Poster: Matthew Myers
Post # 6
Matthew set out, along with Tommy, to finish stacking the wood pile.
This was the second time it was scattered like this and he was too
stubborn to give into superstitions. "Tommy, you'll get an extra
coin if you keep a watch and see who is doing this. Once is one thing
but this is the second time. You and your friends can help us out,"
Tommy nodded with a grin, he liked the idea of setting up a spy ring on
the wood pile to see who was doing it, for it was making them all look
suspicious. Once they were done, Matthew headed back in to see how
Maggie was doing. He grabbed up the pail that held all the things he'd
need in cleaning the attic before he poked his head in, being her door
was ajar. "How are you doing?"
Maggie had gotten herself dressed in the meanwhile, a deep dark midnight
blue that complimented her dark hair and contrasted the fairness of her
skin. She'd washed the stale sweat from her face and combed her hair,
even managed a few bites of breakfast. Matthew had said to rest but
she didn't even consider closing her eyes, afraid the dreams would
return and they were too fresh in her mind already. Instead she sat
in an armchair alongside her hearth, looking at the small fire she'd lit
but not really seeing the flames as her thoughts spun round and round.
Matthew pulled her from it, thankfully. She looked up quickly to see him
there and nodded. "Aye, I'm fine." Not entirely, but he probably
understood that. "Are you ready to begin in the attic?"
He eyed her warily, tempted to say no, that she should stay in bed.
Except, he had come to know her well enough that was not going to
happen. Maggie Callahan needed to keep moving like she needed to
breathe. "Aye, I'm ready but I'll not have you overdoing it either.
You still look pale." Which she did and her eyes looked haunted. He
handed her a big feather duster, long cylinder type that could
hard to reach places and had an extra handle pole to twist on if needed.
"You can carry this up.." wicked swift grin that certainly was
teasing, and at the same time making his point. He stepped back out, not
that he was much past the door and waited on her.
She felt a little weak still, but Matthew was right about needing to
keep moving. If she sat still she'd just torture herself with the
questions left unanswered in her mind. She rose from her chair and
reached for a shawl of knobby white wool, pulling it around her
shoulders against the lingering chill in her bones, and in case the
attic was cold too. She stepped over to take the feather duster he
offered, giving him a knowing look and the hint of a wry smile.
Yes, she noticed that he was carrying much more than her, but for once
she wouldn't argue it. Free hand lifted her skirts softly from the
ground as she fell into step beside him. "Thank you, for letting me
work with you in the attic today. I think Alex would be giving me looks
today... and Hazel would be fussing," but she said it with a soft
laugh, knowing both of them meant well. She just couldn't handle their
"Alex will just be keeping a watch on you to make sure you're all
right. He's like a big papa bear, not that I would say that to his
face." And they were way out of earshot, heading up the steps
to the second floor then the third before the steps
leading up to the Attic. So it would not really be pity but concern.
There was a great difference there. "Everyone here has come to look
upon you as family, even Tommy and his buddies. I think Tommy has a
crush on you." Leaving her with that thought with a grin before he
headed up that last flight of steps. A key was withdrawn as there was a
door at the top and it was locked. The old latch clicked with the turn
of steel to slide open. The scent was of many centuries past more than
dust, but certainly there was enough dust and cobwebs too. It was also
stuffy with shards of light filtering in from the sets of windows, four
at either end of the very large and long room. The length was not
clear like he thought it would be. There were all kinds of things up
here. Old dress forms, tall dressing cabinets, trunks. Stacks and stacks
of books, easels, old paintings coated in dust obscuring what they
were of. A rocking horse that was almost life size and a few
smaller ones, carriages, buggies, cribs and cradles. A coat rack loomed
looking like a big man standing there for a hat was set on top. A full
length mirror that could swivel in its stand. Desks, chairs, chandeliers
that hung from the rafters. Tables, four post beds with canopies and the
mattresses deteriorating, clothes piled on top. One dresser had old
gowns hanging in it that were well made, spoke of money and times long
gone by. Matt gave a low whistle as he set down the pail. "This
will be a project." Nudging aside a box full of a child's toys, he
started for the closest windows to crack open and at least cause a cross
Maggie nodded gently when Matthew spoke about Alex. She knew that... and
appreciated it, and in some ways looked to Alex as a surrogate fatherly
figure as well. Hearing that she was considered family made her smile a
moment. "I wondered why Tommy always goes red and silent when he
sees me." Tommy was a nice kid but certainly too young for
Maggie... though it wasn't unusual for younger lads to develop such
crushes. She followed Matthew up each flight of stairs, waiting for him
to unlock the door before stepping in with him. Then her eyes went round
as she gazed around. "My goodness..." her voice hushed. She
was awed by the size of this place, not to mention the sheer amount of stuff
that had gathered here. It certainly caught her imagination, as she
stepped forward to walk around slowly. "Look at all of this. Some
of these things must be a hundred years old..." her fingers traced
along a mahogany dresser, lifting a layer of dust from its surface.
