Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott # 39: A Jolly Right Good Well-Earned Happily Ever After

Previously our heroine took matters into her own hands, or should I say her fists. 

When Quills saw our heroine’s bosoms coming out of the carriage, he knew he was in love. “I say,” he said.

When our heroine, her ladyship Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott, caught a sight of Quills’ deep blue eyes, she knew she was in love. He was the One. The Mr. Right she had been looking for. “Well, well, well,” she said.

Escorted by the future Sir Pip, a chip off the old Flip of Flip, Fop & Flimby, Solicitors at Law, the three of them returned to Merry Olde England by way of Paris. The Eiffel Tower and the Seine were lovely that time of year in that particular year. “Jolly good,” they said. “It’s all so whimsical.”

In the meantime, Pip’s father, the Flip of the chip off the old block, had been redeemed from the poorhouse. He was knighted for having such a good son. After he returned to England, he was made the new Chief of the Defense Staff.

James Bond 007 was thrown into the Tower of London, only to be released by the good office of Her Majesty QE2 some sixty years later. The queen was honoring the request of her very brave servant, his great grandson after the defeat of Oddjob and Goldfinger, Moonraker and Dr. No. By that time the grandfather had prostate and couldn’t piss worth a damn.

As far as the Wah Wah League was concerned, The Mighty Paddington The Iranian Cubist Assassin was killed by the Royal Marines for trying to escape. Father Jerome and Mother Superior Sarah were thrown deep under a Spanish prison. Doctor Qwackers was de-doctored for his quackery and sent off to the Australian Outback where he had a run-in with Crocodile Dundee.

Only Mata Hari somehow escaped. Guess she shook her hips and some low-ranking soldier let her slip through his hands. After all, what manly man could resist those hips. Of course, she would turn up some years later in France, spying for the Kaiser. The Times went under new management, put in its place for all the two-timing two-timingness.

Argyle Mactavish won his election with an overwhelming majority. The House of Lords came under Sir Myles di Fussye-Pants’ leadership and dumped any legislation that denied Lady P. P. her rightful title and lands. The ghosts marched back to their homes and took well-deserved rests. All the marching and gathering and convocating had tired them out.

On the day of the arrival of her ladyship and Quills in London, the Prime Minister was sitting for his Prime Minister portrait. But he got up and watched the ticker tape parade of Quills and her ladyship through London to Buckingham Palace.

“Welcome to Bucky, my humble abode,” Queen Victoria said as she happily met her two favorites at the door. “Let me show you to the Lincoln Bedroom where you will be staying while here.”

“Oh, we have a Lincoln Bedroom in the White House too,” Lady P. P. said, after she stopped her curtseying.

“Yes, I know,” the queen said. “But this isn’t that Lincoln. This is Sir Abraham Lincoln. Freed the slaves, you know.”

“Don’t contradict a queen,” Lady P. P. said under her breath. “Don’t contradict a queen.” She continued on the Grand Tour through Bucky.

It was spring and London Society was out and about and ready to begin its season. Usually the season ended with the best of the galas. This year was to be different. The Queen, Her Majesty herself, was throwing out the first ball. It was to be a gala in honor of the engagement of Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott of Haggismarshe and Quills Loopsey.

It was to be the evening after she awarded Quills the Barony of Duffield. The old Baron Duffield was sent packing off to India and one of the Hill Stations with the low rank of private in Her Majesty’s Services. Also she awarded Lady P. P. the Award of the Grand Poohbah, the highest honor in the land. There were moans and groans among some of the society folk. They were not happy that a commoner, Two Ems, Mrs. Sir Myles di Fussye-Pants, had been made the new Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen. “How dare her. To promote an American to such an illustrious position,” they gossiped.

The Queen’s retort, “I’m the Queen and Empress of India, right?” Everybody agreed. “Then I can promote whoever I want. Or is that whomever? Oh, whatever. Am I right or nay?”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” they said, but still they gossiped.

The public of course was ga-ga at all the gowns and black ties and that sort of thing. Society’s best was at the Her Majesty’s gala. The lords and ladies, the great and the important, the bigwigs and the littlewigs from all over arrived in their carriages and their carriagettes.

Queen Victoria, Her Imperial Majesty, Empress of India, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Egypt and Lots-of-Other-Places, was the last to arrive. The Old Lady marched in to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” with all the pomp and circumstance in her dignified personage she could muster.  She was all smiles, bowing her head to this and that person as she passed them kneeling before her majestic personage. Then she took her place on the throne at the front of the Great Ballroom on the Thames.

