Chapter Seventeen

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I slept very little that night. My brain kept repeating passages I'd read in that bloody book, and what was worse, I couldn't stop thinking about the punishment Marigold had endured, simply for inviting me to the Sutton home for lunch.

I had to say something to her. I had to apologize, somehow, though she never spoke to me now, not even when work required me to speak to her. She always very politely nodded, and her eyes begged me to excuse her. She would fetch whatever I asked for then went about her work on the other side of the store in the Ladies' department.

I made a point to buy some paper and a few pencils at the end of my shift the next day, then I sat in my room struggling to find the proper words to say to her. Something that couldn't get her into more trouble if it were found...though I realized any notes from me at all would likely warrant punishment from her father if he found out. I believed by this point, though, just about anything she did warranted punishment, simply because she existed.

I sat at the small table in the corner of the room and moved the candle closer to the paper so I could better see what I was writing.

Miss Sutton,

I was very troubled to learn of the problems that my short visit caused you. I wish I could have stood in your place.

Please accept my apologies, for everything.

Sincerely,

Keigan Wainwright

I closed the envelope with a blob of wax from the candle, hoping it would hold. As I had nothing to use as a seal on it, I just let it sit until it cooled, a small round circle on the thin, pale paper.

How would I manage to get it to her?

And how would I manage to get enough time with Best to ask him about Jasper, and what the town thought had happened to him?

Best had begun working extra hours, and we'd missed each other the past few mealtimes. I had the distinct impression he was avoiding me.

Tonight, somehow, I would have to find some answers.

***

I waited for the sound of Best's key in the lock, and I immediately approached him.

"Do you know anything about the disappearance of a man called Jasper?" I asked, before he even had the chance to remove his coat.

He responded by taking a slow step forward and sitting down in the nearest chair.

"Where did you hear about Jasper? No, don't tell me, I don't want to know."

"Who was he? What happened to him?" I prodded.

"I don't think I should tell you, Mr. Wainwright." He looked away, and I watched him slowly remove one glove, then the other, and throw them down onto the table in frustration.

It was the first show of any such emotion I had seen in him since I'd met him.

"Why not?"

"You know why," he replied softly.

"Because it has to do with Aurelia Belle Sutton's mysterious visitor. Doesn't it?"

He remained silent.

"So don't tell me. Just stop me if I'm wrong," I said, taking a deep breath. "Jasper was someone from Wishing Cross who tried to return on the special with J. Howard Fox."

Again, Best was silent.

"This man tried to make that return trip in November of 1861 and was never seen in Wishing Cross again."

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