It Takes a Village – Chapter 7

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes —

< Chapter 6: The Gypsy Camp[/button] [caption id="attachment_18268" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Picture of an austere, stone building. Goatswood: The Indian Pavilion[/caption]

Chapter 7. The Indian Pavilion

“I told you this looked like a great place to just sit and wait for Ron,” said Millie, resting her legs on the small round table. “These people treat themselves quite nicely.”

The round Indian Pavilion was richly decorated with oriental carpets and animal furs, exquisite furniture and an impressive golden statue.

“Some goddess, I think,” added Fred. “Ron should be here by now.”

“He’s so stubborn. I bet he found some scope into this whole endeavor and is now on his own, trying to solve the mysteries of the world,” Millie replied angrily.

She couldn’t stand Ron’s relentless individualism. This had been their idea. They needed the best man for the job. They called Ron. So he had been to this village before, scouting the place, as he said. He thought he knew where the darn thing was; as a matter of fact, he was quite certain. When asked about the location, Ron simply refused to comment or give them any details. Now they were stuck in Ron’s hands, waiting for him.

She looked at the tapestry on the walls. Some of them must be worth an interesting amount, not to mention the furniture. She was no expert in antiques, but she sure had an eye for money.

“Fred, do you think Ron will drop us, if he finds it before we do?”

Fred laughed. “Well, if we sit here and wait for him, we won’t find anything, will we? And besides, if he finds anything, he’ll need our codes, so no worries.”

“Yes, the code I lost,” said Millie, fighting an urgent need to rummage through her purse once more. It was useless, she knew it. But for the life of her, she couldn’t understand how she had lost the paper. Someone must’ve taken it.

The door opened violently.

“Have you seen her?” a severely discomposed woman screamed at them. “Have you?”

“Isabella?”

The woman paused for a fraction of a second when she realized who she was talking to.

“Oh, my God, I’m so happy I found you two. I lost Kelly. I can’t find her anywhere. You must help me. I have been to the gypsy camp and they positively hate me. They didn’t believe me at all. They thought I was faking Kelly’s disappearance and suspected there was no Kelly at all….”

“Slow down, slow down,” Fred grabbed her hand and moved her to sit. “Where did you last see her?”

“She took off running through the woods, Fred. You know how rebellious she is. I thought she followed the voices to the gypsy camp, but she wasn’t there. They went back to the woods to look for her…” Isabella was close to sobbing again.

“Listen, did you see Ron?” asked Millie, more interested in understanding if this was a ploy between Isabella and the old fart. Drama always helped fuel confusion and hysteria. However, she wasn’t going to be cheated out of her share.

Isabella looked at the young woman in disbelief.

“Millie, do you think I can worry about that right now? I can’t find Kelly, do you understand? She is five years old, five.”

“I know but we have a schedule to keep. We need to have this done before the train shows up. These extra hours came in handy, but we mustn’t waste time.”

Millie couldn’t care less about a lost child. She had actually told Isabella not to bring her daughter along, she had warned her that it would be a burden, but Isabella categorically refused to leave Kelly behind, adding that a child would make them look less suspicious.

“This was a mistake. This whole thing was a mistake,” she whispered.

“You need this as much as we do,” snapped Millie, harsh as always.

“Millie, how cruel…”

“Ok, let’s stop for a second. This is not helping,” said Fred, rolling his eyes at Millie. “You girls wait here and I’ll go look for Ron and Kelly.”

The door opened once more unexpectedly.

“Ron!”

“Yes, Millie, it’s me,” he said throwing himself on a sofa. “I can’t find it.”

Fred couldn’t help but burst into laughter. What a group of useless wannabes.

“Well, there seems to be a pattern here. We can’t find Kelly, now we can’t find the thing. This is amusing, extremely amusing, to say the least.”

No one else found it amusing though.

Isabella stood up and walked towards the door.

“Isabella, where’s your code?” asked Ron.

