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

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 # 32: The Conspiracy to End All Conspiracies

Previously, Lady P P can’t remember a darn thing. And she’s completely lost any interest in fashion. Is there no justice?

The Ichabod Crane figure of Pip, a chip off the old Flip of Flip, Fop & Flimby, Solicitors at Law, said to the Prime Minister of England, “I have news.”

“Yes, I have heard the news,” the Prime Minister said, displeased that he was interrupted by this flunky from the Defense Staff’s Office. Hadn’t he told his Personal Secretary that he did not want to be interrupted? He had. What now? “Her ladyship, Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott was drowned. Now the whole damned country from the queen on down to the sewage cleaners are upset about the commoner. Why everybody cares I do not know. You’d think she was Princess Di. Well, she was not. She was an American with a lot of cash who bought herself a title. That’s all. Now go away before I kick your skinny rear all the way to Whitehall. Leave me in peace.”

“But Prime Minister …,” Pip said.

“My God, man,” the Prime Minister said and wiped his mouth with his napkin. “Did you not hear me?”

The Prime Minister had raised his voice. He seldom raised his voice. It was the sound of not raising his voice that had gotten him where he was. It was the tone and the words he spoke. All the diners in the Commons Dining Room turned to see the Prime Minister stand and raise his fist. He was fighting mad. When he went fighting mad, he was dangerous. He knew how to use his fist. His mother’s brother MacFeeney, the brawler, had taught him the fine art of fisticuffs and his fisticuffian bro had fought the great Sullivan himself.

The Ichabod Crane of a Pip looked like he was about to run away. He was no boxer. The Prime Minister would make mincemeat out of him. Before P. M. could slam Pip’s pip of a face, Sir Myles stepped in front of Pip.

P. M. halted his fist’s progress and dropped his hand to his side. He smiled. He was always glad to see Sir Myles di Fussye-Pants. The two had been friends for quite some time. They had something important in common. The same woman. Two Ems had been P. M.’s mistress for several years. And she was Sir Myles’ very popular wife. As the Queen of London Society, she knew how to throw a party, and she definitely knew how to party like it was 1899.

“Our friend has some news,” Sir Myles said.

P. M. returned to his chair, then offered Sir Myles a seat at his table. He did not offer Pip a seat. It just wasn’t done. Allowing someone of his lowly station to sit at the same table as the P.M. Especially not in public. That would have been taking his liberalism too far.

“What is the news, Myles?” P. M. asked his friend.

“I haven’t been told, Argyle,” Sir Myles said. He was one of the few allowed to call Prime Minister Mactavish by his Christian name Argyle.

P. M. scratched his bald head. He looked over at Pip, standing uncomfortably nearby.

“Well, young man?” he demanded.

“Yes, sir,” Pip said, then recognized his mentor, “Sir Myles, I have news.”

“Well, get on with it, man,” P. M. demanded some more.

“Her ladyship, Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott of Haggismarshe, is not dead.”

“What!” Both P. M. and Sir Myles stared up at Pip, their mouths dropping open when they heard the news.

“Would you repeat that?” Sir Myles said.

“Lady Wimpleseed Prissypott is not dead. This is why the Chief sent me over to interrupt your meal, Prime Minister.”

“What do you mean?” P. M. wanted to know. “Of course, she is dead. The Times has reported her death. Therefore, it must be true. The Times is never wrong.”

“I assure that The Times is incorrect, sir. They will have to offer a retraction.”

“Lower your voice, man,” Sir Myles said. “And have a seat. I am tired of seeing you standing there like some Ichabod Crane of a Flip, Pip. Sit and tell us what you know. But quietly, please.”

“With your permission, Prime Minister,” Pip said, taking his place in the seat across from the P. M. He knew where his bread was buttered and he had not been about to sit without his boss’s boss’s boss’s permission. That was no way to advance a career either in government or the law. One simply did not go against one’s betters.

“By the way, young man,” P. M. said, “By the way, who in Disraeli’s name are you?”

“I am Pip Flip, a chip off the old Flip of Flip, Fop & Flimby, Solicitors at Law. I am also a member of the Defense Staff.”

“Yes, I knew the old chip, Kip Flip, Pip,” P. M. said. “Used to be a mighty fine solicitor until he tripped over a law case. I think he defended your wife in a law suit once, did he not, Myles?”

