Zo Renfield’s Notebook
13 March, Cheyne Walk, London – I have decided to keep a record. There is no record of my grandfather’s death. Well, not one with is truthful. Factual. There is a death certificate – which I believe to be a fabrication. I have been unable to gather any information other that than sheet of paper with it’s wicked signature. Dr. John Seward. So, using this horrid notebook that Mr Carnacki’s butler, the odious Enfield had given me (the paper of which I can not stand the touch of, course and cheap, and is some disconcerting shade that somehow just borders but is not quite ivory) I have decided to keep a record – which is more than my journal entries which are or seem to me to be random thoughts which fire through my imagination as well as my cognitive abilities – and so I will try to temper my fancy and keep it as factual as I can as a record of my death. Although, there is only my estranged sister who might even care enough to want to understand events which may be leading to my death. I mean there are the Rose Men and their intelligencers – their minions among the flies – and what I suspect them to be – which needs more research on my part fo confirm else it would be written here as more evidence of my madness. Which though I know I am mad, I have begun to feel, I am perhaps like my grandfather more damned. And so – to begin again. I awoke alone in the bed which is not my bed in the bedroom that is not my bedroom – which is Mr Carnacki’s bedroom, not that it is his bedroom, but one of many in his house on Cheyne Walk – in fact is not even called a bedroom, but rather a guest room. Kiss had already arisen, earlier, as my hand placed on the side of the bed where she had lain was cold. For myself, rather than arising as I should, I found myself staring up at the crack in the ceiling. Was it there yesterday? I don’t think so. If so, how did I miss it? It was not a large crack in the plaster, but it was certainly distracting. And it was the first thing I saw. A tiny rent in the white plain of the ceiling. Not a ravine, for it was not that deep, or a crevice, and so rent is more accurate, although I think of a rent as more a tear in fabric. A tear in the ceiling perhaps? It pulled one’s attention away from the lovely cornices and covings that made up this bedroom which as I said was a guest room. And how hospital is it to have a tear in the ceiling above a guests head. I estimate the crack was no larger than an inch, slightly larger, maybe. I will have to get a ruler later and find a way to reach the ceiling in order to measure it, if I am to stay here and sleep another night – for in the darkness, although I know it is there, I can’t see it, but when I awake it will be there to distract me again. As it had this morning. For having awoken I had lain there in bed staring at it for 33 minutes and should have gotten up then, but as I was uncertain not only of its length but what had created it, for earlier the ceiling had been unblemished. I am certain of that – or I would have noticed yesterday when I awoke. And so, whether there or not, earlier, I had lain there this morning pondering not only the crack but what could have caused the crack itself – and then, there was the suspicion something might be on the other side of the crack trying to make its way into the guest room – and so, I continued to lay there for 34 minutes, which of course, by then made everything all wrong because I should have gotten up at 33 minutes instead of 34 because 3+3=6. And it is 13 March, 1916. 1+9=10, 1+6=7, 17+3rd month, March, is 20. 4×5=20. 5-4=1. 20+1= 21. 2+1=3. 3+3 = 6. And Six is my operative number. But by laying there thinking about what was on the other side of the crack – unable to put aside the overwhelming thought that a fly would slowly push a filthy leg through and begin to crawl out from the crack – I had lain in this strange gentleman’s bed contemplating the crack for 34 minutes. And so with an anxious glance at the clock, which had revealed that I had lain there past 33 minutes, I knew I had to get up quickly because if I did not begin to start setting things aright the day would be all wrong. I so need my ledger. Quickly I sat up and slid my bare legs out from beneath the bedclothes for if I were to delay by seconds it would be 35 minutes. And so I anxiously stood up – not even thinking: what if someone were to knock and rather then wait for me to bid them entrance, they just decided, it was their room and not mine, so upon their own inclination opened the door and entered to find me perversely standing there naked, because I cannot abide to sleep in a gown, which twists and tangles and constricts and feels in the middle of the night like some straight waistcoat an asylum attendant would force you to wear. My grandfather had died in a straight waistcoat. Something Kiss was entirely comfortable with when I explained it to her when we slept together – an arrangement upon which I should not but can not help but dwell. Also—besides the overwhelming feeling of confinement – I do so love the feel of fresh and perfectly ironed linen against my bare flesh – for Mildred always sees to a change of bedclothes and that the bed is made every day with freshly washed and most importantly well ironed linens. Which grows ever more worrisome for I am not certain of the routine of this house – for I had to ask Enfield, whom it is obvious I think I am coming to more and more dislike with each passing hour, to have the linen changed and his look was one of haughty appeasement for a lunatic. And the young girl, Olivia, no, Lavinia, yes, the maid, did so – but they were not fresh nor nearly so well ironed, when I had asked her to iron the wrinkled linens when she brought them up to make the change of the bed. Who does not iron their linen? Whatever the consequence – it will become ever more impossible to sleep here if they do not have staff to be able to adequately make up the bed. I am not at all sure how many servants Mr Carnacki employs – I have only seen Enfield and Lavinia the maid, and I know there is a cook. Well I have seen and tasted the culinary evidence of the cook but I have not actually seen the cook. Whereas I have Mildred and Jessie, who comes in twice a week, and Mrs Phillips the housekeeper, and Evelyn my cook who is quite often seen.
