Hunting Between the Walls

Crumbling up the leftovers of his bread, Edmund sprinkled a little bit next to the stacks where the rat was hiding. After a moment, the crumb was gone. He didn’t see the rat come out again, so Edmund moved slowly around the stacks and tried again. And again, the rat was there and gone in the blink of an eye. Edmund moved again, and dropped some more bread. This time, he saw where the rat was running after it picked up the stale crumbs.

He carried on dropping bread and watching the rat until he saw it vanish into a small hole in the stacks. Peeking cautiously into the hole, he once again saw the glint of the rat’s eye as it stared out at him.

Edmund tried to think, conjuring a map of Moulde Hall in his mind. Was there a hidden passageway that surrounded the library? There were several walls that looked like they may have been doors once, but had been sealed up by old and strict stones or bricks. What about behind the statue? He didn’t remember finding a stone wall anywhere inside the passages, much less one that was circular like the library, but it had been dark and he hadn’t been paying close attention to what the walls were made of.

Then, in a flash of inspiration, Edmund remembered a small stretch of thin stairway that had curved all the way from the first to the fourth floor.

Pocketing the rest of his bread, Edmund picked up an ornate candle with a snuffer hooked on the side, and dashed off to the elevator, his mind already tracing his path to the nearest secret door. Within minutes, he was crawling through the thin passages between the walls, desperately trying to hold on to the image of Moulde Hall in his head. He was positive he could find the library through the secret passageways, and with any luck he might find the rat’s home too.

When he reached the bottom of the long curved stairway, he pulled some more bread out from his pocket and sprinkled it on the ground. Standing very still, and breathing as quietly as Pinsnip had taught him, he stared in the pile of crumbs in the flickering candle-light. It took a few moments, but the rat soon appeared from the gloom, grabbed the bread, and vanished again down the passage.

Edmund followed until he reached a small door in the outer wall that lead into the brightly lit passages of Moule Hall. The passage kept going, but even in the dim light he could see that it was only a short distance to a dead end.

Or rather, Edmund corrected himself, that was what it looked like.


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