Yet More (Semi) Parallel Lives... "Great Race, 1906"...Part XI

Suggested Race Theme (Raiders of the Lost Ark)

Despite a comfortable lead through California to Oregon, all was not well for the Walthrops...

Buffy-Millie had explained her thinking on Angel and Miss DuBois to William at length...

While he agreed that it made sense...Angel was the type to fix onto any female who held him at
arms length...Her detailed understanding of Angel's...Both LeGrand's and that alternate universe
fellow's...mental processes in the field of lovemaking raised uncomfortable questions in his
mind...

The same old ones, actually...

***

"Well, Warren?..." Alexander watched his chief editor as he inched toward the cooing carrier
pigeon on the fourteenth floor ledge of the New York Sentinel Building...

The sounds of the protesters in the hallway outside his office filtered through to Alex...

Still demanding the immediate employment of more females by the Sentinel...Stridently...
As if his wasn't one of the first major newspapers to employ a female reporter...Outside the
society column that is...

Fourteen stories below others were marching round the building...Signs waving...

"Almost, Boss...Just another...Got him!..." Warren called in triumph...

Several women looked overhead from their protest...Was that man trying to?...Others followed
suit...The protest was temporarily disrupted...

Willow Harris, now on outside march duty, likewise looked up...What the?...Oh, my...

Was that Alex by the window?...Had they shattered his nerves?...

He had been looking a little...lately...Nope...Just that fool Warren Mears...But was he going to?...

Hmmn...A potential job vacancy...Surely Alex couldn't offer an objection to filling such a
sudden vacancy with one of the protesters...Especially when it would detract from any minor
scandal that idiot Warren caused...

A perfect solution...One that could be used to satisfy the protesters...At least for the
moment...And that would minimize the upset of their conservative clients...Who would
appreciate the need to detract from scandal with an attention-getting scheme...
"Has it got Ms. DuBois' dispatch?...Come on, man!?...Well?..." Alex was exasperated...Warren
was clearly more concerned about his personal safety, feeling his way carefully back along the
ledge...

"Ummn...I think I see it...Just a mo, Boss..."

"Think!?..." Alex roared... "I want that dispatch...This paper needs that dispatch...Warren...Is that
bird carrying my dispatch from Ms. DuBois or not?!...Take a look and if it's not the bird...Go
back..."

"It's...the right...One..." Warren teetered on the ledge as the bird flapped around in his hands...

He edged his way slowly to the window...Alex eagerly grabbing the bird from him...

"Alex?..." Willow called from below, seeing a second man reaching out to Mears...It looked like
his office...

Surely he wasn't taking any foolish chances rescuing that moron?...A husband and father...

"ALEX!!!?" she called...No good, too far...

He had gone back inside, thank goodness...

Best to go up and check things out, though she thought...

The dispatch was indeed Ms. DuBois' latest...The Angel Special, reloaded with gasoline, was
again underway...Heading up through California in pursuit of Millie and Will...

Ms. DuBois discretely failing to mention that she and Mr. LeGrand were no longer properly
chaperoned...

Mears was re-entering via the window cautiously...

"Warren!..." Alex shouted...A scream from the window ledge...

"This latest dispatch must ...Warren?...Warren?!..." he looked out the window...

Mears had fallen about four stories and was hanging desperately on to an awning...

"Mears?!...You all right?..." Alex hollered down to him...

"Yeah...Boss, Help!..." Warren called feebly...

Willow knocked at the door...Which being unlocked she entered...

Her fellow protesters looking at her, a bit suspiciously...

Personal matters, she informed them...Shutting the door behind her...

"Alex...What's going on?..."

"Ah, Willow...Mears has gone and gotten himself stuck on some ledge..." Alex told her...

She came to the window...Oh...So, no vacancy...

Warren grabbed desperately at the awning...Some workers in the office on the tenth floor noticed
him and began shouting at him...

Some fool vaudevillian...Like that Houdini character...Well...This was a place of business...No
time for nonsense like this...A couple threw cigar butts at him...

"Mears!..." Alex hollered down to Warren... "Stop dawdling around and get back up
here...We've got to get a Special Edition out immediately...The Angel Special is back in the
race..."

"Help!..." Warren screamed...His grip slipping on the awning...

Hmmn...Thought Willow...Maybe that vacancy will be available after all...

***
A mining camp...Where men were men...Turn of the twentieth century frontier men...Generally
drunken, turn of the twentieth century frontier men...And women kept as far away as
possible...With the exception of a few residing in what passed for the nearby town...And even
they...Experienced as they were...Preferred not to venture into the camp itself...Unless heavily
armed...

Low on water, the Walthrops saw no reason not to stop at the first inhabited place they'd seen for
a hundred miles...Unfortunately, the camp was just south of the town...With the result that the
Hannibal Super Twin 8 chugged into camp...

Walthrop, rather experienced in the ways of turn of the twentieth century frontier men,
recognized immediately they had made a serious misjudgment in selecting this place for a water
stop...

Buffy-Millie however saw no reason not to get their water here...After all, she was the
Slayer...And packing a medium-weight cannon...Which ought to make up for some of her lost
strength...

Several large specimens lumbered over to the car...

Walthrop suggested she let him speak to them...

What?...Let him speak to them?...And sit primly still?...Like some little moronic nineteenth
century Nora?...

"I am Professor Millicent Fate..." Buffy-Millie told them, ignoring Walthrop's nervous look...

"We're competing in the Great Around the World Race and we'd like to get a little water for
ourselves and our car..."

They looked at her...And at little Walthrop...And started to smile...

Somehow...It was the sort of smile that made Buffy-Millie feel that a temporary regression to
retiring turn of the twentieth or well, perhaps even, nineteenth century womanhood would not be
so bad an idea...

That was...If these fellows had any regard for retiring early twentieth or even nineteenth century
womanhood...It was not appearing to be the case...

One of the men, Mike by name, appeared to be a leader of sorts...Tall, heavy-muscled, and
brutal-looking...Very tall, very heavily-muscled, very, very brutal-looking...

His smile was by far the most threatening...

"You're lookin' for water, little lady?..." he leered at her...And grinned wolfishly to his mates...

For him...Millie actually was slightly on the small side...

"Round here...We pay for our water...Hard to get...Ya know?..." Another leer...

The men crowded in...

"We'd be happy to pay..." Walthrop put in...

"Money..." Mike spit and smiled... "Money, we got... Just had a good strike yesterday...But..."

He looked rather eloquently...For such a brutal- and fierce-looking fellow...At Buffy-Millie...

Hmmn...Buffy-Millie thought...

How the West was really won...

Despite the fact that it is always nice to have...Admirers...she told them...

"Think we'll be...Leaving..." she started the car...
The men blocked their way...Too close to the car to run at them...Or run them down...

One hopped in and grabbed the starter key...

"Gentlemen...My wife and I are in quite a hurry...Have you heard of our race around the
world?..." Max asked politely...

Buffy-Millie was considering...Firing the cannon and blasting a hole through the miners was an
option but not a good one without the starter key...

She decided to opt for the retiring turn of the twentieth century lady approach...

"Gentlemen...My husband is quite right...We're in very serious danger of falling behind...Could
you possibly help us?..."

"Well...Little lady...Why don't you come out here?..." Mike forced the door open, grabbing
her...As she clawed at him...And a couple of others hurled Walthrop out and on the ground...
"And we'll talk it...Hey!..." He grabbed his cheek where she'd scratched it...Throwing her to the
ground...

The others laughed...Mike was experiencing a socially embarrassing moment...Which, in this
place usually was detrimental to one's life expectancy...

A suitable recovery was an immediate necessity...He turned to William...Who was up and
gripped by two of his larger brutes...

Buffy-Millie was now likewise held and Mike had them both dragged back to where the crowd of
men could form a ring...

Max was rather familiar with this means of a local leader reasserting his authority...Both from
England and his previous American experiences...

Buffy-Millie was catching on fast...Not hard to see how Spike had acquired his fighting skills in
the nineteenth century of Buffy's universe...

"Let my husband go..." she hollered, struggling with the two holding her...

They did...Unfortunately...Into the ring of men...Which she and her restrainers now stood inside...

"I'm gonna carve me up a goose..." Mike leered at Walthrop...Brandishing a rather effective-
looking large carving knife...

"After I'm dead, dear...Please kill him before you continue the race..." Max asked her...

A pleasure, honey...She assured him...
"Excuse me, sir...What weapons are we using?..." Max asked Mike...

The men forming the ring grinned...

"What'ya think ya fool?...This is a miner's fight..." Mike waved his knife...

"Use whatever ya got..." he grinned at his mates...

"Can I grab...Something from our car?..." Max asked...

Mike looked at him suspiciously...But the men looked at little Walthrop and nodded...

Little dude bastard has guts...

"You've got to let him have something..." Buffy-Millie called out...

Appealing to the nobler sentiments of the Old West...A distressed wife and mother...

Not much use in this case...But...They were anxious to see a good and bloody fight...Not a quick
stabbing and gutting ...So...If it would even the odds...

They brought William over to the Hannibal...

No guns...Mike insisted...

He would never consider taking such an advantage, Walthrop told him politely...As two men
stood watching him as he rooted around the car interior...

Buffy-Millie considered...And looked around at her captors...If Max was to blow Mike's head off
with the front cannon...It might give her just enough cover...

But no, they were watching him as he looked around the steering column...And he quickly moved
to the rear of the car...

Oh?...He's not really gonna go through with this, is he?...Buffy-Millie wondered...

Max, can the Victorian chivalry and blow his head off...As soon as possible...

Rats...The two with him in the car were now blocking him from the controls...

"William?...Don't fight him..." Buffy-Millie looked at him...

"Not much option, dear..." he called back...

***
Mike, never a patient man, was not about to make an exception for his next victim...

Walthrop begged another minute's indulgence...He was sure he had something...Down here...He
reached into a wooden box on the rear floor...No, our lunch...Ah...He reached under the seat...A
metal box...

Buffy-Millie felt a profound sense of satisfaction...

She recognized that box...A little extra protection...

Max waved a medium-sized Bowie knife...

Max?...When did you get one of those?...

And why didn't you grab one of my hand grenades you idiot?... she thought...

"William?..." she called nervously... "Did you find everything ok?..."

All set he called back...

Ready, he told Mike...Showing his knife...About a third of the size of Mike's...

Which inspired a jolly laugh on Mike's part...And subsequently, the rest...

That thing?...

Mike, laughing, turned to his mates...

Walthrop tossed a small hand grenade at Mike's lower section...

Naturally, Buffy-Millie had no intention of marketing this little item...But considering the
potential dangers of the trip for a young mother and father...

***
On the one hand, they had killed a man, Buffy-Millie had to admit...However, it had been self-
defense...

And she rather resented the idea of Mike taking such advantage of William...Nearly two feet
taller, a hundred pounds heavier, and not even allowing him proper choice of weapons and time
to prepare...

No, it might be true that her counterpart, Buffy would have had a leetle trouble with Mike's
end...But hey, this was the turn of the twentieth century, the old and extremely rough West, and
an alternate universe to boot...She'd not lose too much sleep over dear old Mike...Especially as
his death had deprived her of the pleasure of getting to know him better...Physically...
And spared her dear William...

Actually, when all things were considered she didn't think her counterpart would have had all
that much trouble with it...

Thanks to Max's manipulations of the starter they'd had no trouble getting underway as the
miners scattered after Mike met his lamentable demise...

Her displaying of the front cannon had ended any thoughts of preventing their departure on the
part of the other miners...

Max, to her surprise, however, was troubled...

It seemed unsportsmanlike...Even, well...Ungentlemanly...To have blown one's opponent's
bottom half off with explosives...

"Would you prefer to have had your lower half cut off with his knife?...It wasn't you who started
this..." Buffy-Millie pointed out...

Still...Now she was vaguely troubled...Was she getting a little too...Turn of the twentieth century
callous?...

They might well end up like that psycho couple in that film...That future film, she corrected...

Natural-Born Killers?...Yeah that was it...

And she a mother...

Did she...She asked Walthrop as they sped along...Seem to be getting...A little...Cold?...

No...Dear...he sighed...

She looked at him for a second...What the?...

"He was trying to kill you, William...It's terrible but don't be too morose about it..." she patted
his hand...Eyes on the road...

Something wrong here...And not just regarding the recent act of manslaughter...

"Your sentiments do you credit, sweetheart...You know your counterpart, Spike?..." she told him

"He wouldn't have spent a moment worrying about it...Even after my sister redeemed him..." she
flashed a smile...

Walthrop muttered something unprintable about his alternate universe counterpart...
Hmmn...

"Will...If I seem callous about this..." Buffy-Millie took on a worried tone...

"We got out...You're back in the race...Lets not go on about it..." William sighed...A little
grimly...

Definitely something weighing on his mind...

Can't just be Miner Mike she thought...Still...

"You're a noble soul, Max..." she told him...

"Thanks..." he said...Shortly...

"LeGrand couldn't begin..." she started...

He glared at her...

"Tell it to Angel...Both of them..." And grimly covered his face with his hat and claimed to be
going to sleep...

Oh...Oops...

"Will?..." she grinned at him quickly... "Are you by any chance jealous of Angel?...Either
one?..."

Trying to sleep here...he noted...

She felt rather guilty...And tried again...

"Will...You know I don't give a fig for him...And his counterpart is long gone..."

"And he wasn't the one for me either..." she added hastily...While dodging a large animal
hopping across the road...A rutted wagon trail, actually...

That's nice...He noted...I'm going to sleep now...

However...He did have to point out...We do seem to be going to a great deal of effort to show up
someone you don't care about...

And I've just killed so you could continue doing so...

He firmly settled back down to sleep...

Oh...She was quiet...Well, he'll get over this mood...

He always does...she thought...Hopefully, eyes on the road...

But...Poor Will...My poor sweet...Shame he had to go though that...

Wish I'd just blown that first miner's head off when they came round the car...

He's got to get over this obsession with Angel though...

***
The object of Walthrop's obsession was at this moment engaged in the most trying struggle of
his life...

Between his usual practical attitude regarding relationships with the fairer sex...Based primarily
on self-interest...

And his growing interest in the forthright Ms. DuBois...Who was definitely not a woman with
whom a long-term relationship would be in his self-interest...

However...In the short term...Especially far from any snooping reporters or angry fans...

But...He sensed instinctively that she would not permit the kind of short-term relationship he had
in mind...At least not unless it was on her own terms...

Which Buffy-Millie had been counting on...
***

He had prepared their first unchaperoned meal...At the campsite they'd chosen in California after
stopping the night of the day Ms. DuBois had secured her ride to Alaska...

"Mock turtle soup...Canned, I must apologize..." he noted...

"Wild quail...And...champagne, of course..." he poured, flashing his teeth in his trademark
smile...

"You come well prepared, Mr. LeGrand..." Ms. DuBois noted...

How does he keep those teeth so perfectly white?...

"One should never allow oneself to forego the pleasures of gracious living, Ms. DuBois..." he
told her, smiling...

"Else one's existence is little better than that of the brute animals..."

"Indeed..." she regarded him...Smiling in spite of herself...

Twit he may be, but he is a beautiful man...she thought...

***

Human beings...Angel noted to his dinner companion...Should be able to transcend...All manners
of boundaries to mutual understanding...All restraints and restrictions which held them apart
from each other...

Hmmn...Miss DuBois thought...Remove all restraints...Like my corset, perhaps?...

They told me he was Fast...But...

She smiled pleasantly...Yes to the removal of all boundaries to mutual understanding...No to the
removal of all...Restraints and restrictions...

"Mr. Le Grand..." she smiled sweetly... "I'm not such a fool that I would leap into the arms of the
first man who attempted to seduce me by pretending to agree with some of the kinds of things I
admire...

Seduce?...Angel blinked...Innocently...

My dear Miss DuBois...

He recovered himself with shock...

Not that seduction didn't sound like a pleasant option but for her to size him up so...Easily...

***
Returning to the office the morning after the day of Miss DuBois' latest dispatch
Willow was a bit disturbed to find the protesters in the hallway were not pleased by her
continuing contacts with "the enemy"...

The suffragettes were no longer willing to listen to her pleas for patience...They wanted
results...Now...

And traitors to the Cause were not welcome...Several eying her and Alex's office door...

Clearly they were being stirred up...Probably by that would-be bomb-thrower, Miss Macluay...

Crazed Anarchist...Probably a Socialist to boot...thought Willow...

The protestors began smashing up what furniture was in the halls...And smashing at the doors to
the printing room...Shattering the glass in several doors and occupying the offices...
Something had to be done...Quickly...She called to Alex through his door...

Alex was quite amenable to the idea...Of doing...Something...

In this case that something was....Calling the police...Turn of the twentieth century police...With
very definite ideas about Woman's place in Society...And a strong attachment to those
businessmen...Like Mr. Harris...Who treated them...Well...

