The First Day of Christmas

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Synopsis in progress.

Air Date: 16 Apr 2011
Present: All but Cindy, who phoned in her actions at key points.

(Note: This was the day the tornadoes moved through. They missed Cindy’s house to the right and the left by a good margin, but still—yikes!)

Jump to:
The First Day of Christmas, Part Two
The First Day of Christmas, Part Three
The First Day of Christmas, Part Four
The First Day of Christmas, Part Five
The First Day of Christmas, Part Six

December 05, 1867, Thursday
London and its environs, England

We have returned from West Wycombe and Dionysius Beignet and his new bride Priscilla are busy refurbishing a mews into three floors of hobbit home. Katherine is eager to see it when it is finished. She also can’t wait for Priscilla and Dionysius’s new baby to arrive either. Dionysius may be busy setting up his new home but he has not neglected his duty to Katherine. He has set her up in handsome accommodations at the famous Savoy Hotel in London. As her husband, Ezekiel is living there with her and all is good with the world. Then comes a knock on the door to their suite and after making sure he and his wife are presentable, Ezekiel answers it.

A footman in the hotel livery is standing there with a salver. On the salver is an eggshell white envelope. It’s an invitation. Ezekiel plucks it off the salver and tips the footman.

Footman: Thank you sir, that’s entirely unnecessar—

Absorbed with the envelope, Ezekiel nods vaguely and closes the door. Ezekiel opens the invitation and reads:

Abigail and Victor FitzHugh cordially invite you to The Twelve Days of Christmas at their estate, Butter Oaks, outside of Dublin.

Katherine is pleasantly surprised and pleased. She recognizes the name.

Katherine: Oh, Mrs. FitzHugh!
Ezekiel: Oh yes. That would be quite nice, wouldn’t it?
Katherine: (beaming) It would be wonderful. (a beat) The hotel is not warm and Christmas-y enough.
Ezekiel: (looking around) Really not at all, to be honest. Or, very little.
Katherine: (at the note) That would be wonderful.

Ezekiel finds another envelope tucked inside the invitation. It’s a matching invitation to Bertie. Apparently the FitzHughs are not aware Bertie and Flora are now established at West Wycombe. Someone has been lax in sending out their calling cards …

Ezekiel reads the invitation through and sees at the bottom: Please RSVP including any guests.

Ezekiel: (holding up the invitation) We will take the train to Wycombe and let Flora and Bertie know they’ve been invited.
Katherine: We need to chase down Josephine. She has no one to spend Christmas with.

She pauses for a moment, thinking on how Mrs. FitzHugh would accept someone of a lower station as a guest. Col. Fleming has managed to tell her a little about them. Without going into too many details, she’s managed to glean the fact that the FitzHugh parties are notoriously rollicking, a sharp contrast to their prim and proper London personas. Katherine’s unconventional friend would fit in nicely. Katherine focuses on her husband and repeats her assertion.

Katherine: We need to chase down Josephine. She has no one to spend Christmas with.
Ezekiel: Yes, of course. Of course. Ah … Where is she?

As to where Josephine is, she’s currently in her new digs off Baker Street.

Katherine fetches one of her new calling cards—smiling at the name on it: Mrs. Ezekiel Drake—and dashes off a note on the back of it: Please come by as soon as possible. She has Ezekiel give it to the footman, still waiting outside for their reply, to have it delivered to her friend. Ezekiel does so with pleasure, still surprised at actually having the wherewithal to order it done. To be sure, he’s retained the services of his manservant Barrymore for some time now, but this is altogether a different sort of situation. Having been handsomely tipped an entire shilling, the footman is only too disposed to take on the task.

