Academies, Hypocritical Cant

A Momentary Respite

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There are no words to describe the traumatic shock which overcame  Emily Lefevre upon her  espying Boodooo peering fervidly at her through Lord Grid-Iron’s leaden casements. Lord Grid-Iron’s lascivious admissions, coupled with Boodoo’s aberrant manifestation, were sufficient to catapault her into a state of catatonia, from which it was at first believed she would never recover.

Indeed, had it not been for the compassion of Lady Grid-Iron, the love of Maggie Sitwell (Lady Grid-Iron’s maid), and the selfless devotion of Francis the pageboy, Emily might well have borne out her remaining days in a lunatic’s asylum, such as the Northern Star wrote about and campaigned against.  She had lain prone in Lady Grid-Iron’s bed for nigh on a month, pale and silent, her large blue eyes brimming frequently with tears. Francis had asked for and been granted permission by Kitty Grid-Iron to sit with her during the day, “La!” said she,

“I can hardly see as how you’re presence by her bedside will help any!”

“I miss her pastries and she is the only woman ever to cook Lamb Berrebeis and Couscous just the way I like it ” he replied gravely, “If there is anything I can do to help bring her back to herself, I will gladly do it” Kitty Grid-Iron sighed, and as she smoothed out her gown she said “You won’t desert me will you? Not in the agency’s hour of need…..in my hour of need?” she shook out her little leather riding gloves before looking up into his startled face, “Ma’am?” said Francis, one eyebrow raised,”I am a Muslim, t’is a declaration of loyalty I’m making by attending the bedside of one whose gentle, sweet and refreshing nature is wholly deserving of it. T’is hardly a profession of love. Besides I was contracted by Mr Pinkerton to appropriate Jedidiah Kane Thickett and he is still at large!” he looked reproachfully at Kitty who breathed an audible sigh of relief,”Thank you Francis, for your sense of loyalty and duty”  Francis bowed and quietly left the room. Kitty was partly heartbroken; for there could be no doubt about it, he was in love, she was also elated, the idea of Francis dying alone on some secret mission for the Pinkerton Agency had never really appealed to her.

The night watches were the worst, what with Emily burning feverishly whilst in the grip of some terrible nightmare and from time to time crying out “Boodoo! Noooo!” as she rose from her bed and tried to hurl herself out of the bedroom window . Maggie fortunately was on hand at those times, and ever watchful had nursed her patiently. Whilst Francis watched over the sickly Emily from afar, Maggie had dilligently watched over her charge night after night, proffering much prayerful thanks to St Gove as she did so.

T’was on one such fraught and torpid night, that Maggie espied a familiar figure from Emily’s bedroom window, a short,stocky form huddled close against an Oak which lay just beneath the leaden casement, clutching her Goveen Rosary beads to her chest, Maggie quickly rose and went in search of Francis the pageboy. She did not have far to travel, for he had been quietly taking up his station outside Emily’s bedroom door for quite a while, certain as he was that Boodoo’s obsession with his sister had yet to run its course. “Oh lor Mr Francis!” she cried, “He’s come for er! Boodoo ‘as come for ‘er!”

“Indeed” remarked Francis who murmuring a quick prayer under his breath arose from his lounge chair, revolver in hand and marched downstairs with Maggie in tow. At a little past one in the morning a tranquil silence pervaded the house, the servants were all a-bed and Lady Grid-Iron was away on business in London. In a way Francis was relieved by this for it meant there would be fewer witnesses to anything he might find himself impelled to do.

Walking slowly and oh so carefully through the trademen’s entrance, Frances sidled around the back of the house towards that part of the wall which lay beneath Emily’s window. “Ho there! Miscreant!” he shouted, “Step forward and make thyself known! Or by the righteous indignation of Allah’s most sacred prophet! I will surely shoot you!” there was no discernible movement at first, but when Francis audibly pulled back the trigger and aimed his gun the shadow suddenly parted company with the silhouette of the tree and slid forth into the mooonlight.

“Sweet Gove have mercy!” cried Maggie crossing herself thrice and thrumming the Goveen Rosary through her fingers with such speed that Francis had to restrain himself from shooting them out of her hands. For there Boodoo stood in all his terrifying beauty, his large brown eyes were limpid pools of expressionless, pent-up violence. In the several intrigues they had executed together Frances had never known what made Boodoo tick. And now as he scrutinised the deranged features of this arsonistic madman, he wondered why it was that he couldn’t bring himself to shoot him. He was an aberration of nature, this he felt to be true, but he was also sweet Emily’s brother, a most unfortunate state of affairs.