They arrested the protesters without a moment's hesitation...Alex intervening to prevent injury to
several of the more resistant females...But he was unable to intervene in time to prevent Willow's
arrest...

"Warren!..." Alex called to a rather heavily bandaged Warren...Who hobbled in from his room...

"Yeah, Boss?..."

"Go and bail out Mrs. Harris..." he paused...

"In about two hours..."

No need to jeopardize her credibility among the suffragettes...Besides he was a trifle annoyed
with her previous attitude..

***
Yet More (Semi) Parallel Lives... "Great Race"...Part XII

Hercules LeGrand pondered the situation...

He held the telegram his fool son Angel's assistant, Hezekiah, had sent...

That equally moronic fool who'd gotten himself separated from his boy...

Angel...That soft fool of a son...Blindsided by that "Professor" Fate and co...A mere woman...

Now hundreds of miles in the lead of the Angel Special...

With the fate of LeGrand Motors clearly at stake...It was equally clear that stronger measures
must be taken to stop Professor Fate...

He put out word to his agents along the race route...Though there might be little that could be
done until the Walthrops reached civilized territory, the operatives of the LeGrand companies
would be ready...

Perhaps...It was time to resume contact with his æspecial' operatives...Who'd been so useful in
stopping Professor Fate in the past...
They might not be of any use until the Race reached its European phase...But who could be sure
what the situation might be by then...And if he hesitated too long they might be out of contact
before he could make use of them...

On the other hand...Their reliability could be questionable...They had, after all, their own motives
for wishing to stop the Walthrops...Still...In a crisis situation...All tools must be ready and at
hand...

He decided to arrange a meeting...
***

If the road north through Canada had been other than a wagon-wheel rutted mess, often blocked
by huge trees...With wolves and other animals howling in the distance during the increasingly
frigid nights...And the few humans spotted looking anything but friendly...

It might have been a delightful trip...The scenery at least was gorgeous...

Which contrary to her usual nature when engaged in a competitive activity, Buffy-Millie
enthusiastically pointed out to an increasingly quiet Max...

Whose rather curt quietitude was not helped by the effort required to get the Hannibal Super
Twin 8 over the long Canadian road...

To the Alaskan departure point...Nome...Where a special ferry was to transport the racers to
Siberia...
***
Although she might resemble Eleanor Roosevelt in appearance, the intrepid Professor Buffy-
Millie Fate-Walthrop was anything but the "patient Griselda" type...And found it hard to take in
others...

Particularly her husband...

A vague feeling of guilt however kept her from tackling the subject of Angel LeGrand head on...

Leading to her rather odd and ultimately unsuccessful attempt at cheery enthusiasm...Normally
Max's role...

Even more disturbing...The physical...

Buffy-Millie had learned something in the past nine years that her counterpart, Buffy, would have
been surprised by...

Early twentieth century types might not like to discuss the physical side of love...But...Lacking
movies, TV, even radio...And phonographs still being rather poor...

They thoroughly enjoyed it...And could surprise even a twenty-first century woman with a degree
of experience...

Little Max...Her dear William...Was...To put it bluntly...Incredible...At least by comparison with
her previous...er future...Companions...

And Buffy-Millie was a woman who craved affection...Perhaps in part as one lost in a strange
world...Possibly in part as a woman who wondered...About her beauty...And her charms...At least
to herself...

And undoubtedly in part as a strong and passionately loving woman...

One might even go so far as to say...Addicted to love...At least where William was involved...

Now however...Walthrop...Was...Tired...Busy...Or just...Not up to it...

And slept in the rear of the car...Alone...

In minus 20 degree weather no less...

Her attempts at enthusiasm having failed...She tried teasing...

Perhaps not the best approach...When one is spending hours each day hacking through tree-
overgrown wagon-ruts passing for a road...

No effect...Except that he requested she let him be and reserve the jokes about Angel for
LeGrand when they next met...

She tried the forthright approach...What was wrong?...Was he upset with her?...Why was he
angry?...

Lugging a large tree out of their way midway through Canada...

She couldn't see what she might have done to get him in such a state...Well?...

A rather large mountain lion objected to their presence...Walthrop cautiously got a rifle from the
car and fired to frighten it off...

He preferred not to discuss it...His answers to her questions being...Nothing
wrong...No...And...Angry?...Well,gee..What could I possibly be angry about?...

As they cleared the rubble of a small avalanche from the road...Nearing the Alaskan border...

But clearly he seemed to feel she ought to know what was bothering him...

She suspected she did...

Buried deep in the works of the engine which had suddenly failed them about thirty miles inside
Alaska...

But...She had the nervous feeling it was best not to start the discussion on the subject herself...

Besides...As she frightened off a large grizzly with a hand grenade...

He ought to know after nine years of marriage that he was the one for her...Angel?...Bah...

She'd told him that often enough...Wondering guiltily if perhaps...In a dream or two...She might
possibly have...

But he should realize that would only have been LeGrand's counterpart...A dream from her
previous...er future...existence...

æCourse...She had never discussed that first night with him...When she'd woken to find herself in
the "throes of passion" with LeGrand...

But...That wasn't...Important...Even she wasn't quite sure why or how she'd ended up there...

And after all it had led to her finding him...Her sweet William...

That good fortune she was happy to note to him...Namely...

That her brief encounter with LeGrand had led to finding the Love of her Life which she
pointedly stressed to Walthrop...

But Forthrightness has its limits...So she still refrained from discussing the details of that
encounter...Fearing...
***

The direct approach having been rejected...Buffy-Millie soon moved on to mild and
increasing...Annoyance...

He had no reason to treat her this way...He was being childish, she felt...And said so...

Which had no effect except to make him...Quieter...

With the exception of a brief remark to the effect that...Some women...Seemed to see no
strangeness in constantly discussing their own hurt feelings...Or insecurities...While
ignoring...Trampling, rather...The feelings of...Others...

As they slowly plowed through increasingly heavy snows towards Nome...
***
The doctor was an old friend of Millicent's...Highly recommended by her...

Naturally she had never mentioned his status as a god of Mercy and Healing to Willow...

Not that it mattered...Benedictus being powerless outside his immortality and his centuries of
acquired medical skill...

But Buffy-Millie felt it was best not to give out the story of her other existence to others besides
her husband...A leetle difficult to prove...Especially in a universe where the supernatural was not
much in evidence...And which prided itself on a Rational approach to most subjects...

Ben completed his examination of dear Alex...Who'd terrified Willow by complaints of chest
pains, then collapsing in his office...Overwork and nervous exhaustion...she hoped...

Weak heart...The doctor noted...Complicated by nervous exhaustion...

He eyed the fluttering Willow...The words "weak heart" having nearly produced a coronary on
her own part...

Not hard to determine the source of that exhaustion...

He recommended a prolonged vacation...Special diet...And above all...Peace and quiet...

"Vacation?!..." Alex snorted... "Now?!...I can't leave my paper unattended...In the midst of all
these goings-on..."

Fine sentiments, the doctor noted...We'll have them inscribed on your tombstone...Shortly...

Ben was maintaining the "crusty" approach in this universe...

Willow was in a state bordering hysteria...This was all her fault...She and those @#$%
suffragettes of hers...

If Alex died as a result she'd leap out the Sentinel's highest window she insisted...Children or
no...

Equally fine sentiments, the doctor noted dryly...But hardly of practical use here...

There was no serious damage to the heart as yet...If Mr. Harris would follow his instructions and
behave sensibly...He might well live to see grandchildren...Else...

Knowing her husband as she did...And sensing that the grandchildren argument was persuading
him...She switched from suicide threats to pleading...

The paper would be fine...A buyer could be found in short order...It was time he moved on to a
new profession...Say...Writer-philosopher...Commentator on social issues...

He could insist on retaining a permanent voice on the Sentinel...Minus the pressure...

Hmmn...But the Sentinel was a Harris family property...He couldn't just abandon it to strangers...
Let it be destroyed...

A matter of duty and family...

Well...Perhaps...Until a suitable buyer...A family friend and personage of sterling qualities who
would maintain Harris family standards...Was found...Perhaps...She and Mears could keep the
paper running...

As a temporary measure...While he began his rest cure...

Oh...So...

Wasn't she coming with him?...Alex looked a little downcast...He'd begun to look favorably on
the vacation idea...But...

Of course she'd come...Willow hugged him...

The doctor stressed the need for peace and quiet...

Hmmn...Well...What if he didn't go far?...Say no more than a few hours train ride...

She could visit on weekends...And when he was rested...More often...

Then...Cure complete...And the paper sold...They'd begin a new and more peaceful life in some
quiet town...

Alex grinned...You...A peaceful life, eh?...

"I'll believe that when I see it..." he told her...

He eyed her...Not that he had any doubts about her ability to run the paper...

She had, after all, run it for years...he noted wryly...

"I suppose you'd be making...Changes..." he smiled at her...

Willow looked innocently back at him...Changes?...

Well...She admitted sheepishly...The thought had occurred to her that...While they sought a
buyer...Perhaps just as an experiment...And to prevent the angry protestors from fomenting
trouble during this unsettled time...

Uh-huh...

Not if it will stop you from going on vacation...she noted worriedly...If you say No...It's no...

He sighed...Still if he had to give up the publishing business anyway...In order to stay with dear
Willow and see his children reach man-and woman-hood...To leave with a grand gesture of
Social Reform and Advancement...

To be stuck on some other poor schnook of a buyer...

"It might be nice to go out with a bang..." he grinned at her...Provided..No old and faithful
employees were cleared out before their time in order for the experiment...

No fogeys would be touched, she assured him...

Well...It wasn't as if his objections had been based on opposition to the idea of women at the
Sentinel...After all, he'd hired Miss DuBois, the first woman and Black reporter there...He
just...Hadn't wanted to let himself be seen...As bowing to pressure...

Willow hugged him...He was a Prince...

And so long as she reviewed the qualifications of those she would be taking on with him...To
maintain the quality of a Harris family product...He noted...

Of course...Willow noted...If any of these protestors think I'd hire on the basis of gender
alone...They have a surprise coming...

She would review all of them with him...But he was not to put in any strenuous work on this...

And...Alex continued...He expected to get some credit for being willing to go along with the
idea...

He would go down in the History of Social Advancement and Progress...Willow assured him...

And she would visit...Every weekend?...

No children...For a month or two...The doctor sternly noted...

Every weekend...And more...As soon as the doctor allowed...Willow told him...

Well...He supposed it was a father's duty to try to live as long as possible for his family...

Willow hugged him...And they made plans to head out to a rest home the doctor had
recommended...
***
Though they could not take direct and immediate action against Professor Fate and co, agents of
the LeGrand companies were at hand in Alaska...And were able, taking advantage of the heavy
snows, to block the one road to Nome completely with avalanches...

The resulting delay for the Walthrops...Coupled to the long hack through Canada...Had given
Angel and Miss DuBois their chance to make up much of the lost time...

With the result that the two cars found themselves snowed in at the same roadside...On the
only...And that occasionally...Usable road...Just after the last gas stop before the Alaskan coast.
A long, miserable alternate coastal road...Track, really...To Nome...

***

Was it really fifty degrees below zero outside?...Miss DuBois inquired...

Indeed...Angel noted...Unless of course the exterior thermometer had frozen and it was even
colder...

And now, if the internal temperature reading was correct...It was becoming rather dangerously
cold inside as well...Despite the heater...

However...With visibility down to zero...It was hopeless to consider returning to the last town or
continuing...By car or on foot...

A crisis situation Angel noted...

Miss DuBois carefully entered a note to that effect in her daily log...

Although she'd exhausted her supply of carrier pigeons she hoped to continue regular
communications with the Sentinel by telegraph when they reached Nome...

However...The possibility that they might not reach Nome was beginning to seem likely...

Angel applauded his guest's gallantry...A noble spirit unbowed by the dangers...

To which Miss DuBois nodded her thanks...With somewhat chattering teeth...

Still they were not without some resources...Angel noted...

A portable stove...On which he proposed to heat some soup and more or less hot coffee...

Blankets to supplement the car's overburdened heater...
Hmmn...He'd really have to speak to the LeGrand engineers...If the car was to truly be capable of
handling all conditions....

And...Champagne...A vital stimulant...

Stimulant?...Hmmn...Miss DuBois thought...If she remembered Nursing class correctly...

Well, at least the soup and coffee would help...

But curiosity gnawed...

Where does he keep that endless supply of Champagne?...Miss DuBois wondered...

Is it tucked underneath the car or what?...

***

Sixty-five below...

In the Hannibal Super Twin 8, now directly apart from the Angel Special, conditions had forced
Walthrop into an at least temporary reconciliation with Buffy-Millie...

Although her car heater was better designed than the Angel Special's, it could not keep up with
the rapid fall in temperature...And would only run so long as the gasoline held out...

Based on Walthrop's practical experience with Teddy Roosevelt in the Dakotas...And Buffy-
Millie's scientific knowledge, they had mutually decided that the times called for the
employment of...Body heat...
***
Seventy below...Blizzard conditions...

The soup and coffee had helped a bit but the internal temperature was getting quite low in the
Angel Special...

Desperate times call for desperate measures...Angel noted...

The now seriously shivering Ms. DuBois nodded...Or seemed to...It was getting difficult to tell...

In the clime in which they now found themselves...Alaska, Angel noted...

I know we're in Alaska...Ms. DuBois thought to herself...

The local populace...Inuits...Or as you might know them, Eskimos...frequently must deal with
situations akin to that in which they now found themselves...

Freezing to death in a blizzard...Do I look like a feeble-minded child?...she thought furiously...

"Mr. LeGrand...Do you have a point?..." she asked...Twit...Beautifully handsome twit of course...
she thought...

Ah, yes...Well you see...One Inuit in a blanket...Freezes to death under such conditions...

However...Two...

She looked at him...

Were warmer...he concluded...

"Two...Mr. LeGrand?..." she asked him...

"Two...Miss DuBois..." he told her...

Not that he was unmindful of the possible...Impropriety...But...

Crisis situation, Miss DuBois...he noted...And he was...After all...Angel LeGrand, a gentleman of
impeccable reputation...

He looked at her as innocently as his own shivering would allow...

Uh-huh...She looked back at him...Still...Seventy below...

Hmmn...

***
"What's the tem-temp-"...a shivering Buffy-Millie asked...

"Everything's frozen..." Walthrop noted...Looking at her...Heck, even...

"Even your hair's frozen..." he poked at her bunned hair...Breaking off a small chunk...

She looked at him, slightly warming...My one beauty...

"Max!!!...You broke my hair!..."

She managed even a feeble glare...

"You did that on purpose..." she yelled...Whanging at him...

He fell back out the unlocked door...Utter white outside...

"Max?!..." she called to him...Not able to see him at all...

He faintly called to her over the storm...

"William...Get back in this car!..." she yelled, coming over to the door...

She couldn't see him in the white around the car and freaked...

But retained enough presence of mind to tie the end of a scarf to the car door as she went out and
felt around for him...

"William!!!..." she screamed...And turning, crashed into him...As he was carefully feeling his
way along the car...

Where had he gotten the new white coat, she wondered...She reached for him to pull him back
inside...And felt a wet nose...

Walthrop gently tapped her from behind...

The polar bear Buffy-Millie had grabbed by the nose was pleasant enough, considering the
manner of their meeting but made it clear he or she did not appreciate such familiarity...At least
on such short acquaintance...

They managed to roll underneath the car before it was fully aware that fresh meat was readily at
hand...And entered the front of the car from the opposite side...Leaving the rear door they had
emerged from...Ajar...

"Up?..." Walthrop suggested, questioning...

"Up, up!...Up now..." Buffy-Millie agreed...

Down...Bad...At least until their uninvited guest left...

The body of the Hannibal rose ten feet...With three occupants...

She desperately hugged him...And he seemed willing to accept it...

She felt a leetle guilty...Dragging him out here...To his premature death...

But, perhaps, before that death, the time for a possible reconciliation had come...

And given the likelihood of death, perhaps reconciliation before they reached
those pearly gates was a good idea...

"Honey?..." she began...Hopefully...Shivering more than ever...
Hmmn...It suddenly seemed a bit warmer...

Effect of height?...Unlikely...

Well...Better than colder...Unless of course it was the effect of hypothermia...

Anyway, as to reconciliation efforts...

But what was that smell?...

Walthrop...And she...Might not be too hygienic right now...Owning to the
wildness of the country...But not even two weeks confined in a small car driving through Canada
would produce a stench like this...

They looked at each other...

And then behind...

The bear was polite but not overly so in his or her greeting...
***
With a cry the Walthrops scrambled out of the car and fell onto the roof of the Angel Special...

Tearing clear through...And landing in the back seat...

Angel and Miss DuBois stared at them...Under several blankets...

"Pardon us...But there's a polar bear in our car..." Buffy-Millie told them...

"Get out...Or I shall personally feed you two to the bear..." Angel told her...

"Mr. LeGrand..." Miss DuBois looked at him...