Little York Street
Late afternoon

Josephine has not been idle since returning from the Continent. After securing some of her finances via the VonDahlberg documents, she set about finding permanent lodgings for herself and her budding career as a private inquiry agent. She found a mews to let near the corner of Gloucester and Little York Place, and with some elbow grease and her native ingenuity, it now has a converted office on the street and a set of rooms above. As luck would have it, it’s three short blocks south of Katherine’s old townhouse on Dorset Square, just on the other side of the Metropolitan line. The rail line runs underground right behind Josephine’s building and makes the address, normally outside the reach of her purse, affordable. The right of way for the line means the back of her building gets more sunshine than it normally would, even though it also means washing the windows clean of the tunnel exhaust on a daily basis. She’s upstairs doing just that when a knock sounds on her door downstairs. Drying her hands quickly and pulling off her apron, she goes down to answer it.

One of the scarlet-caped Bow Street Runners is on her doorstep. He doffs his cap and she lets him inside. She sits behind a plain desk and she waves him to the plain chair in front of it. He sits and says her name carefully, as if he’d rehearsed it. She sits and looks at him intently, as if memorizing every nuance of his speech.

Runner: Miss Arceneaux. The Justice wanted me to come by and ask if you were free for a week or so?
Josephine: (consults appointment book) I have nothing pressing.
Runner: You seem to be our resident expert currently on international intrigue.
Josephine: What seems to be the matter?
Runner: It seems that there’s some troubles in Ireland. There’s always troubles in Ireland.
Josephine: Indeed.
Runner: This particular batch of troubles in Ireland seem to be a little bit worse because foreign agents apparently are trying to smuggle weapons in to the Irish. It could be a bloody Christmas.
Josephine: (softly) We can’t have that. (firmly) When do I leave?

The Runner is a little taken aback by her quick decision.

Runner: Basically … here’s … Fifty pounds.

He hands her the money.

Runner: You need to be in Dublin Christmas Eve. That’s when the shipment is supposed to arrive.
Josephine: Do you have a dock or a slip number?
Runner: All we know is that foreign agents are supposedly making a—I’m sure it’s not one of the regular ports in Dublin. Probably one of the smugglers’ coves, you know … Irish people, if you let them learn how to read, all they do is write treasonous notes to foreign governments. That and Papist sermons.

Josephine thinks that smuggling isn’t relegated solely to the Irish. England has Jevington and Alfriston and the Cinque Ports to her name … but she lets it slide. She is aware of the anti-Irish sentiments that rule the day. She keeps her thoughts from her face as the Runner continues.

Runner: Unfortunately the Potato Blight didn’t finish them off. That might be something you’re gunna be responsible for. If there’s arms in Ireland but no Irish to bear them, that would solve many of the Crown’s problems. (a beat) There’s another fifty pound in it for you, I was to tell you, when you return safely.
Josephine: All right. Is there anything I need to know before I start packing?
Runner: The address to send telegrams to is No. 17, Baker Street.

That’s not to far from here, toward the center of town.

Runner: And your contact by telegram will be Mrs. Dobson. Try to phrase everything as if you were reporting on her son John, who’s working on the Dublin to Limerick Railroad.

The Runner stands, his job obviously done, and Josephine sees him to the door.

Josephine: Thank you for this. Please give Sir John my regards.
Runner: Certainly Miss Arceneaux.

She slips him a shilling for his trouble and closing her office to the street, she runs upstairs to prepare for travel. Fifty pounds! A veritable fortune. Even if she husbanded her funds carefully, travel would not be a hardship. Brow crinkling, she wonders who would be funneling weapons to the Irish—there are so many enemies to the Crown.

Savoy Hotel:

Meanwhile, Ezekiel and Katherine are at their suite making ready to leave to tell Flora and Bertie the travel news. It’s likely that when they leave for Ireland, they will all leave together.

Ezekiel: It would be nice to see Bertie again, and Flora. All things have their silver lining.
Katherine: All things have their silver lining. Absolutely.
Ezekiel: It would be nice to have a Christmas together. I’m looking forward to it.

Ezekiel is struck by a pleasant thought.

Ezekiel: Now that I can afford to, I shall have to think on what to purchase for you.
Katherine: (melts) Oh you don’t need to get me a Christmas present at all, Ezekiel. (pauses) But I will not say no to one. Oh, presents! I have to select a present for Mrs. FitzHugh, our host.

