Hello all! I've decided to write a Keeping Up Appearances fanfic, as I do love watching Hyacinth's daily dramas! This story mainly takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland, which I have never been to, so I have left it up to imagination (and a bit of research) so I may have a few (or many) details incorrect (just telling you now!)
And now, on with the story...
"Richard! I need you to help me decide what suitcases to pack our luggage in for our annual holiday!"
Richard had just settled down with a warm cup of tea and the newspaper in the living room, intent on having a nice, relaxing time to himself. Just for once. He felt as though he had been on his feet all day, and now he was more than ready for a break.
However, Hyacinth's last sentence had left him momentarily confused.
"What?" Richard craned his head to peer at Hyacinth, who was standing beside his chair and looking at him with exasperation. Wearing one of her many floral-patterned dresses and equally bright lipstick to match, Richard could easily sense that Hyacinth was in one of her nothing-can-stop-me-now moods.
Hyacinth let out a long sigh. "Richard, you must know that every year, it is our duty as a member of the upper-class society to go on a lavish holiday." She tugged Richard's newspaper out of his hand, and placed it on the coffee table. "This year, I have taken the liberty of organizing such a holiday that even Mrs. Councillor Nugent would particularly envy."
Richard stared at Hyacinth. This could only end up going in one direction. Badly.
"Hyacinth, what sort of holiday have you got in mind?" he asked, attempting as much as he could to keep his voice even.
She waved a hand at him dismissively. "Oh, just a little trip up to Scotland, dear. It's very much a popular holiday area for those who wish to experience more culture of the tartan-wearing kind."
"And have you any idea how much this is going to cost?" Richard replied, his voice and expression sounding pained; even more so with the thought of the amount of money he would have to part with.
As usual, Hyacinth didn't take any notice of this objection; it being one of many she had learned to ignore. "Richard, I do wish you wouldn't argue with me all the time. Now, make yourself useful by going into the spare room and sorting out our suitcases. I particularly think that the dark green patterned one with the trundly wheels would make a lasting impression on those who behold it." With that, Hyacinth swooped down on Richard and swiftly jerked his cup and saucer away from him, just as he was raising his cup to take a sip. She continued on as she rinsed the cup and saucer under the tap and stacked them in the dishwasher. "I will just phone Elizabeth and invite her over for coffee, so that I will be able to tell her all about our wonderful holiday plans in Scotland."
"You mean your wonderful holiday plans." muttered Richard, as Hyacinth bustled away to the next room.
Elizabeth sat at the kitchen table, lifting her usual beaker full of tea to her mouth to take a sip, while Hyacinth bustled around the kitchen, arranging biscuits onto a plate and keeping up a constant stream of talking.
"...I can tell you now, dear, that Richard was absolutely delighted with the prospect of traveling to Scotland for a few days. I do think that when we arrive, the locals may think that we are the owners of a large country house in the midst of Britain, with a great emphasis on style and artistian culture. Why, just think, Elizabeth, that we might even be mistaken for very important people high on the list of upper-class society. They shall all be clamouring to be invited to one of my candle-light suppers." Hyacinth paused to draw breath and to take a sip of tea. "And what will you and Emmett be doing, whilst Richard and I are experiencing diverse tartan culture?"
"Well, we'll be just staying at home, I think." Elizabeth said, steadily lifting her beaker up to take another sip of tea.
"Oh. Pity." Hyacinth wrinkled her nose, as if to illustrate her point. Just then, the telephone rang, shrill and loud. Elizabeth jumped and spilled half her tea on the table in fright. Luckily for her, Hyacinth didn't notice, as she was hurrying to get the phone. "It's probably my sister Violet! You know, the one with the Mercedes, sauna and room for a pony." she called out to Elizabeth, before lifting the phone to her ear. "The Bouquet residence, the lady of the house speaking." Hyacinth's trilling voice rang through the house. "Oh Sheridan, how thoughtful of you to ring Mummy at this time."
"How much money does Sheridan want this time?" Richard called, staggering under the weight of the enormous dark green suitcase he was carrying. "Because he's not getting anything. We've got enough to worry about without having to part with extra money."
Hyacinth made frantic shooing noises with her free hand. "Richard, take that suitcase back into the bedroom and occupy yourself with getting out the other suitcases, dear. And stop slouching like that. I will not allow you to slouch like that indoors. People might look through the window and see you. It's very unseemly behaviour."
With a sigh, Richard turned to unsteadily make his way back to the bedroom.
Hyacinth continued talking to Sheridan. "It was very fortunate that you rang at this time, as Mummy has some very exciting news. She and Daddy are spending a few days in Scotland, immersing themselves in the culture of tartan-wearing folk." She paused for a few moments. "Yes dear, I am sure that the tartan is made with the finest quality materials. Otherwise, I am not sure that we would be going there in the first place." Hyacinth listened again on the telephone. "You want me to what...? Bring some back for you, dear?" There were a few more moments of silence on her end of the phone. "Of course I will, but what will you do with it?" Her eyes grew wide as she listened. "Make it into a kilt...Tarquin says that it's very in? Well you'll be good at that, you were always very good at embroidery." She nodded slowly, then her eyebrows raised in surprise. "Oh I see...you and Tarquin are making matching kilts?" There was a brief pause. "Well that's very good, dear. Now I really must get going. Elizabeth is round for coffee, and I have also the arduous task of deciding which suitcases to take with us on our Scotland holiday. Goodbye, Sheridan, goodbye!"
Hyacinth put the phone down, then turned to make her way back to the kitchen. Elizabeth had, thankfully, managed to mop up the spilled tea on the table before Hyacinth could see.