Walthrop noted...Looking at them with as much dignity as he could muster...That they lacked a
proper chaperone in any case....

"I hardly think the scandal will leak out once you two have been eaten..." Angel noted...

"Mr. LeGrand?..." Miss DuBois

"What...Should I let them stay?...After what they've been doing?..."

"What we've...Been doing?..." Buffy-Millie's dander was rising...In spite of the cold...

"Now, now...We can't let them freeze to death..." Miss DuBois pointed out...

"Need I remind you that they've just destroyed the roof of my car...And it's now the same out
there as it is here?..."

Hmmn...

"But you were saying that two people under a blanket would be...Warmer than one..." Miss
DuBois noted...With an innocent expression...

Buffy-Millie smiled sourly at Angel...This your latest clever line for your ladies?...

"You have blankets and stimulants..." Walthrop noted... "Besides...You're right about body
heat...And with four of us...There'd be that much more..."

"Alcohol is a depressant..." Buffy-Millie noted, regarding the bottle of champagne in Angel's
hand...

"However..." She smiled proudly on her hubs...

"William was out West with Teddy Roosevelt and he knows about extreme conditions...We must
all get under the blankets together..."

"Yes..." Urged Miss DuBois, feeling the chill... "Under the blankets..."

Hmmn...Angel frowned but accepted the situation...As did his competitor...

***
"Good morning, Miss DuBois..." Angel nudged her gently...

"Good morning..." she was a hair embarrassed waking up next to him...But his cheery
mood...Plus the snores of the Walthrops next to them...Helped considerably...

"What time is it?..."

"Ah...Seven-thirty...I'm just starting some breakfast...If you would wake our guests..."

"Good morning, Mr. Walthrop...It's seven-thirty..." she nudged Max...Who was considerably less
comfortable...

He nudged Millie...

"Millie...Rise and Shine!...Seven-thirty..."

"Rise and shine?!...Rise and shine?!..." she hollered...

One aspect of Buffy that Buffy-Millie had fully retained was an aversion to morning hours...
"What the hell time is it?..."

"She's like this in the morning..." he told the others, apologetically...

"Seven-thirty..." Walthrop told her...

"Seven-thirty...Well, you rise...You shine..."

She turned back under the covers...Walthrop nudged her...Not our car, dear...

"She's always like this in the morning..." he noted to the others...

"I'm sick..." she moaned... "I'm seasick..."

"Had too much champagne last night..." Miss DuBois noted...

"I'm not sick from champagne...I'm sick from the sea!..." Buffy-Millie howled...

Always like this in the morning, Walthrop noted apologetically...

"You have my sympathies..." Angel replied...

She glared at them...Idiots...

"Seven-thirty in the morning you idiots and I'm seasick!..." she turned to the car door and opened
it...And heading out, plunged into the sea which now surrounded the block of ice on which the
two cars sat...

"Max!!!..."
***
Yet More (Semi) Parallel Lives... "Great Race"...Part XIII


Walthrop had managed to pull a half-frozen Buffy-Millie from the icy water...

Feeling better?...William asked Buffy-Millie as she lay shivering under blankets in the
Hannibal...Heat blasting as much as possible...

Uhhh...Coolld...

"How's about a hot cup of tea..."

Uhhh...Coolld...

"I'll take that as yes..."
***
The two cars and their occupants were adrift in the Bering Sea on a large block of ice...Just large
enough to support them...

Must have broken off during last night's blizzard...Very lucky we all didn't drive off into the
ocean, unable as we were to see the coast...Angel noted to Ms. DuBois...

Walthrop came over and politely asked permission to boil a little tea water...

"Will she be all right?..." LeGrand asked him...Genuine concern in his voice both Walthrop and
Miss DuBois noted...

Fine...Just a slight chill...Walthrop told him...Looking at him...

"Perhaps...I should speak to her..." Angel suggested...

Not the best thing right now...Walthrop smiled...A bit coldly...

And took the tea back to Millie...

Some people...Angel noted to Miss DuBois...

***
She'd been dead...Twice...This kind of cold was worse...Buffy-Millie noted to William...

He noted that she must be feeling slightly better...Given the fact that she could now tell him how
she felt...

She nodded, grinning a bit...Must have looked preety silly at that...

"So...I was right..." she smiled archly... "We're at sea..."

About as at sea as one can get...Walthrop noted...Not a sign of land...

Oh...Not a sign?...

Not even a bird...

Hmmn...

"What direction are we headed?..." she asked a bit anxiously, sipping her tea...

East...East-Southeast...he told her...

South?...
East-Southeast...According to LeGrand's calculations...

Hopefully...If all calculations were correct...In the direction of Siberia...

Angel's "calculations"...she snorted...Rolling her eyes...

"Bring me the telescope and sextant from the car..." she told Max...

Professor of Physics and Mathematics here...
***

Her calculations more or less jibbed with LeGrand's...

"He's learned a little math since we last knew him..." Max noted to her...

But they were moving more slowly than he had estimated...About two miles per hour...With the
variable wind...

Walthrop...As befitting a practical engineer...Suggested making a kind of sail and
rudder...Something to push the speed up and maybe allow a little directional control...

He set to work with the help of Miss DuBois and LeGrand...Buffy-Millie still being in grave
danger of pneumonia...
***

SENTINEL HIRES WOMEN...

The headline blared from Willow's copy of the Sunday special edition...As she leaned back in
Alex's old chair...Telephone cradled in her lap...


She had figured...With her well-honed...From years of working with Alex...Editorial
instinct...That Sunday was the best day to spring the bombshell...

Far less likely for mobs of angry men to storm the Sentinel offices on the Sabbath...When
downtown offices were empty and all respectable men were contemplating the joys of Home and
Family...

Alex congratulated her on the phone line from his rest home...As she read the front page to him...

She'd pulled it off well so far, he admitted...And the appointments had been well thought out...

Two experienced...From women's journals...Reporters, two apprentice printers, two interns, three
messengers, two clerks...

And of course, a new editor-in-chief, columnist-publisher...

Just enough to shake things up without risking the paper's solid reputation...

Though of course certain to produce consternation on Monday...If not outright condemnation...

She was glad Alex was safely away...As was he...Though he worried for her...

She had, however, things well in hand...

Police alerted...And properly "thanked" in advance...The Mayor...Promised the paper's editorial
support in his upcoming campaign...Was ready to issue a statement condemning any mob
violence and calling on the police to arrest anyone disturbing the city's peace on Monday...

But she thought the news from Alaska would probably diffuse any agitation tomorrow...

The Great Racers were now four days overdue...Based on Miss DuBois' last report...At Nome in
very heavy weather conditions...

With the direct overland road from Canada blocked...

Poor Millie and Will...Alex noted...And the children...

Willow agreed...But...If anyone would get through it would be Millie...

And of course poor Miss DuBois...Alex felt terrible...As did Willow...

To have allowed her to continue on this dangerous journey...

Still, Alex noted...She was a true journalist...And if she had perished...Her contribution to Social
Advancement would be immortal...

Be nice if she could have gotten off one last dispatch...Willow noted...A hair guiltily...

Alex agreed...In the interests of history and journalism of course...

Willow was a natural editor-publisher he noted...Which praise pleased her no end...

Still, he told her...He had not lost all hope for their friends...

***
She may have lacked the super-strength of a Slayer, but Buffy-Millie's recuperative powers were
remarkable...

Pneumonia avoided, she was on her feet and impatiently tramping the ice floe by day three of
their sea voyage...

Walthrop's sail and rudder had raised their speed...And spirits...Considerably...But after three
days...Still no signs of land...

Or even a single sail...

Why didn't I at least invent a decent radio?...Buffy-Millie groused at herself...

Can-opener...I invent a can opener...Well, copied it from memory to tell the truth...

Can-opener, bombsight...And a dozen other equally useless...

Well...Of course Marconi's system has been around a few years...But I could've improved on it...

Then we'd have a chance to reach...Somebody...

And I wouldn't have killed my husband...My children wouldn't be orphaned...All because I had
to prove...Something...

Walthrop knew his wife's depressed moods all too well and allowed her her space...

LeGrand, however...With his usual sunny disposition...Felt it necessary to point out to her
that...Although he understood she had been through a dangerous past few days...She
was...Perhaps...

Not displaying quite the right sort of...Pluck...Required at this time...

Walthrop...Noting Buffy-Millie's impatience...And Angel's remarkable denseness...Settled back
to enjoy the coming fireworks...

There was indeed a good deal of his alterative universe counterpart in him...

***
"Pluck?..." Buffy-Millie regarded Angel...Pasting a sweet smile on her face...

"Pardon me...I had no idea I was dampening the party spirits of our little cruise ship..."

"Cruise ship?..." Angel wondered...

Of course one takes a cruise...On a ship...he thought...But he'd never heard of...

"You dim-witted moron!...We're all gonna drown!..."

"Millie...Please...The others..."
She glared at him...And where did he come off calling her Millie?...

"This is an ice cube you idiot...With four people on it standing within ten feet of each
other...What æothers' are you talking about?..."

"@#$%!!!"...she stamped her feet at him...

She stalked off...Walthrop smiled pleasantly at LeGrand...Who remained standing for over a
minute, jaw visibly dropped...

The little man should take his wife in hand, Angel noted to Miss DuBois, having returned to the
car where she was writing in her journal...Now if she were his wife...

Indeed?...Miss DuBois regarded him...Dryly...And left him...

Hmmn...How did I...The Angel LeGrand...Ever manage to wind up drifting on an ice floe with
the only two women I've ever known who treat me like this?...Angel wondered...

Suggested Max and Millie's theme (Solace, Scott Joplin)
***
Buffy-Millie plopped down beside Walthrop at the edge of the ice floe...Looking out to sea...

"Forgive me, Will...I didn't mean for this to happen..."

He grinned at her...

"Well...You'll probably wind up back in your own old universe...With your robot sister...And my
counterpart by your side..."

"Don't make fun of me, Will...Please..." she asked him...With the full Buffy stare...

Lost in a strange world...

She took his hand solemnly...And kissed it...

"You're my salvation...Will...I know I'm hard to take sometimes...But I couldn't bear it if you
didn't believe in me..."

He hugged her...

When she's like this...Walthrop thought...I could go round the world with her, fly to the moon
with her, fight one of those vampires or demons she's always talking about...Anything...

***
Fifth day...

Angel was measuring the size of the ice floe from surface to sea...Which measure had been
steadily diminishing in height over the past few days...

"What's the reading..." Buffy-Millie glared at Angel...

"Only another four inches..." he told her...Pleasantly...

"Oh...Another four inches..." she mimicked his tone... "You know at the rate we've been melting
that's only good for about one more week..."

"Probably..." he agreed...

"We're melting..."

"Eventually..."

"We'll drown!..."

"Possibly..." he maintained his tone... "But now there's no reason to alarm the others...I'm sure
we'll be safely within the shipping lanes by then..."

"Oh, really..."

The æothers' again...My God he's still addressing his crowds of adoring fans...

"So...You will keep this to yourself, I trust..." he looked at her solemnly...

"Keep it to myself?...Why of course..." she told him sarcastically...As he headed back to his car...

Until the water reaches my lower lip...And then I may mention it to somebody in the crowd
here...she thought...
***

It wasn't that she didn't understand the Professor's frustration, Miss DuBois noted to Buffy-
Millie as they tramped the slab of ice together...

Miss DuBois and Mrs. Fate-Walthrop feeling the need for a little female companionship...And
Buffy-Millie feeling a guilty desire to apologize for her previous attitude towards Willow's
friend...Especially what with the Shadow of Death looming and all...

And Mr. LeGrand was a bit...Dense...At times...Miss DuBois admitted...With a grin...

But he was sincere in his efforts to be reassuring...

Buffy-Millie grimly acknowledged that Angel was trying to be reassuring...
Clearly there was some justifiable hard feeling on both...

The Professor was looking at her...On both sides?...Did she know what LeGrand's thugs had
been doing to sabotage her work?...Did she know what kind of two-faced, low-down...

Miss DuBois pointed out that the Professor had been rather unscrupulous at Boracho...

Buffy-Millie calmed a bit...To make her point clearly...

Angel LeGrand had stolen her work from the day they met...Her thesis, her vehicle designs...His
men had nearly killed her and more importantly her husband...And he was doing his best to
belittle the efforts of all Women...If Miss DuBois had gotten the impression that she, Millicent
Fate-Walthrop...Was on some ridiculously childish quest to punish LeGrand for being...Dense at
some time in their past...

"Just what are you trying to achieve, Professor?..." Miss DuBois asked...With a professional's
air...

Walthrop, nearby...On duty watching his sail...While also resecuring the Hannibal Super Twin8,
listened...

"I want him to admit what he's done...At least to me...And I want to wipe that smug grin off his
face..." Buffy-Millie told her frankly...

Not that she meant to suggest anything...But Miss DuBois felt she couldn't help noting that...For
all his admitted smugness of manner, etc...Had always spoken of the Professor and her
achievements in the highest terms...

Buffy-Millie paused in her tramping...And looked Miss DuBois up and down...With a sardonic
grin...

"You like him, don't you?..." she asked sourly...

Another woman lost to the charms of Angel's white teeth and perfect hair...And this one had
seemed to possess an intellect...

Hardly...Miss DuBois insisted...With a touch of asperity...However she liked to be fair in all her
judgements...And it seemed to her...As an impartial observer...

"You like him...God help you, you poor girl..." Buffy-Millie sighed...

Forthrightness being Miss DuBois' outstanding characteristic...

"I would say...Professor...You're the one who... æLikes'...Mr. LeGrand..." she noted firmly...

To the point of rather fanatic obsession...she further noted...

Leaving Mrs. Fate-Walthrop rather gasping on the edge of the ice floe as she returned to the
Angel Special...

"Max!!..." she hollered at Walthrop nearby...

"Did...Did...Did...!!!" she stuttered in her anger...

Did I hear that?...Yes I did, dear...William noted...

And although not an impartial observer...I have to say that...

"You agree with her?!!!..." Buffy-Millie screamed...Stamping her feet enough to impart a rocking
motion to the floe...

A vague memory of Glory doing the same to the Sunnydale Mall crossed her mind briefly...

"I wouldn't go so far as to say I agree that you... æLike'...him...But as to the obsess..."

"You...How can you say that?!!!...Max?!!...You?!!!..." she was gasping...And turning red...

Now blue...

Take a breath, dear...Walthrop told her...

As for his attitude...Well, yes...Although he understood...He was a leetle tired of this Angel
hunting...

"@#$%&!!!...#$%^*!!!!" she stamped off...

A very angry person...Angel noted to the returned Miss DuBois...

One wishes one could do...Something for her...he went on...

Perhaps...A more virile sort of man was required for her...he told Miss DuBois...Fulfill her
properly...

Miss DuBois looked at him...No doubt he had a perfect candidate in mind...

Twit...she thought...Even when I'm on his side for fairness' sake...Somehow he always manages
to prove himself a complete jackass...

Such a waste...He sighed...A brilliant woman like that...And he suspected...From the brief time
they'd known each other as friends in college...A truly warm heart buried under the anger...
He went off to his watch manning Walthrop's sail...

It was Miss DuBois' turn to drop a jaw...

***
Seventh day...

Buffy-Millie was shaken out of what little sleep she had managed by the sound of Walthrop
clambering all over the car...

Securing boxes and cases with ropes...

"Max...Can the noise!...What the hell's the deal?..." she hollered...

I'll never get used to her language Angel thought as he scrapped ice to melt for coffee...

Walthrop paused a moment and pointed at the morning sky...

"Red sky...We'd better get things tied down..." Walthrop continued with his work...

Clearly he was still...With her...

She was out-of-sorts...Seasick again and not a little annoyed with him...He had no reason to carry
on about this...Further she was not in the mood for hustling around...

"Why?...What's the matter?..."

"There's going to be a storm..." William told her firmly...

"What?..."

"Red sky at morning, sailor take warning..."

"Max...That's an old wives tale...In these latitudes, at this time of year...Ridiculous..."

"I've been on the sea...The Atlantic at least...Those boys know what they're about..."

"It's nonsense..." Buffy-Millie snorted...

***
The storm was threatening to sweep the two cars off the ice floe...But Walthrop still found time
as he dashed about withe LeGrand and the others...Securing ropes...Dragging back boxes of vital
supplies threatening to plunge into the ocean...Piling ice and snow up against the cars to brace
them...To occasionally smile pleasantly at his wife...

Who glared whenever she caught his look...When she wasn't terrified he or she or all of them
were going into the water...

After three hours the storm abated and the exhausted group collectively shook themselves...

The ice floe had taken a severe battering...Underneath the waves as well as above...

Buffy-Millie looked down at her feet...They were so cold it was hard to tell...But there was
definitely something wet...Sloshing at the hem of her dress...Her usual practical black...

The ice floe was sinking slowly under the water...No longer able to support the weight of the two
cars and their human occupants...

