Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Sparkle: Prince Albert’s Garter, 1840

The Garter of Prince Albert
Gold, Diamonds, Velvet
The Royal Collection
Part of the suite of jewels that Prince Albert received from Queen Victoria two days before their wedding in 1840, the magnificent garter of blue velvet edged in diamonds was the centerpiece. Included in the suite were a star brooch previously belonging to Victoria (very similar in design to The Star of the Order of Bath) and the garter insignia known as “The Lesser George.”

In addition to the edges, the garter’s motto and buckle are lavishly adorned with remarkably flawless diamonds. Albert wore the suite on his wedding day and was later depicted wearing them in many portraits.

Toys of the Belle Époque: Queen Elizabeth’s Dolls, 1935

Two Dolls
Marcus Adams
The Royal Collection
In 1935, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, took her two daughters Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and Princess Margaret to be photographed by Marcus Adams at the Children’s Studio.  The princesses were photographed with two dolls.  And, the future Queen was entertained when Adams took a photo of the two dolls on their own—as one does.

Masterpiece of the Week: Cameo Bracelet of the Duke of Cambridge, 1850-1870

Bracelet with Cameo of Adolphus Frederick,
The Duke of Cambridge
Cameo: 1850, Bracelet 1860-70
Cameo by George G. Adams
Gold, Shell, Diamonds, Bouton Pearls, Enamel, Silver
The Royal Collection
Originally, the cameo stood alone. Created in shell in 1850, by George Gammon Adams, the cameo is signed by the artist and based upon a drawing from life that Adams did of the Duke of Cambridge in 1847. The cameo still retains its original setting of bouton pearls, diamonds and pale green enamel which forms a laurel wreath around the Duke’s profile. The laurel wreath symbolizes the triumph of love and the diamonds symbolize eternity.

The brooch was given to the Duchess of Cambridge who, sometime between 1860 and 1870, had it set into this gold bracelet. The reticulated gold band is quite heavy and wide, neatly framing the cameo.

As was often the case with these things, this precious item came into the Royal Collection via Queen Mary (…of Teck, wife of George V). In this particular instance, it was bequeathed to her by Augusta, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1916. What’s most curious about this is that, much earlier, Mary had been “given” the bracelet by the Duchess of Cambridge (probably after she admired it vociferously). She then gave the bracelet to the Grand Duchess Augusta who willed it back to her in 1916. So, technically, Queen Mary came by this bracelet twice.

At the Music Hall: There’ll Always Be an England, 1939

The Union Jack
The Royal Collection
This rousing British patriotic song was written and composed in 1939 by Ross Parker. During World War II, it became extremely popular with a version sung by Vera Lynn dominating the airwaves. During the first year of World War I, over two hundred thousand copies of the sheet music were sold.

The song has remained popular, being covered by many artists, notably even The Sex Pistols. However, I prefer Vera Lynn’s version. Enjoy!

Punch's Cousin, Chapter 157

When Mr. Punch opened his eyes, he expected to see the soaring ceiling of the cathedral’s vestibule above him. He was surprised, however, to see the blue-painted plaster above his bed at Dr. Biamenti’s Royal Street house. He looked around, his eyes settling upon Robert who sat in a rigid, wooden chair next to the bed.

“Feel like I’m floatin’.” Mr. Punch mumbled.

“That’s to be expected,” Robert smiled. “I’ve given you some medicine.”

“What kind of med’cin?” Mr. Punch asked.

“Something which will help with your pain.” Robert replied.

“Can’t feel me shoulder or chest.” Mr. Punch said, trying to raise Julian’s hand.

“It would be better if you just lay still.” Robert said quickly, standing up.

Mr. Punch blinked rapidly. It seemed as if Robert had a twin for a moment—that two Roberts stood above him. His vision returned to normal.

“Thought there were two of ya.” Mr. Punch muttered.

“No—just the one.” Robert smiled.

“If there were two of ya, then you’d match me. Then Julian could have a chum and I could have a chum.”

“As it is, you both have me. There doesn’t have to be two of me for that.” Robert chuckled.

“So, I ain’t dead?” Mr. Punch asked.

“No.” Robert shook his head. “Not hardly.”

“Thought for a spell that we wouldn’t make it. Even if one of us did, I feared the other would be lost.”

“What do you mean, dear Punch?” Robert asked.

“When we was at Iolanthe’s house, that other one—what’s her name—Marie Laveau, she told Barbara that she couldn’t save a man what’s got two folk inside him. She could only save one. Thought for a bit that we’d have to chose between me and me master.”

“Marie Laveau tried to help you?” Robert asked.

“Yes.” Mr. Punch said quietly. “Sorta. I don’t think she were doin’ it to be nice. Think she had other reasons. See, Barbara Allen—she gave herself up, like a sacrifice to Marie. That were strangely generous. Didn’t think she had such a kind bone in her, that one. But, she were quite upset, she was, what with Arthur shootin’ me.”

“Arthur shot you?” Robert asked, his eyes widening. “I thought Iolanthe had done it.”

“No.” Mr. Punch responded absently. “It were Arthur. ‘Spose it’s what I had comin’ to me after tryin’ to throw him into the sea like I done. Only it weren’t his idea, I don’t think. Seems to me that the red-headed girl with shoulders like a man thought o’ it.”

“Hmmmm…” Robert grumbled. “We shall discuss all of this in great detail. However, not tonight. You’ve been through quite an ordeal. You need to rest so that you might regain your strength.”

“Did you fix me up, then?” Mr. Punch continued to chatter in his medicinal haze.

“I did.” Robert nodded.

“Ain’t the first time you done it.” Mr. Punch sighed. “You fix me up regular.”

“No more than is necessary.” Robert smiled. “Thankfully, though you lost a lot of blood, there was no damage to any of your…” he paused. “It doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you’ll be quite recovered soon enough. Don’t worry about it now. Just rest.”

“Funny how we all lose our blood ‘round Iolanthe. Me master’s ma—she did. And…” Punch coughed for a moment. “You know, you’d not have found me had Marjani not carried me off.”

“So you mentioned.” Robert smiled.

“I want to thank her.” Punch said.

“And, so you shall.” Robert nodded.

“Can you bring her here?”

“I would, however, she’s not in the house.”

“Where is she?” Punch asked.

“I don’t know.” Robert shrugged. “To be quite honest, dear Punch, she wasn’t in the cathedral with us. We saw no sign of her. And, when we got you back here, she was nowhere to be found.”

“Oh.” Mr. Punch frowned.

“It’s nothing to worry about.” Robert continued.

“Will worry if I want.” Mr. Punch grunted.

