Congratulations, YOU HAVE FOUND A HIDDEN FILE. Go ahead and read if you like, but please keep in mind that I have hidden these for a reason. These are bad or controversial works that I am more ashamed of than my other work ... or in the words of Shakespeare
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended—
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend.
If you pardon, we will mend.

Disclaimer 1: Most of this is fanfic. That means I do not own any of it. I just borrow it to play with for a little while and let people see the pathetic results if they really want to.

Disclaimer 2: I'm not making any money from it. It's just for fun.

Disclaimer 3: What isn't borrowed is all made up. None of this is real or most likely at all realistic. Please don't trust any of the information in here. Most likely you know more about whatever I'm writing about than I do.

Disclaimer 4: Attitudes, views and opinions expressed by the characters or in the story are not necessarily those of the author. Even when writing Science Fiction or Fantasy I do not tend to attempt to create perfect/better worlds in which everybody gets a happy end ... or whatever is best for them. Please accept that some characters will have a bad ending or be unhappy.

Disclaimer 5: I intend no insult to anyone. If I offend anyone I'm very sorry. Please understand that it was an accident as I tend to be very clumsy in these things.

Disclaimer 6: If my characters' conversations seem odd or they appear to be talking past each other the latter might occasionally be intentional, but most likely it is an accident and I'm not aware that they are. It's just my bad communication skills.


Disclaimer: Not mine, I just like to play with them for a little while.

Notes: The thing is, I couldn't get Lord Darracott's shock at the idea of his grandson and heir having been transported out of my mind and thus was born a plot hedgehog to get one of his grandsons transported for real ... not Hugo, though, and not the recently saved Richmond either. At first glance it seemed easy enough to have Vincent transported for debt, but wait, if nobody else Hugo surely would lend him the money before it came to that. Thus, well, it all became Prinny's fault.


Chapter 2: Crimplesham to the Rescue?

Crimplesham woke up when the sunlight hit his face straight-on and found that he had fallen asleep sitting in a chair and with his head on a table.

His first reaction was gratitude that his Master hadn't caught him like this. His Master would have woken him up immediately and demanded to know what the hell he was thinking falling asleep before he'd put him to bed no matter how late he came in.

He stood up and straightened his livery hastily.

But how could it be that his Master hadn't discovered him? Surely he must have wanted him when he'd come in? Crimplesham hastened into Mr. Darracott's bedroom and checked the bed.

Indeed, it was empty.

But where else could his master have slept? It was highly unlikely that he would have been invited to sleep at the house of whoever had given that masquerade, though, perhaps if he had fallen asleep there and they hadn't known his address they might have sent him to Master Matthew Darracott's house instead.

It was unlikely, though. Master Vincent had a very high tolerance for alcohol and usually knew his limits in that respect quite well. Still it was worth a try.

Crimplesham therefore went to his master's parents' house and questioned first the kitchen maid, then the cook and after that even went so far as to very deferentially approach the butler.

None of them had seen or heard from Master Vincent today or last night and the butler certainly would have known if he were in the house.

"I dare say," that worthy said with obvious distaste. "He must have spent the night with ... some opera dancer and will arrive home presently, most likely in urgent need of your services."

This was a rather alarming thought as Crimplesham well knew how expensive those creatures were and Master Vincent was once again in debt.

"Well, I suppose you must be right," he allowed. "Though I dare say I have seen no signs of it and he didn't go to the opera or ballet last night and it beats me where he'd take the money from at the moment."

Of course there might have been gambling at the masquerade and if Master Vincent had been lucky in that there was no telling how much money he'd had when he'd left there.

"Perhaps you'd best go home and start packing for a trip to the country then," the butler advised.

Crimplesham nodded glumly, but sought out the coachman instead and asked him just where he'd taken the Master last night and how it had come that he had returned without him. The answer seemed most suspicious to him and after pacing the flat for a while he went out once again to have a look at the address the man had given him.

Somehow the house didn't give him the impression of having been the site of some revel last night, but he knocked at the servants' entrance anyway.

"Please forgive my intrusion," he told the young man, almost a boy still, that opened the door. "I am looking for my Master. He went to a masquerade last night and hasn't returned home yet."

The man regarded him with obvious confusion.

"What's that to do with us?" he asked.

Crimplesham's heart sank yet a little lower, though perhaps the coachman had misremembered the street number?

"Well, the masquerade was somewhere in this neighbourhood," he explained. "But I do not know the exact house. I take it that it wasn't this one, but perhaps you noticed that one of your neighbours had guests last night?"

The man shook his head.

