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As Lisa turned north toward the bridge over the canal, she saw Tepic on it, heading toward Kasa’s tower. “Tepic!” she called, and he stopped and waited for her. She skidded to a stop by him, panting. “He wants me to get Miss Bookworm,” she said.
“What fer? Is he gonna sic her on me?”
“I don’t know.” Having recognized a finally-arrived opportunity, she fumbled in her pocket and drew out the envelope, with its letter, written days ago, safely tucked inside. “Can you… send this?” she asked, still panting a little. “And I think it needs a… stamp?” She handed it over to him.
“Sure! I’ll go over to the Messengers–they owes me a favor or two.” He looked at the name of Dr. Solsen on the envelope. “Will he help?”
“I hope so, if he can come,” Lisa replied. “I’d better go. Thank you!” As she dashed off, Tepic called after her, “All right, Lisa–yer look after yerself!”
Lisa dashed away, past Kasa’s tower, and clattered across another bridge, finally skidding to a stop on Miss Hienrichs’ doorstep. She rapped on the door, which was opened within seconds by the housekeeper. She took one look at Lisa and called upstairs, “Miss Bookworm!”
Miss Hienrichs clattered down the stairs, grimacing when she saw Lisa. She looked a little disheveled, in an older dress and her hair down, pinned back by two pencils. “More trouble?”
Lisa nodded. “Mr. Canergak wants to see you right away.”
“I’ll bet he does,” she replied impatiently. “But he can wait until I change.” She turned to go back upstairs, but Lisa, greatly daring, reached out and grabbed her sleeve. “Miss Bookworm,” she said apprehensively, “he’s… he’s *angry.*”
Miss Hienrichs looked back at her, and finally nodded. “All right.” With that, she swept out of the house, not even bothering to put on a jacket or hat. Lisa hurried along in her wake.
They went inside the asylum, and found Canergak waiting for them in the antechamber that contained the elevator, as well as the entrance to the ground-floor office. Canergak nodded once to Miss Hienrichs. “Again, we must meet.”
“So Lisa said,” she replied. “What is the trouble?”
“Today, the fox child entered my private room and released the cat. Beatrixe Rouse was mauled in the process, probably trying to protect the fox.”
Miss Hienrichs hissed in a breath. “How badly hurt is she?”
“I do not know,” Canergak replied coldly. “I doubt her eye or limbs will survive. The cord was still strong, but she has lost much blood.” Lisa bit back a sob as he continued, “I subdued the animal, and Lisa contacted Dr. Grendel. Miss Rouse has been taken to my hospital. I know nothing else.”
Miss Bookworm nodded. “I’ll be sure to look in on them.”
Canergak’s coldness suddenly flared up into hot anger. “This is now the *third* time those two, separately or together, have broken into my facility!”
Lisa sneaked a glance up, and saw that Miss Bookworm looked grim. “Do you wish to press charges?” the woman asked.
“I am considering it on the fox child. If he has caused the death of Miss Rouse, I shall!” He looked at Lisa, who gulped. “She was upstairs, and I do not think her involved… directly, this time.”
“I wasn’t, sir,” she said in a small voice. Which wasn’t precisely a lie–she had no idea if Tepic had made and used a copy of her key.
“But she first broke into this facility with her fox friend a little over a year ago, before I hired her. I never forgot that. She also tried to sneak into my lab once before it was finished. And now… this!” He thumped his cane on the floor once again, and once again, Lisa jumped.
“What is your intent concerning her, sir?” Miss Bookworm asked.
“I am sorry,” he said, glancing at her. “I do not think I am capable of rational thought at the moment. Let me calm down.” The look he turned back on Lisa, though, seemed anything but calm. She shivered, but knew her eyes still held the anger she felt. “Do you even know what happens to criminals?” he said ominously. “Perhaps I should press charges on the fox, and get him shipped to the mines? We could go see how thin he becomes as the captivity saps his strength and lungs.”
Lisa gasped, and cried, “No!”
“You had better hope Beatrixe lives.”
She replied in a low voice, “I hope so for *her* sake, not just his.”
That was evidently *not* the right thing for her to say. Canergak inhaled twice, his strange eyes seeming to blaze at her, despite their mechanical nature. “Lisa. If I find you trying to sneak off, or sneak in, or to do anything that makes me think you aren’t trying to reform…” He paused, then continued menacingly, “I will tell the world what I discovered about you.”
Lisa went stark white at this threat to bring true her final nightmare. “Yes, sir,” she said in a small voice.
“Miss Hienrichs, if you please.” Canergak gestured toward the office. “Lisa, leave us!” She immediately fled like a scalded cat for the dining room.
((To be continued…))