There was some discussion as to whether native bearers or pack animals, camels most likely, would be better for the land leg of the trip. But that decision would not need to be made until Lagos.
The basic supplies that the travellers would need were laid in: several boxes of .454 ammunition for Rose's Webley and, if need be, for Jonathan's "Mule", although several boxes of the longer .454 rifle were also purchased. .303 ammunition would serve for "Old Susy" and also for Godfrey's Lee-Metford. A single box of .45 ammunition would fit, Jonathan's Colt, and a few boxes of .32 for Elizabeth's Coates&Dean completed that round of purchases.
Several sets of suitable clothing for each member of the party were packed, as well as three tents: one for the ladies, one small one for Jonathan, and a large one for Godfrey and the supplies.
Each also prepared their own personal items as they had discussed. Elizabeth was delighted and surprised when Dr. Fyoderich gave her a tin carefully labelled "Fyoderich's Anti-Infective Salve" and a jar labelled "Fyoderich's Healthful Tablets" each came with instructions for their use.
At last the day came to depart, and the troop set out by carriage to the train station at Wapping-on-the-Flume, thence by train to London where they spend the night and collect those items which had been purchased from London merchants but not delivered. In the morning, they would board and depart.
They checked in the hotel and checked the list of items to be collected: the tents, a few letters of credit to the bank in Lagos, and a few medical supplies.
"Shall we split up to get our supplies then meet back here for tea?" asked Elizabeth. "I'll get the medical supplies. Rose, would you care to join me? The boys can pick up the tents and letters of credit, I'm sure, and the two of us wandering around together are bound to be less scandalous than by ourselves -- or, God forbid, with one of the men. Besides, we can chat about the trip."
"Spelndid idea, Elizabeth. Godfrey and I will pop round and get some machetes as the African ones tend to be rather 'used'. I also want to see if I can't get hold of one of those '.6 Express' that I saw the chaps using. They'll stop a charging rhino those things!"
"That will be almost suitable," said Rose. "We shall have to drop by the bank for the letters of credit since it is my bank and my money. Othewise, the plan is faultless."
The two parties set off on their respective errands. Elizabeth found the supplies she needed to restock her doctor's bag as well as to fill a case with more esoteric items which might be of use in Africa.
Then they went to the bank and Rose signed for several letters of credit as well as a quantity of cash.
The boys went first to the tent-maker to pick up the tents. They intended to return with them to the hotel and then do the rest of their shopping. As they oversaw the hotel's baggage handlers putting the tents with the rest of their gear, Godfrey suddenly spoke up, "Sir, the door to Lady Rose's room is ajar."
"My word, Godfrey, you are quite right! There is some devilry afoot here!" exclaimed Johnathan and quick as a flash he dashed over to the door, flung it open and burst into Rose's room, trusting she would forgive him this flagrant intrusion.
Presumably Lady Rose would have forgiven him the intrusion had she been present to be offended. However, she was not. Instead, a small rumpled man was in the room, rifling through Lady Rose's document portfolio. As the door crashed open, he looked up, and emitted a sound much like, "Eeep."
"Who sir, are you and why do you rifle my cousin's belongings?!" Johnathan demanded, but before the man could reply, Johnathan continued, "Godfrey we must seize him now" and advanced menacingly across the room towards the intruder.
The man "Eeeped" again and darted for the french doors leading onto the balcony as Godfrey replied to Jonathan's call and entered the room.
Johnathan leapt across the room and did his best to remember his days in the second XV as he tried to bring the scoundrel down before he escaped.
Jonathan's hands grazed his target who slipped away with the quickness of a cornered rat. He thrust open the doors as Jonathan rose to one knee and leapt again and Godfrey closed in from the other side. The man dodged clear ... and right into Godfrey's arms.
Quick as a cat, the man pulled a knife out of his pocket and slashed at Godfrey, leaving a wound across Godfrey's shoulder. "Damnation," cursed Godfrey as he twisted and threw the man heavily to the floor.
The man landed awkwardly and began to roll to his feet as Jonathan grabbed for his wrist, missing as he wove backward to avoid the wildly waving blade.
Jonathan whipped a blanket off the back of the couch and tossed it over the man both to distract him and to try to render the knife ineffectual. He dove in again, trying to bring the man to the floor. The man twisted like an eel.
Jonathan pressed his advantage and Godfrey joined him. With a crash all three men broke through the windows and onto the balcony. Godfrey landed heavily, but the two smaller men were up quickly. Jonathan drove in as the villian pulled the blanket off his head and drove the man against the stone balustrade before pushing him to the ground. The man caught himself on one knee, but before he could rise Godfrey was there to help and he and Jonathan pinned the man to the floor. Godfrey wrested the knife from his grip. "Nasty little blighter, you are," said Godfrey looking down at the man.
Johnathan and Godfrey rolled the villain onto his front and bringing his arm up behind his bakc Johnathan knelt on the man, pinning him painfully to the floor.
"Thanks Godfrey," said Johnathan, "I couldn't have managed that without your help; could you shout for the manager for me and get a doctor to look at that cut."
