* * *
Friday, June 25, 1613, saw the Globe Theater showing The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster, a macabre, tragic play that began as a love story of a Duchess who married beneath her class, and ended as a nightmarish tragedy as her brothers undertook their revenge, destroying themselves in the process. It was originally shown at Blackfriars in 1612 and remained very popular.
Dr. Whitewood took his wife to see the play, meeting Godfrey there.
The play did very well, as always. Hawksworth had a major role and did excellently as one of the brothers, even more so than usual. Jaimes did not do well with his violin, he felt, as he couldnâ€™t stop thinking about Clancy Bottom. He actually broke a string in the second act and had to play the rest of the act on three strings, which was not only difficult but impossible. He pulled it off adequately. None of the audience seemed to notice but the actors and others at the theater did, and saw Jaimesâ€™ face get redder and redder with rage as the play progressed. Godfrey actually heard the string break.
Word spread like wildfire backstage and the other actors gave Jaimes a wide berth. He had broken a string during a performance once before and, when one of the actors had tried to console him, he had beaten the man about the head and shoulders. Now they knew better.
Hawksworth sought out Godfrey and Dr. Whitewood after the show.
â€œIt was a fine performance, Hawksworth,â€ Dr. Whitewood said.
â€œFine!?!â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œAll right. If you add the â€˜veryâ€™ to it, I might accept it.â€
â€œIâ€™ll go buy you a drink.â€
Abigail Whitewood loved the play and fawned over the actor. She told Hawksworth how wonderful a job he had done, noting several things in the play and even commenting upon them as if Hawksworth had actually done them to the other actors.
â€œSay â€˜Money canâ€™t buy that,â€™â€ Hawksworth whispered to Godfrey.
Dr. Whitewood had noted, since their children had died in 1609, his wife loved tragedies. She seemed to enjoy watching terrible things happen to other people. But he was happy when his wife was happy.
She took Hawksworth aside.
â€œExcept for this friend of my husbands,â€ she confided in him. â€œIf you could get rid of him, I would appreciate it. He sat and farted and burped the entire production. It was either him or my husband, and I wonâ€™t believe that of my darling, Everett.â€
Hawksworth looked over at Godfrey, who had a mug of ale in his hand.
â€œWhitewood, I think you should escort your wife home and then we should go to Islington,â€ Hawksworth said to the Doctor. â€œBecause right now itâ€™s probably a good time to pursue this Bottom.â€
â€œYou might want to grab those optimistic lads while youâ€™re at it,â€ Dr. Whitewood said.
â€œThose two boys who were looking for Bottom.â€
â€œOh! The other two: the stagehand and the musician. Of course. I donâ€™t want to talk to the musician though. You should talk to the musician!â€
â€œI did him to â€¦â€
â€œYour wife had questions about the play. I will escort her home, answer all of her questions, sheâ€™ll be satisfied,â”€â€
â€œOh, sheâ€™ll love that.â€
â€œâ”€you talk to the musician and â€¦ yes. Youâ€™ll talk to the musician.â€
â€œIâ€™ll meet you at Islington.â€
Godfrey and Hawksworth locked eyes.
â€œYes, Whitewood,â€ Godfrey said.
â€œYes, Whitewood!â€ Hawksworth said. â€œYou go get the people of the names I do not know.â€
â€œIâ€™ll meet you in Islington then,â€ Dr. Whitewood said.
â€œIf your survive,â€ Hawksworth muttered.
He turned to Godfrey.
â€œGodfrey, would you please help me escort Whitewoodâ€™s wife home?â€ he said.
The other gentleman agreed and they quickly left.
* * *
Jaimes, still furious, was restringing his violin when Dr. Whitewood came into the backstage area with a grin on his face. As Dr. Whitewood approached him, he saw the man looked angry. The broken violin string was under his foot and he kept grinding it into the floor.
â€œYoung Jaimes!â€ Dr. Whitewood said with a smile. â€œLovely performance out there â€¦ as usual.â€
â€œWhat?â€ Jaimes growled. â€œIs it? Whitewood?â€
â€œWell â€¦ we were looking into the-the Bottom thing and we actually learned something at the Mermaid,â€ Dr. Whitewood said.
â€œWait,â€ Huddleston said, slipping out from behind a flat. â€œYou know something about Mr. Bottom?â€
â€œUh, yes,â€ Dr. Whitewood said. â€œWe were at the mermaid and the barkeep saw him leave with a â€¦ weird gentleman. We have a lead in Islington. So, Hawksworth is on the way there after he drops off my lovely wife.â€
â€œOh!â€ Huddleston said.
