Escaping Notice
Helen turned to her maid.
“Sally, please see to it before all the beds are bespoke.”
    Shutting the door behind her maid, Helen turned back to Ned. He
had picked up one of the large yeast rolls from a basket on the
table and appeared to be completely absorbed in buttering it.
    “What would you think of a frog living in a tea pot?” he asked,
out of nowhere.
    “A frog? In a tea pot?” There was no tea pot on the table that
she could see. “I suppose I’ve never really thought about it.”
    “But what would you do if you found one?”
    “Well, let it go, I suppose.”
    He frowned. “But you can see, can’t you, that a tea pot is a
good place to keep a frog? At least temporarily?”
    “The pot is not full of tea, is it?”
    “No,” he replied, scornfully. “Just a little pond water.”
    “Then I suppose it might be all right, as a temporary home.” The
notion appeared harmless enough, if a trifle eccentric.
    He nodded, appearing satisfied.
    “There aren’t any frogs in tea pots here, are there?” she asked,
hoping the discussion was entirely theoretical.
    “Of course not! I don’t suppose they even have tea pots
here!”
    “I’m sure they do. But they’re probably full of tea. And a jar
would be better, don’t you think?”
    “I suppose.” His toe dug at little more at the carpet. “If I had
a jar. But you’d have to have holes in the lid. They need to
breathe, you know.”
    “I’m sure they do. Do you have a frog?”
    “Not any more.”
    Thank goodness.
    “Well, maybe you can find one in London, after we get there.
Now, where are we to take you when we arrive tomorrow? Where were
you to meet your guardian?” she asked, her voice betraying her
doubts. Ned Brown hadn’t given her his destination, and given his
predilection for well-embroidered tales, she wasn’t sure she ought
to help him in his adventure.
    What if he was some lord’s runaway heir? No one would thank her
for assisting Ned in his escape.
    Her doubts increased with Ned’s next comment. He shrugged and
said, “Anywhere’ll do. I can find my way well enough once I’m
there.” Cramming the first roll into his mouth, he chewed while he
picked up another bun and the butter knife.
    “Yes, but where does your guardian live? We ought to leave you
safely in his care.”
    “I’ll show you when we get to London.”
    “You don’t know, do you? Because you’ve run away from home. Who
is your real guardian? Where does he live?”
    His eyes flickered, however he devoured half of the second warm
yeast roll before answering, “In truth, I don’t know.”
    “You did run away!”
    “No.” Ned broke up the remains of the second roll and added more
butter, only to stop and glance up at her. His fingers nervously
tore the bread into smaller and smaller pieces.
    “If you did not run away, then why don’t you know Mr. Brown’s
address? If there is a Mr. Brown.”
    “No, I honestly, well, I’m not sure because I don’t
remember!”
    “You don’t remember?”
    “I’m only eleven, Miss!” he wailed.
    Helen stared at him, nearly sure he was play acting, but
uncertain enough to put her arm round him and give him an awkward
hug. “So you aren’t running away, but you don’t know where you are
going in London? Truthfully?”
    A sob shook his shoulders. “I—I don’t remember!”
    “Then we shall take you back to your home. It can’t be that far
if you walked here today. Surely the constable can help you find
your family.”
    “That’s just it, Miss. I woke up in a field this morning with
nothing but this old valise and no idea where I should go. All I
could remember was the name ‘Ned Brown’ and the notion that I had
to go to London. That’s all. So I thought it best to continue
onward.”
    “That sounds an awful lot like a Banbury tale to me.”
    “It’s all I can say, Miss.” He hiccupped and wiped his nose on
his sleeve, before Helen pushed one of the linen napkins into his
hand.
    “Or all you will say. Wipe

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