Upon arising from bed my first thought of the day, as it has become of late, was to check the window, which I stepped over to and stood to one side and parted the thin drapery in order to survey the street below. The day was not as grey as it had been. The sun was filtering through fleeing clouds. There was still the lingering snow. Mostly on the sidewalks and in patches still upon the road. Early morning pedestrians were beginning the new week. Which I should be doing – I should already be in my office behind my desk, writing in my ledger. Kiss had sent a contrivance to Mrs Ormond indicating I was unwell and would not be arriving today – but for how long are we to remain here and not be allowed to return to my office? I can not hid away forever – for they will find me. And so, I stood there watching the procession of pedestrians along the walk but I did not see any of the Rose Men in their black suits and no one with a top hat and a golden handled cane. I let the curtain slip back into place and stepped over the dressing table and studied the mirror – nothing had changed over the night. I should admit here, for the record, I am in a mirror vain, for I do like to look at myself – especially unclothed.
I also have to admit, for the record, my old rituals are well advanced upon their renewal. I picked up the brush and ran the palm of my hand over the bristles, six times, before I began to brush my hair – six strokes to the left, six to the right – and then, six to straighten the tangles below. I put the brush down and adjusted it so that it aligned with everything on the dressing table. It took me a few moments to get the symmetry correct, for the brush seemed to mock me and would fail to properly lay aligned with the small oriental box for the safe keeping of hair pins. Which I felt compelled to open and close, six times to assure everything was in order. I then knocked my knuckle on the dresser six light raps before I turned to the chair where I saw a dress had been lain out –
This was the first indication of the consequence of having lain in bed looking at the crack for 34 minutes instead of 33 – for as I turned to look at the dress lain out upon the well upholstered chair I did not recognize it. Was this my dress? It certainly did not look like my dress. The buttons were all wrong and the material as well. I picked it up and counted there were thirteen buttons, not twelve. I counted them six times. Thirteen each time. It was not my dress. I opened the wardrobe and found my dress – it was in need of an airing out, a good pressing, and the hem was soiled from the dampness of snow and sludge. And like the ceiling, I found there was s small tear. Had it been there all this time? How long had I worn it? Several days even before my meeting with her at the tea shop, and yes, certainty I could not arrive today to see her wearing it again
There was a brief knock upon the door and then Kiss’s voice, “It’s Cressida.” I told her to enter and she came in with a warm smile seeing me holding my dress.
“I went out and took the liberty of getting you a new one – as I more than assume you will be wanting to see Lady Penelope.” She told me – not telling me that my dress was no longer suitable for visiting someone like Lady Penelope.
I nodded, “Yes – “ My sentence incomplete as I was uncertain what I was about to say next, putting my dress back into the wardrobe, hiding it away, before turning to look into those lovely green eyes of hers whereupon I found the words. “I can not remain here Kiss.” Although I did not want it to sound as desperate as I felt, “I have a life no mater how filled with madness and familiarity. And I need my familiarity. This place – it is all wrong – nothing is in place. Or it is in the wrong place. There is a crack in the ceiling.” I pointed out.
“Yes. I know and I am trying to get you safely home.” Kiss said as she walked over to me and I loved the sound of the material of her dress rustling as each step drew her closer and closer.
