Tonight the Floating Market was on a stretch of land between Paddington and Royal Oak stations, formerly part of a shunting yard, now reserved for a grandiose tunnel scheme that would probably never happen. It was still early in the evening, but already a capybara that would have dwarfed the legendary Giant Rat of Sumatra was roasting on a spit, jugglers and musicians plied their trade, crowds jostled for bargains, and somehow commuters on the Hammersmith and City line and the trains in and out of Paddington completely failed to notice.
“Lady Door,” said the Marquis De Carabas, “I find myself the bearer of interesting news.”
“What sort of news?” Richard Mayhew stared at the Marquis suspiciously, while his wife continued to leaf through a box of 78 RPM records on one of those stalls. Richard knew that despite appearances she was paying very close attention.
“It would mean nothing to you, Champion,” the Marquis said dismissively, “it’s for Lady Door, and Lady Door alone.”
“And what would this news be worth?” asked Door.
“A favour,” said the Marquis. “A moderately large one.”
“Really?” said Door, looking up. “Am I to take it you’ve found the Philospher’s Stone, or the lost city of Shangri-La?”
“Something much better than those,” said the Marquis, casually pulling a small stone from his pocket and touching it to a pewter mug on the stall. For a moment it glowed with the pure lustre of gold, then faded back to grey. “This thing’s useless unless you have the power to make it work, and the last time I was there, Shangri-La was full of American tourists.”
I don't really want to say too much about the story, except that Mornington Crescent will probably be moderately important...