MacFarlane spoke into a microphone and shortly after, two crewmen, in the distinctive MacFarlane Tartan uniform—so familiar tod—emerged from the wheelhouse and Denzil told them where to take the unconscious pilot: "we'll keep him alive, with your face, Boss," the Bornean said, in the perfectly modulated tones of a former Gordonstoun boy, "then it'll be a doddle to replace yours when you return," and MacFarlane nodded thoughtfully, before sating: "I'm not a vandal, Munshi," referring to one of Denzil's disparate roles in his workforce, where he was an assassin, a life-saving surgeon, personal secretary, language teach—he had forty-five at his immediate command and another seventy on the back-burner, which he liked to brush-up for a couple of hours before using them in public—and Skipper in the Nuclear Submarine of which the fishing boat on which they stood, was merely an elaborately, and effectively, disguised Conning Tower: "no-one believes you are, Boss, surely," he didn't like it when MacFarlane was in one of his self-awareness moods, it could put them into the cross-hairs of some pretty berserk enemies they had made over the centuries in which they had operated, and some of those had come close to finishing off MacFarlane, Denzil himself, Doubleday and Elginbrod on more than one occasion, even some who were inarticulate, illiterate and could barely write more than chicken-scratch, and no self-respecting Operator—and Denzil certainly regarded himself as an Operator—wants that on his headstone: 'slain by the Toon Tong Boys—Ya Bass!' spray-painted in Runes.
Hauled aboard and sprawled on the deck, the pilot was very handsome, with an Adonic profile but, drugged and senseless from Denzil's poisoned dart, he seemed half-drowned as MacFarlane riffled through his pockets and found his wallet and the log-book for his aircraft: "his name is Robin Goodfellow - that's peachy," read out MacFarlane to the seemingly impressed Bornean, who sat back on his heels and listened with his head cocked, "but he's only twenty-one and I know my own limitations - Pilot Officer, from Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, oh but, before joining up he was a Divinity Student at St Andrews, that's better, can you change his dob, Denzil, and substitute my photo for his own, keep the uniform in his and cut my face in," and while MacFarlane knew that chivvying Denzil wouldn't get the work done any quicker and might even be the cause of his taking a longer than usual siesta, he just couldn't help himself: "well, in the absence of any ombrogenous burial site, I think you're going to have to cut him up in little pieces, Denzil, my old cock-sparra, and chuck them over the side, but that's what you're paid for, isn't it?" then, when he turns his attention back to something else from one of Goodfellow's pockets: "seems the cheeky beggar's married, she's a cute little piece, have a swatch - righty-ho, Denzil, my old ray of sunshine, change of plan: full face transplant, can you keep his face alive till you put it where mine was?" and Denzil grinned, his teeth and eyes flashing in the blackness of his skin, his beard and his wild hair: "for you, boss, I can even improve on his photo," but MacFarlane held up a placatory hand: "best not, Mr D, remember we've got a wife to please, and it won't matter if she guesses something's up after I've finished with her, but don't do anything that might warn her off beforehand," and the maverick headhunter looked quite offended: "as if I would, Boss," then grinned again - it is quite obvious that he and MacFarlane have worked together for a long time, you might think possibly over several decades
The pilot, last man to bail out from the stricken bomber, a spare and wieldy figure, even in his flying boots and jacket, and despite the bulky Mae West over it, couldn't see where the rest of his crew were, except that it looked likely they would all come down on land, and if captured, face incarceration in a German POW camp, while he was floating over the sea, already five or ten miles off the coast, and then he spotted a small fishing boat, almost directly beneath him; he tried to control his drift, but the 'chute wasn't steerable, or if it was, he didn't know how to do it, and his descent was fairly fast and the crew of the boat seemed to have seen him, for between his legs he saw a couple of them point up at him; it was just a sting, like something had nipped his thigh, probably part of the harness, and he was more concerned that he shouldn't crash into the boat, that would be just his luck, which was his last thought, before the drug from the dart, fired at him from a sumpitan by a hairy black man who looked more like the Wild Man of Borneo than a crewman on a fishing boat off the French coast: "splendid shot, Denzil," said Sir Parlane MacFarlane, "let's hook him and land him before his papers get soaked."