“But is that possible? Can I ever go home? They have their agents the files and the rats even now searching, if they are not already aware I am here in this house. Waiting to dispense their judgement. For as Prometheus stole their fire I have their secrets.”
“They are not gods,” She told me as she withdrew from a pocket somewhere in her dress a revolver. “Here, take this.”
I looked at the weapon in her hand – it looked like the one she carried, “No—I can’t leave you without a defence other than roses.”
She smiled that smile that rushes my heart, “This is for you, I have my own. I also have someone I want to accompany you as well – I know there are things you want to do, need to do today. And I have some more research of my own to do. Plus, I want to meet with Carnacki.”
“You have heard from him”
“Yes—I have arranged to meet him.” She said and put the revolver in my hand and then closed hers around mine, “There are silver bullet’s already loaded. You can shoot?”
I nodded in that I had used a pistol before.
“Good, then aim for the forehead.” She told me in all seriousness. “Now hurry and get dressed and come down to breakfast and I will introduce you to Mr Mellilow.”
And I did. The dress she had selected other than the troublesome thirteen buttons fit perfectly – and I found she had also gotten me a pair of long white stockings, which pulled way up high upon the thigh to keep me warm as she knew I felt chill most of the time – and though the snow had subsided the sun fighting the clouds was not expected the warm the day. So I headed down to the dining room where I found Kiss was standing at the tall window holding a tea cup and saucer, as she had her back to me, studying I gathered the environs beyond the house. At the dining table there sat a rather burly looking gentleman with a cup of coffee – no saucer. He was dressed in a suit that was the worst for wear, the coat cuffs slightly frayed at the edges. Two buttons missing leaving only one so the symmetry of three was disrupted. He his hair was short; cut low so as to help disguise the fact he was balding. His eyes were an odd shade of blue, ever light blue. The burliness was on the border of gruff – he had the look of the street about him. He wore his woollen gloves at the table. He did wear a tie or collar of any sort, but rather a scarf about his throat. He looked up from The Times.
“Zo, this is Milton Millilow.” Kiss said turning from the window to give me a reassuring smile.” He will accompany you today.”
“Miss.” He replied – which was to be the only thing he was to say to me during the remainder of the day. Not that this was the only time he spoke, but upon what would have been the other four occasions had I not asked a question in order to make it five so as to have him say it six times that day, all he said was: “Miss.”
There was no mistake he was a criminal. I knew that straightaway. But apparently owing to our circumstances, it would appear Kiss only trusted my safety into the hands of a criminal. I gave him a nod – and though there was an unmistakable air of intimidation about him – but oddly I fund it was comforting.
After a quick breakfast I said good-bye to Kiss. I worried for her – although I had Mr Millilow at my side, Kiss I was more than certain was going alone, well, accompanied by her Browning but I had seen how ineffective that had been in my office.
Outside I found a cab a-waiting. We made only one stop along the way and Mr Mellilow, at my side, gave the proprietor cause to watch him warily for Mr Mellilow does seem rather imposing in his long worn coat, scuffed boots, and of course those intense and far too light blue, eyes.
Once more back in our motor cab, I gave the driver the address: 47 Onslow Square. I sat back and watched the city pass and it was not long before we pulled to halt. I got out and Mr Mellilow stepped out from the other side of the cab and walked around it to step up on the sidewalk. He handed me the long box and then pulled his great coat about himself against the cold, as he stood beside the cab and gave me a nod.
I walked quickly up to the front door and lifted the brass knocker to let it rap – and I knew as I did, six times was far too many, but I could not help myself. I stood before the door feeling very awkward. I glanced back at the cab and Mr Mellilow. If not for him standing there, had I paid the driver to wait – I strongly suspected he would have driven off as soon as I entered Lady Penelope’s home.
She shifts the weight of the long box against her arm as she lifts the door knocker and lets it fall, once, twice, thrice. I felt so awkward standing there with the long box – but more so in what I was going to ask – for the documents and ledger I had given her only a day before. Lady Penelope was going to think me mad — but, then, I am, aren’t I. And as sweet as she is to try and avoid the obvious, Lady Penelope knew.
I adjusted the dress once more. Turned and looked back at the stout Mr Millilow standing beside the motor cab. He kept a hand in a jacket pocket – was he carrying a revolver as well. Of course he must – he was a criminal – that was as I said more than obvious. Just look at him standing there on the sidewalk . . .
