A Transdimensional
              Portal HUZZAH!

  by Van © 2021

Chapter 1



The Grand Alliance of Iroquoia, Brittania, Hibernia, and Gaul was in something of a merry dither.  The Heroines of the Alliance had done it again!

It was in all the newspapers, and above the fold, especially in dailies with a technical or scientific bent.  The Times of Londinium, the Many Nations Intelligencer, and the Manhattan Ledger all had special pullout features in their latest Sunday editions, and even the Germanic papers were in on the hysteria.  Scientific Caledonian promised a fully illustrated coffee table book would be available in the Fall, just in time for Festivus bulk orders.

Erica Durance as
                Bonnie Plantuckett
Bonnie Plantuckett
Emma Watson as Hon.
                George Congreve
Hon. Georgette Congreve
Yes, Bonnie Plantuckett, illustrious adventuress and daring explorer—and the Hon. Georgette Congreve, Bonnie's constant companion, influential fashion plate, and scientific genius—had done it again! 

The young ladies were already famous for opening commercially viable trade between the Luropean and Gondwanan subcontinents.  They had invented the Plantuckett-Congreve hover-yacht, then proved their design concept by building a prototype and mounting a daring, dangerous, and thrilling expedition directly across the Junn-Junn wastes themselves! 


[AUTHOR'S NOTE: See Across the Junn-Junn Wastes... by Hoveryacht! (Story #24) for details.]

Now, Gondwanan scholars, artists, healers, and traders were increasingly common sights in Grand Alliance cities, and the reverse was true with Luropeans visiting the urban centers and universities of the Ashanti Republic, Kingdom of the Zulu, and Gambizi Confederation!

Also, for the last several seasons, "Junn-Junn Sand Amazon" characters had become fixtures of Grand Alliance theater, especially comic opera.  Every new play seemed to have at least one character clearly (but respectfully) modeled after Bondara, daughter of Fettera, former Queen of the Sand Amazons.  The character was always incredibly beautiful, martial, and fierce, and had a habit of showing more skin than was considered proper.  Yet, she was wise, compassionate, and demonstrated strong moral virtue, and usually helped move the plot by reuniting lost lovers, finding the missing "MacGuffin", or solving otherwise insoluble problems with common sense and/or the banging of villainous heads together.  The glamorous female warrior was at once entertaining, sensuous, and heroic.

The real Bondara remained Bonnie and George's close friend and associate, but spent most of her time in the City of Londinium, consulting with various Alliance ministries and foreign embassies and chairing the board of the powerful and lucrative Honorable Trans Junn-Junn Trading Company (HTJ-JTC).  Bonnie and George are major shareholders, of course, and to put it politely, were no longer wanting for research funds.

And so... what had Bonnie & George done now?  Why were the Daring Duo now doubly famous?  They had invented yet another novel means of air travel: the Plantuckett-Congreve-Mackintosh Linear Ion Pulse Airship!

Structurally, it looked much like the lighter-than-air zeppelins, blimp-trains, and air-barges that comprised the bulk of the commercial and naval fleets of the Grand Alliance and other major powers; however, while the current prototype, the Grand Alliance Exploration Ship Spirit of Sky Woman, had the teardrop shape of a typical airship, it had no internal gasbags and was not lighter than air.  Most modern airships incorporate exterior or interior lifting modules utilizing the rare mineral Cavorite, but Spirit is nothing but lifting modules, and interior ones at that.
Spirit of Skywoman
Grand Alliance Exploration Ship Spirit of Skywoman

But there's more, much more!

An iris in the nose cone opens, revealing a wide, tunnel-like bore running the length of the ship and lined with periodic rings studded with synthetic crystals of a proprietary nature.  When electrical power is applied in a carefully modulated and proprietary manner, the crystals encourage the atmosphere entering the bore to exit via the exhaust aperture with vastly increased velocity.  In other words, the crystal-lined bore generates thrust!  A great deal of thrust!

