As Vickie and Bergeron enter his residence, they are greeted by a chubby, brown-haired man wearing a dark waistcoat. He looks Vickie over and rolls his eyes.
“Giles, this is Vickie,” Bergeron tells his servant. “She’ll be dining with us this evening and may stay on as our guest if I can convince her.”
“Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Giles,” Vickie says with a slight curtsey.
“Just Giles, ma’am,” he says, a vaguely noticeable scowl on his face. “I’ll inform cook, sir.”
“Tell cook to put together a tray of pastries for our guest and a pot of tea. We’ll be in the study.”
“Very good sir,” Giles says with a bow then disappears down a hallway.
“This way,” Bergeron says. “My study is on the third floor. We can talk there in private.”
“Private?” Vickie says with a note of fear in her voice.
“Just talk, remember?” Bergeron says.
As they ascend the steps, Bergeron says, “Vickie? Is that short for Victoria?”
“Yes sir,” Vickie says. “Me mum named me for the Queen.”
On the way up, they encounter a matronly woman who appears to be in her thirties. She cheerfully greets Bergeron as she passes him then nods to Vickie.
“Mrs. Mayfair,” he says to her. “This is Victoria. I need you to prepare the guest room in case she decides to stay with us and also round up some clean clothes for her.”
“Certainly, sir.” Looking over Vickie, she says, “My, you’re a tiny thing.” She winks at Vickie. “Still, I think I can find something.”
“Thank you, ma’am,” Vickie says.
In the study, Bergeron directs Vickie to a large leather chair and he sits in a similar one across from her.
“First, let me introduce myself,” Bergeron says. “I’m Robert Bergeron, a man of independent means, a world traveler—”
“The Ripper,” Vickie adds curtly.
“Do not bring that up again,” Bergeron says rolling his eyes. “I am very sorry about what happened. What I’m about to tell you should help to make up for it.”
He leans back in the chair then takes a cigar from a nearby case and lights it.
“Enough about me,” Bergeron says. “Tell me a about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your family like?”
“I’m Vickie Seely,” she says as though reciting it from a script she read but only barely memorized. “Me mum told me I was born in Bishopsgate. Met me dad when I was eight or nine, but never got to know him very well. They’re both dead now.”
“Do you have any idea when you were born?” Bergeron says.
“Oh I know exactly when I was born,” Vickie tells him proudly. “Me mum told me — Coronation day.”
“When Queen Victoria took the throne. That’s why Mum called me Victoria, after the Queen.”
Bergeron considers it a moment and laughs.
“Coronation day,” he repeats. He rises and goes to the mirror then motions to her, saying, “Join me over here.”
Vickie hesitates then rises and moves cautiously to where he is. He places his hands gently on her shoulders and guides her so she’s directly in front of the mirror.
“I want you to take a good long look at yourself.” Vickie does as instructed. “And I will tell you that Coronation day was fifty years ago.”
Vickie gasps, the information not matching the youthful reflection that confronts her in the mirror.
“That long. Me friends used to kid about how I never seemed to get any older. I always thought I was just one of the lucky ones what don’t show their ages.”
“Oh, you are one of the lucky ones — more so than you can ever imagine. You see, my dear, you are going to look this way for hundreds of years.”
Vickie pulls away and looks at him with a confused expression.
“Are you mad? Nobody lives that long.”
Bergeron chuckles then puts his arm around her shoulders and draws her back toward him in front of the mirror.