“I don’t care about the code right now. I have to find Kelly.” And she left hastily, with a sinking feeling that this trip had been yet another big mistake, as big as the affair and her unforeseen pregnancy, her husband being murdered which led to her financial demise, which led to a wrong decision. And now she was here, in this village away from home, stranded amongst strangers.

Isabella had known Millie and Fred for a few years. They were neighbors for a while before the couple moved to a smaller house in a less luxurious neighborhood, but she had no idea who this Ron was. Besides, she hadn’t been on familiar terms with the young couple for a while. Back then she introduced them to a few people they wanted to meet, all up-class nobility and entrepreneurs. She was actually quite surprised when they got in touch with her and said that, to show their gratitude, they wanted to include her in this plan they had.

“Well, that was that for that,” said Fred smiling. “I assume you have the key, Ron.”

“Yep,” he replied, tapping the pocket of his jacket. “I was sure the thing was in the mill. Last time I was here, many people warned me not to go close to the mill and I thought…”

“You thought, you thought,” interrupted Millie. “This is ridiculous. I have never seen such an ill prepared operation as this one. If the train line hadn’t been damaged, this whole thing would’ve already crumbled to pieces. You were supposed to be an expert. People spoke highly of you and we agreed you’d receive the biggest share because of that. Now I realize this is a waste of time, an utterly excruciating waste of time. What kind of a pathetic preparation did you do for this, Ron? Did you drop by casually and walked the village, explored the little mill and made up your mind that, yes, that was where the darn thing was?  I could have done that myself,” she said, emphasizing the “I”.  Why do we need a so-called expert to do that? Tell me.”

Ron snorted.

“I’m the only one who knows how the box looks or did you forget about that? I’m the one with the key.” He hadn’t showed the others the symbol on the key. He wanted to make sure he had some sort of control over this operation.

Millie waved her hand.

“Don’t say box… or key,” whispered Fred, shushing Ron.

“These little secrets are driving me nuts. If anyone of us sees a Japanese looking box with a lock on it, then we’ll know that’s it. It’s just a lame box!” – Millie threw her arms in the air.

“The lame box, as you call it, is worth millions,” Ron replied, amused by the confirmation that Millie had no idea how the box looked.

“But we can’t find it, can we? We can’t find the damn box and now Isabella is going around like a chicken with its head cut off, looking for that snotty brat. We are stuck!”

Fred placed his hand on Millie’s arm. Whenever his wife got annoyed, she tended to ramble on a crescendo.

“Let’s regroup. It’s not in the mill. Let’s see if it’s here,” Fred looked around, searching under the furniture, opening drawers and tapping the stones on the walls. He looked kind of silly, but they had to hand it to him, he did try. “Nope, nothing. So, we need to think of possible locations. Any ideas?”

Millie pointed at Ron. “He was the one who did the professional scouting. I tell you right now. I am not going to give you the extra share, as agreed. We are basically now doing your job, so…”

Ron was about to replicate when the door opened again.

A very surprised stationmaster peeked through the door hesitantly when he realized the young couple and the man from the station knew one another. He had overheard the young woman’s last sentence, but his sense of mission was stronger than the puzzlement caused by what he heard.

The Pavilion’s occupants were no less perplexed than he was.

“I believe this is your bag, sir,” – the stationmaster placed it next to Ron and prepared to walk away, hoping not to have to exchange a word with any of them when a flushed young woman showed at the door.

“Ernest?”

Ella Marie saw the stationmaster was not alone and prepared to greet the strangers in her habitual friendly way, but she realized that one of them was the man who had chatted her up, so she signaled Ernest to come outside and whispered “My father needs to have a word with you. It’s about that older man.”

Inside, the three were far from calm.

“We are screwed,” said Millie. “He saw us together.”

Fred scratched his chin. “Perhaps not. We still have Isabella.”

Chapter 8: The Market Square >

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    […] Chapter 3: The Hot Air Balloon Chapter 4: The Mill Chapter 5: The Manor Chapter 6: The Gypsy Camp Chapter 7: The Indian Pavilion Chapter 8: The Market Square Chapter 9: The Priory Ruins Chapter 10: The Church Chapter 11: The […]