Maire has been told by the Secrets Man to mess things up a bit at the farm, namely, by disrupting a shipment of grain due to be sent off to London. She recruits Caleb and Elizabeth's help, but then finds out that that might not have been the greatest of ideas.
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“’S’all right, Caleb,” she whispered. “No one will catch us.”
“Easy for you to say,” he muttered back, barely moving his lips.
“If you keep looking so guilty, you will get caught. Relax. Everything’s going to be fine. And if they ask you-”
“I truthfully won’t know. I know, Maire.”
The last thing they’d done the night before was ‘borrow’ the hayloft ladders and lug the last of the grain up onto the barn roof. It had been a tricky job, with harrowing moments aplenty – one even left Maire dangling from the gutter for two desperate minutes – but they’d managed it. And then Maire had hidden the ladders as well.
“Tell me everyplace that I can hide these,” she’d told him, “and then go to bed.”
“Why? Those are heavy, Maire, let me-”
“Because I can already tell you’ll make a dreadful liar, Monaghan. This way, if somebody asks you where the ladders have got to, you can truthfully say that you don’t know.”
“But if I tell you where to hide them-” he’d said, looking puzzled. It really was sweet, how unused to causing trouble he was. Maire had half-wanted to ruffle his hair over it.
“You’re going to tell me a handful of places. And if someone asks you, you can say truthfully that you don’t know, because you won’t know which place I’ve put them in, or if I’ve put them all in the same place or not. And you won’t need to go into detail listing possibilities. You can just say ‘I’ve no idea’ and look sweet like you do, and they’ll let you alone.”
“If you’re sure-” he’d said, still looking skeptical
“I’m sure,” she’d answered. He had finally told her some good hiding places, and she then shunted him out the barn door, watching his vanishing silhouette for a long moment before setting to work.
Looking at Caleb’s pale face in the bright morning sunlight, her stomach gave the same twist of guilt it had once she’d chased him from the barn several hours before. It was wrong of her to drag him into this. It was wrong of her to take such an innocent and involve him in her schemes. No matter that she could not have accomplished this on her own. No matter that he had volunteered even after she had told him to stay away. Caleb had probably never even pulled Elizabeth’s pigtails when they were children, never stolen extra helpings from the kitchen or skipped off working on a particularly fine day to skip stones on the duck pond instead.
She, on the other hand, had spent her whole childhood playing pranks on her siblings. And she’d spent the past two years stealing where she could, making trouble, as her mother called it. She was good at it. She was good at throwing her elbows and her fists into other people’s faces, never mind that her nose got bloodied because of it. She always came out with that fistful of barley, or that extra blanket, or what have you.
Caleb, however – Caleb was not a fighter. He was not mischievous. There was not a mischievous bone in his whole body. And Maire dreaded the thought of her troublemaking ways crushing his sweetness.
Caleb was like sunshine. And she – well, she was the hailstorm no one expected and certainly no one wanted.