Thursday, November 14, 2019

It's live... mob-caps and all!

The ebook of A Child of Magic is available on Kindle now! And one last snippet before I get back to the current book:


I looked over Annelise’s shoulder before returning to my own office. She was comparing pictures of people in authentic eighteenth-century costume with the offerings from the rental company’s site. “I need to call them about the wigs.”

“Wigs?” I looked at the pictures of ladies with their hair piled up in powdered beehives topped with ruffled, lacy hats. Well, if I had to wear something like that, at least I’d look taller…

“Don’t worry,” she said, “that’s the costume of a highly fashionable lady, not an ordinary person. We’re going to put muslin caps on you and Meadow. They were called mob-caps, and they’ll completely cover your hair. Lots of women wore them. The cover story if the caps come off is that you’re recovering from a bad fever that necessitated cutting off your hair. Will tells me Philadelphia had epidemic fevers nearly every summer.”

“Bring out your dead?”

“No, the big yellow fever epidemic wasn’t until 1793. Smallpox was common though, and so was typhus.”

How reassuring. I wondered if we should all get vaccinated. And how to explain to a modern doctor that we needed shots for a disease that had been all but eradicated in this century?

“But Ben’s hair is way too short to pass unnoticed.”

“Can’t he be a fever victim too?”

“Not in a fetching little muslin cap with frills and ribbons, he can’t. I’m still looking for a beaver hat for him, but I think his short hair would still attract too much attention. He’ll have to wear a wig.”

And I’d thought traveling back to 1941 was complicated!

Within minutes there were several separate conversations going on in the Research Division. Annelise had offloaded the shoe problem onto Ingrid and she was trying to find us authentic shoes to go with the costumes, or at least shoes that might pass as authentic – which, she said in a moment of exasperation between phone calls, was going to be tricky since we insisted on going back into a century when left and right shoes were identical.

Ben was talking to his friend Will, the history buff, about where to acquire some eighteenth-century currency just in case we had to buy anything while we were there. “We shouldn’t need to spend it if all goes to plan,” I heard him telling Will. “We’re just going to zip back then, collect Colton, and return.”

I meditated on the history of Center projects. Had there ever been one where everything went as planned? I hoped Ben and Will could come up with a really good source of antique money.

“Don’t worry,” Ben said when he got off the phone, “in emergency we can just take a gold or silver artifact with us and sell it for cash.”

“I hope we won’t have to do that. Explaining where we got the artifact could be tricky.” Now that we were getting into the details of the plan, some of my initial excitement was fading. I slumped down behind my desk and wondered what happened to somebody who was accused of, say, stealing a silver candlestick. In Philadelphia. In 1787. Transportation? No, that was an English thing. In America the penalty was probably just straightforward hanging.

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