A Steampunk Guide to Hunting Monsters 1 | Page 9

most unprofessional reaction, in my opinion. Having dropped the corpse of her husband at her feet, the late Lady Gorey advanced down the table toward Miss Basilio. One could not doubt she had something other in mind than a fond reunion between acquaintances. Miss Basilio's nerve broke in the face of this development, and she rushed out of the parlor, scattering jet beads in her wake. The ghost followed. I wrenched my hand out of the cold clutch of the sorcerer. Miss Basilio and the late Lady Gorey were just vanishing out into the night as I pushed my way through the parlor and out into the storefront. I had seen a very practical collection of ghost bottles for sale, and only my interest in the séance had stopped me from pausing to examine them on my way in. Now I ducked behind the counter. The ghost bottles on offer were of the cheapest manufacture, good only for catching the wispy presences of ghosts. Lady Gorey was obviously very much more... corporeal. Someone touched my elbow, and I whirled. It was J.W. Wells, appearing slightly recovered. "Please, allow me to be of assistance," he said. "Miss… ah…?" "Philomena Dashwood." It was not at all the proper way to introduce oneself, but the circumstances allowed for some brevity of etiquette, I suppose. "Miss Dashwood, please allow me to be of assistance." I was dubious, but thereupon he took his keys and opened a fancy cabinet to recover one of the better bottles. "Thank you," I said, accepting it. It was of thick glass, and the sealing apparatus attached to the neck was comfortingly solid. "I believe you will find that particular ghost has become quite inconveniently solid. Too solid to pass the neck of this bottle. She will perhaps require some assistance on your part to become ethereal once more." That was something I had not considered. I stuffed the bottle into my reticule, and headed for the door. "In addition to selling by the individual bottle, Miss Dashwood," he called after me, "I make a significant reduction on taking a quantity!" I came outside with my bottle just in time to see Miss Basilio seated in a hansom cab, with the late Lady Gorey climbing in after her, racing down the street in my direction. I was very glad then that I had worn sensible footwear, for I judged if I made a mighty leap as it came alongside, I could catch the door and pull myself inside. I timed it most carefully, and I am convinced I would have made a perfectly executed jump if not for one thing. Right at the apex of my leap, a pair of arms came around me in a most familiar fashion and pulled me back down to earth. I vigorously employed my elbows, but I am not certain my efforts were as fully felt as I would have wished them. In any case, I was quickly released. It was a young man who had caught me, perhaps a gentleman by his dress. He possessed a particular expression of stupidity. "Are you all right, Missus? You were nearly struck by that cab!" I despise wrong addresses of title; it is no little matter to me. I gave the interfering man a stern glance and a verbal correction: “Miss.” A true gentleman would have felt the barb most severely. And then, as another hansom cab conveniently appeared, I seized upon it and commanded the cabbie to follow the runaway horses. As my cab pulled up beside, I took the