"Yes," Nellie said strongly, holding her gaze with Jon's. "I'd love to join."
Everyone turned their gaze to me, as I had sat quietly, trying to absorb the news-and offer-that Jon had presented. Spies? How could it be...
"I..." I began. I would love to say yes, to inpulsively accept. It was what I had been waiting for. I looked to the door to Ed's bedroom, the muffled murmuring of Mother cooing to him. I lowered my eyes."...I believe I must think about it for a bit."
They seemed to understand, nodding silently as my mother entered the room again. "I am afraid I must be off," Jon stood from his seat. "Is there anything I may do for you before I go?"
"Leaving already?" Mother exclaimed. "It is almost evening. Please, stay for the night and depart in the morn. A few hours of rest should do you good."
"I dare shall not be a burden on you on this time-," he started.
"Do you ever sleep? You look exhausted, and I am sure your are hungry. Come, come. I insist." she urged.
The first rays of sunlight beamed over the dark horizon as I was set at Ed's bedside. That night I had not caught any sleep, and spent much of it at my brother's side. It seemed that he wasn't aware that I was there, tossing and turning feverishly in his bed. As I layed a cool cloth on his burning forehead, I could feel my heart breaking, not to hear his voice respond as I whispered to him or not to see him smile when I sung his favorite melody. The aura of death surrounded him, and his suffering pained me.
I stood from the chair I pulled close to his bed, wiping the sleep from my eyes and leaving the bedroom as silently as I could, closing the door behind me. I was surprised to find Jon seated at our table, writing. He looked up from his work, smiling through his grave eyes. "Good morning." he murmured.
"Good morning." I replied, starting some tea. "Would you like some?"
"Please," he nodded. There was silence as I arraged the hot drink, bringing a cup over to Jon before sitting opposite him.
"How is Ed?" Jon inquired.
I glanced down into my small pool of tea. "Feverish. There is no progress."
A pause settled between us as I blew at some of the hot steam swirling above the dark tea. "I have been thinking....about your idea to spy." I murmured.
"Yes?" he said pensively.
"I will join you...," I started slowly, feeling my voice becoming hoarse. "...when my brother is....." I swallowed. "....when he is buried."
Jon reached across the table and put his hand over mine. I met his eyes, and we were silent, tears developing in my eyes.
"Good morning." Mother strolled into the room. Jon snatched his hand back by his side, his face flushing deep red and I blinked back my few tears. She didn't seem to notice any of it. "Did you sleep well, Jon?"
"Yes, thank you." Jon nodded, recomposing himself.
"Have you peered in on Ed this morning?" she turned to me.
I cleared my throat, nodding. "Yes. There is no progress."
Mother nodded in return, her faced grim. "I shall check on him...Nellie should be here soon."
I sipped from the tea, my eyes watching as Mother entered Ed's room. A knock on the door seemed loud in the quiet. I set my cup down, standing, "That is probably her."
Opening the door, I furrowed my brow, "Hello?"
A young girl, perhaps a year younger than I, stood at our door. Pretty golden ringlets fell from her bonnet, and brilliant emerald eyes hidden beneath her long lashes. She wore a travel worn gown and cloak, and a sunbonnet over her hair. Her eyes were somber and shy, looking over me as she shifted uncomfortably. "Is this the Elliot Farm?" she said softly, almost so that I could hardly hear.
"Yes," I started uneasily.
She swallowed, "Is Edgar here?"
"Yes," I answered again. "Who are you?"
"Annabelle Larding," she murmured. "Ed's fiancee."
I blinked disbelievingly. "Fiancee?" Fiancee! What fiancee!
She shifted again, bitting her lip. Fiancee! I furrowed my brow, "C-come in then."
Slowly, she walked in past me, looking around. Jon stood from his seat, giving me a curious glance.
"Hello?" Mother walked out of Ed's bedroom, seeing the strange girl.
"This is....," I started, still stunned. "....Annabelle Larding.....Ed's fiancee."
"What!" she exclaimed, glaring at the girl, an uncomfortable silence following.
Unsure of what else to say, I gestured to Ed's bedroom. "He is in there. He is very feverish...so he may not realise that you are there."
With that she fled to the door, disappearing around the corner. She left us all standing, looking at each other.