“What the devil are you doing, Miss Fairfax?”
Katherine stopped. “I think you know quite well, Mr. Cutter, the trap you laid for me.” She looked at the high walls on either side of the stair and considered her escape.
“Trap?” Mr. Cutter shook his head impatiently. “How is your father?” Mr. Cutter brushed past. “Major Molesworth can take the guilty party to custody. If we can find him, of course.”
She saw a lantern coming across the lawn. As it drew nearer she made out the form of Major Molesworth, head of the Volunteer Militia, with a cluster of servants. The link boy held the lantern over her.
Major Molesworth gasped. “Good heavens, child. What happened to you?”
With the tightness of held in tears in her chest and the weakness of her knees, Katherine had failed to notice the stinging pain on her cheeks.
Major Molesworth peered at her face.“That’s quite a bruise.”
Mr. Cutter poked his head out the ice house door. “Bring your lantern down here, sir.”
Major Molesworth hurried down the steps with his retinue. There was a murmuring in the icehouse. “Bring him out. Steady now.”
The footman backed out. “Make way,” he called over his shoulder.
Katherine climbed the stairs. She felt giddy.
Two footmen carried her father up the stairs and laid him on the lawn.
“Lantern.” Cutter began to untie her father’s shirt.
Major Molesworth bustled over to Katherine. “What happened in there? I heard a shot.”
Katherine tried to speak, but all that came out was a sob. She felt so foolish. Stupid. But it was what the Major expected. He patter her back tenderly. “Never mind, miss. We’ll get to the bottom of it.” He turned back to his men. “Has the gentleman got a pistol?”
“Yes.” Cutter untangled the pocket pistol from Lancelot’s fingers.
“Very good.” Major Molesworth turned it over in his hands. “Surprised it could fire. The powder’s wet. Did he fire it?”
Katherine nodded. The wind gusted again. The icehouse door banged.
Major Molesworth laughed. “Don’t worry, miss. Quite safe.” He frowned, looking at her. “You’ve taken quite a knock. Fall over, did you?”
“No.” Suddenly her voice was back. “The gentleman – it was the other gentleman in the icehouse.”
“Gentleman? Cutter, did you see any other gentleman?”
Cutter did not look up from peeling the bloodied shirt back from Lancelot’s chest. “Not that I can say, sir.”
Major Molesworth ordered the footmen and linkboy into the ice house.
They returned in short order, the link boy running ahead. “There’s nothing in there sir. Just ice. And a lady’s glove.”