Quills and her ladyship, Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott, began the ball with the first dance, boogeying to the “Tallyho Waltz.” Of course, it was a kind of foxtrot. Over in the corner completely ashamed of themselves was Quills’ father, Sir Hackle Loopsey, and his oldest son, Chessie doing what Chessie always did. Being a perfect foppish fop with his head up his rump, and such a big rump it was. Beside them was Flimby, Sir Loopsey’s terrier dog, and he was a real pisser. He had already managed to piss on the ballroom curtains not once, not twice, but three times.

John Smith, our heroine’s Daddykins, was enjoying this magical night immensely. He had his “sweet little Mawy Contwawy” back and she had found true love. What more could a daddykins want. Margaret “Moms” Smith was complaining about this or that or the other. She was never satisfied. But everybody ignored her.

Sir Myles and Two Ems were enjoying the repartee of Sir Alec Alec of Delphelic, an archaeologist, entertaining his listeners, “Mummies and all, you know. And daddies too, tallyho.” And off he went, tallyho-ing with Sarah Bernhardt of French fame. As they tallyhoed around the room, one lady said to another, “I say, isn’t she too well-endowed?”

Another said back at the first, “And she isn’t endowed enough.”

“Oh, you’re too too peek-a-boo,” still another lady commented.

“And you’re not peek-a-boo enough,” another came back with another comment.

“You’re so Britney Spears,” one fashionista said.

“I say, you’ve done yourself so Madonnaesque,” a high-born lady said back at her.
And away they went, dancing the tallyho across the floor. The women jumped on the back of their male partners and yelled, “Tallyho.” Their menfolk galloped back and forth across the ball room.

By the end of the night, all attendees had a jolly good time. They had nipped their share of the punch, partaken in caviar and all such gourmet stuffs that happen to be served at these kinds of high class affairs.

Several days later, Quills and Marye Caterina became a Mr. and Mrs. in a simple ceremony at the queen’s own chapel. Only a few friends were in attendance. The parents of both, the queen, Sir Myles and Two Ems and, of course, Argyle Mactavish.

After the “I doeses”, the happy couple were off to Haggismarshe Manor House to greet servants and ghosts and ask for their blessing. Of course, ghosts and servants gave it to Lord Baron Quilip “Quills” David Armistead Loopsey of Duffield and Lady Baroness Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott Loopsey of Duffield and Haggismarshe.

And the happy couple lived happily ever after into their old age. They had four children, ten grandchildren and any number of great grandchildren before they were off to join the long-gone Smiths, Loopseys, Wimpleseeds and Prissypotts in that large banquet hall where the aristocracy is known to banquet.

Sometime later, the Coast Guard Cutter U.S.S. Lizzie Borden found the dead body of Lord Dunville Percival Wimpleseed Prissypott of Haggismarshe floating off the coast of South Carolina. How that body arrived off the coast of South Carolina is a whole other tale left for another time.

***

The writer sat back, lit himself a cigar and grinned. He had come to the end of his tome, The Absolutely Unbelievable Endearing Adventures of Lady Marye Wimpleseed-Prissypott. Somehow, he worked through all the jokes, and all the times when he didn’t want to write the damned thing. It was done, and he was a happy man. He saved his work and closed the file.

He went to the kitchen, took a grand puff on his cigar and a drink of the pinot he poured. Soon the glass was empty. He poured a second glass and walked back to his computer with a big smile on his face. 51,717 words. He was indeed proud of himself.

Lady Whats-her-name had adventures up the wazoo and who knew? Maybe the next novel might bring more adventures. He had only one more thing to do. Upload his words to his online drive. Before he did, there was just one itsy-bitsy change he wanted to make. Change THE END to FINALE. He sat down at the computer, opened the file that contained his grand saga and looked at the page. He was stunned.

The words, all 51,717 of them, had been erased. Where was his work, his month of staying up late and typing out nonsense into the word processor? Hours of trying to think up crap for a useless extravaganza of an exercise.

He stared at the monitor. Suddenly a big mouth appeared on his screen. It said in the crudest possible way, “I’m hungry and I want more words. More words, if you please.”

FINALE

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Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott # 38: The Barcelona Tango

Previously, the Prime Minister executed a plan and it wasn’t pretty. Not pretty, at all. Quills has followed the Mighty Paddington to the Convent where Lady P. P. is being held hostage. 

Quills heard the dandy’s voice as it threatened someone at the top of the stairs of the convent. He would have liked to race up the stairs but Hector would have said, “Wait, mi hermano. Bide your time. Your patience may save your life.” So, Quills held back at the bottom of the stairs.

