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Opened: Jan 29th, 2000 - 8:56pm
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Maggie's_Tail

And so the tale begins....Maggie's tale.
BAST [thecosmos@cloud9.com]
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As a kitten Maggie was princess Maggie to all who surrounded her. She forced them to bow low and to head her every command. It was all fun and game to her but that all would change...
CC [isis_x2@yahoo.com]
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It was a wet, rainy, bonechilling cold October evening in late 1843,
when there came a steady rapping on the door. The wind was whisteling and
screeching through the clapblard walls of the old Victorian House where
Maggie and her people lived. The trees were slapping their bare branches agai
against the roof and the rain was pounding on the windows when suddenly..
Marlene Wyld [buglightmw@netscape.net]
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A fierce gust of wind threw open the great oaken doors revealing the dark clad
stranger who stood there. With a gasp of fright Maggie drew back, immediatley
sensing her life was about to change forever.
"I have come seeking the misress of this house." the stranger spoke in a low,
almost sultry voice. "I am Sir Floyd from the House of Savannah, I am hear to
claim this residence as my ancestoral home!"
SawyerB [Talldarkstranger@thedoor]
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Tabitha, the upstairs chambermaid drew back just as she was about to cross into the foyer on her way to the back entryway....who was this tall dark stranger at the door....she was sure she had seen that face before......
Tabitha [servingthemistress@alltimesofthedayandnight.com]
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but she just couldn't remember where...."Sir Floyd...please come in to the sitting room and I will find mistress maggie for you,i won't keep you long...."and with that her vocie tralled off and so did she to get Maggie the mistress of the house...
Abbey Goldfinch [abbey@goldfinch.screaming.net]
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Left to his own devices in the sitting room, the dark stranger lesiurley
strolled about the room. A lost look would come upon his face when his deep
blue eyes would tarry on some piece of art or sculpture that would stir an
old, almost-forgotten memory. His sealy paws gently caressed the knick-knacks
that lined the fireplace mantle. Suddenly his eyes lit upon the large portrait
above the mantle, "Mother!" he whispered softly to himself, "Just as I promised
you, I have returned home....."
Sir Floyd from the House Of Savannah [ANevilplot@sinisterminds?]
*****************************
After what seemed like an impossibly long time to wait to Sir Floyd, he was
alerted to someones presence by the rustle of silk tafetta behind the sitting
room doors.
"Come forward madame." He said not unkindly, "I am not here to harm anyone, I
can assure you."
Amid more rustling Maggie stepped forward into the light cast from the fire-
place, a vision in watered silk in a cerulean blue to match her eyes. "I am so
sorry to have kept you waiting My Lord," she apologized bowing in a deep, grace-
ful curtsy. "I was not expecting any callers this day."
Extending a seal paw, Sir Floyd took Miss Maggie's sweet paw into his own and
pulling her to her paws told her, "A Maiden as fair and lovely as you should bow
to no man."
Clutching her kerchief to her heaving breast Maggie was mesmerized as she gazed
into the sky blue eyes of this stranger.......
Sir Floyd [Stillwaiting@notverypatient]
*****************************
Sir Floyd smiled, revealing neat sharp teeth, "I should not have expected so
young a lady as yourself to be mistress of so great a house. Where are your
parents?"
Maggie turned her seal head away from the rakishly handsome stranger,
"I...I do not know sir, they were touring the continent two years since,
we...we heard that their ship met with disaster, but no more than that."
She raised her handkerchief delicately to her entrancing blue eyes.
"Forgive me, I should not have wished to cause you distress. But, I must
confess, I have heard of this misfortune. It is in part why I am here. You see,
your own great grandsire and my own, were cousins, and since there are no other
surviving males in your family...it is my onerous duty to assume the title of
Duke."
Gasping, Maggie turned towards the heir presumptive, "But...sir, Tabitha and I
are all but penniless in Father's absence. Where will we go? What shall we do?"
Mysteriousstranger [Incredible plot twist@the beginning]
*****************************
"Frankly my dear........" Sir Floyd began with a mischevious gleam in his
eye. "I have come here hoping to regain my ancestoral home and to obtain the
services of a governess of my twin daughters who were left motherless at a
tender age. Mayhaps we can solve two problems at once if you would be willing
to offer your services?"
Maggie, at first affronted at being asked to reduce her station to that of
lowly governess recoiled at the thought. However she thought, this would allow
her to remain in her home and perhaps one day regain her rightful place again.
"It was never my intention to turn you out into the street My Dear." Sir Floyd
assured the frightened Miss leading her to the settee where she settled her
skirts around her in an artful array flashing Sir Floyd a delightful glimpse of
her lace encased legickies.
"I will take your kind offer under advisement, My Lord." She simpered up at
him. "You must understand this has all come as such a shock......."
SirFloyd [Thetensionmounts@Theancestoralhome]
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"Yes, quite. For me as well, though you would not believe it so. And now, if I
might encroach even further upon your hospitality, I am weary from so long a
journey."
He eyed his reluctant hostess expectantly. After a time she composed her
features, "Certainly," she rang the bell and after a soft conversation with her
servant, led him up to what had been her own dear parents chambers, and bid him
a cordial, if some what stinted good night.
She had been mistress of her own home long enough to know that Tabitha had news
to impart and they were not long alone before she did so.
"Left motherless at a tender age, indeed!" Her slightly crossed eyes flared with
anger and her starched skirts twitched, betraying her twitching tail, "Those
poor kits were still in their cradles when..." The maid's voice trailed away and
she busied herself turning down the eiderdown comforter of Maggie's four poster
bed.
Not put off Maggie pounced on the delicate morsel of gossip, "Do you mean her
demise was...untimely?"
Tabitha plumped up the pillows with unnecessary vigour, "It is not polite to
speak ill of the dead, but I am afraid you are correct," she turned towards the
lady of the house, her eyes burning with intensity, "and it was by her own
hand."
Shocked, Maggie sat heavily upon the ottoman by the fire, "I cannot believe that
lady would do such a thing."
"There is more," breathed Tabitha, taken by the drama of it all, "Some say that
Sir Floyd is actually to blame."
Devotedservant [Bigears@thekeyhole]
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Maggie and Tabitha spent an uneasy night in the presence of what they could
imagine Sir Floyd to be. "Tabitha quickly!" Maggie cried upon espying her
reflection at the dressing table, "I must have a cool compress for these eyes,
I look a fright."
"Yes Mum!" Tabitha curtsied bustling out of the ladys' boudiour to do her
bidding, "I'll be bringing up you breakfast tray too Mum."
In the cavernous kitchen of the house Tabitha found Sir Floyd had already
arisen and looking around the kitchen with a look of dismay on his face. "How
long has that poor child resided here with no help, and why is there no help?"
He asked with a trace of anger in his voice.
"Why Sir," Tabitha answered, a quiver of fear in her voice, "there have not
been any funds since her parents, God Bless their souls......"
Sir Floyd waved off the rest of her answer with a wave of a sealie paw and a
twitch of a long sleek tail, "Well, I won't have it, do you here!! Tell Miss
Maggie to call the solicitors at once, I want this house restaffed by this
evening, I have a Ball to plan!
"A Ball My Lord!" Tabitha sighed excitedly, "How exciting.....
Sir Floyd: Much maligned [I'llprovethemwrong@theBall]
*****************************
"A ball," Maggie sighed over her kippers and toast, there was almost a faraway
longing in her voice, she tried not to recall how lovely her mother had been
at the grand balls that used to be hosted by her parents. Her lady mother, a
lovely lilac point was always beautifully decked in lavender or deep purple.
"A ball," she repeated a bit more sternly, "Likely Sir Floyd wants to flaunt
his wealth to the county. And sending me to the solicitors as if I was already
in his employ," she pushed the tray from her, retrieving only the delicate
china cup, with demure sips she finished her tea, gazing out across the lawn
in dispair.
Tabitha cleared the breakfast things as quietly as she could, "Do you mean to
say, Ma'am, that you will be taking the post after all?"
Whiskers a-tremble Maggie shook her head, "I don't know what else I can do. We
would have a roof over our head. Our roof. Perhaps later on, some better
solution will present itself. I must go to the solicitors now, and later we must
see what can be made over from one of Mother's gowns. I must not disgrace the
family name." Her blue eyes burned like aqua flame as she began dressing slowly
the very picture of determination.
Maggie: [apprehensive@best]
*****************************
Just as Maggie and Tabitha were descending the marble staricase, dressed in the
town finery, there was a great flutter and commotion at the Great Doors. To
their utter amazement Sir Floyd permitted entry to a Group of liveried servants
bearing boxes og may sizes and assortments.
"Sir Floyd," Miss Maggie asked a little confused "What is all this?"
"My Dear," Sir Floyd told her kindly, " Surely you did not expect me to allow
you to remain in my home, as my governess without the proper wardrobe, These
are all for you." He announced, "I think you will also find some things
perfectly suitable for your little companion too."
Maggie and Tabitha's eyes became as big as their milk saucers when they looked
uon the array of satins and silks displayed before them. There were day dresses,
and evening dresses, and wraps and petticoats, and unmentionables of every hue,
color and fabric. Parasouls and dainty lace up boots. Stockings and garters and
even little bottles of expensive perfume.
"But My Lord," Miss Maggie asked a little breathless at the array of wealth
before her, "There is no way I could ever reapy you."
"Oh, but my dear sweet Maggie..." Sir Floyd assured her with a twitch of his
whicketts, "I am sure we will find a way."
Sir Floyd [Notsuchabadguy@TheMansion]
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While aware that Sir Floyd already considered her his governess, Maggie was
lost in the sea of silks, satins, brocades and velvets spilling over the
furniture in the great hall. In no time at all she and Tabitha were examining
the splendid clothing like two kittens at Christmas. Once in a while an
uninhibited female giggle emerged from a throat that had nearly forgotten the
exercise. Sir Floyd his past mis-deeds (if any) and the prospects of virtual
servitude in her own home were momentarily forgotten.
Maggie: [Abitoverwhelmed@itall]
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"A new governess to play with!" exclaimed Sabrina. "Let's plan some really obnoxious tricks this time. I'll bet she won't last as long as the last ole lady."

