Sunday was the day of the Aether Salon, in its new building. It was quite enjoyable, really, and for once, Bookworm was smiling as she worked on some routine matters in Militia headquarters afterwards. It was nice to be able to think about something other than the “Dark Aether,” if only for a little–
Bookworm looked up from her work and saw Gadget and Nat standing there. “Hello,” she replied, with a rueful thought of ‘Only a little, indeed.’
“Would I be right in thinking you is kinda in charge?” he asked.
“Oh, my–I wouldn’t say that,” Bookworm replied, blushing. “I’m just a member of the Militia.”
“Well, that’s close enough,” he said. “See, I ‘ave been given an errand, but I don’t quite know wot to make of it. I don’t trust the fellow wot sent me on the errand, to be frank, Miss.”
“Who was it?”
“The Van Creed fellow wot owns the warehouse out back of mine.”
Bookworm nodded. “I can understand why.”
“He gave me this and said to pass it to ‘the administration,'” Gadget continued, pulling out a sheet of paper and handing it to her. “See Miss, wot I can’t work out is why would the Van Creed leak their own document wot implicates them in a murder.”
Startled, Bookworm scanned the sheet, and sucked in a breath. ‘Could Mariah actually have been right?’ she thought as she read it a second time. Undated, written on paper with the Van Creed mark, it gave the order for the Van Creed to kill Alexander Eliot, and frame Jason Moriarty for the deed.
“I ai’nt sure I believe that letter there is genuine,” Gadget said. “And either way, wot ‘ave the Van Creed got to gain by getting it out there?”
“Well, it certainly confuses the situation quite a bit. That may be what they want,” Bookworm mused. “It may be time I took another look in there.”
“I think you should Miss; they ‘ave to be stopped.” She nodded slowly, feeling sure of that, at least, if nothing else.
“Can I take it my duty has been discharged like? Will you inform those that need informing in the grownups, Miss?”
“Yes, Gadget. I’ll be sure to pass this information on to the right people.”
“Thank you, Miss.” Gadget seemed relieved to get the paper off his hands.
“Thank *you,* Gadget,” she replied. “And please, do come to me with any other information you learn–at least, anything you feel comfortable in sharing.”
“OK, Miss.” Gadget and Nat turned to go, but Gadget paused in the doorway. “Would you let us know if anything comes of that letter?” he asked.
“I will,” Bookworm replied.
“It’s just….some of us is working out ‘ow we might defend ourselves and it ‘elps to know who is the enemy and who ain’t.”
Bookworm sighed. “Yes, that would certainly be useful to know.” She wished silently that she could have such knowledge right now, as she watched Gadget and Nat head up the street.
She looked again at the paper in her hand, and remembered what she’d said about taking another look in the Van Creed building. ‘No time like the present,’ she thought, setting the note on her desk.
She hurried across town in the waning afternoon light, finally finding herself standing outside the boarded-up building. She quickly shoved aside the loose board and scrunched through the opening. This time, she had a small lantern and notebook, so she could take copious notes on what she found. She also knew better than to approach the hole in the floor of the main room, having no desire to end up in the canal again.
When she finally emerged from the building, it was full dark, and she was tired. She put together a sketchy supper of bread, cheese, and fruit, and went up to Mariah’s bedroom again to try to sleep.
((To be continued…))