42 minutes later
With the number of police swarming around the house, and the number of locals watching proceedings unfurl from the edge of the property, and the few journalists who had already turned up, it resembled nothing so much as a very active beehive. Sat on the front lawn in various states of emotions were those involved in the rescue attempt; there had been ambulances, but these had been needed for the rather less fortunate kidnappers, and with the Emersons leading the way they had unanimously declared that they weren't in need of medical attention.
Thankfully for all concerned, Charles had kept his head, and had rung the police, who turned up just in time to watch Augusta leading Mary-Lou out of the house at the wrong end of her gun, the only other man still conscious following as meekly as a disobedient child. This had caused some problems, and Augusta was, at that moment, at the police station trying to explain them away. Otherwise, the party was complete. In one corner was Millie, a towel thrown round her shoulders and Charles' handkerchief pressed to the minor wound on the side of her head, which looked horrific enough to satisfy her dramatic side without actually hurting.
“I really don't remember much of the fighting,” she was saying to the policeman trying to take notes – he was young and, Charles rather fancied, quite taken with Millie's beauty. He didn't know whether to be proud or protective. “When we first came in Will was being attacked so we rushed to save him, and then we let Hilda out. There were all these men appeared, and a couple of women, and I was fighting one of them but I don't really know which one.”
“No, nobody seems to know anybody they may have attacked or been attacked by,” said the second policeman, stood behind the first, in a long suffering tone of voice. It was quite evident that the next few days of his life would be spent on the paperwork clearing all of this mess up.
“It was dark!” protested Millie, but feebly. It had been brought home very forcefully to her by her father already the number of criminal charges she could be facing as a result of the furore. “They had all the curtains shut and we couldn't really see much anyway. And there were so many people we just sort of did what we had to. At least we got Hilda out safely!”
“I was working on it!” exclaimed Hilda, who was told she would have to go down to the police station to answer the questions on her own time in the house, but who had insisted on staying and seeing Charles and his family safely off – an excuse which became waiting for the English diplomat to arrive and accompany her when spoken aloud. “Didn't need rescuing, thanks, though you got me out sooner than otherwise, I suppose. In any case, it was a foolish and unthinking thing to do and you should be ashamed.”
“You aren't,” replied Charles quietly. “You were right there in the middle of it by all accounts. We've been going out of our minds with worry with you away.”
“All right, no need to start crawling,” sniffed Hilda, secretly pleased. “You'll get a knighthood when you retire from politics for this, never fear, and I suppose there should be something or another for the Emersons as well.”
“I heard they attempted to use you as a hostage to escape,” prompted the note-taking policeman to Millie at this juncture, trying to get the interview back to where it should be.
“Yes he held a knife against my throat,” said Millie, with a quick glance at her father. “But Augusta had her gun and she took care of it. We all came downstairs and outside to meet you and then dad and David turned up and -”
She tailed off, the scene etched on her memory. She didn't trust herself to retail it without laughing. Just as the police rushed forwards to try and wrestle Augusta to the ground and take the gun from her, David and Charles had arrived on the scene. Both were running, but while Charles headed straight for his children and grabbed them protectively to him, demanding to know what was happening, David didn't stop to take in the situation. Seeing only his beloved lying prostrate on the floor with two attackers on top of her, he rushed into the fray, only to be dragged back by Sphinx. Unfortunately he didn't realise it was his son holding him until he'd swung around and punched him firmly in the mouth, something Sphinx didn't exactly appreciate. It wasn't humorous at all to the group watching on in horror until Sphinx slapped his father with great interest – though not enough to hurt, only to bring David to his senses – and said as calmly as if he'd been reciting what was for dinner,
“It's only the police, dad. They seem to think mum's behind it all, but don't worry, they'll stop being idiots soon enough.”
“Humph, well,” concluded the policeman, jotting one last thing down and turning to his colleague. “Thankyou for your co-operation. It looks like the two boys are finished as well, so for now you may go home – all except you, Frau Thatcher. You must now come with us. We'll be in touch with you again in a few days time, Herr Maynard.”
Stopping only to thank the Emersons for their help and promise she would see them properly when all were returned to the Platz, Hilda allowed herself to be led away, holding her handbag – which had been retrieved from the room in which she was kept – as if it were a weapon to guard against any more madness.
“We're going back to the Platz,” said Charles firmly, as soon as his two sons had trailed over reluctantly as well. There was something inflexible in his voice which warned that there may yet be trouble to come for them all. “I left your mother with the girls, and in her condition goodness knows what the worry will be doing to her.”
“Dad,” replied Millie fondly. “Remind me if I ever get pregnant to avoid you until I've given birth. 'Kay?”