The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe - Willow & Tara Forever

General Chat  || Kitten  || WaV  || Pens  || Mi2  || GMP  || TiE  || FAQ  || Feed - The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe

All times are UTC - 8 hours



Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 61 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:53 pm 
Offline
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:34 pm
Posts: 176
Topics: 9
Location: PNW
Dash it all, this was adorable. Seriously having Tara show just made my night. It has been a rough night and I fear I will accomplish nil for the rest of my week.

Also an amusing and well played cliffhanger. Or would that be cupboard hanger?

_________________
Visit my epic fic As You Wish and my shorts thread F*Series & Other Shorts But don't go visit my rarely updated Official Blog!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 9:45 am 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:49 pm
Posts: 1159
Topics: 12
Location: Seattle, WA
Replies followed by Chapter 11!

Artemis -
Quote:
It's a clever balancing act in how you write for Willow there, 'silly' yet sincere, conveying the depth of feeling between them while still keeping the actual narrative light and breezy, the way Willow would describe it to someone.


Aw!! Thank you! Yes, I have a lot of fun writing Willow's "twitterpations" for Tara. I don't want there to be any doubt about how deeply in love with her she is. I'm glad it shines through and holds up!!

Quote:
Loved the frantic action around Spode until Willow's memory finally kicked in - it had the properly adorable farce feeling to it, with the painting and people dashing around and tripping up and colliding and confusion and so forth.


Again, thanks! I had a lot of fun putting this sequence together... I may have acted some of it out in my living room... possibly... you know... just for accuracy in detail. Maybe.

dtburanek -
Quote:
Seriously having Tara show just made my night. It has been a rough night and I fear I will accomplish nil for the rest of my week.


Glad I could brighten your evening! I hope the rest of your week calmed down and was manageable.


Thanks for your replies!!

On to the next! Tally-ho!
DW

_________________
Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 9:52 am 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:49 pm
Posts: 1159
Topics: 12
Location: Seattle, WA
Chapter 11



Giles was the first to break a rather strained silence.

“The book does not appear to be here, miss.”

“Eh?”

“I have searched the top of the cupboard, miss, but I have not found the book.”

It may be that my reply erred a trifle on the side of acerbity. My narrow escape from those slavering jaws had left me a bit edgy.

“Blast the book, Giles! What about the dog?”

“Yes, miss.”

“What do you mean – ‘Yes, miss’?”

“I was endeavoring to convey that I appreciate the point which you have raised, miss. The animal’s unexpected appearance presents a problem. Our freedom of action will be circumscribed.”

“What’s to be done?”

“It is difficult to say, miss.”

“You have no ideas?”

“No, miss.”

A rather stiff silence ensued, during which the dog Wilkins continued to gaze at me unwinkingly, and once more I found myself noticing – and resenting – the superior, sanctimonious expression on his face. Nothing can ever render the experience of being treed on top of a chest of drawers by an Aberdeen terrier pleasant, but it seemed to me that the least you can expect on such an occasion is that the animal will meet you halfway and not drop salt in the wound by looking at you as if he were asking if you were saved.

It was in the hope of wiping this look off his face that I now made a gesture. There was a stump of candle standing in the parent candlestick beside me, and I threw this at the little blighter. He ate it with every appearance of relish, took time out briefly in order to be sick, and resumed the silent stare. And at this moment the door opened and in came Fifi – hours before I had expected her.

The first thing that impressed itself upon one on seeing her was that she was not in her customary buoyant spirits. Fifi, as a rule, is a girl who moves jauntily from spot to spot, but she entered now with a slow and dragging step. She cast a dull eye at us, and after a brief “Hullo, Willow. Hullo, Giles,” seemed to dismiss us from her thoughts. She made for the dressing table and, having removed her hat, sat looking at herself in the mirror with somber eyes. It was plain that for some reason the soul had got a flat tire, and seeing that unless I opened the conversation there was going to be one of those awkward pauses, I did so.

“What ho, Fifi.”

“Hullo.”

“Nice evening. Your dog’s just been sick on the carpet.”

All this, of course, was merely a way of leading into the main theme, which I now proceeded to broach.

“Well, Fifi, I suppose you’re surprised to see us here?”

“No, I’m not. Have you been looking for that book?”

“Why, yes. That’s right. We have. Though, as a matter of fact, we hadn’t really got started. We were somewhat impeded by the bow-wow.” Keeping it light, you notice. Always the best way on these occasions. “He took our entrance in the wrong spirit.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. Would it be asking too much of you to attach a stout lead to his collar, thus making the world safe for democracy?”

“Yes, it would.”

“Surely you wish to save the lives of two fellow creatures?”

“No, I don’t. I hope Wilkins bites you to the bone.”

I saw that little was to be gained be approaching the matter from this angle. I switched to a different point of view.

“I wasn’t expecting you,” I said. “I thought you had gone to the Working Men’s Institute, to tickle the ivories in accompaniment to Skittle Pin’s lecture on the Holy Land.”

“I did.”

“Back early, aren’t you?”

“Yes. The lecture was off. Ryland broke the slides.”

“Oh?” I said, feeling that he was just the sort of chap to break slides. “How did that happen?”

She passed a listless hand over the brow of the dog Wilkins, who had stepped up to fraternize.

“He dropped them. He had a shock, when I broke off our engagement.”

“What!”

“Yes.” A gleam came in to her eyes as if she were reliving unpleasant scenes. Her listlessness disappeared, and for the first time she spoke with a vehemence. “I got to Ryland’s cottage, and I went in, and after we’d talked of this and that for a while, I said, ‘when are you going to pinch Constable Oates’ helmet, darling?’ And would you believe it, he looked at me in a horrible, sheepish, hang-dog way and said that he had been wrestling with his conscience in the hope of getting is OK, but that it simply wouldn’t hear of him pinching Oates’ helmet, so it was all off. “Oh?” I said, drawing myself up. “All off is it? Well, so is our engagement,” and he dropped a double-handful of colored slides of the Holy Land, and I came away.”

“You don’t mean that?”

“Yes, I do. And I consider that I have had a very lucky escape. If he is the sort of man who is going to refuse me every little thing I ask, I’m glad I found it out in time. I’m delighted about the whole thing.”

Here, with a sniff like the tearing of a piece of calico, she buried the bean in her hands, and broke into what are called uncontrollable sobs.

Well, dashed painful, of course, and you wouldn’t be far wrong in saying that I ached in sympathy with her distress. I don’t suppose there is a bird in London more readily moved by a fellow woman’s grief than myself.

For two pins, if I’d been a bit nearer, I would have patted her head. But though there is this kindly streak in the Rosenbys, there is also a practical one, and it didn’t take me long to spot the bright side to all this. “Well, that’s too bad,” I said. “The heart bleeds. Eh, Giles?”

“Distinctly, miss.”

“Yes, by Jove, it bleeds profusely, and I suppose all that one can say is that one hopes that Time, the great healer, will eventually stitch up the wound. However, as in these circs you will, of course, no longer have any use for that notebook of Lumpy’s, how about handing it over?”

“What?”

“I said that if your projected union with Skittle-Pin is off, you will, of course, no longer wish to keep that notebook of Lumpy’s among your effects — ”

“Oh, don’t bother me about notebooks now.”

“No, no, quite. Not for the world. All I’m saying is that if — at your leisure — choose the time to suit yourself — you wouldn’t mind slipping it across — ”

“Oh, all right. I can’t give it you now, though. It isn’t here.”

“Not here?”

“No. I put it…Hallo, what’s that?”

What had caused her to suspend her remarks just at the point when they were becoming fraught with interest was a sudden tapping sound. A sort of tap-tap-tap. It came from the direction of the window.

This room of Fifi’s, I should have mentioned, in addition to being equipped with four-poster beds, valuable pictures, richly upholstered chairs and all sorts of things far too good for a young squirt, had a balcony outside its window. It was from this balcony that the tapping sound proceeded, leading one to infer that someone stood without. That the dog Wilkins had reached this conclusion was shown immediately by the lissome agility with which he leaped at the window and started trying to bite his way through. Up till this moment he had shown himself a dog of strong reserves, content merely to sit and stare, but now he was full of strange oaths. And I confess that, as I watched his champing and listened to his observations, I congratulated myself on the promptitude with which I had breezed onto that chest of drawers. A bone-crusher, if ever one drew breath, this Wilkins Travers.

Reluctant as one always is to criticize the acts of an all-wise Providence, I was dashed if I could see why a dog of his size should have been fitted out with the jaws and teeth of a crocodile. Still, too late of course to do anything about it now.

Fifi, after that moment of surprised inaction which was to be expected in a girl who hears tapping sounds at her window, had risen and gone to investigate. I couldn’t see a thing from where I was sitting, but she was evidently more fortunately placed. As she drew back the curtain, I saw her clap a hand to her throat, like someone in a play, and a sharp cry escaped her, audible even above the ghastly row which was proceeding from the lips of the frothing terrier.

“Ryland!” she yipped, and putting two and two together I gathered that the bird on the balcony must be old Skittle-Pin Finn, my favorite curate. Her next words were uttered with a cold, hostile intonation. I was able to hear them, because she had stooped and picked up the bounder Wilkins, clamping a hand over his mouth to still his cries — a thing I wouldn’t have done for a goodish bit of money. “What do you want?” Owing to the lull in Wilkins, the stuff was coming through well now. Skittle-Pin’s voice was a bit muffled by the intervening sheet of glass, but I got it nicely.

“Fifi!”

“Well?”

“Can I come in?”

“No, you can’t.”

“But I’ve brought you something.”

A sudden yowl of ecstasy broke from the young pimple. “Ryland! You angel lamb! You haven’t got it, after all?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, Ryland, my dream of joy!” She opened the window with eager fingers, and a cold draught came in and played about my ankles. It was not followed, as I had supposed it would be, by old Skittle-Pin.

He continued to hang about on the outskirts, and a moment later his motive in doing so was made clear. “I say, Fifi, old girl, is that hound of yours under control?”

“Yes, rather. Wait a minute.” She carried the animal to the cupboard and bunged him in, closing the door behind him. And from the fact that no further bulletins were received from him, I imagine he curled up and went to sleep. These Scotties are philosophers, well able to adapt themselves to changing conditions. They can take it as well as dish it out.

“All clear, angel,” she said, and returned to the window, arriving there just in time to be folded in the embrace of the Incoming Skittle-Pin.

It was not easy for some moments to sort out the male from the female ingredients in the ensuing tangle, but eventually he disengaged himself and I was able to see him steadily and see him whole. And when I did so, I noticed that there was rather more of him than there had been when I had seen him last. Country butter and the easy life these curates lead had added a pound or two to an always impressive figure. To find the lean, finely trained Skittle-Pin of my nonage, I felt that one would have to catch him in Lent.

But the change in him, I soon perceived, was purely superficial. The manner in which he now tripped over a rug and cannoned into an occasional table, upsetting it with all the old thoroughness, showed me that at heart he still remained the same galumphing man with two left feet, who had always been constitutionally incapable of walking through the great Gobi desert without knocking something over.

Skittle-Pin’s was a face which in the old College days had glowed with health and heartiness. The health was still there —he looked like a clerical beetroot — but of heartiness at this moment one noted rather a shortage. His features were drawn, as if Conscience were gnawing at his vitals. And no doubt it was, for in one hand he was carrying the helmet which I had last observed perched on the dome of Constable Eustace Oates. With a quick, impulsive movement, like that of a man trying to rid himself of a dead fish, he thrust it at Fifi, who received it with a soft, tender squeal of ecstasy. “I brought it,” he said dully.

“Oh, Ryland! Thank you, darling. Tell me everything that happened.”

He was about to do so, when he paused, and I saw that he was staring at me with a rather feverish look in his eyes. Then he turned and stared at Giles. One could read what was passing in his mind. He was debating within himself whether we were real, or whether the nervous strain to which he had been subjected was causing him to see things.

“Fifi,” he said, lowering his voice, “don’t look now, but is there something on top of that chest of drawers?”

“Eh? Oh, yes, that’s Willow Rosenby.”

“Oh, it is?” said Skittle-Pin, brightening visibly. “I wasn’t quite sure. Is that somebody on the cupboard, too?”

“That’s Willow’s man, Giles.”

“How do you do?” said Skittle-Pin.

“How do you do, sir?” said Giles.

We climbed down, and I came forward with outstretched hand, anxious to get the reunion going.

“What ho, Skittle-Pin.”

“Hullo, Willow.”

“Long time since we met.”

“It is a bit, isn’t it?”

“I hear you’re a curate now.”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“How are the souls?”

“Oh, fine, thanks.”

There was a pause, and I suppose I would have gone on to ask him if he had seen anything of old So-and-so lately or knew what had become of old What’s-his-name, as one does when the conversation shows a tendency to drag on these occasions of ancient chums meeting again after long separation, but before I could do so, Fifi, who had been crooning over the helmet like a mother over the cot of her sleeping child, stuck it on her head with a merry chuckle, and the spectacle appeared to bring back to Skittle-Pin like a slosh in the waistcoat the realization of what he had done. You’ve probably heard the expression “The wretched man seemed fully conscious of his position.” That was Ryland Finn at this juncture.

He shied like a startled horse, knocked over another table, tottered to a chair, knocked that over, picked it up and sat down, burying his face in his hands.

“If the Infants’ Bible Class should hear of this!” he said, shuddering strongly.

I saw what he meant. A man in his position has to watch his step. What people expect from a curate is a zealous performance of his parochial duties. When they find him de-helmeting policemen, they look at one another with the raised eyebrow of censure, and ask themselves if he is quite the right man for the job. That was what was bothering Skittle-Pin and preventing him being the old effervescent curate whose jolly laugh had made the last School Treat go with such a bang. Fifi endeavored to hearten him.

“I’m sorry, darling. If it upsets you, I’ll put it away.” She crossed to the chest of drawers, and did so. “But why it should,” she said, returning, “I can’t imagine. I should have thought it would have made you so proud and happy. And now tell me everything that happened.”

“Yes,” I said. “One would like the firsthand story”

“Did you creep up behind him like a leopard?” asked Fifi.

“Of course, he did,” I said, admonishing the silly young shrimp. “You don’t suppose he pranced up in full view of the fellow? No doubt you trailed him with unremitting snakiness, eh, Skittle-Pin, and did the deed when he was relaxing on a stile or somewhere over a quiet pipe?”

Skittle-Pin sat staring straight before him, that drawn look still on his face. “He wasn’t on the stile. He was leaning against it. After you left me, Fifi, I went for a walk to think things over, and I had just crossed Plunket’s meadow and was going to climb the stile into the next one, when I saw something dark in front of me, and there he was.”

I nodded. I could visualize the scene. “I hope,” I said, “that you remembered to give the forward shove before the upwards lift?”

“It wasn’t necessary. The helmet was not on his head. He had taken it off and put it on the ground. And, I just crept up and grabbed it.”

I started, pursing the lips a bit. “Not quite playing the game, Skittle-Pin.”

“Yes, it was,” said Fifi, with a good deal of warmth. “I call it very clever of him. And it jolly well isn’t fitting for you to offer an opinion, young pie-faced Willow Rosenby. Who do you think you are,” she demanded, with renewed warmth, “coming strolling into a girl’s bedroom, sticking on about the right way and wrong way of pinching helmets? What are you doing here?”

“Yes, I was wondering that,” said Skittle-Pin, touching on the point for the first time. And I could see, of course, how he might quite well be surprised at finding this mob scene in what he had supposed the exclusive sleeping apartment of the loved one.

I eyed her sternly. “You know what I am doing here. I told you. I came — “

“Oh, yes. Willow came to borrow a book, darling. But” — here her eyes lingered on mine in a cold and sinister manner — “I’m afraid I can’t let her have it just yet. I have not finished with it myself. By the way,” she continued, still holding me with that compelling stare, “Willow says she will be delighted to help us with that cow-creamer scheme.”

“Will you, old girl?” said Skittle-Pin eagerly.

“Of course, she will,” said Fifi. Her manner was impatient. She seemed in a hurry to terminate the scene.

“When would you feel like doing it, Willow?”

“She feels like doing it tonight,” said Fifi. “No sense in putting things off. Be waiting outside at midnight, darling. Everybody will have gone to bed by then. Midnight will suit you, Willow? Yes, Willow says it will suit her splendidly. So, that’s all settled. And now you really must be going, precious. If somebody came in and found you here, they might think it odd. Good night, darling.”

“Good night, darling.”

“Good night, darling.”

“Good night, darling.”

“Wait!” I said, cutting in on these revolting exchanges, for I wished to make a last appeal to Skittle-Pin’s finer feelings.

“He can’t wait. He’s got to go. Remember, angel. On the spot, ready to the last button, at twelve pip emma. Good night, darling.”

“Good night, darling.”

“Good night, darling.”

“Good night, darling.”

They passed onto the balcony, the nauseous endearments receding in the distance, and I turned to Giles, my face stern and hard.

“Faugh, Giles!”

“Miss?”

“I said ‘Faugh!’ I am a pretty broad-minded girl, but this has shocked me — I may say to the core. It is not so much the behavior of Fifi that I find so revolting. But that Ryland Finn, a clerk in Holy Orders, a chap who buttons his collar at the back, should countenance this thing appalls me. He knows she has got that book. He knows that she is holding me up with it. But does he insist on her returning it? No! He lends himself to the raw work with open enthusiasm.” I paused, much moved. A bit out of breath, too.

“I think you do the gentleman an injustice, miss.”

“Eh?”

“I am sure that he is under the impression that your acquiescence in the scheme is due entirely to goodness of heart and a desire to assist an old friend.”

“You think she hasn’t told him about the notebook?”

“I am convinced of it, miss. I could gather that from the lady’s manner.”

“I didn’t notice anything about her manner.”

“When you were about to mention the notebook, it betrayed embarrassment, miss. She feared lest Mr. Finn might enquire into the matter and, learning the facts, compel her to make restitution.”

“By Jove, Giles, I believe you’re right.” I reviewed the recent scene. Yes, he was perfectly correct. Fifi, though one of those girls who enjoy in equal quantities the gall of an army mule and the calm insouciance of a fish on a slab of ice, had unquestionably gone up in the air a bit when I had seemed about to explain to Skittle-Pin my motives for being in the room. I recalled the feverish way in which she had hustled him out, like a small bouncer at a pub ejecting a large customer.

“Egad, Giles!” I said, impressed. There was a muffled crashing sound from the direction of the balcony. A few moments later, Fifi returned.

“Ryland fell off the ladder,” she explained, laughing heartily.

“Well, Willow, you’ve got the program all clear? Tonight’s the night!”

“Wait!” I said. “Not so fast. Just one moment, young Fifi.” The ring of quiet authority in my tone seemed to take her aback. She blinked twice, and looked at me questioningly. “Just one moment,” I repeated. “Fifi,” I said, laughing down from lazy eyelids, “I will trouble you to disgorge that book.” The questioning look became intensified. I could see that all this was perplexing her. She had supposed that she had Willow nicely ground beneath the iron heel, and here she was, popping up like a two-year-old, full of the fighting spirit.

“What do you mean?”

I laughed down a bit more. “I should have supposed,” I said, “that my meaning was quite clear. I want that notebook of Lumpy’s, and I want it immediately, without any more back chat.”

Her lips tightened. “You will get it tomorrow — if Ryland turns in a satisfactory report.”

“I shall get it now.”

“Ha jolly ha!”

“‘Ha jolly ha!’ to you, young Fifi, with knobs on,” I retorted with quiet dignity. “I repeat, I shall get it now. If I don’t, I shall go to old Skittle-Pin and tell him all about it.”

