Shopping In Town and In Fear For Our Lives

Professor Eberhart has given his permission for me to go into town! I must write quickly, for I must still eat breakfast, then return here to my room and prepare for our trip. Mr. Miller, thankfully, is to accompany me. I was not exactly nervous about going into town alone, but I feel better now that I am to have a friend at my side.

Unfortunately we are to walk the whole way, which the professor says is a good hour there and an hour back, so I must wear my sensible old boots and not the nice dress boots I received on the Erebos. However, I am going to wear my nicer blouse, waistcoat, and skirt, as well as the fancy grey wool coat instead of my old white one, and hope no one notices my shoes. Mr. Miller has but one set of clothes, but I rather think men give less attention to how they appear than do women. However shabby his clothes may be, however, Mr. Miller always keeps them in very good order, very clean and neat with everything properly tucked in and arranged. I really should ask him about his previous employment, before he joined the crew of the Erebos, I mean.

Really must dash!










The above was, of course, written by Mr. Miller. We lunched cheaply in a cafe, the sort of place where men do not remove their hats to eat and where one's boots stick to the floor, but it was all either of us could afford. Indeed, I was a little concerned for Mr. Miller, not knowing if he had any money to his name due to the haste in which he fled the Erebos, but that worry was put to rest when the bill came and he offered to pay for my meal as well as his own. Of course I refused, and paid with my own money, as it was only proper. (I have just remembered my spare cash is still sewn into the petticoat I am wearing! Now that I am settled, I should probably remove it and put it in a safe place in my room once we return to the school.)

Our "conversation" was carried out, as you saw, in my diary, that being the only paper close at hand. I am glad I brought it with me, and I think I must have half-pondered this very thing happening, that is, Mr. Miller needing to write something more than he could spell out with his fingertip on the top of a table. He is currently in a men's shoppe being fitted for another two shirts and a new pair of trousers. As I felt uncomfortable inside, since there were no other women in sight, I am waiting for him on a bench across the road from the shoppe, and will now put down my half of our conversation at lunch.

Obviously, I did ask him about his previous occupation, and was proven right in my conjectures. He would not reveal the identity of his employer, though when I asked (hardly daring to hope for an answer) why he left the man's employ, he told me that his master had given him the wound which disabled his ability to speak! How awful! I asked for details as to how and why, but he declined to answer. I am sure I blushed bright red when he told how he valued our friendship, and I assured him I would love him no less for finding out the truth of his scar and the story that went with it, then made him promise that he would indeed tell me before we parted ways, whenever that might be. I told him that I would not bring it up again until he did, and he thanked me for it. We then finished our meal and went on our way.

What can I say about the city? I think it must be very like any other capital in the nation: big, busy, noisy, dirty. Sun City was a mere speck compared to Reliance, more of a desert "watering hole" than a town. I am very glad, indeed, to have company on this trip, else I would be trying to convince myself every five seconds that I was all right and perfectly able to find my way about in this chaos.

We took an omnibus into the heart of the "shopping district," both of us having decided on buying a few new items of clothing. I have only what I am wearing, and my old clothes from Saint Anne's; the rest are still in my trunk, on the Arabella Genevieve or off it, I know not. And Mr. Miller knew his flight would be much hampered by even a single change of clothes, so he left all but a few small personal items behind on the ship when he left. This morning, I purchased two white blouses, that being all the more I could afford, but I did spend a little more than perhaps I should have on a lovely pale blue skirt, very full, and trimmed with crochet lace at the bottom. I also purchased several new pair of stockings, and some fabric with which to make a new pair of gloves. In my haste this morning, I tugged too hard on my old pair and ripped a hole at the side of the thumb seam. Unfortunately it is too large and ragged a hole to be repaired, but I must make do until I can get the new ones sewn. While I was shopping for all of this, Mr. Miller waited outside, feeling, I am sure, much as I feel now.

I apologised several times for the time I took in the shoppe, though Mr. Miller dismissed all my apologies saying he did not mind, and we made our way to lunch, then afterwards window-shopped a bit before finding a clothier to suit Mr. Miller. It will start to grow dark in another hour, so I suppose we must start back when he is finished. Ah, here he comes.


This is likely the last nice thing I shall write here for a while, Dear Reader. On our way out of town, Mr. Miller purchased a sack of roasted, sugared almonds for us to share as we rode the omnibus back to the road that would lead us to the academy. The bag kept my hand warm, and every time Mr. Miller reached into it, my heart fluttered at his nearness. I was very nervous, but in a pleasant sort of way, if that makes any kind of sense. I feel like a silly schoolgirl even mentioning it, but our fingers brushed thrice when we unwittingly reached into the bag at the same time, and that made my heart positively leap! Oh, Dear Reader, I shall think on this afternoon often in the dark days to come, I am sure.

For I shall have no company but Mr. Miller, and no comforts at all, save the fact that I have managed to produce fire from dry wood without any training (though it was quite difficult.) I write this by the light of said fire, as Mr. Miller keeps watch with a small pistol I did not know he had. We have fled into the woods, for as soon as we reached the edge of the school grounds, we saw the Erebos right in the middle of the cricket field! Captain Belleclaire has evidently found where I have been staying and had come to get me back while I was in town!

Thank goodness I was away, and Mr. Miller, too! Upon seeing the ship, he took my arm and led me quickly across the road, and I didn't say a word of protest. My arms were tired from carrying all my packages, but I kept a tight hold on them as we hurried over a now-empty irrigation ditch, hoping and praying we had not been seen. We then climbed a fence and cut into the field across the road from the school, tall dry grasses swishing around our knees. Every few steps, we would both glance back, the dirigible visible next to the towering structure of the academy. "How long do you think they've been there?" I asked in a whisper, though of course no one was around to hear me. Mr. Miller just shook his head.

When we reached the far end of the field, we followed the fence off to the left, crossing in front of the school, but out of sight of it because of the way the field sloped downhill. We had to climb over another fence at one point, which proved a burden with our packages, but we managed it, and continued on. When Mr. Miller deemed we had gone far enough, we started toward the road again. When we reached it, the school was not in sight, and directly on the other side of the road lay the forest.

That is where we are now, cold and shivering, thankful it has not yet snowed this winter, and terrified of building the fire any higher for fear we should be found out. I do not know what we shall do. We cannot return to the school, for even if the Royal Erebos departs, they will surely leave a crew member behind to watch in case we should come back. Neither Mr. Miller nor I have any connections, at least not nearby. We are afraid to even wire Professor Eberhart or Miss P___ back at Saint Anne's, for doing so would require going into town. Our best bet is to cut through the forest to a small village Mr. Miller knows to be on the far side of it, and see how we fare at that point. But we have no map, no food, no blankets to keep warm. Only our coats and our newly-bought clothes, which I suppose we can use as pillows. (I know it is stupid, but it pains me to think of using the first new clothes I have had in years as pillows on the dirty ground. I shall try to keep mine wrapped up in its paper.)

I am to spend the night out in the open, alone with a man, though one I trust, and have no idea how we shall survive until tomorrow, with the frost and the mist that comes in the early morning. I do not think I shall sleep much at all tonight.


An Almost-Altercation and Forbidden Friends

It is just after lunch now, and I have not, indeed, finished hemming all the napkins Mrs. Dogwood gave me. The stack was much bigger than I first thought it to be! So I divided it into half, and did half this morning and will finish the rest tonight before bed. I know how tired I always am after my lesson with Professor Eberhart, so I really must get them done before supper, as immediately after supper, I go upstairs to his office, and immediately after that, I fall into bed.

I suppose that nothing much of interest has happened today. The sun has not been seen for several days due to the low, thick cloud cover. Sometimes there is fog in the morning, crawling over the white-frosted grass and slinking through the frozen tree branches in the forest. It is very beautiful to see from my window, but very eerie as well. Thankfully, the clouds keep the warmth closer to the ground, so although it looks very dull and wintry outside, at least it is not freezing.

Oh dear, there I am talking about the weather again. How terribly dull.

Perhaps one interesting thing happened today. Mr. Miller and I almost had a row. (Though I shall not continue the suspense, and say now that we made up immediately and all is well again.)

At breakfast, I innocently asked why he wore his neck cloth all the time. He moved a thumb across his throat to indicate the gash, and I nodded. "I understand," I said, "but why keep it covered?"

"UGLY," he wrote on the table between us.

"But it is a part of you, as my... crooked nose is a part of me," I went on, neither confirming or denying his declaration. True, his scar is not pleasant to look upon, and it is rather shocking to see for the first time, but I think that if he went around without the cloth around his neck, people would not be so shocked by it. Indeed, not much of it shows above the collar of his shirt, anyway.

He shook his head, and began to write on the table again, but I stopped him with my hand over his when he got as far as "FRIGH--" when he meant, I am sure, to write "FRIGHTENING."

"I do not think it is frightening," I said softly, then slowly withdrew my hand.

"NO," he wrote, and "underlined" it, then looked up at me sternly.

"It is quite old-fashioned," I muttered, thinking of the grandfathers I had seen in town back home, with cravats tucked up to their chin and pinned with a bit of gold or silver or, for the poorer among them, copper. "I do not see why a--"

Mr. Miller banged his palm down on the table, making our coffee cups rattle on their saucers. "NO," he wrote again, and underlined it twice. "REMINDER," he wrote, and looked sulkily away, surely thinking of the day the wound that caused the scar was given to him.

The noise caused by his violence had startled me, and I sat in silence, too shaken to speak or eat. Eventually, though, I sipped at my coffee, then finished my sausage, all without looking up at him. I was only trying to help him feel more confident about himself, and to let him know how... well, how unusual he looked, a young man wearing something that was the mark of men two generations older than he. I really did not mean any harm, but apparently the subject was a sore one.

I pushed my chair back from the table and set my napkin down, but Mr. Miller leaned across the table and touched my sleeve before I could stand. "Bernice," his mouth said without any sound, and our eyes locked.

