ETIQUETTE AND ESPIONAGE GAIL CARRIGER PDF

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Etiquette And Espionage Gail Carriger Pdf

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The author, Gail Carriger, uses complex and historic vocabulary to give the . evaluates her developing proficiencies of etiquette and espionage simultaneously. Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger (review); Alaine Martaus · Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books · Johns Etiquette & Espionage. Download PDF. ETIQUETTE AMP ESPIONAGE FINISHING SCHOOL 1 GAIL CARRIGER PDF. Etiquette & Espionage Finishing School Series, Book 1 (eBook): Carriger, Gail.

I refuse to have you at my comingout ball.

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Youll do something dreadful, like spill the punch on the only nice looking boy there. I would never! Oh, yes, you would. No, I wouldnt. We dont happen to be acquainted with any nicelooking boys. Petunia ignored that jibe. Must you be so tiresome? Its always something. She looked smug. Although I believe Mumsy has finally determined what to do with you. She has? Do what? Whats going on? Mumsy is indenturing you to vampires for a proper educa tion.

Youre old enough now for them to actually want you. Soon youll be putting your hair upwhat else are we to do with you? You are even starting to get dcolletage.

Etiquette & Espionage

Sophronia blushed with embarrassment at the very mention of such a thing, but managed a sputtered protest of, She never! Oh, yes! Who do you think shes talking to right now? Why do you think its such a secret meeting? Vampires are like that. Mumsy had, of course, made the threat when any of the Temminnick children were being particularly wayward.

But never could Sophronia believe such a thing actually possible. But its tea! Vampires cant be here. They cant go out in day light. Everyone knows that. Petunia, in her Petuniaish way, dismissed this defense with a careless flap of one hand. You think they would send a real vampire for the likes of you? Oh, no, thats a drone Mumsy is talking with. I wager theyre drawing up the papers of servitude right now.

But I dont want to be a vampire drone. Sophronia winced. Theyll suck my blood and make me wear only the very latest fashions. Petunia nodded in an Iknowmorethanyou manner that was highly aggravating. Yes, they will. Frowbritcher, the butler, appeared in the doorway. He paused on the threshold while his rollers transferred to the parlor tracks.

He was the very latest in domestic mechanicals, about the size and shape of a daphne bush. He trundled over and looked down his beaky nasal protuberance at Sophronia. His eyes were jetcolored circles of perpetual disapproval.

Miss Sophronia, your mother wishes to see you immedi ately. His voice, emanating from a musicbox device deep inside his metal body, was tinny and grainy. Sophronia sighed. Is she sending me to the vampires? Petunia wrinkled her nose. I suppose there is a possibility they wont take you. I mean to say, Sophronia, the way you dress! The butler only repeated, without any inflection whatsoever, Immediately, miss. Should I make for the stable?

Sophronia asked. Oh, do grow up! So I can be a puffedup poodlefaker like you? As though growing up were something one could do contagiously, caught through associating with officious older sisters.

Sophronia trailed after Frowbritcher, nervously brushing her custardcovered hands against her apron. She hoped the pinafore would hide the disreputablewell, absentstate of her skirt. The butler rolled down the hall, leading her to her fathers library. An elaborate tea service was arranged there, including lace tablecloths, sponge cake, and the familys very best china.

This was far more effort than was ever spent on Mrs. Across from Sophronias mother, sipping tea, sat an elegant lady wearing a sour expression and a large hat. She looked like exactly the kind of woman one would expect to be a vampire drone.

Here is Miss Sophronia, madam, said Frowbritcher from the doorway, not bothering to transfer tracks. He glided off, probably to marshal forces to clean the parlor. What did you do to poor Mrs.

She left here in a dreadful huff andoh, simply look at you! Mademoiselle, please excuse my daughters appearance. Id tell you it was an aberration, but, sadly, its all too common. Such a troublesome child.

The stranger gave Sophronia a prim look that made her feel about six years old. She was painfully conscious of her custardy state. No one would ever describe Sophronia as elegant, whereas this woman was every inch a lady.

Sophronia had never before considered how powerful that could be. The strange woman was also offensively beautiful, with pale skin and dark hair streaked with gray. It was impossible to discern her age, for, despite the gray, her face was young. She was perfectly dressed in a sort of spiky lace traveling gown with a massive skirt and velvet trim that was much more elegant than anything Soph ronia had ever seen in her life. Her mother was more a follower of trends than a purveyor of fine taste.

This woman was truly stylish. Despite her beauty, she looks, thought Sophronia, a little like a crow. She stared down at her feet and tried to come up with an excuse for her behavior, other than spying on people.