“Go on, then.” Robert chuckled. “However, there are some people who wish to see you. Would it be all right with you if Adrienne and Cecil popped their heads in for a moment?”

“Sure.” Mr. Punch answered, his frown fading. “Here, where’s me dog and me puppet?”

“Your puppet is over there,” Robert pointed toward the armchair by the fire. “And Toby is sitting on the floor next to the bed. He’s not left your side since you’ve returned.”

“Will you put ‘em both up here with me in the bed?”

“No.” Robert said. “You need to lie perfectly still.”

“They ain’t gonna bother me.” Mr. Punch sighed. “Here, what do ya think? The puppet’s not gonna crawl all over me.”

“No, but Toby will. He’ll want to cuddle. And, I can’t have you disturbed right now.”

“Oh, come on.” Mr. Punch pleaded.

“Very well.” Robert sighed, fetching the puppet and placing at the foot of the bed. He picked up Toby and gently put him next to Mr. Punch. The dog wagged his tail, but settled down quietly as if he knew not to jump on his master.

“See, he’s bein’ good.”

“I don’t know why I’m surprised. It seems everyone is smarter than I think.” Robert laughed to himself.

“Chum?” Mr. Punch began.


“Did I miss the new year?”

“No.” Robert shook his head. “We’ve got five minutes until midnight.”

“Coo.” Mr. Punch sighed.

“In fact,” Robert smiled. “I’ll go fetch Adrienne and Cecil. If you promise to be still, we can see in the new year together.”

“I promise.” Mr. Punch answered.

“I’ll return forthwith.” Robert nodded.

Alone with Toby and his puppet, Mr. Punch sighed. “Even if I got a hole in me, it’ll still be a good year. It’s got to be.”

At that very moment, Marjani walked up the staircase at Iolanthe Evangeline’s house. She’d simply walked in the front door and marched past Mala who—as usual—was standing guard in the front hall. Even though Mala had shouted at Marjani, she continued on her mission—unheeded.

Without knocking, she opened the door to Iolanthe’s room.

Iolanthe, who had been talking with Ulrika and Arthur, looked up from their huddle of three.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Iolanthe spat.

“I got a present for ya, Miss Evangeline.” Marjani grinned. “Somethin’ for to make sure you start 1853 the way you deserve.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-156? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday, January 31 for Chapter 158 of Punch’s Cousin.

Goal for the Day: Get Ready for Spring

While Spring may seem a long way off, you can get ready for the impending warmer weather, and the onslaught of home maintenance that comes with it, by planning in advance. Today, take a look around your home and start making a list of the projects that you’ll have when the chill in the air subsides.

Arrange your list by priority and start thinking about the tools you’ll need to accomplish each task. By having a “plan of attack,” you’ll find that the chores will go a lot faster and you’ll have more time to actually enjoy the beauty of Spring.

Objects of the Day: A Rhinestone Necklace and Dress Clip

Costume jewelry of the 1930’s an 40’s had as much flare as the real thing. During that era, contrasting stones were hallmarks of jewelry design. Often arranged into fan-like patterns, diamonds were set against the richness of sapphires, rubies and amethysts. A popular accessory of the 1940’s was the dress clip. These could be fastened at the bodice, shoulders or waist of a gown and were often worn in pairs. Sometimes they could even be used as shoe ornaments or attached to an existing necklace to create a whole new look.

This rhinestone necklace dates to the 1940’s and shows the predominant style of contrasting stones. Here, we see faux amethysts and diamonds in a popular pattern of the time. The necklace has been mounted for display in a custom-made, velvet-lined shadow box. Above the necklace, a dress clip from the mid 1930’s has been mounted. With its late Art Deco styling, the clip is the perfect complement to the necklace. Together, they make for an eye-catching and unexpected bit of wall art.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Antique Image of the Day: A Group of Grooms with Webster, the Pony, 1848

Group of Grooms with Webster, the Pony,
The Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace
Daguerreotype, 1848
The Royal Collection
Given Queen Victoria’s and Prince Albert’s keen interest in photography, it’s not surprising that they commissioned daguerreotypes of everyday life at the Royal residences. Victoria and Albert enjoyed watching the photographic process and usually attended the sittings.

In 1848, Queen Victoria visited the Royal mews at Buckingham Palace when a now unknown photographer took five images of the grooms and animals therein. Of the five, only two survive. This is one of them. We can see that Her Majesty employed an army of grooms to care of the Royal horses, and, of course, Webster, the Royal Pony, who is seen here in his only known photograph.

Pets of the Belle Époque: Taglioni and Hector, 1836

Taglioni and Hector
George Morley, 1836
The Royal Collection
In 1834, while still a Princess, Queen Victoria was given a magnificent horse by King William IV. At the time, Victoria was quite taken with the ballet dancer known as Taglioni, and, so, she named the graceful horse after her favorite performer.

This 1836 painting by George Morley was a gift to Queen Victoria. Taglioni stands, nobly showing his equestrian profile. He is joined by one of Victoria’s beloved dogs, Hector.

Friday Fun: The Start of a Punch & Judy Show

David Wilde's Punch & Judy
Apparently, Mr. Punch doesn’t care for monkeys. With good reason, it would seem.

This short video clip shows the musical start to David Wilde’s Punch & Judy show. As if often the case, “Joey the Clown” starts the proceedings with a dance which highlights his peculiarly articulated neck. “Joey the Clown” is a traditional Punch & Judy character. Often, Joey tries to get the better of Punch. It’s usually Joey’s question of “Who wants dinner?” which elicits the display of the famous sausage links. Typically, Joey will act as Master of Ceremonies.

And, so, here we see Joey doing his thing, followed by a feather-dusting monkey and the introduction of Mr. Punch.

“Clap with Mr. Monkey.”

Mr. Punch in the Arts: A Bunnykins Punch and Judy Show

Royal Doulton’s classic “Bunnykins” line of transfer-ware china has famously depicted scenes of English life translated into “bunny” terms since 1934. As part of this ongoing series of charming visuals, the Bunnykins rabbits have been shown in the costumes of various professions and famous historical figures.

Here, we see a scene of a typical English country fair. Of course, as is the case with most English fetes, Mr. Punch is in attendance. As the bunnies are entertained by a classic Punch & Judy show, we see that Mr. Punch and England will always be inextricably linked.

