A Lady of Leisure

Desmond threw open the heavy curtains covering the window.

“Good lord!” A woman cried from her sofa, raising her arms to shield her eyes. “What is that burning light in the sky?!”

“That, my lady, is called The Sun,” the manservant responded in a flat voice.

“But, my god, Desmond, it’s so… bright!” The woman said. “Be a dear and turn it down just a touch, would you?”

He raised an eyebrow imperceptibly.

“Madam. One cannot ‘turn down’ the sun,” Desmond responded.

The woman gaped. “But, it’s far too bright!”

“Yes, my lady,” Desmond agreed in his monotonous drone.

She peeked out at him from behind a heavily ringed hand. “Perhaps you haven’t asked the right person,” she pressed.

“Mmmmmmm,” the manservant replied noncommittally.

Hesitantly, the woman lowered a hand but immediately raised it back up to shade her eyes.

“Really, Desmond, this is quite unmanageable.” She clucked her tongue in displeasure.

Desmond took her in. Dozens of jewels glinted on her fingers in the sunlight – sparkling rubies and sapphires and emeralds, diamonds and topaz and opals of all shapes and sizes. Draped in a purple silk dressing gown with strands of pearls at her throat, she was the picture of leisure reclining on a fainting couch within reach of her tea tray.

“Might I interest you in a spot of tea, my lady?” He asked flatly, stepping forward to pour the steaming liquid into her delicate cup. Adding just the right amount of milk and just the right amount of sugar, he stirred it with a tiny spoon twice so it would taste just right. Desmond offered it to her with a slight bow and watched her peek at it from between her jeweled fingers. She sniffed.

“But really, Desmond, it’s so bright. I can hardly enjoy my tea when that infernal ‘sun’ is trying to blind me.”

Desmond returned the teacup with its saucer to the tray and straightened. In five efficient strides, he was to the large window and drew the curtains closed with a loud snap. The woman in purple silk fell into shadow. He resumed his position beside her bowing and offered the teacup perched on its porcelain saucer again. Hands slowly lowering, she knit her fingers together loosely in her lap. Raising an eyebrow, she regarded the tea and then sighed.

“Really, Desmond, it’s so dark in here. Isn’t there someone you can talk to about that?”

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