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.

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Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott 26: The dead just won’t stay dead

Previously Johnny Eager led Mata Hari to the diamonds.

The three ghosts, Benjamin Patrick, Earl Grey, Sir Long John Longjohn, stalked the halls of Haggismarshe Manor House for days. They screeched out their howls, filling every corner of the house. They missed her ladyship, and they missed her bad.

“I miss her bosoms,” B. P. would cry when he came upon one of the servants.

“I miss her gentle voice,” Early Grey cried when he ran into anyone.

“I miss her kindness and optimism,” Sir Longjohns cried out when someone opened the closet door where he was hiding.

The noise was driving the servants out of their minds. Any employment was better than this ruckus.

“You’ve got to bring an end to this,” the housekeeper and the cook said to the butler in unison. “We are running out of aspirin.”

“Yes, I know,” the butler said. He sat in a chair in the kitchen with his head between his legs. “I have a migraine, and you’re not helping.”

“But—,” the housekeeper said and was interrupted.

“I plan to do something,” Butler said, lifting his head up momentarily. “I have a meeting scheduled with our three ghost friends tonight at midnight.”

“There had better be changes,” Cook said, “or I am leaving. I have been offered employment elsewhere and I will take it if this does not stop.”

At midnight, not a minute before, not a minute after, precisely midnight, Butler opened the Manor House Drawing Room door. He walked over to the bookshelf and pulled it open to reveal a passageway and stairs leading downward. Down, down, down he went until he came into a dark chamber deep in the bowels of the earth. Floating toward him across the large room at the bottom of the stairs was B. P. Floating under the ghost’s whisper of a body was Early Grey and Sir Long John Longjohn. The room was chilly, chilled to ghost comfort level. All three were sleeping the sleep of the dead, snoring, B. P. bu-bu-bupped every so often.

“All right, Ghosts,” Butler said. “Up!”

“Wha-wha-what?” the three ghosts said, rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, their ghostly bodies floating to attention.

“I thought,” Butler said, “we were to have a meeting. I am here. The three of you are sleeping.”

B. P. rubbed the sleep from his eyes, floated over to Butler and said, “Butler, we’re exhausted. All this howling and screeching is affecting our health. Pretty soon we’re going to have boo-boo flu if we keep this up, and Early is about to come down with banchee-itis. You know how afflicting that can be.”

Butler grimaced his frustration. “Why don’t you quit all the rigamarole and settle down then?”

“We can’t,” B. P. said. “It’s in our contract. The master and the mistress disappear. We have to raise a ruckus.”

“But you didn’t do that when the master, Lord Dunnie, died.”

“That was different, y’all,” B.P.  said. “We didn’t like him. He was an old fuddly duddly always fuddly duddlying around, disturbing us wherever we hid. And we know some good places to hide. Her ladyship was kind, respecting our dignity and our hiding places. Besides she had such wonderful bosoms.”

“But he was the master,” Butler protested, exasperated at the audacity of the ghosts to ignore the former master of the manor.

“We took a vote and we opted out. Even Sir Long John Longjohn voted that we not disturb the manor house when her ladyship was here. It would be downright rude. A regular Emily Post infraction.”

“Well, all this noise has got to stop,” Butler said. “We can’t go on like this. It is helping neither you ghosts nor we servants. What can we do about it?”

B.P.  turned and huddled over in a corner with his fellow ghosts. Butler heard low mumbles and whispers. The three went into the let-mes and soon progressed to the I-wannas.

“I want to go,” Early said, stiff-upper-lipping a whine at the end of the sentence.

“No, let me,” Long John pleaded.

“It’s going to be me,” B.P. interjected.

“But you get to have all the fun,” his two companions said.

“I’m the one with the horse,” B.P. closed the argument, “Paul Revere is not going to let either of you on his back.” Paul Revere was the name of B P’s horse. “Besides I am American. Americans get to have all the fun. It’s written into our DNA. So it’s me.”

“Alas,” Earl said to Long John, “’tis true. The journey does require a horse. Otherwise it would take over a century to make the trip.”

“By the time you got back,” B. P. pointed out, “her ladyship definitely would be passed. Then what would be the point of going in the first place.”

“Oh,” Long John let out a long sigh. “But I get to be the one the next time.”

“If there is a next time,” Earl said.

“There is always a next time,” Long John said, then smiled.

Finally the huddle ended. B.P.  floated over to Butler. “We think we have a solution. We’ve decided one of us must go to the World Beyond and visit. Find out if she really has passed over.”

“She has died,” Butler protested. “She drowned. All the papers said so.”

“When a master or mistress passes over into our world, we receive a message from the Grand Ghost Council. None has come informing us of her demise. “

“I thought you received,” Butler said, “a note from Giles, The Times ghost.”

“He only communicated what he read in the papers. This has been what upset us so much. A lack of finality.

“Whatever it takes, get to it,” Butler said. He left the room and climbed the long winding stairs to the above world.

So it was decided. B.P. was the one to walk the plank over into that shadowy shadow world between mortality and the beyond. First he needed a pass and that was never easy to get. He met with the Ghost Riders of the Sky. They hovered above Haggismarshe Manor House and considered the circumstances. After a long deliberation of minutes, they agreed. B.P. was given permission to leave Haggismarshe Manor House.

It was midnight as it always is when a ghost leaves the house he or she is assigned to haunt. B.P. gave his buddies a “‘see ya, fellows.” He stepped into the stirrups, then crawled up onto the saddle of his ghost horse, Paul Revere. Then he yelled, “Two if by land, one if by sea.”

“Why the heck did I say that?” he wondered. “Why didn’t I say hi-yo Silver and away instead.”

The horse took off, making for the invisible wall, that wall that is a prison holding the ghosts inside and the world outside. At the wall, Paul Revere slowed his gait to a stop. Showing his pass to the wall, it divided, allowing the two to ease out into the rain. It always rains when ghosts leave their assigned posts. This night was no different.

Over land and over sea the horse galloped, his master firmly settled into the saddle on his back. B.P. was thoroughly enjoying the ride, the wind rushing through his ghostly sheet of a body, tickling him. It had been so long since he had a ride like this, not since the British had chased him halfway across the state of Georgia.

He passed through the Valley of the Shadow. He crossed the Mountain of Doom, then waded through the River of Finality. When he came to the River Styx, he stopped. He guided Paul Revere carefully onto the plank that crossed the River. The white stallion made his way along the very narrow crossing, tippy-toeing ever so delicately as if his life depended upon it, though he was indeed dead like the rider upon his back.

One false step either way and horse and rider would be condemned to the dark world of darkness and denial below. If they fell, they would fall and fall and keep falling forever, never landing, always falling deeper and deeper into the bowels of darkness until the darkness faded into a nothingness. Paul Revere stepped between the raindrops and off the wooden board into that shadowy shadow of a world between mortality and the beyond.

The two stopped and B.P. got off his horse. He handed Paul Revere’s reins to a short fellow standing nearby. “Here, O’Toole,” he said to the guard at the Gates of the Passed-On.

“State your business,” O’Toole said grumpily, squinting with his one good eye. “And this had better be good.”

“The Ghost Riders of the Sky gave me a Pass.” He showed the guard a shining piece of parchment.

“Then pass on through,” the guard said. “I will care for your stallion.” O’Toole and Paul Revere faded away into the Nether to wait.

Next Week: Benjamin Patrick Nutt continues his adventures in the land of the dead.