"Oh, fun. Lets do the lizard in the bed again! Governess number three jumped about a foot straight up when that thing started moving against her feet." planned Sebratta. "The salt in the coffee was amewsing too!"

"Ah'm tired of traveling." whined Sabrina. "When is this train ever going to get there?"

"Jest be glad that Daddy got us out of that boardin' school before they threw us out, deah twin." muttered Sebratta. "That would've made the sixth school we'd been thrown out of in less than three years."
Sabrina and Sebratta [PlanningMischief@theMansion]
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"My dears," Sir Floyd interrupted the ladies in their eager exploration of
the treasures before them "I have received a telegram, I am needed at the
family factory in North Carolina for a week."
"But, Sir Floyd, the Ball, the children," Maggie stuttered suddenly aware of
fact of what this would mean.
"My lovely twin daughters will be arriving on the morning train, you will meet
them there and bring them to the mansion, I have several seamstresses due
tomorrow afternoon for a fitting for their gowns. As for the Ball, I have
written instructions on exactly what I expect and who should attend. I trust
you two capable ladies can handle all the details?"
"Surely what trouble could two young girls be?" Maggie thought to herself, "It
will be like having babies in the house again.
""Leave everything to us Sir Floyd." Maggie confidently assured him, "Tabitha
and I will have everything in order and all prepared before your return"
Sir Floyd [Thechildrenarecoming@themorningtrain]
*****************************
"Oh, Sabrinah! We ah heah!" exclaimed Sebratta as the train pulled into the station. "Let's start right now. You get off th' train on this side, and I'll get off th' train on th' otheh side. Let's see who can get into the most mischief befoah they find us!"

"It's ah deal, sistah mine!" squealed Sabrina. "I bet they catch you befoah they catch me! Ahm gonna see iffen I can find me a cute tomcat or two to make th' nights moah interestin'."
Sabrina and Sebratta [Startin'trouble@th'trainStation]
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After a long and tiring week attending to the family's business Sir Floyd
finally rode up to the Great Hall atop his Arabian stallion. A small wagon
pulled by a pair of drays followed behind heavy laden with a myraid of boxes and
parcels.
Upon entering the great oaken doors Sir Floyd bellowed, "Sabrina! Sebretta!
Where are my darhling girls, come give your papa a proper greeting." Only the
echo of his voice and silence answered him back causing the fur of the back of
his neck to bristle in alarm. "Maggie, Tabitha, where in tarnation is everyone!"
he roared. "Dang-blasted females, now where in thunder have they gotten too!"
Suddenly a rustle of silk and a crinkle of tafata cam rushing at him from the
grand staircase. His daughters launched themselves into his open arms crying "
Oh Papa, it was just awful, the new governess met us at the train and she made
us......
Sir Floyd [TheMasterReturns@thestrokeofMidnight]
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"She made us wait what seemed like forever! We were thayer for hours befoah thay came to the station for us! We were so worried, Father!" Sebrina and Sebratta chimed together.

"We doan think we like th' new gov-urness, Papa." whined Sebratta.

"Thay made little ole us carry ouah trunks and boxes from th' train." complained Sabrina. "And ah got a blistuh on my heel."

"Cain't you send her away?" begged Sebratta. "She doesn't look like much fun at all. An' you know how sad we get about ouah deah departed mothuh if we aren't havin' fun."

"She sent us up to ouah room when we got heah, Papa." fussed Sabrina. "Is that faih? We haven't even had a chance to see th' house and thay're bein mean to us already!"
Sebrina and Sebratta [Makin'Papathinkwewereneglected@th'station.com]
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"There, there my little pussums," Sir Floyd crooned to his two disraught
daughters, "Miss Maggie is a kind and gentle lady, I am sure she did what she
thought was proper." Sir Floyd was on to his lovely daughters, "Perhaps I
should just have a talk with Miss Maggie, hmmmmm?"
Realizing their bluff was about to be called the twins quickly changed the
subject, bombarding their father with questions about the approaching ball.
"What about eligible bachelors father, what are the prospects in this town?"
they excitedly asked. "They must be handsome and well as rich," They chorused in
unison an excited blush on their fair cheeks.
"All in good time my darlings." Sir Floyd laughed, "first, we must see about
your ball gowns, I think you will be pleased."
"Miss Maggie, Tabitha!" Sir Floyd called at the bottom of the stairs, "Please
attend to me and my daughters in the drawing room."
Sir Floyd [AFatherknows@mischievousdaughters]
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Sir Floyd and his daughters waited a long time, but Maggie and Tabitha did not answer his summons.

"I wonder where they can be?" Sir Floyd mused. He called again, louder.

"Perhaps thay are busy, Father." stated Sabrina.

"Perhaps thay are a little ... tied up." giggled Sebratta.

"You didn't!" thundered their father. He ran upstairs to see what could be keeping the two women. Had his daughters been naughty again?
Sabrina and Sebratta [Havin'aKnottyTime@th'mansion.com]
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"Miss Maggie, Tabitha?" Sir Floyd called softly as he approached the entrance
to the ladies boudair, "I assure you, they meant no harm, it was just a
adolescent prank." he went on in way of explantaion as he entered the room.
Two blazing blue eyes glared at him from across the room. "mrmmpf watttlll
durrrrrtttts negggglefosss." Miss Maggie mumbled to him from behind the silken
scarf tied across her pouty meezer face. "munnnty mfff atunccccc!"
Barely controlling his mirth Sir Floyd quickly set about untying the ladies
from their silk bondage. "I am not sure I wish you to translate the choice
words you just spoke my dear."
"Your, your daughters are incorrigable Sir!" Maggie finally managed to sputter
when the gag was removed, "How could you possible expect me to be governess to
such hooligans?"
"You are right of course madam," Sir Floyd agreed while removing a small box
from his breast pocket. "In fact I have thought of nothing else while I was
away, and I have come to the conclusion that my wayward daughters are not in
need of a governess, but of the sweet, gentle touch of a mothers own paw."
Maggie looked upon SIr Floyd in awe as he bent down on his sealie knee and
taking her own dainty paw in his own beseeched, "My dear, will you do me the
dubious honor of becoming my wife and mistress of this house?"
THUD!!! At hearing this Tabitha fell to the floor in a swoon......
Sir Floyd [Shouldn'tbesurprised@theirantics]
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Maggie pulled her pawickie from Floyd's own and half carried, half drug Tabitha to the bed, it took only a moment to revive her, and glaring all the while Maggie issued her employer into the corridor.
"I have said before sir, and I say again, your daughters are incorrigible! They put raw catnip juice in our evening sherry and we woke bound and gagged! 'A mother's paw', indeed! Manacles, perhaps. What they need is their father. They have learned and learned quickly that only outrageous behaviour will win your attention, and they apply this to every male they encounter." Maggie huffed, tears streaming unheeded down her face, "And now I am to marry you so you can further abandon them? I care too much for these to hellions to allow that, despite their best efforts." she paced as she ranted and even the twins were silent, their beautiful eyes round with amazement. They had only seen the graceful, kind manner of their governess despite all of their trickery, they never imagined her to be as firey as this. "There is something, sir, that I have yet to tell you. When you sent Tabitha and me to the solicitors, you did more than you know. The gentlemeezer was just setting off to find me. He had word that my great uncle Armbruster Beaumonde had recently passed away, he being my mother's uncle. I am his sole heir. I have engaged a new governess for you, Hilda Bingen, lately Sister Hilda of St Kit's Ladies College. She is an unfailingly strict disciplinarian and she arrives on the morning train, while Tabitha and I will be travelling by carriage to Uncle Arbruster's, or rather, my home. If you will heed my advice, sir, you will spend time with your daughters." Maggie crossed the hallway into her own room, banged the door and leaned against it, sobbing heavily. Why, if she was convinced this was for the best, did her heart ache so in turning down Floyd's offer of marriage?
Maggie [turningdowntheoffer@once.sob]
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Sir Floyd arose gracefully from bended knee as though to pursue the dis-
rought Maggie then fell back onto the Sette in stunned silence. Upon
examining his feeling he realized he had made the proposal for all the wrong
reasons. Damn, if he hadn't fallen in love with the little Sprite.
His daughters quietly slipped into the room having eavesdropped on the entire
episode from the hallway. "Not a word from either of you!" Sir Floyd warned
with a no-nonsense look in his saddened, deep blue eyes. "I have made a fool
of myself and your comments are unwarranted."
"But Papa," the obviously disheartened young missus cried, "We never meant for
this to happen, we really do like Miss Maggie, and we had no idea you felt so
strongly."
"Funny thing is." Sir Floyd sighed wiping a sealie paw across his eyes, "Until
this moment, I didn't either."
"It isn't your feelings that's at fault Sir, begging your pardon for saying
so," came a soft voice from behind the armoire, "But your technique is what's
lacking. You have to woo and court the lady to win her love." advised a
furiously blushing Tabitha, "what you need to do is.....
Sir Floyd [Humbled@thedenial]
*****************************
"Papa, we've been quiet long enough!" stated Sebratta. "You're goin' to heah from us now. The reason we do so many naughty things is because we are looking for yoah attention."