Punch's Cousin, Chapter 156

Marjani’s footsteps echoed through the vestibule as she carried Julian/Punch into St. Louis Cathedral. The air was still quite thick with the dust of construction, though the rebuilding of the stately church had mostly stopped two years earlier. Marjani lowered Mr. Punch’s body to the floor and wiped her brow, taking a deep breath. The cathedral smelled new—not at all like it did when she had first been there—years earlier as a girl, newly off the boat and set for a life of slavery. She’d stood in that church, relishing the coolness of the walls around her as she nervously waited—shackled to her sisters—to be sold to the highest bidder. The building was different than she had remembered—grander, taller, emptier, but nonetheless beautiful. Moonlight filtered through the windows and danced on the patterned floor.

“Holy Mother!” Marjani called out. “I done brought this man for ya to help him. Don’t fail me. Look down at us with all them angels and saints and find it in your kind, big hearts to save him for he done no one any harm.”

Julian’s body shook with pain as Mr. Punch cried out. “It’s cold.”

“Won’t always be so, Great Man.” Marjani said sweetly. “Soon, it’ll be warm and you’ll feel the arms of those who love you pick you up and carry you home.”

“Home,” Mr. Punch mumbled. “Home. Me master’s got a home. Two homes. No, three. There’s the monster of a house in the country, there’s the fine, tall townhouse in Belgravia, and there’s the room what he lives in—that room inside of us.”

“Don’t forget your home here, Mr. Punch.” Marjani smiled as she knelt down beside him, stroking his sweaty hair. “The home that you share with the Halifaxes and Toby, with me and Gamilla and Meridian and my Columbia.”

“I’m a lucky man,” Mr. Punch groaned.

“You ain’t lucky, Mr. Punch.” Marjani chuckled. “You’re what they done call ‘fortunate.’”

“’Spose so.” Mr. Punch nodded. “Guess if I were lucky, I’d not be here bleedin’ on the floor of some church.”

“I reckon not.” Marjani nodded.

Mr. Punch coughed and moaned.

“Jus’ keep talkin’, Mr. Punch.” Marjani said softly.

“Talkin’ ‘bout what?” Punch asked. “Think maybe I run out of words.”

“No.” Marjani shook her head. “You ain’t never gonna run outta words. You got lots of words in ya. You got words enough for two men.”

“Julian don’t say a lot.” Mr. Punch gagged. “He likes to be quiet, he does.”

“Don’t mean he don’t got words. Sometimes the quietest of men got the most words. If anyone would stop to ask them, they’d have a lot to say.”

“True.” Punch sputtered. “It hurts, Marjani.”

“I know it does.” Marjani nodded.

“Am I…are we gonna die?”

“All men die.” Marjani said gently.

“Where’s your Holy Mother?” Mr. Punch groaned.

“She’s here.” Marjani sighed. “Watchin’.”

“What good’s watchin’?” Mr. Punch asked angrily. “Watchin’ ain’t helpin’.”

“Isn’t it?” Marjani smiled.

“Here, how’d you find me?” Mr. Punch asked.

“I knew where ya was, Great Man.” Marjani said, stroking Julian’s hair again. “I jus’ had to get to ya.”

“Weren’t you scared?”

“Scared?” Marjani grinned. “Scared o’ what? Them three witches? I ain’t scared o’ no witches. They don’t got limitless power, ya know.”

“Don’t they?” Mr. Punch asked weakly.

“You tell me,” Marjani said firmly, trying to get Punch to keep talking. “You’re here, ain’t ya?”

“Yes,” Punch grunted. He shut Julian’s eyes.

“Don’t sleep now, Mr. Punch. They’re comin’.” Marjani whispered.

Footsteps and voices filled the vestibule.

“Thank God!” Adrienne shouted as she rushed to Mr. Punch.

“How’d you know, old chap?” Cecil asked Robert as Robert hurried to Punch’s side.

“I…I’m not sure.” Robert muttered as he leaned over Julian’s body.

“I’m here, dear Punch.” Robert whispered.

“Evenin’, chum,” Mr. Punch grinned weakly. “You found me.”

“I did.” Robert sighed as he unbuttoned Julian’s coat to see the damage.

“I been shot.” Mr. Punch said.

“I see that.” Robert replied softly.

“Are we gonna die?” Mr. Punch asked.

“Not this night.” Robert answered deeply. “Not unless I’m going with you.”

“Marjani brought me here.” Mr. Punch mumbled. “She brought me here so that you’d find me. The Holy Mother is watching, you know?”

“Marjani did?” Adrienne asked, looking around.

“Yes.” Mr. Punch moaned as Robert pressed his chest. “She’s right here.”

“Where’s she gone?” Cecil asked.

“She’s here.” Punch answered.

Robert, Cecil and Adrienne looked at one another. Marjani was nowhere to be seen. They were alone with Mr. Punch in the vestibule of the great cathedral.

“Of course she is, my man.” Robert smiled. “Now, will you do something for me?”

“Course,” Mr. Punch answered weakly.

“I want you to bite down on this handkerchief. Will you do that?”

“Yes.” Mr. Punch replied in confusion.

“This is going to hurt,” Robert said as he gently placed the balled-up handkerchief into Julian’s mouth.

Punch bit down as he felt Robert’s fingers slip into his wound. The room went black.

Did you miss Chapters 1-155? If so, you can read them here.

Goal for the Day: Buy a Book

In the news today, we see that sales of e-books are outnumbering sales of paperbacks. As long as people are reading, I suppose I should be happy. In fact, it’s suspected that a greater number of people are reading now than before the proliferation of e-books on digital readers.

Still, I have to say that it would be a terrible shame to see the printing industry disappear. There’s nothing, really, to equal the feeling of reading a real book—feeling the paper, smelling the ink.

As a writer, I appreciate the sense of permanence of a real ink-and-paper book. Digital publishing seems so temporary. While books are still technically ephemera, nothing can beat the sense of accomplishment a writer feels in seeing his or her words bound into a book. So, today, stop by a brick and mortar bookstore (or order from and spend some money on a real book. Let’s keep that leg of the publishing industry alive and well. I’m all for reading digital books. After all, I write them myself. But, let’s not let the printed word slip away.

Object of the Day: A Vintage Motorola Radio and Turntable

Motorola began in 1928 in Chicago, Illinois as the Galvin Manufacturing Corporation with the production of Battery Eliminators, transitioning into building radios in 1930. Since then, Motorola has been a leader in technology, manufacturing everything from televisions to cell phones.

This standing radio and turntable dates to the mid-to-late 1940’s. The turntable is tucked away inside the unit above an alcove designed to hold record albums. The radio still functions. Oddly enough, when I purchased this and plugged it in, I had this vague, nonsensical notion that I’d be picking up radio signals from the past. Of course, that didn’t happen, but it was a nice, romantic thought.

