THE CASE OF THE RABBI'S DAUGHTER
A Shylock and Gnomes Mystery
by Donna Summer
Police Inspector Epiphany Estrange glanced up from the report he was reading on a curious case involving sérac cheese mixed with rat poison and saw Sergeant Clitheroe standing in front of the desk, or peering over the edge of it; Estrange knew that Clitheroe must have made the minimum height of 5'10" when he first became a constable, but over the years, either due to poor posture, weight gain or simply shrinking, he seemed positively tiny, miniscule even, a dwarf alongside P.C. 49 Archibald Berkeley-Willoughby who towered over him; Berkeley-Willoughby had been a Balliol man, a Rowing Blue, destined for the Church or Law but something mysterious had derailed his career – though Estrange had not been able to discover what it was – and he had joined the Force; his name was too much of a mouthful for Clitheroe, so he simply referred to him as 49: "it's this thing about the Rabbi's daughter, Sir," he said, before Estrange cut him off short: "murder is hardly a 'thing' Sergeant, please don't let me hear that expression again in here!" and the sergeant grinned, "no problem, Sir, this 'murder' as you say, if indeed 'murder' it was!" and the inspector stared at the man: "do you doubt that it was murder, Sergeant?" and the sergeant raised his small hands: "who, Sir? me. Sir? no, Sir! never, Sir! it's just that 49 here's just back from the Morgue and there's something that don't quite add up, Sir, if you see what I mean," and he nudged the constable, who took off his helmet and spoke directly to the Inspector: "well, Sir, the Coroner's just been examining the body and it rather seems as though it could have been one of those tragic accidents, a pure fluke, a one-in-a-million, sort of thing, Sir," and Estrange took off his reading glasses to examine the younger man more closely: "in what particular way is that, 49?" and the constable's face flushed: "well, Sir, there's a possibility that she stumbled and fell down an open manhole into the sewer, Sir, and her necklace caught on something – there's lots of dashed flotsam and jetsam in those sewers, Sir, old mangles, bed frames, fol de rols and gosh only knows what, Sir, - and that's possibly what strangled her, Sir, and then her body fell down further and landed on something. sort of, maybe a coat stand, or a saw horse or suchlike, with her legs splayed and that was what caused the injuries that looked like she'd been raped, Sir, is what the Coroner seems to be inclined towards, so it would be Death by Misadventure, Sir, jolly well open and shut, as it were," and Estrange's face reddened as a wave of anger swept through his body: these East End Coppers were either imbeciles like Clitheroe or Stage Door Johnnies like 49 and his like, with their Oxbridge Drawl and their 'jolly well' and 'fol de rols' they knew nothing of life, nothing of the grime and poverty and sordid debauchery that went on here, he knew it was even worse than Southwark, his previous posting, and that was a den of iniquity if ever there was one, had been since Henry VIII's time, and no amount of Police manpower could adapt it, bring it up to the expected standard of a 19th Century way of living, but the East End, with thousands huddled together in jerry-built tenements, and a pub on every corner, ladling out beer and gin and twenty prostitutes to a street according to the latest report from the Moral Hygiene Committee on his desk, was something else, well, he'd show them: "right, 49, you and 48, Constable Humphrey Fothergill-Fanshawe, will accompany Sergeant Clitheroe to the manhole where you think the girl tripped, or slipped, and fell into the sewer and you will survey it from underground down to the point at which her body was discovered, make detailed drawings of everything you find down there, I understand about a half-mile south-west, just before it meets the Fleet, is that correct Sergeant?" and Clitheroe smacked his lips, he wouldn't stand near the two Toffs when they emerged from that particular sewer! –
"You can call me obtuse if you like, but I don't quite understand how it works – I mean, a Yiddish tailor named after The Merchant of Venice and a Beggorah barrow-boy named after the 'Little People', aren't they known as Leprechauns though, in Ireland? but I suppose that's neither here nor there, then there's this dandy of a Policeman, Inspector Estrange – now I do get that, he's one of those outsiders plonked down in a tight-knit community he knows nothing about, and flat-footedly prevents the intrepid local Peelers from solving the case leaving the way open for Shylock and Gnomes to re-purpose themselves as Private Enquiry Agents and track down the evildoer, giving their new enterprise a copper-bottomed reputation from the very start; it's really rather quaint and at the same time refreshingly different, Miss Somerville, Mr Doubleday, we'll certainly take it – now which name goes first?" a beat, "well, Shylock, of course," says Theresa, but "no, no, I mean Somerville or Doubleday!" resulting in confusion: "oh, no," says Doubleday, "I can't use my own name," and the Editor turns to his Assistant, "do we have any spare names we haven't used, Mr Row?" and looking in a ledger, the reply comes: "Sidebottom, Undershank, Widdersnaith, oh, yes, Zebulon! no-one wants any of those," but before her co-author can speak, Theresa lays her cards on the table: "we'll combine our names to produce a single author, if we shorten mine to, say, Summer, and Mr Doubleday's Christian name is Dominic, but how about making that Donna, we'll have Donna Summer, I don't suppose anyone will know that name," and Doubleday grins back at her, because he does, and she knows he knows, and he knows she knows he knows: "splendid," says Mr Rudge, "we shall make the name of Donna Summer famous throughout the land!"
