3 March, 2013 by katelaity
“In fact they sound rather horrible,” Eduardo agreed. “Something in their tone struck me as wrong.”
“The interview made them seem conceited and ignorant,” the alchemist said, shaking his head. “A dangerous combination.”
“No, no, you are mistaken, monsieur,” the concierge insisted. “Not those two gentleman. A lady. A lady airship captain. See?”
She tapped the story in the newspaper for emphasis. The alchemist leaned over, blenching somewhat at the sudden wave of perfume that wafted off the woman. Madame Gabor’s daily toilet had a curiously strong effect.
It made his eyes water some days. He could only imagine how it offended Eduardo’s sensitive nose.
Maggiormente did his best to ignore the overpowering stench and concentrated on the newspaper while he breathed through his mouth. The pilot was indeed the one he had been expecting, the signorina from England.
He was pleased to see she had an Italian pilot. Of course he did not know the man but it seemed a good omen. The alchemist had met English men before (though no English women) and he found them a puzzle to communicate with. They were not on the whole inclined to be direct which led to confusion.
“She sounds intelligent. I am pleased.”
“That would be a relief,” Eduardo said, stretching elaborately before padding over to look at the newspaper, too. “Do you suppose she is one of those manly sort of women?”
“I do not like mannish women,” Mme. Gabor said with a sniff.
“You do not much like other women at all,” the alchemist said absently, stroking his beard. “I find that peculiar.” He was thinking of the Japanese magician Myojo. He had nearly forgotten about her in the mad scramble to perfect the fuel. Surely she would wan to know about his success.
Mme. Gabor huffed. “I don’t know what you mean.” She did not wish to admit to his observation but it was true she saw other women as potential competition. It made for a lonely life, as she saw men only as acquisitions.
Eduardo shifted his weight to the other side and brushed against her. Mme. Gabor very nearly hopped away to avoid the lion. No one knew what Eduardo had said or done to make her so nervous around him, but there was a great deal of curiosity.
Except from Maggiormente, who was grateful she no longer hovered over them, but never thought to ask why.
“We should go find the airship and make ourselves acquainted,” Eduardo said with a decisive nod.
Maggiormente considered this. “Why—yes! Of course we should do so. I can show her the fuel! We can try it on the ship.”
“If she is planning to race the other ship, we will know just how successful the fuel is, too.”
“Oh yes, there is something about a race,” the alchemist said absently, already thinking of how much fuel to take and what sort of quantities would be needed for a journey. I wonder how far the race is?”
Eduardo leaned over the paper, causing Mme. Gabor to lean away. “Paris to Orleans and back again.”
“What is that in miles?”
“I haven’t the slightest notion,” Eduardo said, almost affronted by the assumption that he would have knowledge of such things.
The concierge blinked. “How far? Ah, signore, it’s…ah…very far. Maybe as much as a hundred miles.”
“Caspita!” Maggiormente shook his head. “I suppose I could try calculating.”
Eduardo yawned. “Calculating based on this tiny motor? I do not think that wise.”
“Then we must go find the airship. Where did the newspaper say they were?”
“Poissy, monsieur,” the concierge said. “They are not even in Paris.”
“How far is Poissy?”
The poor woman coloured up and made a sound of exasperation. “I did not expect to be quizzed about distances and locations today! I will find you a map, if you insist.” She tromped off down the stair with agitation.