NOTE: This conversation runs backwards! For the benefit of regular readers the newest comments are put at the top.
Music Playing: The Ladyton Blonde Choir singing "Silent Night"
Col. Janechild, I remember quite clearly, it was you who wanted to "thrash" poor Janet "to within an inch of her life" for, um, you remember, putting her hand up Ellhedrine's dress one evening right there in the Cocktail Bar.
But that was ages and ages ago, and now I can see that its only your manner of speaking, which is just what you said at the time. You're quite the softie, aren't you colonel? That rather befits such a dashing cavalry officer when cavalry charges are a thing of the past.
So I'm rather delighted that you and your mem sahib rekindled your romance and that my little butterfly gift may have served as a cattlelist. I think that's one of those things the Butterfly Powder is supposed to be good for. Romance I mean.
So maybe I'll see you right after the holiday's over and I can come back to the Cocktail Bar. So enjoy your Nativity Day and keep that gold monocle polished!
With a daughterly buss on the cheek,
Music Playing: Marychild's dance Orchestra playing: "Rhythm is Our Business"
At all events, I put some of this rummy stuff on my lips. I should have waited 'till the Day, I know, but, well I was touched, don't you know, and I wanted to be sure to use your generous present, and since it isn't the sort of thing I usually use (same colour lip-rouge for twenty years, that's me. Set in my ways, don't you know). I thought to myself "Now or never". "Strike while the iron's hot," I thought. Put it away now and I'll never get the nerve to use it. We soldierettes are brave, but we know our limits.
So, I slipped into the bathroom just before the chuck-out bell and put some of the dashed stuff on. Went home and what do you think? Well, to tell the truth I was a bit nervous of what the mem sahib was going to say. Thought she might call me an old silly or something like that. In fact I rather hoped she wouldn't notice. But she noticed all right. Oh yes, I'll say she noticed. dash it all. She always gives me a kiss when I get in, of course, but today she kissed me - well, the way she used to kiss me. Purring like a blonde kitten she was.
Well, after she let me go, she asked what had happened to me, so I told her about the lip gloss, and, of course, she wanted to try it, so I gave her the gold tube-thing with the little butterfly engraved on the side and she went to her room. Five minutes later she came back and - well, dash it all, I hardly like to say this, but, don't you know, I'd almost forgotten the ravishing blonde I married all those years ago, who made my heart race like a cavalry charge and made me as nervous as a cadet on her first inspection parade. Of course I have always loved her just as much, but - don't you know - she has just been dear old Miriel to me.
Well, it wasn't dear old Miriel that came into the room then. It was that blonde: that wonderful, terrifying, heart-stoppingly beautiful blonde that I had lost my sleep and very nearly my mind over. The one I had kissed and courted and coveted and finally married all those years ago. And my heart felt like a cavalry charge, and by Our Lady, it still does.
So, I just wanted you to know, young Ariadne that your present was - well, it was the best dashed present I've had since the pogo-stick when I was seven.
So I am sending mine to you, Ariadne, by a special courierette. Don't open it till the day, and don't forget to write it down in your jewellery book when you do. And if Symone seems worried about it, just ask her to come and meet my mem sahib - then she'll stop worrying, dash it all.
A very happy Nativity to you, my dear, and to all the pettes.
COL. JANE JANECHILD
I see Theda has finally collected her missing Butterfly Page, as you call it, (you were quite right: you had folded it in with your letter to Jewel -- in fact Jewel actually saw it flutter out of Theda's breast pocket when she delivered your note) but Theda has thoughtfully left a copy for those pettes who haven't had a chance to read it yet.
Theda is actually very nice, you know (but of course you do, Ari, you've told us that any number of times!) And yes, Ariadne, by now we really do know that Theda drives a mauve Bentley all over town "quite frequently," as you like to say. I know you like to tell us that, but we by now we know it by heart, if you know what I mean. It's a good thing the Bentley is such a durable car, with all the city mileage that Theda puts on it every week!
Theda stopped by yesterday evening after she was off duty and had a few rum punches with us brunettes. She is quite charming, and to see her out of uniform in a dress, well, have you ever seen Theda in a dress, Ari? But perhaps it would be better if you do not.
At any rate, Ariadne, I've got your last several notes. It really does sound as if you don't require the assistance of the "Butterfly" brand cosmetics, or any other, for that matter, but anyone who has ever met you could have told you that, dear! Some girls are simply very fortunate in that department, and you are surely one of them.
And as for your session with Alexis of the Golden Eye Patch, your admirers at the Aphrodite Cocktail Bar would love to see all the proofs of the session. I'm sure that you looked quite fresh and lovely in every one of the photos, Ari: it's really very not hard to believe. Your friends (and your business associates, perhaps?) must have had quite the time to pick out the best one!
