Three Ingredients II – 17: Spinach, Carrots, Yogurt

Horsefeathers! This took me by surprise. I didn’t know quite where the “ingredients” would take this story — until last evening.

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Balltake this story or how many more episodes would be needed to conclude this ghost in the kitchen story-line.

>
Sheiks and Shebas, I have to tell you — this is the penultimate episode of Three Ingredients Cookbook-2, a Ghost in the Kitchen.  Sorry I didn’t add that subtitle sooner — it’s always been in my head.  That’s right. Next week will be the concluding episode of this story. >
>

Your ingredients have taken us for quite a ghostly ride — and a delicious, multi-cultural one too!  The three food related things for this chapter are from the very creative Ishita at Kooky Cookyng. It’s been a while since she contributed these ingredients to the serial’s “cupboards” so she might have forgotten.  I hope it’s a nice surprise for her.
>

So that I had more time for writing this episode, I’m also featuring one of Ishita’s recipes this weekend. Her blog also includes tabs/pages with lots of useful information like “Weights & Measurements” and “Oils & Fats.” Spend some time there and enjoy yourself.
>

I give my sincere thanks and appreciation to each of you who take time to read these stories, and to those of you who contribute to the “ingredients cupboard.” You make it possible — and you make it fun!
>

Need a recap?  Go to the top of the page and click on “Cookbook-2 Three Ingredients Serial Home.”  Without further ado, I give you the penultimate chapter in our interactive culinary mystery, Episode-17.  Bon appétit!

17.  Spinach, Carrots, Yogurt

With Demon

FDR Little Whitehouse banner

The Little White House – President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Doctor Veronica Vale had arranged for Marshal Moses Myrick to go to Warm Springs, Georgia. She said the natural hot springs there were perfect for his convalesce.  Cracker the parrot left her perch on the G-man’s chair and glided across the Vales’ living room to perch on the back of the sofa where I sat.
>

Cracker dropped a bit of spinach she’d been nibbling on the rug as she flew.  I saw Granny Fanny look disdainfully from the dropped food to the bird.  It sure seemed like the progress those two had made toward getting along had been forgotten.  When the marshal was shot, it looked like Granny and the parrot had forgotten their differences, in their mutual concern for Moses Myrick.  I was surprised to think that might have only been temporary.
>

I missed Cracker terribly when she transferred her affection to Marshal Myrick, but I figured that she was helping the critically injured man in that amazing way that animals seem to help humans heal.  So I tried not to feel rejected, and repeatedly reminded myself that Cracker was just a bird.  She wouldn’t intentionally hurt my feelings.
>

Veronica again mentioned that the spa didn’t allow any animals.  Cracker bumped the side of my head with hers.  Then she did it again a moment later, as if she was nudging me.
>

“I don’t have any treats, Cracker,” I told the parrot.
>

“Who’s your daddy?” Cracker asked in an imploring tone and bobbed her head in a way that looked much like a 1920s Woman Parrotnod.

“Oh that vulgar bird,” Granny Fanny complained, reminding me of how much she hated that phrase.
>

“Oh Fanny, Cracker doesn’t mean any harm.  Why, she’s downright ladylike most of the time,” Moses said, and his voice seemed to echo the imploring tone Cracker had used.

“I realize it’s been quite a burden for Veronica and Vincent to have to look after me and Cracker too,” the aging law man continued amid protests from both the Vales.  “I’d hate to ask them to keep looking after the parrot while I’m at Warm Springs,” he added and Granny’s expression suddenly became stiff and suspicious.

“I know it was a challenge for you too, Fanny, when Pip was taking care of her.  It’s a lot of extra work for a woman to unexpectedly add a parrot to her household,” Moses said soothingly.  “I know Cracker gets messy sometimes too, just like a child.  Nobody could blame you for not being able to deal with it.”
>

Oh Horsefeathers!  Granny could handle anything, and she’d be the first to say so.  Was the revenuer baiting my grandmother?  He couldn’t have said anything that was any more likely to get a rise out of her if he’d tried!  Had he done it intentionally?  I wouldn’t have advised anybody to get Granny’s back up on purpose, but I saw a twinkle in the Fed’s eyes that told me he had done exactly that.

