Sunlight plays across your face, as the morning bids you a fond welcome to the new day. You keep your eyes closed, resisting the beckoning of the day in favor of just a bit more sleep. You are accustomed to waking up quite early to tend to Rory's needs, and you are certain you must have overslept.
You turn over, warm under the comforter, wondering what the day will bring, when you hear breathing very close to your face. You crack open one eye and see the peacock, Sanchi-San, in bed with you, looking at you with great interest from approximately one inch away. Bolting upright, you see Galatea and Orlando on the floor near the bed, pecking at the decorative molding.
"Pennyworth!" calls Rory, from his adjoining bedroom. "I say, is there a morning paper I could look at?" He knocks at the connecting door. "I would settle for a croissant. In fact, let's make it two croissants and no paper."
1. "One moment, sir!" I call. "Just getting dressed."
2. "There are large fowl in here, sir!" I say. "Some help would be appreciated."
3. I try to gently lure the birds into a reasonable hiding place.
Don't reply to this post
Soothing: 34% / Abrasive: 66%
Aunt Primrose: 51%
Col. Firesnuff: 26%
Ready Monies: 15
REPLY TO THIS POST
1, I guess? Shouting about the birds won't be stealthy, and if Rory doesn't already know they are there we might as well tell him.
Option 1- there's no point in shouting about the birds for everyone to hear (never know who's listening anyhow), and Pennyworth isn't soothing (or persuasive?) enough to lure the birds anywhere.
You can hear Rory pacing around in his room impatiently. "I have a good deal on my mind, Pennyworth, and I need some of your patented advice."
"Yes, sir, but…"
"I am having deep thoughts and epiphanies. But they are no use to me without your expert analysis."
1. "I understand, sir, and this is an important conversation, but I wonder if we might have it just a bit later."
2. "To be perfectly honest with you, sir, I am not, in fact, getting dressed. In point of fact I am dealing with some birds at the moment. Could you assist me?"
3. Ignore Rory for the moment in favor of trying to lure the peacocks into the closet.
2. It doesn't sound so much like shouting this time.
"To be perfectly honest with you, sir, I am not, in fact, getting dressed. In point of fact I am dealing with some birds at the moment. Could you assist me?"
"It is a bit hard to hear you through this door," Rory says. "But it sounded like you said…"
"I did!" you say. "Can you give me a hand?"
Rory opens the door and leaps in, as if rushing into combat.
The peacocks startle at Rory's entrance and dart around him, into Rory's room, eager to explore someplace new.
"Good heavens," Rory cries. "You were not kidding or exaggerating. I do appreciate your blunt honesty. But why are Auntie's peacocks in your room? What are you doing with them? Where are my croissants? I don't know which question is more important."
"I haven't the faintest idea, sir. Regarding the peacocks."
Rory looks around the room, as if a solution might somehow present itself.
"Do you have any particular instructions regarding these birds, sir?" you ask.
Rory looks at you with an expression that wavers between amusement and confusion before deciding not to worry about it anymore. "I'll assume you have things taken care of in the avian department. I leave it in your capable hands."
"I will sort the situation out, sir."
"How did Mopsie's scheme—your, ah, mock theft—at the Mudwasps' estate proceed last night? Successful, I hope?" you ask.
"It could not have been less successful. Oh, I stole the loot all right. But then the actual Light-Fingered Lou showed up and lifted the stolen goods from me as I was trying to make my escape. So in the end, all I did was make things a touch easier for Light-Fingered Lou. Aunt Primrose was apoplectic. Ultimately, it was a complete bust. You probably could have done something magnificent, had you been there. What did you end up doing last night? Probably you turned in and had a decent night's sleep."
"Hold on a moment." He goes to the window and flings it open, taking a deep breath of cool morning air. "Bracing, that's the word for it. I do enjoy some cool air. Ah."
"What is on your mind, sir?"
Rory does a few toe-touches and stretches. "What a beautiful day, Pennyworth. The sun is shining, the trees are bursting with color, and the birds are…"
"…are in your bed at the moment, sir."
