Chapter the Third or How Adeline Learns of Farcical’s Meddling and the Plot Thickens.
Adeline and Anya were finishing their tea when the maid, Mary, showed Cat into the parlor. Clearly, Cat had come through the servant’s entrance. It was also clear that someone had taken a cloth to Cat’s face and hands before bringing her upstairs. This was only proper since Cat was a street urchin and very dirty.
“Cat? How good to see you.” Adeline gestured to the scones on the silver tray, “Please, help yourself dear.”
Cat’s face beamed, “It’s good to see you, my lady.”
Adeline smiled, “I’m still willing to adopt you, whenever you are looking for a bath.”
It was an old disagreement. One that had kept Cat away from Lady MacNeal’s for the past few months. Cat had feared refusing would reveal her secret and irritate the good lady. “Sorry, my lady. I’d hate to leave my sewer behind for dresses.” She needn’t have worried, she realized that now. Lady MacNeal would never expose Cat’s secret to the rest of the world. Of course, the lady’s household knew she was a girl, but they also knew how much Lady MacNeal favored the urchin and they wouldn’t put either of them in danger by exposing the child. Everyone, including Anya referred to Cat as a boy. It was easier to pretend she was a boy all the time, then to try and remember when one could call Cat a girl.
Anya frowned, “I can’t believe the two of you.”
Mary brought up a glass of milk with cucumber sandwiches artfully arranged on a silver tray. “Thank you, Mary.”
Cat scooped up some sandwiches and almost began stuffing them into her face. A glance at Lady MacNeal’s face stopped her and had her eating at a more appropriate pace. When she could force herself to stop for a moment, Cat handed her letter to the lady. It was smudged and dirty from having been in her pocket, but the elegant calligraphy was still legible, “My lady, would you please read my letter? I got one today, and well it’s the first time I wished I could read.”
Adeline took the letter, “Who gave you this letter?”
“I can’t remember if’n it was a man or a woman. But they was cloaked and hooded.” Cat said before popping another sandwich in her mouth.
“How very curious. I received the same letter.”
Cat leaned forward, “That’s the same thing his lordship said, what does it say?”
Adeline and Anya exchanged a glance, “It is an invitation to dinner and the unveiling of a mummy from Egypt. The good doctor will be performing an autopsy on it as well.” She flipped the card, “On the back there is warning regarding thieves.”
Cat wasn’t certain what an autopsy was, but she did know one thing. Her face fell, “I can’t go to a dinner party.”
“No, I suppose not.” Adeline sipped her tea as she thought.
Anya answered, “Unless you came in as a servant. A dinner this size, they would hire additional help.”
Adeline lit up, “Of course! I would pay you for your trouble.”
“You would pay me?”
“Certainly! Someone is going to be up to no good and I’m looking to find out who. I would count it as a great service if you could get in and find out what you could.”
Cat smiled, “That I can do.”
Adeline and Anya set about planning what they needed to do to prepare for the dinner.
“The lord I delivered the other letter to, he said he would pay me a pound to tell him how you reacted to my letter.”
Lady MacNeal gracefully raised an eyebrow, “Do you mind telling me the name of that lord?”
Cat shook her head, “No lady. It was Lord Farcical.”
“Farcical? He received a letter like yours?”
“Yes, lady, at least I believe so. They looked the same, but I couldn’t be certain on the print.”
Adeline nodded, “You can tell him. His is an old schoolmate of my late husband. I’ll be interested to hear his reasons.”
Cat’s face blanched as she thought that she would be tasked to discover the lord’s thoughts.
Adeline patted Cat’s knee, “Don’t worry dear. I’ll ask him myself. That dear thelyphthoric is always up to no good.”
 that which corrupts women