"She's right!" exclaimed Sabrina. "We didn't want to be sent off to those boardin' schools. We were bad so's we'd be sent home. All we evah wanted was to stay home with you. If we have a mother, you'll be able to keep us at home. Why don't you send her some flowers?"

"Or a box of chocolates?" added Sebratta. "Then invite her out to a fancy dinner in the city."

"Then brang her back heah to a romantic night by th' fire. We'll fix th' room up and light some candles foah a seductive atmosphere." suggested Sabrina. "By th' end of th' evenin', she won't know what hit her."
Sabrina and Sebratta [AdvicetotheLovelorn@teenagetips.edu]
*****************************
Sir Floyd looked aghast, "I am not going to begin to contemplate where you have learned of such things. Certainly not from Miss Maggie!" The two young meezeetes dropped their heads slightly and shook them. Tabitha, however, looked uncomfortable.
"Oh, sir, you cannot be too hard on them, they are at that awkward age," she turned towards the to misses, keeping Sir Floyd at her back, in such privacy she gave the two a look that said a great deal, "I suspect that all of this has all but given them vapors. And like all well-bred young ladies they are in want of a lie-down." The twins knew well that they had been cornered, for to deny such things was to deny they were well brought up. The submitted to Tabitha without a quibble. Their father stood and stared.

"I have never seen anyone handle them so well," Sir Floyd was nearly speecheless in disbelief, he sat back down on the settee perplexed with the behavior of the women in his life. "Oh, sir, it is nothing, why they are not near so bad as Miss Maggie herself when she was - " Tabitha clapped both pawickies over her traitorous mouth, but it was too late. The cat, as they say, was out of the bag.

Leaping to his feet, her employer grinned, "So that is how Maggie has claimed their mischievous little hearts! She knows well their tricks as she did much the same when when she was a kit, is that not so, Tabitha?" His heart lept, all of this, a demure lady with the heart of a firebrand! If he had not known it earlier, Sir Floyd would definitely have fallen in love with Maggie all over. "And me? What does she think about me?"

"I do not know, sir," Tabitha said tentatively, "I do not think she knows herself. You must woo her gallantly, let her go to her uncles. Give her some freedom, but pursue her, all of the young bucks from all around will be gathering with such a fortune as she is to have."
SirFloyd [astonished@thesource.ohmy]
*****************************
Maggie said little the following day as porters scurried back and forth carry her and Tabitha's belongings to the carriages that had arrived from the Beaumonde Mansion nearly at dawn. Sir Floyd was curiously absent, but Sabrina and Sebretta were both much in evidence clinging to handkerchiefs and pressing small gifts on the two ladies.
"Oh Miss Maggie, you must stay with us!" Sabrina begged through her tears, "Think of poor Papa!"
She shook her head sadly, "It is you two I am thinking about, and I think this is the best thing for you. Of course you must visit us at Beaumonde." This was too much for the girls and they broke into sobs, clinging to Maggie's skirts as she was about to climb into the carriage. Maggie gave them each a quick motherly lick on the tops of their heads and dried their faces. Tabitha noticed that her mistress' eyes were none too dry as the carriage moved down the long drive.
Scarcely had the dust settled but a rented cariage pulled up in front of the house and a very stern looking blue meezer lady emerged, paid the driver and took down her two carpet bags and a medium size trunk. Tucking one of the carpet bags under one arm she managed quite capably to carry all of her luggage at once. She gave the twins a brief glance. "My name is Hilda Bingen. You may call me Miss Bingin." She consulted a small watch she wore as a locket, "What are you two doing out-of-doors? You should be in the school room," she fixed one of the servants with a glare,"You there, lead us to the school room. Time is fleeting."

During the long journey, Maggie spoke scarcely a word, but watched as the landscape rolled steadily on. Occaisionally she would wipe a casual pawickie across her face, yet Tabitha did not miss the tears. Just as dusk fell they turned into the massive gates that protected Beaumonde, the drive was far longer than that of their previous home, and the stone mansion far grander. Maggie sat up and stared. The staff were gathered in front and Maggie stepped down to greet each one purrsonally. Once inside she had a light supper of cold meats and went up to her chambers.
thetwins [distraught@maggiesdeparture.sob]
*****************************
Long after the new governess had settled the twin in bed and the house servants
had retired for the evening, SIr floyd sat musing in front of the drawing room
fireplace a glass of scothch in his paw. Occasionally a deep sigh would escape
him as he contemplated his future. He was a meezer used to getting what he
wanted, and if he couldn't buy it he usually just bullied his was in to
geting it. But this was different....For the first time in his life SIr Floyd
truly wanted and desired something not just because he could have it, but
because he wanted it. Not even with his first wife, the late Lady Miranda,
which was an arranged marriage, had he ever felt these feeling before.
By the light of the hearth he drew out a sheet of his engraved stationary and
slowly and laboriously began writing.

My Dearest Maggie.....
Sir Floyd [Lostwithouther@the mansion]
*****************************
"Hsssst." spat Sebratta. "Ah you awake?"
"MMMmph. Ah am now." replied Sabrina. "What do you want?"
"I think we oughta plan something to brang Miss Maggie back. This new governess is goin' to be the death of us. Can you believe a ten page essay on th' origins of th' ancient Greeks?" asked Sebratta.
"The worst part is that Ah have a ten page essay on th' origins of th' ancient Romans." complained Sabrina. "We can't even work on the papahs together and copy them! Who does she think she is?"
"If Miss Bingin gets fed up with us and leaves, Miss Maggie will have to come back, won't she? suggested Sebratta. "We can surely get her to get angry or sompin' and quit if we combine forces. Let's start right now."

Twisting their ears in the direction of the governess' chambers, they could hear her faint snores. They silently hooked paws together and shook three times - an evil smile on their chops and their almost black eyes gleaming in the faint light from the hall. Then quietly, they snuck out of the room and down the back stairs. They had a perfect plan in mind for Miss Bingin's first night.

Stopping in the music snd study rooms, they gathered on old violin bow, a length of string, and three thumbtacks. Expertly, they raised the window and crept out. On tiptoes, they snuck around to the rose trellis that curved up to Miss Bingin's window. Sebratta held the trellis steady as Sabrina climbed up and attached the string securely to the underside of the wooden window frame with the thumbtacks. Slithering back down, she gave the nod to her sister, who ran to the nearest tree and tied her end of the string. Then, in the shadows of the grape arbor, they slowly played the string with the violin bow, producing a long low moaning sound that sounded as if it were coming from inside the governess' chamber. A satisfyingly loud scream echoed from upstairs, and they ran upstairs to comfort her in her distress....This "haunting" of the governess occurred three more times that night.
Sabrina and Sebratta [Uptoth'oldTricks@th'mansion.com]
*****************************
The next morning, a sleepy trio stumbled down the stairs to breakfast. They were late, but as the whole mansion had been awakened each time the governess screamed, breakfast was also late. The violin bow and other supplies had been returned to their proper places after the last haunting, and their plan was well on it's way.
"Bloody Victoria was certainly active last night." commented Sabrina. "Ah wonder what has her so stirred up?"
"She usually only moans and cries when thayre's a full moon or on her birthday." added Sebratta. "Somethin' must be upsetting her."
"Who, or what is Bloody Victoria?" demanded Miss Bingin. Her composure (and her command presence) had somewhat improved with the rising of the sun.
"Thay won't tell us th' whole story." began Sabrina.
"Thay say that it would give us nightmares." added Sebratta.
"But we heard that it happened right there in your chamber." said Sabrina in a low voice. "And that th' murder happened on her birthday."
"And th' maid said that the bloodstains come back no matter how much scrubbin' and scourin' she does."
"Jest don't mention what we told you to Daddy."
"He can't know that we know anythang about it. Shhh. Here he comes now."
Sebratta and Sabrina [Embroiderin'onth'hauntin'@breakfast.com]
*****************************
Breakfast had gone as well as one could expect with the deluded head of the household and his two spoiled hellions. Hilda smoothed the dark grey of her muslin dress as she entered her room. A inadvertant gasp left her throat as she saw the maid, a youngish chocolate point, scrubbing furiously at a stain half under the bed and half concealed by a lovely braided rug. The girl gasped, barely missing tipping over the pail of water at her side, the liquid with in sloshed over one side, an inadvertant shiver went up Hilda's spine. The water had a distinctly red cast to it. "Beggin' your pardon, Miss Bingen, I didn't expect anyone...I was just trying to see to this...stain." With that, the young maid, (who was named Emily, if Hilda recalled properly), picked up her scrub brush and pail and fled the room. Kneeling by the bed, Hilda examined the stain, it was dark brown and went deep into the wood. The hairs on her back strained agains the fabric of her dress. She stood straighter. It was a coincidence. She glanced
nervously about the room. Many of her charges had played tricks on her, the pins in the bed, the pepper in the tea, the ever popular lizard in the bed. This was just a juvenile prank. To convince herself, she marched stright for the musical conservatory. The door opened quietly, but the interior of the room was covered in dust. Hilda coughed, and looked quickly about, a floor harp stood in one corner, a grand piano in another, a pair of flutes sat on a low table near a violin and a bow. But over all was a fine patina of dust. And the light, delicate scent of a lady's perfume. Sneezing and shaking, Hilda backed out of the room, eyes wide, and she bumped into the young maid once again. "Oh Miss, y-you didn't go in Miss Vic- you didn't go in the conservatory did you?"
Drawing herself up to her full height Hilda Bingen looked down her slightly roman nose, "And what if I have, girl? More nonsense about ghosties and ghoulies?"
"Not nonsense, Miss. That is Miss Victoria's conservatory. Everyone knows about it, but we don't like to speak of it, not with the moon near full. She and her fiance used to play on the flutes. Until....well...best not speak of it. But I come here once a day to clean it. I prefer midday. But still it gives me nightmares."
Hilda snorted, "Clean it? That room can't have been touched in a decade."
"Yes, I clean it every day, and every morning it looks like that. Victoria don't want no one to forget how long it's been." Her pale eyes widened and she strode bravely into the room and began dusting and cleaning.

