(Animas) The Days of Stonild Lark, by Linnaeus Fryer – Part II

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This is the second part of a biography of Prime Minister Stonild Lark, the first part of which can be found here. Enjoy!

What I know – what any of us know, since her famous sister’s passing – about Avery Rosebrook Lark is starkly limited. She has no grave and precious little mention of her in any local newspaper at the time, which is very curious given that she disappeared and was not, in fact, at any point confirmed killed. Why was she not looked for?

All the intelligence I ever received from Sir Stonild about the affair can be summed up so: “It was a hot summer’s day. I was nine years old. Avery and I were out with a hired hand to run errands and perhaps get something cold to enjoy after. I was walking ahead of them, but when they turned around, they were gone and gone forever.” She did not recall any search being made, beyond the one-girl expeditions she launched herself with no result.

She recalled that Avery was a funny child, handsomer than her, more agreeable, and better liked. She could easily imagine why someone would prefer an Avery over a Stonild to snatch, but she could not imagine why a family would not look for their Avery. I cannot imagine either. I have searched every sort of archive in search of an answer for this, or indeed, some trace of Avery, to no avail. No mention of her can be found even in family correspondence past August, 1003 CR.

It must be said that Sir Stonild was not much assistance in my brief spell as a detective, as no subject raised in front of her was more likely to cause her to shut down and reach for the brandy bottle.

This incident caused an irreparable breach in her relations with her elders. No longer would she accept any sort of assistance from them, she decided, even as their business inexplicably began to flourish. Indeed, she took up with a competing general store in the neighborhood, her wages being three meals a day, a cot by the fireplace, and a pittance for extra expenses. No longer did she concern herself with play, as whenever she was not working, she was at school.

“It was at that school that I met my second husband, as the schoolmaster, Archibald Catherson, was his father,” she reported to me. “As Tybalt was three years younger than me, I was naturally far too mature to have any time for him beyond that decreed by the dictates of politeness. His nose was perpetually running in those days and I am pleased to report that has long since ceased to be the case.”

But the general store, then run by Mr. Pold and his sons, had lessons for her as well. It taught her how to speak, particularly to those who – with perhaps good reason – suspected that you might be attempting to pull a fast one on them. (It is worth noting that Sir Stonild’s own children, Roberts and Hippolyta, were made to endure this same rite of passage for a year before they were allowed to pursue their respective careers.) Soon, regulars were inquiring as to whether ‘that homely girl’ was available when Mr. Pold himself was out and the Rosebrook-Larks were demanding their wayward daughter back.

Stonild refused.

A magistrate was brought in to decide on the matter. Stonild made her opinions on the matter very clear to said magistrate. The Rosebrook-Larks did as well. The magistrate decided in favor of the parents and ordered Stonild to return to their household.

Stonild refused.

Again, they were all summoned in front of the magistrate and the second round turned out more in young Stonild’s favor, as her parents had neglected to appear. Upon investigation, it was revealed that this neglect was on account of them being dead drunk. Their insistence afterwards that their wayward daughter had appeared the previous night bearing a bottle of whisky and a spoken desire to bury the metaphorical hatchet was roundly derided before being ignored.

“As though I would want to return to a pair of drunks – and not even amusing drunks, at that,” Lark said, sipping her brandy.

That’s the end of Part II. If you enjoyed it, please consider throwing a tip my way via PayPal or Patreon. Again, if there’s some little aspect of the world you want to know about, put it in a comment and I’ll see if I can’t write something about it. Part III is scheduled for Monday. Cheers!

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