Lord Handkerchief enjoys a life of luxury belonging to his suitor, Lord Yang. When Lord Handkerchief falls from the suit of Lord Yang during a night of entertainment, he finds himself in the presence of Lance Sterling, a working man, who has only heard stories of Lord Handkerchief never being able to afford him. For three days he lives with the Sterling’s where he finds himself faced with a decision, should he return to a life of luxury or engage in one of the most scandalous acts of his life to stay with the Sterling’s and live.
Cheryl and Jim Walton who have supported me from the beginning
Chapter 1: The Suitor and his Hanky
Chapter 2: Lord Chi Yang
Chapter 3: Madame Jessica D. Lanette
Chapter 4: Unsuitable Conditions for Lord Handkerchief
Chapter 5: A Boy Makes a Child’s Mistake
Chapter 6: Lord Handkerchief
Chapter 7: Bobby Does Well
Chapter 8: Bobby Forgets
Chapter 9: The Wealth of Lance Sterling
Chapter 10: A Wife Remains Silent
Chapter 11: Morning Whispers
Chapter 12: A Decision of Scandalous Proportions
Chapter 1: The Suitor and his Hanky
Lord Handkerchief, an awfully handsome handkerchief I might add, belonged to Lord Yang of the house of Blacksmith located west of Hinsdale. He often accompanied Lord Yang during visits to Lodge Court of Hinsdale, home to Madame Lanette, to discuss the most important matters of finance. Lord Yang was Madame Lanette’s business partner and sole financier. He served in this role for many years and was used to working with the head strong head of court who had a low tolerance for budgets and a very large appetite for all things new.
Lord Handkerchief was a handsome cloth, which of course needs to be repeated to emphasize his handsomeness. He was made from the finest silk found only in Raniere Lords, the finest retail of men’s fashion located in the District of Bloom in Hinsdale. Having been imported from France, Lord Handkerchief suited Monsieur Yang perfectly; for both man and hanky possessed an air of sophistication and desired the finer things in life.
Lord Handkerchief was not for sneezing, coughing, or touching. His sole purpose in life was to sit in the suit of his lord to attract the eye of fellow financiers and those gathering in court for business. Lord Yang took pride in his handkerchief’s appearance sending him daily to be steam-dried and pressed, enjoying the good life and never ever hand washed.
On occasions and in the presence of less fortunate handkerchiefs who themselves were hand washed and dried and whose fabrics often revealed such brutality, Lord handkerchief found himself a bit flustered becoming well, a bit perturbed; for he believed that these “handkermiffs” or “cottonaire’s” belonged elsewhere and not in his presence and immediately made his feelings known to those who dared to stand within feet of him. For all cottonaire’s knew the sound of “um-hume,” the clearing of Lord Handkerchiefs throat, which was quickly followed by any and all cottonaire’s immediate removal from his presence and a return to a mental PH balance to Lord Handkerchief.
On the evening of May 30, Lord Handkerchief gathered at Lodge Court to dine with Madame Lanette, her husband Lord Wellington and guests. Lord Wellington was the fifth cousin removed from the Wells family, owners of several estates and of enormous wealth. Having been recently seated at the dinner table, Lord Handkerchief found himself in the presence of Lady Jasper, the most distinguished daughter of Lady Agnes Roberts and cousin to Madame Lanette.
Lady Jasper sat next to Lord Yang at the bequest of Madame who thought the seating arrangements were most appropriate for what better potential suitor than Lord Yang who most undoubtedly would take charge of Lady Jasper’s finances keeping her from claiming inheritance entitlements against the purse of Madame Lanette; thus, reducing her shopping sprees by one or two.
Madame Lanette and Lord Yang dined at table 1b which so happened to be M. Lanette’s favorite table for no other reason than M. Lanette needing something to favor. A total of eight circular tables sat exuberating light from the most beautifully sculptured candles. Each table’s ambiance revealed a most splendid white and gold theme. Orchards and Magnolias surrounded each table in a most elegant display of opulence. Silk table cloths draped down with center pieces of Bud Orange Roses, a contrast to the beautiful array of all white Almond Blossoms, Carnations, Hyacinth, and roses. Gold salad plates sat upon opulent white colored china service plates. White and gold laced napkins sat perfectly folded to the left of dinner plates. Bread plates sat directly above salad and dinner forks. Three glasses sat still, two in which were to ensure a most entertaining evening. Every detail was absolutely perfect. The orchestra of Seńorita Madeline Romano played in the background.
