Sorry to have disappeared for a few days. I’ve been off in Cloud-Cuckooland with Book VI. For whatever reason, the first fews chapters of a new book are always the hardest for me, probably because I’m still getting to know the characters, their modes of speech, their motivations. At least, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
Over the past few books, I’ve noticed a pattern emerging. When I get stressed out, small animals start to appear. Or sometimes not so small animals.
In the deleted versions of the early chapters of nearly all the Pink books so far lurks a secret menagerie. Book V, The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, originally had a large section about an opinionated parrot (bet you didn’t know Charlotte had a parrot as a childhood pet!). Book IV, The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, contained a deleted tussle between Lord Vaughn and a small, yippy dog. Lord Vaughn was very happy when that scene was deleted. Book III, The Deception of the Emerald Ring, involved a cow. There was also a monkey, but we don’t need to go into that. It’s all rather akin to that old joke about sitcom producers bringing on a monkey to keep a dying show alive. Fortunately, the parrot went the way of the dodo, the cow went back to the barn, and the small yippy dog retreated into my lost files folder.
I knew it was business as usual the other day when I found myself inventing a completely unnecessary comic dog in the first chapter of Pink VI. So, for your amusement, here’s the very first outtake from Pink VI:
“Think nothing of it,” said Mrs. Palmer brusquely. “I only host these little soirees because Sophie does enjoy them so.”
“Sophie?” inquired Freddy, with an experienced eye out for an attractive young daughter.
One would have thought he would have learned his lesson. On the other hand, thought Penelope philosophically, one couldn’t very well force him into marriage twice.
“Yes, Sophie,” said Mrs. Palmer, looking lovingly at the dog wedged into the crook of her arm. “Isn’t Sophronia mummy’s little darling?” she crooned to the appalling ball of fur.
Mummy’s little darling bared her teeth in response.
“Lord Frederick positively dotes on dogs,” said Penelope innocently. “Especially lapdogs.”
Freddy’s face adopted an expression remarkably similar to Sophie’s.
Mrs. Palmer hastily clamped a gloved hand over little Sophie’s ears. The glove showed signs of gnawing around the ends. “Oh, we don’t like to think of Sophie as a dog. She is part of the family.”
“Its most attractive member,” commented a cheerful voice behind them.
“Did you hear that, Sophie, darling?” crooned Mrs. Palmer. “Begum Johnson thinks you’re lovely.”
And that, I can promise you, is the very last you’re going to hear of Mrs. Palmer and her amusing little dog.
It could have been worse, I suppose. It could have been a monkey.