â€œIf heâ€™d paid me my sixpence â€¦ this wouldnâ€™t have happened!â€ Jaimes said.
â€œUh â€¦â€ Huddleston said.
â€œWell?â€ Jaimes grunted. â€œWhat are we to do now?â€
â€œI guess weâ€™re going to Islington,â€ Dr. Whitewood said.
â€œIslington,â€ Huddleston echoed.
â€œGod damned Islington,â€ Jaimes muttered.
â€œIâ€™ll certainly come with you to Islington,â€ Huddleston said.
They both looked at Jaimes. He felt their eyes on him like metal burning into his soul.
â€œWell,â€ he finally said. â€œFine. When we find him, Iâ€™ll give him â€¦â€
His growl turned into incoherent muttering.
â€œIf heâ€™s not dead already, he will be!â€ he finally ended, closing the case.
They went Jaimesâ€™ attic apartment and he left his violin there, replacing it in the case with his blunderbuss, which barely fit, before they headed off to Islington.
* * *
Hawksworth and Godfrey escorted Mrs. Whitewood to the doctorâ€™s home. She talked the actorâ€™s ear off, very appreciative of the macabre, tragic play and his part in it. She seemed loathe to part with him but he had to go on his way. The two men headed for the Islington on foot.
Islington was more a dormitory village or a borough than an actual village. Part of London, technically, it was formed in the Middle Ages as an overnight stop for cattle on the way to Smithfield. However, by the early 17th century, most of the last was given to aristocratic families and it had grown into a village spreading along Upper Street and Lower Road. The fields there housed farms that also provided forage and shelter for passing herds. By 1590, there were nine taverns clustered in the area.
The rural atmosphere, with access to the City and Westminster, made it a popular residential area for the rich and affluent. Many fugitives and recusants were often harbored at the local inns, however.
Just south of Islington proper, Clerkenwell was seen as harboring a great number of insolent people and habitations of beggars, illegal in London, and people without trade, as well as stables, inns, alehouses, taverns, garden-houses converted to dwellings, ordinaries, dicing houses, bowling alleys, and brothel houses. Clerkenwell contained a notorious brothel quarter on Turnbull Street. Clerkenwell Gaol was also there, a new structure used to house prisoners on short sentences.
Hawksworth asked about a man with a velvet hat. Godfrey asked about a Littleton or Lordlyson.
In that time, the other three had been asking about Clancy Bottom, with Dr. Whitewood asking about Hawksworth and Godfrey as well.
What all of them noticed, even before they found each other, was mostly discomfort, especially about the man whom Clancy Bottom had met with: the man with the velvet hat. Many people looked uncomfortable and then quickly left the questioners. What they eventually learned was of a Lord Simon Loddington at Loddington Hall just northeast of the village proper. However, people didnâ€™t seem to want to talk about him though they were able to get directions to the place.
They were also able to learn, though it was not easy, that Lord Loddington was not well thought of in Islington. He and his family mostly kept to themselves and there were some strange rumors of their sightings in local churchyards not long after burials and of some supposedly decadent connections in Clerkenwell either to brothels or to some of the less-than-savory folk who lived there. It was said no visitors had been to the house or grounds in years and the locals had taken to calling the place The Strange House. The Loddingtons had fallen on hard times, letting the servants go one by one over the years.
It was several hours before they found the others in Islington, late in the day. They decided to return to London that evening and planned to meet at Loddington Hall the following afternoon.
* * *
Saturday, June 26, 1613, saw the Globe performing Warriors Without Sin, a history by Gabriel Pettwood about the Spanish Armada sailing against England in 1588 only to be destroyed by the faster English ships and the storm that blew them north into the treacherous waters around Scotland. The main characters were the Spanish and the title was ironically what they referred to themselves as. The crowd loved it as there were many battles and sword fights and the Spanish lost in the end.
They had more rehearsals that afternoon and, in the late afternoon, all five of them met on the road that ran by Loddington Hall northeast of Islington. Jaimes apologized to Huddleston for his manner the day before.
A tall wall ran around the main property. However, the gatehouse in the wall was empty and the iron gate hung open. Peering in, they saw the grounds were a mess. Weeds and tall grass were ever-present and the drive leading up to the hall was rutted and mostly dirt, though there were signs gravel long-ago covered it. Some of the windows of the house were broken or cracked. A few were fitted with pieces of wood to fill in for broken glass.
Hawksworth suggested only he and Godfrey approach the house at first.