The night’s temperature sat comfortably at 80 degrees. Laughter filled the air as glasses rose. Not one cloud dared to peak down on this grand event. Lake Bell sat feet away from the estate to the right of Table 3b occasionally waving hello. The sweet smells of flowers, Chicken Corden Bleu and Meńot y Meńot were served by the most attentive attendants. All in attendance and who had all by the way frequented M. Lanette’s home many times concured that this evening’s dinner should undoubtedly be repeated.
As the evening carried on with a spectacular night of entertainment, Lord Handkerchief found himself in the most peculiar situation; as Lady Jasper set about to remove herself from the table to powder her nose, she slipped grabbing the arm of Lord Yang and as he held her in his arms momentarily frozen by her beauty, he did not hear the cries of Lord Handkerchief falling. And it was the falling of Lord Handkerchief that would change his life forever and a day.
Chapter 2: Lord Chi Yang
Lord Yang’s impeccable appearance is quite the contrast to his humble beginnings. Born Chi Yang, Lord Yang was raised by his maternal grandmother Sue-Li (Gren-gren) and grandfather Fen-Young (Pa-pa) in Pindao, a village in rural China. His parents, viewed more as siblings and poor migrated for work leaving Chi with his grandparents for his care and schooling.
At the age of seven his beloved grandmother died. Chi was absolutely devastated and needed to be carried away from her side. For he loved Gren-gren who’d spent countless hours helping him develop his character strokes and telling him the tales of Xi-Pang, the Emperor who guarded little boys and girls from Xyhing-Tan, the bad spirit who lived amongst the clouds causing them to break traditions and disobey their parents.
In the beginning when Lord Yang longed for his parents more than his grandmother, she’d make his favorite meal, a soup of seasons, radish and chicken which would warm his heart and soothe his fears. As the years passed by, Chi grew to accept his living arrangements and became quite proud of it; for no one in the village could make radish and chicken soup quite like Gren-gren and he began looking forward to the warmth of his favorite meal during the winters and Mung bean soup during the summers.
During the summer, his beloved grandmother would bring him to Xen Hill just outside their village. There she would hymn the sky song, while Chi took in the beauty of China and her captivating mountains. Lying on her lap, he would pretend he were a Black Baza rising high above the hills, landing occasionally to drink from Lake Qinghai and then off again to peek down on the birch forest in Heilongjiang. He would then travel over the valley of the nine valleys and the snow-capped mountains of Shangri-la and into the lingering clouds of the Yellow Mountains before visiting Badaling. Gren-gren gave Lord Yang a sense of escapism from the wooden damp structure called home whose walls gave him no reason to stay other than duty and instilled in him a contradiction of sorts; during your flight away from China take her with you.
Two years after Gren-gren’s death, sorrow would once again visit. The great river valley of Huanghe provided Chi’s parents with steady income sent home for his care. The Monsoon had brought excessively heavy rains causing the destruction of homes and crops. Chi’s parents were swept away when the dikes surrounding their village gave way to the large amount of rain fall. Pa-pa did his best to comfort Chi who now understood why elders across China referred to the river as “China’s Sorrow,” and the two of them began to rely on each other for care for Pa-pa too longed for Gren-gren and his children.
Daily life with Pa-pa begin with breakfast at 7:00 a.m. with Chi leaving at 7:30 a.m. for school. Chi would arrive home each day for lunch about 12:30 p.m. somedays later, depending upon how fast his young legs could walk. He would walk the distance with his best friend Ming, an only child who never ceased to talk and found excitement in almost anything including rocks. Ming, the complete opposite of the tall, shy, thin Chi preferred to listen than speak. Classes resumed at 2:00 pm until 5:00 p.m.
Over the years, life eased for them when the government re-distributed land. Pa-Pa became an instant land owner and was permitted to start his own farming business. They were finally able to acquire a small dining table and new pots from town, one of Gren-gren‘s wishes for quite some time.