Three large exterior rings with more crystals act to reduce the vessel's overall aerodynamic drag, and swiveling pylons with pusher-puller, variable-pitch, powerful turbo-prop motors provide maneuverability and emergency lift.  Finally, cleverly integrated difference-engine modules control all aspects of navigation and engineering operations, allowing a coordination of function that would otherwise require hundreds of highly trained officers and airmen and render the entire concept too complicated for practical application.

Spirit of Skywoman was an increasingly common sight as she zipped across the skies high above Britannia, transiting between the Honorable Trans Junn-Junn Trading Company Experimental Aerodrome at Boscombe Down and the Grand Alliance Military and Civil Aerodrome at Chipping Norton, where she was undergoing final certification trials.

But wait!  The Plantuckett-Congreve-Mackintosh Linear Ion Pulse Airship?  Who was this "Mackintosh" person?
Molly C. Quinn as Mac
Mæve "Mac" Mackintosh

She was none other than Miss Maeve "Mac" Mackintosh, daughter of a prominent Hibernian bard and a famous Caledonian piper.  She had been born with a genius for science, mathematics, and engineering to rival even George, but unfortunately, her family had lacked the wherewithal to provide Mac with a first rate technical and philosophical education at one of the premier Grand Alliance universities.  Fortunately, the fates had smiled.

Mac applied for a position at Boscombe Down, was accepted, and in a very short time was "discovered" by Bonnie and George and promoted to the position of Principal Assistant on Project Sky Woman.  Mac devoured science, mathematics, and engineering texts and journals, and in a matter of months, Bonnie and George recognized her as their scientific peer and promoted her yet again to the official position of full partner.  (And thanks to friendly prodding from Bonnie, George and Mac found themselves locked in an amiable competition for the title of Top Boffin.)

The newspapers might be clueless, but in point of fact, Bonnie, George, and Mac were coequal co-inventors of the many patent-worthy breakthrough technologies that had gone into the making of Spirit of Skywoman, and Bonnie and George had made very sure that Mac's name appeared on all company papers, patent-filings, monographs, and peer-reviewed articles.

Mac might be unmistakably working class in her demeanor, but she was now a very wealthy young woman indeed, and under George's tutelage, was becoming something of a fashionista in her own right.  Yes, George was teaching Mac how to dress to the nines.  With her flaming red hair, Mac's go-to color had always been green, and it remained so, but George was slowly expanding her palette and refining her tastes in general.

And speaking of fashion, George herself had begun experimenting beyond the standard walking dresses and tea gowns that had become the mainstays of proper Luropean feminine fashion.  She was now willing to try blousons, cable-knit jumpers, Sailor-collar shirts, drop-waist dresses, and even... pleated trousers... provided they were long, full, and sufficiently voluminous.  Yes, clearly defined and unencumbered feminine legs might be shocking; but surprisingly, if the legs in question belonged to the Hon. Georgette Congreve, the fashion pages had proved willing to forgive George "exposing" the shape of her lower limbs!

And speaking of shocking...  Bonnie continued her notorious and deplorable habit of dressing in an undeniably masculine manner... in public!  She'd always been more than a bit of a tomboy, all the way back to her childhood (and the highly formative summers she'd spent learning forest-craft and hunting skills alongside her Tuscaroran cousins, far from Manhattan and Londinium).  Anyway, when Bonnie wasn't wearing shocking fashions that boldly suggested men's trousers... she was wearing actual men's trousers!

George had given up trying to calibrate Bonnie's fashion sense long ago, but fortunately, Mac required no such correction.  That said, clearly, Bonnie was a bad influence on their new ginger partner.  On more than one occasion, George had found Bonnie and Mac wearing coarse, working class, off-the rack, men's shirts, trousers, and boots and crawling around in the tight spaces of Spirit of Skywoman's interior, their hair tousled and faces smudged with grease!  Voices were raised.  The workers and ground crew at Boscombe Down found it very entertaining,

Anyway, with the successful early trials of Spirit of Skywoman, Bonnie and George's fame and public renown had redoubled!

