Elizabeth Marton

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...


20. 20

It was during her solitary stroll when came the beginnings of an idea. Elizabeth had been mid-way through strolling through the carefully-pruned rose garden - one of Mr Marton's particular favorite features of the house and also one in which he took great pride - when this thought struck her from quite out of the blue. Her father, Elizabeth knew, really did care for every single one of his four daughters and always had their best interests at heart. She would therefore try, Elizabeth hereafter decided, to coax her dear father into lifting his ban of Mr. Emmerson ever encountering her, Elizabeth, ever again. At present, she did not know exactly how, but Elizabeth felt, as surely as she had done recently about the dairy maid's trustworthiness, as though she ought be able to come up with something sooner or later. And so, as she walked, Elizabeth continued to scheme - that is, until she strayed straight into the path of a stranger.


"Oh!" exclaimed Elizabeth, as she stumbled and almost fell. However the stranger seemed to take little notice.He was a broad-shouldered, stern-looking man, with a thick crop of side-parted grey hair and a perfectly straight toothbrush moustache.

"I beg your pardon, lady." said the stranger awkwardly, when Elizabeth glared at him. He cleared his throat. "The name's Peft. Sergeant Peft and I am in great want of a Mr Edmund Fitzwield. May you know where he is?"

Elizabeth blinked at him a few times, rather stupidly, before she hastily remembered herself. Her mind was racing. A sergeant, in want of Mr Fitzwield? Why ever could that be?


Then she realized how the sergeant was looking at her with a sort of puzzlement and she snapped herself back to the present. "Edmund Fitzwield, you say? Why, sir, I am from the neighbouring house, Rolands, and I have a very strong acquaintance with those up at Inklefields."

Peft nodded slowly. "Inklefields, eh?" he asked. "And you are...?"

"Miss Elizabeth Marton, sir." said Elizabeth, then she opened her mouth to say something else, but was stopped by the bizarre sight of Peft silently quaking with mirth.

"What?" she cried, indignantly. "What on earth are you laughing at? I was just about to offer you some help, if you please!"

Sergeant Peft at once ceased laughing, but there was still an expression of amusement on his face which Elizabeth could not ignore and she at once made her inquiries.

"Oh, no, my dear lady!" Exclaimed Peft as soon as she allowed him to speak. "It is nothing... I merely..." Then he frowned to himself and stopped talking. "No. It is nothing particular."

But when Elizabeth insisted on knowing the reasons for him laughing at her, he did begin to talk again. "You are Elizabeth Marton?"

She nodded.

"Then you are the one whom has caused all this trouble!" smiled the sergeant, almost triumphantly.

Still, however, Miss Marton was perplexed. "But what ever is so funny about that?" she asked.

"Oh, Mr Fitzwield sent for me when he heard how upset his friend was over you. He's a good man, is Edmund...So. Lizzie Marton, that's you, is it?"

"Yes." said Elizabeth, still feeling rather offended. She still had no idea what this strange man was getting to.

"I have never." said Mr Peft at last "seen, or even heard 'Will Emmerson to be interested in the likes of a girl under your disposition...Or even any girl... And to be so madly in love... Well, I shall just say that that's uncharacteristic of him."

Elizabeth's curiosity was suddenly very much aroused. "What do you mean?" she asked. "Are you really saying that you have an acquaintance with Mr. Emmerson?"

Peft, at this, began to laugh again. "Acquaintance? Why, I have known the Emmersons for years - the Fitzwields, too. I was sorry to hear what happened to Mrs Emmerson. Very tragic, but... Never mind. The fact is, madam, that I have known Fitzwilliam Emmerson since the day he was born. My own elder brother, Sammy, is, in fact, to this day, his very butler up at Pickely house!"

This information very much surprised Elizabeth, and she stared at her companion with a new-found sense of regard and respect. The sergeant was strange, certainly, but he had a streak of formality and sensibility to him, too, which gave his character a splash of vibrancy,

"Anyway," said Peft suddenly, clapping his hands together so loudly that a couple of birds flew, twittering madly, out of a nearby oak tree. "To business! Lead the way, Miss Marton and, if you please, take us to Inklefield estate!"

Elizabeth instantly obeyed, although she still felt, to a certain extent, some form of apprehension for the man on the path beside her. However, she pushed these thoughts aside and the two of them set off in quest of Inklefields.


As they neared the house, however, Elizabeth's nerves began to seep in, for she was nervously anticipating what was to come: Only a few minutes until she saw Mr Emmerson again! And it had been almost a month since they had last met. Elizabeth's eyes prickled slightly, but her sentiments retreated as she spotted a blonde, cheerful-looking figure coming up the road towards them. Sergeant Peft had noticed the girl, too, and he cried out in sheer amazement, thus alerting the pinafore-wearing girl to their presence. As soon as she saw Elizabeth coming up the road to meet her, Hannah quickened her pace and, once she was within earshot, called out to her in clear surprise.

"Miss! Miss Elizabeth! Whatever are you doing here? Oh no! You have not come to scold me have you, Miss? I delivered the letter, Miss, honest I did!" and poor, confused Hannah despairingly began to weep, clearly under the impression that she had done something wrong and that Elizabeth and her companion had come all this way merely to scold her. Once they had assured her they hadn't, however, then the maid brightened a little and continued on her way home full to the brim of congratulations and compliments from her young mistress. Elizabeth and Sergeant Peft, meanwhile, proceeded up to Inklefields, the former in nervous spirits as of what was soon to come.


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