Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
Lady Linette interrupts a lesson with Sister Mattie, shocking in itself, to collect Sophronia and Dimity. Oh no. As Sophronia passes her classmates, they give her knowing looks, even Agatha wishes them good luck, what could be in store for them? In silence, Lady Linette escorts the girls to the far recesses of Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality to a room marked ASSESSMENT CHAMBER ONE: ENTER AT RISK. It’s time for their six-month review.
Inside the chamber is a huge mechanical machine Sophronia remembers being referred to as an oddgob machine which presents the assessment tasks. First an oil painting drops down and after a moment is jerked away, then a tea service is presented with cold tea and comestibles. After a quick deliberation, Sophronia serves as etiquette would demand. She doesn’t partake however due to a suspicious smell of a lavender in the cups and discoloration on the cakes. Then the oddgob presents hair ribbons followed by a tray with various objects. Once these are taken away, a slate is presented saying SEND HELP IMMEDIATELY plus some parchment, ink and sweets. A meal is then delivered just as Sophronia’s stomach protests, but is this part of the test? While Sophronia waits for Lady Linette to return, she examines the oddgob and spots a crystalline valve propped inside, very similar to the prototype from her adventures shortly after being accepted to the school. Quickly, Sophronia pockets the valve, intending to give it to her young, exceedingly French engineering friend, Vieve.
Lady Linette enters, she has just finished administering Dimity’s assessment. As she gets a printout from the oddgob, it explodes. Bother. Lady Linette fires questions to Sophronia about her choices during the assessment and seems very pleased. Sophronia will receive her results at the same time as everyone else, however initial assessment is promising. Phew. Sophronia loves it at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality and would hate to be sent home. Dimity however is being very dramatic, but is hopeful she won’t fail as she seems to have made similar decisions as Sophronia. Assessment over, Dimity has something to share with Sophronia and their friends Sidheag, Lady Kinair, and Agatha. Lord Dingleproops has sent a missive. He wants to meet in private and alone! Shocking! Dimity dismisses everyone’s concerns, though Sidheag points out that if Lord Dingleproops is flying up to the school that is not nothing. Dimity insists it must be important, or maybe even a declaration. Sophronia, with her critical eye, wants to know why Lord Dingleproops would use his father’s stationary. As Dimity intends to go, Sophronia intends to follow.
Professor Lefoux delivers the results of the assessment. Monique’s are first. It is the school’s recommendation that she marry with no second attempt at finishing. What! Monique threatens to tell her special friend and have her father withhold his donation from the school. Presha is adept but relies on looks. Agatha receives poor marks and is put on a six-month probation, as is Sidheag even though she demonstrates excellent use of weapons. Dimity receives fair marks with the suggestion that she must build her character. Sophronia receives the highest marks in a six-month review, ever. Professor Lefoux remarks that the biggest concern is what Sophronia is getting up to outside of lessons; they suspect she is spying on them. At the release of their review results, her fellow students become openly hostile, talking about Sophronia not to her. Even Dimity, her best friend, turns away from her.
Despite her friend snubbing her, Sophronia still follows Dimity to her assignation with Lord Dingleproops. Sophronia has a hurlie, a small grappling rope knotted at stages for climbing, to help her traverse the outside of the dirigible. It’s all quiet until an air dinghy arrives, but instead of Lord Dingleproops, there are two men on board, and neither are wearing the Pistons signature top hats. Shocking. Sophronia acts quickly by throwing a bread roll from her pocket at them, hitting one man, then she fires her hurlie at a dinghy balloon and rips a hole in it. One of the men fires a pistol, then Sophronia manages to use her hurlie again on the other balloon and the dinghy is forced to float down. Dimity, at first confused at what’s going on, figures out that Sophronia is there and accuses her of ruining everything. But, but… who were those men, and what did they want with Dimity?
Sophronia finds refuge in the boiler room where her assessment marks mean nothing. She is teaching Soap to read, which is enough for him, but he doesn’t want to become her next project. Sophronia takes exception to this before realizing that Soap is likely right. While they are chatting, they flirt, even Vieve popping in doesn’t stop them. After Vieve has an exchange with an unknown sootie, Soap tells them that they’ve taken on double numbers, and some are dubious types. There is a long trip being planned so they need to take on extra numbers and extra supplies and are currently heading to Swiffle-on-Exe. In other boiler room news, the sooties have adopted a kitten. Sophronia gives the pilfered valve from the oddgob to Vieve who is curious as to why an oddgob would need a valve as they don’t require wireless communication, but she’s pleased at the gift and the prospect of future testing.
