The Unobtainable Chimney Sweep - Mustard comedy magazine
The Unobtainable Chimney Sweep

Writer's Block:
First Chapters From Unwritten Novels

#6: The Unobtainable Chimney Sweep

Hermione Peacehaven sat, perfectly poised, in the impeccably furnished study of her Kensington family home. Magnificent golden locks flowed round her sculpted ears, coming to rest on her impetuous milky bosom.

Although just 19, Hermione was as stubborn as she was pert. Currently, she was furious at her father, Mr George Peacehaven, the well-respected physician, stern authority figure and vocal exponent of phrenology. Mr Peacehaven, who sported imposing sideburns and a curvature of the nose that suggested an unerring facility for backgammon, had ordered his youngest daughter to marry Hugh D'Arbanville-Jones, the social darling, man-about-town and almost certain rapist.

Although he was universally admired, Hermione found D'Arbanville-Jones to be a troublesome bore, drunken cad and possessor of the most objectionable teeth. She didn't care what Daddy and the others said; she would not marry this man.

Outraged by the impossibility of it all, she began to take out her anger on her stitch work.

At that moment, she was interrupted by Sally Dawkins, the socially and spiritually inferior family maid; a woman kind of heart but plain of face. Hermione's sisters, Charlotte, Tilly, Emma and Frances, were often dreadfully mean to Sally, but Hermione made a point of treating her kindly.

The maid clomped forward gracelessly: "I beg your pardon, if you don't mind me interrupting, ma'am, I'd like to introduce the new chimney sweep, Mr Smith."

At this, the fragrant and currently undefiled young Hermione became aware of a confident figure framed suggestively in the doorway.

It was a man. He strode into the room, manfully.

Hermione breathed in sharply, pupils dilating, as she regarded his barrel chest and the gently throbbing iron-veined muscles, visible through his sweat-soaked, coal-grey top-shirt.

He was a tall specimen, though not freakishly so. His arms were powerful yet tender; equally capable of thrashing a gypsy or delicately embracing a treasured sweetheart. His face was weathered and welcoming, possessing a jaw that even an amateur physiognomist such as herself could see indicated strength, morality and a limitless supply of love seed.

His turquoise eyes took her in, burning through her corset as she felt a deep and all-consuming swell in the well of her womanhood.

Then he spoke.

"A pleasure, Miss Peace'aven. Now if ya don't mind, I better be getting up this 'ere chimbley."

Oh, what coarse elocution! Hermione's dream shattered into a thousand tiny fragments, like an expensive vase foolishly entrusted to a mentally defective child.

She could never be with this man. Imagine what her father would say! She could hear him now: "This lumbering ox? In possession of neither an education nor the recommended levels of Vitamin C? A grubby oik whose eyebrows betray a predilection towards the French? He'll never sully a daughter of mine!"

Infuriated, Hermione thrust the stitching needle into her fingertip. A crimson torrent issued forth, causing her to faint, tumbling elegantly to the study floor.

She came to in the achingly stoic breast of Mr Smith, a tempest of questions tossing the dainty vessel of her mind around a churning sea of possibilities. Could she convince father into letting her marry a fellow with only one surname? How could she avoid the mounting intentions of that scoundrel D'Arbanville-Jones? And just how would readers differentiate between her multitude of similarly mannered siblings?

The only thing that she could be certain of was this: her heart ached for a man who had almost certainly never used an oyster fork.

~ L.L.

Illo: A.B.


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