"We're under water!..." she screamed at LeGrand...

She looked desperately around for William... "Max!!!...We're going to drown!!..."

Miss DuBois was standing by the car...Rather wishing she had a Max to scream for...

She looked over at LeGrand...Who seemed preoccupied with his telescope...

Well...As long as we're going to drown...And Mr. Walthrop is taken...

She headed over towards them...

Max was still fiddling with the car ropes...But he looked out to sea...

And headed over, clambering over the top of the Hannibal...

"We're going to drown, you idiot!..." Buffy-Millie screeched at Angel... "Stop playing with that
thing and help us do something!..."

Angel smiled pleasantly...Ah, dear Millie...Always so excitable...

Walthrop's fault really...He does overindulge her whims...

She was ready to smack his smug face...Especially if they were about to die...

Miss DuBois had reached them...And was rather leaning towards Professor Fate's opinion...

What the hell was he smiling about?...

"We aren't going to drown..." he informed them...Put an eye back to the telescope...

The ladies looked at each other...
Walthrop grabbed Buffy-Millie from behind...Whirling her around...In a hug...

"I see land, Buffy..." he pointed...Off in the distance...

Yes, land...Angel agreed, looking back and down at Walthrop, a shade peeved...And, through the
thin remnants of the morning fog...He had just spied a large ship approaching...

"You might have said something..." Miss DuBois noted to Angel...A trifle...

"I wasn't quite sure until a moment ago..." he told her...No need to raise false hopes after all...he
explained...

Twit...She thought...And I know why he waited...Looking back at where Walthrop was now
utterly buried in Buffy-Millie's hug...

Just waiting for the right dramatic moment...Posturing twit...

Good for Mr. Walthrop...Stealing his thunder...

She stood away from LeGrand...

She was collecting her thoughts for an immediate dispatch on reaching a telegraph, she answered
curtly in response to his question...

She did her best to do just that...Not caring to dwell on her disappointment in him...

Just when she'd started to think...As a result of their days of travel together...Perhaps...There
might be more than a dazzling set of teeth there...

Angel looked at her...Not the sort of enthusiastic appreciation of their deliverance he'd hoped
for...

And expected...

After all, Angel LeGrand here...

Buffy-Millie was too occupied to join Miss DuBois in torturing LeGrand...

Max hadn't called her "Buffy" in days...

Perhaps while the ship fast approaching towed them into the harbor...Now with the fog burning
off, clearly visible...They should get the car uncovered and ready...

Perhaps...Get in the car...

Perhaps...Then...Recover the car...Remaining inside...

She had kept the saloon-girl's dress...she noted...

Angel strode over...To congratulate his intrepid competitor...On their joint survival...

Surely time to put aside old feuds...

Especially with the Russian ship now in clear view...And the decks filled to the gills with
cheering well-wishers...Among them now visible with their cameras, several reporters...

Truly it was on the tip of her tongue to tell LeGrand to handle his adoring Press himself...

But...To finally get a little favorable publicity...Even if most attention would, she knew, be
focused on Angel...

And if even she could count on being patronized...The little lady competitor...Saved by the
gallant Angel LeGrand...

Well...It was good for their company...She sheepishly noted to Walthrop...

And to avoid any problems stemming from their escapades in the American West...

Sure...He told her noncommitally...Eyeing her carefully...

She walked over to the edge of the floe with LeGrand...The reporters were rowing over
frantically...

Angel took her arm gallantly...Buffy-Millie glared at him but reluctantly...Made the best of it...

The disappointed look on Walthrop's face matched Miss DuBois' to a T...He stood near her, both
watching...

"Our prima donnas..." he shrugged to her...Smiling a bit...grimly...

As was she...

***
Yet More (Semi) Parallel Lives... "Great Race"...Part XIV...

Angel greeted his adoring press with his usual aplomb...

Seven days at sea on a melting ice floe...Facing death at every turn...

Yet teeth as dazzlingly white as ever...Hair and suit...In perfect order...As always...
Ready for his close-up...

What a story...What a headline...

What a man...

The reporters were primed and ready to drool...

Angel generously indicated his competitor...Waving his adoring Press to her direction...

A courageous and gallant lady, Gentlemen...Professor Millicent Fate...

She stared at him...And them...

In her wrinkled black dress...With white salt stains...Hair looking like she'd been on a melting ice
floe for seven days...Still queasy from the sea...Trying desperately to smile...

Walthrop and Miss DuBois watched from positions by the cars...
***

For once the Press was also interested in Buffy-Millie...A compelling human interest story...

The two competing Great Racers...Forced to put aside their differences...Work together to
survive the great peril...

The reporters had questions for her...

Had she felt secure in the knowledge that Angel LeGrand was at hand?...

How had Mr. LeGrand saved their lives?...

"Gentlemen...Please..." Angel gallantly interrupted... "Professor Fate...As all of us four...Played
her own courageous role in our adventure..."

He was himself...He noted modestly...But one of four...Intrepid adventurers...Braving the
elements for the sake of Technologic Advancement...
***
LeGrand felt it was time to call the Press' attention to the fact that one of their own had been a
member of the party...

To his credit...He was a bit annoyed at their rather...Diffident...Response...On meeting Miss
DuBois...

I was right...He does like her...Buffy-Millie noted, watching his face...He's actually concerned
for her feelings...
An amazing thing...It being Angel LeGrand...she thought...

An awkward moment...Miss DuBois forthrightly refusing to withdraw into a corner...
The reporters torn between their desire to please their hero...And their...Feelings regarding Miss
DuBois...

Walthrop caught Miss DuBois' eye from his post by the Hannibal...Smiling encouragement at
her...And shifting his gaze to his wife...Who had turned to look back at him...

You want to impress these...?...His look clearly said...

The reporters now rather desperately turned back to Buffy-Millie...Who now glared at them
coldly...

Something to distract from the awkward situation...

Was there any truth to the rumor?...One rather romantic reporter asked a smoldering Buffy-
Millie...That she was planning to leave her husband for...

The other reporters snickered at that...

Young foolish pup...As if Angel LeGrand...

I mean, look at those teeth...

She was too shocked to do more than stare at the young man...

The reporters turned reluctantly back to LeGrand...Who seemed foolishly determined to continue
his little experiment in Social Progress...Informing them that Miss DuBois had kept an extensive
account of their journey...Which...He was sure...They'd all like the chance to quote from...

They looked at each other...

Well...No one has to know...

Against her will, Buffy-Millie had to admit...As she watched LeGrand...

He was...For once...Demonstrating a slight degree of...

The cameramen had completed setting up...

If Mr. LeGrand wouldn't mind...

He strode forward...Looking back at Miss DuBois...

She smiled a bit at him...The reporters looked anxiously at each other...

He isn't going to...

Angel looked awkwardly around...Eyes falling on Buffy-Millie...Who stared back at him...

Finally back to Miss DuBois...Ummn...

A long pause...Miss DuBois stared...And finally, smiled faintly at him again...

Watching, for the first time ever...Buffy-Millie felt vaguely sorry for Angel LeGrand...

You poor...Fool...

She preferred not to be included in the pictures...Miss DuBois called to Angel...

He brightened and stepped over to the cameras...

The reporters and cameramen breathed a sigh of relief...

Heroism was all very well...In the proper arena...But common sense was likewise a necessary
commodity...

Angel looked to Buffy-Millie who smiled at him...Neither maliciously nor pleasantly...Perhaps
just a trace of pity...And turning away, walked back to Walthrop...

Ignoring the reporters' calls...Which quickly ended, their hero providing quite enough
photographic material...

Standing in his usual pose of confident daring...And carefully avoiding Miss DuBois' stare...
***

Mercifully for LeGrand it was Miss DuBois' turn to be embarrassed as the Russian ship, with the
cars, Racers, and reporters now safely hoisted aboard, pulled into harbor...

A single man in fur cap on the dock waving and jumping frantically...Hmmn...Angel raised his
telescope...

Hezekiah...

He walked over to Miss DuBois who had been standing by the Walthrops...

"Miss DuBois...What is Hezekiah doing on that dock?..." he asked her, frowning...

He handed the telescope to Miss DuBois...
Ummn...
***

A furious Hezekiah explained the situation to his Boss...Fortunately between the Canadian rail
and steamer across the Bering Sea he'd made the crossing from Alaska in time to catch up...

"You told me he'd gone back to New York!..." Angel glared at a rather less than forthright Miss
DuBois...

Well...She looked away...

"You handcuffed him to a train seat!..."

True...But...

She decided on a return to forthrightness...

"I told you Mr. LeGrand, I get what I want..." she told him firmly...

"And I mean to complete this Race..."

Angel shook his head...

"Not with us!..." he insisted...Hezekiah nodding happily...

She frowned at him...Grim determination in her eyes...

Buffy-Millie watched the exchange, an idea forming in her mind...

Walthrop looked up from the telegram and letter he was writing to Millie's parents and the
children...

And saw his wife's look...

Uh-oh...
***

Willow Harris had decided to expand the latest triumph of Women...And launched the Sentinel,
with Alex's nervous but surprisingly rather proud approval...On a crusade to demand the
increased employment of women in non-traditional employment...

If women could work at the Sentinel...Quite successfully...Why not in other newspapers...Why
not in factory jobs other than textiles...

As a practical person, she tried the common sense approach in her editorials...Surely if a woman
could run a sewing machine...She could learn to run a power loom...Or could work on the new
automobile assembly lines such as at Ford's or LeGrand's...And earn the higher pay that would
lift the Lower Orders out of poverty...

Alex was not surprised to learn that the common sense approach did not succeed...Most
employers and their competitors in the Press ignored Willow's call...A few business leaders,
politicians, clergymen denounced the wicked idea...Tearing at the foundation of the Home...The
very Fabric of Society...

Ignoring Willow's point that many women had no support...Or such as they had...Could hardly
be called "support"...

Alex suggested a tougher approach in his daily phone conversation and during their weekend get
togethers...He rather enjoyed the idea, now that he was safely away from the daily cares of the
Sentinel...Of hounding his competitors with the same tactics used against him...

Protests, demonstrations, occupation of offices...

He went so far as to suggest pressure on their conservative clients...A suggestion even Willow
had been nervous about implementing...To risk losing their client base by refusing their
advertisements...

Well...They were still planning to sell out in due course, weren't they?...Or was she by any
chance?...Hoping to stay on?...Leaving him alone in some small town writing editorials?...

He'd noted their weekends getting fewer and shorter...As was this particular visit...Barely a day...

Ummn...She'd never leave him alone, Willow began...

I see...Alex glared...Perhaps...You'd care to allow me the comfort of the children in my exile...

She never intended for him to stay away...It was just...Running the paper was so...

Couldn't he come home?...When his cure was done...And help her run the paper?...With
restricted duties...

Sort of an above-the-battle advisor...

The doctors had recommended he avoid the bustle and bad air of city life...Remember?...

However, if she preferred that he come home to die...

Alex...She frowned...There was no need for him to take on like that...

She shifted her tactics...It was a brilliant idea...His suggestion of pressuring their clients...
Sure to achieve grand results...Which after all was the major reason for her continuing so long...

Just let her win a few victories on this front and she'd look into the sale of the paper...

Hmmn...He relented a bit...Well...If it was merely a matter of duty...The sacred cause of Social
Advancement and Progress...He supposed he could be patient...

She hugged him gratefully...Dear Alex...

How much better was he by the way?...She thought she might be able to spend the night after
all...

He'd take the risk, he assured her...Happily...

Willow went out to telegraph Warren at the paper...To let him know she would not be in on
Sunday...And to let her intern, Miss Macluay work with the Sunday edition...Or else...

Alex smiled at her as she left his room...

Pressure on our conservative clients, eh...Yeah...That ought to do it...

It was amazing...Destroying the Sentinel was becoming almost as much fun for him as building it
up had been...

But of course it was all for Social Advancement, Progress...Some few of the clients being sure to
cave in before the backlash began...

And of course...His marriage...

Willow would no doubt understand...The need for sacrifices to be made for any Progress to
occur...Even if the family business should be lost on the Altar of Social Advancement...

***
He really wasn't sure about this one...Walthrop noted to his wife...

It would be fine...She'd explain things to Miss DuBois later...The intrepid lady would no doubt
appreciate her offer once she'd done so...

"Couldn't we just...Ask her?..." Walthrop looked at Buffy-Millie...

She had her reasons for a dramatic act, she told him...LeGrand had to think the damsel was in
distress...To keep him in his current off-balance state...

He certainly was off-balance...Walthrop had to admit, looking over at a very nervous LeGrand
who was still arguing with Miss DuBois...
Who had now brought up her last gun...Which to her credit, she had hesitated to use...In spite of
Angel's disappointing performance just a short time ago with the reporters...

The problem was...She sighed...He was afraid to have a Black woman along...A Black
newswoman...The effect on his adoring Press and fans...

Miss DuBois...Angel took a lofty position...Had he not taken her halfway round the world?...In
spite of her subterfuges...She could hardly accuse him of...

He didn't mind taking her when no one else knew...Even unchaperoned...She pointed out...

However...With his beloved and beloving Press in view again...

Hezekiah sensed the argument was not going as he'd of wished...The Boss was clearly
weakening...And looking for an excuse to cave in...

He was so busy watching the outcome that he...Like Angel and Miss DuBois...Failed to notice
the Hannibal Super Twin 8 moving up to them...

Until Buffy-Millie's smoke-screen surrounded them...

Miss DuBois felt herself being grabbed and lifted and screaming for help, swung
out...Hitting...Something...Which or who...Went down...

"Miss DuBois!!!" Angel cried out...Unable to see her or anything else...

The smoke cleared, leaving a bevy of choking reporters and Russian onlookers, the Angel
Special, Angel, and Hezekiah...

The Hannibal, the Walthrops, and Miss DuBois were gone...

"Hezekiah!..." Angel called...Throwing back his driving scarf in a determined and heroic pose...

"We must get after them immediately..."

Great...Thought Hezekiah...After we finally get rid of her...

In spite of their reservations about Miss DuBois, the reporters had to admire the manliness of
their hero...As he set out in pursuit of the kidnappers and the poor damsel...

What a gallant soul...What a true hero...

What a man...
***
Walthrop did what he could for the unconscious Buffy-Millie as he drove...
That was quite a left hook, he noted to Miss DuBois...Whom he had assured of their best
intentions...Despite the rather over dramatic exit back there...

After all...She wanted to stay in the Race, right?...
***

Miss DuBois had reluctantly accepted the Walthrops' offer...Much as she would've preferred a
proper chance to think it over...

They were following the line of the Trans-Siberian railroad across the Russian Empire...In cheery
Siberia...

Desolate Siberia...Walthrop noted to Buffy-Millie...Who was studying maps...

She noted a cluster of houses ahead...If she didn't miss her guess...

"Lena...The next gasoline depot..." Miss DuBois noted...

Yes...Buffy-Millie agreed...A trifle sourly...

The sun was setting...It being Siberia...It was best to stop in town...Gas depot or not...

A large crowd was waiting quietly in the center of town...Obviously scouts had reported their
coming...

Walthrop halted the car in the midst of the town square...The swelling crowd surrounded them...

Remaining completely silent as they watched the car...

Doesn't look great...Walthrop noted...

How does one say... "How do"...in Russian he wondered...

"Professor?..." Miss DuBois began... "Perhaps I..."

"Well...They clearly don't know who we are..." Buffy-Millie looked out at the crowd and stood
up...

"I...Am Professor Fate!!...One of the competitors in the Great Race Around the World..." she
called out to the silent crowd...

The Russians continued to stare quietly...

She slunk back down...And turned to Walthrop...

"Should we...Give them something?...They say that makes savages friendly?..." she hissed...

He reflected...

Miss DuBois looked at her...

"Professor I hardly think these people will be won over by beads..."

Buffy-Millie glared at her...

"Well...What would you propose?..."

Miss DuBois stood up...A hair nervous...None of these people had clearly ever seen a black
person before...

"Daspedanya, tovarich..." she went on to introduce themselves in perfect Russian as the Great
Racers...

The crowd cheered...And surrounded the car shaking hands...

Standing in the car while doing their best to greet the well-wishers, Buffy-Millie and Walthrop
looked questioningly at Miss DuBois...Who smiled at them while likewise shaking hands...

"I speak, read, and write...French, Arabic, and Russian..."

Walthrop bowed slightly and smiled...

Buffy-Millie glared at both of them...

"I speak French...A little..." she reminded William in a hiss...

And very well, dear...he noted...Continuing to watch Miss DuBois now the center of attention for
a large group of the crowd...

A spokesperson came forward by Buffy-Millie and greeted them in very halting
English...Welcoming the Racers to Siberia and praising their courage and their visit...As
symbol of the friendship of the Russian Empire and the United America State...

Buffy-Millie smiled and nodded politely...This...Was a little more like it...

The Angel Special pulled up and was likewise surrounded by the jubilant crowds...