Well, I simply wanted to see how it worked, and then there was this Her mother interrupted. How it worked? What kind of question is that for a young lady to ask? How often have I warned you against fraternizing with technology?

Sophronia wondered if that was a rhetorical question and began counting up the number of times just in case it wasnt. Her mother turned back to their guest. Do you see what I mean, mademoiselle? Shes a cracking great bother. Sophronia was offended. Never before had her mother used such language in polite company.

Silence, Sophronia. But Do you see, Mademoiselle Geraldine? Do you see what I must endure? And on a daily basis. A bother.

Has been from the beginning. And the other girls were such little blessings. Well, I suppose we were due. I tell you this in complete confidence Im at my wits end with this one. I really am. When she isnt reading, shes taking something apart or flirting with the foot man or climbing thingstrees, furniture, even other people. That was years ago!

Will she never let that go? I was eight! Hush, child. Temminnick didnt even look in her daughters direction. Have you ever heard of the like with a girl?

Now, I know shes a little brazen for finishing school, but I was hoping you might make an exception, just this once. Finishing school?

Then Im not being sent to the vampires? Relief flooded through Sophronia, instantly followed by a new horror. Finishing school! There would be lessons. On how to curtsy. On how to dress. On how to eat with ones finger in the air.

Soph ronia shuddered. Perhaps a vampire hive was a better option. Temminnick pressed on. We are certainly willing to provide compensation for your considering Sophronia. Barnaclegoose told me, in confidence, that you are masterly with troublesome cases. You have an excellent record. Why, only last week one of your girls married a viscount. Sophronia was rattled. Really, Mumsy! As yet, the crow had said nothing.

This was a common occurrence around Sophronias mother. The stranger merely sipped her tea, the bulk of her attention on Sophronia. Her eyes were hard, assessing, and her movements very precise and sharp. Temminnick continued. And, of course, there is dear Petunias comingout ball to consider. We were hoping Sophro nia might be presentable for the event.

This December?

Well, as presentable as possible, given her. She was well aware she hadnt her sisters looks. For some reason the Fates had seen fit to design her rather more in her fathers image than her mothers. But there was no need to discuss such a thing openly with a stranger!

That could be arranged. When the woman finally spoke, it was with such a strong French accent that her words were diffi cult to understand.

Miss Temminnick, why is there india rub ber wrapped around your boots? Sophronia looked down. Mumsy was complaining I kept scuffing them. Interesting solution. Does it work? Havent had a chance to test them properly. She paused. The stranger looked neither shocked nor impressed by this statement. Frowbritcher reappeared.

He made a motion with one claw like mechanical arm, beckoning. Sophronias mother stood and went to confer with the butler. Frowbritcher had a sinister habit of turning up with secrets. It was highly disconcerting in a mechanical. After a whispered interchange, Mrs. Temminnick went red about the face and then whirled back around. Oh, dear, thought Sophronia, what have I done now? Please excuse me for a moment. There appears to be some 10 difficulty with our new dumbwaiter.

She gave her daughter a pointed look. Hold your tongue and behave, young lady! Yes, Mumsy. Temminnick left the room, closing the door firmly behind her. Where did you get the rubber? The crow dismissed Soph ronias mother with comparative ease, still intrigued by the shoe modification.

India rubber was expensive and difficult to come by, particularly in any shape more complex than a ball. Sophronia nodded in a significant way. You destroyed a dumbwaiter for it?

Im not saying I did. Im not saying I didnt, either. Sophro nia was cautious. After all, this woman wants to steal me away to finishing school. Ill be there for years and then foisted off on some viscount with two thousand a year and a retreating hairline. Soph ronia rethought her approach; perhaps a little less circumspec tion and some judiciously applied sabotage was called for.

Mumsy wasnt lying, you understand, about my conduct? The climbing and such. Although it has been a while since I tried to climb up a person. And the footman and I werent flirt ing. He thinks Petunia is the pip, not me. What about the taking apart?

Sophronia nodded, as it was a better excuse for destroying the dumbwaiter than spying. Im fond of machines. Intriguing things, machines, dont you find? The woman cocked her head to one side. I generally prefer to make use of them, not dissect them.

Why do you do it? To upset your mother? She was relatively fond of her mother, as one is apt to be, but she supposed some part of her might be on the attack. A flash of a smile appeared on the womans face. It made her look very young. It vanished quickly. How are you as a thes pian?

Any good? What kind of finishing school teacher asks that? Sophronia was put out. I may have smudges on my face, but Im still a lady! The woman looked at Sophronias exposed petticoat. That remains to be seen. She turned away, as though not inter ested anymore, and helped herself to a slice of cake. Are you strong?

