From the journals of Gregory Conan Watts,
January 24th, 1816 New Orleans
Hope and help came from an unexpected source. We had suffered through the first few checks by the soldiers loyal enough to Col. York to be entrusted with checking in on us, enough to gain some idea of their schedule. When we had been here for a time, and I had almost started my letter a dozen times, only to stop myself each time, Miss Penn finally risked whispering to Miss Coltrane.
She suggested that she still had her bodice knife, and if Miss Coltrane could get to it, they might be able to cut their bonds. There were multiple difficulties with this, of course. Not only getting to the small blade, but also that even freed, we were in no position to fight our way out of the room or make an attempt at escape with our comrades in danger or captured. Miss Coltrane reminded her of all of this, but it was eventually agreed that she should try to get free, and with some greater options than simply sitting, we might be able to assess our slightly expanded options. Though it would quickly become obvious if Eddy were freed, for example, the women could easily conceal their freed hands amidst their dresses, and without close scrutiny, no one just happening into the room on a check would notice.
This left only a single difficulty now. After some brief and uncomfortable discussion between the two, Miss Penn thrust her chest forward like the most wanton of women seeking attention, and Miss Coltrane, with much polite and ladylike cursing, shifted herself about in her bonds as much as she could and attempted to fish the knife out with her teeth. While I should very much like to say that I looked away, or at least that Eddy did, I am afraid that the truth is that it was quite impossible not to watch this unusual feat in the doing. Eventually, she succeeded somehow or other in producing the knife. She managed to drop it onto the bed and turn herself back about.
It was then that I noticed another pair of very wide eyes observing us. Matthew was at the window, staring wide-eyed at the women on the bed. I did not say anything at the time, not believing that further embarrassing Miss Coltrane would in any way help our situation. Miss Penn managed to get her hands on the knife and, with more maneuvering and complaint – and a great deal of cautioning her to be most careful with the knife – Miss Penn managed to mostly free Miss Coltrane before guards came in. Somehow she managed to palm the knife enough that they did not notice, and Miss Coltrane likewise managed to conceal the partially cut bonds, and when I looked to the window, Matthew was out of sight.
When they left, the bonds were severed the rest of the way, and Matthew reappeared. This time, I quietly pointed him out to the others. Miss Coltrane took the knife and freed her ankles, that she might have her full mobility returned. Then she freed Miss Penn’s hands, but it was agreed we should not yet free her ankles, for under her slightly shorter skirts, it might become obvious that the ropes had been cut.
Using the paper and pen from my desk, Miss Coltrane quickly made up a sign, for I was in no position where Matthew could easily see me and whatever I might write. Matthew, meanwhile, kept glancing about nervously, concerned about being seen, but having somehow found himself in a position where he had hand and footholds enough to remain hugged to the wall by our window and pulling his head and upper body up to where he could see in. She wrote him a quick note telling him to warn Miss Bowe, and where she should be reentering the city. I am uncertain as to just how much education Matthew has, but he seemed to understand. He climbed back upward, and the note was hidden again.
We now have warning going to the stealthiest member of our company, and Matthew, if he can reach her, knows our location. We are in much the same predicament as before; Sir James remains in their grasp, being interrogated for details about his mechanical wonder. Miss Wright is directly with the villain, and we are held here. We are discussing what other options may come to us.
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