The three friends sent out—oh, I forgot to mention that Fanny and Stella had a maid-of-all-work, colloquially known as a skivvy, or slavey, in this case a teenager from Stepney who had run away from her childhood suffering at the hands of a brutalising, drunken father, a former French Foreign Legionnaire named Gaston Pelion, who had deserted and fled to England, and a gin-sodden mother, Mags (nee Quigley) so downtrodden as to be able to watch what her father did to her, without raising a hand or uttering a word of objection; she was the fourth child of that loveless, abusive marriage, the first three, all girls, leaving the house as soon as they could and never heard of again, alive or dead; the fourth was a boy, which fact the father denied, forcing the apathetic mother to dress the baby as a girl and even going so far as to register the birth as a girl, Maisie Pelion; when Maisie, who believed she was a girl, having no reason to doubt it, was seven and her mother no longer able to satisfy the depravity of her husband, he turned his attention to the child, treating her as he had his three older daughters and this persisted for five years, and until, one wild and stormy night, when she was twelve, she stabbed him in the eye with a knitting needle, pushing it deep into his brain and watching with fascination as he died: "don't tell them it was me," were her last words as she took what few clothes she possessed in a bundle and ran out, leaving the front door banging in the gale; after several days and nights, lost and unknown in the huge city she had never known about, beyond the few streets of Stepney that were the limits of her short life till then, Maisie was discovered by Stella and Fanny, sleeping in their doorway, soaked to the skin and filthy with the grime of her life; they took her in, fetched Doctor Jekyll and his sister, and between them, nursed the child back to consciousness, which took three weeks before Henry formally discharged her from his care and discussed the child's prospects: "although she is physically a boy, she is adamant that she is a girl and cites her name, Maisie, as proof; she answers the description of a child from Stepney, also Maisie, sought by police there for the murder of her father, I have made discreet enquiries among contacts I have on the Force and it seems unlikely that the child the police are 'looking-for' will ever be found, the father had a reputation as a violent drunk, a thuggish bully, vicious wife-beater, and generally, his death is regarded as no loss to anyone, and the police are quite happy to shut down the case as unsolved so, if you don't tell, I won't; Fanny and Stella needed no prompting, they asked Maisie if she would like to stay with them as their maid, she would receive a wage and her keep and as she refused to go to school, they would teach her at home as best they could, and she was whelmed, having been afraid that when she was better these classy, posh, rich (as she perceived their lives to be) women would send her away, but now they were saying that they wanted her to stay with them and be their maid; so happy was she that she could not speak, so confused that anyone should be kind that she could find no words, so overcome with conflicting emotions (what if she let them down, if they changed their minds, if they found out what she had done, if she wasn't up to the job, if they got bored with her or fed up with teaching her) that she sat silent, shaking, until tears, the first she had ever shed in her life, coursed down her cheeks and she found herself embraced by the only people in the world, apart from the doctor and nurse, who had ever shown that they cared about her, and she sobbed her heart out: "don't worry," said Stella, "you've just got the baby blues, but they'll pass," and Fanny said: "forsooth they will, or I'll want to know the reason why! come on now, Maisie Quigley, wash your face, it's Friday night and we're going out for a slap-up fish supper, and then the Music Hall, Danny O'Dowd and Marie Nightingale are top of the bill and if you've never seen a man tied up in knots before, prepare to be amazed with The Indiarubber Man, whose arms and legs are as bendy as pipe-cleaners, and Flighty Frankie Fanshaw is the comedian, if he can't make you laugh, no-one can, just make sure you go for a wee before the show, we don't want you sitting in a puddle after Frankie's turn," and now, four years later, a pretty sixteen-year-old, with red hair and a snub nose, she was a credit to Stella and Fanny—for food from the cook-shop and Fanny produced a bottle of wine, a gift from Henry, and her two new friends told Geneviève the fairly-full and largely-true stories of their lives, and in return she regaled them with a pack of lies.