Chi was in charge of keeping their home orderly, a position that he was quite proud of for it once belonged to his grandmother. Some days Pa-pa would come in rambling about his day dropping his belongings every which way and the ever so patient Chi would simply pick them up and place them in the laundry basket. Chi’s temperament mimicked Gren-gren’s who worried about nothing and believed that order and meditation were essential for a clear mind vital in seeking solutions to all problems.
One day while glancing over his financial transactions, Chi’s grandfather sat perplexed as to the error he could not find but was sure existed in this month’s record. He begin to meditate and when he opened his eyes having a mind free of all frustrations, he begin to search again when Chi, very aware of his grandfather’s moods asked if he could be of assistance. Chi excelled in all subjects but particularly in mathematics and immediately found the error and several others. His proud grandfather appointed his 12 year old grandson the family’s accountant, overseeing all transactions and payroll for ten employees.
When Chi was not accounting or finding time to spend with Ming, he studied to place in Qui, the esteemed high school of mathematics. There were days; however, when he simply needed a break from studying missing his parents and grandmother. On these days he would visit Xen Hill and find solace hearing the sounds of the wind and seeing his flying friends, as he was sure one of them was Gren-gren watching over him. Over time; however, the loss of his loved ones seemed to cause about a change within Chi who did not notice a change was taking place. He began spending more and more time studying and less with Ming and Pa-pa. Studying became his reason for living. Even the new pots, once prided had become nothing more than acquisitions. For his young heart who loved him more than anything had now become a shield, a protector against sorrow sure to visit once again with the passing of his cherished grandfather, next in line.
After two very long years of study, Chi placed second in his class and was immediately accepted into Qui where he graduated third in class. Chi and other scholars who placed in their classes, were summonsed to meet General Shan Meng Lou, the leader of the New Revolutionary party. General Lou acknowledged the young men for their accomplishments. He was a true believer of education and open to a limited number of students leaving the country to study.
Lord Yang had been aware of the Universite’ de Esprit, the premier Institute of Mathematics in France. Of course China offered the equivalent if not better study of mathematics, but Chi longed to see the world. He had read books about other cultures and Gren-gren told him stories of others from around the world and he believed that as long as he followed her advice, he could continue to bring honor to his parents and grandparents. With Pa-pa’s approval, Chi took their entry exam and was accepted immediately; infact, he’d performed so well that the Institute not only traveled to his home to meet him but provided funding for his travels and a handsome stipend which allowed him to pay the year’s salary for their employees.
Pa-pa became very sick during Chi’s third year at the institute; for he lived a long long time. Chi knew that his grandfather would be passing soon and requested a leave of absence to return home to care for him. On the third day and after he had spoken of his last wish for the land, he passed away. He was buried next to Gren-gren. With the government’s approval, Chi left the land temporarily to Ming and returned to the institute. Ming wished him a thousand blessings.
Upon his return and after some time, three events would mold Chi into the Lord Yang we know today. First, for the first time in his life and with persons whose upbringings yielded no need of escapism as his, he began frequenting the homes of France’s elite learning to appreciate the finer things in life. Second, he would befriend Lord Fredrico Manuel Mendez, heir to London’s premier restaurant empire, who knew of a friend, who knew of a friend, who knew of a friend who knew Madame Lanette and who thought that Lord Yang’s calm personality would simply be suitable for the carefree Madame who had caused about six resignations in one year! There would be no interview however. One does not “interview” a man from Esprit. Fees were also not discussed. Lord Yang would be considered a partner of business. He would assist in keeping her as wealthy as she needed to be and he would be compensated with whatever was needed to ensure it. Finally, Chi’s entrance into the institute would change his social status; for he would no longer be referred to as Chi but rather Lord Yang as all the other monsieur’s in attendance and later Lord Yang of Blacksmith, the estate he would purchase with his first fee from Madame Lanette.
After graduation, Lord Yang moved onto Madame’s estate, a temporary course of action and set about managing her finances. Almost immediately the ever so patient Lord found himself relying on his beloved grandmother’s mediation to combat the infamous “scruple loss,” a disease of mind experienced by former business associates who could not believe or control the purchases of Madame Lanette whose only care in the world was personal hygiene and a sense of pleasure which came in the form of purchases-many many purchases, for on a good day she could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on things. In fact, Madame Lanette’s purchase endeavors were so many and so grand that Lord Yang found himself too busy to form partnerships with other financially sound families, and the longer he stayed with Madame Lanette, the more he was sought after; for, anyone who could last more than four months with Madame must be sent from heaven, a financial God of sorts. Offers began pouring in promising twice more than whatever Madame Lanette contracted. This always caused about a great laugh for Lord Yang because what he required would evitable guarantee those promising such compensation, financial demise.