A woman’s voice came down to him. “Leave me alone,” she said. Quills recognized the voice as someone he had heard before. But when? Who? He couldn’t recall.

On the top of the stairs, the dandy, The Mighty Paddington, The Iranian Cubist Assassin, grabbed the woman by the arm and pulled her down the hall.

“Leave me alone,” the woman, Mary-Mary Smith also known as Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott, said louder, wandering why the nuns on the second floor did not burst out of their bedrooms and come up to rescue her from this villainous man. Then it came to her. The nuns were all on a week’s retreat at their sister house in Madrid.

“What are you doing?” she said to the man who was dragging her to Mother Superior’s office.

“Never you mind,” the villain said. “The question is not what am I doing. Rather it is what were you doing?”

“I heard voices,” she said, struggling to loose her arm from the man’s grip. “They woke me up. I came up here to see. When I realized it was Mother Superior and Father Jerome, I was on my way back to bed. Let me loose so I can go back to my room and go to sleep.”

“None of us may get any sleep tonight,” he said, pulled open the door to Mother Superior’s office and pushed Lady P. P. inside. He followed. “My friends, I caught a spy. This little thing was listening at your door.”

A breeze eased through the latticework of the office as a full moon stood outside unaware of the danger inside the convent. Father Jerome, Mother Superior, the Doctor and Mata Hari were raising their glasses of wine to toast their success. They all stopped.

Mata Hari saw her ladyship; her ladyship saw Mata Hari.

“You,” Mata Hari said.

The fog of our heroine’s amnesia cleared, and the sun of her memory returned. Her ladyship remembered Mata Hari on the Orient Express, and her threat. She remembered that she was an English lady. She remembered the British ambassador refusing to believe her tale in Istanbul. She remembered Smythie Smathers’s words on the S. S. Twit. She remembered the sinking of the S. S. Twit. She remembered all that she had learned from her daddykins about self-defense.

“You,” Lady P. P. said, now free from the dandy’s grasp.

Mata Hari gave The Mighty Paddington, The Iranian Cubist Assassin, one of her come hither looks that seemed to say, “Take care of this bitch and I will give you some.” His legs almost gave in but he held his stand. He knew he could never trust a woman who carried a Wise & Heimer the way Mata Hari did.

Before Mighty could stop her, her ladyship was across the room. She formed a fist and drew back and rammed that fist right into Mata Hari’s nose, knocking the fatale out of her femme and off her feet. She turned and jumped in the air, like a martial artist, and slammed her left foot into The Mighty Paddington’s groin.

The priest, Mother Superior and Doctor Qwackers cowered in the corner. This was more than they had bargained. Her ladyship was like a lioness protecting her young. She had caught her Wah Wah League’s adversaries unawares.

Then Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott made for the door. She grabbed its knob. Quills pulled the door open and the momentum threw our heroine out of the room and down the hallway. She crashed through the latticework and off the ledge. She grabbed the ledge with one hand.

Quills rushed down the hall and over to the window. “What happened?”

“You threw me down the hall when you opened the door,” her ladyship said, hanging on for her life. Quills suddenly remembered where he had heard that voice. Gibraltar.

He went to reach for her hand. Behind him, he heard a noise. He turned and saw The Mighty Paddington coming for him. Mighty threw the first punch. It missed Quills. Quills threw the second punch. It hit Mighty squarely on the chin. Mata Hari drew her Wise & Heimer. She took aim but across the room came a knife to take out the gun in her hand. It was Pip, a chip off the old Flip of Flip, Fop & Flimby, Solicitors at Law. He ran up behind Mighty and knocked the dandy out with his pistol.

As Pip forced Mother Superior, Father Jerome and the doctor into a closet and locked it, Quills returned to the ledge to rescue her ladyship. But she was gone. She had fallen. He looked below to see a man throwing her body across his shoulders and hurrying off to a carriage.

“That must be 007,” Pip said from behind Quills. “We have to stop him. He’s working for The Times and he means to either kill her ladyship or ship her off to God-knows-where.”

“Let’s go,” Quills said rushing out of the office. “I’ve been to God-knows-where and that’s no place to be sent.”

Pip was right behind him as he took the stairs three at a time. They ran out of the building.

“I have horses waiting,” Pip said. “They’re around the corner.”

They made for the horses and rode down the cobblestone street where James Bond’s carriage had gone. The carriage raced toward the piers of the port of Barcelona. He was heading to a ship owned by The Times.

The horses came closer and closer to the carriage. From the carriage came gunshots. Bullets whizzed by Pip and Quills, barely missing.

“I thought this Bond was supposed to be a good shot,” Pip said to Quills as the two raced their horses nearer the carriage. One of the bullets breezed past an inch from his ear.

