Intrigue . . .
My other partner in crime in this jaunt through a costume drama toward the night of the Masked Ball has sent another post. Rebecca introduces her alter-ego, Sarina.
I have much to disclose to you and little time in which to do it, so please forgive me if I neglect some of the usual niceties. You must arrange to be in Veniche on 1st May. I know how you dislike leaving your estates for what you term the frivolity of town life, but indeed, there is no choice.
At long last we have word of the amulet. Before he died, my grandfather spoke to my father about the amulet and said that he believed it to be in the possession of Lord Henri Dechanel. Grandfather kept the family under observation until shortly before he died; he instructed my father to do the same and to be alert to any indication that the amulet might be about to surface. I have been charged with the same responsibility. I have recently discovered that the youngest Dechanel daughter plans to wear the amulet to a very important masked ball to be held here in Veniche at the Museo on 1st May. But Hugh, she has no idea of the significance of the amulet. She believes it to be just a bauble and she wears it simply because it attracts her. Its powers in her innocent hands however, could be disastrous.
As a member of the Board of Governors of the Museo, I naturally am one of the sponsors of this masquerade, to which I have looked forward for some months. Lucia Brabante conceived the idea for the ball and the Direttore was easily convinced to hold it in the Ca’ Specchio. Well, you know Lucia and how very persuasive she is! It is due to that persuasiveness that I join her and Sra. Neroni as a sponsor of the event. I shall enjoy every moment of the preparations (including the extremely costly ensemble I am having made), but I admit that our task would be easier if I could move more circumspectly.
Quite simply, we must steal the jewel from that child before she comes to harm or unleashes its powers.
Naturally, at a fête of this stature, everyone will be elaborately clothed and masked. This will work to our advantage. I have already begun preparations. Once the dressmaker delivers my gown, I will modify it to include a small pocket in the bodice, secreted behind the elaborately embroidered panel. Its purpose will be to hold the replica of the amulet I am having Georgio create. He is completely trustworthy, his devotion to my family unquestionable. I believe it will be possible to switch the pieces, but I need your help, because you must dance with Miss Dechanel in order to be close enough to exchange the pieces. You will be masked, of course. And I believe it will be safest if you conceal your identity and everyone believes you still to be on your estates. Indeed, why would they think otherwise? Your reclusive tendencies are well known.
Another danger is Sir Montague Fitzwater. As you know, he is a notable collector of antiquities and I am certain that he knows of the amulet. He has been quite attentive to Miss Dechanel and I fear that his motives are nefarious. In short, I believe he is aware that she will wear the amulet to the ball. So you must dance with her before he does. He makes me uneasy. I believe him to be quite ruthless beneath that urbane exterior. So I will have a small stiletto concealed in the specially designed handle of my mask.
As we are both aware, if all does not go as planned, I will be too visible. You must do your best to take the amulet and slip out anonymously.
My dearest Hugh, I know I can rely on you. And I admit that I will be pleased to see you, even under these trying circumstances.
Yours in haste,