33. What To Do with Pink?

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I pretended not to notice Ella crying herself to sleep that night. But I noticed. Oh yes, I noticed all right.

My dreams were full of evil lords with oversized ears trying to snatch my little sister away from me, and choke her under a mountain of flowers. For the umpteenth time I regretted that I, as a girl, didn't have the same rights as a man. If I had, I would have learned how to handle a weapon long ago, and then I could just go to Wilkins and challenge him to a duel.

One bullet right between the eyes. That would do the trick!

As things stood, though the only thing I could do was get to work. Despite my worry for my sister and my determination to figure something out to help her, I had to admit I was also curious as to whether Simmons' night in the cellar had yielded any results.

Oh yes, you are. And you're even more curious whether one of these results is Simmons' ice-cold, mutilated corpse, aren't you?

I shook my head. Mr Ambrose would never do something like that!

Well... probably.

Before I left, I sneaked over to Ella's bedside and wiped the remaining tears from her cheeks as best I could without waking her. It would do no good for my aunt to see them. Although she was probably delusional enough to imagine them to be tears of joy, I was sure Ella had rather not let them be seen. Finished with my demoisturization, I stroked my little sister's cheek one final time affectionately, and then hurried down the stairs and out the back. It was time to get going, or Mr Ambrose would skin me alive!

At Empire House, Sallow-face let me pass upstairs without comment. I couldn't supress a tiny, triumphant smile.

Yay! He had accepted me. I only hoped Mr Ambrose had done the same, and not decided to change his mind.

Exchanging friendly nods, I passed Mr Stone in the upper hallway and entered my office. I had hardly sat down at my desk, when, with a little 'plink', a message plopped out of the pneumatic tube.

Oh dear... Here we go.

Mr Linton,

I have been waiting for you for hours. Where have you been? I do not tolerate tardiness, as I believe I have told you before.

Rikkard Ambrose.

What the heck...? Late? I could have sworn that I arrived on the dot!

Rising from my chair along with my temper, I looked around the room – but Mr Ambrose was too stingy to even buy a clock for his secretary's office, and I still didn't have a watch. So I marched to the door and flung it open.

"Excuse me, Mr Stone, what time is it?"

A bit startled, he looked up from his papers, and, being confronted with an angry fury in baggy striped trousers, hurriedly fished his watch out of his pocket. "Eight am exactly, Mr Linton. Um... Why?"

"Nothing! Thanks."

"Oh, Mr Linton, wait!" He held out a hand with a couple of envelopes. "I almost forgot to give you these. The correspondence of the day."

"Thanks again."

Grabbing the letters out of his hand, I marched back to my desk like the wrathful angel of justice, and snatched up pen and paper to scribble furiously:

My dear and most beloved Master,

It is exactly eight o'clock, the time I usually arrive at your palatial office, which, by the way, doesn't even have clocks in its rooms

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