Sabrina giggled, "Ah am evah so glad Emily is helpin' us. Where else could we get that dust fo' the conservatory?"
Her twin lifted a slightly aged powder puff tinged by powder and grey dust, "And with that cheap powdah from the stoah, it is just perfect. I wonduh what shall we do next?"
[]
*****************************
Nimble paws tied a firm knot in a long dark thread. "Hssst. Is th' coast clear?" whispered Sabrina.
"All clear..." replied Sebratta from her post at the window down the hall. "She's outside in th' gazebo readin' a book."

Sabrina slunk into Miss Bingen's room. She lodged the thread under the hoof of a rather ugly statue of a cow on the mantle, making sure that the knot was on the far side of the base. Unwinding as she went, she trailed the almost invisible thread to the edge of the mantle, down along the wood moulding, along the floor, around the door frame, and down the hall to an empty chamber on the same side of the hallway.

"I'm done..." she alerted her sister. "All set up fer tonight."
"She's still out in th' gazebo." commented Sebratta. "Should we take ouah fans and ouah embroidahries and join her fer th' aftahnoon?"
"Excellent ideah, sistah mine. Let's be diligent, innocent, southern belles."
"Let's take her a bit of refreshment..."
"An' let's see iffen we can't work into th' conversation th' time that Victoria was almost kicked by a cow and how she's hated cows evah since." giggled Sebratta. "Or do you think thayat's too much?"

Still plotting, the sisters went down to the kitchen. Soon, Sebratta was carrying the fans and their sewing. Sabrina carred a silver tray with an icy pitcher of lemonade, three glasses, and shortbread cookies to share with the governess in the gazebo during the long, hot afternoon.
Sebratta and Sabrina [Hellions?Us?Not@th'gazebo.com]
*****************************
In the days following Miss Maggie's departure Sir Floyd had ensconsed himself
in his study with his drintles of scotch his only company. He was totally
impervious of the doings and strange goings on that had befallen his new
governess.
Seeing his darling daughters pass the study doors with a tray of lemonade and
cookies to take to the lady he assumed all was well and the new Mrs. Bingen was
working out well.
Scattered over his desk were the crumbled remains of a hundred love poems he
had started and discarded over the last few days. He felt the words in his
heart but was unable to put them on paper. Plaacing his aching head in his
sealie paws he was beginning to despair of ever seeing his fair Maggie again.
Suddenly there was a tapping, like that of pebbles being thrown on the study
window. Opening the sash, Sir Floyds haggard face broke into a smile when he
saw who sttod there.....
Sir Floyd [Rightunderhisnose@themansion]
*****************************
"Miss Figaro Fedora." Sir Floyd called out to the extravagently dressed and
couifered black and white miss standing outside his window. "what on earth
brings you here?"
Twirling the laced edged parosaul over her head and looking up at her old
"friend" Figaro gave a saucy smile and with a cocky tilt to her head replied
"Perhaps if you invited me in and offered me some refreshment, I might be
persuaded to tell you!"
"Where are my manners, by all means, come round to the front door, the girls
will be so excited to see you." Sir Floyd gushed excited at seeing this
mysterious lady again. "As I am too, I have missed you."
In a moment Sir Floyd was throwing open the oaken doors and ushering the
sumptuosly dressed Miss Figaro. After a brief moment of awkwardness and
hesitation the elegant lady opened her arms and embraced Sir Floyd in an
embrace. "You are a sight for sore eyes My Lady, I have been sore in need of
you."
"Posh, and I have to be hearing this from your daughters!" Figaro admonished
raising a white whiskerbrow. "Now get me a sherry, and some catnip canapes and
sit here and tell Miss Figaro all about it!"
Sir Floyd [Pleasedtoseethismiss@hiswindow]
*****************************
Ther servants were well instructed and Maggie and Tabitha's every needs were well taken care of. The gardens were tended with care, and the house from the marble floored entryway to the slate shingled roof gleamed with cleanliness. But not one pawickie could Maggie place outside of her own chamber door but visiting cards and bouquets of flowers from gentlemen callers arrived in an unendging stream until the doors were shut at night. If Maggie shoud choose to stay within pleading a headache, it grew worse with physicians sent by solicitous beaus and even more flowers, and gifts. If she saw one more engraved silver bouquet holder, Maggie knew she would yowl. And now this. The annual Beaumonde Ball, the Masque of Masks. It was only two weeks away, and with each day the dread grew stronger. If only she had not come here. She could have well sold the house and lands and she and Tabitha could have set up housekeeping in a modest fashion. Not like this. She picked up pen and paper and wrote, "My dear girls..." For
dear the twins were, energetic and a bit untutored, but dear. Who was she to judge? She looked at the stationary, she longed to write 'I miss you all,' but dared not. If Sir Floyd should see it she would be undone. At the thought of him she stared idly into space. He was so unlike the suitors that besieged her. His galant manners and gentle behaviour set him apart. And most all of those who sought her favour at Beaumonde were more shallow, younger, headstrong, and not a few with an eye on her money. The only acceptable suitor seemed to be Percy Dinsmore, or Captain Dinsmore, late of West Pawnt Military Accademy. He said little, but his eyes burned into her soul, a rakish flame point, and an excellent dancer. And it was said he was equally skilled with a sword having fought and won many duels. Of his military escapades none could say. Maggie returned to her letter, "I wish you all could be here for the Ball, it will be lovely. I will include an invitation, so you can see how fancy they have made them. Hand
colored and engraved in gold!" It would be the last of the Beaumonde Masques, Maggie had already decided that. She continued with her letter, telling the twins in great detail about the house, its rooms and the gardens. She closed the missive with love and sent it on its way.
Maggie [Chaos@themansion]
*****************************
Sebratta and Sabrina tiptoed out into the darkened hallway, across the hall, and into the vacant chamber next to Miss Bingen's room.
"Can you find the thread?" asked Sebratta.
"Heah it is." replied Sabrina in a whisper. "And One ... Two ... Three!"
She yanked hard on the thread. There was an immediate CRASH smash tinkle SCREAM from Hilda's room. The twins slipped back into their room and back under the sheets, Sabrina frantically rolling up the length of thread so there wouldn't be any evidence. By the time Miss Bingen was aware enough to come into their room to check on them, they were sleepily rubbing their eyes and wondering innocently to each other what had happened.
Sebratta and Sabrina [AsleepInBed@th'mansion.com]
*****************************
The next morning, Miss Bingin was awake well before the rest of the household. The unintiated might even say she perhaps looked as if she had not slept. But such afflictions could never be experienced, certainly by such a lady of sound mind and sturdy convictions. She put a pawickie to her chest, after cleaning the china cow up off the floor, she had searched through her possessions to find the locket in which she had placed a four leafed clover. She might have succeeded in only looking slightly strained had not the new maid, Emily, dropped a lid from one of the warming trays, directly behind Miss Bingin. The young servant was quite apologetic, but the twins would never forget the sight of their governess jumping straight off of her chair.
Their butler arrived at the table with a hurried grace, and held out a silver tray to Sabrina, upon which rested a thick envelope. She snatched it up and showed it to her sister, they squealed and jumped up from the table, unheeded by their governess, who was drinking, not sipping as a lady should, but drinking coffee, one cup after the other.

