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Hope
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The skies were grey, fog rolled in from the Thames, and it was cold, awfully cold. But at the fireside of Lady Dumoore's house a cheerful clique had gathered, vintage in years yes, but bright of eyes, for even the elderly get eager at the approach of a new court season. While their knitting needles clicked and crochet needles darted, their tongues happily burbled with gossip...

 

"...not to mention stockings. English made, 100 percent stout English wool stockings. That fellow who sung, Master Walker, he's not seeming so ignorant after all now. Shares in his business are most sought after, I am told. Now what was the name of the girl he married again? Oh yes, Maureen, Maureen Lloyd. Sitting pretty now isn't she..."

 

More black tea was poured, each with a generous dash of brandy, teaspoon of honey and splash of lemon.

 

"Some manner of disturbance, of which we might guess, had Winchilsea House order a new dining service, and Lady Winchilsea left London in the carriage. Poor dear." the woman tuts, "Shocking waste of Messien porcelain, the 'Onion' pattern too! My favorite."

 

"Young wives these days..." a crepe skinned matron shook her head, "No stamina. No fortitude. Even Lady Monmouth, despite all her bravado, I heard she is all a to-do over her brother in law Earl of Tarras arriving to stay over the winter. Why, I once had the entire of my late husbands family to stay and did not fuss of it once." which was a tiny fib, for all ladies fussed over guests, impressions were important. The art was not to be seen as fussing however.

 

For instance here at the afternoon tea Lady Constance Dunmoore (the hostess) seemed utterly relaxed, though she'd fussed to be certain the ladies needs were well attended to. Testament to this was a three tiered plate holding all manner of edible dainties.

 

As one lady popped a mince tart into her mouth she remembered another story, and was anxious to dab away the crumbs for the telling.

 

"You all know of Mrs Golightly of course, her kitchens have tempted many a good husband into spoiling his appetite before dinner. Well, she's offering a generous reward for the return of her wedding ring, lost inside one of the Christmas puddings recently sold!"

 

From which a discussion of their own 'temporarily lost wedding ring stories' dissolved three quarters of an hour ...

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