40: Alone In The Mansion

Edmund stayed in his room for almost the whole morning.

In the orphanage the rooms had all felt cramped with children. Now, even alone in his bedroom, he felt dizzy with the open space.

Breakfast was a thin watery soup with a barely-cooked egg floating in it, and more stale bread.

Edmund ate stoically, barely tasting what little flavor there was while wondering what he was going to do. He was ashamed of his behavior the night before; he had wanted to leave the orphanage to see new things, and when he finally got the chance he panicked and threw up. Getting lost was perhaps understandable in such a large and unfamiliar mansion, but if Moulde Hall was truly his home now he couldn’t let himself get lost again.

Edmund swallowed his last bite of bread and stared at his empty bowl. As bland as the meal had been, Edmund felt slightly better having eaten it. He was feeling a bit more confident now that his stomach no longer was aching with both fear and hunger.

Ung had told him to leave the dishes outside of his door when he was finished. So he could collect them later, Edmund reasoned. Ung was going to pick up his dishes and take them to Mrs. Kippling to have them washed.

Edmund stared at his empty bowl as a strange feeling began to simmer in his chest. Somehow, at this moment, there was nothing more important to Edmund than cleaning his own bowl.

Even so, the thought of walking outside his door and entering the labyrinthine maze of corridors caused his heart to beat faster, and his palms to sweat.

So, Edmund reasoned, better to start small.

He began by exploring his new room from wall to wall, studying every nook and cranny and running his hands over the fine gilt trim and smooth floor. He felt each leg of his chairs and desk, and smelled the ancient wood that made up his bed. He looked for…he wasn’t sure what. All he knew was every inch he explored felt more and more like his own.

After he had studied the whole room, he moved on to the closet and then to the bathroom, studying each one carefully.

When he was finished, he Edmund opened the door to his room and stepped outside, looking both ways down the long hallway. He couldn’t just wander out into the Hall on his own, but he couldn’t stay in his room forever, either.

It had been a fairly quick journey with Ung from the Foyer to his room; he could start there. This time, walking slower after Ung’s massive frame, it had been easier for Edmund to notice the doors, statues, and decorations as they passed then it had been with Mrs Kippling.

Resolved, Edmund returned to his room, picked up the small silver tray with the tall bowl and glass balanced carefully, and pushed back through his door and into the hallway.

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