The Rose of Appleby-Upon-Warwickshire (Part I)

Author's note: It is important to read this column aloud, in a humorous foppish British accent.

Elaine Cheswickton was not one to sit idly while a lovely summer day passed her by. On any usual day that appeared agreeable, Elaine would undoubtedly walk by the river. She would watch the water shimmering by and think to herself that the fishes within did indeed have the most agreeable lives. All day long, not a thought in their heads! All those darling fish would ever have to accomplish in life would be their darling little swimmings and bubblings-about!

Poor Elaine! For she was not very bright at all! Her elder sister, Alice, had explained to her on any number of occasions that if one lived the life of a fish, one would be too stupid to even notice that one was alive or dead.

“Well, I should like that very much,” Elaine would always say. “For if I were a fish, I would be the smartest fish in the sea! The other fish would be so jealous of me! They would say, ‘Oh, look at that Elaine! She is ever so clever! I should indeed like to be her for just one day.’”

To which her sister, Alice, would reply, “You ninny! Did you not just hear a bloody word I said? If you were a fish you wouldn’t even know it. You would just be in the river, swimming and hunting for food all day. None of the other fish would feel jealous of you because they would all be doing the same thing.”

“But wouldn’t it be nice to be in the river all day?” Elaine did indeed love the river.

But today Elaine would not walk by the river. Today Elaine would be stuck in a stuffy old carriage on a hot summer’s day. Rather against her protest, her mother was forcing the girls to summer in Appleby-upon-Warwickshire. It had been decided quite in the late spring, before the rains had slowed for the summer. On the afternoon Lady Cheswickton told her daughters her plan for their summer, it was most appropriately a dank and dreary day outside. Lady Cheswickton and her daughters sat in the lounge having their tea, when Lady Cheswickton surprisingly called the help away. The girls’ stomachs each flopped with nerves, for Lady Cheswickton hardly ever allowed their servants to step away from afternoon tea; both General and Lady Cheswickton were believers in large, elaborate teas complete with a wide variety of freshly-baked scones, crumpets, sweat cream butter, home-made preserves and marmalades, biscuits, blood putting, spotted dick, head-cheese, and the most lovely boiled kidneys-with-salt one had ever tasted. Indeed, the last time Elaine could recall her mother removing the servants from the tea room was on the day the girls had found out that their father, General Barrymore Thistlewick Cheswickton had been horribly, savagely, unjustly killed while raping an Indian woman. Lady Cheswickton had remained calm, cool and collected while delivering the news to her daughters. Indeed, her mother delivered the news with such an air of distinction and tranquility, that Elaine even wondered if her mother cared at all about her father’s untimely and tragic passing. The girls sat at her feet, wailing for their father’s loss, while their mother sat stone-faced, comforting them. However, Elaine convinced herself that her mother put all of her emotion aside in order to calm the frazzled nerves of her only children. Oh, that I could be a mother as gentle and mild as mine someday! thought Elaine.

Original Post Date: 2 September 2003