Title: The 12 Days of Christmas From Someone Beneath Me
Rating: PG-13 for violence and disturbing imagery
Summary: Ever wonder what made Cecily leave her Victorian life to become Halfrek? A play on the song, The 12 Days of Christmas, and a play on an insufferable bitch's sanity.
1880, December the Thirteenth
Mother and I have been quite concerned about the strange goings-on at the Haugh residence. Ever since William disappeared for a fortnight, strange doings have been told by the servants. Not that I listen to such gossip, but when one hears of a fine, upstanding lady such as Mistress Haugh... Well, better not to speak of such things. What mother wouldn't become adle-brained with such a wretch for a son? To think he deigned to love ME... It isn't to be borne.
However, I do find it odd to see movement in the windows at such a small hour of the night, yet no servants coming in and out during the day. No matter.
Tonight is a Grand Ball at the Worthingham Estate. I shall wear my lavender crinoline and carry the new clutch Father brought back from his travels. I expect to make quite a splash.
1880, December the Fourteenth
It was lovely to see everyone dressed so fine last night. My card was full all evening, and I dare say that Roger Worthingham and I would make a charming couple. It was all Mother could talk about on our ride home. I was the only girl in lavender, and with my complexion, there aren't many who could wear such a delicate colour. I am certain to be remembered for it.
Mother is calling me to the foyer. Someone has sent a gift. Can I imagine who has sent something this close to Christmas? Oh, do I dare?
That he would... the unmittigated gall of him. Common sense and propriety dictate that one does not purchase a gift for someone richer than he. What would be the point? That Mr. William Haugh sent a gift as if he had the right... And how droll. A partridge perched in a fruit tree as the song calls it. I could die of shame. I had mother roundly send it back, unsigned. Oh, I hope no one has heard of this... I shall not be made a laughingstock.
1880, December the Fifteenth
I hardly slept at all last night. Mother insisted that no others were in the street when the delivery boy arrived, but one can never be certain. I insisted to her that I had let Mr. William Haugh know in no uncertain terms that I didn't care for him, and that it was cruel of him to suppose that I would be able to suffer any feelings beyond civility for him. His father left the family's finances in such a state. As if it was to be considered!
I will put this all behind me, hold my head high, and begin to prepare for tonight's ball. Mr. Worthingham is to be sought after with due haste!
Later this day...
How can someone be so stupid? He is too much a sentimental fool to be cruel. A pair of doves! In gilt cages, no less. Everyone knows that they have no money. This flagrant display of borrowed wealth is shameful. It is certain why his mother was driven to... No. Mustn't speak of that fine woman in such a manner. And the cow of a delivery boy brought the fruit tree with the same partridge back 'round again. Has the whole town gone mad? I want to crawl under the covers and sleep the night away, but Mother says to put my best face forward and put this all behind me.
1880, December the Sixteenth
I discovered whilst dancing with George Blassingame, a treasured family friend, that no one had heard of the utterly ridiculous gifts that had been delivered to my door. I trust George completely with my horrid secret. He displayed the perfect level of outrage at the cheek of Mr. Haugh. To better, more brighter topics then.
Roger (for I may call him Roger, at his wish!) danced several numbers with me and told me of his recent trip to France on business. It seems his family is purchasing a large estate in the country and he had heard of my "eye for balance and colour" and wished for me to see it! Oh, the fantasy may soon become reality... Mother is calling. There seems to be a gift from France awaiting me! My heart shall surely break with joy...
Father said he will have the constable come around. Perhaps a doctor should be sent to the Haugh residence as well. Surely the man is not right in his head. The uproar being caused by the staff is frightening me. Have you any idea the scale of mess caused by such creatures? Father threatened the delivery boy with bodily harm, so upset was he at the sight of that contemptable bird and fruit tree again. Notwithstanding the gilt cages, with three new additions! Oh, ho, the "gift from France" was not what my heart had yearned for, yet three more birds. Hens! Two of them having laid eggs already and the delivery discharged them onto the marble floor of the foyer. What sense is there in giving me such gifts? The man doesn't even sign the cards. They are simply addressed to me in an even hand: For Cecily. I feel as if I am going mad....
No parties for me tonight. I shall stay close to home and help the younger children assemble the noise poppers and drink Wassail.