"Well, yes," Rory says. "Some of them. A minor inconvenience that we shall have to deal with. But the larger point still holds. What a marvelous day to be alive."
"What is the cause of this exuberant mood, sir?"
"I had the most lovely dreams about Frankincense, that's all. I was thinking about how marvelous it will be when we are wed. Before, Pennyworth, I doubted. I saw through a glass darkly, as it were. But now my eyes are open. I would like to compose a poem to her at once or write a song, or do something with terra-cotta." He makes a complex motion with his hands.
1. I would advise to you 'play it cool,' sir, as young folks are prone to saying these days."
2. "I would be more than happy to assist you in creating an appropriate token of affection."
3. "I cannot help sensing a certain ambivalence beneath your exuberant exterior, sir."
Tough, since there is no neutral option. So I will pick 2 just because I want to see how hilariously bad this gift turns out.
"I would be more than happy to assist you in creating an appropriate token of affection."
"Excellent, excellent!" says Rory. "Because it seems like a great deal of energy. Perhaps I could commission one from you, and I could, you know, sign off on it. Like in that Cyrano play we were forced to go to by Auntie."
"It didn't work out so well in that particular case, if you recall. Then again, I believe you fell asleep during Act I," you remind him.
"Yes, yes, sporting," Rory says, not listening to you one bit. "Won't she be delighted? When all this excitement is over, we'll find something appropriate. I think that is what is done."
"Good morning, Rory," comes Frankincense's voice, sounding quite chirpy. She knocks on Rory's door and starts to turn the knob. "Are you in? I've been knocking, and I heard talking, and your door is ajar, so I thought I would…"
Frankincense steps in and sees the birds standing on Rory's bed. She puts both hands to her mouth.
"Good…good morning, Frankincense," says Rory.
"I cannot believe that you did this for me," Frankincense says to Rory.
"How's that?" Rory says.
"You knew that I longed to have those poor birds free. And you took it upon yourself to free them, when everyone else turned away. You are a hero, Rory Wintermint. You risked—indeed, still risk—a lengthy prison sentence in order to give me the gift I most desire. Thank you, Rory. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Rory, I love you even better than ever, if such a thing is possible. There may have been moments when I doubted your seriousness—your commitment to our joining together as one. But now I realize what I meant to you. Never before—never—has anyone made such a gesture for me. I have often felt as if nobody understood me, that I fight the good fight alone. Now I see in you a partner. Someone to struggle with, to go through privations with, and, if necessary, to face the gallows together in the service of truth and justice. You are one in a million, Rory. My father thought I was insane to choose you. He will have to eat those words."
Rory opens his mouth to reply and leaves it open, as if hoping that the correct response will fly out of its own accord.
"I could not be more pleased to be engaged to you, Rory."
1. "In point of fact, I must intercede here. Mr. Wintermint did not bring the peacocks in here. The situation is mysterious to us."
2. "I, of course, was responsible for bringing the peacocks into the room. Not Mr. Wintermint."
3. "Yes, Mr. Wintermint accomplished great deeds last night. I personally witnessed his heroism in getting the peacocks here."
1, best not to lie. And good - my Mopsie peacock theory hasn't been completely ruined, yet.
And, really Rory? How lazy. You were the one who said you wanted to make something.
"In point of fact, I must intercede here. Mr. Wintermint did not bring the peacocks in here. The situation is mysterious to us."
"That's right," Rory says. "While I would love to take credit for this, ah, marvelous deed, I cannot."
"You…didn't do it? Is this modesty?"
"I'm afraid not," you say. "You may trust me. We were both quite surprised this morning."
"Oh." Frankincense's face falls. "Then I did not misjudge you completely. You are the man that I thought you were. I mentioned to you more than once that I wished you to do something about those birds. So you did not do this."
"I wouldn't go that far about my being the man you think I am. And I don't recall you telling me to do something about those birds," Rory says. "If you are referring to our discussion of last night where you went on and on about those blasted birds, then, yes, I suppose, perhaps that is...well, dash it, Frankincense. I don't want to have it out again. I thought there were a few points where you might have judged me just a tad harshly."
