Elizabeth Marton

This is also a historical fiction. Enjoy!

From even her first sighting of him, Elizabeth strongly despises Fitzwilliam Emmerson, the silent, surly friend of Edmund Fitzwield, owner of a nearby estate. However when things take a funny turn and something more than what Miss Marton could ever have anticipated is revealed, she begins to realize
exactly how wrongly judgemental she has been, particularly concerning Mr. Emmerson's father...

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The carriage pulled up in front of Pickely house's front doors and Mr Emmerson helped his new wife out. "Welcome to Pickely." he half-proudly said.

Elizabeth smiled back at him, then, as Mr. Emmerson instructed the carriage men not to unload their luggage just yet, went to peer intently at the stone archway over the front doors, noticing immediately that words were inscribed into it, directly below the family crest:

Semper confringetur

"Forever broken." translated Elizabeth to herself.

Mr Emmerson joined her on the steps. "Yes." he mused. "It is a peculiar motto for a house, is it not? I have always tought it was unusually abstract for such a family."

"It is." agreed Elizabeth. "And it is also very dark."

Mr Emmerson said nothing and let them into the house.

 

The entrance hall was massive, marble-floored and chandeliered, and over to one side, there hung a magnificent family tree ubove an elegant mahogany dresser and a bell jar, but before Elizabeth could properly take it all in, a maid had come hurrying towards them.

"Oh, master!" she cried, wringing her hands and adgitaitedly glancing over her shoulder. "He has come to the house and has been awaiting your arrival all day!"

Elizabeth felt rather confused. "He?" she asked. "Who's he?" but nobody answered her.

Mr Emmerson's face was chalk-white. "Now?" he whispered. "He is here now? But- But that cannot be! I was informed he was out of the country!"

Elizabeth shivered; Joseph Emmerson was here.

The maid shook her head. "He fooled us all, sir." she said miserably. "We did not expect him, either. He turned up with a horrible smile on his face and demanded accomodation completely out of the blue! The other servants and I tried to stop him, sir, really, we did!"

Mr Emmerson shook his head numbly "I must take Elizabeth away from here. If my father... If my father sees her, or hears that she is in the building..."

Elizabeth's insides turned to ice.

"But I am afraid he knows already, sir." squeaked the maid fearfully. "He quizzed Miss Georgia, you see, and when she would not answer him, he..." the maid gulped and wrung her hands fretfully. "He knocked her unconscious against her bedroom door, sir. Then he turned to Miss Ophelia, who, I am afraid to say, told him everything."

Mr Emmerson stared. "B-but... But how? How does Ophelia even know about the wedding in the first place?"

The maid shook her head sadly. "Goodness knows, sir."

Mr Emmerson groaped for Elizabeth's arm and squeezed it tightly. "We should not be here... Maddy?" he turned to the maid, who bobbed a dutiful curtsey. "Take my wife somewhere safe, somplace where she shall not have any cause to suffer the wrath of my father, whilst I..." He swallowed. "...Confront him. Go pack your things. We may need to make a quick escape and you shall need to come with us. Do not tell anyone that you are helping us. Do you faithfully promise?"

Maddy nodded. "I faithfully promise, Master."

"Good." Mr Emmerson gave Elizabeth's arm one last squeeze then left her to the care of the maid, the maid whom Elizabeth foolowed quietly up to the attic, where the servants' quarters lay. When they reached the door of Maddy's own bedroom, the maid stopped and looked shyly up at Elizabeth. "It may be a small room, My Lady, but we must hide here until my master tells us to stop." she said. Then she turned the handle and stood back to let Elizabeth inside.

 

It was a tiny room, just, and only just, big enough to fit a narrow iron bed, a box, with a candle and a wash bowl balenced precariously on top of it, and a little iron clothes hook inside. Elizabeth, rather awkwardly, perched on the edge of the lumpy matress, whilst Maddy lit the stump of a candle for light to see by. Then, after she had lifted a small, battered carpet bag out from some dusty corner, Maddy set about collecting up all her worldly possessions. It did not take long. Elizabeth watched as a Sunday best outfit, a little bundle of herbs and a ragged old hair ribbon in a faded shade of green were carefully, and easily, fitted inside the carpet bag. When the meagre task of packing was then done, the maid straightened up and came to Elizabeth's side. Elizabeth offered her a seat on the bed, which Maddy took embarrassedly, making absolutely certain that her too-short, black, wool dress did not touch Elizabeth's clean, white, lace one. As they sat, Elizabeth was struck by a sudden thought. "Maddy," she began.

Startled, Maddy jumped and hastily turned to face her mistress. "Yes, Miss."

"Was Mr Emmerson really such a selfish creature when he was younger?"

The maid looked slightly taken aback, but she dutifully answered, anyway. "May I be allowed to reply 'yes'?"

Elizabeth nodded and Maddy smiled, relieved. "Yes, Miss. He was a little, Miss."

"Could you tell me the full story?"

"Of course, Miss, but I only know of a little. I only came to work at Pickely a year ago, Miss. I believe, though, from what the other servants have said, that the master was a rather unhappy little boy. He was, in a way, neglected, you see. He only really had acquaintances with women. No men. Wasn't fussy, either; never had anything to do that he found truly enjoyable. It was all 'Perfectly pleasant' this and 'Perfectly pleasant' that. Never any real emotion. Poor master had nothing but books to keep him company.... Oh, yes, but he liked books. Or so the housekeper says..." the maid added, spotting the look of amazement that had, momentarily, crossed Elizabeth's face. She continued. "He also had money, but, aside, from that, he had nothing. And so he grew proud and cold-hearted. He would spend day upon day riding through the fields and towns, sometimes hunting foxes or pheasants, other times just proudly being a lord. Some people were awed by him; others merely scared. And so this, for many years, carried on. Oh, Master was perfectly civil, yes. Always the gentleman when his mother and Georgia were around, always giving money to the poor. But he was a proud, haughty gentleman. Until, that is, he met someone called Edmund Fitzwield, outside a pub, down near-" But before Maddy could get any further, there came a drunken roar from several floors below. Elizabeth jumped, almost out of her skin, and there came a loud explosion of noise.

"Where is your wife, Fitzwilliam?" came the first loud shout. Elizabeth heard Mr Emmerson murmer something unitnelligable.

"What do you mean, your wife is not here?" roared the voice nastily in response. "How can she not be here, you stupid fool? At least two other carriages hava arrived with your luggage and your sister tells me you only took one carriage full when you left for your dratted friend's house! Your wife must be here and I demand to see her!"

Elizabeth squeaked in horror.

Mr Emmerson's reply was, again, unintelligable.

"No?" roared the voice of Mr Emmerson Senior. "What do you mean, 'No'?"

"I mean," came the raised, but controled voice of Elizabeth's husband. "That, unless I am speaking some form of Latin that is unknown to humans, that I refuse to let you see my wife!"

There then came a terrible crunch, followed by Mr Emmerson's cry of pain. Elizabeth screamed in anguish and lept wildly up from the bed. Maddy lept up, too, and steadily gripped her mistress' arm, whispering soothing words of comfort. But be comforted Elizabeth could not and, when the next sickening blow came, Elizabeth tore her arm away from the maid's grip and rushed out of the bedroom door, Maddy trying in vain to stop her.

 

Tripping and stumbling, Mrs Emmerson hurtled down three flights of stairs and she ran as she had never had cause to run before. By the time she reached the stairwell where Mr Emmerson was being attacked by his father, therefore, Elizabeth felt quite out of breath and this shortness was incresed vastly as Elizabeth laid eyes on one of the most terrible scenes ever beheld.

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