And finally, Theda brought in a virtual lorry-full of gifts this afternoon, that the management have placed under the Nativity tree alongside the fireplace in the Aphrodite Cocktail Bar. I've taken the liberty of removing mine to under my own tiny Nativity tree in my room in the sisters' residence in Nether Mynton: I promise I shall not open it until Nativity Morning! Thank you in advance, sweet Ariadne! I just adore the butterfly wrapping!
But you should know, Ari sweetie, that some of the pettes for whom you've left gifts haven't been to the Aphrodite Cocktail Bar for quite some time, months, even; the Aphrodite Cocktail Bar management, however, have kindly agreed to hold any gifts which have not been claimed for at least six months. After the twelve days of Christmas have passed, they will be kept in the storage room behind the bar where the band keep the music stands.
Ariadne, we know that your good friend Symone is coming back from the Orient in the next day or two, so it may be hard for you to come by and visit in the next couple of days. So, if you don't get the chance, Happy Nativity, Happy Christmas and New Year to you from me as well from all of us pettes - brunettes and blondes alike - at the Aphrodite Cocktail Bar!
Music playing: The Quirinelles playing "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree"
For example, in the great shopping streets of Novarayapurh (which is our capital city) there is a wonderful display of shimmering glass anti-gravity globes, red and green and blue and gold, hovering in the air. Each one has a Solar Flame in its heart that makes it glow in the night. The silver-and-black streamlined Art-Neo hover-trams are swagged with green tinsel and red glow-balls, and all the pin-neat, up-to-the-minute businessbrunettes with their bobbed hair and their dark-red Cupid's-bow lips are carrying parcels for their blonde-wives and daughters, or else for their blonde-friends and their mummies (though I don't suppose the married ones forget their mummies either).
No snow here as yet, though the air is cold enough to crack and most girls turn on their invisible personal environment bubbles (or "auries" as we usually call them) when they go outdoors. There are very few overcoats here in Novaria for that reason, but many girls wear fur wraps, perhaps from vanity, and of course hats and gloves, since we are not savages.
Bell-skirted knee-length dresses are the vogue this season, and some of the more daring brunettes are wearing those very wide lapels whose stiffened points extend inches beyond the natural shoulder. Black stockings with thin vertical stripes are very much in, and, of course, layers and layers of petticoat to hold out those bell-skirts. Some blondes make each layer a different pastel shade, giving a rainbow-effect when the swirl round.
Carol singers can be seen on the corners of shopping streets, their
golden glow-lamps hovering a little above them, throwing the most fetching
light on their sweet faces. They wear fur coats and carry fur muffs because
auries tend to deaden not so much the sound as its harmonious intermingling.
Anyway, no good choirmistress allows them, and it does give the girls such
a lovely quaint look.
Reporting from Novarayapurh, Novaria
A little while ago Theda, Symone's driver, arrived bearing quite a number of beautifully wrapped presents for many of the Aphrodite Cocktail Bar's patronettes as well as the staff. We have placed the presents under our little Nativity tree standing against the wall with the fireplace, where they will remain for the taking. Ariadne has enclosed a note, which follows. - The ManagementDearest Pettes,
But anyway, I must stay at home and get ready for Symone and make sure my little red alligator notebook is all up to date so Symone can see how well I've been writing my jewellery. And speaking of notebooks I used mine to write down all of your names so I wouldn't forget any pette this time and I can name more than six now.
So I needed to write down all of your names not just to practice my writing (of which Symone thinks a girl should always do more, so now I can write all your names not just the jewellery) but because I needed your names for all these presents I'm sending with Theda since I won't be there to give them myself.
So I had Theda bring them today, the presents I mean. Theda's our driver of course, so she rather frequently drives all over town in a Bentley, you know, (its mauve) and can easily pop by the Aphrodite Cocktail Bar to deliver these presents. So that's how they got there. Theda brought them.
Remember the butterfly pages I told you about, the ones printed in colours, and they each say "Colour Plate" at the bottom and each have quite lovely butterflies on them printed in colours? Well, I was going to make them into a scrapbook, but as each page is quite large (the book is a foleeo according to Theda) I used the most lovely butterfly plates to wrap each of your presents. So that's why each one is covered in butterflies.
So here are the presents.
For Ellhedrine, Yrsula, Ellen and Jewel;And of course I haven't forgotten the hardworking barpettes, no, nor the manageress nor the cleaning crew either: I've sent presents for all.
