A flicker of an idea began to form in Edmund’s mind as he slowly lifted his hand to the wall, and gave several quick scratches with his fingernail.
Mr. Shobbinton jerked about, his eyes focusing on the wall where Edmund was lurking, his face a mask of fear.
“Hello?” he said, his voice shaking.
Carefully, Edmund slipped away from the wall and around the corner to another side of the room, and scratched again. Something thumped on the other side of the wall, and Edmund quickly moved back to the peep-hole. Mr. Shobbinton was rubbing his side from where he had obviously hit the table, staring at the wall that Edmund had just scratched.
Edmund stifled a giggle, causing Mr. Shobbinton to jerk about again, casting his eyes all around the room. He ducked under the table and searched beneath the chairs, only to jump up, confusion and terror etched on his face.
Edmund pulled the ear-trumpet from the wall. Of course, they could work both ways, couldn’t they? He put the rubber tube to his lips and whispered;
With a squeak of fear, Mr. Shobbinton grabbed his stack of papers, shoved them into his briefcase, and ran out of the room.
Edmund chased after him, ducking through the narrow passageways as quickly as he could, trying to keep up. Pinsnip’s training served him well, though even without it he doubted Mr. Shobbinton would have been able to hear him over his loud footsteps and heavy breathing.
Edmund stopped periodically and peeked through any eye-holes he could find, trying to follow Mr. Shobbinton’s path through the winding hallways. Every once in a while, Mr. Shobbinton stopped to wipe his brow or adjust his monocle, and Edmund took the opportunity to scratch long and slow down the wall, or whisper something small and ominous. Sometimes he didn’t even whisper intelligibly; he just hissed or shushed the air with a soft sussurus. Whenever he did this, it seemed to panic Mr. Shobbinton even more.
Odd. Edmund would have thought that not knowing exactly what a ghost was saying would have made it less frightening. Why be afraid if you didn’t know why you should be?
So fast was Mr. Shobbinton running, that he didn’t notice Pinsnip until it was too late. They crashed headlong into each other as Pinsnip turned the corner, both of them sprawling to the floor.
“Oh! I…What…Mr. Shobbinton,” Pinsnip muttered, his face a bright red as he picked himself up. “I was…late walk to…how are…”
“There’s…something…walls…” Mr. Shobbinton panted, gathering his briefcase and looking around nervously. “Being…that is…get away…I need to…”
“Yes, yes…” Pinsnip adjusted his clothes. “By-the-by…my survey? I was wondering…it’s been a year…”
“Done!” Mr. Shobbinton blurted, ripping open his briefcase and shoving papers at Pinsnip frantically. “Seen it! All! You have…there…that’s everything! Must dash!”
Watching the two of them talk was an education. Edmund giggled again.
Mr. Shobbinton froze, and then broke into a run. Pinsnip watched him go, and then turned around slowly, his eyes cold as he sniffed at the air. He glanced towards the wall that Edmund was hiding behind, and then shook his head. He picked up the fallen papers and began to read as he walked down the hallway.