Miss Tacy Gof was in a state of tension so extreme that time slowed almost to a standstill. The ride through the fog from Curzon Street to Pall Mall had taken an age of the world, and another had passed as they waited for an answer to Sir Arthur’s ring. Tacy was on the point of reaching for the bell herself when the door snapped open to reveal a small, empty room sealed off from the house itself by a second door. Sir Arthur stepped in and peered about. “A fog-exhaust!” He exclaimed. “See the fan above the door? I have been longing to see one ever since I read about them in the London Inventor!” Then, impatiently: “Come in, come in. There’s room enough for all of us!”
There was, though it felt very cramped when the street door swung to, trapping them in a cloud of stinging air. The fan whirred, the air cleared, and the inner door opened, letting them into a hall illuminated by a Smith clockwork lamp. A lady in black bombazine took one look at Sir Arthur’s hat and misbuttoned coat and said, “First floor front, end of the hall.” Sir Arthur sprang up the stairs like a dog on the scent, but Tacy turned, hesitating. “Angharad?” The doll answered her, its voice tinkling and tuneful as a music box. “Away with you! James and I will follow.”
The pale gaze swept past him to the end of the hall, where a musical voice was demanding to be set down gently, mind. Turning, Tacy saw the porcelain doll at the stair-head. Quite a picture she made, posed under the Smith with one white kid hand on her silver-topped cane and one white kid boot peeking through the elaborate drapery of her skirt.
Until tomorrow: The things that we love tell us what we are.