London, December 1911.   Posted by Raziel.Group: 0
Raziel
 GM, 1 post
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Thu 12 Nov 2020
at 21:52
London, December 1911
A place to start
Raziel
 GM, 7 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Sat 28 Nov 2020
at 20:42
A chance meeting
The gnawing pangs of hunger had become all too familiar. As winter settled in, gloomy and bitter cold, she frequently had to decide between a scoop of coal for the tiny fireplace or a real meal for the evening. Her rooms were down by the river, a fashionable enough address, with the rent paid through the end of the year,  but damp and drafty. The elegant clothes she had bought with her earnings in October were insufficient for December's icy chill.

It was quite by chance that she stopped for tea at the Lyons Cafe in Picadilly. A small luxury at the end of a dull day window shopping. As she waited to be seated, a voice called out to here.

"Flore! Mam’selle Flore Duval!"

This message was last edited by the GM at 20:43, Sat 28 Nov 2020.

Flore Duval
 player, 1 post
Sun 29 Nov 2020
at 20:05
A chance meeting
Ah, she thought. A sly smile stole over her lips. A chance for me to have someone else to pay for this meal I can't hardly afford. A chance, also, for other opportunities.

Florie scanned the establishment, looking about to identify the speaker. She did not want to appear too eager. Where had that damned voice come from?
Raziel
 GM, 9 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Mon 30 Nov 2020
at 13:14
A chance meeting

One of the key abilities in Flore Duval’s trade is an excellent memory for every detail, and she recognized Lady Jane Leatherby at once.

Lady Jane beamed that Flore remembered her and invited the young French woman to join her.

"I'm alone. Just up in town doing some Christmas shopping. Do sit down. If you have the time?"

Flore had helped Lady Jane unravel a puzzle the summer before and she had become a firm believer in the girl’s psychic talents.

The two women chatted and caught up. Lady Jane payed for a magnificent tea and afterwards she insisted that Flore go shopping with her. As they examined fine winter coats, she casually asked if Flore might be free for the holiday.

"We're having a few guests down to Leatherby Hall for Christmas," she added. "Mostly Brian's old cronies and school mates. I shall be the only lady in the house."

She glanced aside at Flore and asked shyly.

"It would be so jolly if you could come too. Save me from a holiday full of men. Do say you'll come," she pleaded.

This message was last edited by the GM at 13:29, Mon 30 Nov 2020.

Flore Duval
 player, 2 posts
Mon 30 Nov 2020
at 20:10
A chance meeting
"Y-yes," Florie said, feigning reluctance. "I will suffer the—" She pretended to remember her English. Or, rather, she half-pretended. She would, if not playing this part, had put it more plainly. "—sorry the male attention."

They had stopped in the middle of a snowy street. An impulse struck Florie and she clasped Lady Jane's hand.

"I think that I would appreciate this."

A stay in a fine mansion, eating fine food, with the chance to solidify this pleasant and profitable relationship. She did not have to make pretense of gratitude at all.
Raziel
 GM, 10 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Tue 1 Dec 2020
at 23:19
A chance meeting
"Wonderful!" cries Lady Jane in a burst of most unladylike enthusiasm.

"You will of course allow me to pay for the journey. I realize that you will need some time to put your affairs in order. You can't just drop everything to please me, now can you?" She laughs merrily.

"Perhaps if you can come down on December 20th it would be ideal. We will be having a Yuletide celebration that night with a big bonfire and a celebration of the Solstice. Here's five pounds to cover the fare. And another ten for your sundries. No, do not hesitate to take it. You are doing me the most awfully big favor

"I happen to know from experience that the Penzance Express leaves Paddington Station at 8:35 in the morning, stopping at Reading, Newbury and Westbury. Change at Westbury for the local line to Salisbury and I will bring the motor car meet you at Warminster.

"I'm so glad we ran into one another, Mam'selle. It will be so jolly to spend the holiday with you. And I'm sure Brian will be thrilled if you will conduct a séance or two for us. Nothing too elaborate, of course, but there are legends of a Gray Lady at the Hall. Perhaps you can summon her up for us, what?
"

OOC: For rough approximations of spending power, one pound sterling in 1911 is worth about $100 today -- she gave her $1,500. You may want to buy some clothes.
Florie Punt
 player, 8 posts
Wed 2 Dec 2020
at 02:27
A chance meeting
The Mam’selle did not know what to say at first. She did not have to feign surprised. And certainly she did not to feign apprehension.

Yes, she had pretended to read minds. Yes, to tell fortunes. A full-on séance might require more skill than this young French lady could manage… at least on her own. She might even have considered enlisting the help of that old lecher LaBlanche, if he would give it… if she could convince that fraud, but first find him. She had no way to find him.

