Author: Primsong PM
The Second Doctor with Ben, Polly and Jamie pause for a bit of restful holiday at the 1900 Paris Exposition - or so they wished....Rated: Fiction K - English - Sci-Fi - 2nd Doctor & Polly - Chapters: 13 - Words: 32,696 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 8 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 06-17-09 - Published: 05-27-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5092434
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Leaving the two officers frowning and comparing notes behind them, the Doctor quickly led the way across the neat flagstones to the building where Diesel's machine still stood on display. Pulling open one of the now-familiar gilded doors, he politely held it to allow Polly to pass.
"I can't believe that low-down had accomplices. Why would anyone go along with something as stupid as impersonating an well-known man like that?" wondered Polly. "Did they really think they could get away with it?"
"It appears the sailors working with him had been convinced they were helping take back what rightfully belonged to England, or to a part-English inventor anyway." Letting go of the door he let it swing back in Jamie's face. " Misguided patriotism. That and getting a share of the money of course."
"What, that money belonged to England?" Jamie asked, catching the edge with his fingers.
"No, no. Not the money, though yes, I do expect that had more to do with it than they'll be admitting. There were some patent disputes over who thought up the Diesel engine in this era, an Englishman or our Mr. Diesel who came from Bavaria - not that kidnapping and drugging an eminent inventor is the way to remedy anything."
Ben caught at the door as it swung behind Jamie. "So we're sure they've been caught?" he asked with relief.
"Oh yes, quite simple really; they were just outside the gate with a getaway carriage. The authorities have them for now until they can be returned to their ship."
"A getaway carriage?" Ben laughed. "I thought getaway cars were something modern."
The Doctor's brows went up. "Modern? Fleeing the scene of a crime is as old as guilt," he noted then quirked a crooked smile. "Or at least as old as not wanting to be caught. Found in the majority of intelligent life-forms too, though the mode of conveyance varies rather widely. Met one once fleeing for his life on the most unusual…"
"Ah, Doctor! There you are." Mr. Booth called. He was approaching them slowly to accommodate a worn-looking Anna who hung on his arm. Her intended's duplicity had finally sunk in, judging by her tear-blotched cheeks and puffy eyes.
"Hm!" said a voice behind them even as they smiled in greeting. They glanced back to find the officer had come in after them and was now looking back and forth between Polly and Anna.
"There you are, officer," the Doctor waved a hand. "Safe and sound, just as I said."
The gendarme nodded with a puzzled frown. "Twins. Figures. They could've said as much," he muttered then went on ahead to where a clump of the rumpled committee members were gesturing earnestly with the authorities and official papers were being scribbled up.
Mr. Booth and Anna settled down on one of the benches. Seeing the girl's face, Polly was somewhat sympathetic; she recalled the high if unrealistic hopes expressed earlier that evening. In truth though, while was still a little sorry for the way they'd had to spring the news so abruptly she mostly just hoped the shock had knocked some sense into her forebear's head.
"You never told me you were so miserable, child," Mr. Booth was consoling as they gathered around them. "And this has been a terrible experience, I'm sure it has. Yes, very shocking for you, I can imagine."
There was a small stir in the men gathered by Diesel's display with members of the press having arrived to ask questions of the Committee. Three of them were carefully setting up a large camera tripod and flash boxes, others were poking around in the crates behind the big motor, rummaging in anything open and scribbling things down on paper.
"Yes, yes. Terrible," the Doctor said absently, watching the men. "Excuse me a moment, will you?" He strode purposefully off, leaving them to shrug at one another.
"You'll be coming back with me to Britain, I think." Booth continued, patting the girl's hand where she clutched his arm, a soggy handkerchief wadded between her fingers. "I'll have your uncle watch over the vacuum, it's safe enough without me for now. We might even leave next week."
Anna frowned petulantly. "Just so you can send me off to some finishing school in London instead?"
"No, no. Somehow I don't think finishing school is what you need just now. No. You're a bright girl. Perhaps you could be my assistant for a while."
"Now there's an idea," Polly encouraged.
Anna's brow furrowed. "Running the vacuum wagon into shops?"
"Vacuum wagon?" Ben said looking back at Booth's display curiously then politely hiding his amusement.
"Oh no, no. That's not work for a young woman. No. I was just thinking… well, my company may benefit from having a pretty young office assistant to talk to the customers. You know, this wrinkled old face of mine isn't always the best thing for them to see. Yours would be much prettier."
"Except don't you believe anyone who says you're only a pretty face," Polly interjected, getting a surprised look from Booth. "Assisting is real work, it's a real job. I used to be an assistant."
"You were?" Anna said with surprise. "You were a working-woman, in a business?"
"Sort of; it was for a scientist in London. Just carry yourself as a professional woman and be sure they pay you what you're worth and you'll be fine."
"A professional woman!" laughed Anna. "You say some of the funniest things, Polly. I certainly couldn't be a professional man, could I?" She turned back to her grandfather. "Do you really mean it? You mean I might have a real working job with my very own wages?"
"That's right," her grandfather nodded.
Anna's eyes lit up hopefully. "Without having to be a seamstress? Or a lady?"
"Well, I don't know about the lady part," he frowned. "But, yes, yes I do believe it may be for the best. After all, if good British stock such as ourselves can't begin taking some steps into the future, who can? And who knows, perhaps we can save up a bit of money to see those tropical islands of yours someday."
