DUBLIN, IRELAND - 5 YEARS LATER
Arthur watched his master work, an expression of awe and wonder spreading across his face. The truth was the hat was a little too cool to suit Arthur’s taste. It reflected the style of a much younger generation and would look foolish on his own middle-aged head. He was thankful, then, that he would only need to carry this one to its intended recipient; Ethan Mac Paidin.
Sir Edward was obviously pleased with his creation as he gazed upon it, making the last few adjustments and alterations, ensuring it was crafted with the precision this hat, in particular, deserved.
More of a cap than a hat, each unique creation was designed to be an ideal reflection of the wearer’s personality. In this case, a glossy black leather-looking thing with a long bill and snap back. Both gentlemen were confident it would suit a 13-year-old’s fashion sense perfectly.
”You see,” Sir Edward began, “the inclusion of the wearer’s DNA does more than simply enable us to locate them…” He paused as he lifted it off the hat form, turning it this way and that to make sure it was well balanced. “It’s almost as though the magical energy I’m using is able to tap into each individual’s character traits and perform much of the work of creation and design for me. In this case, the color, for instance, was pre-determined by the inclusion of a snippet from the lock of Ethan’s hair you collected for me all those years ago. I’m sure it will be a perfect fit for my grandson’s head!”
He turned to face the butler, lifting the hat into the beam of light from the lamp overhead, allowing the sheen of the leather to shift under his fingertips.
”Beautiful work, Sir, as always,” Arthur said, standing ready with his own, rather plain-looking, brown felt hat in hand.
”I can hardly contain the excitement I feel as I anticipate meeting Ethan for the first time, Arty.” Edward gazed lovingly down at the hat, admiring it as he often did before entrusting one of his creations to Arthur’s care. “But let’s not forget the immense danger involved in this mission. You must not risk getting caught. And to ensure your safety, I insist you promise me that you will remain hidden at all times, with your hat firmly on your head, until you are absolutely certain the moment is right to reveal yourself to the boy.”
Arthur gently took the cap from Sir Edward’s hands. “I give you my word, Sir. Believe me, I have no interest in being captured by those people. I will not gamble with this opportunity to rescue Ethan and transport him safely back to you.”
Sir Edward continued to eye the hat in his butler’s hands before shifting his gaze to Arthur’s face. “You have the photo?”
Arthur turned his own hat over to reveal a photograph of Ross and Faith, three bright-eyed children standing in front of them, tucked neatly into the band. “Yes, Sir. I expect that should be evidence enough for the young man to believe I am who I say I am and accompany me.”
”I certainly do hope so,” Edward said as he patted Arthur on the sleeve and stepped back a bit. “Alright then, no sense dilly-dallying. Best be on your way. Do complete your task and return home to me as quickly as possible. I will be tracking your location on the globe while you’re away, just to be sure.”
With Ethan’s cap firmly grasped in his left hand, Arthur placed his own hat on his head with the right and immediately disappeared from Edward’s view.
”We’ll be seeing you soon, Master. Wish me luck.” the voice said out of nowhere.
”The very best of luck!” and Edward swept the space where Arthur had been standing with both hands, just to make sure he was actually gone.
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