"Yes sir, I'll call the manager." Godfrey touched his cut, "This is nothing, sir. I'll just wash it and wait for Miss Elizabeth." He turned to call the manager.
"Good idea, Godfrey" replied Johnathan, "She'd be upset if she knew I didn't think of her first"
Addressing his captive, Johnathan pulled the man's head back, saying, "Now then, villain, robbery and assault, that's a nice stretch of hard labour waiting for you no doubt ... I could put in a good word for you, though, if you tell me who sent you and why?"
"I can't!" cried the man. "It'd be more than my life is worth."
Jonathan pressed the man further and suddenly he collapsed. "The map, I came for the map!" He cried.
"Who sent you," asked Jonathan again.
The man's response was cut short as a red wound blossomed in his chest. Jonathan had seen enough bullet wounds to recognize one, and he waited for the sound of the shot. The report never came.
"Gord Lord!" exclaimed Johnathan looking around for the source of the shot
"Devlin," gasped the man, and expired.
"Godfrey, help me draw the curtains - quick as you like, old chap - there seems to me a madman out there with an infernal device and murder on his mind." As he said this Johnathan leapt to his feet and dashed to the curtains drawing them quiclky, hoping to prevent the unkown murderer from striking again
The two men leapt into the room, leaving the body on the balcony, and drew curtains across the shattered glass doors. They took cover behind the sofa and waited, but after a few moments, it seemed no further shots would be forthcoming.
"Well, Godfery, that seems to have put paid to the shooter; suppose we'd better get the manager and the police; before that shall we just check to see if he had any taken anything of Lady Rose's?" asked Johnathan
"I know it's a bit irregular, but would you mind standing witness, while I turn out his pockets?"
"Yes sir," Godfrey approached and stood watch.
Johnathan proceded to empty the little man's pockets and examined the man's wallet.
There was little enough in the pockets: a few bits of string, a few bits of metal that the men realized were lockpicks, a few shillings in mixed coins and a single pound note in a billfold, a note with the name of the hotel and "Rosewater Davington" written on it also in the billfold, a small pen-knife, a latchkey, a cap from a bottled beer, a shoelace (examination showed that one of the man's laces had been recently replaced with a matching lace), a well-used and dirty handkerchief, and not much else.
"Well, Godfery, nothing there," Johnathan said in a perplexed tone. "Still I will keep that note - you never know when we might run across the handwriting again ..."
Then, havign stood up from kneeling next to the man, Johnathan asked Godfrey, "Be a good chap and get the manager, while I see if the villain disturbed anyone else's room."
Johnathan then headed to his room first, and once out of sight of Godfrey, got his Revolver out of his bag and, checking it was loaded, muttered to himself, "This might just come in handy", before thrusting the revolver into his frock coat pocket
Godfrey returned with the manager who was appalled at the situation and immediately gave orders for Rose and Elizabeth to moved to another room. "I'm dreadfully sorry, sir," he said to Jonathan. "It's terrible what has become of London these days."
"Would you be kind enough to have one of your men outside the entry to the suite for the remainder of the day? my cousin, Lady Rose, and her companion are out shopping and I intend to find them as soon as possible, but if I miss them and they return here, they should be informed of what has occurred."
"Also, can I leave it to you to deal with the constables? I will return as soon as I am able to give a statement should they require. Godfrey, our hats and coats, please, we must find the Lady Rose," said Johnathan, readying himself to track down Rose and Beth.
"Sir," offered the manager, "I hesitate to mention it, but doubtless the police would prefer to have you wait until they arrive. After all, a man has been killed."
"My good man," began Johnathan, his temper obviously beginning to fray, "If I did not fear that my cousin, Lady Rose Davington, was in danger, I would be quite happy to wait for them. As it is, I am leaving, unless you wish to stop me, and you can give the police my apologies. All my possesions are still in yonder room and ou have my guarantee I will return as soon as I have found Lady Davington and brought her to safety. Until then, good-day to you, sir!"
Johnathan turned to Godfrey and taking his hat, coat and walking-stick strode from the suite, Godfrey in tow to bring succour to the Lady Rose
* * * *Elizabeth and Rose looked up in surprise as Jonathan and Godfrey came racing into the shop of M. Jenkins and Son, Medical Suppliers.
"Whatever is going on?" asked Rose.
"Rose! Thank the lord we've found you!" exclaimed Johnathan. Then remembering where they weree, he carried on more sedately, "Got everything you need I trust? only there's been a bit of a to-do at the hotel and we really should get back as soon as we can."
"A 'to-do'?" asked Elizabeth, handing a mixture of notes and coins to the shopkeeper, with a polite but distracted, "Thank you."
"Godfrey has blood on his jacket. What exactly have you been to-doing?"
"I think that's best left to discuss on the way to the Hotel, Elizabeth. Have you finished here?" Johnathan replied
"I have," replied Elizabeth. "Rose, do you have any further stops?"
"No, I think I am finished. Let us hasten to the hotel," said Rose.
A hansom cab was soon hailed and the four began to return to the hotel.
