the early train out. Will you make sure everything is ready for me, please?” Marissa requested.
“Yes, Ma’am,” Tom said with a nod. He paused for a few minutes then spoke softly. “Does this have anything to do with that American gentleman you brought here after church?”
Marissa looked at him quizzically. “No. Why do you ask?”
“Well I’ve seen the gentleman lurking around and he spoke with Master Doveday the morning he left,” Tom replied.
Marissa’s stomach did a tiny flip flop. “Oh. I don’t know why unless Mr. Anderson had questions about the estate. Sean would have been the person to ask I guess.”
This new development worried her.
“Perhaps Master Doveday is doing business with Mr. Anderson and that is why they want you out at the estate,” Tom said hopefully.
“I’m not sure, but I guess I will find out tomorrow. Thank you Tom, that will be all,” she said kindly.
“Yes, Madame,” the old butler said with a bow. He left the room and she closed the door quietly behind him.
“The fascinating life of the wealthy London socialite,” Sarah said sarcastically from her corner.
“I’m not what you would call a regular socialite, Mother. Though I think I am making a name for myself right where I want it,” Marissa defended. “Let’s finish packing and we can head out.”
Marissa retrieved the bag from the wardrobe and added several other items to the things she had already packed. After about an hour she eased the door open and scanned the hallway. There was no sign of any of the servants or Tom and Eliza. Her note explaining that she decided to leave early and didn’t want to wake anyone was left on her dressing table where she was certain Eliza would find it in the morning.
Marissa moved quietly down the stairs and through the back door with Sarah silently following. Once they were out of the house and into the shadows she pulled out a cloak for Sarah and then they started for the inn near Kings Cross station.