Airships & Alchemy 13.8 — Suspicious Minds

27 July, 2014 by katelaity

The Big Splash by Kit Marlowe - 200“I take it the engine is running well then?” Helen’s father harrumphed behind her interrupting the intense conversation going on between his daughter and the alchemist.

 

The latter continued to find himself a bit put off by the abrupt arrivals and interjections of that gentleman. Surely the success of the motor should calm some of his concerns, if concerns they were. Perhaps he simply did not like Maggiormente, a thought the man had had recently and discussed with his familiar.

 

“Perhaps he simply objects to all my country men?” the alchemist had said while contemplating the proper proportion of sulphur.

 

“I think it more likely that he objects like many a father does to all men who show an interest in his daughter. I have seen it happen time and again. That’s why Beatrice’s father disliked you.”

 

Maggiormente had stood a time in thought, pulling at his beard but he could not conjure up the picture in his mind. “Beatrice?”

 

The Venetian lion sighed luxuriously. It was difficult to say whether he sighed with genuine exasperation at the alchemist’s poor retention of details or simply because he had had a rather fine repast that evening on top of a bellyful of wine. “You must remember Beatrice!”

 

“Did she have blonde hair?”

 

“No, black.”

 

The alchemist frowned. “Blue eyes?”

 

“Green. I think.” People who did not make a habit of feeding him seldom remained long in Eduardo’s memory, whereas those who gave him treats he could name, describe and probably regale with a list of the treats given.

 

“In Milan?”

 

“No, Rome. You must remember.”

 

“I think perhaps—her father you say?”

 

Eduardo sighed again. There could be no doubting the impatience in that sound. “She married your friend Paolo. The vintner.”

 

“Paolo! What a lovely man. Ah ha, Beatrice, yes. Of course—the one with the sister.” Maggiormente nodded quickly, certain at last.

 

Eduardo had no memory of any sister, but he decided to quit while he was more or less ahead. It wasn’t the sister that had anything to do with the point in question. “She also had a father, one with a marked hostility to you.”

 

“Did he?” Maggiormente frowned. “He seemed friendly enough.”

 

“Even when he threatened to set fire to your beard?”

 

The alchemist laughed and shrugged. “I have set it on fire so many times myself, I thought nothing of it.”

 

“But that is how he showed his displeasure,” Eduardo explained patiently.

 

“Displeasure?”

 

“He thought you were wooing his daughter and he did not approve of alchemists,” Eduardo wrapped his legs feeling the point had been made at last.

 

“But why! Alchemists are generally thoughtful men of a creative character.”

 

The lion shook his head. “I am not suggesting anything else—a man’s foolish prejudice is just that—but it was his mistaken belief that you and not Paolo was the man who evinced interest in his daughter that made him furious.”

 

“Ah, so mistaken identity.”

 

“Yes, but the point was some fathers object to any man showing interest in their daughters.”

 

“But such is life!” Maggiormente had said, hands wide apart with expansive feeling as if to embrace all doubting fathers.

 

“Yes, but many do not accept the natural and fight against its path. Fathers are sometimes among this group. Particularly with regard to their daughters.”

 

“This is doubtless true.”

 

Eduardo blinked at his master and chuckled. “So this may be the case with Mr Rochester and his daughter.”

 

Although the alchemist had expressed doubt when Eduardo told him this, he had begun to suspect that once again his familiar had the right theory to account for the situation. Mr Rochester suspected what the alchemist had only begun to understand.

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