Chapter the First or How the Lady Adeline MacNeal Found the Drive to Move Forward in Life.
There was a stern knock on the door followed by a gentle plop. Lady Adeline MacNeal knew it to be the sound of mail coming through the slot in the door. She sighed. She had been taking tea in the parlor. Usually, it was the butler’s job to bring the mail in on a silver platter for her to open. However, since her husband had died three years ago on his way home from India on that steamer, Jeeves had been declining in health. Last week he had passed away. She knew that she needed to replace him, her acquaintances were beginning to send her recommendations, but she just couldn’t find it in her heart to replace Jeeves so soon.
Most likely, it was another soiree intended for men to see if her husband’s money was worth her face and disposition. She had no intention of interrupting her tea for something so disagreeable. She took another sip. The tea was lovely.
There was another knock on the door, “Adeline, I’m coming in!” Which was followed by some indistinct mussitation.
Adeline leaned to a creatively hidden speaking tube, “Mary, could you bring up some tea for Anya.”
A faint, “Yes my lady.” drifted back in reply, but Adeline had already closed the tube. She knew her request would be tended to.
A napiform, three foot tall woman with flamingly Irish hair and a serviceable and forgiving dress spoke while coming into the parlor with some letters tucked under her arm, “You really must get a new butler. You can’t keep living like this. You’re becoming a shut in.”
Adeline smoothed her dress. It was the height of fashion in the most expensive cloth. “I’m hardly a shut in. My dear friend visits me everyday.”
“Your dear friend was not born into society and is Irish to boot. She is worse than no society.” Anya plunked down into one of the delicate, high-backed chairs.
Adeline conceded the point. It was practically a scandal how close she was to Anya. It would have been a scandal except that Adeline was one of those “dear ladies” that worked with the poor. Mostly, the poor didn’t come to her home since it would be scandalous if droves of filthy paupers came into the opulent houses of the peerage. Adeline made sure everyone who came to her house had business to be there. This generally satisfied her acquaintances. Generally.
“Do you really think Jeeves would approve of you shutting yourself off like this?” Anya wore a dower expression saying in her best man’s voice, “It is hardly the behavior befitting of a lady.”
A smile tugged at Adeline’s face. Jeeves was – had been – a gloomily, stoic faced man. It was almost as if someone had told him the proper way to be a butler was to look like you were on your way to a funeral. It was a surprising contrast to the compassionate heart he carried within him. He was so supportive of her work with the poor.
Anya handed the correspondence she had carried over to Adeline. As she was passing the letters over she paused, a frown creeping over her face.
“What is it Anya?”
“I came to see you about a strange letter I received, but I believe you have received the same letter in the same hand.” Anya handed the mail over, pulling an identical letter from her pocket.
“Curious.” Adeline compared the handwriting. This was of course redundant. If Anya said it was in the same hand, it was. Anya not only had an eidetic memory, she also was gifted with the ability to comprehend written language almost instantly. A talent that served her well as a research assistant.
“We should go.”
“We should?” Adeline eyed her friend cautiously. Anya had an unhealthy obsession with puzzles.
“Yes!” Anya leaned forward, “This is perfect! You need to get out of the house, interact with some people, but if you go to one of those society parties you’ll just mope.”
Adeline’s eyes narrowed, “I do not mope.”
Anya’s next comment dismissed Adeline thoroughly, “You’ll mope. If you come to this party, you’ll be on an adventure. You’ll be focused on trying to discover what sort of danger is lurking instead of how you miss Lord MacNeal and now Jeeves.”
Adeline knew Anya was right. Her husband would have wanted her to be happy. Jeeves would have wanted her to do the proper thing and be a part of society. Inwardly, she made the conscious decision to move forward. She laughed, “It would be a jolly good time. It would be a regular Holmes adventure!”
Anya laughed, “Promise me you won’t take up the pipe!”
Adeline grimaced, she hated the mundungus stuff. “That you shall have no fear of.”
 Shaped like a turnip
 Bad-smelling tobacco