"No, no, certainly not anywhere near here. We'd have noticed all those coaches rolling by. The street is rather uneven here, so it is impossible to miss an increase in traffic."

An increase by a single coach would hardly draw attention, though, but why would Master Vincent have wanted to be driven here if the masquerade weren't close by? Whom could he have been meeting that he hadn't wanted the coachman to see?

Crimplesham wrecked his mind, but it was no use. His Master was much too unpredictable for this. Too many of his friends were likely to have eccentric ideas.

What was clear however was that he had walked further with his blackened face than Crimplesham had initially been led to believe. This increased the chance of discovery and arrest.

Or perhaps he had cut it too close with one of his creditors this time and been thrown into debtor's prison?

While hardly pleasant the thought was at least preferable to that of an arrest for a capital crime.

Crimplesham thus decided to direct his steps to Fleet Street next. It was an extremely embarrassing call to make, but somebody would have to make it and as Master Vincent's valet he supposed that the duty fell to him.

Nobody at the Fleet had heard of a Mr. Darracott however and thus Crimplesham was forced into even more embarrassing enquiries. He hesitated quite a while before fixing on his next destination. The Kings bench seemed to be the most pleasant alternative to the Fleet, but then it could not be denied that considering the blackened face and the address at which his master had left the safety of the coach the most likely place to find him was Newgate and much as Crimplesham would have liked to leave that for his very last port of call it was very close to the Fleet.

It wasn't really sensible to add that much extra mileage to the trip. Nevertheless ... What would be more detrimental to his reputation? Being seen calling at Newgate where only felons were kept or being seen calling at several prisons but avoiding Newgate if he got lucky?

The fewer prisons he had to go to the fewer chances there would be of being seen by somebody who knew him at all.

Crimplesham sighed and decided to get it over with. He'd just ask whether Mr. Darracott was there, he decided, but not see him if he was. He'd go back and inform the family and leave it to Master Matthew to decide what was to be done in the matter. It certainly wasn't part of a valet's duty to visit his master in prison.

In fact, and Crimplesham almost turned on his heel at the realisation, Mr. Darracott could just as well send for assistance himself. He knew how to write after all.

Only the thought that perhaps prisoners were not allowed to write and send letters - or only at a horrendous price when Crimplesham wasn't sure how much money his master might have on him - convinced him to make the inquiry at all.

At least he soon discovered that a lot of people visited Newgate! If only he'd worn some less noticeable clothes than his livery he probably wouldn't have received a second glance from anyone!

On the other hand the livery was useful in drawing the attention of the warden and thus shortening the duration of his visit.

"Mr. Vincent Darracott?" the man replied to his whispered inquiry. "Why yes, so we do. Do you want to see him then?"

"Most certainly not. I did warn him that it was a very stupid idea to blacken his face for a masquerade and I won't be held responsible for the consequences."

"Then why did you come here at all?" the warden asked clearly puzzled.

"To make sure he really is here before I inform his father," Crimplesham declared and set out again to do just that.

The butler at the Darracott town-house was quite surprised to see Crimplesham back again and looking quite exhausted.

"Has he still not returned?" he inquired almost sympathetically.

"I'm afraid I need to speak with Mr. Darracott," Crimplesham informed him avoiding the question.

"And I am afraid he still isn't here," the butler returned.

"Mr. Matthew Darracott," Crimplesham specified.

"Ah, I see," the butler said, seeing nothing at all, Crimplesham hoped. "However I'm afraid that he isn't here either. He has gone to his office, I believe. If you want to leave a message for him ..."

"Oh no!" Crimplesham exclaimed in ill-concealed horror. "I mustn't. That is, I must tell Mr. Darracott in person or else I fear he will be most put out."

He'd be most put out either way to be sure, but Crimplesham much preferred Master Matthew to be most put out with Master Vincent only rather than with Master Vincent and Crimplesham, so he was determined to be as discrete as possible.

"But perhaps I could tell Mrs Darracott," he offered after a moment. "I believe she might be able to judge better than myself whether this merits seeing Mr. Darracott at his office or it will be best to wait until he returns home."

It might be inappropriate or perhaps they might be overheard. Mr. Darracott would not want the news to get around the office, if it could be avoided in any way.

"I fear Mrs Darracott has gone out as well," the butler said regretfully. "A visit to the mantua maker, I believe."

Crimplesham fondly wished the mantua maker to hell. Mrs Darracott was most likely the person most needed right now. Strong of will, sharp of mind, quick of decision and calm in a crisis. Mr. Darracott might be the one it was appropriate to turn to in a situation like this, but he was sure to fold and dither and possibly even panic. Mrs Darracott would be able to prevent him from taking any rash actions that he would regret later.