Katherine is keen to go and finally experience for herself one of the the FitzHugh parties. Her father had attended several, but alas his descriptions left much to be desired.

Katherine: My Father would start in a conversation and say he had a quite gay time and then stop, despite any efforts of mine to get him to say what the gay time was. He would always smile when he talked about it, he just wouldn’t finish talking about it.
Ezekiel: An eccentric young couple such as ourselves … ?
Katherine: I think we need to make our reputation.
Ezekiel: Yes.
Katherine: What would your mother think of our reputation, Ezekiel?
Ezekiel: She sees through such things, usually.
Katherine: Then we shall embrace our eccentricity.
Ezekiel: I agree.

Unbeknownst to them, Bertie and Flora have been made aware of the festivities at the FitzHughs, for they have received an invitation too. Bertie had taken up the invitation from the salver at the door, just as Ezekiel did, and upon closing it, he had torn open the ivory envelope and perused its contents. FitzHugh? Oh, yes, FitzHugh. Right good parties, that one. Bertie had attended several in his career as a bachelor. He says to Flora, sitting at their parlor table:

Bertie: (cheerfully) We’re invited to the FitzHughs for Christmas. Well! This puts a different complexion on things. I was going to stay at the Savoy but … save ourselves some money, be fun … (opens the door again)
Footman: If sir would reply as to how many guests … ?

Of the people on the list of those he’d consider inviting as a guest, most would likely already be invited or people he wouldn’t want to invite. There is Josephine, but no … and there is Dionysius, whom he most definitely does not want to invite along. So, no guests.

Bertie: Myself and my wife. No guests.

He signs the reply form with a flourish.

Bertie: Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Maxfield-Fleming Dashwood. My, we’re going to sound like a French family, if this keeps this up.

Bertie nods and sends the footman on his way. How did the FitzHughs know to invite them? Well, he and Flora did have a big church wedding and Mrs. FitzHugh is something of a doyenne of Society. To be invited to one of her parties is to have arrived. Bertie goes through his mental list of members for the Dilettante Society—was Senior FitzHugh a member? Only sixty members are allowed at a time. Hmm … no. The Senior FitzHugh was not a a fellow Dilettante, but rather a Free Mason—now no longer. Abigail had decided he was getting too old, too cantankerous and needed to be kept under a watchful eye. So at her insistence, he resigned all his memberships.

Preparations for the coming trip and extended stay with the FitzHughs must be made and Bertie declares a trip to Savile Row is in order. It’s where all the best men’s tailoring is to be had. But first things first.

Bertie: Well, I am dressed for going down to the bar to play the piano, but I think I shall go and tell Ezekiel and Katherine the news. He walks from his suite of rooms to Ezekiel and Katherine’s and knocks, singing lightly:

Bertie: (sing-song) Who’s that knocking at my door …? (knocks) … Who’s that knocking at my door … ?

Inside Katherine exclaims:

Katherine: Oh, it’s Bertie. He’s singing again.

Ezekiel opens the door and admits Bertie to their parlor.

Ezekiel: What brings you to our rooms on this fine day?
Bertie: Well, my feet no doubt. But! I have received the most interesting invitation.
Ezekiel: Ah! Then you’ve received the same invitation that we did.

Both brandish their envelopes like duelists at dawn.

