Rachael Learns About a Journey
They sat down at the bar. Rachael ordered another bitter and a glass of water. Felicity ordered a sherry and some water as well. As the drinks were being poured, Felicity asked “Do you think she meant it?”
“Meant what?” Rachael asked.
“That I could be useful,” Felicity said looking intent.
Rachael took a sip of her beer. “I don’t think Millicent says things to be nice. She certainly spoke her mind to me. I think she has a point about you. You managed households and kept things running. The projects we may be doing sound big and none of us have ever actually done anything like them. We will need someone to help us keep track of our work and what gets done. And you might be help in other ways. For me, if I am really designing, I can’t spend all that time buffing and polishing gears. Assembly is pretty straight forward if you have a steady hand and can follow directions. You do know your letters and numbers?”
“I stayed in school until Mum and Dad said we needed the money. I liked reading and writing. I could still do that while working.” Felicity said
Rachael took another swig of her beer while she listened and replied, “There you go…record keeper, chronicler, journalist? And I expect there will be correspondence. Engineers are horrible letter writers,” she said laughing at the thought.
Felicity smiled a bit. She took some water and a sip of her sherry, “Thanks for saying that. I’ve been worried. Michael told me some of his conversation from last night and he was crushed at such a Hobson’s choice. If Miss Morgaine…”
“Millicent”, corrected Rachael.
“Millicent believes I am useful, that will be so much better …for both of us.”
Rachael looked her and said quietly, “The trick, girl, is you have to believe you are useful. I think Millicent knows that and will encourage it, but you are the one who has to believe it.” She stopped for a second and thought harder. “If you stop believing in yourself, life just kind of loses its shine no matter how much good happens.” She shook herself a bit remembering the hurt she felt after school. Recovering, she lifted her glass, ”Look at you. You’re not that much different than me. A quirk of birth and I would bet our places would be switched. Cheers.” And they clicked glasses and drank more beer and sherry. Feeling obliged they drank a bit more water.
Felicity asked, “Are you excited?”
“I don’t know. I am not sure I am going,” Rachael said.
“But you have to. Michael said you were tops in all the classes. I think it frustrated him because you always seemed to do better than him,“ Felicity said.
“Well not good enough to get a job,” Rachael said playing with her necklace.
“That is just high society bollocks. If you came from the west end and went to church, you know you’d have a job. Tain’t right. “ Felicity took a drink to emphasize her point.
“If I go, my papa will be alone,“ Rachael said quietly.
There was a silence and then Felicity said, “Oh…that’s ‘arsh. What’s he say?”
“He sounds like you with a Cockney accent. ‘Go. Show’m whose the best’” Rachael said laughing without sound.
“But…” Felicity asked.
“I would never see him again,” Rachael said.
“What does he say about that?” Felicity said and looked at her sherry.
Rachael looked at the roof and said, “The man who fled Russia with his brother and a pocket watch to start a business here? He says ‘Go. What’s not to like?’ and ‘I paid for University so you can work in a watch shop the rest of your life?’. You get the idea.” Felicity laughed a bit at the comments. Rachael continued, “He has always been there for me. He taught me. He made sure I always believed in myself. He’s been trying to cheer me up since I graduated. I don’t know what I would do without him.”
Felicity stayed quiet for a bit and drank a bit of her sherry. “When I started the service, I think must have cried my eyes out. Me mum and dad said I had to go – said I needed to start making some money. I din’t know anybody. I was in a strange house. The lead lady tried to be nice at first, but I had to carry on – do my job. I found other maids on the row and we went out on Sundays. I would write letters. Sometimes I would get one back. My lead lady made me focus on my letters and learning.”
“How old were you?” Rachael asked.
“I can’t imagine.”
“When I came down here, it wasn’t so bad that time. Maybe I was older. Maybe I knew what to expect. It was a big house so there was a lot of staff.”
“How did you manage? Starting out.”
“You make friends. The house I was in had books and they let me read. I learned new things. I worked. I suppose that is what I do. I didn’t have a choice so I made do. They had a large garden and they let me have a patch of my own. It was small, but it was mine.”
“Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for me. John – he doesn’t have much of a choice. His Da’ is a mean old bastard and proud of it. John has to escape somehow. Me – I’m not sure if I need to escape and it’s a lot to leave if I am not running from something. You and Michael will have each other. So it doesn’t matter much where you are if you’re together. “ Felicity grinned and blushed a little. Rachael said, “The last year he was like a girl – he wouldn’t stop talking about you. He is quite smitten. We might be a bit jealous. The others and I aren’t really great at friends if you follow. “
“The Barrow house, where Michael and I work, was real generous to Michael to let him go to University. Mr. Barrow saw some of his drawings and thinks he could be great. He gave Michael time to go to classes a couple of days a week. But, I don’t think Michael has had a weekend in 5 years. He had to go part time and the weekends were always his scheduled time. Mr. Barrow was helpful enough and Michael got to some head man work on weekends. During his summer off, we had a bit more time and would go to the park or the museums. He encourages me to write and he reads it,” Felicity said.
“He would share some of it during lunches. You have a good style. Very descriptive and a touch of humor – I enjoy that. You should let Millicent know you do that. She could find a use for you,” Rachael said.
“If you really think so…”
“I do” Rachael said definitively.
Felicity put her hand on Rachael’s arm, “Rachael. Thank you. I was worried that I would fit in with Michael’s University friends.”
Rachael said, “We’re not all that bad. Well John’s a bit pompous. I think Michael and Liam will buff that out of him a bit. He is a bit sensitive being from Stepney and having the biggest Irish lump of a father.”
The men and Millicent came down stairs about that moment. They were rubbing their arms. All came to the bar. Millicent went over to Liam and consulted with him for a moment. He laughed heartily and then shivered. She said something to him; he nodded and headed towards the stairs.
“Good night Miss Weiz” he said as he passed. “I feel like the carriage has run me over. If you head home, tell your father I said hello, “ and he continued on to the stairs. Then he turned and came back, “and that door bell is the best. And don’t let some west end prats tell you different. Don’t let your pa take it down. Ya make me proud. Millicent knows how to pick them.” He stumbled and worked his way up the stairs.
Felicity leaned over and asked, “Doorbell?”
John who was leaning on the bar next to Rachael chimed in, “It’s famous in Stepney. If you open the door to the Weiz Clock shop, every cuckoo goes off, a dancer spins, a music box goes off, an army marches to war and the London Clock chimes. And it is all driven by magic.”
Rachael protested, “Every clock does not go off…and the army just sort of sways…and that dancer just turns.”
Felicity stared her bug eyed, “But everything else?”
John answered, “More or less except for the magic part. You father must be quite proud. He resets the counter balance every morning.”
“To hear him, you’d think I created a circus in his shop,” Rachael scoffed.
“But he resets it every day nonetheless,” John persisted.
Rachael looked him, “Every morning. “ She finished her beer quickly, set it on the counter, and indicated she wanted another. She was getting into tipsy territory, but she wasn’t paying and she didn’t have homework waiting to be done or a lab in the morning.
Warming to the subject and getting another beer, “I wanted to see what was possible. It was my big experiment. Papa would supply the materials and Uncle Morris taught me how to machine. I would learn something new and spend the summer adding something new to the track.” She turned to Felicity, “It’s not all that complicated really. The door opens and releases a ball on a track which hits triggers for the clocks, music boxes, automatons and such. All of it is driven by springs and gravity – not magic.”
“And you made it?” Felicity asked.
John raised his glass and took a drink, took on a Cockney accent, “Aye she did.”
Felicity looked at Rachael and said, “You said he was sniffy.”
Rachael said into her beer, “Try asking him about Plato and Descartes.”
Felicity turned to John, “What did she just say?”
“Plato believed what was true was always just. Descartes challenged the idea that truth was universal. Plato assumed everything observed was true. Descartes said that observation could contradict knowledge. Which was true?”
Felicity looked at Rachael, “You’re sure he’s East Ender?”
