A Summer in Olympia Ch. 06byNigel Debonnaire©
The train whistle brought us out of our reverie, and before long Sir Charles' party was on the platform. The early August morning promised a sweltering afternoon. He was the first one off the train, bounding down energetically and shaking my hand vigorously when he saw me: "Mr. MacLeod, my dear friend. Well met, sir, well met. All is well in Colorado and from what I've heard all is better in Missouri. We are well rested and ready for the big push to mount the opera: Opera, my friend! Even here in the cultural backwater called St. Louis."
"More like a cultural wasteland, or cesspit, rather," Lady Alice commented from beside him. "Pearl, it is so good to see you again. I've missed you, Sweetheart."
Hello Mother, Father," Pearl said coldly from beside me, coming forward to plant perfunctory kisses on her mother's cheeks. "Did you have a good trip?"
"Beastly, crossing those interminable plains they call Kansas," Lady Alice continued. "Purgatory would be a paradise, and I dare say the upper levels of the Pit would be more agreeable than that place."
Sir Charles resumed: "We are here to take the New World by storm, to bring the blessings of Art to those who live in darkness, to build an edifice here that those in the Old World may spy from afar and be jealous. The Gods of old Greece will walk the earth again, playing out the immortal drama of passion and redemption. Ah, I am rejuvenated and ready, my friends, rejuvenated and ready. Let us make the great push!" The others on the platform ignored him, pushing on and shouting at one another, a couple of cabbies lobbied for fares, stevedores manhandled their burdens across the boards.
Mrs. Edwards came bustling off the train, followed by Gus and Max. "Get those bags as soon as they unload them and get them to the wagon. We don't want to dally here, there'll be time enough when we get to Olympia. Amber, Connie, run help them, my god lad, you've grown three inches while I've been gone, at least." She hurried off to supervise them in their task.
Penny was next off and was occluded in a momentary burst of steam, which made her look as if she'd emerged from a lake. She waved her freshly damp fan and realized it was useless, which made her cross until she realized she had to put on a good face. "Good morning, Miss Pearl, so good to see you again. Mr. MacLeod, I hear you've done wonders. It's good to be back."
"No is isn't," Lady Alice snipped. "I'd rather we moved to Colorado and enjoyed a more hospitable clime. This place is a fetid swamp."
"Nonsense, my pet, you would hate the long winter and deep snow of the mountains," Sir Charles cut in. "When the heat breaks you will appreciate my choice better. Now, it looks like the lads are progressing, my God, is that young Connie? The lad is becoming a monster like the others. Now where are we, eh what? Ah yes, ready for Olympia. Mr. MacLeod, is your friend Herr Ernst ready to rehearse the opera yet?"
"Yes, sir. The chorus is prepared and all will be ready for you on Thursday. We thought you would want a day to rest after your journey before the big day. Anyway, Herr Ernest is occupied all day tomorrow and the chorus members have their own rehearsal commitments at various churches."
"Excellent, we shall discuss the rehearsal after bruncheon. I have missed our Opal's talents in the wilderness, had some fantastic dining out there: bear, moose, bison, hare, but my taste buds wondered what my lovely girl could do with that astounding provenance. My God, is that Amber? She has blossomed in our absence as well, and even Ruby is looking more like a young lady. I swear, we shall be surrounded by a tribe of hardy young adults before long."
"Nonsense, Monty, children grow up." Lady Alice sniffed. "'Tis to be expected. They can take over the burden of society and let us rest in our well deserved retirement." Pearl gave me a sidelong look of disbelief, since her mother had done no significant work other than needlepoint most of her life.
Maurice came up from the coach, and Sir Charles threw his arms around him in a surprising display of familiarity that brought a shocked look to her face. "My dear fellow, you were missed most of all. I shall never sally forth without your companionship in future, I promise. I trust all is well at Olympia, and that you have supported Mr. MacLeod in his herculean labor on our behalf, as have all present." Maurice looked at him calmly and gave him a short nod of her head. "Good, good, good, we shall have a lot to catching up to do later." He turned to take a good look at his daughter. "Pearl, you look different, warmer. . ."
She looked away, petulantly, hiding: "It must be over eighty degrees, Father. . ."
