Lockwood by Jonathan Stroud

Book: Lockwood by Jonathan Stroud Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jonathan Stroud
and abjure?’
    ‘It means don’t open it, basically.’
    ‘Well, it’s a bit late for that now.’
    Lockwood had been glaring at us throughout. He cleared his throat. ‘It doesn’t really matter any more, does it?’ he said sweetly. ‘Because, as I keep telling you, Bickerstaff and his mirror thing are
no longer any of our business
. And George—’
    ‘Hold on,’ I said suddenly. ‘We’re talking about this being Edmund Bickerstaff. But how does that square with Joplin’s story of how Bickerstaff died? That bloke in the coffin wasn’t torn apart by rats, was he? He’d had a bullet through his head.’
    George nodded. ‘You’re right. Good point, Lucy.’
    ‘Though I suppose he might have been shot and then sort of nibbled.’
    ‘I guess so . . . But he seemed in one piece to me.’
It doesn’t matter!
’ Lockwood exclaimed. ‘If the case was open, it would be interesting, as you say. But the job’s done now. It’s over. Forget it! The important thing is that we did what we were paid to do, which was to locate and contain the Source.’
    ‘Er, no, we didn’t contain the Source, actually,’ George said. ‘As I rather conclusively proved. All that iron and silver, and still Bickerstaff’s ghost was able to get out.
unusual. Surely even you would admit it’s worth investigating.’
    Lockwood uttered an oath. ‘No! No, I don’t! You dislodged the net, George –
was how the Visitor was able to escape and ghost-lock you. You could have died! The problem is that, as always, you’re too easily distracted. You need to get your priorities straight! Look at this mess in here . . .’
    He stabbed a finger in the direction of the coffee table, where the ghost-jar sat, the skull dully visible, the plasm as blank and greenish as ever. George had conducted further experiments that afternoon. Noonday sun hadn’t done anything, and nor had brief exposure to loud bursts of classical music on the radio. The table was strewn with a little sea of notebooks and scribbled observations.
    ‘This is a perfect example,’ Lockwood went on. ‘You’re wasting too much time on that wretched jar. Try spending a bit more time on solid case research, help the company out a little.’
    George’s cheeks flushed. ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
    ‘I mean that Wimbledon Common business the other day . . . The stuff about the history of the gallows, which you completely missed. Even that idiot Bobby Vernon uncovered more useful information than you!’
    George sat very still. He opened his mouth as if about to argue, then closed it again. His face lacked all expression. He took off his glasses and rubbed them on his jersey.
    Lockwood ran his hands through his hair. ‘I’m being unfair. I shouldn’t have said that. I’m sorry.’
    ‘No, no,’ George said stiffly. ‘I’ll try to do better for you in future.’
    There was a silence. ‘How about I make some cocoa?’ I said in a bright voice. Hot chocolate helps soothe things in the early hours. The night was growing old. It would soon be dawn.
    ‘I’ll make it,’ George said. He stood abruptly. ‘See if I can do
right. Two sugars, Luce? Lockwood . . . I’ll make yours an extra frothy one.’
    Lockwood frowned at the closing door. ‘You know, that last comment makes me uneasy . . .’ He sighed. ‘Lucy, I’ve been meaning to say: that was an impressive move back there – what you did with the rapier.’
    ‘You aimed it perfectly, right between their heads. An inch to the left, and you’d have skewered George right between the eyes. Really sensational accuracy there.’
    I made a modest gesture. ‘Well . . . sometimes you just do what has to be done.’
    ‘You didn’t actually aim it at all, did you?’ Lockwood said.
    ‘You just chucked it. In fact, it was pure blind luck that George lost his balance and fell out of the way. That’s why he wasn’t kebabbed by

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