Rachael looked John over, “Went to school with him. Talks funny, but he’s ok.”
John sighed a bit and looked a bit pained. Rachael turned around and leaned on the bar. “We’re at pub, John. Not everyone has studied the philosophy of knowledge and observation. Besides I am willing to bet a good drink that she is a Platonist and you know you’re a materialist at heart. Now drink up and give us the dirt on your shots. “
John looked embarrassed. “The professor and the secretary’s husband were fine. Michael paled a bit.”
Rachael eyed him mischievously, “and you?” John shifted a bit, “I fainted.”
Rachael guffawed, “I knew it. Largest bloke in the room.”
John protested, “I was the last one. Millicent said I was halfway out before she stuck that frigging great needle in me. Dropped right on the bed. Woke up with my feet up and a cold rag on my head and your fiancée,” nodding at Felicity,” grinning at me. Near fainted away again. At least the professor had the decency to look concerned.”
Felicity laughed, “But you’re all right now.”
“I’ve had a bit of water and some food. Rachael… if this reaches the lads back home…,” John sounded afraid.
Smirking, Rachael said, “You couldn’t walk the streets. Your secret is safe with me. But it will cost you later.”
John looked relieved. Two woman and a girl arrived at the door. The girl ran up and hugged Millicent, “Aunt Millicent, I’ve done half the puzzles in the first book.”
“Oh dear. I may have to talk to the author about making them harder.” Millicent greeted each of the women with a kiss on the cheek –it was European. But it seemed to linger a bit long. Well it wasn’t Rachael’s business. Millicent gathered them to the bar. The Professor, his wife and Miranda gathered their coats to leave. The Professor stopped by the bar where the four had gathered.
He looked at them, “This is looking to be a nasty business. You need to trust Millicent. Trust she knows your worth better than me. But I know you’ll make the University proud.“ He shook each of their hands. He even shook Felicity’s and whispered something in her ear to which she stifled a laugh.
Michael joined the group. The four young people talked of times since graduation. Michael and Felicity asked for details of the attack. After a bit, Millicent clapped her hands, “Hello? Hello? I want you to meet Abigail, Alice and Athena. Abigail has graciously agreed to tell you a bit about the agreement, the work and answer questions. Now let her get a drink and something to eat. Meet her over at the table by the dart boards. Remember to drink your water and eat. I am sending an order of fish and chips to the table.
The four moved to the table. Michael and Felicity sat together. John and Rachael sat on either side. Abigail brought a glass of wine and sat in the empty chair. She looked at the four faces staring at her. “Good lord did I ever look that young. Maybe I will start by asking you to introduce yourselves. Your name, your specialty in school or your favorite subject and where are you from. I may have more questions later. Let’s start with this fine young gentleman to my right.”
John seemed to puff up a for moment and began in his finest posh accent, “My name is John O’Malley. I studied mechanical engineering and was particularly interested in hydraulics. I’ve build some lifts. “
Abigail smiled and said, “I’m sure you have. Where are you from?”
John looked at the table and said, “Stepney, ma’am”
Abigail was quiet for a moment and then said, “Mr. O’Malley that should be a point of pride. I’ll tell you why. First no one handed you your University degree. You had to work harder, and were graded harder to reach this position. Second (and I will guess this is true for all), you didn’t get a job it was because of your Irish heritage or where you were born. It is England’s loss. America has figured that bit out and is already stronger than us. If you take this job, you will be valued for your skills, your whit, and your creativity. The people who see you may come to think that Stepney is a center of learning and wisdom because of your work.“
“Yes, Ma’am,” John muttered, not sounding convinced.
Abigail looked to the roof and said, “Lord, I thought it would be different when I came back. We English do so love our class distinctions. Please continue,” and nodded to Michael.
“I am Michael Richards. I am from Cardiff. I studied Civil Engineering along with architecture. “
“Do you draw or paint?” Abigail asked.
“Yes, a bit.” Michael said.
“Know this…Your imagination will be your limitation in what you can build,” Abigail said.