“He’s getting better and better,” Pip yelled back at Quills.

Quills and Pip closed in on the carriage. More bullets, and they realized that it was the driver that was firing. Seemed that James Bond 007 had his hands full, fighting her ladyship in the carriage. Pip aimed his revolver. He dropped the driver.

Now the carriage was a runaway. Quills pulled up beside the carriage and past it until he reached the horses. He was about to jump onto the carriage horses when they swerved in the opposite direction and turned up another street. As they did, the carriage came crashing down on its side and slid half a block further.

“Oh no,” Quills halted his horse and wheeled it around. “Oh no.”

Pip was already thinking what Quills was thinking. Her ladyship was dead in the carriage, or at the very least badly injured. Pip jumped down from his horse.

“Get off me, you turd,” Pip heard from inside the carriage. “I mean, you cad. Oh shit. I meant what I said the first time. Turd. You’re an incredibly bad turd too.”

Whack, whack came the sounds from inside the carriage. Quills and Pip were at the carriage door at the same time. Popping out of the carriage door was her ladyship.

“Would you kind gentlemen help a lady out of this carriage please?”

Next week, true love.

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott # 37: Prime Minister Executes His Plan

Previous, the Prime Minister met with the Queen. 

The Prime Minister was in the loveliest of moods as he stepped into his carriage to return to Number 10. The ride from Buckingham Palace back to his residence was one of the happiest he had ever made. Usually he was in a foul mood. The audiences with Her Majesty had always gone at the very least not well. This one had gone extraordinary well. Now all he had to do was implement the plan he, Pip and Sir Myles had worked out in secret the last evening at the Prime Minister’s Table in the Commons Diner.

For an autumn day, the sun was especially warm, shining down its favoritism upon him. He drove through St. James Park and watched the pelicans. The lake was an especially lovely shade of blue that autumn day as his carriage made its way down the Mall and past Whitehall and on.

As his carriage arrived at Number 10, Sir Myles was waiting for him at the door. “Are they all in there?” he asked.

“They are indeed, Argyle,” Sir Myles said, shaking his friend’s hand. “They are indeed. Did Her Majesty agree to The Plan?”

“She did. Every last line of it. She thinks it is a great strategy. And I am now completely in her favor. So, let’s go and do our dirty work. I am going to enjoy this.”

The Prime Minister, followed by Sir Myles, walked into his Cabinet Room. All his ministers stood.

“Prime Minister, what is he doing here?” the Chief of Defense Staff demanded.

“Sit, gentlemen,” the Prime Minister said. “I most assuredly am going to sit. I hate to do dirty work standing.”

His Cabinet took their places at the big round wooden table that some attributed to going back to the Round Table at Camelot. The men were very unsettled. What was going on?

“Prime Minister, I asked you a question?” the Chief of Defense Staff demanded a second time, gesturing toward Sir Myles sitting at the Prime Minister’s side.

“Oh, Sir Myles has a new portfolio,” the Prime Minister said, his hands resting peacefully on the round table made of sturdy oak. “He will be assuming the duties of the Defense Ministry and the Defense Staff. He will be both the Defense Secretary and the Chief of the Defense Staff.”

The Cabinet was stunned.

“What? You can’t do that, Argyle Mactavish,” the Defense Secretary protested.

“That’s right,” the Chief of the Defense Staff joined in. “Your government will fall if you lose our support.”
“’Tis true,” Prime Minister said. “My government will fall. But you know what? You are both sacked. And so are the rest of you. You have plotted against my government for the last time. I demanded your loyalty and you gave me treason. Tomorrow morning Her Majesty will announce the dissolution of Parliament and the call for new elections.”

“Her Majesty can’t do that,” the Chancellor of the Exchequer stood up and shouted. “She does not have the power. The public will go mad.”

“Oh, but she does have the power,” the Prime Minister said smiling. “She has not exercised that power in many years. We are, after all, a constitutional monarchy, and Her Majesty is still the Head of State.”

“The public won’t stand for it,” the Chancellor sat back down. “Besides you need our support to win an election. Without it, you are a done-for.”

“I’m afraid, Thurston,” the Prime Minister addressed his Chancellor of the Exchequer directly, “that you will be the done-for. When the public finds out what you had in store for Lady Wimpleseed Prissypott, how you plotted to take her life, you gentlemen will be the done-fors.”

“But you can’t prove that,” the Defense Secretary interjected.

“Oh, yes, I can, Charles.” The Prime Minister reached down into his briefcase and pulled out several cables addressed to the British Ambassador in Spain. They instructed him to instruct 007 James Bond to carry out the order of The Times to make her ladyship disappear. One way or another.