Today, though it’s still perfectly functional, it serves a different purpose—acting as a smart, little cabinet and handsomely supporting my printer. It just goes to show that no matter how functional we may be, as we get older, our purpose in life changes.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mastery of Design: Three of George III’s Dress Coat Buttons, 1780

Three of George III's Dress Coat Buttons
Mounted as Brooches
Gold, Enamel, Pearls
The Royal Collection
Queen Mary (wife of George V) tucked these precious little beauties away in her magazine of pretty things. She came by them quite honestly, having been bequeathed them by the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1916. At first glance, they appear to be three small, attractive, yet peculiarly matching, brooches. Further inspection (and the documentation that goes with them) shows otherwise.

King George III had, surprisingly, a passion for buttons. In fact, he was known to have crafted a button or two in his lifetime. Mrs. Papendiek, the keeper of the wardrobe of Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, wrote of the king’s love of buttons, “for in his youth one of his favourite occupations had been turning and button-making. Of a German in Long Acre he had learned how to make the loop and attach it to the button. And when in 1784 a Mr. Clay showed him his newly perfected button, for gentlemen’s mourning attire, the King is said to have exclaimed, ‘Send me several sets of buttons, for as I am called George the button-maker, I must give a lift to our trade.’”

How charmingly odd.

Though George III usually dressed quite somberly, on special occasions, he would be known to drape himself in diamonds from head to toe—creating a rather dazzling effect. Always included in his finest suits were magnificent buttons. It is from a set of George III’s buttons that these brooches come. Brilliant blue enamel and gold-set pearls added just the right amount of opulence to many a suit. When the men’s fashions turned away from bejeweled elements (and what a sad day that was), these buttons (twenty-two in total) were given to Queen Adelaide (wife of William IV) who made them into a suite of jewelry which consisted of two necklaces, five brooches and a pair of earrings. I’m sure George III would have approved.

Upon Queen Adelaide’s passing in 1849, the suite of jewels was bequeathed to her niece, Princess Augusta of Cambridge, (A.K.A. the aforementioned Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz) by whom they were bequeathed to the ever-interesting (and one of my favorite Royals) Mary of Teck. I’m not sure what became of the other two brooches, the necklaces and earrings. No doubt, they’re hidden away somewhere at Windsor Castle.

Painting of the Day: “Hector, Nero and Dash with the Parrot, Lory,” 1838

Hector, Nero and Dash with the Parrot, Lory
Sir Edwin Landseer, 1838
Commissioned by Queen Victoria
The Royal Collection
As it has been well-documented, we know that Queen Victoria’s fierce devotion to her family extended to the Royal pets. Victoria commissioned many a portrait of the animals—both domestic and otherwise—at the Royal residences. And, of course, who better to commission for such a task than Sir Edwin Landseer?

In 1838, Queen Victoria commissioned this portrait of her beloved spaniel, Dash, with Hector and Nero—two of the other family dogs. Joining them is “The Lory,” the grand macaw who was a gift from Victoria’s uncle and a surprisingly cooperative subject.

Unfolding Pictures: An Unusual Handscreen, 1820

Silhouette Handscreen:
"Lady with a Broom."
French, 1820
Turned and carved ivory handle,
linen gauze, paper and card.
Found at Frogmore House, 1979
"Probably Purchased" by Queen Mary
The Royal Collection
Though fans have been a part of daily life since the earliest of recorded times, the handscreen (a relative of the folding fan) became a popular accessory in the Seventeenth Century and continued to be utilized well into the late Nineteenth Century.

A handscreen, or face-screen, has its roots in the designs of rigid hand-fans. Essentially a decorative panel (usually of linen-covered card, paper or painted canvas) mounted on a turned stick, the handscreen served to shield a lady’s face from the direct heat of the fire. Cosmetics, until recently, were largely wax-based. The heat of the fireplace would often cause a lady’s make-up to run. When not in use, handscreens would often be displayed as decorative items on the mantelpiece.

Given their dual nature—both practical and decorative—handscreens, by the Nineteenth Century, were often created as interesting novelties. This handscreen from 1820 is constructed of painted linen gauze over paper, atop a carved ivory stick. It is distinctive because of the two figures in silhouette which have been cut from black card. By means of a lever on the reverse of the screen, the figures are made to move, giving comedic life to a scene of a woman with a broom beating a portly fellow who holds fire tongs and a shovel.

The creator of this interesting novelty is unknown, but certainly French. The handscreen was found in 1979 among several unusual items which had been tucked away at Frogmore House. The only notation of its origins is that it was “probably purchased by Queen Mary.” Not only is it a charming antique, but it’s also further evidence that Mary of Teck, the Antiquities Magnet, was like a magpie—furnishing her nest with pretty little things.

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: The Neglected Lute

"I was promised lute music."

Image: The Neglected Lute, Willem van Mieris, 1708, purchased by King George IV, The Royal Collection

Punch's Cousin, Chapter 155

What’s she doing?” Arthur whispered to Ulrika as he watched Marie Laveau standing over Julian’s body.

“She’s undoing all of our hard work,” Ulrika spat.

“Silence, you two.” Marie grunted, turning around. “Iolanthe, get them out of here. Leave me with this man and his sister.”

“I don’t want you thinkin’ you can order me ‘round in my own home, Marie,” Iolanthe growled.

“Get out!” Marie shouted.

Iolanthe frowned. “I’ll leave,” she hissed, “but only because I’ve other responsibilities.” She tugged on Ulrika’s arm. “You and me need to have a little talk.”

“I’m not leaving.” Ulrika shook her head. “Neither is Arthur.”

“I think you’d better,” Iolanthe smiled grimly. “You offered me a partnership earlier. I might just have a mind to take you up on it.”

“Really?” Ulrika grinned, “how delightful.”

Arthur narrowed his eyes at Barbara Allen who met his gaze with an icy look of contempt.

“You’re nothin’ but a disappointment, Pet.” Arthur said plainly to his wife.

“You reap what you sow.” Barbara responded.

Mr. Punch howled in pain again.

As Iolanthe, Arthur and Ulrika left the room, Marie grabbed Barbara Allen’s hand. “You’ve done well to join me, girl. Now, share your strength with me so that we might revive this man.”

“I’ve very little strength to share.” Barbara said.

“You’re stronger than you think.” Marie nodded. “Tell me who this is so that I might know him and save him. He’s not what he seems. There are two spirits here—maybe more.”

“My brother is…different.” Barbara said softly.

“We must rid him of the extra force which clouds his spirit.” Marie said. “Otherwise, he won’t’ have the strength to survive.”

“You’re wrong.” Punch moaned. “Leave us alone!”

“Julian, would you rather die?” Barbara asked frantically.