Unfortunately (or possibly fortunately, as the amiable, well-grounded young lady insisted), Mac remained on the sidelines.  The scientific and engineering establishments might be aware of her contributions, but so far she'd remained out of the popular limelight, which was just as well as far as she was concerned.  On those occasions when George talked Mac into donning appropriate attire and accompanying her on a shopping trip and/or to visit a technical exposition in Londinium—which was inevitably accompanied by visits to tearooms and patisseries for refreshment—reporters buzzed around George like the proverbial bees mobbing a fresh blossom until they were chased off by the staff, but they left George's ginger companion alone.  Mac found all the hubbub to be highly amusing.

Also unfortunately, fame and success have their prices.  Public renown sometimes attracts envious attention from sinister sources, especially when lucrative technical breakthroughs are involved.

 Chapter 1

George opened her eyes.

She was in a tastefully appointed parlor or sitting room in what she surmised was a private home, possibly in the country but probably in the city; however, the normal purpose of the room had been usurped.  Numerous large charts hanging from rolling wooden frames were visible, as was a work table laden with analytical glassware more appropriate to a laboratory, piles of reference books, various hand instruments of delicate design, and a truly exquisite Royal Gardens tea set on a silver tray.  The charts were centered around one topic: the anatomy of the human foot.

One chart's origin was clearly somewhere in the Hegemony of the Han Emperor and depicted the underside of a human foot labeled with numerous symbols, all linked to tables of elegant calligraphy in characters George believed may be an archaic form of Hokkien.  She wasn't sure.

A second, very similar chart was labelled in Sanskrit, with repeated references to the Tantric chakras, anatomical sites of great power and/or potential for stimulation.  Its margin was defined by very delicate illustrations of various Luropean and Morasian alpine blossoms.  George found it very pretty.

Yet a third chart depicted a somewhat cruder illustration of a human foot (in George's aesthetic opinion) with annotations in Hochdeutsch.  Tiny portraits of what may have been gnomes, fairies, trolls, elves, and other fey beings of the popular imagination were scattered among the marginalia.  What fairyland creatures had to do with human feet wasn't in any way clear, and most of the text was too diminished by distance for George to read.

Oh-by-the-way, George was laying on her back with her arms at her sides on a comfortably padded reclining chair (possibly Rococo Revival in style, although it was difficult to be sure given George's limited perspective).  Her hands were encased and restrained in tightly laced mittens and wrist-straps of high quality leather, and similar leather straps pressed her body into the cushions, passing above and below her breasts, across her waist, across her thighs, and across her shins.  Her ankles were restrained by similar straps, but her toes were bound by individual, very taut nooses of exceedingly taut, thin, braided cord that radiated like a fan to tiny geared mechanisms lining the underside of a semi-circular arcing frame of richly stained hardwood.  The frame was elaborately and expertly carved and was definitely Rococo Revival.

And then there was the matter of George's recently commissioned, highly fashionable, and trendsetting walking dress.  It was an homage to the traditional Promenade, but with clear elements of modern Reception designs.  It was in all aspects very pretty, or more precisely, it would be if it wasn't completely missing!  Also missing were George's boots, stockings, pantaloons, chemise, slip, over-slip, under-sip, and other petticoats, as well as her corset, hat (including her trademark stereoptical/polychromatic goggles), and gloves!  Even her réticule was inexplicably absent!

That's right, George was naked!  Nude!  Starkers!  In total déshabillé!  In the bare scud!  Stitchless!  ...   Not!  Wearing!  Any!  Clothes!  ...  And in a strange parlor!

The leather straps were tight enough to dimple George's skin, and by their placement and number, more than sufficient to render her utterly and completely helpless.  Her breasts were... right there!  And her nipples were distressingly... turgid?  No 'turgid' was a totally unacceptable description.  Her nipples were rigid (which, while better than "stiff," was still unacceptable).  George heaved a truly tragic sigh prior to commencing the required Brave But Futile Struggle to free herself.