“I am gathering that. Millicent showed me something that shouldn’t exist,” Michael said scratching his head.
Abigail laughed and said, “You will find the rules change around Millicent. Ok, next, “ nodding Felicity.
“Oh I am Felicity. I am Michael’s fiancée,“ Felicity said quickly and looked to Rachael.
“Really? What did you study?,” Abigail asked.
Looking down a bit, “I am just a maid, Ma’am”
Abigail took a sip of her wine and considered Felicity and said, “Oh my, Millicent is really getting soft. Forgive me. That came out poorly. Please continue, Felicity no surname, where are you from?”
“Oh its Rand, Ma’am. I am from Manchester,” Felicity said a bit defensive now.
“So was I. We will have to compare notes later. I will come back to you. Next?” and she nodded to Rachael.
“I am Rachael Weiz, also of Stepney. I studied mechanical engineering. I work in a clock shop so I am most interested in automatons,” Rachael said smartly.
“A lass after my own heart. I studied as best I could in mechanical engineering and small mechanics. Has Millicent told you what the inoculations really are?,” Abigail asked.
“Yes, but it made no sense,” Rachael protested.
“No truer statement could be made. But it is real. You just don’t understand the physics and chemistry yet around the nanites. They are called “nanites” for nanoparticles meaning on a scale of nanometers. “
John did a small calculation in his head. “You meant on the scale of 10 -9 meters? That is impossible.”
Abigail looked at John and said, “You are very good with numbers, but lacking some data. You will all have to do a lot of adjusting and there is a fair amount of learning as well.” She considered for a moment, “Less than I had to I suppose but let’s not play toppers. Felicity, why are you being asked on this grand adventure?”
“I suppose because I am with Michael,” Felicity said.
“Dear child. If you continue to think that way, you will be homesick beyond compare and no way home. Let me rephrase – what do you like to do?”
“I suppose I like to write,” Felicity said a bit sheepishly.
Abigail said, “Excellent. The writing should start today so everything is recorded. It may be read and it may not but you have to believe you are something more than a mate of another or you will be lost.”
“Millicent said something of the sort.” Felicity replied.
“And Millicent is right nearly every time. It drove me mad. But she has been at this for longer than you or I can imagine. So Felicity, if you agree to this, you will write and you will help everyone. You are not JUST a maid. You are part of the team that will succeed on its combined efforts. Is that clear?” She looked first at Felicity who nodded and then at the rest of the table and they nodded as well. Abigail looked at the ceiling and asked herself, “What would I have wanted to hear if I had this conversation? I have another question – who would miss you Mr. O’Malley?”
John paused and then responded, “My da’ I suppose. For starters, He always figured I would take over the shop. I think his bluster is about being my father and being in charge. He thinks he has to act that way.”
Without hesitating Rachael said, “Papa. He has his friends and family and the Temple. But he is proud of me.”
“Felicity – and you can’t say Michael, “ Abigail said with a smile.
Felicity sounded a little annoyed, “I was going to say him. Truly miss me? I don’t know anyone. I haven’t heard from my sister in over a year. Mum and Dad died a few years ago – the influenza.”
“Michael? – Same rule for you” Abigail said in mock sternness.
Michael spread his hands and said, “I was in the service by 15. I had enough school to pass exams and I kept up my drawing. My parents died when I was young and I was raised by relative, but they had me off to the service as quick as possible. I worked at school and did my study at night. No one will miss me.”
Abigail continued looking at all of them, “I ask you because you will need to say goodbye to anyone and everyone. They will not see you again. When I came back, my younger sister had been dead for 10 years. A bit of my history – I was a bastard from a dalliance. I got schooling and got into University and studied mechanical engineering. My mother loved me, but she could barely make ends meet at the pub. My sister took over after I was gone. She did quite well I found out, but I didn’t see any of that.”
Rachael asked, “You had a sister and a mother. Why did you go?”
Abigail asked, “Has she showed you some of the automatons?”
Rachael nodded yes, but said “Amazing, but simply impossible.”