“All about what?”

“All about everything. At present, he is under the impression that my acquiescence in your scheme is due entirely to goodness of heart and a desire to assist an old friend. You haven’t told him about the notebook. I am convinced of it. I could gather that from your manner. When I was about to mention the notebook, it betrayed embarrassment. You feared lest Skittle-Pin might enquire into the matter and, learning the facts, compel you to make restitution.” Her eyes flickered. I saw that Giles had been correct in his diagnosis.

“You’re talking absolute rot,” she said, but it was with a quaver on the voice.

“All right. Well, toodle-oo. I’m off to find Skittle-Pin.” I turned on my heel and, as I expected, she stopped me with a pleading yowl.

“No, Willow, don’t! You mustn’t!”

I came back. “So! You admit it? Skittle-Pin knows nothing of your…of your underhanded skullduggery.”

“I don’t see why you call it underhanded skullduggery.”

“I call it underhanded skullduggery because that is what I consider it. And that is what Skittle-Pin, dripping as he is with high principles, will consider it when the facts are placed before him.” I turned on the heel again. “Well, toodle-oo once more.”

“Willow, wait!”

“Well?”

“Willow, darling — “

I checked her with a cold wave. “Less of the ‘Willow, darling’. ‘Willow, darling’, forsooth! Nice time to start the ‘Willow, darling’—ing.”

“But, Willow darling, I want to explain. Of course, I didn’t dare tell Ryland about the book. He would have had a fit. He would have said it was a rotten trick, and of course I knew it was. But there was nothing else to do. There didn’t seem any other way of getting you to help us.”

“There wasn’t.”

“But you are going to help us, aren’t you?”

“I am not.”

“Well, I do think you might.”

“I dare say you do, but I won’t.”

Somewhere about the first or second line of this chunk of dialogue, I had observed her eyes begin to moisten and her lips to tremble, and a pearly one had started to steal down the cheek. The bursting of the dam, of which that pearly one had been the first preliminary trickle, now set in with great severity. With a brief word to the effect that she wished she were dead and that I would look pretty silly when I gazed down at her coffin, knowing that my inhumanity had put her there, she flung herself on the bed and started going oomph. It was the old uncontrollable sob-stuff which she had pulled earlier in the proceedings, and once more I found myself a bit unmanned. I stood there irresolute, plucking nervously at my dress. I have already alluded to the effect of a woman’s grief on the Rosenbys.

“Oomp,” she went. “Oomp…Oomp"

“But, Fifi, old girl, be reasonable. Use the bean. You can’t seriously expect me to pinch that cow-creamer.”

“It oomps everything to us.”

“Very possibly. But listen. You haven’t envisaged the latent snags. Your blasted father is watching my every move, just waiting for me to start something. And even if he wasn’t, the fact that I would be co-operating with Skittle-Pin renders the thing impossible. I have already given you my views on Skittle-Pin as a partner in crime. Somehow, in some manner, he would muck everything up. Why, look at what happened just now. He couldn’t even climb down a ladder without falling off.”

“Oomp.”

“Giles, would you agree with me, that the scheme, as planned, would merely end in disaster?”

“Yes, miss. It undoubtedly presents certain grave difficulties. I wonder if I might be permitted to suggest an alternative one.”

I stared at the man. “You mean you have found a formula.”

“I think so, miss.”

His words had de-oomped Fifi. I don’t think anything else in the world would have done it.

She sat up, looking at him with a wild surmise. “Giles! Have you really?”

“Yes, miss.”

“Well, you certainly are the most wonderfully woolly baa-lamb that ever stepped.”

“Thank you, miss.”

“Well, let us have it, Giles,” I said, lowering self into a chair. “One hopes, of course, that you are right, but I should have thought personally that there were no avenues.”

“I think we can find one, miss, if we approach the matter from the psychological angle.”

“Oh, psychological?”

“Yes, miss.”

“The psychology of the individual?”

“Precisely, miss.”

“I see. Giles,” I explained to Fifi, who, of course, knew the man only slightly, “is and always has been a whale on the psychology of the individual. He eats it alive. What individual, Giles?”

“Sir Quentin Travers, miss.”

I frowned doubtfully. “You propose to try to soften that old public enemy? I don’t think it can be done, except with a knuckleduster.”

“No, miss. It would not be easy to soften Sir Quentin, who, as you imply, is a man of strong character, not easily molded. The idea I have in mind is to endeavor to take advantage of his attitude towards yourself. Sir Quentin does not like you, miss.”

“I don’t like him.”

“No, miss. But the important thing is that he has conceived a strong distaste for you, and would consequently sustain a severe shock, were you to inform him that you and Miss Travers were in love and prepared to leave England to be together.”

“What! You want me to tell him that Fifi and I are that way?”

“Precisely, miss.” I shook the head. “I see no percentage in it, Giles. All right for a laugh, no doubt — watching the old bounder’s reactions I mean — but of little practical value. And suppose word were to get to Aunt Sheila? Disaster!” Fifi, too, seemed disappointed. It was plain that she had been hoping for better things.

“It sounds goofy to me,” she said. “Where would that get us, Giles?”

“If I might explain, miss. Sir Quentin’s reactions would, as Miss Rosenby suggests, be of a strongly defined character.”

“He would hit the ceiling.”

“Exactly, miss. A very colorful piece of imagery. And if you were then to assure him that there was no truth in Miss Rosenby’s statement, adding that you were, in actual fact, betrothed to Mr. Finn, I think the overwhelming relief which he would feel at the news would lead him to look with a kindly eye on your union with that gentleman.” Here he steered his wizened brow my way, “Furthermore, it would do little for Sir Travers to divulge any sensitive information within polite society that could be viewed as inflammatory in regards to his own daughter as it would reflect badly on himself. I strongly feel, miss, that your character would ultimately be unaffected.”

Personally, I had never heard anything so potty in my life, and my manner indicated as much. Fifi, on the other hand, was all over it. She did the first few steps of a Spring dance.

“Why, Giles, that’s marvelous!”

“I think it would prove effective, miss.”

“Of course, it would. It couldn’t fail. Just imagine, Willow, darling, how he would feel if you told him I was in love with you. Why, if after that I said ‘Oh, no, it’s all right, Father. I really want to marry the boy who cleans the boots,’ he would fold me in his arms and promise to come and dance at the wedding. And when he finds that the real fellow is a splendid, wonderful, terrific man like Ryland, the thing will be a walk-over. Giles, you really are a specific dream rabbit.”

“Thank you, miss. I am glad to have given satisfaction.”

I rose. It was my intention to say goodbye to all this. I don’t mind people talking rot in my presence, but it must not be utter rot. I turned to Fifi, who was now in the later stages of her Spring dance, and addressed her with curt severity. “I will now take the book, Fifi.” She was over by the cupboard, strewing roses. She paused for a moment.

“Oh, the book. You want it?”

“I do. Immediately”

“I’ll give it you after you’ve seen Father.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. It isn’t that I don’t trust you, Willow, darling, but I should feel much happier if I knew that you knew I had still got it, and I’m sure you want me to feel happy. You toddle off and beard him, and then we’ll talk.”

I frowned. “I will toddle off,” I said coldly, “but beard him, no. I don’t seem to see myself bearding him!”

She stared. “But Willow, this sounds as if you weren’t going to sit in.”

“It was how I meant it to sound.”

“You wouldn’t fail me, would you?”

“I would. I would fail you like billy-o.”

“Don’t you like the scheme?”

“I do not. Giles spoke a moment ago of his gladness at having given satisfaction. He has given me no satisfaction whatsoever. I consider that the idea he has advanced marks the absolute zero in human goofiness, and I am surprised that he should have entertained it.” I was utterly gob-smacked that my own man would propose using me thus. And what’s more with my darling Tara in residence. That a notion would be put forth to reveal such delicate truths as to the nature of my private character to such a fellow as Travers, all to benefit such an ignoble squirt as Fifi, while at the same time endangering matters with my treasured dove, well, the mind boggles.

“The book, Fifi, if you please — and sloppily”

She was silent for a space. “I was rather asking myself,” she said, “if you might not take this attitude.”

“And now you know the answer,” I riposted. “I have. The book, if you please.”

“I’m not going to give you the book.”

“Very well. Then I go to Skittle-Pin and tell him all.”

“All right. Do. And before you can get within a mile of him, I shall be up in the library, telling Father all.” She waggled her chin, like a girl who considers that she has put over a swift one: and, examining what she had said, I was compelled to realize that this was precisely what she had put over. I had overlooked this contingency completely. Her words gave me pause. The best I could do in the way of a comeback was to utter a somewhat baffled “H”m!” There is no use attempting to disguise the fact — Willow was nonplussed.

“So there you are. Now, how about it?”

My voice, which had been firm and resonant, took on a melting tremolo. “But, Fifi, dash it! You wouldn’t do that?”

“Yes, I would, if you don’t go and sweeten Father.”

“But how can I go and sweeten him? Fifi, you can’t subject me to this fearful ordeal.”

“Yes, I can. And what’s so fearful about it? He can’t eat you.”

I conceded this. “True. But that’s about the best you can say”

“It won’t be any worse than a visit to the dentist.”

“It’ll be worse than six visits to six dentists.”

“Well, think how glad you will be when it’s over.”

I drew little consolation from this. I looked at her closely, hoping to detect some signs of softening. Not one. She had been as tough as a restaurant steak, and she continued as tough as a restaurant steak. I made one last appeal. “You won’t recede from your position?”

“Not a step.”

I shrugged my shoulders, as some Roman gladiator — one of those chaps who threw knotted sheets over people, for instance — might have done on hearing the call-boy shouting his number in the wings.
“Very well, then,” I said.

She beamed at me maternally. “That’s the spirit. That’s my brave little crumpet.” At a less preoccupied moment, I might have resented her calling me her brave little crumpet, but in this grim hour it scarcely seemed to matter.

“Where is this frightful father of yours?”

“He’s bound to be in the library now.”

“Very good. Then I will go to him.”

I don’t know if you were ever told as a kid that story about the fellow whose dog chewed up the priceless manuscript of the book he was writing. The blow-out, if you remember, was that he gave the animal a pained look and said: “Oh, Diamond, Diamond, you — or it may have been thou — little know — or possibly knowest — what you — or thou — has — or hast — done.” I heard it in the nursery, and it has always lingered in my mind. And why I bring it up now is that this was how I looked at Giles as I passed from the room. I didn’t actually speak the gag, but I fancy he knew what I was thinking. I could have wished that Fifi had not said “Yoicks! Tally-ho!” as I crossed the threshold. It seemed to me in the circumstances flippant and in dubious taste.

************

To Be Continued...

_________________
Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Last edited by DarkWiccan on Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:51 pm, edited 4 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 11:43 am 
Offline
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:34 pm
Posts: 176
Topics: 9
Location: PNW
And here I was wondering what to do in my lunch break. Oh wait is this...

DIBS!

And I'm back...

I keep trying to picture Faith sobbing away. It isn't working. But this is Fifi. And then I ponder if she is just a big faker. I know you would have left clues if that were the truth, so I wonder then if I missed it. Which is entirely plausible as I do tend to miss stuff and I read it in parts (I found it at the end of my lunch break so didn't get through in one go).

But mostly I'm trying to picture Willow saying her and Fifi are a thing and that isn't quite working either. Though Giles' plan is genius. Like coming out to parents by starting with I'm pregnant or I've flunked out of college.

But yes that is a little too close to home for Willow and will make for some intriguing hilarity when someone is guaranteed to overhear.

_________________
Visit my epic fic As You Wish and my shorts thread F*Series & Other Shorts But don't go visit my rarely updated Official Blog!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:29 am 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:49 pm
Posts: 1159
Topics: 12
Location: Seattle, WA
dtburanek - Yay! Glad I could make your lunch break a little more enjoyable (at least, I hope I did).

Quote:
I keep trying to picture Faith sobbing away. It isn't working. But this is Fifi. And then I ponder if she is just a big faker.


Yes. Yes, absolutely she is a big faker. I mean, who "oomps" when they cry?

Quote:
But mostly I'm trying to picture Willow saying her and Fifi are a thing and that isn't quite working either.


Exactly, because never in a million years, amirite? Giles plan only worries about Sir Quentin's immediate reaction... which one would assume is the upper class British equivalent of "Oh HELL NAWL".

Will Willow actually go through with the lie? Only one way to find out... tune in next week!

Cheers
DW

_________________
Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:08 pm 
Offline
9. Gay Now
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2011 7:45 pm
Posts: 900
Topics: 14
Location: Beyond the orbit of Mars and accelerating...
Fun!

Though i had to cringe when Willow said 'without question'.
And the inimitable Giles pointed out the flaws.
And then they got into trouble anyway.

Really Willow, Think!

_________________
“All I feel is sunlight. All I hear is music.” Willow
How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


My Story: Coming Home


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:11 pm 
Offline
17. Mega-Witches
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 7:08 am
Posts: 2523
Topics: 4
Location: Sydney, Australia
:laugh My odd little laugh-out-loud moment for this chapter, besides all the obvious ones, was the genteel ritual "how do you do"s while Giles is still up the cupboard. Because even when you're clambering around the furniture avoiding an furious terrier, you don't skip the customary polite greetings, it's just not done. Love it.

My, Fifi is a devious schemer - I'm starting to wonder if all of Lumpy's mishaps with her were actually as mishapful as they seemed, or if they weren't engineered by Fifi on purpose to put Lumpy in a precarious position? She's capable of anything :hmm (Then again it could just be Lumpy's knack for disaster, either is plausible.)

(Also I think it's fun how this time Faith is the mastermind and Wilkins is the attack dog of the scheme - and applying that back to the tv show makes me reimagine season three with Faith played by a terrier, which is kind of adorable.)

_________________
Chris Cook
Through the Looking-glass - Every world needs a Willow and Tara.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 9:49 am 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:49 pm
Posts: 1159
Topics: 12
Location: Seattle, WA
Azirahael - Yes, Willow doesn't often think. At least not clearly. Good thing Giles is around most times. And if not Giles, Tara. But what will she do on her own with Travers? Yipes...

Artemis - Giles is always a proper fellow, whether treed up cupboards or otherwise. Glad you like his standing on ceremony no matter what :) Fifi is indead quite devious... but not that devious. Thank heaven. Also...I think yoy may have touched on a great idea for an AU fic with Faith as a terrier... please get to work on it tout suite! :grin

On to Chapter 12!

Cheers
DW

_________________
Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - Chapter 12
PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 9:54 am 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:49 pm
Posts: 1159
Topics: 12
Location: Seattle, WA
Chapter 12



It has been well said of Willow Rosenby by those who know her best that there is a certain resilience in her nature that enables her as a general rule to rise on stepping-stones of her dead self in the most unfavorable circumstances. It isn't often that I fail to keep the chin up and the eye sparkling. But as I made my way to the library in pursuance of my dreadful task, I freely admit that Life had pretty well got me down. It was with leaden feet, as the expression is, that I tooled along.

Fifi had compared the binge under advisement to a visit to the dentist, but as I reached journey’s end I was feeling more as I had felt in the old days of school when going to keep a tryst with the head master in his study. You will recall me telling you of the time I sneaked down by night to Mother Mary Hubert's lair in quest of biscuits and found myself unexpectedly cheek by jowl with the old bird, I in striped non-shrinkable nightgown, she in her habit and a dirty look. On that occasion, before parting, we had made a date for half-past four next day at the same spot, and my emotions were almost exactly similar to those which I had experienced on that far-off afternoon, as I tapped on the door and heard a scarcely human voice invite me to enter.

The only difference was that while Mother Hubert had been alone, Sir Quentin Travers appeared to be entertaining company.

As my knuckles hovered over the panel, I seemed to hear the rumble of voices, and when I went in I found that my ears had not deceived me. Pop Travers was seated at the desk, and by his side stood Constable Eustace Oates. It was a spectacle that rather put the lid on the shrinking feeling from which I was suffering. I don't know if you have ever been jerked before a tribunal of justice, but if you have you will bear me out when I say that the memory of such an experience lingers, with the result that when later you are suddenly confronted by a sitting magistrate and a standing policeman, the association of ideas gives you a bit of a shock and tends to unman. A swift keen glance from old Travers did nothing to still the fluttering pulse.

"Yes, Miss Rosenby?"

"Oh — ah — could I speak to you for a moment?"

"Speak to me?" I could see that a strong distaste for having his sanctum cluttered up with Rosenbys was contending in Sir Quentin Travers"s bosom with a sense of the obligations of a host. After what seemed a nip-and-tuck struggle, the latter got its nose ahead.

"Why, yes…That is… If you really…Oh, certainly…Pray take a seat."

I did so, and felt a good deal better. In the dock, you have to stand. Old Travers, after a quick look in my direction to see that I wasn't stealing the carpet, turned to the constable again.

"Well, I think that is all, Oates."

"Very good, Sir Quentin."

"You understand what I wish you to do?"

"Yes, sir."

"And with regard to that other matter, I will look into it very closely, bearing in mind what you have told me of your suspicions. A most rigorous investigation shall be made." The zealous officer clumped out. Old Travers fiddled for a moment with the papers on his desk.

Then he cocked an eye at me. "That was Constable Oates, Miss Rosenby."

"Yes."

"You know him?"

"I've seen him."

"When?"

"This afternoon."

"Not since then?"

"No."

"Are you quite sure?"

"Oh, quite." He fiddled with the papers again, then touched on another topic. "We were all disappointed that you were not with us in the drawing room after dinner, Miss Rosenby." This, of course, was a bit embarrassing. The woman of sensibility does not like to reveal to her host that she has been dodging him like a leper. "You were much missed."

"Oh, was I? I'm sorry. I had a bit of a headache, and went and ensconced myself in my room."

"I see. And you remained there?"

"Yes."

"You did not by any chance go for a walk in the fresh air, to relieve your headache?"

"Oh, no. Ensconced all the time."

"I see. Odd. Butterfield tells me that he went twice to your room after the conclusion of dinner, but found it unoccupied."

"Oh, really? Wasn't I there?"

"You were not."

"I suppose I must have been somewhere else."

"The same thought had occurred to me."

"I remember now. I did saunter out on two occasions."

"I see." He took up a pen and leaned forward, tapping it against his left forefinger. "Somebody stole Constable Oates's helmet tonight," he said, changing the subject.

"Oh, yes."

"Yes. Unfortunately, he was not able to see the miscreant."

"No?"

"No. At the moment when the outrage took place, his back was turned."

"Dashed difficult, of course, to see miscreants, if your back's turned."

"Yes."

"Yes." There was a pause. And as, in spite of the fact that we seemed to be agreeing on every point, I continued to sense a strain in the atmosphere, I tried to lighten things with a gag which I remembered from the old in statu pupillari days. "Sort of makes you say to yourself Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, what?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"Latin joke," I exclaimed. "Quis — who — custodiet — shall guard — ipsos custodes — the guardians themselves? Rather funny, I mean to say," I proceeded, making it clear to the meanest intelligence, "a chap who's supposed to stop chaps pinching things from chaps having a chap come along and pinch something from him."

"Ah, I see your point. Yes, I can conceive that a certain type of mind might detect a humorous side to the affair. But I can assure you, Miss Rosenby, that that is not the side which presents itself to me as a Justice of the Peace. I take the very gravest view of the matter, and this, when once he is apprehended and placed in custody, I shall do my utmost to persuade the culprit to share." I didn’t like the sound of this at all. A sudden alarm for old Skittle-Pin's well-being swept over me.

"I say, what do you think he would get?"

