10.4 A Great Shadow

24 March, 2013 by katelaity

Airships & Alchemy CoverThe alchemist gaped. “Married?”

 

Even Eduardo looked surprised. “To whom?” he demanded with a raised eyebrow. When it came to eyebrows, none could match the Venetian lion for expressiveness.

 

“My beloved, of course!” The poet glowed with delight now that his news had been imparted. “I came to ask you to be part of the wedding party.”

 

“The party? You want us to wear funny hats, eh?” Maggiormente laughed and clapped his hands together with vigour.

 

“Funny hats?” Eduardo frowned. He did not like the sound of that.

 

“No, no, you misunderstand.” Gustave looked to Mme. Gabor for assistance.

 

“He wants you to take part in the ceremony, monsieur alchemiste. Although it is traditional to have some celebration afterward.”

 

“No hats?”

 

“I shall wear my fez,” Eduardo said with a slight growl.

 

“No funny hats required,” Gustave said, looking anxiously between the alchemist and his lion. “The fez would be most elegant.”

 

Eduardo lay back down, mollified for the moment. “You will have cake?”

 

The poet was nonplussed. “Cake?”

 

“I believe it to be customary.” The lion looked out the window as if he were somewhat embarrassed by the man’s ignorance on the topic.

 

“I like cake,” the alchemist said, scratching his beard, trying to remember what it is he had been looking for.

 

“When is the wedding, monsieur?” Mme. Gabor asked, trying to bring some order to the chaos. “And where?”

 

Gustave looked relieved to have a question he was prepared to answer. “Saturday at the little chapel.”

 

“And this is your cousine Pauline?” The alchemist patted his pockets, certain there was something he had been about to do. Patting his pockets seldom resulted in actually finding an object, but he found the process useful nonetheless.

Gustave stared at him. “I don’t have a cousine Pauline.”

 

“Then you are not going to marry her?” Maggiormente frowned. “She will be disappointed.”

 

“What?” The poet blinked.

 

“What is your beloved’s name?” Mme. Gabor asked gently.

 

The relief on Gustave’s face shone brightly. “Beatrice! She is an artist herself and she has the most amazing and lovely to paint cascades of red hair and her eyes! Did I mention her eyes? Like deep forest glades the green—”

 

“I’m sure monsieur Maggiormente looks forward to meeting her.”

 

The alchemist nodded absently. “Yes, I look forward to meeting Pauline.”

 

“Beatrice!”

 

“She has a sister?”

 

It proved fortunate at that moment that a very strange thing happened to distract them in the middle of this misunderstanding, which one fears could have gone on indefinitely.

 

What happened was that everything grew dark. Eduardo moved with his always fluid grace to look out the window as he was the first to realise the darkness meant something important. The alchemist continued to pat his pockets and mutter and the poet uprooted his already disheveled hair.

 

“Look,” the lion said from the window, squinting up at the sky. “It’s an airship.”

 

The other three rushed to the window. The ship cast its shadow right over their building and the sound of its motor echoed between the roofs.

 

“The airship!” The alchemist smiled broadly. It was wonderful to see at last the very thing that had occupied so much of his thoughts. It was not much like the drawings he had been sent so long ago, but far more wondrous and elegant.

 

And he could make it go faster and further!

 

“I would never get up in that monstrosity,” Mme. Gabor said with a shudder. “Incroyable! It is not natural.”

 

“Is a house natural, madame? Your clothes? A table?”

 

“My house does not fly, monsieur!” With that Mme. Gabor turned and left once more.

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