“Yes…” She answered, thinking as she spoke. “I can do this. If you know that I will try to make this Gray Lady go away. No good to have her around.”

Florie blushed at receiving the money. She felt her blood vessels erupt into warmth on the frosty street. Then they parted. She knew she had started to look like a tramp. Perhaps, she thought, I blushed for that reason.

Immediately she bought she coal for the fire and, in the days that followed, purchased a good fox fur from a pawn shop (it looked new) and a dress of a silvery purple color. Yes, that would do. The old clothes she sold. Waste not.., as her mother had often told her. (Damn that woman!)

On December 19, Florie purchased a money order with a florin coin and sent it off with a Christmas postcard to the very woman she hated. Of course she did not sign it. The night she spent drinking, laughing and cursing as herself. The next morning, as planned she left.

OOC:

Spoiler text: (Highlight or hover over the text to view)
we doin' past tense or present tense?

This message was last edited by the player at 20:01, Thu 03 Dec 2020.

Raziel
 GM, 12 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Thu 3 Dec 2020
at 13:56
A chance meeting
Being careful with her sudden windfall, Florie was able to assemble a very presentable wardrobe for a week in the country. She even paid her rent for another few months and bought enough coal to finally warm the tiny flat and drive out the clammy fog. As she pondered the difficulty of conducting a suitably authentic séance at Leatherby Hall, she remembered some of the Professor's old tricks and visited a shop in the Portobello Road that specialized in selling gear for stage magicians. It cost her a full three pounds, but she purchased a handful of items that would allow her to put on a reasonable show: A device that strapped to her thigh about where her garter fit to make knocking sounds when she flexed her muscle, a rubber balloon that would fit at the small of her back and emit a very eerie groaning noise when squeezed hard but was only good for about three or four exhalations before needing to be blown up again and finally a small spring loaded container that would shoot a puff of luminous powder into the air when triggered by a wire.

She practiced with each item diligently every night until she was happy that she could carry off a show -- as long as nobody looked too hard at what she was doing. As she also recalled some of her old mentor's patter, the endless stream of words designed to distract and lull the audience, she practiced various phrases, including excuses such as "The spirit world is very agitated tonight. Someone in the room is thinking violent thoughts. They're afraid to manifest." That was always good. Most people think violent thoughts every once in a while and even if they weren't at the moment, they would easily assume that someone else was.

And, in the end, being a confidence artist was about being as bold as brass and telling whopping lies with a straight face -- something she had discovered she was really quite good at. It didn't hurt that she was very pretty and with a stroke of her makeup brushes she could be either an ethereal waif or a lusty vamp.

Finally the day for her departure arrived. Following Lady Jane's instructions she took a hansome cab to Paddington Station early in the morning and purchased her ticket, First Class no less! A porter loaded her luggage into the carriage and she took her seat next to the window only a few minutes before they started. The bustle of the station with the slamming of carriage doors and the yelling of porters and news boys faded quickly away as the train lurched backwards and then forward, picking up speed slowly but surely. Outside the window of her first class carriage, Evelyn watched the bricked in yards of row houses that backed onto the tracks slip past, each one a fleeting glimpse into another life, quickly swallowed up by the next until they became almost a blur of motion.

The rocking of the train increased as it sped eastward and within moments the confined view of tradesman's yards opened up to show the streets and shops of the outer districts and almost without notice they passed into countryside. The trees looked gaunt and leafless but the grass and brush was still green.

Her carriage door opened and a well dressed man in his mid thirties looked inside at the empty seats around her.

Do you mind if I join you?” he asked. His accent and demeanor all spoke of good breeding and money. The leather grip he carried was expensive, as were his clothes. But he did have a jaunty look to his eye and his skin was too tanned for him to be a permanent resident of England.



Flore Duval
 player, 3 posts
Thu 3 Dec 2020
at 23:27
A chance meeting
Florie took little persuasion to accept. This man intrigued her. It did not put her off that he had asked her so directly. Within her social class, men acted like that. Men, not "gentlemen".

She rearranged her stole before setting eyes on him. She allowed a cold glint to enter her eyes, as a gentle warming.

"Yes, sir." She nodded towards the couch in front of her. "Do sit down. You are foreign? I am, also."

OOC:

Spoiler text: (Highlight or hover over the text to view)
You called my PC "Evelyn" in the third paragraph.

Raziel
 GM, 13 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Fri 4 Dec 2020
at 01:26
A chance meeting
OOC: My apologies for that, calling you by the wrong name. Not very gentlemanly at all.
Florie Punt
 player, 10 posts
Fri 4 Dec 2020
at 02:08
A chance meeting
OOC: indeed, sir! excellent description of the apparatus used in fake séances! I forgot to say that!

