Friday, January 13, 2012

He's an unlikely menace.


The Scarlet-Gypsy Song is a bit different than most books [even fantasy] because the cause for all the trouble in the tale is double-breasted. You see, Randolph Fitz-Hughes is the villain, indeed, and yet all the trouble in the whole book is rather inadvertently caused by one man:
Mr. Adoniram Woolcott Macefield 
He's  an author, you see, and Cecily Woodruff, Diccon Quarry, Lad, Dear-Heart, even the villain himself were all created by his pen. The events in the story are dictated-to by Mr. Macefield's imagination. It's all part of his book that he hopes to publish and get wealthy by. So when he children get into his book and his heroine gets out of it, there's rather a kerfuffle. Here's the scene directly after Cecily has told him the truth about what has happened:

The clock ticked, beating a funereal rhythm into the otherwise silent room. Cecily remained seated, her eyes still fixed on Mr. Macefield who had not stirred for ten full minutes from his current position—head on desk, arms over head, hair sticking wildly up like untrimmed grass around a fence. She wondered if this man had been so overcome by her tidings that he’d fainted—but such a person would hardly be worthy of the name of Man. He must be lost in thought, as she herself had been when she heard the news. She shifted in her seat and the chenille of her dressing gown made a soft hushing noise—enough to rouse Mr. Macefield from his brown study. He raised his head a mite, his eyes darting from one corner of his desk to the other, as if the thing he had lost were to be found somewhere under the litter of papers and empty, coffee-stained teacups.
Cecily cleared her throat, sufficiently encouraged by this sign of life to get on with the business of solving the monumental problem before them. Mr. Macefield responded with a slow shake of his head as if he’d been a great Newfoundland just waking from a nap.
“You’re quite sure they’re gone?”
“Quite.”
“Ah. I thought so.” Mr. Macefield’s lips pressed against each other and it struck Cecily that he looked a much older man now than he had but a quarter of an hour before.
“What can be done, sir?”
“That would be the question, would it not, Miss Woodruff? I—I mean, your Grace.”
Cecily’s smiled at the quick recovery and the discomfited expression on her author’s face as he stole a sidelong glance in her direction. She put out a small, white hand and bowed her head. “I am not worthy of any such title, sir. I have done a terrible deed this morning.”
Mr. Macefield dropped her hand, which he had taken reverently, and scraped his chin. “You don’t mean to say you did it on purpose?”
“Never, sir!”
“No—no, your Grace. Forgive me for even wondering.” He scraped his chin again and chuckled nervously.  “You are not capable of any such thing—ha ha! I wrote you—I ought to know that much—you are kindness itself and beauty, grace, accomplishment, and modesty besides. Do forgive me.”
“You are forgiven, Mr. Macefield, but I can’t help wondering what is to be done in the matter?” Cecily fumbled with a pile of trimmings from pen-nibs and fixed an intent gaze on the man before her. He shrugged, tugged at his cravat so it lay even more cocked to one side than usual, and harrumphed.
“In cases such as these,” he began, frowning, “it is customary, I believe, to call the policeman.”
“The policeman! Surely you would not put the future queen of Scarlettania in—”
“Jail? Certainly not. A blunder again. But what else does one do in the case of missing persons? And so many missing all at once.” He tossed his hands in the air, fluttered his fingers like a covey of doves, and smiled. It was apparent that, for the moment, the idea had rendered him quite helpless.
Cecily leaned forward in her chair. “There is one difference in our case than most others, sir.”
“Indeed? Is there? The children are missing, and nowhere to be found, certainly?”
“But that is not so, Mr. Macefield—they are to be found. We know where they have gone—the only trouble is, we cannot get at them.”
Mr. Macefield smiled again. “Capital logic, Miss Woodruff—er, your Grace. I ought to have thought of it myself.”
Cecily smiled; glad to have her piece spoken. The matter was entirely in her employer’s hands now. It was only he who had the power to do anything to change to course of events. She sighed. Court-life had not taught her how to handle such a dilemma, though it had taught her many a valuable skill. A sun-beam warmth crept into her heart, the precursor of a laugh—perhaps they ought to begin a royal class on What To Do If One Loses Her Charges. But there were graver matters at hand.
“What is your course of action?” Cecily asked. Her employer’s course of action, at present, seemed to be to clutch his hair and stare, sighing now and smiling then, frowning in between.
He stirred. “I suppose the only thing to do is to…write them home.” He sighed then, and overwhelm registered so strong in the slump of his shoulders, Cecily could hardly bear to look upon him. “But see here, your Grace—is there not another way? What about the box? Surely you have it with you?”
Cecily shook her head. “I’d thought of that—but your children are most thorough in their mischief—they took the box along.”
Mr. Macefield nodded and scratched his nose. “I only wondered—I might have gone in after them.”
“And what then? The box can only carry people forth—never call them back. Where it dances once it cannot tread again.”
Mr. Macefield slid half-way down his chair till only his cravat, his head, and his hair were visible above the sea of paper. “I had forgot that.”
“Then, sir,” Cecily said, standing and smoothing her skirt. “You had better start writing.” She turned to leave.
Mr. Macefield scrambled under his desk and blocked her retreat. “Isn’t there another way? Something else I can do right now?”
Cecily peered over his shoulder at the desk, chair, bookcases, and tables awash in manuscript. A brief interlude in the madness might aid the poor man’s agony. Then her stomach turned a somersault as remembrance forced itself upon her mind. “Well, there is one thing that must be done immediately.”
“Alleluia—what is it?”
“We must tell your wife, sir.”

4 comments:

Ashley said...

Genius, Rachel!!!

londongirl said...

This pure genius! I'm so enthralled by the beauty of your work. I can not wait to read more and I do hope this book gets published.

Anne-girl said...

That last sentence made me howl with laughter!

Gracie said...

This book is amazing!