Imprudence | Chapter 16 of 28 - Part: 1 of 11

Author: Gail Carriger | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 8326 Views | Add a Review

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THIRTEEN

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In Which Rue Learns About Antiquity

Next morning found The Spotted Custard floating some distance south of Cairo following the course of the Nile towards Luxor. Ill-rested and sandy-eyed, Rue donned a set of advanced ocular magnification lenses and took a closer look at the flock of balloons surrounding them in the morning light. Most of the airships were similar to Anitra’s, small and family-run with a tendency towards comfortable well-tended shabbiness. The four dirigibles were more modern, of fine workmanship and able floating, although certainly nothing on her Custard. Whatever Mr Panettone did, he made good money doing it. Unless, of course, his wealth was inherited. Rue put the lenses down. He didn’t act like a nobleman.

As if her thoughts had summoned him, the antiquity in question joined her on the forecastle.

“Lady Prudence.” He greeted her with a painfully formal bow. Rue was afraid he might fall over with the effort. He looked so frail, the slightest breeze could tip him spout over handle in the manner of a porcelain teapot.

“Mr Panettone. How are you this morning?”

“Tolerable.”

A man of brevity, this one.

Rue gestured for him to sit in a nearby deck chair. He did so with relief. Rue was sympathetic; the stairs and ladders of her ship were not designed with the aged or infirm in mind. Quite the opposite, having been conceived of by an ageless vampire and executed by a series of disgustingly healthy drones.

Rue turned back to their surrounding flock. “I find it interesting that these dirigibles of yours are all painted red with black spots. Newly painted, unless I miss my guess. Surely this is no coincidence? Not that I think my taste unique, simply eccentric.”

The man barely cracked a smile. “I had word of your coming.”

“And somehow knew I would need ladybug decoys?”

“You may be different from your mother, but not that different.”

If that wasn’t the perfect opening for more questions, Rue would eat her hat. “Eighteen fifty-five was the date. Mother would have been around eight. How did you—?”

“I was in service to your family.”

That explained his general demeanour. “Oh yes?”

“It is a family in ever great need of decoys.”

Rue wrinkled her nose. Truer words were likely never before uttered.

She prodded. “Grandmother’s household?”

He inclined his head. “Butler.”

“I do apologise.” Rue had little to do with Grandmother Loontwill over the years, first at her mother’s insistence and later at her own. Grandmother Loontwill was unpleasantly silly and had produced two equally silly follow-up daughters to Alexia. Aunt Evelyn came to the pack’s Sunday roast once or twice a year but Grandmother Loontwill wasn’t welcome in the Maccon household. There was another aunt, Felicity, but she and Mother did not speak. She’d left London and was reputed to be worse than the whole rest of the family put together. “That could not have been a very pleasant house to work in.”

Mr Panettone did not acknowledge this statement. “Before that, I worked for your grandfather as valet.”

Rue was totally floored by this. “The Italian one?”

“Alessandro Tarabotti.”

“Is that why you have an Italian name?”

“That’s why I use one.”

Ah, then it’s not his real name. “Mother said her father was an unsavoury sort but that he’d died heroically and was burned without headstone.”

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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