"Do you happen to know when she expects to return?" he asked hopefully.

"Much sooner than she is likely to, I expect," the butler said straight-facedly. "It is my experience that these visits always tend to last longer than planned. I should not want to wait for her here in your position, in any case."

Crimplesham sighed. "Very well, I shall return in the evening when I hope Mr. Darracott will be at home. You wouldn't happen to know whether Major Daracott is in town?" he added hopefully.

"Major Darracott? Why no Mr. Crimplesham. I have not yet had the honour to meet him at all. I doubt that he could be here, however, for where else would he call upon arrival than here at his uncle's house? I do not believe that he has a London residence of his own."

"I believe he was planning to purchase or rent one," Crimplesham said. "And he might have done so by way of Mr. Lisset, though it does seem more likely that he would come to town in person to have a look at the house before finalising the transaction."

And hadn't Ferris told him that his master was most eager to renovate the Dower House at Darracott Place first since that was where he intended to make his home with his soon to be wife?

No, there was little chance of reaching Master Hugo, even though he might have been even better suited to deal with this crisis than Mrs Darracott. That left only one thing to do much as Crimplesham hated the idea and Master Vincent would hate it even more when he found out.

Polyfant was most surprised to find none other than his arch-nemesis Crimplesham at the door of his master's small but elegantly furnished flat.

He was even more surprised when that worthy didn't rise to the bait of his most over-polite greeting but merely looked at him tiredly and asked whether Master Claude Darracott was at home.

"I fear I will have to check," Polyfant claimed.

"Then please tell him that it is urgent. A most ... delicate matter and he is the only member of the family I appear to be able to reach."

This speech aroused Polyfant's curiosity and he did not scruple to tell his master that Mr. Crimplesham looked most worried in order to induce him to see Crimplesham so Polyfant might overhear the news.

Unfortunately his scheme was only partially successful. Claude did indeed agree to see the unexpected caller, but as soon as Crimplesham arrived in Mr. Claude's presence he once again emphasised the delicate nature of his errand and Polyfant was consequently sent from the room quite put out, but still hopeful that his master would confide in him later.

"Well," Claude said good-naturedly as soon as the door had closed behind his valet. "I must say I never expected to see you here, Crimplesham. Not that I mind in the least. You know that I am ... well, that I quite appreciate your skill and ... but you are my brother's valet and it would not be at all the done thing for me to attempt to hire you away from him. Not to mention that Polyfant would be most put out considering all the quite appreciable effort he goes to on my behalf and I would not want him to think I was displeased with the results. Quite the contrary. I wouldn't know what to do without his skill at tying modish neck-cloths, despite the fact that he doesn't quite have your skill with boots."

"Quite so, Sir, quite so," Crimplesham assured him. "I would never wish to cut poor Mr. Polyfant out with you after all the many years he has served you. Nor am I in any way looking to change my current position."

This was, in fact, not quite true, but while Master Claude Darracott was known to be a most lenient and much more pleasant master than his brother it would have been quite a step down in the world as far as Crimplesham was concerned. He would have happily traded Vincent for an equally elegant, but less unpleasant master had the opportunity offered, but not for a pathetic want to be fashion icon with drooping shoulders like Claude.

"I am glad to hear that," Claude assured him. "Not that I do not appreciate your talents, mind you, but I cannot part with Polyfant. It just wouldn't be done. Nor would it be at all wise to have two valets. Just imagine the complications that would result!"

"Quite so, Sir," Crimplesham confirmed. "And being as I already have a position with your brother."

"Indeed. It wouldn't be at all wise for me to cross Vincent in such a manner. He is quite unpleasant enough when I do nothing at all to provoke him. I shouldn't dare to actually invite his ire."

"Now that," Crimplesham said somewhat relieved. "Makes me quite glad to hear, because what I came here to tell you might perhaps ... be used to ... provoke Master Vincent Darracott quite a lot."

"You didn't come here to sell me some information that he would like to keep confidential, did you?" Claude asked in sudden alarm. "Because I assure you Crimplesham, all rivalry aside, Vincent may owe me for some ill-usage, but I'd never want to do anything underhanded like that and if you would stoop to that ... why, I fear I would be honour bound to warn Vincent much as I hate to be the cause of any unpleasantness."

"Why no, Sir! I'd never," Crimplesham exclaimed in horror. "I am here ... well, not quite by my Master's command, but very much in his interest and I assure you I would not have dreamed of mentioning the matter to you in any way, if I had been able to reach his father or even his mother instead. However as they are both out and I very much fear the matter may be urgent I decided to come to you for help."

