After chores, Alex was waiting for us. She was pretty worried about what needed to be done today. She wanted us to spy on the post office for Mr. Sandman to arrive. But she wanted us to be careful and be as far away as possible. I nodded furiously in agreement. If this person was as dangerous as she and Elizabeth suggested, I didn’t want anywhere near him. She mentioned some tables near the main entrance to Silverglade, and I was a little skeptical that they would be far away, but well… She knew this place better than I did.
We rode back to Silverglade, this time on the horses, and left them standing nearby. Evening was in such a good mood, he actually stayed close to Savvy’s Heart instead of siding away like he normally would. I slid into a nearby chair with a sigh. There were three chairs to the table, and since it was just Savvy and I, I had no problem stretching my sore knee across the empty one. We ordered some hot drinks, tea for me and cocoa for Savvy, and settled in to wait.
Looking through the binoculars, we had several false hopes before a strange man came into view. Savvy immediately handed me the specs and picture to take a look. I didn’t have to do more than take a quick glance to confirm that it was our target. That jaw line was rather unmistakeable. I quickly handed the specs back to Savvy, insisting that she look for herself.
And then it clicked. It was the same man. I don’t mean that it was him, just older like the baroness. I mean the exact same man, diary. Not a wrinkle or gray hair to be seen. I shuddered, feeling cold all of a sudden.
Savvy made like she was going to show me something on her phone. I didn’t know what could be important, but I obliged. But she was actually snapping a picture of him! She’s so clever, much better at this spying business than I was.
By then, Mr. Sands or Mr. Sandman, whatever you wanted to call him, was fetching his mail from Derek and going about his business. We finished our drinks in silence, I think both of us surprised by what we’d seen. But even tea wasn’t doing anything to sooth the unnerved feeling I’d been given. On our way back, Savvy had to stop and talk to Derek. I didn’t argue, instead just meandering around again. A second look at the nearby shop perked Evening’s interest, but I was too worried to focus on what exactly it was.
All the way back to the winery, I tried to think of ways that explained how Mr. Sands hadn’t changed. Plastic surgery perhaps, and hair dye? But that didn’t seem right either, at least to me. Maybe this was another son, I mean, the baroness hadn’t been exactly forthcoming on how many children she had.
The baroness and Godfrey had returned, but we went to Alex first. Savvy showed her the picture, and everyone seemed to quickly agree that it was time to confront the baroness. I nodded along, until they started saying I needed to be the one to do it!
Me! The shy, awkward one! Tell the baroness that we thought she was up to no good! I tried to protest, I did. But they said I knew nobility, they said I would know how to say it without getting her feathers all shook up. And you know how I am with pressure, diary. Of course I gave in. But I managed to buy a little time to figure out what to say. Maybe if I managed to corner her quickly, she wouldn’t turn the ropes on me like Sabine did… (And now I’m mixing my metaphors, oh dear.)
Savvy gave me a minute when I asked to get my words settled, and I thought I knew what to say. I basically gave carrots even as I used the stick to point out everything we knew and why it was wrong to keep Linda locked up, but surely this was all a misunderstanding.
She started off defensively, about the stress from G.E.D. and the hard winter, but at last the old dear confessed. Apparently on one bad weather day, she’d sent Linda to help clean the attic where she’d stumbled across a wedding picture of the Baroness and Mr. Sands. Despite all his pseudonyms, apparently he was easily recognized by Linda. Had she been involved in the same incident as Alex? Once confront, the baroness had panicked and locked Linda away in the castle.
Understandably, the baroness was quite fretful over her reputation, and wasn’t acting rationally. She also was quite upset since she had noticed the same thing Savvy and I had. Mr. Sands had gained some sort of immortality. (So much for him being another son, drat it all.) I honestly wasn’t sure what to make of this. Immortality was supposed to be this thing of myths and legends, something sought after by heroes and knights and deluded men. Ghosts, magic, immortality… I wasn’t liking this. I still don’t like this. I don’t like it at all…
And apparently Sabine had some sort of psychic power on top of it all. The baroness described a sort of darkness over her mind, ever sense the girl arrived. That was disturbing, especially since I had been the one to talk to her! I shuddered and didn’t want to think too hard about it. She was gone, and hopefully I could avoid her from now on.