1920 Home Journal Parrot
“I think the poor bird has missed Pip,” Marshal Myrick went on to say.
>

“Whatever gives you that idea, Moses?” Granny exclaimed, agitated.  “It’s just a bird.  She switched her interest to you from Paisley easily enough.”
>

“Paisley Idelle Peabody!” Cracker shrieked in a fair imitation of my grandmother.
>

Moses started laughing, and then winced and clutched his side.  That was one of the several bullet wounds he had taken when Queenie Wetson’s thugs ambushed him.  “That’s why,” he said, still chuckling.  “She calls Pip’s full name several times a day.  I sort of think, since she’s calling her name the way you would, that it means she misses you too, Fanny.”
>

While Granny blustered wordlessly over that comment, I turned to Cracker and scratched her neck.  “Oh Cracker,” I exclaimed.  “Have you really missed me?” I asked feeling oddly guilty — it wasn’t as if I’d had much choice in the matter.  “So do you want to go home with me… if Granny says it’s okay?” I said turning my most imploring and saddest eyes on my grandmother.1920s PhotoPlay

>
I waited. I held the hopeful sad-eyed look for so long I thought my eyes might cross.  My eyebrows contracted and I was about to give up.  I looked down at my hands in my lap, unable to hold Granny Fanny’s gaze any longer.
>

“Don’t worry Moses,” Veronica finally said.  “Vincent and I will look after Cracker.  It’s really no trouble.”
>

“No, no…” Granny said.  “The bird can go home with us.  Paisley, she’ll have to stay in your room though.  And mind you, keep her out of my kitchen!”
>

Cracker made a noise that sounded like laughter.  “You slay me!” she squawked.
>

Moses started holding his side and laughing again, but I thought Granny’s eyes would pop right out of her head, she looked so mad.

“I remember Cracker Jack Daddy using that phrase a lot,” the G-man said.  There’s no telling what all she picked up from him.  “But I’ve noticed Cracker often says it when somebody laughs.  I wonder if she misses that gangster…” Moses said and his voice trailed away thoughtfully.  “I guess anybody can have a good quality, and Jack Daddy seemed to have taken good care of my girl here,” he said meaning Cracker the parrot.
>

Country Gentleman Kernan Sat Eve PostSomehow that seemed to calm Granny’s flare of anger.  Our visit wasn’t eventful after that.  Moses made a big deal over the apple pie Granny had made for him.  But Granny’s apple pies were well worth the praise.  Of course we didn’t have the pie until after the delicious meal the doctors Vale prepared.
>
Veronica said Vincent was a better cook than she, and the couple argued playfully about who was the better chef.  Soon we sat down to a delicious dinner that started with a beautiful creamy carrot soup, and just kept getting better from there.  Granny’s apple pie topped off the meal.
>

As we were leaving Vincent asked a favor of Andy and me. “Could you kids deliver some medicine for me, first thing in the morning?” the veterinarian asked.  “Bishop Binghamton’s mare is having difficulties, and she could foal at any time.  So I don’t want to go into town,” he said.
>

Cracker glided into the dining room.  I wondered if hearing the “Binghamton” name brought her.  She had acted strangely when she saw the bishop at a distance when we arrived earlier.  She’d said “Dainty Dish” when she saw him.  After the things Mattie Maddox had said about Henry Kingston III and the Binghamton brothers, hearing the parrot also connect Daisy, the ghost woman, to them made me really suspicious, despite how nice the bishop seemed.
>

“It’s for Kate Kingston’s Maine Coon cat.  Poor Antoinette gets a terrible skin condition sometimes,” Vincent said.
>1920s Vaudeville Cats postcard

At the name “Kingston” Cracker cocked her head and looked at Vincent attentively.  “Fourandtwenty,” she chirped as if the phrase was a single word.
>

“What’s that Cracker?” Moses asked, not understanding the rapid speech, but the bird didn’t respond.
>

I could tell the G-man was going to miss the parrot.  It was as if he was paying extra attention to her all evening.  However, I remembered Cracker repeating that phrase when we were trying figure out who killed her owner, as well as when we worked to foil Queenie Wetson and her bootleggers.  She said four and twenty repeatedly and finally we ended up at…
>

“Pos-i-lute-ly,” Andy said, interrupting my thoughts.
>

“That’s quite alright, Vincent.  If it’s not too late, the children and I can run it over there this evening,” Granny offered.
>

“Where do we deliver it?” Andy asked.
>

Fourandtwenty!” Cracker screeched.
>

Vincent gave the parrot a surprised look.  “The big estate at 420 Kingston Lane,” he said and Cracker bobbed her head excitedly.Vintage girl and parrot

***

>
It was completely dark when we arrived at 420 Kingston Lane.  I could hear the river next to us as Granny headed the Model-T up the narrow drive that led to the estate.  Andy started complaining of a bad cramp in his foot.  We were just below where the drive forked with one way leading to the kitchen entrance and the other broader lane continued to the front of the mansion.
>