And the abundance of beautiful, well-made, flattering and—surely—expensive clothes in the girls' wardrobes—for they had one each, although admitting to frequently swapping garments, because in truth they were similar enough in size and shape to get away with it—bowled Geneviève over, she could not remember seeing so many different colours, fabrics, cuts and stitches in one room before and she thought of her Uncle Pelion who, when she was a child and he her Guardian, resented the purchase of any new item of clothing: "I'm sure boys never grew as fast as you," and the child, even though she knew she had no control over her growth, still felt guilty, but now—Wow! and when Stella told her to undress, she did so without the slightest hesitation, until she stood quite naked before them and realised how exposed she was: never before, since she turned 12, had she been seen thus, and she blushed: "oh, Stella," said Fanny, looking not at Geneviève's red face, but between her thighs, "look, what a tiny little winkie, just like a clit," and she clapped her hands and looked up, her smile faltering when she saw the first tears running down Geneviève's cheeks, but it was Stella who embraced Geneviève first, for she understood the shame her new friend was experiencing: "don't worry, sweetheart, we're all the same, it's an evil trick played on us by that bastard the common folk call God, and so far as Fanny and I are concerned, you are whoever you feel you are, just like us; we were born in the wrong bodies and though it took us a while to realise it, and then to realise we didn't have to accept it, now we just ignore it; time was I thought about cutting it off with a carving knife, the peas too, they serve no useful purpose anyway, but a friend of mine tried that a good few years back, and she bled to death, all alone, I can tell you, Gen, I wept buckets, but the show has to go on, and that was when I met Fanny and we knew, instantly, that we were soul-mates, and I'm sure she wants to apologise for her solecism, about your winkie and a clit, but she doesn't have the ability to edit or censor her thoughts, they pop into her head and out of her mouth," and Fanny was also wrapped around Geneviève now, and she said: "but better than some of the things that get popped into my mouth, bloody huge some of them are, oughtn't to be allowed, there should be a law agin it, a maximum size for a man's todger!" and Geneviève couldn't help laughing, and she said: "well, Fanny, dear, that is the most sensical thing I have heard today," and Fanny said: "and here's another, the sun's getting low, it'll soon be cockshut, so let's pick you some bobby dazzlers while we've got enough rays to see what we're doing, once we light the gas lamps, the colours all go to pot," but Geneviève wanted one thing clarified: "what's 'cockshut'?" and the other two looked at each other and burst out laughing: "well, I could say, 'my legs', but it actually means twilight, the gloaming, dusk and I have absolutely no idea why, it's just one of those expressions you hear, learn and accept, but you might ask Doctor Henry," which mortifies Fanny, who cries: "no! no way! Henry is a gentleman and never uses racy language, so please, don't ask him," and it takes both of the others, together, to placate her and assure her that they would never do such a thing, especially as Henry is Fanny's Special Friend and they wouldn't want to embarrass him—or her—and she takes it all in good part and before the sun has gone down to the extent that Stella is forced to light the mantles, Geneviève is the proud possessor of enough fine clothes to last her for months.
And then Stella asked Geneviève about the note Henry had sent over at lunch-time, asking if she and Fanny might be able to lend their new friend some of the dresses, "etcetera! what does that mean?" she asked archly, and Geneviève explained that she was stranded in London without a thing in the world, all her luggage having been stolen on her arrival that very morning, leaving her with only what she was wearing and not a sou to her name until her Uncle Pelion could be written to and asked to send some to her, "but if he lives up to his name, I can have no great expectations, he is difficult at the best of times and takes great delight in having been my dear Papa's executor and having financial power over me," and she dabbed at her eyes with a little embroidered kerchef while the girls looked at each other, and then Fanny hugged her tightly: "if we are to be true sisters, dearest Gen, which I believe is our destiny, then we share and share alike, like the Three Musketeers, 'all for one and one for all!' isn't that right, Stella?" and Stella wrapped her own arms around them, kissing Geneviève on the cheek and saying: "what's mine is yours, Gen, and don't worry about money - I'll have a word with Mr Barrington, he's the producer of the show we're in at the Theatre, and see if he can find a job for you - he's always losing people, and he lost five yesterday," and Geneviève thought that sounded very careless, and said so, which made Fanny and Stella laugh and Fanny said: "you must be quite cocooned, dearest, she means he has his performers pinched by other producers, putting together touring companies, but just yesterday anaerobe swept in and poor Mr Barrington looked like he'd been struck down dying centre-stage! white as a sheet and shivering and foaming at the mouth," and Geneviève felt herself getting quite anxious: "by some kind of illness? an infection? an epidemic?" at which Fanny