Down the hall, something exploded with a bang. Sophronia thought she heard her mother shriek. Both she and the visitor ignored the disruption. Sophronia edged toward the tea trolley, eyeing the sponge.

From all the climbing. A pause. And the machine lifting, I suppose. Sophronia blinked. Im not weak. Youre certainly good at prevarication. Is that a bad thing? That depends on whom youre asking. Sophronia helped herself to two pieces of cake, just as though she had been invited to do so. The visitor forbore to remark upon it. Sophronia turned away briefly, in the guise of finding a spoon, to tuck one piece in her apron pocket.

Mumsy 12 wouldnt allow her any sweets for the next week once she found out about the dumbwaiter. The woman might have seen the theft, but she didnt acknowl edge it.

You run this finishing school, then? Do you run this finishing school, Mademoiselle Geraldine? Do you run this finishing school, Mademoiselle Geral dine? Odd, in a finishing school teacher. Shouldnt she wait until Mumsy returns?

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Have you heard of it? Sophronia had. I thought only the very best families were allowed in. Sometimes we make exceptions. Are you the Mademoiselle Geraldine? You dont seem old enough. Why, thank you, Miss Temminnick, but you should not make such an observation to your betters.

Sorry, madam. Sorry, Mademoiselle Geraldine. Oh, yes, sorry, Mademoiselle Geraldine. Very good. Do you notice anything else odd about me? Sophronia said the first thing that came to mind. The gray in your hair. Its amiss. You are an observant young lady, arent you? Then, in a sudden movement, Mademoiselle Geraldine reached and 13 pulled out the small throw pillow from behind her back. She tossed it at Sophronia. Sophronia, who had never before had a lady throw a pillow at her, was flabbergasted, but caught it.

Adequate reflexes, said Mademoiselle Geraldine, wiggling her fingers for the return of the pillow. Bemused, Sophronia handed it back to her. Why A blackgloved hand was raised against any further questions.

Temminnick returned at that juncture. I do apologize. How incurably rude of me. I cant comprehend what has happened to the dumbwaiter. Its making the most awful racket. But you dont want to hear of such piddling domestic trifles. She put a great deal of emphasis on the word trifles.

Sophronia grimaced. Temminnick sat down, rubbing at a grease spot on her formerly impeccable gloves. How are you and Sophronia get ting on? Mademoiselle Geraldine said, Quite well. The young lady was just telling me of some history book she was recently read ing. What was the subject? So, she doesnt want Mumsy to know shes been throwing pillows at me? Sophronia was never one to let anyone down when fibs were required.

Apparently the Primeval Monarchy, which follows directly after the Mythical Period, has been given new dates. And Her mother interrupted. Thats more than enough of that, Sophronia. A headmistress isnt interested in education. Really, Mademoiselle Geraldine, once you get her started shell never 14 stop. She looked hopeful. I know shes a terrible mess, but can you do anything with her? Mademoiselle Geraldine gave a tight smile.

What do you say to a probationary period? Well return her in time for that comingout ball of yours in a few months and see how she gets on until then? Oh, Mademoiselle Geraldine, how perfectly topping! Soph ronias mother clasped her hands delightedly. Isnt this thrill ing, Sophronia? Youre going to finishing school! But I dont want to go to finishing school! Sophronia couldnt help the petulance in her voice as visions of parasol training danced through her head.

Dont be like that, darling. It will be very exciting. Sophronia grappled for recourse. But she threw a pillow at me! Oh, Sophronia, dont tell fibsyou know how unhappy that makes me. Sophronia gawped, swiveling her gaze back and forth between her nowanimated mother and the crowlike stranger.

How soon can she be made ready? Mademoiselle Geral dine wanted to know. Sophronias mother started. You wish to take her away now?

I am here, am I not? Why waste the trip? I didnt think it would be so soon. We must shop for new dresses, a warmer coat. What about her lesson books? Oh, you can send all that along later. I shall provide you with a list of required items. Shell be perfectly fine for the time being. A resourceful girl, I suspect.

Well, if you think it best. Sophronia was not accustomed to seeing her mother rail roaded so effectively. But Mumsy! If Mademoiselle Geraldine thinks it best, then you had bet ter hop to it, young lady.

Go change into your good blue dress and your Sunday hat. Ill have one of the maids pack your necessities. May we have half an hour, mademoiselle?

