The Eclectic Pen - The Accidental Adventures of P.Llewellyn Rhys ( BRAIN STORM DRAFT)


By: Tangee H. (Tangeelala)  
Date Submitted: 5/8/2009
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Words: 1,818
Rating:


  You might think me a complete snob for it, but I loathe taking tea with my sister’s friends. These girls always share the same detestable traits, in that they are all marriageable, moneyed and misshapen. Of course, being a man of 25 years with some family fortune and a smallish claim to nobility, it is expected that I should marry. I am reminded of my remiss and near criminal lack of wife and baggage on a near daily basis by my friends, family and disapproving looks from society widows and peevish old maids. When Millicent began to prattle on about her latest acquaintance at the breakfast table I began to prepare myself for another afternoon in the company of some dull, homely, or horribly shy creature. Our parent’s looked on with feigned disinterest- as one would do while watching a cat corner a mouse. My sister, Millicent, is an excellent mouser. I am forever finding myself snarled in some little plot of hers.

.. ..

I left the house as quickly as I could, hoping to give myself some amount of time to prepare for what would, presumably, be an afternoon of mindless small-talk and another tediously accommodative game of croquet or bacci ball. I went to my studio and tinkered for a few idle hours. Clockworks spread out in haphazard piles as I tried to piece together a small automaton that would drop sugar cubes into a waiting tea cup. I was distracted by the impending doom of this afternoon's tea party. I began to ponder what sort of companion Millicent would bring home. My mind dreamed up new monstrosities and my imaginings took even darker turns than usual. I imagined Millicent’s new companion first and foremost to be a horse-faced brittle boned bird creature with a shrill laugh and ungainly limbs. She turned into a sullen toad eyed creature with a pig’s snout and a body that more resembled a dress filled with strawberry jam. Worst yet- she was physically perfect: dark haired with fair skin, large, clear, bright blue eyes and an easy laugh- but her head was filled with goose feathers- she was a vapid tedious dullard.

.. ..

The notion that women should be attractive mindless little children is repulsive to me. Give me a girl like my sister and I could find no greater happiness! Of course, Millicent is a singular girl. She’s a girl with a mind of her own, ideas and dreams of her own- a girl who wears breeches and hunts for bugs, a girl with perpetually ink stained fingers and an ever busy mind. Would that the world could possibly hold two such female creatures in the same time and space! I had, you see, given up on women altogether. I was determined to remain a bachelor all my live long days, happily tinkering away in my workshop. Of course I suffered for companionship, but there is naught that a man with money can not find, even if for an hour or two.

.. ..

I trudged up the stairs to our house with no hope of spending the afternoon in any pleasant manner. My mind, you see, had already begun to wander toward the Vaudeville Theater and the garden of delicate flowers I might pluck after the show. I was particularly fond of a showgirl called Celeste who did the most hypnotic and tantalizing dance with two ostrich feather fans and little else. As a result, I had dallied some while, entertaining the idea of skipping tea altogether and going straight to the theater. So, I was late. My mother scowled at me as we walked out onto the back lawn. My father made some disapproving noise as he looked up from his paper. I could see two distinctly feminine shapes out on the lawn, bonnets on heads, croquet mallets in hand. I heard Millicent’s bold and brash laugh cut through the quiet. My father rumbled about how animated and loud the ladies were. My mother patted his balding head and fidgeted with the tea things.

I stripped down to my shirt sleeves and waist coat, despite my mother’s curled lip. I would be damned if I would get so much as one blade of grass on my new jacket playing nice with Millicent's new "friend". I was not going to waste any effort on another fruitless game of matchmaking. I was going to grab a croquet mallet, march out to where the girls were playing and get this ordeal over with as quickly as possible. Perhaps I could best my fastest game of nice girls don’t play to win croquet by ten or 15 minutes. It would not compensate me for the wasted hours I had endured under similar circumstances, but I felt it might be worth it to see if I could win 15 minutes of my life back.

.. ..

I approached them, admittedly, in a rather sullen posture. I may have even been scowling by that time. Millicent turned round and brandished her mallet at me in a most alarming fashion. I had to jump back to avoid being struck! She was in quite the mood. It seemed that her companion had just hit her ball out into the rosebushes and Millicent was losing already.

