Tracy Thinks
You Don't Know Jack
Arthur
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Arthur

Chapter Eleven - The Golden Telescope

DUBLIN, IRELAND – PRESENT DAY

Arthur stood, gazing across the enormous room to the oversized office chair where he was used to seeing his master seated. It was not an easy thing to accept that Sir Edward was gone, despite the fact it had already been two years since the awful incident that dramatically altered the butler’s life.

Arthur loved the old mansion. He knew it had been entrusted to his care for upkeep, and he was honored to do it. But still, things just weren’t the same without his old friend. The house was devoid of personality now, and with no master to serve, Arthur felt that his life had little meaning or purpose.

Looking again to the clipping he held in his hands…he read the obituary:

Sir Edward Mac Paidin, who has died aged 82, was a grand milliner and courtier. He became the royal family’s private hat maker in 1967. Though he officially retired in 2004, he continued to serve in numerous capacities, retaining an office adjacent to Buckingham Palace until the end.

Mac Paidin remained in good health until his death, walking in the procession of Knights and Dames Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in his 70th year. He was deeply touched when the Queen appeared as a surprise guest at his 75th birthday party at Clontarf Castle Hotel.

In 1952 he married Lydia O’Brien, daughter of General Liam and Aileen (Doyle) O’Brien, with whom he had one son and two daughters. His son, Ross, and daughter-in-law, Faith, were tragically killed in an automobile accident eight years before his passing. Mac Paidin is survived by his daughters, Inez and Clara, and three grandchildren.

Arthur gently refolded the fragile newspaper section and carefully placed it back inside the clear plastic envelope where he kept it. Upon returning the page to the large walnut sideboard where it lived, he noticed the pair of wire-rimmed glasses he’d received by post one week following his master’s disappearance. Lifting them lovingly, he caressed the initials that had been custom engraved on either side of the frames: EMP.

Arthur deeply yearned for the days long past when he would walk into the library to see his old friend seated behind the desk at the far end of the room, wearing these spectacles as he worked. How he missed sitting together in the evening, sipping tea or brandy, and talking about the events of the day or world affairs.

But all of that ended right after he found Ethan.

2 YEARS AGO

The golden brooch Edward wore on the lapel of his paisley brocade jacket was unusual and one-of-a-kind in design. Crafted in the 17th century by a Master Jewel Maker, the pin was in the shape of a Cavalier hat with a large, ostrich feather plume etched into the surface. The pin featured a stunning 3-carat diamond set into the lower center where a person’s head might reside. It was one of Sir Edward’s signature wardrobe accessories. In these past 25 years, Arthur had never seen his Master fully clothed without it.

And in all that time, Arthur had only seen it light up on perhaps a handful of occasions. During these rare events, the pin came to life with a warm, amber glow that seemed to emanate from deep within the stone, indicating some urgent issue related to the hats that required Sir Edward’s immediate attention.

On one exceptionally memorable afternoon, Arthur watched as the stone lit up. However, unlike previous instances, this time, the pin glared a shrill shade of sapphire blue, almost audible in its intensity. The event set Sir Edward into a flurry of activity Arthur had not witnessed before or since.

On that crisp autumn evening, he and his master had been sitting across from one another, a marble chessboard between them. Sir Edward was patiently awaiting Arthur’s next move when just as he placed his fingers on his queen to initiate checkmate, the diamond lit up, demanding their attention. Sir Edward jumped to his feet, tipping over all the king’s horses and all the king’s men in a move that assured the match was over.

“Ethan!” Edward exclaimed. “Finally, it’s time!” He looked up at Arthur, an enthusiastic gleam of excitement in his old, hazel eyes. “I was beginning to think this day would never come.”

The expression of hope that brightened Sir Edward’s face was one that Arthur had not seen for a very long time.

“Come, quickly, to the locator!” he said as he moved toward the library doors, a renewed sense of energy in his gait.

Arthur obediently followed as they made their way out of the library to the sweeping staircase leading to the mansion’s upper levels. Usually, Sir Edward would wait for Arthur to take his arm and assist him as he slowly, carefully made his way up the flight. But not today. Sir Edward climbed those stairs with exceptional speed, not stopping to remember that he usually required a companion.

The gentlemen passed portraits of all the previous Masters of the Manor displayed prominently on the walls before arriving at the upper level. Edward then turned to the right and walked several hundred feet before stopping in front of a beautiful, polished walnut door with an ornately engraved antique brass handle. He removed a golden skeleton key from the pocket of his smoking jacket and inserted it into the keyhole beneath the knob.

“Quickly, now! Quickly!” Edward exclaimed as he opened the door, revealing yet another much smaller staircase leading up to a room in the house Arthur had never visited before.

Sir Edward reached the top and paused, heaving and staggering and gasping for air.

“Are you all right, Sir?” Arthur asked, concerned.

“Fine! I’m fine!” Edward choked, supporting his weight on the banister before standing erect, taking a deep breath, and moving on.

The room beyond was large and mostly empty. But an oversized globe, set into a wooden stand, filled the center of the space. Above the globe was an enormous glass dome through which an incredible display of stars in the midnight sky was on display.

“Shall I get the lights, Sir?” he asked as he started for the switch on the wall.

“No, Arty, no!” Edward said with unrelenting energy. “Arthur, come here to me,” he said, softening his voice to an awed murmur.

“Don’t you understand? This is the moment I have been longing for ever since Ross’s death.”

Edward was leaning over the colossal globe, hands resting on the stand that supported it.

“No, Sir, I don’t understand,” Arthur was next to him now, gazing down at the globe.

“This blue light—-the sapphire glow of my brooch—-alerts me to the fact that Ethan’s powers have begun to show themselves. We now have the ability to track his energy, Arthur! We can finally locate my grandson—look,” Edward exclaimed, pointing to a small, bright blue light shining in the middle of the globe. “He appears to be in the mid-western United States. We need coordinates.”

The butler watched with interest as his master pressed a round red button on the handrail of the stand, exposing a small computer screen depicting the globe. Hovering over the location with his finger, the monitor displayed the exact location: Salt Lake City, Utah.

“That’s your destination, my friend,” Edward said.

“My destination, Sir?” Arthur inquired, watching his master with confusion and mild worry.

Sir Edward turned to look at his butler, a twinkle in his eye. “I need you to go and retrieve my grandson for me.”

“Sir, this is, indeed, such an exciting development, but…” Arthur faced his master, struggling to follow his responsibilities or listen to his conscience. “I can’t help feeling concerned for your safety.”

“I’m not worried about my safety, Arty. We knew this day was coming, and we need to prepare the next generation.” Edward turned back to the shining blue light on the globe.

“But, Sir Edward, your daughters…they warned you not to make contact.” Arthur’s voice betrayed him, cracking with emotion. “They threatened your life…”

“Yes, yes. I know. But I’m willing to take my chances. Trust me; I have covert methods of my own. I would not proceed without cautionary protections in place.” Edward took his glasses off and wiped the moisture away that had accumulated on the sides of his nose.

“Those children are our best hope, Arty. We must rescue them from the clutches of evil currently holding them hostage.”

The memory was painful. Arthur rubbed his eyes as he returned his focus to the current moment. If he had only known then the events that would transpire following that fateful night, he wasn’t sure he would have been so quick to obey his dear master’s instructions.

Then maybe Sir Edward would still be there, at Mac Paidin Manor, with him.

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Tracy Thinks
You Don't Know Jack
Magical fiction author Tracy Partridge-Johnson reads chapters from her nine-book Middle-Grade fantasy series Jack and the Magic Hat Maker.
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