Part the Two Hundred Forty Second: From Gold to Led to Sea
“Oxfordshire,” said Hope after she slurped some of the fish stew from her bowl. Despite the fact that Jukes still had not touched the meal he helped prepare, she noticed that everyone else eating had not shown ill effect.
“Yes, Oxfordshire,” said Jukes, who finally had a sip of his meal. “I went with Master Boyle to Oxford, doing less evocation than observation. Much of my time was spent manning the different bellows and maintaining his laboratory, keeping it clean and having everything in its proper place where it could found at a moment’s notice. I had some time here and there where I could more actively work with formulae, but it felt as though I were doing less under Master Boyle.
“And the unfettered mind can be a dangerous beast if given too much freedom, as I found while procuring materials for experiments for-”
“Materials? As opposed to subjects?”
“Materials. Master Boyle was doing most of his work on matter, so I would be sent to fetch materials available for such experiments, different earths and the like. I by then was gladly taking every chance to go afield to undertake tasks on his behalf, as it got me away from bellowing and cleaning.
“And after a few of these forays, I met Gilda.”
“Gilda,” Hope said.
“Gilda, a fair woman of exquisite detail, with a deep, deep passion that made her an investigator of feelings the way I was an investigator of matter, someone with a spirit with a sense of… To this day, I have problems finding quite the right words to, to…”
Jukes noticed Hope staring at his hands, which were placed before his chest, his fingers curled as though they were displaying globes…
He put his hands at his sides, cleared his throat and continued. “At first, our brief moments of interaction were just exchanges of pleasantries, brief but promising. And when opportunity came to move beyond such confines, we readily seized the opportunities.
“Gilda was-” Jukes sat on his hands before he continued. “She was an amazing woman to be with, and our times together were exciting. Were I able, I would have gladly spent the rest of my time with her.”
“So what prevented you from- Oh, the Under Sheriff of Oxfordshire, I assume.”
“Yes. He was not very pleased when he started to realize that I might be having such relations with his wife.”
“Ah,” said Hope. “Yes, that could be cause for trouble.”
“So after one last sweet time with Gilda, I fled in the night Master Boyle’s employ and Oxfordshire, and made my way west to Wales. As Gilda’s husband was known to be determined when he set his mind to something, and unsure how much he knew by then, I kept heading west, to Bermuda, where what skills I had did me more good than harm.”
“You refer to your time in irons as your ship was wrecked, I gather?”
“Yes,” said Jukes.
“One last question: Why did you not have the stew you made?”
“Truth to tell, I know my way well with a cauldron and how to prepare components, and have used those skills in the New World to become a fair cook. That said, I never could stand the taste of fish.”
“Oh,” said Hope…
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