Anna blushed a bit at this and hugged her grandfather's arm closer. "By balloon, you think? But whatever will we tell Aunt Edith and Uncle William?"
"Tell them your grandfather thinks you're ladylike enough already," Polly suggested mischievously.
The Doctor came walking back looking distinctly annoyed, though he swiftly rearranged his features to polite interest as he came up to them. Mr. Booth noted the look and nodded in what he thought was understanding.
"It has been an eventful day."
The Doctor clasped his hands together, returning his nod. "Yes. Yes, I must say we didn't expect it to be quite this eventful but still I suppose it all turned out well enough didn't it? The prize money is safe and Mr. Diesel's unusual mimic is likewise safely tucked away."
"I cannot get over that man's audacity. Though," Booth turned to the smaller man and considered him over the top of his spectacles. "You seemed to already know something of this subterfuge. What made you suspect him in the first place?"
"Oh, I suppose everyone who reads the press must know Mr. Diesel runs a bit pacifistic, a bit utopian," the Doctor replied evasively. "That fellow back there was quite blatantly grasping and violent, wouldn't you say? Dead giveaway that something wasn't quite right. Very plain."
"Oh yes. I suppose so." Booth frowned at the vagary then suddenly rummaged in his pocket. "Plain yet complicated: which reminds me, there's a bit of paperwork about all this I was supposed to give to you. Told them I would. You'll be wanted as a witness in the court and all that of course." He handed it over to him. "The bane of modern life, official papers. Well! I'm off for the night. Anna is a bit under the weather with all this excitement, of course, and the day is late. We must bid you good-night, but will no doubt see you in the courtroom if not before then." He nodded at each of them politely, holding out an arm for his granddaughter.
"Good-bye," Anna said. "Good-bye, Polly. Maybe we'll see you in London sometime?"
"Maybe," Polly said politely. "Though I'm not sure when."
The Doctor unfolded the papers as the others watched them making their way out. "Hmm."
"What is it?" asked Jamie, trying to look over his shoulder.
"Hm, Hm," he repeated as he riffled through them. "Oh, now this is interesting. Look at this." He turned the papers towards them. "Benjamin Jackson, Midshipman is noted as having been of exemplary service above and beyond, etcetera, etcetera." He gave Ben a very satisfied smile. "Now isn't that interesting? Ha. Looks like your family is getting a promotion."
"Benjamin?" Polly asked.
"What? Y'mean, the other…" Ben said a bit blankly. "They thought he…"
"Could be the telling turn in his fortunes, who knows?" the Doctor continued, stuffing the paper into his coat pocket.
"Can I see that?" asked Ben, reaching to pull it back out. He leafed through them, examining the promotion, then looked at the one behind it. "Oi, look at this! It's not just an announcement, it's a court order ain't it? To, whatchcallit, testify."
"We aren't goin' to have to listen to it, are we?" asked Jamie in dismay.
"Oh, I hope not." Polly screwed up her face with distaste. "The last thing I want to spend time sitting around some French courtroom."
The Doctor snatched the papers back from Ben and stuffed them in his pocket again. "I have no intention of going to any court, French or otherwise, and neither should you; I think it's high time we were off. Besides, they're asking questions about the TARDIS. Seemed to be thinking it was one of the crates for the engine parts." He sniffed, obviously offended at the thought.
"Engine parts?" laughed Jamie. "They weren't far off the mark."
"They were trying to open it." He marched, stiff-backed off towards the stacked wooden boxes.
"It could use a few spare bits, is that what you're thinking?" Ben asked, ribbing Jamie with an elbow. "I'm with him, high time to get out of here."
"Aye," Jamie agreed. "I've seen enough of this place. Besides, wi' two o' that inventor chap, two Bens an' two Pollys I think we should leave before another Doctor shows up!"
Ben laughed, offering Polly his arm as they walked back. "Oh, that'd be rich wouldn't it? A deuce o' Doctors!"
"He'd get into twice as much trouble," Jamie grinned. "Ye'd have to double me too."
Ben shielded his eyes in mock horror. "Didja hear that, Duchess? Hurry it up, Doctor; quick, we've got to get away before another Jamie shows up!"
The Doctor glanced back at them as they followed him, sliding behind the stacks. He fished out his key. "One of each of us is quite sufficient, I think," he smiled. "Quite sufficient indeed."
I've taken a few liberties with Mr. Hubert Cecil Booth, whose horse-drawn vacuum service wasn't patented until the following year, and who was only about 30 in 1900. I just rather liked his invention and that it wouldn't draw nearly the attention the diesel engine would, so he has been conveniently aged a bit. On the other hand, I've also made him an ancestor for the magnificent Polly so that hopefully helps even things out.
I've also a smaller number of liberties to confess in regards to the unfortunate Mr. Rudolf Diesel who very likely never had any adventure of the sort, though the rest of the general facts about him are correct including his being plagued with headaches. Though his family often lived as if wealthy, he constantly struggled with both financial and health issues. Diesel was a pacifist with utopian leanings and believed his invention would bring freedom to the working man. After witnessing his work being used to develop submarines, warships and other objects of destruction, he became depressed, put his affairs in order and threw himself off of a ship in the English Channel.