"I knew there was probably some stuff up here, but I never expected
this much. I wonder what happened to the people that use to have this
place, a home, a manor, one that was converted and everything stuck up
here that couldn't be used." Probably what happened. The windows
were stuck but he finally got two of the four open on the one side
before he was making his way around the mounds of stuff to the other
side to open them up. Windows were slanted in a way, the weather would
not get in if it rained or snowed. Just no one had been up here in
years. Maybe decades? He wasn't sure. "I'm not sure what Alex wants
me to do, make it a clean mess as much as possible or sort through
things and get rid of the no good. We'll keep what would be useful and
anything in good condition we can't use, put out for anyone in the
commons or villages to have." He highly suspected it would be the
latter. It was then one of the chandeliers came crashing to the floor
just one step behind him. Matt swung around nearly jumping in place with
a good start and his instinct was to put himself between whatever it was
"It looks as if this was a store room for the entire town, maybe
the whole kingdom." A light jest, but indeed there was so much in
here, it made her wonder. The first order of business seemed to be
cleaning and sorting, something she was familiar with, and she
nodded. "Perhaps the toys and cribs and such can go to the
orphanage, and the rest offered to those in need?" Though some of
it was so badly rotted, it would just have to be thrown out. Maggie
already had her eye on a few things that she might find some use
for herself. Maggie tied her shawl on a secure knot along her neck,
moving forward to get started when that sudden movement caught the
corner of her eye. Glancing up quickly to the ceiling, there was no time
to call out a warning before the chandelier came crashing down in an
explosion of metal and glass. She had stepped towards Matthew even as he
stepped towards her, both protectively. Her hand catching his arm,
"Are you alright?"
"Yes," came in a whoosh as his hand had caught her arm. This
particular stance broke the close call and quite serious almost
mishap as he laughed. "I will clean this up first, I'm sure the
breeze from the windows finally had the nail give way it was attached
to." Easily rusted but the beams were up high just out of the light
and in shadow. Kind of beams one could walk along if they could get up
there. He was over to get the broom and dustpan as he started sweeping
up the glass and dumping it into one of the sturdy bags he brought up
with him. "I was once asked how do you eat an elephant,"
slipping a glance her way as he shoved more of the glass inside the bag.
Her laugh echoed his out of sheer relief, but it was a nervous laugh as
well. It was the second time today one or both of them could have been
killed in a flash. It made her recall again his words, of something or
someone being 'after' her... and she couldn't help but glance
around the vast shadowy attic. As if waiting for something to jump out
at them. He won her gaze back though, with that elephant comment.
Looking at him for a pause before curiosity lured out a reply. "How
do you eat an elephant?"
He was crouched down as he looked up at her from that position. A huge
smile sweeping over his features, "One bite at a time." It was
symbolic to the elephant of a project ahead of them, or more.. him. He
would have her help today and this project would be done one bite at a
time until it was done. For a moment there he saw something move behind
Maggie from that angle. It was fast, he was uncertain but she probably
caught his expression. He rose with the bag in hand, the last of the
broken chandelier frame in the other. "I wonder if squirrels
have gotten in here..." more hoping that was the case than it be
That megawatt smile of his was infectious, despite her worries and a
smile crept onto her own face, soon overflowing into giggles. The answer
to his joke was so simple and so silly, she just couldn't help it. Or
maybe it was just a much-needed release of tension. She was still
giggling until that look came over his face, and the laughter died on
her lips instantly. A quick whirl to look behind her; that haunted look
was back in her eyes. She swallowed, but she was sick of being afraid,
and lifted her voice recklessly. "Who's there? Show yourself, if
you dare." And she would feel quite silly if it was only squirrels,
They were met with silence of course as he set the bag and frame aside
out of the way. He was over, quickly as possible for all that was in his
way that he had to maneuver around to see where whatever it was went.