"I appreciate your zeal for knowledge, Miss Rosenby, but at the moment I am not prepared to confide in you. In the words of the late Lord Asquith, I can only say ‘Wait and see'. I think it is possible that your curiosity may be gratified before long."

The thought of poor old Skittle-Pin being bunged into the Bastille was enough to disturb anyone with a kindly interest in his career and prospects. Nothing retards a curate's advancement in his chosen profession more surely than a spell in the jug. Travers lowered the pen.

"Well, Miss Rosenby, I think that you were about to tell me what brings you here?" I started a bit. I hadn't actually forgotten my mission, of course, but all this sinister stuff had caused me to shove it away at the back of my mind, and the suddenness with which it now came popping out gave me a bit of a jar.

I saw that there would have to be a few preliminary pourparlers before I got down to the nub. "Oh, ah, yes. Thanks for reminding me."

"Not at all."

"I just thought I'd drop in and have a chat."

"I see." What the thing wanted, of course, was edging into, and I found I had got the approach. I teed up with a certain access of confidence. "Have you ever thought about love, Sir Quentin?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"About love. Have you ever brooded on it to any extent?"

"You have not come here to discuss love?"

"Yes, I have. That's exactly it. I wonder if you have noticed a rather rummy thing about it — viz. that it is everywhere. You can't get away from it. Love, I mean. Wherever you go, there it is, buzzing along in every class of life. Quite remarkable. Take newts, for instance."

"Are you quite well, Miss Rosenby?"

"Oh, fine, thanks. Take newts, I was saying. They get it right up their noses in the mating season. They stand in line by the hour, waggling their tails at the local belles. Starfish, too. Also, undersea worms."

"Miss Rosenby — "

"And, even ribbon like seaweed. That surprises you, eh? It did me. Just where a bit of ribbon like seaweed thinks it is going to get by pressing its suit is more than I can tell you, but at the time of the full moon it hears the voice of Love all right and is up and doing with the best of them. I suppose it builds on the hope that it will look good to other bits of ribbon like seaweed, which, of course, would also be affected by the full moon. Well, be that as it may, what I'm working round to is that the moon is pretty full now, and if that's how it affects seaweed you can't very well blame a girl like me for feeling the impulse, can you?"

"I am afraid — "

"Well, can you?" I repeated, pressing him strongly. And I threw in an ‘eh, what?' to clinch the thing. But there was no answering spark of intelligence in his eye. He had been looking like a man who had missed the finer shades, and he still looked like a man who had missed the finer shades.

"I am afraid, Miss Rosenby, that you will think me dense, but I have not the remotest notion what you are talking about."

Now that the moment for letting him have it in the eyeball had arrived, I was pleased to find that the all of-a-twitter feeling which had gripped me at the outset had ceased to function. I don't say that I had become exactly debonair, but I felt perfectly calm.

What had soothed the system was the realization that in another half-jiffy I was about to slip a stick of dynamite under this old buster which would teach him that we are not put into the world for pleasure alone. "I'm talking about me and Fifi."

"Fifi?"

"Faith."

"Faith? My daughter?"

"That's right. Your daughter. Sir Quentin," I said, remembering a good one, "We're in love."

"You — what?"

"I said we're -that is to say, Fifi and I, are in love."

"I don't understand."

"It's quite simple. I'm in love with young Fifi. She's in love with me. Surely you've got it now? Take a line through that ribbon like seaweed." There was no question as to its being value for money. On the cue 'she's in love with me', he had come out of his chair like a rocketing pheasant. He now sank back, fanning himself with the pen. He seemed to have aged quite a lot.

"She's in love with you?"

"That's the idea."

"But I was not aware that you knew my daughter."

"Oh, rather. We two, if you care to put it that way, have plucked the gowans fine. Oh, yes, I know Fifi, all right. Well, I mean to say, if I didn't, I shouldn't be in love with her, should I? Furthermore, we are prepared to leave England to be together. " He seemed to see the justice of this. He became silent, except for a soft, groaning noise. I remembered another good one. "You will not be losing a daughter. You will be gaining a... another daughter."

"But I don't want another daughter, damn it!" Well, there was that, of course. He rose, and muttering something which sounded like "Oh, dear! Oh, dear!" went to the fireplace and pressed the bell with a weak finger. Returning to his seat, he remained holding his head in his hands until the butler blew in.

"Butterfield," he said in a low, hoarse voice, "find Miss Faith and tell her that I wish to speak to her."

A stage wait then occurred, but not such a long one as you might have expected. It was only about a minute before Fifi appeared. I imagine she had been lurking in the offing, expectant of his summons. She tripped in, all merry and bright.

"You want to see me, Father? Oh, hallo, Willow."

"Hallo."

"I didn't know you were here. Have you and Father been having a nice talk?" Old Travers, who had gone into a coma again, came out of it and uttered a sound like the death rattle of a dying duck.

"'Nice'," he said, "is not the adjective I would have selected." He moistened his ashen lips. "Miss Rosenby has just informed me that she is in love with you." I must say that young Fifi gave an extremely convincing performance. She stared at him. She stared at me. She clasped her hands. I rather think she blushed.

"Why Willow!" Old Travers broke the pen. I had been wondering when he would. "Oh, Willow! I'm tremendously flattered and grateful…and, well, all that sort of thing. But, Willow dear, I'm terribly sorry. I'm afraid it's impossible."

I hadn't supposed that there was anything in the world capable of jerking a man from the depths so effectively as one of those morning mixtures of Giles', but these words acted on old Travers with an even greater promptitude and zip. He had been sitting in his chair in a boneless, huddled sort of way, a broken man. He now started up, with gleaming eyes and twitching lips. You could see that hope had dawned. "Impossible? You're not in love with her?"

"No."

"She said you were."

"No, Willow, darling, it cannot be. You see, I love somebody else."

Old Travers started. "Eh? Who?"

"The most wonderful man in the world."

"Man. Man. Well, that's an improvement. He has a name, I presume?"

"Ryland Finn."

"Ryland Finn?…Finn…The only Finn I know is — "

"The curate. That's right. He's the chap."

"You love the curate?"

"Ah!" said Fifi, rolling her eyes up and looking like Aunt Sheila when she had spoken of the merits of blackmail.

"We've been secretly engaged for weeks." It was plain from old Travers's manner that he was not prepared to classify this under the heading of tidings of great joy. His brows were knitted, like those of some diner in a restaurant who, sailing into his dozen oysters, finds that the first one to pass his lips is a wrong ‘un. I saw that Fifi had shown a shrewd knowledge of human nature, if you could call his that, when she had told me that this man would have to be heavily sweetened before the news could be broken. You could see that he shared the almost universal opinion of parents that curates were nothing to start strewing roses out of a hat about.

"You know that vicarage that you have in your gift, Father? What Ryland and I were thinking was that you might give him that, and then we could get married at once. You see, apart from the increased dough, it would start him off on the road to higher things. Up till now, Ryland has been working under wraps. As a curate, he has had no scope. But slip him a vicarage, and watch him let himself out. There is literally no eminence to which that boy will not rise, once he spits on his hands and starts in."

She wriggled from base to apex with girlish enthusiasm, but there was no girlish enthusiasm in old Travers's demeanor. Well, there wouldn't be, of course, but what I mean is there wasn't.

"Ridiculous!"

"Why?"

"I could not dream — "

"Why not?"

"In the first place, you are far too young — "

"What nonsense. Three of the girls I was at school with were married last year. I'm senile compared with some of the infants you see toddling up the aisle nowadays." Old Travers thumped the desk — coming down, I was glad to see, on an upturned paper fastener.

The bodily anguish induced by this lent vehemence to his tone. "The whole thing is quite absurd and utterly out of the question. I refuse to consider the idea for an instant."

"But what have you got against Ryland?"

"I have nothing, as you put it, against him. He seems zealous in his duties and popular in the parish — "

"He's a baa-lamb."

"No doubt."

"He played football for England."

"Very possibly"

"And he's marvelous at tennis."

"I dare say he is. But that is not a reason why he should marry my daughter. What means has he, if any, beyond his stipend?"

"About five hundred a year."

"Tchah!"

"Well, I don't call that bad. Five hundred's pretty good sugar, if you ask me. Besides, money doesn't matter."

"It matters a great deal."

"You really feel that, do you?"

"Certainly. You must be practical."

"Right ho, I will. If you'd rather I partner for money, then I'll partner for money. Willow, it's on. Book the tickets, we sail for New York." Her words created what is known as a genuine sensation.

Old Travers's "What!" and my "Here, I say, dash it!" popped out neck and neck and collided in mid-air, my heart-cry having, perhaps, an even greater horsepower than his. I was frankly appalled.

Experience has taught me that you never know with girls, and it might quite possibly happen, I felt, that she would go through with this frightful project as a gesture. Nobody could teach me anything about gestures. Brinkley Court in the preceding summer had crawled with them.

"Willow is rolling in the stuff and, as you suggest, one might do worse than take a whack at the Rosenby millions. Of course, Willow dear, I am only choosing you to make you happy. I can never love you as I love Ryland. But as Father has taken this violent prejudice against him — "

Old Travers hit the paper fastener again, but this time didn't seem to notice it. "My dear child, don't talk such nonsense. You are quite mistaken. You must have completely misunderstood me. I have no prejudice against this young man Finn. I like and respect him. If you really think your happiness lies in becoming his wife, I would be the last man to stand in your way. By all means, marry him. The alternative — "

He said no more, but gave me a long, shuddering look. Then, as if the sight of me were more than his frail strength could endure, he removed his gaze, only to bring it back again and give me a short quick one. He then closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair, breathing stertorously. And as there didn't seem anything to keep me, I sidled out. The last I saw of him, he was submitting without any great animation to a daughter's embrace.

I suppose that when you have a father like Sir Quentin Travers on the receiving end, a daughter's embrace is a thing you tend to make pretty snappy. It wasn't more than about a minute before Fifi came out and immediately went into her dance.

"What a man! What a man! What a man! What a man! What a man!" she said, waving her arms and giving other indications of bien-etre. "Giles," she explained, as if she supposed that I might imagine her to be alluding to the recent Travers. "Did he say it would work? He did. And was he right? He was. Willow, could one kiss Giles?"

"Certainly not."

"Shall I kiss you?"

"No, thank you. All I require from you, young Travers, is that notebook."

"Well, I must kiss someone, and I'm dashed if I'm going to kiss Eustace Oates." She broke off. A graver look came into her dial. "Eustace Oates!" she repeated meditatively. "That reminds me. In the rush of recent events, I had forgotten him. I exchanged a few words with Eustace Oates just now, Willow, while I was waiting on the stairs for the balloon to go up, and he was sinister to a degree."

"Where's that notebook?"

"Never mind about the notebook. The subject under discussion is Eustace Oates and his sinisterness. He's on my trail about that helmet."

"What!"

"Absolutely. I'm Suspect Number One. He told me that he reads a lot of detective stories, and he says that the first thing a detective makes a bee-line for is motive. After that, opportunity. And finally clues. Well, as he pointed out, with that highhanded behavior of his about Wilkins rankling in my bosom, I had a motive all right, and seeing that I was out and about at the time of the crime I had the opportunity, too. The point is that Eustace Oates is on my trail, and I've got to look sloppy and find a better safe-deposit vault for that helmet than my chest of drawers. Before I know where I am, the spy will be searching my room. Where would be a good place, do you think?"

I dismissed the thing wearily. "Oh dash it, use your own judgement. To return to the main issue, where is that notebook?"

"Oh, Willow, you're a perfect bore about that notebook. Can't you talk of anything else?"

"No, I can't. Where is it?"

"You're going to laugh when I tell you."

I gave her an austere look. "It is possible that I may some day laugh again — when I have got well away from this house of terror, but there is a fat chance of my doing so at this early date. Where is that book?"

"Well, if you really must know, I hid it in the cow-creamer."

Everyone, I imagine, has read stories in which things turned black and swam before people. As I heard these words, Fifi turned black and swam before me. It was as if I had been looking at a flickering mirage. "You — what?"

"I hid it in the cow-creamer."

"What on earth did you do that for?"

"Oh, I thought I would."

"But how am I to get it?"

A slight smile curved the young pimple's mobile lips. "Oh, dash it, use your own judgment," she said. "Well, see you soon, Willow." She biffed off, and I leaned limply against the banisters, trying to rally from this frightful wallop. But the world still flickered, and a few moments later I became aware that I was being addressed by a flickering butler.

"Excuse me, miss. Miss Jenkins desired me to say that she would be glad if you could spare her a moment."

I gazed at the man dully, like someone in a prison cell when the jailer has stepped in at dawn to notify her that the firing squad is ready. I knew what this meant, of course. I had recognized this butler's voice for what it was — the voice of doom. "Where is Miss Jenkins?"

"In the drawing room, miss."

"Right ho." I braced myself with the old Rosenby grit. Up came the chin, back went the shoulders. "Lead on," I said to the butler, and the butler led on.


***************
To Be Continued...

_________________
Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 8:11 pm 
Offline
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:34 pm
Posts: 176
Topics: 9
Location: PNW
Okay so back to the sobbing thing. The oomps came later. I think I got stuck on the first moment of "she buried the bean in her hands and broke into what are called uncontrollable sobs." And didn’t register the crying "she had pulled earlier in the proceedings..." proceeded by the oomps.

As in, it seem genuine maybe at first. But my brain did recognize fakeness in a way otherwise I wouldn't have even suspected it in the first place.

So, yes I really enjoyed Willow's babble build-up to dropping the "love bomb."

I am glad Giles' plan didn’t work right away. That was too easy. I loved that it was all about the money. "Willow, it's on." Wasn't expecting that, loved it nonetheless.

So the book is in the cow creamer? Both things she needs in the same place. I don't believe all of her obstacles have been disengaged yet. This should be interesting.

_________________
Visit my epic fic As You Wish and my shorts thread F*Series & Other Shorts But don't go visit my rarely updated Official Blog!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:12 pm 
Offline
17. Mega-Witches
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 7:08 am
Posts: 2523
Topics: 4
Location: Sydney, Australia
DarkWiccan wrote:
I think you may have touched on a great idea for an AU fic with Faith as a terrier... please get to work on it tout suite! :grin

Sadly I don't know dogs well enough to do it justice (I'm a cat person - hence Finding Miss Kitty Fantastico) - but that did bring to mind Hermitfish's A Day in the Life, so at least we're not without W/T adorable dogness.

Eventful meeting with Willow and Travers and Fifi, lots of twists and turns (and good save by Fifi, manoeuvring around to the issue of money once she saw that's the tactic they needed) - I have to say, I adored Willow's speech on love (fabricated though it was). I actually imagined an alternate reality where she's delivering the same speech to Tara as a roundabout way of declaring her affection for her (ribbon like seaweed and all), and it totally working. :wtkiss

_________________
Chris Cook
Through the Looking-glass - Every world needs a Willow and Tara.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 8:44 am 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:49 pm
Posts: 1159
Topics: 12
Location: Seattle, WA
dtburanek -
Quote:
So the book is in the cow creamer? Both things she needs in the same place. I don't believe all of her obstacles have been disengaged yet. This should be interesting.


And you are right! Totleigh Towers may have more mayhem in for Willow yet...

Artemis -
Quote:
Sadly I don't know dogs well enough to do it justice (I'm a cat person - hence Finding Miss Kitty Fantastico) - but that did bring to mind Hermitfish's A Day in the Life, so at least we're not without W/T adorable dogness.


Oh! I'd forgot about that one! Thanks for the share :grin

Quote:
Eventful meeting with Willow and Travers and Fifi, lots of twists and turns (and good save by Fifi, manoeuvring around to the issue of money once she saw that's the tactic they needed)


And Fifi is nothing if not an excellent tactician.

Glad you enjoyed it!

Now... what bit of business does Anya have with Willow now?

Read on to discover!

Cheers
DW

_________________
Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 8:45 am 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:49 pm
Posts: 1159
Topics: 12
Location: Seattle, WA
Chapter 13




The sound of soft and wistful music percolating through the drawing-room door as I approached did nothing to brighten the general outlook: and when I went in and saw Anya Jenkins seated at the piano, drooping on her stem a goodish deal, the sight nearly caused me to turn and leg it. However, I fought down the impulse and started things off with a tentative "What ho.”

The observation elicited no immediate response. She had risen, and for perhaps half a minute stood staring at me in a sad sort of way, like the Mona Lisa on one of the mornings when the sorrows of the world had been coming over the plate a bit too fast for her. Finally, just as I was thinking I had better try to fill in with something about the weather, she spoke.

"Willow — "

It was, however, only a flash in the pan. She blew a fuse, and silence supervened again.

"Willow--"

No good. Another wash-out. I was beginning to feel the strain a bit.

Her lips parted. I saw that something was coming to the surface. A couple of gulps, and she was off to a good start.

"Willow, I wanted to see you…I asked you to come because I wanted to say…I wanted to tell you…Willow, my engagement to Alexander is at an end."

"Yes."

"You knew?"

"Oh, rather. He told me."

"Oh."

"Have you reflected? Don’t you feel you’re being a bit rough on poor old Lumpy?"

"What! After what happened this evening?"

"Ah, I wanted to talk to you about that. I always think, don’t you, that it is as well on these occasions, before doing anything drastic, to have a few words with a seasoned bird of the world and get the real low-down. You wouldn’t like later on to have to start wringing your hands and saying 'Oh, if I had only known!' In my opinion, the whole thing should be reexamined with a view to threshing out. If you care to know what I think, you’re wronging Lumpy."

"Wronging him? When I saw him with my own eyes — "

"Ah, but you haven’t got the right angle. Let me explain."

"There can be no explanation. We will not talk about it anymore, Willow. I have blotted Alexander from my life. Until tonight I saw him only through the golden mist of love, and thought him the perfect man. This evening he revealed himself as what he really is — a satyr."

"But that’s just what I’m driving at. That’s just where you’re making your bloomer. You see — "

"We will not talk about it anymore."

"But — "

"Please!" I tuned out. You can’t make any headway with that tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner stuff if the girl won’t listen.

She turned the bean away, no doubt to hide a silent tear, and there ensued a brief interval during which she swabbed the eyes with a pocket handkerchief and I, averting my gaze, dipped the beak into a jar of potpourri which stood on the piano. Presently, she took the air again. "It is useless, Willow. I know, of course, why you are speaking like this. It is that sweet, generous nature of yours. There are no lengths to which you will not go to help a friend. But there is nothing you can say that will change me. I have finished with Alexander. From tonight he will be to me merely a memory — a memory that will grow fainter and fainter through the years. I shall be able in time to exorcize Alexander’s spell…And now I suppose I had better go and tell Sir Quentin."

I started. "Oh, my aunt!" I said. "Don’t do that!"

"But I must. He is expecting me to marry Alexander three weeks from tomorrow." I chewed this over. I saw what she meant, of course. You’ve got to keep a fellow posted about these things. You can’t just let it all slide and have the poor old egg rolling up to the church in a topper and a buttonhole, to find that the wedding is off and nobody bothered to mention it to him.

"Well, don’t tell him tonight," I urged. "Let him simmer a bit. He’s just had a pretty testing shock."

"A shock?"

"Yes. He’s not quite himself." A concerned look came into her eyes, causing them to bulge a trifle.

"So, I was right. I thought he was not himself, when I met him coming out of the library just now. He was wiping his forehead and making odd little gasping noises. And when I asked him if anything was the matter, he said that we all had our cross to bear in this world, but that he supposed he ought not to complain, because things were not so bad as they might have been. I couldn’t think what he meant. He then said he was going to have a warm bath and take three aspirins and go to bed. What was it? What had happened?"