". . .softer, more feminine. It must be this summer air at Olympia, much better for you than England, I think. Should have brought you here years ago."
"We could leave her here, and go elsewhere," Lady Alice simpered. "Let us get underway, at least, and leave this steam bath. Monty, please?"
"Quite right. Are we set to go, Maurice?"
He looked around and got a signal from Mrs. Edwards. "Yes, sir, all is in readiness."
"Then let us not wait a jot. To the balmy environs of Olympia!"
We rode in two vehicles, and I was in the carriage with the Broughams and Penny; the servants followed in the wagon with the baggage. Facing backward, I could see their reunion was convivial, a stark contrast to my conveyance. Lady Alice got out her latest needlepoint project and chatted gayly with Penny about the latest gossip from England, while Sir Charles looked around and stood up periodically to survey the countryside. I sat quietly next to Pearl, who made of point of making contact with my body and periodically giving me a knowing looks from the corner of her eye from the depths of Dante's _Purgatorio_.
We returned just in time for lunch, and afterward I joined him in his study. "Well done, my lad, now we need to discuss the next moves. You will accompany me to the rehearsals and help me supervise the performance; since you are a friend of Herr Ernst this relationship will benefit us well. In the meantime I have written a String Quartet and a song cycle in Colorado to the words of a charming American poet, Emily Dickinson. I will need your artistry in preparing those scores for publication, and hopefully our contacts here will find a quartet to premiere the chamber work. We will get Miss Pearl to sing the songs this Sunday so you can learn them."
"Yes, sir. I understand the Trinity choir will present your anthem, 'Behold the Bright Cherubim' this Sunday at Morning Song."
"Excellent, I look forward to that. What a delight to find such a warm faith home here, our vicar in England could have cared less whether we attended services or not. I will give you the new music now so you can begin with these scores; I need a nap. Let me know when they're ready. My God, it's hot down here. Good afternoon, sir, don't let me detain you." With that, he thrust the fresh manuscripts into my hands and bounded off to his bedroom.
The afternoon was spent at my worktable, and tea was a return to the ancient regime: Lady Alice and Penny dominated the conversation, sharing European gossip from their correspondence with regular interruptions from Sir Charles, and Pearl buried her head in a reprint of the Sapphic Odes in the original Greek. I gave her a disbelieving look when I realized what she was reading, but she looked at her father in mid-diatribe and shrugged her shoulders, meaning that he never paid attention to what she was doing.
After tea, I joined Sir Charles in his study, where he regaled me with his hunting stories. "You have no idea what it's like to see the majestic beast in your sights, and with one squeeze of your finger bring it down. I feel like an ancient caveman, stalking prey for my tribe, bringing home the beast on my shoulders to feed my people. I call myself Nimrod at the hunting lodge, the mighty hunter of Genesis." He ran off a string of shots, sinking most of the balls at the table, before resuming his monologue. "As for the leads, does Herr Ernst have some likely candidates for us?"
"Yes, we will meet them tomorrow afternoon after the read through."
"Good, good. The part of Andromeda is key, of course, her voice as well as her form must be most appealing. Perseus must be a strapping young man of heroic stature, of course, but I think the role of Cassiopeia will be what makes or breaks the production, is that what you think?"
"Of course, Sir Charles." Anything you say, I finished in my head.
"Yes, yes. Hopefully he will have some good candidates for us." I missed a shot and he resumed as he took his turn. "Ah, it was good to take the boys on this trip; they enjoyed it immensely. A little reward now and then is fantastic for staff morale. Perhaps we three will take many more hunting expeditions. let nature beware our mighty excursion! A couple of souvenirs are on their way: two glorious heads, one bear and one stag for the front hall. Gus got the bear and Max got the stag. I am so proud of those boys, those boys, those boys. . ." his voice trailed off in reverie, as he veered close to acknowledging the impossible and directly voicing his fatherly pride in his sons. Finishing his snifter in a gulp, he put the glass down and clapped his hands: "Now, my good man, I must retire after such a long journey, and I'm sure you need to husband your strength for your efforts the next few days, eh what?"