"Nothing," slightly out of breath as he caught it. Matt could
move fast when needed as obvious this morning to catch a falling star,
err.. Maggie. "I swear there was something not even a foot
high." Shaking it off with a shake of his head he made his way
back. "I think this should be started by working on things closest
and gradually outward. Books we can stack and bring to the library as
I'm sure Abigail will know what to do with them." If they were
worth keeping. He was talking like Maggie had taken on this project with
him, though not the case, at least it made it feel easier!
Maggie blew out her held breath and for a moment looked weary. And as
foolish as she felt. "Mayhap a mouse, they tend to flock to places
like this." She looked into the dim darkness a moment longer before
telling herself, firmly, that there was nothing there. A breath drawn in
and she nodded. Time to spring into action, and she appreciated having a
big project like this to set her mind to. "Let's put the things we
are keeping on one side, perhaps, and that which needs to be thrown
out into its own pile." She would begin as suggested with the
books, going over to pick one up and leaf through it briefly. This to
see if the pages were intact, and also for curiosity's sake, for she did love
books and reading.
"Bats and rats in our belfry will have the guests fleeing even if
there is no cost. No wonder Alex wanted me to start on this
project." Although he had caught the bat on the third floor that
time, it was believed to have somehow come down from the attic, which
had a locked door. Go figure. Something was not adding up and the more
he became associated with the attic, the less added up.
"There's not much of a side to put anything," which had him
laughing but they would make do. "Just some today," as he
didn't want to overwork her and more to get an idea. He would get Tommy
to help him lug things down, some to save, some to give away and some to
"Aye... it seems long overdue." And then some. She wasn't
exaggerating when she said some of these things could be a hundred years
old. She looked up at his latter comment. "I'm fine, Matthew.
Really." Not being impatient, but to reassure him. A soft
smile to go with it before she looked back to the books. Her hair had
been left loose and she pulled it over one shoulder to be out of the
way. Glancing over the next volume before putting it on top of the
stack. The next one she pulled, crumbled immediately in her fingers,
crackling audibly when she slowly opened it. The ink was so faded she
could hardly even read it, and reluctantly set the book in another pile.
Such a loss, but at least it could feed a fire.
"Good," he was over to sit down beside her and offered her up
a little gift. It was a pearly butterfly trimmed in gold edging
along its wings and body. It could be worn as a pendant, in one's hair
or just set on their dresser for it was very pretty. "I found this
and it seems right you should have it."
She had started to reach for another book, but paused when something
else was in her line of vision. A beautiful pearl butterfly, so delicate
it appeared lifelike, held in Matthew's hand. Eyes lifted to him and she
reached out, fingers reaching for the gem, brushing his skin along
the way, which had eyes flitting up to his again. A smile appeared of
true pleasure as she looked at the gift. "It is beautiful, Matthew,
and I love pearls, though I've never owned any. Thank you." Her
smile as warm as the summer sun, then she tucked the jeweled butterfly
in her hair just above her right ear, where it nestled amongst the black
and crimson locks. "How does it look?"
"You do now, not sure if it is a priceless gem but it sure looks
pretty, even prettier than some of the gaudy things I've seen noble
ladies wear because they are so expensive. Expensive fools I say,"
which he obviously had been around the high class to know this. "It
looks perfect there, like it was created for your hair." Dimple
showed this time with his smile and slightly cross eyed this close to
view it in her hair. "Do you think we should put even the falling
apart old books in a box and let Abigail have a look at them?" He
hated to burn books, unless it was trashy writing.