I exited the Model-T with Andy so he could walk out the cramp.  He limped along and I pulled his arm over my shoulder so I could help him.  It must have been a fierce cramp because I saw a tear in his eye that he pretended wasn’t there.  We kept walking and eventually found ourselves on the beautifully landscaped terrace, where the “parade of pets” was held at the ritzy party Granny Fanny catered as a front for the lawmen’s sting operation.  It seemed like a lot of time had passed since then, but I knew it hadn’t been all that long.
>

Michalemas daisy cardThe cramp finally left Andy’s foot.  We were near the big French doors and we debated whether we should knock there or walk all the way around to the front door.  As we stood discussing that minor problem a blast of frigid air tousled my bobbed hair.  I shivered and Andy tucked me tightly under his arm.  He’d never done that before.  Not to keep his arm there.  Not to hold me that close.
>

However I didn’t have time to wonder about Andy’s behavior.  Softly glowing light drew my attention to the uphill path.  Tiny white flower petals cascaded toward us on the wind.  With the cold breeze, for a moment I thought the petals were snow.
>

When the blossoms settled I saw Daisy at the top of the path.  She was dressed in a wedding gown, but the veil was turned back to reveal her angelic face.  Delicate lace trained behind her on the wide stone stairs.  White satin gleamed in the moonlight and beading glittered with her movements when she glided forward.
>

I realized Daisy was reminiscing about her wedding to Henry “the king” Kingston.  I knew she had a horrible childhood, but her marriage to him was a happy one, and clearly their wedding was a fond memory.  She looked at Andy and me and smiled sweetly.
>

The sound of a horse’s hooves on the pavers behind me caused me to start.  Turning, I watched the former ghost-rider, Caleb Colman dismount an otherworldly steed.  The spirit

Mary Pickford 1920

Mary Pickford 1920

horse whinnied softly.  The cowboy took off his Stetson when he saw me and nodded politely.
>

“Ma’am,” Caleb said and then nodded to Andy as well.
>

Then the cowboy saw Daisy glowing in the moonlight, a beatific specter in flowing white.  He gasped and dropped to one knee.  Hat over heart, Caleb bowed his head then slowly shook it from side to side as if in amazement.  He looked up at the spirit woman on the uphill path and his face was a mixture of wonder, uncertainty, and pain.  A single tear ran down his cheek.

>
At that moment I saw Bishop Binghamton come out of the wooded path to our left, halfway between us and Daisy.  Binghamton stopped to put out a cigarette.  Andy, Caleb, and I were farther down, closer to the kitchen and in the shadows.  He didn’t see us, but he was headed straight for the big French doors and not paying attention.  I don’t know if Daisy would have been visible to him, but he didn’t look in her direction either.
>

Daisy paused when she saw the bishop.  Her serene expression became puzzled and uneasy when she looked closely at the clergyman.  She moved toward him, but he continued toward the double doors and went inside the mansion.  Daisy’s full attention was on the scene within the house.
>

Wind buffeted us.  It was hard for me to walk upright into the gale.  I wondered if we were about to be caught up in a tornado, then I saw the frightening light in Daisy’s eyes.  Caleb saw it too.
>

“Daisy!  No!” the cowboy yelled.
>

1920s Cosmo FebShe turned and looked at Caleb and at Andy and me as if she’d never seen us before.  Then she turned her attention back to the house.  She took another step toward it and the French doors opened as if of their own accord.
>

We ran toward Daisy.  The bishop was standing just inside.  He turned in surprise when the doors opened behind him.
>

Caleb’s presence seemed to comfort Daisy, and the horrible light in her eyes dissipated.  I heard the two spirits whispering to each other.  I didn’t think anyone inside, except perhaps my grandmother, could see them.  Granny Fanny vacillated between disbelieving it was possible for her to see ghosts and actually seeing them.
>

As we moved close to the doors I heard Mrs. Kingston talking to Granny.  She sat a crystal bowl on a table.  It contained something creamy and white.

Yogurt is very good for lightening and brightening the complexion,” Kate Kingston said.  “Just leave it on your face for a few minutes and then wash it off,” she said, but her words died away when she saw the strange way the bishop was acting.
>

Andy and I hurried up to the doors and went inside.
>

“You didn’t open those doors,” the bishop murmured.
>

Daisy followed us.  She turned to Bishop Binghamton, who was still near the doors.  Then she saw his brother, Byron, standing at the foot of the gracefully curving staircase.  Henry Kingston was at the top of the stairs, on his way back down to join his guests.
>

“They’re all right where they were that night,” Daisy said as she stared transfixed by the scene.
>

She blinked and turned to me.  “Pip, I remember!” Daisy exclaimed.
>

Ghostly cowboy Caleb Colman moved closer to her.  “Ma’am?  Are you all right?” he asked, clearly concerned.