Of course. Perhaps I will take a little tour of the grounds while you organize? To stretch my legs before the drive. Please do. Come along, Sophronia, we have much to do. Frustrated and out of sorts, Sophronia trailed after her mother. Accordingly, she was given an old portmanteau from the attic, three hatboxes, and a carpetbag. With barely enough time to ensure a nibble for the driveto goodness knows where, at a dis tance of goodness knows how farSophronia found herself being shoved hastily into a carriage.

Her mother kissed her on the fore head and made a show of fussing. My little girl, all grown up and leaving to become a lady! And that, as they say, was that. Sophronia might have hoped for a grand sendoff with all her siblings and half the mechanical retainers waving tearstained handkerchiefs. But her younger brothers were exploring the farm, her older ones were away at Eton, her sisters were busy with fripperies or marriagespossibly one and the same and the mechanicals were trundling about their daily tasks.

She thought she spotted Roger, the stable lad, waving his cap from the hayloft, but apart from that, even her mother gave only a perfunctory waggle of her fingertips before returning to the house. It was a hired transport but decked out like a private conveyance, with walls of midnight blue quilted velvet to reduce road noise, and goldfringed blankets to ward off the chill.

Sophronia barely had time to take it all in before Made moiselle Geraldine banged the ceiling with the handle of her parasol and they lurched forward. More startling than the decoration was the fact that the carriage was already occupiedby two other students. They had, apparently, been sitting patiently the entire time Mademoiselle Geraldine took tea and Sophronia fell out of dumbwaiters and packed all her worldly goods into a portmanteau.

Directly across from her sat a brighteyed, lively looking young lady, a little younger than Sophronia, with masses of honeycolored hair and a round porcelain face.

She wore an enormous gilt and red glass brooch pinned to her bright red dress. The combination of the hair, the jewelry, and the dress made her look quite the scandal, as though she were in training to become a lady of the night. Sophronia was duly impressed. Oh, goodness! Which, for one left to sit idle in a carriage with no distraction or entertainment, it might well have been. How do you do? Isnt this a spiffing day?

Really, quite spiff ing. Im Dimity. Who are you? Is that all? What, isnt it enough? Sophronia Angelina Temminnick. Gosh, thats a mouthful. It is? I suppose so. As though Dimity Ann PlumleighTeignmott were a nice easy sort of name. Sophronia dragged her eyes away from the girl to examine the final occupant of the carriage. It was difficult to make out what kind of creature lurked under the oversized bowler and oiled greatcoat.

But, if pressed, she would have said it was some species of grubby boy. He had spec tacles that were very thick, a brow that was very creased, and a large dusty book occupying the entirety of his lap and attention.

Whats that? Oh, that? Thats just Pillover. My little brother. Ah, I commiserate. I have several of my own. Dashed inconvenient, brothers. Sophronia nodded, perfectly under standing the outlandish hat and coat.

Pillover glanced up from behind his spectacles and issued them both a look. He seemed a few years younger than his sis ter, who was, Sophronia guessed, about thirteen. Hes slated for Bunsons. For what? Bunson and Lacroixs Boys Polytechnique.

You know, the other school? Sophronia, who had no idea what Dimity was talking about, pretended to follow out of politeness. The girl prattled on. She seemed to be a bit of a prattler. Sophronia was comfortable with this after living with her own family.

They were big talkers, but with a lot less interesting things to say than Dimity. Mummy and Daddy want him to be an evil genius, but he has his heart set on Latin verse. Dont you, Pill? The boy gave his sister a nasty stare.

Pillover is terribly bad at being bad, if you take my meaning. Our daddy is a founding member of the Death Weasel Confed eracy, and Mummy is a kitchen chemist with questionable intent, but poor Pillover cant even bring himself to murder ants with his Depraved Lens of Crispy Magnification. Can you, Pill? Sophronia felt as though she was progressively losing the thread of the conversation. Death Weasel Confederacy? Dimity nodded, curls bobbing. I knowcan you countenance 19 it? I tend to look on the bright side; at least Daddys not a Pickleman.

Sophronias eyes popped. Uh, oh yes, rather. What in aether is a Pickleman? But Pill here is a sad disappointment to poor old Daddy. The boy in question put down his book, clearly driven to defend himself. I made the articulated hassock that moved when someone went to sit on it. And there was that custard pot that never got cool enough for the pudding to set.

Dimity provided parenthetical information against this defense. The hassock always ended up moving forward help fully. And Cook simply used the Custard Pot of Iniquity for keeping her buns warm. Oh, I say. Thats not on. Telling family secrets like that! Face it, Pill, youre disappointingly good. No, I wouldnt. We dont happen to be acquainted with any nicelooking boys. Petunia ignored that jibe. Must you be so tiresome? Its always something. She looked smug.

