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Mike Kiligrew was more than a little surprised by the sudden appearance of Eudora Carton and her friends. It was late in the evening and he was in his smoking jacket and slippers and had been preparing to enjoy a pipe and a book before bed when the bell rang. His grey hair was a wild mop on his head, his mustache unwaxed.
“I’m terribly sorry, ” he said, “but the Mayor is away on business this evening.”
Nym‘s heart sank. It had not occurred to her that she might be dragging a wounded Amos away from his rest only to narrowly escape a certain death at the hands of Magruder, and then entangle them both with a dangerous mob boss-only to find the Mayor was not at home. She was tired and traumatized and frightened and now it seemed it had all been a fool’s errand. She felt on the verge of tears.
She turned to Amos for reassurance but noticed that he was standing awkwardly, staring at the Mayor’s husband with a heartbroken apprehension. Nym realized that this was not his first visit to the Mayor’s home and that he was struggling with how his return would be received. She instantly felt a deep sense of remorse for involving him – in what? Her need to chase down images from a strange dream?
It was Eudora who spoke up, explaining that Nym and Amos needed to see the mayor on a matter of some urgency. She directed her words at Mike with her usual mix of polite banter and implied command. Curiously, her orders escaped him completely. It seemed that while Eudora could make most of the world quake in fear of her family and marksmanship, Mike Kiligrew was pointedly immune.
He started to explain that they were welcome to return in the morning when his eyes fell upon Amos. A sudden wash of excited recognition overwhelmed him. Here was the boy who had so often visited his daughter, who had been a part of their family and who had disappeared years before, and who they had feared would never return. Here was Amos, returned at last a grown man. Mike completely forgot himself. He threw his bear like arms around Amos, who blushed at the onslaught.
“Amos? Amos!” Mike was grinning from ear to ear, “My boy, it is you! We thought … oh, after we lost Em!… Please, please come in. You are most welcome here.” Mike gave Amos another large hug and wrapped his arm around the young man, leading him happily into the parlor.
Nym couldn’t help but smile watching Amos regain some of his boyhood manner, smiling and laughing with an old friend, who was likely the only family he had ever known. After a few minutes she saw Mike Kiligrew take out a handkerchief and wipe tears from his warm brown eyes. It was apparent that Amos had been terribly missed during his years away at sea.
Nym couldn’t be sure but in the dim lamplight she thought she saw tears in Amos’ eyes as well.
Eudora Carton let out a annoyed sigh. She did not enjoy being less than the center of attention. It was late and she had not even been asked in for tea. Obviously offended she bid Nym an irritable farewell.
Nym was deeply relieved as she watched Ben Hammersmith hold the door open for their departure, but as she walked away Eudora looked back at Nym with a raw smile and said with a hint of caution, “I’m sure we will see each other again very soon.”
In the stately parlor of the Mayor’s home Amos was both natural and relaxed. Mike was particularly pleased that Amos had returned with a young woman, and Nym blushed when Mike embraced her openly, “She’s so pretty, Amos! And clever, I am sure. You never would have come back with less than a king’s treasure, and here she is!”
Nym noticed a flush in Amos’ cheeks, but still he smiled broadly and agreed, Nym was nothing less than his treasure.
Nym was flattered by the sudden attention and the openness with which she was accepted. Everything about the large man was warm and she felt instantly as ease with his kindness. As she listened to Mike and Amos reminisce about cricket games and trips to the seaside, she couldn’t help but feel a bit envious of the young Amos for having had such a wonderful friend; even though his life outside of their family in the Meiville Home for Orphaned Children had been lonely and hard.
A sadness overcame her again, like a deep and terrible ache. She realized that she too was an orphan, and watching the two men share a history and a story suddenly filled her with a longing she did not quite understand.
In the small hours of the morning, sipping brandy near a smoldering fire, Amos finally found the courage to ask about Emily. He knew that she would not want to see him, she had cursed him on his last visit to Meiville and told him that she would consider him dead if he would not help her. It had been his choice and he had walked away.
“Mike,” Amos asked quietly, “Where is Emily?”
Mikes radiant smile collapsed into a pale and palpable sorrow and Amos felt a panic in his own heart, “Emily is gone, Amos. I thought that you knew?”
“No…I… we didn’t talk, she was angry…” Amos was shaken with the news. “What happened?”
“She just vanished,” Mike said through his hurt and confusion. “She was obsessed with that confounded machine of hers. She had asked Marcel Ghostraven for help, but he knew it was dangerous and encouraged her to find more promising avenues for her talent. She was so talented!” His pride was a pain he wore upon his sleeve, “She just couldn’t it let go- and one day both Emily and her machine were gone.” Mike stared for a time into the dying fire, feeling it’s warmth but extracting no comfort.
“Did it work, I mean – did she use that crazy machine to actually go somewhere?” Amos was confused.
Mike wiped his eyes with his handkerchief and shook his head, “It is late, my boy. I am so happy that you are here and with such a lovely friend, ” he smiled softly at Nym, ” I suppose in my heart I had hoped that you might have news of our Emily, but that was foolish of me. It is something you cannot escape: hope. Even in the most vast of dark spaces it finds you.”
He put a large hand on Amos’ shoulder. “I never gave up hope for you, either, Amos. And here you are.” Tears filled his large brown eyes once again, “Here you are.” Amos took the man’s hands and smiled at him reassuringly.
“Perryn will be home soon. He will be better able to speak with you about Emily. Even after all this time it is too difficult to speak of… for me… forgive me.”
Amos put his arms around his friend and patted his shoulders, “There could never be anything to forgive.”