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Lady Alexia Laplace was thoroughly glad to be out of her warehouse home by the river. Such had been the industriousness of the moon-a-muck, there had been more and more flowers cluttering up the building and the sting of alum made quite an unpleasant mix with some of the fruitier flowers Carina had been rescuing from disused gardens and the compost heaps of graveyards for the musical creature to revive with its song.

She needed rest, and relaxation, and clear air. She might find the first two where was going, or maybe not, but the third would be in perilously short supply once she arrived at her destination.

Off the underground in Ealing, she hailed a Hansom Cab, and found her way to Portabello, where up a side street not worthy of the name, and down a set of stairs behind iron railings, she came to a red door that had replaced the previous green one after the wife of a Lord had been found morally wanting.

Morals had no interest for the stern-ish and direct Lady Alexia. Behaving well was one thing. Making a big fuss of it was another.

She knocked at the door, three-two-three short-long-short.

The door was opened, and she passed a weighty coin to a tall blonde woman standing by a small table within. No words were spoken

Smoke issued forth from down the corridor, beckoning her in with ashen curling fingers. Within, she found her customary table for one decorated with a fern, took a silver conveyed gin that she hadn’t had to ask for, nodded polite greeting at the seven or eight other ladies sat in similar arrangement.

A woman of the South Seas, perhaps, took up a violin, and played a curious tune, half Vivaldi, half sea shanty from the bawdiest of harbour brothels. A gentleman, looking rather like a cricketer in grey and maroon flanneling, took the stage and at once began to dance. His cream shirt of finest linen he unbuttoned at the top, before offering the fastenings to a coppery haired ne’er do well woman with the look of socialism about her.

She undid two more buttons, and snapped a note, inked and white, into his black waistband. More licenstiousness on her part was to be denied. He caught the eye of Alexia, and advanced towards her, face gleaming by the oil lamps. Her hand raised towards his chest.

Her heart began to pound.

Copyright Mulberry Lightning 13.02.15

The Lady Alexia Laplace deserves more stories, I feel. 12 minutes, one gret afternoon