"I am sorry," I said softly, finally dropping my gaze. "How you dress and conduct yourself is no business of mine. I know that I do not understand... the entire story."

After a moment, he tapped the table to get my attention, and I looked up at him again. He pointed at me, then at his nose, then shook his head as he made a zigzag line in the air, and I smiled. "Your nose is not crooked," he was saying.

"Thank you," I replied in hand speech, by bowing my head and touching my forehead with two fingers, like a little salute. "I should go. I have a lot of sewing to get done, and you are... moving furniture?" He nodded. "That's right, so they can polish the floor in the dining hall, you told me. I shall see you at lunch." He nodded, and we parted in the hallway, I to my work and he to his.


I have only just realized that it is the week-end now! All of my days here have begun to blur together, so that I must think hard (or check my diary here) to remember what day, exactly, I drew water from soil, and what day Mr. Miller arrived, and so on. But in the middle of the afternoon, just now, I noticed no bell to signify the end of the class period. I can hear the bells faintly from where I am situated in the building, but I can hear them, only I hadn't all day.

I do not know what difference it makes. I suppose I am only making the point that I have little idea of the date any more. Perhaps in addition to this diary, I need a little calendar in which I can write notes of things that have happened or will happen. Perhaps I can walk into town tomorrow and get one. I have been curious to see the city since I arrived, but as tomorrow is a Sunday, I think I can go freely without feeling guilt over the "chores" I should be doing, and perhaps Mr. Miller could be spared to accompany me. I shall ask the professor this evening.


As usual, I am exhausted, post-lesson. But I must put this all down while it is fresh in my mind. Forgive me if this makes little sense or contains mistakes.

First let me say that my Illumination is growing day by day. Professor Eberhart seems to put great stock in the horrid puzzles he gave me, saying my patience has grown and I seem milder (whatever that means), but I think it is really just because I am determined to succeed, and I have been applying myself to the fullest. At any rate, I am building great structures with the toy blocks, and I am getting faster and faster at it, so they seem to fly out of the box, through the air, and onto one another within a matter of moments (though I have not yet mastered the skill of doing it quietly; the wood makes a great clatter, with all the blocks banging against one another). In addition, the marbles given to me speed through the little wooden maze without even touching the tiny walls! Only two days ago, the marble was forever knocking into the walls, making me flinch with each hollow "thok" sound!

To continue: I was tiring myself out by sending all the blocks into their box, then up into a tower, then back and forth again and again. The professor watched from his chair, glaring slightly when a block tumbled out of the arrangement and hit the floor (though I've nearly mastered the skill of catching the ones that fall!) and nodding with calm satisfaction each time I did it perfectly.

Suddenly the door flew open and a boy about my age entered the room, out of breath and with dark, disheveled hair. "Prof--" He stopped short when he caught sight of me, and all the blocks, which were mostly in mid-air, tumbled onto the carpet with a terrible racket. I flinched and froze, terrified that I'd been caught out, but the boy only said, "You've got another one!" to the professor, and smiled at me. But then he seemed to remember why he had come, and turned to the professor again. "It's Ivy, sir," he said, looking quite grave.

"Yes, what about her?" the professor asked, in his same calm, slow voice tinted with a Germanian accent.

"She..." the boy glanced at me uneasily. "It's like last time," he said evasively.

That got the professor to his feet. "Where is she?" he asked.

"The usual spot," answered the boy. Clearly he didn't trust me, as I was "another one," though I did not yet know what he thought I was.

"Let us go, then," said the professor, going around the desk and toward the door. "Miss Gar--Greenwater," he caught himself just in time, "please return to your room. I shall see you tomorrow." He turned to the boy, then. "Lucas, tell anyone about her, and you will regret it."

"Of course, sir, I understand," he said, and followed the professor out the door, leaving me alone in his office.

I returned all the blocks to the chest they stayed in when I was not practicing with them, but did not return to my room. I wanted answers, and remained in the chair in where I had first sat in that room until Professor Eberhart returned, presumably to lock up for the night.

"What are you still doing here?" he demanded, seeing the lamp still on and me sitting near his desk.

"He said you had another one," I said softly. "Another what, sir? What... what does he think I am?"

"Illuminated," he said brusquely. "As was obvious from what you were doing when he so unwisely burst into my office." He approached the desk and gathered a few stacks of papers into his arms.

"So in addition to me, there is...?"

"Are. Other students here at the school."

"That... that are Illuminated?" I asked, shocked to say the least. He nodded. "Why did you not tell me?"

"They would want to know who you were, where you came from. I know these children, and they are not satisfied with simple lies. Some of them might even figure out the truth, and then trouble could come, knowing your real name, your real story." He shook his head. "You keep to your rooms, Miss, and your friend, Mr. Miller. Do you understand?" He looked up at me suddenly, mechanical eye whirring. "This is important. Disobey, and you will be turned away from this school and my hospitality, Gift or no Gift."

I understood completely. I depended solely on Professor Eberhart now; if not for him, I would literally be on the street with nowhere to go and nothing to do. I nodded solemnly, bid him goodnight, and hurried back here to my room. It is torture, knowing others like me are so near, yet knowing I am not able to even speak to them! If not for Mr. Miller, I would be terrifically lonely.

Sleep now. I forgot to ask about going into town! But I shall send a message to the professor in the morning, or try and see him in person. Goodnight, Dear Reader!

Learning to Speak and Job Satisfaction

During our walk this morning, Mr. Miller taught me some of the hand speech he used to use on the Erebos to make himself understood, and we also made up quite a bit for our own use. We had a very good time, and I laughed often, mostly at myself for my absurd guesses as to what he meant. When I seemed to be utterly lost, Mr. Miller would stop and write the word in the dirt at our feet, then make the gesture again so I learned it. I will here relate all I can remember, so I can continue to communicate with him by means other than writing.

Stroking his upper lip just beneath his nose means "Captain Belleclaire," for this is the same gesture the Captain himself did often, smoothing his mustache. That one made me laugh most heartily, for Mr. Miller was so like him in expression and bearing when he made the gesture that I could not help but laugh.

A circle made by touching his fingertips to the tip of his thumb, then flying it through the air at about eye level means "dirigible." He designates the Royal Erebos by making a swirl with his index finger, which I eventually recognized as a lowercase "e." The Grand Tourbillion, which we still speak of occasionally, is designated with what I first thought to be a cross, but I now know to be a "T."

He twists his hand in front of his eye, as if rotating a screw, to indicate Professor Eberhart. Mrs. Dogwood is "said" by brushing his hands over his thighs, the way she brushes off her apron every ten seconds, as if terrified a spot of dust might suddenly appear if she is not vigilant. A little salute means Captain Winters, for to do the full-on, right-angled salute as the books display would be too big a gesture for hand speech, and seems too dramatic. Anyway, the subtle little touching of the forehead seems to suit the real Captain Winters better.

Many other gestures are easy to understand. With a lot of actions, Mr. Miller can simply pretend he is drinking to signify "cup" or "tea" or "coffee" or "drink," depending on the context. The same goes for eating, writing, reading, and so on, though he could also mean "fork" or "food" for eating, "pen" for writing, or "book" for reading. Again, it depends upon the context of the conversation, but so far, I have done rather well in understanding him. (At least, we have not had any very great misunderstandings thus far.)

I find it amusing that I have caught myself several times making the hand gestures as I speak to him; touching my upper lip when I say Belleclaire's name, or "writing" on my palm when I speak of my letter to everyone at Saint Anne's. (I did indeed send it, and that same morning I received a wire, saying, "Glad you have arrived. Stop. Hope your journey went well. Stop. We all miss you Pause especially Maggie Pause and we send our love. Stop. We await your letter eagerly. Stop.") Mr. Miller, of course, uses the hand speech because he cannot speak words with his mouth, but there is no reason I should use hand gestures, as I can speak perfectly well. I suppose it is because of his example, seeing him use the hand speech many times throughout the day, that I have picked it up as well. I have only just stopped myself from doing it a time or two during my lessons with Professor Eberhart, thankfully, as it would be quite embarrassing to do such a thing in front of him.

Lunch now; I shall write more later, though I shall make myself finish hemming two more napkins before I write anything more. As Professor Eberhart is paying my expenses to stay here, I feel I really must do a little something to "earn my keep," as Miss P___ used to say.


Between all this writing, and all the sewing I have been doing, I think my hands must have become quite strong! I feel sure I could tenderize meat without a mallet, or knead bread dough without becoming fatigued. Perhaps I would have to do this all with my right hand, however, as my left hand merely holds down the page and grasps the fabric to be sewn, respectively.

As I have been attempting to "earn my keep," I have just found out at lunch (with much confusion with hand gestures, and rather a lot of writing on the table top with his finger) that Mr. Miller is doing so as well. Professor Eberhart seems not to know what to do with him, but he does trust him, after their talk the other night, so Mr. Miller has been put to work doing odd jobs around the school in order to stay on here until another arrangement is reached. (I refuse to let myself think about that, and shall not even write any more about it.) He swept the steps to all the entrances to the building this morning, and helped the groundskeeper rake up fallen twigs after the wind we had last night. This afternoon he is to work on a couple of the doors to the guest rooms which stick closed and must be shoved open with a shoulder or a swift kick. He seems to find satisfaction in these jobs, and appears pleased with the work and with himself, which gladdens my heart to see.

I asked him at lunch if I might accompany him on these jobs, but he told me (eventually--I am still getting the hang of his "speaking" in hand speech along with finger writing) that they are his jobs alone, and he must prove himself to the professor and to Mrs. Dogwood and to the rest of them (the groundskeeper, the cook, and so on) that he is a worthwhile man to keep around, which I certainly understand. In fact, I finished three napkins before I wrote here, Dear Reader, to follow his good example. (I do rather hope, however, that after this batch is done, Mrs. Dogwood has something other than sewing for me to tend to. It is rather tedious, and as the sun sets quite early, I have very little good light in which to sew, as I use lamps or the light of the fire in the evening to sew by.)

