Arnold had done his best to relax while they were in Mondrago for the beginning of March, but he had too much on his mind to ever let go completely. It hadn’t been a total waste since he had enjoyed himself, and it had been good to talk to Maddox about everything that had happened in the past few months. Still there were a lot of things he hadn’t told her yet, and he knew that eventually he would have to…now that she’d finally forced him to see her for professional counseling.
He didn’t know if that would help, but now that they were back in town there was someone that he needed to talk to. He found Gilhooly sitting near the Lighthouse in Clockhaven, looking out at the Vernian. It was late in the day, the brown sky was full of storm clouds to the south and the wind was picking up though it seemed the storm itself would miss them. Waves striking the side were larger than usual, occasionally spraying the two despite their elevation. “Just enjoying the view?”
“Uh?” Gil seemed surprised as he turned around. “Oh, ello mister A.” After a brief moment he continued. “Ummm…aye. Come out ‘ere sometimes. Some nights there’s White Rabbit scraps as well…. only it burned.” Arnold took a quick glance back where the restaurant had once stood…that hadn’t been a good day for him.
Another wave broke and sprayed the two of them. Arnold wiped his face with his paw as best as he could while Gil tilted his head at the cat, “I thought kitties was afraid o’ water…”
“Afraid?” The cat shook his head and continued to clean himself. “I’d say we hate getting wet.”
Another splash made Gil giggle as Arnold started over again, “Me, I dinna mind so much.”
Arnold went straight to the point after he finished cleaning himself, “I met Lo recently. Right after I finished my business with Emerson.”
Gil looked up happily, “‘ow is she?”
“She was well.” Arnold took off his hat and put it between his face and the spray coming from the waves. “Apparently you spoke highly of me.”
Gil shrugged. “Well… yer all right as grownups go. Ye ain’t all kissy face or tools an’ workshops like most grownups.”
“In any case,” The feline continued, “I’m having a problem…and I can only talk to you about it.”
Gilhooly blinked in surprise, “Me?”
“It’s about Lo,” Arnold explained. “I need to know if she knows.”
Arnold took a moment to look around. No one was in sight and from their position halfway to the Lighthouse, and with the wind picking up he could be sure no one could hear them. Still he lowered his voice when he turned back, “What you told me, about her dad and…in the catacombs.”
“Oh… Pip? She knows the bit about ‘er parents or whatever… she was gone when Pip was croaked tho..” Gil finished quietly, his discomfort about the conversation apparent.
“I meant does she know that it was Underby that did it.”
Gil frowned for a moment and then looked down at the ground, “dunno iffen she knows that…”
“That’s my problem,” Spray from the sea once again came over them, but he ignored it for now. “I don’t know if it’s a secret I know and she doesn’t. It’s getting to me…everytime we talk it’s at the back of my mind like I should ask or tell her.”
His rat friend shook his head, “I dinna think about it before….”
Arnold frowned as he realized what he had just done. Gil had managed to deal with it for this long only because he’d been able to overlook the facts…which he’d just pointed out to him. I am a horrible friend.
“I came to you hoping if you’d found a way to deal with it…or at least knew if she knew.” Not to make you feel as lousy as I do around her.
Gil and he sat there in silence for a few moments, the young rat’s feet dangling below as the elements continued to thrash unheeded around them, and then Gil looked up at him, “She, er… she always stood up fer mister Underpants… I mean Underby… like even at ‘is worst she thot there might be sumfin’ good in ‘im. An’ she always wished ‘er mum could be like a real family type instead o’ always schemin’.”
Arnold lowered his hat and thought about what Gil had said for a few moments as he remembered things that Dr. Sonnerstein and Helio had once told him about Lo and her parents. How she believed that despite it all they were still good people. If he did tell her what Underby had done to her friend and protector…
Gil wasn’t finished though, “When she found out Pip was ‘er real pa… she was sad an’ cross a while but then ‘er ol’ smile came back an’ she played again.”
Arnold grimaced, although he had heard otherwise this reminded the feline that Lo had believed it at one point. “Underby raised her as her dad and she may love him still…and he killed the person who she also loved and believed was her real dad.”
Gil nodded slowly, “Aye.”
Arnold stared out at the sea, the waves were still crashing into the stone while the brown skies started to turn red with the setting sun. He was only reflective for a few moments before he looked back at his young friend, “That is something that I don’t think she wants to know. Do you?”
Gil looked at his feline friend and scratched at his cheek, “well…. she’s ‘appy now…I ‘ate it when she’s sad….”
Arnold agreed, “So long as her life doesn’t depend on this information…she’s happy with the Sonnersteins and far from the Underby’s.” Arnold nodded resolutely as he came to his decision. “Right now she still believes in the family that raised her. I would never want to be the one to take that away from her. I won’t tell her what you told me.”
Gil nodded in agreement. He hoped that the young rats friendship with Lo wouldn’t become strained because of the secret they were going to be keeping…but he had the feeling the young rat would deal with it better than he would.
“Thank you Gil…” Arnold added after a few moments, feeling better about his decision by the moment. “I honestly couldn’t work it out on my own…my head just doesn’t work that way.”
Gilhooly seemed genuinely surprised, “I ‘elped?”
“I don’t like to keep secrets…I needed to hear someone agree with me.” The wind picked up again and the cat resisted the urge to shiver.
“Aye….sometimes trewf is worse tho,” Gil muttered solemnly.
Arnold considered this for a few moments silently, “I think that’s the wisest thing I’ve heard in months.”
Gil waved his own paw dismissively, “Naw….”
“It is Gil,” Arnold half smiled, “But you didn’t have much in the way of competition. If there’s one thing I know for sure in almost a year living here, Babbagers aren’t really known for ‘wisdom’.”
Gil smiled again, a little, “Strewth that…. tis all ‘ammers an’ manners…. an’ not a lot o’ the latter.”
They talked for awhile longer about Emerson, Lo, and Gils job with the brothers before Gil finally stood up from his seat. “Alright, I gotta check fer scraps.”
“Why scraps?” Arnold tilted his head, remembering that several people had offered to keep the young man fed on several occasions. “I could buy you a meal if you’d like.”
“Well… I gotta keep up me skills,” Gil explained. “I dinna wanna be…. too full o’ meself like some people are…fankye tho.”
The feline nodded in understanding, “In that case, good luck on your hunt.”
“Fanks, ta ra then mister A.”
As Gil left another spray from the sea reminded Arnold that he was wet and cold. He moved to where the new museum was going to be and dried off as best as he could before heading back to the Cocoa Java to properly clean and warm himself by a fire.