"Oh.  Bother."

The leather straps creaked but failed to shift as George squirmed and wiggled.  Her breasts and rigid nipples wobbled and shook as she fought for her freedom... and she still wasn't satisfied with the term "rigid."  'Erect?'  Oh, Heaven's no!  Certainly not 'erect!'

George was distressed, and a large part of her distress came from the fact that this wasn't the first time she'd been distressed in such a manner.  This was at least the seventh time she'd been captured by some criminal ne'er-do-well, partially or totally disrobed, then subjected to some form of... persuasion to divulge proprietary information relating to the latest technological breakthrough she was developing with Bonnie.

George lifted her head from its comfortable cushion and resumed her inspection of her condition and environment.  The only novel detail George noticed was that her hair had been rearranged.  It had been uncoiled and brushed and was now lying in a loose fan about her blushing face.  The semi-circular Rococo device trapping her toes remained restrictive, ominous, and strongly discouraging of any and all toe wiggling.  Her overall evaluation of the parlor's decor remained unchanged.

"Ah... you are awake.  Ve can begin."

The unmistakably feminine voice with the Gaulish accent had come from somewhere behind George's head, and was accompanied by the swish of layers of expensive fabric.  The speaker gracefully strolled into George's highly embarrassed view.  She was of average height with a fair complexion, glossy black hair expertly coiffed in the latest style, and wearing a two-piece Marbury dress in dark blue, with the expected long sleeves, flounced shoulders, high, lace-trimmed collar, and was hand embroidered with delicate white glacier lilies.  She was also wearing a corset (of course), but moved with the grace of a dancer, acrobat, or athlete.  Her features were symmetrical and quite attractive, and her eyes a stunning shade of sky-blue.  And unfortunately, she was not a stranger.

"Lady Morfydd Archambault-Bonvillain," George sighed.  "I might have known.  How dare you!"

"Oh, please, mon petite," Her Ladyship purred.  "You invent zhe new propulsive thrusting, so to speak, yet act surprised vhen you attract zhe attention?"

George tugged on her bonds and rolled her eyes.  Lady Archambault-Bonvillain was Gaulish, from Paris itself, but that was no excuse.  She was known to engage in questionable endeavors, usually in the employ of questionable employers (like the Brotherhood of the Occult Mechanical Octopus, the Tongs of southern Han, or the Nordic Illuminati).  It was the same old sad story.  Bonnie and George would invent something, the usual suspects would decide they wanted it (without paying the required patent fees), and Bob's-your-uncle, George was kidnapped.  It was infuriating... as well as mortifying.  It was criminal and unseemly for anyone to engage in such perfidy, but a member of the Gaulish peerage?  Scandalous!  Needless to say, Lady Morfydd was the black sheep of her family, the criminal genius black sheep of her family.

"Where are my clothes?" George demanded.

"Elsewhere," Her Ladyship chuckled, one delicate gloved hand raised to hide her elegantly curled lips and her head coquettishly turned to the side.  It was very Gaulish.

"I'm not telling you anything!" George huffed, squirming against the taut straps.

"So, down to business?" Lady Morfydd purred.  "Very well."

George watched (anxiously) as Lady Morfyyd strolled to the work table, opened a small portmanteau-style wooden traveling cabinet, opened a drawer, and pulled out several neatly folded silk scarves... one-by-one... until she had a stack of precisely three.  The first scarf she folded into a long, narrow bandage and tied an overhand knot in its center.  The second she folded into a similar bandage, but without a knot.  The third—in a flourish of fluttering fingers—Lady Morfydd folded into a decorative silk rose.  It was most impressive... also ominous and distressing.

"I would rather not be gagged," George objected in a matter-of-fact voice.

"Oh, I know, mon chérie," Lady Morfydd chuckled, "but it is necessary."  She delicately inserted the silk rose into George's gaping mouth—


—carefully centered the knot in the first bandage over the rose... and tied the ends together at the nape of George's neck, under her hair and tightly enough to cause George's cheeks to bulge in a most unladylike manner.