As they also shook as many hands as possible, Hezekiah pointed out the Walthrops and Miss
DuBois...

Miss DuBois spotted them...And ignoring them, continued to shake hands...

"Hey...Boss...She don't look like she's been kidnaped..." Hezekiah noted...

Angel looked over to her...

"Madeleine...Miss DuBois..." he hollered...

She suddenly grabbed Walthrop and kissed him...

Buffy-Millie turned bright red...And starting the car, drove it forward a few feet through an
opening being formed in the crowd, to allow them to reach the parking area for the night and
their vital refueling...

She deliberately halted to knock Miss DuBois down into the back seat...

Walthrop sheepishly sat down beside her...The lady was just being friendly, sweet...

She glared straight ahead at the parking area, saying nothing...

"Just wanted Mr. LeGrand to know I was alright here, Professor..." Miss DuBois called to her...

Ummn...Buffy-Millie growled...

Bringing her along was your bright idea, dear...Walthrop noted to her, a trifle peeved now...

Though rather pleased...On two counts...

A rather pleasant kiss from the rather beautiful Miss DuBois...

And a very jealous wife...Definitely not taking him for granted for once...

His greetings to the cheering crowd as they parked and made their way to what seemed the town
hall or assembly place were therefore...Quite enthusiastic...

He turned to Miss DuBois for help in properly greeting the Russians...

Which did not improve Buffy-Millie's mood...

She'd have to pose some questions in Physics and Engineering to our gracious lady, she
thought...

That'd show him...Unless...Of course...

Though Miss DuBois didn't strike her as the mathematical type...One must not judge by
appearance...

She was very beautiful...Will couldn't be...Interested....For as shallow as a reason as
beauty?...And a little charm of manner?...Could he?...

Buffy-Millie nervously looked for a mirror as they were guided along...One just in front, on an
old hut door...She looked as she passed...

Crummy old teeth prominent as ever...Hair a mess...Dress...Well, thank God it was her
trademark, practical black...

And that Miss DuBois...Really so beautiful...

Her mood changed to a twinge of despair...She'd taken Will for granted...Gone on and on with
this crazy obsession with Angel LeGrand...And now...She looked at him and Miss DuBois just
ahead...

He was too short for the lady...She decided....Much too short...

It was just nerves on her part...And his annoyance with her on his...He just wanted to make her
squirm a bit...Nothing to worry about...

She tried smiling at the crowds as they headed toward a large building...And waved a bit...

Of course...she thought...Miss DuBois was an intelligent young woman...She might well have
enough good sense to see Max's worthy qualities...And...

She hurried her pace...

Angel and Hezekiah were some distance behind, being led likewise by their segment of the
crowd...

Angel was a bit miffed...Neither Miss DuBois...Nor Millie...Seemed interested in him at all for
the moment...

A unique experience for Angel LeGrand...
***

Yet More (Semi) Parallel Lives... "Great Race"...Part XV...

Miss DuBois was a reluctant eyewitness to a Cold War between the Walthrops as the Racers
headed across Siberia...

Max naturally felt he was being treated quite unfairly...He...Who had tolerated this ridiculous
fixation of his wife's on LeGrand for years...Encouraged her in her work...Supported her in
defeat and disaster...

Now on top of everything...She was jealous?...Over someone she'd insisted on bringing with
them?...

For her part...Buffy-Millie's annoyance was primarily based on guilt...Gnawingly deep
guilt...After watching Angel's performance at the Russian coast...And realizing how close she'd
come to joining him...Posing for those moronic reporters like that idiotic bag of...

And glimpsing, watching Angel so thoughtlessly betray his poor Miss DuBois...A little of what
Max had been through all this time...

Though she'd never denied that she took him too much for granted...And had tried to make it up
to him...At every opportunity...

He'd always understood how important proving her ideas and ability were to her...And
encouraged her in her work...

And she hadn't fallen into the slime with Angel and his reporters...Earned her husband's
embarrassed disappointment...

Yet she knew she'd been going overboard on this one...Dragging him around the world...At huge
expense and great potential loss...Nearly getting them killed...Forcing him to commit...Shall we
say, less than honorable deeds...Even to kill, if only in self-defense...

Though not all her fault, of course...

But she needed something to divert her from guilt...There was an important issue here, however
much she'd let it get buried in her own anger at LeGrand...

She had to prove she could do this...She felt it in her bones...

Even if William couldn't help seeing Angel as the cause at bottom...

And Miss DuBois, radiant beauty, was just the thing to focus on to wear away a little of that
guilt...

Plus...He'd kissed her...Well...Been kissed by her...But seemed rather to enjoy it...

How had these two stayed together nine years?...Miss DuBois wondered, watching the steady
increase in daily mutual glares...

Now if she were ever so foolish as to get married...

***
Hercule Le Grand's meeting with his "special operatives" had been delayed several times...

Most notably when it seemed the Racers had all been lost...

And in part due to the difficult of arranging a meeting...Their schedules being
somewhat...Restricted...

But...Now...With the Race approaching its final leg...And with them in New York, preparing to
cross to Europe...It was time to see what they might once again be able to do for him...And his
boy...

Currently neck-and-neck in the struggle with Professor Fate...

And apparently unwilling to do what was clearly necessary to achieve victory...

And ensure the success of LeGrand Motors...

The soft fool...To have moral qualms at a time like this...

Clearly Father's helping hand was once again required...
***

Morovia...Gateway to Eastern and Central Europe...

A kingdom on the Russian border...Loosely associated with Austria-Hungary and on the direct
road to Vienna...And Paris...

Rough mountains to begin with, then a beautiful central plain...Scene of numerous historical
battles...

Buffy-Millie had chosen to avoid the capital...Sure to be an attempt at a welcoming reception,
reporters demanding interviews, ridiculous delays...

Whatever was lost in mileage was sure to be made up in avoiding the fuss and nonsense...Which
no doubt, LeGrand would be mired in...And loving it...

***
Which naturally...He was...

Having entered the capital to the cheers of a waiting throng...Met by a delegation of officials and
escorted by a troop of hussars of the royal cavalry...

Worshipful reporters at every turn...Naturally...

But...He did not see the one person he was expecting...Hopefully...To see...
There was no sign of Miss DuBois...

No reports of another racer crossing the border...The lieutenant commanding his escort told
him...

However, the eastern mountains were full of unwatched crossing points...The Walthrops might
indeed be in Morovia now...Though they'd be sure to be detected soon...Especially with the
increased internal security...

Owing to your upcoming coronation ceremonies...Angel diplomatically noted...Having perused
newspapers and magazines for topics of interest in the countries he'd be passing through...

One must always be ready to show proper appreciation and respect for the customs and
ceremonies of the little nations one is forced to travel through...

Yes...The lieutenant smiled...We were very pleased that your crossing came at this time...he told
them.

Her Royal Highness is to be crowned in just two days...

***
At the welcoming ceremonies, the Mayor of the capital confirmed Morovia's joy at the opportune
arrival of the Great Racer, Angel LeGrand...So near to the joyous day of Her Royal Highness'
coronation...

In fact, Her Royal Highness had a request...An invitation, really...

Would Mr. LeGrand be so kind as to accept her invitation to stay at the Royal Palace during his
time in the capital?...With a reception that evening...

He would be more than honored...Both as to himself and in the name of the friendship between
Morovia and the United States of America...

But of course...He went on...He was equally honored...Smiling his most dazzling smile at the
throngs of eager young ladies facing him...To be a guest of the people of Morovia at this
delightful ceremony...And at such a joyous time in their nation's history...

***
***

Miss Macluay was such a help in the office...Willow noted to Warren...Still severely bandaged
after his mishap on the fourteenth floor ledge...

So bright and quick...So capable...

She didn't know how she'd have been able to handle running the Sentinel on her own without
her...

And of course, Warren's indispensable help...

But Mears was troubled...This crazy scheme of putting pressure on their advertisers to hire
women...Beginning with LeGrand Motors, builders of the Angel Special...

"We'll lose all their advertiz...Ma'am..." he noted, fearfully...

Nonsense...Willow told him...As Alex had agreed...They needed the Sentinel at least as much as
the Sentinel needed them...

But...There are other papers...Lots of other papers...Didn't Mr. Harris consider?...

"Warren...Mr. Harris has given his experienced advice...And is in agreement with
me...Moreover, I am running the Sentinel right now and the decision has been made...By me..."
Willow told him sternly...

As for "other" papers...There are none like the Sentinel...

Miss Macluay returned from her errand to the printing room...Beaming at her boss...

A mutual glare exchanged between her and Mears...

"That will be all for now, Mears..." Willow dismissed him...

Muttering, Warren left...

Time to start calling his friends at the "other" papes he thought...The Sentinel was sinking fast
and it behooved a wise man to know when to abandon ship...

"All well, Miss Macluay?..." Willow asked her intern...

The printers were objecting...To the announcement that the Sentinel would accept no ads from
firms employing no women...

Surprisingly...Even the apprentice females thought it a bit overkill...

Willow frowned...Picking up the medieval attitudes of the elderly printers...Ridiculous...

Miss Macluay agreed...And had impressed on the printers that this was Mrs. Harris' order...Not a
request...

Excellent...Willow thanked her...She could leave for her visit to Alex with a sense of
accomplishment and anticipation...

"Are you heading up to Mr. Harris' place tonight?..." Miss Macluay asked...With a shy smile...

Indeed...She was looking forward to a longer visit than she'd had time for in a while...Poor
Alex...She'd been neglecting him a little what with all the excitement...

The children had finally been given permission to see him and were already on their way...In the
care of Alex's mother and servants...

Alex's mother...Willow noted to Miss Macluay with a grin...Was gradually wearing down her
intense prejudice...Someday she might even be capable of addressing her directly...

But she did love her grandchildren...

It must be very difficult for her...Miss Macluay noted...To live with such...Limited people...

Well...It takes time for people to adjust to new ideas, new people...Willow noted...

But thank God for dear Alex...

Hmmn...Miss Macluay frowned a bit...Not that she had anything against Mr. Harris...But...

Surely it was confining...To be so limited in her...Relationships...

With Alex?...Willow chucked...

Endlessly diverting, I assure you...

Marriage...She went on to her protege...Can be a wonderful thing...If the two involved share
common interests, affections...

And a deep and abiding love...

Hmmn...Perhaps...Miss Macluay frowned again...However...

There were other ways for human beings to relate to each other...

In far less...Confining...And...Limited...Ways...

Really?...Willow asked...Looking at her protege...

Who was looking at her...In a rather...Curious...Way...
***
Angel and Hezekiah had been led in their car to the Royal Palace by a jubilant crowd with the
hussars in the lead...

The Angel Special secured in a royal garage...They were shown to their luxurious quarters in the
west wing of the palace by a butler in a rather formal uniform covered in medals...

Her Royal Highness would receive at seven...With dinner at eight-thirty...The butler told
them...Until then they were welcome to tour the palace and attached royal museum...With the
staff at their service...

He bowed, clicking heels...Angel bowed slightly...Hezekiah attempted a bow...

***

The Walthrops and their guest had run into...A leetle trouble...

In form of a troup of fierce-looking Morovian cavalry...

And in a most inopportune moment...Buffy-Millie groaned...

Just when she and Max had been...On the verge...Of...What she'd hoped to be a delightful
reconciliation...

***

They'd stopped for water and a chance to clean up a bit...By the banks of the scenic river
Morovia...

Miss DuBois had requested a chance to bathe...Two solid weeks across Siberia without a bath...

Buffy-Millie decided to join her...After ordering Max to stay by the car...

Who, in his present state of mind, did not take kindly to receiving peremptory orders...

They were intelligent, mature people...Of the early twentieth century...he noted...

No reason why they couldn't all share the comfort of some river bathing...

After all...She was actually a woman of the late twentieth/early twenty-first century...According
to her tales...And the late twentieth/early twenty-first century was a time of great Social
Advancement...And Progress...In all areas...

Including male-female relationships...And the lifting of foolish and needless taboos...

Ummn...Well...She looked at him sideways...

Someone has to watch the car...

He noted she was perfectly capable of doing that she herself...While he joined Miss DuBois...

In her state of mind it took a moment for her to realize he was enjoying her discomfort...

And stalk off towards an isolated corner of the river, muttering...

Max watched after her but decided to put his frustration to good use and scrub down the
car...Which sorely needed a cleaning...

***
On finding Miss DuBois alone at her branch of the river on her return...Oh, pardonez-
moi...Buffy-Millie had been relieved enough to seek Walthrop back at the car...

She'd known he wouldn't...

Really...

And found him hard at scrubbing the car...And employing a series of rather colorful oaths...

So wrapped up in it...That he did not see his wife's approach...And tossed a bucket of dirty suds
in her general direction...Drenching her...

And for once...Leaving her quite speechless...

***
Hearing wordless screams of rage...Clearly coming from Professor Fate...Miss DuBois decided to
wait things out by the riverbank...

Something...Two somethings...Streaked by her waiting place...Spattering a trail of filthy water...
The one behind rather taller...And tossing things at the first...

Until both plunged into the river Morovia...

Which plunge occurred just as Buffy-Millie remembered that like her counterpart a century from
now...She'd never learned to swim...

Which was why she had invented a superior life-jacket in the first place...None unfortunately...Or
perhaps...Fortunately...At hand...

William pulled her gurgling self out as she went down for the second time...And heaved her onto
the bank...

She decided it was time for a touch of the melodramatic...Between gasps for air...
"Why...Didn't...You...Just...Let...Me drown?..." she asked him, trying to seem as shattered and
heart-broken as possible under the circumstances...

Hmmn...Hadn't really thought about it, dear...These things operate on reflex action, generally...

"M...m...Max!!"

Take a breath, sweetheart...

"You alright now?..." he looked her up and down...As she lay on the bank...Staring up at him...

Ummn-hmmn...She nodded, coughing a bit...

"You...you..." she gasped a little...He looked expectantly, but resigned...More complaints
regarding the water bucket...

He'd explained it was an accident...Not intentional...He hadn't been expecting her to come
stalking back so soon...

"You...Looked so...Cute..." she caught her breath...

"Running like that..." she grinned at him...

You see...He grinned back at her...It's like I've always told you...

When you smile like that...No one notices the teeth...

She pulled him down on top of her...

Just as Miss DuBois...Who'd started up from her bathing spot...Was dragged over to them...
Kicking and trying to scream through the hand over her mouth...

Saved...At least from walking in on the Walthrops' little lovenest...By the cavalry, no less...

The Morovian cavalry...

The cavalry lieutenant in charge of the troop peered at Buffy-Millie...And a photo he held in
hand...Smiling...

Amazing...

Count von Hellsdorf was a genius...the lieutenant reflected...

This scheme might actually work...He looked again at Buffy-Millie...

Incredible...Who would have thought...There could be two such...

He signaled to his men to release Miss DuBois...Who ran over to Buffy-Millie and Max...
The Walthrops and Miss DuBois stared at him...

You are under arrest...As possible foreign spies...he informed them...

"Spies?...Don't be ridiculous...Who's your superior?..." Buffy-Millie demanded...

They would be learning that soon enough he told them...

"We're Americans...Engaged in the Great Around the World Race..." Walthrop noted... "We
demand to speak to our consulate..."

The lieutenant sighed and signed to his men...Who dismounted and moved in on them...

"My husband is a personal friend of President Teddy Roosevelt!!!..."
***
General Seidelmann, commander of the Morovian army, about sixty, white-haired and stiff,
greeted the distinguished Angel Le Grand and his partner, guests of her Royal Highness, as the
reception began...

Her Highness would make her entrance momentarily...he informed them...

Angel bowed politely...They were very anxious to thank her Royal Highness for her gracious
hospitality and the enthusiastic welcome they'd received in Morovia, he noted...

Yes...The General looked at him, clearly sizing him up...

Not one for small talk...Angel noted...

A few ladies and gentlemen of the court now joined them...

One noble lady politely asked Angel if he would be staying for the coronation...

The General looked at him rather narrowly...

Indeed...Angel noted...He was looking forward to attending the ceremony...Both as a
representative of the American people and as the guest of the Morovian government...

"But Mr. LeGrand...If you stay for the coronation..." the General asked... "Won't you lose
valuable time to your opponent in your endeavor?..."

There had been no reports of Professor Fate's arrival in Morovia as yet...LeGrand pointed
out...Besides...
Winning...Angel noted...With a dazzling smile for the ladies...Is only valuable if done with
the proper style...To win too easy is to win...Nothing...

"There we must disagree, my dear Mr. LeGrand..." the General replied, smiling faintly... "In my
profession, to win is everything..."

"To win easily...A blessing..."

Angel nodded and bowed...

Trumpets sounded, announcing the arrival of her Royal Highness...

A tall, well-dressed in ermine-robes, somewhat ungainly young woman entered...Staggering a
bit...

Her ladies behind tittered just a bit...