Although I believe Mumsy has finally determined what to do with you. She has? Do what? Whats going on? Mumsy is indenturing you to vampires for a proper educa tion. Youre old enough now for them to actually want you. Soon youll be putting your hair upwhat else are we to do with you? You are even starting to get dcolletage. Sophronia blushed with embarrassment at the very mention. Oh, yes! Who do you think shes talking to right now? Why do you think its such a secret meeting?

Vampires are like that. Mumsy had, of course, made the threat when any of the Temminnick children were being particularly wayward. But never could Sophronia believe such a thing actually possible. But its tea! Vampires cant be here. They cant go out in day light. Everyone knows that.

Petunia, in her Petuniaish way, dismissed this defense with a careless flap of one hand.

You think they would send a real vampire for the likes of you? Oh, no, thats a drone Mumsy is talking with. I wager theyre drawing up the papers of servitude right now.

But I dont want to be a vampire drone. Sophronia winced. Theyll suck my blood and make me wear only the very latest fashions. Petunia nodded in an Iknowmorethanyou manner that was highly aggravating. Yes, they will. Frowbritcher, the butler, appeared in the doorway. He paused on the threshold while his rollers transferred to the parlor tracks. He was the very latest in domestic mechanicals, about the size and shape of a daphne bush.

He trundled over and looked down his beaky nasal protuberance at Sophronia. His eyes were jetcolored circles of perpetual disapproval. Miss Sophronia, your mother wishes to see you immedi ately. His voice, emanating from a musicbox device deep inside his metal body, was tinny and grainy. Sophronia sighed. Is she sending me to the vampires?

Petunia wrinkled her nose. I suppose there is a possibility they wont take you. I mean to say, Sophronia, the way you dress! The butler only repeated, without any inflection whatsoever, Immediately, miss. Should I make for the stable? Sophronia asked. Oh, do grow up! So I can be a puffedup poodlefaker like you? As though growing up were something one could do contagiously, caught through associating with officious older sisters.

Sophronia trailed after Frowbritcher, nervously brushing her custardcovered hands against her apron. She hoped the pinafore would hide the disreputablewell, absentstate of her skirt. The butler rolled down the hall, leading her to her fathers library. An elaborate tea service was arranged there, including lace tablecloths, sponge cake, and the familys very best china.

This was far more effort than was ever spent on Mrs. Across from Sophronias mother, sipping tea, sat an elegant lady wearing a sour expression and a large hat.

She looked like exactly the kind of woman one would expect to be a vampire drone.

Here is Miss Sophronia, madam, said Frowbritcher from the doorway, not bothering to transfer tracks. He glided off, probably to marshal forces to clean the parlor. What did you do to poor Mrs.

She left here in a dreadful huff andoh, simply look at you! Mademoiselle, please excuse my daughters appearance. Id tell you it was an aberration, but, sadly, its all too common. Such a troublesome child. The stranger gave Sophronia a prim look that made her feel about six years old. She was painfully conscious of her custardy state. No one would ever describe Sophronia as elegant, whereas this woman was every inch a lady.

Sophronia had never before considered how powerful that could be. The strange woman was also offensively beautiful, with pale skin and dark hair streaked with gray. It was impossible to discern her age, for, despite the gray, her face was young. She was perfectly dressed in a sort of spiky lace traveling gown with a massive skirt and velvet trim that was much more elegant than anything Soph ronia had ever seen in her life.

Her mother was more a follower of trends than a purveyor of fine taste. This woman was truly stylish. Despite her beauty, she looks, thought Sophronia, a little like a crow. She stared down at her feet and tried to come up with an excuse for her behavior, other than spying on people. Well, I simply wanted to see how it worked, and then there was this Her mother interrupted.

How it worked? What kind of question is that for a young lady to ask? How often have I warned you against fraternizing with technology? Sophronia wondered if that was a rhetorical question and began counting up the number of times just in case it wasnt. Her mother turned back to their guest. Do you see what I mean, mademoiselle? Shes a cracking great bother. Sophronia was offended. Never before had her mother used such language in polite company.

Silence, Sophronia. Do you see, Mademoiselle Geraldine? Do you see what I must endure?

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And on a daily basis. A bother. Has been from the beginning. And the other girls were such little blessings. Well, I suppose we were due. I tell you this in complete confidence Im at my wits end with this one. I really am. When she isnt reading, shes taking something apart or flirting with the foot man or climbing thingstrees, furniture, even other people.

That was years ago! Will she never let that go? I was eight! Hush, child. Temminnick didnt even look in her daughters direction. Have you ever heard of the like with a girl?