And with that, I have vowed to finish all the napkins by the time I go to bed tonight, or if not, by tomorrow lunchtime at the absolute latest. There really is a good satisfaction in an honest job well-done. Oh, Miss P___ would be so proud of me!


Hard Work and Secrets Not Yet Told

My lessons with Professor Eberhart will be, from now on, considerably more difficult. The next element I shall learn to control and call on is fire, which is the next easiest from water, though by far the most dangerous. For that reason, he does not wish me to start on it until I have gained more control over myself and my Gifts. Therefore, I am now practicing manipulating objects. Rather than just sending a paperweight flying around the room, I am to stack blocks and run marbles through little mazes and the like, all with my thoughts. "Control," the professor keeps saying, even as my tower of blocks crumbles and my marble shoots out of the maze entirely because of my frustration. "Control," he says as he hands me horrid little puzzles to work on to improve my patience between lessons.

One puzzle is a square with a frame, inside which are little tiles which slide back and forth, and up and down. When in their proper places, they will form a picture, but for now it looks like nothing more than a mess. Another has three tiny marbles under glass; the intent is to catch all three marbles in all three indentations or holes in the floor of the thing, and all at once! I think it is impossible, and have been forbidden from using my Illumination to solve it. A third is not really a puzzle at all, but a very large knot of twine, which I am to pick at in an attempt to untie, when the other two puzzles have frustrated me to the point of throwing them against the wall. Ugh! I never thought learning to use my Gift would be so terribly difficult! But the professor said all these things will help me use and control my Gift better. (He also muttered something under his breath then, but it was in Germanian so I could not tell what he said.)

I have realized I have been clenching my jaw while I wrote the previous two paragraphs, so onto something more pleasant. Or at least not quite as frustrating.

Mr. Miller and I did not get to take our customary walk last night. Instead, the school had a fire drill, a practice for what they would do if there ever was a fire or other disaster which would necessitate evacuating the school. I was on my way to the parlour, where we habitually met an hour before supper, when a number of bells, I suppose in a tower high above the school, started clanging. A moment later Mrs. Dogwood entered the corridor, sighing and talking to herself. "Come on, then," she said, gesturing for me to follow her, and she explained what was going on.

Thankfully I was already in my coat and gloves, having intended to take a walk outside, but many of the students were not so fortunate, and stood in rows at the far edge of the lawn, class by class, shivering. Those students who strayed out of line were chastised, and I think some sort of mark was made by their name, perhaps points against them. Several of the professors had clipboards on which they marked off students one by one. When everyone was accounted for, which took a very long time, we were finally allowed back inside. At that point, it was time for supper, so I shed my warm clothes and went into the parlour.

"I did not see you at the drill," I said to Mr. Miller once we were seated with our meal. "Were you outside?" He nodded. "It was dreadfully cold, wasn't it?" He answered yes. I realized then that I was speaking about the weather, which is something I try never to do, for only boring people talk about the weather.

"Are you enjoying the book you are reading?" I asked a moment later, and again he nodded. Then he held up two fingers. "You're... reading it again?" I asked uncertainly. He shook his head, then held his hands out, palms together, and opened them, keeping his littlest fingers close like his hands were a hinge. Or a book! He repeated the gesture, this time with his hands in a slightly different place in front of him. Two books! "You're onto another book?" I asked, and he nodded, looking pleased that I had understood him.

I, too, was pleased that we were able to communicate without him having paper and a pen, but after a time, I asked, "How did you speak to the captain and crew aboard the Erebos?"

He frowned, but seemed to be thinking about how to answer me. First, he pretended to write, one hand holding a pen, the other acting as paper. Then he made the "book" gesture again. "Writing and... reading?" I asked. He shook his head and thought a moment more, then held both hands up, opening and closing them quickly. At first I thought he was saying "Ten, ten, ten," but that didn't make any sense. Perhaps ten thrice? Thirty? But that made less sense. "I'm sorry," I said, "I don't understand.

He thought a minute more, then made what looked like a bird's beak out of one hand, and opened and closed it, like the bird was squawking. Or speaking. He pointed at that hand with his other as he did this.

"Speech... your hand speaks? You speak with your hands?"

An emphatic nod was my answer, as well as a smile.

"And they understood you?"

He held one hand out and made a wobbling back-and-forth motion, to say "Sort of."

"Like I am doing now," I smiled, and he smiled back.

We finished our meal, then sat for a time by the fire. "I wish you could tell me about yourself, like I told you about myself," I said, too nervous to look at him as I confessed this. "It would take a week if you did your hand speech," I said with a smile, "but perhaps... I might get you pen and paper?"

Mr. Miller shook his head, almost too quickly. Clearly he did not want to tell me about himself. I knew from what Captain Belleclaire had told me that Mr. Miller.... That he was not a "good" man, by most definitions. He had killed people, he had stolen things, he had assisted in dark plots. But all I had ever known of him had been kindness and understanding, even if he was, at times, rather awkward about it. (I think that I would be awkward, too, if I were unable to speak.) He is my only friend now, and I think that I am his only friend as well.

"Will you ever tell me about your life?" I asked softly. He hesitated, but then nodded. "Do you not trust me?" This was answered with an emphatic nod. "Then I do not understand what holds you back. I hate to sound childish, but... fair is fair, yes? I told you... everything about me."

This seemed to move him, for he leaned toward me, and again I could see the longing in his eyes to be able to speak. Then he looked around, as if lost. After a moment, he went to the buffet at the side of the room and wrote on the top of it, then motioned for me to join him there.


was written in a layer of dust on the polished wood. (I have tried to imitate his odd handwriting and I think have failed.)

"But you are through with that now, are you not?" I asked. "You have... you have left that life to start anew."

He only shrugged, and looked pained.

"You are my friend," I said firmly, and touched his sleeve to get his attention and emphasise my words. "Friends do not keep secrets."

I looked up into his eyes, clear blue like the winter sky, and as endless. (I realize how overwrought that sounds, Dear Reader, but I do believe I could look into his eyes for hours, though I refuse to let myself really think of why.) My hand moved a little closer, to rest on his arm; I could feel the heat of his skin through the thin fabric of his shirt, and heard my heart pounding, felt it in my throat and fingertips.

Then he pulled his arm away and wrote in the dust further down the buffet:


"Do you promise?" I asked. He nodded, looking into my eyes.

A promise was a promise, and if nothing else, one could certainly say Mr. Miller was a loyal man. His answer was enough for the time being, so I stepped back and let out a breath I had not realized I was holding. "We should clean this up," I said, motioning to the dusty buffet and going back to the table to get a napkin. "Mrs. Dogwood would not like to see messages had been left in her dust." I laughed, and Mr. Miller smiled, and the tension between us seemed to have broken.

I would have liked to stay a little longer, but soon it was time for my lesson with the professor. Today was uneventful, for the most part. I finished the sheets and asked Mrs. Dogwood for another pile; instead, she gave me squares of cloth to hem into napkins. They are, at least, a bit more satisfying, for seeing the little stack of finished ones grow is much nicer than the seemingly endless four sides of the sheet. The sunset over the forest tonight was beautiful, and I seem to have been struck dumb by its loveliness, for I spoke hardly at all at supper.

And now here I am, writing this by the light of a little lamp, though I am exhausted. Mr. Miller's company and the thrill of practicing my Gift are all I have anymore. That and the thought of, someday (soon, I hope), helping our cause in the coming "conflict" Professor Eberhart still refuses to speak of.


A Letter Not Written and the Unburdening of a Heart

Dear Reader, I am such a horrid girl! I have not yet written to Miss P___ and Maggie and all the girls at Saint Anne's! I should have arrived at my destination--here, really--several days ago, had I stayed on the train as was intended. I shudder to think that they've been worrying about me all this time

As I know a letter will take some time to reach them, I have sent a message into town with the cook's girl this morning, to be sent by wire, telling them only that I have arrived safely, though a bit past schedule, and that a more detailed letter will be coming soon. I shall sit down to write it now.


I have had several false starts with the letter. How, exactly, does one relate to one's friends and benefactors that one has been kidnapped by airship pirates, rescued by living legends, then learned that one's entire self-history is false, and conclude by saying one is now, suddenly, Illuminated and doing amazing things which one can tell no one about.

That was a lot of ones.

I know I cannot divulge the secret of my heritage, neither about my parents and my name, nor about my Gift. This pains me greatly, but I would never wish to put Miss P___ and the girls in any sort of danger. Indeed, Professor Eberhart has insisted I continue to call myself "Miss Greenwater" for all intents and purposes.

Yesterday on our evening walk, I started to tell Mr. Miller all that the professor had revealed to me, having been simply bursting to pour it out to someone, but them I remembered I was not allowed and stopped abruptly. I am afraid I rather confused the poor man, and possibly hurt his feelings, but I insisted I would tell him if I was able, and hoped to be able to very soon. That very night I asked the professor, first thing at our lesson.

"We do not know this man, Miss Gardener." (I wish he would not call me by that name, as I am afraid I shall slip one of these days and call myself by it as well, but it is my true name, and I suppose I shall have to get used to it someday.)

"He is my friend," I said.

"Because he kidnapped you, and took you for walks on a mercenary dirigible for a few days?" His mechanical eye whirred as he looked up at me.

I blushed, but persevered. "He deserted them, didn't he?" I asked, raising my chin. "And anyway, whom could he tell?"

"Any number of people. You know yourself that he can communicate perfectly well through the written word."

How could I let Professor Eberhart know how well I trusted Mr. Miller? It was really more of a feeling than anything I could put into words, and I did not think the professor put much stock in feelings.

My sadness and frustration must have shown on my face, however, for he said with a sigh, "Send him in here. I shall speak to him."