I saw that to reveal the full story would be to complicate an already fairly well complicated situation. I touched, accordingly, on only one aspect of it. "Fifi had just told him she wanted to marry the curate."

"Faith? The curate? Mr. Finn?"

"That’s right. Old Skittle-Pin Finn. And it churned him up a good deal. He appears to be a bit allergic to curates."

She was breathing emotionally, like the dog Wilkins just after he had finished eating the candle. "But…But…"

"Yes?"

"But does Faith love Mr. Finn?"

"Oh, rather. No question about that."

"But then — "

I saw what was in her mind, and nipped in promptly. "Then there can’t be anything between her and Lumpy, you were going to say? Exactly. This proves it, doesn’t it? That’s the very point I’ve been trying to work the conversation round to from the start."

"But he — "

"Yes, I know he did. But his motives in doing so were as pure as the driven snow. Purer, if anything. I’ll tell you all about it, and I am prepared to give you a hundred to eight that when I have finished you will admit that he was more to be pitied than censured."

Give Willow Rosenby a good, clear story to unfold, and she can narrate it well. Starting at the beginning with Lumpy’s aghastness at the prospect of having to make a speech at the wedding breakfast, I took her step by step through the subsequent developments, and I may say that I was as limpid as dammit. By the time I had reached the final chapter, I had her a bit squiggle-eyed but definitely wavering on the edge of conviction.

"And you say Faith has hidden this notebook in Uncle’s cow-creamer?"

"Plumb spang in the cow-creamer."

"But I never heard such an extraordinary story in my life."

"Bizarre, yes, but quite capable of being swallowed, don’t you think? What you have got to take into consideration is the psychology of the individual. You may say that you wouldn’t have a psychology like Fifi’s if you were paid for it, but it’s hers all right."

"Are you sure you are not making all this up, Willow?"

"Why on earth?"

"I know your altruistic nature so well."

"Oh, I see what you mean. No, rather not. This is the straight official stuff. Don’t you believe it?"

"I shall, if I find the notebook where you say Faith put it. I think I had better go and look."

"I would."

"I will’

"Fine." She hurried out, and I sat down at the piano and began to play "Happy Days Are Here Again’ with one finger. It was the only method of self-expression that seemed to present itself. I would have preferred to get outside a curried egg or two, for the strain had left me weak, but, there were no curried eggs present.

I was profoundly braced. I felt like some Marathon runner who, after sweating himself to the bone for hours, at length breasts the tape. The only thing that kept my bracedness from being absolutely unmixed was the lurking thought that in this ill-omened house there was always the chance of something unforeseen suddenly popping up to mar the happy ending. I somehow couldn’t see Totleigh Towers throwing in the towel quite so readily as it appeared to be doing. It must, I felt, have something up its sleeve.

Nor was I wrong. When Anya Jenkins returned a few minutes later, there was no notebook in her hand. She reported total inability to discover so much as a trace of a notebook in the spot indicated. And, I gathered from her remarks, she had ceased entirely to be a believer in that notebook’s existence.

I don’t know if you have ever had a bucket of cold water right in the hazard. I received one once in my girlhood through the agency of a groom with whom I had had some difference of opinion. That same feeling of being knocked endways came over me now.

I was at a loss and nonplussed. As Constable Oates had said, the first move the knowledgeable bloke makes when rummy goings-on are in progress is to try to spot the motive, and what Fifi’s motive could be for saying the notebook was in the cow-creamer, when it wasn’t, I was unable to fathom. With a firm hand this girl had pulled my leg, but why — that was the point that baffled — why had she pulled my leg? I did my best. "Are you sure you really looked?"

"Perfectly sure."

"I mean, carefully." "Very carefully."

"Fifi certainly swore it was there."

"Indeed?"

"How do you mean, indeed?"

"If you want to know what I mean, I do not believe there ever was a notebook."

"You don’t credit my story?"

"No, I do not."

Well, after that, of course, there didn’t seem much to say. I may have said "Oh?" or something along those lines — I’m not sure — but if I did, that let me out. I edged to the door, and pushed off in a sort of daze, pondering. You know how it is when you ponder. You become absorbed, concentrated. Outside phenomena do not register on the what-is-it. I suppose I was fully halfway along the passage leading to my bedroom before the beastly row that was going on there penetrated to my consciousness, causing me to stop, look and listen.

This row to which I refer was a kind of banging row, as if somebody were banging on something. And I had scarcely said to myself "What ho, a banger!" when I saw who this banger was. It was Lucas Spode, and what he was banging on was the door of Lumpy’s bedroom. As I came up, he was in the act of delivering another buffet on the woodwork.

The spectacle had an immediate tranquillizing effect on my jangled nervous system. I felt a new woman. And I’ll tell you why.

Everyone, I suppose, has experienced the sensation of comfort and relief which comes when you are being given the runaround by forces beyond your control and suddenly discover someone on whom you can work off the pent-up feelings. The merchant prince, when things are going wrong, takes it out of the junior clerk. The junior clerk goes and ticks off the office boy. The office boy kicks the cat. The cat steps down the street to find a smaller cat, which in its turn, the interview concluded, starts scouring the countryside for a mouse.

It was so with me now. Snootered to bursting point by Pop Travers and Anya Jenkins and Fifi Travers and what not, and hounded like the dickens by a remorseless Fate, I found solace in the thought that I could still slip it across Lucas Spode. "Spode!" I cried sharply. He paused with lifted fist and turned an inflamed face in my direction.

Then, as he saw who had spoken, the red light died out of his eyes. He wilted obsequiously.

"Well, Spode, what is all this?"

"Oh, hullo, Miss Rosenby. Nice evening."

I proceeded to work off the pent-up f’s. "Never mind what sort of an evening it is," I said. "Upon my word, Spode, this is too much. This is just that little bit above the odds which compels a man to take drastic steps."

"But, Miss Rosenby — "

"What do you mean by disturbing the house with this abominable uproar? Have you forgotten already what I told you about checking this disposition of yours to run amok like a raging hippopotamus? I should have thought that after what I said you would have spent the remainder of the evening curled up with a good book. But no. I find you renewing your efforts to assault and batter my friends. I must warn you, Spode, that my patience is not inexhaustible."

"But, Miss Rosenby, you don’t understand."

"What don’t I understand?"

"You don’t know the provocation I have received from this pop-eyed Harrison-Phipps."

A wistful look came into his face.

"I must break his neck."

"You are not going to break his neck."

"Well, shake him like a rat."

"Nor shake him like a rat."

"But he says I’m a pompous ass."

"When did Lumpy say that to you?"

"He didn’t exactly say it. He wrote it. Look. Here it is." Before my bulging eyes he produced from his pocket a small, brown, leather-covered notebook.

Harking back to Archimedes, specifically Giles’s description of him discovering the principle of displacement, though brief, had made a deep impression on me, bringing before my eyes a very vivid picture of what must have happened on that occasion. I had been able to see the man testing the bath water with his toe…stepping in… immersing the frame. I had accompanied him in spirit through all the subsequent formalities — the soaping of the loofah, the shampooing of the head, the burst of song…

And then, abruptly, as he climbs towards the high note, there is a silence.

His voice has died away. Through the streaming suds you can see that his eyes are glowing with a strange light. The loofah falls from his grasp, disregarded. He utters a triumphant cry. "Got it! What ho! The principle of displacement!" And out he leaps, feeling like a million dollars.

In precisely the same manner did the miraculous appearance of this notebook affect me. There was that identical moment of stunned silence, followed by the triumphant cry. And I have no doubt that, as I stretched out a compelling hand, my eyes were glowing with a strange light. "Give me that book, Spode!"

"Yes, I would like you to look at it, Miss Rosenby. Then you will see what I mean. I came upon this," he said, "in rather a remarkable way the thought crossed my mind that Sir Quentin might feel happier if I were to take charge of that cow-creamer of his. There have been a lot of burglaries in the neighborhood," he added hastily, "a lot of burglaries, and those French windows are never really safe. So I — er — went to the collection-room, and took it out of its case. I was surprised to hear something bumping about inside it. I opened it, and found this book. Look," he said, pointing a banana-like finger over my shoulder. "There is what he says about the way I eat asparagus."

I think Lucas Spode’s idea was that we were going to pore over the pages together. When he saw me slip the volume into the top of my dress, I sensed the feeling of bereavement. "Are you going to keep the book, Miss Rosenby?"

"I am."

"But I wanted to show it to Sir Quentin. There’s a lot about him in it, too."

"We will not cause Sir Quentin needless pain, Spode."

"Perhaps you’re right. Then I’ll be getting on with breaking this door down?"

"Certainly not," I said sternly. "All you do is pop off."

"Pop off?"

"Pop off. Leave me, Spode. I would be alone." I watched him disappear round the bend, then rapped vigorously on the door.

"Lumpy." No reply. "Lumpy, come out."

"I’m dashed if I do."

"Come out, you ass. Willow speaking." But even this did not produce immediate results. He explained later that he was under the impression that it was Spode giving a cunning imitation of my voice. But eventually I convinced him that this was indeed the boyhood friend and no other, and there came the sound of furniture being dragged away, and presently the door opened and his head emerged cautiously, like that of a snail taking a look round after a thunderstorm.

Into the emotional scene which followed I need not go in detail. You will have witnessed much the same sort of thing in the pictures, when the United States Marines arrive in the nick of time to relieve the beleaguered garrison. I may sum it up by saying that he fawned upon me. He seemed to be under the impression that I had worsted Lucas Spode in personal combat and it wasn’t worthwhile to correct it. Pressing the notebook into his hand, I sent him off to show it to Anya Jenkins, and proceeded to my room.

My darling Tara was there, as was Giles, messing about at some professional task. It had been my intention, on seeing this man again, to put him through it in no uncertain fashion for having subjected me to the tense nervous strain of my recent interview with Pop Travers. But now I greeted him with the cordial smile rather than the acid glare. After all, I told myself, his scheme had dragged home the gravy, and in any case this was no moment for recriminations. Wellington didn’t go about ticking people off after the battle of Waterloo. He slapped their backs and stood them drinks.

"Aha, Giles! You’re there, are you?"

"Yes, miss."

"And Tara, my darling, girl!" I wrapped the arms around her middle and swung her about in a playful turn.

"Well, Giles, you may start packing the effects."

"Miss?"

"But, Willow," said Tara, "he's only just finished unpacking mine."

"For the homeward trip. We leave tomorrow."

"You are not proposing, then, miss, to extend your stay at Totleigh Towers?" I laughed one of my gay, jolly ones and gave my lovely dumpling a firm peck on her high cheekbones. "Don’t ask foolish questions, Giles. Is Totleigh Towers a place where people extend their stays, if they haven’t got to? And there is now no longer any necessity for me to linger on the premises. My work is done. We leave first thing tomorrow morning. Start packing, therefore, so that we shall be in a position to get off the mark without an instant’s delay. It won’t take you long?"

"No, miss. There are merely the two suitcases." He hauled them from beneath the bed, and, opening the larger of the brace, began to sling coats and things into it, while I, seating myself in the armchair, pulled Tara down onto my lap, and proceeded to bring them both abreast of recent events. "Well, Giles, that plan of yours worked all right."

"I am most gratified to hear it, miss."

"I don’t say that the scene won’t haunt me in my dreams for some little time to come. I make no comment on your having let me in for such a thing. I merely state that it proved a winner. A father’s blessing came popping out like a cork out of a champagne bottle, and Fifi and Skittle-Pin are headed for the altar rails with no more fences ahead."

"Extremely satisfactory, miss. Then Sir Quentin’s reactions were as we had anticipated?"

"If anything, more so. I don’t know if you have ever seen a stout bark buffeted by the waves?"

"No, miss. My visits to the seaside have always been made in clement weather."

"He looked and behaved like the Wreck of the Hesperus. You remember? It sailed the wintry sea, and the skipper had taken his little daughter to bear him company."

"Yes, miss. ‘Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax, her cheeks like the dawn of day, and her bosom was white as the hawthorn buds that open in the month of May’."

"Quite." I found myself suddenly caught up in some decent gazing-action at the girl in my lap. I'd never realized how spot on a description of Tara was listed in those poetic lines. It occurred to me that that Longfellow fellow who'd penned it was an American, too. Perhaps he'd caught an eyeful of my lovely girl before she'd set sail from Boston for points east and was compelled to capture her beauty in verse. Made all the sense in the world to me. If it wasn't for a complete lacking in artistic talent, I would have given the odd ode a go in her name several times over.

"Was there more, darling?" Tara prompted.

"Well, as I was saying, he reeled beneath the blow and let water in at every seam. And when Fifi appeared, and told him that it was all a mistake and that the promesso sposo was in reality old Skittle-Pin Finn, his relief knew no bounds. He instantly gave his sanction to their union. Could hardly get the words out quick enough. But why am I wasting time telling you all this, Giles? A mere side issue. Here’s the real front-page stuff. Here’s the news that will shock the chancelleries. I’ve got that notebook."

"Indeed, miss?"

"Oh, Willow, have you really?"

"Yes, absolutely got it. I found Spode with it and took it away from him, and Lumpy is even now showing it to Miss Jenkins and clearing his name of the stigma that rested upon it. I shouldn’t be surprised if at this very moment they were locked in a close embrace."

"A consummation devoutly to be wished, miss."

"You said it, Giles."

"Then you have nothing to cause you further concern, miss."

"Nothing. The relief is stupendous. I feel as if a great weight had been rolled from my shoulders. I could dance and sing. I think there can be no question that exhibiting that notebook will do the trick."

"None, I should imagine, miss."

"I say, Willow," said Lumpy, trickling in at this juncture with the air of one who has been passed through a wringer, "a most frightful thing has happened. The wedding's off."


**********

To Be Continued...

_________________
Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Last edited by DarkWiccan on Wed Mar 29, 2017 7:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:48 pm 
Offline
17. Mega-Witches
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 7:08 am
Posts: 2523
Topics: 4
Location: Sydney, Australia
Poor Willow, it's like Stately Homes Whack-A-Mole, no sooner is one problem solved than she's faced with another. So Lumpy presenting the notebook hasn't done the trick, or has some other mishap tripped up the wedding plans? Will the cow-creamer ever be returned to its rightful owner? The way things are going I'm half-worried that Fifi will manage to get herself un-engaged and Willow will have to fix everything all over again.

Lovely poetic Tara-interlude amid all that, though - and as always Willow's jaunty narrating remains unflappable.

(I did get a bit confused by Spode - his name was Lucas when he was introduced, but he's reverted to Roderick? I wasn't sure if he was a relative I'd missed the introduction of, but then it seemed he was the same Spode. I can sympathise with the name-wrangling situation, the number of times I nearly called Queen Joy 'Angella'...)

_________________
Chris Cook
Through the Looking-glass - Every world needs a Willow and Tara.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 7:31 am 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:49 pm
Posts: 1159
Topics: 12
Location: Seattle, WA
Artemis - thank you for the catch! I went back and fixed it. Yes, It was a hold over from the original version. Phew!

Cheers,
DW

_________________
Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - Chapter 14
PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:12 am 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:49 pm
Posts: 1159
Topics: 12
Location: Seattle, WA
Chapter 14





I stared at the man, and urged the lovely Tara off my lap in as nonchalant a manner as I could manage. "Off?"

"Yes."

"Your wedding?" asked Tara.

"Yes."

"It's off?" I inquired again.

"Yes."

"What-off?" I had to be certain my ears were not deceiving me.

"Yes."

I don't know what the Mona Lisa would have done in my place. Probably just what I did. "Giles," I said. "Brandy!"

"Very good, miss." He rolled away on his errand of mercy, and I glanced toward Tara and then turned to Lumpy, who was tacking about the room in a dazed manner, as if filling in the time before starting to pluck straws from his hair.

"I can't bear it!" I heard him mutter. "Life without Anya won't be worth living." It was an astounding attitude, of course, but you can't argue about fellows" tastes. One man’s peach is another man’s poison, and vice versa. Even my Aunt Sheila, I remembered, had roused the red-hot spark of pash in old Ira Gregson. His wandering had taken him to the bed, and I saw that he was looking at the knotted sheet which lay there.

"I suppose" he said, in an absent, soliloquizing voice, "a chap could hang himself with that." I resolved to put a stopper on this trend of thought promptly. I had got more or less used by now to my bedroom being treated as a sort of meeting-place of the nations, but I was dashed if I was going to have it turned into the spot marked with an X. It was a point on which I felt strongly. I stood from my seat and approached him directly.

"You aren't going to hang yourself here."

"I shall have to hang myself somewhere."

"Well, you don't hang yourself in my bedroom."

He raised his eyebrows. "Have you any objection to my sitting in your armchair?"

"Go ahead."

"Thanks." He seated himself, and stared before him with glazed eyes.

"Now, then, Lumpy," I said, "I will take your statement. What is all this rot about the wedding being off?"

"It is off."

"But didn't you show her the notebook?"

"Yes. I showed her the notebook."

"Did she read its contents?"

"Yes."

"Well, didn't she tout comprendre?"

"Yes."

"And tout pardonner?"

"Yes."

"Then you must have got your facts twisted. The wedding can't be off."

"It is, I tell you. Do you think I don't know when a wedding's off and when it isn't? Sir Quentin has forbidden it."

This was an angle I had not foreseen.

"Why?” asked Tara, “Did you have a row or something?"

"Yes. I mocked at that cow creamer of his."

"Cow creamer!" I spoke sharply. He had started a train of thought. An idea had begun to burgeon. For some little time I had been calling on all the resources of the Rosenby intellect to help me to solve this problem, and I don't often do that without something breaking loose. At this mention of the cow creamer, the brain seemed suddenly to give itself a shake and start off across country with its nose to the ground.

"Yes. I told him it was Modern Dutch. He turned purple, and broke off the wedding. And then I called him every name I could think of. In fact, I called him names that I hadn’t a notion I knew. They just seemed to come bubbling up from my sub- consciousness."

"Listen, Lumpy," I said. "I think I've got it." His face lit up. I could see that optimism had stirred and was shaking a leg. This Harrison-Phipps has always been of an optimistic nature. "Yes, I believe I see the way. What you have got to do, Lumpy, is pinch that cow creamer."

His lips parted, and I thought an "Eh, what?" was coming through, but it didn't. Just silence and a couple of bubbles. "That is the first, essential step. Having secured the cow-creamer, you tell him it is in your possession and say: 'Now, how about it?' I feel convinced that in order to recover that foul cow he would meet any terms you care to name. You know what collectors are like.'

He drew a deep breath. "You're right. This scheme of yours would certainly solve everything. Assuming, of course, that Sir Quentin values the thing equally highly."

"He does. Doesn't he, Giles?" I said, putting it up to him, as he trickled in with the brandy. "Sir Quentin Travers has forbidden Lumpy's wedding," I explained, "and I've been telling him that all he has to do in order to make him change his mind is to get hold of that cow-creamer and refuse to give it back until he coughs up a father's blessing. You concur?"

"Undoubtedly, miss. If Mr Harrison-Phipps possesses himself of the object d'art in question, he will be in a position to dictate. A very shrewd plan, miss."

"Thank you, Giles. Yes, not bad, considering that I had to think on my feet and form my strategy at a moment’s notice. If I were you, Lumpy, I would put things in train immediately"

"Excuse me, miss."

"You spoke, Giles?"

"Yes, miss. I was about to say that before Mr Harrison-Phipps can put the arrangements in operation there is an obstacle to be surmounted."

"What's that?"

"In order to protect his interests, Sir Quentin has posted Constable Oates on guard in the collection-room."

