The Assembler

Chapter 28 - Jailbreak!

Jean G Hontz

@copyright 2009 all rights reserved

Emmie was up well before the sun. She'd set out the outfit she wanted to wear the night before. Then she’d spent a sleepless night worrying, trying to figure out if she'd forgotten something, or overlooked some vital piece of her plan.

Should she have enlisted Margot’s help? No, that was one thing she was certain of. She had no right to put Margot Machant into unnecessary danger, especially since Cyril seemed to have fallen in love with her. She smiled to think of it. Margot would definitely keep him in line, and that was absolutely what Cyril needed. He tended toward dreamy, and had never been very practical. Margot was definitely practical.

Emmie bit her lip. She herself was a mix. She supposed this plan of hers wasn’t very practical but she just could not sit here and wait as the Prince and the others seemed to think she ought.

Oh, they’d given her an earful of how she daren’t be out and about, that someone would kidnap her to use against Ned, and that they had people watching Nathan Ainsworth and would know the moment he tried to do anything about moving Ned or his machine. Even so, it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t nearly enough.

She had to do something. She was incapable of just sitting back and waiting for the world to sort itself out. No, she'd sort the bloody thing herself.

Besides, she told herself, Ned was an innovator. He'd proven time and time again, that he could improvise in a heartbeat and alter whatever his own plans might be so they could best use the things going on around him. If she just started a ruckus, he’d be sure to utilize it to the fullest. She had faith in Ned. And yes, she loved him. And she couldn’t stand ... Even if he didn’t love her, even if he didn't want to be with her, she had to know he was happy and productive and free. She had to!

The wait for four am seemed interminable. But finally her pocket watch told her to begin putting her plan into motion.

She dressed in the plainest and darkest dress she had, and wore her stoutest boots. She'd stripped every bit of decoration and ribbon and foofah off her black hat and now it more or less resembled ones she’d seen many women wear on the streets. The brim would flop over and hide her face, and with luck she’d look enough like women heading to work in factories or as maids or cooks or whatever, that she could slip out of the hotel where they were staying unremarked. Then she'd simply walk the distance to Nathan Ainsworth’s townhouse.

She’d decided she didn't dare take the Underground. Her voice, her upper class accent, would give her away if she was forced to speak to anyone. She’d never been good at feigned accents. And she was, for better or worse, Oxbridgian. And, it would be the first place they’d look for her. They’d expect her to hire a hansom or take the Tube. They would not expect her to walk. Or at least so she told herself.

Once she was dressed she gathered up the tools she’d need. First and foremost, her trusty umbrella, then a collection of small coins, just in case she needed to buy a pie or duck into a tea shop. Additionally she had a dark bit of thin cloth to wrap round her face if need be, and a tool set she used when she was on a dig. It had various small tools, some of which she might be able to use to pick a lock or two. She did have some experience breaking open ancient boxes. How hard could modern ones be?

She straightened her shoulders, clapped the hat on her head, and opened her room’s door to the hallway. She peeped out carefully, ready to withdraw if she saw any hint of movement.

She listened, holding her breath as she did so. She could hear the grandfather clock near the stairs, she thought she could hear someone snoring not too far away and almost giggled wondering if it were Septimus Marchant, and then a distant twitter of girlish laughter. The maids, then, were already afoot. Time to go.

She slipped out of the room into the hallway and closed the door behind herself silently. She flitted from dark shadow to darker shadow, keeping near the hallway walls as she went. She backed up against a door at one point when she saw a footman go by delivering cleaned boots to various doors. Luckily the one she hid in was not one of the places he was making a delivery.

Once he was gone she flitted down the last portion of the hallway to the stairs, her heart hammering so badly she couldn’t have heard an army if there was one directly behind her.

She peeped down the stairwell, seeing movement on the bottom-most floor. But that would be the servants’ hall and she needn’t go down that far; she hoped. She was trusting that by now the main entry would be open for various deliveries and cleaning of the lobby.

She hurried down the stairs making nearly no noise at all. Then the open doors leading to the street from the lobby were in sight.

It wouldn't do to get caught at this point, so she had to call up all her courage and march with every evidence of confidence across that open space to reach the relative safety of the street.

She knew the Chief Inspector’s men were about and there might well be one guarding the main entrance, but they’d be looking for people trying to get in, not get out. So if she was courageous and bold enough she could move on by whoever might be watching and she’d be halfway to reaching her destination, Nathan Ainsworth’s townhouse. She'd worry about exactly what she would do once she reached it, when she got there. At the moment she had enough to worry about.

She reached up and pushed the hat down more firmly onto her head. She clutched her handbag, set her lips in a determined line and stepped in what she hoped was a shopgirl style of walk toward the beckoning open doorway.

The walk across the open lobby seemed to take forever. Several servants hurrying past took a moment to look her over, but whatever it was they saw they didn’t say anything nor did they try to stop her.

Then, with a wildly beating heart, and sucking in air, since she hadn't realized she’d been holding her breath, she turned and started off down the sidewalk at a brisk pace.

The sound of footsteps hurrying up behind her had her whirling in time to hit the man approaching her from behind in the groin with her heavy bag of tools. He cursed, clapped his hand across her mouth and drug her into an alleyway.

 

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