giggled: "what are you talking about, gel?" and Geneviève explained about microbes that can exist in a vacuum and cause highly contagious diseases, and Fanny said, "no, no, gel, not anaerobe! it was an Arab, Ali Baba, his name is, well, it's really Bert Higginbottom, the other's his business name, he's the biggest producer in the Midlands and he's been pinching hoofers and yodellers and gaggers and jugglers and wigglers from every theatre in Town, and yesterday was poor Mr Barrington's turn," but Stella interjected: "poor, Barrington isn't, his pockets are deep but his arms are short, he's got a wife and three kiddies in St John's Wood and another wife—if you can believe that—and two boys, in Brixton, it's a wonder he has time to produce anything, other than his Wee Willie Winkie, and I'm told that neither of his wives knows about the other, it must be exhausting dashing between Drury Lane, St John's Wood and Brixton, trying to keep all his plates spinning," then noticing the look on Geneviève's face, "don't worry, I'll explain later, first things first, come and have a gander at our wardrobes - I do think you and Fanny are probably the same measurements, near enough, but I've got quite a lot that should ft you too, and Geneviève wanted to wrap her own arms around these two, generous and kind Samaritans and thank them for coming to her rescue.
Afternoon Tea—not something Geneviève had encountered before—was a delight, with the girls' best porcelain, good tea just arrived from Ceylon, or so the merchant had assured Stella, "and a merchant's word is his bond, but being spoken verbally, can't be regarded as binding in a court of law," and Geneviève smiled indulgently at the pleonasm, while simultaneously reprimanding herself, with the instruction that she - a Frenchwoman - was in no position to judge the idiosyncracies of English syntax, for she had learned the language from les immortels of Académie française whereas Stella and Fanny were born into it and had no doubt that a modern scholar would find the colloquial Latin of Ancient Rome rather lacking in education and discipline; the cakes, which Fanny had baked straight after lunch, were delicious and she explained that she and Stella kept a special box, which they were in the habit of imbursing whenever they had any small change in their own purses and so, whenever there was occasion for a special treat—and today was obviously such an occasion—they could purchase extra, or better than usual, ingredients and Geneviève confessed that she could not bake to save her life, although she could cook—after a fashion—and promised to take a turn in their kitchen and produce a Nepalese dish she had first encountered on the snowy slopes of Mount Everest, during an expedition with a party of French soldiers and scientists, which made her hostesses quite round-eyed and they plied her with all sorts of questions about how high she had climbed, whether she had slept in a tent, how she could safely preserve her modesty in the company of such a party of men, and she advised them that it was always best to adopt the persona of a wallydraigle—lazy, slovenly, hard-drinking, foul-mouthed and as unfeminine as possible—for in her experience, few men are attracted to a woman who can belch or fart like the worst of them! which sent them into near-hysterics and soon they were as close as three sisters and it had been settled that she would move into their spare room, "toot sweet!" said Fanny with a great broad grin.
It took Fanny ten minutes to show Henry to the door and return, during which time Stella whispered to Geneviève: "she's got quite a pash for Doctor Henry and I rather think he reciprocates," at which Geneviève could only agree, thinking back to how Jekyll had been whenever Fanny's name had been mentioned, both in his Consulting Room and at lunch with his sister: "yes, I agree – from what little I've seen and heard in the short time I've been here," and Stella took her arm and pulled her down onto a sofa: "he is a wonderful man, you know, absolutely sincere and dedicated to working for the improvement of the lives of the poor, as well as his private practice here—which I suppose pays the bills and his staff—he also works at a hospital, at a Mission, on several committees trying to provide secure housing for the homeless and facilities for what he calls, in that delightful brogue of his, 'schoolin, tae gie the couthie loons and quines the three Rs every bairn needs, Readin, Writin an 'Rithmetic', and when a local magistrate refused to hear a case Henry had brought against a Parish School because the Board refused to employ a qualified teacher at 2/- a week more than the drunken oaf who was supposed to teach the children from the borough's poorest families, he managed to engage a young local solicitor at his own expense and pursue the case all the way up to the Areopagus—the Supreme Court—and win! he could be a rich man, but that isn't what interests him, and to Fanny he is some kind of god—and he is rather dishy, don't you think?" and Geneviève surprised herself by saying: "yes, yes I do," but added, "though if he is as keen on Fanny as seems to be the case, I don't suppose anyone else would have a chance, and for my part, I'm probably too old, but you, Stella, do you have a beau?" and it was Stella who blushed and quickly looked away, as if the visitor had mentioned certain unmentionable proclivities which were best simply ignored, and fortunately, that was when Fanny returned, full of Henry this, Henry that, and Henry the other!