â€œWe will mention that there are others who wish to question him and maybe talk about Bottom,â€ he said. â€œBut Godfrey is rich and I am an actor so I can play a part that supports whatever Godfrey will talk about. But, if there are five of us and one is a stagehand, no offense, and one is a musician, no offenseâ”€â€
â€œOffense taken,â€ Jaimes said.
â€œâ”€and yes, you are a medicine man but â€¦ I still feel like two is better than four. We donâ€™t want to overwhelm this man. Five people come asking for a missing man - a little suspicious. Two friends of the missing man, not so suspicious. What do you think?â€
â€œYou donâ€™t get paid that much more than I do,â€ Huddleston said.
â€œTrue,â€ Hawksworth conceded. â€œBut I have people that know my name.â€
â€œMuch as I want you to shut your gob, you have a point,â€ Jaimes said.
â€œI agree with you,â€ Huddleston said. â€œBesides, this place is kind of big and a little bit scary-looking.â€
â€œA little the worse for wear,â€ Jaimes agreed.
â€œNot a place I want to be,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œBut â€¦ clearly, Clancy Bottom is worth it.â€
Godfrey and Hawksworth walked up the drive.
â€œIâ€™m your servant,â€ Hawksworth said as they approached. â€œI will play the servant and I will do whatever is necessary to prove that Iâ€™m the servant. You have the money. Convince this man that he should let us in.
They walked up to the house
â€œBut I am not a servant, Iâ€™m just playing one,â€ Hawksworth reminded Godfrey
They knocked upon the front door several times and it was a while before they heard a bolt pulled back and the door opened with a creak. The man who answered had a darkish complexion and black beard and mustache. He was tall, standing over six feet, and dressed finely though Godfrey noticed his clothing was a little threadbare. He squinted at the two, eyes narrow, beady, and looking down his nose at them.
â€œWho are you?â€ he said shortly. â€œWhat do you want?â€
â€œDo I have the pleasure of addressing Lord Loddington?â€ Godfrey asked.
â€œWho wants to know? Who are you, sir?â€
â€œI apologize. My name is Peter Godfrey and I am just a humble banker and this is my servantâ”€â€
â€œWe owe no debt!â€
â€œNo no no. Iâ€™m not here about debt that you would possibly owe. I see by your lavish house here, you probably have no debts.â€
â€œI am actually looking for a man by the name of Clancy Bottom. Uh â€¦ he â€¦ uh â€¦ owes me a great deal of money and you were one of the last people to be seen with him.â€
â€œClancy Bottom? Clancy Bottom?â€
â€œYes. Was an actor at the Globe, I believe.â€
â€œYes, I â€¦ uh â€¦ I-I did meet him â€¦ at the Mermaid Inne, which I frequent very often. I frequent it very often, yes? He wanted to speak to me about something that Iâ€™m an expert at: astrology. I â€¦ was charmed by him and so I invited him to stay for supper.â€
â€œDo you know what happened to Mr. Bottom afterâ”€â€
â€œWho is this!?!â€
Lord Loddington pointed at Hawksworth.
â€œHm?â€ Godfrey said. â€œOh, this is my servant. Introduce yourself.â€
â€œMay I?â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œYes. I gave you permission. Introduce yourself.â€
â€œI am Ben Vinceworth, the servant of Lord Godfrey.â€
â€œBen Vinceworth, huh?â€
â€œWhat do you wish with Bottom?â€ Lord Loddington asked Godfrey. â€œAre you friends of his?â€
â€œNo, I lent him money and Iâ€™m looking for him,â€ Godfrey said. â€œHe disappeared some days ago. Iâ€™m searching around. You were just one of the last people he was seen with.â€
â€œOh, was I? I know of this Bottom. Perhaps you and your servant should sup with us. Have supper. Weâ€™ll speak then.â€
â€œIf it is appropriate. Youâ€™re a banker, eh?â€
Lord Loddington looked the large man up and down.
â€œYes, you should sup with I and my family,â€ he said. â€œThough we donâ€™t have much, we do have some pigs and I can roast one up for supper.â€
Hawksworth put his hand on Godfreyâ€™s shoulder.
â€œI do not mean to speak out of turn,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œBut you should also talk to him about the other lavish guests you have here in Islington, sir.â€
â€œYes,â€ Godfrey said. â€œI was getting to that.â€
Lord Loddington glared at Hawksworth.
â€œSorry,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œSorry. Sorry.â€
â€œShut up, boy!â€ Lord Loddington said, stepping out and slapping Hawksworth in the face.
