Chapter 4, part 2

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"I'm sorry, Violet," Jack said. "I wanted to begin training today."

"Never mind." Another daring plan had already begun to form. I was desperate enough to carry it out too, despite the fear almost overriding my determination. Almost, but not quite.

"Just be sure not to have an episode in my absence. Or try to escape."

"I'll try not to, but alas I may not be able to control myself."

There was that twist of his mouth again, that almost smile. "Syl, will you be all right?"

"Of course."

"Tommy is here if you need anything."

I would have asked what he meant by that, but he excused himself and left. So I asked Sylvia instead. "Why did he mention Tommy?"

"I couldn't say."

"Is your footman going to restrain me if I try to leave?"

"Of course not."

I finished my breakfast and when I got up, she quickly rose too, toppling her embroidery hoop to the floor.

"I only wish to look out the window," I said. She sat again, her relief obvious.

I stood by the bay window and watched Jack ride down the drive on horseback. He was unaccompanied, which I thought a little unwise until I remembered he could set a man on fire if he found himself in trouble. He turned back suddenly as if he realized I'd been watching, and our gazes locked. He lifted his hand, and I thought he was about to wave, then he gathered up the reins again and turned away. The horse broke into a gallop and Jack was soon gone from sight.

Now all I had to do was avoid Tommy and I would be free.

I waited until he had removed my breakfast dishes and been gone for some time before yawning. Sylvia didn't notice, so intent was she on her sewing. I yawned again and stretched.

"Still tired?" she said, looking up.

"I think I'll retreat to my room for a rest."

"Of course. I'll wake you for luncheon."

"I hope you don't mind, but I won't be joining you. Breakfast was quite sufficient to see me through the rest of the day."

Sylvia's face fell a little. "Oh. It'll just be me then."

I almost felt sorry for her, but her loneliness was not my concern. I left her and headed toward the staircase. Instead of going up, however, I walked straight past and through an arch that led to a short corridor and a number of closed doors. I bypassed those and headed along another corridor before reaching what appeared to be a door leading outside.

I glanced behind me. All silent. No one followed. I pushed the door open and found myself in an empty, graveled courtyard bordered on three sides by the house. I paused. Listened. Still nothing.

I half walked, half ran across the courtyard, looking left and right and back over my shoulder. The wind battered at my skirt and made a mockery of my attempt at arranging my own hair. By the time I'd exited the courtyard, my hair had broken free of its pins and whipped across my face as I glanced this way and that.

The benefit to finding myself at the rear of the house was that there was a wood nearby. Parks and formal gardens provided a pretty vista from the front and eastern side of Frakingham, but those open spaces weren't of much benefit for an escapee.

There was a graveled road and small grassy patch to cross before I entered the safety of the trees. I checked once more behind me, then lifted my skirts and ran.

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