“Cuddn’t ya pick t’other ‘orse, ‘Empsty?” Gemevere squirmed and fidgeted in her seat inside Lord Molecombe’s best carriage, the one he uses on a Sunday. “It’s pullin’ us o’er to th’edge.”
“That isn’t the horse, my cousin. The wheel on the left here is somwhat rickety. I was going to take the calash to the wheelwright later this week in actual fact, only you decided for us both to head over to Nottingham.” Hempsty pulled on the reins to slow the horse gradually to a stop. “We can’t possibly go on like this. The wheel will be off before we know it, and we’d both end up in no man’s land – or worse.”
“Doorn’t forget, ‘Empsty, yer travellin’ with Lairdy Reverence now.”
“But I’m not, Gemevere. When I’m with thee, pray don’t forget, I’m with Gemevere Inxlsis. Lady Reverence merely appears when the need arises. And I do wonder if that is the reason you squirm so, wearing that large dress on top of your ridiculous set of clothes. And I’m not even going to ponder as to where you’ve hidden thine tiara.”
“Doorn’t be pertulent, ‘Empsty. ‘Til I can find a better way to hide me clobber, this frock’ll ‘ave to do. I ‘ope you ‘ant crushed me cone.”
Hempsty cringed slightly. “You surely mean ‘petulant’, cousin. Which I most certainly was not being. And your hat, or ‘cone’ as you describe it, is safely stored in the luggage below our very seats.”
“Good. Coz that’s where me crown is.”
“At last!” A woman’s voice came from outside the carriage. “Now you two moulders have stopped your jabberin’ praps you’d like to get out. I have more important people to hold up than you, you know.”
“Oo the…?” Gemevere started loosening the sash around her waist.
“Cousin, no. Now is not the time. Let us disembark and see what this strange lady is requesting.”
“Requestin’? ‘Empsty, she’s ‘oldin’ us up.”
“Holding us up? Well, I never did!”
“Oh yer did aright. Ya stopped us on ‘ighwayman’s lane.”
Hempsty and Gemevere clambered out of the carriage and came face to face with a woman wearing a scarf over her nose and mouth. Her brown hair hung in ringlets down each side of her face. She had bright eyes, which appeared to indicate she was smiling.
“Now, Lord and Lady Lah De Dah, give me whatever you ‘ave of value, and neither of you will feel the smooth surrounding of one of my bullets.” The woman held aloft a handheld implement and pulled back a lever at the top of the bend.
“What on Earth is that?” Hempsty asked, truly fascinated.
“This?” The woman’s eyes developed a bemused look. “This device will be the last thing you see if you don’t ‘and over your holdings.”
“How fascinating.” Hempsty was more interested in the woman’s gun than what was actually going on. “Normally, the rascals around here use axes or swords for their hold-ups, nothing as unique as your device, my fair lady.”
“My fair…? You’d best not forget me, Katherine Ferriers is my name. ‘Though you night not remember it for much longer. Things. Now. Me.” Katherine pointed her gun at Gemevere. “You, missus, you get the things from your trunk.”
“From me trunk?” Gemevere was a little confused.
“I ‘eard ya both, talkin’ about your crown, duck. I’ll take that. Give it to me now and you won’t feel the warm sensation of a ball of lead slicing through your person.”
“Oo ‘eck. I don’t fancy anythin’ warm slicin’ through me person. I’ll ‘ave to go ’round t’other side, that’s where th’door is.” Gemevere had finally loosened her sash.
“Alright then. Move. Yer ‘usband stays here.” Katherine pointed her gun towards Hempsty’s face.
“Husband? My dear, we are cousins. We aren’t married!” He laughed, and then stopped suddenly as he saw Katherine’s expression change to one of absolute fury.
Gemevere opened the door to the compartment beneath the carriage. “Quick, run!” she shouted into the air, “Into th’bushes an’ doorn’t look back.” She slipped out of her long dress, and placed the tiara from the compartment onto her head. She then leapt over the carriage, taking both Hempsty and Katherine by surprise.
“Who the…?” Katherine couldn’t finish her sentence as Gemevere tackled her to the ground, sending her gun out of her hand and towards Hempsty. He tried to catch it, but missed, and it fell to the ground where it exploded with a burst of bright white light and gunpowder dust. The bullet hit the rickety wheel of the carriage, and caused the horse to jump, startled. As the horse was securely thethered to the carriage, he quickly settled, but Hempsty went over to him to ensure he remained calm.
“The nairm’s Lairdy Reverence,” Gemevere said, lifting Katherine up from the ground with one arm, and then she continued to lift her higher.
“Such strength. Who are you?” Katherine asked, suddenly realising her face had been totally revealed as her scarf had come loose.
“Just tol’ ya. Lairdy Reverence. Ah’m a decent lass, though. Ya get one chance. Tell all yer mates about me. And doorn’t you ever try to steal anythin’ from these or other folk again. I know ‘oo you are and I ‘ave a good memory. Now go!” Gemevere flung Katherine across the bridleway and into a shallow stream that flowed along the side. Katherine stumbled a couple of times before finally getting to her feet. She fled across the field on foot.
“You’re just letting her go, my cousin?” Hempsty walked back over. “You should have taken her to the local sheriff, surely not?”
“Naw…” Gemevere replied. “This is ‘ow my legend gets goin’! We won’t be seein’ ‘er again fer a while!” She picked up the gun and then walked over to the wheel, where she found the bullet lodged firm. She lifted the carriage and spun the wheel, which went round smoothly, much smoother than earlier. “I think that did the trick, ‘Empsty. Now, let’s get to Nottingham!”