"Nate would never lie to me," Jessamine spat.
"If Tessa’s mother was a Shadowhunter," said Charlotte coldly, "then Nate is also a Shadowhunter. Shadowhunter blood breeds true. Did he ever mention that to you? That he was a Shadowhunter?"
Jessamine looked revolted. "Nate isn’t a Shadowhunter!" she cried. "I would have known! I would never have married-" She broke off, biting down on her lip.
"Well, it’s one or the other, Jessamine," said Charlotte. "Either you married a Shadowhunter, a truly supreme irony, or, more likely, you married a liar who used and discarded you. He must have known you’d be caught eventual y.
And what did he think would happen to you then?"
"Nothing." Jessamine looked shaken. "He said you were weak. That you would not punish me. That you could not bring yourself to truly harm me."
"He was wrong," said Charlotte. "You are a traitor to the Clave. So is Benedict Lightwood. When the Consul hears of all this-"
Jessamine laughed, a thin, broken sound. "Tel him," she said. "That’s exactly what Mortmain wants." She sputtered. "D-don’t bother asking me why. I don’t know. But I know he wants it. So tattle all you like, Charlotte. It Will only put you in his power."
Charlotte gripped the footboard of the bed, her hands whitening. "Where is Mortmain?"
Jessamine shuddered, shaking her head, her hair whipping back and forth. "No . . ."
"Where is Mortmain?"
"H-he," she gasped. "He-" Jessamine’s face was almost purple, her eyes bugging out of her head. She was clutching the Sword so tightly that blood well ed around her fingers. Tessa looked at Charlotte in horror. "Idris,"
Jessamine gasped at last, and slumped back against the pil ow.
Charlotte’s face froze. "Idris?" she echoed. "Mortmain is in Idris, our homeland?"
Jessamine’s eyelids fluttered. "No. He is not there."
"Jessamine!" Charlotte looked as if she were going to leap on the girl and shake her til her teeth rattled. "How can he be in Idris and not be? Save yourself, you stupid girl. tell us where he is!"
"Stop!" Jessamine cried out. "Stop, it hurts. . . ."
Charlotte gave her a long, hard look. Then she went to the door of the room; when she returned, it was with Brother Enoch in tow. She crossed her arms over her chest and indicated Jessamine with a jerk of her chin. "There is something wrong, Brother. I asked her where Mortmain was; she said Idris. When I asked again, she denied it." Her voice hardened. "Jessamine!
Has Mortmain breached the wards of Idris?"
Jessamine made a choking sound; her breath wheezed in and out of her chest. "No, he has not. . . . I swear . . . Charlotte, please . . ."
Charlotte. Brother Enoch spoke firmly, his words echoing in Tessa’s mind.
Enough. There is some sort of block in the girl’s mind, something placed there by Mortmain. He taunts us with the idea of Idris, yet she confesses he is not there. These blocks are strong. Continue to question her in this manner, and her heart may well fail her.
Charlotte sagged back. "Then what . . ."
Let me take her to the Silent City. We have our ways of seeking out the secrets locked in the mind, secrets even the girl herself may not be aware she knows.
Brother Enoch withdrew the Sword from Jessamine’s grasp. She seemed barely to notice. Her gaze was on Charlotte, her eyes wide and panicked.
"The City of Bones?" she whispered. "Where the dead lie? No! I Will not go there! I cannot bear that place!"
"Then tell us where Mortmain is," said Charlotte, her voice like ice.
Jessamine only began to sob. Charlotte ignored her. Brother Enoch lifted the girl to her feet; Jessamine struggled, but the Silent Brother held her in an iron grip, his other hand on the hilt of the Mortal Sword.
"Charlotte!" Jessamine shrieked piteously. "Charlotte, please, not the Silent City! Lock me in the crypt, give me to the Council, but please do not send me alone to that-that graveyard! I shall die of fear!"
"You should have thought of that before you betrayed us," said Charlotte.
"Brother Enoch, take her, please."
Jessamine was still shrieking as the Silent Brother lifted her and threw her over his shoulder. As Tessa stared, wide-eyed, he strode from the room carrying her. Her cries and gasps echoed down the corridor long after the door closed behind them-and then were cut off suddenly.
"Jessamine-," Tessa began.
