From underneath the leeks, Rosalyn could tell they had come indoors. Soon she heard a new voice exclaim, “Marcella!”
“Welcome, my ladies.”
“How’d you do?” said Nora and Gaétane.
“Very busy today. Can’t talk just now. Come to my rooms and wash up for dinner. Need ice for anything?” Without waiting for an answer, the unseen speaker led them quickly down a long, echoey passage. Rosalyn hoped that this was truly the last, the very last lug in the basket. Would she ever stop smelling of onions?
“He’s your cousin?” Rosalyn said with enthusiasm. “That’s great! So we can go over there and…” her voice trailed off. Four pairs of wide eyes were staring at her. “Oh, that cousin.”
The room suddenly felt ten degrees cooler and darker as if a shadow had passed over the window. Rosalyn felt their fear of him, but couldn’t understand it. His driver seemed like a jerk, but surely cousin to cousin they could work something out. Were they afraid for themselves or for Jason? Was he going to torture her brother to find out where she was and then put them both to work in his mines? Something didn’t add up. “At least we know where he is, right?”
They had nearly come to the bottom of the hill and were now on a flatter path that bordered the river. Though it shouldn’t have surprised her, Rosalyn was again struck that there was no water, simply open sky, on which barges were moving, some towed by mules.
“Lid down, now,” murmured Gaétane. “Can you reach it?” Rosalyn flipped the lid closed and hunkered down inside, shifting her knees to the side. “You’ll have to stay out of sight until we’re among those we can trust. Not too much longer.” Now she had to rely on her ears and nose for a sense of where they were. She could see bits of the barge path through gaps in the wicker, but mostly she could tell they were nearing the town because the crunching sound of gravel had given way to the smoother slap of hard-soled walking boots on cobble stones. She heard shouts of laughter from path to barge, felt their party squeeze to one side to allow a cart to rumble by, smelled the warm barn odour of the donkeys they passed. She felt a flutter of excitement in her stomach, or was it nerves? Being forced to stay hidden made her feel uneasy, as if danger was imminent. Was she feeling excited that they would finally find Jason, or anxious that they wouldn’t?