Previously, on 'Ransom's Crew':
Nicole has just been recruited by Ransom, and Jared with her. In the meantime, Jared's personal ill-wishers descend on Nicole's former base…
Egbert and his hounds were joined by four other hunters; and the hounds, having led Egbert astray as long as his vile temper permitted them to dare, and long enough to allow Nicole and company to escape, led him now to the house she abandoned, with the other hunters.
Said Egbert: 'This is it: this is where the witch lives! Now we got 'er!'.
Steven answered: 'Ho'd on, Eggy: it's Jared we're affter, not the Lady of the Forest. I en't ready to tangle wit' her'.
Egbert insisted: 'She's probably workin' wit him! You know what he's like: they're prob'ly in league t'gether to starve us. People like her don' cay-ah if a hunnered babies die, as long as nobody hu’ts a single rabbit;–– even when da rabbit's diggin' up their favorite veggies'.
Samuel, the chief hunter, said: 'All right; let's look inside', and the hunters filed into the deserted edifice, only to find nothing in it, but the sprig of lavender above the door. All Nicole's chairs and bedding were gone; her wardrobe and dressing-table were empty; most her kitchen-pots and utensils were missing (except the very heaviest); her medicine-chests were nowhere in sight; her books, ornaments, and weapons had gone with her; and all her data-pads, notebooks, pens, pencils, and papers were absent. Her jewelers'-tools had disappeared; and with them, the bench on which she worked, and the stones, beads, glasses, and wires from which she made the adornments themselves.
Said Stewart: 'I dunno, Guys; looks lahk whoev' lived here is gawn'.
Egbert insisted: 'Keep lookin'! She could be anywheh!'.
Samuel answered: 'Not anywheh a yuman bean cou' hide. Let's face it, Eggy: mebbe Jared tol' 'er, and mebbe not, but ether the Lady knew we was comin', or she's just moved out to start her jawb elsewheh. Nobody 'spects to come back, and takes her bedsheets and mattresses wit' 'er. Now coo' daown, Eggy; I'm a dad, and I've watched my kids' pets go off hurt an' come back keeored [cured], an' it woddent nobody in taown did the keeowin' [curing]. The Lady did, and ever-buddy knows it. This 's gone on too lon'; we're goin' back to taown'.
Said Egbert: 'I don' like it; but I'm not gonna fight you and get whupped over it. We'll go baeck to taown'.
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