"Help?" Claude asked looking almost panic-stricken. "Not that I do not wish to be helpful, but I fear I am not much use at anything beyond dressing fashionably and choosing furniture. I don't suppose Vincent needs help redecorating his sitting room?" He added hopefully.

"I'm afraid not, Sir," Crimplesham admitted. "You see, the problem is that ... well, I fear there is no gentle way to put this." Suddenly Crimplesham felt glad that he didn't have to break the news to his Master's mother after all. "Your brother has been ..." He swallowed hard, but it had to be said. "Arrested."

"Oh," made Claude dumbfounded for only a moment before he continued. "Well, I can't say that it will surprise anyone what with all his gambling and betting. Our parents won't be pleased of course and I am ever so glad I won't have to be in Vincent's shoes when Grandfather finds out, but I dare say he'll survive their wrath. Do you know just how much it will take top buy him off? My fortune isn't so large that I like to go lending money to such unreliable debtors as my brother, though of course it would shame the family too much to let him languish in the Fleet for more than a day or so, which means that either I or my father will have to come up with the darbies. Though, if it is a very large sum we might have to call on my Cousin Hugo to supply it and that will take at least two days, one to get there and another to return with the money or ... Oh I do hope he won't have to send to Yorkshire for it. Surely he has a man of business in town? I do believe he ought, but having been in foreign parts with the army for so long of course Yorkshire might have served him just as well as London up to now. Maybe I should see Lisset about it? Only I do not know whether that would be at all proper and ..."

"Forgive me, Sir," Crimplesham interjected when Claude finally paused for breath. "But I fear it will all be no use."

"No use?" Claude asked confused. "Why, surely Vincent's debts can't be so big that even Hugo cannot pay them. I dare say he shall make some conditions, of course. It wouldn't do to advance Vincent such a sum and let him go on as before. Why Hugo might never see his money again! But I assure you he'll do it for the sake of the family name. It'd be too embarrassing to leave Vincent to languish in the Fleet and Hugo will be head of the family after Grandfather of course."

"Not the Fleet," Crimplesham said looking like he had a severe toothache. "Newgate."

There was a moment of stunned silence as Claude's tirade about what gratitude he expected Vincent ought to show Hugo if he helped him despite all the insults he'd subjected their new cousin to during their stay in the country died unspoken.

"Newgate? I didn't think they still put debtors in Newgate with the proper felons."

"They don't," Crimplesham confirmed. "Newgate is most serious and you cannot buy a prisoner out of there. The case will have to go to court and of course there is no preventing that from becoming public knowledge."

"Well, of all things," Claude exclaimed. "My high and mighty brother! Well, at least he won't have far to go to his execution."

"Do not jest about that, Master Claude," Crimplesham warned him. "It is a distinct possibility."

"But what in the world has Vincent done that he could possibly hang for? Chasing the squirrel again?"

"Go about with his face blackened. For a masquerade, but I did try to warn him. He wouldn't listen. He said he'd only walk the few steps from the coach to the door, but then he went and dismissed the coach to walk the rest of the way and here we are and it's a mandatory death sentence."

"Go about with his face blackened? Why if that isn't ... and after all I did, and all Hugo did to save Richmond. Why I've got a good mind to just let him hang."

"You might have to," Crimplesham pointed out. "Though I dare say it's not likely to come to that. He didn't really have any ill intent after all, so I believe we can hope for a royal pardon in the end. I cannot see a way to avoid a scandal, though."

"Indeed, nor can I see any way that I can help him," Claude said. "It is my father and grandfather that are in positions to petition the King. I can inform them, but I believe even then they will have to wait until he has actually been sentenced. So what does Vincent want me to do?"

"Well, to be honest, I have not spoken with him at all since his arrest. I went to the prison to determine where he had disappeared to, but Sir, I cannot possibly enter such a place! I went to inform Master Matthew Darracott so he could take further steps, but neither he nor Mrs Darracott are home and ... well, even if there is no way to buy his freedom I dare say my Master will need money to pay the rent and ... well, other services."

"Other services?" Claude asked to Crimplesham's intense discomfort.

The valet didn't like to appear as an expert on prisons at all.

"Well Sir, I have heard that, at the Fleet at least, they will only unchain a prisoner against a fee and there is a pub in the prison and rooms with actual beds, while the poor prisoners have to sleep on straw on the ground. I do believe my Master will want a bed."

"Oh God," said Claude.

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