What is this place?” Robert asked as he descended from the carriage.
“It’s the home of my friend.” Marjani said as she smiled up at Robert. “I knew her when we came to this country. She’s now a free woman and lives her with her husband. They make dresses. They’ll look after you until we can get you reunited with your loved ones.”
Marjani helped Adrienne and the baby out of the carriage.
“What should I do with the carriage and horses?” Robert asked.
“I’ll take care of that in a few ticks of the clock,” Marjani said. “Come with me.”
Adrienne and Robert followed Marjani around the back of the building and into a messy courtyard which was littered with dress forms and mannequins. Adrienne soothed the baby who began to fuss, wondering why he was again being brought out into the cold.
Marjani knocked on a thick wooden door and was greeted by a plump woman with a cheerful face.
“Marjani!” The woman chortled. “What you doin’ here, Love.”
“Mama Routhe,” Marjani smiled. “I come here lookin’ for shelter with these fine folk.”
“Come in!” The woman said gleefully. “All are welcome here!”
Meanwhile, Cecil and Mr. Punch walked into their borrowed house on Royal Street. Cecil threw himself into a chair in the parlor.
Meridian hurried in as she heard the men’s voices.
“What’s happened?” Meridian asked nervously. “Where are the others, Sir?”
“Dunno.” Mr. Punch sighed. “They took me nephew and ran off—had to do it, they did, to get away from Edward Cage.”
“Oh, I’m terrible sorry.” Meridian frowned sympathetically. “They’ll find their way back to ya.”
“I know,” Mr. Punch nodded. “I just hope they can do it soon.”
“How’s my son?” Cecil asked.
“Sleepin’ like an angel,” Meridian smiled. “As is Columbia. Gamilla’s up and about and feelin’ better. She’ll be back to her old self in no time.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” Mr. Punch answered. “Any sign of Charles?”
“No, Sir.” Meridian frowned again. “I thought he’d be back by now, but I don’t know where he’s gone to.”
“No telling,” Cecil grumbled. “I knew that man would be nothing but trouble.”
“You two men must be starved. Let me bring ya somethin’.” Meridian offered.
“Just some whiskey for me.” Cecil grunted.
“Mr. Halifax, you’re gonna have to eat something.” Meridian began, but stopped herself when Cecil’s eyes flashed with anger.
“As you wish, Sir,” Meridian nodded quickly. “Mr. Punch, I got some fine sausage and biscuits. Would ya like that?”
“I would.” Punch nodded.
The clicking of little nails on the wooden floor made Mr. Punch smile as Toby appeared in the archway, wagging his tail. The dog ran up to Mr. Punch and put his paws on the man’s knees. Punch bent down to stroke the dog. “Hullo, Chum. I missed you, I have.” He picked up the dog and cuddled it.
“I’ll be back in a minute,” Meridian smiled.
“No hurry,” Cecil growled. “I don’t think we’re going anywhere.”
“Now what?” Punch asked after Meridian left. He settled onto the sofa with the dog.
“Now, we wait, I suppose.” Cecil sighed. “I’ve never been good at waiting.”
“Me neither.” Mr. Punch shook his head. “Surely, they’re gonna send word where they are.”
“I hope so.” Cecil grumbled. “If they can.”
“At least we got some peace and quiet—even if it’s just for a short spell.” Mr. Punch said, a hint of hope creeping into his voice.
“Yes, yes.” Cecil answered.
Unbeknownst to them, two pairs of eyes peered at them through the window of the parlor.
“Who are they?” Gerard whispered from outside the house.
“That’s my brother-in-law,” Arthur smiled. “Won’t he be glad to see me?”
Did you miss Chapters 1-235? If so, you can read them here.