As the door swung open, creaking on its hinges, Eleanor saw the Warden standing behind a battered but sturdy desk. “Miss Eleanor" he said bowing at the waist. Eleanor's heart dropped to her stomach as she took slow deliberate steps towards the proffered chair. He knew her true identity. Numbly she wondered what he would with such information- he could destroy her if he chose to.
The Warden sat down across from her and leaned back in his chair before beginning.
"Honestly, Miss Eleanor, I attended your grandfather's funeral," Hargreaves leaned his elbows on the table between them. "I knew you the moment I saw you. While I may not have left any sort of impression on a grieving girl, I could not forget the confusion of loss in those stormy gray eyes. Unique gray eyes. They are not to be forgotten. To see them again, here, today, in my goal of all places...." “I have business with Gaston Devereaux, as I said before." Eleanor said flushing.
The Warden gave Eleanor a long look before saying "I deliberately, from concealment behind a heat register, listened to your entire conversation with that criminal, Eleanor Pendergast," She stared at the warden with barely concealed shock for a moment; Eleanor straightened her back- she would be cowed by no one. “You had no right to invade my privacy in such a manner! I hardly see how my business with Gaston Devereaux is of any concern." "While you might lack the worldliness to expect such a blatant abuse of your privacy, Gaston Devereaux was very much aware of that fact. Therefore, everything he said must be scrutinized with suspicion."
Eleanor could feel the fury building in the pit of her stomach- how dare he speak to her in that condescending tone- he who was social inferior in every way." Again I hardly see how my business with Mr. Devereaux is any of your concern" Eleanor said- the cold authoritative sound of her own voice surprised her. She could distinctly hear the voice of Great Aunt Augusta- the elderly woman loved putting people in their place with nothing more than an off-hand remark and a well placed snub.
The Warden looked taken aback for a moment but then smirked ““Eleanor, you have me at a loss..." Hargreaves opened his hands as if beseeching. "How can you, so lately come to England, have fallen so completely beneath the powers of compulsion of so heinous a criminal as Gaston Devereaux?"
“I have fallen beneath the power of no one. I come simply to seek the truth. I believe Gaston Devereaux to be innocent- or at least under the power of that fiendish idol. It is perhaps you who are the heinous one; seeking to rob a man of his liberty, simply to exact revenge for some perceived slight- I can think of nothing more ignoble or dishonorable."
He confesses to our feud?" Hargreaves accused, staring into the confusion of those stormy grays again. "He has never been convicted of a single wrongful death, but he has left three women dead... to suicide... in his wake. "Do you think him romantic, Miss Pendergast?" Hargreaves shrugged. "Do you think me fiendish?”Do you think that any of this... and any of what he asks of you... makes any sense at all?"
Eleanor sat in silent shock for a moment- could everything Gaston told her be a lie? Who was telling the truth and who was lying? When had life become so convoluted? For a moment Eleanor longed for her bucolic home in the country, where there were no webs of truth and lies for her to untangle. “I don't believe you." Eleanor said turning her face away. The Warden's look of pity caused a sharp stab of shame; “I don't believe you" Eleanor said with more force. “There is no truth in your words" Eleanor said, causing the Warden to scowl.
"He has never been convicted of a single wrongful death, but he has left three women dead... to suicide... in his wake" Warden Hargreaves said softly, staring Eleanor straight in the eyes. The shock of the Warden's words left Eleanor speechless. Her skin crawled and her body tensed, as if she was preparing to run from the room. The Warden's stern eyes swam before her, the last thing she saw before losing consciousness.