Thursday, January 29, 2004

The Marquis and the Mortgagee

Part IV of Drunken Banker Week

Delia did not like the way Mr MacFarlane eyed her. His gaze seemed constantly to slip down from her eyes and not to the papers on his desk. She had expected diificulties when she came to plead for a moratorium on her dead father's debts, but not difficulties of the sort Mr MacFarlane had presented.

"I can see that I am wasting your time, Mr MacFarlane," she said, standing, "and keeping you from your lunch into the bargain". She gestured at the ample spread from the Lord Raglan Arms set out on his desk. Mr macFarlane put aside his bumper of claret, and stood too. At least, Delia thought, he has the courtesy to show me the door. As much courtesy as one might expect a banker to show an indebted orphan girl, she added to herself bitterly.

MrMacFarlane did not go to the door as she expected; instead he took Delia into his brutishly strong arms and pulled her to him. She tried to push him away but he was too strong for her. She turned her face aside, unable to bear the smell of the wine on his breath. "Now Miss Amplechest," he husked into her ear, "I'm sure that I could accommodate your request if you would accommodate a little request of mine."

His hand reached for her bodice; clumsy fingers tugged at the lacings. Delia continued to struggle. MacFarlane was too pre-occupied to hear the office door open.

"Damn it MacFarlane, I've been waiting to see you for a half hour!" an angry voice said. "I say, what the deuce is going on here?"

"None of your damn business," grunted MacFarlane. Delia pushed him away and looked to the speaker; perhaps there she might find salvation. She saw a tall, dark haired man, wearing a dark jacket over a white silk waistcoat. His chin rose haughtily over his starched collar. His elegant dark breeches - so snug around the groin - were tucked into a pair of polished riding boots. He held a riding crop in his right hand. His dark eyes gazed at her sardonically under his noble brow.

"MacFarlane, unhand that girl or by God, I'll thrash you to within an inch of your life," the stranger said.

"Now, now," replied MacFarlane, "No need to be impatient. There's plenty here for the both of us."

Delia heard a loud crack, as the riding crop fell across MacFarlane's shoulders. "Damn you, MacFarlane, I mean what I say," said the stranger, "Unhand that girl now!"

MacFarlane released Delia, stepping back with ill-concealed surliness. She turned her limpid blue eyes towards her rescuer with frank gratitude and ventured a smile. He gazed at her entranced by the beauty of her dimpled cheeks. Her bosom heaved; his breeches stretched a little snugger.

Part III: Farewell, My Liquidity

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