I have been charged with a very important task, and that is to ensure that we arrive in London TODAY. No water crossings, no freak snowstorms, no pirates, no moors and highwaymen. After all, there is a certain ball to plan and I am certain Katharine and Lady B will need every day between now and Monday to do so.
Lady B: I assure you, Miss Darby, that I could plan this ball in my sleep.
I eye Lady B from my position in the corner of the coach, facing forward and near the window. (I’m not a good traveler and, although it took them nearly three weeks to realize this, the rest of my travelling companions have decided its best to let me pick my seat.)
Lady B: You doubt me?
And I don’t. However, considering the amount of days we’ve spent on the road, and the number of hours per day we’ve all spent napping the interminable hours away, it did look for a while that Lady B might have to plan in her sleep.
Of course, it’s my job today to ensure that will not be the case. And I am indeed the right person for the task. After all, I’ve never seen Magic Mike and I’m not easily impressed by a famous male face.
Katharine: It will be fine.
She’s sitting opposite me, and I can see that she’s speaking out of a desire to convince herself it will be so.
Lauren: I’m famished.
We can’t stop. We’re so close (The landscape blurring past, etc…)
It’s Lady B making the demand, so of course, we stop. However, I don’t see any convenient copse of trees around. The edge of the nearest forest is visible a mile away.
My goodness, Look!
I look. It’s a lovely September day. I always love the English countryside. I wish I could spend as much time here in the 21st century as I do virtually in the 19th.
I hear Sarah say rather incredulously: So unicorns are real.
Which means I am clearly looking in the wrong direction.
Kate: Aside from narwhals, of course.
I’m picturing a whale with a horn when suddenly a flash of white crosses my vision. OMG. It’s actually a unicorn. As in white coat. A single horn. And absolutely stunning.
Lady B: I want to see it. Miss Dare, you have a way with animals, fetch it for me, will you?
Gaelen interrupts. “Actually, a unicorn can only be captured by a virgin. At least, according to mythology.”
We all look at each other. Eight married women and we are quite certain that despite her husband haring off with Lord B, Kate has consummated her union. If only this journey had happened at the beginning of the summer, when neither Lauren nor Kate were married.
“This is the 21st century, Sabrina.”
“Nonono! It is the 19th, I assure you.”
“Right, I heard that the horn is a symbol of virility.”
“Well we need a virgin. Albert?”
Lady B coughs.
Monty stirs from his careful ignoring of us, which he’d been doing for the better part of the last two days. He stares at us between swollen eyes, then those eyes grow wider, even as he winces in pain.
Ladies, I assure you, there is no reason to be looking at me.
I look at him doubtfully. Or hopefully? Because it really would make it so much easier if he were…
Lady B: Follow that Unicorn!
I look out the window to see that the white horned animal is speeding away from us and suddenly we are speeding after it, as if the forces of darkness will overtake the world and keep it in winter forever if we don’t find the unicorn. At a pace not at all copacetic with my stomach.
I have no idea where we are anymore. Last I knew, we were a mere 20 miles from London. Now, with my internal compass all turned around, I have no idea.
We’re in the middle of the forest thicket, and the path before us is lit with tiny candles in decorative lanterns.
We’re never going to get to London.
Except, there’s a familiar odor in the air. Like stagnant water and coal…
“London!” Miranda cries, like someone starved for sustenance and I do believe she’s right. Furthermore, somewhere in this fair city is a unicorn, sniffing after virgins like a Regency rake. The only question is, where is the unicorn? And where exactly in London are we?