The door suddenly opened to reveal the tall, slender, and most overwhelmingly supercilious of butlers. His disdain of me was obvious. ‘The Mad Woman.’ I looked at him aware that I knew his name only I immediately found I could not call it to mind – although, I recalled the name of Mr Aaron Horton, a former school teacher I had once had, in league with the Devil I had imagined – not Lady Penelope’s butler, well maybe he might, but the former school teacher, whom the Butler reminded me of – mathematics, yes, he taught mathematics as I remember—had a foul disposition and secret lecherous eye.
“Yes, Good Morning, I am Zo Renfield, I wish to speak with Lady Penelope.” I told him, even though I was well aware he knew who I was for behind that impassive countenance of his he was considerably dismayed to find me at the door. I was well aware of the lift of his brow in a barely concealed annoyance. “Haines.” His name suddenly came to mind.
Haines held the lift of that haughty brow and looked at me intensely, which did nothing to dispel my anxiety – and for a brief moment I longed to have Mr Millilow there beside me in order to see who in this obvious display of disdain would win a competition of harsh looks.
“Of course Miss Renfield.” He replied and stepped aside, no longer barring the threshold of the door to allow me entrance into the vestibule.
I stepped rather quickly, so as to not only step slightly away from him but to find comfort within the warmth of the house, “Thank you,” I said while doing a bit of a juggle with my purse and the long box I was holding – in order to open my purse and remove my card, which I should have thought to do before knocking on the front door.
“Seems a nice morning," I said, handing the ivory card over to him. “It has been a nice morning — hasn’t it?”
He raises that eyebrow once more in response to my attempt to engage in conversation even as he closes the door, ever watchful of Mr Millliow standing impassively beside the motor cab, which remained waiting at the curb.
The Wise’s home as always seems a model of perfect. Everything is in place, symmetrical. The hardwood floors, the stairs, bannisters, all gleamingly polished, Even in the umbrella stand, the umbrellas all seem to be evenly arranged – as if the space between has been ruled off and double checked. Most importantly, I am certain I have not seen any flies.
“Please wait here.” He pronounced as he glanced at my card and turned smartly to stride towards the parlour, where from somewhere, almost magically, he produced a small silver tray upon which he placed my calling card and then very gently knocked upon the door.
I as able to hear the faint voice of Lady Penelope, “Yes Haines?" she inquired, even before he opened the door and entered – careful to close the door behind him, so as to leave me alone in the lonely vestibule. Where I am sure when he passed over by calling card he told her: “It is Miss Renfield, Lady Penelope. She is looking a bit, if I may say so, a bit too hastily put together. No doubt the madness is upon her.”
“Hasty put together?” I image Lady Penelope, siting quite regally in a chair by the window where she’s been idly turning the pages of a fashion magazine. “How so?”
“Her dress, madam. It seems – incorrect. The buttons. There are thirteen of them and not twelve. Her hat but barely held by it’s pin; and she is carrying some rather oblong box. No telling what it contains – shall I have the nanny assure the safety of Miss Katherine?”
I have placed the box on the round table that occupies the centre of the vestibule, which rested in perfect alignment with the edges of a most expensive Persian rug. I slowly began to remove my gloves as I continued to survey of the room when suddenly the butler opened the door, giving me a start, as he returned. I quickly slipped my gloves into my coat pocket.
His demeanour seemed somewhat amiable now. “My apologies for the wait Miss Renfield.” He held out a hand. “Your coat?”
I removed it and handed it over to him as he stood waiting to allow me to unpin my hat, which I gave to him as well. I felt his eyes immediately upon the dress: “The buttons are not right, I know." I could not refrain from telling him.
He raised a quizzical brow at the comment, but being of course the perfect servant said nothing. Rather he stepped over to the coat closet and hung up my coat and hat. And then, taking a few steps toward the door from which he had exited only moments before, he motioned for me to advance, “Right this way, Miss Renfield.”
I picked up the oblong box from the centre table and moved as directed toward the open door of the parlour, whereupon he announced me: “Miss Zo Renfield.”
Across the lovely room Lady Penelope rose from the settee, putting aside the Vogue magazine she had been reading. “Thank you Haines."
