Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Bath Follies," Episode 3

Now, it is (also) ofttimes bandied about in certain intellectual circles that perhaps the best way out of a most unpleasant situation wherein the tables have been turned so abruptly on one’s head—such as what happened to poor Lord Brumbly, despite having made a good and honest attempt to help his niece through her great trial and tribulation—is to either take the high road—a road paved with true sincerity and the spirit of humility and apology, allowing one to rectify a gross misapprehension—or, take the low road—a road paved by the cobblestones of cowardice, allowing one to straightwith run from a “fire” before it rages out of control—and leave all comfortings as need be, or, such cleanings up of the dramatics, to the female of the species—such as what Uncle Peter ultimately did to his wife, Joan, who, he was perfectly convinced, possessed the requisite sensitivity with which to deal with overwrought females.  And so my dear readers, it was with that spirit of pusillanimity which resided so permanently in his heart, that Lord Brumbly quickly withdrew from Lady Angela’s bedchamber without another word to his niece!
But, poor Aunt Joan, after putting forth a valiant effort to calm the Lady Angela, yet did the rainstorm of tears continue, and she began to despair and doubt her ability to calm the flood; therefore, accompanied by handwringing of the sort not seen since a near fatal episode involving Roger, a milk pail, and a cussed bull, she decided firmer action was in order; it was, after all, of great necessity and importance to find out the true nature of the walk her niece so eloquently spouted off about, particular as it had been attended by the sort of sufferings Aunt Joan had never been privy to witness in her dear niece’s entire life! However, enough was enough. Therefore, Aunt Joan turned to Roger who had been lurking about the hallway for the entire performance. 
“My dearest Roger,” she hissed most urgently, “pray do come here. I have a request of the utmost importance.” Scarcely had she mentioned his name before the young boy appeared abruptly before her, a mixture of eagerness and concern on his fresh young face, unspotted by freckles of any kind, and more fair than rays of sun beaming off a parterre of hedges whose noble crowns are perpetually barbered to perfection, excepting that his dark hair was perpetually in a state of disgrace with curls so thick the total picture was one of continual, and unwholesome untidiness, though Aunt Joan was forever smoothing his hair down, and had even resorted to cutting it close to his head. A mere month later the picture was the same as dear Roger’s hair grew at an alarming rate! “Yes, Auntie Joan, what may I do, what may I do?” the boy replied with utmost eagerness. 
A warm smile appeared on his aunt’s face. “Dear Roger, what would I do without your charming ferventness to be pleasing at all times.” She commenced to smooth his errant curls down. “You may fetch me a pail of water this instant.”
The boy was gone in a flash! the pitter patter of excitement beating fast and furious in his bird-like breast, knowing in his heart of hearts that his sister was about to receive her just reward for scaring everybody half to death with a performance so spontaneously outlandish, Roger was perfectly convinced a douse of cold water could only do his beloved sister much good; in point of fact, it was the only solution! And Roger was most profoundly happy to be the pail bearer; though, that is not to say he did not love his sister—for he most assuredly did, but it is a well-known fact in society that Lady Angela Rosecroft’s ego is so entirely out-of-control, so overwhelmingly and unnecessarily prideful, that there must needs be a vital correction in the manner of a set-down that will be both dramatic and effective.

By the by, Roger returned with a pail of water, though half-empty from when first he had filled it, as a great portion of it had ended up on the stairs due to his most excitable state, and in his prodigious haste to return to his sister’s bedchamber to do his aunt’s bidding. Still, there was enough to shock Angela back to some form of life. Roger burst into the room without so much as a by your leave, and when confronted by his sister’s unceasing sobs that were increasing in intensity, and being most frightened at this continual hysteria of tears—which were, truth to tell, invariably breaking his heart—the over-anxious boy dashed forward to the bed; and failing to heed his aunt standing in the wings waiting most patiently with an outstretched hand to take the water pail so she could gently, and quite lightly splash a little liquid onto the back of her niece’s sobbing head—just a tad to get the poor girl’s attention—Roger—he with that great spirit of devotion common to all children, he with the tender soul of a young pup eager to please its master, he with a compelling, masculine need to be useful in such times of extreme crisis—he chucked the contents of the pail right smack onto his sister’s head with a great deal of speed, and splash!
Lady Angela instantly responded in a most impolitic way; that is to say, she bounded off the bed with great dexterity, flexibility and quickness, her sobs having ceased to the instant; and, with a roar to near match her uncle’s, she roundly boxed dear Roger on the ears causing the young boy to howl with much pain! Aunt Joan, with a most grievous expression on her face, rounded up the sobbing boy and hurried out of the room, but not before she left words of severe rebuke. 