Abigail laughed, “You all will really need to revisit what is possible. They exist. Why did I go? For one, I would be able to see and work with stuff as that. Throw in my unsanctioned origins and I wasn’t going to get much work here. Finally, I had a bit of secret that would make life increasingly difficult or lonely as I got older. Millicent promised my secret would be of no consequence on this excursion. “
Michael asked, “What kind of secret?” Felicity elbowed him sharply. “Not our business.”
Abigail smiled and said, “But you know child, so is it a secret?”
“I’m guessing. You three look very happy together,” Felicity replied steadily.
“Oh we are. And that is all that matters to me,” Abigail said.
“What are you two talking about?” Michael demanded.
“Michael, you would miss your nose if it wasn’t on your face. Abigail and Alice are a pair, mates.” Rachael said sharply.
“We are lovers. Does that bother you Miss Weiz?” Abigail asked defiantly.
“As Felicity said, not my business. Can’t say that I’ve thought much about it,” Rachael said and shrugged.
Abigail smiled and took a drink of wine, “Millicent was right about everything. When I left, I was free to be who I was and love who I wanted. Save for Alice and Athena, I would return to that freedom in a heartbeat. It is a powerful freedom: no class distinctions; no biases about family or religion; not a care about who you love; a merit based society. Felicity, you would have a place. Your writing and journaling would be read by many. Could you say as much here? Rachael, you could wear that gold star as you were awarded prizes. John, you could read the literature and philosophy of the galaxy and find a crowd to debate it with. Where would you be taken seriously here?”
John just smiled and nodded.
“Has she told you where you’ll be going?” Abigail asked.
Rachael sounded annoyed, “Not as such.”
Abigail looked annoyed in Millicent’s direction who smiled back from the bar. Athena was on her lap and she was conversing with Alice. “Oh she owes me.” Putting her head in hand and shaking and then looking up, “the technology that she has shown you – does any of it seem possible based on what you know?”
Rachael answered, “Quite frankly – no.”
Abigail smiled, “I was skeptical as well and you know more than I did in your position. But your senses do not lie, it is all real. So if it doesn’t make sense here and now, what is the possible explanation?”
John answered, “That she isn’t from here or she isn’t from now.”
Abigail looked amused, “Not eliminating any possibilities – a proper logician. I can tell you that switching times is much harder than switching places. So the most likely solution is that she is not from here.”
“That tells us nothing,” Michael protested.
“I have not specified here Mr.Richards. What is your assumption when I said ‘here’? London, England, Europe? When I say she isn’t from here, I meant that she isn’t from here in a global sense.” She paused to let it sink in. One by one the faces processed what she said and expressions changed from confusion to delight or wonder or skeptism.
Michael was first, “Are you saying that what we saw wasn’t made on Earth?” sounding very skeptical. Abigail looked at Felicity and smiled, “He is such a smart boy.”
Michael burst out, “That’s ridiculous.”
Abigail pursed her lips and said, “And he was doing so well. Michael, are you saying the technology you saw can be produced by anyone, and I mean anyone at all, here on Earth.”
“Well no, yes, …I don’t know.” Michael Sputtered and was finally quiet.
Rachael spoke now, “What I saw couldn’t be. No machinery equipment could have made gears or springs so small. If it wasn’t springs, the energy source is so compact I couldn’t see it. It is not hard to imagine that it came from …somewhere else.”
Abigail smiled, “You can say it dear…’it came from another planet’. Go ahead try the sentence out.”
Rachael sounded annoyed at the condescension and at least a bit uncertain, “ It came from another planet?”
“Yes. The music box your saw was designed by me. The figures have tiny motors and are powered by electromagnetic reactors in their bellies. I am the person who made that. Michael, the wire that you saw – that material forged by a materials engineer who I believe owns a pub out on the outskirts of London now. He was a big machine guy but worked with lighter and lighter materials towards the end of the contract. Let me emphasize, I could not have done that when we left or even now with England’s finest technology. What we used to construct those wonders has not been invented here yet.”
Michael asked, “What do you mean ‘here’ and ‘yet’?”
