Down to Aunt Clara’s for the long weekend. Claude was doing driving duty while I tried to retain composure in the back of the car. The journey was thrilling, as Claude can generally be relied upon to drive a little bit too fast.
After a while Claude’s usual confidence behind the wheel seemed diminished.
“Claude,” I shouted, “why are you slowing?”
“No reason,” he answered and gunned the engine.
“You’re lost, aren’t you? Admit it Claude.”
“Not lost, Miss Lettings, just recalibrating one’s bearings.”
“That’s Claude for lost. Ha!”
“I don’t think it is generally appreciated for one’s employer to take such joy in ones shortcomings.”
“Generally ha! You aren’t generally anything Claude and don’t let anyone ever say that you are. You and I both know that your shortcomings are so few and far between that one must make absolute hay when the opportunity presents otherwise you might start to believe your own press.”
“How can we be lost on the way to Clara’s, it’s our country pile Claude, it’s where we emanate from, seems a bit rum this Claude.”
“Well there was the small matter of a poorly signposted diversion, it was very clear about which ways we couldn’t go but hasn’t, since that time, been as keen to inform us of how we might return to the designated path.”
“Well that explains it Claude, I’m sure you’ll get us back on track, but if you could see your way to hurrying these wilderness years along it would be preferable. I believe fatted calves are being prepared and one doesn’t want to put people out.”
We made it in shorter time than normal, I allowed Claude his pretence that he had found a shortcut, while secretly being rather pleased that he’d gunned the engine to make up time.
Clara greeted me and rather than welcoming me into her bosom and asking me to pull up a pew began to issue me marching orders and complaints. What, she wanted to know, was going on with young Alison etc, etc, this didn’t seem a fruitful line of dialogue to have at the moment, but in exchange for diverting her river of verbiage off course I was given the unenviable task of acting guardian over the weekend for a vicious squirt, known as Paul, who was a nephew of Lord Boysenby.
I decided that the best way to break his spirit was to charge him with taking my bags to my rooms. He was none to keen and seemed to feign buckling underweight and there was a great deal of groaning to contend with.
Once in my rooms I ordered him about with abandon. Claude was not keen on receiving such help but I feel this is good for him and the boy too. I’m sure Paul sees this as beneath him and it’s good to break this belief. Claude thinks such things not proper, and I want him to realise that there’s no such thing anymore.
We are just about done when I realise that my scotty dog broach is not at the appointed place. I quiz Paul about it and immediately I can add to the existing list of shortcomings, which already includes wiping snot from nose, lifting bags without a fuss, and not showing distain quite so blatantly, the new item of inability to lie convincingly.
That boy has my broach, and I must have it back by the garden party on Monday or there will be hell.