“Upon my word, Angela, you have gone far beyond the pale in this matter. You may stay in your room until such time as you apologize to your brother; a merciless assault on an innocent child ten years younger is exceedingly monstrous, and shows a complete lack of moral character!” With that pronouncement Aunt Joan swiftly left the room, a comforting, maternal arm wrapped around her tearful nephew. Some seconds after she left, the sound of a lamp shattering against the door made the charitable woman wince, and Roger to cower. Aunt Joan turned and went back to the room. She tentatively opened the door, and with exceeding caution stuck her head in the narrow opening before remarking, “And there will be no supper for you, my dear . . . none at all.” She closed the door with some force as to make her point, but the Lady Angela was now too busily thinking determinedly in this way: she would most certainly not stay in her room; she would leave whenever she wished, to visit with whomever she wished, whenever she wished; and, not to make too fine point on it, but she would also deign to eat whenever she wanted. 
At one and twenty, it went doubly beyond the pale for her Beloved aunt to chastise her thusly, treating her as if she were a mere child. And then, to not even address, much less acknowledge her despair, and her most grievously wounded heart regarding the serious matter of the assault on her person by a man most foul, most bestial in nature—even if his countenance could be likened to that of Antinous, whose Famous beauty captured the love, loyalty and life-long devotion of the Emperor Hadrian—went triply beyond the pale!  Lady Angela threw herself back on the bed, but instead of tears, a sudden more thoughtful, more avaricious gleam appeared, though avaricious might, upon first appearance anyway, to be much too strong a word to describe with sufficient accuracy of what she was truly thinking—or, perhaps it was not; for, in her mind, a man with such a glorious horse as Lucifer, must of necessity be of high social standing, even the nobility, with a portion to rival the wealthiest families in Bath, the Brumbly’s for one; and even though he lacked certain qualities pertaining to courtly, gentleman-like ways, well, Lady Angela was quite sure she could be as fine a teacher as one could hope for! 
She must endeavor to find out his name. She bounced off the bed, donned a day gown of like quality to the Infamous dreadful one of the Disastrous morning, and flew out the door to make the necessary apology. After all, Roger, her dear beloved brother, really did not deserve such a comeuppance, for he was, she supposed, doing only that which her aunt was going to do. And Lady Angela did concede the possibility she had minor weaknesses to her character—she was still very young after all; though the mere fact that in this particular instance the apology came at a most convenient time—which, even you must admit dear reader, could not have come at a better time, though, if supposing it had come at a more inconvenient time such that she stood not to benefit from such confessions and apologies of a contrite spirit, oh! how impressive that would be, and perhaps we would not then suspicion that her actions to be superficial in nature, and all part of a devious plan!   
A scant two days later, our heroine set off to church with her brother,  aunt and uncle, seemingly with the most pleasant of expressions upon her lovely face, such that passerby's did remark upon what startling color of eyes she had—indigo blue in Lady Angela’s case—and so very clear and sparkling, like gems adorning rays of sunshine, that it was oh so veritably a great honor to be on the receiving end of her gaze! Yet, rarely did the eyes of Lady Angela seek out another’s; no, most times they alighted on the Beauteous buildings of Bath, or the elegant barouche’s—to like, or as not, as they paraded down city lanes; and this after noting with great interest the quality of Magnificent horses attached to a particular mode of transportation, such as to their color, how fashionable their mane and tail, and how sufficiently large they were! Even more often, and more avidly did our heroine’s eyes feast upon the youthful female occupants in these fine carriages with their presentable beaus, and thinking with pointed interest as to what style of dress her contemporaries were wearing—such as, were they in the fashion of the season?—and, as to what manner of man did accompany them—such as, was he of the ton, a gentleman, a tradesman, or a military officer?; and, how fortunate, or not, were these couples in looks, as it was most important to Lady Angela that they appear very well put together, like as one to the other. 
It was decidedly these kind of observations that Lady Angela was more often engaged in; and, it is not to say that our heroine was at all envious of these fine young romantic couples, for she knew in her heart of hearts that in the very near future she would be set up in the most conspicuously Grandest barouche of them all, with the most handsome aristocrat of all—once she designed to make her acquaintance with Lord Devilyn in a more socially proper and congenial way, of course, and train him to be at her side; and, how like as not the two of them would be the most Beautiful couple ever to ride the streets of Bath, and how very much like a Queen she would be, waving to her many adoring fans! She would undoubtedly be the envy of all the married and unmarried females in Bath! Nay, in the whole of England!
