The Professor Wore Prussian Blue: Excerpt
© 2022 Shelley Adina
Saturday, October 12, 1895
“Propriety?” Freddie Linden’s voice rose in disbelief. “Papa, after all we have been through to find you—facing death at gunpoint, near drowning, to say nothing of keeping ourselves and you out of gaol—your concern now is propriety?”
Professor Ruldolf Linden gazed at his younger daughter as if unable to reconcile this outspoken young woman with the shy flower from whom he had been forcibly separated two years before. Daisy could not blame him. But neither could she agree.
“Freddie is right, Papa,” she said, laying a gentle hand on the Prussian blue wool of his greatcoat’s sleeve. “We are women now, and long past the point of fretting over whether or not society approves of us.”
“They cannot help but approve of you,” William Barnicott said softly, “when you helped to prevent a war and the loss of a kingdom only weeks ago.”
But Papa had recovered himself, and straightened his back in a way Daisy remembered well from childhood. “I realize the truth of all you have said. But my dear girls, society in Victoria is unaware of your triumphs and your trials. Your reputation and success depend upon the worthy matrons who rule the dining rooms and ballrooms in which you will appear. And all they will hear is that Frederica Linden arrived, unchaperoned, in the company of an unmarried gentleman.”
They stood on the military airfield on the far side of the hill from Port Townsend, the sea breeze tugging impatiently at skirts and hats, as though urging them to go. The sun laid a carpet of glittering sparkles on the water as it rose above the barrier islands. Daisy agreed with the wind—they should have lifted an hour ago, before dawn. Before they attracted notice. And now, practically on the point of departure, Papa was flying the flag of propriety to four individuals who gave not a fig for it.
Five, if one counted Davey, down on the rocks looking for anything interesting the tide might have cast up.
Literally hours from the end of their journey, who cared if Freddie flew in the Royal Canadian Airborne Police vessel with Corporal Oscar Kent, that paragon of gentlemanly virtue? He was their escort, for goodness sake.
Well, Freddie cared. How deeply remained to be seen.