“Yes!” Punch shouted. For a moment, it seemed to Barbara as if the sound which came from her brother’s chest was two voices instead of one—a chorus of certainty.

Marie and Barbara looked at one another in wonderment.

“There’s something in this man that I’ve never known before.” Marie whispered.

“Yes, there is!” A voice said from behind them. “Leave him.”

Barbara and Marie Laveau turned to see the plump silhouette of a woman in the doorway. She stepped into the dim light and seemed to glow from within—casting an amber light over Punch, Barbara and Marie.

The two women squinted at the figure, and, then, Barbara realized she’d seen the woman before.

“I done tol’ ya to leave the man.” Marjani said firmly.

“I know you,” Marie smiled. “I’ve heard rumblings of you, but I never thought I’d see you.”

“Step aside, Marie Laveau.” Marjani bellowed. “We don’t want none of your tainted magic here.”

Marie laughed. “You’re a bold one, ain’t ya?”

“You got no idea.” Marjani growled. “Leave that man alone.”

Marie backed away from Julian’s body, pulling Barbara by her arm.

“My brother is dying!” Barbara cried.

“I’ll look after him like he done looked after me,” Marjani said softly. “Girl, you got your own worries. Now you done sold yourself to two wicked women. They’re gonna eat ya alive—both of ‘em.”

Marjani strode forward and with a strength that she didn’t know she had, she picked up Julian from the floor and carried him toward the door.

“God bless ya, Lady Barbara. For all the evil you done, you don’t deserve what you’re ‘bout to get.” Marjani said as she carried Mr. Punch from the house.

Marie and Barbara stood over the pool of Julian’s blood that had been left on the floor and watched Marjani leave with Punch.

“You’ll come with me now,” Marie smiled at Barbara Allen. “You’re gonna help me put Iolanthe Evangeline deep in the ground.”

Meanwhile, Marjani carried Julian farther and farther from Iolanthe’s house. She didn’t strain, struggle or sweat despite the fact that the man’s body should have weighed her down.

The cold air stung the wound in Julian’s chest and Mr. Punch howled.

“Don’t fret, Great Man of the Rocks,” Marjani whispered. “Marjani’s got ya.”

“How’d you know?” Mr. Punch groaned.

“I jus’ knew.” Marjani smiled.

“Where are you takin’ me?” Mr. Punch asked.

“To the Holy Mother.” Marjani said.

Meanwhile, as Robert, Adrienne and Cecil hurried from the waxworks toward Iolanthe’s house, Robert stopped short and clutched his head in his hands.

“What is it, old man?” Cecil asked, gently patting his brother on the back.

“I don’t know.” Robert wheezed.

“We don’t have a minute to spare!” Adrienne said frantically. “We’ve got to get to Iolanthe’s. God knows what she’s done with him.”

“He’s not there.” Robert said slowly.

“Of course he is!” Cecil argued. “Where else would Iolanthe and that other witch have gone? Especially after the humiliation she just suffered!”

“No.” Robert shook his head. “St. Louis.” He muttered. “Julian’s at the cathedral.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-154? If so, you can read them here.

Goal for the Day: Take the Time to Sing

Not all of us have beautiful singing voices. We’re not all opera stars. But, that shouldn’t prevent us from singing. Music fuels our minds and our souls and makes us feel more cheerful. I’m not the world’s greatest singer, but I often find myself humming or chirping out a song. Of course, I do this in the privacy of my own home with only Bertie to hear me. However, I find that it makes the day seem a little brighter.

So, today, when you’re driving home, sing along with the radio. Belt out a song in the shower. Even if you don’t know all the words, just enjoy yourself. The little pleasures we allow ourselves each day make the difference between a good day and a bad one.

Objects of the Day: A Pair of Bristol Glass Vases

Bristol glass proved to be an extremely versatile medium, providing beautiful, milky colors and the necessary strength to be shaped into a variety of sizes and shapes. While many antique Bristol glass creations are large in scale, I often myself drawn to the smaller examples such as this pair of late Victorian vases.

In the opaque-white color scheme which was extremely popular for the medium in the 1880’s, this pair of vases has a simple elegance. Gently, arcing from turned pedestals, they are adorned with delicate gold trim and a pattern of dots. Such objects would have been used as accents for more ornate pieces. Here, they are the perfect companions to more heavily painted lusters.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Precious Time: George III’s Astronomical Clock, 1765

Astronomical Clock
Made for King George III
Mahogany, Brass, Silver, Enamel
The Royal Collection
King George III had a keen passion for clocks, horology and science in general. Items such as this clock were infinitely attractive to him. This astronomical clock cost the then-astronomical sum of £1042. The cost was well worth it. The end result is a magnificent creation with a shining mahogany case, brass palm-frond columns and silver plaques with bas relief figures of the Royal lion and unicorn.

In June of 1765, this bracket clock was installed in Buckingham House (now Buckingham Palace), and George III was fascinated by it and its many functions. It features a complex quarter-striking movement which displays the time of day on the front clock face on a 24-hour dial with hands for mean and solar time. The central portion of the clock features a painted landscape which shows the passage of the sun across the sky as well as a small dial which records the time at thirty locations around the world. A dial at the top of the bracket records the date and month with the year being recorded to the left and the location of the planets on the right. A silver sphere at the reverse, shows the phases of the moon as well as high and low tide at thirty-two seaports across the world.

It’s an extremely complicated device, and frankly does as much as any modern creation, but in a much more elegant and attractive way.

Building of the Week: Highclere Castle, Hampshire, England

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle
Fans of ITV’s Downton Abbey (now playing in the U.S. on PBS’s Masterpiece Classic on Sunday nights) are aware that the true main character of the show is the house itself. Much of the program is filmed on location at Highclere Castle in the English county of Hampshire. In reality, the stately Elizabethan style estate is the country home of the Earl of Carnarvon.

The Carnarvon family has lived on that land (about 1000 acres) since 1679 though not in the house that stands today. The original house was a medieval palace built by the Bishops of Winchester. That structure gave way to a classical style mansion with very square, typically Georgian lines. A slideshow on Highclere’s Web site shows the transformation of the house. In the 1830’s the Georgian mansion was almost completely demolished to make way for a grander structure. None other than Sir Charles Barry—who had just completed his remodeling of the Houses of Parliament—undertook designing the mansion. Barry envisioned an “Elizabethan Style” castle, meaning that it combined Tudor sensibilities with the visual ideals of the Italian Renaissance. To make the house truly unique, Barry mixed his styles, adding a more pointed element to the arches so that they’d more closely resemble the ogival windows of Gothic architecture than they would the gentler curves of the Tudor.