Ezekiel: To the FitzHughs.
Bertie: Yes, the FitzHughs. I’m surprised that a man of your … discretion … would be attending such a festivity.
Katherine: Oh Bertie, we are going to make our reputation, darling. It would be wonderful.
Bertie: I suppose. Um. Have you … been … to one of the FitzHughs parties before?
Katherine: (annoyed) No. My father wouldn’t let me go. You know that.
Bertie: He is a man of some discernment.
Katherine: No, but he’s also spending Christmas with the Widow Wilson so I’m not too worried about discretion anymore. Bertie: (surprised) Well! That is most … um … interesting. The Widow Wilson, you say?
Katherine: Yes. Down in Spain.
Bertie: In Majorca? Or Spain Spain?
Katherine: No, Majorca Spain.
Bertie: Ah … Well. That is … um.
Katherine: Well he was on his way back from India again. And stopped over and said since he was there and it was warm, he would visit an old friend. And the old friend, in my past experience, has been the Widow Wilson.
Bertie: The man can’t sit still. He’s a virtual jiggerbug. I suppose with his advanced age, what is he now? (moving on) Well, I suppose it is good for him to keep active. Yes, my intent was still—well, I had music and an evening at cards in the offing, but on the morrow—
Katherine: An evening without Flora!?
Bertie: Well, she is coming with me, of course.
Katherine: Oh. So you’re going to the FitzHughs?
Bertie: Of course, of course. Frankly, London was going to be a bit dull and West Wycombe … well, we shall have a grand opening in the spring, of course.
Katherine: I think you should get some cannons and shoot that skull.
Bertie: Hm. I was thinking instead of having a sculptor—perhaps an Italian sculptor, I know a few—rework it into a more … pleasing … shape.
Katherine: (chuckling) Well enough, then.
Bertie: Frankly, the entrance is a little bit—quite frankly, the entrance to the cave is such that they might miss and who knows what mischief would be had. If that thing were to collapse how do we get into the caves proper to explore them?
Ezekiel: Agreed. Those portals hold some interest to me, at some point.
Bertie: That chalk has some interest to me.
Katherine: The chalk is very interesting. The urns are not.
Bertie: I think I shall have to have a discussion with that … secretary … and make him understand that I am at the top of the list.

The Guest List the ghost is in charge of, he means.

Katherine: Ah, ha.
Bertie: Regardless, I was going down to the lobby to the bar to play piano.
Ezekiel: Indeed.
Bertie: Well, it is of an evening and I’d have a fine piano and it is in excellent tune.
Ezekiel: Of course.
Katherine: Mm-hm!
Bertie: Well, in the meantime, goodbye. You may attend … or … have a good evening.

Bertie nods and stands, making ready to leave. He can catch the undercurrent running between Ezekiel and Katherine and knows it’s time to make himself scarce.

Ezekiel: We may find ourselves down there at some point this evening …
Katherine: Mm-hm!
Ezekiel: Though while our honeymoon is done, we have not quite considered ourselves done with our honeymoon.
Katherine: Which is not quite the same. (to Bertie) We are not half as eccentric as we’d planned to be.
Bertie: Well, one must needs have money to be eccentric. For it is no shame to be eccentric when one is rich. To be eccentric when one is poor is merely to be odd.

Taking his leave he may be, but Bertie can’t resist needling his cousin on the subject of his new-found wealth.

Katherine: Well, then, Bertie, now that I am not supporting you, I expect you have enough money to be quite eccentric.
Bertie: Yes, but you will yet be supporting an evergrowing family of Halflings.

Bertie bows his way across the threshold for the safety of the hallway, making good his parting shot. Ezekiel closes the door on him and turns to Katherine, whose eyes are twinkling from the verbal sparring match. He gives her a little smile and a lift of his brow.

Ezekiel: So. We’re going to Josephine’s?
Katherine: Mm-hm. To Josephine’s.

Little York Street
A little later

A knock on the door brings Josephine downstairs again. She opens it and stands blinking in surprise at the callers on her front step. How did they know to find her here?

Ezekiel: (grinning) Josephine.
Josephine: Ezekiel … Katherine. What?—(recovers)—Please. Come in.
Katherine: Merry evening, Josephine.
Josephine: (warmly) It’s good to see you.

She steps back and ushers them into the front room where she’d interviewed the Runner. It has her desk, the two visitors’ chairs, a bookshelf, the window on the street with thin curtains. A door behind her desk suggests a room or a perhaps a closet. The floor is wood, as are the furnishings. Ten minute ago, she’d been proud of her accomplishments, of getting her establishment set up on her own, but now with her two affluent friends standing in that bare room …

Josephine: Um … Please, take a seat. It’s not much but … or would you rather go upstairs to … ?
Ezekiel: (sitting) This is quite comfortable.
Katherine: (sitting too) Mm-hm!
Josephine: So joyful to see you. I didn’t expect to … Your honeymoon was fine?
Ezekiel: The honeymoon was quite enjoyable.
Josephine: So, how was Spain?
Katherine: Continuing in its own little way. (leans forward) So … what are you doing over Christmas, Josephine?
Ezekiel: We have an invitation to FitzHugh’s party in Dublin and we were hoping you might join us.

