Exercise Your Imagination! Do you like stories with mystery and suspense? Well, if you do, keep reading and enjoy Eggcentricsagas. If you are just joining Eggcentricsagas, start from the beginning: A La Mano: Part 1-The Treasure
Nothing dreadful happened the next day. Or the day after, or for several weeks, for that matter. Ergo, Penelope’s prediction was forgotten. Monsieur Le Blanc and his darkness became a faded, misty memory in the manner of a nightmare upon which one chooses not to dwell. Like old, neglected photos stored in a trunk covered with cobwebs, waiting to be opened again and rediscovered.
Their familiar routine reestablished once more, content, the ladies passed the days pleasantly in each other’s company. One day, as she opened the curtains of the parlor to let in the morning light, Polly espied a young man on the street. Her eyes focused on the bright red hair under his straw boater. The man was looking at a piece of paper in his hand before the address on the apartment building. Satisfied that he had come to the right place, the man picked up his compact traveling trunk. Proceeding to the door that led to the stairwell to the upper apartments, he entered it. Polly could hear him tromping up the steps.
Adelaide entered the parlor. “What are you looking at, Polly?”
Polly turned and answered her employer. “We seem to have a new tenant above us, Madame de Plumes.”
“Yes, I heard that the previous tenants had left in a hurry. A family crisis is what they said.”
“I hope he is quiet,” Polly replied as she recalled the couple that had occupied the bedroom above hers. Many a night, she and Penelope had listened to them argue and fight. Then Polly went about her duties, and like Monsieur Le Blanc, she forgot about the young man.
A month later, she was straightening the salon before going food shopping. The sun was shining brightly, making her happy, and Polly whistled as she worked. Pausing, she looked out the window and recognized the red-haired man sitting on the doorsteps that led to Madame des Plumes’ apartment. Penelope and Pepe were there with him. He threw Pepe’s ball, and the dog raced after it. Polly, an attentive mother, immediately went to the front door. Upon opening it, Pepe ran up the steps with the ball and dropped it on the landing. The dog sniffed Polly’s shoe before sitting down next to her. Penelope and the young man looked up at her.
The redhead stood up. Smiling, he greeted her politely, “Bonjour, Madame.”
Penelope also stood up and introduced him, “Mother, this is my new friend Martin.”
Polly nodded her head. “Bonjour, Martin.”
“We are talking about Madame des Plumes and fortune-telling,” Penelope offered.
“Oui. I am very interested in her,” Martin added. He smiled again, but this time, it appeared phony.
Biting her cheek, Polly signaled Penelope and Pepe in before giving an excuse. Then, picking up Pepe’s ball, she probed, “Good day, Mr.…?”
“Call me, Martin,” he replied. Another unctuous smile appeared on his lips.
“Good day, Martin,” Polly said and closed the door in his face.
She led Penelope upstairs to their room and grilled her daughter. “What were you talking to him about?”
“Oh, just that Madame des Plumes gives good readings. He says that he wants to have one.”
“How long have you been talking to him?”
“Since he moved in.”
“What else do you talk about?”
Penelope smiled. “Oh, everything. He likes to talk, and he likes Pepe. He throws the ball for him.”
For an unknown reason, perhaps motherly instinct or her sixth sense, Polly felt a little queasy. “I don’t want you to speak to him anymore,” she told Penelope.
“I don’t like him.” Polly handed Pepe’s ball to Penelope.
“But why? You don’t even know him. He’s nice.”
Polly became irritated. “Don’t question me, young lady, just do as I ask.” She put her hands on her hips.
“Are we clear?”
“Yes, Mama,” Penelope said resignedly.
“Good,” Polly said, and then turned to go. “If Madame des Plumes rings, tell her I have gone to the market.”
Penelope closed the door and sat on the bed. She invited Pepe up, and the agile terrier jumped onto the bed with eagerness and speed. He sat down, looked at Penelope, and then at his ball. “Why do you suppose Mama doesn’t like him? Do you like Martin, Pepe?” When the dog heard his name, he tilted his head and continued to stare at her. Penelope set the ball down and went to fetch her Lenormand deck hidden under her clothes in her dresser. She sat on her bed again. Pepe looked at the ball and then at Penelope. Pepe nosed the ball but as the girl made no motion towards it, he reluctantly lay down. He put his chin on his paws and watched her intently.
Penelope shuffled her cards as she asked, “Why doesn’t Mama like Martin?” The young seer stopped when she felt ready and pulled the top card off the deck and placed it face-up on the bed, The Anchor. A picture of a large anchor with its chain on the seashore and a moored boat in the distance. “Stable, safe, strong support but stubborn or set in their ways.” She laughed. “Mama is just being a worry-wart again.” Looking at Pepe, she put her cards into her pocket. “I don’t want to stay inside. Let’s go to the park. How about a walk, Pepe?”
Pepe, an intelligent dog, knew several words in English and French. One word was walk. Jumping off the bed, he ran around wagging his tail. Penelope opened the door for him. Out he ran, down the steps, and danced in front of the umbrella stand. Penelope grabbed the ball and put it in her other pocket. Following him downstairs, by the time she got there, he had nosed around and pulled out his leash.
Penelope took the leash from him and attached it to his collar. “Bon garcon! Good boy! You’re so smart!” she praised him. Forgetting, in her excitement, to tell Madame des Plumes where she was going, Penelope and Pepe ran out of the apartment. Both happy, carefree, and spry, they made their way to the extensive park nearby.
It was unfortunate that Penelope was still young and trusting. She had only considered her mother and one-half of the relationship of the Anchor card. She failed to recall her former prediction of trouble with the police and the Fox card. Someone with red hair, involved in crime. If she had remembered, Penelope might have seen the Anchor and Chain in a different light. Something heavy used to hold the ship down. But she didn’t, and she and Pepe spent the afternoon in the park joyfully playing fetch. As daylight waned, the girl put on his leash, and they headed home.
Penelope heard a loud commotion before they turned the corner onto their block. The girl instinctively slowed down and gripped Pepe’s leash tighter. Pulling him close to her, she peeked around the corner. A large, agitated mob was on the sidewalk and stairs of Madame’s apartment. Penelope watched as they argued amongst themselves. When the front door opened, a cry of surprise issued forth from them. Angry jostling occurred as Madame des Plumes and Polly appeared, escorted by the police. They had shackles around their wrists.
“Mama!” Penelope cried and started toward her mother.
Neither the noisy throng nor the police had noticed her, but she had caught her mother’s eye. Violently shaking her head, Polly signaled. No, don’t come closer. Martin was bringing up the rear, saw Polly’s action, and looked over at Penelope.
Polly screamed at Penelope, “Go! Run!”
As the red-haired man elbowed his way down the stairs, Penelope turned and, with Pepe in the lead, ran away as fast as she could. Hoping, with the twilight’s help, she could elude her pursuer.
Next: The Material World: Part 4-Shackle and Salvation