The door opened in the hallway of the Pardekopper mansion, second floor, and Eudora had already stepped past it, looking about her from one doorway to another.
“Can I help you, miss?” a less-than-helpful seeming fellow asked gruffly from the now-opened portal.
“Oh, begging your pardon, sir, but I’ve become quite turned around. Do you know where I might find the powder room?”
“Two doors down, on the left,” he said, seeming not quite satisfied.
“Thank you ever so much, mister…?” Eudora asked.
“Ives,” he said, returning to the room and shutting the door behind him.
Rather ungentlemanly for a gentleman, Eudora thought, stopping in the powder room to lend credence to her tale. And what do you want at this demonstration, Mr. Ives? She reviewed the snippets of their conversation in her mind. They want to motivate a group, and grow their numbers—but to what end?
She returned downstairs and in short order was reunited with her “husband” for this mission, Gideon, or, as he was introducing himself, Elric Wilson. He turned when she entered the foyer, where he had just been speaking with a man about the age of Eudora’s father when he passed, with small, soft features, capped by a strawberry-blonde comb-over and ample mutton chops. The silver theme of the house was continued in his clothing, including buttons, cufflinks, shoe buckles, and silver thread embroidery elaborating across his waistcoat.
“Ah, there she is now. Come my dear, meet our esteemed host,” Gideon said.
“Elric, now, don’t give her an inflated notion of my standing,” the man said, pinking at the cheeks.
“Nonsense,” Gideon continued. “Mary, may I present Oliver Pardekopper, the Silver Man of Aldershire!”
Oliver blushed further as Eudora extended her hand. “What a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Pardekopper.”
“The pleasure is all mine, Mrs. Wilson,” he said, taking her hand and kissing it respectfully.
“Elric did say you two would be doing such exciting things tonight,” Eudora continued, beaming at him while ruefully noticing that her cheeks were already sore from her assumed personality.
“Mary dear, there’s no need to flatter the man. Don’t pretend you’re interested in men’s business; I’m sure it’s frightfully boring for you,” Gideon interjected.
“Oh, I’m sure a bit of flattery couldn’t hurt,” Oliver said with a smile, and they all had a good chuckle.
“So, where do we find the main proceedings? I can’t wait for the presentation to begin,” Gideon said.
“Right this way, right this way. Mr. Higginsworth is giving his presentation in the parlour, but he has not quite readied himself yet. All the better; it gives us more time to sample the hors d’oeuvres!” Oliver said, laughing at his own joke while Gideon and Eudora followed suit.
They soon found themselves in a revival-style parlour that took its inspiration from the ancient ocean-faring cultures of Nomark, home of Eudora’s father from before her parents were married. The abundance of silver continued, sculpted into a fish-shaped clock on the mantle, with more patterning in the carpets and even the wallpaper. The curtains and cushions on the chairs were an ocean blue accented in silver foam, and the ceiling had been spectacularly painted to depict the night sky. Eudora marveled at this, despite having grown up surrounded by wealth.
“Mr. Pardekopper, what a brilliant mural,” Eudora said with genuine admiration.
“Do you like it? It was painted by Manuel Wilcox.”
“The Manuel Wilcox?” Eudora said, recognizing the name of a prominent artist from Miakensburg. “I didn’t realize he did private commissions.”
“The very same. Ah, but here, let me introduce you to your fellow guests!”
Eudora caught Gideon’s eye and they shared a look. Time to meet our enemies, she thought.