At breakfast the next morning, Mademoiselle Geraldine announces the stop over at Swiffle-on-Exe, which Sophronia's friends realize she already knew about. At Swiffle-on-Exe the following day, Sophronia watches in fascination how the dirigible takes on extra water, and then she spots the sooties frolicking in the river. Naked. Shocking! She wishes that she could spot Soap amongst them, but she can't. The day after, again at breakfast, Mademoiselle Geraldine announces they will be taking a trip to London and will be joined by boys from Bunson and Lacroix’s Boys’ Polytechnic. Amongst the Bunson Boys is Pillover, Dimity’s brother, Lord Dingleproops and the dark-haired Piston boy Sophronia spurned during their dance together at her sister’s coming-out ball. The reason for the trip is to witness Henri Giffard’s first transcontinental dirigible flight from Paris to London, which will only take an hour using aether currents and new valve technology.
Vieve stops by the debuts' rooms before lessons. She is very excited by the trip. Imagine… transcontinental dirigible flight through the aether! Amazing! Vieve also heard that one of the teachers is required in London but doesn’t know who. As they talk, Bumbersnoot starts shuffling about, gathering his reticule disguise. He wants to come with Sophronia to lessons. First up is Faking It with Fangs with Lady Linette. During the lesson the girls are paired with the visiting Bunson boys to role-play interacting with a Hive member. During the second pairing, Sophronia is partnered with Felix Mersey, heir to the Golborne Dukedom, the brooding boy she spurned. He calls her Ria against her wishes and is an infuriating and audacious flirt. Meanwhile, Dimity is partnered with Lord Dingleproops and their conversation gets rather heated as she waves his missive and he looks completely perplexed. He clearly did not send her the assignation request.
Unlike his sister, Pillover is still talking to Sophronia. He has no idea why he was selected to come on this journey because he is by no means a top student and he's also not really sure that having a sister aboard is a driving factor. Sophronia confesses that she thinks someone is after Dimity. Pillover agrees that the missive she received was most definitely not from Lord Dingleproops. Sophronia isn’t sure who could be after Dimity, and asks if Pillover has had any odd encounters, but he hasn’t. Conversation turns to Felix, and Sophronia learns that he is from a historically anti-progressive family who has fought the integration of the supernaturals into society. Vieve pops by their table then and tells Sophronia that Soap sent her to tell her there is something happening in the boiler room tonight they both will want to see. Vieve offers to come by later with the obstructor and Pillover suggests she take company and gives a pointed look toward Felix. Sophronia catches on and asks Pillover to extend an invitation.
After a very tiring lesson on the ground with Captain Niall on the importance of running away where everyone suffers several gooseberry jelly deaths, Sidheag hangs back to speak to the werewolf. Sophronia, who was pushed to the back of the boarding line intentionally by the other girls, also dawdles. Sidheag has a matter of pack to discuss. She believes the pack is angry and that her grandfather is losing control. Captain Niall says the upcoming aether dirigible flight is worrying all the supernaturals. As they ascend to the ship together, Sidheag admits to Sophronia that the werewolves think the vampires are trying to master aether travel for themselves and that Giffard is likely funded by the vampires. It seems there will be a contest for control.
That night as Sophronia and Vieve are sneaking past the teachers' rooms, the alarms sound causing them to quickly hide behind a statue as the teachers come out to investigate. Only Professor Braithwope is dressed, it being night-time and he being a vampire, so he volunteers to go and sort out the problem which is no doubt a Bunson’s boy sneaking about, perhaps Felix trying to follow Sophronia! No Geraldine girl would have been caught, says Lady Linette who pointedly looks toward the statue.
Sophronia and Vieve continue on to the boiler room which is abuzz with activity. The steam machine is being brought out and Soap tells them they are going to white. The machine is complicated which delights Vieve, and the fact they can create their own cloud to hide in delights Sophronia. It has the added bonus of helping keep Dimity safe from attack if they can’t be found. Before Sophronia leaves the boiler room, Soap is being extra flirty with her. Perhaps he is jealous of this Felix toff? It seems that Soap is about to lean in and kiss her, but he changes to the small, exposed skin above her glove and we all swoon. Sophronia doesn’t think of Soap like that, does she? They’re friends, so she takes his overture as a jest.