“You bastard,” the Personal Assistant to the Prime Minister said. “How dare you?”

“No, P. A., how dare you? So, gentlemen, you have till midnight to have your desks cleaned out. We, the queen and I, are making a clean sweep. Tomorrow is about to be a new day.”

Each of the Cabinet members stood and marched out the door. The Home Secretary stopped and turned back to the Prime Minister. “I am sorry, Argyle,” he said. There were tears in his eyes. “The devil made me do it. And you know what a taskmaster he can be.”

“Holsteen, you should have listened,” the Prime Minister said to his former friend, “to the angels of your better nature. For your own good and for the good of your country.”

The Personal Assistant was the last to leave. “Prime Minister, I promise you that you will regret this,” he said, glaring at his former boss. “I promise you that. The Times will destroy you.”

“P. A., before it’s over,” Sir Myles said on behalf of his friend, “The Times will no longer be The Times. I assure you of that.”

Next week, To Rescue or Not to Rescue.

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott # 36: The Prime Minister Prime Ministering

Previously, a ghostly rebellion.

Her Imperial Majesty, the Empress of India, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Egypt and Lots-of-Other-Places, Queen Victoria’s face was serene, and at peace. She sat in her very large queen chair, her throne if you will. She sat in the Queen’s Audience Chamber in one of her many long black mourning dresses with their white lace, her white hair done up in a large bun the way she liked. Across her lap lay the edge of a large fabric the size of the Bayeux. It was one the queen had been knitting since the first anniversary of her husband Albert’s death. It contained many scenes from his life.

At the center of the fabric was a portrait of a handsome vigorous Albert. Scenes from his life circled that portrait, scenes of Albert hunting, Albert teaching, Albert riding, Albert freeing slaves, Albert advising his queen and his wife in manners of state, Albert being as handsome as Albert could be. The section she was working on this day was Prince Albert and the Great Exhibition of 1851. Just looking at her soul mate, though only a portrait and not the real thing, still gave her goosebumplings.

The look on Her Majesty’s face was one of reliving those days some thirty-odd years earlier. Of late, she had been working very hard to finish the fabric that had required most of her life since. She wanted it completed before her death, and she had come to realize she did not have that many more years to spare.

The queen looked up at the door of her Audience Chamber. The Prime Minster stood waiting for her to recognize his presence.

“Prime Minister, why do you disturb us in our time of respite? We thought we were quite clear. We do not wish to see the Prime Minister again. You can confer with our Personal Adjutant if you desire to convey a matter to Her Majesty.”

“Yes, Your Majesty. I understand. But your Personal Adjutant thought this should be a matter for Her Majesty’s ears. I have news of the gravest of matters. It is a matter that only Your Majesty can address. No one else.” The Prime Minister was making every effort to salve the queen’s ego and hoping his strategy worked.

“Dear Bertie is dead, and you have news. What news can be more disturbing than the death of our beloved husband?”

“None, Your Majesty, none. The thing is that I have good news and bad news.”

“Good news? Yes, we could use some good news. Autumn is always in need of good news. What is your good news, Prime Minister.”

“Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott of Haggismarshe is alive.”

“That is not what The Times has reported. And you must know that The Times never reports anything falsely. If The Times reports it, it is not fake news. It must be true.”

“I agree,” the Prime Minister said. “May I approach Your Majesty’s Person and relay the full details?”

“Well, if you must, you must,” the queen said impatiently. This was nothing new. She was always impatient with prime ministers. They were the bane of her existence, the sore tooth she never seemed able to pull. All but one that is. His name was Benjamin Disraeli. The worst of the bunch had been Gladstone.

This Argyle Mactavish was no better or worse than the rest of the lot. So, she supposed she could be patient. But he had better hurry. She had more important things to do, like knitting. And oh, she must do some gardening and possibly some riding. Yes, riding with the memory of John Brown at her side was always an enjoyable experience for the elderly queen, none more enjoyable. “But please do not push my patience. I have the work of state to do as you must know.” Her head pointed toward the fabric on her lap.
The Prime Minister stepped over to her side, careful not to step on the large fabric spread out on the floor in front of her person.

“I too thought the news of her ladyship was wrong. That I was being given hopeful news that would later turn into nothing but a rumor. But I have an eyewitness. One in our service in Spain.”

“What does Spain and those Spaniards have to do with Lady Marye Caterina?” Her Majesty wanted to know. Her curiosity was beginning to arise. She had started to listen to the Prime Minister’s news. She continued her knitting but her knitting had slowed to a snail’s pace.

