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1646-chapter-155

“You’ve probably seen my face in the newspapers, so introductions are unnecessary.”

Leon, sitting cross-legged at a worn table, pulled out a cigar.

“Pleasure to meet you, Charles Henderson. No, actually, Jonathan Riddle Junior.”

As he smirked, the man standing across the table clenched his fists. Behind the man, a woman holding a baby trembled, and a toddler clinging to her skirt watched the soldiers searching the house with wide eyes.

In a corner of Redhill Farm, a decrepit workers’ housing, about a dozen soldiers were turning everything inside out. An equal number were conducting searches outside.

The real objective wasn’t to find the woman.

He knew she wasn’t here since surveillance had been in place even before she disappeared. The search had two purposes—to find something that could lead to her and to intimidate Jonathan Riddle Junior’s family.

Heuk, Joe…”

The woman sobbed, pulling on her husband’s sleeve, seemingly fulfilling the second objective.

“Oh… It seems the Madam is quite startled. Perhaps I should have sent a message before coming.”

As Leon leaned back in his chair with a sneer, Jonathan Riddle’s Junior’s expression twisted.

“Slow. Two months. Grace said it would be a month at most before you stormed in.”

Leon’s hand, as he brought the lit cigar to his lips, paused.

It seemed that that woman had planned her escape in detail from that moment. Before even tasting the cigar, a bitter taste spread in his mouth. He suppressed the bitter regret that he should have caught her the moment she returned to Chesterfield Station.

His teeth dug into the end of the cigar.

“She doesn’t know me as well as she thinks.”

‘…Just as I don’t know her.’

“Campbell.”

With Leon’s glance, Campbell, who had been standing behind him, began reading from the dossier he had been holding.

“Led the raid on the Oakley mail train, attempted to assassinate the king by planting bombs along the parade route for the king’s twentieth coronation anniversary, infiltrated a military unit as a new recruit and then committed arson, forged identification documents and official papers…”

Leon raised his left hand, and the crimes recited halted. He looked at Jonathan Riddle Junior, whose face had turned even more pale, and smiled crookedly.

“You’re not denying it, I see.”

It was inevitable. The list was based on the testimonies of those who had participated in the crimes with him.

“Enough to send you straight to a detention camp.”

The hand of Jonathan’s wife, clutching his sleeve, trembled visibly, and her sobs broke through as Leon added with a smile,

“Oh, and your wife participated in some of these as well…”

Finally, Jonathan Riddle Junior clenched his teeth and gave Leon the response he was seeking.

“If you have questions, I’ll answer them all, just don’t touch my wife and kids.”

Leon nodded at Campbell, signaling him. The soldiers searching the living room and kitchen promptly exited. As they attempted to take the woman and children out, Jonathan blocked their way.

“Don’t worry. I just want a peaceful conversation.”

The house soon quieted down.

Jonathan watched through the window as his family was led away to the farm owner’s house, then reluctantly sat down across from the devil at his insistence.

Leon, having placed a cigar case on the table, offered one to Jonathan, who shook his head in refusal.

Afterward, Winston asked if Jonathan knew the full extent of the cleanup operation. Since he had only heard the stories on the radio and had had no contact with anyone from Blanchard’s side since that day, he couldn’t know.

Jonathan’s expression twisted as he received Winston’s ‘kind’ explanations.

“I still have things to do here.”

D*mn. That was the meaning of those words.

Learning about Grace’s role in the fall of Blackburn, Jonathan lost his words for a moment. He then collected himself to ask.

“So, what exactly do you want to know?”

He already knew what would be asked next… where Grace was hiding. However, the first question Winston threw at him was unexpected.

“What does that woman call you?”

Joe’s brows furrowed in irritation. What was this about?

He answered gruffly,

“Joe.”

“Right, Joe. How were things with your sister?”

Without hesitation, Joe nodded.

“Hmm… Well, if she gave you money to buy Easter gifts, you must have been close.”

Joe’s face twisted uncomfortably. He had received a significant amount of money from Grace last Easter, though he should have no idea it had been her money. Those were better days, chasing after the maid without a clue.

Leon dropped the unnecessary introduction and got to the point.

“She must have visited you between the night of December twenty-third and the early morning of December twenty-fourth last year. What did you two talk about?”

He had predicted that once her brainwashing was undone, she would be vengeful. Yet, on the day of the cleanup, her actions had shown deeper betrayal and outrage than expected.

Leon was convinced that the woman must have figured out something significant in that conversation.

Something he didn’t know about.

“Grace said she had something to ask me. Whether she was really my father’s child…”

Joe’s words hung in the air as Leon listened silently. He felt something important was missing.

“Is that all?”

“No, that’s not all.”

A white smoke came out with a sigh. Leon suppressed his rising anger and warned the man, who seemed too clever not to be rude.

“You don’t seem to know who I am. I’ve spent ten years discerning lies from your comrades, and my experience tells me you’re lying now. Don’t try to fool me.”

Was he truly the woman’s relative, or was he just stubbornly misleading?

“We’re no longer comrades.”

“Right, and the men you’ll share a cell within the detention camp will think the same. You’re not a comrade. You’re a traitor.”

Joe wavered under the threat of being sent to detention camp. The place would be teeming with those who were betrayed by Grace’s actions, and they would surely seek revenge on him and his family.

D*mn it.

Joe kept swallowing the same thought.

‘I should have captured her that day.’

He knew she was up to something. Even though she may have directed her wrath at the perpetrators, which was a relief, he didn’t expect her to enact revenge herself.

Tap. Tap.

As the sound of neatly trimmed fingernails rhythmically tapping on the table started, Joe’s train of thought abruptly stopped.

He stared blankly at Winston, who was silently pressuring him to spill what he’d been hiding. It was perplexing. He thought the objective of avenging his father by cleaning out the base was fulfilled. Then, why did Winston show up demanding more?

“What exactly do you want to know? If it’s about Grace’s whereabouts, I don’t know. I want to find her as much as anyone.”

Winston’s eyes darkened at those words.

“I asked what conversation you had.”

“Why do you need to know that? That’s a personal matter between siblings, nothing to do with the rebels.”

“I told you to cut out the lies.”

Leon snuffed out his cigar on the old table and grabbed the man’s collar.

Ugh…”

This d*mn rat. If it weren’t for his relationship with that woman, he would have made him talk like the other rats long ago.

Leon yanked his head closer, glaring into his hazel eyes at close range.

“Tell me everything you told that woman.”

Saying so, he threw the still-stubborn man’s collar down and pulled out a new cigar from his case.

“I’ll give you the time it takes to smoke this to think it over. Once it’s done, you and your wife will go to the detention camp, and your kids to the orphanage.”

Jonathan Riddle’s Junior’s face looked severely distressed through the smoky haze. What on earth was he hiding that he had to protect so desperately? He seemed to be choosing who in his family to sacrifice, and only after the cigar was reduced to a stub did he abruptly stand up.

He rummaged through the kitchen cabinet and placed a worn diary in front of Leon. As he flipped open the cover, a name written in a neat hand caught his eye.

“Ah, the infamous vixen’s diary.”

As Joe watched Winston begin to flip through his mother’s diary, he rubbed his face roughly.

D*mn it. D*mn it all. I’m sorry, Mother.

It was an extremely humiliating moment for him and his late mother. This devil would surely enjoy uncovering his mother’s secrets. However, contrary to Joe’s expectations, Winston’s face grew paler as the pages turned.

 

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