The gardens are just as dramatic as the house itself. A massive gate, follies and winding, elaborate plantings form the park outside of the mansion. Much of the garden’s design still mimics the 1770’s-era work of Capability Brown.

The mansion’s interior features a grand assortment of staterooms which branch from a vaulted Great Hall. One of the main theatrical features of the mansion is its sweeping oak staircase—something that is brilliantly showcased in Downton Abbey. Highclere Castle is also the home to dozens of priceless paintings, sculptures and historical artifacts, including a library of over 5000 antique books. Presently, “The Antiquities Room” showcases a magnificent collection of Egyptian artifacts—some which were collected by the Carnarvon family and others which have been loaned to the castle for the exhibit.

The estate is open to the public and available for rental for events. It’s currently receiving a great deal of attention for its role in Downton Abbey—attention it so richly deserves. Highclere Castle is a gorgeous representation of Victorian grandeur.

Unusual Artifacts: Queen Charlotte’s Diamond-Studded Notebook

Notebook, Case and Pencil with
Cipher of Queen Charlotte, 1765
Tortoiseshell, Gold, Diamonds
The Royal Collection
Here’s another item that mysteriously disappeared from The Royal Collection only to reappear well over a century later in the hands of Queen Mary. That Mary of Teck—she was like a magnet for missing antiques.

This notebook was made circa 1765 for George III’s wife, Queen Charlotte. The notebook is bound in a rigid tortoiseshell cover with extremely elaborate gold mounts and Queen Charlotte’s crowned cipher set in high-quality diamonds.

Curiously, the paper in the notebook was never used. This was more of a showpiece than it was meant to actually be used as a notebook. The point on the matching pencil is just as it was in 1765—showing no signs of use.

Sculptures of the Day: A Pair of Italian Firedogs

Fire Dogs
Bronze, Circa 1580
The Royal Collection
Firedogs are devices (metal or ceramic) which are designed to hold logs above the level of the hearth so that air can circulate beneath the firewood, thereby allowing for a more even blaze. Firedogs have been used since about 2000 B.C., and were often also employed to hold skewered meats for cooking.

This pair of bronze firedogs dates from about 1580. Crafted in Italy, possibly by the Paduan sculptor Francesco Segala, they are dominated by two figures—one of Mars and one of Hercules. The bases beneath the figures show the coat of arms of the Venetian noble family for whom they were originally designed. Some scholars believe that the original owners were Venice’s Ghisi family. However, due to a similarity to another family’s coat of arms, they have also been attributed to the Riva family.

While the exact date they entered the Royal Collection is unknown, they were first recorded in the British Royal inventory in 1724.

Punch's Cousin, Chapter 154

The room in which Mr. Punch and Julian sat—that room made of the fibers of their collective thoughts and souls—grew dimmer. The silk hangings which had begun as a sunny yellow and which had turned to an icy blue, became a silvery gray. The gilt furnishings—those Rococo visions created in Julian’s mind—turned to pewter. Punch felt the very coolness of them press into his back. He looked around the room that only they could occupy.

“Master, it’s changing again—this place what you say I created for you.” Mr. Punch said nervously. “Getting’ darker, it is.”

“We don’t have much time, Mr. Punch.” Julian responded without emotion.

“I’m scared.” Punch answered.

“There’s no need to be.” Julian smiled.

“Surely, our chums will come for us. Robert--what’s always been so brave and kind to us and Cecil, and Adrienne. Surely, they ain’t gonna let us die on the floor in that sticky, wicked house.”

“Who’s to say?” Julian sighed.

“It can’t be.” Mr. Punch shook his head.

“You like Robert, don’t you?” Julian smiled.

“I do.” Mr. Punch nodded.

“You didn’t at first.” Julian said.

“Not at first.” Mr. Punch shrugged. “Maybe. Don’t like no one at first. You didn’t like him neither. That’s why I had to deal with him. Didn’t trust him, you didn’t.”

“Trust is a foreign concept to me.” Julian said quietly.

“Rightly so.” Mr. Punch nodded. “But, Robert showed that he could be trusted, he did.”

“Yes.” Julian agreed. “So did Adrienne and Cecil. We’re lucky.”

“We are—quite.” Julian smiled again. “I must thank you for allowing us to be so fortunate. Had it been up to me, I’d have shut myself off from them. I’d never have know what it meant to trust someone, to feel that warmth and joy. You afforded me that opportunity.”

“That’s why you got me, Master.” Mr. Punch said. He looked around, “Here, the room’s darker still. I feel cold.”

“Don’t let it bother you,” Julian shook his head. “There’s nothing to fear about coldness. I’m quite used to it.”

“Isn’t it better to be warm?” Mr. Punch asked.

“I suppose it is.” Julian said thoughtfully, “But, without one, you can’t have the other. I know that now.”

“I don’t care for the cold.” Mr. Punch gripped the arms of the chair in which he sat in Julian’s mind. They’d turned the color of ebony and the sight of it made Mr. Punch shiver.

“Why?” Julian asked. “Isn’t it funny? We share a body. We’re so close, yet, so distant. You know me, but there’s so much about you that I don’t know. Why don’t you like the cold, Mr. Punch?”

“It reminds me.” Mr. Punch grunted.

“Of what?” Julian asked. “Of what, Mr. Punch? I need to know. It’s time for me to know.”

“’Spose you’re right, Master.” Mr. Punch grumbled. He took a deep breath, and as be began to speak, the room flashed a bright orange, and the coldness that Punch felt was shocked away by a sharp, unbearable pain.

Punch yelped as he opened his eyes. Above him, the unfamiliar face of a woman stared down. Her dark skin was smooth and shone radiantly beneath a turban of orange, green and blue. She muttered words which were foreign to him and he howled.

“Quiet down, man.” The woman commanded. “I’m goin’ to help you.”

Punch’s eyes darted around. In the distance, he could see Iolanthe Evangeline, Arthur and Ulrika. Barbara Allen stood directly behind the woman in the turban.

“It’ll be all right, Julian.” Barbara whispered. “We’ve made a pact, Marie Laveau and I.”

Muffled, angry voices arose from the distance, and Punch became aware that the other three in the room were arguing—the loudest of them all was Ulrika Rittenhouse.

“Pay attention to only me,” Marie Laveau ordered.

Mr. Punch looked at her—his eyes clouding with pain.

“Do you hear me?” Marie asked.

“I do.” Punch croaked.

“What is your name?”

“Punch Molliner.” He answered.

“What is your name?” She repeated.

“I told you!” Punch groaned.

“His name is Julian, Duke of Fallbridge.” Barbara responded quickly.