"That was Sheridan." Hyacinth said, beaming. "He's such a good boy, he takes after his Mummy."
"Indeed." Elizabeth replied, leaving her beaker untouched on the table.
"You know, Elizabeth," Hyacinth declared, "I have been thinking what a shame it would be for just Richard and I to travel to Scotland by ourselves without having companions we could rely on to exchange witty and humorous accounts with about our daily adventures." Hyacinth paused to take a sip of tea. "So really dear, you must come to Scotland with us. Bring Emmett too, as I have a very clear vision of him performing one of his pianoforte pieces in front of an adoring Scottish crowd."
Elizabeth was too shocked to say anything.
"Well, that's settled then, dear. Oh, I can just sense that this trip is going to be such fun for all of us!"
Elizabeth was silent as she opened the front door and stepped inside. What on earth was she going to tell Emmet?
Emmet was sitting in the living room, as usual, at the piano. His expression brightened when he saw Elizabeth.
"Well, Liz, what did you learn at Hyacinth's today? That they are moving to Timbuktu and taking a non-return flight there?" He laughed.
"Well...actually..." Elizabeth stuttered. "They're going to Scotland for a few days."
A gleeful grin spread across Emmet's face, and his eyes lit up with happiness. "Is that really true?" He jumped up from his seat and made his way quickly over to Elizabeth. "Just think, Hyacinth gone, all our troubles will be far, far away!" Taking Elizabeth's hands, he swung them from side to side with happiness before skipping back to his seat at the piano. "No Hyacinth means that we will have many days of happiness!" Emmett promptly began to play the chorus of 'Glory Glory Hallelujah', smiling all the while. "Oh, Liz, just think of the fun we'll have when Hyacinth is away!"
"Well, actually..." Elizabeth tried as best she could to find the words she was looking for. "Hyacinth invited us along to Scotland, too."
Emmet's figure visibly stiffened. Slowly turning round to face Elizabeth, in a voice laced with dread, he asked, "And what did you say?"
"I didn't say anything!" Elizabeth replied indignantly. "You know Hyacinth, she just expects us to go with her."
Emmet slumped down onto the low keys of the piano, which made a rather ominous sound. "No, please no." His voice was muffled by the ivory piano keys.
"And as well as that," continued Elizabeth, "I was under the impression that she wants you to perform a piano piece in front of a large crowd of Scottish admirers."
Emmet banged his head down onto the piano keys, twice for effect.
"Hurry, Richard!" exclaimed Hyacinth impatiently. "We still have to pack Elizabeth and Emmet's luggage before we are able to leave for Edinburgh."
"I'm hurrying." came Richard's muffled voice from behind the armful of bags he was carrying. It was a wonder he could see at all; the bags very nearly obscured his vision.
"Watch out for the car, dear!" Hyacinth said sharply, for Richard had stumbled and had nearly sent the bags flying everywhere, and himself nearly flying into the car.
Just as he had managed to set the bags down beside Hyacinth's dark green suitcase, Hyacinth's voice shrilled out. "Ah, Elizabeth! And Emmet too, how lovely of you to join us on this bright and fine early morning."
Elizabeth had turned around to lock the door, leaving Emmet standing on the doorstep with two suitcases. His expression morose, he slowly made his way across to the small garden fence that separated the two houses. "Good morning, Hyacinth." he said, as politely as he could. "Good morning, Richard." he continued, though friendlier.
"Do smile, Emmet, you look as though you're about to go to a funeral." Hyacinth chirped, before launching into the start of, "Oh, what a beau-utiful moo-oorning..."
"Wish I was about to go to your funeral." Emmet muttered as he unsteadily climbed over the fence. Elizabeth was next, helped over the fence by Emmet. By this time, Richard had managed to stack all the suitcases and bags into the boot of the car, however was having slight trouble shutting the door.
"Do you need a hand there, Richard?" Emmet asked, glad to have something else to do besides making forced conversation with Hyacinth. He made his way quickly over to the rear of the car, where he and Richard shoved at the boot of the car, praying that it would shut. Elizabeth was left to get into the back of the car, as Hyacinth waited at the front door of the passenger seat. Eventually, the boot of the car shut, and Emmet was left to get in the car beside Elizabeth. Once they were all in the car, Richard dutifully opening the front passenger door for Hyacinth, the car started slowly down the driveway and out onto the road.
Hyacinth also wasn't blind to the fact that the members of the households near them had gathered out onto the road. Rather, as Emmet thought, with barely suppressed expressions of relief and excitement. However, Hyacinth seemed to interpret it differently.
"Oh, look!" she exclaimed. "They are all giving me a proper send-off! How nice of them! Perhaps I should think about inviting them to my candle-light suppers more often." She waved regally at them, not seeming to notice Emmet and Elizabeth attempting to hide in the back seat. "What fun we shall all have in Scotland! I have a feeling that Mrs. Councillor Nugent will be dying to hear all about our experiences there."
And with that, the car accelerated down the street, on the way to Edinburgh.
"Mind the Highland cow, Richard!" Hyacinth exclaimed waving her left arm towards the window for effect.
"It's in the field." Richard replied, though carefully driving on past the field. The group of large cows raised their heads to stare as the car continued on. Hyacinth wasn't fazed. "You really should be more careful, dear. They could take it upon themselves to jump over the fence."
