“Are you ready for this?” Gideon asked Eudora before knocking on the door of the mansion hosting the demonstration by “Noted Scientist Basil Higginsworth”. He looked at her, on his arm, ready to act the part of a newly-wed besotted enough with her husband to endure the “boredom” of mens’ business. Her gown was of Nile-green silk, trimmed in beadwork and embroidered in white, with puffed sleeves about her shoulders. Her hair had been set up in curls, accented by a string of pearls loaned by Mrs. Valentine, and opera-length white suede gloves completed the outfit.
Gideon himself was dressed in a tasteful and well-tailored dinner coat, a white shirt with gold buttons and a three inch collar, a single-breasted waistcoat, full, wide trousers, and a silk hat. We make quite the dashing pair, he thought.
Eudora took a deep breath. “Why of course I am, darling! I can’t possibly think of a more pleasant way to pass the evening than at your side.” She smiled up at him. “Are you ready for your business, Elric dear?” she asked, using the name of his cover identity.
“Why yes, Mary, I do believe I am. Shall we go in, Mrs. Wilson?” he responded in kind.
“Please let’s do,” Eudora said cheerfully.
Gideon knocked on the door, and shortly it was opened by a footman. “Good evening, sir, madam, please come in,” he said, stepping aside to allow them to enter. “Who may I announce to Mr. Pardekopper?
“Mr. and Mrs. Elric Wilson,” Gideon told him.
“Very good, sir. Please may I hang your hat for you?”
“Yes, thank you,” Gideon said, passing the silk hat to the footman.
Eudora was already looking about the foyer for hints as to its owner’s dealings. She knew from their preparations for this mission that his name was Oliver Pardekopper. He was the wealthy owner of two silver mines near Treddon, a few hours’ train ride southwest of Carelon, where her maternal grandparents made their home. Accordingly, there was quite the showing of his route to wealth in the foyer, always calculated to impress visitors. The room was lit by a silver chandelier, accented by silver wall lamps, a black and silver colored carpet, and on the table a silver calling card holder in front of a silver vase of flowers.
Gideon took Eudora’s hand and caught her eye, then tilted his gaze upward, in the direction of the second floor. Eudora paused and listened. Ever so faintly, she could hear a conversation.
“Oh my, I do believe I need to find the powder room straightaway,” Eudora said. “Won’t you please make my excuses to Mr. Pardekopper for being so rude?”
“I’m sure it will be no trouble, my dear. Catch up to me when you can.” Their expressions were spot-on, and Eudora made her way upstairs.
She went down the second-floor hallway as quietly as she could until she found herself near a closed door from which the conversation was emerging, and the voices certainly did not sound as if they were entertaining pleasantries. Eudora stepped closer and listened.
“I’m telling you,” one man said emphatically, “this is what we need.”
“And suppose it doesn’t work?” another man replied, with a lower voice.
“It doesn’t matter whether it works or not,” said the first, “so long as it’s believable. That’s all it will take to motivate them.”
“Suppose you’re right. Suppose this grows our numbers. What then?”
“Numbers only add to our strength. They will have to take notice.”
“Wait—did you hear that?” the lower-voiced man said.
“Hear what?” the first speaker asked.
“I think I heard someone in the hall,” the lower-voiced man said, and Eudora jumped back as she heard a hand on the doorknob.