Muffled sounds of fabric whoosh in his ears.

“Are you sure you don’t need any assistance?”

“No, I do not need any assistance.  And, keep your eyes closed and your face in the other direction.  It is not as if you could assist in your present state anyway.  That animal has not moved once other than to voice his opinions.  Why don’t you just shove him off you?”

“Arrruf!  Arrruf!”  The beast’s claws clamp down into Marshall’s ribcage.  It must be Delia’s tone.  She does not understand this animal is not just a large dog.  This one is different. She needs to get out of this tomb.  Only then, can he deal with this animal himself, but the pain in his side stabs pulses through his abdomen.  He turns to look.  There, crouched down with her back against the tomb wall she clutches her undergarments in her hand.  Undergarments? Of course.  That might work.  Hopefully, that will remove enough bulk to get her through the opening.

“Delia. You need to move.”

“I don’t think I can.  He won’t stop staring at me.”

“I think it is safe to say he wants me to stay and you to go.  Just do it slow and cautious.”

“What about you?  How are you going to get out?”

“Don’t worry about me.  We will get to that after you are safe and back home.  Instruct the men to get you to the Manor House.  I will come later.  It is best we are not seen returning together.”

Delia continues to sit on the dirt floor and still does not budge.  The voice from outside yells in again.

“Are you about ready to come through?”

Marshall needs to get her to focus without disturbing his highness sitting on his chest.  “Delia?  Delia!  Come on, it’s time to get out of here.”  Her eyes catch his for seconds in time then she shoves the cream colored cloth she is holding to the side, balls herself onto all fours and crawls toward the opening.

“This is absurd.  I can’t believe we are being dictated to by an over sized dog.”

“Arrruf!”  That garners him additional stabs in the ribcage.  It’s good the dog’s enormous pads are clutched there and not somewhere else or there would be two males yowling and then God only knows what the animal would do then.

“Delia!  Please, we need to get out the safest way we can and this is it.  Don’t delay any longer.”

“I don’t know how this is going to work.  I can’t even see through the opening anymore.  It’s dark!”

“It doesn’t matter.  The wall is not very thick.  You can do it.”

“And, what if there are ‘things’ in there.”

“What things?”  Typical female.

“I don’t know, insects or crawly things?”

“There are no insects or crawly things.  It is stone.”

“But, there is dirt on the bottom where it was dug through.”

“My lady, have you forgotten where we are?  Would you rather stay in here?”

“No, of course not.  I am just not thrilled about crawling through there!”

“Delia, you must.”

“I know.”

“Don’t think about it.  Think only of getting out.”

He watches.  She ducks her head down first in the opening, elbows folded under her chest. Her body wiggles ahead to the right and then the left until the only thing visible are her legs and boots.  All movement stops.



Delia wiggles left then right to try and squeeze through the opening.  Elbows tight against her sides she maneuvers forward.  The cold stone scratches against her cheeks.  Her eyes squint shut.  No creepy crawlies.  Hair tickles her forehead.  The other side appears revealing a clear dark sky opening out.  A deep breath wedges itself in her chest.  Men walk in one direction then the other.  Where did they all come from?  Their words formed, but to understand them proves beyond her comprehension.  Russians! They must be Russians!  Why are they here?  Why now?  Discretion is hardly possible now.

“My lady, come, let us assist you further.”  Delia’s arms are cemented to her sides.  She attempts to dislodge one side or the other.  Nothing.

“Try and relax, my lady.”

“Relax? I can barely breath.  I’m suffocating!”

“No, you’re not.  There is plenty of air.”

“Don’t tell me I’m not, for I can’t inhale!”  Pain in her side mounts.  “With all these men, can no one move a bloody stone?”

“Calm yourself, you must try to be calm.  I assure you we will loosen it.”

“Oh, fiddle. I can’t breathe I tell you!”  Her head pounds.  What is this man going on about?  She tries to look up at the activity bristling about her before pin point stars pull at the edge of her vision.  Her head drops.  Blackness darker than the tomb foams before her eyes.



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