CHAPTER ONE ~ Crossing the River Rushis

Lord Hemnen exhaled with relief as the carriage passed above the foamy waters of the Rushis and into the District of the Fountains. The Crescents was notorious for being the precinct of the peasants, the breeding ground of the lowly—the traders and workers, cramped in small dingy rooms in small dingy streets.

To be avoided! Those well-bred individuals such as Lord Hemnen were proficient in the art of wrinkling noses and tilting chins at the disgusting habits of a poor man and his large poor family, and it gave them great relief to return to their own District, the Fountains, where the gentry lived in their tall well-groomed mansions, framed by wide sunny streets and shining with cleanliness.

Lord Hemnen had one such mansion in the District of the Fountains, but he did not use it often. His sense of stiff propriety did not pertain well to enjoy the riotous week of the Festival of Nations. He disliked the blundering activity of drunks, and he disliked the careless crudeness of peasants, and he disliked the queer ignorance of tourists, and there was no doubt that the Festival of Nations was a magnet for these three groups of people whom he so deeply disliked. Thus, before the beginning of the despised week, he removed to his large country estate in the North, and did not come near the City until Yuletide.

But today was different. Samare’s model village exploration had been halted, and organisation had fallen into turmoil amid the lower classes. The upper class continued as normal: anxious, yet displaying proudly their great powers of prescience. Today the Queen was dead, and Lord Hemnen had been summoned by a half-distraught King.

The End

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