Mumsy Abigail had taken an unusually long constitutional this evening, all the way from Academy of Industry to Wheatstone Waterways. The melting of the snow, it seemed, had imbued her with a sense of good cheer.
“I HAVE A JOB FOR YOU!” she bellowed. Arnold crouched outside the clock at Lighthouse Landing in Wheatstone and looked at her without emotion.
“Yes?” he responded.
“Rumors,” she spat, shaking an arthritic finger at him as if to punctuate her words, “do not begin on their own, Cat. In this town, everyone knows how gossip is spread.” She allowed her words to hang in the sooty air for a moment before continuing. “I want you to speak to every last one of the filthy little street children in Babbage. Bribe them! Threaten them! Do whatever you have to do. Find out who is spreading that rumor!“
There had been no need to specify which rumor she was refering to, and Arnold responded flatly. “Yes, ma’am. I’ll ask Tepic to narrow it down.”
She nodded curtly to indicate her satisfaction, and tapped her cane a few times.
“Right then. Anything else?” she asked.
“Still no letters from them,” Arnold said. “Just the same rumors.”
“Hmph!” she grunted. “Balderdash!”
She turned to walk back to Academy. “I’ll be going then, unless you have any objection to a little old woman going home to rest.”
Arnold nodded absently, “I don’t think anyone will complain.”
“GOOD!” she shouted as she walked away. “FIVE A.M.!”