A/N: a P.C. newspaper.
Chapter 15: Tales of Pilgrims' Doings
A Gentleman in Peril
I come to tell a tale of woe
A pitiful occurrence—
A most serious and sober yarn
I give you my assurance.
It was a time not three days past,
When walking by the stream
Your fellow clubber Snod of grass
Was halted by a scream.
He whipped about in great concern
And then, "What ho!" cried he,
For swirling in a spiteful pool—
N. Winkle, howling, "Help me!"
This gentlemanly sir, so mild,
Was really in a strop
It shook me to the core to hear
His animated "yawp!"
But closer bent I to observe
This strange and foreign scene
And thus I came to understand
Why our fellow's face was green—
The oars were flown, a leak had sprung,
The boat was swiftly filling
Our young protagonist's sad fate
Appeared to be a spilling.
But! Mournful as my story is,
It has a happy ending
And glad am I to give report
Of Winkle's steady mending.
For when Yours Truly saw this sight,
He grabbed a nearby rail
And offered up its noble length
To quiet Winkle's wails.
With splashes many and struggles brave
Our friend was hauled ashore
And, lesson learned, he staunchly vows,
To boat alone no more.
THE ACTRESS AND THE SPY
The girl stood behind the curtain, still dressed in full Arabian costume, her pulse quickening as wave after wave of applause reached her through the thick fabric. She lingered a moment, eyes closed, recalling the night's performance—it had been a memorable one. She breathed in deeply, then hurried offstage, and, ignoring the chatter of the other actors in the anteroom, she swathed herself in a long black cloak and a bulky scarf, effectively concealing her distinctive stage clothes. She didn't hear the whispers that followed her as she slipped out the back door and into the night, but the young man who stood in the corner, watching, did.
"Clothilde did wonderfully to-night, non?"
"Oui, c'est vrai. She was spectacular, the best I've ever seen her. It's a shame she never stays—I wonder where she disappears to so quickly? She never says goodbye."
"Oh, don't you know? Her father won't let her act—she tells him she's got a cleaning job here, or something of the sort. Can you imagine? Our Clothilde, the pride of the company, a cleaning wench?"
"Pourquoi? Why doesn't he let her act? He must see she has talent."
"Mais oui, how could he not? But the man's wife was an actress, in Paris, and she died on the stage, poor woman. Her father won't let her near a stage after that. 'Tis rumored Clothilde looks just like her mother, though I never saw her myself."
"Mon Dieu! How tragic!"
The young man who had been listening quietly left the corner, taking his coat with him.
Closing the door behind him, he was just in time to see a small, thickly bundled figure disappearing around the corner of the long main street. He stared after it for a moment, then turned about briskly and hastened down a side street.
He strode quickly through the dark night, turning up his collar against the chill, and his long legs brought him to his destination with speed. It was a small house, the windows shuttered and dark. He stopped on the doorstep, hand raised to the knocker—but something stayed his hand, and he stood, poised in indecision. Just then, however, a noise interrupted him, and he turned to see someone coming through the gate. Before he had time to hide, even if he had thought to, the person had started, and frozen herself—for it was Clothilde, from the theater, and she was staring at him.
"Que est-ce que tu veux?" she asked. "What do you want?"
"I—nothing," he said confusedly.
"What are you doing here? I saw you at the theater, were you watching me? Who are you?" she demanded.
"Jacques, my name is Jacques. I'm sorry, I'll go…" he looked slightly ashamed of himself, and made to force his way past her; but she seized the sleeve of his coat.
"Did my father send you? Dites-moi la verite!"
"Vraiment? Truly?" he paused. "Oui."
Clothilde's face hardened with anger. "How much?" she spat.
"How much did he pay you to spy on me?"
She let go of his coat disgustedly. "Very well then, Monsieur Jacques. Go on. Tell him I'm an actress—tell him I've been lying and sneaking around. Tell him I broke my word. Go!"
Jacques looked down at the girl, who appeared to be quivering with rage—but upon closer inspection, he thought he saw tears glistening in her eyes by the light of the stars. He shook his head slowly and reached into his pocket. "No," he said, drawing out five francs and holding them out to Clothilde. "I'll go. I'll find your father tomorrow, and tell him you're just the cleaning girl, as you told him. Keep the money."