Her Ladyship then tied the third and final bandage over the knotted cleave-gag as a tight over-the-mouth gag.

"Mrrr!"  George was very well gagged.

"Très photogénique," Lady Morfydd said with a warm smile. "Now, I have found zhe most expeditious manner to proceed een these circumstance ees to apply persuasion for at least one hour before asking questions.  So..."

"Mrrrmprrrfh!!"  George squirmed and struggled and did her best to escape before the "persuasion" began, but it was a total waste of energy.

Meanwhile, her charming lips still smiling a delightful (sinister) smile and her blue eyes sparkling, Lady Morfydd removed her gloves, settled onto a padded bench at the foot of George's Rococo Revival restraining chair, and selected what George believed might be a primary flight feather of an Emperor Goose (Anser canagicus) from a decorative glass jar on a nearby side-table.

"And now vee begin," Lady Morfydd sighed, her eyes focused on George's wrinkled, stretched soles as she leaned forward.  The tip of the feather grew ever nigh!  The leather straps creaked as George continued struggling, and her beautiful brown eyes were as wide as the proverbial saucers above her gag.


Suddenly, George's dreadful situation turned topsy-turvy in an unexpected and delightfully brilliant manner!

 Chapter 1

Her gloves restored and wrists locked in Darby handcuffs, Lady Morfydd was led away by agents of the Grand Alliance Home Office.  After her statement was taken, she would probably be indicted for her crimes (or possibly recruited as a Provisional Asset of either the Home Office or Foreign Ministry).  The Leading Agent tipped his bowler to Bonnie and Mac and closed the parlor door behind him.

Bonnie, Mac, and George were now alone in the parlor.

Bonnie was wearing one of her scandalously masculine costumes: leather knee-boots that laced up the front, riding pants, cotton blouse, narrow-waist campaign-jacket, leather gloves, and a long silk scarf.  The color palette was autumnal, the materials employed first rate, and the tailoring impeccable.  Truth be told, the ensemble was masculine only to the most conservative of observers.  Bonfilia Plantuckett was clearly a woman... a fit, athletic, beautiful woman who did not suffer fools gladly.  In fact, she was stunning (in a hoydenish sort of way).  She was also armed, with a powerful self-recharging Tesla pistol of her own design in a shoulder holster under her jacket, and several blades concealed in various locations about her person.

Mac was equally well dressed, but her costume clearly straddled the gender divide.  She was wearing high-waisted, straight, very wide trousers that might have been mistaken for a skirt in poor lighting conditions.  Her blouse was frilly but functional, and her jacket longer than Bonnie's.  The color palette was in shades of reddish brown, and an ascot tie in a subdued print graced her throat.  All fabrics involved were expensive and of high quality, and the tailoring gave her great freedom of movement.  And decidedly more so than George, her ensemble was definitely feminine, in that a male wearing the same ensemble would look clownishly foppish and ridiculous.  Mac, however, carried it off quite well.  Like Bonnie, she was armed, but her sidearm was a compact Colt-Webbley Tesla with a helical, cascading discharge-coil concealed in a quick-draw holster sewn into her handbag.  A Caledonian dirk was in a sheath inside her jacket.

George had to admit that both of her friends looked remarkable... albeit unconventional.

And speaking of George... Lord Congrave's daughter was still distressingly naked, well-gagged, and helplessly restrained.  The Home Office contingent had blushed, tipped their bowlers, and left the freeing of the Hon. Georgetta Congreve to her female companions.  That's right, the taut leather straps still pinned her naked body to the chair, the silk scarves were still crammed inside and cleaving her mortified mouth and pressed against her distressed lips, her trapped toes were still captured in the Rococo semi-circle of taut cords, and she was still naked!  George was also flushed, sweating (meaning glowing in an manner that could only be appropriate given her current circumstances), and above all, she was very angry!

George noted Bonnie and Mac's dimpled smiles.  "Mrrrf!"  She's doing it on purpose! THEY'RE doing it on purpose!  And then, with alarm, George noted that Mac was leaning ominously close to her individually bound and stretched toes!