The butler gave a curt bow.
With her sweet, amiable smile Lady Penelope spoke in that soft, soothing voice, of hers, “Good morning Zo. This is quite the pleasant surprise."
Whereupon I was well aware I moved much too quickly across the room in approaching her, even as I tired to will myself to take a breath, to allow the comfort of her voice to ease my anxiety, “Oh yes, it is a good morning isn’t it. I mean, it has been. Hasn’t it? Been a good morning? And last night? Was it a good night as well?"
“Oh yes quite." She motions to a chair. "Haines. Some tea I think would be in order.”
“Yes my ladyship.” Haines gave another curt bow and did one of those starched-shirted about faces before he departed the room, closing the door behind him.
The room is tidy. The only thing out of place is a book set upon the side table. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s, The Secret Garden
I felt uncomfortable and awkward in the dress – not only for the incorrect number of buttons, but the style was far too fashionable. Kiss would look lovely whereas I am unaccustomed to trying to show off my figure. Lady Penelope, being kind, complimented me on the dress. I smile and hand her the oblong box, “For you, a little something."
“Oh my. Thank you my dear, this is indeed quite a surprise.” And she waited for me to sit in the chair she had motioned toward before returning to her seat on the settee, where she began to gently open the box. Removing he oblong lid, she found within two dozen long stem wild roses wrapped with thin paper.
I can not help trying to determine if she is aware of the significance of the roses – what protection their thorns bring. As I could sense Lady Penelope seemed to be somewhat taken aback upon the sight of the crimson petals. “Goodness this is a surprise. Thank you.” She said in a voice well measured as she carefully looked over the flowers and set them down in their box upon the table. “This will go lovely by the windowsill I think.”
There was a light rap at the door and then a maid entered the room with a tea trolley, which she rolled over toward us and began to pour tea from what appeared to be quite an expensive tea service.
“Oh, yes, they would.” I turned to look at the window. “But do be careful of the thorns.” I warned as I tried now to sit with my most amiable smile – glancing up to the maid, who poured one cup of tea and looked up: to meet my gaze: “You think that will protect them?” I did my best to conceal the shock of those words – uncertain as I was to whether she had even said them.
“It brightens up the room don’t you think.” I asked, “What with the cold and the snow. The Roses."
“Amelia, once you’re done, please get these a vase and set them up by the windowsill.” Lady Penelope pleasantly instructed.
“Yes Ma’am.” The maid replied and handed her cup of tea.
“Yes—I think they will look excellent in the windowsill.”
The maid having poured another cup of tea placed it on a saucer and handed it to me as I carefully took it from her hand even as her face suddenly grew malicious: “In their sleep – they will come and rip out their throats. The little girl first.”
I almost dropped the cup of tea – “Careful Amelia,” Lady Penelope said, and she looked at me with some concern. “Is there something the matter Zo?”
Something the matter? Rose Men and Flies – and their sharp teeth that bite. Of course there is something the matter – is it not obvious? Why do you think I brought you the roses? I am quite mad you see. I wanted to say. "It is just I wanted to stop by and apologise for yesterday. I-I quite imposed upon you in asking you to have Robert look all that miscellanea of documents and the ledger – which was not even properly indexed. It is all so disorganized – I can’t even believe I gave it to you in such a state –“
“Apologize?” Nonsense. He seemed quite keen to take an interest in it. He’s been under rather a lot of stress as of late, and this is just the sort of thing to take his mind off things. Did he already stop by?”
“Stop by?” I asked feeling for a moment as if the tea cup was about to slide off the saucer and tumble from my hand to fall, shattering into porcelain shards upon the floor, the dark liquid of the tea splashing at my feet. Did he already stop by? Where? My home or my office? Either way they would be waiting for him. Being Monday morning it was no doubt to my office. Where they would have clung to the sides of the lift as he ascends, their hands grasping at him, pulling him up against the open cage, teeth gnashing –
Innocently she takes a sip before replying. “Oh yes, he told me he was going to stop by your offices this morning and have a word with you about it. Went over those files all last night, didn’t come to bed until late.”
Amelia having poured the tea gave a curtsy and left the room, leaving the tea trolley behind.
