“Well, don’t just sit there like a bump on a log,” demanded the old woman, as she adjusted her hat to keep the offending rays of the sun off her face. She continued, impatiently,”It was even more boring around here than usual. I kept hoping someone would break a hip or streak out the bedroom!”
Sally smiled, as she removed the tea ball with a flourish that contained direct from china Jasmine Tea. It was just about ready to drink, but she knew Irene . The next part was to carefully add just exactly one miniature spoonful of honey, to gently stir, and then to present it to Irene as if presenting a gift of gold to the Christ Child.
“I am sorry, that it seems to be rather dull here.” Sally began. “Perhaps, if you were to try one of the Activities they have displayed on the board…”
“Pfft!” the old women muttered, and then sipped her tea. Setting the delicate china cup down on the saucer, she looked at Sally as one might look at a particularly slow student in school. “That is not an Activities Program. An Activities Program might have something interesting, like a public reading of the latest pirate raids up in the 5th level. Or maybe a class on how to make your own airship in a bottle. Perhaps an invention class. Instead they have, chess, cards, a music evening led by a skinny man who is horrible on the piano, and other such nonsense.”
Irene adjusted herself in her seat, back held ramrod straight by her steel boned corset, and flicked away a mosquito with her bio-mechanical arm. This business of dumping us old people into these homes…dreadful.” she mused and then picked up and continued to sip her jasmine tea.
“Well, what if…”Sally slowly brought out the words, “what if I were to tell you that I have – acquired – a very nice sewing machine, and a rather respectable amount of silks in some lovely colors?”
“Oh Ho!” Irene’s eyes lit up. “Tell me, which Airship Captain had a lady aboard that had need of a sewing machine and silks! And when you boarded and took over the ship, did you let her get away, or did you slit her pretty neck?”
“Irene! You know quite well that we Agents do not engage in such violence.” Sally gave her as serious a frown as she could manage, then burst out laughing as she watched the tiny frail body in front of her sag a bit.”Oh, really..I have no idea how we shall ever cure you of the blood-lust you gained when Captain Morgan captured you!”
“He was the best man after your uncle!” Irene almost shouted. “He was the one who taught me that women could do a lot more than sit around the drawing room all day doing embroidery! Besides, he saved my life, and gave me such a wonderful arm back…” Irene moved the bio-mechanical arm in a swan like movement, watching the gears turn and the brass and gold shine.
“So,” Irene fixed her gaze on Sally. “Are you going to tell me the story of how you ‘acquired’ these things, or not?”
“Oh Aunt Irene. Really it was not as dramatic as you think.” Sally smiled as she talked, “the airship was docked up in level 6 – just the last level to have trading ports before the atmosphere gets too thin. We had been tipped off by a fence that the ship had been loaded down with not only it’s official cargo of Manchurian spices, but with an illegal load of refugees that had been sold into slavery from the ruins of Saudi Arabia. We simply gathered agents around in plainclothes, and Lieutenant Gregory and I boarded on the pretext of needing to do a final inspection of the ship rigging. By the time we said “You are under arrest” Our other agents had streamed aboard and all the crew had their hands up. Really, Irene, sometimes it is just another day at work!”
Sally smoothed the brown and cream silk on her day dress, and began to make another pot of hot water in the klankomater. Adjusting the electrical voltage on the dial, she turned back to see Irene standing, somewhat wobbly, as if on the bridge of an airship diving through the clouds.
“Stop you murderous thieves! You slavers! Prepare to be boarded!” Irene called out while saving her arm as if it still contained her sword. “We will cut you to ribbons and blast you with ray guns if you resist!” At this point the older lady began to cough violently, and Sally rushed over to guide her back to her chair, and to pat her head with the cool cloth on the table.
“Oh Irene, please rest.” Sally cooed to the older lady, still sitting primly in her burgundy silk dress with Ivory silk corset. “You see what happens when you over do things! Please, try to take slow deep breaths now..”
“Oh, It does hurt,” Irene whispered, “But it was so much fun, to imagine I was an Agent hunting down criminals across the earth and sky. I would have loved to see you do it, my dear.”
“Irene, I told you it wasn’t nearly as exciting as all that,” Sally said, “but, if you promise to be extremely well behaved, and not to give th nurses any trouble…”
“An adventure?” pipped up Irene, her eyes alight.
“No, but a small excitement. A play about an adventure.” Sally continued, “I was able to get the sewing machine donated, along with the silks and other sundries that were confiscated. They actually belonged to the Ist Mate, whose job it was to make various gowns for the Captain in secret.
“My garters!” said the startled Irene. “Why on earth in secret? No one cares if a man likes to be a whimsy and wear gowns!”
“Well, he had built quite a reputation for being a ladies man, so you see he felt he had an image to protect.” Sally shrugged. The funny thing is that once word got out, there were plenty of ladies who were interested in him is silk and stockings as there were ladies who followed him in breeches and a suit-coat. He has been sent for trial, and his outfits and the silks, sewing machine and all, forfeited. I was able to get them donated, and I thought that I would start using part of my weekly visits to run a sewing class to make the rest of the items we would need to put on “Captain Jack Songtime and The Hunt For The Sea Witch.” What do you think Irene? Would you find it more interesting than waiting for someone to break a hip?”
“Most definitively.” Irene put down her second cup. “Enough tea. You and I must go negotiate with the jailers here for permission to use a spare room to sew and practice in. We had better not delay, for every week these dodo birds come up with new rules of what we must not do!”
“Relax Irene” Sally said, “I already have approval for the room at the end of the hall by the dining room.” She stood up, and collected her hat. “Now I must go for today, but by next week I want to see a good sized group of sewers, maybe 4 or 5, so that by taking turns, everyone gets to sew, and no one has to do more than they can handle. Are you up for that mission, my dear ex-pirate aunt?”
“Most certainly!” crowed Irene. “The story even has a delicious battle scene with swordplay! Oh it will be so exciting to act out the story of the brave captain and his lady love, Esmeralda…..why even making the outfits for the men, the vests with the paisleys and silk collars…yes it will be quite a lot of fun!”
At the door, a nurse in white appeared. “Miss Irene, it is time for your nap. Come along now.”
“Nap?” Irene said. “but we were just discussing…”
“Auntie, I said you had to follow the nurses rules, remember?”
“Oh yes. Well, a nap will revive my energy and allow me to talk with Victoria and Margaret over dinner. Yes, a nap would be best.” Irene started to walk toward the door. “Good bye Sally, and thank you so much for your tea time story about the dastardly Slaver who wore dresses! Quite good!”
The nurse arched an eyebrow at Sally, who merely shrugged in response, and headed out to make sure the materials and the sewing machine had arrived and been unpacked for next week’s class.
Hope you enjoyed this little tale…