14: Matron Mander Moulde

Edmund became a Moulde when he was eight.

One day, just after lunch, Edmund was sitting on his stiff cork-like bed and writing a poem about the holes that riddled the warped window shutters. Spring was coming to a close, and the harsh sunlight of summer was struggling to slip through the giant black cloud that filled the sky over Brackenburg.

He was just trying to think of a rhyme for ‘shutter,’ when Mrs. Mapleberry knocked on the door frame of the Lads’ bedroom and waddled in, slightly out of breath. She panted a moment, glancing about with a look of desperate hope on her face soon followed by disappointment. Curiosity as to her desperate nature got the better of Edmund, so as she was about to leave he gave a small cough. She turned around with a sudden gasp of surprise.

“Were you looking for me, Mrs. Mapleberry?” Edmund asked, politely. Mrs. Mapleberry adjusted her apron as she caught her breath and gave a quick nod.

“There’s someone here to meet you,” she said, the faintest wisp of hope brimming in her large smile. “She’s a… a very nice old lady, and I think you’ll get along just fine! Why don’t you come along and meet her?”

Edmund was puzzled. Mrs. Mapleberry was always very fastidious about appointments; She would often tell hopeful parents to come back the next day if she was not expecting them. It gave her time to clean up the children and make them presentable.

Curious to see what on earth could throw the ordinarily unflappable Mrs. Mapleberry, Edmund set aside his poetry, slid off his rough blanket, and stood up.

“You can bring your notebook,” Mrs. Mapleberry said, somewhat hurriedly. “You might want to show her some of your poetry.”


Image: Lady in a Victorian Dress, rootsweb.ancestry.com

Edmund thought this odd too. Usually Mrs. Mapleberry was quite insistent that he leave his poetry in his room, urging him instead to bring along a ball or paintbrush like some pantomime prop. Grabbing his notebook from off his bed, he followed Mrs. Mapleberry as she waddled down the hallways to the meeting room.

The meeting room was small but cozy, humbly covered with old recycled silks and furniture cobbled together from wherever it could be found. There was a small donated table in the center of the room that was so short none of the mismatched chairs could fit under it. Edmund had only ever been in the room a few times in his life.

Seated across from the door in a thin spindly chair was a thin spindly woman. She was dressed entirely in black, and had a long hooked nose that stuck out over her mouth like a beak. Her mouth was thin and tight, and her tiny chin vanished into her neck. Her eyes were small, sharp, and a speckled blue-green, like old copper nails. Her thin talon-like hands rested on a ragged old umbrella, and her dress had thick ruffles that spouted out of her neck and wrists.

The woman didn’t move, not a muscle, as Mrs. Mapleberry herded Edmund into the room and moved him to the tall plush chair that looked like an old torn-up throne from some vanquished king. He sat down as the strange woman stared at him, eyes cold and hard.


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