Lizzie dashed into the library, hugging the weapons against the bodice of her red silk evening gown. Her eyes darted around the room, barely seeing the stacks of books. She had left the others in the dining room after spilling wine on her dress, but they would suspect her if she was gone long. She had to find a hiding place quickly.
This time it’s not going to end in murder.
She flung herself behind the heavy wooden door and pushed it closed with her silk clad rear, then ran across the Chinese rug to the drawn velvet curtains on the far wall. The end of the rope trailed down her side as her grip on the weapons slipped. The French doors behind the curtains were locked and the dark veranda beyond mocked her. In frustration she turned back to the room.
Think, Lizzie. There has to be a place they won’t find them. Maybe behind the books.
The rope slipped farther down and dangled against a small bookcase. Suddenly it was gone, as if it had been tugged out of her arms. Lizzie stared at the case. It stood away from the wall, beside a small rug woven with a jungle scene. Among a row of colorful children’s books, one stuck out beyond the edge of the shelf. But where was the rope? She dropped the weapons on the rug and pulled out the book.
The shelf was deep, so she shoved a hand into the gap. No rope. Glancing at the title of the book in her other hand, she sucked in a breath. Moon Rope: A Peruvian Folktale. With trembling fingers she opened it to see a picture of the rope she had just lost. She placed her hand on the picture and felt the rough texture of the sisal, even though it lay flat on the page.
All at once, she lunged at the pile of weapons and grabbed the candlestick. She waved it at the bookcase, but nothing happened. Lifting it above the books, she dropped it on the carpet with a dull thud.
Nope. That didn’t work. Okay, maybe I have to find a book with a candlestick in the title.
Dropping the book, she looked down at the weapons, then around at the bookshelves.
How am I going to find the right books? I don’t have time.
A sound in the billiards room warned her that the men had left the women for their customary brandy and cigars. Soon someone would slip away in search of a weapon. She glared at the wall that separated the two rooms, wishing the men back to the dining room. Then she saw a book sticking out beyond the edge of a middle shelf. She dashed over and pulled it down. The Guns of Navarone by Alistair MacLean. A smile crossed her face as she carried it back to the pile of weapons. She reached for the revolver, but it was gone. Once again she opened a book with trembling fingers and there was the picture of a gun.
The library wants to help.
Lizzie almost cheered as she scanned the bookcases. There, and there, and there. She raced around the room, snatching the books off the shelves, then dropped them beside the first two, which lay near the knife on the rug. The candlestick, wrench and lead pipe had disappeared. Before she could turn away to look for the last one, a book on the top shelf of the children’s bookcase moved out from the others, as if someone pushed it from behind. Instinctively, she reached out to catch it, the title facing her. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman.
Not so subtle, she laughed silently.
Now that the weapons were hidden, she should get back to the women, but she couldn’t resist looking at the other three books on the floor. The Bishop’s Candlesticks by Victor Hugo. A Three Pipe Problem by Julien Symens. Monkey Wrench by Nancy Martin. Each had a picture of a weapon inside the front cover. Smiling broadly, she stacked them on the shelf and turned to the door.
Brushing her hand across the wine stain, she pulled her gown straight and pushed a loose lock of hair into place. Glancing back at the billiards room, she glided toward the lounge. She paused at the door while the other ladies looked up at her over their teacups.
“Miss Scarlett. You’ve been gone a while. I hope the gown wasn’t ruined.”
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