We were Detained in Plotz, a small village not far from where the Airship came down, while waiting for the paperwork to be completed which would allow us to return to Trieste. The Austro-Hungarian Empire appears to thrive on paperwork. We would have been in considerable difficulties had not a rather dashing Gentleman, with a preposterous moustache and an impressive uniform, who worked on some capacity for the Government, come to our assistance. The local policeman, Captain Crontz, was officious and irritating. Whilst I was attempting to find someone with some sense up at the Castle, Lady Hester was conveyed away on the Mail Packetboat. The Secretary at the Castle was a most Awkward man, and the Mayor himself most elusive. I did discover some interesting plants on the wall of the Castle which almost made up for the great waste of time. Herr Wittgenstein, the Austro-Hungarian, said he was interested in plants but he did not know the first thing about them. He did a lot of Sneaking and Scurrying such that Mr.Williams and I had to effect a Rescue from the Mayor's wife - I did not wish to know what was going on, but I did need those papers.
At last we were aboard a small sailing vessel heading back to Trieste. A most unnatural Storm grew up behind us and before we could reach the safety of the shore, we were overtaken by Turkish Pirates brandishing horrible curved swords. We did not know if we could trust Captain Flack and his huge black Mate. The pirates boarded us as Mr.Williams worked hard to make the engine speed us out of trouble. I was glad to have that Bandit's gun and shot two Pirates in the arm. We were lucky to escape with our lives.
Arrived in Trieste. Mr.Williams stayed at the Jubilee Osprey to help Cpt.Flack repair his beloved engine. I discovered my room at the Pension was still retained for me, thanks to Lady Hester's servants, Brown and Agnes. Lady Hester was there; she had spent much time telling the Authorities of our Adventure and giving information to speed the Capture of the Strange Woman and Guiseppe Carrera. Lady Hester was much in correspondence by Telegraph with her family and was most anxious to leave the city and so escape their Pressure. The Count had been rescued and was in the local hospital. The two Guides I had planned to meet were unharmed; I paid them something for their trouble and said I might call upon them again in a few days. I feel I ought to stay close to the city whilst the enquiries into our Kidnapping are in hand.
I spent the morning at the local Library endeavouring to discover more about the sort of Magick that might have created the black storm that overtook us. There were few books on such matters and fewer in languages that I can read so although I was absorbed for Hours, I did not learn much except that such weather control was believed to be possible. On my return to the Pension, I found an invitation to join Lady Hester and Herr Wittgenstein for afternoon tea. To calm the Fears of Lady H.'s family, I despatched a Telegram to tell them she was to accompany myself on my Botanical trip; Herr W. was also kind enough to agree to come with us - such enthusiasm for plants is most commendable.
Herr W. had been making Enquiries and was under the impression that the Jubilee Osprey had put to sea, heading East, and that Mr.Williams might be in need of our assistance. It appeared that Herr W. was expecting Cpt.Flack to rendezvous with someone in the Bay of 3 Trees to the West and was Disturbed by the direction the boat had been seen to take. We resolved to leave town tomorrow morning to go one way or the other. In the meantime, Herr W. was kind enough to have the shotgun cleaned, procure suitable ammunition and give me a lesson in the use of the Piece.
We left on horseback during the early part of the day and went to the 3 Trees Bay where the local vegetation was particularly interesting. I collected a couple of specimens. Whilst I was examining the Plants, Herr W. spoke with a shepherd and discovered that although few foreigners were seen in these parts, one shepherd nearby was known to have contacts with Foreigners. This man, Old Fiorli, was Surly and most unco-operative. We used Force to gain entrance to his scruffy hovel, intending to scare the truth out of him but were leapt upon by a Savage Turk brandishing scimitar and gun. I tried to shoot him but Lady H. was as before far the better Shot and we soon had him tied up. Then I discovered poor Midhat Pasha, the Turkish Gentleman who had been at the French Reception, now bound and gagged in the loft of this hovel. It appeared that it was all a mess of Turkish Internal Politics, of no interest or concern to me but of great Interest to Herr W.
We were directed to a local country Inn by one Sr. Verbinelli, who seems to be a leading figure in these parts and speaks passable English. We told him of the trouble amongst the local shepherds and left him to hand over the bound Turk to local justice. The evening being very pleasant, Lady H. was kind enough to accompany me on a stroll while Herr.W and Mr.Pasha talked in the inn and we were surprised to meet Mr.Willams on our way back. He had arrived not long before on the Jubilee Osprey following a hint from Mr.Kuryakin, the Russian consul. Mr.Williams said something in Greek about the flowers in the Dardenelles blooming early this year to Mr.Pasha, which seemed particularly peculiar as well as inaccurate, but I think it was some sort of coded password as they then switched to English and Mr.Williams was telling Mr.Pasha that his transport (I presume, the J.O) had arrived. I would not be in the least surprised if this wasn't something to do with those political Young Turks meeting in Paris about now and I want nothing more to do with it.
