There were six of them there that day. It was cold and gray, but a snug fire kept them warm and Sprat made sure everyone had enough hot tea discretely 'flavoured' with fine Irish Whiskey. Even the dowager took part. Denker sat just behind her and whispered in her ear---- I think he comes for the cold roast beef.... Lady Violet stifled a giggle. No one paid attention. They were all busy writing. Each 'meeting' began with an activity. Tablets and pencils were passed around. Everyone was busy thinking or scribbling. 'Earliest Childhood Recollections'---- that was the topic. Isobel suggested it last time. She loved the salon and already had two copybooks jammed full of her careful script. A gentry couple, well known for their prize collies, the elderly sister of a neighboring viscount and one of the senior Penningtons (with publishing connections) rounded out the group. Some days there were more, but the early March cold kept many of their mature contemporaries home.
The dowager didn't mind. Every piece in her 'cottage' had a history. To be truthful, she didn't trust some of them. Certain people never learn their way around fine things, even if they grew up with them.... especially that Pennington gentleman. Denker said he was a blowhard, always going on about his 'connections in The City.' Isobel thought he was only trying to impress Lady Violet... an eager suitor of sorts. So she watched him over her tablet, as she wrote something down.
A few minutes later, when the clock chimed, they stopped.... Pencils down! - went the dowager. Now, who wants to go first?.... The man who raised collies told of being in Paris with his parents in either eighteen forty nine or eighteen fifty, just before legendary city planner, Baron Hausman tore down the old medieval quarters to make way for all the modern boulevards and parkways... He said it was like a lost world.... The sister of the viscount shared memories of a crossing to Bermuda during the American Civil War and told of coming back with carefully wrapped bolts of fine sea isle cotton...... Isobel, ever the introspective sort, told of warm, buttery bowls of porridge and a cairn terrier named Robbie. She remembered games of hi-ho-the derrio.... Most recalled a nation plunged into mourning when the prince-consort, Prince Albert, died in eighteen sixty one. The City of London pressured all property owners to paint any wrought iron fencing and trim black in remembrance, giving the capital the coordinated 'look' it has to this day.
The secretary Lady Violet hired to transcribe and polish these memories whispered that they should include more aristocratic details. Readers appreciated those things. But at least they were making progress and getting used to the task at hand. No reason to doubt that a book, or some sort of serialized publication would not be forthcoming.
Then the elder Pennington gentleman turned toward Lady Violet and said - What does our esteemed doyenne have to add?.... She thought for a moment and said - I, Mister Pennington, clearly remember missives from India detailing how a much loved aunt loaded the guns during the siege of Hyderabad during the Sepoy troubles. That's how old I am. Perhaps you did not know?.... Her suitor said - Perhaps I do not care?.... Denker let loose with a judgmental 'humph!' The others feigned interest in their notes, or the sounds of dinner preparations coming from the dining room.
Sometimes subtle hints are not enough...
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