Choctaw Bill, Mora, NM 1920's

Choctaw Bill, Mora, NM 1920’s

>

“I remember,” Daisy repeated and trembled violently, dropping the bouquet of flowers she held.
>

Caleb took her hand.  I thought he meant to comfort Daisy, but I quickly saw there was more to the gesture than that.
>

He grasped her hand tightly.  “Are these the men who hurt you ma’am?” he asked softly, but she didn’t answer.  “Show me!” Caleb said in a firm voice.
>

Daisy squeezed the cowboy’s hand.  Wind wailed and buffeted inside the mansion.  A lamp turned over and shattered on the floor.  The crystal chandelier swayed dangerously overhead.  Voices rose near enough to panic.  The bishop fell to his knees, eyes tightly shut, praying for all he was worth.
>

Caleb bowed over Daisy’s hand and then let it go.  Abruptly the wind stopped.  The room went completely silent and I knew that everyone could see the formerly cursed ghost-rider.  Maestro Mario had made a great sacrifice, giving up countless years that would have been removed from his own curse, just to give Caleb Colman a chance to redeem himself.  Else the cowboy was condemned to a futile eternal chase.  I remembered Caleb’s words the first time I met him.
>

“It’s my curse.  Me and all the riders.  We chase that herd of red-eyed cattle, but we never get any closer to catching ‘em.  And we’ll chase them ‘til the end of time,” The ghost-rider had said seeing the expression on my face.

>
I wondered if Maestro’s sacrifice was about to be wasted.  Caleb looked steadily at each of the three men in turn.  His eyes started to glow a frightening red to match the eyes of the demon heard he used to chase.
>

The men cried out in fear as the spirit glowed with supernatural light and grew to twice his already impressive height.  The wind began again, lifting the bishop, his brother, and Henry Kingston III into the air where they remained suspended while Caleb cast that red-eyed stare at them.

***

Recipe:  Autumnal Spinach & Carrot Soup, the Indian Way

Ishita spinach soup

Photo and Recipe credit to Ishita at Kooky Cookyng

This time I am just giving you the link to Ishita’s blog for the recipe and instructional photos.  I hope you’ll look at many of her creative meals.

http://kookycookyng.com/2014/09/12/autumnal-spinach-carrot-soup-the-indian-way/

 ***

In Memory of Izzy

October 2014

pug memorial candle

***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Three Ingredients – 23: Seaweed Sheets, Rice, Sesame Oil

Fish Episode 23

Welcome back! Can you tell that I’m excited about this episode?  The ingredients for this episode are from Willy Nilly, writer of the blog Willy Nilly To and Fro ~ The Philosophy of Inanity.  However, there’s nothing willy-nilly or disorganized about the stories and posts you’ll find there.  I hope you’ll pay a visit to Willy Nilly’s blog.  I think you’ll be glad you did.

I’ll go ahead and tell you that the Three Ingredients serial does not end with this episode.  But my writing “crystal ball” tells me that we are very close to a conclusion.  However, I think I have a couple of surprises for you.  Plus something I’ve had up my sleeve for a long time finally wriggled free and onto the page.  Oooh, I really hope I’m going to surprise you with that one!  I wish I could see your faces.

Without further ado, here is Episode-23.  Bon appétit!

23.  Seaweed Sheets, Rice, Sesame Oil

“Pip, did you see the dry roasted salted seaweed sheets when you unpacked things in theSessue_Hayakawa_as Alastair kitchen?” Alastair asked.  “I need them for the sushi rolls.”

Alastair had introduced me to sushi when I first got to Savannah.  To my surprise I liked it, but I was still feeling queasy so I wasn’t so keen on being around for its preparation.  The young restaurateur had been super particular about exactly what kind of seaweed sheet he wanted.  Maybe if we couldn’t find the sheets he would settle for the cleverly made rice balls he was arranging. Alastair formed them so that they were mostly round, but each one had a simplified animal shape.  They were so adorable it made me smile just to look at them.

“Do you feel steady enough to stand at the table and serve while I go to the kitchen and check?” he asked with open concern on his face.

