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."How long have you lived on the street?"I hugged my knees tighter.He didn't go on and when I glanced up, I saw that he'd moved away.He watched me from the window, his arms once more crossed.The window was on the opposite side of the room to the door—the door that he'd left unlocked."He saved you, didn't he?" Fitzroy didn't pose it as a question."The prisoners were going to hurt you, but the spirit frightened them off by re-entering his body.At your command."If he knew that much already, what else did he know?"How did you do it?"I snorted."You've got the wrong boy.""No.""I don't know what you're talking about.""You do." He said it with the utmost conviction that I knew I could never get him to doubt himself."Is it something you've always been able to do?""You're a tosspot."He grunted."I expect a gutter dweller to come up with something more offensive than that.""A fucking tosspot.""Better.Now answer my question." He leaned a hip and shoulder against the wall and glanced out the window.A small frown connected his brows.His distraction gave me the opportunity I needed.I sprang up and sprinted for the door.But he reached it first.His palm slammed against the wood at my head height, the sound reverberating around the tower room.I watched him through the curtain of my hair, searching for signs that he would use that hand on me.His only movement was a small tightening of his lips."I have tried asking nicely," he said in a voice that was much too calm."I have fed you and clothed you, provided a soft bed for you.""I need none of that." It was a bold thing to say, considering the man's nickname was Death, but while I was the person with answers, he wouldn't kill me.That didn't mean he wouldn't hurt me.He straightened to his full height—an impressive size.Not as tall or broad as Gus, but big nevertheless.It would be easy for him to beat me senseless or break my bones.I shrank away from him, regretting my impulsive actions and words.It might be wiser to bite my tongue in future."Then what do you need?" he said.I glanced at the door."You will be worse off out there than in here."I shrugged a shoulder.His black brows drew together and his gaze drilled into me."Who is out there for you? Who do you want to see again?"My father.I edged away from him and sat on the floor again, my back to the wall.I pulled up my knees and curled into the tightest, smallest ball possible.He watched me from beneath that severe brow.His anger seemed to have dissolved somewhat, but I still didn't trust him.He was too quick and too hard to read.He could haul me up by my shirt in a heartbeat and thrash the answers he sought out of me.A knock on the door made me jerk."Mr.Fitzroy, sir," said Seth from the other side."Lord Gillingham is here to see you."A lord? A real live lord was under the same roof as me? I suddenly wanted to look out the window and catch a glimpse of this lord's carriage and horses.I'd wager it was magnificent and the animals fine."Tell him I'm unavailable," Fitzroy said."Er…" Seth cleared his throat."He already knows you're in here talking to the boy.Gus told him, not me."I would not have known Fitzroy was irritated if it weren't for the curling of his right hand into a fist.His face remained unchanged from its glowering severity.Without a word, he opened the door and left.The lock clicked into place, and I was once more a prisoner and alone.I expelled a long breath and got up to look out the window.A gleaming black coach pulled by two grays was indeed waiting down below.I unlatched the window and pulled up the sash."You there!" My loud whisper didn't so much as cause the horses' ears to twitch."You there!" I called.The driver glanced around, but seeing no one, shook his head."Up here!"He tilted his head back and touched the brim of his hat in acknowledgment."Help me! I am being held prisoner.Tell the—" Not the police.They wanted me over the theft and escape."You must help me get out!"The driver merely stared up at me.Then, with a shake of his head, he turned back to the horses.My heart sank.It was hopeless.He probably thought me a mischievous child, having a lark.It would be impossible to convince him otherwise from such a distance.With a sigh, I picked up the wedge of cheese and bit off the corner.It tasted delicious, not like my usual fare of stale crumbs that even the rats turned their noses up at.I devoured the rest, shoveling it in, unable to eat fast enough.Then I promptly threw up in the corner.What a waste.I should have opened the window and deposited the contents of my guts on the front steps.That notion made me smile.The lock clicked in the door.Fitzroy must have finished his business with Lord Gillingham already and come to question me again.I steeled myself and took courage in the fact that he'd not yet hit me.But instead of my captor, another man entered.I guessed him to be about forty, with rust-colored hair starting high on his forehead and a short beard of a redder hue.He cut a fine form in a dark suit, with shoes polished to a high sheen and a gold watch chain hanging from his waistcoat pocket.He clutched a walking stick in one hand, and I caught a glimpse of the tiger shaped head as he adjusted his grip.It wasn't his clothing that told me he was Lord Gillingham, however, but his bearing.His body was ramrod straight, his mouth turned down in disapproval, and his head tilted back so that he looked down his nose at me, even though he wasn't very tall.Fitzroy may be a gentleman, but this man was a cut above—and he knew it."Close the door," he said over his shoulder to Gus.Gus and Seth, standing in the hallway outside the room, frowned at one another, then Gus closed the door.I was alone with the stranger.I debated whether I should bow to Lord Gillingham, nod, or take his hand.I was still trying to remember the proper etiquette for when a boy met a lord—and whether I wanted to conform—when he spoke."You are the child." He sounded as if his mouth were full of strawberries that he didn't want to spill.It was quite ridiculous.I had to press my lips together to suppress a laugh."Don't see no other in here, do you?" I said."My lord.""Name's Charlie, but 'my lord' will do just as well." I winked, warming to my bit of fun.Mimicking and mocking the upper classes had always been a popular pastime in the slums, no matter if it were Stringer's gang or any of the others I'd lived with over the years.Gillingham's wide nostrils flared and his pale blue eyes flashed."Do not play the fool with me.""Yes, my lord." Perhaps riling him wasn't a good idea when he could prove an ally.I knelt on the carpet and clutched my hands together."Please, my lord, will you help me? The man named Fitzroy has kidnapped me and is keeping me prisoner here.Against my will," I added when he gave no sign of concern or surprise.He stalked around the room, pinching his nose when he spotted my sick, then came back to stand in front of me."He tells me you have not yet answered any of his questions."I went to stand, but he poked his walking stick into my shoulder."Stay.""I am not a dog," I spat.His top lip curled up."No.A dog would do as his master bid and be thankful for what he's been given.People like you are fit only for picking up the shit of dogs."Charming fellow, although hearing "shit" said in his toff accent was quite amusing.Stringer and the others would laugh if I mimicked this conversation for them."Where is the girl?" he asked [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]