As Matron moved further into the past and the future drew nearer, his fears shifted their attention to the dinner that was speedily approaching.
This was to be the first dinner he would have with his cousins, and only his second dinner as a Moulde. He had hoped that the one dinner with Matron might have been enough, and then she would let him alone to read and keep to himself, but it seemed like she was intent on forcing him to deal with other people — something he was quite inexperienced with. What was he to do? How was he to behave? He knew little of manners, save sitting up straight and not putting his elbows on the table — Mrs. Mapleberry had been very clear about that — but he had no insight as to whether or not Mouldes were held to the same standards.
Edmund stared at the ceiling for hours, images of ravens, sweets, lace, kettles, huge tables, and bear heads swarming around in his head like a whirlwind.
Suddenly, a thunderous crack caused Edmund to shoot up, startled out of his fevered imaginings by what he thought was the mansion striking one, only to realize that he had been shaken from his sleep by a thunderclap. Slowly, a steady patter of summer rain began to strike the windows, breaking up the faint dawn sunlight with black sooty splotches. Gradually, the soft hiss of the dark rain grew louder as the drops grew larger, until the whole mansion was echoing with the din.
Edmund watched the rain for a few moments before looking at the small silver clock that sat on his desk. He had to have been thinking for four, five hours at least.
It was only half past noon.
Edmund threw himself back on his bed. His head was aching and still heavy as iron, and he couldn’t stop himself from seeing the frowning visages of his adopted cousins, sneering at him with raised eyebrows over their soup spoons. He wanted to calm his beating heart, but no matter how hard he tried, he simply couldn’t.
Finally, he forsook his attempt to calm his panic and sat up on his bed.
He didn’t know who these cousins of Matron were, he didn’t know what Matron was expecting of him, and he didn’t properly know his way around Moulde Hall. At least one of those things he could fix. If he really was Heir to the Moulde Estate, he needed to be familiar with it.
His purpose firmly in mind, Edmund left the tray and half-eaten breakfast outside his door and set off to explore his home more thoroughly.
The doors were still numberless, however, and Edmund knew that most of them were locked to him. He tried to remember which ones Mrs. Kippling had told him to avoid, but there had been so many, and Mrs. Kippling hadn’t even shown him anything above the third floor. Logically, he reasoned, the only way to know for sure if a door is locked is to try it.
Large drops of black soot-filled water splattered hard against the walls of Moulde Hall as he wandered. The sun couldn’t break through the clouds and smog, so the gaslights had been turned on and they cast deep flickering shadows all throughout the hall.
Time wore on, and Edmund walked deeper into Moulde Hall.