."This way miss" Miss Hattie called out authoritatively, forcing Eleanor to follow along behind her. And though her body followed obediently, her eyes wandered where they would, She had never really experienced a 'crossroad', and King's Cross was precisely that. The rails that radiated from this place connected the inner most hamlets to the sea. From here, she could go anywhere in the world.
Likewise, the rest of the world could come here.
Though the majority of the bustlers were the Queen's own English citizens, many were there who distinguished themselves as foreign, merely by their head dresses, as they were all that she could see above the crowd, seeing through the press nearly impossible at Miss Hattie's pace.
Eleanor saw the felt berets favored by the French. Turbans representing India, Afghanistan, and a few other North African nations. The fez of the Turkish. The yarmulkes of the Jews. Yet, never once in the whirling mass did Eleanor see a woman's headdress that was not perfectly... ordinary. It was telling. Not that English woman observed conventions as concerns their public appearances. No, what Eleanor noticed was that other cultures did not seem to travel with women.
Before they could reach their waiting carriage, Miss Hattie pulled up short and Eleanor pressed close against her. A cadre of uniformed constables affected a wedge through the press, halting most other's progress to see to their duty. Between them they held confined a man. He was shackled at his wrists and ankles with only short lengths between, making his hurried gate more a shuffle than a walk. His attire was not common in either design or quality. The clothes were cut in France.
The cadre stopped in anticipation of a carriage whistled for in the crowded line-up. Eleanor recognized that, if the constables would allow those carriages already at the fore to receive her passengers and depart, the way would be clear for the rest. The constables did not seem to recognize that. So, for many long minutes, the press could do little save stare at the police and their captive. Their captive could do little else, choosing, though, to keep his back to the wall and his eyes on the paving.
"Don't you fret now, Devereaux," one of the constables standing before Miss Hattie and Eleanor elbowed the captives ribs almost good naturedly. "Ye'll be all tucked away in a brand new proper English prison afore long. Much nicer than tha' Scottish lock up."
"'...the mind is it's own place...'," the man replied in a low voice that Eleanor strained to hear for the familiarity of the words. He was quoting. Reciting. He was not French, either. He sounded American. "'...and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.
"'... what matter where...?'" the captive looked up for a moment and found Eleanor's eyes before looking back down. "'...if I be still the same...'"
"Wha's tha' then?" the constable was stricken with curiosity. "The Bible?"
The captive did not seem inclined to explain.