Curiosity got the better of me, and after returning to my rooms I slipped into the secret hallway to view the room I just left. Sir Charles was already tied to a chair, naked and face down, declaiming submissive phrases in Greek, and Maurice was wearing her feathered facemask and lubricating Ganymede to ravage his posterior. She looked almost directly at me, and I swore there was a twinkle of recognition and a wink as she finished her task and turned away. As I regarded her posterior, it seemed more feminine than before, and I was rapt again as the muscles gyrated and writhed as they propelled the device into his bowels. He gibbered and babbled with such energy I wondered if this particular delight was the thing he missed most while while he was away.
The secret hallway was empty, and shortly after I returned to my room, my two nocturnal nymphets arrived to console me. "Where is your Mother?" I asked Opal.
"Who?" she replied.
Pearl picked it up my line of inquiry immediately. "Mrs. Edwards. She's exhausted and went to bed early, otherwise we wouldn't be here."
Opal seemed to blush despite the darkness. "We call her Mrs. Edwards, never Mother. It's the way we were brought up, it's the way every child of an English servant is brought up."
"In your experience, Peapod," Pearl finished.
"In our experience," Opal repeated.
"I have an idea for us this evening, something different," I cut in. "Let me endeavor to please you both at once." I arranged them, one on either side, on all fours, their breasts is easy reach of my mouth and their sexes in easy reach of my hands. "I have a fetish for nipples, and would care to dine on yours this evening. Are you game?
They agreed immediately, and I moved between them, sucking and licking one nipple after another while my hands strayed to their pleasure valleys to play and manipulate their delicate flesh. My efforts were rewarded with sighs and giggles, and dampness below, and two fingers of each hand thrust themselves inside to gasps. Hands found my prick and massaged it, and soon I found the girls trembling at my touch. Opal found the peak of her delight first, laying down with her back to me and bucking against my hand as she climaxed. I stopped on that side and concentrated all my efforts on Pearl, filling my mouth with her breast and screwing her with three fingers until she too lost her balance and trembled in final delight.
When they recovered, they turned to complete my gratification, lavishing the attention of their hands and mouths on my manhood until Opal drank down the upwelling flow of my passion while Pearl kissed me with an open mouth. As we snuggled together afterward, I asked: "What can you tell me about Miss Penny? Where is she from? How did she end up here?"
Opal snorted into my armpit and giggled, "She's an upper class twit, a sorry cow. Useless, completely useless except to make babies, if any stupid man of her class would have her."
After a snicker of agreement, Pearl grew very somber. "Her family is from Kent, a very old family, but not having great fortune right now," she began. "Her father is barely breaking even with an accounting firm, her mother is one of the Queen's poor cousins. Her brothers are all in the service, officers of course, but were sent out to make their way in the world on their own. Poor Penny is the youngest of her brood. She caught Father's attention at Covent Garden, where she was working in the make up crew. He brought her home after a concert and introduced her to mother, and they became fast friends. Penny has hopes Father will introduce her to some suitable son of nobility who will provide for her in a style she wishes to be accustomed."
"How droll, Peapod." Opal cut in.
Pearl made a face at her and I continued: "How interesting. And of course, her hope was in America he would find a rich man for her."
"Actually, by the time we came here, Penny would do anything Father asked without question and follow him to the ends of the earth. She is comfortable with the status quo, and has no ambition to change it."
Opal cut in: "I think Penny would gladly marry Sir Charles should something happen to Lady Alice."
Pearl grew somber, and Opal nodded. "An unlikely chance, Peapod, but I'm sure she would. But Father is absolutely loyal to Mother, would give his life to preserve her, and might not consider remarriage if he were a widower. I think Penny dreams of a career in music, and hopes Father will provide that, or at least, let her share his reflected glory."
"She's a stupid cow," Opal added. "There'll never be reflected glory. There's only use she's fit for."
I spent the next day in my workroom, excusing myself from tea, and working into the night on the song collection, so we could drop it by the music store while in the City for publication. Maurice checked on my progress from time to time, bringing me coffee and my meals. Thursday dawned a bright and hot day, and we left early for our excursion downtown in the buggy: Sir Charles, Miss Penny, myself and Maurice as driver and escort.
Alfred Ernst greeted us with typical German formality, which successfully hid his inner feelings. He lead us to the balcony of the rehearsal hall, where a special seat with a writing table was installed for our use. A music stand was produced for Sir Charles' copy of the score, and the usher asked if we wished any refreshment before the session started. Penny and I declined, but he asked for a pot of English tea, and things were delayed until one was produced.