Delighted, I hurried back down the many staircases and corridors, the path I have learned well these past few days, and right to Mr. Miller's room where I knocked eagerly. He opened the door a moment later, a book in his hand (I had convinced him, finally, to visit the school library and was glad to see he was enjoying himself due to his trip there) and his neck cloth missing. "Oh!" I said upon seeing him. "Um, good evening. Professor Eberhart has... has asked to..." He must have realized how I kept glancing down at the scar on his throat every half second--though I did mean not to!--for he quickly turned his back on me and went into his dimly-lit room to retrieve his neck cloth from the nightstand. He did not turn to face me again until he had it securely tied, the tails tucked into the collar of his shirt.

"Please excuse the intrusion," I said, and gave a slight curtsey, still standing in the doorway and feeling quite awkward now that I had made him feel awkward. "Professor Eberhart would like to see you." He nodded and stepped out into the hall with me, then closed and locked his door after himself, dropping the key into one of the many pockets in his trousers. We walked for a moment in silence, then he touched my arm to get my attention and gave me a slightly worried look.

"Oh no, everything's fine," I told him, and he looked relieved. "Do you remember when I started telling you something earlier, but said I had to stop?" He nodded. "It's about that. About... letting me tell you. Oh dear," I said, and frowned. "I suppose I oughtn't to have told you that, either, for now you know the professor is involved with it."

Again he touched my arm, and again had a worried expression, though there was softness in his eyes, a question. "Of course I trust you," I told him. "You'll just have to convince the professor that he can trust you, as well."

We said no more as we continued up to Professor Eberhart's office. I knocked, then opened the door for both of us, but the professor bid me wait outside. Apparently he intended to interrogate Mr. Miller alone. Once the door closed, I paced for a while, then stood and stared at the door, through which I could hear nothing. (Yes, I did try, to my shame.) When it finally opened again, I was leaning against the opposite wall about to nod off, but was wide awake in an instant when I saw Mr. Miller step out. He looked neither excited nor disappointed, but before I could ask him how it went, he nodded, gave me a small smile, then hurried away. The professor called me from inside his office and said we were to resume our lessons.

(I do wonder what was said to convince Professor Eberhart! But as long as he said yes, I shall not mention it again. The gift of his trust of Mr. Miller is enough.)

I did passably well moving the water--or rather, making it move on its own, with me guiding it--but right now I am so thoroughly sick of the subject, I cannot write about it. I pushed and pushed myself last night and do not wish to dwell on it any longer.

Lunch now! Goodness, how time gets away! I became very sidetracked; I had intended this morning to write my letter to the girls at Saint Anne's! Later, later!


To finish my tale, as briefly as possible: I did not see Mr. Miller again last night after my lesson, but after breakfast this morning, we took our usual walk and I told him all. When we had circled the grounds twice and were too cold to continue our walk, we returned to the parlour so I could finish the tale of my parents and the Libertists; not only that, but I told him of Saint Anne's, and Maggie, and Miss P___ and Father D___, about how I thought my parents would be and how it turned out they really were, about the orphanage itself and the town I grew up in, and a great many other things. When the clock struck eleven, I jumped up and excused myself, embarrassed at having rambled on for so long. I suppose that is why lunch at one o'clock seemed to come so quickly; I was not in my room alone for much time.

But lunch was perfectly pleasant, though quiet, since I had nearly worn my throat out with talking! Perhaps instead of taking our walk this evening before supper, I shall ask Mr. Miller to write out things of his own life so it feels rather more even.

Until then, I simply must get this letter written and ready to send with the cook's girl tomorrow morning. I don't know what I can possibly put in it that will not shock and worry them all! If I tell about Bellclaire and his crew, I shall have to tell the reason they kidnapped me, which has to do with my Illumination, which I cannot mention. And I would so dearly love to tell Maggie, especially, about meeting Jack Winters (oh blast it all! I should've taken an image capture of the two of us for her! oh, woe!), but I cannot tell about that without telling of the pirates, and so on and so on. Perhaps.... I do hate to lie, but it seems the only way! I suppose I must say that I remained on the Arabella Genevieve all this time, and that it was delayed for... Hmm, for reasons which I do not know, as I do not understand trains. Yes, I can say it was broken down for a few days.

Oh, my. Perhaps once this "conflict" is resolved, I shall be able to tell Maggie and Miss P___ and all the others the truth about my family and my Illumination and all the rest. Until then, I suppose I must settle for pleasant untruths.

Farewell and Finding Peace

Dear Reader, I have tried so hard lately not to be the second Bernice! I threw myself into my lessons with Professor Eberhart last night, and while he said I did very well heating the water (it almost boiled! indeed, bubbles rose up from the bottom of the glass, and I could feel the warmth when I wrapped my hands around it) and even better cooling it (that practice glass was filled with solid ice, after a lot of concentration) I still was not satisfied with myself. I begged to stay later, and he agreed. I succeeded in moving the water from one cup to the other, but then he sent me to bed. Tonight we are to work on controlling the water so that it moves almost of its own accord from one glass to another. Apparently last night I was just moving it as I had done with the other objects, but I need to learn how to tell the water to move, rather than moving it myself. It doesn't make much sense to me, but I shall try my best.

Even after as hard as I had pushed myself last night, and as exhausted as I felt in body, my mind would still not let me sleep. I lay awake for over an hour, my mind whirring from one subject to the next. That is when the second Bernice came through, pushing the first Bernice--the logical, structured one--to the side. I wondered how long I would stay at the Academy, mostly useless and mostly bored but for my lessons at night with the professor. I worried about how useful I would be in the coming war (though Professor Eberhart refuses to call it a war, instead saying "conflict"). I thought about the awkward goodbye between me and Captain Winters, which was not at all like I thought it would be, had I imagined meeting him even a month ago. And I went over and over the time I spent with Zebediah--Mr. Miller!--yesterday.

I suppose I should say a few words about my parting from Captain Winters. He left just after breakfast, as I wrote yesterday. As he brought very little with him, he had little to pack, and stood at the front doors with a sack over his shoulder. (He had worn his mustache and kept his hair dark all the time we'd been at the school, in case anyone should recognize him; I am sure it will please him to go back to normal once he boards his ship again.) Professor Eberhart and I were there to bid him farewell, and we both wished him the best. Then he turned and went away, intending to walk to town where he could catch a carriage for wherever he was meeting his ship.

I thought that was it, but after a minute, something made me run down the pathway after him. "Jack!" I called, then caught myself. "Captain Winters," I panted, coming upon him as he turned around. "Forgive me," I said, still a little out of breath. "I..." What did I want to say, after all? "Thank you. For... Well, you have taught me... many things about the war, and about your part in it. About all our parts, really. I... I see things differently now. And I apologise for... for acting as I did, before. It was foolish of me, and I beg you accept my apology." I curtseyed and kept my eyes downcast.

He didn't say anything for a moment, and I began to get nervous, but then I looked up and he spoke. "I am glad to have enlightened you," he said, sounding neither kind nor stern. Then, sounding a little kinder, he added, "And I am glad that you have admitted it. You have changed since I first met you, Miss Gardener. I know your Gift will flourish under Professor Eberhart's tutelage, and I think you will be an asset to our cause."

Dear Reader, I hardly think I have received such high praise in all my life! I felt a bit of faintness, and feared I would swoon as I had upon meeting Captain Winters (even in the disguise and shabby clothes, his eyes are still almost the prettiest I have ever seen), but I took a deep breath and was all right, then. "Thank you," I managed to breathe, feeling butterflies knocking about inside my chest.

"Farewell, Miss Gardener," he said. He made me a little bow, then turned and was on his way. And that is probably the last I shall ever see of Captain Jack Winters of the Grand Tourbillion.

Goodness, now I hardly feel that I can write about Mr. Miller. Dear Reader, I would never confess this to another living soul, but the same butterflies I felt when I bid Captain Winters goodbye began fluttering within my ribcage when I was around Mr. Miller. I do not know what to think of this! I know that my infatuation with Captain Winters was silly and childish, and that I was in love with the idea of him which had been presented to me in articles and novels and sequential picture books, not the man himself (which I realize I do not know hardly at all, even after spending days on end near him).

If that is true, and I know it to be so, then my feelings for Mr. Miller must be the same, yes? Silly and not based in reality, as I met him under dire circumstances and befriended him out of necessity. For I feel the same faintness, the same nervousness, the same heat in my palms and on my cheeks, around Mr. Miller as I did, upon occasion, around Captain Winters. My heart pounds so hard that at times, I can feel my pulse in my throat and the back of my head. It becomes more difficult to speak, but it is worse with Mr. Miller as I feel I must fill the silence with words! And so I fear I end up sounding like a complete idiot when I do speak.

We have taken to strolling the grounds morning and evening as we used to do on the Erebos. I do not know why. I was only aboard that ship for a handful of days, and it had been more than a week since last I saw him, which one would think would be enough time to forget a habit. But when I returned to the parlour after bidding the captain farewell, Mr. Miller was still there, sitting by the fire. He jumped to his feet when I entered, but I bid him sit, as I had only returned for the sewing I had left the night before. (I felt horrid sitting around doing nothing most of the day, so I begged the housekeeper, whose name I finally learnt was Mrs. Dogwood, to give me something useful to do day before yesterday. Miss P___ would be proud, as I have sat for the last two days patiently hemming sheets with as small and neat of stitches as I can manage.) I meant to take the sewing to my room, but Mr. Miller asked if I would stay. For the sake of keeping each other company, I agreed.

We sat for some time in silence, I sewing and he staring into the fire, but at length I asked if he would not like something to read. The school had quite a nice library, I had been told, though I had not yet ventured there. (I did not admit that it was because I was afraid of running into those awful girls again.) He only shook his head, but nodded in thanks for the suggestion. Then I asked if his shoulder was feeling better. He nodded, but I noticed tension around his mouth and eyes and thought it must still pain him, though I did not ask.

