The Assembler

Chapter 37 - Help Not Hysterics

Jean G Hontz

@copyright 2009 all rights reserved


They were gathering up their things to return to their rooms when Emmie suddenly went pale. She began to sink slowly toward the ground. Abigail, next to her, grabbed at her, as did Cyril. Emmie's eyes went wide and she said, “Ned! It’s Ned! He’s been hurt! I know it!”

“About that time Sergeant Lumm hurried forward with a note clutched in his hand. “Straight from the Yard, guv. They just called. Thanks be to these new fangled telephones. It seems shots have been fired at a townhouse in Belgravia. And the local bobbie claims to have seen our fugitive rushing out of the building waving a weapon.”

“Nathan Ainsworth?” Chief Inspector Rory asked.

“Aye, sir,” Lumm replied. “It’s what he said. Although he said the bloke was filthy and disheveled so he couldn't be absolutely certain sure.”

Rory nodded and looked round. He saw that Cyril and Abigail had Emmie in hand. His eyes then sought out Lord Mallister.

Mallister, guessing what was being asked by Rory’s look, replied, “Go. Lumm and I will see to them. They’ll be safe enough here. There are enough constables around here to discourage even a mad Nathan Ainsworth. Go. Go find Ned Black.”

“I’m going with you,” Emmie insisted, pushing the others away from her.

“Not a good idea,” Rory stated bluntly.

“Good idea or not, either you take me with you or I follow you as best I can,” Emmie insisted. She had that look in her eye, Rory saw.

Rory shared a look with Mallister then put a hand at the small of Emmie’s back. “Come on then.”

They raced out of the building, flagged down a hansom and promised the driver a small fortune if he'd get them across town as fast as he could go. The driver, seeing the warrant card, didn’t exactly believe the size of the sum promised, but he liked a bit of excitement in his life so was eager to comply.

The moment the hansom reached the townhouse, Emmie was bolting out of it, Rory hard on her heels, tossing cash at the hansom driver as he hurried after her.

The street and sidewalks around the place were swarming with constables and Rory recognized a detective or two as well. From the other direction Rory noted that a doctor was all but running toward the townhouse.

“Get out of my way!” the physician ordered, shoving at a burly constable who hadn't even seen the diminutive old man. “Bloody people. Don’t any of you have enough sense to stay away from guns?” the doctor demanded. Rory agreed completely with the sentiment.

Emmie, pale but determined, shoved through the crowd toward the door into the building. But a mountain wearing a sergeant’s uniform stood there refusing admittance to anyone he hadn’t been instructed to let in. He grabbed hold of Emmie around the shoulders and more or less picked her up off the ground, “‘Ere now, Miss. Not the place for the likes of you!”

“Set me down!” Emmie fumed, beating at his chest ineffectually.

Rory, breathing hard, caught up with her then and showed his warrant card to the sergeant. “It’s all right, sergeant, she’s with me,” he said.

The sergeant looked dubious. “It’s ... It’s not a pleasant scene, miss. You should wait out here.”

“Put me down! I’m going in there!” Emmie insisted, looking daggers at the sergeant and an appeal at Rory.

Rory sighed. “Set her down. Wise or not, she’ll make my life miserable if we don't let her see it.”

“Your funeral, guv. Just make sure she doesn't mess up the scene.”

“Will do, sergeant,” Rory promised.

The doctor had shoved his way through the mess of bodies ahead of them, and now Emmie followed in his wake. She had the advantage of startling the men so much they all stepped aside for her.

Rory, behind her, found the lead detective and hissed, “Clear this place out. I want only the doctor, Lady Emiline and myself in here. Is that clear?”

The detective nodded and the crowd began to file out. They were protesting, but they went.

Then finally Emmie and Rory made it through to the drawing room. There they found Ned Black. He was lying on the floor bleeding heavily. Richard Ainsworth was cradling him in his arms, looking shocky. He had a throw, apparently grabbed off the sofa, bunched up against Ned’s stomach. The doctor had just knelt down to begin his work.

Emmie went sheet white and Rory was prepared to catch her if she fainted. She did not. Instead she walked forward, her spine straight and stiff, her chin up. “I can help,” she told the doctor.

He looked at her, looked at Ned who was unconscious and then said, “Good. I need help, not hysterics. Get me a basin of clean water, and whatever clean cloths you can find. And wash your hands.”

Emmie took her hat off, removed her jacket and hurried to comply. Once she was out of the room Rory advanced and knelt down beside the doctor. “Will he make it?” he asked.

“Hard to say at this point. Idiots. Shooting one another.”

At the doctor’s urging, Richard let go of Ned and between them they arranged him so the doctor could examine him further, and cut away the cloth from around the wound.

Rory raised an eyebrow at Richard. “Didn’t run off with your father.”

“No,” Richard replied tersely.

“He probably saved this young man’s life,” the doctor commented. “Keeping pressure on the wound, you see.”

Emmie, hurrying into the room with a pile of clean linen on her arm and a basin of clear water, heard that and paused. She met Richard’s eyes. “Thank you,” she said softly.

Richard nodded, then got up and moved out of the way.

“You’re hurt,” Rory said, looking Richard over.

“No. Well, from earlier. The blood on me is Ned’s.”

“Don’t try to go anywhere. I’ll have a lot of questions for you,” Rory explained as he eyed Richard Ainsworth.

“No doubt. And had I wanted to ‘go anywhere’ I’d have been long gone before any of you arrived,” Richard pointed out.

Rory nodded, acknowledging the truth of that.

Then the doctor, with Emmie’s assistance, set about trying to save Ned Black’s life.


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