Sunday, December 23, 2012

Chapter 1


The Marquess of Amblewick is relaxing in his library after dinner. The dogs lounge
comfortably at his feet. Handsome wood fire blazes, discreet table lamps cast discreet
shadows, and so on.

“Biffo”, for that is his Lordship’s preferred pet-name, is relaxing with a copy of the Kennel

Club Gazette. A well-thumbed copy of Sir Charles Peyneer’s “The Definitive History of
England” lies on the sofa-table to his left.

From our position on the Van der Meulen(1) above the fireplace, we are ideally situated

minutely to observe all that may transpire.

We have known Biffo for ever – comfortable old chap - guileless, staunch, and very much

a creature of habit, as is to be expected from the scion of a clan which has been parked at
Amblewick for nigh on 900 years(2).

Punctual to the milli-second, Parsons, his Lordship’s butler, counsellor and general egghead,

glides into the room with a salver upon which reposes his employer’s post-prandial glass of
1846 Napoleon brandy and its decanter.

He places the salver on the sofa table and injects a measured dose of the amber into the


Standing back a trifle, he coughs respectfully.

An eyebrow above His Lordship’s pince-nez arches expectantly as that worthy exhales a

cloud of cigar smoke and awaits his retainer’s ‘pearls of great price’, as is his habit.

“I observed, Milord, as I placed your tray upon the table, that your Lordship is
perusing Sir Charles’s extraordinary “History of England”. A remarkable tome, Milord,
so I am given to understand by Mr Frimley - my counterpart at Netherwick Hall, my

“As you know, Parsons, old thing – not exactly the literary sort, meself - but a darned
good lavatory read. Remarkable, really.”

“Good heavens, never knew he had it in him, disreputable old bounder, what? The
times we used to have at the Cavendish. Did I ever tell you about the time we both
got plastered at Epsom, and he passed out in the Daimler Hire on the way home?”

“I rather believe that you did, Milord – most illuminating,”

“I was wondering, Milord, if, when Your Lordship has exhausted his perusal of
the “History”, I might, perhaps, Improve myself by reading it - during my brief free
moments in the pantry.”

“Help yourself, old thing. Should warn you, though - pretty saucy in parts – not for the
faint of heart, nor the prudish, if you know what one means, what?”

“I am sure Milord, that the work will bring back fond memories of my days in the
service of the Peyneer family before post war taxation reduced their circumstances
so terminally.”

“Yes, damned poor show, eh? We’ve been pretty lucky in the Bolshevik survival
stakes here at Amblewick, haven’t we?”

Parsons smoothly gathers up the great volume.

“And now, Milord, with your permission…..”

The noble retainer shimmers from the presence……..

(1) “King Louis X1V at the Siege of Courtrai” is the legend. 
(2) Estates conferred upon the Loftus family, by the Conqueror, pursuivant to the Battle ıf Senlac (or Hastings),
     In the Year of Our Lord 1066, etc.

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