Met Sr.Verbinelli outside the inn as we were preparing to depart. He most earnestly assured me that the weather should remain favourable for a while - why should it not? Do we have more suggestions of Meteorological Magick here? A nice trick if one could do it. Mr.Pasha left with Captain Flack and I was glad to see him go. Our departure to Trieste was most interestingly delayed by an offer from Sr.Verbinelli to show me some of the local uses of the plants here abouts. Anxious not to miss such an opportunity, I gladly went with him and Lady H. came too. I have sufficient notes to write up a brief Paper on the topic as soon as opportunity presents. I was able to begin getting my thoughts in order for this task by recounting much of what I had just learnt to Mr.Williams as we travelled on afterwards - he did not seem as enthusiastic as one might have wished.
I have been busy with my Paper most of the day. Herr.W kindly offered to continue my shooting lessons but I put him off until my Paper was completed. I was free by late afternoon and went with Lady H. to locate Herr. W. We met Count Carrera, much recovered but still using crutches. He informed us that his brother was last heard of in Yugoslavia and that he was getting his Airship brought here for repair. He kindly offered us a Letter of Introduction to his friend M.Matinage who resides in the Mountains in the area I am going to explore. Mr.Williams then arrived and all the talk was of Engines; we warned the Count to clean his engine with care.
Was the whole day at the office of the British Consul. They let me borrow
the services of a typist but my paper was so full of botanical and medical terms
that I was obliged to watch over her every move to ensure that all was done
correctly. Such a waste of time! If only my wrist were fully recovered from the
sprain I sustained when trying to shoot that Turk.
Met Herr. W in the afternoon for a successful shooting lesson. Was relieved to hear that he had received news of Mr.Pasha's safe arrival. Mr. Williams busy helping the Count with the Airship which is to be conveyed back to the farm for repair. Lady H. busy with her studies all day - most commendable - am beginning to think she is not at all a bad sort.
I am about ready to set off again, now that my little Contribution to knowledge is on its way to London. Lady H wishes to come so her family can't find her easily and insist on her return to England. Herr.W says he will accompany us part of the way to ascertain the truth of reports he has obtained regarding Serbian bandits moving north. He fears they may be a Danger to us but I doubt they will bother us. The British Consul is fully informed regarding our intended route.
Made a prompt start on the 6th, setting off in Lady H.'s carriage over good roads. Today we came in sight of M.Matinage's villa, a fortified farmhouse in a commanding position above the road close to the village of Dardenchara, where we put up at the Inn. The area is granite and limestone, sparse vegetation, little of interest apart from some lichens. Returned from an exploratory walk with Lady H. to find that Herr.W has been fighting with the locals. I am not best pleased with him as a travelling companion if this is how he behaves.
Stroll after breakfast with Mr.W while Lady H sent Brown up to the villa with our cards which resulted in a Luncheon invitation. Herr W was not of the party, which was probably just as well. Our Host. M.Matinage, is an Entomologist, retired here after working with the French railways. He was most welcoming, with pointless excuses about his unpreparedness as he has few visitors, and seems glad of some intelligent company. (His Man, Lurge, is too surly to be much company, I think). After a perfectly acceptable lunch he was kind enough to talk at length about his notions regarding arthropod design and function. He has some remarkable models and an extensive collection of insects, dead and alive.
During the afternoon we accepted M.Matinage's hospitality for the night, as he was so eager for Educated conversation and has some local knowledge of the mountain paths that might prove useful to me. Mr.W returned to tell the innkeeper and came back to the villa with Herr W. and worrying news. It appears that the woman Lumiere (or is it Sanders) has been seen and is well known here abouts. While I was attempting to impress upon M.Matinage the dangers of associating with this Lumiere woman, who he insists is a saint and an angel, there was a Disturbance in the hall. There was some shouting in French that I couldn't quite catch but seems to have to do with the same woman and whether she was in the villa or not. I devoutly hope she is many miles away. Herr W went out to help (pointless given his inability in the language, if you ask me). I gathered that two ruffians had turned up at the villa to make trouble but our Host was confident that he had sent them away and there would be no more from them.
Dinner was not long afterwards. Herr W stayed to eat with us though he was not to stay the night. Came up to my room not long ago - we have all been asked to stay in our rooms between midnight and 6 am. Odd. And what is that strange noise outside in the corridor? .....
My curiosity go the better of me. I did look out into the corridor but did not step outside my room. Our host has contrived some sort of automobile polishing machine that careers about the villa at night. Mr. W had a closer encounter with it for I saw him chase it down the passage.