On the way back to her room, Sophronia asks if they can swing by Professor Lefoux’s classroom. From the balcony they see Professors Lefoux and Shrimpdittle from Bunson's bent over a disassembled apparatus, arguing, when Monique comes in demanding an update. Professor Lefoux accuses Monique of setting off the alarms which she scoffs at telling the teachers it was a Bunson’s boy and Professor Braithwope is dealing with them. This angers Professor Shrimpdittle who does not trust vampires and wants to know who is feeding him.
At breakfast the next day Monique squeals, drawing all the attention to her. She will be having her coming-out ball when they reach London! She is now even more the center of attention and even more insufferable. Dimity looks desperate to talk to Sophronia about it, but is still shunning her. Later in class, Monique is cruel to Dimity which Sophronia refuses to let pass. This causes Dimity to step forward and declare to Professor Braithwope that she would rather be loyal than right and won’t participate in the shunning any more. Outside, Sidheag and Agatha are also happy to ignore Lady Linette’s instruction to ostracize the girl with the highest marks. Friends again, Sophronia can now tell Dimity that she is sure someone is out to kidnap her.
Later, Sophronia and Dimity encourage Agatha to infiltrate Monique’s ranks to find out what she could be up to. Though Agatha is nervous, the poor thing, she is willing if it will help her stay at the school. Unfortunately, Agatha’s reports are not interesting. Monique talks about nothing other than her ball, until one night Agatha catches her sneaking out. Sophronia needs speed in order to catch up with Monique, so she borrows boys' clothes from Sidheag and follows Monique to Professor Braithwope’s room. From the balcony, Sophronia listens to their exchange. She learns that this will be their last meal together and that Professor Braithwope is the teacher needed in London to perform a test with Giffard. When Monique leaves, Sophronia isn’t quite quick enough to hide properly and is spotted by Professor Braithwope who gives her a wink.
The next day the dirigible lowers for layover and resupply meaning the students are permitted to have lessons and a picnic outside. Sophronia and Dimity are sitting apart from the main group when Bumbersnoot lets out a whistle as three ruffians try to take Dimity and mention they also need Pillover. Sophronia fires her hurlie at one and Bumbersnoot burns another. Dimity then faints at the sight of the blood, and Sophronia screams for aid. Felix comes running and produces an evil looking gadget (actually an automated boot shining prong) which scares them off.
Later, in the boiler rooms, Dimity makes a surprise appearance led by Vieve who she blackmailed with a hat. Dimity is here to perform charitable works and has brought pamphlets. The sooties are well aware of who Dimity is already, they call her their Angel of Pudding Mercy. As the sooties teach Dimity some fighting moves, Vieve tells Sophronia she hasn't made any headway with the valve. Then the boiler room alarms go off and Felix climbs in. Vieve is also responsible for his intrusion. She told him how and where to climb to meet them and in exchange, he will petition for Vieve to be admitted to Bunson’s. Apparently he is not aware Vieve is female. As Professor Shrimpdittle will know Vieve as a girl, the scamp asks for Sophronia’s help to discredit him. If she does and Vieve is able to attend the boys' evil genius school, she will give all her gadgets to Sophronia.
At three am one night, Vieve calls on Sophronia and asks if she would like to see the special shipment they took aboard. Of course! Together they go to the cavernous storage room near the propeller where there is a small shed. Professor Braithwope and Sister Mattie are just coming out talking about a delayed shipment and repeated messages about technology. Professor Braithwope senses the girls and Vieve steps out to take the fall. As Professor Braithwope is grabbing her ear, Vieve puts on a ridiculous showing of squirming in order to pinch the shed key and leave it for Sophronia. Inside the shed is a lady’s sitting room with an enormous number of embroidered cushions. As Sophronia realizes the embroidery is a code and she needs the cypher in order to understand the messages, a chaise longues comes to life and charges. With the help of the obstructor, Sophronia is able to escape.