Abigail said tartly, “I will get to that. I need you to accept that these technologies came from other planets.”
John replied, “In the absence of data, I can work with that hypothesis. I have heard nothing that contradicts that it came from the future.”
Abigail laughed, “Ever the logician. Still…you all should take notes from him.“ Abigail closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Here is what happened. Several of us went to another planet – several actually. If you join Millicent and I understand nothing has be agreed to formally yet, you will too. You will experience things that no other human could imagine.” She paused again. The expressions of delight and wonder intensified. The skeptical looks were giving way to confusion. She continued, “I have seen waterfalls the color of sapphires, a mile high. I stayed in trees that held small cities. I floated through canyons the width of Ireland, the length England or more, and deeper than Everest is high.” Her voice got soft and a bit lost, “sunsets of green and rose, mornings of blue and lavender, plants that sang, Oceans that glowed when you swam. “ she shook her head returning to the present. “You will see sights that the rest of humanity cannot dream of.”
Rachael asked, trying not to sound defensive, “If it was so glorious, why did you ever come back?”
Abigail looked intently at Rachael, “I didn’t have to. But I was tired and lonely and, to be honest, a bit homesick. After a year of French food, it is remarkable how good a meat pie tastes.” To herself she said quietly, “We are due for a trip to Paris and Lyon. Athena needs to practice her French and Alice must be missing proper food and wine.“ Abigail returned her focus back to the group, “Two others had the same feeling and we asked to come back at the end of our contract. “
Felicity asked, “What happened to the family you had left?”
“They had died. I found out I had nieces and nephews who had grandchildren of their own. Even if I had known them; I couldn’t have approached them. What would I say that would be believable? We were warned, but the reality is different. I won’t deny that it was hard. I had lost my younger sister to old age and I was still in my 30’s. I travelled for a couple of years finding where I should be. By the by, if you do come back you will be set for life. In traveling, I found love and decided I needed to come home. It might be sixty years later, but there is a comfort in hearing the voices and tasting the food one grew up with.”
Michael persisted, “So what did you mean ‘here’ and ‘yet’?”
Abigail leaned over and sotto whispered, “He’s very persistent. I hope you played hard to get.”
Felicity whispered back, “made him wait six months before I said yes to his proposal.”
Abigail patted Felicity’s hand and said, “Good girl.” The others laughed lightly. Michael blushed and protested, “Excuse me.”
“My apologies, Mr. Richards. It was meant in fun. “ Leaning back and taking a more tutorial tone, “In seeing so much and so many cultures, one learns that civilization always seem to follow the same path in technology and culture to a degree. If those civilizations and cultures are left to their own devices. Morphology drives the nature of the technology strongly and environment as well. The more challenging the environment, in general, the more quickly technology advances. “
John commented, “I think the idea is that successful ideas in crisis are quickly adopted. If everything is warm and happy, there is no need for change.”
Abigail nodded to John and said, “Just so. Millicent has been the only trader on Earth for some time and she is most diligent about non-interference. She thinks we are quite imaginative and doesn’t want to get in the way. So the technology you have seen from Millicent will like appear here if a) we don’t blow ourselves up , b) we don’t destroy our environment and c) someone doesn’t interfere. So everyone who comes back agrees not to interfere. There Mr. Richards is your ‘here and yet’. Coming back here, we agree not to interfere. We don’t exploit our knowledge and expertise – at least not too much. I run a coffee shop with the most spectacular barista machine. I know someone who has a pub and his liquor is simply ambrosia.”
John asked, “What happens if someone interferes?”
Abigail looked at him and said, “We have our own examples of cultural interference. The Americas are covered with Europeans, but it wasn’t always that way. There were civilizations that understood more about astronomy than the rest of Europe does today. The Indians had a vibrant culture of literature, music, and the visual arts and we’ve crushed that for a bit of tea and spice. The list is long. Truthfully, our world is full of competing cultures and that dynamic tension moves us forward. But, if our culture dominates, other are bound to lose. That has happened in other worlds. They become factories to support their neighbors. Planet resources are depleted leaving them barely habitable hulks. People are harvested like animals for slavery. Swimming in this sea of avarice are the finders. Not all finders are so careful as Millicent and the rest of the galaxy doesn’t really care if they aren’t.“
There was a silence for a bit. Abigail drank her wine and took a couple of chips. John asked, “What is it like to work for her?”
