My skirts made it ever so difficult to manage through the muddied streets. Not to mention it was night and I was stalking the very man who had just broken into my home. With every turn I feared losing his trace and being forced to start over. It was the third night this had happened and each night they went after the same thing, no matter how many times I had moved it.
The moonlight was my only means of light, fare and filled with obstacles. Each building, tree, or other placed me in unknown darkness. My light brown hair, which normally was the envy of the girls on the street, was reduced to a tight bun atop my head. I couldn’t very much have my hair getting tangled in a branch and slowing my efforts at catching this attempted thief.
I waited a moment before rounding the same corner my prey did and saw… nothing? I jogged as best I could to the end of the alleyway and looked both ways, no evidence of the man in sight. When I turned around, I came crashing into a solid form, although slim. Stumbling back, a calloused hand caught my arm before I was to fall in the mud. I snatched my arm back, proving I was capable of standing on my own without the assistance of a man. Looking up I saw a shadowed face, the moon above us not providing much assistance in identifying him.
“Excuse me, miss, are you alright?” His voice was smooth and accented. He must have come from England like me.
“Yes, thank you, although I’d not have needed any assistance if you had not charged into me.” I huffed at him as I brushed off my skirts and made my way around him.
“I’d not have encountered you if you’d not been following me around from your home, Miss Thompson.”
I paused, turning on my heel. It was still too dark out to see his face clearly. Fear struck me as I tried to steady my voice. “You’re the man who has been breaking into my home at night to loot my mother's jewelry?”
“Not all of it, just a ring. The gold one with the red stone at its heart.”
I breathed out a laugh, shocked at his forwardness. The way he spoke so casually was quite unexpected, “Do you just expect me to hand it over to you now that you’ve picked out the one you want? This isn’t a jewelry shop, sir. If I find you sneaking around my home again, I will have you arrested at once, understood?”
I did not wait for the tall shadowed man to answer, instead turning back the way I came hoping my threats had been enough. Although I guess they hadn’t, seeing as I heard him run to catch up with me, walking by my side now. “Seemed ungentlemanly to let such a fair lady walk home alone in this dark.”
“Says the man who breaks into fair ladies' homes in the hopes of thieving them of their silver and gold.”
“I had good reason to, Miss Thompson, if I could just explain.”
I halted in the middle of the street, where the moon shone down clearly. His tinted ginger hair swooped across his forehead. Hazel eyes met mine as I searched them, trying to understand him. I was growing aggravated by this man’s confidence to win me over as if I were just another unmarried girl on the prowl. I was going to show him I was not in the mood of being treated like any other. “I’ll have you know that I am perfectly capable of walking myself home just fine seeing as you are the only threat to me. Secondly, if you’d really like to explain your wrongdoings to me, I’d be more than happy to hear your excuses with an officer present. Good night to you. I should assume you’ll have no trouble finding me again seeing as you already know my name.”
I left the man standing there to think about my offer. I was sure he had never been told off like that before, especially by a woman. He would forget me and move onto the next woman with shining rings and lockets in no time.
The next morning after breakfast, there was a knock on my door. Unsure of who could be visiting my home on such a dark and stormy day only brought worry to my heart. Perhaps it was an urgent telegram and I’d be forced to read of a family death. With sickness spreading throughout the town, it didn’t skip my mind to know anyone I held dear was at risk. Hurrying, I rushed to the door, my blasted skirts weighing me down. I swung it open only to met with a tall man. He seemed familiar. “Mrs. Thompson. I do hope you remember me.”