“Dunsany!” Mumsy cackled as if she’d suddenly recalled a forgotten punchline from a childhood joke. “Well, if you two are still planning on climbing down that hole after finding a brick stamped ‘Dunsany’ then you are going to the right place.”
“What are you on about now?” asked Junie, exasperation in her voice. “Here, have some more pickled kraken and toast.”
Emerson, Junie and Mumsy were sitting around one of the tavern tables at the Gangplank having some snacks and refreshments after an afternoon of riding around on the new Clockhaven Tramline.
“So, the Dunsany was an actual establishment.” said Emerson, smiling at Junie as he accepted another piece of toast. “Not the manufacturer of the brick.”
“If, by establishment, you mean sanitarium for crazy rich people then yes.” Mumsy dropped her voice. “It was all nice up top – or so they say. One of those liberal touchy-feely sort of places with perfumes and white towels. But there was talk of secret places beneath the Dunsany, where the rich-folk sent their troubled kids; and some of them went in and they never came out.”
Emerson laughed. “I feel like we should be sitting around a campfire holding a lantern under our chins.”
“Make light if you will but don’t say I didn’t warn you.” said Mumsy.
“Actually, Mumsy Abigail,” said Emerson, “I have interests at the bottom of that hole that I must recover.”
“What nonsense,” Mumsy replied.
“I’m a busy man, Mumsy,” said Emerson.
“Busy! That’s a rich one. What do you actually do, Mop-Top, besides smoke your hookah and watch my niece run this bar?” Mumsy chortled. “At least Sunglasses had a job.”
“Sunglasses?” Emerson laughed as he made the connection. “Petharic?”
“You’re a quick one, aren’t you? Yes, him. Dashing but irritating. Where’s he been lately anyway?”
Emerson paused, toast in hand. “You do realize that his ‘job’ was to kill me, don’t you?”
Mumsy grimaced. “Oh, don’t be such a baby.”
“Mumsy, I’m starting to think you’d make a great writer of penny fictions.”
“Yes, and my first title will be The Exterminator Always Rings Twice.”
“Mumsy.” Junie said just under her breath, her head shaking slightly from side to side.
“He loves her,” she said in a childish sing-song tone, jerking a thumb at Junie. “Builder only knows why. He even stole Tenk’s goat for me just so I’d put in a good word for him! But that pushy attitude and bad temper of his are going to be his downfall, you mark my words.” She punctuated her last statement with a wave of her hand, sending food to the floor.
“Mumsy, enough!” scolded Junie.
“Enough what, Juniper?” asked Mumsy, a cunning smirk on her lips.
“Enough…pickled kraken?” Junie forced a smile as she held out a spoonful of the delicacy. Discussing Petharic with Emerson wasn’t at the top of her list of things to do.
“Hm. Yes, I suppose.” Mumsy wrinkled her nose as she looked at the plate though, as if she smelled something rotten. “It is a bit chewy for my liking. That was a tough old kraken that went into those pickles.”
Junie caught Emerson’s eye and gave him a ‘don’t say it’ look. What she read in his return expression, however, didn’t appear at all related to salty cephalopod.
Interrupting the conversation, much to Junie’s relief, Gilhooly came up from the cellar. In his hand was a large rolled parchment.
“Mister, Miss ‘n Ma’am.” he greeted excitedly as he approached the table. “I found something down by that ‘ole, that weren’t there last night.” he held up the scroll and smiled. “You might want to ‘ave a look.”