"The cows are fine." Richard said wearily. He wasn't sure about himself, though. Driving all the way to Edinburgh with Hyacinth constantly pointing out road signs that had nothing to do with their route, and now telling him to watch out for Highland cows that were safely fenced in a grassy field, had really taken its toll on poor Richard's mental health. Elizabeth had fallen asleep in the seat behind them, and Emmet had taken to staring out the window with a blank expression, wishing that he was back at home.
"We must be close now." Hyacinth said, closely watching the road ahead of them. "I cannot bear to think that we may be lost in the middle of nowhere, with only Highland cows for company."
Just as the car rounded a hill, a sign that said 'Welcome To Edinburgh' came into view, along with the view of the village below. Cobbled stone streets twisted and turned, leading to small houses, with bright rows of flowers planted in the gardens outside. The main road stretched in front of them, with shops situated on both sides. Pedestrians strolled along the pavements. Hyacinth noticed that there were two waiting to cross the road ahead of them.
"Beep the horn at those pedestrians, Richard." she remarked. "They ought to know that we are here, after all, we are representing the upper-class British society."
Richard gave the horn two short beeps. Elizabeth, who was slumped asleep against the window, woke up in fright. The taller of the two pedestrians jumped and nearly fell over, onto the road. The shorter woman squealed, and clutched the Give Way sign next to her to steady herself.
"Dear, dear." Hyacinth shook her head. "I did expect people here to be more grateful. They really should know how fortunate they are that we are here. Turn left here, dear." she instructed Richard, who did so.
The car pulled up outside a medium-sized stone house, with a sign outside the white wooden front door reading, 'St. Valerie Guest House, B&B. All welcome.' All four of them got out of the car, blinking in the bright afternoon sunlight. Hyacinth nodded approvingly.
"Now this is very grand." she said, nodding and smiling at the house. "What do you think, Emmet? Perhaps I might host a candle-light supper here, and sing while you play a piano piece."
"Wonderful." Emmet muttered grudgingly, walking around to the back of the car to help Richard unload the luggage.
"Hyacinth." Elizabeth pointed towards the front of the house. "There's someone here."
Hyacinth turned around and saw a tall, balding man with ginger hair wearing a grey suit and tartan scarf making his way towards the car. "Hello, good sir!" she called, waving at him.
"Yoo're th' Buckit fowk?" the man asked, scrutinizing Hyacinth and the surrounding company. By this stage, Emmet and Richard had managed to extract the bags and suitcases from the boot of the car, and were in the process of shutting the door.
Hyacinth closed her eyes in utter distaste. "It's pronounced Bouquet." she informed the man, peering up at him. "And these are our neighbours, Elizabeth and Emmet Warden." Hyacinth waved a hand to indicate them, who were now looking at the man with interest.
"Indeed. Weel, arenae ye comin' inside, 'en?" The man beckoned them forwards, leaving Elizabeth to scurry after him. Emmett followed behind her, carrying their suitcases.
"Richard." Hyacinth hissed, as he made his way slowly forward, Hyacinth's suitcase in one hand and two large bags in the other. "I am very much confused about the language spoken in Scotland. That man should really learn to speak proper English if he hopes to stay on here." She turned around and strode purposefully into the house, leaving Richard to stagger along with the luggage.
"Haur ur yer rooms. Th' Booquit fowk in thes a body, an' th' Wardens in haur." The Scottish man opened each of the doors to indicate the rooms. "My name's Mr. Harker. Anythin' ye need, jist ask." He turned to go back down the hallway.
"Thank you." Elizabeth called after his retreating back, following Emmet into their room. Hyacinth seized Richard's arm and dragged him into the small bedroom. Richard nearly overbalanced due to the weight of the luggage and fell onto the bed, but managed to steady himself just in time.
"What, Hyacinth?" Richard asked irritably, placing the suitcase and bags as carefully as he could beside the bed.
"Richard." Hyacinth spoke quietly. "I want you to tell me if you think that this is suitable wear to impress the locals of Edinburgh with." Hyacinth smoothed the front of her floral-patterned pink and white dress down, and straightened her hat. Her hat was equally pink as her dress, with a white ribbon and flowers poking out the front. "I don't want them to think that I'm trying too hard."
"You look fine, Hyacinth." Richard observed. "Now let's unpack and go and explore Edinburgh with Elizabeth and Emmet."
"Well, Hyacinth." Elizabeth said, as the small party stood outside the house. "Emmet and I were thinking that we would go to visit Derlington Castle."
Emmet shot Elizabeth a grateful look. "You probably wouldn't want to come with us." he added. "It gets rather dark and cold in some places, and I imagine that it wouldn't be very much to your taste."
"You're probably right." Hyacinth replied, sniffing at the thought of visiting a dark and cold castle. "I wouldn't want my hat to get ruined."
Emmet snorted, however managed to turn it into a cough. "Well, that's settled, then. Liz and I will take the bus to the castle, and we'll leave you with the car."
"Very good." Hyacinth remarked, as Elizabeth and Emmet began to walk away towards the bus stop. "Richard, we shall visit a local coffee shop, preferably one with distinct Scottish country appeal."
"Why can't we go to something more modern?" Richard pleaded. "Can it be one with distinct contemporary appeal?"
Hyacinth shook her head. "Don't be silly, dear. You know, we only get to go on our annual lavish holiday once a year, and a coffee shop is one of the things we must simply take great notice of. Especially genuine Scottish scones with jam and whipped cream from Highland cows."*
Against his better judgement, Richard heaved a sigh. "Very well, then."
"Isn't it wonderful not to have Hyacinth around?" Emmet asked Elizabeth, as they sat on the bus, traveling to the castle. "I feel as free as a bird!"