“Prudence is positively merciless!” She announced, by way of introductions. Her companion, who had been staring down at the wicket before her looked up at me. Her bonnet lifted and the face that was revealed was a gorgeous relief. I nearly sighed. I woudl have paid her a forutne to never utter a single word, so strong was my fear that it would somehow ruin the perfection of that impression. She dropped the mallet on the ground and walked over to me, directly and offered me her hand. I began to wonder when the horror would be revealed. “Prudence, this is my brother, Rhodes”, Millicent said with a sly grin, “He is ALSO a rotten cheat at croquet.”

.. ..

“And cards” I replied jokingly, as I took Prudence’s hand into mine. She stood with the most delightful posture, not overly feminine, and not horrendously ungraceful, but with a certain ease, a certain…certainty. She owned the space around her and that space radiated with a potent energy. She looked me straight in the eye and I had to control some deep primal response to those large bright blue eyes and the tendril of dark chestnut hair that had escaped form beneath her bonnet. I wanted to wrap her in my arms and carry her away, perhaps covering her mouth with my hand, lest some hideous chirping voice escape her or some horrifically stupid comment break the spell. I was hopeful.

.. ..

Prudence broke away from the handshake and addressed my sister then. Her voice was low and smooth and I thought it had the tone that scotch would have, if scotch could talk. “Milly, I do not need to cheat when I am playing someone as guileless as you”. Then Prudence did the most terrible thing- she laughed. It was the tinkling of a hundred little silver bells. It made my stomach quiver and my head spin. Millicent had baited the trap well this time. I was truly and well caught.

.. ..

We played the game for over an hour. I am pleased to admit that Prudence thrashed us both. She seemed to possess supernatural croquet skills. It was a crushing defeat. I am a poor loser and it had been quite some time since I had been beaten. I stomped across the lawn to the table with a frown on my face. She probably thought me a complete idiot. She said nothing of it as we took our tea. I was relieved that she was capable of being a good winner.

.. ..

My mother asked about her parents. They were Nuevo-riche, or rather re-discovered rich. It seems an ancestor had piddled away the family fortunes and Prue’s father had restored their wealth. Now her father was something of an inventor, and was working on some steam powered gadget in his workshop. He had begun with making clocks and watches and had moved on to explore the notion of steam propulsion. Prue was quite keen on it and thought her father marvelously clever. My father was bewitched by the small watch she wore on her wrist. Her father had made it and fashioned each and every little gem stone and cog himself. I'd nto have noticed it, for all its extraodinary beauty and oddness, because I simply could not stop staring at her face. Prue's eyes were impossibly blue, her mouth plump and succulent and her cheeks and nose were sprinkled with just a few faint freckles.

.. ..

Yes, I was calling her Prue as easily as she was calling my sister Milly and I was a bit sullen that I did not have a pet-name between the three of us by the time tea had ended! It seemed a sign of her affection and I was desperate for it. She once even reached out and plucked a crumb from my father’s lapel and I was jealous of that touch. I will confess that by the time we were saying our good-byes that I was quite taken with her. Milly smiled at me and my father grunted his approval. Only my mother looked unconvinced. I supposed it has something to do with Prue being rather unconventional- which was, oddly, fine enough for her own daughter, but not for a marriage prospect for her son.

.. ..

I said little to my mother as she voiced her concerns. My father, whom you may have gathered is a man of few words, had no words. He simply rolled his eyes and let out a great huff of breath as he shook his head. Milly took great pleasure in arguing with my mother, and when it reached the shrill tones of glass breaking potential, my father and I vacated the salon. (As is the tradition of sensible Sommerbie men. We've a long lineage and few, if any, incidents of spousal homocide.) I had dinner plans with Dr. Seymore Aelfwine and lest I forget her, the glorious Celeste, at the Vaudeville and my father had the evening paper. The Sommerbie ladies had their near fatal argument to keep them busy.


The Eclectic Pen » All Stories by Tangee H. (Tangeelala)

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