After the first quarter and an extensive search, Lord Yang purchased Blacksmith, an outstanding estate which happened to be not too far from Madame but far enough where acres of land could exist comfortably between them. Two Great Danes respectfully named Lord Philips and Lord Max roamed Blacksmith day and night being fierce good boys and compensated handsomely with the finest bones.
The main house, surrounded by manicured shrubs, a large marble swimming pool, fresh cut grass and beautiful rose gardens was more extravagant than the grandest hall. Tall trees watched over acres of land with thousands of flowers blooming fresh scents. Abutilons, Cosmos, Oleanders, Oxeye Daisy’s and Yarrows graced the grounds.
There were three guest houses. Each house contained pottery and relics from his beloved China along with large french doors, bay windows and solid oak bookshelves home to readings from around the world. Large statues from Mexico, Africa, and Rome sat at the entry way of each home. Every detail was attended to.
Lord Yang’s impeccable taste and attention to detail were also displayed in his style of dress. Sir Pennings, owner of Raniere Lords and tailor to all persons who could afford his services developed his suits, an unimaginable dream to the majority of country-men. These impeccably tailored suits were made from the finest cloth and fitted his physique perfectly. Looks were finalized by either the company of Lord Handkerchief, Lord Handkerchief’s cousin Lord Olverton, or Lord Handkerchief’s much younger rival Sir Bebe. La Jacques provided his foot wear.
Chapter 3: Madame Jessica D. Lanette
Jessica Deborah Lanette referred to as Jessica D. having several Jessica’s in her class sat at her desk longing for excitement. Anything to escape another lecture by Mrs. Blanch the head librarian. Thankfully she could escape a little being seated next to large airy windows overseeing the lush garden of Lady Francois, the all-girls high school. The grounds having various flowers of pink, her favorite color and purples caused about visions of being in love and having romantic dates with a most handsome prince charming.
Jessica was a girls-girl. Her room was painted pink. She carried pink umbrellas. She wore pink dresses and bows and oh how she loved her favorite doll, Lady Philicia who just so happened to wear dresses that were also and only pink. It was well known that girly-girls such as Madame were only sought for their looks and not their brains, but she was by far not a scatter brain; in fact, she was quite well read and schooled, just completely and utterly bored. She longed for a good game of Lacrosse, an opportunity to match a friend with a boy from Saint James, a shopping spree at Roth’s or tea and gossip with Janet her very best girlfriend. She simply could not understand why she had to spend her time in school listening to these women talk, talk, talk. Blah, blah, blah, blah infiltrated her ears day in and day out. Why did she need to read Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz?” How could an imaginary story help her in an un-imaginary world?
Each day at exactly 3:45 p.m. Jessica would walk gracefully yet swiftly out of Lady Francois and into the arms of her beloved Chauffeur Sir Titus Alexander, whom she’d known her entire life. Once home, she’d check on her sister Rochelle, who had been born with mental illness and cared for by Lady Linda Richardson former head nurse for Dickerson Memorial Hospital. Rochelle looked forward to seeing her sister and receiving her daily forehead kiss. Then as quickly as Jessica arrived she was off into their grand study to complete her assignments which was then followed by a lift to Janet’s where she would engage in endless gossip for about an hour only to return home by 7:00 p.m. to have dinner with her father Sir Oswald Penny and sister.
The investment banker talked endlessly about the financial industry preparing his daughter for the most important goal in life: staying rich. Of course he spent fatherly time with his girls allowing Jessica sometimes to paint one of his nails, sometimes two and the two of them painting Rochelle’s, but having no sons she would have to be the one to carry on their families legacy and he would teach her how to do this; hence, nightly financial discussions and weekend financial studies.
