(To the Cavalcadium, The invisible Iris, Very good friends, and The beginning of the show)
Colonel Walter, sporting some of the new self-adhesive bandages, was eager to display his twin automatons to the world. And, of course, to a very special audience consisting of Miss Doctor Delilah Moreau.
He had taken every care with his appearance, today. Freshly bathed and shaven. Made liberal use of pomade. Even applied a little subtle makeup to his lingering bruises. All so that his idol Delilah might turn her fair attention his way and look kindly upon him.
He brought along Miss Iris, owing to her unique gift with his boys. She had taught them far more about proper behaviour in two days than he had successfully absorbed in a lifetime. Her gentle charms kept The Spine calm and Rabbit civil despite everything that the Admiral could dish out. So of course he needed her on their first performance.
They had rehearsed, of course. Peter's simple plan was to explain their construction and the Babbage Brain, display the Blue Matter core, and exhibit an example of their musical prowess before showing how they could learn. Dear darling Delilah should be elegantly impressed.
He entertained some pleasant visions concerning a more personal discussion about the chemical properties of Blue Matter. And he may find himself so bold as to request an evening with her and the chaperone of her choice.
All he had to do was convince her that he was nothing like the Admiral, and he could look forward to a lifetime of domestic and scientific bliss with the doctor of his dreams. Preferably as far from the Admiral his father as he could get.
Peter had to divorce himself from his fantasies in order to set up for his lecture. It would be disastrous if his boys caught him in the middle of optimistic rehearsals.
Miss Iris looked rather staid and bland in her daywear. Almost to the point of becoming invisible. Covert inquiry with Mrs Cambridge revealed the poor girl only owned one proper dress. That, and her well-earned bonuses were being squirrelled away for later needs. Miss Iris seemed to believe that her job was in permanent jeopardy. An illusion he had no time to remedy now.
He helped Rabbit set The Spine up by the piano. Poor lad could stand on his own but still lacked the confidence for independent walking. Rabbit could not only walk and talk, but also managed to wrangle a decent tune out of a squeeze box. Plenty enough to gain the most important attention in the entire Cavalcadium.
"Remember your cues, boys," he whispered as the first members of his esteemed audience filed in. His gaze jinked from door to door, watching for the most important of the important figures filing into the lecture hall.
There she was. Arm in arm with her very good friend Miss Viviana Broodwell. They never went anywhere without each other. They even shared a modest house in the city. Miss Broodwell fussed about with helping Delilah into her seat and quickly vanished inside Delilah's magnificent aura.
Peter clapped his hands. "My dear ladies and gentlemen of science..."