THE CASE OF THE RABBI'S DAUGHTER
A Shylock and Gnomes Mystery
Solomon Shylock, Solly to everyone in Cable Street and its neighbourhood, blamed it on the upcycling work he undertook – picking apart used garments bought for a few bob a sack from one of the rag and bone men who worked around Bloomsbury; the fabric thus liberated could, depending on type and size, be re-made into any of forty or fifty different products, any one of which would sell for more than the price of the original gown. dress, suit, or whatever it had once been a part of: "you don't know what's in them and sitting cross-legged, working so closely, you're a windsucker, breathing in everything that's come into contact with it, so the doc at Spitalfields says I've got pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis," and "what's that when it's at home?" asked Bernie Gnomes, the Irish – well, his father who came to London as a young boy fifty years ago had indeed come from Ireland - Coster who ran the family fruit and veg barrow outside Shylock's Bespoke Tailoring seven days a week, "it's Death," replied Solly and shook his head, "and already I feel it's cold hand gripping my lungs, but I ain't gonna go without a fight, Bernie, I've got Rachel and the girls to feed, not to mention - but you twist my arm, so I will - old man Tozer, Rachel's father, he's family so I got no choice, but I've told the suppliers, no more business, I'm only taking new tweed, worsted, and some cotton for shirts, less turnover cos it's all bespoke, but more gelt per garment, enough for me and Manny," his assistant, Manny Weiss, a few years younger but a good worker; "so did the doc give you medicine?" – asked Bernie, "oy vey, the size of them, like gobstoppers, and got to be swallowed whole," replied Solly, "but I'm in the hands of the demiurge!" and Bernie looked puzzled, then said"do you mean God, Yahweh, isn't it?" and Solly shot him a glance, "we never say his name, Bernie, don't try to trick me into it, only synonyms, you know what they are?" and Bernie laughed. "my English was always better than yours at school, boyyo, so don't try to pull the wool over my eyes, keep it for underpants!" and patted his friend on the shoulder: "but did you hear about young Dora Siegel?" and Solly shook his head, "the Pulitzer Rebbe's daughter? she hasn't eloped with that Finkelstein boy?" but Bernie didn't laugh, "they found her body last night in a drain this side of the Fleet, no-one saying anything officially, probably don't want to upset the family, but a friend of mine works in the morgue and he says she was probably raped and strangled," and he reflexively crossed himself, "nothing to do with Finkelstein, he was at Shul when she disappeared and plenty of people vouched for him, the Police are searching for witnesses or evidence, but the Peelers aren't much use unless you commit a murder right in front of them, and they don't run away and hide in case you come after them – I've no time for them, and that new Inspector they've appointed, Estrange, he's a bit of a dandy and just as useful," well," said Bernie, "we don't have much call for fashionable clothes around here, so if you get wind that he's looking for some new schmutter, send him to me, I'll run him up a real bobby dazzler!"