We were taking our leave of M.Matinage after breakfast when shots were fired just outside the window. Many ruffians surrounded the villa demanding that M.Matinage hand over the Lumiere woman or they would set fire to the place. I went to search the rooms for her and found her in the kitchen. She tried to threaten me with a gun, speaking perfect English now, while I was intent on filling buckets at the convenient well there. She had the decency to tell me about an escape tunnel via the well then, hearing a very loud noise like an explosion from close by, she left me and headed for the cellar. Mr.W ran into the kitchen as she vanished from sight so I told him what had happened and he started down into the cellar in front of me. The Saunders woman shot at us while she was attempting to start up one of the engines. I left her and Mr.W to it when I heard breaking glass from upstairs. It was only Herr W coming in through a window. By the time we got back to the cellar, two of the huge insectoid Machines were steaming and ready to move. I returned to find Lady H and urge her to join me in escaping this madhouse via the tunnel by the well - she insisted on collecting her Maid who was hysterical which delayed us a while, but we did all three exit via the tunnel.
We emerged into some bushes by a rock not far from the villa. We could see one machine with wings held down by another which clamped great jaws onto it, and a giant mechanical Centipede bearing down on the pair of them. Guiseppe, brother of Count Carrera, was standing not far from the Dragonfly engine and the Ruffians, all armed and keeping well back from the engines, seemed to be under his command. I noticed Lady H prepare her pistol, and took the hint before marching over to the Engines. Herr W fought a duel with Guiseppe; I will never comprehend these Continentals. I ran off after the Dragonfly, which looked unlikely to get airborne, such was the damage to the tail and so unstable was its progress. Somehow she got it aloft, but not for long. I found the wreckage in a meadow beyond the village but not a trace of her. M Matinage was very tiresome - our congenial and interesting host of yesterday was so obsessed with Mlle L that he could not comprehend a word against her and would insist on combing the countryside for her until it was quite dark. I quite lost patience with the man. I heard later how Lady H had scared away the Ruffians, backed up by Mr.W. Herr W had looked to be getting the worst of the sword fight but turned it round and had Guiseppe unconscious from two serious wounds and when I saw him in the village, he was bound and bandaged.
I had hoped the whole business would be swiftly concluded once we gathered at the Inn. I stayed long enough to hear that Mlle had assaulted a local farmer and stolen his mule to make off with some bundle under her arm. The talking went on and on so I left them to it and went back to examine the wreckage more closely. It soon became clear to me that an essential and novel component of the Device was missing, that which converted the linear motion of the engine's pistons to the precisely controlled rotary motion of the beating wings. Mr.W took a look, agreed with me, and we spent an interesting time searching M Matinage's cellars. We found many diagrams, none of the annotated. I was able to sketch some of the relevant designs into my notebook before we returned to the Inn. We now believed that Mlle was going to give away or sell the new mechanism and eventually convinced M Matinage that it was essential he file his claim as inventor as soon as possible. The possibility of proving the validity of his designs to those who had mocked him in Paris provided the spur and we are to return to Trieste for this purpose on the morrow. Herr W is anxious to hand Guiseppe over to the authorities so will come along with us. I very much regret the delay of my expedition and the waste of effort in repeating this stage of the journey, but it cannot be helped.
Woken in the small hours by a Commotion in the yard - news arrived that Mlle
had held up and stolen a stagecoach. The victims claim she used Magick against
them but I do not believe a word of it.
Woke again about 7 and took some exercise while preparations for departure were in hand. Lady H's Man stirred M Matinage into action and we were off long before Mr.W seemed awake enough to travel. The Gentlemen travelled in the Centipede Engine, keeping an eye on Guiseppe who was still badly hurt. Lady H and I went ahead in the carriage, partly to prevent the horses being scared by the Engine and partly to warn those living along the way that the Centipede was close behind us.
Over luncheon we met a Dwarf calling himself Antonio. He was very impressed with the Centipede, but also by the tale of the stolen mechanism. Mr. W warned him that if he was offered details of such a device he was to remember that it was not Mlle's to sell and the Dwarf said he would pass this message on to his brothers. We felt need of haste so pressed on, passing the night at a reasonable Inn.
We were in Trieste in good time. Lady H went to deal with the local authorities while I went directly to the British Consulate where I explained all the trouble with Mlle and the inventions to MacBrian and urged him to act at once. The arrival of the Centipede caused quite a stir in town. Took rooms at the Pension again. Found tiresome Invitation there for me to Sra.Avalone's Ladies' Soiree tomorrow evening. Was on the point of refusing when Lady H announced that she must go and insisted I accompany her.