"She is quite all right. He has probably put a Rune of Quietude on her. That is all. There is nothing to worry about," said Charlotte, and she sat down on the edge of the bed. She looked down at her own hands, wonderingly, as if they did not belong to her. "Henry . . ."
"Shal I rouse him for you, Mrs. Branwel ?" Sophie asked gently.
"He is in the crypt, working. . . . I could not bear to get him." Charlotte’s voice was distant. "Jessamine has been with us since she was a little girl. It would have been too much for him, too much. He does not have it in him to be cruel."
"Charlotte." Tessa touched her shoulder gently. "Charlotte, you are not cruel either."
"I do what I must. There is nothing to worry about," Charlotte said again, and burst into tears.
Chapter 14: The Silent City
She howl’d aloud, "I am on fire within.
There comes no murmur of reply.
What is it that will take away my sin,
And save me lest I die?"
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "The Palace of Art"
"Jessamine," Henry said again, for what must have been the fifth or sixth time. "I still can’t believe it. Our Jessamine?"
Every time he said it, Tessa noticed, Charlotte’s mouth grew a little tighter.
"Yes," she said again. "Jessamine. She has been spying on us and reporting our every move to Nate, who has been passing the information to Mortmain.
Must I say it again?"
Henry blinked at her. "I’m sorry, darling. I have been listening. It is only that -" He sighed. "I knew she was unhappy here. But I did not think Jessamine hated us."
"I don’t think she did-or does." This was Jem, who was standing near the fire in the drawing room, one arm upon the mantel. They had not gathered for breakfast as they usual y did; there had been no formal announcement as to why, but Tessa guessed that the idea of going on with breakfast, with Jessamine’s place empty, as if nothing had happened, had been too dreadful for Charlotte to bear.
Charlotte had wept for only a short time that night before she had regained her composure; she had waved away Sophie’s and Tessa’s attempts to help with cold cloths or tea, shaking her head stiffly and saying over and over that she should not all ow herself to break down like this, that now was the time for planning, for strategy. She had marched to Tessa’s room, with Sophie and Tessa hurrying at her heels, and pried feverishly at the floorboards until she’d turned up a smal chapbook, like a family Bible, bound in white leather and wrapped in velvet. She had slipped it into her pocket with a determined expression, waving away Tessa’s questions, and risen to her feet. The sky outside the windows had already begun to brighten with the wan light of dawn. Looking exhausted, she had told Sophie to instruct Bridget to serve a simple cold breakfast in the drawing room, and to let Cyril know so that the menfolk might be informed. Then she had left.
With Sophie’s help Tessa had finally and grateful y fought her way free of Jessamine’s dress; she had bathed, and put on her yel ow dress, the one Jessamine had bought her. She thought the color might brighten her mood, but she still felt wan and tired.
She found the same look reflected on Jem’s face when she came into the drawing room. His eyes were shadowed, and he looked quickly away from her. It hurt. It also made her think of the night before, with Will, on the balcony.
But that had been different, she told herself. That had been a result of warlock powders, a temporary madness. Nothing like what had happened between her and Jem.
"I don’t think she hates us," Jem said again now, correcting his use of the past tense. "She has always been someone so full of wanting. She has always been so desperate."
"It is my fault," Charlotte said softly. "I should not have tried to force being a Shadowhunter upon her when it was something she so clearly despised."
"No. No!" Henry hurried to reassure his wife. "You were never anything but kind to her. You did everything you could. There are some mechanisms that are so-so broken that they cannot be repaired."
"Jessamine is not a watch, Henry," Charlotte said, her tone remote. Tessa wondered if she were still angry with Henry for not seeing Woolsey Scott with her, or if she were simply angry at the world. "Perhaps I should just parcel up the Institute with a bow and give it to Benedict Lightwood. This is the second time that we have had a spy under our roof and not known about it until significant damage was done. Clearly I am incompetent."
"In a way it was really just the one spy," Henry began, but fell silent as Charlotte gave him a look that could have melted glass.
"If Benedict Lightwood is working for Mortmain, he cannot be all owed to have custody of the Institute," said Tessa. "In fact, that bal he threw last night ought to be enough to disqualify him."