Madame Lanette managed to survive and graduate from Lady Francois and started attending Denkirk, the top school of fiancé in Amsterdam. Occasionally she found herself in the company of a potential suitor, but she found almost all of them to be utter and complete bores. She longed for someone who had lived life. It would be just her luck however, that during the summer of her junior year at a party hosted by her father excitement would walk into her dining room by the name of General Richard Wellington, a gregarious former army general who just so happened to be one of Sir Oswald’s clients. There was an instant attraction and the pair began spending countless hours together talking endlessly about his battles and excursions to various parts of the world. Madame Lanette was in love and the smitten six feet five gray-eyed muscular general was too. Within weeks, he asked Sir Oswald for Jessica’s hand in marriage. Father and daughter accepted at once.
Madame Lanette stood five feet five; quite the contrast to her tall husband. Wealth prevented stress which in turn prevented aging. She was very dark skinned with a beauty mark positioned under her right eye. A deep dimple sat perfectly on her left cheek. She preferred her hair to be tightly pinned into a bun, much too busy for curls. Her nails remained manicured and polished red as her full lips. In her fifties, she was still very much attractive and her smile symbolized a good life.
She wore heels, always two-inched heels, fitted shirts and flared skirts, and never went without one of her cashmere Habebe shawls. At night and at home, the only time her hair was not bunned, the very thick tightly curled gray sprinkled tresses fell down well passed her shoulders. There were nights when the general would tune his chatty wife out who went on and on about something or the other, but those who knew the Wellington’s knew that he loved her more than life itself and at times he compared her beauty to the stars and when on occasion she did go quiet, his love for her yearned to hear her voice once more.
Many years ago, the Wellington’s tried and failed to have children and after some time both agreed that it simply was not meant to be. Madame Lanette continued to care for Sir Wellington’s three children from a previous marriage as if they were her own.
Sir Oswald who was of average height and whose complexion was characterized as midnight currently lived on the other side of his daughter’s grand estate. He owned several estates and made a fortune in the stock market but agreed to move onto the property to grant her wish. For he had stayed in his estate well after Rochelle’s passing alone and Madame Lanette wanted him close.
Madame Lanette’s mother died during child birth and Sir Oswald’s second wife, Lady Cindy Fox left the family too distraught to deal with a child with mental incompetence.
During her teenage years, Madame concluded that her father’s long days in the office were to ensure that his girls received the best care since the departure of their mothers. Of course Sir Oswald entertained lady friends, but the women in his life knew that they were second to his girls and never stayed long. Father and daughter were inseparable sharing very similar ideas about life believing each new day was an opportunity to enhance their wealth and of course the only way to ensure it was to invest and spend it; hence Lord Yang’s fees.
During their very first meeting, Lord Yang and Madame formed a bond chatting well into the night. She was quite impressed with his patience showing no desire to end their talk. He stayed with the conversation, became attuned to her idiosyncrasies, and found that he had much in common with the Madame who shared similar friends.
Madame Lanette and Lord Yang became inseparable having no physical attraction for one another. He entertained Madame from dusk to dawn quite enjoying her company for she was quite dramatic when complaining about Lord Wellington on their long estate walks. Madame Lanette also enjoyed being with Lord Yang because she could be “free as a bird” around him.
Lord Yang and Madame Lanette involved themselves in various forms of entertainment and social causes, one in which involved children who found school a bit challenging. The impeccably dressed, Jet black haired and very handsome Lord had quite a number of female admirers, who were also participants of such causes and befriended Madame Lanette in the hopes of getting closer to him, but Lord Yang was simply, well, aloof which caused great frustrations to the woman who had thrown herself; but made great gossip for Jessica and Janet who were always aware of their motives in the first place.
Lord Handkerchief wondered if Lord Yang would ever marry and wished at times that he would pick up on such flirtations, some in which caused him to blush. After some time, he realized that the only possibility of finding a suitor would be through some sort of formal introduction. Madame Lanette realized this too and begin preparing this evenings dinner one year ago to the day to introduce Lord Yang to Lady Jasper who had just come of age.
Chapter 4: Unsuitable Conditions for Lord Handkerchief
The evening progressed ultimately ending and Lord Yang, being the absolute gentleman accompanied Lady Jasper to her chauffer requesting her presence for dinner the following evening. As the last guest stood up and said their goodbyes, Lance Sterling and his crew began their meticulous cleaning which was to end in exactly one hour as contracted by Madame Patricia, Hospitality Manager to Madame Lanette.