But unbeknown to Sir Peveril MacFarlane, his 'Man' Dirk Doubleday had in fact already returned to London several days earlier, having satisfactorily completed his Master's business with the lawyer, Martin Elginbrod and his son, and was even at the same time as the Dean and Curate were peeling off their clothes – the Dean being acutely aware that his seventy-year-old body did mot compare favourably with the lean and muscular frame of the younger man – sitting in a Covent Garden public house, The Lamb and Flag, with the satirical feminist, Miss Theresa Somerville, discussing a joint project, something neither of them would have thought possible, just a few weeks earlier when they had first met near the offices of QQ; Shylock and Gnomes is to be a series of Detective Tales, set in the East End of London and featuring a Jewish tailor and an Irish barrow-boy who set up in business accidentally by solving a murder which outrages the local community and baffles the inept Police Inspector, Estrange; but at this particular moment, they are not discussing the work and have fallen into an uneasy silence, in which Theresa senses that Dirk wants to tell her something but is unsure of how to begin: she is familiar with that feeling, when she sits with a fresh sheet of paper before her on her, facetiously nicknamed, Writing Table and not the faintest idea of how to begin – largely because she doesn't know how it will end, whatever it is, be it a Limerick or a Diatribe, for she writes instinctively, words come tumbling out of her head unbidden, unconsidered, flowing like a new river through virgin valleys and plains, without any established course for it to follow or eventual destination; it's only later, when she has crossed out, substituted, changed orders, deleted whole sentences and paragraphs and chewed her fingernails to the quick that something begins to emerge; so she waited for her companion to break the silence: "it's just that, with him, Sir Peveril as I have to remember to call him now, I feel like an attachment, a bolt-on, not at all like an individual, a real person, does that make any sense?" and tentatively, Theresa reached over the table and took one of his hands in hers (gloved, of course, for this is 1868 and there are limits to what a lady may show in public) and gave it a gentle squeeze: "mine is a large extended family and sometimes I can also feel disorientated, as if I am just a little cog in a huge machine, rather than an independent women, single, free and at liberty," and Dirk nodded, considering her words: "it's like I'm his shadow and must always go where he goes – this fortnight. almost three weeks, is the longest I have been away from his side since I was a boy and at first it felt uncomfortable, like when you lose something and keep looking for it, even after you know it has gone forever, but by the time I had finished the business with Elginbrod – he is suffering from pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis and certain organs are swollen and extremely itchy, so he has passed on the bulk of his work to his son, of the same name – I'm sorry, this is all just debris, avoidance, but gradually I realised that I was more than just Sir Parlane's Man!" he bit his tongue at the slip, an attempt to staunch the flow of unbidden words, wondering if she would have noticed, and of course, notice she had!
MacFarlane explained how the Initiation would proceed; he ignored the three females and focussed entirely on the Dean and the Curate: "tonight. gentlemen, you will possess a virgin, her intact state having been checked and attested by Miss Siddons, Sadie," and the older of the three nodded in confirmation, and the baronet continued. in a mixture of Scotch and English: "she's a bonnie wee thing, ur ye no, Minnie?" and the smaller girl, wearing a maid's uniform, nodded, "hoo auld ur ye?" MacFarlane asked her: "eleven sir, I'll be twelve in March," and the Scotchman rubbed his hands together in delight: "aye, weel, it'll no be a butcher's boy or nicht watchman taks ye furst, it'll be ane o these fine gentlemen, we'll toss a coin tae decide, an then they'll both jine in fur the rest," he faced the two applicants: "every wummin or lassie has three attributes, ye micht say, that's aw they ur, wimmen, three holes fur Man tae tak pleesure, an this nicht aw three ur at yer disposal, an ye mun each mak a deposit in aw three, tae satisfactorally pass the test - but dinnae fash yersel aboot the audience, me an Walter ur goanie participate tae, an Sadie an Gracie wull keep coont o each successful goal scored - ance ye've performed the requirement tae they're satisfaction, ye kin relax an finish aff in yer preferred position even if ye want her tae lie on her back, prop her boady up oan hur haunds, wi her feet in the air upcyclin, then Bingo! ye're admitted tae the Ring o Gowd in perpetuity!" he took a breath: "no jist ane wurd o advice, never, but never, take yer chances wi a wummin whae uses talcum pooder - ye dinnae ken whit's in it an a cock rubbin intae it cood becum a victim o a nasty condition ca'd pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis an, bleev me, ye dinnae want thon, it's worse than it soonds an even worser than the clap!" which was when the Dean managed a question: "but Sir Parlane, isn't taking advantage of such a young girl considered rather reprehensible in decent society?" at which both MacFarlane and Junior laughed and the Scotchman was the first to control his mirth sufficiently to speak: "rest assured, Mr Dean, that The Ring of Gold is absolutely no, a Decent Society! we are dedicated tae indecency an wur ane pleesure an tae souwin oor seed at every possible opportunity – an mony impossible anes as weell; example: Ah fucked ma ain mither oan her waddin day an ma faither never kent an Ah'v fucked a couple o ma grand-dochters as weel – dinnae ask hoo ony o thon's possible till yer Brethren o The Ring, but if ye ever find yersel in a railway compartment, alane with a quine or a wummin, frae ten tae ane hunner ye get hard up her an hang the consequences, for we're Conquistadors, Conquerors and all wimmin are there fer us tae ravage, move in, move oot, move on wi nae backward glances, nae regrets, nae attachment or emotion - Ah'm minded o Benjamin Franklin saying o an expended electric battery: 'once it has no further use, no matter how many hours I had spent constructing it, and making use of it, it becomes e-waste and I dispose of it with no sentiments, for it is merely a thing'; noo, 'dae whit thou Wilt, shall be the hale o the Law' is the Prime Precept for aw Thelemites an that is The Ring of Gowd in a nutshell! weell, Ah bleev Ah've telt ye whit is expected o ye, so cast aff yer claes, while Maister Walter defrocks the maiden, and then ye kin baith git to wurrrrk!" –