"I am…very disappointed," Frankincense says. "But I don't want to argue. Good morning."
"Good morning," you say.
At precisely this moment, you hear a commotion in the hallway. You peek out of Rory's door and hear Carlington calling, in a resonant baritone, that all of the guests ought to come down to the parlor.
"This is far from the way Aunt Primrose usually does things," says Rory. "Usually she allots several hours in the morning for lolling about and then a late and large meal. She is not one for rousting her guests out of bed at the crack of…what time is it, Pennyworth?"
"Half past nine, sir."
You can hear Carlington's voice on the second floor now, knocking on doors, and escorting guests outside.
"I wonder what the unusual urgency is," Rory says. "Probably some soufflé that must be served at once."
The peacocks screech as you depart. "We'll be back," you say.
"Be good," says Rory. "Pennyworth, after breakfast, we really must put those birds back where they belong. They have already untidied my bedclothes."
"Right after breakfast," you say.
You lock up the door to the Wintermint GHQ and head downstairs, where a grim-faced footman points you towards the parlor. Mopsie is standing near the door to the parlor, adjusting her hair in the mirror. Aunt Primrose's help is rushing to and fro, looking far busier than typical for this time of day.
1. "Good morning, Mopsie. You are looking rather smart this morning."
2. "What is all this commotion about?" I ask a passing servant.
3. I turn to Rory, attending to his needs.
3. Best to act as natural and invisible as possible.
I turn to Rory, attending to his needs.
"I am certainly going to need to be braced with a beverage before facing the assembled crowd in the parlor," Rory says, sinking into a chair in the foyer.
You produce a steaming cup of tea on a tray, next to a croissant and the morning paper. "I believe this was what you requested," you say.
"Y-yes!" Rory looks delighted and takes a long draught of the delightfully smoky Lapsang souchong tea you have presented to him—Rory's favorite. Mopsie looks at the croissant covetously, and Rory breaks off a cousinly corner of it for her, and then another.
"I didn't even see you fetch this, Pennyworth. That was well done."
"Tish-tosh, sir. It is my practice to ensure that your needs are well taken care of. Think nothing of it."
"It must be very distracting to try to serve Rory when I am here looking so fetching," Mopsie says to you, sounding miffed that you have not praised her yet. "There is a certain dazzling effect."
"Yes, very nice indeed, Mopsie."
You and Rory allow yourselves to be herded into the parlor, where Frankincense, Haze, Col. Firesnuff, and a very flustered-looking Aunt Primrose sit on various chairs and divans. Mopsie follows close behind you and plops down on the piano bench. Col. Firesnuff is reading the newspaper aloud to nobody and pointing to an article about some gang of delinquent children called the Ragamuffins who live on a nearby river island and appear to eat nothing but bread. "And that is why this country needs someone like me in office," he concludes smugly, folding the newspaper and nodding.
"I think it's terrible," says Frankincense, quietly.
Carlington stands at attention next to Regina Wilhelmina just right of Aunt Primrose.
"Everyone here, then?" says Inspector Ambrose. You turn to see him perched on a tall stool, up on a raised dais at the back of the parlor, overlooking everyone else. Two burly police officers flank him.
"Why don't you go search the rooms for those stolen peacocks now that everyone is here?" Inspector Ambrose says to his police escort. Rory turns to look at you, aghast.
"Yes, sir," the officers say, and they start to head for the exit.
You simply mustn't allow them to find Galatea, Sanchi-San, and Orlando in Rory's room!
Options flash through your mind. You could run out of the room, beating them there, remove the birds, and hide them elsewhere. That would be simple and effective, but surely Inspector Ambrose would notice you exiting and make him rather suspicious.
You might quietly mislead the officers so they find themselves wandering through the east wing for a while. That would buy you some time, but they might realize later that you were being deceitful.
