The Shadow 15
They reached the inn and Marissa requested a small suite. With the keys in hand she led the way to the rooms and dumped her bag on the empty bed. She was exhausted, but they still needed to figure out what to do about Sean.
Marissa changed into her nightdress and offered the spare to Sarah.
“I haven’t bothered with things like this for so long, I hardly know how to wear them,” Sarah said wryly.
“Well there are several things you aren’t really missing, like that idiotic bustle and the obnoxious corsets,” Marissa replied with a smile. “But at least those are starting to disappear too.”
Sarah pulled the nightgown over her head and for the first time Marissa was able to get an idea of what her mother was like. She was the same height as Marissa, but her figure was much thinner.
“This must be a little disconcerting,” Sarah said a few moments later.
“A little, but I was just thinking that you are much to thin,” Marissa replied.
“I move around a lot, so I don’t have the chance to add weight to my body, but I do eat rather well. There are several excellent restaurants in this area that serve some of the best meals I have had, though they didn’t know it.”
Marissa could hear the smile in the tone of Sarah’s voice.
“I wish I could see what you looked like,” Marissa said wistfully.
“I used to look much like you do now except you have your father’s eyes and his brown hair,” Sarah explained.
“What color are yours?”
“My eyes are blue and my hair is a reddish blonde. It’s very thin though, so I’m glad you got your father’s hair. I wish I could have seen Lord Edgington before he passed.” Her tone was regretful and Marissa decided it would be best to keep quiet on the subject.
“You may have the bed in here, I will take the spare,” Marissa said respectfully.
“Thank you, Marissa, you are a true gentlewoman,” Sarah said quietly.
Marissa hung the dresses she had brought in the wardrobe and then went into the spare room. Her thoughts were whirling in her head and she didn’t quite know what direction to go. She settled down on her bed and closed her eyes when she heard a grunt and a gasp from the other room.
She scrambled out of bed and rushed into the room brandishing the stoker from the fireplace in her room. In the dim firelight she could see the nightgown thrashing on the bed and gasps coming from that direction.
“Sarah, what is it?” Marissa asked dropping the poker and rushing to the bed.
“It hurts,” Sarah moaned.
Marissa lit the lamp hastily and brought it over to the bedside table and then took a towel from the basin and dipped it in the water. In the lamp light she could see grey streaks of skin appearing just above the collar of the nightgown and where Sarah’s hands were clutching the side of the bed.
“He must have given you the antidote,” Marissa murmured.
“Can you see me?” Sarah asked bringing her hands up to her face.
She groaned again as another wave of pain swept through her body. The grey streaks turned a pale skin tone and continued spreading. Marissa wiped Sarah’s now visible brow.
“How bad is it?” Marissa asked.
“Worse than the potion. I feel like my body is going to explode and I didn’t even get the full dose. I just hope it doesn’t kill me like it did Minister Cherington,” she mutters wryly.
Marissa closed her eyes praying it wouldn’t.
Sarah experienced several other waves of pain, but they began to subside after an hour. When the last wave disappeared Marissa could see all of Sarah’s face and her left hand where the dose had been administered.
Sarah looked like an older version of herself with a few more wrinkles and some liberal streaks of grey amongst the blonde tresses. The older woman held up her hands and let out a chuckle.
“I suppose this is better than nothing,” she humphed, staring at the one completely visible hand and one with only three fingers.
“You didn’t get the whole dose,” Marissa reminded her.
“Yes and I will no longer be able to help you as the invisible watch. What are we going to do?” Sarah asked worriedly.
“I don’t know. Clearly the antidote worked, but we can’t trust that it won’t do more harm than good,” Marissa replied thoughtfully. “What did Minister Cherington look like when you found him?”
“His face was pale and contorted with pain. I’m guessing his heart couldn’t handle the pain of the full antidote. That was awful,” Sarah answered.
“The rats died too,” Marissa added, remembering the boxes John and Jarvis buried. “We will have to keep an eye on you and stay far away from Jarvis and John.”
“We need to know where Sean is?” Sarah replied.
“Everyone thinks I’m going to the country estate, when Jarvis finds out I left early he is certainly going to try and track me down.”
“He will be very angry to discover his well-laid plan was thwarted by your anxiousness to leave. I’m sure he would have way-laid the carriage on your way to the station,” Sarah said.
Marissa gasped, clapping her hand to her forehead. “The carriage! I should have remembered. I was focusing on my house staff and didn’t even think about anyone else.”
“What?” Sarah asked.
Marissa started pacing the room. “Jerry is in charge of the stables and I trust him completely. He wouldn’t have known if someone was trying to harm me and I go so many places it would be the best way to get to me. I’m an idiot,” she muttered.
“Marissa Clarence Edgington, explain yourself!” Sarah demanded, pulling Marissa to a stop.
“My carriage driver, Peter, is new. He’s only been with me for a year. Jerry hired him right after, Henry, the old driver, died. Henry had been ill for months and he was getting on in years. I put him on retirement after we almost crashed and a few days later he died. Jerry hired Peter. Said he came highly qualified and recommended. I trusted Jerry, so I didn’t ask who recommended him,” Marissa explained.
“You are incredibly accessible in that carriage. You go everywhere and all they would have to do is drive to some secluded place and knock you out,” Sarah said, with a shudder.
Marissa dropped her head in her hands. “What have they done with Sean?” Marissa cried.
“I don’t know and we have no way of finding out,” Sarah replied. “I’m sorry I put you into this mess, Marissa. I thought for certain that your life would be carefree when Jonathan claimed you as his heir, but I ruined it all.”