“Is Emily ere?” Boodoo whispered hoarsely, Francis and Maggie glanced at each other “No she isnt!” they replied in unison, Boodoo took another step forward, his muscular hands clenched “God ‘elp them as tries to keep me separated from my Em! D’yeah ere me! If anyone seeks to keep me separated from my dear sweet sister God elp em!” Boodoo took another step forward and then another. Raising his revolver Francis narrowed his eyes, cocked back the trigger and fired off a warning shot, roaring with pain Boodoo leapt upon him and a struggled ensued, which would have ended with Boodoo’s hands wrapped tightly around Francis throat, were it not for the three Indian Fakirs who slid miraculously from the shadows and leapt upon Boodoo wrestling him to the ground.

“Bismillahi! What infamy is this?!” Francis exclaimed as he clambered to his feet, revolver in tow, the eldest and most sprightly of the men leapt to his feet, delivering a swift kick to Boodoo as he did so, “Navendrah Patel at your service my lord! If I may explain” he glanced towards the two other men both of whom were seated upon the prone Boodoo. “We are in England to right a wrong and recover two assets” Francis raised an eyebrow “Two assets?” he trained his revolver on the sprightly elderly man. Three Indian Fakirs who had travelled all the way from the Indian continent on an errand of retribution (for what other errand could it be?) and lain all this while undetected in the grounds of the Grid-Iron country estate? The elderly Indian bowed once more, his hard, black, eyes were unwavering in their determination”Two assets, the Sapphire of Agar Khan” he grimaced as he said this, but his hard little eyes glittered as he uttered the next words “and Lord Tobias Grid-Iron”

Francis shrugged, glancing at the prone Boodoo he said “Get rid of him first and I will tell you all you wish to know” Francis turned to Maggie who stood at once rapt and amazed at the sight of these three turban-clad strangers “Mademoiselle Maggie” he murmured, “She must never know her brother was here” Maggie’s eyes flashed angrily at Boodoo, “And you may trust that she’ll never ere it neither! Not from me!” sweeping her skirts up in her hands she marched towards Boodoo, delivering a swift kick with her little booted foot and marching just as swiftly back to the house. “Now” said Francis lowering his revolver, “Let me tell you precisely where you may locate your quarry”

BlackVictorianGentleman

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Academy status, Hypocritical Cant

Quoth The Raven Never More (Part 2)

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T’was a terrible day at Raven’s Industrial Academy, for indeed it had been a terrible night, t’was a night and a day of progressive betrayal.”Will the Headmaster be okay?” asked little Emily LeFevre her large brown eyes brimming with tears, her little nose all smeared with soot from cleaning the kitchen grate. Master Farquar eyed her sympathetically, “I shouldn’t wonder but he’ll recover eventually, they always do” as for the rest of them that remained to be seen. Discovered as they had been, attempting to fake year four’s mole skin trouser assemblage course work. But then who could have foreseen the reckless dedication to duty of the Slop Work Exams’ Inspector, who having clambered five floors up towards the Leather-Work Department (with the help of the infamous Boodo), using naught but a climbing rope from his expeditionary days,proceeded to break through the fifth floor leaden casement window.

They had all been thoroughly scared out of their wits by this sodden apparition clad in black, none more so than the Headmaster, who with an ear puncturing shriek and his hands outstretched, attempted to throw himself upon the recalcitrant Boodo. Alas the Exams’ Inspector got the better of him, thrusting Boodo behind his back with one hand and the Headmaster to the floor with the other. The Headmaster, reaching out to steady himself with one hand, knocked over a table on which had been placed a gas lamp, which in turn shattered, creating a sudden conflagration of gas &  flammable liquids which had been carelessly strewn on the floor earlier that night. The resultant bonfire would have done for them all had it not been for Boodoo, and the Exams’ Inspector.

Hefting the Headmaster onto one of his soaking wet shoulders, the Exams’ Inspector descended the rope. Boodoo meanwhile, made for the back office whereupon he clasped hold of Master Parnham, dragging and yanking him ferociously away from the course work he was attempting to fabricate, and towards the exit,followed closely by Arthur Farquar. Master Farquar had little time for Boodoo, but that night Boodoo displayed such mettle, such steely character, that Arthur’s estimation of him rose, and he determined to do all in his power, to see to it that Boodoo was successfully apprenticed.