The next morning the school leaves Dartmoor. On the squeak deck, Sister Mattie is holding class when Vieve interrupts on powered skates and crashes into the teacher. These are her sputterskates and she is using them to test the valve. They obviously do not work properly but Vieve works out the valve is meant to transmit protocols. Sophronia can feel a terrible headache coming on *wink* so at lunch, she stays in her room where Vieve joins her. They discuss their lady’s agreement about Vieve’s academic plans and the school's patron, but their chat is interrupted by the other girls returning to their suite. Then the perimeter alarm sounds. All the girls stay in their room, unable to hear anything that would have caused it.
The ladies have tea and subterfuge with Mademoiselle Geraldine next and some of the Bunson boys will join. They also have a guest, a fortune teller named Madame Spetuna. Preshea goes first and the fortune teller tells the little spider that she will marry more than once, which is definitely Preshea's dream. Next is Dimity who wants a simple life but won’t get it, then Monique who will never be as important as she thinks she is. Agatha is told her fortune in private, Sidheag knows her fate, and Sophronia thinks only in terms of the game and is advised to give her heart wisely. She is also told she will end the world as they know it. During her reading, Sophronia slips a note to Madame Spetuna offering three shillings to sow discord with Professor Shrimpdittle. The boys go next and end with Professor Shrimpdittle who is told the Bunson’s headmaster doesn’t value his contributions and that this trip is to keep him from becoming important. Discussing the fortune teller later, Sophronia says she’s got to be a Geraldine's girl. Amongst her many scarves she noticed the fortune teller was wearing an onion shaped broach. She must have come aboard in secret and while they were floating. She set off the perimeter alarm.
The next day, there is a postal delivery. The six-month reviews were sent out to the parents and now most have replied. Sophronia doesn’t receive a letter, but instead finds two packages for her containing a gorgeous new day dress and a transformation dress. Later, while putting them away, Sophronia and Dimity mention a couple of letters Monique secreted away and are curious about their contents. Dimity also mentions that Pillover heard from their parents. Their mother is stuck working on aetheric communication and their father is working on mechanical protocols. Though Dimity is nonplussed, Sophronia is excited, this is relevant! They must have invented the valves! That's why someone wants to kidnap Dimity!
At supper, Pillover agrees to help Vieve infiltrate Bunson’s because it would be evil to do so and probably get him top marks if he were found out. Monique comes into the dining room and is nice to Dimity and even compliments her before asking her and Pillover to her ball. Dimity will only accept if Sophronia, Sidheag and Agatha may come. Monique obviously doesn’t want any of them to attend but agrees, so what is she up to? At the teachers' table, Professor Shrimpdittle obsessively glares at Professor Braithwope who is sitting next to Madame Spetuna. Sophronia uses this as an opportunity to sow further discord about Professor Shrimpdittle and asks around the table if he can be trusted. Whose politics does he really back?
Late at night, Sophronia sneaks into Professor Shrimpdittle’s room with the help of the obstructor. Carefully she places two dots of beet and walnut dye on his neck to simulate vampire fang marks, but on the way out, she runs into Madame Spetuna. As a bribe to keep her mouth shut, Madame Spetuna demands to borrow Bumbersnoot for three weeks. She plans to use the status the mechanimal would confer as she infiltrates the Picklemen. She also tells Sophronia that the Flywaymen are assembling a float gather, the first in 50 years, and are formally aligning with the Picklemen. The next day, Sophronia seeks out Vieve to have an explosive installed in Bumbersnoot that will go off if he is not returned within the agreed upon three weeks. At breakfast, Professor Shrimpdittle looks red-eyed and panicky and is wearing his cravat very noticeably high.
A few days later, Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality arrives in London and anchors at the Crystal Palace where the dirigible is hidden under a canvas banner advertising ‘builders and safety inspectors’ and mock scaffolding. Mademoiselle Geraldine announces that everyone is restricted to the ship. At dinner, sitting next to Professor Braithwope is the Potentate, the Queen’s vampire representative on her Shadow Council. After, Sophronia hangs back and hears the Potentate say to Professor Braithwope, for blood, queen, and country. You are to be commended.
Unlike the dirigible which houses Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, Giffard’s aether ship is elegant and floats into London to the excited cheers of the crowd which includes Geraldine’s girls. Night classes have been canceled as the school dirigible is needed for a test by the government, so everyone needs to be off the ship. There will be a counting to ensure everyone has disembarked.
