“I will,” he lied, trying very hard to smile sincerely. Wislydale clapped his hands, and stood up gesturing wildly.
“That’s all I’m asking for, my boy! Think about it! A life without that haggard old crow leering at you all day. A life with proper food, not this constant soup. A life with the best society that money can buy! Friends! Horses! Anything you want!”
Wislydale gestured too far, and stumbled, almost tripping over his chair. Just before he fell, he managed to catch himself, and clumsily pull his body upright before sitting, extremely carefully, in his chair again. Edmund’s smile became more sincere as Wislydale sat for only a few seconds before standing up again.
“By Jove, I’m bushed,” he slurred, shoving himself towards the door. “Best be off to take a quick nap, what? Drearily sorry and all that…” and he was gone.
Edmund barely had time to turn back to his almost a stew before the door opened slightly again, and Pinsnip slipped into the room. He looked around the room quickly, as if he was looking for something, and then slipped towards the table, sitting down quickly next to Edmund.
“He’s gone!” he muttered quietly through his mustache. His eyes darted back and forth, as if he didn’t trust his own statement. “I thought he’d never leave, pompous old windbag. What did he tell you?”
Edmund shrugged noncommittally. “He said it must be hard for me to live here with Matron. Not much else.”
“Well, I certainly agree with him,” Pinsnip grinned quickly before returning to his nervous twitching. “I bet you’d love to be somewhere else, wouldn’t you? Away from all this… this?”
“And go off on my own?” Edmund asked. Pinsnip looked shocked.
“Oh my, no!” He stammered, rubbing his mustache with a thin finger. “Good heavens, you’re only eight! But you could go somewhere nicer, couldn’t you? You’re doing well with your studies… I’m sure you could find someplace more fitting than… a house full of Mouldes? I think… I think you might like being a… well, a Sadwick.”
Edmund put down his spoon. Edmund Sadwick, he thought. It sounded terrible. It must not have shown on his face, as Pinsnip was still nodding excitedly.
“We’re very nice,” he was whispering, as if he was telling some awful secret. “And we feed our children well. You won’t have to fight with anyone that you don’t want to, and you could even have a hobby! We…well…we wouldn’t look down on you for that, you know. We Sadwicks are good at…at hiding hobbies, you see… and… well… think about it.”
With that, Pinsnip leapt up like someone had lit a fire under his seat, and scampered from the room like a nervous spider. Edmund looked at the few spoonfuls of almost a stew left in his bowl, and decided he wasn’t hungry.