Our third and final Pinkorama of 2022 is brought to you by returning champions Candace and Cassandra, who take us way back to the beginning of the Pink Carnation series to bring us… Penelope and Charlotte hiding behind shrubbery in The Masque of the Black Tulip!
Candace and Cassandra write: Inspired by Chapter 15, of the Masque of the Black Tulip, this year we present:
Peep-times in the Park
It is that time when all the fashionable peeps take to wondering about Hyde Park. The Honorable Miles Dorrington, in his best man-about-town manner, escorts the beguiling Marquise de Montval in his pale blue high perch phaeton around the Serpentine. Henrietta, Penelope, and Charlotte, in their best blending green ensembles, are on the hunt for the intriguing Peepus verdantus and most definitely not the Peepus pricklianus. Miles comes upon the intrepid trio after they successfully spot their target. After the requisite pleasantries and chit chats have been exchanged, Hen realizes she is late for her singing lesson. Miles, in his his best gentleman conduct, offers a cozy solution and insists that Hen squeeze into his phaeton with the Marquise so that he can get her home sooner.
It is, indeed a squeeze in that phaeton.
High perch phaetons only meant for two, y’know. (And does the Marquise know it!)
Penelope and Charlotte are left in their cunning green camouflage with their rather ineffective shrubbery…
… while Henrietta essays a most awkward ride home. It’s always hard to explain why you’ve just been caught crouching behind a bush.
The aerial view! Check out those amazing pretzel tree branches! Who knew pretzels could be that verdant?
Can you believe the whole scene is made of candy? I’m so impressed by that cunning wafer and cookie phaeton (now if the Serpentine were made of coffee, you could just run the phaeton into the Serpentine and….) And have you ever seen a Peep with a facial expression (and a floppy lock of blond hair) quite like Miles?
Brava, Candace and Cassandra! As always, I am in awe of your peep-craft. And brava to all the 2022 Pinkorama artistes! I’ll be opening it up to voting tomorrow, so stay tuned for the 2022 Pinkorama round up!
And now, for your amusement, here’s the relevant scene from The Masque of the Black Tulip:
Two sets of hooves clomped to a halt right in front of Henrietta’s hedge.
Maybe she should immigrate to Australia under an assumed name. Preferably within the next five seconds.
“Why, Mr. Dorrington!” the marquise exclaimed in tones of alarming sweetness, “Isn’t that your little friend behind that hedge?”
Someone groaned. Henrietta realized it had been her.
Further down the hedge, loyal Charlotte had already popped up, and was saying brightly, “Hello, Mr. Dorrington! How lovely, and, um, unexpected to see you.”
Henrietta tentatively tilted her head. With the one eye that wasn’t buried in the grass, Hen could see Charlotte’s hand, under cover of the foliage, making little flapping motions, urging her to stay down. Seeking reinforcements, Charlotte dragged Penelope up by the arm.
“Penelope and I were just… um….”
Henrietta couldn’t see what was going on in the curricle, but just picturing it made her wince. The marquise’s brows arched in an expression of supercilious disbelief. Miles, half-amused, half-confused. Penelope and Charlotte standing there behind the hedge like a leprechaun honor guard.
“Would you be so kind as to tell Henrietta I’m here?” Miles was saying politely.
Oh, blast. Blast, blast, blast.
Henrietta rose very slowly, brushing grass and dirt and debris off her knees, fervently hoping she didn’t have any twigs in her hair, or dirt smudges on her cheeks, just to make her humiliation complete.
“Hello,” she said hopelessly. It was just as she’d imagined; the marquise in all her perfection eying her as she would an oversized insect, and Miles, blast him, with a look of barely contained amusement pasted all over his transparent face. “We were….”
“I know,” Miles helpfully filled in for her. “Just, um. Charlotte told me. By the way, you have a twig in your hair.”
“How unique,” contributed the marquise.
Henrietta lifted her chin. The twig came unmoored and bobbed distractingly against her cheek. “We were just on a nature walk,” she said brightly, brushing away the twig. “To look at… um….”
“Nature!” finished Charlotte.