Oh my God...Angel looked at her...Millie...Her identical twin...Right down to those teeth...

"But Boss...That's..." Hezekiah gasped, Angel cutting him off...

"No it's not..." LeGrand hissed...

Her Royal Highness Irina Solovda Theodora Anne nodded graciously, nervously smiling at
Angel and Hezekiah as she passed...

Millie...To a T...If she were dressed in something other than black...And was in a rather pleasant
mood...

Although she seemed disposed to chat a bit with the reception guests...Her attendants seemed
rather anxious to cut the reception greetings to the barest minimum...

She however did insist on having the two Americans presented...A request Angel was pleased to
comply with...After warning Hezekiah to best behavior...

Would he stay to chat after dinner?...She was very-hic-anxious to chat with the Great
Angel...Staggering a bit...

Very happy to accept her invitation, Angel replied...And if he might say so, glad to present her
with the greetings and best-wishes of the people of the United States of America...

Ummn-hic-hmmn...her Royal Highness looked at him...Definitely-hic-as cute as his pictures in
the papers...

Hmmn...Hezekiah watched her...If he didn't know better...And he didn't...He'd of said her Royal
Highness was...Rather...

She seemed anxious not to let LeGrand go...Which Angel noted, the General had noticed...And
seemed somewhat displeased about...

He came over and briefly whispered in her Royal Highness' ear...She reluctantly stood up,
smiling again at LeGrand...

Time-hic-to go in...Hope you like dinner...she noted...

The General hurriedly signaled for all to enter the main hall for the state dinner...As her Highness
was led in by two footmen...

And stumbling, nearly fell...Caught in the nick of time by General Seidelmann...Who, Angel
noted, as he followed close behind with Hezekiah, had almost seemed disposed to let her fall...

***
Yet More (Semi)Parallel Lives... "Great Race 1906"...Part XVI

The Walthrops and Miss DuBois found themselves at a large and ancient
fortress castle...Under the careful guard of the hussars of the Royal Morovian
Cavalry...With deluxe accomodation...

An authentic working dungeon no less...

All three still loudly demanding the presence of the American
consul...Insisting on their rights as American citizens...Buffy-Millie and
the forthright Miss DuBois competing for loudest cries...

Which temporarily quieted only when the lieutenant who'd captured them
informed them pleasantly that while he would never take action against ladies...His
men would be only too happy to try a little target practice on Mr.
Walthrop...Shot while refusing to obey their orders to halt...A sad incident...

But it does happen...Quite a lot in Eastern Europe, the lieutenant
noted...And it's amazing how badly damaged some of the corpses get...In
front...Considering they were supposedly shot at a distance while fleeing border guards...

They quieted down...

***
Willow Harris' scheme for improving the lot of Women was hitting some heavy
surf...Although a couple of clients did make at least a vague gesture by
hiring a few more lower-level female employees, most simply transferred their
accounts to the other New York papers... Moreover, the termination of reports by M.
DuBois from the Angel Special...Due to LeGrand Motor Works' refusal to
employ female workers in their factory...Caused major dissatisfaction among the
readership, now well and truly hooked on that forthright lady's reports...

Miss Macluay had suggested they simply censor Miss DuBois'
reports...Dropping all mention of LeGrand and the Angel Special...Which Willow, champion of a
free press like her husband, could not do...

Besides every one of Miss DuBois' stories featured long accounts of Angel's
activities...And she was, after all, riding in the Angel Special...

So...It was a very welcome relief to learn that Miss DuBois had transferred
to Professor Fate's Hannibal Super Twin8...

But...Without the unspoken, but barely hinted tension of Miss DuBois and
Angel LeGrand...Together in the same car...Miss DuBois relating the minute details
of their travels...

Angel chasing off bears in Canada...The two of them hunting their meals
together in the vast forests...Dinner with Mr. LeGrand by a lovely, quiet
river...Strolling around a lonely mountain pasture, together...Mr. LeGrand
seeing to her comfort as they retired for the night...Well...

Some of the fascination the public had felt...Faded...

Ridiculous, Willow felt...Millie and Will are as romantic a couple as you
could get...They just go for the understated approach...

Indeed, Miss DuBois' reports from the Hannibal across Siberia had carried
some of the tension between Buffy-Millie and Max...And had perhaps harped a bit
too much on dear Mil's "practical" mode of dress...The harsh conditions of the
trip...Even Millie's insistence on detailed scientific observation was taken
by the public as the natural attitude of a dreary bluestocking female
"professor"...

Then, after they finally left bleak Siberia...And Willow hoped for more
"pleasing" reports...Silence...

Not a word since they'd crossed the Morovian border...Whereas Angel...

His beloving reporters now back in strength...Was being feted in grand style
as the official guest of the Morovian government...To attend a royal
coronation, no less...

Damn Millie...Willow knew exactly what she was up to...Dodging round the
capital by back roads...Avoiding all the fuss and feathers...And keeping her
reporter from getting exactly the kind of stories that would bring their
readership back in droves...

Just once...Couldn't she have made allowances and accepted a little
fluff?...Hell, her husband was Teddy Roosevelt's old buddy...They could have
been appointed official US representatives to the coronation...

And there was the fact of the Princess...Her Royal Highness...Whose picture
Willow had only just seen...Not having all that great an interest in foreign
aristocracy...

Millie's spitting image...What a story...And a chance to see a version of
her at least in something not "practical"...

And her star reporter was nowhere to be found...

In addition, Mrs. Harris had concerns on the home front...Well, the office
had always been an extension of home, sort of, and even more now that she was in
charge...Officially as well as literally...

Concerns centering around Alex...Whose health was slowly improving...But who
was clearly enjoying the steady collapse of the Sentinel...Despite his
attempts to feign concern...

She was beginning to suspect his approval of her recent actions was not
based on the belief that they were wise moves for the paper's future...

And Miss Macluay...Whose personal attentions to Willow were becoming...A
leetle much...

Just a bit...Unnerving...Though Willow did her best to put them down to the
young woman's enthusiasm for the Cause...She couldn't help wondering...After
all, she'd heard of some women, a few rumored to be in the Movement (usually
by rabid opponents of Womens' Rights) who engaged in...Well...Different sorts
of relationships than the traditional...

Not an easy time for the new editor-in-chief and publisher...

***

The Princess had made a point of dancing with LeGrand at the brief ball
following the state dinner...

Despite efforts by General Seidelmann and several others to distract her...
Considering her overall dancing ability...Or lack thereof...Compounded by
her now clearly inebriated condition...It was not surprising that her people
should wish to keep her under close watch...However...

It seemed to Angel that watch did not appear to be entirely that of devoted
and faithful friends and servants...At least in the case of General Seidelmann
and several around him...Who seemed if anything to wish to encourage her
behavior while keeping her away from anyone who might discreetly intervene to protect
her reputation...

Like the gentlemanly Mr. LeGrand...

No, it was more like the watching of vultures, circling a stricken prey...
***

Her Royal Highness, General Seidelmann, and several members of the court had
retired...With their famed American guests, Angel and Hezekiah, to a small
chamber...

Where the Princess rather eagerly...And over a certain discreet objection by
the General and a few of her ladies...Ordered brandies round...

It was clear that she had been sampling from the stock for some time
already...

In the more relaxed atmosphere, Hezekiah allowed himself a question
regarding the Princess' remarkable resemblance to someone they knew...Did she...By any chance...Have folks in the States?...

"Folks?...In States?..." her Royal Highness blinked at him...

"Your Highness..." Angel put in... "My friend Hezekiah was referring to the
fact that you bear a striking resemblance to an acquaintance of ours...From
America..."

"Resemblance...To-hic-an American?...Oooh-hic-how jolly..." she laughed...

Scanning the room...At her court members...Who immediately picked up on her
laugh...Even the General, albeit rather reluctantly...

She waved her hand, immediately silencing the room...Hezekiah and Angel
looking at the others, a bit startled...

Hmmn...Definitely a degree of resentment on the part of the General, Angel
noted...Perhaps understandable...Yet...
She took Angel by the arm, strolling around the room...

One new face in the group stepped forward at her urging...

Dark-haired and sleekly handsome, perhaps late twenties...Resplendent in his
uniform...Smiling coolly at the Americans...

"Mr. LeGrand, Count Rolf von Hellsdorf...My-hic-cousin, a few times
removed..." the Princess grinned at Hellsdorf...Who smiled back...

"Rolfee, where-hic-have you been?..." she asked him... "I thought you'd be
missing the whole evening..."

"You've been a naughty boy...Haven't you?..." she teased... "A
new-hic-rendevous?..."

Do tell...she tapped his shoulder...

Hellsdorf chuckled, while looking Angel over carefully...

"A gentleman, My dear Highness...Cannot betray the confidence of a lady..."

Rolfee is the greatest swordsman in Morovia, probably in Europe...the
Princess told Angel...

"Not to mention the greatest rogue...Right-hic-Rolfee?..." she smiled at the
Count...

Who bowed, grinning...But continuing to size up LeGrand...Clearly sensing a
rival...Especially in the adoring attitude of the court ladies present...

The smooth type, Hezekiah noted...Lap dog variety...

Did Mr. LeGrand practice the sword?...Hellsdorf asked causally...Not many
Americans had a taste for the steel, he went on...With a trace of
contempt...

Religiously Angel told him...

"Ah, then perhaps we may take a match together at some point while you are
here..." Hellsdorf smiled thinly...

Nothing would give him greater pleasure, Count...Angel bowed slightly to
him...

They resumed their stroll, Hellsdorf now on the Princess' opposite side...

The General and several around him joined them...

"What makes you so great?...You great Angel you..." the Princess asked
suddenly, pausing...Smiling at Angel...

Realizing she was not being sarcastic....Angel smiled pleasantly back...

"Greatness...Your Royal Highness...Is an accolade conferred on men too long
dead to appreciate it...For services usually not worthy of the title..."

"I am simply...Angel..." he bowed... "And...I'm at your Highness'
service..."

The Princess stared at him...Blinking...

Oooh...

"He's good..." she acknowledged to Count von Hellsdorf...Who smiled coldly
at Angel...

She got a locket from her purse...Displaying a portrait of a rather handsome
young man...

Bearing a startling resemblance...To Teddy Roosevelt's distant cousin
Franklin, Angel noticed...

This...She announced to Angel and Hezekiah...Was Crown Prince Rwupert...er
Rupert...

Her betrothed...And future king...

They presented their compliments...A fine-looking young man, Angel
noted...Rather like another friend of theirs he noted...

He was sure they'd be very...

"Oh..." the Princess cut in with a deep sigh...

He doesn't like me much...She noted sadly...Hic-cupping discretely...

Yep...Soused...Hezekiah thought...

The General and Count von Hellsdorf moved immediately to refuse her
statement...

The Crown Prince was very fond of her...Was awaiting their upcoming nuptials
eagerly...

Angel nodded diplomatically...Of course...

Aristocrats...Hezekiah thought...What a way to run a country...

***

The lieutenant had returned with a group of guards...And entered the
Walthrops' cell to seize Buffy-Millie...Who grabbed desparately at Will, the bars, the
door...

God, for my old Slayer strength right now...Just for ten minutes...

"Where are you taking her?!!!..." Walthrop, thrown back...yelled...

"Millie!!!..."

"Will!!!...I love you...You leggo of me, you!!!..."

Ow!!! Screamed the bitten guard...

"Buffy!!!...I swear I'll hunt you all down if anything happens to her!!!..."
Walthrop screamed at the lieutenant and guards...Smashing at the cell
door...

They ignored him, dragging her, protesting violently, down the corridor...

Miss DuBois added her voice to Walthrop's cries...Both again demanding the
presence of the American consul...

To no avail...

Buffy?...Miss DuBois thought...Mr. Walthrop calls the Professor...Buffy?...

Oddest pet name I ever heard of...Still...Somehow it seems familiar...

***
As the evening came to a close, the Princess reminded Angel of the Grand
Ball the next evening...She-hic-hoped he'd be in attendance...And attend-hic-to
dance...Hee-hic-hee...

Triggering another forced laugh throughout the room...

Angel noted Count von Hellsdorf seemed no more pleased than General
Seidelmann at being required to participate...Though he covered his
annoyance...Smoothly...

He smiled at her Royal Highness and promised that he would indeed be in
attendance...And would hope for the chance to attend to her in dance...

She grinned and bowed slightly...Clearly pleased...

And, looking round the room, perhaps more aware than one might have thought
of how little her court thought of her...

The General signalled that the evening was at an end...Despite an obvious
reluctance on the Princess' part to let her fascinating American guests
leave...

Do we go to America on the post-coronation tour?...she paused to ask General
Seidelmann...Clearly hoping to stretch the evening out a bit longer...

"Certainly your Royal Highness..." the General told her... "But I think we
should discuss your travel itinerary tomorrow...You must be exhausted...As
no doubt, are our guests..." he smiled at the Americans...

"I have to-hic-go to bed now..." the Princess reluctantly noted to Angel...

Her ladies returned to assist her with her train as she prepared to leave...

All rose...

"Well...Goodnight, you good Angel you...Sleep tight and don't let the
bedbugs bite..." she extended her hand to him...

And please save the first waltz for me...she asked...Rather sweetly, Angel
noted...

Millie on a good day, really...That one specially good day, back in
1897...he thought...

He bowed and kissed her hand dutifully...Hezekiah likewise bowed...The
Princess and her ladies paraded out...

Count von Hellsdorf watched his distant cousin leave...With a rather
disdainful stare...
And turned to Angel...

"My dear cousin is quite taken with you, Mr LeGrand...I hope you will
continue to impress with your...Unique...Qualities..." A slightly contemptuous
smile...

Angel bowed and smiled...Coolly...

General Seidelmann came over, having seen her Highness off...

"Well, Mr. LeGrand...I trust you do understand her Highness' behavior was
simply natural... ‘nervousness' at the approaching coronation..."

He'd seen nothing but delightful charm and kindness in her Highness'
behavior, Angel gallantly informed him...

Yes...The General smiled...A touch frostily...

"Of we all miss her dear and beloved parents...Her father was the model of a
king, her mother carried on nobly after his death...Yes, both every
inch...Rulers...Fit for a throne..." his voice was a touch wistful...

As is her Royal Highness Angel noted, smiling...

Yes...Of course...Again a frosty smile...

He and Hezekiah made their good-evenings to the group and left for their
rooms...

***
In the long hallway leading to her suite, the Princess, stumbling a bit,
halted the train near a series of large portraits of her royal ancestors...Ending
with her own parents...And dismissed her ladies...Who hesitated to leave her...As
she was...Perhaps...In need of their services...

"I can-hic-undress myself, you know..." she glared at them a bit...

Definitely the image of Millicent Fate...

But recovering her usual kind nature, she hugged several of her ladies and
sent them off to their quarters...And turned to face the grim-faced portraits of
her two royal parents...Unbending and inflexible as they had been in life...

"Oh-hic-daddy...I got a leetle drunk this evening-hic-Ummn-hic-I'm
sorry...Mummy-hic-don't be angry with me...I'll be very regal for the
cor-hic-onation..."

Oh...Mummy...He doesn't love me at all...We don't even like-hic-each
other...Why-hic-do I have to marry him?...You and-hic-daddy at least shared
some things...

"Rupert-hic-collects stamps-hic-I hate stamps...And he likes-hic-pretty
women...Like old Rolfe...I'll be miserable all my-hic-life..."

"I-hic-know, daddy...Duty-hic-dooty...Yuck...Well, I'm pooped now...We'll
talk-hic-hic-later..."

Good night mummy, daddy...She stumbled off into her suite of rooms...

Some of her stumbling perhaps influenced by the effects of a powerful
narcotic...

***
Hercule LeGrand was meeting with his "special" operatives in New
York...Before they left with family for Europe...

"My dears...Always a pleasure..." he smiled congenally...

"We can't stay long..." the girl looked at him... "What is it you want
now?...We've already told you we not going to try anymore..."

Direct little thing...he noted...Pity I can't have her tossed out the tenth
floor window...

"My dear girl...We both share a common goal...To see Professor Fate out of
this race...And her ridiculous competition with my boy ended..."

We don't know that...the boy put in...Maybe she's going to win this
one...And that will settle things...

And even if she does win, my boy...LeGrand noted...She'll never be
satisfied...She'll keep on this crazy pursuit...And you know very well
why...

No...She doesn't love him...She loves Will...the boy insisted...

That was a matter for debate, LeGrand smiled at him...But...If that was
true...

"All the more reason to keep her as far away from my boy as possible..."
Hercule looked at the boy... "For her childrens' sakes...As well as Mr.
Walthrop's..."

I suppose bopping this geezer one isn't something Millie or Will or the cops
would ok...the boy thought reluctantly...

Anyway...the girl continued...We're well and out of it...

"Are you indeed, dear?...I wonder what the dear Professor and her husband
would think...If they're learned of your ‘assistance' in derailing her past
efforts?...I would guess...Neither of them would be...Pleased..."

