Two months after the Ball :
Some time after Midnight, mid week
She was crouched down behind the northern side high hedge like a cat would in the shadows…
Dressed in a well-worn tight black spandex jogging suit she was almost invisible, except for her long amber coloured hair that fell past her shoulder in curling silken waves.
She didn’t care if her hair was seen for, she liked the feel of it as the low wind came off the near bye moors, and after all, what was life without a bit of challenge?
Besides no one was expected home at the secluded manor house!
Her Italian sports coupe was parked away off the road, almost a mile behind her through the woods. It was a back road that connected with the main road leading to the manor hose some 3 kilometers distance.
She had done her homework.
Which included coming through the woods and hiding behind the hedge in observations of the premise, under cover, the last two evenings.
The elderly owner (the bloke was a minor Lord) and his sleek, cougar of a young 2nd wife were not due back until the following weekend!
With the master away, the servants had taken to spending their evenings out on town at play!
She had seen them leaving hours earlier, packed like they intended to be away for a long weekend.
The had left in their own cars, located in a separate garage on the west side of the manor.
This had excited her, for it meant she could take her time when burgling the isolated manor house, located with a dense ancient wood on its northern end, fields on the other 3 that were cut off by the expanse of the wide local moor.
She had been watching the Manor house intently since she arrived there at 4pm.
She had been later than normally she liked to be, held up by an overturned lorry on the narrow road she used to reach her turn off. The back road that leading to her patch of the woods.
No lights had been left on at the house, other than a small flickering light on the massive front oak doors.
She was looking through a tall hedge, past a row of neatly trimmed roses, to the large dark stone manor house that lay on the opposite side of a well-manicured green lawn.
It looked like a golfing green she thought, licking her red lips, as she pulled something black out of the brown leather clutch that was held by a strap to her shoulder.
The manor itself was an old blackened stone gothic concern, it resembled a mini castle with a large round turret on its’s east corner.
She had managed to acquire the blueprints of the nationally listed house from a secure source who specialized in selling such items to people in her trade.
There were three floors, the upper occupied by the servants, of which only three of them were employed to care for the manor’s two occupants.
Her objective was on the second floor North, through a back staircase that was located on the other side of the room that led onto a stone patio that was straight ahead of her, access gained from a path leading through the small gardens..
An Owl hooted close by, exhibiting its disdain at finding a stranger within its’ realm.
She took it as a signal.
She looked down at the fuzzy black material in her left hand, a black ski mask, well worn.
She smiled as she pulled back and secured her hair, then opened the mask and slipped it over her head, adjusting it so her sharp hazel eyes could see out the eye holes, her mouth free to breath.
She then located and pulled out the thin black silk gloves, and with a business-like manner, slipped them on.
She had already checked that she had her “tools “before leaving the coupe, and now in the moonlit doubled checked inside her small clutch, making sure it still contained the thin rope, stethoscope, wire cutter, cuffs, glue and a few other small odds and ends one always carried that may come in handy.
Her torch and Uncle’s commando dagger were at her waist,
She was ready, the time was ripe.
Stretching up like a cat does from being stationary for far too long, she felt her muscles deliciously relax, ready to pounce.
She turned her attention back to the Manor… No lights had been turned on, none of the servants had come back home for something forgotten…
Silently she moved off along the hedgerow, sneaking up to a small wrought iron garden gate a good 200 yards off.
Nimbly she grasped its ornate top, and jumped over it, landing in a crouch, looking cautiously all about.
She was in!
No turning back now, not that she would have ever dreamed of doing so.
The riches inside the manor, like catnip to a cat, were a far too tempting a lure to resist….
She moved off, soon lost in the swirling mists coming in from a nearby bog.
Stalking carefully up along the path that led to her target, her footsteps, as she made them, were silent as a cats’ pads!
If so, it was a stroke of luck for her, and a stroke of misfortune for the gold digger wife’s jewels!
Savoring the thought, she licked her lips and proceeded in on her course.
For the expected prize was much too close, far too valuable, to risk losing by backing away now.
She proceeded, slinking along with upmost caution as she crept across the patio to reach the back doors.
Pulling out the long Fairbairn Sykes stiletto knife, its wickedly sharp commando blade blackened to prevent reflection, studied its menacing outline.
The knife had belonged to her uncle, whom she adored.
According to him, it had been directly responsible for three deaths during the war.
She always wondered what he would have to say if he knew how she was now making use of his wicked “memento”?
She now skillfully slipped open the patio doors’ lock with a click.
No alarms or warning beeps sounded, all was still and silent inside the room!
Opening one of the doors, she cautiously slipped inside, standing still until her eyes adjusted to the inky blackness within.
Sheathing the knife, she pulled out her short sleek led torch and turned it on.
With a cautionary sweep of the torches’ thin beam, she used it to look around the room.
The furniture was all old, red silk lined and looked as if they should be in a museum.
An old baby grand sat in a corner with a miniature, gold (possibly not gilded), candelabra!
She also caught in her light, several small marble statues, bits of glistening crystal on shelves along the wall, along with several rather impressive paintings hung on the same walls.
She would save a closer examination of the possibly valuable items on her way out, once she had the jewels that she had desired!
Jewels that had been on her mind tirelessly since first getting a taste of them as the gold-digging mistress of this manor had worn some of them to the ball two months prior!
Crossing the room, her feet silent on the thicke carpeting, she reached a closed oak door.
Just before she extinguished the torch, she closed her eyes and reopened after she had turned it off.
An old trick her ex-commando uncle had taught her, to help one’s eyes to adjust quickly to the darkness. It also worked if one did so just before turning lights on in a room, were seconds would count if an adversary was waiting inside the shadows!
It was one of many tricks of his that she had remembered and was making use of in her line of work!
Her eyes adjusted, she opened the door and found herself looking down a corridor.
At one end, just visible in the windowless corridor, was a side staircase leading upstairs.
From the blueprints of the house, she had in her possession, knew this led directly up to a master bedroom
There were two master bedrooms, with a dressing chambre that lay connected in between.
She did not know for sure which of the pair belonged to the mistress, but she was sure that she and the master of the house slept in separate rooms, as many wealthy couples did!
But it was no trick to tell from a quick sweep with one’s torch over the objects in a bedroom if the occupant residing there was male or female!
She stepped out into the corridor.
Noticing a thin, flickering, light under a door that was set in the wall just before the foot of the staircase.
This would be the master of the house’s private study or den, she knew from the maps.
And she was betting that if his study was at the bottom of the stairs, it made a reasonable assumption it was his room at the very top of the stairs!
She had already thought this out, and so was planning on entering the second master bedroom that lay on the other side of the dressing chamber first on her search for the safe containing the jewellery she was after!
But she stood her ground, why was light on?
Too many coincidences were popping up, and her scalp prickled with warning bells...
Yet, curious as a cat, she had to know what riches may lay behind the door?
For in her experience, a man’s den usually held a safe!
With this in mind, she moved, treading softly up to the door!
Kneeling, she put her eye to the keyhole!