A loud thud hit the wall directly under Edmund’s shoulder blade, causing him to jump away from the wall in shock. Someone had hit the wall right where he had been leaning with what sounded like a wooden stick–the handle of an umbrella, perhaps. Edmund clapped his hand over his mouth to keep from gasping in shock, and to force himself to breathe as quietly as he could.
There was a pause. Then the handle hit the wall softly again, the sound much more hollow now that Edmund was pushing against the opposite wall.
“Well?” came Tricknee’s voice from the listening tube still in Edmund’s ear. “Hitting the wall won’t improve your situation any.”
Edmund sank to the ground, the listening tube still in his ear as his heart slowly began to calm down. Why had she hit the wall again? Had she heard something the first time? It felt like minutes before either Matron or Tricknee spoke again.
“I’m curious,” Matron said, suddenly. Her voice sounded clear and sharp, not as tired as she had before. “Is there any reason to not simply wait for me to die? This ‘boy’ you mention cannot be as adept at our little duels as me. I wonder, are you getting worried?”
“What on earth for?” Tricknee scoffed. A silly question, Edmund thought. Tricknee had just said he was as old as Matron–he must be getting as tired as she.
“An excellent question,” Matron said. “But then, you did say you are getting old too, didn’t you? And why are you having me sign my will to Googoltha, and not yourself? If memory serves, you have been trying to get your oldest daughter to re-marry into that sadly un-admirable family… the Whilkins, was it? Am I right in saying Googoltha is a Whilkins as well?”
“She’s a Bonne, whatever else she is,” Tricknee voice was low, and threatening.
“And quite wealthy too. Acquiring her fortune would help get you back in good graces with the Bonnes, wouldn’t it? Possibly even settle a few debts?”
“I didn’t think you still followed the new money in Brackenburg.”
“One must have a hobby. And once Googoltha is the Matron of Moulde Hall, exactly how long will you let the family survive? I suppose it ultimately makes little difference. It’s been no less than twenty generations since the great agreement was made, and now you are using this girl to try and reopen the wound. I expected better of you.”
“Spare me the speech,” Tricknee’s voice came quickly, and a slight twist in his tone made it clear he was smiling, or perhaps sneering. “I don’t give a damn what you or Patron Bonne think–He may be satisfied with you all being called criminals, but the great agreement crippled my family, and as far as I’m concerned the Mouldes and the Bonnes are enemies from now ‘til doomsday.”