This message was last edited by the player at 02:13, Fri 04 Dec 2020.

Raziel
 GM, 14 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Fri 4 Dec 2020
at 21:50
A chance meeting

He smiled at her, a warm smile with strong white teeth, and sat down gracefully across from her in the spot she had indicated.

"Actually I am English, born and bred in the wilds of Surrey," he said, his accent and tone perfect Oxford University, "but I have spent many years of my life travelling abroad. How very astute of you. I detect from your accent that you are French, Mam'selle.

"But forgive me, how rude. I have not introduced myself. I am Julian Prospero. I'm travelling to visit an old classmate of mine in the country for the Christmas holiday. Lord Leatherby. How far you going today?
"

The coincidence of them both going to the same house to visit two different people seems rather odd, but as she thinks about it, she realizes that both her hostess, Lady Jane, and Mr. Prospero's host, Lord Brian, probably invited their guests to arrive at the same time, reducing the number of trips in the motor car to the train station. Which makes it merely good luck that they have run into one another on the train.

As the train thunders on through the countryside he tells her that he is a novelist, an old University colleague of Lord Brian's.

"Normally I would have sailed south weeks ago," he says looking out of the window at the chilly landscape. "But my publisher needed many changes to my final manuscript, and I thought I would be stuck in London for the holiday. Luckily Lord Brian stayed at the club a few days ago and we ran into one another. He was good enough to invite me down for the celebrations.

"Says he has a big surprise that I might be interested in."

Florie Punt
 player, 11 posts
Sat 5 Dec 2020
at 02:07
A chance meeting
“Yes…”, she answers , guardedly. She has her hands placed demurely in her lap. She wondered if this “surprise” might have anything to do with this “Grey Lady”. More than that, though, she wondered, could she trust him? Could she trust this man? Florie wondered if she might spring a surprise of her own… with this newly met gentleman as her confederate…

OOC:

Spoiler text: (Highlight or hover over the text to view)
okay, I'll start posting in present tense. I would like to roll Perception (or the like) to see if I think I should trust him. would I use percentile die or something else?

Raziel
 GM, 16 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Mon 7 Dec 2020
at 21:19
A chance meeting
Prospero settles in the seat across from Florie and watches the countryside roll past.

"I suspect we'll have snow by the end of the day," he says, pointing at thick clouds rolling in from the west. "That will be splendid, won't it? Like a Christmas straight out of Mr. Dickens' stories."

He shows his ticket to the conductor and listens as the man tells Florie that she will have to change at Westbury and catch the local train to Warminster.

"Same for you, sir," he adds when he clips Prospero's ticket.

"It seems we have the same destination, Mam'selle," says Prospero as they are left alone again. "Are you also travelling to Leatherby Hall? A friend of Lady Jane's perhaps?"
Flore Duval
 player, 4 posts
Tue 8 Dec 2020
at 02:11
A chance meeting
The Man'selle smiles shyly, slyly. She does not meet the gentleman's gaze. A plan enfolds in her mind, though one she won't put into mind, if at all, until the two of them have arrived at Leatherby Hall.

"Yes. I do know the Lady Jane. That is true."

Her gaze has shifted to meet Prospero's.

"It must be fate. I do not believe in... how you say... co-in-cid-ence."
Raziel
 GM, 17 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Wed 9 Dec 2020
at 21:19
A chance meeting
"What fun!" he cries with genuine delight on his face. "Then we shall celebrate the holiday together and I shall get to know you much better. I do so look forward to that."

The train rolls on as they chat. He tells her that he is a novelist and that he would normally have sailed somewhere warmer for the winter but was delayed in London by a demanding editor to make the final changes to his most recent manuscript.

"Brian Leatherby discovered me holed up in our club," he grins and shrugs at the awfulness of the prospect of living in a fusty gentleman's club over Christmas. "We were up at Oxford together. He was decent enough to invite me down for the holiday."

When they change trains onto the local line he helps her with her luggage -- really instructs a porter to carry them, and sits with her again for the last leg of their journey. As the locomotive slows for their final stop, he offers her his hand to negotiate the descent.
Florie Punt
 player, 15 posts
Sat 12 Dec 2020
at 23:04
A chance meeting
Florie affords Mr. Prospero a sidelong glance, and with a half-smile, acquiesces. She clasps his hand. She can scarcely see the scene around them, for fog, as they stop out onto the station. White vapor. The steam of the engine, drifting into the sky. The fog of their breath. The fog obscuring the distance. Whiteish-gray cloud covers every part of the sky, giving the scene a twilight quality, even in mid-day.

