When I researched ways to illustrate this episode I noticed that media topics of interest in the 1920s were much the same as they are now. I saw headings about sex, diet, scandal, fashion, and other things that you’d see today. Like they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The “things” for episode 21 come from a friend in the southwest who is positively gifted at refurbishing things. I think she could give new life to any old item she might find. When I saw “underwear” as one of the things, I really hoped I’d do something funny with it. But everything that came to mind was just “tasteless.” Har-dee-har… a play on words or rather things. However, I admit that I had to put some thought into “limestone.”
Come on everybody — send me three random things to keep the story going. Remember, if you need to look back at something that already happened, go to the page where the story lives.
Underwear, Tasteless, Limestone
I swallowed hard, unable to escape the feeling that I had been caught doing something that I shouldn’t. That was silly of me, I know. After all, we had been invited onboard. Just the same, I was as uncomfortable as somebody with twisted underwear.
The white-haired woman turned to us with a haunted expression in her eyes. “These children,” she began, speaking to Mr. Ringling in an accent I recognized. “They are familiar.” She took a trembling step toward Frankie and me. Her bright eyes zeroed in on me. “You were there when I was taken. You were there with my Boris!”
Then she paled and swooned. Frankie Fabro, fireman, rushed forward and scooped her up as if she weighed nothing at all. John Ringling, circus magnate, motioned him into the cabin. Me? Paisley I. Peabody, palmist? I stood in mute astonishment for a second, but I snapped out of it when Frankie called my name. “Pip?” came the fireman’s anxious voice.
I hurried into the beautifully appointed cabin. I still thought my suite back at the office building was the cat’s meow, but that room made it seem tasteless in comparison. The woodwork alone was stunning, and brightly polished brass reflected light from a small but glorious crystal chandelier. An ornately carved table had a red marble top. But no… that would be travertine, not marble. I remembered travertine was actually a kind of limestone. Horsefeathers! Why was I thinking about something like that during all the drama?
With a shake of my head, I gathered my scattered wits. An etched glass decanter of what looked like brandy stood on the tavertine table. Picking up the first glass I saw, I poured a little and held it to the elderly woman’s lips.
“John, kindly introduce me to these lovely young people who know my Boris,” she said with a weak smile.
Frankie cleared his throat awkwardly, knowing we were strangers to that gentleman as well. He introduced himself and then me to both of them. “I’m John Ringling,” the man said, but of course we’d figured that out already. “It’s my pleasure to welcome two clear headed young people aboard.” Then he made a bow to the white-haired woman. “I present the Countess Bepa Babikov.”
I bounced in place before I caught myself. Then I blushed at my childishness. But I had been right! Boris’ last name was Babikov. Maybe it was too forward to be polite, but I blurted out the question. “Are you his… grandmother? I mean Countess… ma’am…”
The woman nodded her head and smiled a hopeful looking smile. “Please, dear one. Call me Faith. That is what Bepa means — faith. If I may call you Pip, as this strong young man does. The sound of the name pleases me. It is like a little bird chirping.” I nodded, speechless for once. “Yes my dear Pip, I am his babushka. Please tell me. My Boris, he is well?”