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...

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22. 22.

The journey to Elizabeth's home was remarkably short, only taking about ten minutes, and, during that time, the Sergeant reeled off a whole pack of questions, most of which were aimed at Mr. Emmerson.

"Mr Emmerson Senior - was he some sort of alcoholic?"

"Alcoholic?" Repeated Mr. Emmerson, looking, in Elizabeth's eyes, most uncomfortable. "Well he certainly had a habit of having too much to drink, yes."

Peft seemed satisfied enough with that answer. "What, may I ask, is your Father's name?"

"Joseph. Joseph Emmerson." Replied Mr. Emmerson.

The Sergeant made a little note. "Ah." He said, irritatingly. "You realize that you will have to tell the rest of Miss Marton's family all this, do you not? As well as your entire family background?"

"Yes." Said Mr. Emmerson, sounding a bit grumpy. Elizabeth smiled out of the window to herself as the carriage crunched onto gravel. They were back - or rather, Elizabeth was back. Out they stepped, Peft handing Elizabeth out very nicely, and Elizabeth made to knock at the large front door. A maid opened it: Elsie.

"Oh, Miss!" She exclaimed in surprise when she saw Elizabeth standing there. "You most certainly do not need to knock! Did you forget your keys?"

Elizabeth replied that she hadn't and the maid looked even more puzzled.

"I have brought others with me," explained Elizabeth, gesturing to the two gentlemen standing behind her "and thought it more considerate to knock."

Elsie's gaze fell upon Mr. Emmerson and her eyes grew very wide. She knew not to question it, however, and silently let them into the house.

"Please send for my parents and sisters." Elisabeth commanded. "But do not, pray, tell them who is with me; they shall not come otherwise. Instead, you must put about that I am injured and cannot move from my spot. That way, they will all come without fuss. Understood?"

Elsie nodded and scampered away.

Elizabeth then told the gentlemen of her plan.

Sergeant Peft turned to Elizabeth and Mr. Emmerson, the latter whom stood awkwardly behind Elizabeth, trying not to draw attention to himself. "If your intention is, indeed, what you describe: To trick your parents into thinking you are injured and that Mr. Emmerson rescued you so that they will, at least, be civil to him whilst you explain, had you not better let Mr. Emmerson carry you?"

Elizabeth and Mr. Emmerson blinked in surprise. Niether of them had thought of that.

"You are right." Elizabeth told Peft at last. "However, for now, I shall simply sit astride this couch and prop up my ankle. As strong as Mr. Emmerson may be, I do not think it kind to make him carry me for so long."

Mr. Emmerson let out a shaky laugh.

Peft nodded thoughtfully and Elizabeth walked, perfectly easily, over to the velvet couch at the side of the hall and sat down upon it, propping her foot up on one of the pillows as though she really were hurt.

 

Soon after this, came down Mr and Mrs Marton, followed by Anne and Kitty. Elsie, it seemed, had already gone back to her cleaning.

"Oh, darling Eliza!" cried Mrs Marton fretfully, as soon as she saw her daughter lying on the couch. "Whatever did you do to-?" But then she stopped in her tracks as she caught sight of Mr. Emmerson.

"Goodness!" she exclaimed, taking a step backwards. Then, as though the poor gentleman was not present, Mrs Marton added in a stage-whisper to her husband "whatever is he doing here?"

Mr. Emmerson bowed hastily. "Greetings, my lady. Sir." he said, graciously, and Elizabeth inwardly thanked and admired him for his smoothness and way of flattery.

Mrs Marton squeeked inexplicably. Her husband merely glared at Mr. Emmerson in great disgust. "What," he asked coldly "are you doing in my house? I thought I told you to stay away from my daughter!"

Mr. Emmerson looked at the floor. "You did, sir." he said and Elizabeth decided it was now best to take action.

"Oh, father!" she cried, fingers crossed in the folds of her dress. "Please do not make Mr. Emmerson leave, for now this is the second time he has nobely rescued me"... Do you remember the time with the vicar?" Everyone nodded and Elizabeth launched into her lie. "You see, I was out walking just now, a little out of the boundries of Roland house, when my foot caught on a loose cobblestone and I tripped and have now, possibly, twisted my ankle. Luckily, however, Mr. Emmerson came strolling along, along with Mr Peft, here, and, as soon as the gentlemen saw me on the ground, they rushed over to examine my state of health. Mr. Emmerson even had to carry me all the way home!"

The four members of Elizabeth's family looked very much amazed and Peft and Mr. Emmerson tried to look as though this story was not, as it was, new to them.

"Well, then." blustered Mrs Marton at last, casting an irritaited glance in Anne and Kitty's direction; they were whispering and giggling like little girls in an overloaded sweet shop. "Well then... That is quite different.... I suppose you had better come upstairs. For a while."

And Mr. Emmerson scooped up the gleeful Elizabeth and carried her, fairly easily, up the stairs to the library, the others following behind. At their destination, Mr. Emmerson nestled Eizabeth into an armchair, before seating himself in the one next to her's. Peft, meanwhile, looked, in an amused fashion, at Kitty and Anne, then seated himself on the sofa beside the two of them.

"Well, well, well." said Mr Marton, once everyone was settled. He turned, anxiously, to Elizabeth. "Are you badly hurt, my dear?"

Elizabeth, at once, came clean. "Oh, no!" she said, happily. "I am not in the slightest bit injured and nor was any part of my story true, either. I wished, merely, for you to allow Mr. Emmerson and the sergeant into the house so that we could all talk properly."

Mr and Mrs Marton exchanged looks of astonishment.

"Sergeant?" asked Kitty from her side of the room. "Why is there a sergeant in the house? Whatever could that imply?"

"It implies that there is more to be said of Mr. Emmerson than his previous mistreating of Eliza." said Anne curtly.

Elizabeth could have kissed her. "Quite right." she said, beaming at Anne. "Mr. Emmerson, would you do us the honors of telling us your story?"

And Mr. Emmerson cleared his throat and began.

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