Randolph Holstershire the Third arrived in a coach precisely on time. He stepped out and tipped the driver ten percent to the penny- an amount which he had calculated using the abacus he was so rarely parted from. The abacus had been given to him as a gift by a Chinaman he had kept in his employ whilst he was on sabbatical in the Eastern Lands. Randolph couldn’t recall the name of his servant, but he did recall how best to use the abacus- for tipping. He also recalled a torrid night in Afghanistan, just he and his servant, naked and clinging to each other to create enough body heat to survive a mountain storm. It was that night he’d learned the secrets of the abacus, and more he would rarely say. Calculating a square root by hand takes dextrous fingers and delicate instruction to say the least, but thoughts of this kind were not relevant to his visit to Petticoat Manor.
He was ushered into the drawing room of Petticoat Manor by a grim looking butler named Hensley. Hensley had the marks of years of service, but also the marks of severe third degree burns he received whilst attempting to give his lover, and several others, a Londonderry Kazoo. It was, in fact, Hensly’s own grotesque scarification which caused the manouvre to be banned by Her Majesty, who could only remark “Some things are best left to the Gauls”.
Randolph was announced to Lady Petticoat, and she curtsied politely in a well practiced fashion. She was obviously a woman of some sophistication which fell just short of distracting from a cloying zephyr of scent Randolph couldn’t quite put his finger on.
“Lord Holstershire,” said Lady Petticoat, “I’d like to keep formalities to a minimum, these are busy times in Her Majesty’s Empire, and I see no need to dwell on the intricacies of etiquette.”.
“Hardly worth mentioning.” Said Holstershire, seating himself in a leather covered wingback chair opposite an identical chair occupied by Lady Petticoat.
For a moment their eyes locked, and the unspeakable acts they had engaged in together spoke for them through the silence like a speaking lion might speak if he were not speaking, but then decided rather suddenly to do so. It was very much like that lion thing indeed, only with two souls not speaking but having their speech spoken for them by their history in a sort of non verbal way, but lionesque.
Hensley arived with their tea and served it gingerly, with the deft and practiced hand of a faithful butler, but also the deft and practiced hand of a man who had been injured rigging the necessary ropes and pulleys to accomplish a full Londonderry Kazoo. It was the boiling cauldron of lubricant from the very Londonderry Kazoo in which Hensley had overseen for the participation of Lady Petticoat, Lord Holstershire and himself, as well as all the boatswains of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, and the denizens of prison ship for the mentally unstable headed for the colonies that had been the cause of Hensley’s burns.
Hensley left the two alone in the room to consider their history together.
Randolph sipped his tea, and sat long in silence before he offered this: “Lovely weather.” he managed.
Lady Petticoat swallowed her sip of tea delicately and replied: “Indeed, the farmers at the market tell me there will be more cucumbers than ever this year.”
Randolph waited. “Indeed?”
“Indeed.” Lady Petticoat replied.
Suddenly the full heat of Randoph’s Victorian passion overwhelmed him. Such was the life in Victorian England, with so much hidden in the emotional cellars, and with such careful constructions of society atop them.
Randolph, without warning, stood up. “My Lady,” he said “Thank you for the tea, I must be going.”
Lady Petticoat rose as well. “By all means, it has been a pleasure”.
The two burning suns of passion that could be extinguished only with the height of civility, and also the very heights of Wuthering, were contained within a moment of their emergence.
Randolph Holstershire departed swiftly, wishing only that he had mustered the courage to ask what it was that smelled like cunt in there.