Elizabeth nodded in agreement. "I do love going to explore a castle and knowing that she won't be following us around all the time." Her gaze drifted out the window. "It's Richard I feel sorry for, though."
"Yes. That is indeed a pity." Emmet replied. "But imagine if Hyacinth got lost in the castle dungeons! That would be a fine sight to see!" He laughed.
"Oh Emmet, you are terrible!" Elizabeth gave him a shove, but couldn't help laughing as she pictured Hyacinth stumbling around in the dungeons.
Hyacinth and Richard sat beside the window in the Bell Morale tearooms, both of them occasionally glancing out the window at the . The late afternoon sun was shining down onto the people passing by out on the street, who were strolling down the cobbled stone pathways.
"This scone isn't as satisfying as I thought it would be." Hyacinth remarked, placing the remaining half down onto her plate. "Especially as I'm not sure that the whipped cream came from real Highland cows."
Richard had finished his scone, and was now sipping his tea. "What does it matter where the cream came from?"
Hyacinth half-closed her eyes as if in exasperation. "Because I would not be fit to be seen in a tearoom such as this, eating Scottish scones without authentic whipped cream from Highland cows."
Richard sighed inwardly. He chose not to argue with Hyacinth, as usual.
Suddenly, Hyacinth sat up, as an idea came to mind. "Richard, I feel as though it is time for us to have an adventure! We are in Scotland, after all, and I feel as though it would be a shame not to tell Mrs. Councillor Nugent with great detail about our many interesting expeditions in the land of the tartan culture, wouldn't it?"
Meanwhile, Emmet and Elizabeth were having the time of their lives at Derlington Castle. They had walked in the gardens surrounding the castle, walked through stone hallways and narrow corridors, and had admired the view of the village below from the balcony.
"Shall we go down to the dungeons next?" Emmet asked, as he and Elizabeth walked slowly down the stairs that led to the main hallway.
Elizabeth nodded excitedly. "I've always wanted to see real castle dungeons."
But before they could make their way down the stone steps to the dungeon entrance, the faint sound of a car approaching on the other side of the stone wall, and pulling into the courtyard area. The car stopped, and the two of them could hear doors slamming as the occupants got out.
Then, a voice they both knew all too well rang through the air...
"Now this is more like it, Richard. Experiencing true Scottish culture by exploring truly old and historic castles such as this does truly make an impression."
In an instant, both Elizabeth and Emmet unfroze from their positions behind the other side of the wall, and ran in two separate directions. Elizabeth ran back up the stairs to the castle balcony, and Emmet ran down the hallway, scanning frantically for the entrance to the dungeons.
"On what?" Richard sounded confused.
Again, Hyacinth ignored him, striding closer to the castle entrance, with Richard hurrying to keep up with her. "Now dear, we must first make begin at the ground floor, and make our way to the top. Not the other way around, as only the lower classes do that sort of thing." She sniffed at the mere thought, then began to walk down the hallway, towards the entrance to the dungeons. Richard followed behind her. "But I thought you said that you didn't want to go down into the dungeons."
Hyacinth tutted and shook her head. "Richard, you must remember that I said nothing of the sort. Now do keep up, dear." She descended the stone steps that led downwards as though she owned the very castle itself.
Richard thought that the dungeons looked both exciting and scary, at the same time. As they passed the first room, a tiny cell with a stone bench that looked rather foreboding, he noticed that Hyacinth seemed to have lost some of her confidence. However, Hyacinth seemed as though nothing would deter her from having an adventure.
Emmet hid behind a large stone pillar, growing increasingly nervous as Hyacinth drew nearer to his hiding place. 'What if she sees me?' he thought. "She might sing at me. She always sings at me.'
Suddenly, Hyacinth stopped, right in front of Emmet's hiding spot. "Richard, I do believe I am slowly being affected by all this dust and mildew, and need a refreshing drink of water."
"Well, there's water in the car." Richard replied, looking at Hyacinth anxiously. "But are you sure you'll be all right by yourself?"
"Of course, dear. Now off you go to fetch the water. I shall be waiting right here."
Richard obediently turned around and made his way back down the corridor. As soon as he was out of sight, Hyacinth's confidence wavered even more. She didn't at all like being alone in the dark.
"Richard had better get back down here quickly. Something may come creeping out of the dark and devour me on the spot." she said to herself, keeping her eyes fixed firmly on the exit.
"Hyacinth..." Hyacinth jumped as her name was whispered out of the shadows. She quickly glanced up and down the stone corridor, but couldn't see anything.
"Who's there?" Her voice jumped up about four octaves higher with fear.
"Hyacinth..." The whisper came again. "I can see you..."
"Show yourself!" Hyacinth replied, in a loud terror-stricken whisper.
"I am the dungeon-dwelling creeper...and I'm coming to get you..." The whispering voice intensified Hyacinth's fear further, rooting her to the spot with terror.
At this point, Emmet, attempting to suppress his laughter, reached around the pillar and brushed his hand lightly against Hyacinth's shoulder. With a shriek, Hyacinth ran, stumbling in her high-heeled shoes, towards the dungeon exit, calling for Richard. "Save me! There's a monstrosity of a creature after me, probably intending to make off with my hat! Richard!"
Emmet, huddled behind the pillar, shook with stifled laughter. Richard, upon hearing Hyacinth calling for him, hurried as fast as he could back to the entrance of the castle. Just as he reached the main entrance, he nearly collided with Elizabeth, who had come rushing down the steps in a great hurry when she heard the commotion. Richard stumbled, nearly falling over into a large pot plant. Elizabeth clapped her hands to her mouth in fright and shock as she saw Hyacinth running as quickly as she could up the stairs of the dungeons and nearly falling on top of Richard. "Richard! Elizabeth! The-cungeon-crelling-dweeper-is-coming-to-get-me!"
