Chapter Eight

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Voices pulled me from my slumber, and my eyes scanned the room, remembering where I was. Not wanting to attract attention to myself, I stayed still, but listened to the murmuring voices of two men somewhere behind me.

They must have been standing in the foyer, and I could just make out what they were saying.

"You can't be serious." I'd recognise that Irish accent anywhere. "This woman has broken into your house twice, and you want to let her go? No, I won't allow it."

"She's explained everything to me, Doyle. I believe her."

Constable Doyle scoffed. "Come on, Clay. I've known you long enough to know you don't let things go this easily. You're usually as stubborn as I am. I always thought you'd make a good Constable."

This time Nicholas scoffed. "I could never do what you do, Doyle."

"Apparently. Are you starting to go soft on me? Or is it only because a pretty lady is involved, huh?"

Nicholas responded loudly, "That has nothing to do with it!" He lowered his voice again. "I just don't believe in punishing someone for something they didn't do."

"Ha. No one cared about that thirty years ago. Seven years transportation I got."

"Exactly. Why would you want someone else to go through what you went through?"

"I'm not transporting her, Clay. She hasn't actually stolen anything... yet... so I'll probably just keep her locked up for a week or so. She'll be sharing a cell with the local drunks. She won't be tempted to break into any more houses after that."

My eyes widened.

"I really don't think that will be necessary, sir," Nicholas said, firmly. "I realise now it was just a misunderstanding. One night in the cell was enough. No further punishment is necessary."

I heard Constable Doyle grunt in annoyance, no longer trying to be quiet. "You made me come all the way out here, Clay. For nothing! The next time someone breaks into your house, don't bother calling for me." I heard him stomp towards the front door, open it and slam it shut. I stirred. There was no pretending to be asleep now.

"Oh, you're awake," the voice said behind me.

I sat up and stretched my upper body. "Was that Constable Doyle leaving?" I asked, pretending like I hadn't just heard the whole conversation. I twisted around to face him.

"Yes, it was," he said, walking into the living room.

"Why did he slam the door?"

"He wanted to take you back to town but I wouldn't allow it."

"Oh. Why would he get so upset about that?"

"Because he wanted you to spend a week in the cell."

"What?" I acted shocked.

"Yes, he can be a bit harsh sometimes. He has... issues. Are you sure you do not wish to tell Constable Doyle what happened to you? If he knew, he might not be so hard on you." I shook my head no. "Very well. I'll go get the buggy ready," he said, as he turned to leave.

"Wait!" I promptly stood. "You're taking me now?"

He turned back around to face me. "Well, yes. I have things to do, Miss. Paintings don't paint themselves."

Why did I fall asleep? I haven't thought of my next plan.

"Could you paint me something? I'd love to take one of your pieces back with me to Hobart."

He actually laughed, but I knew he was only laughing at my stupidity.

"It takes weeks to finish a painting!"

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