"What!"

"Yes, miss." The sunshine died out of Lumpy's face, and he uttered a stricken sound like a gramophone record running down. "However, I think that with a little finesse it will be perfectly possible to eliminate this factor. I wonder if you recollect, miss, the occasion at Chufnell Hall, when Sir Lindsey MacDonald had become locked up in the potting-shed, and your efforts to release him appeared likely to be foiled by the fact that Police Constable Lockley had been stationed outside the door?"

"Vividly, Giles."

"I ventured to suggest that it might be possible to induce him to leave his post by conveying word to him that the parlor maid Mary, to whom he was betrothed, wished to confer with him in the raspberry bushes. The plan was put into effect and proved successful."

"True, Giles. But," I said dubiously, "I don't see how anything like that could be worked here. Constable Lockley, you will recall, was young, ardent, romantic — just the sort of chap who would automatically go leaping into raspberry bushes if you told him there were girls there. Eustace Oates has none of the Lockley fire. He is well stricken in years and gives the impression of being a settled married man who would rather have a cup of tea."

"Yes, miss, Constable Oates is, as you say, of a more sober temperament. But it is merely the principle of the thing which I would advocate applying to the present emergency. It would be necessary to provide a lure suited to the psychology of the individual. What I would suggest is that Mr. Harrison-Phipps should inform the officer that he has seen his helmet in your possession."

"Egad, Giles!"

"Yes, miss."

"I see the idea. Yes, very hot. Yes, that would do it." Lumpy's glassy eye indicating that all this was failing to register, I explained. "Earlier in the evening, Lumpy, a hidden hand snitched this gendarmes lid, cutting him to the quick. What Giles is saying is that a word from you to the effect that you have seen it in my room will bring him bounding up here like a tigress after its lost cub, thus leaving you a clear field in which to operate. That is your idea in essence, is it not, Giles?"

"Precisely, miss." Lumpy brightened visibly. "I see. It's a ruse."

"That’s right. One of the ruses, and not the worst of them. Nice work, Giles."

"Thank you, miss."

"That will do the trick, Lumpy. Tell him I’ve got his helmet, wait while he bounds out, nip to the glass case and trouser the cow. A simple programme. A child could carry it out. My only regret, Giles, is that this appears to remove any chance we might have had of getting the thing. A pity there has been such a wide popular demand for it."

"Yes, miss."

"On these occasions when individual interests clash, somebody has got to draw the short straw."

"Very true, miss."

"You can't be expected to dish out happy endings all round — one per person, I mean."

"No, miss."

"I'm terribly sorry for your loss, Giles, but the great thing is to get Lumpy fixed. So buzz off, Lumpy, and Heaven speed your efforts." I sat back down in my armchair, so very full to bursting with pride and relief that I somehow failed to notice my dear Tara was no longer in the room. "A very sound idea, that, Giles. How did you happen to think of it?"

"It was the officer himself who put it into my head, miss, when I was chatting with him not long ago. I gathered from what he said that he actually does suspect you of being the individual who purloined his helmet."

"Me? Why on earth? Dash it, I scarcely know the man. I thought he suspected Fifi."

"Originally, yes, miss. And it is still his view that Miss Travers was the motivating force behind the theft. But he now believes that the young lady must have had an accomplice, who did the rough work. Sir Quentin, I understand, supports him in this theory."

I suddenly remembered the opening passages of my interview with Pop Travers in the library, and at last got on to what he had been driving at. Those remarks of his which had seemed to me then mere idle gossip had had, I now perceived, a sinister undercurrent of meaning. I had supposed that we were just chewing over the latest bit of hot news, and all the time the thing had been a probe or quiz. "But what makes them think that I was the accomplice?"

"I gather that the officer was struck by the cordiality which he saw to exist between miss Travers and yourself, when he encountered you in the road this afternoon."

"I don't get you, Giles."

"He supposes you to be in league Miss Travers, miss."

I was on the point of explaining to him that just because two ladies are seen having a nice chat does not imply any sort of cahootsing, when I was interrupted by the re-entrance of Lumpy. I could see by the buoyancy of his demeanour that matters had been progressing well.

"Giles was right, Willow," he said. "He read Eustace Oates like a book."

"The information stirred him up?"

"I don't think I have ever seen a more thoroughly roused policeman. His first impulse was to drop everything and come dashing up here right away"

"Why didn't he?"

"He couldn't quite bring himself to, in view of the fact that Sir Quentin had told him to stay there." I followed the psychology. It was the same as that of the boy who stood on the burning deck, whence all but he had fled. "Then the procedure, I take it, will be that he will send word to Pop Travers, notifying him of the facts and asking permission to go ahead?"

"Yes. I expect you will have him with you in a few minutes."

"Then you ought not to be here. You should be lurking in the hall."

"I'm going there at once. I only came to report."

"Be ready to slip in the moment he is gone."

"I will. Trust me. There won't be a hitch. It was a wonderful idea of yours, Giles."

"Thank you, miss."

"You can imagine how relieved I'm feeling, knowing that in about five minutes everything will be all right. The only thing I'm a bit sorry for now," said Lumpy thoughtfully, "is that I gave the old boy that notebook."

He threw out this appalling statement so casually that it was a second or two before I got its import. When I did, a powerful shock permeated my system. It was as if I had been reclining in the electric chair and the authorities had turned on the juice.

"You gave him the notebook!"

"Yes. Just as he was leaving. I thought there might be some names in it which I had forgotten to call him." I supported myself with a trembling hand on the mantelpiece.

"Giles!"

"Miss?"

"More brandy!"

"Yes, miss."

"And stop doling it out in those small glasses, as if it were radium. Bring the cask." Lumpy was regarding me with a touch of surprise.

"Something the matter, Willow?"

"Something the matter?" I let out a mirthless "Ha! Well, this has torn it."

"How do you mean? Why?"

"Can't you see what you’ve done, you poor chump? It's no use pinching that cow-creamer now. If old Travers has read the contents of that notebook, nothing will bring him round."

"Why not?"

"Well, you saw how they affected Spode. I don't suppose Pop Travers is any fonder of reading home truths about himself than Spode is."

"But he’s had the home truths already. I told you how I ticked him off."

"Yes, but you could have got away with that. Overlook it, please…spoken in hot blood…strangely forgot myself…all that sort of stuff. Coldly reasoned opinions, carefully inscribed day by day in a notebook, are a very different thing."

I saw that it had penetrated at last. The greenish tinge was back in his face. His mouth opened and shut like that of a goldfish which sees another goldfish nip in and get away with the ant’s egg which it had been earmarking for itself. "Oh, gosh!"

"Yes."

"What can I do?"

"I don't know."

"Think. Willow, think!" I did so, tensely, and was rewarded with an idea. "Tell me," I said, "what exactly occurred at the conclusion of the vulgar brawl? You handed him the book. Did he dip into it on the spot?"

"No. He shoved it away in his pocket."

"Then answer me this. What pocket? I mean the pocket of what garment? What was he wearing?"

"A dressing gown."

"Over — think carefully, Harrison-Phipps, for everything hangs on this — over shirt and trousers and things?"

"Yes, he had his trousers on. I remember noticing."

"Then there is still hope. After leaving you, he would have gone to his room to shed the upholstery. He was pretty steamed up, you say?"

"Yes, very much."

"Good. My knowledge of human nature, Lumpy, tells me that a steamed-up man does not loiter about feeling in his pocket for notebooks and steeping himself in their contents. He flings off the garments, and legs it to the salle de bain. The book must still be in the pocket of his dressing gown which, no doubt, he flung on the bed or over a chair — and all you have to do is nip into his room and get it."

I had anticipated that this clear thinking would produce the joyous cry and the heartfelt burst of thanks. Instead of which, he merely shuffled his feet dubiously.

"Nip into his room?"

"Yes."

"But dash it!"

"Now, what?"

"You’re sure there isn't some other way?"

"Of course there isn't."

"I see…You wouldn't care to do it for me, Willow?"

"No, I would not."

"Have you forgotten the old days, larking about with the lads?"

"Yes."

"You don't remember the time I shared my last bar of milk chocolate with you?"

"No."

"Well, I did, and you told me then that if ever you had an opportunity of doing anything for me…However, if these obligations — sacred, some people might consider them — have no weight with you, I suppose there is nothing more to be said."

He pottered about for a while, doing the old cat-in-an-adage stuff: then, taking from his breast pocket a cabinet photograph of Anya Jenkins, he gazed at it intently. It seemed to be the bracer he required. His eyes lit up. His face lost its fishlike look. He strode out, to return immediately, slamming the door behind him. "I say, Willow, Spode's out there!"

"What of it?"

"He made a grab at me."

"Made a grab at you?" I frowned. I am a patient woman, but I can be pushed too far. It seemed incredible, after what I had said to him, that Lucas Spode’s hat was still in the ring. I went to the door, and threw it open. It was even as Lumpy had said. The man was lurking. He sagged a bit, as he saw me. I addressed him with cold severity. "Anything I can do for you, Spode?"

"No. No, nothing, thanks."

"Tush along, Lumpy," I said, and stood watching him with a protective eye as he sidled round the human gorilla and disappeared along the passage. Then I turned to Spode. "Spode" I said in a level voice, "did I or did I not tell you to leave Lumpy alone?" He looked at me pleadingly.

"Couldn't you possibly see your way to letting me do something to him, Miss Rosenby? If it was only to kick his spine up through his hat?"

"Certainly not."

"Well, just as you say, of course." He scratched his cheek discontentedly. "Did you read that notebook, Miss Rosenby?"

"No."

"He says my moustache is like the faint discolored smear left by a squashed brown beetle on the side of a kitchen sink."

"He always was a poetic sort of chap."

"And that the way I eat asparagus alters one’s whole conception of Man as Nature’s last word."

"Yes, he told me that, I remember. He’s about right, too. I was noticing at dinner. What you want to do, Spode, in future is lower the vegetable gently into the abyss. Take it easy. don't snap at it. Try to remember that you are a human being and not a shark."

"Ha, ha! ‘A human being and not a shark.’ Cleverly put, Miss Rosenby. Most amusing."

He was still chuckling, though not frightfully heartily I thought, when Giles came along with a decanter on a tray. "The brandy, miss."

"And about time, Giles."

"Yes, miss. I must once more apologize for my delay. I was detained by Constable Oates."

"Oh? Chatting with him again?"

"Not so much chatting, miss, as staunching the flow of blood."

"Blood?"

"Yes, miss. The officer had met with an accident." My momentary pique vanished, and in its place there came a stern joy.

Life at Totleigh Towers had hardened me, blunting the gentler emotions, and I derived nothing but gratification from the news that Constable Oates had been meeting with accidents. Only one thing, indeed, could have pleased me more — if I had been informed that Sir Quentin Travers had trodden on the soap and come a purler in the bath tub. "How did that happen?"

"He was assaulted while endeavoring to recover Sir Quentin’s cow-creamer from a midnight marauder, miss."

Spode uttered a cry. "The cow-creamer has not been stolen?"

"Yes, miss."

It was evident that Lucas Spode was deeply affected by the news. His attitude towards the cow-creamer had, if you remember, been fatherly from the first. Not lingering to hear more, he galloped off, and I accompanied Giles into the room, agog for details.

"What happened, Giles?"

"Well, miss, it was a little difficult to extract a coherent narrative from the officer, but I gather that he found himself restless and fidgety — "

"No doubt owing to his inability to get in touch with Pop Travers, who, as we know, is in his bath, and receive permission to leave his post and come up here after his helmet."

"No doubt, miss. And being restless, he experienced a strong desire to smoke a pipe. Reluctant, however, to run the risk of being found to have smoked while on duty — as might have been the case had he done so in an enclosed room, where the fumes would have lingered — he stepped out into the garden."

"A quick thinker, this Oates."

"He left the French window open behind him. And some little time later his attention was arrested by a sudden sound from within."

"What sort of sound?"

"The sound of stealthy footsteps, miss."

"Someone stepping stealthily, as it were?"

"Precisely, miss. Followed by the breaking of glass. He immediately hastened back to the room which was, of course, in darkness."

"Why?"

"Because he had turned the light out, miss." I nodded. I followed the idea. "Sir Quentin’s instruction to him had been to keep his vigil in the dark, in order to convey to a marauder the impression that the room was unoccupied." I nodded again. It was a dirty trick, but one which would spring naturally to the mind of an ex magistrate. "He hurried to the case in which the cow-creamer had been deposited, and struck a match. This almost immediately went out, but not before he had been able to ascertain that the object d’art had disappeared. And he was still in the process of endeavoring to adjust himself to the discovery, when he heard a movement and, turning, perceived a dim figure stealing out through the French window. He pursued it into the garden, and was overtaking it and might shortly have succeeded in effecting an arrest, when there sprang from the darkness a dim figure — "

"The same dim figure?"

"No, miss. Another one."

"A big night for dim figures."

"Yes, miss."

"Better call them Pat and Mike, or we shall be getting mixed."

"A and B perhaps, miss?"

"If you prefer it, Giles. He was overtaking dim figure A, you say, when dim figure B sprang from the darkness —"

" — and struck him upon the nose." I uttered an exclamation. The thing was a mystery no longer. "Old Skittle-Pin!"

"Yes, miss. No doubt Miss Travers inadvertently forgot to apprise him that there had been a change in the evening’s arrangements."

"And he was lurking there, waiting for me."

"So one would be disposed to imagine, miss." I inhaled deeply, my thoughts playing about the constable’s injured beezer.

There, I was feeling, but for whatever it is, went Willow Rosenby, as the fellow said. "This assault diverted the officer’s attention, and the object of his pursuit was enabled to escape."

"What became of Skittle-Pin?"

"On becoming aware of the officer’s identity, he apologized, miss. He then withdrew."

"I don't blame him. A pretty good idea, at that. Well, I don't know what to make of this, Giles. This dim figure. I am referring to dim figure A. Who could it have been? Had Oates any views on the subject?"

"Very definite views, miss. He is convinced that it was you." I stared. "Me? Why the dickens has everything that happens in this ghastly house got to be me?"

"And it is his intention, as soon as he is able to secure Sir Quentin’s cooperation, to proceed here and search your room."

"He was going to do that, anyway, for the helmet."

"Yes, miss."

"This is going to be rather funny, Giles. It will be entertaining to watch these two blighters ferret about, feeling sillier and sillier asses as each moment goes by and they find nothing."

"Most diverting, miss."

"And when the search is over and they are standing there baffled, stammering out weak apologies, I shall get a bit of my own back. I shall fold my arms and draw myself up to my full height — " There came from without the hoof beats of a galloping figure, and my darling Tara whizzed in.

"Here, shove this away somewhere, Willow," she panted, seeming touched in the wind. And so saying, she thrust the cow-creamer into my hands.




**********
To Be Continued...

_________________
Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 5:20 pm 
Offline
17. Mega-Witches
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 7:08 am
Posts: 2523
Topics: 4
Location: Sydney, Australia
Yay, Tara to the opposite-of-rescue :laugh The whole chapter was great, but that last moment was definitely the cherry on top, I laughed out loud. And in a weird way it's sweet how Tara's not immune to the general air of madcap that seems to follow Willow around - most of the time she seems slightly to one side observing events and being level-headed, it's nice to have this sudden surprise of her jumping into the fray and inadvertently stirring up chaos like everyone else.

(Also it is kind of appropriate that it leaves Giles as the only completely sensible one around.)

_________________
Chris Cook
Through the Looking-glass - Every world needs a Willow and Tara.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 8:22 pm 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:49 pm
Posts: 1159
Topics: 12
Location: Seattle, WA
Artemis -

Yes, I felt I'd left Tara out of the mayhem long enough. Time to let her dig in and show that she is equally susceptible to bad decision-making.

What will they do now, with Oates hot on their heels?

Read on to find out!

Cheers
DW

_________________
Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - Chapter 15
PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 8:25 pm 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:49 pm
Posts: 1159
Topics: 12
Location: Seattle, WA
Chapter 15


In my recent picture of Sir Quentin Travers reeling beneath the blow of hearing that I wanted to abscond with his daughter, I compared his garglings, if you remember, to the death rattle of a dying duck. I might now have been this duck’s twin sister, equally stricken. For some moments, I stood there, quacking feebly: then, with a powerful effort of the will, I pulled myself together and cheesed the bird imitation. I looked at Giles. He looked at me. I did not speak, save with the language of the eyes, but his trained senses enabled him to read my thoughts unerringly. “Thank you, Giles.” I took the tumbler from him, and lowered perhaps half an ounce of the raw spirit. Then, the dizzy spell overcome, I transferred my gaze to the beautiful girl, who was taking it easy in the armchair.

It is pretty generally admitted, that Willow Rosenby in her dealings with the fairer sex invariably shows herself a woman of the nicest chivalry — what you sometimes hear described as zparfait gentilknight. I have never raised my voice in anger against another woman. And I can give no better indication of my emotions at this moment than by saying that, preux chekialier though I am, I came within the veriest toucher of hauling off and letting a beloved companion have it.

She, while this struggle was proceeding in my bosom, was at her chirpiest. Her breath recovered, she had begun to prattle with a carefree gaiety which cut me like a knife. It was obvious from her demeanor that she little knew what she had done.

“As nice a run,” she was saying, “as I have had since the last time I was out with the YWCA. Not a check from start to finish. Good clean American sport at its best. It was a close thing though, Willow. I could feel that cop’s hot breath on the back of my neck. If a posse of curates hadn’t popped up out of a trap and lent a willing hand at precisely the right moment, he would have got me. Well, God bless the clergy. I’m glad you weren’t the visitor he got. The situation would have been completely beyond you, my poor lamb. I don’t mind telling you that when that man suddenly came in through the window, I myself was for a moment paralyzed. Still, all’s well that ends well.”

I shook a somber head. “You err, my misguided sweet. This is not an end, but a beginning. Pop Travers is about to spread a drag-net.”

“Let him.”

“And when he and the constable come and search this room?”

“They wouldn’t do that.”

“They would and will. In the first place, they think the Oates helmet is here. In the second place, it is the officer’s view, relayed to me by Giles, who had it from him first hand as he was staunching the flow of blood, that it was I whom he pursued.”

Her chirpiness waned. I had expected it would. She had been beaming. She beamed no longer. Eyeing her steadily, I saw that the native hue of resolution had become sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.

“H’m! This is awkward.”

“Most.”

“If they find the cow-creamer here, it may be a little difficult to explain.” She rose, and paced thoughtfully. “The great thing,” she said, “is not to lose our heads. We must say to ourselves: ‘What would Napoleon have done?’ He was the boy in a crisis. He knew his onions. We must do something very clever, very shrewd, which will completely baffle these…oh, what would you call them, darling? Oh, I know: Bounders. Any ideas?”

“Mine is that you pop off without delay, taking that beastly cow with you.”

“But I might run into the search party on the stairs! Have you any ideas, Giles?”

“Not at the moment, Miss Maclay.”

“You can’t produce a guilty secret of Sir Quentin’s out of the hat, as you did with Spode?”

“No, Miss Maclay.”

“No, I suppose that’s too much to ask. Then we’ve got to hide the thing somewhere. But where? It’s the old problem, of course — the one that makes life so tough for murderers — what to do with the body. I suppose the old Purloined Letter stunt wouldn’t work?”

“Miss Maclay is alluding to the well-known story by the late Edgar Allan Poe, miss,” said Giles, seeing that I was not abreast. “It deals with the theft of an important document, and the character who had secured it foiled the police by placing it in full view in a letter-rack, his theory being that what is obvious is often overlooked. No doubt Miss Maclay wishes to suggest that we deposit the object on the mantelpiece.”