As they strolled along Drury Lane to meet Fanny and Stella, Henry spoke with some passion about what he termed the Balkanization of Society by setting different groups of people against one another: "men and women, obviously, rich and poor, the entire Class Divisions of England which can be compared with the Caste System of India, the Northern Britons and the Southern, the Four Kingdoms—of course—young and old, even sexual orientation—you would be surprised by how frightened the average Englishman—the proverbial man on the Clapham Omnibus—is of anyone whose proclivities differ even marginally from his own," and as they approached the steps down to the young women's rooms, he became quite verklamt, uncharacteristically flustered and embarrassed, but by the time they reached the door and he knocked, he had once again mastered himself and was genuinely pleased when a petite and pretty blonde girl opened the door, squealed with delight when she saw Henry, then spotted Geneviève, threw her arms around her and said: "bienvenue, chérie, oh si chic, si française, si parisienne, je veux te ressembler!" and ushered them inside, where a dark-haired beauty, slightly taller, smiled warmly and shook Geneviève's hand as Henry made the introductions; the dark girl was Stella, her bubbly blonde friend was Fanny and, as Geneviève could see at once, were both truly plenary women: happy and confident in themselves, complete and comfortable in their own skins, with no embarrassment, self-doubt or emotional imbalance - she would be happy to spend as much time as she could in their company and guessed that, despite her own history and experiences in four continents, she would learn much from this fascinating pair; she observed that Stella had a leggiadrous grace and natural elegance, and knew that even if she wasn't dressed in the beautiful afternoon gown of rust-coloured velvet that hugged her body and flared over her hips, she would still be l'étourdissement d'une femme!
Over lunch with Henry and Florence, Geneviève learned something of her host's laissez-faire philosophy which was at variance with a number of his statements regarding her long-time adversary, MacFarlane, but when she commentated on this, Henry explained that for him, it was a matter of both ethics and morality: "you know that a Doctor's Hippocratic Oath begins, 'first, do no harm' and I would like to see this applied to all aspects of life and society here, in the United Kingdom, and when we have laws, police, courts and judges who will always tend to believe what a Duke or Earl says and reject the word of a Carter or Bricklayer or, for that matter, a Woman, then we have a system which does do harm, so for me, if what people do causes no harm, then I believe it is a matter for their personal conscience and beliefs, not for the State to intervene," and Florence commented: "you've got him on his hobby-horse now, all he needs is a soap-box," but her words were spoken affectionately and it was clear to Geneviève that for Florence, her brother was an Olympian who could do no wrong; then the maid who had been sent along the street with a message returned and handed the reply to Dr Jekyll, who read it out: "Stella's written it, 'of course we'd love to meet your new friend, bring her for afternoon tea at 3pm and she can try on some of our frocks, BFF, Stella' and laughed, that means Best Friends Forever, and is one of Fanny's, if she likes you she will never want to let you go, so be warned, Geneviève," at which she smiled, for she knew that no matter how closely entwined she became with these people, when the time came for her to move on in her pursuit of MacFarlane, she would not hesitate, nor miss them, she was using them, taking advantage of their good natures, but that was just the way it had ever been, since she first began to work for the King's Council: "are they both patients, Henry?" she asked and Florence got in first: "without going into any details, I would say that Stella is the stronger of the two and really only consults with Henry a couple of times a year, just the normal complaints, but Fanny is really quite sensitive, more nervous—not a pseudopatient, she's very genuine—but we do see more of her, don't we, dear?" and Geneviève saw Henry Jekyll blush for the second time and wondered what his sister made of that, but what she said was: "do they have employment, these young ladies?" and a glance was exchanged between the doctor and nurse, and Florence said: "they are Theatricals, dear, they sing and dance and do monologues and skits and the like, in the Drury Lane Theatre, we've often seen them on-stage, sometimes in actual Plays, too; remember that one with Valentine Vox? a regular farce that was, with cross-talk and macaronic songs, all Cockney slang and Latin that no Roman would understand, but it was hilarious and we had such fun with Fanny and Stella afterwards, you'll like them, dear, and I know they will adore you!"