For Susan and Alice and Divina Divine;
For Surique di Q. and Andrea, Katalina and Mary;
For Laura, Victoria, Tracie and Debra;
For Dorinda, Cynthia, Sarah and Hevelyn;
For Patricia, Marisa and Kora;
For Janet, Helvetia, Orlando-and-Sasha;
For Melanie, Harasina and Hildegard (blonde);
For Polyhymnia, Ophelia and Iris;
For Miss Cherry Uno, Miss Barbara and Chantel;
For Col. Janechild, Rhette and Sally;
For Philis Oliver (Possum), Sabrina and Paula;
For Roseanne and Miss Skipper and Jade;
For Kimberly, Rachel and Professor Francesca;
For Delira Bright, Suzanne and Miss Wynter;
For Justine, Tonya Chambers and Sue Estelle de Meer.
So happy Nativity, happy Christmas and New Years! I've have such a wonderful
time with all of you pettes and professors and colonels and nurses so all
of these presents are the very least a girl can do for her friends.
So I did.
Music Playing: Suraline's Sweet Seven playing "Silver Bells"
Marybridge is in Quirinelle, it is a long way South and a bit West of Claireborough, Trent (I know because I just looked at the big map in Brunette Mummie's study). Even so there is snow here. Not deep snow like that in Claireborough, but a light, powdery covering over everything. Hardly enough for snowballs yet, though some of the young brunettes are trying (trying to make snowball, I mean, not trying in the other sense - well, that too sometimes).
All the children are writing letters to the Star Fairy telling her all the things they want for Nativity. On Nativity Eve, we shall send them up the chimney, wafted up by the updraught from the big log fire. They teach us in school how the chimney in the house is like the fontanelle in the head (the opening we have as babies that symbolically opens up to heaven) or the sun-door in the universe which is the way out of the material world to the higher realms, and the Winter Solstice corresponds to the North Gate of Heaven. Well, no, I don't quite understand it either, but it is very ancient and deep and connected with the Mystery of Nativity.
What everypette can understand is about the beautiful Daughter, born from the Mother in the World-Cavern at the turning of the year. In the Church choir, we sing:
Hail to the light of the glorious morning!
Hail to the first gentle rays of the dawn!
Hail to the Star that has guided us onward!
Hail to the Princess of Light that is born!
Well, I suppose everyone in the world knows that carol, but isn't it lovely to hear it again, year after year?
On Nativity Eve the Choir is going to make a procession through the town, singing all the lovely carols. We shall be dressed in white robes and white fur cloaks to keep us warm (these cloaks were made for the choir years ago by a very rich blonde, and they are only used once a year and stored carefully, so they still seem quite new - and each one has a long linen tag in the back, and every girl who wears it writes her name on the tag, so there is a long list of names in every one, and I am going to try to wear the one that was worn by my Blonde Mummie when she was a little girl. Every one of us will carry a candle, and by special arrangement with the District Authority, all the street lamps are turned off in each district of the town as we pass through it, so we are the only light except the moon and stars, and we are called the Procession of Light (which is why we all have to be blondes).
Oh, and I wish you could see the lovely Nativity displays in all the shops and the street lights. People say that Ladyton has the best and biggest shops and lights in the world, and pettes come from miles and miles to see them, but I don't believe that they could possibly be better than our ones in Marybridge.
Blonde Mummie is so busy helping Cook make the cake and the puddings and telling the maid how to do the decorations, and planning who is coming for which Day of Nativity and where we are all going to dinner and whether there is enough to drink of what every one likes, that she sometimes says she is going mad, but it is quite a nice kind of mad. She says she is far too busy to get me a present this year, but she says that every year and I seem to get nicer presents each year. Blonde Mummie says that is the Star Fairy and nothing to do with her.
Oh, and I must tell you that Captain Fialaeretta, who is the most important
constabel in town was talking to Miss Dymple of The Rose and Lily last
Nativity and some of the young brunettes tied a big bunch of holly to the
top of her helmet (she had taken it off, of course, being indoors and talking
to a blonde) and she put it on without noticing and walked half-way down
Princess Street wearing it, and when she found out she wasn't a bit
cross. Nativity is so nice like that.
Dearest Yrsula, Remember I promised before to tell you about the lipgloss and lotion and how they work for a girl? Well, first let me consider the lotion, its so very smooth and almost transparent and smells quite a lot like narcissus or jonquils in April but you really must sniff it quite hard, since it doesn't smell very much, just a little.
So according to Theda and Brydgitte, if a girl rubs on the lotion, onto her skin (that's really the only thing it should go on, you shouldn't pay any attention to Ellen at all, she'll quite likely come down with a rash), then her skin is supposed to sort of light up from inside and get "depth" and "translucence" (that's just the words that they used) and become very smooth and lose any lines that it has. So I tried it.
But after I did it I looked *exactly the same* as before. So Theda and Brydgitte started to laugh and said that a girl like me doesn't need it, the lotion, I mean, and its to dear to waste it on someone like me. So they took it away.
So I next tried the lipgloss that has the same butterfly powder just like the lotion but its supposed to make a girl feel much better, not just make her lips red. Brydgitte and Theda said that the butterfly powder gets into your blood through your lips and makes a girl feel, well, more like a girl, but I didn't believe them because I feel quite enough like a girl as it is and don't need to feel any more like a girl than I do at the moment and that's how I always have felt.