“My office, you say." I sat looking at my cup of tea as if it has just suddenly materialized and then back at Lady Penelope. "But, I am not there this morning – I am . . . detained today.” I began to slightly turn the cup on the saucer, six slight rotations. “I have some research that must be — how long ago has it been since . . . he left, if I may ask?”
“At the usual hour. He left for his office at eight, he didn’t say when precisely he would make a call upon you. Only that it would be this morning." Lady Penelope looks now at me with some concern — well, more concern than she had expressed thus far for my appearance, the near mishap with my cup, the two dozen roses. “My dear, are you quite alright?"
Oh this is not at all good — if they know, and they have to know, what he has. What I foolishly have given. “Zo, what is it?”
“It is . . . Incomplete.” Which I am certain was not a lie for all the information so far contained in the dossier I had given him, I am certain there is more, so much more — having not even gathered all there is on the estate, the mansion itself, Coldfall House — the private dinner parties, the infamous fetes, concern as I was on the charitable trust. Which is entirely my fault. Being of course remiss and all together too eager. I should have been more through, but you know me, what am I if not too impetuous —and so, really In all hindsight, since we spoke I feel I shouldn’t have bothered Robert with all those documents and the ledger, not in the state they are in and so, I came by to ask if I can have them back?”
Lady Penelope looked at me ever growing uncertainty, “Well, no, I’m afraid he took it all with him. Said he wanted to get copies made. His law firm recently acquired a new device for making copies you see, and he wanted to make sure that he would have extras filed with the firm so he could return the rest if you wanted them. Which, I guess you do . . . ."
“Oh well, oh well, oh well. I guess then I will just have to see — whatever Robert may wish to speak to me about. I am so sorry for all the trouble.” I put down my untasted tea cup on the table beside me. And waved a dismissive hand to try and make light of all I had made initially a confusion, “I don’t know what I was thinking really, I mean you have so much on your mind and I read today they are calling up some more married men, or at least that is what they say in the Times, and I know you have so much to worry about. And, I should have known — better. Really. And so, you see, I was just rather fretful about how deficient it all was and so did not want Robert to concern himself with all of my nonsense not at a time like this. He needs to spend more time with Katherine. How is she? She is alright. I mean everyone had a really good night, you said.”
Oh yes Little Katherine is upstairs with the nurse right now. She didn’t mention any trouble sleeping, and she is wont to tell me about her dreams at breakfast time.” She takes a dainty sip of her tea.
I wondered what her dreams might possibly have been – what she told her mother this morning. Truth or lies, or does a little girl her age know the difference.
“Why do you ask?” She placed the cup perfectly upon the saucer. So well practiced. I have never been able to do so with such perfection.
“I’m sorry.” I could not stop the words from coming out of my mouth – I have longed so to apologize. To tell her how truly sorry I am for having placed her and her family in harms way – within sight of the Rose Men and their Flies. But, I am afraid of her reaction if I were to tell her – tell her of the lethal lawyers and their horrid sharp teeth. I am well aware I am but one mistake away from occupying a room where the attendants don’t care if you fall to your death from the short distance of your bed to the floor.
“For what?” She asked in some growing puzzlement, “Zo, what is it? I feel as if there is something troubling you – I can assure you, Robert is very interested in the documents you allowed him to review. If it’s trouble in that regard – and in particular those horrid ruffians at the tea shop – whom I spoke to Robert about – he can certainly assist you there in making sure they cease and desist . . .”
“I never meant –“ I began almost with out thinking, well, with out thinking, actually, “If anything were to happen to you – because of me and those documents.”
She gave me a reassuring smile, “Really, I appreciate the concern, but you really mustn’t worry. I mean – if you are concerned that they would be so bold as to threaten us . . . “ And she suddenly stopped for a moment, some sudden thought intruding upon her sentence, but, the shadow of whatever it was passed quickly. “But, this is something Robert and you should discuss when he comes to your office.”
The door to the parlour opened and the maid, Amelia, returned with a vase filled with water.
“My office, yes.” And for a moment I have this horrifying image of my outer office, all the desks in a row, papers terribly scattered, telephones over turned, and the floor and walls and the desktops splattered with blood. There is blood everywhere. Dripping on the walls. The bodies of all my clerks lying horribly mutilated. Mrs Ormond sitting at her desk with her throat savagely ripped open. A river of crimson running across the floor from Robert, who is lying there on the floor before her desk – bloody, his face all ripped and torn. “Have I not told you to take care?” I hear her soft voice, the one in my dreams, and turn to see her standing there –
“Yes, I will go to see him there." I said putting my cup of tea on the table near to hand and I leaned forward, “You will take care. You will be ever as watchful as they are.”