The Prime Minister took a position, sitting down on the carpet beside his queen’s chair. “Your Majesty, it seems that when the S. S. Twit went down, her ladyship somehow escaped. Our investigations have revealed that she is a very good swimmer. A very good swimmer indeed. She was able to swim to the coast of Spain, just south of Barcelona. Evidently, she wandered into the district of Sant Monjuic. There she was taken in by a priest. She is resting comfortably in a convent. But my understanding is that she has amnesia, Your Majesty.”

“Amnesia?” The queen’s interest was indeed perked up. “Is she in good health? We do hope she is in good health.”

“She is. But, Your Majesty, her life is in great danger. From two sources.”

“No, Prime Minister, tell me it isn’t so. The death of Little Nell and now this. I don’t think my heart can take it.”

“But it is, Your Majesty. I am afraid it is. The church and the convent she is staying at is the headquarters of the Wah Wah League. There are those in our government who want to take her out. Otherwise she will become a bargaining chip for that dastardly piece of barbarism that the League is.”

“Can you save her ladyship. Oh, I do hope so.”

“We do have a plan.”

“Oh, goody two shoes.”

“There is a second problem,” the Prime Minister continued. “It is The Times. Even if we save her, The Times will deny her existence and try to make her disappear. They cannot allow their reputation to be burnished that way. They have infiltrated my government at every level and are out to destroy any effort I might make to save her ladyship. And Lords is back at its old tricks, trying to take her title and her lands should she return. Of course, when it comes to Lords, there is hope.”

“Hope, Prime Minister?” Her Majesty asked. What hope could there be? For years, the queen had allowed Lords to run the show. Until now, they had never asserted their power over the queen’s desire. The queen had sent down messages to the Lords that she was interested in the welfare of Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott of Haggismarshe. American-born or not, her ladyship was still one of her subjects. And she, the queen, was the Mother of All Her People. How dare Lords challenge her prerogative. They would regret this.

“Westminster is surrounded by the Gathering of Ghosts. The lords of Lords can neither leave nor enter. They are trapped, and they don’t have a quorum to do their business. All sorts of mischief has broken out down there. The ghosts throughout the realm have gathered in favor of her ladyship. But you know how stubborn Lords can be. Ghosts or no ghosts, they will not give in easily.”

“So, what do you intend to do?”

“I need your help, Your Majesty.”

“How can a weak old woman such as ourself help?” Her Imperial Highness desired to know.

“You can dissolve Commons and call for new elections.”

“But it isn’t done, Prime Minister. You know that. The House of Commons would be wailing about interference from the throne. You know yourself that Commons is very protective of its prerogatives.”

“I do indeed, Your Majesty,” the Prime Minister interjected. “I do indeed. But, when Your Majesty acts in concert with my government, it will not be thought of as interference. It will be thought of as support against the overthrow of Commons by the Lords. Lords plans to install its own government with Sir Myles di Fussye-Pants at its head. Thank God, I have Sir Myles at my side. Lords thought they had him in the palm of their hands. After all, he comes from one of the oldest families in the realm. But he is a very independent thinker. Nothing could gladden him more than the defeat of this plan of Lords.”

“Why does Sir Myles support you, Prime Minister?” the queen wanted to know.

“He finds all this conspiracy against her ladyship distasteful. As you know, he has an American wife, the former EmmiliaLouise Muddytenstein-in-the-Alps. And he is allied with a number of aristocracy with foreign wives. If Lords pulls this off, that will be the end of aristocratic marriages to wealth. No wealthy American worth her salt will marry an English aristocrat without access to his title. Sir Myles will be supporting the new elections.”

“I certainly don’t understand why Lords has gone down this suicidal path,” the queen commented.

“It does seem like suicide, Your Majesty. That is for sure. But they are doing it in the name of Tradition. They don’t want to see the country sold off to foreigners.”

“I see, Prime Minister. I do see. Yes, you have our support. I will have the Lord Chamberlain draw up the papers immediately.”

“Thank you, Your Majesty,” the Prime Minister said.

“No, Prime Minister,” the queen said. “Thank you.”

Then Her Imperial Majesty, the Empress of India, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Egypt and Lots-of-Other-Places, Queen Victoria did something extraordinary. She stood up. She never stood up for a prime minister. With one exception, of course. That exception being Benjamin Disraeli whom she loved as she loved one of her children. The queen stood up for Argyle Mactavish. She gave him her hand to kiss. He kissed it and rose at her insistence.

“Now, Your Majesty, I must return to Number 10. I have some firings that are in order.” He bowed and backed out of the Audience Chamber.