During the trip back to the Hotel, Johnathan filled in Rose and Elizabeth with the details of all that had happened during their absence.
"So I'm afraid that I might be taken in for questioning when we get back," Johnathan concluded, "But I felt I had to make sure you ladies were safe before I could do that. Do you think we should change hotels, Beth? Rose?"
"Well, part of me says I'd feel safer elsewhere, but how did this miscreant find us in the first place? Either he's working alone and we're certainly safe or he was hired by someone who could find us just as easily if we change hotels. We'll be leaving soon enough, so I think we should stay.
"Besides, I could use a few quiet minutes to patch poor Godfrey up."
"Good Lord!" exclaimed Johnathan, "I quite forgotten about Godfrey' wound, he's been such a brick - a real tower of strength. Godfrey, how are you holding up old man?"
"Well enough, sir, thank you," said Godfrey.
"And would you like some brandy before I begin poking about? The cleaning won't be too pleasant and it might take a couple of stitches to boot."
"Thank you, Miss, but no," said Godfrey. "I'd prefer to keep a clear head just at present."
The cab pulled up in front of the hotel, and the foursome was descended upon by flustered hotel managers, deferent but insistent police inspectors, and annoying Fleet Street reporters. The hotel staff dispersed the press and Jonathan was taken aside to give a statement to the police. The police agreed that Elizabeth could patch up Godfrey before he gave his statement.
Soon, Elizabeth had the wound cleaned and bandaged; she was pleased to note that it did not require stiches after all. The police took Godfrey's statement and the inspector addressed the assembled quartet afterwards.
"Lady Davington," he said, "I'm sure this is a terrible trial for you and we shall do our best to find the miscreant responsible. Where shall we be able to find you, all of you?"
"Inspector," volunteered Johnathan, "Lady Davington, can as always be reached via Trelliswood in Wapping-on-the-Flume, her family home. Her sister will be available if Lady Davington is not."
"Will you also be at Trelliswood, sir?" asked the inspector.
"We will all be contactable via Trelliswood, inspector"
"Very good, sir. Then if there is nothing else, I'll let you be about your business." The inspector waited politely to see if anyone had an questions for him.
"If I may ask, Inspector," ventured Elizabeth, "what think you of this crime? Mr. Davington suggested Lady Davington and I might be more secure in a different hotel. I'd be so much more comfortable if you'd tell us what you think."
Elizabeth executed a passable eyelash flutter to go with her wide-eyed countenance.
"At this point, Miss, I really can't say. This hotel should be much more alert for the next few days, when did you say you were returning to Trelliswood?"
"Why, I don't believe we did, Inspector," said Elizabeth, smiling.
"I'll post a couple of my men here, too, for the next day or two. It all depends on who the target was. You may have just gotten between two rival gangs," he concluded.
"I'm sure that must be the case. A totally random occurrence of chance. I do feel much better, thank you sir," said Elizabeth.
"Well, thank-you very much for your time inspector, and once again I apologise for not being here when you arrived- I hope you understand why," said Johnathan as he herded the police towards the door. "We look forward to hearing from you shortly."
Once the police had gone, Johnathan turned to Elizabeth and asked, "Why do you never smile that sweetly for me, Beth? but then, in some ways, I'm glad you don't!"
"What next then Rose?"
"What do you and Elizabeth suggest?" asked Rose.
"If you have got everything you need then I suggest we leave forthwith. Godfrey and I have a couple of bits still to get, but nothing we can't get where we're going I think."
"Is that right, Godfrey? what were we about to go and get when we discovered that bounder?"
"A rifle, sir. You wanted a rifle," replied Godfrey.
"Splendid Godfrey! You're quite right, a rifle it was; one of those Holland & Holland big 'uns. Well I'll toddle off there now and get it. Godfrey stay here with the ladies and make sure thos police chaps don't slope off or fall asleep, won't you?"
"The steamship departs tomorrow morning," said Rose. "So shall we spend the night here?"
"May as well; do you concur Beth?"
"I believe that would be best," said Elizabeth. "Or at least easiest. And I feel perfectly safe staying put. Knock wood."
"Right I'm off," said Johnathan, grabbing his hat and coat and checking that his revolver was still safe in the pocket. "I'll be back as soon as I've got one of those Elephant guns."
So saying, Johnathan left to go to Holland and Holland to purchase a .600 Nitro Express
This errand, thankfully, proved less exciting than the last. After examining several different rifles, Jonathan settled on one and purchased it and a few boxes of ammunition. Upon his return to the hotel, he found everything had been packed and the ladies were merely awaiting his return to go to the hotel restaurant for dinner.
He changed and the party, excepting Godfrey who would stay and watch the room, went to dine.
Dinner was merely adequate, although the diners had enough on their minds that they barely noticed. They then retired to their chambers for the evening. They were pleased to note that the policemen remained on their posts and were able to go to bed with some piece of mind.
Next day, they arose early and found that Godfrey had already left, accompanying the heavy baggage to the steamship. After a light breakfast, they departed themselves with their lighter bags.