What’s this, then?” Gerard barked as Charles bumped into him on the dark street. “Charlie?”
“Don’t call me that,” Charles snapped.
“Where ya goin’? Why ain’t ya with Miss Allen? Gamilla didn’t through the two of ya out. Did she?”
“No.” Charles sighed. “Barbara became upset and ran out of the house. I’m trying to find her.”
“Well, then, she couldn’t have gotten far—not in the state she’s in. Did you look around the other houses on the street?”
“What do you think I’m doing, you imbecile?”
“Now, you don’t gotta get nasty with me,” Gerard laughed. “I ain’t your enemy.”
“You’re not my friend either.”
“Could be.” Gerard winked. “If you let me. You’re correct about one thing. I ain’t too clever. But, I got eyes. I can see. I find things real well. People, too. Spotted ya at the Place Congo, didn’t I? No one else thought to look there. Now, did they?”
“No.” Charles grumbled.
“Fine. I can use all of the help I can get.” Charles spat. “Just don’t talk to me.”
“You’re not the nicest bloke.” Gerard squinted. “Why are you like that, then? What’ve I done to ya? Standin’ here in the cold, I am, tryin’ to help ya.”
Charles snorted. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”
“That’s more like it.” Gerard nodded. “Now, Miss Allen—she spent ‘nough time with Arthur to think like him. If Arthur were here, he’d be wantin’ to go to Mr. Cage’s place.”
“Last place the baby was.” Gerard shrugged. “Mr. Cage has got money and power. Gotta be all kind of things there worth liftin’—plus a great big house, nearby, with lots of places to hide.”
Charles smiled. “I take back what I said. You’re no imbecile.”
Gerard shrugged. “Shall we go?”
Together the men hurried toward Edward Cage’s house. Immediately they noticed the shadows which filled the open front door—among them, two officers.
“What are you doin’?” Gerard whispered. “Don’t go up to the front. We’d best look around the back and see what’s happenin’ before we get tangled up with the law.”
“Of course,” Charles nodded.
They slipped around the back of the house and walked past Edward’s workshop from which they heard blood-curdling screams. Hurrying to the low buildings one front window, they peered inside and spotted Ulrika and Barbara engaged in a bloody fight.
“Saints preserve us—look at them two go!” Gerard sputtered.
“We’ve got to stop them!” Charles shouted, grabbing Gerry by the arm and pulling him into the building.
Meanwhile, inside the house, Edward Cage smiled. “Then, we’re agreed. I shall consult with Mrs. Cage and report her answer to you. I know she’ll tell you quite simply—even in her weakened state—that she is the mother of that poor child.”
“Here, what do you take us for?” Punch howled. “Do you think we’re gonna let you go up there without us? You could come down and tell us that your wife’s the Queen of England.”
“I’m not the delusional one, Your Grace,” Edward scoffed.
“Coo! You’re lookin’ to get knocked on the head, ain’t ya!” Punch grumbled.
“His Grace is being reasonable. We wish to hear the lady’s answer for ourselves.” Robert spoke up.
“At least let me go ahead of you to see that she’s decent. My poor wife…she’s so ill.”
“So much you care,” Marjani mumbled.
“Silence your slave,” Edward spat.
“I’m no slave!” Marjani said firmly. “I’m a free woman. And, we jus’ done come from Mrs. Cage’s room. She’s weak, but she’s talkin’. She’ll see us without you havin’ to go up there and prepare her.”
“I won’t take this kind of talk from…”
“You’d best do as they ask, Mr. Cage.” The elder officer said.
“And, you’d best remember who pays your wages.” Edward snarled.
“Sir, we don’t all need to go in there.” The younger officer said softly to his associate.
“Here, you’re just ‘fraid of the fever!” Punch frowned.
“The young man has a point,” Robert nodded. “There’s no reason for all of us to be exposed. Mr. Cage, one of these officers and I will go see Mrs. Cage. You others can stay here.”
“Do you think I’ll leave this madman with my child?” Edward scoffed.
“I won’t let him out of my sight, Sir.” The young officer replied.
“It’s the only way to get this over with.” Adrienne nodded. “Let’s see what Corliss says.”
Edward nodded nervously.
“Unless you have something to hide,” Cecil smiled.
“I’ve nothing to hide.” Edward spat. “Very well. Gentlemen, if you’ll, please, follow me upstairs. We shall call upon my wife.”
Did you miss Chapters 1-387? If so, you can read them here.