Best of all would be for Aunt Primrose to insist that tea be served to the officers. But that would require you to convince her that social niceties are important even in a time when her prize peacocks have gone missing, which might be difficult and fluster her further.
1. I appeal to Aunt Primrose's sense of gracious hospitality: "Mrs. Patterson, surely these officers would like a cup of tea before getting to work."
2. I direct the officers in the wrong direction to the guest rooms with a cunning lie.
3. I bolt out of the parlor and beat the officers to Rory's room.
It is beyond the pale that these fine gentlemen have not been served a cup of tea. Tea with biscuits. And crumpets.
1. We did just get tea for Rory and it's the least suspicious. Perhaps Frankincense will step in to help, as well, since she knows the birds are in Rory's room. Although she's made he didn't steal them on her behalf.
Mopsie hates us again, for failing to compliment her! So wishy-washy.
Firesnuff is running for office! Reminds me of the character in Jeeves and Wooster, Spode, who had delusions of being a fascist dictator - wanted men to wear shorts and everyone to grow potatoes, or something odd like that. (He had a rather fun and unexpected secret which rather dented his intimidation factor. Too bad we never got to see inside Firesnuff's briefcase...)
Also, what are the odds that the last chapter (or this one) has the boat race, and we end up stumbling across the river island with the Ragamuffins?
I appeal to Aunt Primrose's sense of gracious hospitality: "Mrs. Patterson, surely these officers would like a cup of tea before getting to work."
"Perhaps we ought to have tea served," you suggest to Aunt Primrose. "Those police officers seemed a bit peckish."
She turns to you testily, wringing a handkerchief in both hands. "My prize peacocks, the jewels of my collection, have been stolen, and you come to talk to me about tea?" She throws the handkerchief to the ground and gnashes her teeth at you.
"But surely some thought for social niceties…"
"Let me tell you about social niceties. When I find the villain who made off with my birds I will have them passed thrice through a meat grinder, made into a pâté, and served with hard-cooked eggs and cornichons at a festive picnic for one and all. Does that answer your question?"
"Y-es, I believe so. Perhaps I'll just go pop down to the kitchen and help out without disturbing you further."
"Go, then. I don't care."
You run out of the room, heading upstairs, walking past the officers, who are searching Mopsie's room.
You open Rory's door and find the three birds sitting in one of Rory's suitcases, no doubt playing some sort of pretend game.
"Perfect," you say. "I beg your pardon; this will be just be a minor inconvenience." You fasten the suitcase and lift it up. It is rather heavy, and some squeaks and trills of protest ensue from inside the suitcase as you rush out of the room.
You run into the two police officers in the hallway.
"What are you doing with that?" one of them says, pointing to the suitcase.
"I'm making tea," you say. "Mrs. Patterson expressly sent me to do so."
"With a suitcase? Upstairs?"
1. "Yes. It is an invention of my own. I am always thinking of brilliant inventions."
2. "This suitcase is where I keep baked goods. You may rest easy. There is no cause for alarm, gentlemen."
3. I act as if this were the most natural thing in the world to be doing. "Of course. How do you make tea?"
3. Pennyworth is usually terrible at normal bluffing, but that one is potentially abrasive enough it might work. And, we indirectly get the backing of Mrs. Patterson since we claimed she was the one to send us to make tea.
Also, how did that end up with us holding a briefcase full of peafowl...
I hope this means we get to frame someone, like Firesnuff or Haze or that servant guy who tried to extort us. Too bad framing Mopsie (if that's even 'framing' when she likely did it) is off of the table at this point. And framing Frankinscense wouldn't work since she can link the peacocks to us.
It might have mattered last chapter. She liked us for riding the banister and whispering whoopie, and pointed out the spare key for us. Maybe we would have taken it, regardless, but it seemed like a bonus.
Yeah, there's a lot of checks for your relationship with Mopsie, and depending on where she likes and doesn't like you, you are helped and hindered in various ways throughout.
Oh, also, @mizal, could you remove Camelon's reply to my "please don't reply to this post" post above?
I act as if this were the most natural thing in the world to be doing. "Of course. How do you make tea?"
