Monday, October 6, 2014

the fotherinton inheritance, part 10

by heathcote parkman sternwall

illustrations by penmarq studios and palomine studios

chapters 65 - 71 of 156

for previous entry, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here





65. the dreamer


ternwhistle relaxed.

the pipe always relaxed him. and tonight he needed relaxation a bit more than usual.

all his cares - such as they were - all his dreams - insofar as he could be said to have any - his ambitions - which had only recently been somewhat aroused after a long hibernation - fell away.

his lean body became as relaxed as a puddle of water after an april rainstorm.

his mind floated away. to - his usual dream - of a beautiful but faceless maiden in a white (occasionally pink, but tonight, as usual, the most spotless white) sitting beside a gently flowing stream in the shadow of a distant mountain…

in his everyday life ternwhistle paid scant attention to maidens, faceless or beautiful or otherwise…

would his dream be less delightful if he were aware of madame ming watching him from the black shadows of the doorway?

*

66. interlude

when doctor wilson arrived, the cousins scattered to various hiding places, leaving only arboreta to greet him.

seated on the verandah, hartley rogers found this curious.

*

67. madame ming deliberates


madame ming had always considered ternwhistle one of her least promising customers - least promising as to being a worthwhile target of her sinister machinations, or a useful tool or foil of any kind.

a good steady customer, but one who was probably stretching his meager resources, to occasionally sample her wares.

and useless for any nefarious purpose.

but with her unerring instincts, she sensed something different about him this night - as if he had suddenly been plunged into deeper, darker waters.

she decided to wait until his next visit, see what aura he projected then, and if it still seemed promising, to gently draw him out.

the almost inaudible doorbell sounded, and she roused herself to answer it.

a gentleman the very image of the hearty englishman, clad head to toe in deepest black, awaited her, and bowed.

"good evening, doctor."

*

68. waiting game


victory is within my grasp, thought cousin garland.

she had retreated to her tiny room on the fifth floor when the doctor arrived.

if the doctor wanted to ask her any questions about grandmother's death, they knew where to find her.

but why would he? it was that dumb young man who found her.

what did he want anyway? garland wished she had had a chance to ask him some questions, but he had insisted on telling the others about grandmother and what could she say?

otherwise everything was going according to plan.

her magic had worked.

soon, rainsforth should arrive.

trusted rainsforth, now her creature.

*

69. the orphan's plea


"and that is my story, sir" the young woman concluded. "i have nothing to add. i hope you will see your way to helping me."

"it is a strange story, miss," mr barbourforth replied. "very strange in more ways than one. you will surely excuse me if i can not give you an answer right away."

"and when might you give me one? i am only a poor orphan, i can not afford to stay in this great metropolis for very long with my meager resources."

"at the risk of sounding like a stage villain, miss, i can only point out that you have come to me, i am under no obligation to you."

"oh! i had not thought you so cruel!"

*

70. a forthright declaration

reader, if any still be with us, be assured that the confusion of this tale will not be dispelled, but only magnified as we proceed.

the roots of the story of the fotherinton inheritance lie deep in the past, a past which has been largely forgotten and rightfully so.

how, then, to make more sense of it than we have?

*

71. a game of fox and hounds


"in that case, sir, i bid you good evening." the orphan rose from her chair in as dignified a manner as she could muster.

mr barbourforth nodded. "craver will show you out."

"that will not be necessary."

"suit yourself." mr barbourforth turned away and reached for his cigar case.

the orphan made her way to the landing and down the stairs to the front door as slowly as she could.

she expected mr barbourforth to have her followed and she wished to give her pursuer every opportunity to keep her in sight.

outside in the street, a light mist was falling.

the orphan took her time opening her umbrella.

there was a cab stand in the next street.

with the umbrella in one hand and the skirts of her dress and coat in the other, the orphan made her slow way to it.

but could feel no one following her.

*

chapters 72 - 78



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