Monday, November 21, 2016

The Puzzle of Hunter Manor- Chapter 13- Out on the Pond

Wednesday morning dawned bright and clear. Gilbert squinted as the morning sunlight fell through the window in his room. He blinked and tried to get his eyes to focus. It had been a mostly good evening, he had scoured the house and grounds and had drawn a pretty good map of the place. He had also come upon his parents in the dining room with the puzzle solved, sitting on the table in front of them. He had been pretty bummed about that, except for one tiny detail. He knew what Aleph was, and he was itching to get his phone back so he could show Eudorra.

He rolled over and tried to stretch a knot out of his back, when he noticed his phone and a note sitting on his nightstand. He pulled a muscle in his lower back as he tried to jump out of bed mid-stretch to get his phone. He rubbed the knot, trying to knead it out of his back while he read the note.


Got your message. Glad they figured it out, wasn't having any luck and I needed to get some homework done! Here is your phone, I already entered your number into my phone and sent you a text so we can communicate a little more under the radar.


Gilbert checked his phone, and sure enough there was one text message waiting for him:

"Here is my number- EF"

He knew he should probably let Keith know he wasn't going to be able to play Mars Blaster for the rest of the week, but he needed to show Eudorra something in game... He could leave Keith in the dark a little longer, especially for the sake of beating everyone to identify the first symbol! Boy was Eudorra going to be surprised when he showed her!

"Gilbert!" said his mother's voice from the other side of his door, "Get up and put on something nice, we're eating and then going out on the boat!"

Gilbert smiled, at home he kept his door locked all the time, but he had left it unlocked intentionally so Jared could get in and out with any messages from Eudorra. His mom hadn't figured this out yet, so she still yelled at him through the door.

"Okay Mom, I'll be right there!" he called back as he headed for the shower.

During breakfast there was another uncomfortable moment when Gilbert pulled out his phone to read a text Eudorra had just sent him.

"Gilbert!" his mother declared, "How did you charge your phone?"

Eudorra's eyes went wide and he knew his face was turning red. He'd better come up with something quick!

"I asked Jared if there were any micro USB cords in the house and he found one for me so I could charge it." He hoped this sounded like normal conversation, because he felt it had come out too quickly. Jared bowed as if too confirm this story.

"Oh! Well my phone is about on its last leg as well, so I may need you to charge it for me tonight."

Gilbert glanced up at Eudorra trying to communicate his horror at the "uh-oh" that had just happened without using any facial expressions.

"Sure, I think I still have the cord, or did I give it back to you Jared?" Gilbert asked trying to look like he couldn't remember.

"I believe you gave it to me, and I shall be happy to assist you, Mrs. Hawk," he said in his most professional manner. Though when Annabel had turned away he gave a very definite wink to Eudorra, as if to say, "See you later tonight."

When his mother returned to her breakfast he read the text Eudorra had sent him: "When you get a minute, look at the encyclopedia in the library. I think Simon hid a hint in the way the books are arranged."

Gilbert looked up surprised then typed back, "Really! We were all in that room when the second clues were handed out, did anyone else notice?"

She wrote back, "I don't think so. You may want to turn your phone to silent though, if we are going to keep talking this way during meals ;)"

Gilbert nodded and immediately opened up settings to set the text notification ringer to "off."

"Smarty pants," he typed, "when do you think the next clues will be handed out?"

"Probably not until after the boat trip," she replied a few minutes later, along with, "Let's eat, I'm starving!"

"Oh right, sorry." He typed back, then put his phone away.

After breakfast had been cleared they were led by Jared and Mr. Henson out to the boathouse at the edge of the pond. Jared unlocked the door and they all went inside. Eudorra looked at the dusty boats tied to the docks. They looked alright, but she was a bit nervous. She had never been in a boat before, and she wasn't sure what to expect.

There were several row boats, canoes, and even a small sailboat which was probably a tad large for the pond, but was available to them if they chose to use it. However, the outing for the day was apparently to take the row boats out for a turn around the pond, as Jared and Mr. Henson headed down the side of the boathouse that housed the rowboats. At the end of the dock they raised the door that hung out over the water and kept the boats protected from harsh winds.

"Please step over this way," said Mr. Henson, "Put on your life vest before entering one of the boats. We will split into groups and row around the pond until lunch. Feel free to stop and look around if you see something interesting. Be safe, and happy rowing!"