"Oh, look!" Mac said.

"What?" Bonnie inquired, leaning close as well.  "I believe they're called toes."

"The gear assemblies," Mac clarified.

"I see what you mean," Bonnie nodded.  "They're all different.  Or more precisely, bilaterally symmetrical, mirrored on the left and right."

George rolled her eyes.  They were referring to the mechanisms linking the toe-binding cords binding each of her toes to the Rococo toe-frame, of course.  But now that she noticed, the gear assemblies were, indeed, unnecessarily complicated... unless they were complex for a reason.  Interesting... and distressing.

"Looks like they're made with standard watchmaking components," Mac noted, then pointed down, well below Bonnie's limited view.  "And they're linked to these keyboards."

Bonnie nodded.  "What do you think they're for?"

Mac's smile widened.  "Isn't it obvious?"

The keyboards in question were identical, one situated under George's left foot, and the other under her right.  They were much like those of a compact organ, piano, or harmonium, and clearly were an integral part of the Rococo toe-frame.

Mac flexed her fingers.  "I'm going to try an E flat dominant seventh," she announced, "on the left."

"That would certainly be my choice," Bonnie said dryly.

George shook her head.  "Mrrrpfh!"  Clearly, Mac should commence with the standard major cords... C major (C, E, and G), followed by C sharp major (C#, E#, G#), followed by D major (D, F#, and A), etc.—but only after untying George's toes, of course.  Any other course of action would be—"Mrrrf!"

Still smiling, Mac was lightly holding down the Eb, G, Bb, and Db keys of the left keyboard, simultaneously.

The result had been a most unsettling and uneven stretching of George's already stretched left foot!  The pressure on some of her toes had decreased, but on others it had increased!  The sensation was tingling and prickling, but not actually painful.

"So, one hand plays the keyboard while the other tickles the foot with a feather?" Bonnie suggested.

"Obviously, somebody put a great deal of thought and effort into enhancing the tickling process," Mac noted, staring at the soles of George's toe-bound feet, deep in thought.

"Mrrrrpfh," George whimpered.  Tears glistened in her doe eyes.

"Well..." Mac sighed as she released the keys.

"Exactly," Bonnie agreed, then set to the task of removing George's triple-layered gag (counting the stuffing).

Meanwhile, Mac had abandoned her interest in the Rococo Toe Rack keyboards and was examining the tea service on the worktable.  "Oh, brilliant!" she announced.  "It's one of those new hyper-insulated duro-ceramic pots.  Still hot."  She poured tea into a cup and saucer, added milk, then handed it to Bonnie.

Bonnie had plucked the now slightly slimy silk rose from George's mouth and the still naked, bound, and toe-racked prisoner was frowning, working her jaws, and licking her lips.  "Yes, please," she sighed as Bonnie held the cup to her pouting mouth.  She took a delicate sip—"Brilliant."—followed by another... followed by another.

Mac turned and headed for the parlor door.  "I'm going to look for her clothes," she announced, smiling at George as she passed.  "You're under-dressed."

"Beastly lout," George accused the grinning ginger, then focused on Bonnie's smiling and tea-dispensing self.  "And as for you!"

"Shut it!" Bonnie chuckled.  "How many times has this happened?  How many times have I told you this week you need to be on your guard?  Whenever we've on the verge of a marketable breakthrough, every sinister scientific organization and disreputable commercial consortium in and especially out of the Grand Alliance commission your kidnapping to steal our hard work.  Just think how disappointed poor Mac would be if her first technological breakthrough was stolen because you allowed yourself to be snatched off the street?"

"Yes, poor Mac," George huffed.

"You're not being careful, George," Bonnie continued.  "I might not always be here to rescue you, and Mac is new at this game."

"I refuse to apologize for being abducted, stripped naked, and tortured," George muttered.  "But thank you.  In future I'll carry a Tesla derringer on my person at all times.  Release these straps."

