Part 5

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As he'd done to pass the time most every day that he'd found peaceful and quiet, Poe sat perched upon a chair as he whittled and trimmed a block of wood.

In the days since they'd met with Pandora, he'd followed his usual rounds, while Abby seemed to have all but up and disappeared.

From his current position on the corner, he could keep an eye on traffic along Main Street and anyone who passed in and out of the bank without much effort.

With his star out, polished and clearly visible, those who passed seemed to pay him much attention other than to smile or nod as they hurried by.

No one wanted to be nearby if their sheriff was bored and looking for trouble.

Pandora had not given any indication that she'd been contacted and was still very confident that she wouldn't be. In her eyes, LaRouchette's character might have become tarnished but he'd very much remain held high in her opinion.

Every so often Poe would turn and look up the other side of the street behind him.

That was how he discovered Abby, as she casually leaned against the wall just around the corner from him. He wasn't at all surprised that she'd suddenly appeared; he was just impressed that he hadn't heard her walk up.

He found it annoyed him just a little.

"Is she ready?" Abby inquired softly, as she made every effort not to look like she was even aware of his presence nearby. From her position she could watch one way while he, in turn, now watched the other.

"As ready as she thinks she might be ..." he offered casually as he blew on the wood to clear what dust that may have stuck to it, "... any luck with your end?"

He wasn't entirely sure what she'd been up to but he was just as sure that she hadn't been idle the whole time.

The clip clop of a team of horses that pulled a large coach caused them both to look.

"Where on earth did you find that." she mused as the burgundy Abbot-Downing coach rolled to a stop behind a quartet of handsome black horses.

"In a barn near the mansion ..." Poe replied with some amusement, "... LaRouchette managed to take ownership of one and left the other behind."

Apparently he'd managed to find something that she hadn't; but she would not have been looking in any barns for what they might want.

"And the driver?" she asked as she watched the man open the door for Pandora who seemingly danced up the stairs and into the bank knowing full well that she was being watched.

"A trusted man who owed me a favor or two ..." Poe replied as they waited, "... he knows what to do and where to take her afterward and not to speak any further of it. She is, as we speak, retrieving her travel allowance in person; seemed the best way to give them an opening that they would not have let pass that easily."

Abby coughed, apparently as cover as she glanced around as she must have wondered if there were other lookouts that they might have to contend with.

"I've searched his quarters and his office at the bank without result. If they've hidden it, they've done it well." She advised him.

"You and your kind must make for grand thieves." Poe mused as he continued to whittle, pausing now and then to gently blow on the wood as he worked it.

Abby sighed. "I'm a doctor Poe, not a thief; I thought we already went over that."

"Certainly goes a long way to explain why you didn't find anything, now doesn't it." Poe replied with a straight face, which in turn caused Abby to cough again as she tried to stifle her laugh.

"Besides ..." Poe offered, "... it's possible that he carries it with him; he's always struck me as someone of the brackish sort like that."

They watched the traffic ebb and flow around them as the bank customers came and went.

"Was all that true, what you told her about LaRouchette the other day?" he finally asked.

"Sadly, yes." Abby replied after a pause. "He's a bit of a legend even amongst our kind. To get that kind of status you really have to have accomplished things that were ... above and beyond the normal. Valeria's told me quite a bit about him."

"Valeria?"

"Not all of us choose to find a way to leave our master as LaRouchette has so eloquently managed to do."

Poe sighed. "I suppose not, they probably grow on you after a while, I'm sure."

He caught her smile in the corner of his eye.

"From what she's told me the Picts, they were a nasty bunch. Fought naked tooth and nail when weapons were not readily available; both the women and the men against otherwise fully armed Romans."

"Can't see any of that going at all well for them." Poe replied as he worked the wood.

"Better than many Romans might have admitted even upon their deathbeds in good conscience ..." Abby offered with mild amusement, "... although, he supposedly knew what he was doing. The story goes that five thousand of their finest marched into the swirling mists of Caledonia never to be seen again."

She was silent for several moments as they watched the streets.

"Apparently he was allowed to leave the islands altogether afterward. The Romans were so impressed that their emperor soon ordered that a wall was to be built just to keep the Picts out simply because of what they'd done to their men."

Poe sighed and pulled his pipe out to light it. "And exactly how is it that Valeria has become so sure that he was in fact the one who did what's been attributed to him? Legends can be ... rumor more-so than fact once the dust settles and time has passed."

"Because she knows the devil that the Picts apparently turned to for help."

"That would make sense then, I suppose, if one were to believe in this devil of yours."

He puffed on his pipe as they waited.

It wasn't long and Pandora stepped out of the bank, pausing as she did so to gently pull on blue riding gloves; she even smiled for the driver as he opened the door and she climbed up in to the coach. Blue meant she'd been approached and now had something of interest.

Poe was fairly sure the former town witch would have approved of their choice in color.

"Well that settles it." he observed as he stood and turned to walk toward the mansion. "You're finished as a thief and will have to rely on whatever doctoring that you can do for a living from here on out."

Abby could only smile and shake her head as she waited a few moments before she turned to follow.

There was a game afoot and they were both now firmly in play. 

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