A stair creaked under Rosalyn’s foot. She froze, waiting for a door to open and flood the staircase with light. It was then she remembered Cookie had said not to take the backstairs, adding to her nervousness. At the second landing, she could see a line of light under the door and felt around for the handle. Opening it a crack, she saw a well-lit carpeted hallway, and four men standing along the wall holding torches. She ducked back behind the door to calm herself before taking a second look. Slowly peering around the door, she saw no men after all, but arm-shaped brackets holding gas lamps made to look like glowing torches. She wasn’t sure if it was artistic or eerie. However, with eight of these torches lining the walls and a peach-coloured plush carpet, it was nothing like the spooky hallway of her dream.
Promptly at nine, Robert knocked on the door. He had taken off his apron and was dressed in a dark shirt and trousers. He seemed nervous, but cheerful. “Old Uncle Oleander’s going to be surprised to see me. I’ve probably grown an arm’s length since he last saw me.”
“You do have a sister,” confirmed Gaétane. “The guards won’t stop you?”
“I have three sisters. One or the other of them is always tagging along. Has she got a bonnet, though? To hide her face?”
“Yes, it’s here,” Rosalyn said. It was the first time she had spoken directly to him and she was glad to hide her blushing cheeks under the bonnet as she tied it on.
So this was the youth whose voice Rosalyn had heard earlier. He was tall, handsome, about seventeen years old, though it was hard to tell, since he was at least eight feet tall. A shock of dark brown hair fell across his forehead and his eager face glowed toward Cookie, pleased even at her reproach, but when he noticed Rosalyn standing beside Nora, he paled and took a step back.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” chided Cookie. “Fixed. Never seen one?”
“No, ma’am,” he said, staring at Rosalyn, who wanted to die of embarassment under the gaze of such a good-looking boy. Why did she have to be wearing these hideous oversized baby clothes?