Lance Sterling walked directly to Table 3b having caught the eye of a diamond encrusted brooch and immediately handed it over to Lord Peter McNire the II, Personal Retrievals Manager and assistant to Madame Patricia, and as he went about cleaning leaving no spot untouched and no glass unpicked up, he saw the handsome Lord Handkerchief lying on the ground flustered. A rush of excitement took hold of Lance Sterling as he kneeled to pick him up, for this was the most beautiful handkerchief he had ever seen. Every man in the country had grown up learning one’s true value was measured by his handkerchief. Every man owned one but it was only the wealthy who could afford him. Lance Sterling removed himself from sight and held Lord Handkerchief in his hands becoming more and more captivated by the smoothness of his body and beauty of his beige, blue, and red patterns. He rubbed Lord Handkerchief across his face; for this was a true man’s handkerchief. Within a few minutes Lance Sterling made a decision; he would keep Lord Handkerchief, a decision of theft, but rationalized this way: he had worked his entire life and would never ever be able to afford Lord Handkerchief and the monsieur who lost him, undoubtedly from great wealth, could replace him in a blink of an eye; afterall, had he been missed, his suitor would have surely returned for him by now. Lance Sterling continued cleaning keeping Lord Handkerchief neatly folded in his pocket. After 60 minutes as contracted, Lance Sterling dismissed himself and small crew from Lodge Court and begin his slow exciting walk home to the town of Murray Creek.
Oh, how dreadful, Lord Handkerchief thought; for he was not only handled by someone other than Lord Yang, but touched by un-manicured hands and to top this most dreadful day off, he had to stay a full 120 minutes in the pocket of a poor person, endure the feel of cotton, and experience the brutality of an unshaven face. Any person who dared identified themselves as a man who had not shaved with Spalding’s was simply un-manly and this monsieur was not manly at-tall.
Any other day upon Lance Sterling’s arrival home, he’d sit and rest from exhaustion on the two steps leading up into his house but not today. He immediately called for his wife who he found in the kitchen, a few feet from the door with their nine-year-old son Bobby Sterling eating supper.
“Linda, Linda, look!” Lance Sterling excitedly announced showing his wife his finding.
“Lance Sterling, why he is beautiful. May I?”
“Yes, yes.” he replied as he handed Lord Handkerchief over to Linda. Linda ran Lord Handkerchief across her face. To his surprise, Lord Handkerchief did not mind a bit; for this homely woman holding him was more attractive than any woman he’d ever seen, and his blue patterns turned bright red at the sight of her long brown hair and striking blue eyes. Linda’s porcelain soft skin was a welcome change in comparison to the horrid brute of a face he’d experienced thus far.
“He is most beautiful Lance Sterling. Where ever did you find him? However can we afford him?”
“Father. I’ve never seen such beauty.” Cried Bobby.
“Where ever did such a brute find you?” Lord Handkerchief thought.
“I’ve retrieved him from the home of Madame Lanette of Lodge Court in Hindsdale.” Lance Sterling replied.
Linda jumped back startled, “My God! Did you say Madame Lanette? You must return him immediately!”
“But Linda, I, I, I. He belongs to us; I found him. His owner either does not know he is lost or simply does not care.”
Linda motioned Bobby to leave the kitchen. Linda and Lance began whispering.
“And I know that he does not belong to us. He is stolen! You have stolen him Lance Sterling. His owner will indeed search for him! You must return him at once, this very minute Lance Sterling. My God! Lady Lanette, pardon me, Madame Lanette. I hear that she can become quite difficult at hearing about such matters.”
“But Linda I, I never felt anything so soft and and how would she know he is in our possession?”
“He does not belong to us Lance Sterling. You must return him at once!
“I, I, I will, but I beg you Linda. Let me keep him for three days and I promise I will return him. Three days I ask.”
“I do not know. I simply do not know.” she gasped running her hands through her hair in deep thought pacing back and forth. “Madame Lanette if she learned of such an affair.” Ah, what bind have you brought upon this family Lance Sterling?” She concluded.
After some time and seeing the sadness in her speechless hard-working husbands eyes who she knew would never afford Lord Handkerchief she replied, “I will honor your request Lance Sterling but if you do not return Lord Handkerchief after three days, I will!”
