112: Peep-Holes and Hearing-Tubes

The passage didn’t go very far before Edmund came on a steep set of stairs descending into the darkness.

The entrance to the passageway had been on the second floor, so Edmund guessed he was now on the first. He followed the passageway as best he could in the dim light of the oil lamp and the slivers of gaslight that leaked through small cracks in the walls.

He walked on, holding the oil lamp in one hand and keeping his other hand out to steady himself, when his fingers brushed against a small circular disk stuck in the wall.

He gently traced the circumference of the disk with his finger and found a small latch on the top. He pulled at it and the disk flipped open, revealing a thin rubber tube. The tube uncoiled from the wall when Edmund pulled on it; one end was stuck to a conical device that was pressed into the wall. He stared at it for a moment before he realized he was holding a makeshift ear-trumpet and he could use it to eavesdrop on whomever was on the other side of the wall.

Edmund replaced the rubber tube in the wall and was about to move on when he happened to glance up. There, stuck to the wall a few feet above the ear trumpet, was a thin metal strap like a hinge. With a bit of climbing on the thick wooden supports, Edmund managed to scamper up the wall and tug at the strap, only to have a thin beam of gaslight strike him full in the eyes. He almost slipped and fell to the ground but managed to hold on long enough to blink the light away.

The strap was a small hinged bar that was attached to a plug designed to fit snugly into a small round peephole in the wall. Pressing his face against it, Edmund peeked through the hole, only to see the giant ornate fireplace of the large sitting room. Edmund grinned as he replaced the strap and dropped to the floor. An ear-trumpet and a peephole ready for spying. He would have to try these secret devices out whenever there was another family meeting. Edmund slowly crept onward, keeping a lookout for more trumpets and peepholes.

The passageway twisted and turned as much as the hallways did, full of dead ends and strange angles. Edmund tried to keep track of where he was, but the passages were constantly confusing him. Several times he thought he knew where he was, only to find and look through a peep-hole and realize he was very wrong indeed.

He kept searching the passageways until he found a small exit behind a tapestry near the large music room in the west wing. Stepping gratefully out into the open air, Edmund realized he needed to be more familiar with outside of the walls before he could understand the inside of them. He memorized where the exit was, and resolved to check everywhere he went for hidden catches, switches, and passages while he explored the rest of the mansion.

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