May 15, 2007

Elfreda's Gaffe

For some reason, blogger's acting up, so I can't add my picture this time. But here's a link to the original installment of my farcequin, and an explanation for any bewildered and horrified readers.

Bobbert hardly spoke as they rode along the main way of the bustling harbor town, or as they bumped along the rocky offroad that lead off into the barren wasteland. The outback, Elfreda thought with a shiver.
"Cold?" Bobbert asked.
"Oh, no," Elfreda mumbled. Suddenly she felt warm linen on her bare shoulders. She fingered it with surprise-- Bobbert's plaid shirt. Without thinking, she turned to look at him and then blushed at the sight of his bare chest. His arms were deeply tanned, the tan stopping short in a line at the shoulder and a round at the neck.
"No thank you," Elfreda murmured, bunching the shirt into one hand and holding it sideways in his direction. She kept her eyes fastened on the road.
He took the shirt silently. "So, is rough flannel not good enough for you then?" He asked after a while.
"Why, I--" Elfreda stuttered. She really had no idea what to say; she was far to embarrassed to admit that it was the sight of his muscled forearms that had prompted the quick return of his offering.
"Well, you'll get used to flannel soon enough," he cut in crisply. Elfreda glanced sidelong at him; his jaw was set, and he had a steely glint in his eyes.
Oh dear, she thought to herself, I've upset him. "No, I'm fine," she hastened. "I'm quite looking forward to helping out with the crocodiles."
He jerked the steering wheel to the right; the car began ambling up a road which ran at a 45 degree incline. The potholes jarred the car horribly; Elfreda bit her lip without realizing it.
"No wife of mine will be getting her hands all scarred up with crocodiles," Bobbert stated, his lips firmly pressed together.
"But Bobbert--"
He pulled the car to a stop with a jerk. "You're lip's bleeding," he said.
Wonderingly she raised a finger to her lips, he pulled it away in a bruising grip and then brought his own lips down on hers. The kiss was ferocious, devouring. When he broke away, his own lips were covered in her blood.
It looks rather like red lipstick, Elfreda thought. "How dare you," she said, whitefaced. She looked at his hand, which was crushing hers-- the cuticles were ragged, the fingers yellow and hard with blisters, the nails chipped and torn.
He followed her gaze and dropped her hand like it was a hot potato."How dare I what? Kiss my own fiancee?" His eyes were blazing. "Well, if that's how it's going to be, then maybe you're right. Maybe you ought to pull your own weight around here. A marriage of convenience, after all. We'll see how your lily white hands fare with the crocs." He didn't bother to open the door for her, he just slammed his abruptly and headed into the house.
Elfreda's bloody lip trembled as she gathered up her mountain of suitcases and soft bags, purses and pelisses and hatboxes. She staggered into the front door. And nearly wept at the kindly face of the woman who met her there. "Janey!" She cried, a quiver in her voice. "How wonderful to see a familiar face."
Janey looked at Elfreda. "You've grown into a magnificent young woman. No wonder young master Grimschanks has fallen for you."
"Oh," Elfreda sighed desolately, "But I don't think he he has. He doesn't seem to like me much at all." Her eyes filled with tears.
"Oh, don't mind his gruff ways," Janey said, patting her on the shoulder. "Why, just the other day he scared the scullery maid into hysterics without realizing it. You'll figure out his mind soon enough. He's just like when he was a boy-- kind and gentle as a kitten," her eyes misted reminiscently. "He's the best master I could ever hope to have."
Elfreda frowned. Such an account was nothing in the line of what she had just experienced. Family loyalty, she thought with disgust. I can't see even a tiny bit in Bobbert of the boy I used to play with.

Janey lead her along several winding passages, past hundreds of rooms, until she reached a mahogany door and opened it. Elfreda walked dully into the room and collapsed onto her bed, senseless of the room around her. "thank you, Janey."

"I'll have Donkers bring up your bags," Janey promised. "Supper in half an hour."

"I think I'll skip supper," Elfreda said.
"I don't think that's such a good idea," Janey shook her head, glancing nervously toward the hallway.
"I'm tired, Janey. Make my apologies to Master Grimschanks."
She lay in the pillow, thinking of the complete changes that had come into her life. And in Bobbert. When he had been a child, he had been so fun, so gentle. And a tease. One time when they had been playing together, she had fallen asleep on the front lawn. She had awakened to find pieces of paper rolled up in her nostrils. She'd had a hearty laugh and gotten him back later by cutting off half of his hair.

What happened to that Bobbert? Gayle thought dully to herself. I didn't sign up for this.

And then she remembered. No, I must do as I promised, she thought firmly to herself. It's a matter of integrity. And After all, there's mother's nose to think of.

After a few moments, she fell asleep, and slept so deeply that she never heard the ominous clanging of the dinner gong. Bobbert came storming down the hall and flung open the door, but the sight of her there, with her pale face and cut lip, her delicate complexion and bright hair contrasting so sweetly with the paleness of the pillowcase, his anger melted away. Quietly he closed the door and let her rest. He stood for a long moment ouside the door, his grizzled head bowed, and then walked reluctantly back to the kitchen.