Thursday, July 17, 2014

the adventures of pandora paddington, gentlewoman - 4. the master returns

by laurene de lampeduse

illustrated by danny delacroix

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

click here to begin the adventures of pandora paddington, gentlewoman

click here to read the previous episode of the adventures of pandora paddingtom, gentlewoman

click here to begin the 14th princess

here dennis paused. "this is thirsty work."

he looked around.

bikes had fallen asleep in his chair. his pipe had gone out.

sal sat motionless in her rocking chair. was she asleep also?

dennis pushed himself up from his seat on the floor.

"looking for some grog, dennis?" sal was not asleep after all.

"no, no, just stretching myself."

"there is a bottle in that cupboard over there. take a drop, just a drop, and be on your way."

"ah - and after i've had me drop, do you want to have the rest of me tale?"

"some other time." sal eased herself up from her chair. "you did what we asked - put us to sleep. that is why you've earned your drop."

"always happy to accommodate ye, my lady. tis a fine and noble profession, being a bard, putting people to sleep."

"indeed it is."

"for what is more beautiful than sleep, " dennis intoned. he went over to the cupboard and from its lowest shelf took the bottle sal had indicated. with sal's dark eyes on him poured a "drop" - actually a few drops - into a dirty glass and downed it.

"ahh - that makes it all worthwhile."

"i am glad to hear it. now be on your way. i have things to do, and don't care to keep my eye on you to make sure you don't get any mischief."

"but listen to the wind! and the rain is harder than ever."

"you've been wet before, you'll be wet again."

with a last sigh, dennis wrapped his scarf tighter around his neck and exited. some wind and rain entered the kitchen as he clumsily closed the crooked door .

sal hurried over and made sure the door was fastened tight behind him.

then she went over to bikes' chair and shook him. he wakened instantly.

"go up and see if the master has returned," sal told him.

"have you heard him? has he called?"

"no, but you know how stealthy he can be. "

"yes." bikes got up and stretched. "how late is it?'

"late. later than it should be. that damned dennis put us both in dreamland."

bikes laughed. "it was only what we asked him to do."

"be that as it may, go see if the master is back."

"look how dark it is!" bikes exclaimed. "and quiet! there is something strange here."



reader, we seem to have forgotten poor mister paddington, after sending him out for his walk in the rain in the first paragraphs of our narrative.

the whole purpose of mister paddington's walk, as you, dear reader, being the perspicacious person we know you to be, have no doubt surmised, is to meet the future mrs paddington, so that she may in time bring forth…

the nominal heroine of our narrative, miss pandora paddington, whose promised adventures at this point are not even a gleam in anybody's eye, not the author's, or yours, dear reader…

reaching the front parlor, which was now quite darkened, as well as dampened even more than usual by the mists of the day's continuous rain seeping through the ancient door and casements, bikes hastened to light a couple of the lamps, and to make the beginnings of a fire on the hearth.

after pumping up the fire to moderately respectable dimensions, he went over to the window and looked out it, hoping to catch a glimpse of mister paddington coming up the lane.

bikes had quite lost track of time. he glanced over at the dusty and far from trustworthy grandfather clock on the far side of the room.

it was just past five o'clock. mr paddington customarily took his evening meal - which he designated as dinner rather than tea - at six, consuming it with extreme slowness and retiring soon after, no matter what the season or the weather.

and since mister paddington did not make a habit of walking abroad, bikes had aught with with to judge whether he could be considered "late" or not.

the rain was still falling steadily, though the wind had died down slightly.

bikes had no desire to go out looking for mister paddington. he decided to tell sal to have the dinner ready as usual, and to go seeking mister paddington if he did not return by the three quarter hour.

having satisfied himself on this score, he rubbed his hands together and settled into one of the shabbier chairs near the fire.

but he decided against lighting his pipe, lest mr paddington return suddenly.

and a good thing, for no sooner had bikes settled in the chair than he saw a shadow at the window to the left of the door.

he made haste to get up to open the door.

and there indeed was mr paddington, looking far wetter and more wretched than bikes could have dreamed of - hunched over, covered with wet leaves and briars and thistles, as soaked as if he had been ducked in a pond and apparently not having made the least use of his umbrella.

bikes' surprise at seeing his master in this sorry condition quickly turned to astonishment, however, when he saw that mister paddington was indeed holding his unfurled umbrella - but not over himself, over a short shapeless mass of what bikes assumed must be some sort of human form beside him -

he suddenly recalled mister paddington's words earlier in the day before embarking on his excursion -

"in my day, bikes - in my day, things may be done differently now - a gentleman only carried an umbrella in order to offer it to a lady if the need arose."

so this wet blob - wet enough to be sure though nowhere so soaked through as mister paddington - must be a "lady" of some sort… though there were no ladies of any sort for miles around that bikes knew of.

bikes was almost but not quite at a loss. "here, sir," he exclaimed, "let me take that umbrella."

"yes, take it." mister paddington handed the umbrella, which had in fact stood up well to the ravages if the storm, to bikes, and taking the "lady" by the arm with his newly freed hand, pushed past bikes into the shelter of the small foyer.

"see to the lady, if you will," mister paddington ordered bikes. "better yet, get sal and have her attend to her."

"of course, sir, of course, but you, sir, let me at least get you out of that wet coat."

"no, get sal to attend to the lady."

"oh no," said the shapeless lump, in a strangely youthful and musical voice, "i can attend to myself, thank you."

to be continued


laurene stopped typing.

that is enough, she thought.

it was almost time for toni, her regular guard, to come on.

toni was often a few minutes late, had never been really late. there was no reason to be nervous.

laurene had asked toni - in the most casual, if you can do it, if you can't it's no big deal, way - to see if she could score a little bit of dope for her in the village.

laurene was being truthful in a way - she did not really care that much if toni got her any dope.

enlisting toni as an accomplice was part of a larger plan of laurene's - to escape.

under her affectedly languid and giddy exterior laurene was as determined as any of the girls to escape.

she heard voices in the corridor.

it must be toni, she thought.

laurene's tale

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