The sounds of the struggle on the driver's box continued. Tilney and Lizzie trained their attention upon the unseen tussle, awaiting the outcome. They did not have long to wait. A cry of pain and then a loud thud came as a body fell from the carriage.
"But who has fallen?" Lizzie could not resist asking, though of course they could not know. The hoof beats surrounding them seemed ever louder, a sinister sound.
"We must have something with which to defend ourselves!" Tilney hissed.
"You are not even strong enough to do so and you must not endanger your health," Lizzie said with equal spirit. "Be sensible, Tilney."
"Sensible!" Tilney looked daggers at her, then turned back to rifling through the picnic basket in a vain attempt to find some kind of weapon. He hefted the wine bottle. It would have to do.
"We're slowing," Lizzie said.
Tilney's face darkened. "Stay behind me."
"If they open the door on this side—" Lizzie began.
"Lizzie, do as I say," Tilney said.
It was not so much the anger in his voice as the fear in his eyes that stifled her words of protest. They could hear the voices of men as the riders gathered around the carriage. The team pulling the carriage were slowing their steps with an abundance of snorts and seeming surprise as the driver shouted, "Ho!"
"Lizzie," Tilney said, his gaze on the door beside him, "I do not know what will happen next."
Lizzie touched his hand lightly. "It will be all right, Tilney. We’ve been in a tight spot before."
"I—I don’t know," Tilney said quietly. "Things are different now."
"How so?" Lizzie asked, her voice soft in the suddenly quiet interior.
"Oh, hang it, Bennett, don't make me say it."
"Say what, Tilney?"
Just then they heard a pistol shot. Lizzie clutched Tilney's hand. Tilney grabbed her hand and brought it to his lips. "Damme, Bennett. If I must die, I will not die without saying how much I love you."
The door of the carriage flew open and the two lovers gasped, their eyes dazzled by the sunlight.