Emmet cautiously emerged from his hiding spot, keeping as straight a face as he could muster, and made his way quickly up the stairs towards all the drama. Upon catching sight of him, Elizabeth beckoned him over. "Emmet, I think that we should all get going. And let's stop for tea and biscuits on the way. I've got a feeling that we all need a break."
The following morning dawned fine and bright, with not a white cloud in the sky. They had all slept well, tired out from their travel and excitement from the previous day. Hyacinth seemed to have recovered from the dungeon-dwelling-creeper incident, and was seeming to be particularly enthusiastic about the day ahead.
Which was why Elizabeth, Emmet and Richard stared at Hyacinth when she arrived in the kitchen for breakfast that morning. She was wearing brown waders, black gumboots and a dark green jumper with a matching green tweed cap. Over her shoulder, she was carrying a medium-sized fishing rod.
"Good morning, all." Hyacinth sang as she sat down at the table, placing her fishing rod beside her chair. Mr. Harker walked through the kitchen door, carrying a plate of bacon and eggs, which he put down beside Hyacinth.
"Thanks you, Mr. Harkin." Hyacinth beamed. "Isn't it a lovely morning to go trout fishing in the rivers of Edinburgh?"
"Trout fishing?" Richard's eyes opened wider. "Why on earth do you want to go trout fishing? Didn't you have enough excitement from yesterday?"
"Yes, it is a brammer morn an' aw tae be gan' trit fishin'." Mr. Harkin informed them. "There's th' Almond River nae tay far frae haur. Plenty ay trit tae catch."
Hyacinth wrinkled her forehead up in confusion.
Elizabeth broke in. "Thank you, Mr. Harkin. I'm sure that trout fishing will be a lot of fun for Hyacinth."
Mr. Harkin smiled and departed from the kitchen, leaving the rest of them to eat their breakfast.
"Won't it be just wonderful when we four are sitting on the riverbank of the Almond River, fishing and exchanging merry tales of our expeditions in Scotland?" Hyacinth rambled, casting a glance at Elizabeth and Emmet. Elizabeth was slowly stirring her tea, and Emmet was staring at his plate looking depressed. "I think that Mrs. Councillor Nugent will greatly approve, at the very least."
Elizabeth and Emmet slowly trudged behind Hyacinth along the bank of the Almond River, who was calling Richard to follow along. Poor Richard was loaded up with his and Hyacinth's fishing rods, as well as a tartan picnic blanket and two deckchairs.
"Hopefully Hyacinth begins to see sense and realizes that this is an utterly crazy idea." Emmet muttered to Elizabeth, as they walked along. "I'm sure that the trout will take one look at her and swim away as fast as they can."
"Yes, but Emmet, Hyacinth is determined." Elizabeth replied, swinging her fishing rod in her hand. "Once she puts her mind to something, there is no getting her away from it."
The small party reached a sunny part of the riverbank, which Hyacinth deemed as, 'the best spot for trout fishing.' Richard emptied his load onto the bank, and began to set up the deckchairs, helped out by Emmet. Elizabeth spread out the tartan picnic rug, as Hyacinth nodded approvingly.
"This is indeed a first-class fishing spot." she said, sitting down in one of the deckchairs, and indicating for the others to join her. "Now, let us fish for trout!"
A couple of hours later, the four of them were still at it. There had not been much excitement on the other end of their fishing lines, dangling in the river, slightly swaying with the current. Only Hyacinth seemed to have any more optimism left.
"Maybe there will be more trout in the central area of the river." Hyacinth observed, studying the water. "Don't you think, Richard? Emmet?"
Richard, who was slumped slightly over his fishing rod, gave a jerk and raised his head up, blinking at Hyacinth. "What, Hyacinth?"
Hyacinth sighed. "Richard, you really must listen more." She glanced at Emmet, who was staring at the water blankly. "Emmet?"
Emmet seemed to rouse himself. "Yes, of course." Then, with a small grin in Elizabeth's direction, he added, "Maybe you should see for yourself."
Hyacinth looked down at her brown waders and black gumboots. "Very well. I feel as though these waders must be put to good use, after all."
Before the others could comprehend what was happening, Hyacinth had got up, and hesitantly put one foot in the water. Then another. Before she knew it, she was standing in the middle of the river, up to the knees in murky water. The remaining three on the riverbank gaped at her. Hyacinth swung the end of her fishing rod in the river, straightened up and beamed at the others.
"Be careful, Hyacinth!" Elizabeth called. "Don't fall in!"
"Don't be silly, Elizabeth, of course I won't fall in, dear." Hyacinth replied, as the end of her line suddenly gave a small tug. "Richard!" she exclaimed. "I do believe that I may have a bite on the end of my rod!"
"Pull it up, then!" Richard exclaimed, standing up to get better view of the situation.
Hyacinth stood on her tiptoes, hanging firmly onto the rod, and began to slowly wind the reel. Elizabeth, Richard and Emmet watched earnestly.
Then, the end of the line tugged harder. Hyacinth, who was only hanging onto the rod, and nothing else, waved her free arm in an attempt to steady herself. However, Richard thought that Hyacinth was waving to him, so he lifted his arm to wave back. All of a sudden, Hyacinth, with a shriek, overbalanced and fell forwards into the river with a large splash. Elizabeth and Emmet leapt out of their deckchairs to aid Richard, who was hurrying towards the edge of the riverbank. "Hyacinth!"