Sophronia of course can’t resist staying aboard. She thinks they will be testing vampire tethers, the distance which a vampire can travel from their home, and she finds it very interesting. Before she sneaks off with the help of a distraction courtesy of Dimity, Sophronia orders the Plumleigh-Teignmott siblings to stay with Captain Niall and Sidheag because the werewolves are the only ones not after them. On the squeak deck, Professor Braithwope climbs into a contraption similar to a diving suit and runs over to Giffard’s ship. Together both ships rise high above the clouds until the school dirigible stops, but Giffard’s ship keeps going. On Giffard’s ship Professor Braithwope starts flailing around before going over the side of the ship. Sophronia would never be certain if he jumped or fell.
The school does not follow the falling Professor and in a panic, Sophronia climbs down into the boiler room. Soap points her to the person in charge but her entreaties to lower the ship are ignored until orders come down from the pilot's bubble. After a moment they do and an emergency descent is ordered, requiring them to collapse the middle balloon. Through the hatch, Sophronia can see London coming closer and closer at high speed and a crowd surrounding the fallen body of Professor Braithwope.
Professor Braithwope looks monstrous and needs blood, so Monique is told to do her duty and feed him, but her sycophants and cronies shuffle away from her. Lord Ambrose of the Westminster Hive steps forward to look after Monique when they are able to pull her off the Professor’s fangs and then Professor Lefoux then steps forward to feed her colleague. Sophronia uses the opportunity to whisper in Professor Lefoux’s ear that she saw Professor Shrimpdittle in her classroom with the aether suit the night before. Professor Lefoux inspects the aether suit and finds it has been tampered with, so she formally accuses Professor Shrimpdittle of sabotage. The Dewan, the werewolf member of the Queen’s Shadow Council, and Lord Woolsey, werewolf alpha, take Professor Shrimpdittle into custody. Amongst his ramblings and protests, the Professor rather shockingly and in bad form confesses to tampering with the suit.
Monique’s coming-out ball is that night and those attending must dress and get going. Everyone is excited except Sophronia who can’t stop thinking about Professor Braithwope and her part in the situation. Vieve, who came to pass comment on outfits and accessories, tells Sophronia that she may have arranged matters, but the actions of others aren’t her fault. Vieve also informs her that it seems the tampering wasn’t what drove the Professor mad. That happened as soon as they entered the aethersphere. The suit offered him no protection from the aether, but was it that or the snapping of his tether or the fall that caused him to lose his mind?
At the ball, Felix flirts mercilessly with Sophronia, and she gives as good as she gets, but to her it is all a tiring game and her mind drifts to Soap who doesn’t play these games with her. During their first dance, Felix admits to trying to court Sophronia but his pleas are interrupted when Sophronia notices Dimity, Pillover and Lord Ambrose are missing. Cutting Felix off during their dance for a second time, Sophronia heads outside to see Dimity’s skirts being pushed into a carriage.
Without overthinking, Sophronia leaps on to the back step of the carriage and holds on until they reach the Westminster Hive house. Sophronia can’t hope to rescue Dimity and Pillover by herself and decides she needs reinforcements. Standing in the street at a bit of a loss, a fly stops in front of her, and a foppish dandy vampire offers her a lift, knowing she's one of Geraldine girls, and Sophronia accepts without introducing herself. The dandy vampire doesn’t reveal his identity either, and he declares he is not important and says prefers to watch the goings-on around him instead of getting involved.
Back at Monique’s ball, Sophronia spots Lady Linette with the Potentate. As she quickly makes her way over, Felix tries to intercede, but she tells him to tag along. Sophronia informs them of Dimity and Pillover’s kidnapping by the Westminster Hive but it's met with disbelief and dismissal. Lord Ambrose has also returned to the ball and the Potentate calls him over to answer this egregious charge. Lord Ambrose turns the target toward the Picklemen and states the Plumleigh-Teignmott father will probably have removed the children. Lady Linette does not believe him but also doesn’t do anything with Sophronia’s claims of kidnapping. Sister Mattie comes along then and tells them all that Professor Braithwope is awake and asking for the Potentate. Sophronia realizes she will have to rescue her friends. Begging a lift back to the school, Sophronia grabs Sidheag and Captain Niall comes too. She also hints to Felix that if he wants to help, he'll have to figure something out.