Which was how it was that at 9pm on the following evening, the Dean was able to visit the address in Drury Lane that Sir Peveril MacFarlane had given him; he rang the bell and shortly afterwards was admitted by MacFarlane himself: "so glad you were able to come, dear Dean, we only ever offer one chance and it would have been a shame if you hadn't managed to get away; we're in this apartment, it belongs to my Mistress, Sadie, she's in with the girls and another Member of The Ring, Mr Walter Junior - my assistant, you've met him I believe, Dirk Doubleday, is still in Edinburgh, doing some business with my lawyer," and they entered the sitting room of the flat and the Dean saw the three females sitting on the sofa, with a gentleman who would be Mr Walter, and then asked Sir Peveril: “you mentioned another candidate, what time is he coming?” and just then the bell sounded, “that'll be him,” said MacFarlane, before leaving the room again; Mr Walter invited the Dean to be seated in one of two armchairs facing the sofa, which meant that he had his back to the door and didn't see MacFarlane re-enter with another, younger man, but he sensed that there must be something interesting about him, because the older woman – though still a girl to the Dean – sat up slightly straighter and her eyes widened; “may I introduce our two candidates to one another, as you will become rather intimately engaged shortly,” said the Scotchman, so the Dean rose out of his chair and turned to see, with a mixture of shock and awe, that the new arrival was none other than the Rev. Obadiah Flowers, Curate at St Michael's. Although dressed not in his usual clerical garb but in the height of dandyish fashion, which made the Dean's civilian dress look shabby by comparison, but he recovered quicker than the young man: “we are acquainted, Sir Peveril, indeed my wife believes that I am meeting with Mr Flowers on a matter of Ministry,” at which the host laughed, “well, I dare say you have the satisfaction of knowing that you have told the truth on this occasion, even to the extent of performing the Divine Service of Holy Communion with our young subject, if you will excuse my irreverence; my New Year's Resolution was 'do not try to placate the implacable, deceive the deceitful, or seduce those reduced by floccinaucinihilipilification because when a woman is worthless she will throw herself into my arms to prove to herself that she is not – a palpable falsehood! and I gather that Mr Flowers, an ardent Everester, hopes to conquer the highest peak on Earth this year, well let us see how far his manhood will reach tonight. and Mr Dean, do you have a Resolution to announce tonight: and caught on the back foot, the clergyman blushed and stammered, “well, Sir Peveril, I am not normally given to making Resolutions, for I am well aware of the frailty of the human Spirit, but let me think, yes, I resolve that this year I shall go Onwards and Upwards, to places I have never been before, more frequently than ever before!” which brought applause from Sir Peveril and Mr Walter, along with cries of “good man,” and “stout fellow!” and belatedly from Flowers, “jolly good!”
Over the soup, the Dean's wife apologised for her new Parlourmaid referring to the Archdeacon and his wife as 'the Churchwardens', but the Archdeacon waved her apology away: "please don't give it a thought, Mrs Dean, I'm not one to stand on ceremony, we are all trying to do God's work here on Earth in our own ways and a Churchwarden serves as does the lowly Sexton," but then the Dean's wife asked the question her husband had realized she would ask: "tell me about your idea for a Ceilidh, Archdeacon, what do have planned for it?" and the poor man looked like a startled rabbit, even his wife was looking rather strangely at him, obviously wondering what on Earth the Dean's wife was talking about! which was when the Dean prompted him: "the Ceilidh to commemorate Robert Burns' anniversary on the 25th, Clarence, you suggested to me that the ladies of the Guild might be able to organise it," and the Archdeacon, surprised at being addressed by his Christian name, stammered: "oh, that Ceilidh? oh yes, Robert Burns, yes, of course," desperately trying to recall such a conversation which he was certain had never taken place, but as a vague memory of attending some such occasion at Hogmanay with friends from the Episcopal Church in Scotland while at University half a lifetime ago, drifted into his conscious mind, he manfully ploughed on: "someone will have to address the Haggis, Mrs Dean, and I'm sure I can lay my hands on a volume of Burns, somewhere, and there are Toasts and recitations, followed by dancing and singing, it's not quite my own forte which was why the Guild seemed the obvious ones to organise it, the ladies are so industrious and experienced at functions and such-like," and his wife, who was, like Mrs Dean, a member of the committee, nodded encouragingly, "would we hold it in the Hall?" she asked, and the Dean, now that the thing seemed to have grown legs of it's own, chipped in: "the Church Lads' Brigade has a band, doesn't it, perhaps they could provide the music, what do you think, Mrs Dean?" and his wife, seeming not to be entirely present, lost in her own thoughts, merely nodded, but Mrs Archdeacon was up and running: "and the Church School Choir, I'm sure that Miss MacTavish who conducts them, will have access to song-sheets and music, I'll ask her in the morning, she can summon her cohorts, there are some fine sopranos still among their number," at which the Dean clapped his hands, "yes, yes, a capital idea, just the sort of thing for her to get her teeth into," and he recalled the young music-teacher, with her small, perfect, white teeth and her small, perfect, young body, and wondered if he would dare to ask her for a dance, while his wife was preoccupied with something else: "of course there will needs be some small expenditure and I know that Mrs Dean as Treasurer will steer a safe course between penny-pinching parsimony and extravagant spendthiftery – is that a word? if not then I claim to have coined it!" it was a remarkable turn of events, from everything poised on the rim of an infundibuliform ready to be swallowed including himself, to this: even Mrs Dean was making suggestions, for, after all, it may (just may) have been the Archdeacon's idea (and she seriously doubted that the man was capable of any coherent or concrete idea) but she was not going to let Mrs Archdeacon take the glory of realising it!
