Since many of you wish to get better acquainted with the teller of my tale, A Mother for the Seasonings, let me give you a glimpse of Basil in action:
"I ran out to the group in the guise of a perfectly welcoming host. “Hurry along, Miss Watkins,” I said, taking her arm.
“I am going just as quickly as I wish to, Master Seasoning. It does seem to take an eternity to get to your house.”
Rosemary trotted ahead and beckoned to us. “Faster, Miss Watkins, there’s a dear.”
As we approached the house, the barking of the dogs could be plainly heard.
Miss Watkins turned visibly pale. “Are the dogs fastened tightly?” She pulled her arm out of mine and twisted her handkerchief into a knot.
I affected a casual air. “Oh yes. We made sure to tie them up securely. Especially after what happened last time.”
“What happened last time?” Miss Watkins stopped and turned to me.
Rosemary tilted her head to one side and shook her head sweetly. “Oh nothing much. Only that Deacon Cloddham visited last week, and although her arrived with all his fingers, he left with nine.” Her brown eyes had never looked more sincere. “You had better hold your hands high in the air so the dogs don’t think your gloves are pieces of meat.” She nodded at the smart salmon colored gloves Miss Watkins wore.
Even I was shocked by Rosemary’s tales—she was usually so mild, and I shook my head at her audacity.
We entered the gate an odd procession, but the spirit of mischief had firm hold of me by now. Miss Watkins held her hands above her head, and, for Angelica’s benefit—for I knew she would be watching out the front window—I held out my arm like a rapier, as if we were holding this woman hostage at sword-point.
Hot anger at the bare idea of Miss Watkins being our mother urged me to greater heights. I have no idea what fiend of inspiration made the others act their parts so well, though perhaps it was a kindred feeling to mine, but even Fennel suggested that we had better dash to the front door in case one of the dogs broke loose.
At this, Miss Watkins gathered up her trailing skirts and ran to the door, arriving with her bonnet tilted over one ear. We crowded the walk behind her.
“Is your father at home?” Miss Watkins’s ivory complexion was flushed an uncomfortable shade of red.
“He isn’t yet, but he will be.” A fluttering sensation rose in my chest.
I gave Miss Watkins my arm and led her through the house to the table, which looked lavishly elegant. Angie’s roses lent an additional charm.
Fennel gasped. “Basil, those woses are full of—”
I clamped my hand over her mouth and pulled out a chair for Miss Watkins.
She sat down and plastered a smile on her lips. “Will your father be home soon?”
“Yes, but we usually eat without him, why don’t we begin?” I bowed my head and said a blessing, mentioning nearly everyone of our acquaintance in Cape Farsight, and dwelling on the heathen in the far reaches of the world. I hoped rambling on in such a way would bide us some time before Papa came home. At last I was finished, and I lifted my glass. “To Miss Watkins.”
The others followed my example. “To Miss Watkins.”
The subject of the toast managed a cold smile and put her glass to her lips. She promptly choked on the liniment-flavored tea.
I stole a glance at Angie, but her face registered no emotion beyond polite surprise. She kept her eyes on her plate and ate her own food in silence. That little minx was a fine actress, I had to admit.
I needn’t explain the next few minutes very deeply. Suffice it to say, Angelica and I had done our jobs well. The food was thoroughly uneatable, and the fat green worms, not contented with their rose-petal beds, had tumbled into Miss Watkins’s salad, completing her disastrous meal.
Our guest rose, her whole body trembling. Her jaw was clenched, and her eyes glittered. They were pools of golden malice. I shrank involuntarily from their gaze.
“Children, I reject, I despise, I spurn, your proposals. I would not marry a man who fathered such brats if he were a king. Good day.” Miss Watkins turned on her heel and slammed the front door as she left our house."
Ah yes. My dear Basil.
1. Do they have any habits, annoying or otherwise?
Basil’s habits are of a neat nature…the other Seasoning children tell me that he often stands before a fireplace, hands clasped behind his back, legs spread apart.
2. What is their backstory and how does it affect them now?
Basil shares the same basic backstory with the rest of his siblings: They had a mother, beautiful and young, who they loved very much. She and Capt. Herb Seasoning were fervently devoted to one another. But when she gave birth to Fennel, Victoria Seasoning died, leaving Capt. Seasoning a widower with five young children. Ever since Basil has felt a deal of responsibility for his family.
3. How do they show love?
Basil’s manner of loving is to ruffle Angie’s hair or pinch Fennel’s nose. He is a thoughtful person and likes to see women well-dressed, so he is liberal with his compliments, which pleases Rosemary, especially. As far as other fellows go, Basil is a typical man. His expressions of satisfaction and approbation are most often given in a slap on the back or a grin.
4. How competitive are they?
Basil is not what most people would call competitive—he has enough trouble already keeping Angie and Dill from killing each other. But as the oldest child, and a son at that, Basil makes sure he keeps his place as alpha-wolf in the pack. He’s a peacemaker, not a ring-leader, but he takes the lead often as a “captain” for the girls, as he expresses it to Dill.
5. What do they think about when nothing else is going on?
Shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings, I’ll warrant. Basil is a typical boy who is curious about things. He likes nothing better than to go to work with his father, training new recruits for the British army. I suppose soldiers, sailing ships, exploration, and adventure stories figure largely in his mind. He is (happily) not at that age where any thought of girls, beyond his sisters, comes into play. I would not know what to do with him if he fell in love rather than his father! Yet Basil is aware enough to have a good eye for a wife for his father. It is he who has the final say in the Mother-Hunt visits.
6. Do they have an accent?
Oh yes, indeed. Basil has a stout, healthy British accent, and uses exclamations of peculiar Englishness as liberally as a Democrat.
7. What is their station in life?
Basil Seasoning is the eldest son of a prominent man in the settlement of Cape Farsight, India. Captain Herb Seasoning is an important figure in the training of the new recruits and brings home quite a pretty penny. The Seasonings are the Society children of the Cape. They are wealthy and rather spoiled with little to vex and much to please them. I cannot vouch for the statement that they are refined…though Angie is kept busy striving toward that end. But the Seasonings haven’t let prosperity turn their heads. The children are more at home talking to Dharma, the seller of trinkets in the market, than they are sitting in an OLAF tea-party. (Oh. And do let me explain OLAF—it stands for Old Ladies Against Fun, and is made up of all the Society wives of Cape Farsight)
8. What do others expect from them?
His father expects Basil to be his right-hand. He depends upon this eldest son more than he realizes. The other children instinctively look to Basil for guidance, letting him take the hits when something goes wrong, and the glory when it goes smashingly. His character is well-formed and noble for a mere boy of thirteen—I suspect because of his early sorrow and the way the children have had to “scramble up” on their own, Capt. Seasonings being such a busy man.
9. Where were they born, and when?
Basil Andrew Cyrus Seasoning was born on a bright morning in November. It was early summer, as India is in the Southern Hemisphere, and all the world smiled as it heard his first cry. Basil has that effect on people—he sooths and pleases them, and makes everyone feel at ease.
10. How do they feel about people in general?
Basil likes people, but he doesn’t like pretense. He hates false friendliness and social ladder-climbing. Having been brought up in a home where frankness is key, Basil neither understands, nor enjoys cold, conventional cordiality merely for the sake of being polite. If People in large will be themselves and leave all posturing at the door, you will find him your fast friend.