â€œSorry!â€ Hawksworth cried out. â€œSorry! Sorry!â€
â€œLavish guests?â€ Lord Loddington said. â€œWho are these lavish guests?â€
â€œOh, just some companions of mine that were helping me look for Mr. Bottom,â€ Godfrey said.
â€œHm. You say they are rich as well?â€
â€œYes, thereâ€™s a doctor friend of mine and his two associates.â€
â€œAh. Why yes, send your boy to go fetch them. You may all sup with us this evening. You may have the run of the house while I go prepare the hogs.â€
He looked at Hawksworth again.
â€œGo, boy!â€ he shouted at the man and pointed down the lane. â€œFetch them!â€
Hawksworth turned and ran towards the gatehouse.
â€œMr. Godfrey,â€ Lord Loddington said, gesturing him to enter.
Godfrey entered the house, Lord Loddington closing the door behind him. The Hall was shabby with little of finery about it. It was also dirty and in disrepair, with the few things there covered in dust. The only clean item was a very large portrait of Lord Loddington with a woman and two young boys.
â€œYou have the run of the house,â€ Lord Loddington said. â€œIf you find a locked door, please respect my privacy. I will, of course, once your fellows arrive â€¦ I might be somewhat busy. If you hear a banging at the front door, you are welcome to open it. How many of them are there? Three, you say. Two companions and a physician?â€
â€œPhysician, yes,â€ Godfrey said, looking at the portrait.
â€œVery good. We shall sup in an hour or two. I will to the kitchen and prepare some pork. As I said, my family made its fortune in hogs, hogâ€™s meat, and the like.â€
The man left the chamber. Godfrey looked around, uncomfortable.
* * *
Hawksworth came running around the corner of the gatehouse to the others, who were standing on the other side of the wall. He stopped, out of breath and sweating from the run.
â€œMr. Hawksworth, what happened?â€ Huddleston said.
â€œWhat happened to Godfrey?â€ Dr. Whitewood asked.
â€œWhereâ€™s Godfrey?â€ Huddleston said.
â€œBottomâ€™s â€¦ murderer,â€ Hawksworth said between gulps of air.
â€œExcuse me?â€ Jaimes said.
â€œWhat!?!â€ Huddleston said.
â€œIs in that house,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œI swear it on Godâ€™s breath.â€
They all looked at each other.
â€œWhat on Earth?â€ Jaimes said.
â€œGodfreyâ€™s in there alone,â€ he said.
He laughed again.
â€œWhyâ€™d you leave him alone?â€ Dr. Whitewood said.
â€œBecause the man hit me!â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œWhy did he hit you?â€
â€œI was playing a servant. I couldnâ€™t take the hit and then rebuttal. I had to run.â€
â€œOh,â€ Huddleston said. â€œOkay. Well â€¦â€
â€œIâ€™m sorry,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œIâ€™m sorry. It was a long run. I have not had to run for a while.â€
Jaimes pushed past the actor and walked towards the gate.
â€œI have not had to run,â€ Hawksworth muttered again.
â€œWell, are we invited in, Mr. Hawksworth?â€ Huddleston said.
â€œWait, hold on,â€ Hawksworth said to Jaimes.
He looked Dr. Whitewood up and down. The man wore very nice clothing with decorative fur and fine boots. He had his medical satchel. Hawksworth looked the others up and down. They wore simple clothing and Jaimes carried a violin case under his arm.
â€œOkay, hereâ€™s how it has to go,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œMe and Godfrey convinced him that Godfrey is looking for Clancy Bottom because Clancy Bottom owes Godfrey money.â€
â€œThatâ€™sâ”€â€ Dr. Whitewood said.
â€œBut!â€ Hawksworth went on. â€œClancy Bottom also owes you money! Okay? Because Clancy Bottom needs money because he is poor â€¦ and a stage hand. No offense once again. Itâ€™s just how life is. Anyways!â€
â€œOnce again, you donâ€™t get paid that much more than me,â€ Huddleston said.
Hawksworth shushed him.
â€œI donâ€™t want them to know that,â€ he whispered to the man.
He turned back to Dr. Whitewood.
â€œAnyways, we need to convince him, Loddington, who we just met, that you are here for the money and these are your servants,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œYou have to play servants. I know youâ€™re not actors but just do your best. Itâ€™ll come naturally. It should. Maybe. I donâ€™t know. Just donâ€™t speak. Let Whitewood and Godfrey do all the talking. Weâ€™ll figure out where Clancy Bottom is because this man, in my personal opinion, has killed Clancy Bottom. I know it. Or is at least holding him because this man is creepy. I donâ€™t like him.â€
He looked them over.