"It's from Maggie!" Sabratta said happily, as she slit open the envelope. The party invitation fluttered to the ground. Sabrina picked it up, it was blank. She grinned, "Deah sistah, I do believe I have a plan."
The Twins [Planningsomething@home]
*****************************
"Now tell me what this is all about?" Miss Figaro asked daintily nibbling on
a salmon appertif, "The girls have written and tell me you cancelled the ball
have practically become a recluse, all over the rejection of this meezette
Marly?"
"Maggie, her name is Maggie." Floyd corrected her "And if you saw her you
would understand." Sighing deeply he went on, "The deepesr purest eyes of blue,
the softest, silkiest fur, the sweetest of voice...."
"My, you are smitten my friend." Miss Figaro agreed, "What I can't unferstand
is why she would ever reject a suitor such as yourself, You are easily the
handsomest Meezer in 4 counties, you have prestige, you have wealth, a beautiful
home?"
"I fear," SIr FLoyd admitted a bit ashamedly, "I botched it quite badly, and
it also seems those nasty rumors of my late wife were whispered in these halls."
"You, my dear lady, have always been my dearest and most treasured friend."
Sir Floyd beseeched, "You with your knowledge of the ways of 'amor must help me
win her love."
"And what would your paramour feel if she knew you were keeping company with
proprieter of a house of "Hidden Delights?" Miss Figaro asked pointedly with an
arched whisker.
Sir Floyd lifted his head and roared with laughter, the first laughter the
house had heard in weeks. "You have no fear on that score my dear, Miss Maggie
is certainly no prude, in fact she will probably have a ton of questions for
you!"
"Well then, the first thing we need to do, is to find a way to get you to Miss
Maggie without her knowing...." Miss Figaro muse tucking her chin into a white-
booted paw.
Sir Floyd [WhoisMissFigaro@TheMansion]
*****************************
The door burst open and the twins hurried in, not as they usually did, extending their pawickies and smiling pleasantly, "Miss Figaro!" Sabratta said happily.
"What a surprise!" Sabrina purred holding up a cheek to be kissed. Miss Fedora did just that. She exchanged looks with Floyd, "Tell me you abandoned those ill-mannered daughters of yours for these lovely young ladies?"
Their father muttered something indistinct about Maggie's influence. His guest nodded, "I see."
The twins looked at her excitedly, full of information, eyes sparkling, "Won't you join us on the veranda? Papa will bring us some lemondade..." Each young lady took Miss Figaro by an arm and led her to the back garden, suspecting female intrigues, their guest went unresisting.
Sabrina and Sabratta [Overjoyed@thesightoftheguest]
*****************************
Sabrina and Sebratta finished telling Miss Figaro (who was gasping for breath through her giggles) about their haunting of the governess.
"And now," snickered Sebratta, "She has to have one of us along to even walk past th' music room!"
"Papa mentioned that the beef we were eatin' was from one of th' original cows on th' estate and Ah thought she was going to choke!" added Sabrina. "You wanna help us do something tonight?"
"Ah think she has a suspicion that it might be us." Sebratta claimed. "Iffen we were to sleep in her room to protect her tonight she could keep her eyes on us and Virginia th' ghost could strike again!"
Sabrina and Sebratta [Cookin'upaPlot@th'gazebo.com]
*****************************
Miss Figaro moved easily down the corridor with her light easy stride, an elusive smile lit her face, in one pawickie she held the blank invitation to one of *the* social events of the year, the Beaumonde Masque. Any amount of childish pranks would be worth this simple piece of paper, after all, it was the answer to Floyds dilemma.
[]
*****************************
Lightly tapping on the closed study door, Miss Figaro quietly left herself into
that drab, ill-lit room. "Time to snap out of this! She demanded of Sir Floyd who
sat in the leather armchair staring pensivley into the fire. "I told you I would
come up with something, and I have the perfect plan!"
Unlacing his sealie pawickies from under his chin Sir Floyd gazed up at his old
friend with a curious look in his deep blue eyes. A lop sided grin appeared on
his face as he asked "And just what have you cooked up for me, my dear old
friend hmmmm?"
"You are going to attend the Beaumonde Ball, and sweep Miss Maggie off her
feet!" Miss Figaro replied brightly waving the invitation in front of Floyd's
nose.
"It won't work my dear, she will never let me enter once she sees me." Sir
Floyd bewailed.
"Ah-Ha!" The saucy little miss argued with a twitch of a tail, "But that is the
beauty of the plan, this is a Masque Ball, and after I have finished enlight-
ening you on the art of amor' she will be so hopelessly smitten by her
mysterious suitor, by the time our identities are revealed she will be so hope-
lessly entranced by you, it won't matter>"
Rising from his chair and throwing off his cloak of doom and despair, Sir
Floyd picked the petite Miss Figaro up at the waist and with a merry laugh began
twirling her delightedly around the room!
Upon hearing all the commotion the twins rushed into their fathers study. Upon
seeing the spectacle before them they too joined in the merriment joining hands
and joining in!
Miss Bigin, who happened past the open door, gave a gasp and pressed her
pawickie to her ample bosom and muttered, "Savage, uncivilized, oh me, oh my,
whatever am I to do!"
Sir Floyd [I'lltryanything@I'mdesperate]
*****************************
The twins were all concerned as they prepared for bed that night. " Are you sure you are going to be all right, Miss Bingen?" they asked. "Are you frightened that Bloody Victoria will be back tonight?"

They sweetly escorted her back to her room and tucked her into her bed, slyly kicking aside the rug that covered the "bloodstain". The patch was back, and darker than ever.

"Ah'll have to remind Emily that the stain needs to be cleaned again." remarked Sebratta in a whispered aside that was just barely loud enough for Miss Bingen to overhear.

"It's a shame to have you sleepin' in this room all by youahself." Sabrina said to the Governess. "Don't you get scared? Ah'm glad A've got my twin to sleep in th' room with me."

"You know, we could offah to ..." Sebratta nodded at her twin and got a nod in return -" Would you like some company tonight?"
Sebratta and Sabrina [settin'th'stage@MissBingen'sChamber.com]
*****************************
Sabrina and Sebratta curled up, snug in their long ruffled victorian nightgowns, in camp cots on either side of Miss Bingen's bed. She was sleeping somewhat fitfully, and the fact that the twins kept uncovering her hind paws and fanning cool air on them couldn't have made her any more comfortable.

A long, low mooing sound suddenly came from the direction of the fireplace. The night's haunting was starting! Miss Bingen (tired from her recent sleep deprivation) snored on. The twins made faces at each other in the dim light. If she didn't wake up, she would miss everything! The mooing sound came again, lower, louder. The twins leapt onto the big bed, one on each side of Miss Bingen. She awoke with an indrawn moaning breath as the two "frightened" children clutched her arms and shivered.

"We heard something!"
"We're scared!"
"I suddenly got cold!"
"Like a chill wind had come through!"

Miss Bingen tried to be brave for the children's sake. "I'm sure there's nothing there. It's all in your imagina ...." the mooing sound was heard again. Something rustled and thumped in the chimney. With a wet thud, a smelly package landed in the fireplace.

All three shreiked and dove under the covers.
Sabrina and Sebratta [AnotherHaunting@th'Mansion.com]
*****************************
Suddenly Miss Bingen jumped up. "Nooooooo," she screamed. "I can't stand it anymore. I can't stay another minute in this haunted house." She grabbed her nearest suitcase and started throwing all her clothes in it as quickly as she could. All the while the twins were doing their best to act shocked and dismayed at her sudden resolution to leave. Meanwhile the mooing kept going. Miss Bingen finished her very hurried packing and practically flew out the door and ran straight into Miss Figaro. Acting innocent she said," Whatever is going on here. Where are you going in the middle of the night, and what is all that racket you are making?" "I can't stay here in this house!" she shouted, " and if you know whats good for you you won't either. The place is haunted." Just then Sir Floyd came around the corner. "Sir," announced Miss Bingen,"I regret to inform you that I can no longer continue in your employment. And if you care for those girls of your at all you will get them out of this house!" And with that she was gone. "What ever was that all about?" asked Sir Floyd.
Miss Bingen [Fedup@thehaunting.boo]
*****************************
"Girls, do you have any idea what just happened here?" Sir Floyd asked his
daughters with a frown furrowing his seal masked face.
"Now Floyd." Miss Figaro began, "I am sure these innocent young ladies know
nothing of what just transpired here."
"Well my darling daughters?" sir Floyd queried again standing over his night-
gown clad daughters with his paws on hip.
It was too much for the young misses and they fell into peals of hysterical
laughter as each recalled the sight of Miss Bingen fleeing the mansion in
nothing but her night cap and gown with that horrible cream smeared all over her
face. "Oh Papa, we are ssss, soooo ssssss, sooorryyy but we had to do it," the
girls stammered realizing their father was on to their ruse.
"Now girls." SIr Floyd went on in his most authorative voice, "scaring a poor
defenseless lady out of her wits is truly no laughing matter."
His undoing came in looking at Miss Figaro face and the mischief written
plainly there. "Well, perhaps it was a bit funny!" he admitted and soon was
joining in the merriment. "Now what on earth am I going to do for a governess?"
Floyd managed between laughs.
Sir Floyd [Theirgooseiscooked@facescan'tlie]
*****************************
"Go to the ball and bring Miss Maggie back!" chorused the twins. " Tell her that Miss Bingen left and that we need her!"

"Here is your valise and your costume for the masque ball, Papa."

"Have fun, and don't come back without her!"