Abigail answered quickly, glad to change the subject. “I spent the first year relearning what I thought was true. I had to learn new power sources. That should be easier for you because electricity is becoming more common. For me, electricity was just starting to be studied and I was essentially starting from scratch. I had to learn new machining devices, new metallurgy, and even improvements on mechanical theory although less that you might suppose. After training, I had two things I worked on. I had a shop of my own and made curios part time. That music box was one of them. I also assisted on bigger projects about half the time. We made buildings, transportation, and so on for a small city. People pay admission to the city to experience it. They came to the shop and bought curious. Sean came up with a remarkable power source after some investigation. Stephan harnessed it and made a manufactory. I designed automatons to work in the manufactory. Soon we had “factory made authentics” for sale. All of that took time and effort, but it was interesting. I had a whole new set of rules to learn. And just like students at University, we tried to see what the limits were. We would meet with our patron and give tours and reports or answer questions. He would let us know what was important and where he wanted us to work.”
“That doesn’t sound all that bad,” commented Michael.
“Other than the isolation, it really wasn’t. Half of our original group decided to stay. That is pretty typical.”
About that point, Millicent wandered over and asked, “Has this been helpful?”
Rachael and John responded simultaneously, “Immensely” and “Very much”.
“It is getting late and I will discuss the contract tomorrow. Drink more water.” Millicent handed out some pills. “This will help with the aches in the morning. There are three rooms. I trust you adults to arrange yourselves. I will be staying elsewhere, but will be back here in the morning for breakfast.” She headed back over to Alice and Athena. Athena was yawning and leaning her head against Alice.
Felicity and Michael looked a little embarrassed. “Is she always so nonchalant in bedroom arrangements?” he asked.
Abigail laughed, “You have no idea. She finds Victorian society very confusing and frustrating on such matters. Now, my daughter is yawning and I expect Millicent will be joining Alice and myself tonight at our place. I run a café near the University if you want to talk more or you just want a good cup of coffee,” and she got up and headed over to Millicent’s and Alice’s table. She gave Alice a short kiss, pecked Athena on the cheek and asked Millicent something. After she got an answer, she gave Millicent a long hug.
John tried to make light of the awkward situation, “I think Rachael and I should be in separate rooms.”
Rachael touched Felicity’s hand and said, “You can share my room if you want. But it makes no difference in my mind if you don’t. If you aren’t married now, you soon will be. Besides, it sounds as if Millicent is quite modern in her life. “ She smiled and then she and John headed upstairs to the rooms.
John asked, “Think she’ll join you?”
“Probably not. Things are moving fast and she and Michael have been serious for a very long time.”
John and Rachael took the remaining unused rooms leaving the one where the inoculations had taken place. Rachael’s room was a bit smaller than her room at home. There was a bed, a table with a lamp and a small wardrobe. She hadn’t expected to spend the night so had no night garments. She took off her dress and hung it in the wardrobe. She wasn’t wearing a corset and decided to keep on the camisole and bloomers. She splashed a bit of water on her face and drank some water. She felt a shiver which could have been an ache or it could have been all the things she heard and saw. Tired, she laid down on the bed and fell to sleep quickly.
 Author’s note –In graduate school, I had a professor of geology who was 6’ 5″. He was a brilliant man who was nearing retirement. He told a story of when he was a graduate student at Caltech. In those days, everyone had to get an inoculation for Rocky Mountain Spotted fever before doing field work. The post docs or whoever would always manage to make him the front of the line of the undergraduates. As soon as he got the shot, he would faint straight away. He would wake up 20 minutes later just fine. But another class of Caltech undergraduate students would quake in fear of “The Shot”.