It was the first sunny day in weeks. I fled the house with Jasper, hoping that physical activity would keep all the questions flooding my mind at bay. Jasper did not seem to notice my distraction. He got some day old bread from the cook and we headed towards the duck pond. The sun beat down on my neck and my bombazine was stifling.
I was paying little attention to what Jasper was doing. I was still absorbed in the ever growing mystery of W-stone Manor.
“Miss, Miss Lucy. You come and feed the ducks, I’m tired of it.”
“Come on, that one will eat right out of your hand.”
The pond had a low wall that ran the length of the path. I took a handful of crumbs and bent over to offer them to the duck that was swimming towards us.
In the next instant I was in the pond. I was momentarily blinded by the green moss and dark brown water. Before I could raise my head or right myself, I felt Jasper’s full weight upon my back, pushing me farther into the filthy muck. I fought the urge to take a deep breath and instead focused my energy on getting my head out of the water. I don’t know how long I struggled, but my lungs were burning and I was convinced that at any moment, I would perish.
Suddenly I was released, and I broke the surface gasping for air. Jasper’s laughter which had been muffled under water now rang in my ears. He was gone before I could collect myself. Shaking, I hauled myself out of the pond and headed for the house. Gideon’s warning and Jasper’s laughter haunted me as I made my way back. The house was empty and silent as usual. I resolved to speak to Mrs. Kerr, I felt I no longer had any choice.
I found her going over the accounts in the study. Before I could speak she said, “You must get out of those things instantly, you’ll ruin the carpet.”
“We are all quite used to his games here and in time-”
“This was no game.”
Mrs. Kerr turned and stared at me. “I had not thought you a hysteric. Go and find something suitable in the attic.”
Mrs. Kerr returned to her ledger and it was clear I had been dismissed. It was all I could do to keep from screaming, but years in my mother’s house had taught me to bide my time. As I turned to go, Mrs. Kerr said,
“There is some mail for you in the front hall.”
My spirits rose, finally a letter from Ettie. As I picked it up, I realized I did not recognize the hand, It was an invitation from Mr. A-. He wished me to attend a gathering at his London town home tomorrow evening. It seemed to be the opportunity I had been waiting for.