Chapter Thirteen: Mrs Cavendish

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Hari took his work seriously. He was easy-going compared to his partner, the blonde girl from the beach who had taken out the horn-blower who woke Ligeia. Her name was Abigail Stoker, and she was assigned to chauffeur me to "the specialist" on Saturday afternoon. Abigail was eighteen or nineteen. She had hair like golden silk and skin like an apricot rose. She never seemed to crack a smile.

Abigail made me sit in the back and said barely more than a dozen words for most of the hour-and-a-half drive. I was mostly okay with that. I needed time to think about what I'd say to Éven if I ever saw him again. Could I challenge him for answers, or should I wait for him to offer some? Should I believe he was involved in the events at Belas Knap, or give him the benefit of the doubt?

We drove past a train station, and I saw we were entering Greenwich in South East London—the centre of the world.

That's not just the view of the elites rich enough to live in the town's park-side Georgian townhouses; it's a fact established by astronomers at the observatory that looks over the town from a high hill.

Greenwich sits at exactly zero longitude. That makes it the point from which all distances are measured, and from which all time zones are set. It is literally the centre of space and time on Earth. For centuries, explorers, merchants, privateers and pirates from as far afield as the West Indies to the Arctic Circle regarded quiet, leafy Greenwich as their touchstone, although most of them never saw it.

"The specialist lives around here?" I asked.

Abigail grunted.

"What does he do?"

"She," said Abigail pointedly.

"What does she do?"

"You'll find out when you get there."

That line of enquiry didn't get me very far, so I tried something else.

"How did you get recruited to Horseshoe?" I asked.

"Army," said Abigail.

"You signed up?"

Abigail nodded.

"And got reassigned to this?"

Abigail waved a thanks to a driver who let her go ahead around a corner. She ignored my question.

"Are you half fey, like Private Sharma?" I asked.

She shot me a deathly glance in the rear-view mirror, and I could tell from the curl of her lips that this was not a question she was going to answer.

I decided not to ask any more questions, and just looked out of the window.

I had been to Greenwich once before. The riverfront is dominated by the stark white buildings of the Old Royal Naval College, which used to be a sailors' hospital. Before that there was a royal palace on the same grounds. Now the site includes the National Maritime Museum, which is a very special place for me. The museum is the last place Dad took me before he died.

I've never been back.

Abigail turned down a picturesque street, with the red brick walls of the park to our left and a row of handsome houses to our right, and I saw the white museum buildings up ahead.

"Is that where we're going?" I asked. "The museum? The naval college?"

Abigail shook her head. I relaxed. I had good memories of the museum. I remembered examining hundreds of model ships with Dad, and collections of old flags and extraordinary ornamental figureheads, and thinking I was in the most magical place in the world. I didn't want to replace those old memories with new ones. I especially didn't want to go there with the Horseshoe Men, to get interrogated by a mysterious "specialist".

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