At length, I tired of sewing and wished to stretch my legs. As I put my things away and rose, it occurred to me that it would be only polite to ask him to join me, and so we agreed to meet at the front door in a few minutes' time. This proved rather silly, as our rooms were just down the hall from one another, so he ended up walking me to my door. Instead of going straight to the front door after I got my coat and gloves, I simply waited in the corridor, where he joined me a minute later. Sufficiently bundled up, we headed out of doors, and then to the path which curled around the entirety of the grounds.

The school is bordered on two sides by a forest; on the third, there is a cricket pitch with a field beyond it, and on the fourth side runs the road which leads into Reliance. We are not so far from town that, when it is clear and still, sounds of carriages and shouts cannot be heard, but we are sufficiently removed for town not to be a bother. "Much more refreshing than a dozen turns around a ship, isn't it?" I asked after a while, and he nodded. I suddenly thought it stupid of me to have brought up the Erebos, but then noticed he did not look particularly troubled at its mention. "Do you miss it?" I asked hesitantly. He shook his head without a moment's thought. That at least was a relief.

There were a handful of students out on the grounds, most of them merely taking the air as we were, but a few of the boys seemed to be playing keep-away, making one of the younger boys scream. I was not worried about being seen, however; Professor Eberhart had told me he spread the story that I was his niece, come to visit him as my parents were very ill, and I had been sent away that I might be spared. I have not yet heard if there is a "story" about Mr. Miller; I should ask the professor tonight.

The sky looked like snow yesterday on our morning walk, and indeed has continued grey and heavy-looking, but nothing has happened yet. The dirt beneath our feet was packed hard, and the lawn all around was mostly dead, though there was a bit of greenery around the school building itself in shrubs and little evergreen bushes, as well as in the forest. All was quiet, but for the occasional shout from one of the boys, and we circled the whole of the grounds before returning to our rooms. We parted with a smile in the hallway (and the butterflies returned for a time), and did not see each other until lunch time. We took another walk before supper, while the sun was still up, then dined together, after which I saw the professor. This morning, our walk was mostly the same: quiet, peaceful, and almost comfortable but for the jumping around of my heart every time Mr. Miller cleared his throat, or accidentally let his coat sleeve brush mine. It is most infuriating, being slave to my pulse when all I am trying to do is take a walk with a friend!

It is a very odd friendship, that I admit. We almost never speak, yet somehow we communicate what we need to. I know almost nothing about him, and he knows little about me. Other than writing letters back and forth, I do not know how to rectify that. And at any moment, something could happen to part us again. Bellclaire could show up in the Erebos and take me to Mr. Bergstrom, or shoot Mr. Miller in retaliation for his desertion, or any number of terrible things! Yet I try not to think of all that on our walks, and instead ponder peaceful things like the sound of our footsteps almost--but not quite--in time, or how pretty the forest is at sunset. I feel at ease, then. The best part is that I do not feel like one Bernice or the other. I am not trying to be logical and steadfast and loyal to my country, nor am I worrying about silly temporal things. I simply.... am. And it is nice.


Progress Made and Questions Asked

Oh, Dear Reader, I feel lately like I am two people!

One Bernice is Illuminated, and at once excited by and frightened of her Gifts, but trying very hard to learn how to use them. She meets Professor Greenwater every evening to practice for over an hour, then wants to fall into bed immediately after. But she is loyal to her country and is determined to learn all she can in order to help it, and so she perseveres.

The other Bernice is just a girl, a young woman, with the normal hopes and worries about normal (I think) things. She worries that her clothes are too shabby, that her hair is strange, that her nose is crooked. She wonders if she talks too much and if she says anything when she speaks. She tries her best to know her own heart, but at times finds it so impossible she is nearly moved to tears!

Oh dear, I am afraid I am making very little sense. First I shall write about my lessons with Professor Eberhart, and if my head is any clearer then, I shall write more about the life of the second Bernice.

Last night, Professor Eberhart said he would start me out with the simplest "trick" of all the elements: drawing water from earth. It should be easy, he said, as he set a bucket of damp dirt on the desk before me. The earth was already heavily imbued with water; it was only a matter of separating the two, really.

Well, it was much easier said than done. I tried to call up the feeling I had when I sent objects through the air, but that didn't help much at all. After staring at the bucket with no effect for several minutes, Professor Eberhart tried to help.

"See it in your mind. Imagine the drops flowing up through the earth and beading on the surface. One drop at a time. Do not imagine the top of the bucket filling with water. Start small. One single drop of water."

This seemed to help, though only a little. I stared at the earth for several more minutes, imagining in my mind, as the professor said, that a single drop of water was rising from the middle of the dirt, up, up, to break through the surface. When that didn't work, I pretended that I was the drop of water, struggling inch by inch toward the top of the bucket, but that was even less helpful, and gave me a bit of a headache.

(I can imagine this was very boring for the professor, but he merely sat opposite me in his great big chair, arms folded, and watched silently.)

The ache at the base of my skull grew worse, and I wished for a glass of water to drink, but did not want to ask for one as I was supposed to be working. I licked my lips and swallowed to moisten my dry mouth, and that is when things "clicked" in my mind. I longed for water at that moment, and suddenly several drops appeared on the earth at the top of the bucket! I looked up at Professor Eberhart, smiling, and he nodded his bald head up and down.

"Good, good," he said calmly. "Again."

After another twenty minutes or so, I seemed to have mastered it well enough in the professor's opinion, for he brought out a different bucket of earth, drier than the first. It took more time and a lot more concentration, but eventually I succeeded in pulling a few drops to the surface, and then a few more.

"You have done well," he said to me as he took the second bucket away. I breathed a sigh of relief and leaned back in my chair. "Tomorrow we shall do more with water. Heat it and cool it, and move it if you can."

"Wow," I breathed. I had never thought I would be doing such things, yet here I was, manipulating the elements just like Catherine in the books! That brought to mind a question. "Are you teaching me this so I can..." But then I trailed off, embarrassed.

"Yes?" the professor prompted.

"Well, I..." I'd been meaning to ask if I would be able to call up golems of earth and stone to defeat our enemies, like Catherin did, but thought it would sound terribly absurd aloud. Instead, I asked, "Why am I learning all of this? You hinted at a conflict, but what can I do to help?"

He cleared his throat, and it seemed he was stalling for time to think of an answer. "I do not wish to involve you too deeply yet," he said. "Right now it is mostly conjecture. Hints and whispers." He cleared his throat again. "But there has been talk of some of the old loyalists--like our friend, Mr. Bergstrom--wishing to turn our country back over to Britannia. Mostly it is members of the upper class, those who own companies which use things we import from Britannia (and are heavily taxed, so the public buys little of it), or who control trade routes. Those who used to hold titles, or their fathers did, before we did away with them. In other words, those who had the most to lose when we won the war, and the most to gain if we went back to Britannian rule."

This was very bad news indeed. The war had gone on for nearly a decade and was hard-won. As a new country (relatively speaking), we had fewer resources and fewer soldiers on our side. Miss P___ still talked about the rationing, the way all spare metal was donated for bullets and bayonets, and how the women knit stockings and caps and the like for the soldiers. As I learned in my lessons, our country was still experiencing the aftermath of the war: bombed buildings still being rebuilt, women and children left homeless because their husbands and fathers were killed in the war, and so they were unable to keep their houses. Because of this, crime rates rose because the homeless children turned to theft and worse to get by, and fallen women were more and more common, especially in the larger cities. After all the trouble we'd been through to win the war (just ask Captain Winters), and all the trouble we were still having because we'd won, how could these Loyalists think of turning the country back over to the very people we'd defeated? It was sickening, really. And rather terrifying, to think I might play a part in stopping it.

"Do not trouble yourself about it now," Professor Eberhart said, as if he could read my thoughts. "If anything is to happen, it will not be for some time yet. All you can do right now is practice your Gift, and get plenty of rest. On that note," he said as he rose, "I think you should return to your rooms for the night. Goodnight, Miss Gardener."

The name still sounded strange to my ears, and I curtseyed belatedly because it took me a moment to realize he was speaking to me. As I had the night before, I was asleep the moment my cheek touched my pillow, worn out from such hard work at my lessons with the professor.

Oh dear, it is time for lunch now. Captain Winters left just after breakfast this morning, so it is to be Mr. Miller and me alone. It will feel strange, I think. I had convinced myself that I would never see him again, yet here he is now, and for I know not how long. I shall ask him his intentions over our meal, though I suppose I shall have to ask the housekeeper for paper and pen once more, if I am to get any reply.


An Old Friend and A Vile Plot

Dear Reader, you will never, ever guess who I met on my walk yesterday! Not if I gave you twelve guesses and then told you it was someone I thought I would never see here, of all places!

It was not Miss P___ or Maggie, nor was it anyone I knew at Saint Anne's. It was not Adelaide Kynton or any of her family. No, you will never guess, so I shall tell you.

Zebediah Miller emerged from the woods at the edge of the lawn yesterday afternoon on my walk! His clothes were very dirty, more of a grey colour than the off-white they are supposed to be. There was a hole in the knee of his trousers, and one of his fingerless gloves was coming unraveled at the cuff. There were several scratches on his face, and dark circles beneath his eyes, but his posture improved when he saw me, though I noticed he still kept his left arm close to his side. Evidently the gunshot wound in his shoulder still pained him.

"Mr. Miller!" I cried, and I had to shout loudly for I was near the building, and he was many metres away. He waved with his good arm and limped toward me as I wondered what on earth had happened to him, why he was here, and how he came to be here.

I met him in the middle of the lawn, and when he was close, he held out his hand to me. I took it gladly, clasping it between both my own gloved hands. "Are you all right?" I asked. "How is your shoulder?" He nodded, though he looked pained. "My goodness, come in, please. However did you find me?"

