Edmund ran back to the Lads’ bedroom, heading for the trunk next to his bed, his mind still reeling. Where was he going to live? What would his new mother be like? Would there be other children there? Was she married?
The thoughts shuffled around in his brain, vying for attention as he ran, when the shifting of a wooden floorboard under his feet made him stumble, bringing him up short and shaking his mind clear.
Steadying himself, and walking slower, Edmund considered. It was a startling revelation to him how much he suddenly wanted to leave the orphanage. It had never been a possibility in his future before, but now that he had the opportunity, he realized how much he needed to experience more.
His whole life had been the orphanage, hemmed in by a thin wooden fence. He’d never been interested in the outside world — what could be there for him? But now, in the form of an ancient white-haired woman, there was suddenly so much potential!
Edmund reached the bedroom, and his hand had just gripped the trunk next to his bed, when he paused. The trunk wasn’t really his, was it? He had seen children come and go almost daily, and they didn’t always take their trunks. Most of the time they slipped their belongings into trunks that their new parents had brought for them. He considered returning to the old woman and asking if she had brought a trunk for him, but for some reason he knew the answer would be no.
Edmund quickly pulled open the small trunk and began to rummage through it. In no time at all he had a small pile of shirts, pants, socks, and jackets that he could just about carry without dropping.
Yanking the last two shirts and a pair of slacks from the chest, Edmund caught a glimpse of the hidden stack of books that lay under the once carefully folded clothes. Most of them he had saved from the fireplace, and he was certain they would return there if Mrs. Mapleberry found them. He looked back at his pile of clothes.
He could probably only carry two…
The first one was easy. He was working his way through ‘The Symphonic Physicium,’ a relatively new book that tried to explain the principles of something called ‘chemistry,’ or how different liquids might combine into other liquids of a different color, smell, and texture. Edmund didn’t quite understand most it yet, but he had been working on it chapter by chapter.
The second book was harder. His decision came down to either Alam Beet’s ‘Poetry of the Heart,’ or ‘The Epic of King Arthur.’ He loved them both, and re-read favorite passages, poems, and chapters, but they were large and bulky, and carrying both would be awkward. Torn between the two, he realized that really there was no choice. Mrs. Mapleberry would throw out the science books, but she’d keep the stories and poems for some other child to read.
His heart sinking, he closed his eyes and grabbed randomly. He was going to a new life, after all… His new house might have some books too, and with luck it might have its own books of poetry and King Arthur.
He opened his eyes and looked at the thick book in his hands. ‘The Physical and Aetherial Body: a Practicum of Study by Dr. Prissarium Killdot,’ a well worn book full of fascinating insights into the human body and what made it work.