â€œYou got that?â€ he said.
â€œYes,â€ Huddleston said.
â€œServant,â€ Hawksworth said, pointing at Huddleston.
Then he pointed at Jaimes.
â€œServant,â€ he said.
He pointed at Dr. Whitewood.
â€œYou want money,â€ he said.
â€œI always want money,â€ Dr. Whitewood said.
â€œI will lead you because he sent me to find you,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œActually, we should wait here for a little bit. Itâ€™ll be a little weird if I bring you back immediately like you were waiting outside the wall. Which you were. I would say half an hour.â€
* * *
Godfrey waited several minutes and then started to wander about the house the opposite direction Lord Loddington had gone, looking for clues to Bottomâ€™s location. He wandered deeper into the place, heading for the dining parlor. It was very plain with only a few old shields on the walls. Everything was very dusty as if the room didnâ€™t see much use or cleaning. He continued on to the low parlor chamber and the inner chamber, still wondering where the finery of the upper class was in the dirty house. He found the stool house, which still seemed to be use and wandered by some pantries that must have lain some distance from the kitchens. He passed through a little room and to the beer and wine cellars. A few casks were there but again, the place showed a lack of use for some time. Windows looked out into an overgrown inner court as well. He had reached the inner chamber and stool house towards the back of the building and could see some outbuildings out the windows when he heard a banging on the front door.
He headed back to the front of the house.
* * *
The others had waited for some time before they went up to the house. Their long knocking was eventually answered, somewhat to their surprise, by Godfrey.
â€œAnd where were you?â€ Godfrey said to them.
â€œSo, where is our host?â€ Dr. Whitewood said.
â€œPreparing supper. Apparently.â€
â€œPreparing his own supper? And ours? Thatâ€™s strange.â€
â€œI would make no mention of it. In fact, I found flattering him brightens his mood a bit.â€
They entered the dirty hall. The windows were covered in dust and the only clean thing in the hall was the portrait. Everything else showed signs of months if not years of neglect.
â€œIf he has any servants he should â€¦â€ Dr. Whitewood said, then laughed uncomfortably. â€œâ€¦ get rid of them.â€
No one opening the front door was out of the ordinary in and of itself.
â€œSo, he left us free reign of the house?â€ Dr. Whitewood said.
â€œYes,â€ Godfrey said.
â€œI think we could cover more group quickly if we split up into two groups,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œWhitewood and the servants, Godfrey and me, because Iâ€™m a servant â€¦ playing a servant, of course. But the only reason I say this is because if the servants are found alone, that seems a little suspicious. â€˜Servant, what are you doing away from your master?â€™â€
â€œI would advise against splitting the group up, actually,â€ Huddleston said nervously. â€œItâ€™s just this is a big place. That seems like a bad idea.â€
â€œI donâ€™t think weâ€™re going to find Clancy Bottom in this big of a place if we all stay together,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œMaybe. But I doubt it. I think we should split up.â€
â€œWell, maybe not individually,â€ Jaimes said.
â€œWell, I know how Godfrey is with stairs, so weâ€™ll take upstairs,â€ Dr. Whitewood said.
â€œOkay,â€ Huddleston said nervously. â€œIâ€™ll go upstairs with Whitewood.â€
* * *
Dr. Whitewood, Jaimes, and Huddleston went upstairs. They passed through a dining chamber and found a room on the second floor was locked with a very solid door. They continued through a passage room and other various rooms, some of them locked, to a Gallery where they found a middle aged, finely dressed woman. She was dour-faced and did not look kindly upon the strangers. She put aside her needlepoint.
â€œAh,â€ Dr. Whitewood said. â€œThe lady of the house, I presume.â€
â€œI am Susan Loddington, yes,â€ the woman said. â€œThe lady of the house. Who are you?â€
â€œOh, we are guests of your husband. He said we could sup.â€
Lady Loddington looked over all of them carefully.
â€œOh, theyâ€™re just my servants,â€ Dr. Whitewood said. â€œPay them no never mind. I am Dr Everett Whitewood.â€
â€œSusan Loddington,â€ the woman said again. â€œIf my husband has welcomed you to my house, you are welcome as well. Are you staying for supper?â€
â€œYes, that is what he invited us to.â€
â€œThen Iâ€™m sure I shall see you there.â€
â€œAh â€¦ yes.â€
The woman went back to her sewing. They left her.
