Chapter 1: A New Beginning
The Royal Marine Sergeant Major bellowed, "My Lords, Ladies and gentlemen: the Governor-General of the Dominion of New England!"
Governor-General William Clinton entered, and stepped up to the podium. "Ladies and gentlemen of the Third Estate, we are gathered here today so that I may report to you..."
I had been summoned to the White House that Monday morning after solving the case of the disappearance of Sir Oliver Plumb. There had been rumors that the Establishment had had a hand in his disappearance. Those rumors had been wrong. The meeting to which I was going was to scotch those rumors and to show the Establishment in a good light. Sir Oliver and his step-sister, Sarah Bullock, had received invitations to the meeting as well.
Sarah and I had met when I was following a clue that I thought would lead me to Sir Oliver. During the case Sarah had shown that she had the Talent of Magic. Because of this I hoped to be able to get Sarah enrolled into the New England Bureau of Investigation
The meeting was a gathering in the Governor-General's Press-Conference Room at the White House. When we arrived there were some of the Governor-General's aides and Secret Service agents, together with a crowd of Members of the Third Estate, as the reporters liked to be called, Acting as Majordomo was a Sergeant Major of the Royal Marines. Shortly after us, my superiors at the New England Bureau of Investigation arrived together with some bigwigs from the Institute of Thaumaturgy, and members of their staffs;
While we were waiting, I asked Sir Oliver. "How did you get involved with the Lavender Club, Oliver?"
"It all goes back to my step-father, Major Bullock. After father died, the new commanding officer had his own adjutant, so the Major was promoted to command a battalion. He had known my mother from when he worked for father. They fell in love and were married, giving me a step-sister to plague my boyhood. When I reached my teens he was promoted again to command a regiment of artillery. At that time there was no reliable way to set the elevation of a gun before the first shot was fired, nor to calculate the amount of powder required. So, he set out to gather data to determine if the process was consistent. As I had the mathematical skills he lacked, I got roped in to make sense of the data.
"You should have seen the mess he made," said Sarah. "There were pages and pages of numbers all over the place!"
"Well, it paid off! They made an artillery handbook out of my results, and they paid me enough to take me through college."
A Lieutenant of the Royal Marines joined us briefly, giving me some whispered instructions. Just then we were joined by my Director, J. Edward Hoover and the Chairman of the Institute of Thaumaturgy. I introduced Sir Oliver and Sarah to them, explaining that I was hoping to recruit Sarah. At that moment, the Royal Marine Sergeant Major announced the Governor-General of the Dominion of New England.
After the introduction, Governor-General Clinton stepped up to the podium and addressed us:
"Ladies, and gentlemen of the Third Estate, we are gathered here today so that I may report to you, the rescue of Sir Oliver Plumb, President of the Lavender Club, from the clutches of a secret agent of the King of Poland. This agent's intention was to drive a wedge between the Establishment, and the prestigious Lavender Club." There was a quiet snigger from one of the reporters.
"Sir Oliver's rescue was carried out by Special Investigator, Robert Macleod of the New England Bureau of Investigation," he waved vaguely in my direction, "a Master-journeyman of the Institute of Thaumaturgy as well as being a Senior Special Agent of the New England Bureau of Investigation. In recognition of his success, Goodman Robert Macleod is to be promoted both by the Institute, and by the Bureau. Because his opponent was a Polish adept, the Institute is elevating Robert Macleod to the level a full Master Sorcerer. Likewise, The Bureau is also promoting him to the rank of Supervisory Special Agent. There is also one further promotion."
A Royal Marine Corporal stepped forward and placed a small stool about six feet in front of the Governor-General. The Sergeant Major roared, "Goodman Robert MacLeod! Front and center!"
I stood and stepped forward and knelt on the stool as I had been instructed. Governor-General Clinton drew his ceremonial sword and said "Goodman Robert MacLeod, for services to the Dominion of New England and the Angevin Empire, it has been decided to appoint you a Knight Commander of the Angevin Empire." He tapped the point of his sword on each of my shoulders before continuing, "Arise, Sir Robert." and more quietly, "Well done, Bob!"
I stood, took two steps backwards, turned and sat again next to Sarah and her step-brother. After a few questions from the press, the Governor-General and his entourage retired. The Chairman of the Institute and the Director of the Bureau turned to congratulate me on my knighthood, and to ask my companions if they had fully recovered from their ordeals.
The Chairman looked at me and said, "I understand that Demoiselle Bullock displayed a degree of Talent in the apprehension of the Polish agent?"
"Yes, Sir, she did. I hope I may invite her to be a Novice of the Institute?"
"I think not!" Sarah's face fell. "Her performance in Springfield rates immediate recruitment as Apprentice. What say you?"
"Aye that it does Sir!" I replied betraying my Scottish ancestry. Sarah's excitement could hardly be restrained.
"Traitor!" murmured Oliver to her, but with a grin.
Eventually the assemblage dispersed. Sarah, Oliver and I went out for a celebratory dinner before returning to my apartment. Oliver was staying with us before returning to Richmond. I did say there were two bedrooms, didn't I?
After the press-conference at the White House, we had had a couple of days sight-seeing with Sir Oliver. Then he returned to his life with the Lavender Club
The next morning, our short break being over, we prepared to go to the office. I had to report to my supervisor in the NEBI and Sarah was to go through the induction process. The office is barely two blocks from my apartment, so we decided to walk.