It is said that you should be careful what you ask for. I suppose a valid corollary of that would be to be careful what you complain about. After last night, I suppose I should be careful of complaining about quiet nights in the tavern. I have also discovered today that I need to find a better way of answering questions about my age and what year it is. It is entirely possible that there is no good way, and to be honest, I do not yet know the answer to the latter.
I was up early, enjoying the pre-dawn peace with Mallory and making notes for Serendipity. Lalla turned up, apparently relatively lacking in the attentions of the mysterious Adam. She was dressed differently, in a white dress long enough that it might have passed muster in my time. I complimented her on it, even if part of me was a little disappointed, having gotten used to the rather more revealing black skirt and stockings combination that seems to be her default. Is that wrong of me? I asked if this was one of her creations, but it turned out that it was not. We spoke briefly about the repairs she had promised me and I told her that she could store her things in the poker room for now and use the poker table to do her repairs.
We walked down to the lookout point and on the way; she told me some more about this Adam. It seems he can be quite violent, having struck her with a tree branch on occasions. This seemed to me to be akin to a poltergeist, but that does not seem to be what she thinks he is. She told me that she can tell when he is approaching by a smell, a bit like cream. We stopped at the lookout, enjoying the view. She told me that she missed her family and friends, which is understandable. I am finding it surprisingly easy to talk to her, so I told her a little of my early life as a sailor, and getting used to being away from home.
Then she asked me about where and when I came from. I answered as plainly as I could, but somehow, the time gap frightened her and she started to panic and get hysterical. She blurted out something about being in the way to the theatre to show some of her costumes and getting very wet in a subway. She told me that she was 26 and had been born in 1986. She told me about waking up in a boat and being very wet, and that was where she acquired Adam. There was stuff about her parent and friends, something about Adam telling her she would be hanged or burned and something about wanting to know if she was dead and how she would survive. It all came out in a rush, including asking about my experiences in getting here.
I did my best to calm her, to reassure her, just holding her for a few minutes. Since she had mentioned theatre, I used that as an analogy for the transition between times – stepping from the modern day backstage into Shakespeare’s time. I told her a little of my journey, leaving London, trying to get to Bremerhaven and being shipwrecked. I told her about my initial misconception about this being the afterlife and the ferryman being Charon. I assured her that I felt very much alive, and that so was she. Some day, I will have to tell her, but now did not seem to be a good time to discuss the ambiguous nature of my status in respect of living. I promised her that she would survive and find a place here, that I wouldn’t allow her to be hanged or burned, and that if Adam tried anything, I would punch his face, just as soon as I could work out where it was.
This got a laugh out of her and she settled down a bit. It may take her time to process the way things are here in Jasper Cove. She seemed tired then, so I walked her down to the temple, where she felt she could rest without interference from Adam. I stayed nearby until she slept, which gave me the chance to complete chapter 9 of Serendipity and to work out what to do in chapter 10. Next stop for Edmund, a nap, more chatting with Françoise, dinner and socialising in the tavern, and then, organising the bridge project.