Hyacinth stood up as quickly as she could, her face an expression of horror, her clothes dripping wet. Thankfully, she had not let go of her fishing rod, but the fish on the end seemed to have disappeared. As quickly as she could, she stumbled towards the riverbank, water sloshing around her feet as she did so. Both Elizabeth and Emmet looked just as shocked as Richard did.
Hyacinth spoke, straightening her wet hat and wringing the water out of her jumper. "Richard, we must go back to Valerie House immediately. I cannot bear the thought of anyone else seeing me like this." She was beginning to get rather cold and miserable. "I am especially glad that Mrs. Councillor Nugent or any of the neighbours are not here to see this. What a sight I look." Hyacinth tugged at her hat, pulling it straight.
"It looks like there won't be any more fishing here, today." remarked Elizabeth.
That evening, Elizabeth suggested to everyone that they all go out for dinner. Emmet and Richard readily agreed to this, as well as Hyacinth. "I do need some sustenance after the traumatic incident at the Almond River this afternoon."
"What restaurant will we go to?" Elizabeth wondered, intently studying a tourist brochure.
"I shall look." Hyacinth said, tugging the brochure out of Elizabeth's hand and taking a good look at it. "Castle Gate Terrace...that looks rather grand, but I think that I have had enough of castles." She shuddered delicately as she recalled the incident at Derlington Castle. "Oloronslow Restaurant...no, that reminds me too much of Onslow..." Hyacinth shook her head in disapproval.
So, that evening around six, the restaurant finally decided upon, the four of them drove to the Duck's Bistro. Wooden chairs and tables were dotted about the room, with a varnished wooden floor to match. A fire was blazing cheerfully in a corner, not far from squashy navy chairs grouped around it. The lights from the ceiling shone down onto the bottles stacked on wooden shelves behind the bar. Classical music was playing from speakers in the ceiling. The waiters and waitresses buzzed around with friendly smiles on their faces, getting people seated or taking their orders.
"It is rather grand here." Hyacinth informed Emmet. "I can just feel that our meals are going to be absolutely sensational."
Emmet smiled as politely as he could. "Yes, I think so, too."
As they sat down, a waitress arrived at their table. "Hello, can I get you anything to drink?"
Hyacinth nodded in approval. "At last, someone who speaks proper English around here! I am indeed grateful." She paused for a couple of seconds. "But can you speak up a bit, dear? I can't hear you over the musical acoustics of Beethoven."
Richard sighed and stared at the grains of wood on the table.
The waitress looked confused, however Emmet managed to rescue the moment. "Two glasses of dry beer, and a jug of water, please."
The waitress nodded. "Here are your menus." She handed them some menus, then departed.
"Now, the question is, what to order?" Elizabeth wondered, looking at her menu.
After half an hour of small talk, mostly supplied by Hyacinth, their meals arrived. Elizabeth had thankfully not spilled any water from her glass onto the table from nerves, and both Emmet and Richard had drunk their beers (to which Hyacinth tutted at, but did not pursue).
"I am thoroughly enjoying this dish of haggis." Hyacinth informed the table at large. "This is surely a part of Scottish culture that people from the upper-class society greatly are in favour of." She paused, the next mouthful halfway to her mouth. "I wonder what a haggis is made of?"
Emmet and Elizabeth exchanged glances, and Richard choked on his black pudding. "Hyacinth..." he spluttered, managing to take a sip of water. "You don't know what a haggis is made of?"
Hyacinth gave one of her famous sighs. "Richard, you must know that part of going on lavish holidays, especially in the land of tartan, is trying new things, especially when confronted with dishes such as these." She gestured to the half-eaten haggis on her plate.
"Right." Richard said carefully, choosing, as usual, not to argue with her.
When they had all finished their meals, they got up from the table, and Richard went to pay the bill. Hyacinth stopped to talk to the waitress who had served them their meals.
"May I just say that the haggis I ate before was just exquisite." she said, giving the woman what she thought looked like her most beaming smile. The waitress took a step backwards in alarm. "If I might ask, what is a haggis made of?"
The waitress gave Hyacinth a puzzled glance, before answering her question. "It's made out of a sheep's heart, liver and lungs, and it's all minced up like, with onion, oatmeal and herbs and spices. It's nowadays served in a sausage casing, but it's usually served in the animal's stomach."
Hyacinth's smile faded abruptly. Her eyes opened wide with horror at the thought of what she had just eaten.
"Well...thank you very much!" She gave the waitress a small wave, then turned around and shakily made her way over to where Richard and the others were standing. Richard gave her a peculiar glance. "Hyacinth, are you all right?"
"Richard, I am coming over rather faint all of a sudden." Hyacinth began to fan herself with her hand. "And I have decided that it is not very grand here, after all. Or sensational."
"Wonder why that is?" Emmet muttered sarcastically.
"Let's go then, Hyacinth." Richard opened the door to lead the way out, but Hyacinth marched through before he could do so. The others followed after her, as the wooden door swung shut.
As luck might have it, the following day started normally, once again with the weather warm, the sun shining and the sky blue. Mr. Harkin bought them breakfast with a cheerful, "Guid morn. Whit ur yer plans fur the-day, 'en?"
"I must go into the local township and buy some tartan for my son Sheridan." Hyacinth replied, before anyone else was able to say anything. She beamed at Mr. Harkin. "He's at university you know, and won prizes for his embroidery. Takes after his Mummy."