“No, it isn’t.” Marie spat angrily. “That’s not the soul that I see before me. I can’t revive the life of a man that’s got two souls in him! I can only give my strength to one soul! Which will it be?”

Did you miss Chapters 1-153? If so, you can read them here.

Goal for the Day: Keep Life Simple

Do you ever feel as if you’re getting bogged down in trivial things? Every day brings new challenges, and sometimes it’s difficult to separate the important ones from the inconsequential ones. It’s up to you to keep life simple.

Each day, remind yourself what’s really important and dedicate yourself to accomplishing the tasks that really matter. Don’t allow yourself to be dragged into situations which will only damage you in the end. Don’t worry about the myriad silly distractions which pop up along the way. Focus on what’s important, and let the rest sort itself out.

Object of the Day: An Autograph from Arlene Francis

Though not a household name any more, Arlene Francis was a pioneer of early broadcasting, and the first woman to be entrusted with hosting a television program in the 1950’s. This remarkable woman was welcomed into American homes first as a radio personality, and, then as the host of her own TV show, Blind Date. She’s also fondly remembered as a panelist on the extremely urbane and sophisticated, What’s My Line?

Francis, also a Broadway and film star, was the epitome of elegance and intellect. Known for her wit, her beauty and her grace, Arlene Francis was a role model for many women in the 1950’s and 1960’s. This autographed photo of Arlene Francis dates to the late 1940’s following her marriage to actor/producer Martin Gabel. She’s wearing the iconic diamond heart pendant that was one of Gabel’s first gifts to her. She wore the pendant almost every day until it was snatched from her throat by a mugger in 1988.

Arlene Francis plowed a path for women in broadcasting. She should be remembered not only for her beauty and sophistication, but for her fearlessness.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Her Majesty’s Furniture: Queen Charlotte’s Reading Stand, 1780

Reading Stand
English, 1780
Created for Queen Charlotte
Tulipwood, Kingwood, Mahogany,
Ivory, Mother-of-Pearl, Tortoiseshell
The Royal Collection
It wouldn’t do to have the queen prop a book up on a pillow. This exquisite reading stand was made for and presented to Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, in 1780. The stand features two hinged panels of tulipwood and mahogany which are opened to reveal an ornately and masterfully inlaid panel which features the cipher of Queen Charlotte in mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell.

While we’re unsure of the maker, whoever he was knew Queen Charlotte’s tastes because this lovely object is a visual match to the other furnishings which the queen particularly favored.

Film of the Week: Notorious, 1946

Grant and Bergman
By, 1946, Alfred Hitchcock had made several films for David O. Selznick, and, every step of the way, had to answer to Selznick’s many demands. Selznick believed that he and he alone should be in charge of every picture made for his studio, and relished in writing stacks of memos in which he dictated everything from casting to costume choices. Similarly, Alfred Hitchcock felt that he (and he alone) was in charge of the pictures he was directing and bristled at even the slighted interference from anyone.

As Hitchcock toyed with the idea of making a picture about a female spy who was essentially sold into sexual slavery by her government (as well as the man she loved), he found himself increasingly bothered by Selznick who tried to control the director at every turn. Hitchcock was not so secretly relieved when failing finances and a distinct lack of interest in the project caused Selznick to sell the project to RKO for $800,000. Unfortunately for Hitchcock, it seems that didn’t mean that Selznick had any idea of not interfering. Selznick’s deal also gave him 50% of the picture’s potential profits. The despotic producer felt that that 50% entitled him to still have a say in the film even though it was being made at another studio. Selznick kept insisting that Hitchcock cast Joseph Cotten as the male lead beside Ingrid Bergman. They’d worked well together in Gaslight, after all. But, Hitchcock wasn’t willing to bend. He cast Cary Grant—his top choice all along, and gave us the first pairing of Grant and Bergman—a successful partnership that would continue for many years.

Rains, Grant and Bergman
Production on Notorious began in 1945 and wrapped in 1946. The story concerned a young woman (Ingrid Bergman) whose father was tied to Nazi Germany. She was pressed into service as a spy by an American agent (Cary Grant) with whom she’s fallen in love. Their relationship is complicated when, as part of her mission, she’s forced to marry the man on whom she’s spying (played with typical brilliance by Claude Rains). The cast is completed with Madame Konstantin—a German actress who was relatively unknown to American audiences—as Rain’s cruel mother.

Konstantin, Bergman and Rains
The relative freedom from Selznick allowed Hitchcock to continue to perfect the camera angles and trickery that became his hallmark. Dramatic zooming shots from staircases and dazzling close-ups define the visual style of the film which is at once suspenseful and romantic. Many—including Hitchcock’s daughter—consider Notorious his finest work.

If you’ve not seen it, you really should. It’s a visually and emotionally gripping film.

Humanitarian of the Week: Isabella Rossellini

The daughter of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini, Isabella Rossellini was exposed to a glamorous life at an early age. Yet, privilege and beauty has not prevented Miss Rossellini from being extremely down-to-earth and generous of spirit.

Throughout her career as an actress, model, business woman and writer, Miss Rossellini has always taken time to contribute to those causes in which she most believes. A board member of the Wildlife Conservation Network, Isabella Rossellini devotes her time and efforts to ensuring that animals and their natural habitats are protected so that they can continue to grow and thrive.

She is also the president and director of the Howard Gilman Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to the preservation of endangered animals, supporting the arts and humanities, and funding research in the battles against HIV and heart disease. Also interested in historic preservation, Isabella Rossellini has campaigned to protect historic structures in her part-time home of Bellport, Rhode Island, as well as the conservation of New York’s historic Central Park.

In addition, Miss Rossellini is a former trustee of the George Eastman House—the world’s oldest photography museum, and has worked to ensure the preservation of classic Hollywood films. Among her other interests are providing funding and support for the training of guide dogs for the blind, and assisting children in need through her work as a National Ambassador for UNICEF.

As one of the most glamorous women in the world, Miss Rossellini has proven that real beauty comes from the heart. For this reason, Isabella Rossellini is our “Humanitarian of the Week.”

The Belle Époque Today: The Art of Jane Bond, RP

Jane Bond
A member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, Jane Bond worked as a costume designer in opera, theater and television for twenty years before embarking on a career in portrait painting. Her previous work experience imbues her paintings with a monumental theatricality which is extremely appealing. Miss Bond said of her previous work as a costume designer, “This has probably influenced my enjoyment of textures, fabrics and lighting in my current work.”

Her appreciation for the drama of textiles is apparent. She often employs rich fabrics and heavily patterned rugs as backdrops in her portraits. Her use of props is equally theatrical. Her sitters hold objects which represent their personalities. Capturing her subjects’ personalities is essential to the artist. In fact, she spends time with each sitter before painting their portrait to see how they live, and, even, where in their home the portrait will hang. This preparatory work is evident in the finished products which perfectly capture the spirit of each subject.