"Scotland," Henry echoes, his eyebrows raised, "why were you there?" and Geneviève explains: "I was following the person who was responsible for the murders of two of His Majesty's Counsellors, I had traced him to Edinburgh and identified him, I was following him up the High Street and," she paused, as if uncertain as to how much she could , or should, reveal, then: "before I could get close enough, he disappeared, as if into, what is the expression? into thin air; that was when I discovered the existence of that very thing—thin air, as if the separation of different Times and Places were simply a thinness that separates two distinct Times and Places which are yet one, do you know what I mean?" and Henry was silent a moment, pondering, then: "yes, I do, I have come across it before—not personally, but I have a young Ward who disappeared hundreds of years ago, from the village in Scotland where I was born and found herself here, in London, just a few hundred yards away from this house, in a wardrobe, a year ago; I do not claim to understand what permits, or enables, this passage, it certainly doesn't comply with horse sense as I know it, but because of Griselda, I know that it exists," and Geneviève nodded: "well, this person I was following seems to have a knowledge, a map or guide, which enables him to move easily from one world to another, and I followed him," she paused and Henry asked: "you went through the same place?" and she nodded: "yes, I had observed—my faculties are highly developed, for my profession, you understand—exactly where he had been the moment before he was no longer there, so I followed him and stepped from the street in Edinburgh into another place, with no houses, no people, no traffic, just an open hillside, facing a mountain, one of three which, I later discovered, the Romans had named Trimontium," and Henry said: "ah! the Eildon Hills," and Geneviève: "just so, and I caught sight of him, crossing the river and I watched as he climbed the hill, or mountain, opposite and enter a cave, so I set off after him," and Henry stared at her, in awe, or admiration: "you are very brave, Geneviève," he said softly, but not soft enough, for she heard him and smiled, then: "and yet I can be foolish, for I did not realise that I was, myself, being followed, by his own man, who had been set—as I later discovered—to guard the Gateway, not from me in particular, but for his Master's general security; I neglected to follow the rules of my Craft, to ensure that I am not being watched, for I was in a hurry, to keep him in sight, particularly as I had no idea where this Gateway would lead and didn't want to lose him," when Henry interrupted: "who was this person, the one you were following?" and Geneviève looked around, somewhat theatrically it seemed to Henry, as if to ensure they were not being overheard: "do you know the name, Sir Parlane MacFarlane?" and Henry sat back, looking surprised, yet at the same time as if what he had heard had been expected and Geneviève asked: "you do, don't you Henry? you know of him?" and the doctor nodded slowly: "not personally, I have never met the man, but he uses the name Sir Peveril here, and Griselda, who I mentioned, was being groomed for his pleasure—he has a circle of associates who are devoted to the corruption of young girls, and boys too; Florence and I took in Griselda and Minnie when they escaped and the woman, who was used by MacFarlane as a prostitute and procuress, was beaten so severely because she lost the two young girls that she almost died, and it was only thanks to Florence's dedicated nursing that she survived and she now lives here too, but she is too traumatised to go to the police or give evidence against her abuser; her life had been chaotic and the police here give little credit to the testimony of women of her class and occupation, regarding them as only getting 'what they deserve,' it is an appalling, but widely accepted view, so the three lie low, as you might say, while they all recover from their abuse; but I have two other friends, well, patients and friends, who know something of MacFarlane and they might be of interest to you—your dress, while being of high quality and excellent manufacture, is rather dated and . . . . ." she cut in: "old fashioned? well it is almost 100 years old and styles and fashions change, you know—perhaps not so much for men," and Henry laughed: "I still wear my father's old bridge-coat from his service with the Royal Navy, but yes, if we don't want to draw attention to you, or have people think you are going to a costume ball, we shall have to find other clothes—do you object to wearing things wich have belonged to other people?" and this time she laughed: "you mean 'second hand'? not at all, when I have to disguise myself I will beg, borrow or steal whatever I need," and Henry said: "well, I don't think you will have to do any of those; Fanny and Stella are very much like yourself—in height and figure, at least to my eye, and other things—and if you are agreeable, and they are too, perhaps we might come to an arrangement, so far as I know they are very up to date with their styles and seem to have wardrobes bursting with clothes, and they are both quite quixotic and I do believe that they will be entranced by you and fall over themselves to assist you—of course Geneviève, it is entirely up to you how much you disclose to them, I would only invite them to meet you to discuss a favour and you will tell them what you consider necessary, what do you think?" at which she clapped her hands together and beamed at him: "wonderful, Henry, you are my saviour as well as my doctor!" and he blushed to his roots!