Josephine pauses, then sits behind her desk. Did she hear him right? Dublin? And she herself is to go there as well on a separate matter. Coincidence?

Josephine: Dublin.
Katherine: (off her look) Is there a problem with Dublin?
Josephine: No. But it does dovetail wonderfully with my plans.
Katherine: You have plans for Dublin?
Josephine: Sir John has just dispatched me to Dublin to look into something that should … come to head on Christmas Eve.
Ezekiel: Well, then. The Lord clearly is shining upon us. Our paths converged. Then you have to accept our invitation. (smiling) You have no choice, it seems.
Katherine: And you will have people at your back. Oh, now I invite myself to be your—may I invite myself to be?

Looking at the eager light in her friend’s face, Josephine’s misgivings melt away. Katherine is irrepressible and damned hard to refuse in anything.

Josephine: Yes.
Ezekiel: (to Katherine) You’re eccentric, now. You don’t have to invite yourself. Just take on with life.
Katherine: I assumed. This is wonderful!
Ezekiel: (agreeing) Is it not?
Katherine: (brightly, to Josephine) I shall be at your back.
Josephine: (thinking aloud) It might be quieter skulking about the docks after dark.
Katherine: I shall skulk. I’m good at skulking. I like skulking.
Ezekiel: She’s skulked upon occasion. I remember it. It was quite delightful.

Josephine leans back in her chair.

Josephine: (quietly) How elaborate is this holiday at your friend’s?
Ezekiel: I’m told …
Katherine: It can be quite elaborate in unusual ways.
Ezekiel: Raucous was the word I’d heard used.
Katherine: Yes. Dear Mrs. FitzHugh, matronly as she is, cuts loose a bit.
Josephine: House party?
Katherine: Mansion party, but yes.
Josephine: (frowning) Oh, Lord. How long?
Ezekiel: Two weeks.
Katherine: It’s the Twelve Days of Christmas.
Ezekiel: A fortnight.

Fourteen days at an English manor House Party would require multiple changes of dress per day minimum, to say nothing of a different dinner ensemble each night. And all the accessories that go with it. Where once before the fifty pounds seemed an impossible fortune, Josephine knows it might be difficult to bankroll such a venture on so measly a sum and mingling with such high society, no matter how raucous the occasion, any detail of dress that is inadequate to the task will be unfavorably marked. Still, for the sake of her friends and the mission, she must try.

Josephine: I shall have to go shopping first. I haven’t a thing to wear.
Ezekiel: Well, you’ve joined the crowd, since none of us really feel we have something appropriate for a two-week long party.
Katherine: The fog. The rain.
Josephine: Raucous.
Katherine: The up-front. The unusual. I shall have completely new outfits made.
Josephine: If were just for the week-end, I should be able to get something together that should not embarrass you but for the entire fortnight? I doubt even my skills with the needle and disguise would be able to make up for the lack.
Ezekiel: I did not promise I would not to embarrass myself, so … (shrugs)
Katherine: (to Josephine) What are your plans for the morrow?

Josephine pauses, frowning slightly.

Ezekiel: (to Katherine) You’re not asking properly. You’re eccentric now. (to Josephine) You now have plans for tomorrow. You are going shopping with us.
Katherine: Yes!
Josephine: (shaking head) I was merely checking my mental calendar. I haven’t anything pressing.
Katherine: Apparently you don’t now. So. And if you do, cancel them.

Ezekiel laughs softly. That’s his Katherine—quick and a quick study.