So they laughed a little bit more and said that the lipgloss would also be wasted on me. So they took it away and just gave me some regular lipgloss you can buy in a shop for five shillings, and that worked just fine. So I was quite pleased. Five shillings is very expensive lipgloss, you know.
So, Yrsula dear, I'm quite sorry to say that the lipgloss and lotion did nothing for me whatsoever. I looked exactly the same as I usually look and felt the same as I feel all the time. So I was actually quite disappointed. So that's what I promised to tell you.
Tomorrow were going to visit Alexis, the one that takes photos of models. She's going to take some of me to put in the little broshure I told you about in my last letter.
But changing the subject I see that Jewel has gone off in a yacht until New Years! Some girls are so lucky! So I see that Jewel knows Yrene de Beauvoir, a great friend of Symone's (she's told me of her rather often). So perhaps all of we girls all might be able to all have dinner together or something just after Christmas is finished.
Brydgitte, who's the maid but was once a professional chef, is teaching
me how, so perhaps I could make dinner! A girl should know how to
cook and make her guests happy: that's what they call entertaining. So
if you see Jewel before the tide ebbs please tell her, and if you
can come, Yrsula, by yourself or else bring a friend, that would make five
or six, and you'd be ever so welcome! Especially after giving all that
advice about cosmetics and the little pink pills.
So we arrived at Alexis's flat but she calls it a studio and the sitting room's all filled with silver umbrellas all pointing sideways or up at the ceiling but it wasn't raining inside. The walls were all paper attached to black piping, and it came down to the floor, the paper I mean, and spread out underneath you so part of the floor was covered with paper as well. And it was all different colors, the rolls of paper I mean. And it was hard for a girl to keep from tripping over all of the wires coiled like snakes all over the floor in high heels. But I didn't.
So Alexis is quite a tall girl, very sweet, with a patch over one eye like a pirate but gold with a delicate little gold band to keep it in place. So Alexis has wardrobes and wardrobes filled with all sorts of beautiful clothing,. So she picked out for me a lovely ivory gown made of silk with a very low neckline so a lot of my skin would be showing and she gave me a rope of fake pearls to wear, so I did. But they didn't put on any makeup because they said I don't need it, but they fixed my hair up better than I.
So Alexis has three blonde assistants but she's a brunette, you can easily tell, how she runs things. Her assistants helped move me around in front of all the umbrellas and kept giving her backs for her cameras whenever she ran out of film which was every two minutes or so. The umbrellas all have little cans in the middle that flash with a sweet little "pop" like tiny champagne corks shooting out of their bottles but much softer than that. So it was like all these bottles of champagne being opened but brighter because of the flashes. Champagne doesn't flash when its opened, you know, but it sounds like it should do.
So I asked one of the blondes of what should I think while Alexis is taking the photos? And the blonde, her name it was Phyllis I think, said honey just think of nothing at all. If a girl thinks of nothing at all while taking the photos, she said, then she comes out looking totally blank like there's really nothing at all inside of her head all the time nor ever has been nor for that matter ever could be in the future so she looks like a doll but like one with a slightly unpleasant expression and maybe even alive, if she's good. And that is the look that they want in a model, she said. But I didn't. I mean I did not think of nothing at all as I couldn't.
A girl's always thinking, of course, thinking at least how she feels at that particular moment and what she is wearing and can feel her suspenders and girdle and stockings etcetra etcetra and that is usually quite a nice feeling so it shows on her face in a very slight smile. A very slight knowing smile, if you know what I mean, like a girl has a bit of a secret. So that's how I looked when Alexis was taking the photos, which is pretty much how I look all of the time because that's how I feel. Because feeling and thinking are almost the same for a girl, if you know what I mean. So it showed on my face with a little slight smile. In all of the pictures, I mean.
So they developed the pictures, the blondes did, I mean, and we all sat around drinking coffee and looking at pictures. So they spread them all out on a light box (they didn't enlarge them, they were just little strips of four pictures apiece). So Alexis and Theda and Brydgitte finally chose one and I thought it looked just like the snapshot of me from school which I gave them already but they told me, no, not that kind of photo. But I told you already.
So they all were quite pleased with the photo and paid Alexis with boxes
and boxes of lipgloss etcetra etcetra and we then drove back to Hampstead
in the Bentley together. Theda remarked that Alexis certainly has a good
eye for a picture, whatever that means, and they laughed. So they
seemed quite pleased with themselves and with me. So they decided to name
the lipgloss etcetra etcetra "Butterfly" brand because of the butterfly
powder that's in it. And they gave me quite a number of boxes to keep for
myself and do whatever I want with.
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