Next Week, the Prime Minister does his thing.

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott # 35: Running Amuckski

Previously, Quills Takes Charge

The ghost, B. P. Nutt, lay in the hammock behind the Haggismarche Manor house. It was such a lovely autumn day, the kind of day that you think heaven must be made of. The morning was a bit misty as autumn mornings tend to be. But the mist had cleared away and the afternoon sun was a nice toasty warm wiping away the chill that came with this sort of season. The ghost swung the hammock easily back and forth to the rhythm of “Get along little dogies”, his favorite song.

Elsewhere in the world, the times on the Thames was the kind that made for a jolly good swim, the weather being what it was. America had sent over a new ambassador and he had presented his affectations at the Court of St. James. The Queen’s race horse, Tallyho, had tallyhoed his way to winning at Ascot.

Jack the Rapper was rapping about the streets of London at night, and he had all the prostitutes scared out of their pantaloons. Though they were often out of their pantaloons, this was different. That was for business, this new threat seemed downright scary. If a whore couldn’t trust a client, who could she trust? Certainly not the police.

It was an age of technological advancement. The world had been introduced to new and newer inventions at unbelievable speed. Henry Augustus Glump became world famous and extremely rich after his invention of the very popular backwards unicycle. It was a conservative invention. Instead of moving forward, folks were returning to the scene of the crime. Those bikes were taking them back to the Crimean War and the charge of the Light Brigade. Pretty soon they would be back at Waterloo and that would be their waterloo.

Sir John Crapper kept waking up to the sound of his wife rushing to the outhouse, singing, “Got to go. Got to go. Got to go.” So, it was the indoor toilet for her and nothing less. Phineas Fogg, upon returning from his eighty days around the world, won the International Tournament of Whist. His prize, a trip around the world. What could be more appropriate?

The world was doing what it normally does. Getting on with itself and letting everything else get on with itself too. And B. P. was a happy ghost. His howling howdies had been flipped on their butts and came out with a smile and a jest. Ever since he returned from the Spirit World, he had been in a right-good, jolly good mood. Nothing but nothing could break down his wall of merriment. He was having a good time and he wanted everybody at Haggismarshe Manor House to know it. He floated out of his hammock and did himself a jig.

“What are you doing there, you fool of a ghost?” Butler said.

“I’m doing a Texas broad jump,” the ghost said, feeling the breeze sneak under his sheetlike exterior. It tickled but it felt pretty darn good. “What does it look like, you fool of a butler? “

“It looks like you are head over heels in love with your own ectoplasm,” Butler said.

“Why don’t you go,” B. P. said, stopping his hammock from swinging, “and butle something and leave a ghost in peace?”

“Have you no brains?” Butler asked, standing there glaring through the apparition. Why was it always his job to clear things up?

“No brains here. After all, I am a ghost. Or didn’t you know?”

“I know. That’s why I am here.”

B. P. stopped his dancing and floated over to Butler. “Okay then. I give up. Why are you here?”

“Even though her ladyship is still alive, that doesn’t mean she will remain alive.”

“Oh,” B. P. said. “She’s in good hands. Giles, our Times man, says she’s safe in Spain. Has a bit of the amnesias. But otherwise she’s safe and sound. Staying in a convent. So relax.”

“Haven’t you realized,” Butler said, ‘that her ladyship may not have her position and lands when she returns to England. Lords, you know.”

Now he was curious. “What are y’all trying to imply?”

“The House of Lords has been on a rampage to take her title and lands away from her since Lord Wimpleseed Prissypott’s death. Once they find out that she is alive they will be after them again. We have to come up with a strategy to save her ladyship.”

“Pardner, you are absolutely, I mean absolutely right,” B. P. said, getting excited. “Wait here and I will get Earl Grey and Sir Long John Longjohn.”

B. P. was off, flying hither and thither and yonder until he came across Earl Grey in the Master Bedroom. He rustled up Sir Long John Longjohn out of the kitchen pantry. He was having a snack. The three headed back to the hammock. Butler was waiting.

“What’s so urgent?” Earl Grey yawned. “I was hibernating right nicely.”

“I was about to have an Earl of Sandwich,” Sir Long John said.

“Y’all, we have a problem,” B. P. said.

“Just because her ladyship,” Butler said, “is alive doesn’t mean we’re out of hot water. We may lose her still.”

“How can that be?” both Earl Grey and Sir Long John said in unison.

“The House of Lords may vote it so,” Butler said.

“Oh, yes, Lords,” Earl Grey said.

“I forgot about Lords,” Sir Long John said. “Oh, what oh what can we do?”

