Edmund was just halfway though his second poem when there was a knock on his door. When Edmund didn’t answer, the door opened and Ung squeezed his way inside.
“I have come to help you dress for dinner, young master,” Ung said, moving to the closet.
“I’m not hungry,” Edmund said. Was it dinner time already? How long had he lain on his bed? How long had he been struggling to come up with a single line for his poems? He hadn’t even noticed the trembling of Moulde Hall striking the hour.
“Forgive my boldness,” Ung rumbled, opening the closet door and pulling out a massive shirt, “but Matron has made it quite clear that she expects you to be present in the dining hall, properly dressed, at seven sharp.”
“I’m not going,” Edmund said. “Express my apologies, or whatever you do, because I’m not having dinner with anyone.” For a moment, Ung didn’t move.
“A good soldier follows orders,” Ung said, still as stone.
“Well I’m not a soldier,” Edmund said, “and I won’t listen to her orders. I’m not going to eat dinner with anyone today, and that’s final.”
“Matron suggested you might disobey her wishes,” Ung said. “She was quite emphatic about what I was to do should you chose to do so.”
Edmund didn’t say anything. Ung stared at him for almost a full minute. Then, slowly, he replaced the shirt and closed the closet doors. With a sigh he slowly walked to the door, and pulled the small key out from the inside of the door.
“I had assured her that you seemed a clever young lad, and would therefore do no such thing.”
The door closed behind Ung, and the small click of the key in the lock echoed through the room.
Edmund jumped off of his bed, and pulled on the door handle, hearing the lock rattle in defiant stubbornness. He shook the door by the handle, his fury at Ung, Matron, and the entire situation bubbled over in his chest. He pounded on the door in frustration, but it stood firm and unyielding.
That was it, Edmund realized as he let his aching fist drop to his side. He simply wasn’t going to allow this woman to lock him in his room–to control his life like this any more, mother or not. Somehow, he was going to escape.
He would wait in his room until Ung let him out. He would then grab a bit of food from the pantry, and after everyone had gone to sleep, he would sneak out of his room, head back to the foyer, and then outside. From there, he could find his way back to Mrs. Mapleberry’s. If he couldn’t make it before daybreak, he’d find a gutter or alley to sleep in.
It wasn’t the cleanest of plans, but it would free him from this strange world of painful expectations, hateful cousins, and strange rules that he simply didn’t understand.
Whatever else, Edmund was resolved; he wanted to be an orphan again.