Chapter Eleven

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'What are ye gonna do Miss?' it was a question from out of the blue. She turned to find Pat sitting at the kitchen table, watching her work in the small galley.

'I'm going to make dumpling stew and then clean up the mess in the den,' she replied.

'You can't stay here forever, Snip,'

'I know,' was her small reply. She moved the large pot of water from the table to the hot stove, but it was heavier than she intended. It slipped from one hand, so she caught it against herself to keep it from falling.

'Let me help with that,' he said and stepped in to take the pot from her and placed it on the stove. 'You shouldn't be here doing this. You should be in The Tower with your family and your society friends.' He sighed a heavy sigh.

'She will kill me, Pat,' her voice smaller again.

Pat turned the stove on to heat the meal through and moved to sit beside the dark haired beauty at the kitchen table. 'You said Raena had a ledger. Why don't we find that and take it to the authorities?' He knew her rebuttal, having had this conversation before.

'She is the authorities, Pat. She has either paid everyone off or has removed them from the city. My father was the last to go.' She wiped a stray tear, then another.

'There must be something we can do. What about The White Maid? Can we use that avenue?'

'She made the editor discontinue publishing the sketches after she threatened to pull advertising revenue. She controls the press, the police and the sky-docks. There is nothing I can do,' She looked into Pat's kind and worn face. He had become like a father to her over the last few months, and without him she would probably be dead by now.

'Can't I just stay down here with you?' she implored.

'Snip.. Snow, you are the brilliant daughter of the most incredible mechanical engineer this world has ever seen. You are not meant to hide out here in the bowels of this hunk of metal. You were born to be kind and be creative and cook amazing stew.' His eyes twinkled, satisfied he'd brought a small smile to her face.

'But how, Pat? My father is being fed lies of my whereabouts, the whole city is on alert for my arrest, and goodness knows where Edison is.'

'What about your friend Hunter? Any word from him?' He raised an eyebrow in challenge.

She swallowed down the bile that threatened her throat and stood up from her seat. 'I will not talk about Hunter, he cannot be trusted.' She turned to stir the stew.

'Your last sketch for the paper was of Raena with her ledger. Hunter knows to look for it...'

'Hunter can just go and...' she paused and swallowed down a cuss word. 'Hunter betrayed me, he was the one that poisoned me and left me for dead. You saw what one bite of that apple did to me! I was sick for days.'

'Aye, Lassy, I was there, I remember. But he warned you, stopped you from eating the whole thing and told you run,' He was standing in front of her now, with his hands on his hips. 'He is your only hope.'

'I know,' she sighed, resigned to this fact and hating the whole situation.

'What if we get Nik to get word to him, tell him you are after the ledger and that you need his help.' he suggested.

As if on cue, Nik barged into the kitchen quickly, grabbed a large cloth for around his waist and pushed the wide eyed Snow under the bench beside the stove. She curled herself up into a ball, as tight as she could to keep anyone from spotting her.

'It needs more salt,' he yelled at Pat who in turn dipped a finger into the stew to taste it just as Raena's guards stomped into the room.

'I've put plenty of salt in ya brat,' and they continued to argue about the stew, the mess in the galley and whose turn it was to do the all the dishes. The guards left the quarters, but not before knocking around a few coalies and pitching a pile of clean laundry off a bench or two.

'They still looking for her?' came Tom, Hic, Book and Tee. 'Yep,' came Nik's reply as he moved the hot stew from the stove to the table and they all sat down to eat.

The conversation with Pat had left her a little raw. Snow stayed curled in a tight ball until the tears had dried up. She put a foot out and then an arm before Book, the only one who wore glasses, helped her up, and sat her beside him and Tee at the table.

'Might be a bad time to show you this then,' said Tom as he dropped a paper on the table. It didn't take long for Snow to realise he was referring to the poor imitation of a White Maid sketch. It was Hunter in chains at a seaside dock. A message for Snow: a message she understood all too well.

The Queen would have either Hunter's freedom, or hers.

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