Unable to do any more research for his latest book, and unwilling to mark the essays of the hapless few who opted to study Ancient Scrolls under his sarcastic and careless tutelage, Launcelot went home.
He kicked the door open and the parlourmaid winced before whisking herself down the back stairs to the servants’ quarters. She passed the master’s valet, Wilkinson, on the half landing.
“He’s home Mister Wilkinson, and he don’t half look to be in a mood.”
Wilkinson permitted himself a thin smile. “Not to worry, Primrose. Just keep out of his way for a while.”
The girl scuttled down the vertiginous staircase with the speed of a startled mouse, but Wilkinson carried on his stately way, wholly undisturbed by any of his master’s moods. He arrived at that gentleman’s bedchamber in time to field the academic gown and boots that flew through the half-open door.
“Wilkinson! Wilkinson! Get your scrawny backside in here right now!”
Wilkinson arranged his narrow features into a suitably servile expression and oozed into the room.
“Course I bloody well called. You wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t. Draw me a bath.”
Wilkinson walked into the bathroom on soft feet. An hour later, somewhat soothed by a steamy bath and a change of clothing, Gribble trod the shallow stairs to the family chambers in search of his wife. He found her in her comfortable sitting room. Unfortunately for his brightening mood she wasn’t alone. Sitting on the opposite side of the fireplace was her plain and lumpen sister, Caroline. Gribble sneered.
“To what do we owe the pleasure?”
The unfortunate girl coloured unbecomingly and Gribble’s merciless eyes took in the red blotches on her neck with some amusement.
“Leave the gel alone, you blackguard. Pick on somebody your own size.”
The voice came from within the embrace of his own huge winged armchair, and it reduced him to schoolboy status in an instant. His formidable grandmother chuckled.
“Pleased to see us, are you Lionel?”
“Launcelot, Grandmere,” his wife’s soft tones were edged with gentle rebuke. “You promised not to be confrontational. It’s bad for the baby.”
“Oh. Yes. Sorry Gwyn. I should have remembered. But he’s such a pompous arsehole.”
Gwyn waved a finger and the old lady subsided. Launcelot felt a moment of unusual gratitude, and bowed over his wife’s small hand.
“How do I find you today?” he enquired jocularly. “I’m well,” she smiled, a sweetly absent smile and for a few moments a watcher could have thought themselves looking at an ordinary happy family.
From Gribble’s Geek by Jane Jago which is only 0.99 to buy throughout November.
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