"Good evening, Milly," said the Dean as he handed his hat and coat to the young parlourmaid his wife had engaged to undertake the duties which were not carried out by the Cook and her own maid, Sibyl; she was a very pretty girl – blonde, blue eyed, and always giving the appearance of being happy to attend to the Dean; he wouldn't mind spending some leisure time with her, although there was rarely to opportunity for more than a few inconsequential pleasantries: "is Mrs Dean at home?" and she curtsied, most appealingly: "yes, Master, she is in the Parlour," he liked being called Master by her, the other servants simply addressed him as Dean; he braced himself for what he knew would be a difficult conversation, and entered the Parlour, to find his wife sitting at her desk with a number of sheets of paper spread before her: "good evening, Mrs Dean," he said softly: "dinner will be ready at six, Mr Dean," said his wife, without turning to face him: "the Archdeacons will be arriving in a few minutes and I do want you to look over the programme for tomorrow night's meeting of the Churchwomen's Guild," and he knew this was not merely a request, it was definitely an order! he sighed: "oh, my dear, I am afraid I will be unable to attend, perhaps the Archdeacon should take my place, is there anything particular I should know about?" at which Mrs Dean turned and stared at him: "you know perfectly well, Mr Dean, that Miss Helen Taylor of the London School Board will be giving a talk on The Rights of Women and the Question of Female Suffrage!" and he thought Bo-ring, Drea-ry, but said: "of course she is, and I think that the Archdeacon will be the perfect representative of the Chapter to welcome her and introduce her to the Churchwomen, he was saying to me only this afternoon how concerned he is about unjustly neglected and disenfranchised sections of the population becoming alienated from Society at and disillusioned when some officinal is applied like a sticking-plaster without any attempt to search out the root causes of their dissatisfaction, yes my dear Mrs Dean, the Archdeacon is a very wise appointment for this evening and I bow before your perspicacity," but if he thought that was the end of the matter he was sadly mistaken: "are you aware Mr Dean," asked his wife, adopting a particular tone and direction of attack he dreaded, because it usually involved something of a weltanschauung which demonstrated the pathetic and often fatuous nature of his own argument, "that the Archdeacon – pleasant enough man though he may be in matters of small consequence and his wife is one of the most dedicated members of The Guild in the Bishopric – visited St Michael's Boys Secondary School yesterday afternoon and gave a talk to the combined First Forms on the Parable of the Good Samaritan?" and the Dean was forced to admit that he had "no knowledge of this particular example of the Archdeacon's dedication to his task of spreading the Word of Our Lord throughout the area covered by the School Board, on which, of course, he is a representative of the Church and," the bit which slightly increased his confidence that his direction was not going to be exposed to the kind of jab or uppercut he could expect from his wife, "well acquainted with Miss Taylor so that his welcome of her to the meeting would be both genuine and personal, where mine own would sadly feel like a token or formality imposed on the event from, as it were, 'On High!'" and he relaxed, while his wife continued as though he had never uttered a word: "in which he referred to the traveller who had been attacked as simply 'a man down' and the various passers-by as if they were bowlers in a village cricket team: off-spinner, slow, fast, medium-pace, until one of the boys put his hand up and asked if Jesus and his Disciples were better than The Pharisees because Jesus bowled googlies and The Pharisees were hopeless batsmen and the Archdeacon didn't realise it was a joke and went on to talk about the evidence for and against the idea that cricket might have been played in the Holy Land two thousand years ago. so that the bell rang for the end of that lesson without him ever bringing the Samaritan to the aid of the stricken traveller and the boys went off talking about looking up that match in Wisden! and I fear that was simply the most recent example of him going off at a tangent and