“Ah, thank you Linda, my most loving wife.” Lance Sterling kneeled down, held onto his wife’s ankles and kissed her feet.
“Bobby, please come here my son.”
Lance Sterling picked up Lord Handkerchief and gently put him down in front of Bobby who had witnessed this evenings’ discussion between his parents. He began to re-explain to Bobby the link between Lord Handkerchief and success and how this most distinguished piece of art was what men worked for their entire lives. Bobby finally understood having Lord Handkerchief in front of him. If becoming a man meant possessing Lord Handkerchief then Bobby was willing to skip his youth and become a man this very minute. Lance Sterling continued to converse with his son sharing his dreams of Bobby having a good education; thus, being able to afford Lord Handkerchief. Bobby hugged his father tightly finally understanding the love he felt for him; for any man to wish another to possess such a cloth was an honorable man, one worth loving. To conclude their talk, Lance Sterling requested Bobby to obtain Sir Charles and place him next to Lord Handkerchief on their wooden table. Bobby obliged. Words were no longer needed as the vision of the two hankies laying side by side further reinforced father and sons bond.
Linda prepared Lance Sterling’s favorite supper of lamb stew; afterwards, the Sterling’s went about their usual chores ending up in bed at their normal time each night. Linda read to Bobby who was not gifted in reading or writing.
The Sterling’s slept in one room which sat left of the kitchen directly in front of their small living room which was in between the front and kitchen doors. The bathroom sat to the right of the living room. It was a very small rustic home but a loving one. Lance Sterling would trade all the space in the world to have the two people he cared for the most next to him each night in such tight quarters.
As the Sterling’s slept, Lord Handkerchief rolled his eyes having to be in such close proximity to Sir Charles. Why was he being punished? For he’d done nothing but sit in the suit of Lord Yang. When oh when was the torture to stop? Lord Handkerchief cleared his throat, “um-hume.”
Not knowing what to do, Sir Charles cleared his, “uh-hume. “
Puzzled by Sir Charles reaction and the lack of his moving away, Lord Handkerchief cleared his throat once again, “um-hume.”
Sir Charles followed, “uh-hume.”
“Why I’ve never!” stated Lord Handkerchief
“Never have I.” replied Sir Charles perplexed as to what to say or do.
“Who are you and why do you exist?” Lord Handkerchief sarcastically replied turning his nose up.
“I am Sir Charles of Salsunbury and Sir Bobby, my suitor put me next to you. Pardon me, but I must say that you are quite distinguished. I am honored my Lord, to be in your presence. What a wonderful most pleasant surprise indeed.”
“Yes, yes I know. Could you please move over? I am allergic to cottonaires.”
“Why yes of course. I most certainly can. I have been cleaned as of yesterday. Hand cleaned. I hope that my fragrance does not keep you miserable for long.”
Sir Charles moved over a pace.
“Hand cleaned. How brutal. Your fragrance is continuing to cause about a headache. Could you scoot over about ten paces to the left?”
“Lord Handkerchief, ten paces would most indeed cause my falling.”
“I know.” replied Lord Handkerchief under his breath.
“I can scoot over five. Will that do?”
“If I am to have no choice.” replied Lord Handkerchief.
“Then five it is.”
Sir Charles started to count as he scooted, “1, 2, 3, 5.”
“My dear God! You cannot count?” Snapped Lord Handkerchief.
“I am learning my Lord. I do count with Sir Bobby, but we simply cannot seem to remember the number 4.”
“First, I am almost trampled upon by Lady Jasper, then I am stolen and placed on this unbuffed wooden table almost causing about a snag in my most delicate skin and of all things, I must lay next to a cottonaire who cannot count. I feel absolutely faint.” Lord Handkerchief concluded.
“Might I ask what is wrong with being a cottonaire? I come from a very proud family of cottonaire’s. We are all hard workers having been in numerous suits. I am proud.” Sir Charles responded dignified and respectfully.
“Well, that’s the problem of course,” chirped Lord Handkerchief, “work.”
“Not everyone has the luxury of being born to wealth my lord.” Sir Charles replied respectfully.
“Yes, yes I know and I am lying next to him. “ Lord Handkerchief replied sarcastically.