You know, I do not know why I always ask him questions. I know he cannot answer unless there is a piece of paper before him and a pen in his hand. He can communicate somewhat through gestures and expressions, but of course he cannot reply to specific questions. I am sure he is used to it, especially from people he just meets, but it must get tiresome. I shall try to do better from now on.

To continue: I brought him into the parlour where Captain Winters and I took our meals. Unfortunately, the Captain was already there. We hadn't taken two steps into the room before he was on his feet with his pistol drawn and cocked. I assured him that Mr. Miller meant no harm, but the captain sent me to the far side of the room and made Mr. Miller empty all his pockets (and they did not contain much), gun drawn all the while. When at last he was satisfied, he allowed me to ring for tea, which was brought shortly. The captain thought it would be wise to call Professor Eberhart, and so after a while, he arrived as well, though he could only stay briefly as he had a class soon.

I explained to them both how kind Mr. Miller had been to me while I was aboard the Royal Erebos, and how he had been shot by Jacobs in the fray during my rescue. Captain Winters looked pleased at this point in my tale, but I ignored him and continued on to tell of how Mr. Miller emerged from the forest in this state, and how I found him.

"Well, what have you to say for yourself?" Professor Eberhart asked. Of course I had told them both that he was unable to speak, so it was merely a figure of speech.

In answer, Mr. Miller turned to me and touched his fingers over his heart, then pointed at me. "Mr. Miller," I murmured, blushing, but he leaned forward and shook his head, then repeated the gesture. "I am sorry, I do not understand," I said. Was he saying he loved me? Why declare it in front of two strangers? How was one to react to such a thing?

But it was not that at all. Looking as though he were suppressing his frustration, Mr. Miller rose and took my coat from the coat rack near the door and brought it to me. He tapped the outside of it, the part that would lay over my heart when I wore it, then reached into the inside pocket there and pulled out a folded piece of paper. "Oh my!" I cried. "You were telling me about this!" I felt very much a fool then, for thinking he had declared himself when all he meant was for me to check my pockets. How stupid I was! The thought never crossed my mind, that he meant something in the coat itself, and not my own person. He must have put it there the night before we were to arrive in Franklin Bay, or even earlier, when he helped me on with my coat.

I have here copied the contents of the note, though I cannot imitate his strange, all-capital writing where bits and pieces of letters are missing:

"You are being taken to Mr. Victor Bergstrom , in Franklin Bay. He was a staunch Loyalist during the war, but talked and bribed his way out of any charges, though he was deeply involved. You are Gifted, Miss Greenwater, and those Gifts must not be used for Mr. Bergstrom's benefit as he intends. I will make sure I am your personal escort on the way to his home, but I know of a place where we can slip away in the crowded city, and then flee. Stay close by me, and trust me. I do this for your safety, and indeed for the safety of our country. Destroy this letter by fire as soon as you have read it, and never speak of it to me until we are well away from Captain Belleclaire and the Erebos."

He meant to help me all along, and I was ignorant of it all this time! Captain Winters, of course, felt that his way of rescuing me was far superior to that of a pirate's and a deserter's, and dismissed Mr. Miller's plan as foolish and dangerous. (He is unaware of Mr. Miller's true capabilities, so I would indeed have trusted him to get me away, but Captain Winters need not know that now.)

Wisely, Professor Eberhart stepped in before anything could happen between the other two gentlemen. "Right now, the heart of the matter is that Mr. Miller knows Miss Gardener--Greenwater," he amended at Mr. Miller's puzzled look, "is Illuminated. Yet if I understand correctly, you hold no formal title on the Erebos?" Mr. Miller nodded. "So you are not normally privy to all the details of the, ah... jobs... you are hired to do, only your part in them?" Another nod. "How, then, did you come to learn of Miss Gardener's circumstances and vow to help her?"

"I"ll explain about my name later," I said softly to Mr. Miller, and he held out his hand in the same sort of gesture one would use to tell a dog to "stay," which I understood to mean, "I shall wait." He then asked, by pantomime, for paper and pen, which I quickly procured. Rather than copy down what he wrote, I shall tell it in my own words:

Most of their jobs on the Erebos involved smuggling: pick up such and such cargo from such and such a place at such and such a time, and transport it to such and such other location. Occasionally they smuggled people, but mainly people--adult men--who had done some wrong to their employer, for which the employer wanted repayment or even revenge. (He declined to go into details as he was in the presence of a lady.) So when a young woman, defenseless and entirely ignorant of the reasons she was brought aboard, was their quarry, his suspicions were raised. Belleclaire trusted him implicitly, and would never think that Mr. Miller would betray that trust. However, he did so by looking into the captain's log book, which told him that I was Illuminated and was to be delivered to Mr. Bergstrom for his own personal use.

The sight of those words on the parchment, which Professor Eberhart, Captain Winters, and myself were all crowded around, chilled me to the bone. "For his own personal use." I could not bear to think about it, and returned to my place in the chair next to Mr. Miller feeling somewhat faint. The professor had been right, then, in telling me that the other side would want to use my Gift for their own advancement.

He went on to say, as I found when I could breathe normally once more and finish reading the parchment, that the Erebos, too, had docked in Orangeburg to refuel and restock shortly after we did on the Tourbillion. He left the ship then, without being noticed, and it was his hope that they would not realize he was absent until they had been in the air for some time and it was too late to go back. All he had to go on was that I had told him my intentions to go to Eastern Madison Academy. If he did not find me here, nor any trace that I had been, he would have at that point reevaluated his options. Whatever happened, he knew he must warn me of Mr. Bergstrom's intentions. Belleclaire never returned to his clients empty-handed, and so Mr. Miller said he must be on the hunt for me as well.

I thanked him as profusely and as well as I knew how. Even though I was well and safe now, he had not known that, and had risked much--all!--to ensure my well-being. Hearing my praise of his courage and virtue lit his eyes up from the inside, and he looked a little less tired after hearing it.

However, that did not mean he was not really tired. Professor Eberhart called the housekeeper again to request a room for the new guest, and also that laundry services should be deployed post-haste to take care of his clothing. Mr. Miller bid us farewell for the time being, then retired to his room.

We have dined together thrice since then, supper, breakfast, and lunch, and it would be like "old times" if Captain Winters was not here. However, he said he will be rejoining the Tourbillion tomorrow in a town a few hours off by carriage. He will have to hire someone to bring the glider on as well, and will leave very early in the morning.

That is quite a lot that I have just related! And while I would like to record my recent attempts at using my Illumination, I cannot put it into coherent words now. Last night I did indeed practice with Professor Eberhart for another hour and one half, then fell into bed exhausted. However, I can now chose any object in a room and make it soar through the air as if it weighed nothing, merely by thinking of it! Tonight we are to move onto something more difficult: I shall begin to learn how to control the elements!


Truth Learnt and Great Feats Performed

Dear Reader, I am excited beyond measure and have been since last night, but I am going to do my best to relate everything in the order in which it happened, so as to better preserve the memories for myself and anyone else who would care to hear them told someday.

It is morning now, and Professor Eberhart has classes all day. (Look, I am already starting at the end. Oh, well.) I begged to see him during lunch, but he said that he usually dines with the other faculty in the Dining Hall. (The students eat there, too.) It is suspicious enough, he says, that a young woman and a stranger has been going to his office daily, but if he were to deviate from his routine, for which he is well-known, people would begin to wonder. I asked why it was important to keep this such a secret, but he only said that until we know more about why Belleclaire was taking me to Franklin Bay, and to whom he was taking me, we should be careful and quiet concerning how we carry on. I suppose that makes sense.

He also said that I must not ever use Illumination in the presence of others. He knows Captain Winters and trusts him, so Jack is exempt, but I am not to display my Gift under any circumstances to anyone but Jack Winters and the professor himself, until he says otherwise.

Oh yes, Dear Reader, I have made use of my Gift since last I wrote in this diary! And, more wondrous than that, I have learnt of my family! It is not at all how I thought it was; the story Professer Eberhart told me was very different than what I have believed all my life. I see now, though, why I was told the lie. It was for my own protection, and the protection of those who knew me, for if my true identity was known, I and all my friends would have been in danger. I was even given a different surname, to disguise me further! I am no longer Miss Greenwater, but--

Well, now I am getting ahead of myself again. All right, I shall try and start over.

When I arrived at Professor Eberhart's office last night, I could practically feel my skin tingling, I was so on-edge and excited. At once, I burst out with a dozen questions, none of which, I am sure, made any sort of sense to the professor, as they all tumbled out on top of one another, my words blurring together. (Miss P___ used to say that I sounded like an over-excited chicken when I got worked up about something, and made almost as much sense. I think she was mostly joking, though.)

The professor's silence and stern look was enough to calm me, after the first torrent of words was over, and I sat quietly with my hands in my lap so I would not fidget. Several seconds passed, which seemed like several hours, then at last the professor asked, "How are you feeling tonight, Miss?"

"Confused, sir," I answered. "And... a little frightened."

"Mm, yes. All the information you received last night certainly came as a shock to you. But you are feeling well, after your swoon?"

"Oh, yes, sir. Perfectly well, thank you."

"Good." He nodded, then cleared his throat. "I suppose I first must tell you that your name is not Greenwater." He paused a moment, for me to digest that. I do not think I really did, and in fact, I am still getting used to it. It is so strange to be called one thing all my life, and then suddenly learn that no, I am not that, I am something else. Someone else.

"What... is my name, then?" I asked slowly.

"You are Bernice Gardener," he told me, and paused again so I could get used to the idea. At least I have the same initials, I thought, though really it doesn't matter since I have nothing monogrammed but the handkerchiefs I have done myself.

"Gardener," I repeated softly. "Why was I told my name was Greenwater all this time?" I asked.