"You spoke of horse sense, Doctor," said Mlle d'Eon, and Jekyll put up his hand: "Henry, please, strictly speaking you are not yet my patient, Mademoiselle," and it was her turn to smile: "then call me Geneviève, Henry," at which he nodded, and patted her hand: "not that I can derogate my responsibilities as a doctor, when I encounter another person who requires help, but the relationship is different, equal, and that expression means common sense," so Geneviève laughed: "not some kind of neighing or whinnying frammis, then," and took another sip of cordial, before: "over the years of my career in the service of His Majesty, I travelled all over Europe, even to Asia and across the sea to the Americas; I also moved between the Present – by which I mean times which match my chronological age – and both Past and Future, although there were many Pasts, and just two Futures, before today; one of those was known as Steam Punk, the other Atom Punk, in each case, a reference to the latest technological developments, just as we refer to the Stone Age, Bronze Age and so on, although I only once went back so far, and that in your country," he gazed at her, "England?" and she smiled, "no, Henry, your own country, Scotland!"
After an hour, Dr Jekyll rang a little bell and when a young maid peeped in round the door, asked her to fetch some cordial for himself and his patient; the girl's head withdrew and a few minutes later she returned with a glass decanter containing a deep purple liquid that reminded Geneviève of colour-de-roy and her sacred oath to her King: "so you have been off the wagon for, what, a year now?" asked the doctor, handing her a small glass of the sparkling, shifting brew which turned out not to be the black-currant she expected, but something much lighter and slightly more bitter, yet fresh and warming, and she felt it's effect immediately: "yes, doctor, it is two years since I returned to London, quite alone, and with a mission which received no support from the Embassy—I had been quite abstinent," and Jekyll asked: "quite?" at which Mlle d'Eon smiled, "completely, for ten years, but over the first year, as I sensed that my quarry was drawing closer, I began to feel pressure building within me—oh, I resisted, drew on my training, on my Faith, on my Oath, and kept going, but just about a year ago, I tripped, I stumbled, I fell," and she lowered her upper eye-lids to shield her eyes and Jekyll noticed how long the lashes were, like two fans, two crescents above the woman's alabaster cheeks: "there is no need to reproach yourself, Mlle," he said, reaching across his desk and gently taking her free hand, "you have talked a lot of horse sense, your situation is—perhaps not unique, but certainly not common; it can result in considerable stress, anxiety, worry, not all of which you may be aware of and some of which can eat away at your own resources, leaving you susceptible to needs which you may not have been aware of either; we are, after all, only human, we do not possess the powers of the Gods, and we are mortal; you have lived a life quite beyond the ken of most of my patients, much of it would test me too, most, if I am honest with you, for my own life seems pale and unexciting by comparison, but in such a life you have experienced extreme swings, and that takes it's toll, and at such times a person, with the best will in the world, can slide; it can happen to anyone, and I can say that from personal experience," the other's eyes fixed him sharply and he felt the intensity of her, and was astonished to realise that he was trembling!