I laughed a hollow one. “Take a look at the mantelpiece! It is as bare as a windswept prairie. Anything placed there would stick out like a sore thumb.”

“Yes, that’s true,” Tara was forced to admit.

“Put the thing in Miss Maclay’s suitcase, Giles.” I said.

“That’s no good. They’re bound to look in both our cases.”

“Merely as a palliative,” I explained. “I can’t stand the sight of it any longer. In with it, Giles.”

“Very good, miss.” There came from the passage the sound of approaching footsteps.

“Here they are,” I said.

“They seem to be in a hurry,” said Tara. She was correct. These were running footsteps.

Giles went to the door and looked out. “It is Mr. Harrison-Phipps, miss.”

And the next moment Lumpy entered, going strongly. A single glance at him was enough to reveal to the discerning eye that he had not been running just for the sake of the exercise. His eyes were glittering in a hunted sort of way, and there was more than a touch of the fretful porpentine about his hair.

“Do you mind if I hide here till the milk train goes, Willow?” he said. “Under the bed will do. I shan’t be in your way.”

“What’s the matter?”

“Or, still better, the knotted sheet. That’s the stuff.”

I raised a hand.

“Wait! I want to get the strength of this. Stop messing about with those sheets, Lumpy, and explain. Is Spode after you again? Because if so — “

“Not Spode. Sir Quentin.”

I raised another hand.

“How do you mean Sir Quentin? Why Sir Quentin? What on earth is he chivvying you for?”

“He’s read the notebook.”

“What!”

“Yes.”

“Go on, Lumpy,” I said dully. You could see that he was a man who had passed through the furnace.

“When I left you, I went to his room. The door was ajar, and I crept in. And when I had got in, I found that he hadn’t gone to have a bath, after all. He was sitting on the bed in his underwear, reading the notebook. He looked up, and our eyes met. You’ve no notion what a frightful shock it gave me.”

“Yes, I have. I once had a very similar experience with the Mother Mary Hubert.”

“There was a long, dreadful pause. Then he uttered a sort of gurgling sound and rose, his face contorted. He made a leap in my direction. I pushed off. He followed. It was neck and neck down the stairs, but as we passed through the hall he stopped to get a hunting crop, and this enabled me to secure a good lead, which I — “

“Willow,” said Tara, “Dearest…Our full plan of action is still to be decided on…Every second is of priceless importance… Sir Quentin and that policeman are on their way here right now. Lumpy, don’t you think you should be going?”

“Yes, Miss Maclay. I’m just going. The moment we get the sheet working. If you and Giles will just hold this end, Willow…”

“You want them to let you down from the window with a sheet?”

“Yes, Miss Maclay. Then I can borrow Willow’s car and drive to London.”

“Come on, Willow,” she said, speaking with real enthusiasm, “hurry up. Let the man down with the sheet, can’t you? What are you waiting for?”

I turned to Giles. “Ready, Giles?”

“Yes, miss.” He coughed gently. “And perhaps if Mr. Harrison-Phipps is driving your car to London, he might take Miss Maclay’s suitcase with him and leave it at the flat.” I gasped. So did Tara. I stared at him. Tara the same. Our eyes met, and I saw in hers the same reverent awe which I have no doubt she viewed in mine. I was overcome. A moment before, I had been dully conscious that nothing could save me from the soup. Already I had seemed to hear the beating of its wings. And now this!

Tara, speaking of Napoleon, had claimed that he was pretty hot in an emergency, but I was prepared to bet that not even Napoleon could have topped this superb effort. Once more, as so often in the past, the man had rung the bell and was entitled to the cigar or coconut. “Yes, Giles,” I said, speaking with some difficulty, “that is true. He might, mightn’t he?”

“Yes, miss.”

“You won’t mind taking Miss Maclay’s suitcase, Lumpy? If you’re borrowing the car, I shall have to go by train. I’m leaving in the morning myself. And it’s a nuisance hauling about a lot of luggage.”

“Of course.”

“We’ll just loose you down on the sheet and drop the suitcase after you. All set, Giles?”

“Yes, miss.”

“Then upsy-daisy!” I don’t think I have ever assisted at a ceremony which gave such universal pleasure to all concerned. The sheet didn’t split, which pleased Lumpy. Nobody came to interrupt us, which pleased me. And when I dropped the suitcase, it hit Lumpy on the head, which delighted me for I felt he deserved it. As for Giles, one could see that the faithful fellow was tickled pink at having been able to cluster round and save the young miss in her hour of peril. His motto is “service”.

The stormy emotions through which I had been passing had not unnaturally left me weak, and I was glad when Tara, after a lovely speech in which she expressed her gratitude to our preserver in well-phrased terms, said that she would hop along and see what was going on in the enemy’s camp. Her departure enabled me to sink into the armchair, I flung myself on the cushioned seat and emitted a woof that came straight from the heart. “So that’s that, Giles!”

“Yes, miss.”

“Once again your swift thinking has averted disaster as it loomed — “

“It is very kind of you to say so, miss.”

“Not kind, Giles. I am merely saying what any thinking woman would say. I didn’t chip in while Tara was speaking, for I saw that she wished to have the floor, but you may take it that I was silently subscribing to every sentiment she uttered. You stand alone, Giles. What size hat do you take?”

“A number eight, miss.”

“I should have thought larger. Eleven or twelve.” I helped myself to a spot of brandy, and sat rolling it round my tongue luxuriantly. It was delightful to relax after the strain and stress I had been through.

“Well, Giles, the going has been pretty tough, what?”

“Extremely, miss.”

“One begins to get some idea of how the skipper of the Hesperus little daughter must have felt. Still, I suppose these tests and trials are good for the character.”

“No doubt, miss.”

“Strengthening.”

“Yes, miss.”

“However, I can’t say I’m sorry it’s all over. Enough is always enough. And it is all over, one feels. Even this sinister house can surely have no further shocks to offer.”

“I imagine not, miss.”

“No, this is the finish. Totleigh Towers has shot its bolt, and at long last we are sitting pretty. Gratifying, Giles.”

“Most gratifying, miss.”

“You bet it is. Carry on with the packing. I want to get it done and go to bed.” He opened the small suitcase, and I lit a cigarette and proceeded to stress the moral lesson to be learned from all this rannygazoo. Then I promptly stamped it out, knowing that my blessed dove would not approve.

“Yes, Giles, “gratifying” is the word. A short while ago, the air was congested with V-shaped depressions, but now one looks north, south, east and west and descries not a single cloud on the horizon — except the fact that Lumpy’s wedding is still off, and that can’t be helped. Well, this should certainly teach us, should it not, never to repine, never to despair, never to allow the upper lip to unstiffen, but always to remember that, no matter how dark the skies may be, the sun is shining somewhere and will eventually come smiling through.”

I paused. I perceived that I was not securing his attention. He was looking down with an intent, thoughtful expression on his face. “Something the matter, Giles?”

“Miss?”

“You appear preoccupied.”

“Yes, miss. I have just discovered that there is a policeman’s helmet in this suitcase.”



********
To Be Continued…

_________________
Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:16 pm 
Offline
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:34 pm
Posts: 176
Topics: 9
Location: PNW
And we've successfully jumped another hurdle to slam us right into a wall.

Now if only they'd have noticed before they sent Lumpy out the window, but that'd be too easy. Lucky enough for him to scamper off with the cow creamer. At least he finally got to do something with the sheet after all. I really enjoyed the giving him a bonk on the head with a suitcase.

So we've got what one or two more chapters to conclude? I look forward to it.

_________________
Visit my epic fic As You Wish and my shorts thread F*Series & Other Shorts But don't go visit my rarely updated Official Blog!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 5:47 pm 
Offline
17. Mega-Witches
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 7:08 am
Posts: 2523
Topics: 4
Location: Sydney, Australia
Hee hee :laugh Poor Willow, the world just loves to keep pulling on the bit of string she's chasing like an excitable kitten.

Good writing with Tara this chapter, in 'panic mode' for the first time - a lot like Willow, but not identical, you can see how they're a lovely match for each other in the midst of a mess as well as in calmer moments, but each has their own identity. And even though it didn't stick, it was great to see Giles calmly and humbly lay the winning hand down on the table, so to speak.

_________________
Chris Cook
Through the Looking-glass - Every world needs a Willow and Tara.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:42 am 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:49 pm
Posts: 1159
Topics: 12
Location: Seattle, WA
dtburanek -
Quote:
I really enjoyed the giving [Lumpy] a bonk on the head with a suitcase.


Me too. :devil

artemis -
Quote:
Good writing with Tara this chapter, in 'panic mode' for the first time - a lot like Willow, but not identical, you can see how they're a lovely match for each other in the midst of a mess as well as in calmer moments, but each has their own identity.


Thank you! Yes, I was careful to not "Willow-fy" her anxiety too much. I wanted to show that being with Willow has caused a certain amount of influence on her character, but she's still very much her own. I debated whether or not I was staying true to the Tara I'd established in "LIG", and I think I have. The Tara in "LIG" was a little bit more reserved and careful than the Tara now, but she was still just as forthright and I think that being in a long-term relationship has caused her to relax her reservations and take on a bit of Willow's wackiness. Conversely, our Willow has enjoyed the influence of Tara in that she thinks a bit more (not much, but a bit) clearly and can see consequences in a bit more (not much, but a bit) anticipatory fashion.


So... the creamer is gone, but the helmet is now the new hot potato. Whatever will our redheaded heroine do?

Read on to find out!

Cheers
DW

_________________
Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - Chapter 16
PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:44 am 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:49 pm
Posts: 1159
Topics: 12
Location: Seattle, WA
Chapter 16



I had been right about the strengthening effect on the character of the vicissitudes to which I had been subjected since clocking in at the country residence of Sir Quentin Travers. Little by little, bit by bit, they had been molding me, turning me from a sensitive girl to a woman of chilled steel. A novice to conditions in this pest house, abruptly handed the news item which I had just been handed, would, I imagine, have rolled up the eyeballs and swooned where she sat. But I, toughened and fortified by the routine of one damn thing after another which constituted life at Totleigh Towers, was enabled to keep my head and face the issue.

I don’t say I didn’t leave my chair like a jack-rabbit that has sat on a cactus, but having risen I wasted no time in fruitless twitterings. I went to the door and locked it. Then, tight-lipped and pale, I came back to Giles, who had now taken the helmet from the suitcase and was oscillating it meditatively by its strap. His first words showed me that he had got the wrong angle on the situation. "It would be wiser, miss," he said with a faint reproach, "to have selected some more adequate hiding place." I shook my head. I may even have smiled — wanly, of course. My swift intelligence had enabled me to probe to the bottom of this thing.

"Not me, Giles. Fifi."

"Miss?"

"The hand that placed that helmet there was not mine, but that of F. Travers. She had it in her room. She feared lest a search might be instituted, and when I last saw her was trying to think of a safer spot. This is her idea of one." I sighed. "How do you imagine a girl gets a mind like Fifi’s, Giles?"

"Certainly, the young lady is somewhat eccentric in her actions, miss."

"Eccentric? She could step straight into Colney Hatch, and no questions asked. They would lay down the red carpet for her. The more the thoughts dwell on that young shrimp, the more the soul sickens in horror. One peers into the future, and shudders at what one sees there. One has to face it, Giles — Fifi, who is pure padded cell from the foundations up, is about to marry the Rev. R. Finn, himself about as pronounced a goop as ever broke bread, and there is no reason to suppose one has to face this, too — that their union will not be blessed. There will, that is to say, ere long be little feet pattering about the home. And what one asks oneself is — Just how safe will human life be in the vicinity of those feet, assuming — as one is forced to assume — that they will inherit the combined loopiness of two such parents? It is with a sort of tender pity, Giles, that I think of the nurses, the governesses, the private school masters and the public-school masters who will lightly take on the responsibility of looking after a blend of Faith Travers and Ryland Finn, little knowing that they are coming up against something hotter than mustard. However," I went on, abandoning these speculations, "all this, though of absorbing interest, is not really germane to the issue. Contemplating that helmet and bearing in mind the fact that the Oates-Travers comedy duo will be arriving at any moment to start their search, what would you recommend?"

"It is a little difficult to say, miss. A really effective hiding place for so bulky an object does not readily present itself."

"No. The damn thing seems to fill the room, doesn’t it?"

"It unquestionably takes the eye, miss."

"Yes. The authorities wrought well when they shaped this helmet for Constable Oates. They aimed to finish him off impressively, not to give him something which would balance on top of his head like a peanut, and they succeeded. You couldn’t hide a lid like this in an impenetrable jungle. Ah, well," I said, "we will just have to see what tact and suavity will do. I wonder when these birds are going to arrive. I suppose we may expect them very shortly. Ah! That would be the hand of doom now, if I mistake not, Giles."

But in assuming that the knocker who had just knocked on the door was Sir Quentin Travers, I had erred. It was Fifi’s voice that spoke. "Willow, let me in." There was nobody I was more anxious to see, but I did not immediately fling wide the gates. Prudence dictated a preliminary inquiry. "Have you got that bally dog of yours with you?"

"No. He’s being aired by the butler."

"In that case, you may enter." When she did so, it was to find Willow confronting her with folded arms and a hard look. She appeared, however, not to note my forbidding exterior. "Willow, darling — " She broke off, checked by a fairly animal snarl from the Rosenby lips.

"Not so much of the 'Willow, darling'. I have just one thing to say to you, young Fifi, and it is this: Was it you who put that helmet in my suitcase?"

"Of course, it was. That’s what I was coming to talk to you about. You remember I was trying to think of a good place. I racked the brain quite a bit, and then suddenly I got it."

"And now I’ve got it."

The acidity of my tone seemed to surprise her. She regarded me with girlish wonder — the wide-eyed kind. "But you don’t mind do you, Willow, darling?"

"Ha!"

"But why? I thought you would be so glad to help me out."

"Oh, yes?" I said, and I meant it to sting. "I couldn’t risk having father find it in my room."

"You preferred to have him find it in mine?"

"But, how can he? He can’t come searching your room."

"He can’t, eh?"

"Of course not. You’re his guest."

"And you suppose that that will cause him to hold his hand?" I smiled one of those bitter, sardonic smiles. "I think you are attributing to the old poison germ a niceness of feeling and a respect for the laws of hospitality which nothing in his record suggests that he possesses. You can take it from me that he definitely is going to search the room, and I imagine that the only reason he hasn’t arrived already is that he is still scouring the house for Lumpy."

"Lumpy?"

"He is at the moment chasing Lumpy with a hunting crop. But a man cannot go on doing that indefinitely. Sooner or later he will give it up, and then we shall have him here, complete with magnifying glass and bloodhounds." The gravity of the situate had at last impressed itself upon her. She uttered a squeak of dismay, and her eyes became a bit soup-platey.

"Oh, Willow! Then I’m afraid I’ve put you in rather a spot."

"That covers the facts like a dustsheet."

"I’m sorry now I ever asked Ryland to pinch the thing. It was a mistake. I admit it. Still, after all, even if father does come here and find it, it doesn’t matter much, does it?"

"Did you hear that, Giles?"

"Yes, miss."

"Thank you, Giles. What makes you suppose that I shall meekly assume the guilt and not blazon the truth forth to the world?" I wouldn’t have supposed that her eyes could have widened any more, but they did perceptibly. Another dismayed squeak escaped her. Indeed, such was its volume that it might perhaps be better to call it a squeal.

"But Willow!"

"Well?"

"Willow, listen!"

"I’m listening."

"Surely you will take the rap? You can’t let Ryland get it in the neck. You were telling me this afternoon that he would be unfrocked. I won’t have him unfrocked. Where is he going to get if they unfrock him? That sort of thing gives a curate a frightful black eye. Why can’t you say you did it? All it would mean is that you would be kicked out of the house, and I don’t suppose you’re so anxious to stay on, are you?"

"Possibly you are not aware that your bally father is proposing to send the perpetrator of this outrage to chokey"

"Oh, no. At the worst, just a fine."

"Nothing of the kind. He specifically told me chokey."

"He didn't mean it. I expect there was — "

"No, there was not a twinkle in his eye."

"Then that settles it. I can’t have my precious angel Ryland doing a stretch."

"How about your precious angel Willow?"

"But Ryland’s sensitive."

"So am I sensitive."

"Not half so sensitive as Ryland. Willow, surely you aren’t going to be difficult about this? You’re much too good a sport. Didn’t you tell me once that the Code of the Rosenbys was 'Never let a pal down’?"

She had found the talking point. People who appeal to the Code of the Rosenbys rarely fail to touch a chord in Willow. My iron front began to crumble. "That’s all very fine — "

"Willow, darling!"

"Yes, I know, but, dash it all — "

"Willow!"

"Oh, well!"

"You will take the rap?"

"I suppose so."

She yodeled ecstatically, and I think that if I had not sidestepped she would have flung her arms about my neck. Certainly she came leaping forward with some such purpose apparently in view. Foiled by my agility, she began to tear off a few steps of that Spring dance to which she was so addicted.

"Thank you, Willow, darling. I knew you would be sweet about it. I can’t tell you how grateful I am, and how much I admire you. You remind me of Carter Paterson… no, that’s not it…Nick Carter…no, not Nick Carter…Who does Miss Rosenby remind me of Giles?"

"Sidney Carton, miss."

"That’s right. Sidney Carton. For it is a far, far, better thing you do for me than you have ever done. But he was small-time stuff compared with you, Willow. And, anyway, I expect we are getting the wind up quite unnecessarily. Why are we taking it for granted that father will find the helmet, if he comes and searches the room? There are a hundred places where you can hide it."

And before I could say "Name three!" she had pirouetted to the door and pirouetted out. I could hear her dying away in the distance with a song on the lips. My own, as I turned to Giles, were twisted in a bitter smile. "Well, Giles," I said, my hand stealing towards the decanter, "this is the end!"

"No, miss." I started with a violence that nearly unshipped my front uppers. "Not the end?"

"No, miss."

"You don’t mean you have an idea?"

"Yes, miss."

"But you told me just now you hadn’t."

"Yes, miss. But since then I have been giving the matter some thought, and am now in a position to say 'Eureka!'"

"Say what?"

"Eureka, miss. Like Archimedes."

"Did he say Eureka? I thought it was Shakespeare."

"No, miss. Archimedes. What I would recommend is that you drop the helmet out of the window. It is most improbable that it will occur to Sir Quentin to search the exterior of the premises, and we shall be able to recover it at our leisure." He paused, and stood listening. "Should this suggestion meet with your approval, miss, I feel that a certain haste would be advisable. I fancy I can hear the sound of approaching footsteps."

He was right. The air was vibrant with their clumping. Assuming that a herd of bison was not making its way along the second-floor passage of Totleigh Towers, the enemy were upon us. With the nippiness of a lamb in the fold on observing the approach of Assyrians, I snatched up the helmet, bounded to the window and loosed the thing into the night. And scarcely had I done so, when the door opened, and through it came — in the order named — Tara, wearing an amused and indulgent look, as if she were joining in some game to please the children: Pop Travers, in a purple dressing gown, and Police Constable Oates, who was dabbing at his nose with a pocket handkerchief.

"So sorry to disturb you, Willow," said Tara courteously.

"Not at all," I replied with equal suavity. "Is there something I can do for the multitude?"

"Sir Quentin has got some extraordinary idea into his head about wanting to search your room."

"Search my room?"

"I intend to search it from top to bottom," said old Travers, looking very Bosher Street-y. I glanced at Tara, raising the eyebrows. "I don’t understand. What’s all this about?"

