Monday, 14 June 2010

Friends in low places 1

The coach jolted along the pitted roads from Brighton, tipping alarmingly at many a dangerous corner. Rain lashed down upon the coachman, hunched into his portmanteau, hat tugged over his eyes, blunderbuss propped beside him.

Inside, the Dowager Duchess of Swinborough, an august presence in the King’s circle, peered myopically at her companion, Amelia, whom she had dressed with sufficient expenditure to present her to fashionable society, should they ever make it to her town property in Park Lane. The great lady grunted with satisfaction. Amelia was gratifyingly plain, and so cast no shadow on her own fast ebbing looks. (The Duchess owned to forty, and had done so for decades.)

Pressed in tightly between them, almost lost amongst the wigs and crinolines, her spindly secretary Prescott essayed to maintain a placid expression. This fast travel unnerved him, the Duchess’s powder made him want to sneeze and Amelia’s sharp elbow was forever in his ribs.

“You will say nothing at Court, without my permission.” observed the Duchess for the umpteenth time. “I have a reputation to consider.”

Amelia nodded dutifully.

Suddenly the carriage jerked to a dizzying halt. Amelia was thrown to the floor. Prescott found himself pince-nez deep in the Duchess’s mountainous cleavage, and the great lady herself found herself confronted by a leering ruffian, brandishing two enormous pistols through the window.

“Money or perish,” snarled the villain, as Prescott fainted.

“Get out!” bawled the Duchess.

“Fat Lizzie?!” the highwayman was dumbfounded, “Thought you was still rolling sailors Brighton way.”

The Duchess’ eyes bulged. Her chest heaved.

“No kidding me, you old doxy, “continued the roadman amiably. “Tupped you meself often enough, haven’t I?”

Amelia made a bleating sound from the floor.

The roadman didn’t want to take it, but the Duchess gave him ten sovereign to just stay away.

1 comment:

No One In Particular said...

However did she make her way from Brighton to Swinborough? Now THERE'S a story...but it might have already been done with Moll Flanders.

Great picture Oscar, as usual. Just capturing the arc.