He added that so far the party guests were greeting one another and had not moved toward the tables where we arranged the foods from Granny Fanny’s Goodies.  Really, everybody was Harper-s-Bazaar-August-1920making too much of the little spell I had in the library. I felt better practically as soon as I got out of that room.  I promised Alastair that I was fine and shooed him toward the kitchen.

A woman in a stylish blue gown stood talking to a small group of guests. Their clothes looked expensive but somber.  The clothes of his office set Bishop Bradley Binghamton apart from the rest of that group.  He was a slight man wearing a long vest over a white silk shirt with billowy sleeves. A heavy gold cross hung from his neck.  The cross pendant almost seemed too heavy for him, as if the large jewelry weighted him down. Niven as Binghamton

My thought seemed preposterous as I watched the slender man.  Could he really be the Bishop from the gangsters’ code names?  After all, he was a real bishop.  He looked so quiet and peaceful as he stood listening to the people around him.  How could he be one of the gangsters. There must be another explanation, another Bishop.

It was a truly sophisticated party, unlike anything I had ever experienced.  There had been some fancy parties during my brief stay at the Ringlings’ gilded mansion, Ca’ d’ Zan. Glorious though those parties were, they did not match the elegance of the reception at 420 Kingston Lane.

A maid in a dressy black uniform stood peering between the lace curtains at one of the palladium windows on the front side of the house.  She motioned excitedly to the woman in blue.  The woman’s confidant manner told me that she was the hostess, Mrs. Kingston.  I saw her catch the butler’s eye and take a breath as if to call to him.  However, Farceur anticipated her wishes and strode to the front door, his black tailcoat moving gracefully as he walked.

1920s_Life_Magazine-musicThe butler ushered in a man who was somewhat stooped with age.  I imagined he was tall and strong when he was young.  He had a very deep tan that was in contrast to his thick white hair and beard, but that was far from the most unusual thing about him.  He didn’t look like Valentino, but he was dressed like the Sheik of Araby!  He also wore spectacles with yellow tinted lenses.

“The ambassador…” I whispered to myself. He must be that ambassador who was such a big deal to the hosts of the reception.  I watched as Farceur greeted the man.  I noticed that the butler looked at him intently, closely, even suspiciously.  I was quite intrigued by the way the major domo reacted to the ambassador.  However, Mrs. Kingston greeted the elderly man effusively, pushing the butler away.

The old man returned the courtesy of the hostess in a gravel voice.  Standing so far away, I could barely make out what he said, but it was something about being pleased to meet her.  So they weren’t old friends after all. Maybe the ambassador’s importance lay in a business deal that Kingston hoped to make.

Could this ambassador be the King of Clubs? The thought sprang suddenly to my mind.  No.  Surely not.  Wouldn’t he call himself a sheik or a sultan or something?  But then, he probably wouldn’t be the one who made up the code names for the bootleggers. However, my pondering was interrupted.

“Young lady, I heard one of Mrs. Peabody’s people wasn’t feeling well.  I take it that was you,” a 1920s Arrow tuxwell-heeled looking older man said in a solicitous voice.

I gaped in astonishment because he looked so much like the portrait of Henry Kingston.  His jaw had a softer line and his graying hair suggested a darker shade in youth than that of his ancestor.  I nervously excused my rudeness for staring, and commented on the portrait and the resemblance.

The shindig’s host sure was a talker.  He took my elbow and steered me to a sofa, despite my protest that I was manning the hors d’oeuvre table.  He chatted away. I was uncomfortable with how close he sat to me, plus he was one of those people who leaned in when they talk to you. That’s when I realized that he’d already had at least one martini.

It was an awkward predicament.  I admit that I’ve never been good at knowing for sure whether men were flirting with me unless something overt happened. So I tried to be polite, and my brain raced for a way to extract myself from the too friendly host.

“Yes that’s a portrait of ‘The King’ as they called my father,” he said with a motion toward the study, or library as he called it.

“But wasn’t he the first and you’re the third?” I couldn’t help asking, though I knew I shouldn’t say anything to encourage him to hang around.

“Oh, that was some foolishness on my parents part, and they left me spending my life explaining it,” he said with a wave of his hand.  “Henry II died as an infant. You know how that 1920s Judge Hourglasshappens so many times with newborns, though not quite as often as it once did, and the poor parents never understand how it came to pass,” he said with a dour expression.  He paused, probably for breath after that long sentence.  I nodded and he continued.  “So later, when I came into the world they saddled me with the confusing moniker of Henry III.”

