Previously Quills returned with a vengeance.
What do ghosts do while their mistress is on holiday? On the Haggismarshe Estate, it was summer, one of the most beautiful in years. The trees were filling out with their fruit. The planted crops were exactly where planted crops were supposed to be. The rain came when the rain was supposed to.
The staff were at their finest. The Manor House was spotless, a sparkling clean. Everything was prepared for her ladyship’s return whenever she desired. She had been a relief from the old fuddy-duddy Lord Dunnville Percival Wimpleseed-Prissypott. At first, they thought she would be a disaster. Two old pissy-pots instead of one. When they first learned that she was American, all had frowned. Even the seldom-frowning butler, Charles, frowned. Americans could be such savages.
Then they met her ladyship. They were duly impressed. She was young, vibrant, alive and breathing. The alive-and-breathing part impressed them the most. They genuinely liked her ladyship and were sad for her when she moped around the estate after old fuddy’s demise. When she left to go abroad, they were glad. Not for their sake, but for hers. It just wasn’t natural to have all that money and titles and be so melancholy. The death of old Wimpleseed-Prissypott must have been hard on the young bride. Her ladyship ought to have some fun.
For the ghost, Benjamin Patrick Nutt, her ladyship was an even more glorious experience. An American. Finally a fellow countryman, or in her case, countrywoman. So that summer he came out of his normal dingy, damp places. He’d even taken to having a spot of ghostly tea with the other two manor house ghosts, Earl Grey Wimpleseed and Sir Long John Longjohn Prissypott. During one of their ghostly teas, B. P. commented, “I miss those mighty fine bosoms. Mighty fine bosoms indeed.” The other two ghosts agreed.
When B. P. walked the halls, he would spring a bright “Howdy” on any human he came into contact with. It was not a boo-ish howdy or a howlingish howdy, rather the kind of howdy you say if you are in the peak of happiness. As he was. Unbelievably happy. The summer evenings after tea he went out on the Manor House lawn and lay in the hammock and dreamed of her ladyship’s return.
Then late one afternoon, a rider for the Headless Horseman Post Service came with the mail. To say that Benjamin Patrick Nutt, Earl Grey Wimpleseed and Sir Long John Longjohn Prissypott were surprised to see Headless would be an understatement. There had been no ghostly communication between Haggismarshe’s ghosts and the rest of the ghost world in forty or fifty years. The last mail they received had been about the conversion of Scrooge. The three had been happy about that. They had known how much it meant to the Marleys.
Headless approached the three as they were finishing their afternoon tea. He handed B. P. a letter. It was from Giles Gilesworth, the limping ghost butler at the Times. Ghosts did not receive letters from Giles unless the news was exceedingly disturbing. One could see the glee on Giles’ face as he wrote the letter. It had been such a long time since he had had anything of consequence to communicate to the English Ghost World. He felt like a weatherman during a hurricane. “I am sorry to report how bad the hurricane is. But I have a job to do. And, oh yes, I have a job.”
B. P. cut the seal and opened the letter. He read:
“I am so sorry to disturb you in your summer idyll. But I thought it urgent to communicate that the House of Lords is considering revoking Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott’s title and lands. They feel that the marriage was never consummated and should be annulled. But all is not hopeless. She has allies in the Lords and Her Majesty, the Queen, has taken an interest. This has been reported to me by the House of Lords’ very own ghost, Gregory of Hecklestag. Giles, ‘The Times’.”
The American ghost read the communiqué a second time. A frown crossed what existed of his face. Earl Grey Wimpleseed and Sir Long John Longjohn Prissypott each read it aloud. They were all trying to absorb the disturbing news. It was not that disturbing to Earl Grey and Sir Long John but they were distressed about their friend. Before the news, they had never seen B.P. in such a happy state. Now this news. What were they going to do?
No one called the Prime Minister Irving from Swirving any longer. No one called the Prime Minister four eyes any longer. No one called the Prime Minister the little man any longer. No one called the Prime Minister short cakes either. He was called Prime Minister or the PM for short.
A man of the people, he had come by his power and position the hard way. He had earned it, rising through the party ranks rung by rung. He began life as an orphan like Oliver Twist. Early on, he realized that he was either going to be condemned to a life of pickpocketry and theft or he would have to take his fate into his own hands and become a politician. He chose the second.
And now all that he had achieved was at risk. All because of some aristocrat called Wimpleseed-Prissypott. My God, the country seemed overrun by the titled breed. They grew like weeds. What must Lords be thinking to get the Queen all in a tizzy? This did not look good.
The Prime Minister’s carriage pulled up at Number 10. He stepped out and headed to the door. His Personal Secretary was waiting in his office.
“Prime Minister,” the P. S. said as the P. M. entered his office. “You look white as a ghost. What happened?”
The Prime Minister poured himself a good stiff drink, drank it and then poured another. “The Lords have gone and done it.”
“Done what, sir?”
He downed the second drink, then he sat down on the couch in the middle of the room.
“I don’t know. But those nincompoops are up to some skullduggery or other. That’s what you have to find out, P. S. We have to get control of this thing or it will be the end of us. Not only me. The Party as well.”
“But the Queen?” P. S. said.
“Yes, the Queen. Wales has gotten the old bitty in a tizzy about something or other that the Lords is up to. All I know is that it affects a Prissypott.”
“What is a Wissywott?”
“It’s a Prissypott. You need to go up to Lords and take a bit of a look around. See what our spies have to say.”
“Sir, did you get a chance to talk to Her Majesty about that other matter we discussed?”
“No, I didn’t get past this Prissypott matter.”
“The Duke of Pimpletonia said that it was urgent that Her Majesty be informed. Her life could very well be in danger.”
Next Week All is not well aboard the S. S. Twit