They found several chambers on the east side of the house were also locked. Behind one of the locked room, they thought they heard the noise of two children.
As they returned through the passage on the second floor, they found another young woman they had not seen before. She was very pretty though seemed cold and regal. She wore find clothing and had brown hair pulled back tightly behind her head. She was of average height, slim, and probably about 16 years old. She was working on a dress of some kind. She seemed surprised at their presence.
â€œOh,â€ the girl said. â€œWho are you?â€
â€œWe are guests of the Loddingtons for supper,â€ Dr. Whitewood said.
â€œAh. I am a Loddington. Itâ€™s so nice that they tell me whatâ€™s happening around here. Ellen Loddington. Pleased.â€
She held out her hand and gently shook Dr. Whitewoodâ€™s hand. Then she held out her hand to Huddleston.
â€œEllen Loddington,â€ she said. â€œPleased.â€
She held out her hand to Jaimes.
â€œEllen Loddington,â€ she said as he took it. The she smiled and purred â€œPleased.â€
Jaimes frowned and pulled his hand back.
â€œDr. Whitewood,â€ Whitewood said.
â€œAh yes, Dr. Whitewood,â€ Susan said dismissively.
She turned back to Jaimes.
â€œAnd your name?â€ she said.
â€œUm â€¦ yes â€¦ Iâ€™m Francis Jaimes,â€ he said.
â€œFrancis Jaimes, yes,â€ she said.
â€œTheyâ€™re just my servants,â€ Dr. Whitewood said. â€œPay them no mind.â€
Susan stared at the handsome Jaimes
â€œPerhaps your servant could help me,â€ she eventually said, still staring at Jaimes. â€œI have need of some assistance.â€
â€œWell, I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s proper for me to leave him with you alone,â€ Dr. Whitewood said.
â€œHeâ€™s a servant,â€ she said incredulously.
â€œYes,â€ Jaimes said. â€œNonsense. I will see to her.â€
â€œAll right,â€ Dr. Whitewood said.
Ellen smiled at the man.
â€œIf you come with me, I have something that needs moved,â€ she said, standing up and putting the dress she was working on aside.
â€œYes, right away,â€ Jaimes said.
She led him back the way they came to the garden chamber on the front of the house. It was obviously her bedroom and several windows let in a great deal of light. She closed and locked the door behind her and then tucked the key away. She walked over and got very close to Jaimes, who had noticed the room was fairly clean. He backed away from her.
â€œYes, maâ€™am,â€ he said.
â€œYes?â€ she said stepping closer.
Every time she said â€œyes,â€ she got a little closer to the man.
â€œWhat â€¦ would you need moved, exactly?â€ Jaimes said uncomfortably.
â€œParts of my body,â€ she said.
She stepped very close to him.
â€œWell, Iâ€™ll have you know, this is unacceptable behavior for a lady!â€ Jaimes said, raising his voice.
â€œNo, Iâ€™m the aristocracy,â€ she purred. â€œItâ€™s fine. This is fine.â€
A knocking came from the door.
â€œMiss Loddington,â€ Dr. Whitewood called from without. â€œMiss Loddington.â€
â€œDo not speak,â€ Ellen whispered to Jaimes.
She turned away from him and walked to the door.
â€œIâ€™m sorry,â€ she called through the door. â€œI canâ€™t find the key.â€
â€œWell, Iâ€™ll just have to get your mother,â€ Dr. Whitewood said. â€œIâ€™m sure she has the key.â€
Ellen sighed and rolled her eyes.
â€œOh, here it is,â€ she said.
She took the key out, looked at Jaimes, and batted her eyes. She put the key in the lock and opened the door a crack.
â€œIâ€™m sorry, this gentleman is trying to help me to move something,â€ she said to Dr. Whitewood.
â€œYes, but I heard your mother calling you,â€ Dr. Whitewood said. â€œMaybe you should go attend to that.â€
â€œSheâ€™ll be fine,â€ the girl said. â€œShe should be in the kitchen, fixing dinner.â€
Jaimes pushed past the girl.
â€œThis is intolerable!â€ he said.
â€œYour man was inappropriate towards me,â€ Ellen said. â€œI believe that means that â€¦ things have happened in a very short time that will require a priest.â€
Jaimes looked at the young woman, aghast.
â€œI have never!â€ Jaimes said.
â€œThere was not enough time for that,â€ Dr. Whitewood said.
