I write this letter to you in this form hoping you will find it to read due to the current situation where you work. I have spoken to the guards and one of the councilman to let you see Paul tomorrow after the time of Dawn. The time will be limited but I hope you make most of it. Forgive me that I won't be able to accompany you but my friend, Henry who is a councilman will be there to assist you. My carriage will be waiting for you in the town near Jacksonville's cobbler shop.'
At the bottom of the paper, Jerome Wells name was signed.
Reading the paper another time, she took the paper to the candle and lit it on fire until there was no evidence left of it. Vivian was sure that if Jan or anyone else found it, there was no saying what kind of ire she would be facing from Leonard. All she wanted to do was go visit Paul and in all these days that had passed, she couldn't muster the courage to ask Leonard. Every time she would even remotely mention the last housekeeper's name, his mood would set off in the wrong direction.
When morning arrived, opportunely, Vivian and the other maids were sent to fetch groceries and other items from town. Reaching the town, they split to get the things separately from where she slipped out of the town in the carriage that Jerome had promised. Though Jerome wasn't there to help her personally, he had sent the councilman named Henry as mentioned in the letter.
Arriving at the prison hold where all the accused criminals were locked in separate cells, Vivian waited for a few minutes as Henry spoke to the guards. The building was old, old enough that would make anyone think that it would collapse any moment.
After speaking to the guards, the man appeared to her side, "Is everything alright?" she asked him.
"The guards seemed to have been changed this morning and the new ones don't know about the new visitors but it's all sorted. Come along, we don't have much time," Henry walked in the narrow corridors of the entrance of the prison building which looked old and rusted.
Vivian had to be careful on her way, following the man closely as she heard growls and grunts, screams filling up few of the cells that made her wary of the place she had come to. This wasn't a place for her, it wasn't a place anyone would like to visit not with the heart-chilling screams that echoed through the empty walls and space which made her shiver.
"He is here," Henry said, stopping to unlock the metal door which creaked as it was pushed open, Vivian caught sight of a shadow sitting in the corner of the cell. Both his hands and feet were tied in chains to the wall, when the light Henry was holding touched his face, Vivian couldn't help but gasp at the bruised face of the man. Tears filled in her eyes, "I will be waiting outside," the man said leaving her with the prisoner.
"Paul?" Vivian called the man's name but he hardly seemed to be in a state where he could listen to anything. It was evident that he was being beaten every day with every hour of his consciousness. One drop of her tear slid down her cheeks which fell on the empty black ground where no light reached. Taking the kerchief she had been holding, she blew warm air on to it before placing the cloth of his swollen cheekbone.
What kind of world was this? She was sure the man was innocent yet she had no power in helping him. The men who held power did nothing to save the man or his family.
One day. That was all he had. Vivian's entire life had revolved around Martha, Paul and the Carmichael's and it seemed like everyone was leaving one by one. Wiping her cheek off the tear that had trailed down she continued to blow hot air on the kerchief and placing it on his bruised face.
Getting up from the ground she went outside and spoke to the councilman, "Might you know where his family are placed here?"
"They must be around here. Let me lock this one," he said, pulling the door closed and locking it.
When they came upon the next door, Vivian peeked into the small barred slot.
"Vivi?" came a man's voice she came to recognize as Thomas who was Paul's nephew.
"Tom?" Vivian tried to get a better look and saw him come out of the shadows as she raised the lantern up. Though there were bruises, he looked in a much better condition than Paul was. She waited for Henry to open the door before stepping inside the cell, "Thomas!" she crouched down and they both held each other's hands.
"How have you been, Vivi? I thought I wasn't going to see you," he smiled looking at her tear streaked eyes which shone in the lantern light, "What are you doing here?"
"I wanted to see all of you...I-I am good. How have you been?" she mustered a small smile.
"Apart from a few beatings that take place every day, I should say it is fine. The only painful thing is that we have to hear uncle Paul's screaming in pain every hour he wakes up. The guards here are far worse than what we get to hear in the town," Vivian had no words that she could offer to make things better. Both of them knew that Paul and all his family members would be executed tomorrow in the town, there was no way they could get out of it. Somewhere deep inside her heart, Vivian wanted to loosen the chains and she wondered why she shouldn't. At that thought, she pulled out the pin from her hair and began twisting it around the lock.
She placed a finger on her lips when Thomas was going to ask what she was doing. Hearing the sound of click from the lock, she placed back the pin her hair. She knew that if someone were to found out about it, it wouldn't be just Thomas but also her neck in line for the execution.
"Take care," she hugged him and though the lock had been unlocked on Thomas' hands he sat there with a puzzled look of what she had just done.
"It's not right," he whispered.
"I know," she whispered back, "But what is fair in this world," she continued to hug him, hoping if he could, he could run away and save himself. Going back to Paul would cause suspicion, but she wanted to save as many as she could. People who never partook in something they were accused of. She wanted to quickly look for Paul's sister and her husband but time didn't seem to be with her.
Lost in her own thoughts of saving people whom she cared for, she didn't notice the sharp footsteps that approached the cell she was at, "What a pleasant surprise to see you here, Ms Vivian," it was the Lord of Bonelake. He had a smile on his lips which made her let go of Thomas, "Does Leonard know that you are here?"
"He doesn't. Are you going to tell him?" she asked getting up from the ground and looking at him in the eye. As gentle as the lord looked, Vivian didn't know why but there was something very unnerving about him.
"I don't know. I may or may not but for now, I think it would be best for you to step out of the cell and the building. The prison isn't a place for a lady like you," Vivian decided not to argue with the Lord and instead bowed her head before glancing at Thomas, she left the building with the councilman.
Thanking the councilman for his time and help, she returned back to the town market with the groceries the coachman of Mr Wells had helped her buy when she had gone to meet Paul. 5 Best Chinese Romance Books of 2018 So Far
Late night when everyone was fast asleep in the mansion, Vivian heard a stone hit her table that came through her small open window, waking her up from her sleep. In the dark where the candle she had previously lit before going to sleep was fading away with few more minutes left before it would fizzle out, she made a reach to the stone. Upon touching it, she found the stone was covered with paper. Going to the window and taking a peak, she found no one in sight and sat down on her bed to unfold the paper.