This part is by Christy. Comment below if you'd like to write part 4!
“It is a smashed carriage!” a second strange voice called. This one was definitely the voice of a young man.
By now Dickens thought he had had quite enough of young men appearing mysteriously and troublesomely in his life, but a man’s assistance would be welcome. “Do help us!” he shouted. “We are three, all quite trapped, and I am not certain as to my companions’ well-being! Nor my own, for that matter.”
“I’m unhurt,” piped up Jenny Wren’s little reed of a voice, “except my legs are queer and my back’s bad, but that’s not the carriage’s fault.”
Someone was pulling bits of carriage off them, throwing splintered boards aside with a cheering vigor. “Everything will be all right, I am quite sure,” the young man said. He put out his arms and lifted Jenny and her stick right out of the wreckage. “Ada, do look after this little girl.”
“I’m not a little girl!” Jenny said indignantly. “I’m a dolls’ dressmaker, and I have a child of my own to look after, and now this Mr. Dickens man and his impertinent friend. And he claims it was he who made my back so bad and my legs so queer and not the good Lord after all.”
“You haven’t got to the end of your book yet,” Dickens grunted painfully as the young man helped him up. “I took good care of you, my dear.” He squinted at the young man’s face and sighed. Oh, dear. Another one who will take exception to my treatment of him. It really is too hard that a writer can’t have the freedom to write his own books that reflect, usefully, I might add, the harsh realities of our times without even the characters becoming critics. “Thank you, Rick,” he sighed.
“How do you know me, sir?” Richard Carstone inquired. “Are you acquainted with our case?”
“Ah—yes. Very well acquainted with Jarndyce and Jarndyce, and with that wretched Chancery in general.” He put his hand to his head and winced as it came away bloody.
“Let me help you, sir!” Beautiful Ada Clare helped him sit down and applied a handkerchief to his forehead.
“Is it very bad?” Rick asked, a little pale in the darkness.
“I don’t really know,” Ada answered doubtfully. “I wish Esther were here. She would know. Where has she gone, Rick?”
“She and Miss Turveydrop were just before us, and now they are entirely gone. Ada, this doesn’t even look like the part of London we were just in—and how did it become dark so quickly? Is this common in London? We are still strangers to the city.”
“It’s nighttime,” Jenny informed them, perhaps adding them to her list of people to throw out of her shop. “It does get dark at night in London.”
“But how can it be nighttime? It was a fine morning when we set out on our walk. Have you seen two young ladies, Miss Caddy Turveydrop and Miss Esther Summerson?”
“Does it look like we would be looking for young ladies while we were crashing?” Jenny asked tartly.
A new voice added to the confusion and Dickens’ splitting head. “Did someone say Miss Esther Summerson? Who goes linking the name of my angel to a smashup?”
Dickens groaned and held his head. If he had to write blinking idiots, why did they have to go following him around? Of course, among the odd assortment of characters gathered around him, Mr Guppy was the only one who would get anything done, if little Jenny didn’t scare him to death first. “No one said anything to connect Miss Summerson to our crash, Mr Guppy. I am endeavoring to find one Mr Pickwick and also a man named Sydney Carton. If any of you can help me before I bleed to death, it would be much appreciated. And where is that tiresome Steerforth? I wish I had never invented him.”
“The impertinent young man has disappeared, with the horse,” Jenny announced, “and may he stay disappeared and take all such impertinent young men with him. He reminds me a little of someone, who actually seems to improve slightly by comparison.”
“What do you mean, invented him?” Mr Guppy asked. “That is, if I may say so, an odd way to speak of another man—”
“Oh, please!” Ada cried. “Shouldn’t we get this poor gentleman to a place where his head may be looked after?”
“I know just the place! That is—I would—if I knew where I was—oh dear.”
“There is nothing to do but look for ourselves,” Rick said firmly. “Mr Guppy, let us help this poor man in this direction—no, this direction. Perhaps we shall find a hackney cab, or a boy to lead us to a surgeon, or a kind beadle who will give us shelter. Ada, if you and the little girl—I beg your pardon—the young lady will follow—”
“My bag!” Dickens exclaimed. “That is, David Copperfield’s bag. I mustn’t lose it.”
“Here it is,” Ada answered, fishing in the wreckage.
“What about the pistol?” Jenny cried. “We must have protection!”
“A pistol? I don’t see one…”
“That Steerforth took it, I’ll warrant you. Well, maybe he’ll die of the blow I gave him, and that’ll be one less to protect ourselves from. Let’s be on our way!”
“What do we need protection from?” Ada whispered.
“Nasty, wicked children. Mr Dickens can tell you all about them, I’m sure. He invented them.”
“That’s twice,” Guppy said. “Twice such terminology has been used that does not line up with established rules of speech as regards other persons, known or unknown…”
Dickens, dragged unevenly between Rick and Guppy and feeling fainter and fainter, began to wish he had never learnt how to write.