WAYLAND CYBERSMITH (WAYCYBER) - THE BIRTHDAY PARTY
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Lady Rosemary Chervil sat in her solarium drinking tea from a bone china cup and listening to the music played by the Valerian Violins. The door opened and a dour looking butler led an equally dour couple into the room.
'Basil and Artemisia Burnett, ma'am.'
'Thank you Borage. Please send in the other guests as soon as they arrive, and tell Anise to lay out the buffet. We will be dining shortly.'
Basil and Artemesia walked to Lady Chervil's table and Basil sat down. Artemisia looked embarrassed and coughed in a significant way. Suddenly remembering, Basil stood up. pulled a chair back and, after his wife stood between the chair and table, he pushed the chair forward. As she sat down, she saw she was too far from the table. Basil had not spotted this and just sat down. Artemisia looked around and tried to shuffle the chair forward surreptitiously.
'Countess Angelica Fennel, ma'am.'
'Thank you Borage. Angel, darling. You must tell me about your trip to the Riviera.'
'Well, it was all very...'
'Wonderful, I'm sure. Now, do you have, er, anything for me?'
'Of course, Rosemary. Happy birthday' Countess Fennel produced a small box. Lady Chervil did not take her eyes off of it as it was placed before her. It was wrapped in black and gold paper, with golden ribbons tied to form a flower. Lady Chervil tore the paper off, screwed it up and threw it over her shoulder with a giggle. She opened the box and her smile faded.
'An expensive one. I had it flown in from Switzerland last week.'
'Well, thank you, I suppose. I notice you two haven't given me anything.'
Artemesia smiled and punched Basil on the arm. He winced, then reached into his jacket. He brought out a small package and passed it to Lady Chervil with a trembling hand. She snatched it and had it apart in less time it takes to draw a breath.
'But it's a diary.'
'The cover is pure gold. Well. gold leaf.'
'Yes, but it's May. Almost half the year's gone.'
'You can put new pages in it next year. Look, you just unfasten these...'
'Yes, yes, yes. Quite so. Very nice, I'm sure.' She dropped it on the table as if it was something dirty. Anise poured out tea for the visitors.
'Miss Santolina Perilla, ma'am.'
'Santy, How are you?'
'I've just come back from a photo shoot in Jamaica. As a matter of fact...' Santolina passed a tube to Lady Chervil.
Lady Chervil opened it with dread. 'It's a calendar.'
'Yes. Wonderful, isn't it?'
'They are pictures of you.'
'In the nude.'
'I know. Wonderful pictures, aren't they?'
'You expect me to hang this up?'
'Not until next year, darling. It's next year's calendar. You are the first person to have one.'
'Honoured. I'm sure.'
'Miss Tansy Caraway, and Mr Rupert Woodruf.'
'Here you are old girl.' Rupert handed Lady Chervil a cylinder wrapped in plain brown paper. She tore the paper off. The cylinder was protecting a plant pot. She looked at it open mouthed, then, realising how foolish she looked, glanced around and laughed.
'Why, Rue, It's a plant.'
'A herb actually. For your herb garden. I noticed that your thyme is dying off, so I brought you a fresh one from my garden.'
'Well! That's...that's ... that's very thoughtful of you.'
'I knew you'd like it. It's like I told the others, there's no present like thyme.'
© Colin Nelson www.waycyber.com
© WaylandCybersmith 2011