“Master Edmund,” Wislydale said, speaking through several glasses of gin. “A right pleasure to see you, what?” His eye dipped like a stone and bounced back up to Edmund’s face. “By Jove, that’s a jolly big ball of string, what? Off for a nighttime flying of a kite, eh?”
Edmund slowly pushed the ball into the elevator, thinking furiously. “Y-yes,” he stammered, “I thought it might be interesting…”
“Jolly good! I’ll join you,” Wislydale murmured, his eyes quivering gently. He closed the elevator door behind Edmund, and pulled the lever to the bottom floor. “I’m about to head out for a walk around the gardens myself.”
Edmund thought about asking why Wislydale had been riding the elevator up if he was planning on heading outside, but decided he needn’t bother when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
“I say, I’ve been meaning to talk with you, young chap. I only just today heard about the troubles you’ve been having, with all the…well, arsenic and ammunition, what?”
Edmund didn’t know what Wislydale was talking about, so he gave as noncommittal a shrug as he could manage. Wislydale shook his head.
“Brave lad, and all, but trying to kill you is… well, that’s simply not proper behavior for any Founding Family, what? I had a little chat with our dear cousin, and I promise you nothing of the sort will ever happen again.”
Someone had been trying to kill him? Edmund’s mind drifted back to the small hole in the hallway, and the faint scent of almond in the soup he had been too upset to eat. He wondered who it was that had been trying to kill him.
“It does bring up an important point though…” Wislydale sounded like he had just thought of it “I think we’ve got ourselves a bit of a spot of bother, what? I mean, you being the Heir Apparent and all that?”
“What do you mean?” Edmund asked, trying to ignore the smell of thick heady alcohol that was slowly filling the elevator.
“Well, you’re a Moulde now, what? A member of the family, top to toe, and there are few in our family who will think this is a good thing–the six of us who are here are perhaps the most levelheaded among us, what? The others… well… and you’ll forgive my saying so, young fellow-me-lad, but you’re hardly a prime example of high society! I mean, you probably don’t even know how improper those little potshots were. Think of the scandal when you go to your first ball! You might ask for the wrong type of wine, or dance with the wrong sort of person… No, no, quite unacceptable!”
“I don’t mean to be a problem,” Edmund said, hanging his head so he looked embarrassed. Kolb had been very clear about how to deal with overconfident people like Wislydale: “If they think they’re smart,” he had said, “Don’t prove them wrong. Smart people like being right all the time–it’s why they became smart in the first place. Give them what they want, and never challenge them. Then, when you agree with them, they’ll see how smart you are and agree with you too. Understand?”
Edmund thought he did, so he had agreed with Kolb that it was a very smart way of dealing with smart people.