Night Visitor

Night Visitor by Melanie Jackson Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Night Visitor by Melanie Jackson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Melanie Jackson
Tags: Fiction
better over time.
    Her carriage workroom was not yet suffocating, so she set about her labors without removing her annoying collar, though she did roll back her cuffs to spare them from the stains of blackening.
    By this time, Taffy had convinced herself that she had imagined all of yesterday’s strange episode, and if anything actually appeared on the plate, it would be a white blot—some completely unidentifiable shape—caused by a stray beam of light reflecting off of a lost button or shiny pebble on the nearby flagstones at the castle.
    It therefore came as a rather large surprise when she washed away the softer gelatin and discovered that there was, in fact, the image of a man in a belted plaid kneeling at the side of the piper’s grave.
    “Angels and ministers of grace defend us!”
    In disbelief, she picked up the blacking and began to gently rub the print into stronger contrast.
    “And Columba preserve me!” she whispered, rubbing away the last of the excess blacking with a cloth and holding the print before her.
    The plate could not show her what color of eyes the figure had, but it did show his face—theone from her dream!—and also those amazing, pointed ears peeping out of his thick, dark hair where it fell around them. The only thing missing from her dreams was the severed boar’s head on the ground beside him.
    “It can’t be,” she whispered. But the image didn’t change and an almost forgotten phrase presented itself to her stunned mind. This man was Homo arcanus, as a Latin scholar would say. Daoine shi, to the Gaels.
    “Pronounced ear cartilage was not uncommon among the northern Gaels,” she told herself.
    Her shaking hands did not agree. That there was anyone in the photograph was a matter so uncommon as to rate the appellation of miraculous.
    She was grateful that she had a witness to the fact that no one— visible —had been at the grave when the photo was taken, else she would doubt her sanity.
    Not that she would call on her father to verify this happening. No! She could well imagine his reaction if this plate was ever made public and he was appealed to for support by the members of the spiritualistic movement…He’d more likely support the suffragettes, and he detested those pushy women.
    No, she could not tell her father — ever — about this Malcolm of Glen Noe.
    Again, there came the strong feeling that shewas not alone. Paying closer attention this time, Taffy exhaled slowly and closed her eyes. Goose-flesh arose on her arms and her head swam giddily. Almost, she could hear pipes playing a mournful song.
    Malcolm.
    It took all her courage but she managed to call softly: “Malcolm? Piper, are you here?”
    “Tafaline! Is someone in there with you?”
    She nearly shrieked at the loud summons right outside her door.
    “Father! Just a moment. Don’t open the door!” Quickly, she stuffed her damning plate into an open satchel and, peril temporarily averted, opened the carriage door to her impatient parent. “Yes?”
    He peered over her shoulder for a moment, searching the small interior for a visitor.
    “Father? You wanted something?”
    “Hm? Oh! Have you those blasted prints ready for Mapleton?”
    “Why, no. I delivered them earlier. Did you need to see them?”
    Davis transferred his gaze to her.
    “You delivered them?”
    “Certainly. I have the proper means of transporting the plates, which are fragile. And you are far too busy to deal with such paltry matters. Anyway, it isn’t as if the bones are important to your work.”
    “Quite.” But he still stared as if she had grown two heads, causing her to wonder if she were behaving strangely. He asked, with obvious reluctance: “Are you quite well? Perhaps I should open your windows and let some clean air inside. It would be most inconvenient if you fainted from the fumes and heat.”
    There were many who thought that females were of negligible intellect and unable to think calmly in a crisis, but Taffy had

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