She laughed indulgently. "You will scarcely believe it, Willow, but he thinks that cow-creamer is here."

"Is it missing?"

"It’s been stolen."

"You don’t say!"

"Yes."

"Well, well, well!"

"He’s very upset about it."

"I don’t wonder."

"Most distressed."

"Poor old bloke!" I placed a kindly hand on Pop Travers’s shoulder. Probably the wrong thing to do, I can see, looking back, for it did not soothe.

"I can do without your condolences, Miss Rosenby, and I should be glad if you would not refer to me as a bloke. I have every reason to believe that not only is my cow-creamer in your possession, but Constable Oates’s helmet, as well."

A cheery guffaw seemed in order. I uttered it. "Ha, ha!" Tara came across with another. "Ha, ha!"

"How dashed absurd!" I laughed.

"Perfectly ridiculous." Tara echoed, piling it on thick.

"What on earth would I be doing with cow-creamers?"

"Or policemen’s helmets?"

"Quite."

"Did you ever hear such a weird idea?" asked Tara, casting a pointed, but characteristically gentle, look of disbelief the old magistrate's direction.

"Never. My dear old host," I said, addressing him, "let us keep perfectly calm and cool and get all this straightened out. In the kindliest spirit, I must point out that you are on the verge — if not slightly past the verge — of making an ass of yourself. This sort of thing won’t do, you know. You can’t dash about accusing people of nameless crimes without a shadow of evidence."

"I have all the evidence I require, Miss Rosenby."

"That’s what you think. And that, I maintain, is where you are making the floater of a lifetime. When was this Modern Dutch gadget of yours abstracted?"

He quivered beneath the thrust, pinkening at the tip of the nose. "It is not Modern Dutch!"

"Well, we can thresh that out later. The point is: when did it leave the premises?"

"It has not left the premises."

"That, again, is what you think. Well, when was it stolen?"

"About twenty minutes ago."

"Then there you are. Twenty minutes ago I was up here in my room." This rattled him. I had thought it would.

"You were in your room?"

"In my room."

"Alone?"

"On the contrary. Giles was here."

"Who is Giles?"

"Don’t you know Giles? This is Giles. Giles…Sir Quentin Travers."

"And who may you be, my man?"

"That’s exactly what he is — my man. May I say my right-hand man?"

"Thank you, miss."

"Not at all, Giles. Well-earned tribute." Pop Travers' face was disfigured, if you could disfigure a face like his, by an ugly sneer.

"I regret, Miss Rosenby, that I am not prepared to accept as conclusive evidence of your innocence the unsupported word of your manservant."

"Unsupported, eh? Giles, go and page Mr. Spode. Tell him I want him to come and put a bit of stuffing into my alibi."

"Very good, miss." He shimmered away, and Pop Travers seemed to swallow something hard and jagged.

"Was Lucas Spode with you?"

"Certainly, he was. Perhaps you will believe him?"

"Yes, I would believe Lucas Spode."

"Very well, then. He’ll be here in a moment." He appeared to muse. "I see. Well, apparently, I was wrong, then, in supposing that you are concealing my cow creamer. It must have been purloined by somebody else."

"Outside job, if you ask me," said Tara.

"Possibly the work of an international gang," I hazarded. "Very likely."

"Damn clever, those gangs," assented Tara. Pop Travers had seemed to me to wince a trifle.

"Well, we need not discuss the matter further," he said. "As regards the cow-creamer, I admit that you have established your case. We will now turn to Constable Oates’s helmet. That, Miss Rosenby, I happen to know positively, is in your possession."

"Oh, yes?"

"Yes. The constable received specific information on the point from an eyewitness. I will proceed, therefore, to search your room without delay"

"You really feel you want to?"

"I do." I shrugged the shoulders. "Very well," I said, "Very well. If that is the spirit in which you interpret the duties of a host, carry on. We invite inspection. I can only say that you appear to have extraordinarily rummy views on making your guests comfortable over the weekend. Don’t count on my coming here again."

I had expressed the opinion to Giles that it would be entertaining to stand by and watch this blighter and his colleague ferret about, and so it proved. I don’t know when I have extracted more solid amusement from anything. But all these good things have to come to an end at last. About ten minutes later, it was plain that the bloodhounds were planning to call it off and pack up.

To say that Pop Travers was wry, as he desisted from his efforts and turned to me, would be to understate it. "I appear to owe you an apology, Miss Rosenby," he said.

"Sir Q. Travers," I rejoined, "you never spoke a truer word." And folding my arms and drawing myself up to my full height, I let him have it. The exact words of my harangue have, I am sorry to say, escaped my memory. It is a pity that there was nobody taking them down in shorthand, for I am not exaggerating when I say that I surpassed myself. Once or twice, when a bit lit at routs and revels, I have spoken with eloquence, but I don’t think that I have ever quite reached the level to which I now soared. You could see the stuffing trickling out of old Travers in great heaping handfuls. But as I rounded into my peroration, I suddenly noticed that I was failing to grip. He had ceased to listen, and was staring past me at something out of my range of vision. And so worth looking at did this spectacle, judging from his expression, appear to be that I turned in order to take a dekko.

It was the butler who had so riveted Sir Quentin Travers’s attention. He was standing in the doorway, holding in his right hand a silver salver. And on that salver was a policeman’s helmet.

********

To Be Concluded...

_________________
Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:50 pm 
Offline
17. Mega-Witches
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 7:08 am
Posts: 2523
Topics: 4
Location: Sydney, Australia
Willow's life would be so much easier if she could escape the last paragraph of every chapter :laugh

Loved the double team of Willow and Tara facing down Quentin when it seemed they finally had everything under control. And the potential for Fifi-Riley offspring, ye gods... Great work :bow

(Unrelated to this story, but I just have to say it's gotten quite difficult to post now, because The Banner is on the screen, and I keep ending up staring at The Banner and not finishing my sentences :drool )

_________________
Chris Cook
Through the Looking-glass - Every world needs a Willow and Tara.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - COMPLETE (posting in installments)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:41 am 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:49 pm
Posts: 1159
Topics: 12
Location: Seattle, WA
artemis -
Quote:
Willow's life would be so much easier if she could escape the last paragraph of every chapter :laugh


LOL - So true!!

Quote:
(Unrelated to this story, but I just have to say it's gotten quite difficult to post now, because The Banner is on the screen, and I keep ending up staring at The Banner and not finishing my sentences :drool )


OMG, right? Now I am equally distracted by the banner and the new gifs on the bottom of the page. Well... maybe not equally... I seem to be spending more time watching the gifs... :drool


Well, here we are... the final chapter. How will everything resolve? Read on to find out!!

Cheers
DW

_________________
Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - CHAPTER 17
PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:45 am 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:49 pm
Posts: 1159
Topics: 12
Location: Seattle, WA
Chapter 17




I remember old Skittle-pin Finn, who towards the end of his career at Oxford used to go in for social service in London’s tougher districts, describing to me once in some detail the sensations he had experienced one afternoon, while spreading the light in Bethnal Green, on being unexpectedly kicked in the stomach by a costermonger. It gave him, he told me, a strange, dreamy feeling, together with an odd illusion of having walked into a thick fog. And the reason I mention it is that my own emotions at this moment were extraordinarily similar.

When I had last seen this butler, if you recollect, on the occasion when he had come to tell me that Anya Jenkins would be glad if I could spare her a moment, I mentioned that he had flickered. It was not so much at a flickering butler that I was gazing now as at a sort of heaving mist with a vague suggestion of something butlerine vibrating inside it. Then the scales fell from my eyes, and I was enabled to note the reactions of the rest of the company.

They were all taking it extremely big. Pop Travers, like the chap in the poem which I had to write out fifty times at school for introducing a white mouse into the English Literature hour, was plainly feeling like some watcher of the skies when a new planet swims into his ken, while Constable Oates resembled a respectively stout Cortez staring at the Pacific and all his men looking at each other with a wild surmise, silent upon a peak in Darien. Tara, for her part, stood eyes-wide and gob-smacked, the color drained from her pretty cheeks. One could tell her mind was racing for a way to come to the aide of her Willow.

It was a goodish while before anybody stirred. Then, with a choking cry like that of a mother spotting her long-lost child in the offing, Constable Oates swooped forward and grabbed the lid, clasping it to his bosom with visible ecstasy.

The movement seemed to break the spell. Old Travers came to life as if someone had pressed a button. "Where —where did you get that, Butterfield?"

"I found it in a flowerbed, Sir Quentin."

"In a flowerbed?"

"Odd," I said. "Very strange."

"Yes, sir. I was airing Miss Travers’s dog, and, happening to be passing the side of the house, I observed Miss Rosenby drop something from her window. It fell into the flowerbed beneath, and upon inspection proved to be this helmet."

Old Travers drew a deep breath. "Thank you, Butterfield." The butler breezed off, and old T., revolving on his axis, faced me with gleaming pince-nez. "So!" he said.

There is never very much you can do in the way of a telling comeback when a fellow says "So!" to you. I preserved a judicious silence. "Some mistake," said Tara, taking the floor with an intrepidity which became her well. "Probably came from one of the other windows. Easy to get confused on a dark night."

"Tchah!"

"Or it may be that the man was lying. Yes, that seems a plausible explanation. I think I see it all. This Butterfield of yours is the guilty man. He stole the helmet, and knowing that the hunt was up and detection imminent, decided to play a bold game and try to shove it off on Willow. Eh, Willow?"

"I shouldn’t wonder, Tara. I shouldn’t wonder at all."

"Yes, that is what must have happened. It becomes clearer every moment. You can’t trust these saintly looking butlers an inch."

"Not an inch."

"I remember thinking the fellow had a furtive eye."

"Me, too."

"You noticed it yourself, did you?"

"Right away."

"He reminds me of Mr. Rayne. Did I ever tell you of Mr. Rayne, Willow?"

"I can’t say that you have."

"He was the first and last butler my father ever employed. With a face like a more than usually respectable archbishop. Took us all in, that face. We trusted him implicitly. And what was the result? After a mere two weeks he stole my father’s bill fold and squandered the proceeds at the dog races. That’s when Father swore never to hire a butler again. This Butterfield is another Mr. Rayne."

"Some relation, perhaps?"

"Anything’s possible. I recall Mr. Rayne did have an English accent and, in Boston, that’s something you notice. Well, now that’s all satisfactorily settled and Willow dismissed without a stain on her character, how about all going to bed? It’s getting late, and if I don’t have my eight hours, I’m a rag."

She had injected into the proceedings such a pleasant atmosphere of all-pals-together and hearty let’s-say-no-more-about-it that it came quite as a shock to find that old Travers was failing to see eye to eye. He proceeded immediately to strike the jarring note.

"With your theory that somebody is lying, Miss Maclay, I am in complete agreement. But when you assert that it is my butler, I must join issue with you. Miss Rosenby has been exceedingly clever most ingenious — "

"Oh, thanks."

" — but I am afraid that I find myself unable to dismiss her, as you suggest, without a stain on her character. In fact, to be frank with you, I do not propose to dismiss her at all." He gave me the pincenez in a cold and menacing manner. I can’t remember when I’ve seen a man I liked the look of less. "You may possibly recall, Miss Rosenby, that in the course of our conversation in the library I informed you that I took the very gravest view of this affair. I assured you that the perpetrator of this wanton assault on the person of Constable Oates would, when apprehended, serve a prison sentence. I see no reason to revise that decision."

This statement had a mixed press. Eustace Oates obviously approved. He looked up from the helmet with a quick encouraging smile and but for the iron restraint of discipline would, I think, have said "Hear, hear!" Tara and I, on the other hand, didn’t like it.

"Here, come, I say now, Sir Quentin, really," she expostulated, always on her toes when the interests of the companion were threatened. "You can’t do that sort of thing."

"Madam, I both can and will." He twiddled a hand in the direction of Eustace Oates. "Constable!" He didn’t add "Arrest this man!" or "Do your duty!" but the officer got the gist. He clumped forward zealously. I was rather expecting him to lay a hand on my shoulder or to produce the gyves and apply them to my wrists, but he didn’t. He merely lined up beside me as if we were going to do a duet and stood there looking puff-faced. Tara continued to plead and reason. "But you can’t invite a lady to your house and the moment she steps inside the door calmly bung her into the coop. If that is Gloucestershire hospitality, then heaven help Gloucestershire."

"Miss Rosenby is not here on my invitation, but on my godson’s."

"That makes no difference. You can’t wriggle out of it like that. She is your guest. She has eaten your salt. And let me tell you, while we are on the subject, that there was a lot too much of it in the soup tonight."

"Oh, would you say that?" I said. "Just about right, it seemed to me."

"No. Too salty."

Pop Travers intervened. "I must apologize for the shortcomings of my cook. Meanwhile, to return to the subject with which we were dealing, Miss Rosenby is under arrest, and tomorrow I shall take the necessary steps to — "

"And what’s going to happen to her tonight?"

"We maintain a small but serviceable police station in the village, presided over by Constable Oates. Oates will doubtless be able to find her accommodation."

"You aren’t proposing to lug the poor girl off to a police station at this time of night? You could at least let her doss in a decent bed."

"Yes, I see no objection to that. One does not wish to be unduly harsh. You may remain in this room until tomorrow, Miss Rosenby."

"Oh, thanks."

"I shall lock the door — "

"Oh, quite."

"And take charge of the key — "

"Oh, rather."

"And Constable Oates will patrol beneath the window for the remainder of the night."

"Sir?"

"This will check Miss Rosenby’s known propensity for dropping things from windows. You had better take up your station at once, Oates."

"Very good, sir." There was a note of quiet anguish in the officer’s voice, and it was plain that the smug satisfaction with which he had been watching the progress of events had waned. His views on getting his eight hours were apparently the same as Tara’s. Saluting sadly, he left the room in a depressed sort of way. He had his helmet again, but you could see that he was beginning to ask himself if helmets were everything.

"And now, Miss Maclay, I should like, if I may, to have a word with you in private." They oiled off, and I was alone. I don’t mind confessing that my emotions, as the key turned in the lock, were a bit poignant. On the one hand, it was nice to feel that I had got my bedroom to myself for a few minutes, but against that you had to put the fact that I was in what is known as durance vile and not likely to get out of it. I was faced now, by the prospect of waking on the morrow to begin serving a sentence of thirty days’ duration in a prison where it was most improbable that I would be able to get my morning cup of tea.

Nor did the consciousness that I was innocent seem to help much. I drew no consolation from the fact that Faith Travers thought me like Sidney Carton. I had never met the chap, but I gathered that he was somebody who had taken it on the chin to oblige a girl, and to my mind this was enough to stamp him as a priceless ass. Sidney Carton and Willow Rosenby, I felt — nothing to choose between them. Sidney, one of the mugs — Willow, the same.

I went to the window and looked out. Recalling the moody distaste which Constable Oates had exhibited at the suggestion that he should stand guard during the night hours, I had a faint hope that, once the eye of authority was removed, he might have ducked the assignment and gone off to get his beauty sleep. But no. There he was, padding up and down on the lawn, the picture of vigilance. And I had just gone to the wash-hand-stand to get a cake of soap to bung at him, feeling that this might soothe the bruised spirit a little, when I heard the door handle rattle. I stepped across and put my lips to the woodwork.

"Hallo."

"It is I, miss. Giles."

"Oh, hallo, Giles."

"The door appears to be locked, miss."

"And you can take it from me, Giles, that appearances do not deceive. Pop Travers locked it, and has trousered the key."

"Miss?"

"I’ve been pinched."

"Indeed, miss?"

"What was that?"

"I said 'Indeed, miss?’"

"Oh, did you? Yes. Yes, indeed. And I’ll tell you why.” I gave him a précis of what had happened. It was not easy to hear, with a door between us, but I think the narrative elicited a spot of respectful tut-tutting.

"Unfortunate, miss."

"Most. Well, Giles, what is your news?"

"I endeavored to locate Mr. Spode, miss, but he had gone for a walk in the grounds. No doubt he will be returning shortly."

"Well, we shan’t require him now. The rapid march of events has taken us far past the point where Spode could have been of service. Anything else been happening at your end?"

"I have had a word with Miss Travers, miss."

"I should like a word with her myself. What had she to say?"

"The young lady was in considerable distress of mind, miss, her union with the Reverend Mr. Finn having been forbidden by Sir Quentin."

"Good Lord, Giles! Why?"

"Sir Quentin appears to have taken umbrage at the part played by Mr. Finn in allowing the purloiner of the cow creamer to effect his escape."

"Why do you say 'his’?"

"From motives of prudence, miss. Walls have ears."

"I see what you mean. That’s rather neat, Giles."

"Thank you, miss." I mused a while on this latest development. There were certainly aching hearts in Gloucestershire all right this p.m. I was conscious of a pang of pity. Despite the fact that it was entirely owing to Fifi that I found myself in my present predic, I wished the young loony well and mourned for her in her hour of disaster. "So he has bunged a spanner into Fifi’s romance as well as Lumpy’s, has he? That old bird has certainly been throwing his weight about tonight, Giles."

"Yes, miss."

"And not a thing to be done about it, as far as I can see. Can you see anything to be done about it?"

"No, miss."

"And switching to another aspect of the affair, you haven’t any immediate plans for getting me out of this, I suppose?"

"Not adequately formulated, miss. I am turning over an idea in my mind."

"Turn well, Giles. Spare no effort."

"But it is at present merely nebulous."

"It involves finesse, I presume?"

"Yes, miss."

I shook my head. Waste of time really, of course, because he couldn’t see me. Still, I shook it. "It’s no good trying to be subtle and snaky now, Giles. What is required is rapid action.' And a thought has occurred to me. "We were speaking not long since of the time when Sir Lindsey MacDonald was immured in the potting-shed, with Constable Lockley guarding every exit. Do you remember what my initial idea was for coping with the situation?"

"If I recollect rightly, miss, you had advocated a physical assault upon the officer. ‘Bat him over the head with a shovel!’ was, as I recall, your expression."

"Correct, Giles. Those were my exact words. And though we ultimately scouted the idea at the time, it seems to me now that I displayed a considerable amount of rugged good sense. Constable Oates is on sentry-go beneath my window. I still have the knotted sheets and they can readily be attached to the leg of the bed or something. So if you would just borrow a shovel somewhere and step down — "

"I fear, miss — "

"Come on, Giles. This is no time for nolle prosequis. I know you like finesse, but you must see that it won’t help us now. The moment has arrived when only shovels can serve. You could go and engage him in conversation, keeping the instrument concealed behind your back, and waiting for the psychological — "

"Excuse me, miss. I think I hear somebody coming."

"Well, ponder over what I have said. Who is coming?"

"It is Sir Quentin and Miss Maclay, miss. I fancy they are about to call upon you."

"I thought I shouldn’t get this room to myself for long. Still, let them come. We Rosenbys keep open house." When the door was unlocked a few moments later, however, only my lovely dove entered. She made for the old familiar armchair, and dumped herself heavily in it. Her demeanor was somber, encouraging no hope that she had come to announce that Pop Travers, wiser counsels having prevailed, had decided to set me free. And yet I’m dashed if that wasn’t precisely what she had come to announce.

"Well, Willow," she said, having brooded in silence for a space, "you can get on with your packing."

"Eh?"

"He’s called it off."

"Called it off?"

"Yes. He isn’t going to press the charge."

"You mean I’m not headed for chokey?"

"No."

"I’m as free as the air, as the expression is?"

"Yes." I was so busy rejoicing in spirit that it was some moments before I had leisure to observe that the buck-and-wing dance which I was performing was not being abetted by my treasured dumpling. She was still carrying on with her somber sitting, and I looked at her with a touch of concern.