“He must assuredly did,” Sir Myles said. “Did a damned good job of it too. Two Ems won her case and gathered more than the damages she originally asked. We had enough left over from that suit to pay for passage around the world. We’re planning on a trip next summer. A second honeymoon.”

The prime minister was ready to get down to business. He lowered his voice to a whisper and asked Flip, “So what do you know that I don’t know? What would cause The Times to retract their story? And keep your voice low please. We do not want a panic. The Times is never wrong. After all, it is The Times. You do know that?”

“Sir, I agree. The Times is never wrong,” Pip whispered. “And The Times is not wrong this time. They reported what had been reported to them on Gibraltar. So, you see it’s the second-hand smoke that always does the most harm.”

“Damn that fake news,” the P.M. spat out.

“Then she is not dead?” Sir Myles said.

“She is alive, Sir,” Pip said quietly. “One of our men saw her on the outskirts of Barcelona.”

“No?” P. M. said.

“She was in pretty bad shape when he saw her,” Pip reported. “She was dressed in a white underdress. Her hair was all caked with mud. She had no shoes on her feet.”

“Is he sure it was her?” Sir Myles intruded.

“Yes, sir. He is. The woman he saw had her ladyship’s bright red hair. And those amazing bosoms. There is no mistaking those bosoms. They are internationally famous bosoms, the best in the world today.”

“Tis true, Myles,” P. M. said. “I’ve seen those bosoms. They are some bosoms. Bosoms enough to unstiffen an Englishman’s stiff upper lip. I saw them at the wedding and I was in awe. It made me jealous of an English lord for the first and only time in my long career. There is no mistaking those bosoms. But where is she now? Does the man know?”

“He followed her,” Pip Flip continued. “She was taken in by a church. The Church of St. Teresa de Avila. She’s staying at the convent. The Sisters of St. Teresa de Avila are caring for her.”

The Prime Minister and Sir Myles breathed a sigh of relief. It was one heck of a sigh of relief that they both breathed. They were relieved.

Then they realized. Sir Myles was the first to whisper, “That means that The Times was wrong. It will have to retract. They will not retract. Because The Times is never wrong.”

“Her life is in danger?” P. M. said.

“There’s more, sir,” Pip whispered. “She has amnesia.”

The P.M. and Sir Myles leaned forward, their interest heightened by all the intrigue.

“And they are keeping her that way,” Pip said. “They have hired a quack of a doctor, a Doctor Qwackers. He has his ways to keeping her from remembering. He has done more damage to more people in the country of Spain than any other quack quack of his time. And there’s more.”

“There’s more?” Sir Myles and P. M. asked at the same time. They looked at each other. How could there be more? What more could there be?

“Of course, there’s more,” P.M. said. “There’s always more. Even when there’s no more, there’s more. Thanks to that blasted Oliver Twist.”

“Yes, sir,” Pip said to the Prime Minister. “The Church of St. Teresa de Avila in Barcelona is the headquarters of the Wah Wah League.”

“What?” both his listeners spoke at the same time again.

“It’s the headquarters of the Wah Wah League?” P. M. asked. “Could you repeat that?”

“The Church of St. Teresa de Avila is the headquarters of the Wah Wah League.”

“We heard you the first time,” P. M. said.

“You said to repeat it,” Pip said. “I was responding to your request, sir.”

“I know what I said,” P. M. said.

“Argyle,” Sir Myles said quietly, “you do know how to turn a phrase.”

“Thank you, Myles. You are very kind. So how do we go forward now.”

“That is why I am here,” Pip said. “Chief and I are the only ones who have this information. And the man on the ground, of course. Cdmr. Thomas Edward Button. He’s known within the department as Double Oh Seven Button-Button.”

“Hmmmmn,” P. M. hemmed. “Button-Button, you say?”

“Yes, sir. I do say,” Pip said, “and there’s one more thing.”

“That figures,” P. M. said. “There’s always another thing. What now?”

The Times has contacted us to have our man take care of her ladyship. The Times already has this information. Don’t know how they got it but they do.”

“It’s the leaks,” Sir Myles commented. “There’s always a trump full of leaks.”

“Don’t you mean ‘trunkful of leaks’?” P.M. asked.

“That too,” Sir Myles said.