It will be easier and make more sense if I here relate all Professor Eberhart told me, without my interruptions and requests for clarification. Now I have had time to think about it and put it together in my mind, and so here it is:

My parents were not John and Mary Greenwater, but George and Alice Gardener. They were deeply involved in the war, though very few knew of it. They were part of a group of spies and underground fighters who infiltrated meetings of the Loyalists (which were what those still loyal to Britannia called themselves) by pretending to oppose independence and support continued relations with and rule by Britannia. My mother and father, apparently, were some of the best, having brought down many many Loyalists. (I am unclear if they themselves arrested--or possibly did away with--these Loyalists, or if they merely reported them to the Amerigonian authorities. I do not think I wish to know just now.)

However, about six months before I was born, a traitor among them betrayed the entire group, who called themselves Libertists, and they were forced to go into hiding. Fleeing the attacking forces of the Loyalists, my parents and their friends made haste into the Falls Lake Forest at the base of Foresight Peak. Traveling by night and sleeping by day, taking turns with watches, they went further and further into the forest, until they began to climb the mountain. Fortune favoured them, for one night they found a crevasse not far up the side of the mountain, which widened into a cave large enough to house them all. They numbered about fifty at the time (six having been picked off by the pursuing Loyalists throughout the previous days). However, once they were safe inside the mountain, the Loyalists caught up to them and trapped them within it, laying siege. The Loyalists were kept at a distance by the use of the Libertists' men's rifles, but they knew they could not stay there forever.

Four days they were trapped in that cave, and four days they spent searching the various branches of the cave, more massive than they had first thought, for an alternate way out. If even a few of them could escape, they knew, they could reach friends in the nearby town of Smithsfield who would come to their rescue. But after four days they had run out of food (and unable to hunt or forage for more), and were losing hope. Deep within the cave was a spring, which thankfully provided them with fresh drinking water, but they knew they could not survive much longer without any other sustenance.

But at the source of the spring, deep inside the mountain, lay certain crystals. Sacred Crystals, the likes of which have not been seen for over two centuries. They knew not how they came to be there or who put them there, but when the Libertists realized what they were, they made a pact to Illuminate themselves with the Crystals in order to escape the cave and defeat the Loyalists, and from then on they would hide the Crystals and their Gift unless there was dire need for either or both.

And so the Loyalists were defeated and my parents and their comrades escaped unharmed and went back into the world to win the war, bit by bit, sometimes using their Gifts and sometimes not.

Things are usually darkest before the dawn, as Miss P___ would say, and only months before the war was truly won, my parents were in great danger and fled across the country under assumed names, trying to save themselves and their infant daughter--me. And, said Professor Eberhart, since my mother was with child at the time she took the Illumination into herself, I was born with that same Gift.

Almost more shocking than all of this was the true tale of my parents' death. They did not perish in the crash of the dirigible the Defender's Pride, as I have believed all these years, but were murdered brutally in their home by a branch of Loyalists on the west coast, where I was raised and where they thought they would be safe. To this day, it is not known how the Loyalists found them, but the following morning the neighbours (for my parents lived in a small flat in a rickety tenement house) finally called the police, after hearing a baby--me--squall for hours on end. Miraculously, a pair of Libertists arrived before the law did (and were, themselves, police officers), so they were able to smuggle me away and invent a new name and a new story for the death of my parents when I was brought to Saint Anne's. To give credence to the story, one of the men took my mother's locket and burned it on one side, so it would appear to have been singed in a great fire. The Pride having crashed outside of town just that morning, they were provided with a good cover story.

Whomever had ordered my family killed, Professor Eberhart said, was surely furious to learn that the infant child of the Gardeners had been left alive. Bless the bumbling fools who could not find it in their hearts to murder a baby, even if they were wicked Loyalists! But that is why a new name and a new story was invented for me; if the Loyalists had been able to find me, knowing I was Illuminated, they would surely have killed me to save themselves the trouble later, or, worse, kept me for their own purposes, raising me amongst lies until I was old enough and strong enough with my Gift to advance their agenda.

But it is too late now! For I am alive, and the professor says I am to help with some new great struggle between Amerigo and Britannia! He did not go into details, saying he had given me enough information for the day, but said he would explain all soon enough. Until then, I am to practice with my Gift in private and under his supervision, to prepare myself for what I think could be another war!

After all of this was told to me, the professor again brought out the paperweight and ordered me to move it. I struggled for some time, but still could not, to my great anger and frustration.

"How did you move it last night?" he asked me. We were, as before, standing on opposite sides of his great desk.

"I don't know!" I cried, trying hard not to pull my hair out from vexation. "I only thought about it, and it happened! But I have not been able to do so since."

"What were you thinking about, when you moved it?" he pressed. "Did you call on some memory, some feeling?"

I thought for a moment, trying to remember. "I... I recalled the fear I felt when you first threw the object at me," I said slowly, working it out as I spoke. "I made myself feel the same shock and... terror... as I did when I saw the cube hurling through the air toward my face."

"Recall that fear once more," the professor urged. "Feel the tenseness of your muscles, the leap of your heart. Convince yourself that your very safety depends on you moving the cube."

It took several minutes, but at last the paperweight slid across the desk first one way, then the other. I looked up at him, beaming, and he nodded somberly. I suppose that is all the more excited he gets about anything, but it seemed high praise to me. "Very good," was all he said. "Again."

We worked for another half an hour, then he sent me back to my room to rest, for I was exhausted after all the strain. I am to return this evening for more practice moving things with my thoughts, and if I am doing well with that, Professor Eberhart said we would progress to other things.

The morning has gone and it is now early afternoon. I shall here conclude for the day, and take a stroll on the grounds to refresh myself.


A Missed Appointment and A Troublesome Trio

Oh my, I am tired. I got only a few hours of sleep last night, and it was not at all restful. I cannot imagine that fainting unconscious is very good for one's health, and after I woke and wrote in my diary in the early hours of the morning, I could not return to sleep for quite some time. I slept fitfully and had stressful dreams, though I cannot now recall what they were about. Only that I felt as though I had been running all night, and woke almost more exhausted than I was when I finally drifted into sleep.

Unfortunately I slept through breakfast, and by the time I had thrown on my clothes and dashed up to Professor Eberhart's office, he was no longer there. I knocked, to no answer, and after a moment I put my eye to the keyhole and saw it was dark inside; even the curtains had been pulled closed. Sighing, I trudged back toward the parlour where Captain Winters and I ate our meals, hoping there would be something left of breakfast for me. On the way I finally met some of the students that attend this school.

I have just realized I have not yet said the name of the school! It is the Eastern Madison Academy for Fine Young Men and Women, and a very old institution. Its tuition fees, I have heard, are high enough that only very select students are admitted, children age twelve and over from "old money" families, some even descended from the nobility of Brittainia, before we did away with titles.

Therefore, what happened next should come as no surprise.

Three young ladies about my age dressed all in pure sparkling white came arm-in-arm down the corridor toward me, whispering to each other and laughing softly. "Excuse me," I called out as they neared. "Could you tell me if you know where Professor Eb--"

"Look!" Interrupted the girl in the center, by far the prettiest and clearly the leader by how she carried herself and how she spoke. "A new servant girl."

"Actually, I'm a guest at the school. I've come to..." But before I had two words out, they all erupted into laughter and passed me without a backwards glance.

Now, I realize I looked rather shabby in the disguise Captain Winters made me wear. (In fact, I am now in the fine clothes given me by Belleclaire, despite how it pains me to wear a gift from him.) But shabby dress is no reason to assume someone is a servant. Even if I were a servant, there was no excuse for those ill-mannered, spoilt prisses to treat me as though I were nothing more than a piece of trash littering the corridor. Miss P___ always taught us to never judge a book by its cover, nor to decide upon something without learning about it thoroughly first, whether it be a person, a town, or anything else! It seems that having money means you needn't be taught manners, at least according to those three students.

It is just before lunch as I write this, and Professor Eberhart has sent a note telling me that he was sorry I missed our morning meeting, but that after the shock I had last night, he thought it best I sleep as late as I pleased. We have made another appointment for tonight after supper, and I can hardly sit still, I am so excited! At long last, I shall learn everything about my parents, and more than that, about this gift of Illumination I suddenly know I possess! (I have tried several times to move small objects with my thoughts, but have not yet succeeded. I do hope the professor can tell me why, as it is rather worrying. Perhaps last night was all a dream.)


A Very Great Shock and Still No Answers

It is late, or rather very early, but I must put this all down before I forget it, before I think it was all a dream. Perhaps in writing it, I shall convince myself that it was real.

Professor Eberhart was delayed from returning last night as we had been told he would, though the housekeeper did not tell us why. But he returned shortly before supper today (and what a long and boring day it was), as we were told by the housekeeper at our meal. We were also told that he would not be receiving guests until tomorrow morning. At this point, Captain Winters leaned in close to her and said something which I could not hear, but she nodded and left the room. (We have been dining alone in the little parlour in which we were first installed upon our arrival, as no other guests are currently staying at the school. Meals are mostly silent affairs, but not a comfortable silence like it was with Mr. Miller.) When she returned some fifteen minutes later, she said, "The professor will see you, sir," and we both rose to our feet, but Captain Winters gave me a stern look and told me to stay there for the time being. Frowning, I returned to my seat, and pushed the remainder of my meal around my plate in order to look like I was not yet finished, and thus be allowed to remain in the parlour.

After half an hour, the captain returned and said I was to come with him. I jumped up eagerly and followed him down a corridor, up a couple of flights of stairs, and down another few corridors, where at last we stopped in front of a door identical to the dozens of others we had passed but for the small engraved plaque on the wall next to it reading "Professor Josef H. Eberhart, Botany and Biology."

"After you," said the captain, and I entered after rapping briefly on the door and being told by a voice from inside to enter.

Behind the door was a very fine office, displaying the esteem in which the school held Professor Eberhart. The walls were paneled with dark wood polished to a gleam, and a thick carpet lay upon the floor. The desk was massive, as were the chairs in front of it and the throne (for that is how it seemed) behind it. In it sat a rather stout man of about five and sixty with a fringe of white hair above his ears, and a white beard and mustache. He wore a suit of dark green with a crisp white shirt under an emerald waistcoat. There were rings on many of his fingers, and a fine watch chain looped from one pocket, through a buttonhole, and into the other pocket. All of this I noticed later, however, because the truly remarkable thing about this very well-off professor was his right eye.