She laughed softly when he spoke of expensive fools; that was something
she could relate to, having spent time at Court, and having observed
women adorn themselves from head to toe with the gaudiest jewelry
imaginable. She smiled when he said it looked made for her, enough
to dimple her own cheeks slightly. His eyes might have been slightly
crossed but she was always intrigued by their unique color when he got
this close. Coming back into focus with a nod of agreement, "Aye,
maybe some of them are rare volumes with some value. At any rate, I'm
sure she'd appreciate looking at them." Maggie was certainly
enjoying it even if she was no literary expert.
He lingered a moment on his haunches aside her before he was up before the
circulation got cut off and he'd be dancing on pins and needles for a
while. Something annoying. He scrounged around and came up with a box,
emptying the blankets it held out onto one of the beds. "I think
these beds can replace the ones whose legs gave out that I had to patch
up." Which he did a fine job of but if someone really heavy jumped
into bed, they were not going to hold. These were good sturdy oak, well
made, a three hundred pound man could jump up and down on them. Eyeing
them a moment before he was back over with the box and started to put
the books inside. "I think once we get this box full, we should get
downstairs and see if we are needed." He was going to work on this
a couple hours a day. That was the plan.
She enjoyed his close presence, something comforting and nice about
having him so near, but of course they had work to do and couldn't
linger chatting forever. She kept the butterfly in her hair though, as
she went back to sorting through the books. "Aye, that bed
frame looks like it could support that elephant of yours." Which
had a thought, "How will you get it downstairs? Will you have to
take it apart? I will help you with that too, if you wish." Yes indeed
she was looking for things to do, something to talk about. It was all
about the distraction. The plan being to occupy herself each day until
she was so exhausted she couldn't stay awake, then hopefully she
"I think I'll collect a treasure for you here as I come across
things. Put them in a fancy box," of which he had caught glimpses
of ones. He eyed the bed, "they got it up here somehow, it doesn't
look like it had been taken apart. So there must be another way."
There was the double window it could have been brought up by a pulley
but he had a feeling there was some other means that had yet to be
discovered. He had that hmmm look as he looked over the piles of things
about the whole of the attic. Who knew, beyond the rows, there might be
cleared spaces too?
"You don't have to do that," she told him though the
thoughtfulness made her smile. Following his gaze as he looked across
the wide expanse of the attic, and its clutter of random things. "I
wonder who each of these things belonged to... what their lives
were like, and why they gave them up." Such things sparked her
imaginative and romantic mind. "There is enough here to take months
to sort out. I'll help you when I can." It was a huge job for one
"Aye, I don't but you can choose what you like of what I decide to
put in a box." Someone should have certain trinkets that he felt
were better than the usual. He would make sure it was all right with
Alex but he had already said the stuff belonged to no one in a sense as
the Crown didn't want it. "Well, we might find that out I'm
thinking. All those portraits and paintings, there might be diaries
amongst the books too." It might prove an interesting project. It
would be more than he could imagine. He set to collecting books to put
in the box carefully as it seemed it was mostly books in this initial
area around the stairs. "I would appreciate the help when you can,
Tommy will too. He might not be of much help when you are here."
Which that amused twitch to his lips followed the comment.
"There are all sorts of treasures up here, I'm sure, not all of
them jewels and lace." To her the most interesting things would be
any diaries, like he mentioned... old letters, personalized trinkets,
and the like. Items which told the stories of their owners long gone.
She helped him to pile the books into the box Matthew brought, carefully
to avoid any further damage. A smile at his words about Tommy, then it
faded as she went quiet for a few moments. "I think that I
will have to go back... back to the town where Richard
disappeared." She spoke it quietly. Finally... she was talking
about it, eyes lifting to meet his. The idea brought no joy to her, for
it had been a horrible run-down place but somehow... she felt it was
something she must do.
me go with you. You will need an escort." She knew he was right and
he'd bode no refusal. If she did, he'd only follow and probably Alex.
"I think then it is a good idea but not if you try to go
alone." That he was certain on. "There are others in town that
will fill in for me who have before. The Thistle won't come crumbling
down if I am gone for however long it takes. Some things are that
important, they need to be seen to."