“In these kinds of things,” Pip continued, “we are pretty thorough. But somebody on the Defense Staff has dropped his pants. I think it’s the Chief. But I am not sure. I think they’ve offered him a substantial retirement. Maybe even a Chairman of the Bored.”

“So why is the Chief,” P. M. asked, “passing this information on to me?”

“He isn’t, sir,” Pip said. “I am doing this on my own initiative.”

“My, my,” Sir Myles said. “This is one hell of a horns of a dilemma. Two Ems would love this. She loves a good puzzle. Always solving those ‘Where’s Waldo’ things.”

The Prime Minister’s wheels had started turning all this over in his mind.

“Has Chief done anything yet?” he asked Pip.

“He has contacted Button-Button to do as The Times asked.”

“Sounds like,” Sir Myles said, “whatever you choose to do, you had better do quickly. Are you going to let this Button-Button fellow go through with this?”

“Double Oh is to do nothing,” Pip said. “He’s to allow the Wah Wah League take care of the problem. Then The Times will be off the hook. The story that her ladyship is dead will be true. But there is plans on the part of the Defense Secretary to take out the Wah Wahs in their headquarters. They plan to send in Special Forces and bomb the place. When it’s over, everybody in that church and convent will be dead. Double Oh is to do something only if her ladyship escapes. He is to transport her to the Falklands and leave her to the sheep.”

“They do have some vicious woman-eating sheep in the Falklands too,” Sir Myles said. ‘So, Pip, what is in it for you? Why are you not going along with the program?”

Pip said. “I figured that if I kiss the Prime Minister’s bottom, and a mighty fine bottom it is, si–”

“Why thank you, young man,” the P.M. smiled.

“–I could advance.”

“I must say,” P. M. said, “that you are a damned good bottom kisser. Almost as good as I used to be before I had a bottom to kiss.” He was starting to take a liking to this Pip fellow. Kip Flip, the Flip he was the chip off of, had instructed his son well in the art of Machiavellian Machevellianness. “So, what are your plans, Pip?”

“The Chief wants me to go over to Spain and make sure that it’s all going according to plan. I am to stay at the consul in Barcelona. I will be under the direction of the British ambassador.”

“Our ambassador to Spain?” Sir Myles wanted to know.

“Yes,” Pip said.

“This gets more interesting as it goes along,” Sir Myles said.

“This means,” P. M. said, “that I can’t trust anyone in my own government.”

“I am afraid so, Sir,” Pip said. “It was that briefing with the Queen. His lordship, the Lord of the Gartery, reported to Lords what happened. Lords is now conspiring to put their own man in your place.”

The Times has wanted to see you sacked,” the Prime Minister’s good friend said, “for a very long time. Seems now they have the opportunity.” He turned to Pip and asked, “Who is the fool they are planning to replace Argyle with?”

“You are, sir,” Pip said to Sir Myles.

Next Week, Back to the Convent

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott 23: Everybody’s talking

Previously Mata Hari manhandled Johnny Eager in the jungle, creating a rumble in the jungle.

Lady Jayne Greystoke stepped to the Speaker’s Platform in the House of Lords. She looked much older than her actual age. Africa had turned her hair white and her face was covered in wrinkles. The jungle had sucked the youth away from this once vibrant young woman of the lower aristocracy. All those mosquitoes, and lions and tigers, oh my.

And, of course, there was her five-year marriage to some fellow named Tarzan. He was an ape of a man, wasn’t he? That’s what happens when you go outside your class for a mate. Love, yes, but not a mate. One should always stay inside one’s class unless one is marrying an American heiress for her money.

Lady Greystoke had been invited to speak in Lord’s to give her perspective on Africa.

“The White Man’s Burden,” she began her speech. “It is our obligation. We Christians must Christianize the continent. It is the Thing to do. Unless we bring Christian civilization to that dark, dark place, the people will all end up like my ex-husband. Christianity would have saved him. We would still be in the arms of bliss, and he would be thoroughly civilized.”

As she was speaking, Sir Myles di Fussye-Pants was joined by Pip, a chip off the old Flip of Flip, Fop & Flimby, Solicitors at Law. He was about to take a trip but first he wanted to give his mentor the news. Better from him than most anyone else. But he knew Sir Myles was not going to take it well.