Mr. Harkin looked briefly surprised, before nodding. "Weel, guid oan heem, 'en. Ain, if yoo're gonnae intae toon, Ah hink thaur micht be festi'es thaur somewhaur."
Elizabeth smiled at him. "Thank you. We'll certainly look out for those." Mr. Harkin turned and left the kitchen, allowing the four of them to eat their breakfast.
"Richard, what did Mr. Harkin say?" Hyacinth asked confusedly. "I am still somewhat puzzled as to what language he is speaking."
"He said that there are festives somewhere in town today." Richard replied, returning to his bacon and eggs.
Hyacinth looked delighted. "That is simply wonderful! Well, we must go, then."
"Fabulous." Emmet muttered, earning a look from Elizabeth.
"Yes, isn't it?" Hyacinth said, proudly straightening her blue flowery hat.
After parking the car down a side street just around the corner from the shopping centre, the four of them made their way down the bustling streets, having to almost battle their way through the crowds.
"Why are there so many people here?" Elizabeth wondered, gripping the back of Richard's coat so she wouldn't get separated from the group.
"Probably because of the festives on in town today." Richard replied, dodging around a lamp post with Elizabeth in tow.
"This will not do." Hyacinth shook her head. "I will not be seen in public in such a large crowd not looking as well-dressed and composed as I usually do. People may notice." She looked around quickly. "Richard, you and I must go into a tartan-selling shop to purchase some for Sheridan."
"Liz and I can meet you here in about...two hours?" Emmet wondered, wanting to get as far away from Hyacinth for as long as he could.
"Nonsense, Emmet, half an hour will do. Then we can join in the festives!" Hyacinth airily waved a hand. "What fun that will be! Come this way, dear." She got hold of Richard's arm and dragged him down the street in the opposite direction. Distinctly, Richard saw Emmet and Elizabeth quickly disappear into the crowd.
"Now, Richard, where to get tartan material from?" she wondered, looking at him expectantly. "Of course, we must only get the best for Sheridan. Him and Tarquin are going to have such fun together sewing their matching kilts." Hyacinth gave a tinkly laugh at the thought. "In here, dear." She steered Richard up the front steps and through the front door into a shop called 'Needle And Thread'. A bell at the door jangled as they walked in, both of them gazing up at the layers of material and fabric folded neatly on shelves. The shop assistant came quickly out of a back room, a young woman with blonde hair, sleeves rolled up and glasses. She stopped when she saw Hyacinth and Richard. "Top of the morn to ye, how can Ah help?"
Hyacinth advanced forwards. "I'm looking for some top-quality tartan material for my son, Sheridan, who is at university. He's very good at embroidery, won prizes for it, you know." Hyacinth seemed to swell with pride at the memory of Sheridan receiving a certificate and embroidery kit for coming first place in an embroidery competition the year before.
The shop assistant nodded, though she looked a bit puzzled. "We do have an excellent selection of tartan materials here."
"Well, make yourself useful and get us some, then, dear." Hyacinth declared. "I can always tell a top-quality sales assistant by the way that they respond to the customer's immediate needs."
The girl scurried off to the back of the shop to fetch the tartan. Richard pulled Hyacinth over to the side.
"Hyacinth, you needn't go telling shop assistants how to do their job." Richard whispered.
Hyacinth waved a hand. "I am doing a great favour to Sheridan here, buying a top-quality range of tartan so that he and Tarquin are able to make their matching kilts." She paused for a moment. "And soon, you and I will be able to join the festives! What fun we shall have!"
As Hyacinth and Richard left the shop, Hyacinth's perceptive eyes raked over the crowds in front of them. There seemed to be some sort of performance ahead, with loud, jaunty bagpipe music filling the air.
"Richard, we must go and see what that extravagant performance is all about." She grabbed Richard by the arm again and pulled him forwards, to the front of the crowd. Both she and Richard gazed at the sight at front of them. The crowd stood in a large circle, with a bagpipe ensemble, all wearing traditional Scottish outfits, playing cheerful music. Couples danced around with each other, holding hands and beaming.
"It looks like a couple's dance, Hyacinth." Richard remarked, then regretted what he had said the moment Hyacinth heard it.
"Why, that's perfect for the two of us, Richard!" Hyacinth exclaimed, smiling widely. "Let's go and dance!"
Richard's eyes opened wide with horror. "No, I don't think I'll go. You can, though."
Hyacinth sighed. "Come on, Richard dear, don't be such a stick in the mud. You'll love it." With that, Hyacinth dragged Richard by the arm into the middle of the circle, held his hands tightly, and began to tap her feet in an approximation of dancing. Richard's arms were swung from side to side, so that the poor man was unable to escape, before being pulled around in a circle. To make matters worse, Hyacinth, who seemed to enjoy being in the middle of the festives, began to carol along to the band. "Da da da da da! Tra la la la la!"
Elizabeth and Emmet walked along the street to the source of the festives, the bagpipe music playing loud and clear. Emmet's spirits had been lifted; just because he and Elizabeth were on holiday with Hyacinth, didn't mean that that stopped him from enjoying himself.
"Let's go and see what the performance is up ahead." Elizabeth suggested. "It sounds like everyone there is having lots of fun."
"Right." Emmet smiled at the word 'fun'. He himself was having a lot of it. "Hopefully we don't run into Hyacinth again."
They ventured up to the crowds, managing to get a rather good view of the couples dancing, and the bagpipe band playing. Suddenly, Elizabeth pointed to one of the couples in the circle, her expression seeming unable to believe what she was seeing. "Emmet, look." Her eyes grew wide at the sight. "Isn't that Hyacinth and Richard?"
