Nothing could foul Brother Lapis’ mood today, or so he thought. Brother Rudyard noted the spring in his step as he entered the refectory for breakfast, as did Loxley, who gave him an accusing stare before getting up to get his plate. The others were helping themselves to the food set on the table, as were the students who sat at their own table. “You look remarkably well rested, Dominic,” said Brother Rudyard knowingly. “Is your fast finally over?”
“Yes,” said Loxley flatly as she set Lapis’ breakfast before him. “Remarkable. How does that work when there is not much sleeping going on?”
“Any time you want to find out, Lox,” said Lapis as he reached for the heap of sausages at the center of the table.
Loxley ignored the barb and flicked Lapis’ hand away from the serving dish, pointing at the plate she had set in front of him. “Ah ah ah, that’s your breakfast. Be a good boy and eat it.”
Lapis stared down at his plate and wondered if there was a secret ingredient, or if he had just been put on a carbohydrate regimen for the days work. “Why is my food still being plated?”
“Good soldiers don’t ask questions.”
“You’re dosing me!” Lapis said suspiciously.
Loxley said nothing and poured herself more coffee.
“What am I being dosed with? I demand to know!”
Rudyard and Scorpio smiled and speared more sausages from the serving plate to their forks, to spite their brother in cloth. The students chattered among themselves at their own table, oblivious to the drama taking place among their elders. Lapis’ thoughts suddenly went to Dr. Foehammer’s visit to the Institute last week. What was his connection to the school? Was that the secret to the school’s success rate? He found himself looking over at the students table, there was plenty of food on their serving plates to accommodate the generous appetites of children. It had never dawned on him to observe the setting of the tables before. Was the food on prepared for the students the same as the food set out for the staff? He looked back at Loxley, the school steward, as his mind groped for connections.
Father Moonwall suddenly appeared and thumped his cane on the floorboards. “Brother Lapis! Make haste with your breakfast and come to my apartments. You are late again. Sister Loxley will take your classes today.”
Snickering broke out at the student’s table as Father Moonwall disappeared up the stairs again. Brother Lapis was a notorious disciplinarian as a teacher, it was delicious to see him under someone’s thumb. Lapis sighed and shoveled down his food. He was determined not to let Lox’s iron gaze spoil his morning. There was just one thing he had to to before the routine of the day swept over him.
Lapis left his dishes on the table and went outside, taking a quick look at the flowers being set out on the sidewalk at the corner shop before ducking into the messenger depot next door. Reliable was busy sweeping the floor before the first customers arrived. Brother Lapis was not nearly as horrible to her now, since that incident with the robed woman. Lapis wrote a quick note and sealed it in an envelope, then handed it to the girl with a few coins.
“Go next door and pick out some flowers for me,” he said as he wrote another note.
“Oh!” Reliable’s eyes shone with delight.
“Pick something with ferns. And something red. Tulips if they have them. Then take them to this address. And if there’s anything left over you can keep the change.”
“Thank you!” Reliable exclaimed. He tapped his sealed envelope twice and smiled before he left to attend to the day’s business.
Reliable went to the stove and poured herself her first cup of coffee and peered at the address Lapis had written. She knew the address. It was Phaedra Byrne’s house in Wheatstone.
Lapis was sending flowers to Phaedra Byrne?