"You don’t seem very pleased."

"Oh, I’m delighted."

"I fail to detect the symptoms" I said. "I should have thought that a companion’s reprieve at the foot of the scaffold, as you might say, would have produced a bit of leaping and springing about." A deep sigh escaped her.

"Well, the trouble is, Willow, there is a catch in it. The old buzzard has made a condition."

"What is that?"

"He wishes me to marry Lumpy." I stared at her.

"He what!"

"Yes. That is the price of your freedom. He says he will agree not to press the charge if I marry Lumpy. The darned old blackmailer!" A spasm of anguish twisted her features. This woman was suffering.

I wasn’t feeling any too good myself. The thought that Tara was prepared to sacrifice herself to save her darling from the cooler was one that struck home and stirred.

I don’t know when I have been so profoundly moved. It was with a melting eye that I gazed at her. She reminded me of Sidney Carton. "You were actually contemplating marrying Lumpy for my sake?" I gasped.

"Or at least give the appearance. I figure I can stretch the engagement out a few months and then call it off."

"Of course, jolly well not! I wouldn’t hear of such a thing. You and Lumpy? Never! And what if Old Travers tries to rush the ceremony, eh? Then where will we be?"

"But you can’t go to prison."

"I certainly can, if my going means that you’re safe from matrimonial disaster. Don’t dream of meeting old Travers’s demands!"

"Willow! Do you mean this?"

"I should say so. What’s a mere thirty days in the second division? A bagatelle. I can do it on my head. Let Travers do his worst. And," I added in a softer voice, "when my time is up and I come out into the world once more a free woman I should hope you’ll be waiting at the prison gates, ready to take your Willow back into the safety of your bosom?"

"Yes, my darling, always." She drew me to her bosom now, and I must admit a particularly cat-like smile crawled over my features at the gesture.

"Then let’s have the man in and defy him. Travers!" I cried, standing erect, leaving the bosom behind. I had drawn what strength I needed from it, and now was able to face the music, emboldened.

"Travers!" shouted Tara.

"Travers!" I bawled, making the welkin ring. It was still ringing when he popped in, looking annoyed.

"What the devil are you shouting at me like that for?"

"Oh, there you are, Travers." I wasted no time in getting down to the agenda. "Travers, we defy you." The man was plainly taken aback. He threw a questioning look at Tara. He seemed to be feeling that Willow was speaking in riddles.

"He is alluding," explained Miss Maclay, "to that idiotic offer of yours to call the thing off if I marry Alexander. Silliest idea I ever heard. We’ve been having a good laugh about it. Haven’t we, Willow?"

"Roaring our heads off" I assented. He seemed stunned.

"Do you mean that you refuse?"

"Of course we refuse. I might have known my Willow better than to suppose for an instant that she would consider allowing an unwanted match onto a dear friend’s head in order to save herself unpleasantness. The Rosenbys are not like that, are they, Willow?"

"I should say not."

"They don’t put self first."

"You bet they don’t."

"I ought never to have agreed to it. I apologize, Willow."

"Quite all right, my darling girl." She wrung my hand.

After a while, Pop Travers spoke in a strained and nasty voice. "Well, Miss Rosenby, it seems that after all you will have to pay the penalty of your folly."

"Quite."

"I may say that I have changed my mind about allowing you to spend the night under my roof. You will go to the police station."

"Vindictive, Travers." I scolded.

"Now, that's simply unfair," chirped Tara, aghast, her hand gripping around mine tightly enough to pinch off blood to the digits.

"Not at all. I see no reason why Constable Oates should be deprived of his well-earned sleep merely to suit your convenience. I will send for him." He opened the door. "Here, you!" It was a most improper way of addressing Giles, but the faithful fellow did not appear to resent it.

"Sir?"

"On the lawn outside the house you will find Constable Oates. Bring him here."

"Very good, sir. I think Mr. Spode wishes to speak to you, sir."

"Eh?"

"Mr. Spode, sir. He is coming along the passage now."

Old Travers came back into the room, seeming displeased. "I wish Luke would not interrupt me at a time like this," he said querulously. "I cannot imagine what reason he can have for wanting to see me."

I laughed lightly. The irony of the thing amused me. "He is coming — a bit late — to tell you that he was with me when the cow-creamer was pinched, thus clearing me of the guilt."

"I see. Yes, as you say, he is somewhat late. I shall have to explain to him…Ah, Lucas." The massive frame of L. Spode had appeared in the doorway. "Come in, Lucas, come in. But you need not have troubled, my dear fellow. Miss Rosenby has made it quite evident that she had nothing to do with the theft of my cow-creamer. It was that that you wished to see me about, was it not?"

"Well — er — no," said Lucas Spode. There was an odd, strained look on the man’s face. His eyes were glassy and, as far as a thing of that size was capable of being fingered, he was fingering his moustache. He seemed to be bracing himself for some unpleasant task. "Well — er — no," he said. "The fact is, I hear there’s been some trouble about that helmet I stole from Constable Oates."

There was a stunned silence. Old Travers goggled. Tara goggled. I goggled. Lucas Spode continued to finger his moustache. "It was a silly thing to do," he said. "I see that now. I — er — yielded to an uncontrollable impulse. One does sometimes, doesn’t one? You remember I told you I once stole a policeman’s helmet at Oxford. I was hoping I could keep quiet about it, but Miss Rosenby’s man tells me that you have got the idea that Miss Rosenby did it, so of course I had to come and tell you. That’s all. I think I’ll go to bed," said Lucas Spode. "Good night."

He edged off, and the stunned silence started functioning again. I suppose there have been men who looked bigger asses than Sir Quentin Travers at this moment, but I have never seen one myself. The tip of his nose had gone bright scarlet, and his pince-nez were hanging limply to the parent nose at an angle of forty-five. Consistently though he had snootered me from the very inception of our relations, I felt almost sorry for the poor old blighter. "H’rrmph!" he said at length. He struggled with the vocal cords for a space. They seemed to have gone twisted on him. "It appears that I owe you an apology, Miss Rosenby."

"Say no more about it, Travers."

"I am sorry that all this has occurred."

"Don’t mention it. My innocence is established. That is all that matters. I presume that I am now at liberty to depart?"

"Oh, certainly, certainly. Good night, Miss Rosenby."

"Good night, Travers. I need scarcely say, I think, that I hope this will be a lesson to you." I dismissed him with a distant nod, and stood there wrapped in thought. I could make nothing of what had occurred. Following the old and tried Oates method of searching for the motive, I had to confess myself baffled. I could only suppose that this was the Sidney Carton spirit bobbing up again. And then a sudden blinding light seemed to flash upon me. "Giles!"

"Miss?"

"Were you behind this thing?"

"Miss?"

"Don’t keep saying ‘Miss?’ You know what I’m talking about. Was it you who egged Spode on to take the rap?" I wouldn’t say he smiled — he practically never does — but a muscle abaft the mouth did seem to quiver slightly for an instant.

"I did venture to suggest to Mr. Spode that it would be a graceful act on his part to assume the blame, miss. My line of argument was that he would be saving you a great deal of unpleasantness, while running no risk himself. I pointed out to him that Sir Quentin, being engaged to marry his aunt, would hardly be likely to inflict upon him the sentence which he had contemplated inflicting upon you. One does not send gentlemen to prison if one is betrothed to their aunts."

"Profoundly true, Giles. But I still don’t get it. Do you mean he just right-hoed? Without a murmur?"

"Not precisely without a murmur, miss. At first, I must confess, he betrayed a certain reluctance. I think I may have influenced his decision by informing him that I knew all about — "

I uttered a cry. "Ilyria?"

"Yes, miss." A passionate desire to get to the bottom of this Ilyria thing swept over me.

"Giles, tell me. What did Spode actually do to the girl? Murder her?"

"I fear I am not at liberty to say, miss."

"Come on, Giles," urged Miss Maclay.

"I fear not, miss." I gave it up. "Oh, well!" I ducked behind the standing screen, pulling Tara with me as she'd never let go of my hand, but had, thankfully, lightened her grip a bit, and we started shedding our garments. I climbed into my pajamas. Tara slipped into her nightgown. We slid into bed. The sheets being inextricably knotted, it would be necessary, I saw, to nestle between the blankets, but I was prepared to rough it for one night.

The rapid surge of events had left me pensive. I sat with my arms round my knees, meditating on Fortune’s swift changes. "An odd thing, life, Giles."

"Very odd, miss."

"You never know where you are with it, do you? To take a simple instance, I little thought half an hour ago that I would be sitting here in carefree pajamas, watching you pack for the getaway. A very different future seemed to confront me."

"Yes, miss."

"One would have said that a curse had come upon me."

"One would, indeed, miss."

"But now my troubles, as you might say, have vanished like the dew on the what-is-it. Thanks to you."

"I am delighted to have been able to be of service, miss."

"You have delivered the goods as seldom before. And yet, Giles, there is always a snag."

"Miss?"

"I wish you wouldn’t keep saying 'Miss?’ What I mean is, Giles, loving hearts have been sundered in this vicinity and are still sundered. I may be all right — Tara and I both — but Lumpy isn’t all right. Nor is Fifi all right. That is the fly in the ointment."

"Yes, miss."

"Though, pursuant on that, I never could see why flies shouldn’t be in ointment. What harm do they do?"

"I wonder, miss — "

"Yes, Giles?"

"I was merely about to inquire if it is your intention to bring an action against Sir Quentin for wrongful arrest and defamation of character before witnesses."

"I hadn’t thought of that. You think an action would lie?"

"There can be no question about it, miss. Both Miss Maclay and I could offer overwhelming testimony. You are undoubtedly in a position to mulct Sir Quentin in heavy damages."

"Yes, I suppose you’re right. No doubt that was why he went up in the air to such an extent when Spode did his act."

"Yes, miss. His trained legal mind would have envisaged the peril."

"I don’t think I ever saw a man go so red in the nose. Did you?"

"No, miss."

"Still, it seems a shame to harry him further. I don’t know that I want actually to grind the old bird into the dust."

"I was merely thinking, miss, that were you to threaten such an action, Sir Quentin, in order to avoid unpleasantness, might see his way to ratifying the betrothals of Miss Jenkins and Mr Harrison-Phipps and Miss Travers and the Reverend Mr Finn."

"Golly, Giles! Put the bite on him, what?"

"Precisely, miss."

"The thing shall be put in train immediately." I sprang from the bed and nipped to the door. "Travers!" I yelled. There was no immediate response. The man had presumably gone to earth. But after I had persevered for some minutes, shouting "Travers!" at regular intervals with increasing volume, I heard the distant sound of pattering feet, and along he came, in a very different spirit from that which he had exhibited on the previous occasion. This time it was more like some eager waiter answering the bell.

"Yes, Miss Rosenby?"

I gestured for Giles to pass me my dressing robe. I wrapped it round myself and stepped into the hall.

"There is something you wish to say to me, Miss Rosenby?"

"There are about a dozen things I wish to say to you, Travers, but the one we will touch on at the moment is this. Are you aware that your headstrong conduct in sticking police officers on to pinch me and locking me in my room has laid you open to an action for — what was it, Giles?"

"Wrongful arrest and defamation of character before witnesses, miss."

"That’s the baby. I could soak you for millions. What are you going to do about it?" He writhed like an electric fan. "I’ll tell you what you are going to do about it," I proceeded. "You are going to issue your OK on the union of your godson Alexander Harrison-Phipps to Miss Anya Jenkins and also on that of your daughter Faith and the Rev. R. Finn. And you will do it now."

A short struggle seemed to take place in him. It might have lasted longer, if he hadn’t caught my eye. "Very well, Miss Rosenby."

"Well, that should be all, I think. Good night, Travers."

"Good night, Miss Rosenby. Is that brandy I see over there? I think I should like a glass, if I may."

"Giles, a snootful for Sir Quentin Travers."

"Very good, miss." He drained the beaker gratefully, and tottered out. Probably quite a nice chap, if you knew him. Giles broke the silence. "I have finished the packing, miss."

"Good. Then I think I’ll curl up. Open the windows, will you?"

"Very good, miss."

"What sort of a night is it?"

"Unsettled, miss. It has begun to rain with some violence."

The sound of a sneeze came to my ears. "Hallo, who’s that, Giles? Somebody out there?"

"Constable Oates, miss."

"You don’t mean he hasn’t gone off duty?"

"No, miss. I imagine that in his preoccupation with other matters it escaped Sir Quentin’s mind to send word to him that there was no longer any necessity to keep his vigil." I sighed contentedly. It needed but this to complete my day. The thought of Constable Oates prowling in the rain like the troops of Midian, when he could have been snug in bed toasting his pink toes on the hot-water bottle, gave me a curiously mellowing sense of happiness. "This is the end of a perfect day, Giles. What’s that thing of yours about larks?"

"Miss?"

"And, I rather think, snails."

"Oh, yes, miss. ‘The year’s at the Spring, the day’s at the morn, morning’s at seven, the hill-side’s dew-pearled —’ "

"But the larks, Giles? The snails? I’m pretty sure larks and snails entered into it."

"I am coming to the larks and snails, miss. ‘The lark’s on the wing, the snail’s on the thorn —’”

"Now you’re talking. And the tab line?"

" 'God’s in His heaven, all’s right with the world.’"

"That’s it in a nutshell. I couldn’t have put it better myself. And yet, Giles, there is just one thing. I do wish you would give me the inside facts about Ilyria."

"I fear, miss — "

"I would keep it dark. You know me — the silent tomb."

"The rules of the Junior Ganymede are extremely strict, miss."

"But you might stretch a point," urged Tara, equally curious.

"I am sorry, miss — "

"Giles," I said, "do this one trifle for me and you’re due for a grand gesture of thanks. Name it my man, and you shall have it."

He wavered. Clearly he had something in mind. "As you know, miss, I have taken the liberty of collecting some literature from the Travel Bureau. I thought that you might care to try a second glance at it."


"Oh?" I said. "You did, did you?"


And there was a brief and — if that’s the word I want — pregnant silence. I suppose that when two persons of iron will live in close association with one another, there are bound to be occasional clashes, and one of these had recently popped up in the Rosenby home. Giles was trying to get me and Tara to go on a Round-The-World cruise, and I would have none of it. But in spite of my firm statements to this effect, scarcely a day passed without him bringing me a sheaf or nosegay of those illustrated folders which the Ho-for-the-open-spaces birds send out in the hope of drumming up custom. His whole attitude recalled irresistibly to the mind that of some assiduous hound who will persist in laying a dead rat on the drawing-room carpet, though repeatedly apprised by word and gesture that the market for same is sluggish or even non-existent.


"Giles," I said, "this nuisance must now cease."


"Travel is highly educational, miss."


"I can’t do with any more education. I was full up years ago. No, Giles, I know what’s the matter with you. That old Viking strain of yours has come out again. You yearn for the tang of the salt breezes. You see yourself walking the deck in a yachting cap. Possibly someone has been telling you about the Dancing Girls of Bali. I understand, and I sympathize. But not for me. I refuse to be decanted into any blasted ocean-going liner and lugged off round the world."

"Very good, miss."

"Willow," Tara chided me gently, placing her porcelain hand upon my arm. "Giles has done an awful lot for us and a World Cruise doesn’t sound so terrible. I shouldn’t mind bunking up with you in one of those smallish cabins."

I looked into my darling girl’s eyes and something in their sapphire depths caused a paddler to start down to business in the old tum. I made the great decision. "Giles," I said, "give me the low-down, and we’ll come on that World Cruise of yours."

"Well, in the strictest confidence, miss — "

"Of course."

"Mr Spode designs ladies’ underclothing, miss. He has a considerable talent in that direction, and has indulged it secretly for some years. He is the founder and proprietor of the emporium in Bond Street known as Ilyria Sceurs."

"You don’t mean that?"

"Yes, miss."

"Good Lord, Giles!" I barked.

"No wonder he didn’t want a thing like that to come out," said Tara.

"No, miss. It would unquestionably jeopardize his authority over his followers."

"You can’t be a successful Dictator and design women’s underclothing," I noted.

"No, miss."

"One or the other,” said Tara gamely, “Not both."

"Precisely, miss."

I mused. "Well, it was worth it, Giles. I couldn’t have slept, wondering about it. Perhaps that cruise won’t be so very foul, after all?"

"Most ladies find them enjoyable, miss."

"Do they?"

"Yes, miss."

"You had better get the tickets tomorrow."

"I have already procured them, miss. Good night, miss."

The door closed. I switched off the light. For some moments I lay there listening to the measured tramp of Constable Oates’s feet and thinking of Lumpy and Anya Jenkins and of Fifi and old Skittle-pin Finn, and of the hotsy-totsiness which now prevailed in their love lives. I felt my precious Tara turn toward me, as was her custom, and press into my side. Giles was right, I felt. The snail was on the wing and the lark on the thorn — or, rather, the other way round — and God was in His heaven and all right with the world.




THE END

_________________
Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - Final Chapter Posted 4/11/2017
PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:23 pm 
Offline
17. Mega-Witches
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 7:08 am
Posts: 2523
Topics: 4
Location: Sydney, Australia
Nicely done Giles! :bow Sweet that Willow was ready to take the fall to protect (and vice versa), but of course Giles has the proper solution just when it's needed. And very selfless of him to put the goodwill of his triumph towards coaxing Willow into a trip which, one suspects, she'll find much more pleasant than she's imagining. Truly Giles is a prince among men.

(And cute about Spode's big secret. So he does have a redeeming quality after all? If only he'd ditch the silly dictator routine and come into the open with his proper calling, perhaps he'd be a happier person.)

_________________
Chris Cook
Through the Looking-glass - Every world needs a Willow and Tara.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - Final Chapter Posted 4/11/2017
PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 8:23 am 
Offline
1. Blessed Wannabe
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 9:08 am
Posts: 6
I'd been keeping an eye on this one since you started posting it. Since you said in your initial post that this was already finished and you were going to post it weekly until you reached the end I decided to wait to read it until it was all posted.

I really liked it. The style was interesting, it took me a while to get used to it, but I really liked it once I was able to follow it more easily.

I haven't read the earlier stories in this universe but I will now.

Also, this:
Quote:
"Yes, my darling, always." She drew me to her bosom now, and I must admit a particularly cat-like smile crawled over my features at the gesture.

"Then let’s have the man in and defy him. Travers!" I cried, standing erect, leaving the bosom behind. I had drawn what strength I needed from it, and now was able to face the music, emboldened.


Made me smile and laugh. :)

-Floof


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - Final Chapter Posted 4/11/2017
PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:18 pm 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:49 pm
Posts: 1159
Topics: 12
Location: Seattle, WA
Artemis -
Quote:
Truly Giles is a prince among men.
Isn't he just? :grin Thank you so much for reading and providing commentary!!

Floof - Thank you for taking a chance and reading this little trifle! All 17 parts in one sitting, eh? I hope it held up as a cohesive story. I'm glad you liked the "bosom" bit. I must admit it's one of my favorite exchanges, too.

Thanks for reading, you guys!

Cheers
DW

_________________
Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Giles at Christmas - Final Chapter Posted 4/11/2017
PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 9:49 pm 
Offline
11. Fish in the Bowl

Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:35 pm
Posts: 1478
Topics: 2
Location: California
Wow! A written farce of this complexity and with W/T loving threaded through it all! What a joy! I have read all three stories in this series and loved them all! You should do that world cruise!

What a blast! :applause

Thanks so much!


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 61 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron

W/T Love 24/7 since July 2000
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group