That bossy major domo walked up and cleared his throat, looking at me accusingly.  I’d have him know that I didn’t work for him! But before I could say anything he cast a dramatic look toward the hors d’oeuvre table and I saw that I had my chance to exit.  Maybe he wasn’t such a creep after all.  I excused myself, but Henry III quickly grabbed my wrist as I stood.

“Sir,” Mr. Farceur leaned down and spoke softly, making it seem that what he had to say was important and required Kingston’s personal attention. “Madame made a change to the evening’s plans.  We will need help from all the serving staff, including this young woman, if you can spare her?” he ended the sentence with a tone that was just questioning enough to be respectful.

I moved half a step away, thinking I was free, but the old bugger still had ahold of my wrist. Farceur’s eyebrows went up minutely.  Kingston asked him to explain. I got the impression that he and his wife might not get along so well, and when he added “What has she come up with now?” I was sure.

“A pet parade, Sir,” Farceur said drolly. “Madame has contacted whomever she could and asked1915 Life January them to bring their animals… in fancy dress.  So she has prudently instructed that most of tonight’s event shall be held on the terrace.”

“Dogs and what-not in costumes!  Why the devil would she do such a thing?” Kingston exclaimed, and he jumped half out of his skin when his wife suddenly spoke from behind him.

“If your pet is going to show up, then everyone should be allowed to bring theirs,” she said acidly.

Oh, there was definitely marital discord at 420 Kingston Lane!  As if on cue the front doors flew open.  A man in an all-white tuxedo rolled out a bolt of shimmering gold cloth onto the marble floor. Then he bowed deeply as a cluster of people came through the door, walking on the fabric.  The partygoers stood in open mouthed silence as two more men in white tuxedos entered arm-in-arm on either side of a woman in a golden beaded flapper gown. The moment I saw the glitter of the ostentatious tiara she wore, I knew her identity.  Queenie Wetson.

“However, it looks like you need a leash for your pet,” Mrs. Kingston said with a sneer and turned on her heel.  She went back to a small group of guests who clustered protectively around her and pointedly ignored the newcomer.Joan Crawford as Queenie Wetson

Yes, Queenie had beguiled Kingston all right. I expected the woman could easily manipulate him.  Judging by the smitten look on his face, Kingston would do anything for her.  I was sure he danced on her strings whenever she wanted.  “Applesauce!” I thought.  If Kingston was her puppet, then the Queen of Clubs might also be the King of Clubs!

Farceur stepped in front of me as if he was about to walk forward and greet the woman. The three men acted subservient to her and Farceur appeared to dismiss them as if they in fact were servants.  However, he stopped midstride.  As I peeped around the butler I saw that the three men in white evening wear looked like they were uncomfortable in their own skins.  Wearing the glad rags didn’t come naturally to those thugs. The Queen of Clubs moved toward us.  The beaded fringe of her gown swung as her hips provocatively swayed.Black Butler 1

“You’d be well advised to make yourself scarce,” Farceur turned and whispered to me through his clenched teeth.  “It’s best that she does not see you.”

Anxiously I cleared my throat.  “I umm… I have to get the sesame oil.  I forgot to put it on the table earlier,” I turned to Kingston and babbled the first excuse that popped into my head.  However, nobody noticed what I said.  Kingston was mesmerized by the woman.  He let go of my wrist as if he had lost the feeling in his hand, and his arm dropped to his side.

Though I only saw her for an instant, Queenie Wetson struck me as one bad customer, a real piece of work. Instinctively I wanted to get as far away from her as I could.  It crossed my mind that it was odd that I’d feel that way.  I was truly my grandmother’s granddaughter and like Granny Fanny, I wasn’t too easily intimidated.  Yet despite the fact that I had never even met this woman, she unnerved me.

Or at least I didn’t think I had met her.  There were still some big holes in my memory – especially when they found me at Wetson’s Mill, which was also the location of the Queen of Clubs Herb Farm.  I woke up in a cellar, and managed to climb out.  Shortly afterward Alastair found me and summoned the others who were also searching for me.  Otherwise, that entire day was a blank.

1920s Catering Menu-1At any rate I thought it would be prudent to find Granny Fanny and ask about the sudden change Mrs. Kingston made, wanting to have a “parade of pets” out on the terrace.  I decided to go out through the kitchen.  I saw Alastair there.  He still hadn’t found the special seaweed sheets.  He got permission to use the house phone and called his mother asking her if she could send more.

Arabella Wong’s excited voice reached my ears.  She would bring them herself, just to come to the party.  The Kingstons didn’t seem like the stuffy type to me, and the Wongs were established members of the community.  They’d likely invite her to stay.  Alastair didn’t seem too pleased at the prospect of his mother being there.  Alastair knew the evening might turn out to be dangerous.  He tried to warn Arabella off without breaking the secret, but he didn’t seem to be getting through to her.