"Just a minute." replied the doting father. "There is the little matter of a smelly mess in the fireplace to be cleaned up (is that cow manure?) and I don't remember this chamber having that great stain on the floor. When I come back, I expect to find the mansion in tip top shape, all smells and stains gone, and the two of you to have studied the gentle arts of housekeeping from Emily. If Miss Figaro would agree, she might have a few lessons to teach you two ruffians on manners and deportment befitting your station in life. And Before I go - I'll pick out a couple of tomes from the library - I expect a suitable book report of each book. That should keep you busy and out of trouble.
Sebratta and Sabrina [Gettin'chores@th'mansion.com]
*****************************
SIr Floyd looked at the valise in his paw and at the eager encouraging looks
from his daughters and Miss Figaro and with a big sigh called for his carriage
to be readied at once.
"Horray!" shouted the girls and Miss Figaro in unison throwing themselves in
his arms. "We know she won't be able to resist you papa, you are the handsome-
est meezer in 4 counties."
"I will do my best." Sir Floyd assured the females, "However, as the sole male
member of the House of Savannah I will not lower myself to beg, she will come to
me on my own merits, or I will walk away for once and for all."
"Now, you two!" Floyd addressed the giggling girls, " You will do as I have
instructed, mind Miss Emily, and study hard with Miss Figaro while I am gone."
"The will be fine Floyd." Miss Figaro reassured with with a kiss on his
whiskered cheek. "Get yourself off to that ball, the unmasking is at midnight."
Amid waves and cheers Sir Floyd boarded his carriage and taking the reins
himself prepared to depart for the ball.
Stopping at the carriage house of the Beaumonde mansion, Floyd alit and taking
his valise into the nearest stall opened it to find his costume within....
Sir Floyd [Lastchances@TheMasque]
*****************************
"He actually thinks we're going to sit at home and study?" whispered Sebratta.
"Book reports, indeed!" scoffed Sabrina.
"With a Ball going on?"
"And a masked Ball at that."
"We will be studying deportment!"
"We'll be able to disguise ourselves and he won't even know the terrible twins are there!"
"Heah's the costumes."
"And heah comes the carriage."
"I hope we don't get going so fast we catch up to him!"
"Oh, this will be the most exciting thing we've evah done!"
Sabrina and Sebratta [Plottin'@th'mansion.com]
*****************************
The twins had wisely refrained from identical costumes. Sabrina had become an ancient greek miss, complete with toga, sandals, and on her hair, a black wig with a vine wreath twined through it. Sebratta had opted for a religious motif, adopting the robes and veil of a Dominican sister. A rosary, cross and bible completed her look. They changed quickly in the carriage as it rumbled its way to the Beaumonde mansion.

"The only thang we didn't do is find out jest what costume Papa will be wearin'." mused Sebratta. "How on earth will we know who he is?"

"We don't know what Miss Maggie will be comin' as either." said Sabrina. "We'll jest have to be very careful 'till we find out th' identity of th' both of them. Heah we are!"

The carriage pulled up to the ornate double doors of the Beaumonde mansion. A handsome doorman opened the carriage and helped the two alight. "Mmmm." whispered Sebratta in an aside to her sister, "If we weren't heah on business, I could have me some fun entertainin' him tonight."

"You jest keep your mind on ouah plans." muttered Sabrina. "We have ouahselves enough to do tonight without you catting around!"
Sebratta and Sabrina [AGreek&ANun@aParty.com]
*****************************
Maggie stared at the gown spread across her draped and canopied bed. It was lovely, a confection of blue and silver broacade and aqua velvet. Juliet. What manner of madness had driven her to accept Captain Percy's invitation to dress thus, complimenting his Romeow? It was almost a statement of intent. The dress, not the offer, had decided the matter. To say truth, she favored Percy no more than the others. Well, perhaps a bit more, he seemed honest and sincere, when he wasn't attempting to impress her with his prowess in duels and military strategms. And even though Tabitha had been provided a costume as Juliet's nurse, she scowled terribly. She did not like Captain Percy, and could not say why.
Slightly crossed eyes blazing with frustrated memory, Tabitha helped her mistress dress for the ball. Something about Captain Percy kept eluding her. Just as a tidbit of information about Sir Floyd kept escaping her. She was highly displeased with the choice of gown, and thought better that Maggie should have chosen to go as Diana, goddess of the hunt, but someone else had all ready expressed the intent to wear that. And there were so very few acceptable costmes for a lady by herself. This at least allowed her to stay at her mistress's side, which she intended to do without fail, there was that about Percy that she did not trust.
Seated at the window of her chambers, Maggie listened to the clatter and bustle below as servants prepared the ball room and laid the great long table in the dining hall prepartory to the exquisite dinner that would be served. There was the muted, mild cacophony as the musicians of the small orchestra, tuned and practiced their instruments. Above and beyond it all, was the creak of carriages and the crunch of wheels on gravel that heralded the arrival of the earliest guests whom the butler would escourt politely to the Grecian Salon, where sherry and brandy were being served, as well as tea and coffee. Tabitha rested a paw on her shoulder, Maggie nodded wordlessly, it was time to dress for the ball.
Maggie [Tonightsthenight@Beaumonde]
*****************************
Glittering gowns, the sheen of satin, the shine of silk, and the matte glow of expensive velvets met the wondering twins eyes as they entered the ballroom.
"Ohhh." breathed Sebratta "How gorgeous!"
"I have never seen such stunnin' costumes in all miah born days." exhaled Sabrina. "Look at the lady dressed as the vixen ovah theah in the wine red taffeta with the real fox tail!"
"Ah think her mask must be made of real fox fur too. Ohhhh. Look at Cupid with th' bow and arrow."
"That must be St. Valentine ovah there!"
"Who's the gentleman in the emerald green suit?"
"Ah think he matches Mother Earth in the green brocade with th' golden staff."
"Look at Anthony and Cleopatra!"
"Ah am jest flabbergasted. Ah think we've been upstaged, sistah."
"Hsssst." whispered Sebratta. "Is that Miss Maggie ovah there in th' blue and silver?"
"Oh, no! That is her! An she's dressed as Juliet! Ah hope that doesn't mean that her Romeow is here." moaned Sabrina "Poor Papa will nevah have a chance iffen she's met somebody an' fallen in love!"
"Let's try to find him quick!"
Sabrina and Sebratta [Floored@th'Ball.edu]
*****************************
Tabitha was quick to notice the new arrivals and had a quick word with those serving aperitifs. Then, making sure that Maggie was deep in conversation with Mrs Evan Waterston (dressed as Mother Earth, for mercy sakes), she tiptoed around the already crowded salon until she was discreetly behind the twins. 'Don't move abruptly,' Tabitha whispered,'I don't want Miss Maggie to notice. I dare say if you are here your father cannot be far. Behave yourselves for once and tell me the truth.'
The two exchanged glances, 'He's heah, but puhlease don' tell him,' Sabrina pleaded.
'He doesn't know that we came too,' Sebretta finished neatly, then faltered, 'Oh, Tabitha, we are horrified, is Miss Maggie...'
'She's dressed as Juliet!' Sabrina wailed, 'Don' tell us that she is...'Her eyes were filled with tears and she looked away.
'She isn't ....spoken for?' her sister finished, almost afraid to say the words.
Sighing Tabitha shook her head. 'Not for lack of him trying! Captain Percy Dinsmore, a rakehell if ever there were one, but I can prove nothing.I seem to recall something, but not the particulars. No, it was only a pretty dress that wooed our Maggie. Did you not come with a chaperone?'
Tabitha's eyes were searching and the twins gave each other a questioning glance. How could she know so much? And how could she have known...
'How did you know it was us?'
Maggie's maidservant smiled knowingly, 'Two of you? Of a similar height? And about half a head shorter than anyone else in the room? Sit down as much as possible,' Sebretta said, 'But...' and Sabrina pouted and whimpered 'The dancin'...' To which Tabitha answered nothing at all just glared, they quickly nodded. 'Now I dare say you think Miss Maggie has been abandoned to the wolves, but I can assure you this is not the case. Matters are well in paw. Have a cup of tea. Have some caviar, behave and I may, may, I said, allow you to have a glass of wine with yo' suppers. Now I will try to keep Maggie as far from you as possible. You try to stay away from her as well.' She looked at their wilting frames, well, that would not do either. Bored they were likely to come up with any manner of tricks, she waved at a Roman soldier and a Crusading knight, 'These, so help me are the Waterston Twins, Jeremiah and Jamison, just on leave from the acadamy.' They were not that much older than Sabrina and Sebretta, whose eyes
were growing rounder by the minute. Tabitha turned to the Waterston twins, 'You boys,' she stressed the word slightly, 'need to show these young ladies the garden, that one is Helouise, dressed as the nun, and that, is Helen. They are incognito, or I would tell you their real name. Now, I think you all look as if you need a bit of fresh air. Now.'
The newly created foursome exited with only a modicum of difficulty. Returning to Maggie's side Tabitha heard Mrs. Waterston exclaim, 'Where are those sons of mine? If they stay out of mischief for five minutes all together I am amazed.' Tabitha hit her forhead with her pawickie. What had she done?
Tabitha [Twoplustwoequalsmischief@thegarden]
*****************************
Arm in arm, the nun and the crusader strolled out into the garden, followed closely by the roman soldier and the lovely goddess in the toga.

