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I push off the wall and settle next to a tree to wait for his carriage. No one knows this yet, but I imagine word will get around how Miss Lister horsewhipped the Reverend Thomas Ainsworth on the Leeds Road just past four.
I smile at the thought and realize my lip’s been split. Well then, it may as well be — there’s no one around to kiss anymore. All the same, Ainsworth’s piece is coming off the chess board every bit as hard as mine did when it fell earlier today.
I flip open my pocket watch and focus on it with my one good eye. I had checked my watch while still at Miss Walker’s, before storming out, when I’d been with Miss Parkhill, who had been disagreeable and obstinate to all my attempts to agreeabalize with her and by 3:33 Miss Walker had said she’d rather die than anyone know what we ”did with each other.”
With the exception being, of course, that she’d wanted me inside her me for hours these last nights and now I’m down to using my left —which I’m better at than I’d thought —but I walked straight into a tree last night after leaving her bed.
Who can keep their head on straight when your lover’s orgasms start rippling up your arm? I couldn’t. Can’t. And now she’s done with me?
That was head-spinning fast.
I adjust my top hat and look quizzically up at the sky as if flocks of blackbirds had the answers to my destructive streaks of romance. They don’t and never will. We’re alike in that way apparently. I hear the clip-clop of hooves before I spot the caramel-colored carriage bringing Mr. Ainsworth right to me. I loosen half a dozen granite stones about the size of cannonballs. They roll down the hill causing the horses coming at a trot to buck and shy and finally stop. My goal achieved.
The carriage driver pulls up his team when he sees me limping towards him. Wilkenson might be his name. I’ve seen him at the Stag’s Head before, I’m fairly sure. His horse whip is what I’m after.
I wince as I climb up onto the buckboard next to him. By this time, the footman has joined us, and from inside the carriage, Ainsworth is shouting, ”Why have we stopped? Is everything all right?”
The carriage driver surveils my bloody face and rightly says, ”You look hurt m’ am. We’ll go straight away for the doctor.”
”Wilkenson, is it?” I ask, hopefully, as a little blood drips out of my mouth. I dab it with my handkerchief as if it’s nothing.
”Wilkenson, yes, m’ am.” The carriage driver nods but looks even more concerned.
”Don’t worry about this,” I say as I wave my hand over my face and dab at my wounds with my handkerchief. ”I’ll take care of it all later but right now ….” I open my hand to show the two men I’m holding four silver crowns in my palm. ”I need a private moment with the man inside your carriage.”
When neither man moves to stop me taking the horsewhip and climbing down by the carriage door, I drop the crowns into their hands. To the driver, I say, ”Keep the team steady, will you? This one will start screaming soon.”
I throw open the carriage door and grab Ainsworth by his episcopalian collar. It’s then he begins to cry.