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London, Where it All Began

Meeting Farnsworth Again

Erasmus made his way through the crowd arriving at the nexus of the activity. There he found a man sprawled on the carpeted floor, clearly recovering from being knocked out cold. A red lump on his left cheek was starting to rise. The man’s eyes were just starting to adjust to focusing again. He raised his head. Erasmus extended a hand and bent over slightly in a formal gesture to help the man to his feet. ...

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Dr. McTrowell Alights

In the hustle and bustle of the London airship port, she was hardly noticed. The ground-sweeping leather duster would look out of place on the Marleybone high street. It was only slightly unusual among the international air travelers owing to its being worn by a woman and a slight one at that. ...

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Curious to a Fault, in which Chief Inpector Drake is Introduced

The furniture wasn’t actually new. The desk showed signs of wear, and one of the drawers didn’t operate smoothly. The springs in the chair that allowed it to rock back a bit squeaked, and the wheels had seen better days. But for Chief Inspector Erasmus Drake, the office felt new. With his recently appointed title, and the office that went with it, Erasmus sat and looked out at the teams of constables, taking on the myriad of minor cases that had popped up today. But in the wake of the last major case, all of these were standard procedure, run of the mill crimes. The perpetrator was most likely known, in most cases already in lock up, and if protocol was followed properly, going to be tried and sentenced without incident. Three such cases had been turned over to the magistrate this morning. Scotland Yard was running in its usual efficient manner. ...

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Bloomsbury

Toting only her commodious flight surgeon’s bag, Dr. McTrowell headed toward the line of hansom cabs. While such a mode of transportation was unseemly and “racy” for a lady of quality, it wouldn’t be her most inappropriate activity of the day. As she approached the first cab in the line, the driver gave her attire a quizzical look. Surely a woman wasn’t going to hire his cab alone. ...

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The Lucid Dreams of Professor Farnsworth

Erasmus strode through the precinct with conviction, hoping to make daylight without disruption. He was not to be so fortunate. Having spied Erasmus’ appearance from his office and his beeline for the door, Sergeant Tate Parseval took it upon himself to see if he could intercept Erasmus and find out what would make the newly appointed chief inspector head out so early in the morning. This required the sergeant to make more haste than usual, shoving his chair back with an audible squeak, and making his way between the desks at a pace unusual for an office setting. ...

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Kulachniy Boy

The scene inside was even more chaotic than outside. Dr. McTrowell was thankful she hadn’t removed her duster when she entered the building because it protected her from getting poked by elbows, wildly gesticulating hands, and various pointed protuberances from the inventions of other attendees. She was so busy wading through the crowd that she very nearly knocked over a colleague she hadn’t seen in some time, the French mathematician, Jean-Michel Petit of the Université Toulouse. ...

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The Enlightening Walk

Chief Inspector Drake was off on his usual fast pace. As is his tradition, he avoided the cabriolets, and any of the other wheeled conveyances, when simply walking through London was an option. He felt that the walk kept him sharp, and kept him tuned to the life on the London streets. This was one of the few philosophical points that he was quick to share with others. ...

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Jonathan Lord Ashleigh

“Kulachniy boy. Russian fist fighting.” She turned her attention back to Jean-Michel. “Are you all right? What was that about?” The look on his face was pure horror, although McTrowell couldn’t divine whether it was from being assaulted himself or from seeing her beat his abuser into unconsciousness. “Mon dieu! It is a scandal!” “I’m terribly sorry Jean-Michel, but I feared that he would do you real harm.” “My apologies, Dr. McTrowell. I did not intend to insult your actions, although I am unaccustomed to being protected by a woman. I meant it is a scandal that this oaf is allowed to remain a member of this respectable Society.” ...

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Mrs. McCreary's Boarding House

“Pardon me, Dr. McTrowell, but is the chai not to your liking?”

“Oh, no, it’s delightful. The newspaper headline startled me. My mother’s place of business is on Sansome Street. It’s a small street and this is the second time this year that a miner has died suddenly on the street. Miners aren’t known for having the finest of health, but they don’t usually die suddenly in the middle of the street.”

“I was not aware that you originated in the California territory.” ...

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An Encounter with Ruffians

At the completion of the handshake, the tone in the room seemed lighter, and students went back to their tasks. Erasmus re-engaged the conversation with the red-headed student. “I appreciate your concern for my safety and composure. Whose acquaintance do I have the pleasure of making?” “I am Alistair Bennington Rutherford, son of Baron Rutherford of Oxford. I am the principle graduate student of Professor Farnsworth’s cadre.” “I wish that ...” Erasmus was interrupted by half a dozen or so scientists barging through the double doors, obviously reacting to the thunder clap that occurred less than a minute ago and the dust ejected out into the hall. ...

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Licorice Root

Dr. McTrowell rang the bell and the door was answered very promptly. So promptly that she had the sense that the matron of the establishment had been loitering near the peephole, spying on Dr. McTrowell’s arrival which was almost certainly the case. Mrs. McCreary precisely looked the part of a woman who would run such a self-righteous establishment: middle-aged, matronly, plain, and overwhelmingly stern. ...

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A Tale for Sergeant Parseval

“Happy to see you, William. Fortuitous that you were here on Upper Gower Street,” Erasmus stated. “I really didn’t want to walk Professor Farnsworth all the way back down to Whitehall Place and have him in lock-up. All of his flailing around was unseemly. Much better to find out what he’s up to.”

“So what’s the old man’s game? What do you suspect?” the lad asked. ...

