Splendor. Don’t talk about yourself like that, darling.
Stillmore. I’m not talking about me.
Splendor. Well, I hope you are not talking about me. But to answer your question, dear little dudes.
Oh. I never let the question of being able to afford something worry me. No No. And you know Shehanne loosely based part of the story on Cinderella. You would make the most marvelous mice.
How edifying for you all. Well, the thing is there is no such thing as a shopping addiction. It is all quite easily explained. Clothes, fans, stockings, petticoats are things I have a notion of when I am unhappy. Also they are unhappy too. Why should something that nice, that beautiful, be made to feel neglected? Well?
Splendor. Sorry? Yes. Yes, of course. Well I have to buy things because if I hadn’t, for example bought a lot of these items I bought when I didn’t have the money to buy things, my friend Topaz, who is a member of the Starkadder Sisterhood–thieves, in other words– would have stolen these things for me. She is a kleptomaniac. Keeping her out of Newgate was of the utmost importance to me. It would have cost the state a fortune to hang or transport her. I saved them money. Just think of the service you are doing for others every time you treat yourself to something nice.
Splendor . Well, I did say she’s a kleptomaniac and as you can see Stillmore wasn’t too troubled. Sort of not anyway. Unlike her, you need to think of what you resist. The three pairs of cherry-patterned stockings I bought on one occasion might seem excessive. But not when set against the fact I never bought the silk chemise. I wanted to but I didn’t. It made me feel so much better that I had bought the stockings.
Splendor – and did I say it’s less to carry especially when you may feel you have over spent and your palms are sweating?
‘The white silk had been a necessity when he wanted her to accompany him to that supper party, the small, simple event given by some dear friend of Lady Kertouche’s.
Why he had insisted on attending when he never ate anything had not only been beyond her comprehension, it had been so far beyond her pocket that buckets of sweat glazed her palms just thinking about it.’
It is a principle I am sure many are familiar with.
Splendor . Well, not if he’s anything like Stillmore, although people will see you are trying to do something about it. You can also try buying things that are reduced because people don’t like the design, so these things you get for a snip. I got a very nice day dress that way once. Again, what was I doing but giving a good home to something unloved?
Now lastly? Lastly let’s say you have found yourself in the situation of spending over the odds, perhaps for three, of one thing. I mean serious odds here. Well you just go out and you buy another three of a far cheaper version. That way although your round total may be more……… per item it is less if you do the division and see the logic. So three hamsters at 30 pounds a piece would be 90 pounds. But if I then bought another three at 2 pounds each, bringing the total to 96–pounds, not hamsters– then divided the total by 6, well, that is only 16 pounds each, which is sure to be acceptable to everyone. And that is only 3 at two pounds, if you buy more at two pounds, you will bring the individual total down even more.
Now then hammies while it’s been very nice chewing the fat with you all. I really much dash. Madame Renare’s shuts at five you know and she has the most divine silk gloves in her window it would be a terrible crime to leave them there.
Extract ..after a certain night in a certain barn in a certain thunderstorm …..
Lady Kertouche’s velvet-gloved hand wavered in the direction of the he, looking even more diabolical than usual if that were possible, dark stubble dusting his jaw and upper lip, his eyes sunk so far beneath his brows she would need a team with pickaxes to excavate them. And she had thought he quite liked Lady Kertouche.
“If you mean the cat, do say so, Violetta,” he said.
“Oh, not at all, Kendall. I merely…well…”
Or was it because Babs Langley stood there? Babs Langley, who she would die rather than look stupid before. And he would too. It must be. Suddenly she saw it. He didn’t know what to do.
“Oh, it is not what it looks.” In that second Splendor’s voice came to her. In fact, more than her voice came to her, breaking the awful morass holding her in slimy paws. “No, I do not know how you can think anything amiss.”
“Oh, my dear, I was not thinking—“
“His Grace and I eloped.”
Lady Kertouche’s exclamation was arrested by the tray dropping from the earl’s hand and clanging off the ground, along with Lady Kertouche’s dropping jaw.
“Yes.” Splendor could see what a mistake it was to continue, but there was also the matter of the parties, the balls and the outings. So she did it anyway. These would grind to an immediate halt if it was known she had spent the night with a man in a barn. Besides, he could thank her for her genius later, just as she had him to thank for the ten thousand pounds that would make her continuance in that glittering world possible. “We…well, you know how it is, I am sure. We just decided to avoid all the fuss and then… Then there was the storm. It was so awful, it forced us to stop for the night.”
If the expression darkening his features was anything to go by, being forced to stop wasn’t the only thing that was awful. The idea to take her by the throat and put a stop to her was plainly running through his disordered head. When she had dug him out of a hole? What was wrong with it for goodness’ sake? Give him a second or so, and he would surely see the value of her claim. How it would inflame Babs Langley.
Besides, they could deny it, couldn’t they, when all the fuss had died down, and they were all back in London? A joke, whatever. So there really was no need for him to appear quite so mummified.
“Eloped?” Lady Kertouche was so beside herself her eyes matched her mouth in the soup bowl stakes. “My stars. Kendall… You?”
He tilted his jaw. Sparks glinted in his eyes.
“But Kendall, you don’t like… I mean, since Marietta you have been a confirmed bachelor.”
“Well.” His smile was so saturnine, it would have skinned lemons at forty paces had there been any on that tray. “There is a first time for everything. Or so it seems.”