The steps grew louder. Alice cast her glance around vainly hoping for some avenue of escape, but the cpacious hall revealed little in the way of concealment. The large size of the entry door suggested a need for more force than the two young women could provide. There was not a single piece of furniture behind which they might crouch. Unladlylike as that may appear, the idea held some certain appeal for Alice at that moment.
Judith Wychwood's ethereal arms wrapped tightly around her, which gave Alice some reassurance. She straightened her back. As her father would no doubt bark, she was a Mangrove and there was a legacy to that name of proud and haughty daring. Had not her grandfather faced down the savages of Orkney? Had not her uncle single-handedly triumphed over a gaggle of recalcitrant chimney sweeps in the midst of Mayfair? Had not her own father once stunned a trumpeter swan with a blow of his badminton racket? She had much to live up to and live up to that legacy she would.
"Be not afraid," Alice whispered to her friend. "I shall face him down with the courage of all the Mangroves dead and gone." Judith squeezed her hand as tightly as she could, but Alice felt a whisper of fear at the thought that she too might become a Mangrove dead and gone.
However, she straightened once more with the succeeding thought: "What would Lizzie do?"
Alice lifted her chin and tried to make her eyes blaze as heroines' eyes in novels seemingly did.
She had composed herself just in time. The repugnant shape of Gilet de Sauvinage appeared from the gloom and started suddenly. "What are you doing out of your room?" he snapped.
Alice drew in a breath, the better to calm herself. "We have decided to escape!"
"We?" the dark figure said, pausing in his forward motion.
Alice and Judith exchanged a look. "He cannot see me!" Judith crowed.
"What's wrong with you?" her captor said in a remarkably not-French accent.
"He can’t hear you either," Alice said, the triumph in her voice evident.
"Can't hear whom?" the kidnapper said, beginning to strut forward once more, his step impatient now.
"I have an idea," Judith said, then shot away with ethereal speed until she crouched most indecorously in the very path of Gilet de Sauvinage. Alice gasped. That her dear friend would go to such lengths to assist her. She pressed her hand to her heart, impossibly moved, tears springing from her eyes as if from a fountain.
Her captor stared incredulously until the very moment that he fell over Miss Wychwood and went sprawling!