In which our heroine repairs to her honeymoon
Previously Mary-Mary became Marye. All London turned out for her wedding to Lord Dunnie. And they took the Grand Tour of London but missed the Queen. It was Thursday.
It was a cheeky day in Londontown when his lordship the Lord Mayor met Lord and Lady P. P. on the bridge of the ship of the Britannia Line, the Queen Victoria, Empress of India. He presented the newlyweds with the Keys to the Tower. “Just in case,” his Lord Mayorship mumbled, giving the old wink and nod to Lord Wimpleseed-Prissypottt. He wished the two a happy bon voyage. Then they were off to honeymoon on Gibraltar where the Great Dane Prissypott had a relative or three.
The voyage was uneventful. No stormy seas. No rotten weather. A rather pleasant sea trip it was. One evening her ladyship left her betrothed snoring away in their state room, happy in the knowledge that he and his estates were cared for. Marye found herself on the deck, looking out at the sunset colors traipsing across the sky, dreaming of a life that might have been but would never be. Standing there looking out to sea, she overheard the conversation of a nearby couple.
“May I have an advance,” the quite elderly man said, “on my allowance?”
“You’ve had three advances already.” There was frustration in the woman’s voice. She was in her mid-thirties.
“But you do love me, do you not?” His voice sounded almost like a prayer in his pleading.
“Not particularly. I do love your title, dear. But the unfortunate thing is that you had to come with it. That’s an earl of a different estate, you know.”
Marye thought how sad, and under such a lovely sky on show for the world to see. And that sky was completely free. Right then and there, she made a determination. She would not become “that woman.” She had made her bed; now she would lie in it happily. No more Dilly, no more dallying. She made up her pretty little thing of a mind to be the best ladyship to her lord she could be. She walked quickly back to the state room.
“Dear Dunnie, awake,” she said, shaking Lord P. P. out of his slumber.
“What? What?” his eyes opened, his monocle popped out.
“Dear, get up and get dressed. Your new bride wants to go dancing. There’s a lovely orchestra, and I love to dance. Time’s a-wasting.”
Sad to say, her ladyship was still a virgin when the ship docked at Gibraltar. No matter the effort P. P. put in, he just couldn’t get it up. His get-up had got up and gone quite some time ago.
When they landed, his lordship and his virginal young bride were greeted by the Governor-Commissioner of the Island, Sir Hackle Loopsey. He watched Lord Wimpleseed-Prissypott waddle off the ship with his new bride, then turned to his youngest son, Quilip, and said, “I say, Ducks, there’s a bride for you. I must pack you off to America.”
“But, Father, dear Father,” the twenty-five-year-old Quills, as Quilip was called, disagreed, “I am simply not interested.”
“Oh, Quills,” his father said, “don’t be such a fop.”
“Don’t you mean rake, old man?”
“I most assuredly do not. You’re a fop. Your brother is a fop. And your sister is a fop’s sister.”
Straightening his tie, the youngest son said, “Then that means you’re a fop’s pops, doesn’t it?”
The Gov ignored his son and escorted Dunnie and Marye back to the Government House with a British propriety that would have made Wellington proud. At the ceremonies welcoming the Distinguished Gentleman from Haggismarshe and his new wife, an immense and very big banquet was served, befitting a visit by such a Class A Dignitary. Toasts were toasted by all the bigs of the island. Soups were souped and served by a dozen or so retainers who had been retained for the occasion. Chicken soup, turtle soup, kidney pie soup, and best of all, soup soup.
As the speakers persisted with their speechifying, P. P. listened with one ear turned toward the speeches and the other, his right one to be exact, toward the slurping sucking sound of the Governor-Commissioner scooping his soup from his bowl. Colonel Chowder of Her Majesty’s Hussars was giving a chatty little talk about how he had spent so much time in the East, and how he longed for dear old England, and how Britannia ruled the waves.
“Here, here,” several of the others spoke up agreeing that Britannia did indeed rule the waves. Dunnie poured a bit of kidney pie soup into his saucer. He raised the saucer to his schnauzer of a nozzle and whispered to himself, “Rather delightful odor.” He lowered the saucer to the table. Then he slurped and he sucked and he snorted and he slurped some more as he scooped a sip of his soup with his soup spoon from his saucer. Quite suddenly, the happy marriage …
Lord Dunnville Percival Wimpleseed-Prissypott of Haggismarshe dropped his face into his saucer of soup. His schnauze buried itself in the soup in the saucer. He was deceased. That is another way of saying that his lordship was cold, stone dead.
Doctor Mannville Mannvile from the island’s Surgery commented later that the good lord had not been able to withstand the anticipation of a night of sexual delight with Lady Marye.
“He’s gone and made himself into a corpus delicti!” his lady wailed. “The dear man.” Then she did what was expected. She feinted a faint, sliding under the table and onto the floor. In those days, that was what respectable wives did no matter how they felt about their husbands. It was the thing to do to keep themselves in the good graces of Society.
The Gibraltarians hovered around her ladyship. Doctor Mannvile gave her smelling salts to smell. As she awoke, she muttered to herself, “Now I will never know the passionate embrace of a man. I will have to remain a virgin to the end of my days.” She began to sob.
“My lady,” the governor said, “you have our deepest sympathies. Remember even though you are a widow, you don’t have to take it lying down. You’ll make it through this. You’re sired from a hardy stock, as hardy as this soup. You’re an American. Besides that, you’re British. So keep your upper lip stiff. Remember the sun never sets on the Empire, even though it most assuredly did set on dear old Dunnie, poor chap.”
Such is life, and a run of good luck for her ladyship, I’d say. Wouldn’t you, dear reader? However she did not take it that way. None of us ever do, though fortune drops onto our head like a ton of bricks. All we want to do is worry about the broken neck. We don’t look at the good thing that comes out of this. That we’re getting six weeks off from our employment. No, she blamed herself for his demise. Her only consolation: he died happy, with a smile and a bowl of soup on his face.
Chas. Cheslewick, the foppish fop of an elder son of Loopsey, flopped down adjacent to her ladyship and said, rather cavalierly, “He was a real pip, your husband.”
“Chassie,” Sir Loopsey said to his ill-timed son, “don’t be such a quimby.” Then he turned to Marye and explained, “Quimby’s our dog and he’s a real pisser. I have the pants to show for it.”
“Such a horrible waste of soup,” the very Mrs. Chowder interjected. A thrifty Scot of a woman if there ever was one. Otherwise all in the room were stunned as silence waded its way through the Government House like an icy wind coming off the sea.
After a duly noted amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth, Colonel Chowder offered his services to the widow. Still a virgin, she shined with a virginal glow as she thanked him copiously. She refused any assistance from him, the governor or his foppish fops of wastrel sons who kept fopping about foppingly. Instead she removed her dead husband’s dried-up prune of a lordly baronial body and loaded it onto the next ship back to England.
Next week: You just never know who you’ll meet in a Gentlemen’s Club