Now that my picture (worth thousands of words) spree is over for now, I can return with picture forming words; not that I've done much of that for a longish while, but I would if I could, find the time I should.
Selene and I visited olden London of Dickens time, a most odd juxtaposition of the recreation of those streets of lore inside the giant Cow Palace structures complete with the distant odors of hay and bovine pheromones, thankfully oh so distant. As all my period clothing was left behind in Kirkland, I found myself a time traveler dressed in out of period mundane clothing. Selene managed to gather an assortment of clothing that could pass casual muster, so we entered with aliases: Sarah Parsons, prefectress, and Anthony Parsons, intelligencer; we both travel the world collecting and imparting information. Not more than five minutes in London, near the terminus of Maiden Lane by Fagin's alley, we came upon friends...
Or it could go like this:
We found ourselves at the entryway of the oddest time portal since the invention by that Wells chap. Neither a glowing crystal nor spinning chronograph betrayed the large structure's functioning; indeed its exterior expanse was well masked with hay and the offal essence of the barnyard bovine, the cows. I should think the enormous sign atop the structure, which read "Cow Palace" in large friendly letters, would misdirect probing eyes in a garish kind of tribute and echo to the purloined letter's hiding place.
My darling wife, Sarah, wrinkled her nose, her face delivering a harsh warning that perhaps we were at the wrong place at the wrong time. As prefectress to many of the world's elite children, she demanded order and expected no less from her husband and intelligencer, Anthony Parsons. Sarah was dismayed by our hasty departure from the Pacific Northwest; leaving the Emerald city without proper attire meant our work here could be easily compromised. She cleverly fashioned reasonably proper apparel for herself, though she was worried the shorter dress, a full seven inches above ground, would brand her permanently as a harlot - I hoped my odd attire would pass unnoticed. We were in luck, for the rather buxom lady by the portal asked, as she held our passes, "was your carriage ride long and difficult?” to which Sarah replied "indeed, it was arduous yet the weather was fair." This exchange satisfied the lady and her consorts, thus we passed without further delay.
We crossed the border from now to then without much event, though the wrenching feeling my stomach expressed would belie the advertised smooth transition. London, early evening, gas lights, a soft skyscape. The streets were alive with upper and middle class gentry on their daily strolls. The less fortunate scuttled from alley to alley avoiding the main promenades unless they had to cross, but even then, they maintained their proper station, eyes down, giving way to the fortunate. The singing at the Victoria and Albert music hall rose to its finale, and the patrons' applause spilled out into the street. "We must make haste, Sarah, else our contact may miss us." "Who, that slimy relic of a disgraced general" Sarah said quietly. "He is a drunken cast off from that wretched Crimean war, a most disorderly sot who should have been tried for his logistics incompetence." "Sarah!" I whispered nervously, "he has the information we need." She sighed with resignation for this was not the first time we had to ferret sensitive intelligence from disreputable sources. It was a sign of the times.
Arm in arm, we strolled down Bell Ringer's row, crossing over at the photo parlor onto Maiden lane. I was distracted by the fine boots and shoes and especially by Oberon's wonderful Celtic inspired tooled leather book coverings. Sarah's gentle tug brought me out of my shopping reverie, and so we waited near the entrance to Fagin's alley, admiring the jewelry and lady's clothing, awaiting our contact. That we came upon friends was both delightful and a bit of a mishap as our contact would have to wait unnoticed; we could not acknowledge him while we carried out our duty to greet Robin and Ariadne. Oh how time fled between us; their first child was now grown, and a new grandchild was upon them. Then as we concluded our discourse did our old friends Micheal and Susa chance upon us. I was delighted to see them for it had been nearly a half-decade of true time since we met. Micheal was most dapper in his traditional Scottish tweed and tartan, Susa wore the flowing robes of her calling as bard and Harper. Her long white hair flowing down her sides and back glistened in the gas light glow. Micheal's business was performing excellently. He asked "and what mischief have you snared this time?" "I, I am a tobacco and exotic herbs merchant, traveling the world to service my customers." Micheal politely laughed, "Right. I see. Still up to your old 'gathering' tricks?" I smiled. We passed the time rebuilding our common reckonings, when yet another old friend caught us in their web.
Our contact by now must have been completely flummoxed by this turn of events, so I was certain he would attempt to meet us at the second rendezvous point, thus I relaxed into the moment and greeted Ruth, or rather, she rushed over to me and gave me a most splendid hug, which though out of keeping with the better parts of London was most appropriate for an artist and merchant. Sarah and Ruth kissed cheek to cheek, hugged and proceeded to get directions to Ruth's Shoppe, The Salon des Artistes.
"Well" I said as we continued our stroll, "that was quite the whirlwind." Sarah smiled, "indeed, I have directions to Ruth's shop, though in her excitement I do believe she gave me incomplete directions. Nonetheless, we should depart to our meeting lest we gain the unwanted attention of the local constabulary." I saw a young man across the way dressed in black attire, a short cape draped his strong frame. "Oh those Bobbies aren't that bright", I quipped. Sarah stopped us both abruptly then turned to me: "Anthony Parsons! Those Peelers are the best thing to have happened to London. They bring order to a place careening into chaos. Do not mock them so." She smiled at the police officer then quickly tugged me along and we headed to our second meeting point: Mad Sal's by the docks.
* * *
I'll write up a bit more of our adventure. Mad Salo's is a most interesting place. Yes, I would have loved to have met Russell and you in those streets. It is quite lovely, though it reflects a much softer image of the true nature of those times. The merchants' wares, however, are of top quality.
BTW, we are heading back to Seattle Tuesday morning. We hope the weather will be fine.