I knew he'd pull this, the boy thought...

"I told you we couldn't trust him..." he told his sister...

She however returned LeGrand's stare coolly...

"We couldn't do anything now even if we wanted to...It's too late..." she
told him...


Nonsense...They would in France long before the race ended...And the
Walthrops would have to follow the designated route for the last 100 miles or
so...Should they still be in the lead at that time...

There ought to be plenty of time to take...Action...And surely...Of all
people...They could get close enough...

Millie and Will would know in a minute something was up if we showed
up...the girl pointed out...

"I'm sure...My dear...You and your brother here could think up some excuse
for meeting them early...A devoted desire to help them, perhaps..."

"Or would you prefer I leave it to my more...Unscrupulous...Operatives?..."
LeGrand asked with a grandfatherly smile...

The boy rose...We could call in the police, you know...he put on a bold
front...

Yes...LeGrand smiled...I'm sure the police would be fascinated by your
tales...Not to mention your past involvement...

By the way have you met any of my "friends" in the New York Police
Department?...Say... Commissioner Waldo, for example?...Or the state
judiciary?...

I should introduce you to several Congressmen I know...Young people like you
should get to know powerful people who can help...Or hurt...you in the
future...

Amelia looked at Phil...He looked back...

"We have to protect them, Phil..." she told him...

***
Yet More (Semi)Parallel Lives... “Great Race 1906”...Part XVII

Hezekiah had decided to slip out and check on the Angel Special before retiring...

God knew what those “furreners” had done to the car...However well meaning...

But on the walk to the royal garage he encountered the strange spectacle of several men bearing a large, dark bundle out of a small side door of the palace...

A human body-sized bundle...

Which let out an audible if faint moan as the group came nearer...

He hailed them...And saw that the “smooth” Count von Hellsdorf was one...

Just before something struck him from behind...Knocking him unconscious...

***

Buffy-Millie had been locked alone in her cell for the better part of two hours when she had a visitor...Clearly Mr. In-Charge, judging by his resplendent uniform...

Who looked her over from head to toe, grinning...

“Professor Fate-Walthrop?...” he bowed slightly...

“I am Count Rolf von Hellsdorf...”

Nice to meet you...I demand to see the American counsul and my husband...she told him...

“All in due time, my dear lady...”

A tall, white-haired, equally well-uniformed if less splashy, fellow now entered the area by her cell...

“May I present General Seidelmann, commander of our armed forces...” von Hellsdorf waved at the General...

Charmed...I demand to see the American counsul and my husband...she told him...

Remarkable...the General told von Hellsdorf...Looking Buffy-Millie up and down...

Hmmn...She thought as they continued to stare...Fans?...People who know me from Buffy’s dimension?...They don’t look like the Master or any other old enemy...Though you never know...

Maybe...Just perverts...Could be in Eastern Europe they go for tall, buck-toothed American blondes...

Enough already...Creeps...Of the aristocrat variety...

“I demand to see...” she began again...

Yes, yes...the General interrupted...

“Sadly we cannot permit you to consult with your consul at this time...However your husband and your other...friend...are being brought down...In addition...” he nodded at the Count...

“We would like to introduce you to a friend of ours...” the Count smiled at her...

***
They led Buffy-Millie, under guard, to another group of cells...Two already occupied...

One...By Max and Miss DuBois...

“Millie!...” Walthrop called to her...

“I’m ok, Will...” she told him...

Just dealing with a couple of aristocratic pervs here...she thought...

The Count signalled his men to bring forward...The implements...

“This place was once famous as the hideous scene of many a brutal torture, Professor...The old Turkish Empire, the Inquistition, the old Morovian kings all had great sport here...” he looked over...The implements...With what was clearly great satisfaction...

The General, as befitting a man of Honor, frowned a bit at the Count’s frivilous behavior...The associations one must take on when one is saving one’s country, he sighed to himself...Still...
For the good of Morovia...

Walthrop and Miss DuBois loudly demanded the presence of the American consul...Miss DuBois noting that as an American journalist...

The Count delightedly held up a pair of tongs...Excellent for tongue or eye removal he noted...

Especially when heated to just the right temperature...

Miss Dubois and Buffy-Millie looked at him from their respective cells...Yep, perv hits it right on the nose...


General Seidelmann was a hair embarassed...Really...he thought...A bit much...Well, von Hellsdorf would have to go the moment the coup succeeded...

No point in overthrowing an incompetent Queen to replace her with a deranged sadist...

Pity...But even the best of royal families inevitably hits a lousy generation or two...

***
He managed to persuade the grinning Count to attend to the task at hand...

They had another guest to introduce...In particular to Professor Fate...
***

Count von Hellsdorf grinned at Buffy-Millie...Pointing at the unconscious Princess...

“Professor Millicent Fate-Walthrop...Allow me to present her Royal Highness, Princess Irina Solovda Theodora Anne...Our beloved future Queen...”

***
Buffy-Millie looked blank-eyed at her Royal Highness...Exchanged a look with Walthrop...Then back at the General and the Count...

“You want me to what?...Take her place?...”

Hellsdorf and the General smiled at her...

The Professor lives up to her reputation, Hellsdorf leered...

“You’ve got to be kidding...” she looked at them...

Not at all...The Count smiled...

“It’ll never work...”

On the contrary...The General noted...

“I won’t do it...” she said firmly...

Hellsdorf and the General exchanges smiles...

“Then you leave us no alternative...” the General told her calmly...And pulling out a gun, pointed it at Walthrop...

I’ll do it...she said quickly...

Sweetheart...Walthrop looked at her...I don’t think this is such a good idea...

“It’ll be fine, Will...” she told him...Besides, I can’t let ‘em shoot you...

“They’re going to anyway...They’ll have to...All of us...”

Not at all, the General assured them...Once Buffy-Millie was crowned, abdicated the throne, and entrusted the country to a new government headed by himself and the Count...Owing to her public acceptance of her lack of fitness for governing...The real Princess would be exiled...Alive...Along with Crown Prince Rupert...And the Walthrops and their friend could continue on their merry way...

The Count and the General would be secure in the knowledge that the blessings of their good government would win over public opinion...And that the Walthrops would be risking extradiction to and, eventually, execution in, Morovia if they should ever be so foolish as to admit their part in the plot...

As for any complaints on the part of the exiled Queen...Well, royalty abdicating and later trying to revoke that abdication was nothing new in Europe...And no one was likely to lift a finger to support her cause once the new government was in place...

They had...His solemn oath on it...

Like the oath you must have sworn to her Royal Highness?...Buffy-Millie did not say...Glaring at him...

Still...With a gun at Will’s head...Not much to be done about it...

Besides...An absolute Queen...And this country does not seem to be a constitutional monarchy...Can have people...Arrested, imprisoned....Shot...she thought...With pleasure...

“And of course...There is the little matter of your opponent, Mr. LeGrand...” the Count leered...
Angel?...Buffy-Millie blinked at him...

“We would be happy to find...Reasons for his detention...For a week...Perhaps two...” General Seidelmann smiled...

In fact...Hellsdorf continued...Owing to Mr. LeGrand’s assistant’s unfortunate incident in happening on the scene of her Royal Highness’ removal from the palace, arrest charges were already being prepared against the Great Angel....And he would shortly be in custody...Charged with plotting against the life of her Highness...

An unfortunate mistake by the security forces during an uncertain time...

Hmmn...Fringe benefit, eh...

“Don’t seem to have a choice, Will...” she called...

He looked at the sneering Hellsdorf...

“Hey, there, you overdressed doorman...Why don’t you come in this cell and settle this in a fair fight?...You twit’s descendant...”

Hellsdorf looked little Max over...

“I never fight with...Pygmies and peasants, little fellow...”

He signed for the guards to take Walthrop away...

Buffy-Millie gave him her best contemptuous glare...A preety good one with those teeth...

“You wouldn’t last a minute with him...In a fair fight...”

He looked at her evenly and coolly...Smiling just with the lips...

Well, she thought...They are going to kill us...Not much doubt about that now...

The General frowned at them and suggested they move on to more practical matters...There was very little time...

***

Yet More (Semi)Parallel Lives... “Great Race 1906”...Part XVIII

Angel was a bit perturbed to find it was not Hezekiah hammering at the door of their suite...

He was even more perturbed to find that it was a troop of royal guards...With orders for his arrest...

Charge...Suspicion of plotting against the life of her Royal Highness...The captain commanding the guards informed him...

“Ridiculous...” Angel snorted...

The captain shrugged...Orders are orders...

No doubt a mistake that would be quickly rectified...But, for now...If Mr. LeGrand would be so kind...

“Who preferred the charges?...” Angel asked, looking carefully at the captain...

The order was issued by General Siedelmann, but approved by her Highness’...the captain told him...

He causally showed Angel the arrest order...The Princess’ signature...Or one purporting to be hers in the right corner, Siedelmann’s at left...

And my assistant?...Angel asked...

“Already in custody I’m informed...” the captain looked at him...

Same charge...

Angel shook his head...But for propriety’s sake agreed to go with the captain and his guard...

Who took him to an old fortess, still used on occassion for special prisoners, several miles from the Hellsdorf castle where the Walthrops’, Miss Dubois, and Hezekiah were being helded...

He was placed in an ancient cell once used for political prisoners...The General being a man with a certain degree of ironic humor...

No Hezekiah...In fact no one, except the captain and guards...

Naturally as had the Walthrops and Miss DuBois before him...LeGrand also pointed out that he was an American citizen and demanded to see the American consul...

Likewise to no avail...
***
Miss DuBois had been brought to join Walthrop back in their original cell area, she in the cell adjoining his...

General Seidelmann had taken Buffy-Millie to the west wing of the fortress to dress, after which he would smuggle her into the palace...Hellsdorf staying behind...

The General having felt the Count’s talents would be best employed in keeping the prisoners quiet...

Besides the Count was himself rather anxious to pay a call on his own distinguished guest, the Great Angel...Now safely locked in the dungeon of his family’s older castle just up the road...

***

Miss DuBois had suggested the window bars of Walthrop’s cell might be a little weak...Old fortress castles are usually not well maintained...And old mortar gets crumbly...

“Try the one in the middle...That’ll leave a wide space...” Miss DuBois noted...

Interesting that he got the room with a window view, she thought...

On the other hand, she really couldn’t say the Morovians had treated her worse than the others...
***

So..Walthrop nodded to Miss DuBois...Like this?...He began twisting the bar back and forth with

The bar popped out, Walthrop staring at it...

“It worked...” he noted...

Can you squeeze through the opening now?...Miss DuBois asked him

Ummn...He tried to force his narrow frame through...No luck...

“Well, getting started on a second bar would probably be a good idea...” Miss DuBois noted...

A guard poked his nose in...Walthrop hid the loose bar behind his back...Oooh, Miss DuBois suddenly groaned...Collapsing to the floor...

The guard looked at her...Walthrop looked at her...

Oh...Walthrop thought...There’s no way to her cell except through mine...

A radical change of plan...Quick-thinking lady, he noted...Rather like my Millie...

The guard called out to her...She did not respond...

“Better look to the lady...” Walthrop noted... “I doubt if your bosses will be pleased if she dies due to your neglect...”
The guard entered his cell, pistol drawn and waved him back as he went over to Miss DuBois’ cell door...

Walthrop nodded pleasantly, stepped back, keeping the bar behind his back...And when Miss DuBois startled the guard by letting out a shriek, clubbed him one over the head...

A second guard entered from the hall...Walthrop pointed the first guard’s pistol at him and waved him into the cell...

Miss DuBois looked at him expectantly from her cell...Well?...Come on...

“Where’s my wife?...” he hissed to the second guard...Who shrugged...

He put the gun in the apparently deaf guard’s ear...Who, now hearing considerably better, informed him that Professor Fate had been taken to the west wing of the fortress...To be prepped for her performance at the coronation...

Surrounded no doubt by troops of guards...Watched by the General...And even LeGrand now in custody according to von Hellsdorf’s boasts...

Walthrop pondered...

“Mr. Wal-throp?...Would you please let me out before the rest of the guards show up?” Miss DuBois asked...

There were faint sounds suggesting others were approaching their cell area...

Hmmn?...Oh, yes...He started over...Whoa...Wait a bit...

Where was the Great Angel being held?...he asked the now quite reasonable and helpful guard...

Hellsdorf’s older family castle...Just four miles away...Straight down the road...Can’t miss it...
Quite a museum piece, the guard noted...

Hmmn...A man with two castles?...God, no wonder he wants to rule the nation...The heating bills alone must be croaking him...

Mr. Walthrop...Miss DuBois’ forthright nature was asserting itself...Would you please get a move on...

“Sorry...” he told her... “I’m afraid I may need some help to get Millie out of here...And LeGrand will need some incentive to come back with me...”

What?!...You’re leaving me here?...She looked at him...

You’ll be perfectly fine, I’m sure...He assured her...

“First, let me check on the guard situation around Millie...If I can get through, I’ll be right back...If I have to get help, Mr. LeGrand and I will be back within the hour...” he assured the now fuming Miss DuBois...

He smiled pleasantly at the second guard who was himself a little shocked at such ungentlemanly behavior...

“Young husband in love...” he shrugged, waving a hand...And clubbed the second guard unconscious...

“If I don’t find LeGrand, I will come back anyway in just a bit...” he promised...As he slipped out of the cell and headed into the hallway...

“Walthrop!...Max!...You little rat!!...” Miss DuBois hollered at him as he left...
***

In the west wing of the same castle, the General looked Buffy-Millie over...

Now decked out in the Princess’ gown of the evening...

Hmmn...Not bad at all...

She glared at him...But had to admit...She did look...Pretty nice...

But...Time to get the Princess...Out for a late night stroll...Home to the throne...
***
In a corner off the long hallway Walthrop managed to find what seemed to be a monk’s robe with hood and slipped it on...

From his shadowy corner, a quick survey of the corridor connecting to the west wing of the castle convinced him he’d never make it...At least six guards that he could see stationed at intervals with what appeared to be even more collected in a section further down on the way which opened to form a balcony looking out over a vast hall ...

Even with LeGrand it would be tough odds...Unless...

They could acquire some hefty firepower...

A sound of sandals on stone alerted him to someone coming...A group of monks dressed in the same robe and hood as his...

He straightened up and tried to look properly monkish...They nodded respectfully...And silently...As they walked past him...He trailed after them, just close enough to be taken as one if a guard spotted him...

When he reached the open balcony he saw on the vast ground floor of the hall below...The two racing cars...The Angel Special...And Buffy-Millie’s Hannibal Super Twin 8...

Equipped with medium-sized, rapid-fire cannon...

Firepower...

His brethren monks were heading for a stairway...He followed...It led down and out of the castle, but he had no choice...Besides...Now that he knew where the extra firepower lay...He was ready to fetch some extra help...

Unfortunately he did not realize the General was likewise leaving...With Buffy-Millie...For the Royal Palace...

For a necessarily rushed lesson in royal decorum and court ceremonial...

***
Count von Hellsdorf pleasantly tapped at the bars of Angel’s cell door...

“Mr. LeGrand?...Your accomodations are comfortable, I trust?...’ he grinned sardonically...

Hardly the way to treat an official guest of the Morovian people, LeGrand noted...

“Some rather unfortunate charges have been made against you, my dear sir...And at such a critical time for our nation...I hope you can understand that we must be on special guard justÏnow...”

He’d like to see the Princess, if possible, Angel told him...Or at the very least, the American consul...

Yes...You Americans and your attachment to such diplomatic niceties...the Count sighed...Why the Walthrops and that young black woman were exactly the same...

“Miss DuBois and the Walthrops are here?...” Angel cut in... “Let me see them at once...”

Not here per se, my dear fellow...Hellsdorf smiled...But safely in our custody...On similar charges... As for her Highness...She was of course much too occupied with state affairs to see him now...But would in any case merely confirm the order she had countersigned...
“I doubt that...” Angel said drily...

The Count dropped his congenial manner...And looked at him with a cold stare... One does not question the word of an aristocrat in his own country, dear sir...

“This is Morovia, Mr. LeGrand...” Hellsdorf signalled to a guard who thrust a large staff in at Angel, striking him in the ribs...

“Our ways...” He took the staff himself and struck LeGrand, unable to dodge in the narrow cell, several more times...Staggering him... “Are not...Your ways...”

Angel grabbed the staff as Hellsdorf aimed a blow at his head...And pulled it back into the cell...

Hellsdorf glared angrily...The guards with him looked at LeGrand, one moving toward the cell door... Another guard entered and went over to the Count, whispering... Calming the Count turned back to Angel...A pleasant smile restored to his face...

“It seems we must finish our match at a later time...I must return to the Royal Palace...”

Farewell, my dear friend...A pleasant night’s rest...The Count waved and left him...

***

Max found the castle as described about ten minutes after Hellsdorf had left Angel and saw theCount’s carriage as it pulled out, bound for the Royal Palace... He went over a guarded side door off the main entrance...Still clad in his monk’s outfit...

