“I want to ask you about the Cavalcadium of Fortune,” Edmund said.
“The what?” Mrs. Kippling looked confused. “What on earth is a cavalcadium? Where did you hear that?”
Edmund took a deep breath. “I found the library,” he said, slowly. “And Tayatra.”
“You found Tayatra?” Mrs. Kippling’s mouth dropped open even further. “I thought Patron Rotchild had ruined her completely!”
“No,” Edmund interrupted. “I fixed her. She just needed some Mechanus Vitae and string.”
“You fixed her? You? All on your own? Begging-your-pardon, but how old did you say you were?”
“I’m eight and a half,” Edmund said, not even bothering to hide his frustration. He was getting tired of everyone being surprised that he could do anything on his own. “Now please, you were around when Plinkerton was Patron. You know him and remember him. He hid something important to the family in a Cavalcadium of Fortune. I don’t know where it might be, or even what it is. I think you can help.”
“Well, I might…” Mrs. Kippling sighed, wringing her hands fitfully, somehow avoiding cutting herself with her knife. “It’s-not-my-place, but he never told me much at all though, really. He was always a quiet one, walking alone outside with a pipe in his mouth, or sitting alone in his room. Not much more to him, really. He was a kind and quiet man.”
“Do the words ‘Memento Mori’ mean anything to you?” Edmund asked, trying a different tactic.
“Oh, I know that one,” Mrs. Kippling shrugged. “That’s the family motto what used to be writ above the main door. It means ‘Remember you will die.’”
Strange, Edmund thought, but somehow fitting. A motto that was at once a philosophy and a threat. Quite poetic too, that this reminder of death could only be seen when the tree loses its leaves. Mrs. Kippling was sighing
“Patron would stare at old Kahmlichimus for hours, sometimes. He even said it to me, once, when I were dusting the Foyer clock. ‘Memento Mori, Mrs, Kippling,’ he said, ‘Even you’ll die someday. All things come to an end in time.’ He loved time, he did. He kept his watch so carefully wound, and even put in a clock statue in the maze.”
“He loved time?” Edmund wasn’t sure he understood. Mrs. Kippling nodded, her eyes drifting to far away.
“He loved history, and clocks, and the seasons turning. He used to watch the sun cross the sky, and count the stars as they came out. He invented watches and calendars and all sorts of things… kept track of when everything happened–said it was important for the future of things. He was such a wise man… and he seemed to know things that… Oh, I just don’t know, is this the time?” she muttered to herself. “I don’t know, you found Tayatra… maybe that’s enough? Oh I wish Tane still worked here, he was always a bit more clever about this sort of thing than me…”
“What sort of thing?” Edmund asked, feeling not a little left out. “Can I help?”
Mrs. Kippling’s pacing stopped, and she turned to him with a look of determination in her eyes.
“I am going to trust you, Master Edmund,” she said, her voice sounding a little frightened.