Nurse Jekyll, for her part, was felicitous and professional, explaining that her brother would like to see Mademoiselle d'Eon after this short examination and then proceeded to check the patient's temperature, pulse, blood pressure, eyes, ears, nose and throat and, when all seemed perfectly normal, she lead the way to the Doctor's own Consulting Room; this was a finely proportioned study, overlooking a small, sunny garden in which several girls, or young women, possibly friends or servants, were engaged in easy horticulture in a sweetly hippocrene scene which might have inspired a romantic poet or painter—pruning, tying, sweeping and hoeing, and d'Eon unexpectedly felt envy for their sense of safety and belonging—the garden was sheltered, with three walls beyond the house, had several trees and even a garden tower in one of the far corners; such an oasis in the centre of London was surprising and she wondered how on earth a General Practitioner could afford the place; the doctor, himself, was seated behind a desk which glowed in the slant of sun across it's walnut top and he stood when the two women entered, then indicated that Mlle d'Eon should take the chair opposite his and Nurse Jekyll handed him a piece of paper on which she had made brief notes, turned, smiled at Geneviève, then left, closing the door behind her; Doctor Jekyll studied the notes, then looked up, smiling: "who exactly are you, Mademoiselle, really?" and d'Eon felt herself beguiled, this was not what she had expected and it unsettled her, what did he guess, what had his sister surmised? what could he possibly know? nothing, surely; trained and experienced, she knew that she could withstand physical pressure—torture even—for the most part, but this empathetic expression, sympathetic voice, and precise words, had taken her by surprise, she a ninja, a spy, diplomat, assassin, sworn to defend the King of France with her life, but now felt that the miniature baselard dagger she always carried secreted in her corset, was pricking her skin and would draw blood if she did not continue to breathe, or answer this strange man, whose eyes saw through her own and into the darkest recesses of her mind.
Mlle Geneviève d'Eon—not, strictly, her name, but that version which she generally used when dressed as she was—half-listened to the Major's talk as they walked, there had certainly been changes to the city, but she could not ask her temporary companion what year they were in, but once Piccadilly was reached she would unhorse him and use her own devices to establish what she needed to know: "goodness me," said Major Daniel, stopping and extending a hand towards another man who was approaching, "hello, Henry," and turning to Geneviève, "Mademoiselle, may I introduce my friend—and physician—Doctor Henry Jekyll," and as she offered her hand to the newcomer, Geneviève gave her name too, noticing the interest evident in the doctor's eyes: "from Paris?" he said, "one of my favourite cities, after Edinburgh of course," the gentle gibe giving no offence to Daniel, "have you been long in London?" and perfectly used to dissembling, Geneviève gave one version of her story, wondering if this doctor might not be a useful person to know, suddenly deciding he would, gasping and rolling her eyes, let herself fall—into the capable hands of the two gentlemen, clearly both able to react quickly to whatever occurred in their vicinity; they helped her to a bench, conveniently located nearby, and d'Eon let them use their hats to fan her, and when the doctor held a small vial of smelling-salts under her nose, shook hersel into consciousness and, flustered, apologised and thanked them: "no need, Mademoiselle," said the major, "only too happy to be of assistance," and the doctor suggested: "my surgery is just round the corner in Drury Lane, would you care to come there and my sister, my nurse, could check if you are completely well?" which Geneviève seemed to consider for a few moments, then agreed; this seemed to satisfy the concerns of both men and, after bowing to her, the major left her in his friend's care and went off to his club; Doctor Jekyll, transferring his medical bag to his left hand, guided the lady along the street he had indicated until they reached a house which boasted a brass plate, announcing that it was indeed the Surgery and Consulting Rooms of Dr Henry Jekyll MD (Edin) MSc (Oxon) and showed her in; the Waiting Room was unoccupied and Jekyll asked her to take a seat while he fetched his sister, Florence, which gave her time to examine the surroundings: there were paintings of pastoral scenes on the walls, and some examples of Spanish Talavera pottery displayed on the window-sill and mantelpiece; in the middle of the wall facing the entrance was another door, which she surmised led to the doctor's adytum, or perhaps he nurse's examining room, which in fact proved to be correct, when Nurse Jekyll arrived with her brother—their family resemblance being obvious—and took the new patient into the adjoining room, where she noticed at once a calender on which the date, 7th June 1868 was highlighted; so not quite a hundred years, but definitely enough to explain why her once fashionable dress was certainly not as à la mode as other women she had observed in the streets—something I will require to explain and remedy if I am to be stuck here for any length of time, thought d'Eon to herself.
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