“Is this it, Gippy? Are you sure?”
“Well, yah, Bunty. It’s been a while, but there’s no mistaking it.”
“How can you be sure?”
“Well, gosh. I lived here for much of my early childhood. See that shutter there, the one with the K on it?”
“The first one? The one that’s closed?”
“Yah. That used to be the maid’s quarters. Dashed good egg, she was. Local gal by the name of Tippy or something. Papa was always so lonely when Mama had to go away on family business. You know Mama’s family was big in; dash it, I can’t remember what it was, but I know it was jolly important. Anyway, when Mama had to go away, sometimes for weeks at a time, Papa was frightfully lonely. Good old Tippy always came to the rescue and let Papa sleep in her room so he wouldn’t need to be alone.”
“Are you sure that was the reason, Gippy?”
“Not with you, old thing.”
“You don’t suppose he went in there for a bit of rumpy-pumpy?”
“Heavens no; and I’m disappointed that you could even entertain such an idea. I mean; come on; Tippy was a serving gal. A chap doesn’t fool around with servants; simply not done. Honestly, you surprise me sometimes, Bunty!”
“So how long was this Tippy here for?”
“Can’t remember exactly; probably about a year. Before she came, her sister; can’t remember her name; she was the maid and she did the same; looking after Papa when Mama went away. Papa said she left to get married. Came back a bit after with her baby. Sweet looking child as I recall. Unusually pale for these parts, but pretty for all that.”
“Boy or girl?”
“The first maid’s baby. Was it a boy or a girl?”
“Oh. A boy. Named it Aubrey.”
“Isn’t that an unusual name in these parts?”
“Yah. I thought that, too. Papa’s middle name though. I suppose she chose it as a sort of homage to Papa, to thank him for being so kind to her.”
“Are you sure that’s the reason for choosing the name?”
“Why else could it be?”
“Never mind. Tell me about Tippy.”
“She left to get married, too. Seems Mama and Papa were such a good advert for marriage that these gals wanted it for themselves, too.”
“And did Tippy have a baby, too?”
“Don’t know. We had to leave for Blighty very soon after she left.”
“That’s a pity.”
“Because it sounds like your family were so happy here.”
“We were. We were sorry to leave, but Papa had been recalled by the FO and given a new assignment in Whitehall.”
“Foreign Office. He was cultural attaché at the embassy here. Let’s go take a look at the house. It looks as though it’s still lived in.”
Giles and Benita walked, hand in hand, along the narrow pathway to the front door of the house. They climbed the steps and knocked on the door.
“Who is it?” a female voice shouted from within.
“Just visiting the area,” Giles answered, “don’t suppose we’d be allowed to look around. Used to live here, you know.”
A local woman came to the door, opened it and spoke to them through the fly screen. “I can’t let you in; I’m just visiting, myself. The house belongs to my son. He should be back soon, if you’d like to wait. Can I get you anything while you’re waiting; tea, juice, water, cold beer?”
“Tea would be excellent,” Benita said, “Do you have Earl Grey?”
“I have tea,” the woman replied tersely.
“Could I possibly avail myself of your most generous offer—”
“Spit it out, Gippy, for goodness’ sake.”
“Beer please,” Giles mumbled.
“Hang on a minute,” the woman said, “You look familiar. Aren’t you little Giles? Giles Fortescue-Smythe?”
“Well. Yah. I am.”
“It’s so good to see you, Giles. My, you’ve grown into a fine young man; and who is your companion?”
“This is my fiancée, the Honorable Lady Benita Mendez de Villahermosa. We’re to be married soon,” Giles said, beaming with pride.
“Well, what do you know. Little Giles going to get married.” She looked toward Benita’s stomach and raised an eyebrow.
“Why are you looking at my stomach?” Benita asked.
“No reason, no reason,” the woman replied, “it’s just that… nothing.”
“Strange woman,” Benita whispered to her beau.
“You must think I’m most rude,” the woman said, “I didn’t introduce myself. My name is Yafreisi. I used to be a maid here.”
“Don’t recall that name,” Giles said.
“Of course you don’t,” she replied, “your father never could pronounce it. He always called me Tippy.”
“Tipster! Is it really you?” Giles asked, stepping toward her.
“Surely is, Master Giles.” She wrapped her arms around him and gave a hug that a grizzly bear would be happy to own.
With that, a young man of mixed heritage mounted the steps, whistling.
“Giles. I want you to meet my son,” Yafreisi said. “This is Algy – short for Algernon.”
“Random!” Giles remarked, “my middle name is Algernon.”
I wrote this in response to Kreative Kue 64, issued on this site earlier this week. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.