#3 Penny Dreadful
The Life and Crimes of Lockhart and Doppler
An Illustrated journal of amusement, adventure and instruction
The German Affair: Part Five
I ran the bath in the en suite bathroom and laid out a new outfit whilst awaiting my breakfast. I had brought very little in the way of clothing a small wardrobe trunk and a sailors travelling bag, I had left my luggage packed – well you never knew. After bathing came the stitching the ointment and bandaging. I was in my undergarments about to step into a burgundy skirt when there came the polite knock at the door. I bid the maid enter with the tray of food and place it on the dressing table by the window, she crossed the room, placed the tray down and turned to speak, her mouth froze. She was staring at me, or to be more accurate, she was staring at my shoulder. Glancing down I saw the camisole blossoming red. I was leaking.
“You are injured Fraulein Lockhart.” She began
“Oh, it’s er, nothing. I erm, I cut myself shaving.” I blethered.
“Shaving?” she said.
“Yes shaving.” I responded, getting into the swing of it now,
“In England women folk shave their armpits, legs too sometimes. I even hear that Her Majesty shaves all of the hair from her body.” I added conspiratorially. “And of course, I had forgotten to bring my Lady Shaver with me, so borrowed off one of the chaps, these cut throat razors ain’t the same y’know, not got the manoeuvrability, the delicacy of a ladies shaver. Slip of the wrist, that’s all, a mere graze, be right as sixpence in an hour.”
I smiled genially and began ushering her to the door.
“But could you not have borrowed from one of the other ladies, one of the wives?”
Oh dear. I took my hand off the doorknob. Walked to the tray by the window and returned with a bread roll, which I shoved unceremoniously into her mouth, spun her about and had the napkin tied over it before she could say Schwarzwaelder Kruste. Grabbing both her wrists, I pulled her into the bathroom, plonked her into the wicker chair and tied her to it. The girl was terrified.
“I’m so sorry miss.” I began, “But if anyone found out, it’d be the worse for me don’t you see. So…I could toss you out of the window…” her eyes bulged, “…but you really don’t deserve that. I could have cracked you over the head, but…no. I could have asked you to keep quiet…” she nodded frantically, “…but d’you know what? I don’t believe you would. So, you can wait here until someone comes looking and I’m sure in a place this size that could take some time.”
She looked forlorn.
It was time to leave…but first I wanted to pay a visit to the room of a certain man, a Welshman to be precise. After checking that Mr Lloyd was not in his chamber, I let myself in and began a swift but thorough search. The large room was decorated in a theme of forest greens with a wallpaper motif of stags and hinds carousing amidst blossom covered trees. The bedspread and canopy were also a lustrous green brocade, the walnut dressing table close by had green handles, perhaps jade (I briefly considered unscrewing them) the whole décor provided a pleasant backdrop to the mechanisms, cogs, tools, grease-pots, lenses, brass tubes, polishing cloths and other engineering miscellany that spilled from cases and trunks, were scattered across the polished table and bedspread. The air smelt like lubricant and polish, what had Lloyd been up to? I had an approximate idea of the size of the item I was searching for from the conversations I had had with Hywel Lloyd on the journey here. And then I had it in my hand, or more correctly, on my wrist. The Llap-Goch Discombobulator Device, I was not completely sure about what it did, so…I headed back to my bathroom and tried it out on the chambermaid. It was a fairly discreet device, a leather wrist guard with what looked like a brass compass or pocket watch attached, a kind of pointed nozzle projecting from it towards the knuckles. There were a number of black dots around the inner circumference getting incrementally larger, what I supposed were settings.
I pointed it, setting ‘one’ and fired. No great jet came out, no flame, or ‘zap!’ it quite simply and quietly created a kind of hazy strip in the air between it and the maid, you probably wouldn’t see it if you weren’t looking for it, certainly not in daylight. I removed the napkin and soggy bread roll.
“Why did you tie me up?” she immediately demanded.
That wouldn’t do. I aimed again.
“What did you do then? Let me go!” Better.
I tried a third time, each time moving the dial up a notch.
“Who are you? Will you be wanting a bath madam? Have you brought your bathing suit?”
I untied her, and made up a story for her that convinced her to hang about in these rooms. I did not know if the effect was permanent and if not, how long it lasted. I noticed that a tiny green light winked on the device after each use. I made a rope from sheets and lowered my carry bag to the ledge below. Advised the maid to untie it when I was there too. And so, by ledges and sheets, branches and inclines, I made my way to the foot of Schloss Hartundschnell mountain. Lugged my pack over my uninjured shoulder and headed for town. How I missed the Professor Selwyn, my balloon sphere, I could have been well away by now.
After hitching a ride from a local trader in his goods waggon, I entered a nearby tavern, ‘Das Fledermaus’, took a room, rested my weary body for most of the morning, then ordered a hot beverage and lunch. I was tucking into my second hot wiener when there was a brisk tap on my shoulder. I resisted the urge to punch the accoster to my pained anatomy and turned to look into a familiar face,
“Guten tag, Marianne Corday. I hope you are enjoying your wurst.”
Herr Kutz sneered, his black hair even slicker smooth across his forehead if that was possible. Beside him stood a large uniformed female looking like she could pop my head in her hands, she had a better moustache than Herr Kutz I noticed.
“Ah, Generalinspekeur.” I beamed, “What a pleasant surprise.”
“Please, Frau Lockhart” he chided, “Do not play the games with me, I know what you have done and what you are.”
“Pray, do tell.” I teased.
“You have sullied my name!” he snarled loudly. His face turning puce. “You have taken what is not yours! A tick formed in his right eye. “And you have lied to the Count about your reason for being here.”
“Now look here...” I began, surreptitiously reaching into my pocket.
“No, Frau Lockhart! You look here. You are nothing but a cheap thief!”
“I say” I responded, affronted, “I may be a thief, but I am not cheap!”
“You” he leant into my face, “Are under arrest. Take her!”
As his Rottweiler reached for me, I flung a large handful of coins in her face, shouting;
“Drinks for all!” loudly.
She automatically shielded herself from the coinage, the drinkers nearby cheered and swarmed to us as I dropped to the floor and crawled between legs. As I exited and began racing towards a large building across the way, I could hear the apoplectic screaming of Generalinspekeur Kutz.
To be continued…