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“The Mechanical Siege of Paris”

Harry looked out the window and thought: At least I saw Paris one more time before it was destroyed in the bombardment.

The city was as beautiful, eventful, and astonishing as any young woman who’d read too many novels could wish for. She’d traveled here several years before on her grand tour and had thought herself quite worldly and jaded this time around. But the sight of the Seine, lined with magnificent buildings, palaces, parks, and galleries, with a promise of so many treasures and adventures waiting to be discovered, excited her beyond her expectation. Brought tears to her eyes, even. Eiffel’s new tower from the World’s Fair several years previous stood watch, lurking above the city, an iron skeleton. She understood that one could visit it, ride an elevator to the top and admire the views, perhaps buy a ticket for one of the airship taxis that moored there. She wished she had time and opportunity for such adventures. She hoped the tower would still be standing when the current troubles ended.

Another round of artificial thunder rattled the panes of glass, and
she thought perhaps she ought not to stand so close to the window.

Pleasure had never been the purpose of this journey. She was here as
part of the entourage of the Crown Prince, her brother. As Maud,
Princess of Wales, granddaughter of Her Royal Majesty, Victoria, Harry
was meant to be seeking out potential royal suitors. That was the public
reason for her presence here. Privately, she was one of the advisors
George trusted completely. They’d come to France on matters of diplomacy
with wartime allies. Then the war had come to them.


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