A Mishap Narrowly Avoided and Someone New

Nothing, nothing, and more nothing. No word from Professor Eberhart. Nowhere we can go but the library, our rooms, and the dining room. Nothing to occupy us but reading, and sewing, on my part. Zebediah has given me his old pair of trousers so I can mend the knee. The maid got the blood stains out of his clothes most admirably (and did not mention them, thank goodness), but I begged her to let me patch them up, just for something to do. After the trousers, I shall work on the unraveling cuff of his fingerless gloves.

I suppose I may as well do that now, while the light is still good. We passed the morning with more poetry, and invented some more hand words when we lacked the gestures to discuss the poems. Now it is about one, and I shall return to the library to make use of the sunlight.


Mr. Troxill just made a very good point, as he passed by the open doorway. "Oh, my dear, you should not sit so close to the window," he said. "I would certainly hate for anyone passing by to recognize you."

I thanked him and apologised for my foolishness, then moved further into the room after half-drawing the curtains. Zebediah kindly brought a lamp nearer to me, though I did notice the glare he gave Mr. Troxill's back as our host left. I did not say anything, though, as it would only lead to another argument, which would benefit neither of us. Close quarters cause conflict, Miss P___ would say (both as advice and as a tongue-twister to make us work on our enunciation when reciting), and I do want to avoid trouble.


I have met someone new! An hour before dinner, Zebediah and I returned to our rooms, but I realized I had forgotten my pen in the library. I wouldn't have bothered, only I didn't want to leave clutter in someone else's home, so I hurried back downstairs to retrieve it. Expecting the dimly-lit room to be empty, I gave a little cry when I noticed a figure bending over the fire.

Immediately, the person stood up, and I could see it was a young woman about my age or a little older. Only when I took a second look, something seemed not quite right. There was a gleam of metal at her wrists and throat, but not of jewelry. She held herself stiffly, and when she moved, it was as though... I cannot describe it very well, but it was as though she calculated every flex and stretch of muscle to stand just so; as if she had memorized certain positions and forced herself into them. "Sorry to have disturbed you," she said almost too softly to be heard, though it seemed I was the one who had disturbed her.

As I had come for my pen, I snatched it up from the table quickly, then turned my attention back to the girl. The more I think of her face, the younger she seems to look. "I'm Bernice Greenwater," I said, and took a few steps forward so I could hold out my hand for her to shake.

She hesitated a moment, looking at my hand like it was a poisonous plant, but then she gingerly took my fingers between her own for all of a second and a half before letting go. "Pleased to meet you," she murmured in the same quiet voice, then turned toward the door.

"Are you a guest here as well?" I asked quickly. Meeting her was the most interesting thing that had happened for two days, and I did not want her to leave just yet.

"I am not to roam the house when there are strangers present," she said, and again started toward the door. As she moved, I heard a faint whirring sound, like the noise Professor Eberhart's eye made when he moved or focused it. And her movements were so careful and stiff... I realized the metal at her joints were indeed her joints! Her face and head seemed lifelike enough, and her hair, as well as her hands and fingers. But the collar of her dress covered her neck up to her chin, her sleeves were long, and her skirt covered her feet, so I could not see more. I hesitate to say she was entirely of clockwork, but she was certainly not entirely human, either. It just seems so odd, because such creatures have not been known to exist for several centuries.

"I'm not a stranger," I told her, trying to get her to stay. "I'm a guest of Mr. Troxill's. Mr. Miller and I. Have you seen him around, too?"

She shook her head. "I am not to roam the house when strangers are present," she repeated, then nearly ran to the door. When she had pulled it open, she paused in the doorway, then looked back over her shoulder at me. "Please do not tell him you saw me," she said. "Please."

There was such earnestness in her eyes, perhaps even fear, that I nodded immediately, and then she was gone. I followed her as quickly as I was able, but only saw the swish of her skirts as she went down the narrow corridor in the direction I knew Mr. Troxill's rooms to be. Of course I could not follow, and so I returned to my room, pen in hand, mind whirling.

Very, very curious. She did not say I could not mention her to Zebediah; I shall ask him if he has seen her, and if not, what he thinks of her.

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