Chapter no 26

Caraval (Caraval, 1)

The dress seemed to mock her. With sleeves that were nonexistent, and a deep, heart-shaped neckline that looked far from sweet, this piece of clothing was more scandalous than the one Scarlett had chosen in the shop.

The creamy buttons gleamed like ivory in the room’s warm light. At the bottom of the box Scarlett found a small note, attached to a broken pin. “It must have fallen off the gown.”

On one side was the image of a top hat, on the other a brief message:

I imagine this will look lovely on you. Warm regards,



“Who’s ‘D’?” Julian asked.

“I think someone wants me to believe it’s from Donatella.” But Scarlett knew this gift was not from her sister. The mockery of a wedding gown could only be from one person, and the top hat on the note could only mean one thing. Legend.

Invisible spiders crawled over her skin, such a different feeling from the bright colors his first letter had summoned. “I think this is the fifth clue.”

Julian grimaced. “Why would you think that?”

“What else would it be?” Scarlett said. She pulled out her note with all the


Caraval Book Read Online

“See, I’ve already figured out the first four clues,” Scarlett said. “All that’s left is number five.”

“But how is this the fifth clue?” Julian asked, still looking at the dress as if it were covered in something far more offensive than buttons.

That’s when Scarlett unpuzzled it. Buttons and a top hat were both symbols.

“Legend is known for his top hats, and I’ve been finding buttons all over the game,” she said. “I didn’t know if the buttons meant anything or not, but after seeing this dress covered entirely in buttons, I’m almost certain they do. When I bought the gown, next door to the shop was a path of buttons that led to a hatter and haberdashery shop shaped like a top hat.”

“I still don’t see how that means anything.” Julian’s scowl remained in place as he read Scarlett’s note with all the clues. “‘And number five requires a leap of faith.’ How does this place fit with that?”

“I don’t know. I think that’s where the faith part comes in. Maybe it’s some sort of challenge from Legend and we need to go to the hat shop and face whatever is waiting for us.” Scarlett wasn’t fully convinced of this, but she’d begun to learn that no matter how logically she tried to reason, there were always variables she’d be unable to see. Sometimes caution held her back rather than kept her safe.

But it seemed as if Julian was starting to feel the opposite. He had a look on his face that suggested he wanted to toss her over his shoulder and keep her locked away and hidden from the rest of the world.

“The sun will go down in less than an hour,” Scarlett said firmly. “If you come up with something better before then, I’m open to suggestions. If not, the minute it’s dark out, I think we should go to the shop and see what we find.”

Julian looked at the dress once again, his mouth opening as if he wanted to say something, but then he snapped it shut, and nodded. “I’ll check the halls to see if your father is anywhere before we leave.”

After he left, Scarlett changed into the gown, and grabbed the buttons she’d collected. They felt like a flimsy offering, but maybe there was something magical about them she had yet to realize.

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