The evening really could get dangerous with all those gangsters around. I reminded myself that they weren’t just bootleggers, they were killers.  Marshal Moses Myrick had planned to turn this reception into a sting operation to catch the gangsters, but then he and his men were ambushed.  The marshal was critically wounded, and still not able to get around. However, he was the lucky one. His men were killed.

Then Granny got it into her head to at least try and get the evidence Myrick hoped to find at the vintage queen of the mayKingston estate.  He believed Kingston kept an incriminating journal of some kind.  However, I was pretty sure the journal was what Farceur removed from the safe while I hid under that massive desk in the library.  So even if we got the chance to sneak back into the room without the butler seeing us, I didn’t think we’d find anything inside the safe hidden behind the portrait of Daisy the Dainty Dish.

The main kitchen door opened and in came a harried looking Eunice Udall. She carried several bellhop uniforms.  It turned out that Mrs. Kingston wanted the servants who were going to help with the pet parade to change into a different uniform.  The bellhop outfits were the only thing Eunice could come up with on such short notice.

I apologized to Eunice for having been in such a rush earlier.  “Oh it’s all right dear,” she said.  “I’m glad my assistant was able to help you.  I was just confused because… What was the name you used? Doris?  Anyhow the girl’s name is Annie.  Actually, I had just discussed the job with her that morning.  I didn’t realize she was in the shop while you were.”

With a blink I repeated, “Annie?”  I wondered why Daisy would give me a different name.  Though we only spoke for a moment, I felt like the girl and I could be friends.  So it bothered me that she would call herself Daisy if her name was Annie.  Maybe there was some mistake.  Eunice was in a rush, and I knew I shouldn’t bother her, but I had to ask.  “A dark haired girl wearing tomboy clothes?” I asked.

Eunice looked at me strangely.  However, Hortense Houston, the housekeeper, pulled Eunice and the bellhop uniforms away.  I still needed to talk to Granny about the outdoor tables so 1920s Vogue postershrugged it off.  I went outside by a small side door.

A stone path led upward through a garden of mature camellias and dwarf palmettos.  I could see lights from the library window at the top of the hill.  Tiny fairy lights were strung all around the estate, so it wasn’t too hard to walk on the path, despite the cloud that blocked the moonlight.

As I rounded a corner I saw a party guest in the shadows. She reclined on a lounge chair on the terrace outside Kingston’s library.  Her beautiful chiffon gown billowed in an evening breeze that stirred her dark hair.

“Not all things are as they seem,” she turned to me and whispered.  Though I could not see her well in the near darkness, I could tell that she put a finger to her lips as if for quiet.  Then she looked pointedly to one side.  I followed her gaze and saw something white move.  Squinting into the dim light, I realized there were two people. They were a short distance down the path, obscured by all the bushes and crape myrtles trees.

Then movement from above drew my eyes.  Cracker sat in the branches of a flowering tree.  The parrot gave a soft whistle when she saw me looking.  “Dainty Dish!” she chirped.

My eyes widened and I whirled to face the dark haired woman, but she was gone.  Could she have been the Daisy I met earlier?  I looked back up at Cracker questioningly.  The parrot bobbed her head up and down and turned in a circle on the branch. Parrot Pin

Cracker looked toward the two people who were farther into the shadows on the unlit path.  It seemed almost like they were struggling.  Concerned, I quietly stepped closer.  The white I saw before turned out to be the white haired old man in sheik’s clothing, the ambassador.  He didn’t look like a stooped old man any more, as he held a woman in his embrace.

He leaned in to kiss her and she resisted.  That’s when I got worried.  So I turned onto that path, ready to help if necessary.  I heard the gentle swoosh of Cracker gliding from branch to branch behind me.  It was a truly passionate kiss that the woman resisted. Or rather, she resisted it for a moment before she started kissing him back.

I stopped in my tracks.  If there was nothing wrong, I wouldn’t want to interrupt.  As I hesitated the evening breeze pushed a cloud away from the moon, shedding light on the couple.  Granny?  Why she truly was a flapper at heart. I couldn’t help smiling.  I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, so I turned to go back the way I’d come.  However, Cracker noisily flew toward my grandmother and the ambassador.Sheik of Araby

I ducked behind the camellias so they wouldn’t see me, but I could still see them pretty well.  When the parrot swooped in on Granny and the ambassador, the bird knocked his yellow glasses aside.  He stood up straight and tall and exclaimed, “Cracker!”