Josephine: What time shall I expect you? Or shall I meet you somewhere?
Katherine: Oh, what would we …? (looks to Ezekiel)
Ezekiel: Ten A.M.?
Katherine: Oh, that’s too early.
Ezekiel: It is, it is. What would you like?
Katherine: How about noon or one?
Josephine: That should be more than sufficient time to be ready. (rising) Can I offer you anything? Tea?
Ezekiel: That would be nice.

Josephine crosses to the low bookcase and turns on the Bunsen burner sitting on it, pulls the tea tin off the shelf below it. An Erlenmeyer flask suffices for the tea kettle, held over the burner in a ring stand. Katherine is fascinated by the set up.

Katherine: What an unusual tea flask.
Josephine: (sifting in the tea leaves) So. How was Spain?

Josephine puts together a plate with biscuits pulled from a tin as they wait for the tea to boil. Some rolls join the biscuits. Two apples. A bit of cheddar. The water boils, the agony of the leaves releases the tea and in a few minutes they are all sipping and nibbling at the food and catching up on everything that’s happened since before the wedding: Josephine’s hunt for her current digs. Katherine’s hosting her in October in Scarborough. The wedding, with an understandable glossing over of the honeymoon. The invitation and the coming trip to Ireland.

Katherine: (grinning) I wonder if we could get Bertie to pay for the coach if we share one?
Ezekiel: We should put it in his name anyway.

Friday, December 6, 1867
Harrod’s, Knightsbridge
Early afternoon

They give themselves two days for purchases and preparation and there is some discussion as to a suitable gift to bring the FitzHughs. They shop for the gifts as they outfit themselves for the trip. Ezekiel is unsure. You would know better than I, he says to Katherine. What would appeal to them? What would be fashionable? Katherine thinks a nice mantel clock would be perfectly suitable along with a fine brace of pistols. Bertie knows that tradition dictates one gives the host a slightly saucy gag gift. And he has one already at hand: A hardbound copy of Countess Scarpelli’s book, signed by the author herself. Katherine frets over the unsauciness of her gift choice.

Katherine: I can’t gift wrap myself and stick myself under the tree.
Ezekiel: (smiling) Why not?
Katherine: Because we’re going to be at someone else’s house. However that is an idea for—oh!

Now she understands why Ezekiel is smiling at her so.

Katherine: That would be quite proper. We could ask for a tree in our room.
Ezekiel: (voice deepening) That would be excellent. We’ll see if the FitzHughs can arrange that.
Katherine: And that would give you something to unwrap.
Ezekiel: Yes, it would.
Katherine: But we might not make it down for Christmas lunch.
Ezekiel: We’ll have something sent up.

Shopping beside them, Josephine makes sure she’s too busy looking over the wares to pay much attention to the sizzling banter. It simply would not do to dwell on the images it conjures up. Katherine notices her friend’s separation and draws her back to the conversation.

Katherine: What are you bringing the FitzHughs, Josephine?
Josephine: I shall have to think about it. I do not know these people and I am not entirely sure what they would like.

Katherine gently puts a man’s silver snuff case and a woman’s brooch in her hand. Bertie leans over and sees the gifts and says, sotto vocce:

Bertie: And if that doesn’t work, that’s what Boxing Day is for.

Josephine calculates how much of her fifty pounds will go toward the purchase of the gifts and Katherine quietly informs her the gifts are already paid for. Josephine is a touch taken aback. Ezekiel leans in and whispers:

Ezekiel: We’re putting it on Bertie’s bill.
Josephine: Oh. (whispers back) Thank you.
Ezekiel: Now I understand where the fun is—why Bertie found it so much fun.

Spending someone else’s money, and when they least expect it spent, does add a little cheeky fun to the whole outing. At the end of which, the store manager is waiting for Bertie with several sheaves of paper for him to sign. Bertie peruses the documents and catches the purchases Ezekiel and Katherine have made—a silver snuff box, an ivory mantel clock, a jeweled brooch, a brace of pistols, eight women’s dresses and three men’s suits.