Back at the school, Sister Mattie says she will try to keep the Potentate occupied for a time and leaves Sophronia and Sidheag who immediately dress themselves as preposterous dandies. They exit through the boiler room where Soap declares he’s coming to help. Captain Niall is waiting for them outside and changes into a werewolf so the rescue team can ride him to the Westminster Hive house. The plan is to go through the front door pretending to be drones of another vampire who had heard about the kidnapping while Soap enters through another door pretending to be a chimney sweep. Amazingly it works. Lord Akeldama’s reputation and penchant for jokes help Lord Dingleproops *wink* and Lord Mersey *wink* enter into the Westminster Hive. As they await an audience with the Queen, dandy-Sophronia and dandy-Sidheag hear a familiar voice from behind the door. It’s Monique! She flirts with the ridiculous looking dandies not realizing they are her classmates. The footman apologizes for their new drone who, despite witnessing a failed metamorphosis, is as bad as ever and still wants to stay with the hive. He also mentions how the dead drone was first-rate and such a talented embroiderer. She must have been the Geraldine's girl who had infiltrated the Hive and sent all the pillows! Did she ask for metamorphosis or was she murdered under the guise?
Finally, they are announced to the Hive Queen, Countess Nadasdy. Sitting next to her is Dimity who is passed out from seeing the bloody metamorphosis, and Pillover who is drinking tea. As they banter back and forth, Soap comes bursting in carrying everything one would need to clean the chimneys, shedding soot as he walks. Pointed remarks from Soap warn Sophronia that Picklemen are on their way, and in they stride, Duke Golborne, Madame Spetuna in disguise and carrying Bumbersnoot, and Felix Mersey. So this is how Felix decided to help.
Madame Spetuna puts Bumbersnoot on the floor and chaos ensues. The countess panics at the mechanimal's appearance, the Picklemen and Hive begin arguing over access to the aether technology and Soap continues “cleaning” the chimney. Dimity, now awake, takes Sophronia’s cue and throws herself on the mercy of the Picklemen, pouting about the terrible conditions they have been kept in, which Pillover refutes. It’s pandemonium. Dandy-Sophronia and Dandy-Sidheag offer to take Dimity and Pillover out of the equation so that the Picklemen and Hive can continue their discussion. Meanwhile, Bumbersnoot is being chased by the maids, his tail wagging more and more quickly. Sophronia has a sinking feeling; she knows that the speed of his wagging tail is linked to his imminent expulsion of the explosive device. It’s time to leave.
Sidheag grabs Dimity and Pillover and they back toward Soap. A footman picks up Bumbersnoot as he spits out the explosive. Soap tackles the footman for Bumbersnoot, Sidheag throws all of Soap’s coal and equipment up in the air and Sophronia dives for the explosive, throwing it at the Hive Queen when the explosion goes off. Before things settle, the two dandies, chimney sweep, captives and mechanimal are gone. Outside, Captain Niall bounds over to the group and everyone bundles on the werewolf somehow and they are away. Vieve meets them at the entrance to the school demanding to know what happened. Taking a moment, Sophronia sits down, rather shaken by the events (especially the smell and feel of Soap’s embrace). Sidheag presses Sophronia to thank Soap with a kiss, and she does, and it’s a proper one, and we swoon.
Monique never returned to the school after her coming-out ball, which was declared a resounding success, and rumors of her preference for Westminster vampires circulate. Sidheag and Agatha were taken off probation without explanation. Sophronia learns from her ostracizing that she is reliant on her friends, whether this is a good thing or not is yet to be seen. Sophronia tries to visit Professor Braithwope to no avail and feels the press of guilt and realizes she must consider the consequences of her actions. Vieve disappears from the school before they reach Dartmoor and Professor Lefoux is remarkably unworried. She soon starts to receive letters from her nephew, Gaspar Lefoux, who has been accepted into Bunson’s. Sister Mattie warns that Bunson's is in bed with the Picklemen who have won the contract to produce the guidance valves and that Professor Lefoux should be careful with her nephew, or the Octopus will have him. At breakfast, two new debuts have joined their table and letters await Sophronia. The first is from Felix, filled with compliments. The second is from Lord Akeldama who pays his respects.