But of a sudden was there no more time for further reflection and self-adulation! For Lady Angela’s thoughts, which, admittedly were exceedingly pompous and fantastical in nature, were most rudely interrupted when her brother Roger, with great quickness of speed, darted out into the street convinced he had seen a dipper lift the purse the size of a sow’s ear hanging innocently off the side of a nattily-dressed, but rather plumpish woman of some advanced age, who, with both gloved hands, held so tightly onto her parasol as to be in total neglect and disregard for the well-being of her purse; and though it had thinly laid straps of the finest quality leather ever, it would not have taken much effort to cut loose, leaving the guttersnipe to dash away so very quickly it was scarcely to be believed a crime had been committed! But Roger had no such misgivings. He had seen what he had seen; and, as a consequence, he plowed into the middle of the street yelling, Cutpurse! Cutpurse! Cutpurse! before any family members, including our heroine could stop him! It was truly a miracle the dear boy was not hit at once by any of the numerous grand carriages, and barouches parading about on their way to all the Elevated churches so prominently on display in Bath. 
Then—Oh! what with wondrous eyes if we could but behold; yet another blessed miracle was about to unfold! Our heroine did follow through on the most decisive! most self-less! most courageous act of her entire life!—she plucked her brother up by the top of his suit collar and dragged him to the other side of the street—the side upon which the crime had allegedly occurred—though, in her haste to do so, the bottoms of her skirt were in utter ruin from the numerous indelicate, mud-like droppings that Magnificent horses tend to make as they trot exceedingly fine patrons to various places; and, it is at this point that I must make short shrift of any further description of an event that is second nature to these beasts, and the extremely unhappy results that commonly occur when an innocent bystander stumble over such indelicate matter, except to say this: the malodorous smell can nigh be overwhelming at times, so much so, that people walking to and fro from church will often have fanciful embroidered white handkerchiefs available to the ready! 
Leave it enough to be said, that our heroic Lady Angela was most wroth by the time she had Roger safely about; and, with one of his ears pinched in a gloved hand she gave him the scolding of his life! How exceedingly unfortunate it was then, that almost to the exact minute she was scolding dear Roger, our portly Lady of Quality—she of whom Roger swore up and down had had her purse nicked—began to wail for all to hear, that yes, indeed she had been robbed most Tragically! And how doubly unfortunate it was, that when Lady Angela did look up in response to this annoying caterwauling, she was to find that a gilded, satin-lined barouche had come to an abrupt stop beside her. And Oh! what a complete dismantling of Lady Angela’s quite very bold and romantical imaginings when she recognized the male occupant of this noble carriage: he, who did sit very prettily next to a female companion: he, who was now gaping most rapturously at the scene before him: he, to whom we are rather intimately familiar with—Yes! He, that veritable lion of a Beast, Lord Byron Devilyn, the man who ofttimes seeks, as per his mood on any particular day, the ruination of every misfortunate, Beauteous female who crosses his path—a man who might forever be known as the most scandalous scoundrel in Bath, with an Infamous smile to match the most insufferable, most demonic, most unnatural creature ever!  
How completely humiliating, and demoralizing should it have been for our Lady Angela to witness a female counterpart compel so vividly to life, the very same ambitious fantasy our heroine had heretofore imagined only just a few minutes before! What soul-debasing, abject mortification!—that is, for anybody other than Lady Angela. Truth to tell, our heroine very rarely suffers the consequences of self-directed, and rather hysterical adjectative prescriptives, which very dramatically describe inner turmoil, particular in regards to deeply rooted self-reflective emotions, which, if properly expressed and appreciated, can lead to transformation of character, albeit slowly! 
      Instead, and plucked forthwith from our heroine’s bag of tricks, Lady Angela’s mouth did drop in a most unladylike manner, and with such extreme vexation, she did glare upon Lord Devilyn and his most attractive female companion with an exceedingly baleful eye!  And of a certainty did our heroine know this particular female. And of a certainly, it must be duly noted, that had Lady Angela her parasol in hand, she would have snapped it shut, and then, oh, much like a paddle ready to strike a ball, so too would her parasol be used as a paddle, excepting the object to be struck in this instance, would be a very prettily constructed head—the profile of which had come lately been made famous by the artist of the day—causing quite possibly the most Wretched destruction of the loveliest, most pastorally-inspired, most fashionably-styled, and expensive bonnet ever made for a Regency woman! 

Author note: 

I made up a word. Can you fine it? (Did you see what I just did? Giggle. Yes, all author's should be fined for using words not in a dictionary!) I probably made up even more, and don't even know it. You know, I absorbed that particular peculiarity from Georgette Heyer by osmosis. She was really good at making up words and passing them off as genuine. But you'd have to be a word wizard to catch her. Or keep a dictionary by the table.