Dr. Rodney Hardstone sat at a sun-blessed table in the Rotted Apple Tea Emporium, perusing a crisp copy of The Establishment Times. When he reached up absentmindedly to adjust the Windsor knot on his Dunhill tie, the sleeve of his tweed blazer caught the edge of a silver butter knife, sending it careening to the marble floor.
It raised such a clatter, all the patrons looked ‘round to see what was the matter. One of the serving girls sped forward and crouched down to retrieve it. At the same instant, Dr. Hardstone leaned over the side of his chair to do the same. Their heads nearly touched. It was a magic moment. Astonishment crossed his ruggedly handsome face as he found himself looking directly into the most beautiful jade green eyes. He managed to exclaim, “Well, fondle my grapes!” only to see the owner of the eyes blush and turn away.
This startling, raven-haired beauty deserved another look, or even more if he played his cards right. He asked the tea parlor’s owner, whom he’d known only since Friday, the name of the waitress. Gertrude Stilthbottomm.
“That’s spelled with two m’s, the owner leered. “We had to add the extra m to distinguish her time card from the other Stilthbottom’s who’s so homely we restrict her to the kitchen, except on Halloween.
“Ah,” Dr. Hardstone replied, although in truth he could not have cared less about m and m’s.
One visit to the Rotted Apple led to another and through delicate dialog, persistent persuasion, and sniveling sycophancy, he lured the willing waitress into revealing the devious detours that had led her to work as a menial maid. She breathlessly whispered her name, “Synthia Shibboleth,” and although she did her banal bit, she was in fact a laid off atomic scientist, and heir to a Scottish Dukedom.
“An atomic scientist?” he queried, “Making bombs and whatnot?”
“Oh no,” she blushed, “Not that kind of atomic. I’m a chemist with the Atomic Jawbreaker Company.”
“Hummmmm,” murmured the doctor. “So, no radioactivity, or mutations in the family? No loose isotopes laying about?”
“Dr Hardstone,” she implored him, “Although I hate you and you’re a frightful human being, and I know you would lie and cheat to get what you want from me….”
“Yes, yes, go on,” he answered.
“Whom I would never, never marry, or even, you know, kiss and stuff. Even so, only you can help me return to Scotland and reclaim my ancestral lands, which the evil Earl of Shippingcrateshire is planning to sell to mortgage companies to turn into a suppository for toxic bonds.” She pronounced Scotland as though trying to say it and swallow it in the same gulp.
“You mean a depository for toxic bombs.”
“Whatever. It’s so Confucious.”
“You mean confusing.”
“Look, are you going to help me or sit there and do an oral spell-check all day?”
“And to what better use could you put your green, pastoral ancestral fields, my addled beauty?”
She got a far away look in her eye, making her bounteous bosom heave like two Spanish galleons on a temptuous sea. “I….I….I ..”
“Those are nautical terms, yes?”
“I would donate my life and my land to establishing a pigeon park, where old carrier pigeons could live out their last, disease ridden days.” A tear crept down her alabaster cheek.
Dr. Hardstone’s brows arched, making it three of a kind. The girl had possibilities, even though some of her atomic particles were way out of orbit. Well he’d never been to Scotland, but he kinda liked the music.
And so, the adventure began.