To Geoffrey Madison, London had become home. Victorian London fancied itself the capital of the world. Any Londoner would agree at the notion. Everyone else, including New York born and bred Geoffrey, would laugh and shake their heads.
The population had expanded, and the streets were teeming. The weather was perpetually foul. Sunny days were as regular as a blue moon, and the drizzle that had become the norm fell through clouds of smog from the factories.
Citizens were advised not to let too much rain touch their skin. Despite its hardships, Geoffrey had become fond of London.
Today, he was running to catch the coach. It was just after nine, and he was late. He didn’t mean to be. He never did. His mother and father often joked that he was even late to be born, with the family doctor waiting two days after the predicted date before Mrs Madison went into labour.
27 years later, and he was still running late. Today it was for a meeting with the shipping company dealing with his family business. Realising he’d missed his usual stagecoach, he made the choice to run to the next stop and try to get the next one there. The young American huffed and puffed, his briefcase under one arm, his umbrella in the other. His scrawny frame ducked and weaved through the crowds, earning the ire of more than a few. Ignoring the abuse hurled at his back, Geoffrey made it in view of the next stop for the coach. He was still a long way from it and there was already a coach filling up. Geoffrey sprinted towards it, avoiding the crowd as best he could.
As he drew closer, suddenly his legs stopped moving. His lungs were fit to burst. His heartbeat, already quick after his exertion, became vigorous and urgent. Trying to catch his breath, Geoffrey could do nothing but stare. Then, she turned. It was almost as though she knew he was there.
She had brown hair, tied up but she hadn’t bothered with a hat. His view was blocked for a moment, jolting him out of his reverie. Breaking into a run again he tore towards the carriage. Already, he could see her climbing the step into the carriage. She turned again. Her eyes were crinkled around the corners and a smile played around her lips. Her mouth moved. Geoffrey couldn’t hear it, but It was unmistakeable.
The carriage jolted as the driver whipped the reins, spurring the horses into action. No! Stop! The thoughts thundered through his mind as he lost sight of her as the carriage door closed. When he made it to the stop, he bent double, wheezing. As he did, he saw something. A glove. A woman’s glove, not two feet from where the carriage had stopped. Geoffrey picked it up, appraising it as he caught his breath and stood up straight. It couldn’t have been there long. It was still clean, a miracle given the muck and mire coating the road it had fallen on. Geoffrey turned it over in his hands, and found an ornate “M. L” monogrammed on it. The young American laughed, turning to look in the direction the carriage had gone.
He had a mystery to unravel.