In which two gentlemen at The Club tete-a-tete. A bit of foreshadowing.
Previously Lord and Lady Dunnie’s honeymoon was a bust. And on Gibraltar too. Lord Dunnie collapsed in a bowl of soup.
Two middle-aged gentlemen, one a regular of The Club, one a not-so-regular, were enjoying the aroma of the cigars filling the Smoking Room. Regular spotted his irregular friend through the haze of the tobacco smoke.
“I say, Bottoms.” he said. “Is that you, old chap?” He approached the irregular gentleman.
“It most assuredly is, Topsy,” Bottoms said. They both smiled. The old friends were indeed glad to see each other.
“Why haven’t we seen you at The Club recently?”
“Why don’t we have a sit while we chat? My bottom is about to kill me.”
The gentlemen, whiskey snifters in hand, retired to two very large, comfortable chairs. Each chair was so large a gentleman could sink for days into its softness, only to have to come up for a spot of air before returning to the comfortable safety of the lushness.
“Don’t tell me you’re actually doing your job as Home Secretary?” Topsy adjusted himself into the chair and relaxed.
“One does take one’s work seriously.”
“You don’t say. Isn’t that what the Bureaucrats are for?”
“But you are the Chancellor of the Exchequer?” Bottoms said. “Aren’t you pursuing your duties?”
“I haven’t a head for numbers. Don’t you know that we’re here for Show. Prime Minister needed a very pretty face for the Dog and Pony Show that is Society. I was he, being the best looking member of Commons.”
“As you can tell, dear boy,” Bottoms went on, “my face couldn’t get me into anything. It’s been the hard work I do that has led to my advancement into the P.M.’s circles. And I know just who’s bottom to pucker up to.”
“So what have you had on your plate at Home?”
Bottoms’ voice dropped into a whisper. “It’s very hush-hush in a shush-shush sort of way.”
Topsy leaned over to hear his fellow Cabinet Member. “Yes?”
“We’re afraid the Wah-Wah League has been rehabilitated.”
“You don’t say, old sport.” Topsy always enjoyed a spot of gossip. “I thought the Tsar had put the blinkers on the thing.”
“Not so, old chap, not so. And these Wah-Wahs have recruited that Iranian Cubist fellow.” Bottoms’ voice was even softer than before.
Topsy couldn’t believe his good fortune. No one ever confided in him, being a pretty face and all. “Iranian Cubist fellow?”
“Yes, rumor has it that he is a cubist painter who failed at cubism. He couldn’t find his way out of a circle and into a square, you see. He was so hurt that he’s taken to assassination.”
“Do we have anything to worry about then?” Topysy’s voice showed the kind of concern he might have had if he looked in the mirror and saw a pimple to mire his perfect reflection.
“Our men are on the job and have it under complete control. But Portugal. That may be a different story.”
“Not Portugal.” Topsy was worried. After all, he remembered the prophetic monologues, The Prophecies of Madame Woozy-Oozy. He had been a long believer of the Woozy-Oozite Persuasion. But he did not want it to get out. It could be the downfall of him. There had been a ban on Oozy-Woozydom in Britain for quite some time.
“Yes, Portugal. But no worries. Home has a very competent man on it.”
Bottoms’ bottom had developed an itch. He did not want to stand up and scratch. That would be the embarrassment of embarrassments. Instead he took another drink of his whiskey and let his bottom sink in deeper. His posterior found a scratchy crack in the cushion. Ever so slowly he pursued his strategy of moving his rather large bottom against it. There was a struggle. Who would out in the end? The crack or the itch? Finally, the crack won much to Bottoms’ relief. He released an audible ahhhh.
Topsy noticed the ecstasy on his companion’s face but did not say anything, fearing the worst.
“By the by, old sport,” Bottoms changed the subject, “when are you to tie the proverbial knot?”
“Haven’t found the right young lady yet.” Topsy had been looking for years. Thus far, no eligible young woman seemed to come his way. At least, one that fit his criteria. He wanted someone with a certain amount of decorum–and cash–but was not better looking than he was. It would destroy his image.
“I think you may now have the perfect opportunity,” Bottoms offered, finishing his drink. “The Times says Lady P. P. has just become eligible. She could very well be the very one to give your swizzle some stick.”
“Yes,” Topsy said out loud. And then to himself, “Never happen. Way too pretty. Way too pretty.”
Next week: A body goes missing