"It seems to me that your talk of tea is meant to conceal some darker purpose," says one of the officers, scratching his head and fingering his billy club with purpose.
"I suspect," says the other, "that you are using talk of tea in order to provide cover for your presence upstairs, toting a mysterious suitcase, whilst the two of us here up here attempting to search for winged contraband. Then you come here removing something and attempting to talk your way out in a fairly feeble way."
"That's about the sum of it," says the first officer. "It seems like the kind of situation we were trained for by Inspector Ambrose. We've put the clues together, and the picture becomes increasingly clear."
Rory's voice, bellowed up from downstairs, breaks the tense moment. "Pennyworth, ah, I know you are bringing down tea. From upstairs. So, please, be quick about it. And don't forget the croissants."
The officers look at you.
"There, you see, officers? All is on the up and up. If you'll excuse me." You effect a tone of wounded pride.
"I suppose tea is your purpose, after all. We may have misjudged you," says the first officer. "Go on then."
"I'm looking forward to the croissants," says the second. "I assume that's what's in the suitcase. Perhaps I ought to just take a peek."
"No, they are still cooling," you say.
"If there is nothing else?…no?" you say. "Good morning."
You walk by them, downstairs, and then quickly out the door with the suitcase.
At first you think that you will simply return the three birds to their pen, or possibly ditch them elsewhere, but by now the area of the pen, and the house at large, is simply crawling with police officers. You cast about wildly, and then you have it. You'll simply walk to the old boathouse. It is large enough for the birds to run around in happily, and there will be people in there later today to prepare the rowboat for the Harvest Festival race—they'll find the peacocks and return them safely to Aunt Primrose.
Best of all, there don't seem to be any police wandering around in that vicinity, so you amble across the property and to the boathouse, near where the Woodland Stream comes onto Aunt Primrose's property.
You peek in a window. Nobody there. The rowboat sits proudly against one wall, up on sawhorses, awaiting the race later today.
All great boats have names, and this boat's name is blazoned proudly across the side.
1. Choice of Rowboats
2. It's Keeling Time
3. Tin Starboard
4. The Wholly Wood Visionary
5. Gunwales of Infinity
6. The Sturdy Streampunt
7. A Wise Use of Pine
8. Punt of the River
9. Life of a Lobster
10. Oars of Aswick
11. The Eagle's Oar
12. The Paddle Throne
13. Ratings Wharf
14. Flounder's Saga: The Sculling
15. Reef's Gambit
16. Welcome to Oar Town
17. Pair of Ducks Factor
18. Tide High
19. Avatar of the Gulf
20. The Hero Unmasted
21. Choice of the Deckless
22. The Drydock's Riddle
23. Jetty Patrol Officer
24. Diamant Rows
25. Her Oars Rise
26. The Lake Erie Agent
27. Swampy Exodus
28. Seaman's Lark
29. Tar Captain
30. The Rower Behind the Moon
32. Wayfares of the Port
33. The Lost Oar III
34. Trials of the Reef Breaker
35. Champion of the Cod
36. Skiff Made Defective
37. Diabolic Keel
38. Broadsides 1849
39. The Rowed to Canterbury
40. Underwater Agent
41. Silver Whirlpool
42. The Row Project: Open Seas
43. Leeches Such As We
44. Platinum Wreckage
45. The Daily Lacksail
46. Choice of Ripples
47. The Yawl of Memphis
48. The Shipkeepers of Hallowford
49. Gilded Whales
50. Sparkling Waters
51. Fair Gulfs of Haven
52. High Spray Oars
53. I shall create my own name.
Im dying lol
53. SS INFINITY
I love this.
5. Gunwhales of Infinity, after the epic battle, of course.
But Shipkeepers of Hallowford and A Wise Use of Pine are fine options, as well.
