Titanic Panic update (June 11, 2019)
Another chapter is finished, done during downtime at Camp. Here’s a sample, taken from earlier in the book. It focuses on a very different plotline than what the previous Titanic Panic snippet offered. That was about the misadventures of Dr. Namet’s flustered, gravedigging underling.
This is about a trio of socialites planning a wedding. This is just a segment taken from chapter 6, entitled “Hobo and Ham”…
“Well?” Collie asked, her eyes widening like a child on Christmas morning. “Did you speak to His Majesty?”
“What is he like you’re fourth cousin or something.” Lily asked, her eyes remaining on the book she was reading.
“Uh…” Arthur ignored the second question and turned to Collie to answer the first: “Rotten news.” he said, frowning pitifully. “I spoke to the palace and they’re all booked up.”
Collie scoffed. “How can that be? We haven’t even set a date yet.”
Arthur was quick: “Too right, but I told them that we were getting wed sometime this year, sometime before Christmas, and they said that palace will have no room for such a spectacle as our wedding.” He smiled the same smile he flashed to the Postmaster and touched Lily’s hand. She did not flinch or in any way acknowledge the gesture.
“Well. We’ll have to postpone, I guess. Sometime early ’13. Perhaps February. Is it lovely here in February?
“Oh, it’s…uh…lovely.” he mumbled, before steadying his breath to take his shot. “Listen, I say we forget the palace for a moment. I have a surprise for you both.”
“Oh how mysterious!” Collie said, shaking Lily’s arm. She frowned at her niece’s disinterest. “Put the book away darling, we’re being taken on an adventure. What are you reading, anyway?”
After a long pause, Lily responded with a simple: “Frankenstein.”
“Well it sounds too German for my tastes.” Collie said. “Put it away and look out the window. 'Books are bad for the hearing' my father always said.
Fifteen minutes of mostly-awkward silence followed. Arthur was driving them away from the heart of the city. Lily was in the seat next to him, her glossed-over eyes staring at the dull grey sky above. The car slowed, turned toward a long nondescript building and came to a halt in front of the structure.
“What is it?” Collie said, unable to hide her disappointment.
“Right now, nothing. But in a year, maybe less, it could be the first manufacturing plant for Marble’s Peanut Butter in all of the Empire.”
With an excited gasp, Collie leapt out of the backseat. She put her hands on her hips and stared admiringly at the ugly dilapidated building. “Well it’s just positively enchanting!” she said as she stepped toward a window.
“It’s been sitting vacant for a few years but I’m confident with my connections I can have it secured for use by next Spring.”
“Yes indeed!” Collie replied. “Lily come see. Isn’t it divine!” Lily, as usual, did not reply. Collie turned to scold her but found the car vacant. “Where’s she run off to now?”
“Oh a dog!” Arthur said, looking past Collie. She spun around and found Lily, hunched over petting a shaggy grey dog, matted with dirt, tail wagging in delight.
“Goodness girl, have you lost your senses? That thing is covered in disease!”
“I suspect his owner is seated just there.” Arthur said, pointing with his umbrella to an indigent man nestled against the wooden fence that stretched along the side of the building. He was watching them silently, knowing better than to make his presence known to the obviously-aristocratic.
“What’s your dog’s name?” Lily asked innocently. The sight of her conversing with a homeless man sent Collie into a stuttering fit. Lily ignored her, though she could not suppress the slight smile that crossed over her face. She could hear Collie sputtering behind her and it made the day worth getting out of bed for.
“Do you live here?” Lily asked. It was a stupid question, she knew as soon as the words escaped her lips, but that’s small talk for you.
“I suppose.” the man said. His voice was gentle, as was his demeanor. He held out a hand and for half a second Lily thought he was asking to shake hers, but then the dog left her side and trotted back to its companion, nestling its head in his armpit. “Moved from London about five years ago. Lost my employment three years ago. This is as good a place as any to rest. The door’s open and it’s good for when it rains.”
“Maybe you can get a job here. My family is thinking about buying this place and converting it into a factory.”
“Dunno about all that.”
“Oh? You don’t think you could work in a peanut butter factory?”
“Don’t think it’ll be here. The building. Some folks were here a few weeks ago, official types, talking about tearing the whole place down.”
“I see…” Lily said, glancing to Arthur. He and Collie were inside the building; he looked to be giving her a tour from the look of it.
“They your family?”
“In a manner of speaking…and no.” Lily answered.
“Lily come see!” Collie shouted, standing at the doorway. Arthur stepped toward her, intending to escort her inside but stopped as the hobo raised a finger toward him.
“Hey don’t I know you?”
“Doubtful sir.” Arthur said, not even looking at him. “Come inside darling, your imagination can run wild!”
“We should go to that market we passed and buy him a ham.” she said suddenly.
“Who? The hobo?”
“Don’t call him that.”
“Very well, what’s his name?”
“Oh I don’t know.” Lily blurted. “What’s your name, sir?”
“Don’t be stupid, that’s m—” Arthur began but cut himself off and instantly turned red in the face. Lily started to spin around to talk more but felt Arthur’s hand guiding her inside.
He turned her loose in order to dramatically spread his arms: “Here you can build a whole second floor, overlooking the—Lily?”
She was gone.
The second he released her she spun around and hopped in the car. There was a grinding sound and a pop, and the vehicle was rolling slowly forward in the lot in front of the building.
“Lily!” Collie shouted, rushing outside after her. Arthur moved toward them too but kept one eye on the beggar also.
“Wait there. I’ll be back with a ham.”
“I should come with you.” Arthur said, snapping his attention away from the indigent man and marching toward them.
“No. Just wait and make sure he doesn’t leave.”
“Leave?! Where would he go? He’s homeless!”
“He’s a transient, Arthur, that’s what they do.” Without a second word she (and Collie who climbed inside just in time) sped off the road back toward the city.
“Arnold.” the man said, looking at Arthur dead in the eyes.
“Weren’t you…” his words faded as he tried to recollect the memory. Arthur’s eyes began scanning the whole area around them. He was looking for something, anything. “I’m not the best with names but there are some that stick with me. I think—”
“Look just shut up and be happy you have a ham coming.” Arthur snapped, his tone short and impatient.
“I’m sorry, I just thought—”
“You thought wrong. You don’t know me. My name is Arthur Wales. I’m a royal man, you hear me.” He jabbed a finger into his own chest as he spoke, his voice rising with every word: “A royal man. Not some filthy commoner.”
The man was taken aback, his dog was on all fours now, standing defensively next to his companion. “I do apologize. I mistook you.” He began to rise, reaching out a hand to shake.
Arthur waved him off, still looking left and right, still trying to find something. “Forget it.” he said.
A thick silence fell between them for a moment, broken only by the man suddenly snapping his fingers and shouting “Banquo!”
Arthur’s face went flush.