Bonnie rolled her eyes, shook her head, then began unbuckling the straps that pinned her careless, under-dressed, and kidnap-prone partner to the comfy chair.  She was working on releasing George's toes when Mac reappeared.

"I have good news and bad news," the smiling redhead announced.  "Which do you want first?"

George sat up, glowered at Mac, held her hands so they could be released from their leather mittens by Bonnie, but limited her reply to Mac to her sour scowl.

"Georgette's new ensemble is missing?" Bonnie suggested.  "Is that the good news?"

"Such jocularity," George droned, perfectly deadpan.

"That's the bad news," Mac chuckled.  "The good news is that Lady Archambault-Bonvillain was thoughtful enough to leave you something else to wear.  She lifted her arms to reveal several items of clothing hanging from simple hangers.  They were: (1) a decidedly dirty, worn, and frayed men's jacket, (2) an equally disreputable pair of boy's knee-pants, and (3) a dirty linen shirt that may have once been white.  All the items were small, made for either a very short and very slight adult or teenager.  "There are also a pair of mungy old boots and a cloth cap to complete the costume," Mac added with a dimpled and highly irritating smile.  "How's your Cockney accent, Georgy-boy?"

"The fiend!" Bonnie chuckled.  "After having her technologically advanced way with your feet and learning what she wanted to know about Sky Woman, Lady Morfydd was planning to send you on your way dressed as a cross-dressing street urchin!"  Her smile faded and she grew thoughtful.  "Actually, that's quite clever!  If you applied to a policeman for assistance, he'd drag you to the station and lock you in a cell while his sergeant combed through the latest reports of disgraced daughters fleeing the wrath of their disgraced families."

"Yes," George agreed in a stone-cold manner.  "Clever."  She stood and stomped (padded) over to confront Mac in a quite literally naked manner.  "No underwear?" she demanded.

"None," Mac sighed.  "Sorry."

George snatched the pants from the hanger and pulled them on.  There was no belt, but there was a pair of appropriately tattered suspenders.  The shirt was next.  George buttoned it up (only one button was missing), tucked in its long tails, arranged the suspenders to hold up the pants, then donned the jacket.

Still smiling (of course), Mac handed George the cloth cap.  "I'll go get the boots," she chuckled.

"How very helpful," George growled, then coiled her long brown tresses atop her scowling head and stuffed them under the cloth cap, the tattered brim of which was at a jaunty angle.  Next, she placed her hands on her hips and stared daggers at her best friend.  "You are enjoying my discomfiture far too much," she accused.

Bonnie shrugged, and her smile never wavered.  "How else are you going to learn?  If you don't want me to gloat, don't let yourself get kidnapped."

Before George could counter with a frightfully clever riposte, Mac returned with the missing boots.  They were, indeed, mangy, and decidedly so, scuffed and much in need of a proper shine.  "Before you ask," Mac said (with a "sympathetic" smile), "no socks."

George snatched the boots from Mac's hand, sat in a nearby winged chair, and slid her bare feet inside.  The laces were worn and already knotted in repair.  She tightened them as carefully as she could, then tied double bows.  Once again standing hands-on-hips but now in full costume, Georgy-the-street-urchin glared at her rescuers.

"Adorable," Mac stated.

"Adorable," Bonnie agreed.

"Hrumph!"  George spun on her disreputable heels and stomped towards the parlor door... then paused with her hand on the doorknob.  "Well?  Are you coming?"

Bonnie and Mac exchanged smiles, then followed the rescued damsel from the scene of the crime.

Between Lady Morfydd's rented townhouse, laboratory, and torture parlor and their suite at The Savoy they crossed paths with only one reporter, but that was enough.

Within a week, any truly discerning lady of any city of the Grand Alliance wouldn't dare venture forth from her home without wearing a hat with clearly discernible "Raggedy Street Urchin" style elements.

That's right, the Hon. Georgette Congreve had set yet another fashion trend!

 Chapter 1


֍ Chapter 2