Monday, May 7, 2012

the last woman - 1. an immodest proposal

by ameline d'ambois

illustrated by konrad kraus and rhoda penmarq

the hon. matilda shirley to diana, marchioness of d--------, sept 9, 181-.:

ah, my dear friend, what a relief to be able to take up my pen to write to you. what an evening i have just suffered through! my dear host sir percival, whose hospitality i have been abusing, is , i am afraid, beginning to grow a bit tiresome. but - not yet so tiresome that i would quit his castle and be forced to endure the multi-headed indignities and boredoms of "the season", in london, or in paris or vienna.

do not misunderstand me. sir percival himself continues to be a most delightful companion - when he is my only companion. no one could be more attentive. no one can be wittier when wit is called for.

he is knowledgeable when knowledge is called for, and above all - silent when silence is called for. if he has a fault it is one i share myself - he is easily bored. but where i have learned to simply suffer boredom when there is nothing else for it, my dear percival will have recourse to any creature that can open its mouth and talk to him, in his efforts to hold ennui at bay.

so - the parade of the tiresome has continued apace here at the castle. i hope you have found some slight amusement in considering these creatures as my pen has described them to you - briefly, of course - unlike my own captive contemplation of them for hours at a time!

well - to come to a point you may have already guessed - percival tonight produced a guest who has quite outdone all his previous ones. a "professor" branleigh o'bannon - perhaps you have heard of him? met him in lady somebody's salon somewhere? i would have thought only percival could have tolerated the fellow - but he did seem quite at home among us "enlightened and ethreal spirits" (as the quarterly would have it) and was in no wise abashed to partake either of sir percival's food and drink, or of the conversation that followed and preceded it.

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