Her features creased in soft lines as she regarded him. "You're
right, I know, and it is very sweet of you to offer... but are you sure
you don't mind? I've no idea how long it might take. You could be stuck
with me for days, even weeks." Trying to infuse a bit of a
lighter tone there, even a hint of a smile but as she watched him, it
was clear she was concerned. Not only because she thought he might be
offering simple because he felt he should... but also for his safety.
Considering those nightmares, who knew what might await her when she
began to delve into this further. "I don't want you to feel as if
you must come with me. I could hire somebody to come along.. I'm
sure." Well, she wasn't exactly sure who she would hire or where
she would find someone, but certainly could figure that out if need be.
"Well, who better? I'm already use to being stuck around
you.." which had the grin to follow in a flash of white teeth as he
put the last of the books that would fit into the box. Next was to
fold the flaps over so they wouldn't open easily. "I don't feel
obligated. I spoke to you on us being friends and a friend would go with
the other to help. As you came up here today to help me. You hire
someone, first bit of trouble and you'll find yourself facing it
alone." That was how he'd seen most hired help. He was up, taking
up the box. "Would you see to the door for me. I think I shall keep
it locked too." The idea more muttered to himself for there was
something out of place or odd up here.
Well, that was a thought and one she hadn't considered. Maggie was no
fool, but Matthew seemed wise to the ways of the world, in some ways
more so than her. She eyed him a moment longer, just to be certain he
was making the offer genuinely. Then she smiled, visibly relieved.
"In truth, there is nobody I would rather come along on such a
trip, I think." She meant it, and her smile said so when she turned
it upon him. Rising to her feet, she crossed past him to the door,
to hold it open for Matthew and the box. Locking the door sounded like a
good idea to her, after the falling chandelier and running shadows.
Whatever it was, the lock door didn't keep it in the attic but at least
it wouldn't have any curious guests going up there or staff for whatever
reason. They didn't need a panic. He was careful leaving and locking the
door so when she pulled it closed it would latch over. He thought he
heard something running, rapid footsteps of something small.
"Squirrels," muttered before he continued down the stairs. He
would put the box in one of the storage rooms that had little in it.
Soon it would have a lot more as a sort of central station for the stuff
to go out from. "Thank you for helping me today, Maggie."
which had a smile sent over his shoulder.
Squirrels, or mice.... she hoped it was some small critter like that, as
a wary glance went over her shoulder at the scrabbling noises behind the
door. With all that was going on in her own life, she could hardly
expend more worry on ghosts in the attic. Once the door was secured she
followed him down the stairs, butterfly pin still in her hair though she
would put it away carefully once she got to her room. His smile was
returned as they reached the landing. "Thank you, for suggesting
it. It made a nice change from my usual duties." And after this
morning, was much easier to handle. Otherwise she would have been
pasting a smile on her face to serve people their meals all day. At
least with Matthew, her few smiles had been genuine.
He decided it would not do well to go up there alone after the
chandelier incident. So Tommy, Maggie or another in case there was some
mishap. The upper chambermaid never even heard the crash. "I will
see you later for supper," as they all seemed to take the same hour
break. "And tonight, I'll sleep outside your door." Or inside,
the arrangements not official but someone needed to be near in case she
sleep walked again. From the last set of steps he averted his into one
of the storage rooms to start putting things. Later he would take this
first box up to Abigail.
She was picturing him sleeping on a blanket on the hard ground, and
winced. "I don't want you having to do that... why don't I sleep
with my door open, and you can take the couch in the lounge. At least
that's more comfortable, and you'll be able to hear me if I get
up." Then added when he took his leave, "Aye, see you at
supper." She wanted to tell him just how much she appreciated all
he was doing, but he was already gone. And hopefully he already knew it.
So anything she might have said was left unspoken, and she went off to
her own chambers. She'd spend the afternoon cleaning her rooms, then
into the dark hours of night. Sleep was no longer a welcome thing but
something she feared.
He would probably drag out his bed next to her door or a cot so that she
would have to fall over him to get out. Wouldn't that make the gossip if
she did, fell on top of him and one of the kitchen maids happened out at
that moment! He'd see her at supper, after they both got some things
done although Alex and Hazel would be making her take it easy so in
that, Matt's mind could rest assured.