How would a foreign dignitary know the parrot’s name?  The voice was not the gravely accented voice he’d used earlier.  I recognized that voice, and without the spectacles I knew the face despite the white hair and beard.  That was no ambassador and it wasn’t even an old man.  It was Detective Dabney Daniels!

“Don’t be mean to the poor bird,” Granny said.  “She did us a favor.  I can’t believe I just now gave in.  How many times have I told you that it just isn’t right?  You have a full life ahead of Mavis adyou. I’d be wrong to let you love an old woman like me.”

“Fanny,” Daniels said and some of the gravel that had been part of his disguise-voice returned.  “You are no old woman.  You’re just older than I am.  And that doesn’t bother me a bit,” he said and pulled her closer.

“Be serious Dabney.  Paisley would be a much better match for you,” my grandmother told the detective.  “It’s better for you to be ten years older than Pip than for me to be closer to fifteen years older than you.”

“Why do you worry about which direction the age difference is in?” he asked, and it had the ring of something he’d probably said before.  “If it’s all right for me to be older than her, then why is it wrong for you to be older than me?”

Granny leaned her head into his shoulder.  I thought she might be hiding her tears, or muffling a sob.  She shook her head then looked up into Dabney’s eyes.  “Don’t you see?  Twenty years from now, Pip would be married to a distinguished older man.  That’s what they call men when they begin to show signs of age — distinguished.”

She pulled back from him, though he still held her tightly.  “But with me being older…  Well, women aren’t referred to as distinguished.  Women just get old.  So not even twenty years from now… just ten or even five years from now, I’d be much older than you.  Much…  And the older people get the more rapid aging becomes.  Don’t you see?” Granny Fanny implored.  “You are dear to me and I would love you as a son-in-law.  But that would be all,” she added with a note of finality.Lucille Ball teenaged 1

“There is no substitute, no matter how much Pip seems like a younger version of you,” he said.  “I like the girl.  I’m actually very fond of her.  But you hold my heart in the palm of your hand Fanny.”

I plopped down on the cold stone of the path.  My grandmother?  All the time I had been infatuated with Dabney Daniels, he had been in love with my grandmother?  Granny?  I was stunned.  It was more than my poor noodle could process.  Rustling sounds told me the couple had parted.  I heard Granny moving toward the kitchen path, and Dabney went another way.

Cracker flew back and perched near me on a low branch.  As she had done once before, the parrot leaned close and took a strand of my bobbed hair in her beak.  It was as if she meant to preen my feathers to comfort me.  I just didn’t have any feathers, so she gently pulled at my short hair.  I don’t know how long I sat there on the stone path.  I would have been happy for Granny if I hadn’t been so shocked.  Or if I had known about Dabney’s feelings for her from the beginning.

With a sigh I told myself that I knew now, so I might as well accept it.  I already had known for a while that Dabney wasn’t interested in me.  And it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as when I’d found out Frankie the fireman was betraying all of us back in Sarasota, Florida.

I stood a little stiffly.  Then I dusted off the back of my wide legged black crepe waiter’s pants.  I was close to the library doors and I wondered if they were unlocked.  I’d rather not be seen 1920s Peoples home journal girl parrotcoming into the kitchen from the outside.  I didn’t want Granny to know I had seen her and Dabney.  They shared a private moment that was not meant for me.  I didn’t want to intrude on it any more than I already had.

As I started to move, Cracker darted to perch on my shoulder.  The parrot bobbed her head excitedly.  I looked at the library where light streamed from an opening door.  Farceur stepped out from the door and was met by Detective Daniels, still wearing his ambassador disguise.

The two men spoke too softly for me to know what they said.  As the butler moved the tails of his tuxedo twitched.  He reached into his jacket and withdrew a book which he discretely handed to Daniels.  The book disappeared into the folds of the opulent sheik’s robes the detective wore.  More words were exchanged.  They seemed to reach an agreement.  Then the two men parted and went back inside by different doors.

“What just happened?” I whispered more to myself than to the parrot on my shoulder.

Cracker tugged a strand of my hair. Then she whistled.

“Joker’s wild!”

***

Next week, CB at “Better Dressed than Joe” provides the ingredients.  Who can guess what chaos will ensue with the “pet parade.”  Not to mention that the Queen of Clubs is on the scene.

I’ll leave you with a video related to Willy Nilly’s ingredients.  See you next time.

Hugs,

teagan

Video: Making Sushi California Roll At Home

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.