Ransford (Pa), Carleigh (Mum), Daisy (Teenage Daughter)
Mum: Daisy, dear! Breakfast! Ransford, you too…Poached eggs and bacon will keep you strong as an ox.
Pa: And keep you fattened and gorgeous!
Mum: Don’t know about gorgeous these days. You’re stuck with me like an ugly old heirloom. I was a treat before!
Pa: Well, I need it, Carleigh. Feel like a fish dying in a puddle this morning—I was as drunk as a lord last night! And Daisy snored like a piglet.
Daisy [yawning as she arrives]: I abhor school as a crusting scab….
Mum: Child, you’re soft as rotted fruit, curse you! Hold yourself like a queen. God knows you’re treated like one here!
Pa: Acting the fiend, dressed as a damsel.
Mum: Only because we clothe her. Otherwise, she’d look like a bunter.
Daisy: I’m not hungry.
Pa: Keep that up and you’ll shrivel like a spinster’s spinney.
Mum: Ransford! Scrub your mouth! Not for a daughter’s ears…
Pa: Fine, Carleigh. Daisy, eat or you’ll end up gaunt as a Newgate beggar. Mum made us a meal.
Mum: And you’ll need the strength for the field trip….
Daisy: Bollocks! That’s today?
Mum: Yes, to the House of Commons.
Pa: Wigs and all…classes should visit something practical, like the cobbler or blacksmith—even the loading docks.
Daisy: I never told you…
Mum: Told us what, dear?
Daisy: I’m not permitted to go. Miss Smitherton said I’ll not board the school carriage today, or any time soon.
Pa: And why not, pray tell?
Daisy: It’s not entirely my fault. It was Agnes…
Mum: What happened? That girl’s a stinging fly, I tell you!
Daisy: She beckoned me to steal an extra pudding for her at the noon meal.
Mum: And you follow her like a faithful dog?
Daisy [in tears]: She is like a succubus upon my soul! I said I wouldn’t do it but she told me that if I didn’t, she’d speak vitriol of me that would spread like a thatch fire!
Pa: Aye it would. She charges like a villain, acts like a minx, and still they come to her. Those Thornleys! Hawking their stock like costermongers.
Mum [consoling Daisy]: Well, you mustn’t consort with her at all then!
Daisy: There’s not much I can do on that matter. She’s my alchemy lab partner. Like a dog on a rope I’m forced to endure her.
Mum: So you purloined pudding for the she-devil?
Daisy: I did—and was caught. I told Miss Smitherton what happened and she didn’t believe me—she was mad as a wet cat. Said she ought to have me removed like a parasite! Agnes felt no remorse and later called me a back-biter.
Pa: Sayeth the Duchess of Duplicity.
Mum: And why do we hear nothing of all this until now?
Daisy: [Silent, sheepish]
Pa: Daisy, you’re tight as a nun’s nip—fine for keeping discretion, but you must tell us of such things.
Mum: Yes, you know our love for you is as boundless as a leaking jug. Well, we’ll have to go down to the schoolhouse and work this out….
Daisy: Not today, please! Now I’m rather looking forward to a quiet day of studies without Agnes.
Pa: The place will be a morgue…. Alas, a morgue would be a grand class outing, I say!
Daisy: Not humorous, Pa…. I feel as if I will never amount to anything. I always feel there’s a noose waiting somewhere with my name on it.
Mum: Oh, come now Daisy, that’s just the depression talking.
Pa: As it does to all of us, most all the time. Blankets us like the fog of this city.
Mum: But it shall lift.
Pa: No, it shan’t. This is London!
Daisy: Not humorous, Pa.
Mum: Oh, my girl, you’ll emerge from this like a scallop from its shell. And someday you’ll have London wrapped around your fingers like a dazzling string of pearls.
Pa: While Agnes moves through it like a comet, leaving dead gentry in her wake…
Mum: Enough, Ransford! [To Daisy] We’ll take care of things with the Thornleys and Miss Smitherton, and you’ll be as free as a crow. But you’ll behave like a lamb!
Daisy: Yes, mum. Thank you both.
Pa: This grub is getting cold.
Mum: Eat up, then. Daisy, get some before your dad feasts like a rat on a corpse pile!
[All similes, metaphors, and idioms come from Hulu’s Harlots series, seasons 1 and 3]
Copyright © 2023 Richard Berndt – All Rights Reserved.