Perilous Artifacts: Locked Out
Inside the parlor, the governor sat on an ornate chair upholstered in imported silk as she sipped from a cup of hot tea. A plate of refreshments, now reduced to crumbs, lay abandoned on an occasional table with ornately turned legs that matched the period of the chair.
She saw them and replaced her pensive look with a welcoming smile. “Oh, good. You’re here.” And she crossed the room to meet them. “I had begun to worry that I might have to go alone.”
“That would never do,” Olive murmured.
“You know, then. He told you?” Lady Carew raised a critical eyebrow at her son and heir.
“I felt it was best to be in possession of as many facts as possible. It should save us some time,” Olive defended him.
“Ah, yes, well. But the situation is a trifle delicate.” The governor cleared her throat.
“That old question of am I really me. Quite,” Olive agreed. “Harry says his father insisted that I am the spitting image of Dame Alice. Considering he was her butler, he ought to have known.” Olive gestured out the door, toward the portraits in the gallery. “But—if there’s a portrait of Dame Alice anywhere, I’ve yet to see it.”
“You do remind me of her portrait.” But Lady Carew sighed. “The sad fact is, we’ve all been locked out of the only place where I know for a certainty that any of her portraits survive.”
“You’re locked out?” Olive blinked in surprise.
“Unfortunately, yes.” Lady Carew’s perfectly tweezed eyebrows pulled together, creating a wrinkle above the bridge of her nose. “If only your parents hadn’t installed Security Jem’s Unpickable Locks on your home, we might have been able to confirm your identity. Or–if only some of the staff had stayed behind.”
She took Olive’s hand in hers and pressed it. “We tried to get in, you understand, but even your father’s solicitor was foiled, and I hope—I really truly hope—that your father hasn’t lost his keys–or we may have to bring a recycler up from the lower levels and a team of miners to break through the wall and let them in.”
Pieter pulled a grimace. “Surely, it won’t come to that.”
The scandal of it, the mess! While she hoped it wouldn’t come to that either, Olive could imagine. And after all, would it really be that much worse than being abandoned at the Landing as a tot?
She hid a grin. Just the thought was enough to appeal to her Academy-honed sense of humor.
For the next installment (available Tuesdays), read Perilous Artifacts: Across the Square, where Olive experiences a new and unsettling shortcut to the Mast.
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