“I’ve an idea,” Earl Grey said. “It’s not been done for centuries. The last time was against the Armada and the Spanish. But we might be able to pull it off.”

“How so?” Butler said.

“You’re right,” Sir Long John said. “It might work.”

“What might work?” B. P. said.

“A Gathering of the Ghosts,” Earl Grey said.

“What the—“ B. P. went to ask.

“My exact sentiment,” Butler said.

“It works like this,” Earl Grey said. “We call a Convocation of Ghosts at the House of Lords. Ghosts from all over the British Isles will converge on Lords. We’ll surround Lords and won’t let the lords out until the situation with her ladyship is resolved. We’ll squeeze them until they pop. And pop they surely shall.”

“But we can’t leave the manor house,” B. P. said. “It’s hard enough for one of us to get permission. You are talking about all the ghosts in England.”

“And Scotland and Wales,” Earl Grey said. “You’ve done this before, Sir Long John. How shall we proceed?”

“We have to have a very urgent need,” Sir Long John said, “one of national import.”

“This is of national import,” Butler said. “If Lords can take her ladyship’s lands and title away, then no one is safe. No American girl will marry a English lord ever again. There won’t be the guarantee of a title. This movement is led by all those wives of lords who are British. They don’t care for the American incursion. The large estates will eventually be split up and die without the wealth these American women have to offer.”

“That’s national and emergency enough, boys,” B. P. threw his two cents in. “Don’t you think?”

“I say,” Earl Grey said. “I believe it is. Then we call a Gathering of Ghosts.”

“First we have to get permission,” Sir Long John said, “from the Riders of the Sky to approach the Spirits Council. Earl Grey, you were a solicitor. You prepare a brief, and make your brief brief. Please don’t be the windbag you are in these cases. If the Spirits Council agrees, there will be a Gathering of Ghosts, and Lords will never be the same. But we don’t have much time. I have one question for ye lads?”

“Yes?,” B. P., Butler, Earl Grey asked.

“Can I wear my kilts, mon?” Sir Long John asked.

“I would say kilts would be quite in order,” Earl Grey said.

“And I can get out my new stetson and my justins. It will be the biggest howdy old England has ever seen. I say we go for it.”

Earl Grey wrote the brief. The Riders in the Sky agreed that the three ghosts from Haggismarshe might have a relevant case for the Spirits Council. The Spirits Council listened in awe at what was being proposed. It had never been done in peace time. But dire times call for dire resourcefulnesses. The Spirit Council agreed. They unlocked the walls of all the haunted houses and castles throughout the British Isles. The ghosts flooded into the surrounding countryside as the rain poured down. It was a dark and stormy midnight.

From Dublin and the County Cork, from Ulster and Shannon, the ghosts left their abodes and trod. From the Highlands and the Lowlands, the ghosts proceded. From Dundee and Aberdeen, they trod. From Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester, they came. From Portsmouth and Plymouth and Cardiff, they walked. From Clwyd, Gwynnedd and Dyfed, they trooped.

They marched across the sea, They marched through forests and cities. They marched through the rain and the fog. They marched, and all of England knew there was something astir. Their trek led them through Hammersmith, Paddington and Kensington and onward, splashing their way to Westminster and the House of Lords. When they arrived at the Lords, they spread out in two directions, making a circle around the Palace. When the circle was completed, they began their howl.

“What is going on outside?” Baron Duffield asked his good friend, Sir Quinton Nobody, the Lord Mayor of London. Of course, the Lord Mayor did not have a clue. He couldn’t even guess. But the sound was very unpleasant.

“I say,” Sir Quinton said, “perhaps one of us should go outside and find out.”

“Whatever it is, it is downright scary,” the Baron said. “At least the rain has stopped. Thought we were going to need Noah and his ark.”

“You’d think somebody was on the warpath or something or the other.”

“I volunteer you, Quinton, old chap,” Duffield said. “to go find out. After all, it is your city. You are supposed to be keeping the plebeians in check. And when you check, keep your stiff upper lip. We would not want whatever it is to think that we were intimidated. We are not.”

Quinton walked slowly to the door and out into the great hallway and to the front of Westminster Palace, the home of kings of old. He came to the front door and turned to the doorman. “What is going on outside?”

“Ghosts, sir,” the doorman chattered. “Ghosts.”

“There’s no such thing as ghosts. I refuse to even fathom such a thing. It is unscientific.”

“Unscientific or not,” the doorman said, “there are ghosts out there. They are running amuck. We are unable to go in or out, sir.”

Next Week, Prime Minister informs the Queen.