It was a cool morning, unseasonably so for Summer, when Edmund heard the sound of Carron’s horse clopping up the front drive.
Edmund set aside his notebook and looked out window. Sure enough, the large black carriage was pulling to a halt in front of Moulde Hall. Edmund craned his neck to look and saw that neither Ung nor Mrs. Kippling were standing there, but instead the tall slim figure of Junapa was waiting by the massive front doors.
The carriage pulled to a halt as Carron’s long limbs stretched out from the driver’s seat and opened the carriage door. A portly man hopped out, brushing off a brown bowler hat and adjusting his coat. He had no sooner adjusted the hat on his head before Junapa was beside him, holding out one hand while the other fanned herself demurely.
Edmund watched with curiosity as the man took her hand and kissed it. Junapa’s fan moved slightly and they both walked into Moulde Hall.
Edmund darted between the walls as quickly as he could, heading to the main Foyer and listening for the sound of either Junapa’s voice or that of the stranger’s.
Finally, he heard Junapa’s quiet laughter from nearby. Changing direction, Edmund crept quietly behind the walls of the nearby sitting rooms, listening carefully. When he was certain he had found the right room, he moved to the nearest peep-hole and hearing-tube to spy on them. They were both seated across from each other and sipping dark red liquid from their glasses.
“Well,” came the unfamiliar male voice of the portly gentleman. “I cannot say I was expecting your offer, my dear.”
“But why ever not?” was Junapa’s reply. Her smooth surprise felt like honey in Edmund’s ears. “The Moulde Family has always been very generous to Brackenburg…much as the city has always been kind to us.”
“Listen, my dear,” the man fluffed himself up like a pigeon, “I am more than willing to discuss this, but I’m afraid I will need some assurances. After all, rumors of the Moulde Family’s current financial troubles have reached even my desk.”
“You shouldn’t trouble yourself over rumors, Mayor,” Junapa soothed.
Mayor? This was the Mayor? Edmund reflexively pushed himself closer to the wall, staring at the little man.
He wasn’t too tall, or too short. His upper lip was covered with a thick white mustache, while his sideburns reached down to his jaw. His brown suit was nice enough, but it wasn’t particularly fine. He exuded the same air as Mr. Shobbinton; a man who felt taller than he actually was. He didn’t look like a particularly great and wonderful man at all… he just looked like a man.
“These rumors are false, then? The Moulde Family is not struggling?”
“I promise you, Mayor, the Moulde Family isn’t going anywhere.” Junapa’s fan snapped closed, a clear full-stop. The Mayor smiled, and clinked his glass to Junapa’s.
“Excellent news to hear. Please continue.”
Edmund was considering running to Matron, but something in the air made him stop. He pulled the rubber tube out of his ear, and listened.
There was a shuffling sound in the walls.
And it was coming nearer.