“It is good to see you again, Miss Bald . . . excuse me, Marta.” He joined her and motioned for her to sit down again. Marta leaned back in the folds of the couch. To her surprise, she felt more comfortable now that Byron was present, although the humming bird had not stopped buzzing in her chest. It was disquieting to admit the range of emotions she felt around this man. Byron sat opposite her.
“Would you care for some tea?” He indicated the teacups she had noted before.
She shook her head no and smoothed her dress with her hands while she gathered her thoughts. “Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, Byron. As I told you, my helper and companion has gone missing, and I am quite beside myself with worry. I hoped your friend might be able to help, although I’m not sure how. It’s just that you said he knows about hypnotism, and I believe that is what happened to Missy. I believe the man I spoke of before has taken her.”
Marta felt tears welling in her eyes and tried desperately to stop them. She didn’t want to appear the foolish, weak woman now. Not in front of Byron. But the tears would not cooperate, and they were soon streaming down her face. Byron immediately took a clean handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to her. She smiled her thanks and wiped her face. The embroidered, silk cloth felt soothing on her cheeks. She squared her shoulders and calmed herself. “Do I make any sense?” she asked plaintively.
“Yes indeed.” Byron rubbed his hands and took his pipe from his coat pocket. She waited for him to clamp it between his teeth, but he merely held it. “In fact, I have just located Charles and was about to go fetch him when you called. He may very well know of this man, or where to find someone like him.”
Marta’s spirits rose at Byron’s encouraging words. “Can we go to him now?” she asked anxiously.
Byron leaned back in his chair with a frown. “I would advise you not to. He’s in a rather nasty place, one not fit for ladies. You are welcome to wait here,” he added quickly when he saw the disappointment on her face.
“Where is he?”
“Chinatown. He has an appetite for opium, I’m afraid, and often frequents the opium dens found there. The establishment he prefers is called Blind Annie’s Cellar. I plan to go find him and fetch him back here.”
The Hypnotist - Excerpt
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