"How did I get here?" Clarice said. "The last I remember I was down on the beach and I was hit from behind.” She put her hand on the back of her head. “Strange, there's no bump or sign of injury."
"You must have dreamt that," Tribell said. "You were pounding on the front door and when the master opened it, you fainted in his arms."
"But I came here from the sea," she said.
"Nonsense," Tribell said. "No one can get to the manor from the sea. Your memory has been affected somehow."
Clarice ran her fingertip over her lips. "I have no memory other than crawling out of the ocean."
"It rained most violently last night," Tribell said. "That was the water you crawled out of."
Clarice sat on the stool in front of the vanity dresser. She stared at her reflection in the mirror. The eyes that stared back at her were filled with dismay.
* * *
The hallway she walked down was lined on both sides with large wooden doors locked with chains. Thumping on the doors from the other side echoed through the hall
She stopped and put her ear to a door, and hearing nothing but the tapping, she walked on.
The hall was dimly lit by pale moonlight that filtered through a stained glass window at the end of the hall. The blue and yellow in the glass was faintly cast on the floor and walls. The design in the glass was that of a raft on a violent sea crowded with men and women in various contortions of great distress. Her long pale rose silk dress dragged on the bare wood floor making a swishing sound that reverberated through the hallway. She stopped at the top of a winding staircase.
"You were told to stay in your bedroom," Tribell said, suddenly appearing on the stairs a few steps down.
Clarice recoiled. "How did you just appear like that?"
Tribell cackled, displaying a mouth filled with blackened, broken teeth. "Are you daft? I've been standing here all along. You're not to wander the manor alone."
"Why?" Clarice said. "Am I being held prisoner?"
"Of course not, my dear," a male voice behind her said.
Clarice turned around. A tall man in a black jacket, silver waistcoat and a white ruffled shirt was standing a few feet behind her. His face was gaunt and pale. He had piercing gray eyes. His silver hair was parted down the middle.
"The stairs in this manor can be treacherous," he said. "You're a very attractive young woman and we wouldn't want you to have a very unfortunate fall down them."
Clarice looked down the stairs. Tribell was gone. "The stairs look no different than any other stairs," she said.
"What is it they say about looks being deceiving?" he said. "Has Tribell informed you that you will be dining with me this evening?"