"Good Lord Rose! I trust you informed the local constabulary; what did they make of the matter?" Johnathan asked; but before Rose could respond, he interrupted himself, "But never mind that, when do we leave?"
As Rose began to protest, Johnathan over-rode her, "I will be coming with you Rose - there is nothing to discuss and that is an end to it. As to the name of this city, how about the lost city of Algitilda in honour of your late parents?"
Rose looked at the rest of the family, and noted the expressions on their faces, "Do I detect a conspiracy?" she asked. "Very well, Jonathan, you may come. Your African experiences may prove helpful. I was also thinking that we might ask Elizabeth Rutherford to join us, did I mention that she has moved to Wapping-on-the- Flume?" Now Rose rode over Jonathan's reply, "Her experiences in Africa might also prove helpful. As for Algitilda, I think that is eminently suitable."
"Elizabeth? here? good lord! there's aturn up for the books and no mistake! Yes I agree he should come - she' a very resourceful young lady as I remember and will be a joy to have with us." Johnathan became momentarily distracted as he recalled some very fond memories ...
"You mentioned Godfrey would come with us, but with two ladies, won't you need a maid?"
"For such an expedition, I would think not. I am used to 'roughing it,' as is Elizabeth. Godfrey is sufficient for our grosser needs and for our more delicate needs, we shall have each other."
"Well; when do we leave? The Lost City of Algitilda! this will make a tale to impress old Quatermain!"
"Let us adjourn until dinner, and we shall invite Elizabeth to join us. There is still much to plan. What route shall we take to Africa and what route once we have arrived? What equipment shall we need? These are all things that must be decided, and I would have Elizabeth with us for them," said Rose. "I will go and compose a note for Elizabeth now." She rose with a delicate rustle of silk. "Good morning." She departed toward the study to write her invitation.
Johnathan spent an hour that morning with Godrey getting his clothes sorted and arranged ready for the trip. He also wrote a list of things he'd need - such as ammunition, replacements, etc - which Godfrey promised to do his best to get.
With Francis Sr. he also took the opportunity to examine the letter and map in detail
* * * *A village lad arrived at the door of the Fyoderich Clinic "with a message for Miss Elizabeth from the manor." Elizabeth opened it and recognized the rose scented paper and the handwriting.
"My Dear Elizabeth, Would you be able to join us for dinner this evening at Trelliswood? Something is afoot which may interest you. Shall we say sevenish? Lady Rosewater Davington PS. You remember Jonathan Sanders-Davington? He arrived yesterday and will be at dinner. PPS. Do please come."
"Could you wait a moment to carry a reply?" Elizabeth asked the messenger. She sent him to the kitchen for a bit to eat while she wrote out her reply.
"Darling Rose, I would be delighted to join you for dinner this evening. It seems it's been far too long since I've seen you, and years since I met Jonathan. Your family always has such fascinating adventures to tell of. I won't lie, the 'something afoot' is quite intriguing all in itself. I look forward to seeing you, and to a lively evening's conversation. Elizabeth"
The letter completed, the lad was sent off with it and a slice of bread and jam.
* * * *Minutes before leaving the manor, Elizabeth cut a handful of fresh flowers from the porch garden -- nothing as fine as Rose's roses, of course, but a nice gesture nonetheless.
Arriving at Trelliswood, Elizabeth left her gig in the hands of the stableman and was met at the door by Godfrey. "Welcome, Miss." He took her coat and led her into the drawning room where the rest had gathered and were passing a few moments before dinner.
"Elizabeth!" exclaimed Rose, "We are so glad you could join us. You remember Jonathan?"
"Of course! It's been many years since I saw him on Mars -- I trust you have an impressive new array of scars to show me, Jonathan."
Johnathan took Elizabeth's proferred hand and kissed the air above it, "I say Elizabeth, you've come on a bit since last time! It is exceedingly good to see you again, and I can see that you have flowered beautifully."
"As to the scars, I have the souvenir of the Venusian Allasaurous, but that is an entirely different story for a different time, I think."
Godfrey appeared at the door, "Dinner is served."
The little troop took their places and a clear soup was served. Rose filled Elizabeth in on the details of the last few weeks and finished by telling her of the proposed expedition.
Johnathan spoke up at this point - to allow Elizabeth a chance to take in these remarkable developments, "Rose, when do you plan for us to leave Trelliswood? and how long do you think we'll be away for? I know this is very much like asking 'how long is a piece of string' but even then you can say 'yards, furlongs or miles' can't you? just some rough indication would be good ..."
"And what do you need us to do in preparation?" asked Elizabeth.
"I was rather hoping that you two could tell me," said Rose. "I've never been to Africa, and don't know what to expect. We have the map, and my parent's instructions, but little else."
"Well I'm afraid West Africa is rather beyond my African experience, Rose, but I can do my best!", with this Johnathan launched into an exhaustive and comprehensive list of the equipment the small group would need for their journey - along with the number of bearers and guides they would need.
"It seems we can take some cues from your parents' letter, Rose," said Elizabeth. "Certainly adequate navigational equipment -- if only compasses -- is in order. I don't fancy the idea of being separated in a sandstorm and having to make my own. I'll take my cartography equipment as well; it could come in handy.
I imagine the route south from Tripoli might be easier, but it might also behoove us to follow the Davington's original route as closely as possible, in case we should miss something by taking a different route."
"Oh! And my doctor's bag, of course! I'll definitely be taking my doctor's bag."
"Rose, I think Elizabeth has a very good point there; we should definitely follow your parents' original route," Johnathan said. He was rapidly re-assessing Elizabeth, the passing of the years seemed to have engendered a new level of confidence in the Elizabeth he now saw, that was nor present in the Elizabeth he remembered.
"Africa is unsuited for aerial travel in the main, but we could get an aether flier to the nearest city and save some travel time that way," he went on. "Also, as 'others' seem to be interested, perhaps we should consider how secretive we wish to be? loathe as I, an honest Englishman, am to skulking around like some continental, perhaps we should keep our departure a secret to some extent?"
"How much of our supplies can we purchase in Africa?" Rose asked Jonathan and Elizabeth. "If we can transport ourselves and our immediate goods by steamship and purchase the rest in Africa, it would simplify things."
"Supplies, I would say most if not all," Johnathan replied. "However I would say we should get our equipment here and I have already asked Godfrey to order some of the weaponry consumables I would need. If we were to leave from London and I could have a day there I can secure all the items I would need and perhaps arrange some suitable pieces for your good self Rose? Elizabeth, do you have a revolver perhaps? if not I know where we can get you a fine piece."
"Jonathan is right," said Elizabeth. "With all the exploration in Africa, there are numerous places to stock -- or re-stock. I shouldn't think we need to worry about carrying food for the whole trip, for instance."
Elizabeth turned to Jonathan, a grin on her face.
"And while your scars and storied prove you the better-travelled, I'm not such a babe in the woods that I don't have my own protection. I have a lovely little light revolver -- an Omen, if you're familiar. I've never had to use it, but I do know how. My father saw to that long ago, bless him."
"Elizabeth, I think all the scars prove is that I'm slightly less careful than you! Jolly good show about the pistol; I'm not familiar with 'Omen' though ..."
"Frankly, neither am I. I mean, familiar with my own revolver, but know very little about guns in general. I was hoping you'd tell me."
Elizabeth turned back to Rose. "All banter aside, shall we follow your parents' route, then? And how soon do you want to leave? I think I could be ready to go in a couple of days' time, but there will be plenty to do getting the clinic in order for my absence."