Now, I know shes a little brazen for finishing school, but I was hoping you might make an exception, just this once. Finishing school? Then Im not being sent to the vampires?

Relief flooded through Sophronia, instantly followed by a new horror. Finishing school! There would be lessons. On how to curtsy. On how to dress. On how to eat with ones finger in the air. Soph ronia shuddered. Perhaps a vampire hive was a better option. Temminnick pressed on. We are certainly willing to provide compensation for your considering Sophronia. Barnaclegoose told me, in confidence, that you are masterly with troublesome cases.

You have an excellent record. Why, only last week one of your girls married a viscount. Sophronia was rattled. Really, Mumsy! As yet, the crow had said nothing. This was a common occurrence around Sophronias mother. The stranger merely sipped her tea, the bulk of her attention on Sophronia. Her eyes were hard, assessing, and her movements very precise and sharp. Temminnick continued. And, of course, there is dear Petunias comingout ball to consider.

We were hoping Sophro nia might be presentable for the event. This December? Well, as presentable as possible, given her. She was well aware she hadnt her sisters looks. For some reason the Fates had seen fit to design her rather more in her fathers image than her mothers. But there was no need to discuss such a thing openly with a stranger! That could be arranged. When the woman finally spoke, it was with such a strong French accent that her words were diffi cult to understand.

Miss Temminnick, why is there india rub ber wrapped around your boots? Sophronia looked down. Mumsy was complaining I kept scuffing them. Interesting solution. Does it work? Havent had a chance to test them properly. She paused. The stranger looked neither shocked nor impressed by this statement. Frowbritcher reappeared. He made a motion with one claw like mechanical arm, beckoning. Sophronias mother stood and went to confer with the butler. Frowbritcher had a sinister habit of turning up with secrets.

It was highly disconcerting in a mechanical. After a whispered interchange, Mrs. Temminnick went red about the face and then whirled back around. Oh, dear, thought Sophronia, what have I done now? Please excuse me for a moment. There appears to be some. She gave her daughter a pointed look.

Hold your tongue and behave, young lady! Yes, Mumsy. Temminnick left the room, closing the door firmly behind her. Where did you get the rubber? The crow dismissed Soph ronias mother with comparative ease, still intrigued by the shoe modification. India rubber was expensive and difficult to come by, particularly in any shape more complex than a ball.

Sophronia nodded in a significant way. You destroyed a dumbwaiter for it? Im not saying I did. Im not saying I didnt, either. Sophro nia was cautious. After all, this woman wants to steal me away to finishing school.

Ill be there for years and then foisted off on some viscount with two thousand a year and a retreating hairline.

Soph ronia rethought her approach; perhaps a little less circumspec tion and some judiciously applied sabotage was called for. Mumsy wasnt lying, you understand, about my conduct? The climbing and such. Although it has been a while since I tried to climb up a person. And the footman and I werent flirt ing. He thinks Petunia is the pip, not me.

What about the taking apart? Sophronia nodded, as it was a better excuse for destroying the dumbwaiter than spying. Im fond of machines. Intriguing things, machines, dont you find?

The woman cocked her head to one side. I generally prefer to make use of them, not dissect them. Why do you do it? To upset your mother? Sophronia considered this. She was relatively fond of her mother, as one is apt to be, but she supposed some part of her might be on the attack. A flash of a smile appeared on the womans face. It made her look very young. It vanished quickly.

How are you as a thes pian? Any good? What kind of finishing school teacher asks that? Sophronia was put out. I may have smudges on my face, but Im still a lady! The woman looked at Sophronias exposed petticoat. That remains to be seen. She turned away, as though not inter ested anymore, and helped herself to a slice of cake. Are you strong? Down the hall, something exploded with a bang. Sophronia thought she heard her mother shriek. Both she and the visitor ignored the disruption.

Sophronia edged toward the tea trolley, eyeing the sponge. From all the climbing. A pause. And the machine lifting, I suppose. Sophronia blinked. Im not weak. Youre certainly good at prevarication. Is that a bad thing? That depends on whom youre asking. Sophronia helped herself to two pieces of cake, just as though she had been invited to do so.

The visitor forbore to remark upon it. Sophronia turned away briefly, in the guise of finding a spoon, to tuck one piece in her apron pocket. The woman might have seen the theft, but she didnt acknowl edge it.

You run this finishing school, then? Do you run this finishing school, Mademoiselle Geraldine? Do you run this finishing school, Mademoiselle Geral dine? Odd, in a finishing school teacher. Shouldnt she wait until Mumsy returns? Have you heard of it? Sophronia had. I thought only the very best families were allowed in. Sometimes we make exceptions. Are you the Mademoiselle Geraldine? You dont seem old enough. Why, thank you, Miss Temminnick, but you should not make such an observation to your betters.

