Edmund woke the next morning, refreshed and full of purpose.
The leftover rain from the previous night dripped from the windows and the roof outside. The storm had continued to pour all night, letting up only slightly after the mansion struck six. He jumped out of bed and ran straight to the door, pulling the predictable tray of food inside to eat.
He was lucky, he realized as he poked at his breakfast of leftover soup and dry bread. What last night had seemed an insult, the next morning was plainly an asset. His cousins didn’t think he was anyone important, so he would be able to plan in secret quite easily. Edmund smiled to himself as a tiny spark of satisfaction flickered in his chest. Wouldn’t they be surprised when Edmund set his own plans in motion!
Of course, he needed to come up with those plans first, and was he really ready to do that? Besides, Edmund thought as he ate his soup, if he did start to thwart his cousin’s designs they would definitely stop ignoring him. Then he would have to deal with them on their terms, and they had been Mouldes for a lot longer than he had. Just how effective could he be against them once they knew he was coming?
No, if he was going to rebuild the Moulde family, he needed to be smart about it. He may have resolved himself to play the game, but he still didn’t know all the rules. In addition, Edmund had to learn more about Moulde Hall and the running of the estate. It wouldn’t do to overcome his new cousins and stand astride a newly rebuilt family only to have the estate collapse with some simple mismanagement.
If only he could find a Library! He needed to learn as much as he could as fast as he could. Perhaps he could find one in Brackenburg? He would have to find a way to sneak out during the day so his cousins didn’t realize what he was up to…
Until then there was only one thing he could do and that was explore. He had only learned how to get around a few floors of one wing of the house, and there was so much more to see. The family could wait until he had an actionable plan.
Edmund finished his breakfast and left the dishes for Ung to clean up. He wasn’t sure what he would find, but he was certain it would be interesting.
Interesting or not, there would certainly be a lot of it, and he needed to see it all in less then the year it was taking Mr. Shobbinton to do his survey. It would be difficult, and after his previous attempt of aimless wandering Edmund decided he would need to approach his exploration more methodically.
First he returned to the secret passageway he had found just before Mrs. Kippling had sent him to give Matron her lunch. It took a few tries before he found the right column, but before too long he was sliding his way between the walls of Moulde Hall, a small oil lamp clutched in his hands.