This one is a chance for me to look into the future for Kitten, when ocean travel has been mostly abandoned, and the Palace sits moldering in a shipyard in Boston.
The house is abandoned.
“I’m not sure you should go up there, ma’am.” the nervous boy says. “It may not be safe.”
“Worried for your fee, are you young man?” Kitten asks, reaching into her reticule for the promised gold pound coin. “How about if I pay you in advance, and promise another if you will wait for me here?”
The urchin’s eyes grow huge at the promised treasure, but he still looks furtively over his shoulder. Kitten can tell that he won’t wait long.
“I’ll only be a few moments; I just need to retrieve something of mine that I left on-board years ago.”
Not waiting to see if the boy stays, she begins the long ascent up the gangway. They must have left it in place after the dismantling. The derelict ship lies rusting midst a graveyard of oceangoing vessels. First the airships, and now the aeroplanes had replaced ocean-liners in the hearts of the traveling public. The ship makes a slight groaning noise, like a troubled sleeper, as Kitten’s silk pumps step onto the deck.
The promenade is covered in muck, decaying heaps of browned leaves molder in the corners, and the nearly impervious teak is beginning to crack from neglect. The French doors that lead to the foyer hang desultorily in their frame, all illusion of grace lost to time. She steps over the threshold, careful to sweep aside her Christian Dior skirt. The New Look is not the most practical style in which to do archaeology of the past, but such is life.
Inside, the depredations of abandonment are not as obvious. The dust lies less dense on the divans and end tables of the foyer, and the painted glass skylight still streams multi-hued light, giving the room an enchanted feel. It is tempting to poke behind the desk and into Rita’s office, but her time is short and Kitten realizes this will be her last chance to reclaim what is hers.
The ship breakers are scheduled to begin their gruesome work on the morrow. Valuable materials such as those contained within the hull of her former home should not be left to rot. As much as the romantic part of Kitten wants the ship to live forever, the practical business woman she was raised to be knows that salvage is the best use for the Palace now. Part of the ship will live on though; her father’s beloved taffrail would become the omberture for a south facing window on her home in New Edinburgh.
Memories crowd around Kitten as she makes her way aft to her father’s cabin. Although she sailed the Palace as Captain for nearly twenty-five years, she never shook the habit of seeing those rooms as his. The sitting room held less dust than the rest of the ship; the old-fashioned mullioned windows were still tightly sealed. Kitten lingered only for the briefest of moments, admiring once again the symmetry and balanced use of space in this, her father’s inner sanctum. For some men, the bedchamber or the gentlemen’s club served as sanctuary. For her father, it had been this room designed to his exacting specifications.
At once a parlor, a laboratory, an engineer’s drafting room, and a library, the room contained many ingenious pieces of furniture that could swing out from or disappear into the walls as needed. The back of the room opened via sliding screens onto the balcony of the taffrail. The view provided by that vantage had often served to humble even the most exalted of guests. Memories of evenings spent in this room, far less grand than the public rooms on the deck below, were filled with Kings who talked like men and Goddesses who laughed as friends.
To be continued with tomorrow’s prompt…