Penelope, the traitor, snickered into her green lace handkerchief.
Hmph. If Henrietta didn’t know better, she might have suspected Penelope of setting up the entire humiliating fiasco as a means of making sure that Miles couldn’t see her without doubling over in laughter. Being discovered upside down behind a bush was not exactly conducive to inspiring burning passion. But Penelope wasn’t capable of anything that devious. Was she?
“Nature,” repeated the marquise, who had clearly not had any truck with that particular commodity. Her eye dwelled tellingly on the green smears marring Henrietta’s kid gloves.
Taking a deep breath and gritting her teeth, Henrietta patted the side of the hedge, and said in her best governess voice. “Did you know that this is an exceedingly rare species of bush?”
Miles looked quizzically at the prickly green mass. “Really?”
“Yes! It’s called, um….”
“Shrubbus verdantus!” supplied Charlotte eagerly.
“Is it any relation to Hedgus Pricklianus?” inquired Miles.
“Don’t be silly,” said Henrietta loftily. “There’s no such thing as Hedgus Pricklianus.”
“Right,” Miles nodded very solemnly, but Henrietta could see his lips twitching with suppressed laughter. “Not like Shrubbus—what was it again? Victorious?—that well known botanical wonder.”
Would it be an impediment to their future married bliss if she clouted him over the head with a fallen tree branch?
Miles was starting to make little snorting noises, like a dragon about to blow. “How,” sputter, “clever of you to disguise yourselves so that you don’t scare away the shrubbery.”
“Touchy things, hedges,” agreed Henrietta.
The snorts and sputters took over. Even the horses joined in, bucking and snorting, until Miles recovered enough to grab for the reins, still clutching his ribs with his spare hand. Henrietta caught Miles’ eye as he rolled with mirth, and reluctantly grinned back.
Oh fine, so it was funny.
Penelope gave her a “this is what you want to fall in love with you?” look.
“What in the blazes are you really doing out here?” asked Miles, when he’d calmed the horses. “Aren’t you supposed to be having a voice lesson?”
“Oh, no.” Henrietta fell back a step, one grass-stained hand to her lips like an actress in a bad melodrama. “What time is it?”
Penelope fished the pretty enamel watch she wore on a chain around her neck out of her bodice and flicked it open. “Six-fifteen.”
“Oh no, oh no, oh no,” repeated Henrietta. She looked frantically from side to side, as though a magic carpet might suddenly appear out of the air and whisk her back to Uppington House. “I was supposed to be home fifteen minutes ago.”
Miles leaned over the side of the phaeton, hair flopping in typical disarray across his face. “I can drive you home, if you’d like.”
Next to him, the marquise emitted a delicate but forceful sniff.
That decided it. “Thank you,” said Henrietta firmly. “I would be most grateful. Unless….”
She looked quizzically at her two best friends.
Penelope shook her head and flapped a hand at her in a gesture of dismissal. “You go ahead.” She looked at Charlotte. “We’ll finish our nature walk.”
“So many shrubs still unexplored!” chimed in Charlotte.
Thank you, Henrietta mouthed, as Miles swung down from the phaeton. With a hand on her elbow, he boosted her up into the high equipage next to the marquise, who was studiedly looking the other way, as though engrossed in the glories of the landscape.
Having gotten Henrietta settled in the curricle, Miles climbed up to resume his seat. There was just one problem. There was no seat to resume. The phaeton had been designed for two, not three.
“Could you scoot over?”
Henrietta slid down the seat the half-inch or so that separated her from the marquise, leaving a grand total of three inches for Miles. “I don’t think there’s any more room to scoot,” she said apologetically. “I can always get out and walk.”
The horses were beginning to grow restless at being kept standing so long.
“Never mind.” Miles plunged into the seat. Henrietta let out an unintentional whoosh of air as she careened into the marquise. The marquise said nothing, but her lips got very tight and her eyes very narrow.
“See? All cozy,” said Miles heartily, twitching the reins to set the horses moving. Hen gave him a wry look. The marquise sat very straight, and arranged her violet-gloved hands in her lap, looking anything but cozy.