losing all contact with the purpose of his talk and the theme he was supposed to deliver!" at which the Dean said: "well the reason I hoped he would do this tomorrow is that he told me he wanted to propose to the Guild that a Ceilidh be held to mark the birthday of Robert Burns on the 25th and I felt that tomorrow evening is the only chance he would have as it is about ten days until the Anniversary and he could combine that proposal with introducing Miss Taylor to deliver her talk, don't you agreed, Mrs Dean?" and before she could answer, the Parlourmaid announced that Mrs and Mrs Churchwarden had arrived and almost immediately, the dinner gong sounded and the two couples went into the Dining Room without further mention of Miss Taylor's talk to The Guild,
The Dean's next visitor was much more to his liking: Sir Peveril MacFarlane, on this occasion unaccompanied by his manservant, Dirk Doubleday, sat elegantly and surveyed the Dean through guileless blue eyes until the churchman began to find the silence oppressive and was moved to break it: "a glass of port, Sir Peveril, or perhaps you would prefer the product of your own native land?" and Sir Peveril's lips twitched: "now it would verra much depend on which particular distillery ye war thinkin aboot, Dean," and when the Dean said, "Laphraoigh," in reverent tones, which successfully disguised the fact that he was regifting a liquor which was not at all to his own taste, the Scotchman's face lit up like a beacon with obvious delight and approval: "ma favourite indeed, it has the peaty tang o ma Island hame, though it saddens me that Ah havnae been able tae return fur ower mony years," and the Dean nodded sympathetically, although he always found these provincial, vernacular speakers quite difficult to understand, although he murmured something about trusting that his visitor would be able to enjoy a visit to the scenes of his youth well before reaching his senectitude; but the next thing the baronet said grasped the Dean's attention firmly as if by his balls: "wi regard tae yer application, or the recommendation I should say, put forward on your behalf by an established member, to join The Ring of Gold, we will be holding a very private Initiation Ceremony tomorrow evening, for yourself and one other Applicant; if you perform successfully, you will be sworn in as a Member of the most exclusive, most secret, most powerful Brotherhood of The Golden Ring, and welcome to participate in all it's Royal and Ancient Ceremonies, dedicated to the elevation of every Male Member, and subjugation of every Woman on this planet by Men: you will repeat the Solemn and Binding Oath of our Brotherhood and henceforth dedicate your entire being to the Conquest and Suppression of Feminism by Rigorous and Forceful subjection, use, abuse and humiliation of every person born Female, acknowledging that the Lord's only purpose in creating Woman, was for Man to Use her for Sexual Pleasure and Procreation, beyond that, and menial domestic work, she has no inherent purpose – her brain is small, her capability negligible, her contribution to society beyond serving as a receptacle for male emissions non-existent; Man is Master, Woman is Slave and J'Accuse onywan wha says different no only guilty o Mendacious Cant but Ah gaun further, an wud say Heresy; that was what God decreed in Genesis an oor Order is dedicated tae restoring that declaration and haein it pit intae practice in every nation o the wurld - an if yer ain mair diligent studies o the Scriptures than mine indicate ony erroneous misinterpretation on ma pairt, goanie no ca it mendacity, let's jist acknowledge it mutatis mutandis, gie or tak a translation fae the Greek, we refer tae God as He, so as a Man is Maister in Heaven, likewise Men are Maisters here oan Earth an there Ah rest ma case; an you, Dean, if Ah may say so, are the Ideal Member and Ah will be delighted an honoured tae welcome ye efter yer Initiation ramorra: wir Motto is Guid Health an Hard Up!" – which toast, the Dean repeated and then both men took a swallow of the golden nectar, and the Dean realised that he would have to tell his wife that he would be out tomorrow evening, oh, hopefully some idea would come to him, but he was not at all looking forward to the conversation, fully aware that there would either be a heavy price to pay or lengthy reprisals to be suffered!
