Without further ado, I give you the 2nd page of our as-yet-unnamed Lady’s adventure. It looks like there’s still more to find as well – how these pages got so scattered is beyond me! If you recall, she had just concluded a horseback chase of her ambulatory shearing device…
My manners truly are poor—it took all my effort not to laugh at the scene laid out before me. What had clearly been a dinner party only moments previously was now absolute chaos. My shearer (and I had to take a moment to be impressed with its dedication) was attempting to remove the hair of an older woman, who I recognized as the Lady von Boltenstein. (The Lady von Boltenstein has always carried a certain animosity for my family, being new money and Irish to boot. I doubt the day endeared me to her any further!) Her husband, the Lord von Boltenstein, was doing a quite excellent job of defending his wife’s hair using a serving platter. There were other couples present, most of the same age and social standing of the Boltensteins. Not my kind of party at all, I can tell you! Normally I would not have been welcome to come within a quarter mile of the sort of people attending, but when ones mechanical shearer is running amok, one does what one must.
I abandoned Belinda on the lawn and rushed to the shearer, pulling a sample of sheepskin out of my tool satchel as I went. The shearer was immediately distracted from the Lady von Boltenstein’s hair and came for me. I tempted my automaton into chasing me for the sheepskin, then dodged to the side like a bullfighter and flipped the deactivation switches as it blundered past me. It crashed into a decorative planter, rendering both it and the planter slightly less functional. Panting, I pushed the hair out of my eyes and looked up at the party guests.
That was when I saw him.
He was a tall, slender man with intelligent eyes and a kind face, much younger than the others. He had the kind of slouch that comes with a tall man trying to look shorter. He was dressed quite well—clearly of the same social standing as the other guests, but something made him immediately stand out. Everyone else was staring at me with faces full of horror, disgust, and indignation… But he looked both impressed and amused. His shoulders shook slightly with suppressed laughter. I confess I found him immediately endearing and gave him quite a grin! The corners of his mouth twitched a bit in response, but that quickly turned into a wince as the Lady von Boltenstein rounded on me in a rage.
“You impertinent little brat!” she seethed. “What do you think you’re doing, trespassing on my estate and destroying my property?” She waved a hand in a motion that encompassed the party guests, toppled tables and partially-shattered planter. “This is precisely why your terrible family isn’t welcome in Society, you uncouth, un-civil, urchin! Your common blood outs you!”
I allowed her to rant as I collected the automated shearer and loaded it onto the back of my patient mare. I felt it was better for her to vent her spleen on me than on her guests, especially the gentleman with the kind face. Who was he? He looked somewhat familiar, and as I looked from the red-faced Lady von Boltenstein over to his sympathetic gaze I figured it out. Of course the Boltensteins had a son! And the Lady’s blue eyes were much more attractive in a face not distorted with rage. I swung myself up onto the back of my horse (“And you ride astride instead of sidesaddle! You improper slattern!” The Lady continued her deprecations) and considered the young gentleman again. In for a penny, in for a pound, I decided, and held out my hand to him. His eyes widened, and I tilted my head toward the space behind me between the saddle and the shearer. My raised eyebrow said, “There’s room for one more.”
Sqeeeee! I mean, ahem, how very riveting! For such an obvious mechanical mastermind, she can certainly craft an excellent tale as well. Just a few more piles to inspect, and I should have another page – stay tuned!