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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Afternoon Tea

Another bit of fiction. Taking up after the post about the old yacht...

She straightened her back, her hands fell to her sides, she sucked in a slow breath and exhaled it just as steadily. The antique satin of her Sunday bodice rose and fell with the inhaled air. Breasts tightly encased in her very best corset defying the sultry, Florida heat.

Her gaze studied each unique item on the crisply pressed tablecloth. The yellow one, carefully chosen because it was spring and yellow was the color of the nodding daffodils and forsythia that were so abundant in the carefully tended gardens of her childhood home in New York.

Two winters ago, she had studiously embroidered the design into the cloth by the light of the fireplace and the flickering amber lamp there. Her eyes had ached with the strain and teared with the fumes of the lamp oil. (She should go to see the local quack for glasses, but nobody trusted him!)

She lifted one long, elegant finger and pointed at the objects that she had so studiously placed in geometric precision on the cloth.
The cozy where she would place the heated teapot when her guests were seated. The shiny silver sugar scuttle that was one of her most prized possessions. (She was the only local woman she knew who served the cubes from such an ornamental piece!)

The matching napkins, pressed by her own hand so that they would be absolutely without crease and perfectly stiff. Folded just so and strung into a silver ring. She had placed them side by side in perfect unison. It would be over eighty degrees today and even though this area was far more relaxed than the Yankee states, she knew from past experience that her newly arrived guests would take a few weeks to acclimatize to southern traditions and would need to dab at the beads of perspiration sure to form on their faces and necks. 

And then there were the teacups! 

Her husband had instructed the servants to carefully crate them and the box had sailed in the ship's cargo hold with her to this moss covered Florida swamp. Ten years ago it had been and she had fearfully unwrapped each one. (Only one saucer had not survived the arduous journey!)

China, so fine you could see the umber of the steeped tea through the sides if they hadn't been encased in pure gold. So thin that a firm grip could and had shattered a cup on previous occasions. The handles so elegant and lovely! Her fingers ached with the need to caress just one.

Afternoon tea!

A ladies' entertainment. Shunned by the men as frivolous and meaningless while they themselves sat in a closed up library with their bottles of  thick, Jamaican rum and those horribly putrid smelling cigars!

She sighed. Mens' entertainment of loud, argumentative talk and a ladies afternoon of gentle laughter, conversation and companionship. How different they both were!

For the men, thick slices of meat between course bread.
For her female guests, tiny sandwiches were in the pantry, covered with a freshly laundered cloth. She had supervised their preparation with care in the kitchen that morning. Thin, transparent slices of cucumber that would help to ease the heat and the freshly caught fish with dill mayonnaise that cook was known for far and wide.
There was a compote of fresh orange and lemon for the tea. Also specialty of the house.
(A girl had to have something to be remembered by!)
She hoped her guests would arrive appetite in hand as well as with the most recent gossip of the parlor's of the north.

Her ear caught the sound and she quickly re-checked her appearance in the mirror hanging in the hall.

The boat had docked!

All of these photos were again shot and loaded directly from my Nikon P90 and then posted without alteration of any kind.


Brian Miller said...

nice...sounds like she is in for some refreshing fun...

Eva Gallant said...

Beautiful teacups and beautiful fiction!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

There is still a lot to be said for a good cup of tea.