With absolutely no chance of it winning, I will vote 53. The Batmobile
You look upon Gunwales of Infinity fondly, thinking of the several outings you and Rory have had in it. It used to be a sort of dull gray and cream, without the least attention to beauty. You recall Aunt Primrose asking you last month whether you would assist her by designing Gunwales of Infinity's decoration for the race. Traditionally, everyone goes all out in their decorations, and therefore, you decided upon…
1…an attractive pastel palette, well suiting the boat's grace and attractiveness.
2…an image of a brutal barbarian riding a dragon, befitting the boat's size and sturdiness.
3…a pirate ship motif meant to bolster its crew's morale.
4…an intellectually challenging abstract painting in stunning shades of red, orange, and yellow, designed to arouse bursts of energy in the crew.
2. With how we've been going about things we'll need a very sturdy boat to survive our schenanigans.
…an image of a brutal barbarian riding a dragon, befitting the boat's size and sturdiness.
The boat is painted with an image of a muscular and fur-clad barbarian warrior riding a bright green, fire-breathing, two-headed dragon. The barbarian holds a mighty runed broadsword with one hand and a grail made out of diamonds in the other. The grail is topped with purple flames.
"Do you really think that is the appropriate decoration?" asked Aunt Primrose. "I don't really know what sort of style is fashionable for rowboats these days. But this one seems rather fringe."
"Mrs. Patterson, this painting is awesome. As in, the art will awe all assembled."
"Hm! If you say so, Pennyworth."
You open the suitcase, letting the disgruntled birds out. They stretch their wings, and set about exploring the boathouse. They should be perfectly safe here for the time being.
Now you simply must get back to the parlor at once before Inspector Ambrose notices that you are missing.
Closing the doors of the boathouse firmly, you stow the suitcase behind a bush to retrieve later, and then trot back to the house. You carefully slip inside the foyer just as Inspector Ambrose pokes his head out the door of the parlor.
"Won't you join us?" Inspector Ambrose says sweetly, motioning into the parlor with an obsequious bow with a two-handed flourish.
"Of course," you say. "I was just waiting until you felt it was appropriate to join you."
"Naturally you were!" laughs Inspector Ambrose. "You would not have been doing anything wrong. I have not the least doubt that you were right out here in the foyer."
He motions you into the parlor again, and you find a seat next to Rory; he looks at you with questioning eyes. You give him a subtle nonverbal signal that clearly indicates that "the peafowl have been safely stowed away," and he relaxes slightly.
Inspector Ambrose sits on his tall stool, just in front of the toasty fire, and pulls out his copy of Wilkie Collins's novel The Moonstone. His bookmark is right at the very end of the novel. "I just have ten more pages to read," he says. "You may talk amongst yourselves while I finish." He absorbs himself in his mystery, following the lines with his finger and making satisfied sounds like "Hah!" and "So I suspected!" as he reads.
The two burly police officers once again flank him, and read over his shoulder.
"Where is that tea, Pennyworth?" Aunt Primrose says, crossing her arms. "I thought you went out to bring up the tea ages ago."
"Did I?" you say. "Ah yes. I did. I can't imagine what the delay is. Hm! What poor service on the part of your kitchen staff."
Aunt Primrose frowns deeply.
"We were really looking forward to it," says the first officer to you. "I do hope it will be along soon. I could eat a whole suitcase worth of scones."
"That is a strange expression," says Inspector Ambrose mildly. "And yet I think I have a sense of why you uttered it. Yes, indeed. But I just want to finish this last bit before commencing in earnest on what is sure to be a memorable conversation."
He looks up at you and smiles.
1. "I am looking forward to hearing what you have to say, sir."
2. I sit quietly and a bit skeptically, uncertain about this whole affair.
3. "It's rather surprising about Mr. Murthwaite there in the last chapter, isn't it? One would not have guessed it."
1. Pennyworth is too bold to be skeptical.
Option 1- it suits Pennyworth's bold nature the best.
Option 3: I stand with Mayana on this, while intellect is not quite up there, perhaps Pennyworth's culture will get us over the line. Not sure if we want to be on the Inspector's bad side at this particular juncture, but what's life if Pennyworth can't live for the little things?
3. Changing the subject doesn't hurt