The Art Site

Friday, December 12, 2008

Snip Part 5

The Queen Mother leaned against the bannister of the grand staircase and looked up. Up several stories, she could just see the white apron, tilted white cap and crisp dark hair of Pamela, the maid.
She was most studiously dusting the golden bannister, the golden angels and the overlaid-with-gold statues in the hall.
"Pamela!" She bellowed.
Pamela the maid started and dropped her ostrich feather duster down all the flights of stairs.
Her rosebud mouth pursed up as she answered, trying not to laugh. There was no reason to laugh, but then, Pam never needed a reason.
"Yes, you royal highness?"
The Queen Mother resented the "you".
"Get down here this instant you impertinent thing!"
"Yes your royal higness."
Pam jumped down four steps at a time until she reached the last flight of stairs, where she walked down sedately, picked up the silver duster and curtsied to her Royal Highness.
The Queen Mother's face was puckered into a displeased and worried frown.
"Have you seen the Princess Arabella this morning?"
Pam thought hard.
"No Ma'am, I haven't seen her since yesterday afternoon, before she was sent to her room. But perhaps she's out shooting with the Gardener's son?"
"If she has I will be most upset. I've told her many times, that going out shooting is for the men. Women, as you know Pamela, should be trained in all the womanly arts. What are the womanly arts, Pamela?"
Pam looked again as though she was desperate to laugh. Her eyes sparkled. With pursed-up lips and an exaggerated frown of concentration, she ticked them off on her fingers:
"Sewing, embroidery, the knitting of booties for the younger members of the church congregation, the learning of the French language, the ability to produce an eddible pie, drawing landscapes, and of course, the ability to play at least one piece of music, tolerably well."
Her Royal Highness looked askance.
"Humph. What a lot of rubbish they teach girls these days eh? Back in my day we learned Physics, Mathematics, Trig. Trigger something, German, Latin and Greek, the Classics and good plain essay writing. None of that now of course. Only these 'modern' lessons for the 'modern' young woman. Bah. I don't blame Bella if she has gone out shooting. It might have done the other youngsters good as well."

Pamela coughed into her hand, to stop Her Royal Highness's train of thought. The Queen Mother was known to ramble away if not stopped early on.
"Do I have your permission, your Higness, to look for the princess?"
The Queen Mother's eyes were glazed, as she stared rather blankly into space, recalling the good old days. Absent-mindedly, she muttered:
"Yes, yes of course. Take the afternoon off."
"Thank you Ma'am!"
Pamela of the sparkling eyes left the duster in the Royal Laundry and went off to spend the afternoon with the baker's boy.

Meanwhile, Arabella was getting a good headstart to her trip. She avoided the main roads: her instinct told her that she was going to be tracked down any minute now.


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