And later that day, having thoroughly enjoyed and benefited both physically and mentally – and even, it must be admitted, somewhat spiritually – from romping and rogering with Fanny and Stella – the Archdeacon, now dressed formally, which is to say, completely, delivered his report to the Dean, in the latter's lounge: "in short, Dean, all I have seen and heard and learned of the lives of these poor unfortunates can be summed up in one short sentence, something a young person said to to me, on what I understand to have been the coldest January night in living memory, indeed, since records began," the Dean yawned, "well, go on then, what did this person say?" and the Archdeacon replied, archly: "well what he, or possibly she, it's sometimes difficult for me to tell, said. was: 'all I want is a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air with one enormous chair, oh, wouldn't it be loverly? lots of chocolate for me to eat lots of coal makin' lots of heat warm face, warm hands, warm feet oh, wouldn't it be loverly?'" and the Dean harrumphed: "that's two sentences, Archdeacon, typical, they start off with one thing and then come all the rest! don't they know that I want never gets? it's typical of their selfishness and greed and I'm surprised you should be taken in by all that: they scrouge their way into the hearts and minds of gullible do-gooders with their demands, and who's to pay for it all? tax-payers, that's who! people who work hard all their lives to support their families and servants, that's who! decent, people who strive to improve themselves, to keep a household and a decent home and a place in the country for their family's well-earned rest and relaxation, but these people you have been mixing with expect leftovers to be handed them on a plate, they don't expect to contribute to the National Debt, oh no! they gainsay all that we who labour at the coalface have worked so hard to earn, and they are wide of the mark with their demands; I suppose they will expect the Country to support them and their children in the lives of leisure they have chosen, and where will their demands end? no Archdeacon, you must impress on them the words of the Scripture: 'Faith, Hope and Charity and the greatest of these is Faith!' you must show them the true path towards a decent civil life, they must work, work, work, for every penny, not expect handouts and any easy life of indolence, they must pull themselves out of the gutter by their boot-straps and gird their loins for the jobs they have to do and then maybe, just maybe, they will be able to pay the rent for this room they want, for the food on their plate, for the coal in their fire, for the clothes on their backs, and give thanks to the Lord for showing them the way; what kind of day-dreaming world do they think they are living in? good God man, I want to hear from you that they will take responsibility for themselves and not expect, or demand, that decent, honourable, hard working men will support them in their indolence! that's what I want in your report – now go and clean yourself up, I know you have been ploughing a lonely furrow among these wastrels and I can smell them off you, but just put that nonsense out of your head and come back with the report I want to present to the Bishop, there's a good chap," and after the Archbishop had left the room, the Dean pondered, and wondered if the Archdeacon – a good man, with a good wife and simple tastes, but rather emotional and sensitive, easily impressed, easily led down the wrong road because he thinks he is helping someone find their way – had been reading some of these social agitators like William Morris and that German Jew with the unruly beard, Karl Marx: "such notions will need to be knocked out of his head," said the Dean to his glass of port.
And as Twelfth Day scrouged into the room, sunlight suffused the scene: Strip Jack Naked played not for money – the Archdeacon being strictly opposed to any form of gambling – but for the removal by losers of each hand of articles of clothing, the scene might have resembled a public bath in Ancient Rome! there sat the cleric wearing nothing but his collar, with his genitals resembling little other than a pair of vapid Brussels sprouts topped by a cocktail sausage; Stella and Fanny on either side of him each managing to retain a little modesty by a diaphanous chemise (Stella's a dusky pink, Fanny's a baby blue) and to the right of Stella, Sadie only retained her stays and the tiniest pair of knickers she possessed, while lastly, poor Grace was entirely lacking of even a shred of decency, for she had not the faintest idea of how to play this game and so had quickly, in hand over hand, been obliged to shed every article of clothing she had begun with – much to the Archdeacon's delight! the reverend gentleman picked up his pocket-watch which he placed on the table after losing his last pocket, and said with a jollity which much gin had increased as the night hours wore on: "oh, my, goodness gracious me, I shall have to report to the Dean that spending the night among denizens of the dark left me so exhausted that by the morning I was obliged to find sanctuary and a bed in Drury Lane with two dear acquaintances who never fail to uplift my spirits and restore my Faith in Humanity," and taking Stella and Fanny by the hands, he fastened one of the cuffs to each right wrist, the third to his own left wrist and led them to the door, saying over his shoulder, to Sadie and Grace: "I trust it will be all right if I collect my clothing and the keys in the afternoon, God Bless you, my dears, and thankyou for a wonderful evening, adieu!"
"You see, dear ladies, although in truth you are more girls than ladies, why you are all still in the first flush of youth," and the Archdeacon took another sip of tea, this cup fortified with a small measure of gin: "the only reason I have not been back since Boxing Day is, not of my own volition, but put upon me by the Dean, a Ministry among the bindle stiffs, of which you can have no idea how many there are, crowding into the City in the deep midwinter, sheltering under railway arches, congregating in doorways, scrouging into back alleys, loitering in vestibules, lying all over railway stations, even dossing down in public conveniences - which were most certainly not made for such purposes as indigents of either sex making them into bedrooms!" and he nodded to Stella to add a drop more gin to his cup: "and you cannot know how I have worked and laboured to persuade the Dean to pass it onto young Mr Flowers, the Curate at Saint Michaels, a muscular Christian if ever there was one, with the body of a weightlifter, the strapping thighs of a long-distance runner, the arms of a blacksmith, the neck of a bull, the head of an Adonis and the cock . . . . ." Fanny shrieked! ". . . . . the coxcomb hair, flame-red and sprouting thickly over his ruddy face, a youth of vigour and vitality and ideally suited to such a very specific Ministry, a man of open spaces and fresh air who wouldn't mind trudging through the darkened streets, with a lantern in hand, communing with the unemployed, the homeless, the beggars, the tramps and part-time hawkers, ladies of easy virtue and sellers of all kinds of evil things, who populate the night; oh, the stories I could tell you of what I have seen, what I have heard, what I have witnessed, but such debauches and drunken goings-on are not for such delicate, virtuous maidens as you," and he did not hear the sigh of disappointment from the four - let us not be mealy-mouthed like the Archdeacon - whores (dear, sweet, loveable darlings though they are to us, they are still, by any stretch of definitions, no two ways about it, whores) and finished his cup of gin, with a little dash of tea to give it colour, replaced it on it's saucer and looking round the table asked: "anyone for a game of Strip Jack Naked!"
