19. The Discovery

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The next day I noticed that I was quite distracted by Ella's troubles. Do you want to know how I noticed? It wasn't that I forgot to go to work, oh no. I forgot to change before going to work and almost walked up to Mr Stone's desk in a long dress and hoopskirt, announcing myself as "Mr Linton".

That would have been a real scandal for Mr Ambrose to worry about!

I noticed my wrong attire just in time and had to hurry back and change in a wild frenzy. By the time I had run back to Empire House, it was already nine o'clock. I hurried up the stairs and into my office, only giving Mr Stone a brief nod in passing. My desperate lungs lacked the air for a proper greeting. Wheezing, I collapsed onto my chair and let my head fall onto the table.

Just then, a message container flew out of the tube with a quiet 'plink'. With the one hand I felt capable of moving I picked it up, opened it and unrolled the message. My eyes focused on the words:

Mr Linton

You are 1 Minute and 37 Seconds late. If that occurs again, you can consider yourself dismissed.

Rikkard Ambrose

This chap really knew how to give you a warm welcome. For a moment I considered telling him about my sister's romantic troubles to make an excuse. But then I decided against it. It would be like trying to explain dancing the polka to a rock in the desert. He just wouldn't get it.

Next I considered going over there and skinning him alive. But that might not be so great an idea either. First of all, it might get me sacked. Secondly, I couldn't muster the energy to get up. And thirdly, the blasted door was still locked anyway!

A 'plink' announced the arrival of the next message.

It appeared that I had to get up, whether I had the energy or not! The message read:

Mr Linton,

Fetch file S39XX300

Rikkard Ambrose.

Spiffing! Simply Spiffing! Here we go again. Rising, I started towards the rows of shelves. But then I hesitated.

Wait just a moment... file S39XX300?

I frowned. The numbering systems for the files didn't start with letters, did it? It always started with numbers proclaiming the years of the file's origin. The 39 in the name probably stood for 1839, this very year, but 'S'? What did that stand for? Snoop? Saucy? Silly?

I went looking under 39, because I didn't know what else to do. Ten minutes later, I had three open boxes standing before me and a volcano rumbling somewhere inside me.

Dear Mr Ambrose

There is no file S39XX300. I cannot find it.

Yours sincerely

Miss Lilly Linton

The reply came immediately.

Mr Linton,

There IS a file S39XX300 Have you looked in the safe?

Rikkard Ambrose.

What the heck?

Dearest Mr Ambrose,

I did not know there was a safe here. Might I inquire why you neglected to tell me this?

Yours always

Miss Lilly Linton

Angrily I shoved the message into the tube and waited. Only half a minute later, a 'plink' announced the answer.

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