1880, December the Seventeenth
It is madness. There is no other word for which to call it. First thing this morning came a ring at the door. Miss Maggie rolled up her sleeves and prepared to stare down whatever was brought to our home. As soon as the door was opened, the sound went rolling through the great hall like thunder. THESE birds had cards attached. If I wasn't so angry with the thought behind the gift (or rather, the abject loss of thought) I would think they were lovely - muted colors of the forest. But once they open their mouths, the squawking caused a ringing in my ears that is just now beginning to recede. And the damned partridge, doves and hens were all back as well! Father says ladies don't swear, but I feel as if I could cry or fly into a rage at the drop of a hat.
The delivery boy visibly cringed when the door was opened. "Gov'nor, whassat about not killing the messenger? You'd not have me off just for doin' me job, would ya now?"
I did steal a glance at Father placing a well deserved kick in the seat of his pants. He's marching down the street to speak to Mrs. Haugh. Finally. I'm having Cook mix me a sleeping draught.
1880, December the Eighteenth
It appears that Father hasn't left the large bowl of Wassail in the great hall all night. I'm tempted to tipple a bit more ale and sherry into the mix. I'm not allowed to drink sherry as of yet. At least today brought no NEW birds. Oh, the filthy buggers (horrors! whatever has gotten into me?) from the days past are back, but today brought the new extravagence of bangels of gold! William, who couldn't be bothered with but one suit. Who walked everywhere instead of taking a cab like a sensible gentleman. Whoever heard of someone wanting to "connect with the night air?" Whatever can that mean? Senseless.
The rings are quite lovely, and of a stunning quality. How such a wretch was able to purchase things of such luxury is beyond even I. I asked Father about it (he didn't seem to notice that he was holding the cage containing the hens from France - I'm concerned.) and he got a wild look about him. He told Mother and I that we were simply to find a place to keep them.
He smells of drink and rubs his neck in a most confusing manner. Having pears in winter is a lovely idea, but what on earth shall we do with the fool birds? I can't in good conscience release them to the elements... Perhaps someone has a dovecote and will take them all in.
1880, December the Nineteenth
Bloody Hell! I don't care. These are my thoughts, and if I wish to swear, well, then... The absolute bastard has sent more birds 'round the house today. Our holiday is completely ruined. Beatrice came to call and asked "if it was true." Oh, I could die! I am utterly ruined for society, and all because of that sodding, simpering, sad sack of a dolt who cannot seem to take "no" for an answer. It will be everywhere after this.
The doorbell rang, and Beatrice chose that exact moment to "see herself out." I believe the heathen natives of Africa refer to it as "guano." Six great birds, tied together and held by some naif who curtseyed at me, handed me the rope, then proceeded to walk off! Such a honking, and in my home! I called for Miss Maggie to take them away, and I believe I may be afraid to eat tonight, so great was her wrath. At least they are laying geese, so perhaps Cook will not be so cross with today's "gift?"
The cacophony of squawking, honking, chirping, and chittering in the back sun room will surely drive me mad. The butcher is due this later afternoon.
1880, December the Twentieth, or as I now refer to it, my Seventh Day of Utter Torment
Haven't I always gone to church? Do I not always give to the many that are less fortunate that I? When Beatrice continues to select such hideous colours for her complexion, do I not always lead her to a more suitable choice? It simply wouldn't do for me to be seen with such a pasty bowl of whey. What great ill have I done to warrant such a run of bad tidings? Upholding my family's honour by not accepting the hand of an ill-fitted and poor suitor? And this is the thanks I get.
The butcher sent his boy to gather all of the "flock" as Father referred to them (really, three bowls-ful? Tsk, tsk, Father. What did happen at that house?) and a sense of peace and calm more fitting to the season befell our home. Mother and I stayed up late into the night decorating the tree, preparing the menu for the Christmas dinner, and discussing my prospects amongst the available suitors.
This morning, I woke to my mother crying. Father raised his voice to her and told her to "accept, accept! Dear God, Woman, take the bloody gift!" While they are attractive as they swim about on the Thames, swans are not so lovely when perched on your credenza. They are like goats with wings. Seven! They "mate for life" as Father muttered to me, re-filling his glass with what smells suspiciously like sherry, and less like Wassail. Whenever the stable boys tried to grab one, another would fly at their faces, honking and kicking until I feared we would have to shoot them and damn the windows. Albert had the idea of throwing blankets over them and gathering them up.
