July 16, 2001
One never forgets, however, the yearly anniversary of one's union to the Lady Felicia. Nor would she allow one so to do. For six and twenty years, this first of August, she and oneself have commingled in sublime--yet always chaste--nuptial bliss. Especially after one had her bedchambers sound-proofed. (The Lady Felicia is something of a snorer.)
However, e'en as the mighty Nile begins as a mere trickle of tributaries that join together to become the greatest waterway to cross the deserts of South America, nourishing the great cities of Cairo and Anchorage, one's own marriage did not begin as the mighty river of domestic bliss that many of one's readers (who are reportedly so many in number that were they all to dedicate themselves to the study of an instrument, would comprise the mightiest orchestra e'er to play that classic chamber work, Carmina Banana upon the stage of the Royal Albert) might suppose.
Oh, but is not the story the same all the world over? Boy baronet meets girl heiress at the Greeny-Grass Bonny-Lass Annual Madrigal Barbeque. He discards his infinitely less desirable sometime female inamorata (one mentions no names, as the reputation of Edna Thistle, Mrs., is damaged enough from her winter stunt) to propose to the woman (quite a substantial heiress, too, she was) at the Lawn and Country Bowls Under the Chestnut Aristocratic Pique-Nique. Oh, who among us does not have a similar story? (That is, among those of us likely to be invited to the Aristocratic Pique-Nique . . . and while young Felicia Windover was not precisely aristocratic, she possessed--and one may have mentioned this at one time or another--quite an impressive inheritance, quite impressive indeed.)
Nor did the wedding day itself flow smoothly. There was the business with the doves, of course (who knew, when the several hundred creatures were released, that they had just eaten? Luckily, it was still the custom in those days for Ladies to wear hats). And there was a bit of consternation when, at the banquet afterwards, the pate utterly lacked truffles. (It is not precisely true that the Lady Felicia boxed the cook's ears upon hearing the news. The antique lace of her cuff had merely become entangled in cook's 'hair net', and it was necessary to shake the old harridan around a bit to extract it.) But oh, when the guests had left, and husband and wife were left alone . . . and the Lady Felicia slammed the door to her bedchambers in one's face, one knew that the course of one's marriage was on its inexorable, eternal course.
And of course, the Lady Felicia and oneself have been a model unto many a couple since. Unsullied by carnal thoughts and touches, this husband and wife have lived side by side for six and twenty years in a marriage of true minds. Who would trade such an arrangement for a wedding of a more vulgar sort, where kisses are exchanged with a frequency that would shock the most hardened of strumpets, where the married pair paw and caress each other with vulgar, sensual intimacy . . . where the husband and wife indulge weekly--or more!--in that most appalling and base of acts. . . .
Dash it all, where did one leave that blasted key to the east wing closet?
Hastily, one remains for yet another week,
Dear Sir Charles,
Perhaps I was mistaken, but I feel certain that I've seen your esteemed ward's fiance, young Colin Bates, on the British Track and Field team. He was engaged in the hammer toss, toffee pull, and the flex and buff events.
Seeing the young man on the telly gave rise to hopes that one might view the fair Penelope. Alas, the broadcasters chose to return to John Tesh blathering on about inscrutable Orientals and vicious Russians in his maudlin and utterly bigoted American fashion.
Did young Penelope Windsor-Smith grace the olympics in Atlanta?
Telly-Watcher in Telluride
Sir Charles replies:
No, it was not young Sir Colin Bates who was so valiantly giving his all for the British Empire in the Toffee Pull. Which one was not aware was an official Olympic event. It sounds quite, quite messy.
The correspondent most likely did, however, see Evelyn--Master Bates, Sir Colin's younger brother--exercising his abilities. Evelyn bears a startling resemblance to his sibling, one is informed by young Penelope Windsor-Smythe, who has a keen eye for family resemblances (which is natural, of course, for one who is ninetieth in line for the throne). She has also informed one that in her personal experience, Master Bates' prowess at the hammer toss is nonpareil, and that she has never seen anyone with a farther range. So let just all join in three hearty cheers for Team Britain! Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!
Feeling patriotic, one remains,
A bunch of us boys were sittin' round the fire after today's chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede and realized that none of us could answer a couple of the questions that Willy the Geek brought up.(We kinda feel sorry fer Willy cuz he was the runt o' the family so we let him tag along so he ain't buggin' Ma back at the ranch. She'll wup him fierce when he gets underfoot.) Chips Calhoon said that if we couldn't fugure out the answers to Willy's questions that there was this high-falootin' dude from England that probably could. Said he was one of them air-wrist-ocrates that have a bunch of schoolin.
Sure enough when we looked up yer spot there on that electrical net you said you had been to a mess of schools. (The hands here at the ranch, we all went to school in Seebee, Alberta. It was a nice little buildin by the falls with the outhouses not too far off. Ernie Festerton even made it to Grade 6.) So we got these here questions of Willy's that we figured you could help us with cuz Chips said you were one of them there "worldly" kinda fellas.
Here's our questions.
Is it easier to go the eight seconds on a bull in the rodeo at the Stampede or eighteen minutes with Thrashin' Sally down at Mabel's place?
Would Miss Penelope Windsor-Smythe be interested in learnin' a little ropin' and ridin' from a real cowboy?
(Chips is real anxious to hear the answer to the last question.)
We're sure lookin forward to hearin' from you, bein' from England and all.
Keep yer cinches tight,
Sir Charles replies:
One attended a drama, one fine evening in London not so very long ago, at one of the most exclusive West End Theatres. An experimental drama, they told one. It consisted of a three hour nonsense monologue accompanied by a silent and interpretive dance by a scantily clad surnameless artist known only as 'Charlene'. When it was done (or at least, when everyone had applauded and filed out, leaving one stunned in one's box), one felt that something had just happened. One did not, however, know what.
Mr. Mulvaney, one felt the same way upon perusing your letter.
With regards to 'Thrashin' Sally', whom one suspects is a long-suffering girl, one remains,
Postscript: One fears that young Penelope Windsor-Smythe has been provided with an equestrian instructor befitting one who is ninetieth in line for the throne. She has therefore learned all she needs to know about 'ropin'' and more especially, 'ridin''. In point of fact, one has no doubt there are many things that she could teach you, were she so inclined. And before you inquire: No.
Dear Miss Windsor-Smythe,
I write to you in hopes of finding a sympathetic listener in you.
I try to be a responsible daughter, yet I find myself practically a prisoner in the house. My curfew is at an unreasonably early hour, and I am allowed to spend very little time with my friends. The excuse my parents give is that they worry about me, but I think they just don't want to let me out of the house.
I feel as if I am in a gaol! Have you ever experienced a similar feeling, and is there aught I can do to alleviate my problem?
Young Penelope Windsor-Smythe replies:
How lucky you are to have not only one, but two chaperones to watch over you! How very, very lucky! One wishes, quite frankly, that one were as fortunate as you, for of late, one's guardians have been annoyingly lax in their duties.
One has noted, not without considerable vexation, that they have been wont to remove the very lockpins from bedchamber doors, in particular, those which adjoin suites occupied by a certain newly knighted blacksmith. One's stamina has been quite worn, one can assure you, as one has been forced to endure, evening after countless evening, the unflagging attentions of a virile . . . well, indignation barely begins to express it. And he still hasn't noticed one's new hairstyle.
Where are one's chaperones, one asks, when one truly needs them?
Fuming, one remains,