St Bacchanalia’s Fire Service arrived in no time at all, however, there was no little confusion as to exactly when they would be permitted to put the fire out; being as they were on strike and all. “Should we put the fire out?” asked the Chief Fireman, “You asking me?” said the Union Rep, his yellow souwester dripping with rain water, “I’m asking you. Though from what I can see there is no fire as such, just a gradual smoking deterioration of the external fabric of the building, accompanied by the occasional flaring spark” he glanced at the Union Rep who nodded, “Brother” said he “I am in perfect agreement” and so it was that Raven’s Industrial Academy burned ever so slowly to the ground, in a sputtering series of occasional flaring sparks.

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T’was on a midnight dreary whilst I pondered weak and weary, over many a quaint and curious volume of St. Govean lore,that all at once I heard a tapping as of someone gently rapping, whilst I lay there nearly napping, rapping at my chamber door.
“Who is it?”
“T’is I, Sir Nicholas, come to warm thy sheets”
“Enter”
Little Emily LeFevre shuffled meekly through the door, both tiny hands clasping the bed pan. Staggering towards the bed she managed somehow to slip it between the sheets. I couldn’t help but to reflect upon her prodigious fortitude. Rescued from a Lint Tweaking apprenticeship at St. Bacchanalia’s cotton mill, she was adapting to her new position as a scullery maid marvellous well.
“Is cook still awake?”
“Yes sir”
“Have her send something up. I shan’t be falling asleep just yet”
“Yes sir”
She made a deep curtsey, turned and left the room. Sighing deeply and reaching for my dressing gown I pondered the events that had led up to this distressing night. Who would have thought it? Our famed academy teetering on the brink of ruin, and all for a pair of moleskin britches. Slipping my feet into a pair of velvet slippers and taking care to wrap a thick woollen shawl around my shoulders before knocking back the remains of my brandy, I left my bed chamber and climbed the staircase leading to the Faculty of Leatherwork and Tailoring.
“St.Gove, Lord of Lords and King of Kings, Warrior-King ‘gainst the enemies of promise I come to thee for aid…”
The higher I climbed the heavier my foreboding. Master Farquar had been there all night, Master Parnham by his side (the devil take him!) but I myself could see no way through this disgrace.Higher and higher I climbed, as the rain beat hard against the leaden window casements and the thunder boomed overhead, I clutched the shawl tightly around my neck and hurried on the creed of St. Gove upon my lips.
“Headmaster”
“Master Farquar”
“Headmaster”
“Master Parnham” his eyes slid sideways, he lifted a tiny pallid hand to hide a half-smile. I loathed the man and would gladly have opened a casement window and booted him head first out of it, were it not for the impending visit of the exam board, the reputation of the academy lay in the hands of this plebeian ingrate.
“It won’t work sir”
“Won’t?” in an effort to ease the throbbing in my head, I massaged my temples,
“We’ve tried and tried but it’s no use sir, the britches won’t come right, no matter how much we stretch ’em”
My eyes fell upon a heap of mangled silken leathery garments.Oh dear Gove! My throbbing temples! “But they’ve been studying leather work for at least a year! They should be able to stitch in their sleep! It’s hardly rocket science!”
Master Parnham coughed politely,
“Beggin’ your pardon sir but there is another way, remember 1847? Hemphill Skinner was Master of Leatherwork then, very fond of his opium pipe was Master Skinner”
I shook my head, my headache was easing somewhat,
“We’re an academy now Parnham. A cut above all the rest, spurning the onslaught of ignorance. Why last year we were rated as an Industrial School of outstanding reputation.”
“The written work’s no good ‘edmaster, not since they banned the phonics. If they fail the moleskin britches evaluation there’s no telling what might happen. There’s scarcely a garment to be made but what l makes, leave it to us sir.”
Tugging his forelock Master Parnham limped towards the back office leaving me alone with young Master Farquar who hopped nervously from foot to foot looking sheepish all the while, as well he might. For were it not for his own shortcomings, his students might have been considerably more able.
Lightning crackled overhead and out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a tiny boot-clad foot and then a flash of white rather like the tail end of a night-shirt, just outside the window casement, but in this weather? No, it couldn’t be. Surely not?
“Master Farquar” I inquired, massaging my throbbing temples as I did so.
“Where’s Boodoo?”
A look of unease stole across his face and that is when it happened..

Academy status, Hypocritical Cant

Quoth The Raven Nevermore (Part 1)

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