"We've got to find out who Papa is." thought Sebratta. She twitched at her habit. "How can we look for him with these boys hanging on us? Not that ah particularly wanna get rid of him - he's kinda cute." She decided to take both boys into her confidence.

The foursome found a bench in the rose arbor. Soon the four of them were busily plotting the future of Miss Maggie.
Sabrina and Sebratta [TroubleX2@th'garden.com]
*****************************
The entrance to the ballroom was staked out by the nun in her black and white habit. With a polite bob, she gave benedictions to each guest as they entered. Her sensitive nose also sniffed for evidence of her father's cologne, while her eyes were put to good use looking at the shoes to see if they resembled any worn by her papa.

The young lady in the toga made herself useful near the refreshment table, watching especially carefully over the crabmeat salad, knowing that was a favorite of her papa.

The two young men danced attendance upon Miss Maggie - making sure that she was never left alone too long, running interference with the other young blades, making oft-updated reports to the nun and the greek miss. They too kept an eagle eye out for the father of the twins. But where was he? Who was he dressed as? Would he arrive in time to keep Miss Maggie away from the clutches of her Romeow?
Sebratta and Sabrina [SpyEyes@theball.edu]
*****************************
Suddenly the ball room doors were thrown open and in a swirl of mist a dark
shrouded figure entered. Swathed in a Arabic robe and turban, shrouded from
head to toe he none-the-less cut an imposing figure as he strode boldly into
the room.
His deep blue eyes swept the room searching out the woman of his dreams as the
surrounding young meezettes clutched kerchiefs to heaving bosoms and flutterd
their fans in effort to cool their flushed faces as the handsome meezer strolled
by.
"Who is he?" was whispered among the men who were none to pleased of the effect
this stranger was having on the ladies. "Where did he come from and why is he
here?"
Espying a couple dancing on the floor the Arab clad gentleman none too gently
tapped the costumed Romeow on the shoulder and interrupted "I believe this is my
dance."
Miss Maggie, attired in her beautiful Juliet gown felt her cheeks grow warm as
the dark stranger pulled her in his strong embrace. Her tiny seal paw was
completley engulfed in his leatherclad paw. Gathering her courage, she drew a
shaky breath and raised her beautiful eyes to his and gasped, "I know you?"
Sir FLoyd [TheMysteryisSolved@hisentrance]
*****************************
"Ohmigawd... that's him! That Arab is ouah Papa!" the nun clutched at the arm of her crusader. "Doesn't he jest cut a stunnin' figure though! Jeremiah! When th' furor has died down, run ovah to th' refreshment table an' tell miah sistah. Get her to meet me at th' door to th' balcony. Ah'll go get Tabitha an' we'll make some plans." They watched the turbaned figure strut through the room and descend on Miss Maggie. "Now, go, Jeremiah. It looks like Papa has things well in paw."

Soon the five conspirators were at the arched balcony doorway. "Ah gotta idea." hissed Sebratta. "We gotta make absolutely sure that Papa and Miss Maggie sit next to each other at dinnah. Jamison, you and Sabrina go try an' change th' placecards. Jeremiah and I will stick like glue to Romeow and make suah that he nevah gets close t' Miss Maggie fer th' rest of th' night. Miss Tabitha, can you get t' Papa somehow and let him know that we'ah heah so he don't notice us and spill th' beans?"

Everyone had their assignment. Would their plot work?
Sabrina and Sebratta [ConspiratorsAplottin'@th'Balcony.com]
*****************************
The music swelled, almost as much as did her heart at the sight of the strong Arab, yet, she was mystified as well. She tried to recall all of the names on the guest list, but none could account for the desperate feeling she had that she knew this meezer very well indeed. For none of the others, save Percy were well known to her, and he had been stuck fast to her side all evening. Up until this moment. The Arab whirled her gracefully from one dance into the next his eyes never leaving her delicate face, ignoring the jealous glances of the other males in the room and the outraged looks from Percy. The music seemed like a wave that carried them on and on, until it ebbed declaring the first interval of the evening. He gently guided Maggie out a balconey, and she was unable and unwilling to resist. She finally drew herself away from him, 'I feel certain I should know you, sir. May I ask who you are?' Her answer came in a heavily accented voice, one she felt sure was false, 'I am but a humble pilgrim, my lady,'
She was suprised at this, remembering well Shakespurr's play and all of the talk of pilgrims and saints. Stars danced in her heart, who was this powerful, romantic stranger?
Percy Dinsmore was not pleased. Who was this interloper? Likely even a gate-crasher! His plans would not be foiled! How long he had jealously waited for Beaumonde and its riches to come to him, only to have his grandfather lose it to some other old fool in a game of cards! And now it belonged to another yet again. But he would not let the sun rise without the property and Maggie being his. One of the guests was a justice of the peace, ready to perform the ceremony at his command. All of the wealth and lands of Beaumonde soon would be his, after all of these years of waiting. And if the Arab would not see reason like a gentleman then he would see the reason in a yard of sharp steel, or at the end of a pistol, if he was not the gentlemeezer he appeared to be. Percy grinned wickedly to himself.
Miss Maggie [Allaquiver@theball]
*****************************
"Hsssst. Percy..." the voice from behind the wall hanging hissed. "Come back here. Quickly."

The hair along his spine rose. Who was this and why did they hide behind the hanging? He poked at the bump with an inqusitive paw.

"Hey, watch it with th' pokin' paws!" giggled a female voice. "A young man ought to be careful what he's pokin' thayer. Come back heah befoah somebody sees you!"

His eyebrows rose as he moved to the end of the hanging and slithered along behind it. This sounded like a rather interesting diversion that would add a little zing to the masked ball... In the gloom he could see a short voluptous figure dressed in a white toga. He reached out to the pretty feline.

"Wait!" she said, backing off a bit. "Ah'm really too young for you - Ah'm not even sixteen yet. But Ah was noticin' that you were hankerin' after Miss Maggie - for a little fee Ah could deliver a message to her to meet you in one of the back rooms - Ah could even bring her there - an urgent message, y'know.

"What's it to you, kid?" Percy asked suspiciously. "Why should you do this fer me?"

"Ah got plans of my own." she whispered. "Fer one, ah can use th' money. Fer another, ah got an older friend who's got designs on that man she's dancin' with - and ah need to get her out of th' way fer awhile to work on him myself."

"Alright." he agreed. "How much is this gonna cost me?"

They agreed on a small sum, and the greek miss led him off to a small room upstairs near the back of the house. They could barely hear the music from the little room.

"Stay heah," she ordered, "and Ah'll bring her back heah as soon as ah can. You be quiet, now - guests aren't supposed to be in this part of th' house." She slipped out the door and shut it firmly behind her.

Percy sat down in a small straight backed chair to wait for his Juliet. After a good thirty minutes had passed, he checked his pocket watch and gave a sigh. They really should have been here by now. He walked to the door to see if she was coming ... but it was LOCKED!
Unknown Female [DressedinaToga@greatplotafoot.com]
*****************************
The turbaned arab settled Miss Maggie on one of the stone benches that lined
the terrace. Bestowing a gentle kiss upon her sealy paw, he bade her wait for
his return as he sought out a waiter for some refreshment. Miss Maggie watched
as the mysterious meezer retreated back into the hall, a look of puzzlement upon
her brow. She knew in her heart that she belonged to this dark, mysterious
feline, no one else could ever make her feel as she felt now.
But who could he be? She knew those eyes......but the voice and the demeanor
were all wrong. Sighing delicatley she settled her skirts around her as the
Arab returned to her side bearing a goblet of champange for each.
Raising his glass and lifting a whiskered brow to her the Arab spoke "I
propose a toast, to new beginnings....and happy endings."
Arabian Prince [Romanceintheair@Thebalcony]
*****************************
Percy Dinsmore wailed and moaned and beat on the locked door. "LET ME-OWT. NOWWW. I WANT OWWWT!" The little room was so far in the back of the house, and the door so solid, that he soon realized that his attempts were futile. Looking around the room, he saw only a small pallet for a bed, a table, and the one straight backed chair. Belatedly he realized that he must have been put in the servant's quarters way at the top of the house. There was no window. He lay flat on his belly and poked his paw through the tiny space between the door and the floor - nope, couldn't fit through that way!

The faint sound of music ended and he realized that the banquet was beginning - without him! He redoubled his efforts at the door. "Let ME- OWWWWT. NOWWWW!" Nobody came. "Well, he thought, when Miss Maggie sees my empty place at the table, surely somebody will come searching for me." He went to the small, bare pallet and lay down. He wouldn't have to wait too long. He hoped. Why would somebody want to lock him in a room? Who was that child in the toga?
Percy Dinsmore [LockedInTheRoom@theTopOfTheHouse.com]
*****************************
"He's all locked up for the evening." whispered Sabrina, rearranging her toga from the rapid descent down the stairs in the back of the house. "Are the placecards switched?"

"All done." replied her unsaintly sister Sebratta. "This habit is hot for running around like we been doing!"

They watched as the georgeously costumed guests entered the banquet room. There were appreciative ahs and gasps as the revelers unmasked and took their places at the long festively decorated table.