Jane Bond

Punch's Cousin, Chapter 153

Just let him die, Barbara,” Ulrika Rittenhouse purred as Barbara Allen unbuttoned her brother’s jacket to see how badly he’d been injured.

Barbara scowled at her former employer. “How could you…”

“Easily, my dear,” Ulrika laughed.

Barbara tore a section of her petticoat off to press against the angry wound in her brother’s chest. She looked at her husband, “I knew you were capable of awful things, but to shoot your wife’s brother…”

“Pet, how many times have you conspired with me against him?” Arthur snorted. “Now, you’re full of reproach?”

“What I’d like to know,” Iolanthe interrupted, “is what the two of you are doing in my house!”

“What do you think?” Ulrika laughed. “I think it’s rather obvious, really.”

“You’ve lost control, Iolanthe.” Marie Laveau smiled. “I knew it would happen. You’d do well to return to me.”

“Isn’t this utterly delicious?” Ulrika cooed. “All of us together. The famous whore, the Voodoo priestess, and the heiress—all in one room, watching this Englishman bleed to death. It’s positively literary!”

“Do stop talking,” Iolanthe grunted.

“Oh, really, Iolanthe.” Ulrika sighed. “You’re not seriously going to act as if this isn’t something you didn’t want to do yourself. We don’t have to be enemies. I offered you a partnership, and I meant it. Once this little impediment…” she wiggled her finger at Julian’s body, “is gone, there’s nothing to prevent me from claiming the Fallbridge fortune as my own. I can share it with you. In exchange for something…”

“Is that why you’ve done this?” Barbara shouted. “Are you truly that mad?”

“Ah, my girl,” Marie Laveau laughed, “You have no idea of what true madness is.” Marie turned to Iolanthe and grinned. “You’ve been bested, Iolanthe. The whole of New Orleans is turning against you. This slip of a girl is a red-headed reminder that you done lost what power you ever had here. You’ve gotten greedy! Join me again. I’ll restore you to what you once were.”

“I’d rather die,” Iolanthe spat.

“I wouldn’t.” Barbara Allen rose.

“What?” Ulrika interrupted.

“I will join you, Marie.” Barbara said. “I’m strong and young. You don’t want Iolanthe. She’s getting old. You said yourself that her power is waning. Me—I have years left in me. And, I am capable of great things. I will do your work.”

“Quiet!” Iolanthe shouted. “You belong to me!”

“She belongs to me,” Arthur grunted.

“I belong to no one,” Barbara shook her head. “But, I can belong to you, Marie Laveau. I can be yours.”

“Tempting.” Marie grinned.

“All you have to do is save my brother,” Barbara nodded.

Meanwhile, despite the chaos around them, Mr. Punch and Julian sat quietly in the cerulean blue room in the ether inside Julian’s body—the room that they had created together inside their fortress of flesh and bone, the place where Julian rested, the place from which he watched as Mr. Punch lived for him.

“’S comfortable in here,” Mr. Punch sighed.

“It is.” Julian nodded.

“So, this is where you stay?” Mr. Punch asked.

“Most of the time,” Julian smiled. “You’ve allowed me this luxury. And, Mr. Punch, you’ve done so well. I’m proud of you.”

“You’re…” Mr. Punch gulped, “Proud of me?”

“Oh, very much.” Julian smiled. “Very proud, indeed. Don’t you see, Mr. Punch, you’ve rescued me. Time and time again. How often have you stepped in for me? How many times have you faced the world where I could not? For most of my life. You’ve been my voice, you’ve been my arms and my heart.”

“I failed, Master.” Mr. Punch said, swallowing hard.

“Have you?” Julian shook his head. “I don’t see that you have.”

“The Duchess.” Mr. Punch responded, his voice quavering. “I left her with the ogress. I left her and she died.”

“I want you to stop thinking that.” Julian said. “My mother chose to stay. We both know that nothing could have moved her. You didn’t cause her death. You must stop thinking it.”

“Can you forgive me?” Mr. Punch sobbed.

“Dear Punch, there’s nothing at all to forgive.” Julian smiled softly.

Mr. Punch wept. “But, I’ve failed in so many ways.”

“You’ve been nothing but triumphant! Look at all you’ve done!” Julian disagreed. “You’ve been more of a man, more of a success than I could ever have been alone.”

“Do you mean that?” Mr. Punch asked.

“You know that I do.” Julian nodded. “I have no secrets from you.”

“No.” Mr. Punch sighed. “You don’t.”

“But, you have secrets from me, don’t you?” Julian said softly.

“I do.” Mr. Punch answered quietly. “But, Master, I only kept the things from you what would hurt you. I done it to protect you.”

“I know.” Julian responded. “And, I do appreciate it. But, now…now, it’s time for us to share those secrets.”

“Why now?” Mr. Punch asked.

“Because our life is dimming.” Julian sighed. “We only have a short time. If we’re ever to be unified, now is the time to tell me all you know…”

Did you miss Chapters 1-152? If so, you can read them here.

Goal for the Day: Nod and Smile

“This is nice, but…” How often do you hear that? “But…” For some reason, a lot of people feel the need to complain about anything they can think of. Often, they begin their complaints with a half-hearted compliment before unleashing whatever it is that they feel they must express.

I’ve known a great deal of people who truly take enormous delight in complaining. I’m happy to say that I no longer have to deal with those people, but their memory lives on. Some people are never satisfied with anything. If they take pleasure in being dissatisfied, then, by golly, let them.

However, their dissatisfaction doesn’t have to mean that you have to be miserable, too. The best response is to just nod and smile. Arguing only fuels their unhappy fire. By politely dismissing them and going on about your business, you’ll both feel as though you’ve accomplished something.

Object of the Day: A Transitional Diamond Stickpin

As tastes changed from the Victorian to Edwardian eras, so did popular styles of jewelry. The more florid, curvilinear designs gave way to considerably more angular creations which relied on geometry and simplicity. This diamond stickpin, for example, dates to the late 1910’s. Here, we see a delicately decorated hexagon which has been set with a fine grill of gold. The cage-like inset has been so expertly crafted that it almost appears to be floating with no visible means of support. In the center of the grill, a diamond has been mounted. This, too, appears to hover magically over the gold-work.

By the 1920’s, jewelry began to rely more heavily on geometric designs. This stickpin shows the evolution of the jeweler’s art as sensibilities shifted from the more romantic to the bolder tastes of the jazz age.