After my mother and I had returned to Ceasebury, we had found no sign of Gabriella.
It felt strange to see my mother desperately search for Gabriella in such an undignified manner. She screamed from the top of the manor to the bottom and checked in all of the room and called Cheyenne to check the servants’ quarters in case she was down there. I kept staring at Cheyenne with half pleading eyes, hoping beyond hope that she wouldn’t tell my mother the whereabouts of Gabriella. I don’t think she did, because once my mother had finally conceded the search at about one in the morning (I knew the time because the vast clockface on the front of the manor ticked the hour), I came towards Cheyenne and whispered a quiet word of thanks under my breath as she my mother headed upstairs to lay down.
“I don’t say anything to no one if they don’t need to know it.” She smiled back at me.
“Cheyenne!” my mother’s voice sounded from the top of the stairs “Bring this to Williamsburg tomorrow.” She came hurrying down the stairs with a crinkled parchment note in her hand.
“What’s that, mother?” I asked.
“It’s a notice to the printing press that Gabriella Kingston is missing, hopefully someone will know where she is.” She headed back upstairs. I swallowed. Cheyenne stuffed the note in her pocket.
“It’ll all be alright, Miss Theodosia.” Cheyenne smiled. “Try to get some sleep.”
“Why bother?” I laughed “In four hours I have to be down at the Creek to stop Dorian and Valentine from killing each other.”
“True.” She smiled. “Do you want some help getting out of your ballgown?”
“If you wouldn’t mind.” I smiled, following Cheyenne up the stairs. Once we were safely in my bed chamber, I asked her a question.
“Cheyenne, do you think Gabriella will be okay tonight?”
“Yes, well, I don’t see why not.” She began to unlace the back of my dress.
“Well, I’m just worried about her spending her wedding night, particularly with a man who has done things like that before.”
“Why? Do you think he has syphilis?” she asked, looking slightly worried.
“No, nothing like that, I’m just worried about whether she’ll know what to do.”
“I wouldn’t worry about that; the captain will look after her.”
“Do you think?” I asked.
“I know he will.” She smiled. “Miss Gabriella and the captain have more chance of having a good first night than yourself and the Marquess.” She added.
“Whatever do you mean?” I turned around slightly.
“Stay still.” She said, turning me back so she could finish unlacing my dress. “I just mean that at least the captain has done it before, one of them knows what they’re doing.”
“And?” I asked.
“Neither you or Marquess Ravenswood have done it before.”
“Is it so difficult?” I asked.
“No, but its always easier if one of you knows what you’re doing.” She laughed.
“Well, I’ve read a lot of Mr Jameston’s books, I think I have some idea.”
“Well, Miss, with all due respect, I think sex is one of those things that isn’t theoretically based.” She laughed again.
“I think you worry too much. Try to get some rest tonight.” She let my dress drop to the floor, so I was standing there in my corset and petticoats.
“Oh, I need to put a dress over this so that I’m ready to sort everything out down at the Creek at dawn.” She nodded and passed a blue and white dress over my head. I thanked her and she left the chamber. As I heard her footsteps whispering away down the corridor, I heard some other much heavier footsteps. I was my mother.
“Darling?” she whispered, knocking on the door.
“Yes?” I replied.
“I just wanted to check if you were okay.” She entered the chamber.
“Yes, I am.” I replied.
“No one blames you for Gabriella going missing. Even Master Kingston doesn’t really blame you and the Marquess, he was just worried like we all are. Try not to worry about Gabriella, she cant have gone far, she will be found soon.”
“I know, everything will be fine.”
“And don’t worry about the duel tomorrow, chances are at least one of them won’t turn up anyway, that’s always the way it is with young men.” She smiled.
“Oh, I’m not worried about the duel.” I laughed.
“Really?” she said in surprise.
“No, I’m going to go and stop it.”
“Oh.” She said, a little taken aback. “You should try to get some sleep anyway.” She quickly backed out of the room.
It was a long night sitting there in the darkened room with a lantern for light. My only solace was taking out the notebook Gabriella had given me, still covered with its white cotton sheaf. Once again, I took out a feather quill and black ink and began to write Marchioness Theodosia Ravenswood over and over again on the thick parchment. I sincerely hoped that Gabriella was okay. I hoped she wasn’t scared, and I hoped that Charles hadn’t made her do anything she hadn’t wanted to. But I knew deep down that he wouldn’t have. It was then that I heard a subtle whisper from beyond the windowpane.