Back at the Cafe
Stephan finished his cappuccino. Normally, he did not care for cream in his coffee. But the foam went well with the espresso. Stephanie and Kimberly were enjoying tea and their croissants. Stephan closed his newsprint and said, “I need head downstairs. We almost have the rifle barrel finished.”
Stephanie brushed some crumbs from her face, “I will be taking over the counter since Abigail will be working with you, Dad.”
Kimberly sighed deeply, “Well…as usual I will have nothing to do.” She grabbed the newsprint and said, “I think I need to find a job. I imagine Wynn should be able to find me a job over in Stepney until this is over.”
Stephan leaned over the table and thundered, “No you are not.”
Kimberly smiled a bit, “You are not my father.” Her attention returned to the paper, “I do not work for you at the moment and, so far as I can tell, you have no job for me.”
“Stepney is not safe.”
“But Wynn is working there.”
“That is different. I don’t care if you’ve protected yourself from drunks in Dunstable. Gangs in Stepney are not the same.”
Kimberly smiled, “So you won’t mind if I find a job elsewhere in London.” She stood up, winked at Stephanie and headed upstairs with the newsprint.
Stephan fumed and stormed towards the back. He went through the kitchen and stopped to talk to Jolene, “Can you talk some sense into Kimberly? The lass is talking about taking a job in the East End.”
Jolene stopped kneading the bread for a moment. “That is a bit much. I’ll talk with her. Stephan, she’s bored. She needs to do something or we need to send her back to Dunstable.”
Abigail came up drying her hands, “I don’t think we need to send her that far away, but we need to do something with her.”
Stephan said through clenched teeth, “I’ll not have to explain to her parents and sister why she was killed in some alley in London’s East End. I was supposed to take care of her.” He stormed off to the basement.
Down in the basement, he took a few deep breaths to clear his head. He donned an apron and some goggles. Wearing long leather gloves, he opened the furnace and used a set of tongs to put a tray of cylinders in the center of the heat that exceeded 3000 F. He closed up the door and then moved to the first of two cooling kilns. He checked the temperature and adjusted it for another cooling cycle. In the third cooling kiln, he checked the temperature and then opened the door and pulled the tray out with tongs. The tray was still extraordinarily hot, but was far below glowing. There was decirnable steam on the bath as he lowered the tray into the water but there was no hissing. His job was to create the alloyed slugs. When the slugs were cool, Abigail would do her work to magnetize them for use with the induction rifle.
While he worked on polishing the newly cooled slugs, Abigail came down and donned her own safety gear. She took a set of polished, lined four of them up in a wood rack and placed them in a metallic chamber. She then flipped a switched. Inside, the magnetic fields were strengthening and alternating in a specific pattern. After several hours, the slugs would be magnetized and would function in her rifle barrel coils. She and Stephan then moved to the diagram of the rifle barrel. It consisted of many rings of magnets lining the barrel. Unfortunately, this would make the gun extremely heavy even with the lighter materials that Stephan was using. The guns would be powerful, but they would not be mobile.
After about an hour, Jolene came down leading Edward. She said, “Edward thinks he has something.”
Stephan grumbled, “Start speaking boy. I could use something to cheer me up.”
Edward took a stool and began to talk about his encounters with Pamela Weymouth and her offer.
Abigail whistled, “Did not believe anyone thought stuff like that anymore. Thought it all disappeared with the Louis’ and the reign of terror.”
Edward scratched his head, “It is more common that you think. Old families have huge tracts of land that are nearly impossible to keep up. It all made sense with a pacified peasantry.” He shrugged, “Now the country manors are going to rat and ruin and the old families aren’t far behind. The jobs and economy are in London, Manchester and Liverpool. The families that are making it switched to banking or industry.”
Stephan added, “Mayor Brown started a factory. That kept him solvent and relevant.”
Edward said, “He was a lord. I never knew.”
Stephan said, “Brown thought the factory was doing more to help the locals than any manor. Thought the lordship wasn’t relevant. Didn’t care for visits to London.”
Edward scratched his chin, “That explains Findley so much more…”
Stephan waved his hand, “Go on…”
Edward shook his head, “Anyway there are some of my generation who resent having to work for a living I guess…They think they have a way of bring back the old aristocracy. Miss Weymouth did not divulge details, but she did hint at subversive action.” He straightened himself, “I’ve been invited to join…or at least get more info.”
Abigail clapped him on the back, “Well done. Sounds perfect.”
Edward slumped in the stool, “Except for the part where they kill me if I change my mind.” The room got quiet. Edward laughed harshly, “If it is them, they’ve burned people alive and killed over a hundred soldiers. Surely nobody thinks I could just stroll into a tea part and say ‘what ho…mind if I listen in?’”
Jolene finally said, “No…that doesn’t make any sense.”
Abigail tapped a screw driver on the table, “I guess I just thought all that Knights of the Round Table bullshit actually might mean something to aristocrats.’Never do murder.’ ‘Always flee treason.’ ‘Seek nothing but honor.’ Sporting play and hupp hupp and all that.” She crossed her arms and stared at Edward.
He smiled wanly, “One quickly finds that sense of honor seems to be selective. I never realized how myopic I was about that until my …vacation up in Dunstable.”
She snorted and returned to fidgeting with something on the workbench, “I saw my share growing up in a pub. Mother was…” She waved it away, “I imagine Felicity and Michael have their share of stories about backstabbing.” She stared at a control box, “but murder? Murder is messy.”
Edward said, “Oh I expect they would get someone of a more appropriate station to handle the murder. Mustn’t get ones hands dirty and all that.” At that he slapped his hands together, “Well now that I shall be providing you with no end of information, what’s the plan? I would rather my likely demise have a point.”
At that point, the voice of DC Monroe said, “And what would you be killed for?”
The time is the day after the street brawl. Stephan fears for the younger ones especially his daughter and Kimberly.
As a part of my research, I did look up the code of the “Knights of the Round Table.” I suppose one needs to remember it is more myth than history; something that the aristocracy pictured itself as rather than a reality. However, English nobility has a long history of treason and murder.
I am typing my current work in. It probably needs a good edit for some conversations. I am also taking a more measured approach on the last sections. I need to get this story wrapped up and I need to outline a bit to get there – something I did not do much of for this novel.
Look for more on Monday.