He quickly went down the fire exit stairs!
Reaching solid earth, he turned to make his escape, treading away quietly on the freshly cut, dewy lawn.
His mind still reeling over what had played out inside the large manor’s upper floor bedrooms.
The hefty pouch at his side, a comfortable reminder that it had not all been a dream, but a Burglar’s ultimate fantasy played out if one will label it…
Reaching a line of high shrubbery, he unobtrusively followed in the shadows it created, heading swiftly back to the secret entranceway between the shrubs from which he had entered…
As he reached that point, he stopped… was it the wind playing tricks?
For behind his back, where the dark manor stood, he thought he had caught a voice calling out the name Gaston?
He shook his head without remorse, no feelings of guilt for having taken that naïve lass for everything he could!
Besides, she simply could not have gotten loose that quick anyway!
Or had that chap Gaston made an inopportune entrance?
Either way, like a whispy will-o-wisp, he would be disappearing quite soon from the scene…
So, without any further ado, he silently disappeared back into the mist-filled darkness of the night from which he had emerged!
He could feel his heart beating with exquisite triumph as he made his back way through the woods along the narrow path he had discovered.
Then his heart leaped to his throat as he spied, off the path, through the trees ahead …
A small flickering light?
He wryly queried under his breath in the silence of the woods…
“Could it be someone approaching?” Somebody else’s Wil-o-wisp perhaps?”
With extreme caution he silently inched ahead towards the light, walking soundlessly upon the soles of his feet, keeping to the shadows.
He soon came out to the edge of a small hollow…
In the centre of which stood a small stone cottage, with a diminutive roundish wooden door and only one ancient lead glass window seen as the sole entrances.
From the inside the window he could see that the flickering light was from a tall squat candle.
He decided to check things out, for what burglar worth his salt would not?
Especially after the run of luck, he was having!
So, it was with a feeling of high spirits that he approached the structure from the side and eased along the outer wall until he reached the opposite side of the window.
He moved carefully, lest his figure cast a warning shadow on the moonlit ground below the light being caste outside the window!
He then leaned over and peaked into the window, oh so cautiously, to have a look inside …
Judging by the light of the candle, it all appeared to be one room.
He could make out a large empty bed, surprisingly covered with satin sheets, a small table, and scrolled black oak high backed chair by the window. An antique writing table across the room, with a set of drawers. Otherwise the room, it appeared, was deserted.
On the table, lit by the candle, was a piece of yellowed paper.
Curiosity got the better of his senses, and he carefully went to the doorway, and silently (by reflex) he managed to inaudibly open the door…
He peered inside; no-one was waiting there to cause him grief.
He then slipped inside and closing the door behind him, went to the table.
The candle was held in a small gold-plated holder.
Next to it lay an old box of wooden matches.
He looked down at the sheet of parchment, flames danced over the paper.
Upon in, written in an elegant female script, was a short note…
Avoid Mariette, she is nothing but trouble,
Meet me here afterward. ’
“Lilly?” Hmm he thought, ……
So, there was another young princess to be out and about this evening?
Perhaps it would be worth waiting for the second one to show her pretty (bejewelled?) figure!
But meet after what? A Ball perhaps?
He smiled, as the memory of the ballroom scene in the old movie Pygmalion flashed, and how enticingly jewelled the ladies in attendance had been, and appealing his fantasized designs had been planned on acquiring their baubles as he had watched.
Could it be possible?
The note was still here, so he reckoned that Lilly had not yet returned.
He should not have much longer to wait, and he probably had a good hour before the damsel Mariette would be squawking out an alarm over her stolen trinkets…!
He silently went back to the door and stole swiftly outside, taking a position in the shadows cast by a grove of nearby wavy branch willows.
The Tracker in the Woods