Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss within the cup
And I’ll not ask for wine.
‘Harry’ Pembroke is rapt, nay, he is smitten, with the charming sylph-like creature who lies barely out of reach, asleep upon her bed and in a state of lacy and decidely feminine deshabille. Slowly, oh so slowly, he creeps up to the four poster bed and precedes to carefully mount the goose feather stuffed mattress replete with velvet bedding and plump, soft, sparkling, white pillows. Oh! He has been lied to! Oh! He has been mortally duped! For his Alice is not at home with her mother (as he had been led to believe by the proprietor), she lies here, fast asleep and most ready to receive him in her soft white arms, if he can only wake her.
“Oh Maude, sweet Maude,awake my darling!” and sweet Maude does indeed awake, but not to offer the exquisite welcome he had imagined when he clambered up the brick work and tumbled into her room at a little past midnight.”Oh my gawd! You can’t be ‘ere! You can’t! Emile ‘ill lose his rag if he finds you ‘ere! Go on! Hook it!” Lord Pembrooke is taken aback (at first), but then he becomes enraged, for is this not the ‘baggage’ upon whom he has lavished his considerable charms (and money) for the last year? He tallies the considerable sums (thirty to forty guineas) he has spent charming his way into her embraces, the diamonds (fake), the pearls (his mothers), and endless bottles of champagne (tavern bought).
Now his rage turns to indignation and with indignation comes an unfortunate attempt to force himself on the poor girl. Screams of terror and mortal pain fill the air, the door to Alice’s room is flung open and Emile Grid-Iron enters, “Ere we goes agin” says he upon observing his lordship rolling to and fro on the ground curled up in a ball of pain. “Alice” says he barely looking at the girl, “Get yourself dressed and go for Doctor Geddenhearst just as quick as you please!” Alice is gone like the clappers for who wishes to be anywhere close by when a member of the ruling classes gets whats coming to them? Once the girl is gone Emile enters the room and bends down to have a look at precisely what damage ‘is lordship has done ‘imself, then he whispers very quietly in his ear, “Don’t worry your lordship, once the doctor gets ‘ere we’ll fix you up alright….for a sum…there’s not much damage done” his Lordship manages a grateful pain-filled glance before rolling around on the floor clutching at his abdomen once more. Emile lifts him up gently, heaving him onto the bed and then fetching a small bottle of laudunum from which he then administers his lordship a dose. Once he is fast alsleep, clutching desperately at a plump, stuffed pillow, Emile tiptoes out of the room closing the door behind him and locking it fast.
Down the hallway his mother waits, her broad forearms resting on even broader hips a contemptuous sneer upon her lips,”Lord Harry?” she asks, he nods curtly, “None other, when will these people learn? There’s a great deal to be said for chastity belts” he eyes the bunch of keys on his mother’s belt ,”Particularly at times such as these” Madame Le Breton shruggs,”I’d rather we were doing brisk business, but I’d sooner have the girls out on strike than see Alice’s brother hung or the others transported. It won’t do son. it simply won’t do”
Indeed it won’t, for Lord Pembroke is the sixth young turk to fall a-foul of the extreme measures taken by the ‘nunnery’ proprietors all over London, to make sure that the aristocracy observe the ‘strike’ that has been imposed upon them. “And what of Alice’s chastity belt mother?” at the mention of the word Madame Le Breton’s eyes narrow, “It stays on and it stays locked, just like all the other chastity belts on all the other girls” Emile stifles a grin for it would be most inappropriate in these circumstances”And if things should turn ugly?”
“They won’t” she assures him, “Sell the story to the Northern Star and the Daily Telegraph, I hear young Henry is engaged to be married to Lady Farthingrodden’s daughter, the resulting mess will keep his hands full and our affairs should remain untroubled” taking the keys from Emile’s hands she unlocks the door to Alice’s room sweeping through it gracefully and quietly closing it behind her. Emile stares wonderingly at the closed door, what a woman! And as he heads down the stairs of the Nag’s Head Tavern, of which he is the proprietor and out into the night he wonders when Lord Aberdeen will concede defeat.