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Fade to Black

From another trunk she withdrew a small brass teakettle with its matching alcohol burner, the latter more elaborately scrolled than Dr. McTrowell would have purchased for herself, but it had been a gift from her mother when she first left home, so it was sentimentally dear. Besides, it had proven to be quite durable and reliable; excellent qualities considering all the times it had been abused in the pursuit of adventure and science. ...

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The Three Dressmaker Dummies

London cooled as the sun disappeared behind city buildings, giving a soft orange glow to the rooftops in the west. The streets were crowded with the working and professional classes bustling off to whatever they did after the completion of their work day. For many, their destination was a simple apartment and a simple supper. Others were off to pubs and eateries, and for those with the means, private clubs. London took on an interesting mood during this transformation. ...

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Osiris

There was an intolerably foul taste in her mouth. Where had she tasted that before? Oh yes, the tisane she brewed. When was that? She struggled to sit up on the bed. Where was she? When was she? Her eyes fell on her open notebook beside her on the bed. The last thing she had written, if you could call it that and if she could believe she had actually written it, was followed by a large blot of black ink. ...

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Infant of a Nightmare

As it turns out, the gold statue that the Egyptian man had thought he had ownership of was on display at the Egyptian Court. Erasmus walked over and pondered it and its inscription. Despite the clamor of workman moving a statue of Ramses II, Erasmus felt the presence of a woman approaching him from behind. ...

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Maharaja Deva

McTrowell hauled herself up off the floor. It seemed that today was going to be as eventful as yesterday, unfortunately. The recently vanquished headache had returned, accompanied by a sore elbow and hip from where she’d hit the ground during the blast. There’s only so much from which a leather coat can protect you. She turned toward the melee into which her would-be protector had charged. Interesting fellow; where others run away, he rushes in. Others were now rushing toward the chaos in the next room, everyone except for a single workman who was staring at her. ...

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A Stout-Hearted Man

As he walked, Erasmus’ cane tapped out a cadence that bespoke his determination to get back to his flat. He thought back on his last five hours: organizing a team to seize the Professor Farnsworth’s electrical discharge device at the Egyptian Court, traveling with Farnsworth to the hospital, getting constables to volunteer to guard over him, scratching out the details of the day’s events on a commandeered hospital notebook, and requesting the Yard to find a scientist that could determine the nature and safety of the professor’s contraption for storage. Quite the ordeal. ...

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A Mutually Beneficial Agreement

Anu handed her a small, colorful tin just as she was stepping out the door. Sparky opened it in the coach. Amazing! Lord Ashleigh thought of everything. There was no way he could have known that she had eaten nothing all day except for the stale biscuit, but here in her lap was a perfect little snack to revive her: a few slices of bread with sharp cheese, a small jar of something that appeared to be pickled, and some nuts dusted with pungent spices. ...

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Colt Pocket 1849

Erasmus lifted the glass, and give it a sniff. Licorice, well, anise to be precise. Other unique aromatic spices came through, too, but not ones that he could discern. He then asked Alistair, “I understand why you’d want me to experience your elixir, but why the revolver?”

“Do you have any background in engineering or the hard sciences, Chief Inspector? Chemistry or physics?”

“No, not formally. I’ve learned this and that through my life, particularly in investigating cases where I’ve worked with experts. But certainly not university study.” ...

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Three Pieces of Paper

Sparky was feeling terribly dazed as she stumbled out of the Crystal Palace and made her way to Oxford Street. She had saved a man’s life today. She had nearly died today. She had avenged the death of her dear friend today. ...

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Quite the Gentleman

Catching women, that's my job this week, thought Erasmus. Sparky was fairly light in his arms, and fading in and out of consciousness. He placed her delicately on the operating table where she had just performed a life-saving operation. And what was that she said about death? It sounded like a quote, but not one that he was familiar with. ...

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The Surgical Assistant Under Steam

Sparky slipped her fingers into the controllers for the outer arms and stepped on the left foot pedal, rotating the left arm around so it was close to the chest wound with a large pair of forceps. She switched feet and rotated the right arm around to brace the workman by his right shoulder with a padded clamp. She slipped her fingers out of the controllers and reached up to loosen the winged screws at her elbows, releasing the inner arms which she also swung into place over the chest wound. ...

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Counterbalancing a Sarcophagus

Erasmus made his way through the morning fog toward Hyde Park, today’s copy of the Times in hand, mulling over yesterday’s excitements. Erasmus’ scan of the first few pages over his morning’s Earl Grey revealed the professor’s recapture didn’t get the lead article, but it was prominent enough to keep the good work of Scotland Yard in the minds of the readers. ...

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Sandrine, Je T’aime

By the time she stumbled back to the table, Jean-Michel was lying on the floor clutching his hands to his chest. The other patrons were ignoring him, probably interpreting his fall as mere drunkenness. She clouted the nearest large patron in the shoulder with her fist. “This man needs to get to the hospital! Help me get him to the street!” ...

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The Smell of Cocoa

Erasmus awoke with a start. Something just wasn’t right, and he had to figure out what it was. He decided that he would rush through his morning routine, which was not his usual. Early rising and being the first to work was not his style. It went against his natural tendencies and clashed with his philosophy. But this morning was different. And to make it worse, it was his gut that drove him forward, and so he needed to figure out the particulars of this instinctual response. ...

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Monsieur de Fermat’s Little Theorem

McTrowell was quite certain it was time for a bite of food and something refreshing to wash it down. She glanced at the ornate street clock in the center of the airship port. She marveled at both its beauty and its accuracy; she stood for several minutes, watching the hands click around the face. When she came out of her reverie, she remembered her need for sustenance. It was half past noon. If history were any indication, Jean-Michel would be having a light lunch and a pint at The Olde Cheshire Cheese in about half an hour. ...

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