The card came back from the butcher that he was "filled with glee" at our current run of events. Whatever could that mean? Sherry is quite good when mixed with a bit of ground clove. Adding cider is quite useless at this point.
My Eighth Day in Hell
The birds have stopped coming! Do not take my exclamation as joy however, more shock and horror at the new crime commited to my person. When the door was flung open today, a bloody COW came in! It was quickly followed by eight young ladies who stunk of dung, carrying stools and pails. It should not come as a shock that they sat themselves down in our receiving room and proceeded to extract milk from said beast.
Miss Maggie locked herself in her room and hasn't come out but to yell at us in her native Gaelic. It made me miss the sound of the birds.
Heaven forgive me, but I raised my voice to Father. I railed at him, "how can you let this continue? I shall be laughed out of all society! My invitations for the remaining balls of the season have been requested returned! Father, Father PLEASE make him stop. Have him arrested! Have him thrown out of town! Something. Please, Father. If you don't... I shall march down there myself and... slap his face!"
At this he jumped up and grabbed me. He had a most unsettled look in his eye and screamed at me "to leave it alone." He rocked and ran his hand through his hair then looked at me with a peculiar glint in his eye. I was most frightened. "Yes. Perhaps I should let her go and speak to them..." I knew in my very marrow that I would do no such thing, and truth be told, I was very frightened of Father. Mother has locked herself in her sewing room, and hasn't come out all day.
The butcher is beside himself. If I sit down to steak for dinner, I think I shall be sick.
More of the Same
Whores! Stinking, filthy, plump, and scantily clad whores. I have no idea who could have ever dreamed up such punishment, nor why we sing this horrid song each year whilst caroling. Dancing. Pah! I've never seen such undulations, and to refer to that in the same manner as to the genteel manner in which to pass the time at a ball...
These... women slithered and slunk into our home as if they were the maid service. Scarves flown about like bits of paper. Mother clapped her hands over Cedric's eyes. Honestly. He's a young lad of 12 and to be subjected to such filth on this most hallowed Holiday? I do believe I am at my wit's end. I have completely crossed Roger off my list. It seems the only prospect for a husband that I'll have at this rate is the butcher's son, and a more spotty, wonky youth never shambled on this earth.
All of my prospects for happiness are dashed. Mother is constantly in tears. Father has been passed out on the hearth rug for several hours, the maids have quit, and none of my inner circle has been round to call since before the Froggie Hens. I'm ruined. Utterly and completely. All because of that bastard. That whey-faced, floppy-haired... POET!!
I have no idea where to house the trollops until the constable comes around. He actually laughed in Miss Maggie's face when she ran to the station. Has the whole world gone mad?
1880, December the Twenty-Third
If I thought nothing could be lower than a troupe of whores cavorting in the Conservatory, I certainly was mistaken. Actors. And they aren't even very good actors. They are dressed (quite shabbily, if truth be told) in a mockery of everything I hold dear, everything I once stood to gain, and now have had ripped from me. The house thunders with their every jump. Oh, I am well aware of the lyrical "leaping" they have been porported to do according to the Devil's Own Music, yet jumping is what I say as jumping is what I see.
I've had to place myself in front of the servants' quarters to keep the two groups of scalywags from one another. As there are ten of these flamboyant thespians about, yet only nine of the, ahem, dancers, that leaves one. One that has been panting at my heels and reaching for me since the noon hour. A good, sound slap to his cheek certainly let him know where further steps along that path would leave him.
I've arranged for my Auntie Claire to pick up the younger children and keep them at her home. She was terrified to send a cab as if the madness that lives here was catching. Mother hasn't come out of her blankets, Father is of absolutely no use. I shall take matters into my own hands. I will not be a prisoner in my own home!
The strangest thing. I took it upon myself to pay a call to the Haugh residence, rumors or no. Mistress Haugh seemed most relieved of her ealier consumption, indeed, she looked rather in the pink with a jovial gleam in her eye. Instead of outrage or shame at the actions of her son and the pain that has been heaped upon my family, she almost seemed... delighted. Can it be that her mind has finally snapped?