Bertie: See here, sir! I certainly am purchasing—I am not purchasing much of anything save my own suit and traveling dress and something party-ish for Flora, which is entirely appropriate as she is upper class and needs that sort of thing and it must be fashionable but pray tell what is this? (points to bill) What are these items?
Manager: They have been requested to be delivered to the Hotel Savoy. Your cousin actually—
Bertie: Has her own funds and her own accounts.
Manager: Her husband insisted that your Grace had agreed that you would sign for their purchases. Of course, their delivery awaits your signature.
Bertie: Then the delivery will damned well wait until I have a word with them.
Manager: Shall we have some of our gentlemen accompany you to the hotel, my Lord?
Bertie: No. Hold the packages here. I shall have a conversation with his Lordship and someone will sign for it I assure you. But a conversation will be had and I shall not put up with people impinging on my good nature.
Manager: If your Grace would care to, we could take the delivery carriage and your Grace could ride.

Excuse, please? Are you suggesting that a man of Bertie’s station ride in a delivery van like a common laborer? At the moment, Bertie is too outraged over the money spent without his permission to quibble over trifles. He elects to ride in the delivery carriage if it will get him in front of Ezekiel and Katherine faster. And who does he see in the lobby having tea and coffee but Ezekiel, Katherine, and Josephine. Bertie stalks over to them. His voice is soft.

Bertie: Katherine. Ezekiel.
Ezekiel: (pleasantly) Lord Maxwell-Fleming-Drake. Oh, I’m sorry. Dashwood.
Bertie: Yes.
Katherine: You seem quite cross. Did you have a bad trip on the carriage?
Bertie: No. I had something of a shock when my bill arrived and it contained all your purchases upon it.
Ezekiel: (pleasantly) Yes.
Bertie: Indeed. Given that these dresses aren’t in Flora’s size and certainly I have my own snuff box and I don’t know who the brooch is for, though given the price I am sure it was quite—
Katherine: Oh I’m so terribly sorry but there must have been some misunderstanding, Bertie. It seems that a precedent was set long ago and we were just merely following along with it.
Bertie: Which precedent might that be?
Katherine: Oh, hmm, the many times that you’ve come and made yourself at home in my home. And availed yourself of the cigars. And the whiskey. And the other things-but no! We understand that you’re very tight with your money. We shall not expect repayment in that way. It will be a precedent that shall not go forward.
Bertie: A few cigars. (a beat) Well, if this is all a misunderstanding, then I believe as you are the signatory of your accounts, then you will take possession?

Bertie presents the bill to Ezekiel.

Ezekiel: Yes.
Katherine: But you mean you won’t be giving me a brooch for Christmas, Bertie?
Bertie: I would point out to you that you’ve, by doing so, have rather removed the ability for me to purchase a present for you. Haven’t you?
Katherine: Well, yes, but this time I’ll get something I wanted.

Ouch. Sitting in her chair to the side, Josephine suppresses a flinch.

Bertie: Given the cost and the appearance of the brooch, I’m surprised someone of your quality would want something of this quality.
Katherine: Fair enough then. I’ll buy it for myself.

Ezekiel signs the bill and hands it to the store manager who has, like Josephine, stayed out of the entire conversation. The manager takes the bill with a bow and gets out of there. Ezekiel follows him to the delivery carriage and tips the burly men who’d ridden over in it to carry the packages inside. Everything shipshape again, Ezekiel bids the merchants farewell and resumes his seat with the ladies and takes up his cooling tea. He smiles at Josephine and motions with his eyes to Katherine, whispering:

Ezekiel: I love her.
Josephine: (whispering back) So do I.

After all, she quite appreciated that dig Katherine made at Bertie for untold years of his advantage-taking. Leave it to Katherine to bide her time and strike Bertie where it would hurt him most—his wallet and his pride. Katherine watches her cousin leave, smug at finally having stung him, and smiles. It’s going to be a fun trip abroad.

The First Day of Christmas, Part Two
The First Day of Christmas, Part Three
The First Day of Christmas, Part Four
The First Day of Christmas, Part Five
The First Day of Christmas, Part Six

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