He shut the domed lid, feeling it fit snugly against the child's head, just as the door behind him opened.
"Little Dipping next, sir," the conductor announced. "Just that?"
"Just what?" Finch asked, his face red from exertion.
"Just that trunk?"
"Porter'll be here for it directly."
"There's no need," he called, but the man had already moved on.
Thus it was a more flustered Finch than one would have expected who alit from the 5:13 at Little Dipping Station. His luggage, despite muted protestations, was immediately tossed onto a dogcart and taken off to the Hall.
"The others are dressing for dinner," a voice said. "I volunteered to meet you."
It took Finch a moment to identify the speaker. She wore white, a dress that closely followed her body, no shapeless Greek-goddess shift for her, and at salient points spouted thin rivers of gold, subtle but emphatic, the intense flow of the malleable metal suggesting the underlying flesh's similar mix of suppleness and strength. Diamonds hung from her ears and round her throat. A few, shifting, randomly, caught rays of evening sun full-on and exploded them into their constituent parts. One would squint, if one had control over one's eyes.
"Hello," Finch said. "I hardly recognized you. That is a beautiful dress."
"You like it?" Lady Tabitha asked carelessly.
"You are transformed."
"My trunk-" he began again.
"I thought we could walk," she interrupted, and pointed with her parasol to the slate roofs of the Hall. "It is only a quarter-mile."
"That would be lovely. But are you sure you want to risk getting dust on that marvelous creation?"
"This?" she smiled. "This is only my day dress. I will still have to change when we get to the Hall."
"Well," he stepped back to take her in again. "I can see I have been away."