Never would she come out to speak to me and seemed most insistant that I should join her for tea. The very idea! When I made to turn and leave, she hissed at me! I looked at her quite sternly and asked, "I beg your pardon?" What should have put her in her place seemed to have pleased her... 'Tis most curious. I reminded her that her own tenuous standing in the community was at stake, should she choose to not correct her son.
I felt as if every hair on my neck was crawling up to reach the sun when she spoke. "I see you do not care for the gifts that have been prepared for you. Perhaps you would enjoy the presents I have planned?" The peculiarity of this statement almost made me forgot our stations. "Madam, perhaps you should recall our social standings? Shall I have to remind you that your son is acting as a poor sport and should learn to better deal with life's disappointments?"
The crone replied, "you know nothing of life's disappointments. But you will, my love. You will." I? Know nothing of disappointment? I, who have lost a Knight in good standing with the Queen as a suitor? I who have had to endure humiliation upon humiliation these past days? These... peasants shall rue the day they chose to upset the greater balance of my existence!!
1880, December the Twenty-Fourth
I awoke with a sense of calm. I dressed quickly and made for the foyer and opened the front door myself (most of the staff has left at any rate) right as the next "delivery" was made. Heaven preserve us, the Irish have landed. I assume they won't stay much longer as Father and the actors, pardon me, Lords have drunk most of the spirits that were left. I don't even hear their great wailing pipes any longer, such is the state of my head.
I hate him. Oh, I hate him so. If I saw him I would pluck out every hair on his head, smash those ridiculous glasses into a thousand tiny pieces, and then choke him on his own paper filled with his bloody, buggery, hateful, horrid, stupid little words! Once he was dead, I would then proceed to rip his arms from his body and beat him about the head with his own limbs. I would drag his torso through the great heap of muck that was created in our back atrium, commission the dancers and thespians to leap about his body, smashing every bone into bits, then deposit the entire bloody mess at his mother's feet.
Oh, ho, the things I would do to her. To dare speak to me the way she did... To completely ignore the madness her son is causing... It is inexusable.
Things I Would Wish Upon an Old Crone's Head, by Cecily Navisham.
I wish for her to fall over clutching her chest in pain, no. no, I wish that she would break all of her limbs while tripping over her own stupid cat. That she lay in her own filth and putrescence for days with no one calling on her. That her mind would slowly crack watching her own life's blood seep from her many wounds and have the knowledge that not one person will care about her when she is gone. That even her own foolish son will not care for her. And I wish that it would HURT.
And all of this has upset me so much that the lovely color that normally brightens my complexion (I've ALWAYS been told I have the most delicate rose-petal skin) is gone. Surely he won't deviate from that damnable song and all will end on the morrow?
1880, December the Twenty-Fifth
Snow began to fall last night and has not ceased as of this writing. It appears the sun will not be making an appearance at all today. Funny thing, the dreaded arrival of my final "gift" has not made a showing. Not that I am not pleased for the respite, but I have an unsettled feeling about me as if something nasty is going to jump out at me - but that is a childish fear. I looked outside the window and saw many footprints at our door, but no package, no trollops, no bloody Black Watch Guard. An eerie calm has settled over the entire block. No children playing in the streets with new sleds, or young couples enjoying new cutters behind their most glorious steeds. No shouts of "Happy Christmas."
I do hear a knocking now, naturally, so I may as well get it over with. I know it must be something loud and boorish, but as soon as I am done with it, I pray that I shall be able to get on with whatever life I may have left.
By the gods I shall have my revenge! He will know my wrath!!! The complete and utter BASTARD! Oh, God, why is this happening to me... I WILL RIP HIM INTO BITS WITH MY OWN HANDS! I SHALL DRINK HIS BLOOD! Oh, God, the poor dears... How is this possible? Dead. The whole family, and laid out in a grotesque parody of a tintype... SHE KNEW! SHE MADE HIM DO THIS! I'LL HAVE HER HEAD ON A PIKE! It is no wonder he turned out so badly with such a mother as she! Oh, God! There is a noise outside my door! If someone should find this, they're all dead. They killed my family, oh, God! my little brothers and sisters to spite me, and I will do unto them as they have done unto me, I SWEAR IT!!!