17 March, 2013 by katelaity
The alchemist looked nonplussed. “What do you mean?”
“The balloon object. It is not even in Paris. We shall have to bide our time a bit longer, you see?” The twitch of his whiskers indicated displeasure.
“Oh, it can’t be that far,” Maggiormente rubbed his beard and leaned over his work table, getting a little too close to the flame of his candle. As he reached for the vial of sulphur the fire singed his beard and a plume of smoke curled up. “It’s in a Paris paper, ne c’est pas?”
Eduardo exhaled noisily. “The newspaper tells us of the pope in Rome. Does that mean we are a carriage ride away from the Vatican?”
The alchemist considered this, patting absently at his smoky beard. “You may be right.”
“I am always right.” Eduardo lay down with a rather smug expression on his face, which he covered almost immediately with his tail. Fluffing his wings up, he draped them over his sides as if for warmth although the morning was already bright and shining.
“You are often right,” Maggiormente conceded, “but that does not mean that Poissy is far. And if she is in the newspaper today, perhaps she has already come to Paris today if the city was not far.”
The lion disdained to answer.
There were footsteps on the stairs. Eduardo lifted his head because he heard a second set of steps with the lighter tread of the concierge. “Gustave!”
The alchemist turned around with a big grin. “Gustave!” He and the poet embraced at once, slapping each other on the back with gusto. “My friend it has been too long.”
“Ages, my friend. How have you been?”
“He was knocking downstairs,” Mme. Gabor said, slightly nettled.
“I was just coming by to tell you the good news,” Gustave said. His face flushed pink with excitement.
“Do you know how far it is to Poissy?” the alchemist asked him, wringing his hand urgently.
“Poissy? Is it very far?”
The poet looked abashed. He glanced at Eduardo, who remained sitting erect watching the reunion. “Far?”
“I think it is rather far,” Mme. Gabor said tentatively, afraid that the answer would be the wrong one. However, she feared more giving hope where there may not be much.
“Oh, not so far,” Gustave said, casting his mind back to the memory of a visit to a distant relative when he was a child. “I think it is a day’s ride in a carriage with four good horses. Don’t you think, Mme. Gabor?” He turned to appeal to her but she look askance.
“I couldn’t say, really. Now I must go or the dinner will burn.” The concierge beat a hasty retreat down the stairs, leaving the poet and the alchemist looking puzzled and Eduardo looking rather smug.
“Twenty miles?” Maggiormente suggested.
“Surely no more. Do you need to get there? I could arrange a carriage.” Gustave was all smiles. If the alchemist had spared a thought for anything but alchemy and airships, he would have been struck by the change in his friend who had been so low for so long, mourning his mystery love. The last time he saw him he was still seeking his goddess of the fiery hair, the artist he had fallen in love with from afar—
—then insulted her drawing before he had a chance to express his admiration for her.
“Do you not think,” Eduardo broke in, “that if a horse and carriage can travel there in a day that the airship is here in Paris today?”
The two of them looked at him, then back at each other. “Seems likely, does it not?” Gustave said.
“If so, perhaps she is already at the Exposition grounds!” The alchemist tugged at his beard with excitement. To think he might be able to try out his new formula! “We should go!”
“Now?” Gustave frowned.
“Yes, yes. At once. Eduardo, get your hat!” The alchemist grabbed for the formula, then considered what might be the safest way to transport the fuel. Surely the glass bottle was fragile. What better to use.
“But I have news to share!” Gustave wrung the hat he grasped in his hands. “I am getting married!”