A guard halted him at the door, requesting to know his business there...

“I have come to see the Great Angel, my son...On an urgent but personal matter...”

I’m sorry father, the guard informed him...I have orders to admit no one without the Count’s express permission...

Walthrop sighed... “I understand...Bless you my son...” he extended his hand in benediction...

The guard knelt to receive his blessing and receiving it square on the head from Walthrop’s cell bar, passed out... Max entered quietly, now rather well-armed...He quickly found two more guards who succombed to the persuasive talents of his pistol and led him to Angel’s cell...

***

Her Highness had wanted a bit of fresh air...The General quietly explained to the annoyed lady-in-waiting who let them back into the Royal apartments...Buffy-Millie nodded as pleasantly as possible given the circumstances without speaking to the lady who was only too glad to return to her bed... Her Highness wandering about at night had not been an unusual sight of late...

Once safely in the Princess’ private apartments, the General turned to Buffy-Millie...

“Well...The most difficult business is already accomplished...We should have little trouble about the rest...” he told her...

She frowned...She knew from personal experience how valid a claim like that usually is...

However...He continued, looking her over carefully...It was necessary for her to acquire at least a rudimentary knowledge of the palace routine and court etiquette, not to mention some key details of the coronation ceremony...

Well...She thought, sighing inwardly...Why not?...She’d already learned to master a whole new existence and century...

***

A somewhat vexed Willow Harris confronted her husband at his rest home...

Had he deliberately been encouraging her to actions which would torpedo their newspaper?...

Why...My dear Willow?...Torpedo my own family’s business?...

The clientele were not responding to her ultimatums as he’d led her to believe they would... Advertisers were pulling out daily...Readership and revenues falling steadily...

Well...He sighed...Perhaps the world just isn’t yet ready...Noble as their experiment had been...

“Alex...You told me they’d back down...”

Be fair, he noted...I said...They’d have qualms about leaving the Sentinel...That they’d hesitate...

“You knew they’d pull out...You counted on it...” she was fuming...

Willow?...Why would I...

“Just to show me up...Knock me out of the game...for good...Keep me at home forever...”

Well...He was getting angry in his turn... There’s damned little chance of that is there?...Considering how little time you’ve spent with me in the past two months...he noted... Leaving me locked up here...In the wilds of northern New York State...

With this collection of broken„down old...

He smiled pleasantly as an elderly fellow patient was wheeled by his room door...

I thought we were a team...he went on after closing the door...

Willow choked on that...
“Team?!...Team?!!...When did you ever let me have any real say?...Any recognition of my contribution?...”

Heck you never even paid me for my accounting work for the paper...

I don’t remember you ever paying me for signing the checks and paying the bills...Alex noted archly...

Quite a few of them to your friends as I recall...

“Alex...I counted on you supporting me...And all the time...Behind my back...”

Counted?...On me?...He now choked... You never asked me for advice...You told me what you were going to do, did it, and then wanted me to nod my head and say it was great...Well...I nodded my head...

Calm down...She was a bit nervous...He wasn’t supposed to get so excited...

What did I say when you started this?...He pointed out...I said...Don’t go too far, too quickly...Our clients are conservative... But noo...You wanted to charge up that hill, blind...

What did Idiot Alex know anyway?...He just inherited his newspaper, he doesn’t have a clue... Thank God he’s laid up and out of my hair...

So...Alright, I agreed with what you wanted...You were going to do it no matter what I said...

Alright, Alex...Enough...Willow took his hand...A leetle clammy...

You alright?...She asked...He was a leetle wheezy as well...

“Of course I’m alright...Stop treating me like I’m going to keel over if I stand up too fast...” he told her...

Ok...Just let me get the doctor... She hurried out of the room...Leaving an exasperated...But somewhat pleased Alex...

Grampa Harris never did me a better favor than by dying of a stroke at forty-five, he thought... Still he was feeling a leetle...

All the more reason to get things out with the Missus... He was not going to spend what time he had stuck out alone at the old folks home...

Living with Wilhelmina Rosenberg Harris was too much fun to miss out on...
***


Yet More (Semi)Parallel Lives... "Great Race 1906"...Part XIX

Walthrop greeted LeGrand cheerfully...After waving the two guards under his
pistol into the cell...

"Walthrop?...What are you doing here?...Where are the others?..." Angel stared
at the little blonde fellow...

Should really be me freeing him in any just universe, he thought...

Thank God no reporters about...

Come on, Walthrop waved...We've got to save Millie...

"Where are Miss DuBois and Hezekiah?..."

They're all back up at the street...At Hellsdorf's other castle Walthrop told
him...

Bit nicer than this heap...he noted...But no time...

"We've got to go save Millie..."

Angel came out of the cell and slammed the door on the two guards...Who
accepted their change of fortune with relatively good grace...And glared at
Walthrop...

"Max?...Are you sure they're all up there?..."

They're there...Walthrop assured him...They're there...Come on, we've got to go
save Millie...

LeGrand frowned, sighed, and followed him...

The things I do for Millicent Fate...he thought...And all over a couple of
silly thesis paragraphs...

And a brief rendez-vous...

They halted at the great front door as they waited to slip past the sentry...

"Are you absolutely sure that Miss DuBois and Hezekiah are there, Max?..."
Angel hissed to Walthrop...

"They're there, I tell you they're there..." he replied in a harsh
whisper...The sentry passed...

"Come on...We've got to save Millie..."

They slipped out and started up the road...

Odd how familiar this skulking about at night seems...They both thought...

***
Miss Macluay lent a sympathetic ear to Mrs. Harris' complaints on her return
from her visit to her husband...

Things were quickly moving from bad to worse at the Sentinel...

Mears snickeringly reported that several more major advertisers had dropped the
paper...

And readership was continuing to fall...

With several prominent preachers and politicians, sensing blood, now denouncing
the paper's new policy as UnGodly Socialism, pure and simple...

Alex had taken advantage of her trust, Willow groused...

Deceived her, led her into a disaster...

Absolutely true, Miss Macluay noted...A worthless fellow, bent on her
humiliation...

Not worthy of her by any means...

Worthless?...Willow stared at Miss Macluay...Who caught the slight change of
tone...

Well...unworthy at any rate...Tricking her so badly...

Typical male behavior...

Indeed...Willow agreed...Though, of course...To be honest...She had been...Just
a bit headstrong...

Perhaps overanxious to succeed quickly...

And Alex was in poor health...Lonely...It was only natural he'd want her around
him...

Waiting on him...Hand and foot, Miss Macluay noted...

Willow grinned at that...The day I wait on Alex Harris hand and foot...

Unless of course, I should choose to...

Mrs. Harris had a commendable loyalty...Miss Macluay noted...But clearly her
efforts in her husband's behalf were wasted...

Indeed?...Willow looked at her...Frowning a bit...

Mrs. Harris...Willow...Should expand her horizons...Miss Macluay went on...

To consider relationships beyond the traditional...The accepted...

The humdrum...

After all, however tepidly pleasant a traditional marital relationship might
seem...It was in fact a trap, laid for women by a male-dominated Society...

Indeed?...Willow looked at her assistant...

Who was clearly quite passionate on the subject she was beginning to broach...

Mears, listening at the office door keyhole, gasped in horror...Audibly...

"Mears?!!..." Willow felt a deep sense of relief, gratitude, and extreme
annoyance...

He fearfully entered...

What is it?...she glared at him...

What were you doing at the door?...

He gulped...

Well?...

He gulped again...Just standin' by...In any case she wanted somethin'...

Well...Since you're so eager...You can "stand by" in here...Willow told him...

Much to Miss Macluay's disappointment...

***
LeGrand and Walthrop had reached the less ancient Hellsdorf castle...

But with day breaking and a phalanx of guards about the place there was nothing
to do but take shelter in a nearby abandoned cottage and wait for night to
allow an attempt to be made...

LeGrand was as amazed as Walthrop by the Count's ability and willingness to
maintain two castles...

Family tradition was all very well but such a waste of one's resources...Well,
perhaps he rents the old one out as a prison most days...

Jailer as a side occupation seems to suit his personality...
***

Millie's father, Constantine had noted that his son-in-law's young sister and
brother were rather reticent on the trip from New York to France...To hopefully
await his Millie's and her Will's safe arrival...And, God willing, victory...

At last..Both he and his wife hoped...It was time Millie moved on to other
things besides competing with that idiot LeGrand...

Fortunately for Angel, Dr. Fate was still unaware of just how personal his
daughter's relationship with him had once been...

Kristine...Mrs. Fate...likewise noted Amelia's and Phil's glum attitude
throughout the Atlantic crossing but attributed it to concern for Millie and
dear Will...

***
No...The General sternly told the ladies-in-waiting...The Princess desired to
see no one today...

She was preparing herself for the coronation...The rapid approach of which was
clearly leaving her a bit...Unnerved...

It was at least partly the truth...
***
In the stillness of the Princess' apartments Buffy-Millie contemplated the
speech the General had composed for her abdication...

Hmmn...A simple "Off with their heads"...sounded much better...To her way of
thinking anyway...

If she got the chance...And if Max's and Miss DuBois' safety could be
assured...

***
The Count had returned to the Palace to play his supporting role as dear royal
cousin...Helping the imitation Princess cover until the coronation...

He decided to pay his respects to his cousin before retiring...Easily
persuading the only member of the ladies-in-waiting on duty to let him by to
look in on the dear Highness...

And found Buffy-Millie frowning over the speech...In a nightgown she'd found in
the apartments...

She regarded him quizzically...The younger perv of the duo...A bit more of a
handful then the old general, this one...

Being in a merry mood, the Count felt like engaging in a little romance...

He was anxious to see if what they said about American girls was really true...
***

Yet More (Semi)Parallel Lives... “Great Race 1906”...Part XX

Count von Hellsdorf had decided to pay an early call on the imitation Princess...

After all, no greater guarantee of romantic success than holding the lady in question’s beloved husband in immediate danger of execution in your own private dungeon...

***
During their enforced day’s lodging at the cottage, Walthrop explained to LeGrand what little he knew of Seidelmann’s and Hellsdorf’s schemes...

Hmmn...So the real Princess was up there at Hellsdorf’s as well, Angel thought...

A chance to save Royalty...Pity reporters weren’t at hand...

***

Not too bad...Really...The quietly entering Count looked Buffy-Millie over as she sat in a chair...Wearing the Princess’ nightgown...

Even with those teeth...But then he’d always thought his cousin had potential...Pity her inclinations had never run that far in his direction...

He tapped on the door to get her startled attention...

She looked up...God...I thought this place was supposed to have security, she thought...

“Are you enjoying the Palace, my dear?...” the Count grinned at her...

Yeah...she noted dryly...A real trip...

“What about my husband?...” she asked nervously...

Trip?...the Count blinked at her...Ah, American slang...Whoop-dee-do and all that...

Barbarians...

The little fellow was safe and sound in his cell, the Count assured her...

Naturally his continued good health depended on her...Cooperation...

But he was puzzled, he told her...Such an impressive lady...To be married to...Such a minor fellow...

Perhaps...The Count smiled what was clearly his trademark seducer’s smile...They could...

Get to know each other better...

Jackass...thought Buffy-Millie...Knowing I’m married...Besides, aren’t I supposed to be his cousin?...And engaged?...

He was...A fellow of considerable experience...He noted...Placing a hand on her shoulder...

She carefully moved off...

Pervert...she thought...Repressing her desire to demonstrate her fighting skills...

After all, one must remember the hubs...Sitting under the gun in his cell...

Aristocrats...God...Now I know why Dracula was so creepy...

Pity...I could probably deck this jerk even without Slayer strength...she thought...

While smilingly noting to him that she had a great deal to learn before the ceremony...

No difficulty there, he noted...Showing all his teeth in a wide smile...
He was an excellent...Teacher...

Buffy-Millie repressed an urge to howl...Hell, on his worst day Spike could have done better
than this...

Even Dracula had had more class...

Still...Will in danger...Best to let jerk-face have his leer and be done with it...

We can always kill him later...
***

An increasingly nervous Willow was again alone with the passionate Miss Macluay, Mears having been forced to leave to tend some minor machinery problems...

Miss Macluay’s passion clearly extending beyond their joint interest in the success of the Cause...

And apparently leaving her quite agitated...

She was again denouncing Alex as unworthy of her employer...

Mrs. Harris would be fortunate if his illness carried him off...

Willow could hardly stand by while the young lady dismissed her Alex in such terms...

Much as she could understand a young woman’s frustrations with the current world, Willow began...

And admired Miss Macluay’s spirit and dedication...

Miss Macluay interrupted her...

Mrs. Harris...Wilhelmina...Willow...Was not getting her point, she declared...

“I love you...” she told her...

And you’re like a daughter to me, Willow smiled a hair nervously at the agitated agitator...

Willow was definitely not getting her point, Miss Macluay told her...

Clearly they needed to spend some time alone...So that she could make her see the sincerity of
her feelings...

Alone?...Willow blinked...Looking at the gun Miss Macluay had pulled from her purse...

“Alone...” said Miss Macluay, locking the front office door...

Well...Least it’s not a bomb...Last thing the family business needs is a major office repair bill...

***

Buffy-Millie was attempting to deflect the romantic attentions of her “cousin”, Count von Hellsdorf...

Bit early in the morning for this kind of nonsense she thought wearily...

Thought his kind slept all day...Like vamps, only easier to kill...

Perhaps...Hellsdorf noted, approaching her again...There was no real need for her to abdicate tomorrow...

General Seidelmann and his troops might be one very good reason, she noted...Backing off...

It appeared a political partnership was fast dissolving...

Might be worth listening...Followed by a chat with the other partner...

Seidelmann was a mere tool...The Count smiled...No need for him once the throne was secured...

As for her little husband...The Princess could as easily be rigged to impersonate Professor Fate’s corpse as she was being to play her...

A tragic accident claiming the lives of the Great Racers would be simple to arrange...

Including dear Mr. LeGrand...Who was indeed in his custody...

Hmmn...Seidelmann...An army at his beck and call, control of the police, not to mention the palace guard...Hellsdorf...Two castles and a toothy grin...

The Count could give me some credit for brains...she thought...If I were in the least interested I’d have the sense to choose the partner who had a chance...

The original agreement sounded best to her, she noted...

Indeed?...The Count looked at her coolly...He was not used to having his generous offers spurned, he told her...Approaching her with some anger...

She gave him her best Slayer glare...He blinked at her...And backed off a bit...

Still got it, she happily noted to herself...
She rang for the maids...

“My dear cousin...It was nice of you to drop by...” she smiled at Hellsdorf as two young women appeared...

Of course...He does intend to try and kill us all after this is over...she thought...As he fumed silently...

But...Watching him stalk out in smoldering fury...The maids tittering a bit at what was clearly
a rejection...

It was worth it...

Providing I can get my poor Will out of this in one piece...
***

Miss Macluay had taken herself...And her large pistol...To the window...

Where she stridently bellowed the joys of Unrestrained, Free Love to the crowds below...

Warren entered Willow’s office by the unlocked side door...And gasped at Miss Macluay’s waving pistol...

Fortunately Miss Macluay’s attention was unfocused...And what little she possessed centered on getting her message out to the now gaping crowd below...

Who sadly could not hear a word...But was entranced by the spectacle of a possible young female suicide...

Mears...Willow hissed...Get the police on the phone...

He brought the phone over to her...

Under the desk, you moron...Do you want that lunatic to see?...Willow told Mears in a harsh whisper...Nudging him back and down...

Miss Macluay continued to rant...Now striding the office....

“Society’s evils must be purged...Through the application of the principles of Free and True Love...”

She fumbled with her pistol...Which fired into the rear wall...

Pardon me...Miss Macluay apologized....To the room at large...

That was strictly an accident...

Mears shivered silently behind the desk...

“Hello...Police?...” Willow whispered...

There’s a dangerous female lunatic loose at my office...

The New York Sentinel...

She frowned at the cop’s question...

“No, you moron?!...What do you mean “is it that crazy Mrs. Harris?!”...I’m Mrs.
Harris!!...”

She described Miss Macluay...

Get over here at once...Willow hissed into the phone...

***

Angel had pondered the operation during their enforced cottage stay...

The castle was a fortress, well-guarded, strongly fortified...

The objective, laudable...The freeing of a Royal Princess, two lovely damsels, and a devoted assistant...

The enemy...At least in the case of von Hellsdorf...A cur...A cad...

Not a gentleman in any sense of the word...

This...Truly...Was a job for Angel Le Grand...

Just one problem...

How to do it?...

Ummn...

Walthrop suggested they secure another monk’s robe and walk in with the others at evening prayer...

The Hellsdorfs maintained a chapel in their castle where monks from the nearby monasteries made observance several times a day...
Likely the deceased family members were in serious need of their supplications if they were anything like the current owner...

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