"Look - there they come now!" The two sisters watched as the arab came in with Miss Maggie on his paw.

"Does she know who she is yet? He'll have to unmask soon - most of the guests have already taken their masks off to eat." hissed Sabrina. "Look - he's reaching for his mask now!"
Sabrina and Sebratta [AboutToUnmask@th'banquet.com]
*****************************
But the sealy paw only removed the turban and jabala, and there stood a much taller, broader shouldered Romeow, still disguised under a be-jeweled half-mask that would allow him to continue to eat without its removal. Miss Maggie was not the only one to be disappointed, and for forms sake, she left her own mask in place...as did several others, upon seeing their hostess do so. She frowned prettily, and whispered to her companion, 'I know, you are not Percy,' she glanced at his name card, but he had descreetly hidden it up one sleeve. 'No, my sweet, I am not that unfortunate meezer, for while he donned the garments of Romeow, I intend to fulfill the role.'
Sir Floyd [unmaskingsortof@thetable]
*****************************
Sabrina and Sebratta (being party crashers) had no placecards or seats at the banquet tables. However, they'd worked out a deal with Jamison and Jeremiah. Being still under the age of majority, the boys had been relegated to a "kittens" table.

"Ah you shure that you don't want to take miah seat at th' table?" asked Jeremiah, always the gentleman.

"Ah'm positive." answered Sabrina with her mouth full of succulent shrimp. "Papa or Miss Maggie might recognize us, then all would be ovah."

"Send down some more of th' salmon," hissed Sebratta from her place under the tablecloth at Jamison's knee. "Ah wouldn't say no to anotheh bite of th' anchovies in sauce either."

"What's Papa and Miss Maggie up to?" entreated Sabrina, licking liver pate off a cracker. "Do you think she knows who he is yet? Are they still eatin'? Does she look like she's enjoyin' his company?"
Sabrina and Sebratta [Hidin'out@th'banquet.com]
*****************************
Sarah slowly slipped up the servants stairs at the back of the house. She'd spilled some punch from the bowl she was refilling on her apron, and the mistress had sent her upstairs to change to a fresh apron. Being a very junior member of the house staff, she had one of the smallest, dankest rooms at the top of the house. Her paw felt for the doorknob in the dark as she neared her room.

"SnooooOOOOrrrk." came a bone chilling sound from the next chamber. Sarah knew that room was empty. "SSSSnnnorrrrrKKKK." The hair on her back rose as she heard the sound again. What was that awful sound? Dare she be brave and open the door? Her fingers fumbled and found the stack of clean aprons. Trembling paws undid the ties on the soiled garment and slipped it off over her head. "SSSNNNNoooRRRRRkkkk!" came the horrifying noise again. Sarah shreiked and ran pell-mell down the stairs, screaming as she fled to the warmth and light of the kitchen and safety.

Cook caught her before she'd even entered the kitchen proper. "What IS the meanin' of this uproar? Wif a houseful of guests? This is not seemin' behavior, I'll have yew know."

Quickly Sarah choked out her story to Cook. With a rolling pin in one paw and a heavy cast iron skillet in the other, Cook was soon ascending the back stairs followed by a bevy of tremorous servers and cook assistants, each armed with a taper for light or a weapon of choice. As they drew closer to the chamber, they all heard the horrifying sound that Sarah had described. A few of the less brave promptly tiptoed back down the stairs, wishing to wait out the excitement in the kitchen where they felt safe. Cook slowly opened the door and motioned to the server behind her to hold the taper high. All were astonished to see the dapper form of Percy reclining on the pallet, snoring away.
Sarah from Upstairs [Moanin'Ghosts@th'servantsQuarters.ma'am]
*****************************
When awakened, Percy was most irate. As there didn't seem to be a place for him at the banquet tables, he joined the staff in the kitchen. They loaded a plate for him with all the best from the serving platters.

"I wanna find the woman in the toga who locked me in that room." Percy growled, his mouth full of creamed liver. "She made me miss an opportunity to eat dinner with Miss Maggie. I was gonna make the announcement of our engagement over dinner, to th' entire party. Now after I deal with the dame in the toga, I'm gonna find a quiet moment and give Miss Maggie this engagement ring I have in my pocket. I just know she'll say yes - (we've talked about a wedding a bit, you know) so ya'll here in the kitchen will be able to plan another banquet and a wonderful wedding for the two of us."

The kitchen staff was all agog with the news of Miss Maggie's upcoming engagement to Percy. "Jest wait till I tell th' laundry staff." gloated the cook. "They always think they have th' best gossip, but have I got one up on them this time! When do yew think yew'll set th'date, Marster Percy?"
Percy []
*****************************
But the more his thoughts fed upon Miss Maggie, the less interest the food before him had. He tore off his mask and stormed into the dining room amidst the gasps of the guests.
'Take your paws off her, you villain, tonight and forever more, Maggie is mine!' At Percy's declaration several of the guests hurriedly stood and moved further away. Maggie herself had risen, glaring at Captain Dinsmore, and was about to chastise him in a public set-down, when there was a roar from the mysterious Romeow at her side.
'YOU!' Floyd ripped off his mask, causing Maggie to gasp in pleasure, but his eyes were no longer on her, 'I have lived a thousand deaths thanks to you. I think I owe you at least one.'
'Sir Floyd,' Percy managed to make the honorable title sound like an insult, 'Back from his journeys abroad, heaped with honors. It is not my fault your wife was such a fool to come between us all those years ago. Doubtless, you miss her, and being the gentleman I am, I will send you to meet her, tonight.'
'That, Percy, is a challenge I gladly accept.'
Maggie was weeping, held fast in Tabitha's stong arms.
Captain Dinsmore drew closer to Floyd, 'Pistols or sabres, sir?'
Blue eyes glared into paler blue eyes, and Floyd replied, 'Sabres, pistols are the weapon of a coward.'
As the two began to leave, Percy patted Maggie's hands in a patronizing manner, 'Don't you worry, sugar, your true love won't be harmed, and you shall be married at midnight.' This comforted her not at all. The two men went out into the front lawn, as two sabres were brought out of the smoking room. Maggie followed as in a bad dream, with Tabitha following, reciting the history of Floyd and Percy, 'I remember now, Percy had made some improper advances to Floyd's wife and Floyd challenged Percy to a duel. At the absolute last moment she sprang at her husband to push him out of the way of Percy's bullet, but it was too late, and she was killed by accident. Floyd was heart-broken as you can imagine, and went abroad...and now....'
Maggie, ran a paw over her eyes, now it was happening all over again. Two slender forms adhered to her, and she was shocked to recognize Sabrina and Sebratta, both crying desperately. She comforted them, barely aware that she too was weeping madly.

On the lawn the two opponents stood, sabres at the ready, suddenly they began, and at once time stood still, but it was clear that Floyd, the stronger of the two, was at the advantage, his nimble blade was carving bits off of Percy's costume, rendering him into a scarecrow figure in next to no time. The Captain was soon retreating rapidly, and soon he put a paw wrong and tripped over a tree root, and landed, sprawling on the ground, looking up at Floyd, 'Go on then,' Percy said calmly, 'Finish it.'
'I will,' Floyd replied calmly,'But not the way you think,' The tip of Floyd's sabre rested gently on Percy's chest, neatly immobilizing him without harming a hair on him, 'This meezer,' Floyd said loudly and to the crowd, 'Is an imposter. He is not, nor has he ever been a Captain, and he was dishonorably discharged from West Pawnt, for cheating and gambling. And....' The word was drawn out, piercing the gasps of astonishment from the guests and the moans of humiliation from the prone Captain, 'and,' Floyd continued, 'it is well known, that his mother is a Persian!' There were a few gasps and not a few chuckles. One of the guests, a constable, led the unfortunate Percy away, to show him to the county border and issue him acrossed it.
Maggie's eyes filled with tears as she ran into Floyd's strong arms.
Maggie [Stunned@theTurnOfEvents.OhNo]
*****************************
We now revisit the home Miss Maggie originally habitated several years later.
The Mansion is bright and well it, with flowers and beautiful tapestries in every
corner. The heavy cheery furniture glows with a lustre that can only come from
loving care, all things glass and crystal sparkle in the summer sunshine.
The patio doors are thrown open to admit the soft warm summer breeze and from
on the lawn we hear the tinkle of feminine laughter mixed with the deep booming
laugh of a man. Upon closer inspection we oberve Miss Maggie, setting demurely
upon a blanket laughing merrily up into the eyes of Sir Floyd as he places a
necklace of daisy's around her dainty neck. Look there, why it's Miss Sabrina
and Sebretta gently pushing a swingset that contains 2 delighted meezer children,
who turn around with each push and encourage their big sisters "Higher! Higher!"
From across the lawn comes the familiar figure of our own sweet, loyal Tabitha, a
nestled snugly in the comfort of her arms, the newest member of the family, with
eyes barely open and hands him to his doting papa.
"This is what I was born to be!" SIr Floyd croons into his sons sweet face. So
no one sees he quickly wipes the tear from his sealy face as his beautiful wife
stands with him. Together they watch as there family plays, laughs, loves and
grows here.
It was Maggie's Tail!
Sir Floyd [Homeatlast@TheMansion]
*****************************

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