Sorry, madam. Sorry, Mademoiselle Geraldine. Oh, yes, sorry, Mademoiselle Geraldine. Very good. Do you notice anything else odd about me? Sophronia said the first thing that came to mind. The gray in your hair. Its amiss. You are an observant young lady, arent you? Then, in a sudden movement, Mademoiselle Geraldine reached and. She tossed it at Sophronia. Sophronia, who had never before had a lady throw a pillow at her, was flabbergasted, but caught it.

Adequate reflexes, said Mademoiselle Geraldine, wiggling her fingers for the return of the pillow. Bemused, Sophronia handed it back to her. Why A blackgloved hand was raised against any further questions. Temminnick returned at that juncture. I do apologize. How incurably rude of me. I cant comprehend what has happened to the dumbwaiter. Its making the most awful racket. But you dont want to hear of such piddling domestic trifles.

She put a great deal of emphasis on the word trifles. Sophronia grimaced. Temminnick sat down, rubbing at a grease spot on her formerly impeccable gloves. How are you and Sophronia get ting on?

Mademoiselle Geraldine said, Quite well. The young lady was just telling me of some history book she was recently read ing. What was the subject? So, she doesnt want Mumsy to know shes been throwing pillows at me?

Sophronia was never one to let anyone down when fibs were required. Apparently the Primeval Monarchy, which follows directly after the Mythical Period, has been given new dates. And Her mother interrupted. Thats more than enough of that, Sophronia. A headmistress isnt interested in education. Really, Mademoiselle Geraldine, once you get her started shell never.

She looked hopeful. I know shes a terrible mess, but can you do anything with her? Mademoiselle Geraldine gave a tight smile. What do you say to a probationary period? Well return her in time for that comingout ball of yours in a few months and see how she gets on until then? Oh, Mademoiselle Geraldine, how perfectly topping!

Soph ronias mother clasped her hands delightedly. Isnt this thrill ing, Sophronia? Youre going to finishing school! But I dont want to go to finishing school!

Sophronia couldnt help the petulance in her voice as visions of parasol training danced through her head. Dont be like that, darling. It will be very exciting. Sophronia grappled for recourse. But she threw a pillow at me! Oh, Sophronia, dont tell fibsyou know how unhappy that makes me. Sophronia gawped, swiveling her gaze back and forth between her nowanimated mother and the crowlike stranger. How soon can she be made ready? Mademoiselle Geral dine wanted to know. Sophronias mother started.

You wish to take her away now? I am here, am I not? Why waste the trip? I didnt think it would be so soon. We must shop for new dresses, a warmer coat. What about her lesson books? Oh, you can send all that along later.

I shall provide you with a list of required items. Shell be perfectly fine for the time being. A resourceful girl, I suspect. Well, if you think it best. Sophronia was not accustomed to seeing her mother rail roaded so effectively. But Mumsy! If Mademoiselle Geraldine thinks it best, then you had bet ter hop to it, young lady.

Go change into your good blue dress and your Sunday hat. Ill have one of the maids pack your necessities. May we have half an hour, mademoiselle? Of course. Perhaps I will take a little tour of the grounds while you organize? To stretch my legs before the drive. Please do. Come along, Sophronia, we have much to do. Frustrated and out of sorts, Sophronia trailed after her mother. Accordingly, she was given an old portmanteau from the attic, three hatboxes, and a carpetbag.

With barely enough time to ensure a nibble for the driveto goodness knows where, at a dis tance of goodness knows how farSophronia found herself being shoved hastily into a carriage. Her mother kissed her on the fore head and made a show of fussing. My little girl, all grown up and leaving to become a lady! And that, as they say, was that. Sophronia might have hoped for a grand sendoff with all her siblings and half the mechanical retainers waving tearstained handkerchiefs. But her younger brothers were exploring the farm, her older ones were away at Eton, her sisters were busy with fripperies or marriagespossibly one and the same and the mechanicals were trundling about their daily tasks.

She thought she spotted Roger, the stable lad, waving his cap from the hayloft, but apart from that, even her mother gave only a perfunctory waggle of her fingertips before returning to the house.

It was a hired transport but decked out like a private conveyance, with walls of midnight blue quilted velvet to reduce road noise, and goldfringed blankets to ward off the chill. Sophronia barely had time to take it all in before Made moiselle Geraldine banged the ceiling with the handle of her parasol and they lurched forward.

