“I will think on it,” Baroque said, a crease between his eyebrows, his fingers curling around the stone.
“Do. Good evening to you, Mr. Baroque.” She started to walk away and paused, glancing over her shoulder at him, “Perhaps when you find the answer you’ll be so good as to share it with me?”
His eyes were already far away and he was touching one finger to his mechanical heart. She smiled and continued away at a leisurely pace, taking the back way to Clockhaven and to Marchion house. There, tucked on a shelf behind her pot of lavender was a neatly folded red hat. She ran her fingers over it with a smile and tucked it away into her pocket. She left the house and paused, looking up to Macbain’s apartment: the windows were dark, the clock just tolling one in the morning.
Phaedra lamented the sleep she wouldn’t get this calm evening.
She let herself into the bakery and crossed the wooden planks of the floor on cat’s feet to the pub-side where all was quiet. There the dim embers of the faded fire were casting a dull red glow across the room, the floor barred with the light from the streetlamps. She went first to the sofas and felt the hard disappointment of discovering her quarry missing. She made a creeping search of the pub, checking all the fireplaces and even the place where Yoyo had once hidden Dizelle away. But it was to no avail. Tenk wasn’t to be found.
She left the pub as quietly as she had entered it and stood in the street, listening to the hush of the sea in the bay, the distant sound of hooves and cart-wheels, the deep cough of a machine skipping in one of the nearby buildings. Above her the clock chimed the half-hour, reminding her how little time she had.
It was inexplicable, but in that moment Phaedra felt a longing for Yoyo tug somewhere deep within her that actually brought the faintest hint of a frown to her lips.
She hurried across the city as much as her dignity would allow and let herself into city hall and took the creaky elevator up to Tenk’s office. It too was empty, as was his forge when she checked it. She looked to the east and considered checking The Bucket, but surely even he wouldn’t be foolhardy enough to have slept there.
She took a leisurely stroll back to Clockhaven and in her home brewed herself a pot of coffee before taking a seat in front of her fire. Now nearly four it was pointless to try to sleep before she went about her pre-dawn business. She pulled the toque from her pocket and spread it across her lap, tisking as she found a gaping hole in the knit, sticking her finger through it, “Careless…” from her sewing basket she pulled a pair of scissors and searched the brim until she found the slim knot an snipped it and then, carefully, began to unravel it, knotting the yarn together loosely where it was broken so she could join it later.
When the clock struck five she set it aside, bundled herself up in her fur-lined coat and walked out along the breakwater, singing until the sun broke behind the dense fog. She stared hard down into the steely water, looking for a sign but saw none. With a weary sigh she paced back along the slick wall, lowering herself carefully back to the sidewalks. She was mildly startled to see Tenk sitting on one of the pier cleats, a smile softening the lines of his normally sharp features, his eyes glazed.
She smirked and spoke softly, “You should come for a story some time, troll, it’s been far too long.” Then she strolled away with an easy air, home to her bed, where she collapsed, not even bothering to remove her coat, pulling the blankets over her eyes.
It had been a long night.
(If you live in Clockhaven you may have heard me as I go about my evening business if you are up in the pre-dawn hours.)