Thank goodness, Alex took over at that point for the harsh bargaining. In exchange for keeping this all hush-hush, we would be allies with the baroness against G.E.D. and Dark Core (which really, we were going to do anyway, so it seemed underhanded to promise that to me). Justin’s rescue was also a priority, though it seemed like everyone was trying to keep something from him. I wonder what all the fuss about him is?
With everything squared away, the baroness gave us the key to the castle to let Linda out at last. Or rather, sent us to Godfrey to get the key (since nobility shouldn’t jingle, as I’ve heard before). He’d kept it in his shoe of all places! How strange this place was sometimes…
We raced to the castle gates, and I quickly handed the key off to Alex. Her hands were shaking as she unlocked the door. Linda was waiting inside, as if she knew we were coming to let her out, and Alex immediately pulled her into a hug. Both girls were teary in happiness, and I had to reach into my pant pocket for a handkerchief to catch my tears before they wrecked my make-up.
Linda’s things were returned to her, and we started explaining how we found her. I complimented her choice of book pages, since that was a rather brilliant move. Linda started plying us with questions, so we went back to the village for chatting. Alex found another chair for the table we’d sat at to spy on Mr. Sands, and we all sat around the table together. Savvy and Linda managed to get muffins out of Harold, and we told her about everything we’d been up to since our arrival at Moorland.
She knew all about Mr. Sands, which confirmed in my mind at least that she’d had some sort of interaction with him herself. I wonder what had happened. Whatever it was, it had to be recent. Hopefully Nikki would turn up something in those books of hers.
Linda called it our adventure, which made me really quite certain I don’t like adventures. Alex then said the next step was to find two other girls, Anne and Lisa, who were the remaining members of some team that she and Linda were on. And she wanted us to help her. I was a little unsure, quite insistent that we hadn’t done that much. Savvy seemed more put out.
I was still feeling guilty over my part in Justin disappearing. And I don’t think either of us could go back to being normal campers again. Savvy… She was showing the same signs of being like me. Talking to horses couldn’t be normal. And there was still all the strangeness with the stones yesterday. I needed answers.
We both agreed to continue helping.
After our snack, Alex, Savvy, and I headed back to the winery. Linda chose to stay in Silverglade for the time being. I wasn’t sure why we went back once we’d gotten there. It was early in the day and we hadn’t much to do. But then Judy told us Claire texted and wondered if we were on our way. Apparently there was a list of little errands around the island that needed done. I had no problem with it, but Savvy was quite firm on us doing it as leisurely as possible. And then she had the idea of having a pizza party with Nikki and Alex at Harold’s place.
Alex laughed, but agreed and promised to drag Linda along. I had Nikki’s phone number, so I sent her a text telling her the plan. She replied pretty quickly that she was on board if it meant getting out of that musty library. (I pouted a little at that, and Savvy looked affronted too. I like libraries…) We had things set up for a lovely little gathering.
But as we were doing the various chores and errands, I started getting a little more anxious. I didn’t spend much time with girls my age. What did they do? I mean, I didn’t talk or gossip much, so I would be dull there. There wasn’t any kind of gathering place at the winery for us to check for games or such, not that I was sure Harold would appreciate us bringing a board game into his bakery. I didn’t want to be the downer of the group, but I just wasn’t sure what to do! My anxiousness set the horses off. Evening was rather snippy (or, snippier than normal) if another horse got too close to me, and I could see Savvy’s Heart fretting over her.
We stopped back at our room before we left for Silverglade to freshen up and wait for Nikki to return. I finally started to complete the unpacking of my trunk. I’d just been taking out pieces as I had needed them, and I was going to keep using it for storage, but I wanted things organized, for pity’s sake! And that was more effort than it sounded, with them constantly giving us clothing and such that were of questionable taste.
I was sorting out the collection of little things at the bottom (my beach bag was in there, making me quite relieved), and then I opened the top of the trunk to check it. It fell open, revealing that tucked inside was a purple and silver hat box, part of a set I had back home. I took it out and closed my trunk, setting the hat box on top. Opening it revealed my big, floppy white hat that I wore to the beaches to keep from burning, the one with the purple ribbon band and long tail ribbons? I was happy to see it too, but I was surprised by what I found hiding inside.