The cat had rested for most of the day, preparing for the trip he’d need to make to see Dr. Maddox, but first he went to check on Lo. Unfortunately, he managed to start their conversation by startling her: She jumped and yelled a greeting when she realized it was him. They spoke for a short time and he was glad that she was no longer displaying any signs of sleepyness and that she appeared well rested and groomed.
She wanted to take him to the Bucket to see something and rather than tell him why or what she giggled and dragged him towards the rough establishment. He had been going into the bar more often to see Njal, but he had rarely gone during the mid-afternoon. It was still early for a pub, but it was moderately busy with visitors celebrating the drinking month and at least one regular. The large groups had wisely decided that they would be safer in greater numbers.
Arnold leaned closer to Lo and whispered, “What did you want to show me in here?”
Lo shruged slightly and then squirmed her foot, a little embarrassd, “Well… sometimes I come back… memories, you see.”
“Mostly,” Lo agreed and then led him to the back of the bar, and showed him some scribiling on the wall. “Gilly and I wrote our names here. It was at a party and all the grownups were rather tipsy.”
“Lo and Gil.” Arnold read and mused, and she nodded, “How long have you known each other?”
“O nearly forever..since I first came to Babbage anyway!” She suddenly looked surprised, “Nearly three years soon…goodness! Time does go quickly!”
“I’ve only been in Babbage a year. In that time bad things have happened. Some good things which seemed bad at the time. And sometimes good things which had seemed good at the time.”
“Life may happen that way, rather, I think so,” Lo mumbled, her voice low.
Examining the walls he wondered aloud, “What else is written here…” The two of them followed the wall reading the phrases. “Mara eats the kids….don’t let Phaedra speak…Yang…he made it back to town last night…”
“I don’t know whom wrote any of these…” Lo said following him, and wincing Arnold asked for her to keep her voice down. He didn’t want attention or to give anyone a reason for eyes to drift towards them.
There was so much written that he started to just note the names written out, “Lionheart. Moon wall. Pip…” Arnold caught himself too late as that name escaped his lips.
Lo paused and then read the statement aloud, sounding wistful, “Pip will return…”
The young girl turned away slowly and sat down on the couch nearby. Arnold joined her, though he sat on his back legs, and cursed himself for not knowing it had said that.
Lo noticed that he seemed to be looking at her uncomfortably from the corner of her eye, and she leaned down towards him, talking softly. The revelers still seemed to be at the front of the bar, ignoring them, “I do think he shall come back you know…if he hasn’t already…”
Arnold was surprised, didn’t she know? He turned towards the fireplace and asked as gently and quietly as he could, “…do you know what happened to him at all?”
“A little,” Lo confessed as she bit her lip and her face fell even further, “He died in a cell under the church… and then he vanished… or something. Or the bits that made him up didn’t exist any more.”
“Not…entirely,” Arnold said softly.
“Well… that is what happens when you die… isn’t it?” Lo asked, and Arnold stared at her. Hadn’t any of her parents taught her about death yet?
“Some of him was buried.”
Lo looked a little surprised, “O.. they didn’t tell me that…I don’t know why they didn’t tell me that part…”
Arnold shook his head and started to whisper even more softly to her, “Lo… I do know something I haven’t told you.” The young girl looked at the cat inquisitively as he continued. “I know a lot more about Pip than I’ve been letting on. One thing about him, and just this one thing was never meant to be a secret from you, or at least there’s no reason you should personally not know.”
He leaned forward and whispered directly into her ear quietly, “Your mother already dug up his ‘remains’ months ago. Last May perhaps. She already brought him back.”
The child’s mouth fell as she gaped at the cat. “Really?”
“Yes, though I have never seen him personally I’ve been told others have.” That had been when Lionheart and he had first worked together, though it had been Lionhearts desire and not his to get involved…that had been his first ‘deal’ in this town to do something he would have otherwise avoided. “He’s been around for over a year again.”
Puzzlement and dismay fought across her face, and she was no longer whispering, “But why.. why didn’t anyone tell me?” The cat had no answer for why the Underby’s had neglected to tell her or Sonnerstein. The doctor had known as well and he could have told her by now at least that much. Suddenly she stood up and cried out, “Ugggh! I hate them both!“
The bar fell silent as she darted outside, a table fell in her scramble and a glass fell to the floor and shattered. Arnold chased after her quickly and when it seemed they would be chased down over the glass he yelled back saying they should charge it to Sonnerstein the next time he came in and quickly out ran them.