And I rose from my chair before she could contemplate what I may have said and I was not at all certain of her maid. There is a look in her eyes. Secrets. “And, so, I will not disturb your morning further. I will go and see Robert."
The maid was gingerly placing the roses into the vase – as I as furtively as I could watched to see how she would react to the thorns, which she seems able to avoid.
Lady Penelope rose as well. “My dear friend Zo. I have every confidence that I shall be safe and secure, but I thank you for your concern. Now – you take care of yourself also.”
I smiled and nodded.
“And remember, once this blasted snow is gone, we’ll get away to the country for a spell.” She offered and it was so inviting – to be away from them.
“Oh that sounds wonderful – simply wonderful. To be away from the city. The noise. From all those horrid men and their flies.”
Her smile faded slightly, “Flies?”
I suddenly felt a pang of guilt in that I may have possibly brought her lovely household to the attention of the Rose Men; but — only in madness could I speak of men with sharp fangs whom bullets would not stop yet upon whom rose thorns could inflict such cruel damage. I knew the longer I stayed the sooner I would lose control of my ability to hold back the words. “Yes, well I should go. I meant to see Robert and he is on his way to see me — and, I am not there.” I told her as I begun to move toward the door, “I am here.”
But suddenly Lady Penelope rang a bell.
I stopped. What? For a long moment I paused, before the butler opened the parlour door. "Your Ladyship?”
“Perhaps I can come back later and we can finish our tea.” I turned once more to the door, “And some of those lovely cakes.”
“Of course." Lady Penelope smiled. “Haines, Miss Renfield will need her coat.”
“Of course, your ladyship.” he said, “Begging my ladyship’s pardon. There is a sight issue.” And he glance askance at me.
“Issue?” Lady Penelope asked quizzically.
“There is a delivery man, you see.” The Butler replied as I stepped out of the parlour door into the vestibule.
“A delivery man?” Her puzzlement growing.
“Yes. Most insistent.” He explained as they followed me out of the parlour. “He arrived at the tradesman’s entrance with a delivery from Miss Renfield to which he is most insistent you should sign, your ladyship.”
Aware of the coat closet I stepped over and retrieved my coat and hat at the consternation of Haines, who hurried over in order to help me with my coat.
“Zo, you needn’t . . .” Lady Penelope began.
But having my coat on I began slipping on her gloves. “Oh, no bother, just something to brighten the day. What with all this gloomy snowy winter.”
There was the sound of the clump of heavy boots making their way up the connecting corridor.
“This will not do sir.” Haines said in an righteousness indignation, “It will not do at all. One does not clump about the house. One awaits where one has been directed.” He told the large burly man who appeared from the corridor in muddy boots and a long, much worn and oddly stained overcoat. He still wore his soft wool cap and carried two oblong white boxes
“Will or won’t do—I need the lady of the house’s signature.” He said gruffly as I pinned my hat into place.
“Zo?” Lady Penelope said seeing the two similar oblong boxes. “Really my dear you should not have gone to all this trouble.”
I smiled and stepped over to the door, wiggling my fingers into my gloves before opening the front door, “Yes — well, just trying to assure there is no trouble, no trouble at all.”
The butler cast the most disapproving and annoyed look to both the poor delivery man and myself as co-conspirators to his distress. Whereas, Lady Penelope stood at the entrance to the parlour looking rather confused.
“If you’d be so kind,” the man said handing the boxes to the butler and then handing Lady Penelope a delivery slip along with a small stub of a pencil, “Just sign here”
She did so rather bewildered.
“Right, and now, where would you want the rest of them?”
“The rest of them?” Haines inquired.
“Right, I got forty-eight more of these,” he pointed to the boxes Haines held.
I waved a hand in farewell, “Yes, a dozen on every windowsill." I wanted to tell the delivery man he needed to watch out for the maid — for I knew she had secrets. But instead I exited the front door and hurried down to Mr Mellilow and our awaiting motor cab.