Lady Claire Trevelyan, restée seule après que le désastre de la bulle financière arabe ait englouti son foyer et sa famille, dirige maintenant le groupe de plus brillant de joueurs et de voleuses à la tire des bas-fonds de Londres. Elle découvre que le fusil à éclairs qu’elle a dérobé à une bande rivale, contient une source unique d’énergie -- et que son inventeur a été enfermé à Bedlam par des hommes puissants afin d’en supprimer l’existence même. Pour que Lady Claire en comprenne le fonctionnement, elle doit consulter le scientifique fou... même si cela veut dire qu’elle doit sortir de l’institution la plus terrifiante de Londres.
Ensuite, dans un moment de folie, elle se fiance avec Lord James Selwyn, qui ne sait rien de sa double vie. Il s’attend d’elle qu’elle soit décorative et accueille en parfaite hôtesse les riches investisseurs intéressés au Carbonateur cinétique appartenant à Andrew Malvern et à lui-même. Mais comment ces fiançailles peuvent-elles survivre au fait qu’il ne veut pas que son travail à elle soit couvert par le brevet ? Et comment Andrew peut-il regarder sans rien faire, sachant que Claire épouse quelqu’un qu’elle n’aime pas ?
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Magnificent Devices, Tome 2 : Her Own Devices
London, August 1889
They were too small to be airships, and too ephemeral to be bombs. Glowing with a gentle orange light, each the size of a lantern, they floated up into the night sky powered by a single candle and the most delicate of tiny engines.
One didn’t, after all, simply release such dangerous things without a means of directing where they were to go.
“They’re so pretty,” Maggie breathed.
“Sh!” Her twin sister Lizzie, both of them having no surname that anyone knew, nudged her with urgency. “T’Lady said to be quiet.”
“You be quiet! Since when d’you listen to the Lady at the best o’ times?”
“Mopsies!” Lady Claire Trevelyan, sister of a viscount, formerly a resident of Belgravia and now a resident of a hideout in Vauxhall gained at the price of a brigand’s life, glared at both girls. They’d been on many a night lookout. What were they thinking, to risk giving away their position by whispering?
Though Claire had to admit that the beauty of the balloons’ dreamy flight hid the fact that she, Jake, and Tigg had constructed them out of a rag picker’s findings: a silk chemise, a ragged nightgown so fine she could draw it through her grandmother’s emerald ring, a pair of bloomers that a very broad lady had thrown away because of a tear she was too wealthy to mend.
Add to this a little device Claire had been working on that would act as a steering and propulsion mechanism, and you had a set of silent intruders that could go where she and her accomplices could not.
Hunching their shoulders at the reproof, the girls settled behind the tumbledown remains of a churchyard wall to watch the half-dozen balloons sail away with their cargo over the width of a street and up over a two-story stone wall as impregnable as a medieval keep.
The spider takes hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces. Well, tonight she was the spider and the inhabitants of “The Cudgel” Bonaventure’s fortress were about to learn a lesson in manners. One did not jump the associates of the Lady in the street and relieve them of the rewards of their night’s work in the gambling parlors without reprisal. The candles that caused the balloons to rise would not set his fortress on fire, but the chemical suspended in a single vial from each certainly would.
An owl hooted, rather more cheerfully than one might expect. “They’re over the wall,” Snouts McTavish translated. “We can move in when you give the word, Lady.”
“I think it will be safe to wait for Mr. Bonaventure in the street. Jake, do you have the gaseous capsaicin devices should he prove foolish?”
She had known Jake for several weeks. Even now, she was not sure he wouldn’t use such a device on her and challenge Snouts for lieutenancy of their little band of the abandoned and neglected. However, if someone were to prove himself trustworthy, he must perforce be trusted. Leaving him in charge of the satchel with its clinking contents was a calculated risk, but it was one she must take. Especially since he had compounded the devices himself.
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