â€œI have never!â€ Jaimes said. â€œThis isnâ€™t! This â€¦!â€
Ellen walked over to Jaimes again and tried to put her arm in his but she grabbed her arm and twisted it. She cried out in pain.
â€œFrancis, I suggestâ”€â€ Huddleston said.
â€œIf you know â€¦ what is best for you â€¦â€ Jaimes said.
â€œOh!â€ Ellen cried out. â€œYouâ€™re hurting me.â€
She lowered her voice so only he could hear.
â€œBut I kind of like it,â€ she whispered.
He let go of her hand. He looked at the girl and realized she wanted him for more than just sex. He guessed she was actually looking for a man to marry. The girl looked at him somewhat sadly.
â€œIâ€™m afraid I still need your man,â€ Ellen said to Dr. Whitewood.
â€œFor what?â€ Jaimes growled. â€œHavenâ€™t you gotten it already?â€
She looked at him.
â€œNo,â€ she said. â€œIf youâ€™ll excuse us.â€
â€œIâ€™m sure itâ€™s almost time for supper,â€ Dr. Whitewood said. â€œCome along servants.â€
He turned and walked away.
â€œYes sir!â€ Huddleston said, scurrying after him.
As Jaimes turned to follow, she grabbed the manâ€™s arm again.
â€œTake me away from here,â€ she said quietly in his ear.
She looked at him pleadingly, let go of his arm and backed to the door of her room, closing it behind her. Jaimes thought on that. Then he hastened to catch the others.
â€œYou may continue,â€ he said to them. â€œI will proceed to â€¦ show the miss â€¦ my violin.â€
He turned and started to walk back.
â€œThatâ€™s hardly appropriate, Jaimes!â€ Dr. Whitewood said to the man.
â€œAre you sure about this?â€ Huddleston called after the man. â€œI mean, you could get in huge trouble.â€
â€œI assure you, it is not â€¦ anything like that,â€ Jaimes said.
â€œI canâ€™t prevent your death if the lord wants it,â€ Dr. Whitewood said.
â€œIf someone catches you, then â€¦â€ Huddleston said.
Jaimes turned and walked away despite their protests.
â€œDonâ€™t lose your head,â€ Huddleston called after him.
They headed off to continue exploring the second floor.
* * *
Jaimes returned to the room, opening the door. He was relieved to see Ellen was clothed, sitting quietly in her bed almost as if she had expected him to come back. He sat on a stool not close to the bed and looked at the girl, who stared back at him.
â€œI apologize for my accusations against you,â€ she said. â€œBut you seemed to be a man of the world who can take me away from here. And I need a husband.â€
â€œI apologize for twisting your arm,â€ he replied. â€œI keep to myself and I donâ€™t typically enjoy the company of others.â€
â€œI can make my company very enjoyable.â€
â€œYou appear â€¦ as if you know more than what you let on.â€
â€œI want to be out of this house.â€
â€œBecause I hate it here.â€
Jaimes remembered that Ellen was not in the portrait in the Hall below.
â€œWhy arenâ€™t you in the portrait in the hall?â€ he asked.
â€œI wouldnâ€™t sit,â€ she said. â€œI wouldnâ€™t sit with this family. I wonâ€™t sit with that man. My mother. My father. These â€¦ pigs who call themselves my brothers. I want out of this house. I can make it worth your while. Iâ€™m rich.â€
â€œI have no need for money.â€
â€œEveryone needs money. I can please you. I know what a man wants and a I know what a man needs.â€
â€œAs you may have already guessed, that is not my interest. I want to know about you and whyâ”€â€
â€œYouâ€™re interested in men then? You like the boys?â€
â€œThat is not any of your concern.â€
â€œIt is! Because if youâ€™re a man whoâ€™s a man, you would take me away from here and I can give you a title.â€
â€œThat is not what I want and you shall not get it from me. Now what I need is information. I came here for one thing and one thing only which is to find this man who owes me sixpence.â€
â€œWho is this man?â€
â€œA Mister Clancy Bottom.â€
â€œHe was here some nights ago.â€
â€œWhat do you know of him?â€
â€œHeâ€™s gone. He left. He fled.â€
â€œHe fled from me.â€
â€œWhy I donâ€™t doubt that.â€
â€œAm I not attractive? Am I not pleasing to the eye?â€
â€œThat is not the point here.â€
â€œYou canâ€™t seduce men in such a way.â€
â€œI have before. And now theyâ€™re gone. Theyâ€™re always gone.â€
â€œWell, you shall not any longer, especially not with me.â€
â€œThis Clancy Bottom: â€˜I have a wife.â€™â€
â€œHe left,â€ she said. â€œYou would have to ask my father for anything more. I donâ€™t know anything more. He fled in the night. Smart one. Those that donâ€™t flee, sometimes never leave.â€
â€œAnd what would you mean by that?â€ he asked.