Pip handed Sir Myles The Times. Sir read the headlines, then stood up and left the chamber. Pip followed. In the hallway, Sir Myles turned to Pip. Pip had never seen his mentor’s face this white.

“First my beloved friend Dunnie,” Sir Myles said. “Now his bride”

***

The headlines all over the British Empire screamed: “Her Ladyship, Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott of Haggismarshe drowned in S. S. Twit disaster.”

When the news broke, the Prime Minister’s War Cabinet was gathered at Number 10. The Prime Minister, his Personal Secretary, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the Defense Secretary, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Home Secretary, the Lord of the Admiralty and the Chief of the Defense Staff sat in the Big Room around the Big Table, discussing big things. It was the big job they had to do. The Deputy Prime Minister had just gone off on a tangent.

“Yes, D. P. M,” the Defense Secretary intruded, “we know you hate the French. But we have more important things to discuss today. Like who pays for lunch. Since we’re at the P. M.’s I vote that the P. M. buys. And I am up for steak and kidney pie.”

“Here, here,” everybody but the Prime Minister agreed.

“Then it’s settled,” Defense said. “P. M., it’s your treat.”

“How come I always have to buy?”

“You’re the one with the allowance,” Topsy of Exchequer said.

“Well, if I have to buy, then I choose the restaurant. I am fed up with the food we always get from that awful Rutter’s. Defense, I don’t care if your daughter is the chef there.”

“Here, here,” everybody but Defense agreed.

“So, where were we?” P. M. asked.

“We were discussing a strategy for lunch,” the Lord of the Admiralty spoke up. “And it seems that you went down like a captain with his ship.”

“We were discussing the Frogs,” Deputy said, trying to force his prejudice against the French upon the group.

“The hell we were,” Defense said.

“Calm down, boys,” Foreign Secretary interjected. “The Boers, we were discussing how boarish they’ve become of late.”

“I have a man down there in that part of Africa,” Chief of the Defense Staff said. “A certain Norwegian Karl Lutefisk is fishing for information. Somebody has done a bait and switch on him. But he telegraphed us to let us know he is back on the trail. Seems the Boers had some special diamonds stolen. And now they are all in a tizzy.”

“I heard they glowed orange,” the Personal Secretary informed the group. “The diamonds, not the Boers.”

“That’s the rumor,” Chief said. “Don’t know why they are special. The Boers are blaming us for the theft. Seems that an American is involved.”

“Unfortunately they caught one of our men,” Defense said. “He talked and blamed us.”

“Did they torture him?” Deputy wanted to know.

“No,” Defense said. “He just puked up the information. Seems he was dissatisfied with his Royal Beeswax and Petroleum Jelly bonus.”

“But that is no reason to betray the Crown,” P. M. said,.

“Anyway,” Defense said, “the Army is rather stretched of late. So, we’re unable to intervene.”

“Rahther,” Deputy said. He was a commoner but he was always putting on his rahthers to make others think he was an aristocrat and could fit in with society. London Society, that is. It’s what you do when you have a social climber of a wife.

“The Army is dealing with the Mau Maus and the Zulu. It is preparing to take off the gloves and pound the Boxer Rebellion in Peking into a knock-out or, at least, a TKO. All because the Boxers want their share of Peking Duck. Then there is Khartoum and the Khyber Pass, and it’s got its hands full in India. Don’t think we can take on anymore without a draft.”

“And that would be the end of our government,” the Personal Secretary said.

The Prime Minister threw the Times onto the table, revealing the headline. “What about this S. S. Twit incident?”

“Seems Gibraltar fell apart,” Admiralty said. “It’s going to be one hell of a job. Putting the Rock back together rock by rock. I have three ships on their way with aid.”

“And this Lady P. P.?” Prime Minister said. “Her Majesty will want to know the details.”

“No one has seen her ladyship’s extraordinary American bosoms,” Admiralty said, “since the sinking.” He remembered her ladyship from the wedding.

In fact, they all did, except the Personal Secretary. P.S. had been out of town. However, he had seen pictures, and he had to agree that they were extraordinary. He thought that they must be truly extraordinary if they were up close and personal.

“They are extraordinary,” Bottoms, the Home Secretary, interjected.

“Rahther,” Deputy followed.

“Here, here,” everybody but everybody agreed.

