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A Tale of Two Tea Parties

 
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Whinter
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2007 3:22 pm    Post subject: A Tale of Two Tea Parties Reply with quote

Hi guys. Just posted this over in fanfiction.net - not suitable for Scribes of Angel because the Angel content is small; but I did have some fun envisioning the home life of the Fanged Family in London, 1880. Very Happy A short piece that sees William deal decisively with a critic.

A Tale of Two Tea Parties

“Algernon, would you be so kind as to pass the cream to Charlotte? And I must insist that you find a more suitable topic of conversation.”

“Suitable, my dear Cecily! How terribly dull that sounds!”

“Yes, really, Cecily. Of what would you have us speak? The price of tea in China? You are cruel.”

“Indeed I am not,” Cecily said primly. She sat stock-straight on the edge of her gilt chair, her head poised at the correct angle for disapproval as she poured Algernon’s tea. “But I think it most improper to speak of such things in a civilized gathering. We,” she added severely, “are not Hottentots in the jungle. Tea, Horace?”

Horace accepted his cup with a lazy grin. “But, Cecily, my dear, I’m sure the Hottentots would do no justice at all to such a conversation. It requires a civilized mind to appreciate a string of good, grisly murders.”

“Quite so,” Charlotte put in breathlessly. “Fifteen or more in the last two months—most enthralling.”

“Surely a few more than that, old girl. I’ve heard there were disappearances of a similar sort in Lambeth and Whitechapel, as well as some rather strange goings-on in the docklands.”

“Among people of that sort,” Cecily sniffed, “what more could one expect? But to have such ghoulish events take place in South Kensington, well! It simply should not be allowed.”

“You must tell that to the murderer.” Horace grinned wider, and even wider yet at Cecily’s glance of cool reproof.

“Horace, I shall be very put out with you, if you do not stop at once. As if I, or any properly bred Christian, would have anything to do with such a beast.”

Algernon had been chuckling, but now he sobered a little. “This fiend does not appear to consult Debrett’s before he strikes, my dear Cecily. Recall that one of the first to be murdered was the Right Hon Cholmondley Withers-Pringle, whom I knew slightly at Eton. Chummers, they called him—ghastly chap.”

“Now you are speaking ill of the dead, Algernon. Anyway, surely he was not so ghastly as to deserve that terrible, unmentionable fate.”

“Drained of blood, like a hog at slaughter? Cecily, dear girl, you really are being a bit of a prig. I’ll tell you what, let’s make a game of it! Whom would each of you dearly love to see become the next victim of the Fiend of South Ken?”

Cecily’s starched and frosted reply was drowned by the others’ mirth and a flurry of suggested names. Pursing her lips in disapproval, she started the platter of cucumber sandwiches around the table.

“Wait, I have exactly the man!” Charlotte fluttered her hands for attention, after six or seven names had been mooted and shouted down. “Why not poor William? Heaven knows, none of us would miss him.”

“Or his bloody awful poetry. William the Bloody!” Horace put his teacup down and shouted with laughter.

“William the Sanguinary, if you don’t mind, Horace. Vulgar language will not be tolerated at my table.” But Cecily was hiding a half-smile as she passed him the tray of sponge fingers.

“Indeed,” Algernon said, “speaking of William the Sanguinary, where has he been hiding himself this last fortnight? I have not set eyes on him since the night of your soirée, Cecily.”

“And no wonder. You were all rather beastly to him that night. Especially you and Aubrey, Algernon, holding his poor little poems up to ridicule. I am certain he heard Aubrey’s cruel remarks as he slunk away.”

“I fancy,” Charlotte said slyly, “that was not the worst blow poor William took that night. Is that not so, dear Cecily?”

“On that subject,” Cecily replied, tightening her lips, “I have nothing to say. Poor William indeed! The presumption!”

“You mean, that little toad dared to make advances to you? Oh, Cecily, how delicious! How—effulgent—of him.”

“Do stop, Algernon. The less said of such vulgarians, the better. More tea?”

“Cecily, dear, you go too far. I shouldn’t call him a vulgarian,
exactly. An upstart, yes. But he is rather sweet and earnest, is he not?”

“If you think so, dear Charlotte, then you are welcome to him. Just bear in mind where his late father came from—Bethnal Green, my dear. A cockney barrow-merchant who piled up a heap of lucre, and managed to marry above himself. A voice like a fishmonger, or so I’m told.”

“No!” Charlotte breathed, delighted. “And there was William, pretending to be one of us. How frightfully pretentious of him.”

“Well,” Cecily said dismissively, “I feel the apple did not fall far from the tree in William’s case. I consider it a gross insult that he aspired even to thinking of me. And in any case—that dreadful poetry!”

“Doggerel, my dear. An insult to the fair name of poesy.” Horace delicately wiped his clean fingers on his napkin, and took another sandwich.

“Has he run away in shame, do you think?” asked Charlotte.

“Gone abroad, perhaps, to hide his humiliation? Perhaps so. I hear his mother has gone as well—left without a word to anyone, a few days after William made such a frightful fool of himself. And I cannot, in all charity, say I am regretful. I wonder that a woman who would lower herself to marry a Cockney barrow-merchant should dare to show her face in polite society.”

Horace frowned thoughtfully. “Perhaps the sanguinary William is hiding himself away, but I hardly think he has gone abroad. Aubrey said he caught sight of him the evening before last, quite near Covent Garden—strolling towards Leicester Square, my dears, with a rather tasty young lady hanging on his arm.”

