Sunday, August 19, 2012

"That is his own tub!"

In the book, The Price of Freedom by A.C. Crispin, Cutler Beckett isn't Lord Cutler Beckett yet.  He's the director of West African affairs. But he has his mind set on a promotion as "Lord" or "Sir", a promotion that we know is not too far off.  To get this position, Beckett feels that he needs to kiss up to the E.I.T.C. director of African Affairs, his boss, Viscount, Lord Reginald Marmaduke Bracegirdle-Penwallow.  Quite the name, right?  Beckett also feels that he needs to please Lord Penwallow because of the favor he did for him.  Beckett was once captured by Captain Christophe-Julien de Rapier, the infamous rogue pirate.  Beckett gets beat up by the pirates and held for ransom.  Beckett's family hates him (no surprise) so they don't pay the ransom.  Lord Penwallow does instead.  The first time Beckett dines with Penwallow, he's a complete stalker.  He learns all about Penwallow's family and personal life thinking it may help him reach his goal.  The Viscount returns to Calabar a few months later, when he and Beckett have lunch again.  This time, however, Captain Jack Sparrow is docked and Beckett asks him to join them.  But Jack has just finished a three month voyage around the triangle and isn't what Beckett considers presentable.  
So Jack is taken by Beckett's operator, Ian Mercer, to his office to clean up.  In the home office, Jack meets Mistress Goodwright, Beckett's maid, who is instructed to see that Jack is clean up.  Jack is surprise to find that they have prepared brand new clothes for him to wear for lunch and keep.  But what's even more surprising is the iron tub filled with water!  Jack: "What's this for?"  Mistress Goodwright: "La, lad!  'Tis for you!  Very particular, Mr. Beckett is, 'bout his hygiene.  That is his own tub!  He ordered us to haul it down here and fill it for you, Captain."  We all know what a tub is for(at least I hope so), but I don't think Jack has caught on yet.  Jack: "What does Mr. Beckett want me to do with it?"  This makes the maid giggle.  Mistress Goodwright: "I know, I know . . . outlandish idea, isn't it?  But 'tis becoming the fashion among some of the gentry, they say.  At least once a moth, they takes off all their clothes, and they SITS in those 'bathtubs' and they washes themselves.  All over.  Mr. Beckett says the Romans did it all the time."  Jack: "No wonder their empire fell.  Madam, I am clean.  Well, mostly.  (Jack's hands aren't the cleanest)  I'll have you know I went for a nice long swim on a lovely beach, not much more than three months ago."  Does this disgust anyone else?  I mean, I love Jack but his hygiene not so much.  But there is one thing that scares him more than the tub, and Mistress Goodwright knows just that.  
Mistress Goodwright: "Mr. Becket told me that if you said no, I was to tell him and he'd instruct Mr. Mercer to see that you did it."  Jack almost walks out on the whole thing, because he was terrified of Mercer and a footman ripping off all his clothes and forcing him into the water.  As if Jack couldn't take them all down!  But the maid gets the best of him.  Jack: "Oh, very well.  But I'm sure it's unhealthy.  I'll probably catch me death."  So Jack starts taking off his coat and shoes but she's still there standing awkwardly.  Mistress Goodwright: "Um . . . Captain Sparrow, would you like me to scrub your back?"  Jack just rolls his eyes: "Madam, I thought time was of the essence."  As she she leaves Jack calls, "And close that door, if you please . . . All the way, Mistress Goodwright."  So Jack finally bathes, for the first time.  Rather disturbing, really.  And afterwards he tries on his new fancy clothing.  Mercer and the maid want to burn his old clothes, but Jack objects, seeing as he didn't have too many.  And finally, he is ready to meet the Viscount, Lord Reginald Marmaduke Bracegirdle-Penwallow.  I love Jack as he is and all, but a bath here and there is probably smart.

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