Eudorra's nerves settled a bit when she saw her father donning one of the life jackets that hung along one wall of the boathouse. They all went over and suited up before selecting their boats. The Hawk family chose a red boat towards the front of the dock and were soon paddling their way out into the small lake. Once each of the Franks were secured in their life vests, they chose a green row boat and headed out into the pond. Jared, and Mr. Henson came last in a bright yellow boat that bore the name: "Reconciliation"

They had not been out on the lake long when Eudorra's phone buzzed in her pocket. She carefully pulled it out and saw that Gilbert had sent her another message.

"Did you see the name on the yellow boat?" he had typed.

"Yeah," she typed back, "Do you think our parent's noticed?"

"Probably not. BTW, I found out what one of the symbols means."

Eudorra almost dropped her phone and stared at the red boat that was ahead of them near a stand of cattails. That was big news! She dropped her gaze again, and rapidly typed. "How? Which one? What does it mean?"

"Eudorra," her father said, "Are you texting Gilbert by chance?"

Her head shot up! If they had any suspicions before they were certainly confirmed now. How had they known?

"Maybe," she said waiting to hear what they had to say.

"Well, the two of you were going back and forth pretty steadily during breakfast," her father chided. "It was pretty obvious, at least from our side of the table what was going on. Do his parents know you two are talking to each other?"

"No," she said, then added quietly, "I'm helping him solve their clues. I guess his parents are having trouble with them. He wants to prove to them that he is smart, and knows how to use his head by solving the clues before they do."

Her parents looked at each other before responding.

"So he has been revealing their clues to you and the two of you have been working together to solve them?" her father asked.

"Yes, he hasn't asked for any of our clues, he just wants the help so he can solve the clues first. Not that it mattered with the second clue his parents solved it thanks to some ring Annabel had," said Eudorra.

Her father went silent for a long time and stroked his chin. Finally he said, "What about the ring helped them solve the clue?"

"I guess there was some symbol on it that was the shape the pieces they were given had to be assembled in." As she said this, her phone buzzed and she read Gilbert's message to herself.

"I'll show you later. Meet me at the tree house after lunch."

"Okay," she typed back.

"What did he say?" her mother asked.

"He said he thinks he knows what one of their symbols means, and that he'll tell me about it later." Eudorra bit her lip and took a deep breath. "Please don't ask me to tell you everything that we are doing. It really is to help him out, and he doesn't want his parents to know we are working together either, and I agree. I don't know what Annabel would do, but from what Gilbert tells me she's pretty independent."

"Oh, I quite agree dear," said her father, "she can be very difficult at times. We won't interfere, I think the less Anna knows the better."

They had rowed to the opposite bank by this time, and began turning a slow circle to head along the side of the pond. The Hawks had circled around the other way and were now headed toward them. Mr. Henson and Jared were in the middle of the pond, and Mr. Henson appeared to be fishing. The warm sun began heating up the boats and the mild smell of fish began to waft beneath their noses. Along the shore of the pond there were several stands of cat tails, marshy areas with lily pads, and here and there a stretch of sand where boats of years past probably were pulled on shore by the younger Mortimer and Annabel.

They passed the boat carrying the Hawks and waved, but the wave was not returned, although Gilbert did sneak a wink in for Eudorra.

"That boy, if he isn't careful he is going to land himself into some real trouble!" remarked Angela.

Eudorra looked at her mother puzzled, "What do you mean?"

Her mother looked distant and sad, "He just reminds me of a boy I grew up with who was a real looker, he flirted with all the girls, and in the end nobody wanted to date him seriously because he was so open to flirting with everyone and anyone, so no one could trust him." She heaved a heavy sigh as the memories came flooding back to her. "Some memories are more painful than others," she observed. "Perhaps that is so we remember those lessons better?"

Eudorra looked at her father and thought on this. She had never considered her father's memories as being painful. He certainly did a very good job of keeping it to himself all these years. She had never known him to cry, but there always seemed to be something troubling him. What lessons could he be holding onto as the result of some great pain in his past? In that same line of thought, what lessons was Annabel holding on to and what pain was she dealing with?

These thoughts consumed her for the remainder of the boat trip. As they docked and placed their life vests back on the hooks on the wall of the boathouse, Eudorra's mind caught hold of Simon and she wondered what kind of pain could have sparked a puzzle quest like this. How much pain he had endured as the one who set up the puzzle that pushed her father over the edge. What could have happened between them to cause such a rift in the family. They had seemed so close based on what her father had told them about his early days at the Manor, and the boyish look in his eyes when they had arrived had spoken volumes.

She had a lot to think about during lunch, but she would have to think quickly if she wanted to meet up with Gilbert immediately following lunch to discover what he thought he had discovered about one of the symbols.

So how was it?

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