A Mystery Is Started
I came back home again, late in the night, flushed and happy. It had been an eventful day, with me making two new friends. Friends! I was so excited I nearly jumped with glee. I had never before made any friends on purpose, but today was the first time. Though I wouldn’t exactly say making friends with Scarlotte and Anglian was on purpose... At least we were bonded together with an even better type of friendship: trust.
When I stepped through the door of the magnificent house, I saw Pete’s gaze on me.
“Yes?” I asked.
“Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you through the whole house! And you weren’t there!” Pete said. “Can you imagine how worried I was, when I had seen you come into this house with my own two eyes then not be able to find you when I got back from my trip?”
I shrank from his gaze. “Sorry,” I whispered. “I’m really sorry.”
He ran his fingers through his hair, clearly agitated. “Just don’t do it again, ok?”
I nodded meekly.
“You haven’t answered my first question,” Pete suddenly said, as I was about to climb up the stairs. “Where were you?”
I shrugged. “Oh, just out and about. Nothing to worry about.”
“Nothing to worry about! You are living in my house, so I have been trusted with the task of looking after you, and you disappear.” He sighed exasperatedly. “Ok. You can go now.”
I nodded, and quickly disappeared among the tall statues that lined the stairway.
But Pete was not the only one with questions. I had a question hovering on the edge of my tongue for the whole day, waiting to be asked.
As soon as I got up to the third floor (I still felt a slight thrill at that), I burst into my room. Tom was awake this time: thank goodness.
He looked up expectantly. “Yes?”
“Did you make a mess of your room this morning, when you were packing your belongings to move?”
“No-o,” he said slowly, thinking over all the things he had done that day. “No,” he said a second time, more confidently, “I’m sure I didn’t. If I did, it wouldn’t have been me, would it?” Tom smiled.
I nodded, letting it sink in. He was right: it wouldn’t have been him; he’s too neat and tidy for that. So that meant it was someone else!
“That’s it! It wasn’t you. It was someone else altogether!” I said, the puzzle pieces finally clicking together.
Tom shook his head. “No, that’s not what I meant. I said it as a metaphore -”
“No, but you’re right, Tom. You don’t realize it but you are.” Then I smiled at him. “Trust me.”
“Ok,” he said, but I could tell that he still wasn’t convinced.
“Thank you,” I said, then left.
I ended up sitting at the kitchen table, watching Angelina baking bread.
I needed to think. I massaged my temples, hoping to have some idea spurt. So if it wasn’t Tom who had made his room so messy, and it was someone else... then they must have been looking for something. It couldn’t be any other reason.
So what were they looking for? And who was ‘they’? And why Tom’s room?
Just then, Alexander burst into the kitchen and showed me the same painting that Pete had given him before, only ... prettier.
“Look, Emma! Pete gave me his final copy! His final copy!”
I looked, just to quieten him down. “Wow, that’s beautiful,” I said, and meant it too. It actually was pretty. It was a picture of a crown, with little lilies and roses around it. They were intertwined so intricately that it was hard to tell the beginnings and endings of the vines.
Then I realized: if you stepped back a pace, it was a picture of a beautiful girl, with her long, flowing hair tumbling down one shoulder and tied with a red ribbon at the end. Her cheeks were rosy, her dimples slight, and her expression happy.
“Do you like it, Emma?” Alex peered anxiously at me.
“Yes... I do.”
Then I noticed something similar between that painting and the previous one: the paper was the same.
“Alexander...” I began. “Where did Pete get this paper from?” It was exactly the same as the last piece, though minus a few scratches and patches of dust.
He shrugged. “Don’t ask me.”
Angelina turned. “Ah, you looking for Pete?”
“Pete!” Angelina tilted her head and yelled in the direction of the stairs. “Where is that bothersome boy? Pete!”
There was a thumping of feet down the stairs. Pete appeared at the door of the kitchen. “Yes?”
“Pete, where’d you get this paper from?” I turned and faced him, showing him the paper. Then I saw that there was something on the back of it. “Wait a moment.” I placed the paper on the table, smoothing it out so I could read it properly. Pete stepped towards me, reaching his hand out to take it.
“I ... I wouldn’t read that, if I were you,” Pete said. I hesitated, then shook my head firmly.
“It’s alright, Pete. Nothing bad as far as I can see. Just writing on pretty paper, that’s all.”
Angelina laughed. “Yes, Pete. Let the girl read.”
Pete sighed, and turned away. “Alright, but you really won’t like it.”
I wondered what type of writing would make Pete act like this.
Turning back to the paper, I started reading.