The stench of Babbage hit her nostrils rather offensively and Mrs. Rossini reached for her lavender-scented handkerchief, drawing it quickly to her nose.
The city hadn’t yet revealed itself through the mist? fog? ahhhh, smoke of the place. Murky. Slowly, shapes began to metamorphose through the shadows with other shades of gray, brown and murk. Metal and stone and stone and metal, twisted and shaped, built up, built across and cobbled together through winding roads. From above, Leia caught a faint glimmer of what looked like gold as a persistent ray of light tried pushing through the dense and heavy air.
She stifled a small cough as the smell grated slightly at the back of her throat. One of the attentive hostesses, noticing her discomfort, stepped forward with an open tin of rose lozenges, “ ‘ave one of these ma’am, it will help sooth that tickle in yer throat”. Leia smiled politely and extended her hand into the tin, taking a lozenge and placing it delicately in her mouth.
She gazed out towards Babbage with an indifferent glance. It was not Paris, nor Rome, nor the Orient, but it would do for now.
Before he left several months ago, Edward had insisted she go by air, though she would have preferred going by sea, always energized by the crisp salty air. “Darling”, he said, placing a hand on her forearm and squeezing it reassuringly, “I’d be more comfortable if you went by air, particularly since I’m not with you. Besides, it’s spectacular. Remember our last trip by dirigible?” He was right, of course and there was no use arguing. Gliding above land and sea was astounding…the whooshing sound of air and a constant whir as the fans and various mechanisms kept the contraption afloat.
As the descent began, she gazed at the hazy maze of buildings before her. She would call this place home until her husband returned from his latest flight of fancy, a quest after some sea creature. She would make the best of it, find lodgings, settle in, make an acquaintance or two until he arrived. Surely this adventure-seeking would slow down, they needed to establish themselves….but not here in this place she quickly surmised. This would just be temporary.
* * * * *
The Hotel Excelsior had been recommended by an acquaintance of Edward’s.
Upon meeting the proprietor and negotiating a room on the third floor, Leia set on making this small space her own and unpacking her small trunk. She quickly checked the hidden compartment within the trunk’s lid. Everything there was in order.
She sniffed the air. The malodorous smell that greeted her in the sky, was still in her nasal passages. First on the list to acquire the following morning, some lavender to help freshen the scent of the place, and perhaps a small tin of rose lozenges. They were, indeed, quite soothing.