When the Archdeacon arrived – how he knew to come upstairs to Sadie and Grace's apartment, no-one bothered to ask – he was delighted to find Four young ladies to attend to him; they flattered him, they entertained him, they laughed at his clerical jokes and all of this seemed to satisfice, for he positively blossomed under their ministrations: tea, coffee, hot chocolate were drunk, shortbread and various chocolate biscuits consumed, even a fruit cake Sadie had baked that morning; he peeled clementines – no arduous task – and handed round the segments, preferring to pop each one into an open mouth than place them in the girls' hands; of course his particular attention was given to Fanny and Stella, who sat either side of him and whom he allowed to play with the hornswoggles on his weskit; and then. at last, he withdrew from a large pocket in his oyster and laid on the table a paper bag printed with an illustration of a reindeer: "a little gift for you two girls," he said, "who lighten my load and give yourselves to tend me when I am limp and wilted, and by your Christian succour, raise me up and infuse me with vitality and strength once more, May He Bless you!" then he tipped the bag and a three-way set of handcuffs slid out!
. . . . . and there, when Grace opened the door, were Fanny and Stella looking radiant, with squirly embroidery on their dresses, and their hair pinned up, and both speaking together as they entered the room: "oh! Grace . . . . . you'll never guess . . . . . who we've seen . . . . . coming out of that quacksalver . . . . . Mrs Doughtfire's . . . . . with a paper bag . . . . . with a picture . . . . . of a reindeer on it . . . . . it was . . . . . our sacerdotal .. . . . friend . . . . . the Archdeacon! . . . . . himself . . . . . no Mrs Archdeacon . . . . . in sight . . . . . and when he . . . . . saw . . . . . us . . . . . he . . . . .actually . . . . . smiled . . . . . and . . . . . waved!" and becoming as excited as they were, Grace ushered her two friends to sit themselves down, and catch their breath, while she put on the kettle for tea; her friend Sadie, whose flat it actually was, was out with little Minnie, their new maid, doing the marketing and, by now, would have visited the baker's, the fishmonger's, the costermonger's barrow where she bought all her fruit and veg, and be headed toward the poulterer's for they were having duckling tonight, when Sir P and Mr W were coming for supper after the Theatre – thankfully, Mr D (Sir P's valet-cum-procurer) was in Edinburgh for the New Year, although there was a small part of Sadie's heart that cried at the thought of him being so close to her family home, but then she remembered that seven hundred years had passed and her family were no more and her old home may itself be in ruins, although she still had hopes of returning to them some day!
"I'll tell you this for nuthin, Sarge," said Corporal Fassenfelt, munching a mince pie, "I don't wanna accentuate the differences between us and the folks who live here, you know, men in skirts, an all that, an that hokum they call mouth music – I can't make out a single word - but see when it comes to these pies, I'm on cloud nine, before we get shipped back Stateside, I'm gonna fill a kitbag with them an take them home to Crackjaw, I'll be the talk of the town!" – which was when Sergeant Mix asked: "are there many people in your town descended from Poles?" and Fassenfelt gave him a wary glance: "whaddaya mean, Sarge, sticks?" and Mix laughed: "no, you dope, people from Poland," and Fassenfelt laughed too: "sure, most of the town, it was even founded by a guy called Tadeusz Brzęczyszczykiewicz in the 19th Century!" and Mix asked: "and how do you spell the town's name, at which Fassenfelt gave him a suspicious look, as if to say "I ain't illiterate, even though I come from Arizona," then spelt it out: "K-r-a-k-ó-w! Crackjaw!"
Quadrivial Quandary (QQ) is owned and operated by Rudi Seitz.
Sentences submitted to QQ are the property of their authors. See our page on Copyright Information for details.
Dictionary definitions are the property of their respective sources, presented here via public RSS feeds or otherwise with permission.
All other material is copyright 2015 by Rudi Seitz, all rights reserved.
Use of this site is governed by our terms of service.
Contact: rudi at quadrivialquandary dot com.