She stood up from the bed and walked to the man, who didnâ€™t move. She leaned forward and whispered in his ear:
â€œDonâ€™t eat the meat.â€
Then she stood up straight, looking sadly down at him a moment.
â€œYou may go,â€ she said coldly.
She walked over to the vanity with the mirror, sat down on the stool there, and started brushing her hair with a silver brush.
â€œNoted,â€ he said.
He didnâ€™t notice the girl watching him in the mirror as he left.
* * *
Hawksworth and Godfrey found what they assumed was the kitchen. At least it was the direction Lord Loddington had disappeared to. It was locked, as were the surrounding chambers. They explored other parts of the ground floor. They found their way, eventually, to the chapel. It was dirty and dusty as if it hadnâ€™t been used for years and, as they crossed to the altar near the front, they left tracks in the dust. They guessed no one had been in the room for at least a decade.
â€œNot very religious, eh?â€ Hawksworth said.
They noticed outbuildings and a neglected orchard behind the house.
They returned to the kitchen and Hawksworth put his ear to the door in an attempt to hear what Lord Loddington was up to. He thought he heard a man grunting and groaning painfully within. He went white.
â€œWhatâ€™s wrong, man?â€ Godfrey asked.
â€œHeâ€™s killing a person in there!â€ Hawksworth whispered.
â€œWhat?â€ Godfrey said. â€œWhat!?!â€
He pushed Hawksworth aside and put his own ear to the door. He was unable to hear anything himself aside from garbled noises.
â€œDo you hear a man being killed in there?â€ Hawksworth asked.
â€œI just hear normal noises,â€ Godfrey said. â€œHawksworth, are you sure youâ”€â€
â€œWhat are normal noises?â€
â€œNormal kitchen sounds. I donâ€™t hear screaming. I donâ€™t know. Do you usually scream when youâ€™re cooking your dinner?â€
â€œGet out of the way!â€
Hawksworth pushed Godfrey aside and put his ear to the door once again. He couldnâ€™t hear the groaning but heard a hacking noise as if someone were cutting meat.
â€œWell, heâ€™s dead by now,â€ Hawksworth whispered to the man. â€œI was listening when he did the killing blow! I heard the gurgle. Well, now, then you started listening after the gurgle and I came back after the gurgle and now the man is dead. But I heard the initial â€˜Oh, please help me!â€™ I heard that!â€
â€œYou didnâ€™t say that before!â€ Godfrey whispered to him.
â€œOf course I didnâ€™t. Because â€¦ I wanted you to hear it with your own ears, of course. Godfrey, just go in there and say â€˜Iâ€™m hungry. I need something right now,â€™ and take a look.â€
â€œI donâ€™t want him to cook me next, if thatâ€™s the case.â€
There was a click as the door was unlocked and then opened. Lord Loddington came out and stopped to stare at the two men standing there. He pulled the door closed behind him as Hawksworth tried to look around the man but stumbled and fell to the ground.
â€œIâ€™m sorry,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œIâ€™m so hungry.â€
â€œYes,â€ Lord Loddington said.
He reached back and locked the door behind him.
â€œIâ€™ve prepared the hog,â€ he said when he turned back to them. â€œIâ€™ll fetch my wife to cook it.â€
â€œHow many pounds was it?â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œEnough,â€ Lord Loddington said. â€œWhy are you speaking?â€
He slapped Hawksworth squarely in the face. The man let out a shout of pain.
â€œIâ€™m sorry,â€ Hawksworth called. â€œIâ€™m sorry! Iâ€™m sorry!â€
â€œI didnâ€™t say you could speak!â€ Lord Loddington said.
He slapped the man in the face again.
â€œYour servant is quite â€¦â€ He said.
â€œOh, I know,â€ Godfrey said. â€œIâ€™ve been meaning to â€¦â€
But Lord Loddington had walked away, leaving them. Once he was gone, Godfrey peered through the keyhole. He saw a kitchen beyond and could see a cutting table with meat upon it.
â€œLetâ€™s wait by the kitchen door and see if we can take another look when the wife comes back,â€ Hawksworth said to Godfrey. â€œOr, why donâ€™t you offer I help her with the cooking as a good servant would do?â€
â€œGood idea,â€ Godfrey said.
* * *