Yet across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded this Earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. As men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.
“Dah! You would have to mention microscopic bugs.” Violet splayed her elbows and rested her head back on her hands. This side of the roof kept them away from prying eyes, so she took full advantage, wearing only her sleeveless chemise and a mini-petticoat as she moonbathed. Already, her arms and legs looked visibly whiter. “Fire and destruction I can handle, but microbes? Ech!”
The night’s moonbathing session held no urgency for Ashley, so she kept her husband’s smoking jacket on over her own chemise and full-length petticoat. The jacket was bulky, but certainly easier to climb up from the deck in than if she were confined in the flounces and stays of a proper dress. “Don’t you want to put something on?”
Her friend threw Ashley a smirk. “Perhaps I’ll lay out on the other side of the roof and cry, ‘Hey-ho for a husband.’”
“Violet, you shock me.” Ashley pointed the quill at her in a play at reproval, but felt her rear end shift on the tile as she did so. She planted her feet more firmly on the roof to scoot herself back, but made the fatal error of gripping the round glass inkwell and flipping the brass lid shut as a precaution – she wouldn’t forgive herself an accidental spill. But that distraction made her misjudge the friction of her bare soles against the shingles. Her feet shot out, and she went sliding down the roof.
Falling to the deck from here would be unpleasant. If she didn’t have the smoking jacket on, it wouldn’t be encumbering her wings. Even now, they struggled to unfurl through the dual slits in the back of her chemise, but could not expand. And yet, she could have done no other. Even on this unobserved side of the roof, she couldn’t dress in as bare a fashion as Violet. Ashley was a married woman, and the respectability that entailed mandated a non-negotiable level of modesty, and practical reality was expected to bend itself to accommodate this.