A Texan saves the day
Previously Daddykins hired a lawyer to make sure his daughter kept her titles.
Dear Reader, I suspect that you have been wondering when our story occurred. If you look on the map of history, you will find it located somewhere between the Franco-Prussian War and the Great War, that fiasco called the War to End All Wars. Of course, that was the Big Lie. That war didn’t end anything. If anything, it created even more stress on the world stage.
Actually, one could say the time of the novel was around 1896. In fact, I think I will state that very thing. It was 1896.
In those days, Great Britain was the Big To-Do and America some backwater colony. However, the Americans were sneaking up on the British. Soon they would have to bail their cousins across the pond out and save them from the Kaiser. But that is another story.
Science was sciencing. But Albert still had not discovered his e=mc two Einsteinian theory. The Curies were still dating, and I don’t mean carbon dating. The only Big Bang anybody had heard of was the toilet flushing; indoor plumbing was all the rage.
The last we heard of her ladyship, Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott of Haggismarshe, she was on the S. S. Twit twit-twit-twittering toward Egypt. After a night of rolling in the hay with a certain Smythie Smathers, she awoke alone. No British troubleshooter for the Royal Beeswax and Petroleum Jelly Corporation of East Potterdam next to her.
In the dining room, she found him carousing with a certain Frenchwoman, Crepe Suzette.
“Dear, do not make a scene,” Smathers demanded, a smirk on his smirk of a face.
“I’m making a scene?” she said. “I’m making a scene. I’ll show you a scene.”
The American picked a sharp knife off the table and raised it over her head.
Someone behind her grabbed her hand and wrenched the knife from it. She turned around. Before her stood a long, tall Texan in a big white hat. He placed the knife on the table.
“What the–?” she went to say.
“Ma’am, this piece of British trash isn’t worth it.”
“I resemble that remark,” Smythie Smathers said from his table, his face white from his close call with a knife.
“Who in the name of Brooklyn do you think you are?” Marye said to the Texan. Our heroine was angry and getting angrier by the second.
“Studdley Duddley at your service, ma’am,” he tipped his hat toward her ladyship. “I am a Texan.”
Her ladyship thought, “But of course. Every adventure must have a Texan in it. It doesn’t matter if he has anything to contribute. They just drop from the sky to dirty the waters of the story. And this story has to have this fool.”
“Go try your risk at whist,” Smythie Smathers said to the Texan. “You’re not wanted at this party.”
“Many prefer the game of whist,” Studdley said, standing there with his tongue hanging out staring at her ladyship’s morning bosoms. “But me, I am a stud poker man. The emphasis being on ‘stud’, ma’am. As all my lady friends will testify, my war cry is ‘Stud, poke her’. Old Studdley does try his best. But it seems my services are not needed here. So, it’s onward and upward. Remember what old Studdley told you. If you ever make it to Texas, you will have the bluest eyes in the state.” He tipped his hat and dropped out of sight.
She looked at S. S. and frowned. “What do you have to say for yourself, you Smythie Smathers?”
He looked at the knife on the table, reached over and removed it from danger. Anything to get it out of the way of this Madwoman from Brooklyn Heights by way of Haggismarshe.
“It isn’t what you think,” he said quietly, then turned to Crepe Suzette. “Crepe, go feint a faint or do something quaint and make yourself scarce. I have to straighten out our American friend.”
Crepe slipped off into the morning to sweeten up some other man’s breakfast. After all, that is what she did.
“What do you mean,” her ladyship demanded, “straighten out our American friend? You’d better have a damned good answer or this Brooklyn Heights girl is going to be doing some straightening out herself.””
“I am sorry, Your Ladyship,” Smythie said. “I only meant … I certainly would be much more comfortable if you sat down and joined me for a cup of morning tea.”
“This had better be something on the better side of good,” she said. “I won’t have tea. I am a coffee-drinking woman and I like my coffee strong and straight-up, no cream, no sugar. Like I like my men. And you don’t qualify.” She pulled out a chair and sat down and stared at him with a don’t mess-with-me stare.
S. S. called over to a waiter. “A cup of coffee for her ladyship.”
The waiter frowned. He would get the coffee but it wasn’t right. One had tea, not coffee. He had a cup of the black drink once. It tasted awful. And he couldn’t sleep for a week afterward. But he would get it. After all, that was his job. Getting things.
He went and pulled a cup off the counter. He poured coffee into the cup. He whispered to another waiter nearby, “When she is through with her coffee, we’re going to have to destroy the cup. The dishwasher will never get the awful taste of the black brew out of the cup.”
The coffee arrived with sugar and cream.