More startling than the decoration was the fact that the carriage was already occupiedby two other students. They had, apparently, been sitting patiently the entire time Mademoiselle Geraldine took tea and Sophronia fell out of dumbwaiters and packed all her worldly goods into a portmanteau. Directly across from her sat a brighteyed, lively looking young lady, a little younger than Sophronia, with masses of.

She wore an enormous gilt and red glass brooch pinned to her bright red dress. The combination of the hair, the jewelry, and the dress made her look quite the scandal, as though she were in training to become a lady of the night.

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Sophronia was duly impressed. Oh, goodness! Which, for one left to sit idle in a carriage with no distraction or entertainment, it might well have been. How do you do? Isnt this a spiffing day? Really, quite spiff ing. Im Dimity. Who are you? Is that all? What, isnt it enough? Sophronia Angelina Temminnick. Gosh, thats a mouthful. It is? I suppose so. As though Dimity Ann PlumleighTeignmott were a nice easy sort of name. Sophronia dragged her eyes away from the girl to examine the final occupant of the carriage.

It was difficult to make out what kind of creature lurked under the oversized bowler and oiled greatcoat. But, if pressed, she would have said it was some species of grubby boy.

He had spec tacles that were very thick, a brow that was very creased, and a large dusty book occupying the entirety of his lap and attention. Whats that? Oh, that? Thats just Pillover. And whats a pillover, when its at home? My little brother. Ah, I commiserate. I have several of my own. Dashed inconvenient, brothers. Sophronia nodded, perfectly under standing the outlandish hat and coat. Pillover glanced up from behind his spectacles and issued them both a look.

He seemed a few years younger than his sis ter, who was, Sophronia guessed, about thirteen. Hes slated for Bunsons. For what? Bunson and Lacroixs Boys Polytechnique. You know, the other school? Sophronia, who had no idea what Dimity was talking about, pretended to follow out of politeness. The girl prattled on. She seemed to be a bit of a prattler. Sophronia was comfortable with this after living with her own family. They were big talkers, but with a lot less interesting things to say than Dimity.

Mummy and Daddy want him to be an evil genius, but he has his heart set on Latin verse. Dont you, Pill? The boy gave his sister a nasty stare.

Pillover is terribly bad at being bad, if you take my meaning. Our daddy is a founding member of the Death Weasel Confed eracy, and Mummy is a kitchen chemist with questionable intent, but poor Pillover cant even bring himself to murder ants with his Depraved Lens of Crispy Magnification. Can you, Pill? Sophronia felt as though she was progressively losing the thread of the conversation. Death Weasel Confederacy? Dimity nodded, curls bobbing. I knowcan you countenance.

I tend to look on the bright side; at least Daddys not a Pickleman. Sophronias eyes popped. Uh, oh yes, rather. What in aether is a Pickleman? But Pill here is a sad disappointment to poor old Daddy. The boy in question put down his book, clearly driven to defend himself. I made the articulated hassock that moved when someone went to sit on it.

And there was that custard pot that never got cool enough for the pudding to set. Dimity provided parenthetical information against this defense. The hassock always ended up moving forward help fully. And Cook simply used the Custard Pot of Iniquity for keeping her buns warm.

Oh, I say. Thats not on. Telling family secrets like that! Face it, Pill, youre disappointingly good. Oh, I like that! And youre so evil? Why, you want to get married and be a lady. Who ever heard of such a thing in our family? At least I try. Well, finishing school should help with being a lady. Shouldnt it? At least this was something Sophronia knew about. The boy snorted derisively.

Not half. Not this finishing school. Wrong kind of finishing altogether. Or should I say right kind, but only on the surface? Im sure you follow. Pill over made a funny little leer at Sophronia, then, seeming to have embarrassed himself, resumed his book. What could he possibly be implying?

Sophronia looked to Dimity to explain her brothers behavior. You mean, you dont know? Know what? Oh my goodness. Youre a covert recruit? No family connec tion at all? I knew they took them, of course, but I didnt think I would get to meet one. How charming! Have you been under surveillance? I heard they do that sometimes.Sophronia turned away briefly, in the guise of finding a spoon, to tuck one piece in her apron pocket.

She left here in a dreadful huff andoh, simply look at you! I do apologize. We must shop for new dresses, a warmer coat. Hold on, sir, suggested Sophronia. With barely enough time to ensure a nibble for the driveto goodness knows where, at a dis tance of goodness knows how farSophronia found herself being shoved hastily into a carriage.

RUEBEN from Waterbury
I love reading books offensively. Also read my other posts. I take pleasure in sailing.
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