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Tea Story: Lady Lavender & the Poison Tea, Part 2

by Mike Bevel

Lady Lavender Pekoe

Before Lady Lavender Pekoe was Lady Lavender Pekoe, she was a woman named Agnes Hogbutter.

"Was not."

I'm sorry?

"I'm not going to sit by and let you spread scandal like marmalade on toast about me."

But I- I made you up. I think I'd know who you were before you were who you are now.

"Now you're just being ridiculous. Existentially I may have at one time been referred to as 'Agnes Hogbutter.' But I was always meant to be a Lady. And seeing how wealthy Lord Lavender Pekoe became, it only made sense that I was destined to become Lady Lavender Pekoe."

So technically I was right: you were Agnes Hogbutter. Which means you were probably the Agnes Hogbutter involved in that unfortunate business with the scullery maid and the-

"You'll need to desist with that line of talk per my lawyers orders."

You have a lawyer?

"Of course I have a lawyer. I'm a wealthy widow now."

But, according to my notes you die from drinking poisoned tea. In the first episode.

"You don't have any notes."

Do too.

"If by 'notes' you mean 'I came up with this in the shower in a panic because of a looming deadline' then fine: I'll grant it. You have notes. Which, ultimately, you ridiculous monkey, means nothing since clearly I didn't die from drinking poisoned tea. Hello? We're having a conversation here, aren't we? Besides: I'm the best thing about this story. It would be madness to kill me off."

So you're not dead.

"Well. Not now. Who knows what the future holds."

And Sebastian Grey?

"He's dead."

By Williams's hand, right?

"You're the writer."

Can I proceed, then? Being as I'm the writer?

"No one is stopping you - unless, that is, you start publishing scandal about me again. Do carry on, though. I'm intrigued."

Anyway. Agnes Hogbutter started her career on the streets of London as a call girl-

"Please. Courtesan. And what else was I supposed to do? It's Victorian England for the love of the Queen. My choices were to either be (a) born wealthy which, not so much; (b) become a governess; (c) find work as a school marm; or, (d) get a gig in a George Eliot or Thomas Hardy novel. Have you met Thomas Hardy? Do you know what happens to women in Thomas Hardy novels? I'd like to live, thankyouverymuch. And I also hate walking on the moors. I'm a city kind of gal. Oh, and my lawyer says that you should list my occupation as 'entertainer.'"

Of course he does. Was it during your entertaining that you met Lord Lavender Pekoe?

"Well, I was a consultant at the time. He needed... special attention. There are some things that, once you see, you can't un-see. Anyway, there was an accident involving a candle and Guinea fowl and the whole thing would have proved ruinous for Lord Lavender Pekoe had it got in the papers. So I offered him a deal... He makes me Lady Lavender Pekoe and I make sure his reputation stays unsullied."

But you were fairly, uh, popular, right? I mean, wouldn't it get out that you were, you know, you, and not necessarily of the right social standing for a marriage to a man like Lord Pekoe?

"I dyed my hair."

And... that kept everyone from finding out your identity?

"Fine - I killed a scullery maid and stole her identity. A word of this gets out, Bevel, and your days are numbered. Lord Pekoe marrying a scullery maid became the romantic story of the decade. He took me to the opera, where I cried. He bought me a beautiful necklace and I laughed in this loud, braying way that was totally endearing. I killed."

Both literally and figuratively, it seems. So - this prologue is a mess. I think the best plan, then, is to try this all again. You know. After I've made you some tea.

"Like I'm falling for that again. How about I write my own opening and you incorporate it later."

All right then. I'll see you next episode.

"Ciao."

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