An Earl's Agreement(130)

By: Joyce Alec


“My goodness. Well, I never…” Lady Amelia stood up and traced her fingers over beautiful carvings on the mirror. She noticed markings that seemed invisible to the eye, but were obvious when light bounced from one mirror to the other. The wall began to move.

Amelia’s heart began to race. What could have caused this? She wished that wasn’t alone, but this might be her only chance to find her friend.

“Henrietta, are you there?” she called out, but there was no reply.

“I need something to prop this open,” she said to herself as she looked around and grabbing a fireplace poker from the fireplace, wedged the wall open. It was dark, and she lit a lamp as she prepared to find Henrietta. To stifle her fear, she imagined the excitement of making the discovery and returning Henrietta to her beloved, John. She could tease Bartley that she was the superior mind, although he was quite correct in figuring out there was a secret passageway.

The dark hallway felt damp and eerie, but she forced herself to continue down the path because she knew it had to lead to Henrietta. The light from her lamp illuminated a staircase just ahead. Taking her time, she slowly descended the stairs and saw her friend lying on the ground. She quickened her pace down the remaining stairs.

“Henrietta!” she screamed as she knelt beside her friend. Amelia listened for her breath, and was relieved to see Henrietta’s chest rising and falling. She was still alive, but unconscious.

Amelia slowly lifted Henrietta’s head into her lap, and noticed a nasty gash to her head. She offered up a silent prayer to God, as a tear rolled down her cheek.

***

Meanwhile, Lucille had returned upstairs, and seeing her mistress was missing, and the door to Lady Henrietta's room was ajar, she went inside calling for Lady Amelia. Lucille gasped as she saw what appeared to be a hole in the wall and ran towards it.

“Lady Amelia, did you find Lady Henrietta,” Lucille ran to the wall but tripped on the fireplace poker, dislodging it and kicking it into the darkness before her.

She wiped herself down as she gathered herself.

Lady Amelia called to her, “Lucille, whatever you do, don't move the poker.”

But it was too late. The wall had closed as Lucille, disorientated from going from light to dark, slipped down the stairs just as Amelia pulled Henrietta out of harm's way.

“Lucille, are you all right? Are you hurt?”

“I am not hurt, m’lady. I didn’t mean to kick the poker. I just didn’t see it, and…”

“Lucille, please calm down. I am not upset; it was an accident,” Amelia said as she consoled Lucille. “Now, please stay with Lady Henrietta while I see if I can find a way out of here.”

Amelia went back up the stairs to see if there was any way to open the door, but she couldn’t find a handle, and she couldn’t make the door budge. They were trapped.

“Lucille, were you able to find Lord Swinford? With his background in architecture, maybe he will be able to find a way out of here. That is, if he follows up on his secret passage theory.”

“No, m’lady. Mr. Andrews said he left.”

Amelia couldn't allow herself to feel defeated. Her friend needed immediate medical attention, and she would not let her down. She walked back up the stairs, searching the wall of any sort of lever or clue that could help her open the door. When she was nearly at the top of the staircase, she noticed a noticed a tunnel. It had to lead somewhere, she figured, and a calm head was required.

“Lucille, I need to take the lamp and see where this leads. I won't go too far,” she had caught sight of the look of alarm on Lucille's face.

“M’lady, I'm afraid of the dark,” she whispered.

“But I need you to stay with Lady Henrietta, in case she comes too. Please, Lucille, I need you to put your fears aside. It's the only way we'll get out of this. I don't know how long the light will last,” her appeal worked, and Lucille nodded.

Amelia followed the path of the tunnel. Her chest tightened as the tunnel seemed to narrow. It was difficult to catch her breath. She stepped forward cautiously, as she heard Lucille singing a child's lullaby. Who was going to find them? Was this their fate? She felt overwhelmed and with her eyes filled with tears, slipped, and she dropped the lamp.