A Steampunk Guide to Hunting Monsters 1 | Page 12

opportunity to transfer by means of an uninterrupted leap. Miss Basilio was, as I feared, in no small trouble. The late Lady Gorey was set upon her most violently. My sudden appearance caused some confusion, and Miss Basilio managed to affect her escape from the cab. If she had only remained to help, we might together have employed the bottle's mechanism right then, but I suppose it cannot be comforting to be the intended subject of a murder. I had just managed to fish the bottle from my reticule when the late Lady Gorey, having realized I was not Miss Basilio, made her escape from the cab. I released the bottle with a sigh and followed after her yet again. This time, the late Lady Gorey had tracked her intended victim into an alleyway. It was perfect—Miss Basilio was trapped in a corner between two houses, and the ghost was too focused on her to notice me. I readied the bottle with the one hand. And right at that most delicate moment, I heard a voice behind me. "Oh, hello, there! Still all right, are you? No further mishaps with the cabs?" The late Lady Gorey turned, and the infuriating gentleman tipped his hat cheerily to the ghost and Miss Basilio as he continued down the street. "Ladies. I hope you are having a pleasant evening." I am sure it was by pure accident that he had their titles correct. Miss Basilio seized the opportunity to flee, and as the late Lady Gorey pursued her, I was knocked down and the bottle flew from my hand, rolling, unbroken, to the gentleman. The gentleman turned at the resulting noise to find me seated ingloriously on the ground. "Oh, you’ve fallen over. Please allow me,” he said, holding out his hand. I could not, in all politeness, refuse it. Once I was again on my feet, we both bent to retrieve the bottle, and his absurdly large top hat knocked my own trim hat askew. "Will you please stop interfering in my business," I implored, immeasurably annoyed. "That lady is in danger; I must go after her!" "Danger?" His shocked exclamation gave me reason to hope he would leave me alone, but as I dashed up the street, he persisted in keeping pace with me. I could find no argument that would aid me in his dispersal. At the end of the street, I found the late Lady Gorey just disappearing into a building, windows lined with balconies. So, with no time to discover what sort of establishment this was, I followed her up the inside stairs. The persistent gentleman at my side offered, with every step, to aid me in carrying my bottle. I declined. At the upper landing, Miss Basilio rushed into a room with the late Lady Gorey in close pursuit. As I reached the door, it slammed in my face, and the locking mechanism activated. I whirled, colliding with the gentleman. (Merciful heavens, why DO they make gentlemen so tall and so solid!?) Collecting myself quickly, I managed to successfully enter the room next door. As I remembered from my brief glance at the outside, the rooms all had balconies. I threw open the doors to mine just in time to see the late Lady Gorey pushing Miss Basilio outside of theirs. She had her quite corporeal hands locked around Miss Basilio's throat. I climbed the balcony rail. I was not wearing the proper shoes for this activity, but I had the situation under complete control nonetheless. Almost dropping the bottle is not the same as actually dropping it, and though my hand slipped, I did not actually fall. There was no cause for the gentlemen to once again put his hands upon my person. "I cannot permit a lady to surmount a balcony without supervision," he said, quite as if his whole upbringing had been centered around preventing ladies from surmounting balconies. Perhaps it was. Some gentlemen cannot think a lady capable