“All hands on the S. S. Twit,” Admiralty said, “met Davy Jones and are now in his locker. That is the reports the Admiralty has received with a number of confirmations.”

“You know,” Personal Secretary said, “Lords had voted to revoke her title and take her lands. That was going to be exceeding unpopular with the commoners.”

“Not with me,” Deputy said. “Oops.”

“Now we won’t,” Personal Secretary said, “have to suffer the consequences. It might have caused the government to fall. We were close to a vote of no confidence and we didn’t have much time. The Queen was very angry.”

“We will have a memorial service,” Prime Minister said, “in Abbey for her and the others who drowned. The public will get a bit of a show and things will be back to normal.”

“Except for one thing,” Topsy the Exchequer said.

“Yes?” Prime Minister wanted to know.

“Yes?” Deputy wanted to know.

“Yes?” everybody wanted to know.

“You see,” Topsy said, “there is no heir.”

“That’s not a problem,” Deputy said. “The lands will revert to the Crown.”

“No, no, no,” Topsy said. “We cannot have that.”

“And why not?” Deputy asked.

“Because the commoners will be unhappy,” P.S. said. “They will want the estate to go to one of their own.”

“No, no, no,” Topsy said again, only more emphatically.

“Well, then why?” the Prime Minister asked.

“The seizure of those lands will bankrupt the treasury,” Topsy said. “The Queen’s allowance is already over-budget. There is no way she’ll be able to afford all the upkeep of all that land. Lord P. P. had land holdings all over the island as well as in Ireland. The young American was the answer to a prayer. Thank God that Sir Myles came up with it. Course it helped that I suggested it to Two-Ems, his wife, when we were doing the light fantastic.”

“Ah, Two-Ems,” Prime Minister said. “I’ve seen her out in society and she is one excellent woman.”

“Yes, she is,” Topsy said, thinking of Two-Ems wonderland of wonderlands. “Anyway, we have to come up with a plan.”

“Perhaps the Queen could knight someone,” Deputy said. “Someone with a lot of cash who has brought industry to the country.”

“The thing is,” Topsy said, “how do we get it through Lords. They’ve been on a bit of a warpath with Commons lately.”

***

That evening the Prime Minister sat before his bangers and mash. The sausages were especially good. He was dining late in the House of Commons Dining Room. He was enjoying the meal. No one in the kingdom had better chefs than Commons. And he liked it that the Dining Room always had a table reserved for the Prime Minister. Privileges of power, you know. After the day with all its troubles, it was good to relax with a cold beer and a meal.

Pip, a chip off the old Flip of Flip, Fop & Flimby, Solicitors at Law, approached the Prime Minister’s table.

“Prime Minister?” Pip said hesitantly.

The Prime Minister looked up from his happiness. He frowned. More troubles. Damn, more troubles. Why couldn’t a Prime Minister just this once eat his food in peace? Did Disraeli ever have time off? Or was the crowd constantly chasing him down for a favor?

“Yes?” The Prime Minister eyed the bean stalk before him.

Next Week: Ghosts on the Prowl

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott 10: A spy by any other name is still a spy

Previously our heroine met three ghosts at Haggismarshe. They convinced her that she should do some travelling. After all, she could afford it.

To prepare for her journey, Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott needed a wardrobe. She was off to London and shopping. She outfitted herself in the best that Bond Street had to offer for the well-dressed lady who wants to gadabout. And, as we all know, no gadabout would be a gadabout without gadabout hats. So she filled seven hat carriers. Each carrier held six hats.

Lady P. P., as she was now affectionately referred to by the servants of Haggismarshe, and by the press, donned her best pink pantaloons, corset and hooped skirt, her bright white dress and her pithy pith helmet and her dainty black boots. She bid her household fare-thee-well. Then she had Leavers leave her at the docks. Her ship passed the White Cliffs of Dover and landed in France. On to Paris she went, arriving in time to catch the Orient Express.

The train made its way through France and toward Istanbul. Lady P. P. noticed a mysterious woman dressed to the tens and more across from her. The woman was exquisitely embroidered into an outlandishly revealing dress. She had accoutrements of jewelry decorating her body in various and sundry places.