“You can take that away,” her ladyship said to the waiter. “Can’t stand sugar or cream with my coffee.” She lifted the cup to her lips.
S. S. leaned over and whispered, “I am on a mission for the government.”
The black coffee shot from her mouth and onto his face. She laughed. “You’ve got to be kidding. You mean to tell me that the government asked you to bop me while I was mopping up the floor bopping you last night. Is that what you’re saying?”
“Let me just say plastics,” Smathers whispered some more as he wiped the coffee off his face.
“Plastics?” her ladyship quizzed.
“Yes, plastics,” Smathers whispered even more.
“What in the name of Abe Lincoln are plastics?” her ladyship asked.
“Shhhh,” Smathers whispered. “Someone who shouldn’t might hear you say the magic word. It might even be He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named.”
Our heroine was almost on the floor with laughter. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. What had made her think that this Smythie Smathers was worth her time of day, much less her night in bed? Her taste in men … could it get any worse? Compared to this clown, Dilly was Prince Charming.
Then again maybe he was on to something. She sat up straight and calmed herself. “Okay, I’m all ears. But remember John Smith did not raise a fool for a daughter. I may be a British ladyship but I ain’t some gullible rube you can reel in with your line about some plastics.”
“Yes, plastics. Oh, you mean you haven’t seen the movie ‘The Graduate’?”
“What’s a movie? It’s 1896 and I have never heard of this thing you call a movie. What the—is a graduate? I mean I graduated from high school. Guess that makes me a graduate. But I am not sure about you, fellow. What loony factory did you come out of?”
“I am from the future, old girl. I came here via a Delorean but I ran out of gas. Since I am on a secret mission, I had to practice my missionary work last night.”
“That had better be practice,” her ladyship leaned over and whispered. “If that is the best you can do, you had better find another position. Because you’re not that good at this one. And just what in the name of everything that is American is a Delorean?”
“No, no, no,” Smythie Smathers whispered back at her. “You misunderstand.”
“You deflower my honor,” her ladyship complained, “and now you’re coming up with some cock and bull story that you’re from the future. It’s slam-bam-thank-you-ma’am. Well, no thank you, sir. No thank you.” She goes to stand up.
S. S. puts his hand on her gloved hand.
“Let go of my hand,” her ladyship said, “or I’ll call Mr. Tex back over here. And he can wax up the floor with you.”
“Please let me explain,” he pleaded.
“First let go of my hand. Then explain.”
He released her hand like it was a hot potato.
“Make it fast,” she demanded. “I am in the mood for a good lunch. And you’re starting to turn my stomach.”
“Yes, yes,” he said, getting on with it. “As I said I am on a mission from the government in the future. I have to stop some woman named Mata Hari. If I seduce you, I will be able to seduce her. I realized that you would be the much harder to seduce. Now I know I can seduce her.”
“Mata Hari? I know that name. I met her on a train but I never knew she had fame, that dame. She promised me a knife in the heart if she caught up with me again.”
“Yes, that sounds like the one and the same. She’s a spy. If I seduce her, I can slow her down and she won’t be able to meet up with the world famous American big game hunter, Johnny Eager. He has a package for her.”
“I see. I am still not overly convinced you are being absolutely truthful. The future and all? Do you think I am one of your Crepe Suzettes? I am not a tart, French or otherwise. Sounds like you and your conscience ought to have a conversation. Spy indeed.”
“I am afraid I don’t have a conscience. When you are in the missionary game the way I am, you can’t afford one. It is the white man’s burden after all. I say, would you care to help me practice some more later. I could use another session and you’re quite good, you know.”
She jumped up and slapped him with one of her white gloves. “You cad. How dare you? You’re after one thing and it is not Mata Hari. You want to get back into my pantaloons, don’t you? Well, thank you very much, but no thank you.”
“May I be of service, ma’am?” A large man in an even larger uniform extra-large stepped up beside her.
“My, my, what big stripes you have,” her ladyship said. She smiled her largest smile of the day, even larger than she had smiled the night before.
“Sgt. Mack Truck of the United States Gyrenes at your service, ma’am.”
“Kind sergeant,” Marye said, “would you please take my arm and escort me from these proceedings? The stench is getting too much for me, and I fear I shall faint.”
He took her arm and the two walked away from Smythie Smathers’s table. Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott looked back at the spy’s table. He had been rejoined by Crepe Suzette. “May I offer you a treat, Sergeant,” she asked the big fellow, “for your gallant rescue?’
“I do like pastry, ma’am,” the Truck offered.
“I am sure you do.” She smiled an even wider smile than before.
Next week: Will Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott ever make it to Egypt?