OOC:

Spoiler text: (Highlight or hover over the text to view)
FYI you repeated a little narration given earlier in the last posts. (See middle paragraphs.)

This message was last edited by the player at 23:07, Sat 12 Dec 2020.

Raziel
 GM, 19 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Tue 15 Dec 2020
at 19:12
Arrival
Even though it is a brief contact as he helps her down from the carriage, the moment Florie touches Prospero’s hand she gets a sudden image of him standing in a mountainous setting, high up, almost among the clouds, with a dark, brooding pyramid behind him. Something extremely malevolent was watching him from within the pyramid.

She shudders and shakes off the sensation, almost of deja vu, and the image fades quickly. The man himself seems not to have noticed anything.

Here’s our motor car!” he announces, waving at a uniformed chauffeur standing beside the machine. Lady Jane is sitting in the back seat and rose to greet them both.

Mam'selle Duval! Julian! So good to see you both. I wondered if you might run into one another on the train, and it seems you did. Wonderful. Come along, get inside. It’s getting colder and Mrs. Bates, she’s the cook, tells me we’ll have snow tonight. I do hope so. I have a whole Yule Log party planned with a bonfire and mulled wine.

Bunter,” she waves at the chauffeur, "get their bags will you.

As the luggage is settled in the rack, Prospero joins the ladies in the cabin and greets Jane as an old friend.

"Brian had mentioned other guests when we were in London, Jane," he said, turning to their hostess. "Who else has he invited?"

The car lurches into motion and steers through picturesque country roads as Lady Jane ticks off their names on her fingers.

"Major McGregor came last week, unexpectedly but very welcomed, I gather. I've never even heard of him before and he seems a bit rough and ready for Brian's usual set. But he brought some crates with him that have been stowed away in the chapel, and Brian is beside himself with glee at whatever is in them. He won't tell me. Says we have to wait from Professor Thorne. We're expecting him in his own motor later today. You may have known him, Julian. He was Brian's Archaeology professor at Oxford."

"Yes, and mine," Prospero nods. "Not much of a social bird, though. I'm surprised Brian managed to pry him away from his cabinet of curiosities at the University."

"There's a solicitor, as well. Someone I've never heard of either who is coming tomorrow," adds Lady Jane. "And of course a few of the locals will be spending time with us, the village doctor and the vicar. Always part of the ceremonies, don't you know.

"Now that you and Mam'selle Duval are here, I'm hoping we can make a jolly time of it.
"
Flore Duval
 player, 5 posts
Tue 22 Dec 2020
at 02:10
Arrival
Florie wrinkles her brow, only half-feigning her irritation. Something had happened, something inexplicable, earlier. She does not understand. It comes out as irritation. If only she could understand...

"Lady Jane... This is not a 'jolly time of it'. It is serious."

She looks at her.

"It is real."

Now she fixes her gaze on Prospero's. She half-thinks he caused whatever she felt.

"Isn't it?"
Raziel
 GM, 21 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Tue 22 Dec 2020
at 20:46
Arrival
Lady Jane and Prospero give her a funny look when she pleads for understanding of the odd sensation she has just experienced, then in the way of English gentry dismissing anyone foreign as inscrutable, they move on with their social chit chat as if nothing had been said. Florie quickly realizes that they have no sense of the looming danger that hovers over them, and she is rather shocked herself to think that her psychic abilities may be real rather than phony. She passes the car ride in quiet contemplation, wondering if she has just tapped into a real money maker or an ability, or if she is riding towards death and madness.

Lady Jane laughs and snuggles up against Prospero in the motor car cabin.

"Yes!" she cries, "I can tell that this is going to be a very happy Christmas with the two of you here.

"Brian and his professor and his solicitor can be as fusty as they like, but we three shall have fun.
"

Lady Jane seems determined to include Florie in her little in-crowd, and as she watches the interaction between the two, the so-called psychic begins to wonder if there might be something more than friendship between them.

The car chugs along the winding country roads through gently falling snow.

"I have planned a Yule Tide celebration for this evening," Lady Jane tells them. "It is the twenty-first of December, the Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year and in the old pagan days the country folk would have bonfires and sing songs to bring back the sun. Well, we shall do the same tonight. Hot buttered rum, Christmas carols and a big fire in the field behind the Hall. And afterwards we shall have a game -- a quest for the Yule log. Two teams, each to find the best log they can in the woods and bring it back to the Hall.

"Brian will judge the winner. We will burn one in the big fireplace in the Hall and the other will be given to the Alms House down the road for their holiday celebrations.

"Will you two be on the same team -- or opposing teams?
" she asks with a twinkle in her eyes just as the car rounds the final turn in the road and the tiny village of Lower Morely is laid out before them.