A Plan is Hatched

John sat on the bed in his room, ruminating.

Lorrie had returned to Maycourt Hall with the reply for her father. John had been considering the idea of riding over there himself later, to see if Lord Edmond had a reply to the reply. The more he thought about it, however, the less advisable that course of action seemed.

It wouldn't do well, he thought, to stray too far from normal patterns. Servants were highly prone to gossip, and there certainly would be mumurmings of one sort or another if he did something so uncharacteristic.

Chances were that such a trip would prove fruitless anyway. Based on what Sir Reginald had written back to him, any reply from Lorrie's father was likely come in the form of a visit rather than a letter. And if that were the case, John knew he would never be privy to any conversation that might take place between the two men. He'd never even get close to his father's room. Not if Sir Reginald's trusted servants had anything to do with it.

So the likelihood of his finding out anything through those means seemed remote at best. He needed some other course of action.

His father's reply had said that he would soon be sending items by messenger to Mister Witherspoon in London. Perhaps there was some way he could use that to his advantage...

Yes. He could offer to take his father's items (whatever they might be) to London and save the cost and bother of a messenger.

But that wouldn't work. If John let on to the staff that he knew about the delivery, they would surely report it back to his father. And that would be not be good at all.

What else?

He could follow the messenger. Hmmm... That seemed a more workable idea. No one would have to be told...

But that idea, too, was fraught with complications. He was not skilled in the ways of espionage, and he would more than likely be spotted by the messenger. And he'd have to follow on horseback. There was simply no practical way to be stealthy—or even to keep up, for that matter—in a carriage. And for a man of means to ride all the way from Ware to London on horseback... Well, it was unheard of. It simply wasn't done.

And again, the servants would be suspicious. So there was that idea tossed into the rubbish bin as well.

There was one last possibility. He knew the destination of the delivery. Mister Witherspoon's inn. The Withered Spoon. If he were to leave for London immediately, he might make good enough time to see the proprietor before anything important happened.

He knew he wouldn't get there ahead of the messenger—a man on horseback could travel much faster than a Brougham—but he might get there in time to find out what was going on before Witherspoon had a chance to disappear into whatever mischief his father and Lord Maycourt were putting him up to.

It was risky. He might miss Witherspoon completely. But the messenger had not yet arrived at Broddington Heights. He'd have a headstart. But only if he acted quickly.

He strode to the door, took a deep breath, and opened it. He moved briskly to the stairs and descended. Jasper, whose sense of hearing was unmatched in his experience, was waiting for him as he reached the bottom.

"Jasper," John said. "I shall be leaving for London immediately. Have Raines bring the Brougham around. I need only to pack a few small items, and I shall be ready to depart."

Jasper looked perplexed. "This is rather sudden, sir. Is there an emergency of some sort?"

John shook his head. "No, not at all. I am simply at loose ends. I'm feeling rather confined at the moment and have decided that a trip to London for some new clothes would be just the thing to lift my spirits."

It never hurt to play the "bored, spoiled, spendthrift, rich child" card. The servants would do little more than roll their eyes once he was out of their sight.

"Very good, sir. I shall alert Raines at once."

"Thank you, Jasper. I shall be back down in a few minutes."

He turned and walked back up the stairs, a small smile finding its way to his lips.

This might just work.


The End

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