"The problem Will be proving it," said Jem. "Benedict Will deny everything, and it Will be his word against yours-and you are a Downworlder-"
"There’s Will," said Charlotte, and frowned. "Speaking of, where is Will ?"
"Having a lie-in, no doubt," said Jem, "and as for him being a witness, well, everyone thinks Will is a lunatic as it is-"
"Ah," said a voice from the doorway, "having your annual everyone-thinks- Will -is-a-lunatic meeting, are you?"
"It’s biannual," said Jem. "And no, this is not that meeting."
Will ‘s eyes sought Tessa across the room. "They know about Jessamine?"
he said. He looked tired, but not as tired as Tessa would have thought; he was pale, but there was a suppressed excitement about him that was almost like-happiness. She felt her stomach drop as memories of the previous night-the stars, the balcony, the kissing-swept over her.
When had he gotten home last night? she thought. How had he? And why did he look so-excited? Was he horrified by what had happened on the balcony between them last night, or did he find it amusing? And dear God, had he told Jem? Warlock powders, she told herself desperately. She had not been herself, acting of her own will. Surely Jem would understand that. It would break her heart to hurt him. If he even cared . . .
"Yes, they know all about Jessamine," she said hastily. "She was questioned with the Mortal Sword and taken to the Silent City, and right now we’re having a meeting about what to do next, and it’s dreadful y important.
Charlotte’s very upset."
Charlotte looked at her in puzzlement.
"Well, you are," Tessa said, nearly out of breath from speaking so quickly.
"And you were asking for Will -"
"And here I am," said Will, throwing himself down into a chair near Jem.
One of his arms had been bandaged, his sleeve pulled down partway over it.
The nails of his hand were crusted with dried blood. "Glad to hear Jessamine’s in the Silent City. Best place for her. What’s the next step?"
"That’s the meeting we were trying to have," said Jem.
"Well, who knows she’s there?" Will asked practical y.
"Just us," said Charlotte, "and Brother Enoch, but he’s agreed not to inform the Clave for another day or so. Until we decide what to do. Which reminds me, I shall have some choice words for you, Will, haring off to Benedict Lightwood’s without informing me, and dragging Tessa with you."
"There was no time to lose," said Will. "By the time we’d have roused you and made you agree to the plan, Nathaniel could have been and gone. And you can’t say it was a dreadful idea. We’ve learned a great deal about Nathaniel and Benedict Lightwood-"
"Nathaniel Gray and Benedict Lightwood aren’t Mortmain."
Will traced a pattern on the air with his long, elegant fingers. "Mortmain is the spider at the heart of the web," he said. "The more we learn, the more we know how far his reach extends. Before last night we had no clue he had any connection to Lightwood; now we know the man is his puppet. I say we go to the Clave and report Benedict and Jessamine. Let Wayland take care of them. See what Benedict spil s under the Mortal Sword."
Charlotte shook her head. "No, I-I don’t think we can do that."
Will tilted his head back. "Why not?"
"Jessamine said it was exactly what Mortmain wanted us to do. And she said it under the influence of the Mortal Sword. She wasn’t lying."
"But she could have been wrong," said Will. "Mortmain could have foreseen just this circumstance and have had Nate plant the thought in her head for us to discover."
"D’you think he would have thought ahead like that?" said Henry.
"Assuredly," said Will. "The man’s a strategist." He tapped his temple.
"So you think we should go to the Clave?" asked Jem.
"Bloody hell, no," said Will. "What if it is the truth? Then we’l feel like right fools."
Charlotte threw her hands up. "But you said-"
"I know what I said," said Will. "But you have to look at consequences. If we go to the Clave and we’re wrong, then we’ve played into Mortmain’s hands.
We still have a few days before the deadline is up. Going to the Clave early gains us nothing. If we investigate, and can proceed on a surer footing . . ."
"And how do you propose to investigate?" Tessa inquired.
Will swiveled his head to look at her. There was nothing in his cool blue eyes to recal the Will of the night before, who had touched her with such tenderness, who had whispered her name like a secret. "The problem with questioning Jessamine is that even when forced to tell the truth, there is a limit to her knowledge. We do, however, have one more connection to the Magister. Someone who is likely to know a great deal more. That is your brother, Nate, through Jessamine. He still trusts her. If she summons him to a meeting, then we Will be able to capture him there."