9 June, 2013 by katelaity
“Indeed, this is Tuppence,” Helen said, looking up at her bird fondly. Tuppence croaked a hello to the lion, a mixture of bravado and humour.
“This bird is not for eating,” the alchemist said nervously.
Eduardo apparently regarded his words as an insult and thus ignored them. He took the unusual step of bowing formally to the English lady and her raven. “At your service,” he said with due formality.
Maggiormente grinned with pride at his lion. Eduardo may be a lot of trouble at times, but he could be as regal as his breeding suggested. “Eduardo can be quite magnificent at times.”
“Will we get to fly in your airship?” The lion asked with obvious longing.
The captain grinned. “I’d be delighted to take you for a ride. We shall have to try out the new fuel together.”
“Good heavens,” her father said, making a face. “Do you suppose Paris is ready for airborne lions?”
“Ready or not, Paris shall have one.” Helen rubbed her hands together with evident pleasure. “Ah, here comes our pilot. You will be glad to meet a fellow countryman. Signor Romano, may I introduce the alchemist, Signor Maggiormente?”
The two clasped each other as if at last reunited brothers and within moments had determined an acquaintance in common back in Milan and shared a longing for fettuccine the absence of which was nigh unbearable in these supposedly civilized nations.
The English folks regarded them with a mild embarrassment, so busied themselves with admiring the lion.
“Can you fly with those wings?” Rochester demanded.
Eduardo waved his wings slightly and frowned. “I do not choose to fly.”
Helen elbowed her father, who recovered himself quickly. “Quite right, too. That would be so vulgar. You shall be ferried aloft in our ship and cut quite the magnificent figure.”
Eduardo was much pleased by this.
“Oh, look! Here are Gustave and Alain,” the alchemist cried, introducing them all around to much hand shaking and pleased-to-meet-yous.
“Let’s go have a celebration at the bakery!” Alain invited them, slapping his friend on the back. “Pies for Eduardo! Cake for everyone else!”
“And some wine,” Gustave added, for the poet’s muse left him ever thirsty.
“But someone must keep watch on the airship,” Romano said regretfully.
“Perhaps I should remain here with my pistols,” Rochester said, relishing the thought of keeping the French crowds at bay.
“Papa, I hardly think pistols—” Helen broke off from her admonishments, hearing a raised voice nearby.
“Mademoiselle!” A formally dressed gentleman flanked by some gendarmerie. “Are you she? Le capitaine Rochester?”
“Indeed, I am. Are you M. Piéton? I am so pleased to find you in this crowd, or rather,” she laughed, “to have you find me.”
“Delighted, mademoiselle,” the official said before bending to kiss her offered hand.
Maggiormente took an instant dislike to the man.
“I have a regiment to secure your ship. I imagine that you have many things to do upon your arrival, so we hope to take good care of your wonderful conveyance. If you will just sign here?” He brandished a rather formal letter of acceptance into the Exposition.
“Here, you’ll note,” Piéton said, pointing at the relevant paragraph, “We guarantee the safety of all and the protection of your property. Having already dealt with an airship, I knew the regiment would be useful.”
“You are well prepared, monsieur,” Helen said as she signed the form in the indicated place. “I am grateful to have the support of the Exposition. And yes, indeed, we have several errands to carry out and accommodations to arrange, and so forth.”
“And wine to drink!” Gustave added.
“And cakes to eat!” Alain assured them.
“And pies,” Eduardo growled, making M. Piéton sidle away suddenly with alarm.
“Don’t worry,” Maggiormente said with a waspish smile. “The lion comes with us.”