Life in the capital continued much as it always had since the wars. The infirmary carried on a steady business day by day, and the laundry likewise continued its daily routine of washing and ironing, though it was far more difficult to keep up without Helen and Gwendolyn.
It wasn’t until the expected time for the comrade’s return had passed, that anything seemed amiss. Mildred and Thyme busied themselves in an attempt to allay their worry. It really didn’t help, however, for just being in the laundry was reminder enough that Gwendolyn was overdue.
This wasn’t the only reminder. Bertram Drake made a “polite visit” to the laundry a few days after the party’s anticipated arrival. He called again a week later to “ask after our dear Gwendolyn.” The following week, two thugs arrived at the wash house and said that “Mr. Drake is a very patient man, but he cannot wait forever to settle a few little matters.”
It was immediately after this encounter, that a tall fair individual of pretty but epicene appearance visited the shop. The person was no stranger, and had patronised the business in the past, and was bringing in a long cloak for some mending and laundering. On seeing the laundresses’ distress the visitor asked what was the matter.
Though Mildred thought that the laundry’s problems should remain theirs alone, Thyme burst of with the entire tale of the weaselly pawn broker’s intimidation.
The following week, the two strong-arm men were approaching the wash house, when they came across a tall cloaked individual leaning against the arch at the alley’s corner. The platinum haired figure was nonchalantly cleaning their nails with a stiletto blade.
“Good morning, Friends” the cloaked one greeted, sticking a pointy-toed boot across the path. “A wonderful day for a little exercise, don’t you think?” the cloaked figure said scanning the clear early winter sky.
“I ain’t your friend,” the lead man said, as he attempted to step past the pale figure.
“That’s a pity,” the ambisexual one replied, quickly raising the other boot to meet the man’s groin. He doubled over, and as he crumpled the tall figure wheeled about grabbing the other culprit from behind and held the blade to his throat.
“Are you some kind of assassin, or something,” the man wheezed.
“Nothing as amazing as all that,” the pale one responded. “Just a friend of the laundry. Tell Mr. Drake that I will be keeping an eye on things until the Washer Woman returns.”
The knife was lowered and the men were just trying to pull themselves together when two Rosemen rounded the corner.
“Do we have any trouble here?” one of the watchmen inquired.
“No. No, nothing is going on,” the first thug replied, as the two heavies retreated back the direction from which they had come.