Perilous Artifacts: Am I Really Me?
Not until Olive showed promise at her studies did the Lady Governor begin to take an interest in her. And then—abandoning her attitude of neglect and indecision, she decided that Olive must attend lessons not only in conversation, diplomacy, deportment, dancing, religion, and manners, but also in hydroponics, housekeeping, business, history, chart-making, navigation, weather, and advanced mathematics that took Olive from the Cathedral Seminary for Young Ladies to the Mast College of Aeronautics and then on to the Cathedral Academy of Agriculture, which used the park as its classroom and laboratory, and the students as free labor to maintain the grounds.
Olive continued, however, to be housed at the Academy and to share in the toils and travails of the other waifs who lived there. The only concession that the Lady Governor made was to grant Miss Millrig an additional 200 a year in clothing expenses, the majority of which had to be spent exclusively on Olive, and an extra undisclosed sum that had to be spent on her food and transportation.
Olive resented this, if possible, more than the other residents of the Academy, and found ways at every opportunity to spend these funds for their benefit instead of her own. This became much easier after she persuaded Miss Millrig to allow her to handle the accounting and pay most of the bills.
It seemed like a poor time to mention any of this, however.
“And so, the urgent summons,” she said. “Or, to put it another way, ‘am I really me?'”
“Thus, the urgent summons,” Pieter confirmed. He cleared his throat again. “Ah–she would greatly appreciate it if you didn’t mention Miss Millrig or the Academy, at least not yet.”
Olive gave him a thoughtful look. “And what is she willing to offer to buy my silence?”
Harry choked and sputtered as he shifted gears and slowed to avoid a group of schoolchildren in freshly pressed uniforms crossing the thoroughfare. “You can’t blackmail the Governor,” he protested.
Pieter agreed with him. “Blackmail Mother? Next she’ll be tossing perilous artifacts at you.”
Olive laughed at them both. “Has she definitively decided that I am me, even yet?”
Pieter gave her a sober look. “She thinks that you have your father’s eyes and maybe your mother’s chin. Beyond that, she likes the color of your hair and thinks that if you and your mother stood side-by-side, you might—possibly bear a passing resemblance.”
“Possibly.” Olive sighed.
Harry snorted. “Before he passed, Pa said you looked the spitting image of your Grandmother, Dame Alice Windmaster—even as a tot. He said you have her fire too. Don’t let these high an’ mighty toffs bring you down.” He threw a glare over his shoulder at Pieter. “Shame on you for making Olive question her identity!”
“But–if there are portraits of Dame Alice, I’ve never seen one,” she observed. “I do hope you’re right.”
“I am,” Harry said. He pointed down the hall ahead of them. “And the reason why you haven’t seen any is because the mansion has been mothballed since your folks went on their grand adventure.”
Pieter cleared his throat loudly. “Could we possibly go any faster? 9:15 is fast approaching.”
For the next installment (available Tuesdays), read Perilous Artifacts: This Is Real, where Olive realizes the gravity of her situation.
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