“A young lady?”

“Well, perhaps not a lady—unless you mean a lady of the night. Aubrey said she looked—er—no better than she should be.”

Cecily drew herself up to a dignified eminence, and spoke sharply. “Enough of this! It does not surprise me to hear that the gentleman in question has sunk to his own level; indeed, he has shown himself to be anything but a gentleman. But I insist we turn our conversation to more edifying subjects.”

This had the effect of producing an uncomfortable silence, politely covered by all with a refined sipping from teacups and the noiseless mastication of cucumber sandwiches and sponge fingers. At last Cecily relented, and broke the silence herself.

“By the by,” she said, “where is dear Aubrey? He promised me faithfully he would join us for tea this afternoon. I wonder where he has got to. More tea, my dear Charlotte?”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Aubrey, old chap,” said William, stuffing the scarf back into Aubrey’s mouth, “I’m shocked. Horrified. That is hardly how a gentleman should speak when he has been so kindly invited to tea. Where were you brought up, Aubrey—in a barn?”

“Really, William, how much longer?” Darla flounced across the breakfast parlour to the sofa by the well-smothered window, signalling her impatience with the brisk rustling of her skirts. “You promised to treat us to our breakfast tea—well, it’s past four o’clock already, and our breakfast tea is still capable of idle chitchat.”

In a comfortable chair in the corner, Angelus looked up from his newspaper. “It’ll be dark soon. Much longer, boyo, and we’ll be able to go out on the streets and catch our own.”

“I’m sorry,” William growled, keeping his golden eyes fixed on Aubrey, “to be inconveniencing you.”

“Oh aye, lad, I don’t mind. Indeed, I was never averse to a bit of poetry before my dinner—or my breakfast. Truth to tell, I’m happy to see you showing the first hint of artistry since our darlin’ Dru brought you home.” Angelus folded his paper and sat elegantly back, watching William with pleased expectation.

“Don’t be too hopeful, Angelus. This is by way of being a special case. This is—an old, old friend.” William smiled sweetly at Aubrey around his mouthful of unnatural teeth. Then he looked across the breakfast table at Drusilla.

“How about you, my dearest?” he asked, with genuine concern. “Can you stand to wait just a little while longer?”

Drusilla reached out to draw one needle-pointed fingernail down Aubrey’s naked chest, daintily, just enough gentle pressure to leave a wet red hairline behind it. Aubrey’s back arched, and he bucked against the fetters that secured him to the corners of the breakfast table, wild-eyed above the gag. Drusilla smiled down at him. “He’ll taste all the sweeter,” she said dreamily, “for being full of such lovely, lovely words.”

Darla coughed pointedly, and Angelus reached across to the sofa to take her hand. “Now, don’t go discouraging the boy, love,” he said. “For my part, I quite enjoy his poems. They’re—artistic. Let’s be having another one, William.”

“We shall have to ask Aubrey first.” With his right hand, William picked up the remaining sheaf of his verses, a pile of respectable thickness, and tapped it with the object in his left hand. “Tell me, Aubrey, old chap,” he said, “what would you rather do? Listen to more of my poetry, or have this driven into your head? Be honest, now.”

Frantically, Aubrey swiveled his eyes towards the right hand.

“You want me to read some more of my poems? Truly?”

Frenzied nodding.

“But I had gained the distinct impression you had a low opinion of my work.”

Desperate headshakes of denial.

“Honestly? You’ve changed your mind about my talents since that evening at Cecily’s?”

Frenzied nodding.

“Well, then, since you honour me with your high estimation, I suppose I shall just have to indulge you. Dru, my love, would you kindly hold onto this for me?” William passed the railway spike from his left hand to Drusilla’s; and she held it in the manner of a sacred relic while she listened to him read.
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Ares
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is that the end of the story? Do you realise that you can only post so much before it cuts off, Whinter?

Anyhoo, if it is the end, I love the sound of the *upper crust* voices you have and the names like Algernon, and Aubrey, and Horace.

A nice glimpse of the fanged four, and also Cecily and her friends.

Thank you
Hugs
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Whinter
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 5:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Ares - hugs back!

Yes, that is actually the end of the story. Do you think it ends a little too abruptly? Any suggestions? Naturally, I'm hoping the reader will assume William eventually runs out of poetry, and moves on to the railway spike... Mr. Green

It was great fun to write.
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Ares
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 6:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did think it ended abruptly, but when you say it is the end, I can see how it could be now. Perhaps to have the words The End would help?

Seriously, I wondered if there was going to be more after the poetry reading.

:~))))
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Dark Star
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I did think it ended abruptly, but when you say it is the end, I can see how it could be now.


Ares has a point. On here, it does look as though it's been cut off in mid-story. The version I saw was a word file, and it was more obvious in that. It's a common problem - I often get sent stories that I turn over and think, 'Is that it?'
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Whinter
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm. Many thanks for your feedback, guys, I'll give this some thought. Very Happy
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Whinter
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, I've thought about it - here is a new final paragraph that I hope gives the story better closure. Does it work for you guys?

William passed the railway spike from his left hand to Drusilla’s; and she held it in the manner of a sacred relic while she listened to him read. Angelus leaned forward, nodding now and then with critical appreciation. Darla sat back, sighing, impatient for the moment when William would run out of poems.

(Urk. Still sounds a little flat to me. Confused Will think more.)
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Ares
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
(Urk. Still sounds a little flat to me. Will think more.)



*chuckle*
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