“And how did you go about ending here next to a cottonaire? May I ask?
“As I have stated, I was stolen and I shall leave this dreadful place when Lord Yang retrieves me and your suitor will hopefully be put away for committing such an offense.”
“Yes, yes you did mention this my lord. And it seems your concern is shared by Lady Linda. This is quite uncharacteristic of Sir Lance Sterling. I have known him most of my life. He is an honest man.” Sir Charles paused.
“If I may, I offer my sincerest apology as I am providing no excuse for his behavior but I can understand, my lord, how a man who would never be able to afford you sir, well might be tempted to shall I say borrow you for some time; for you are what we hankies and men desire most in life.”
“Ah, in my youth I dreamed of being a lord but after some time I too had to face reality knowing that I would never be one. I spent more days than not wishing that I could sit in the suit of wealthy men but after being worn and stained and thrown here and there by a playful child with no understanding of our role in life, I gradually accepted my position. Lord Handkerchief there exists however, men who will never accept their plight in life and will do whatever it takes, even if it means self-destruction, to be in your presence. I do hope that once you are returned that you will find it in your heart to forgive the actions of a desperate man.”
Lord Handkerchief did not respond. The apology presented by Sir Charles was simply not enough to soothe the irate hanky.
Lord Handkerchief and Sir Charles laid next to each other silently eventually falling asleep. The uncomfortable Lord Handkerchief; however, would awaken several times during the night to ensure that Sir Charles remained the 1,2,3,5 paces away. He was also quite restless hoping to be rescued from this dreadful place. The following morning Lord Handkerchief was awakened quite abruptly by Sheeba, the Sterling’s mutt and Ann their rooster cock-a-doodling.
“Good morning.” Lord Handkerchief. I hope you are well rested.”
“Not at-tall.” replied Lord Handkerchief.
“Perhaps Lord Yang is on his way? I do hope that you are able to return home soon.” Lord Handkerchief did not reply.
Not sure what to say and not wanting to cause any inconvenience to Lord Handkerchief, Sir Charles thought it best if he changed the subject.
“What weather we are having? I have found it to be quite pleasant.”
“Yes, it has been. By now however, I would have had my morning steam and fold, a quick walk in this most delightful weather and my daily reading of the York. I feel simply out of my element and I must go. Where oh where is Lord Yang?”
Well that didn’t go well. Thought Sir Charles.
Lord Handkerchief was beginning to become unnerved. He had never been away from Lord Yang, not even a day in his five months of existence. He had never known the godawful feeling of worry. His mind wandered. Perhaps Lord Yang had replaced him with Sir Bebe. Perhaps Lord Yang had not noticed his absence at all still captivated by Lady Jasper which would cause him to stay even longer in this dreadful house. What was he to do? He had no way of finding his way home.
Sir Charles knew very well this feeling of worry having been replaced several times and was about to offer Lord Handkerchief advice when an excited Bobby and Lester Sterling walked into the kitchen to sit down for breakfast. Both hankies listened in.
“Daddy, daddy today’s the carnival. Do we have enough to go?”
“Why yes and we have enough for you to have Vanilla ice-cream too.”
Bobby was simply ecstatic, for he was not only going to spend much needed time with his father but was going to the carnival and would have his favorite dessert in the whole wide world.
Bobby loved when his father was home which was not often. He thought that if he had been smarter his father would not work so much and stay home more often. Of course he loved his mother but his rightful place was at his father’s side not with his mother caring for chickens. If he was going to grow up and be strong like him, then his rightful place was by his side working as one.
Lance Sterling hated being poor but he had a child and a wife to care for and he tried his best to explain to Bobby that he thought Bobby was one of the smartest children he knew and that his being away was because he had to support him.
There were days when Bobby longed for his dad, rising early to be with him but finding Linda instead. During these times, Bobby would dress quickly not wanting his mother to see him cry and sit by the stream, a few feet from their home. Oh how he longed for his father to play catch the rock like they used to. If only he had been like the other children who could read and write, his father would be proud of him. It was during these times that Sir Charles witness to his cries also longed for something, arms to hug Sir Bobby; for he had been privy to conversations between Linda and Sir Sterling and he knew that his father loved him more than life itself.