It was mechanical. I do not mean that it was a normal eye moved by mechanics, but that it was made of brass, with tiny working parts inside it. I cannot fathom how it worked, but there was an iris of what looked like real emeralds set in gold, and within that a pupil made up of many tiny pieces of metal which moved in accord to dilate larger and smaller. When all was quiet, it could be heard making very faint whirring sounds when he moved it or focused on something nearer or further away.

"Miss... Greenwater," he said in a deep, gruff voice. "Come in." Trying my best not to look terribly intimidated by the splendour around me as well as the man before me, I took one careful step after another until I was just behind one of the two chairs facing his desk. I gave a curtsey to the best of my ability (and I think Miss P___ would've been proud, had she seen me), then stood with my hands clasped in front of myself.

"Well, sit, sit," he urged rather impatiently, and I hurried around to the front of the chair and practically dropped into it. Captain Winters took the other chair a moment later. "Captain Jack Winters has told me your story," said the professor, and I noted his Germanian accent. I did not know what to say to that, so I remained silent until Professor Eberhart spoke again. "You have had quite an adventure."

I could not see his lips move beneath his mustache; it seemed almost as though words were coming straight out of the middle of a bush of white, bristly hair. The thought was ludicrously funny, and I bit my tongue hard to keep from laughing, which would be most inappropriate. "Yes, sir," I managed to say, and finally sobered myself by thinking Jack Winters had surely brought me here because Professor Eberhart could tell me something about my family. It was enough to calm me down.

"I was wondering if you might tell me your tale in your own words," said the professor.

"If it pleases you, sir," I said, but then I was not sure where to start.

"You boarded the train the Arabella Genevieve..." Winters prompted, and that got me going.

I told the professor everything. Much of the wording of my story was fresh in my mind, having just told Captain Winters the entirety of my tale a few days before, but I added on at times, recalling details I had forgotten and including things I had read in my diary when I was looking through it this morning, having nothing else to do. I told him all about the Kyntons, and noticed when he sat up a little straighter at the mention of Mr. and Mrs. Kynton, especially when I told him of their comparison of me to someone named Alice. I described my kidnapping and my time on the Royal Erebos, including Captain Belleclaire's taunts and Zebediah Miller's kindness. Then of my rescue by Captain Winters and his crew, and my brief stay on the Grand Tourbilion. I finished by describing our terrifying "glide" to the outskirts of town, and how we made our way to the school the day before yesterday, though I left out Captain Winters' outburst. At the end of the telling, I was quite exhausted, but I felt strangely better than I had felt for days. It is such a relief to write in this diary, Dear Reader, but telling my joys and woes to this stern, grandfatherly-looking professor unburdened my heart wonderfully!

When I was through at last, Professor Eberhart had one arm crossed over his stomach with his elbow propped on it, leaning his chin on his fist and staring intently at me. "Might I see your locket, young lady?" he asked. I began to stand up and open my locket, but he said, "No no, I would like to see it up close. If you would not mind removing it all together...?"

I did as he asked, unclasping it from around my neck, then leaning across the desk to place the necklace in his soft hand. The locket was already open, and he brought his hand up to his face to see it close. I heard the quiet whir of his mechanical eye focusing, and watched it with fascination as he studied the images within my locket.

"These are your parents?" he asked, looking up at me, and I nodded. "And you have always had this locket?" I told him the story I told Captain Winters not long ago, how I was brought to Saint Anne's with the singed locket tucked amongst the blankets I was wrapped in, how either the man who rescued me took it from around my mother's throat, or my mother pulled it from her neck and put it in my cradle as her dying act.

Professor Eberhart asked Captain Winters if he would please leave us for a while, which the captain did without a word. I watched him go, a puzzled expression on my face, but turned back to the professor silently, waiting for him to speak.

He first returned my locket to me, and after I closed it and put it back on, he said in slow, measured words. "I knew your parents, Miss... Greenwater."

"You did?" I gasped. "Oh, that is wonderful news! What were they like? How did you know them? Why didn't you say so before?" I was ecstatic, my heart was soaring! At long last, the thing I had yearned for all my life was just within my reach!

"I shall tell you everything very soon," he said in that same slow, careful way, as if he were afraid I would shatter if he spoke too loudly or too harshly. "But first, I want you to do something for me."

This was very unexpected, but I nodded.

He took a black stone paperweight from the edge of his desk and placed it in the center, right between us. "I want you to move this without touching it," he said, and gave me the same intense stare as before.

I did not respond for several seconds, but at last asked, "Move it... without touching it?" He nodded. Wondering if old age had dulled his mind, I scooted to the edge of my seat, then leaned forward and blew on the paperweight, very hard. Of course nothing happened, but I could think of no other way to move the thing without touching it..

Professor Eberhart chuckled and waved me back into my seat. "Very good, Miss, but that will not work. Nor may you touch the desk, nor may you move from your chair, understand? I only want you to concentrate, and will the object to move."

I blinked at him. "What, you mean like... Illumination?" He nodded again, and I laughed. "But I'm not Illuminated! Haven't you been listening? My parents were normal people. My father was on his way to a job as a manager in a textile mill, before the dirigible crash. My parents had one trunk between them that was burnt to ash, nothing more."

He said nothing in reply, just kept watching me.

"You do not understand!" I insisted. "I cannot move that paperweight with my thoughts alone! I am just like you, I have no special gifts! It is impossible!"

"You are just like me, Miss," he said quietly. "Only you do not know it yet. Now, try."

I clenched my teeth in frustration, but to appease him, I stared long and hard at the black stone cube. It had letters carved into it, but I was too far away to read them. Nothing happened. And then, more nothing happened.

"I cannot!" I cried, raising my hands. "I cannot move it with my mind!"

"You can!" the professor shouted, punctuating his words by banging a fist on the desk. The sound startled me and I jumped, my heart pounding. "You must! Now do it!" He pounded the desk again and once again, it startled me.

"I can't!"

"Do it!"

He was making me angry, and scared, and all together very upset. He was asking me to do the impossible! Only a very few people in the entire nation are Illuminated enough to do such things, those of good old blood. Their half-breed children and children's children (shunned by the family for their ill-advised marriages and pairings) have odd little gifts, enough to earn coins on a street corner by turning handkerchiefs into doves and the like, or to amuse their friends at dinner parties, but that is all. "I can't!" I cried once more.

He was on his feet quicker than I would have thought possible for a man his age, leaning over the desk at me. "Why do you say you can't if you have not even tried?" he demanded.

"I have tried!" I shouted back, too angry to realize I was yelling at my elder and better. "I cannot do it!"

"You will do it!" He picked up the stone cube and pulled his arm back as if to throw it, and I flinched, throwing my arms up in front of my face, but he kept his grip on it.

"Look at me!" he cried, and I lowered my arms. And then he did throw it, straight at me!

And, Dear Reader, I know not how, but the heavy stone cube veered off as it flew toward my face, curved sharply just inches from my nose, and tumbled harmlessly onto the carpet.

I was on my feet an instant later, scrambling backwards to put the chair between the professor and I. "What did you do?" I demanded, my voice and hands shaking.

"I did nothing," he smiled rather smugly, clasping his hands behind his back. "It was you who did it."

"I did not!" I cried. "Tell me what you did!"

"Look, let us see if you can do it again," he said, and walked around to retrieve the cube. He placed it in the center of his desk again, and stepped back to stand at the side of the desk. "Go ahead," he urged. "Move it again."

"I didn't move it before!" I insisted. I must have thrown up my arms at the last instant, and was not yet feeling the pain because of nerves. Or perhaps there was a mechanical contraption hidden inside the paperweight and it had flown off to the side after the professor had secretly wound it up.

"Bernice," he said sharply, and the sound of my given name shocked me so much that I looked at him. "You are Illuminated," he said slowly. "You have the gift. You have power most can only dream of. And if you will only believe that you have it, I can show you how to use it."

"No," I whispered, shaking my head. Everyone, I think, at some point or another, dreams that they are special, that they can do something no one else can, that they have something unique about them that makes them unlike any other person on the planet. But when I was faced with that truth, I did not want it anymore! I wanted to be comfortable and normal, I wanted to run from the room, run all the way back to Saint Anne's, and pretend none of this had ever happened!

"Yes, Bernice. You hold something extraordinary inside you," he whispered. "Let it out. See what it can do." He leaned forward and nudged the black cube so it slid an inch across the desk. "Move this with your thoughts." Then he stepped back, and I couldn't see him anymore. All I saw was the cube, and its blurred reflection in the highly-polished red-brown shine of the wood it sat upon.

I could move it with my thoughts. I had power inside me, I was among the ranks of the Illuminated. Could it be true? And what about my parents? Did they have the gift too? Professor Eberhart said he would tell me all, if only I did as he asked. All I had to do was move the cube of stone on his desk without touching it.

I stared at it so long I thought I would burn a hole in its side with my gaze. But I concentrated, I willed myself to believe that I had the power to move objects as I wished. I remembered the thrill of terror I felt when I saw the paperweight hurling through the air straight at my face, how I wanted to protect myself but could not move my arms fast enough.

And then it happened. As I watched, the object slid across the surface of the desk, as I had seen a magnet do with another magnet underneath the table. But surely there were no magnets. To prove that theory wrong, I willed the paperweight to move the other way... and it did. I glanced up at the professor, and he nodded and gave that same smug smile.

"How did I do that?" I asked faintly. Then the room tipped sideways, and went black.

And here I am, with a note from Professor Eberhart that I am to visit him after breakfast tomorrow morning, which will be in just a few hours, by the look of the grey sky out my window. Then, he wrote, he will explain everything.
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