And, yes, dear reader, she was the woman in black, standing outside the Abbey during the wedding in Chapter Four. The very same woman arrived too late to marry Lord Dunnie which was her Plan A. Her Plan B to have an affair with the Old Cootster fell through as well. He went and died. In the meantime, she had come up with a Plan C. Hook up with Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott, get in her good graces, and use her to do dastardly deeds. As they used to say, “All’s fair in love and war and getting your own way.”

“May I, how you say, introduce myself?” the young woman asked in a deep Franco-German accent with a tinge of Polish-Italian to it. “My name eez Mata Hari.”

“Oh, just call me Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott of Haggismarshe,” our heroine returned. She was not happy with the familiarity of the other woman.

“That eez such a looonnnng name to call someone of your obvious common background, don’t you think?”

“That’s what I am called. I’ve read that you are a spy. Is that true?”

“I spy, Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott of Haggismarshe. But eet eez not as eef I could help myself. I do eet for love.”

“I’ve always wanted to ‘do it’ for love,” Marye said. “But I seldom find the opportunity. Most of the men I know are regular prissypotts. There was one but that’s been a long time gone. Now I am on my own and gadaboutting ‘round the world. Mostly I find myself dilly-dallying about like some dolly on the Chattanooga Choo Choo.”

“The Chattahooga Shoe Shoe? I love ze shoes. Where can I find a pair of those? Hope zhey are more comfortable than the ones on my feets. My feets eez killing me.”

“You will find them in Chattanooga.”

“Where this Chattahooga?”

Before Marye could respond, Mata Hari suddenly appeared distracted by a noise from outside the compartment. “Pardon. Excusez moi.” She was on her feet lickety-split and out the cabin door and heading down the hall.

“That was so strange,” Lady P. P. said to herself. “Such a delightful woman. I mean, for a spy. Just as I was getting ready to let her call me Marye, she up and ups out of here.”

Two gendarmes appeared at the door.

“Madam?” the one with the mustache said.

“Yes?” Marye pulled out her compact and began to powder her nose.

“Have you, by some way, zeen a woman dressed elegantly with jewelry perched all hover her body? She eez Mata Hari, the notorious spy. Have you zeen her?”

“Can’t say that I have. Only us Americans here.” She smeared lipstick onto her lips.

The gendarme closed her door. Within minutes, Mata Hari, disguised as a mustachioed man in a tuxedo, appeared at the door and came inside. She had a dagger in her hand. “I will get you for telling ze gendarmes that I was here.”

“But I didn’t.”

“Then I will get you for lying.”

“But I didn’t.”

“Then I will get you for being such a bad liar.”

Then the dagger was gone, and so was Mata Hari. Mata Hari’s Plan C had fallen through. Now onto Plan D and a certain Eager Beaver.

PARLIAMENT PARLIAMENTS

In the House of Lords called “Lords” for shortsky, Baron Duffield said, “We can do anything we want. After all, we are the lords of Lords. We can take her title if we want. As far as her lands are concerned, we will repossess them and remit them to the Queen’s Estate.”

“If we do that,” Sir Myles said, “none of us will ever get another American heiress to marry us.”

“We could get the marriage annulled,” Tucksmeyer said. “Who knows if Lord P. P. ever consummated the union. I doubt he did.”

“Then there can be no objection to an annulment,” Baron Duffield said, “can there, Myles?”

QUILLS

It was a dark and moonless night on the Rock of Gibraltar. Quills, whom we met in a previous chapter, Chapter Six, stood on the beach at Catalan Bay, reflecting on his life. Twenty-five years old and he, Quilip Thomas St. James Loopsey, had no prospects for the future. Possibly his father, the Governor of Gibraltar, would buy him a parish to provide him a comfortable living. Then a wife of his father’s choosing. After that, children and soon old age and death. What a bore that would be.

Seeing Lord Dunnville Percival Wimpleseed-Prissypott’s face plop into his soup and die brought to Quills’ mind how mortal he was. At that moment, he knew he wanted more than his life of British privilegedom promised. He wanted passion, adventure, true love. He wanted his freedom.

He looked out into the darkness, a darkness that reminded him of his bleak future. He sat down on the beach and pulled off his shoes. He rose and walked into the water. When the water reached his waist, he began to swim, one arm in front of the other taking him farther and farther out to sea. And farther and farther into his future. He swam deep into the night. Joy and exhilaration cruised through his body. He was free.

Next Week: Istanbul, Constantinople.