Emmet looked too. "It is Hyacinth!" Suddenly, he began to chuckle. "Look, Liz. What is she doing?"
Hyacinth pranced around in a circle, still holding onto Richard's hands. "Oh, I do love a merry dance, surrounded by many Scottish admirers. I haven't done this sort of thing in so long!" She gave a tinkly laugh, sashayed around in a circle pulling Richard along with her, and began to sing again. "Tra la la la la...da da da!"
By this stage, Emmet and Elizabeth were attempting to suppress their laughter at the scene before them. The band played one last note, and finished grandly, with the crowd bursting into applause. Hyacinth finally let go of Richard's hands, beaming, and did a small bow. "Thank you, all!" she called out, thinking that the applause was meant for her. With a twirl, she followed after Richard, who had made his way out of the circle as quickly as possible.
"Now, Richard, wasn't that fun?" Hyacinth asked, before accidentally bumping into Elizabeth and Emmet, both of whom had managed to regain their composed faces. "Ah, there you are!" she exclaimed, catching sight of them. "Did you see me dancing in the circle! I would go and do it all again!"
"Let's go, Hyacinth." Emmet suggested, leading the way back through the crowd. Hyacinth, reluctantly, followed.
The next morning was the day that they all had to leave. Everyone, except for maybe Hyacinth, felt relieved at the thought.
"I do wish that we had stayed on long enough for me to host a candle-light supper in true Scottish fashion." she lamented, glancing out the window of the bedroom. "Emmet could have played a piano piece, and I could have sang, too." Hyacinth sighed. "But I suppose it is rather a relief to be getting back home. I have often wondered how my china tea cups with the hand-painted periwinkles have been getting on without me."
Richard zipped the lid of the dark green suitcase shut, placing it as carefully as he could on the floor. "Don't worry, Hyacinth. Daisy, Rose and Onslow will be delighted to have you back."
Hyacinth nodded. "I guess that's true. Oh, but poor Daddy, too." She gave a sniff. "I suppose it's all for the very best."
Mr. Harkin came out to see them off. "Ah 'ope ye 'ad a brammer taime stayin' haur." He grinned. "Yoo're gonnae be able tae tell th' folks back home wha' fun ye 'ad en Scotland."
"Thank you very much, Mr. Harkin." Hyacinth smiled at him. "I must say, I am able to understand your dialect a lot better now. But if I may ask, what language do you speak?"
Mr. Harkin looked puzzled. Emmet shook his hand. "Thank you for letting us stay with you for these past few days."
"Me pleasure." The rest of them shook hands with Mr. Harkin, then got into the car and drove carefully out into the road. Hyacinth waved regally at him, until the view of him was lost, then sighed sadly. "Scotland will be missing us greatly. Especially the Highland cows."
"Yes, I'm sure they will." Elizabeth remarked comfortingly. However, her spirits were rising at the thought of going back home.
When the car drove into their street in the middle of the afternoon, the four of them were surprised to find many neighbours, or rather, more of the neighbours than usual, strolling up and down the street. Elizabeth noticed that they had a carefree, relaxed look about them.
"It seems as though all the neighbours have gone on holiday, too." Elizabeth remarked, glancing out the car window at them. However, when the few people out on the street caught sight of their car, she noticed that they disappeared relatively quickly. Into their houses, into other neighbours' houses, or hid behind hedges. Hyacinth didn't seem to notice this.
"Their holiday wouldn't hold a candle to ours." she remarked. "Especially not from one of my candle-light suppers."
Elizabeth and Emmet both collapsed into comfortable chairs in their living room, with a nice hot cup of tea. Their suitcases were abandoned in the hall, as both of them were too intent on having a well-earned relaxing break from their holiday with Hyacinth.
"Tomorrow, I'll take Richard out for a drink somewhere." Emmet remarked, stretching out in his chair. 'God knows he deserves it after being roped into that dreadful dance display against his every will."
"I agree." Elizabeth replied, taking a drink from her teacup. "Poor Richard. That would be a very good idea."
"I shall plan to have a welcoming-back-from-Scotland party for us, so that we are able to regale the others with witty and humorous tales of our many adventures." Hyacinth said,
as she sat at the kitchen table with Richard, also over cups of tea and biscuits. "We can have it as soon as we have recovered from the impact of such a lavish holiday. I only hope that Mrs. Councillor Nugent and our other upper-class society friends are able to come, too."
"Can we talk more about it in the morning?" Richard pleaded. "I'm just starting to recover from our Scotland holiday, as well as what you've just said."
Hyacinth shook her head. "Don't be silly, dear. We may have it tomorrow, along with the top-quality tartan-patterned tea set I bought at the shops yesterday, as well as new tartan cushions and an oil painting of the historic Derlington Castle. Rather expensive, but well worth the money."
"What?" Richard's gaze drifted to the stack of objects piled in the corner of the room, hidden under a tartan blanket. "How much did this all cost?"
"I do wish you wouldn't argue with me all the time, dear." Hyacinth replied, pulling out a tartan-covered pad and pencil. "Now, who shall we invite first?"
Well there you have it! Please review if you liked it and enjoyed reading it...I certainly enjoyed writing it!
Also for those of you who know Edinburgh, I played around with some of the names of the places they visited, for example, Derlington Castle is Dirleton Castle. And Oloronslow Restuarant is a real resturant called Oloroso.
* And I do know that cream certainly doesn't come from Highland cows. Hyacinth doesn't, though. Hehehe...
Thanks for reading! :D