Penny was drafted as his recording secretary, and I turned pages of the score for him as the music wafted upward. He made many comments such as: "Change piano to pianissimo there. A faster tempo here. Check the parts in this section. Ah, they don't really get it. Should I add another part here? Sostenuto, you cretins, that's what I wrote!" From what I could tell, Alfred and his players were doing an excellent job.
He sent me to confer with the conductor when it was all through, waiting until all three acts had been presented before sending me down. I brought Penny's notes and Alfred made the necessary notations. "Does he like this?" Alfred whispered. "What does he think of this music?"
I looked up for a moment: "I think he's convinced of what he's done, if that's what you mean. Haven't known him that long myself, but he doesn't seem to want to greatly rewrite portions of it, just tweak some details. What about this afternoon?"
"I have three or four singers for each part. All have experience with the local opera company, and most have sung English opera before."
"Excellent. I hope he finds them to his liking. Are you holding up?"
"Oh yes. It's not like this is Wagner, or Verdi, or even Donizetti, or even Johann Strauss the younger. Will you be ready for lunch soon?"
"I'll let you know."
When I returned to the balcony, I found Sir Charles sitting with his head back, his eyes closed and his shoes off, as Penny knelt and massaged his feet. For a moment I thought she was doing something else until I got a good look at her and saw her head was lower than I first thought. "Sir Charles, are you ready for luncheon?" I asked.
He did not budge, but sighed and said. "Yes, I'm quite ready. What are our plans?"
"Herr Ernst has a reservation for us at the English club, and afterward we are a short stroll from your local publisher to deliver your song cycle."
"Ah yes. You have it done already?"
"Mr. MacLeod, you are a miracle indeed. As are you, Penny my dear, as are you, but it is time to leave. Put my shoes back on and we shall sally forth."
She did as instructed, and soon we were en route to our noon repast. The English Club was a charming place with excellent service, and Sir Charles pronounced himself particularly satisfied with the Yorkshire pudding. Alfred and I sat and listened as he told one questionable story after another about Sir Arthur Sullivan and the productions at the Savoy. Alfred asked: "How long were you in the orchestra at the Savoy?"
"Oh, for the first three seasons, in spite of the fact it was below my station. Played in the viola section, a most important part as you know, Herr Ernst. If I'd been able to stay, I'm sure I would have ascended in rank in the orchestra, and perhaps Mr. Carte would have seen fit to produce the one act melodrama _Her Secret Admirer_ , but Alice hates spending any significant time in London at all, and I had return with her to stay in the countryside afterward to keep her happy."
Penny leaped into the conversation: "Perhaps you'll be able to take a look at it, Herr Ernst. I'm sure you'll find it as interesting and compelling as _Andromeda Chained_, as well as a couple of little orchestra pieces Sir Charles has penned."
"I doubt it not," Alfred said with a totally straight face. "Would you care for more beer, Frank?"
We went through two pitchers of lager at lunch while Sir Charles and Penny contented themselves with a bottle of Claret and bottle of champagne. In high spirits, we visited the publisher, a dour German man who needed to be assured our financing before he promised to print the song cycle at the soonest availability. Upon our return to the rehearsal theater, a group of singers awaited us. We settled in the balcony again while Alfred took to the piano on stage to accompany them.
The first three singers, full throated women of Wagnerian proportions of excellent vocal flexibility, failed to please the composer, but a tall, thin young lady with a wobbly voice did. "Her, I must have her," he shouted over the rail." Alfred gave me a look of disbelief, which I returned with a shrug out of Sir Charles' sight.
"Are you sure this is the lady you want?" I said to him. "The wobble in her voice is cause for concern."
"I'm sure Herr Ernst can fix that in the course of rehearsals. She has the perfect build for Andromeda, almost an Amazon, young, and she will make a perfect virginal victim for Cetus. Next!"
Next came the singers for Perseus; again Sir Charles made his choice from the appearance of the singer in spite of the fact the man could not quite reach the highest pitches. "Herr Ernst can stretch him out; Grossmith had trouble with some of Pinafore songs until Sullivan worked with him." Likewise he chose the rest of the cast based on visual standards rather than what was being heard.