"I don't want it." Her voice was shaking.
He looked at her for a moment. "Then give it to your father, and tell him you got a tip," he said, slipping the money into her pocket. He pushed past her and opened the gate once more.
"You're not going to turn me in?" she said sarcastically, and he paused.
She glared at him for a moment, then, after a quick glance at the ground, asked, "Why not?"
"You were too good." He said simply. "You deserve the stage."
Clothilde looked away, and the tears in her eyes grew heavier, threatened to fall. When she had blinked them away, Jacques was gone.
She turned back to the door alone, and crept in silently, turning as she closed it for one last look at the stars.
AN ACCOUNT OF SICKNESS AND RECOVERY
As some may know, our esteemed fellow Tupman has been laid up with a terrible cold all week, and it grieved us all deeply to hear the sneezes that issued from the depths of his sickbed. However, yesterday morning he rose to find naught wrong with his health but a slight weakness of limb, and has been getting along splendidly since. A well-wisher would like to propose a pause at this point in the meeting for a club cheer. Hip-hip-hurrah!
[Editor's Note: Tupman would like to add that he's sorry he hasn't been able to write this week, but that he hopes the club enjoys the pie he baked in place of a literary contribution.]
Mrs. M. M., a most respectable local matron, wishes to post notice of this Wednesday's meeting of the Knitting Guild, which organization has accepted the application of the honorable Sam Weller. As the demand for socks from the front never fails, all are requested to continue their efforts throughout the week and are expected to arrive with a current project.
[Editor's Note: Mr. Snodgrass is available for assistance in Mr. Weller's instruction, should he find it undesirable to arrive at the gathering completely clueless.]
An anonymous supporter wishes to report the miraculous retrieval of one red-and-blue kite, sans tail (the unfortunate item probably being stuck up a tree). Should the owner desire to declare himself, well and good—if he would prefer to retain his anonymity, he may recover the object through contact with the firm Laurence & Laurence.
Algebra class for young ladies has been rescheduled for Mondays. Students are requested to arrive with a clean slate and as much fervor for mathematics as can be mustered—though after the efforts of one Mr. Davis, difficulty is understandable.
Philosophy Lecture to be held at eight o'clock sharp, Thursday next, March residence. Neighbors included in the invitation. Our expert on the subject being absent, we will turn to Socrates for advice—Plato already being present, albeit in stone form and without anything below his neck.
The Hummel Community is once more in need of assistance, and all are required to make an appearance this evening—with the exception of Mr. Tupman, who spends far too much time there anyway, though he may come if he likes.
Ladies and Gentilman, I heerby invite you all to a tea party the party I mean is to be held on Monday afternoon and Beth please dont bring the cats as I am worryed they will climb on the table like last time. It is to be held in the house of Laurence because Mr. Laurence Mr. Weller I mean said I could and yes I did ask Jo so dont scold and he was verry nice about it. Please wear your nice things and it is at 3 oclock sharp.
A.S. is requested to get a pair of his own gloves, instead of ruining S.P.'s. T.T., please keep the cats out of A.S.'s ink, for everyone's sake (though it would be helpful if Snodgrass wouldn't leave it out in the first place). N.W.'s complexion would stay clearer if he didn't hog the sweet stuff at breakfast. S.W. is reminded that Winkle doesn't like to be teased about his nose. S.P., Annie Moffat looks perfectly ridiculous with bows on her nightcap, so don't fret.
[Editor's Note: The second and fifth reports above refer to one specific incident, not the entire week, and as such should not count as a "weekly" report. However, this opinion was outvoted by protesting club members.]
A/N: Yes, I have finally posted a new chapter! (I'm SO sorry it's taken so long, but I had an awful case of writer's block...it was bad. Hopefully it's cured now, though. and thank you, all you new people who reviewed!) I'm a little displeased with Meg's story in this chapter, because I really couldn't get her writing style at all...but i think in the long run it's all right. I don't know. you tell me. what do you think? please review!