Christmas at Dangly Dell

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Naked and Funny

Mr Pinkwick in trouble

Such a bustle there was at Dangly Dell that the casual observer, had he but had the chance to stop and observe the to-ings and the fro-ings, would have believed that old St Nicholas himself had descended upon the assembly gathered there, especially to add his own festive delights to the celebration of the season.


For Mr Pinkwick it was but the delight of delights to observe his dear friends Mr Dinkle, Mr Spottyass and Mr Buttman essaying a turn at the Lancers or the Quadrilles. For to amuse the ladies in this way was a particular joy of Mr Pinkwick, even though he himself, now turned forty, was far too venerable an old gentleman to partake of such amusement for his own pleasure. He turned his round and florid face, even rounder embonpoint and even more florid weskit towards his companion for the evening - the eternally cheerful Mr Dangle.


“Fine girls – very,” observed Mr Dangle.


“They are indeed, they are indeed,” observed Mr Pinkwick his rubicund face glowing with delight.


“Brought presents – expensive – very?” enquired Mr Dangle his voice laughing as he spoke.


“Indeed,” observed Mr Pickwick, for a gentleman such as he does not allow the yuletide festivities to pass without such expenditure upon gifts for the ladies as his expansive pocket book will permit.


“Presents – inventive – mechanical?” enquired Mr Dangle, for Mr Pinkwick’s predilection for the wonders by which modern science alleviate the lot of the feminine sex were well know to the assembled company.


“Indeed, indeed,” asserted Mr Pinkwick, “I have, with great solicitude, scoured the wonders on display at the Great Exhibition, to acquire for the young lady of the house, the latest in mechanical wonderment that modern science can produce.”


For Mr Pinkwick had indeed taken what was familiarly known, although he himself would never have used such an expression, as a shine to Miss Fanny Wideopen, the daughter of the house. She was so small, and so dainty that she resembled, in the mind of Mr Pinkwick, and he was blessed with one of the finest minds of the age, naught so much as one of those elves which the fairy tale tellers inform us inhabit the polar regions from whence St Nicholas himself departed each and every Christmas Eve.


“Mechanical – wonder – how?”


It is true perhaps that Mr Pinkwick, cognisant of the vicissitudes of the world as he was, ought to have kept his counsel in this wise, for it is well known that prescience of the nature of yuletide gifts is a certain cause of disharmony within a household; but such was his delight, nay bliss indeed, at the nature of the present which he had obtained that he could not but restrain himself from admitting to Mr Dangle the wonder of that which he had bought.


"It is," said Mr Pinkwick, his plethoric visage bursting with pride, "None other than Armstrong's Patented Mechanical Steam Poss-tub and Mangle."


"A mangle what!" The voice belonged to none other than Mr Dinkle, a gentleman known to be partial to the ladies in his spare time, of which he was certainly well provided, "Can't say that a mangle is a present that I would consider as suitable for one of the fairer sex. And with regard to the fairness of that sex. I would say that the company here assembled is as well provided with fairness of sex as any provision of fairness of sex that I have ever seen."


"You don't think so?" Mr Pinkwick was crestfallen to feel that Miss Wideopen would not be bowled over by the receipt of a mangle.


"My Dear Mr Pinkwick," interjected Mr Spottyass it is not upon poss-tubs and mangles that young ladies dote but upon frills and furbelows, buttons and bows."


"Is it indeed," scowled Mr Pinkwick somewhat distempered by this assertion, "and what are these frills and furbelows upon which young ladies are so inclined to dote?"


"My dear sir," said Mr Dinkle, "I am amazed that a gentleman of your experience needs but ask such a question. Upon continental nether garments sir!"


"Nether garments? And what pray are 'nether garments'?"


"They are garments that in this modern age, young ladies are wont to wear beneath their robes."


Mr Pinkwick was visibly shocked. For what reason would young ladies wish to wear garments beneath their robes? Was not that with which the good Lord had clothed them sufficient! The notion seemed to Mr Pinkwick almost blasphemous.


"And you Sir," he interjected twixt gritted teeth, "intend to give Miss Fanny a set of 'continental nether garments'?"


"I do indeed," said Mr Dinkle, whose knowledge of such things, it must be admitted, was based only upon that which he had read between the covers of 'The Gentleman's Magazine', a publication only available from certain specialist bookshops on the left bank of the River Seine.


"And with what pray," continued Mr Pinkwick, "would a young lady maintain the cleanliness of her frills and furbelows if not with the aid of Armstrong's Patented Mechanical Steam Poss-tub and Mangle?"


"With servants dear Sir, with servants," snorted Mr Dinkle contemptuously, but Mr Pinkwick merely snorted in return. Disparage Armstrong's Patented Mechanical Steam Poss-tub and Mangle indeed! Well they would see tomorrow. They would see indeed!"


"Mr Pinkwick!" The booming voice of Lady Wideopen boomed across the sumptuous drawing room, "How good of you to grace us with your delightful company this festive season. We have heard much of your exploits, and indeed your generosity..." This latter word said with much emphasis, "...of spirit," she added though with less emphasis, "in the writings of Mr Darles Chickens."


"It is not I," expostulated the generous soul, "who must take the credit. Much honour must also go to those members of the Pinkwick club who accompany me."


"And are they equally generous," added Lady Wideopen hopefully.


"Indeed they are Madame. Indeed they are."


It was the tradition at Dangly Dell that come Christmas day the faces of the guests would be lit with pleasure as replete with roasted goose, stuffing and plum pudding the guests gathered around the festive tree to open the various gifts that guests had brought.


Many 'oohs' and 'ahs' and 'My Dear Sir you shouldn't haves' echoed around the dining hall as the gentleman opened up their presents to reveal the pocket kerchiefs that they invariably bought each other; although the bright pink specimens proffered by Mr Buttman, a gentleman known by all to bat for the Men of Kent, were considered a bit too French by Mr Pinkwick.


Miss Fanny Wideopen picked up the parcel from Mr Dinkle, beautifully wrapped in brown paper with a large red ribbon.


"My dear Mr Dinkle," she said, mindful of the great generosity attributed by all to this lover of those of the feminine persuasion, "how very kind of you."


She opened up the parcel and extracted two strange garments. She held up the first. It resembled nothing so much as the metal breast plate worn by knights errant in days of yore.


"Ah," said Mr Dinkle, "the best example of ladies continental nether garments money can buy."


"What pray, is it?" Miss Fanny did not look best pleased.


"It is Herr Titsling's patented bust support!" expostulated Mr Dinkle, "It is all the rage on the continent."


"Is it indeed," Miss Fanny dropped the garment and picked up what appeared to be a large pair of comic breeches.


Mr Dinkle smiled, "A pair of Frau Knickerbocker's underpantaloons," he explained, “No lady on the continent would be seen without them."


"This Sir," said Miss Fanny icily, "Is England."


Mr Dinkle looked crestfallen. He had been so sure that continental underwear would be the way to the heart of a lady.


"Here," said Mr Spottyass, "is my gift for Miss Fanny," and he produced a large box neatly wrapped in scarlet crepe paper.


Miss Fanny opened it excitedly. Inside was a straw bonnet bedecked with those very frills and furbelows that Mr Spottyass had asserted would be the delight of every young lady.


"Why Mr Spottyass!" exclaimed Miss Fanny, "tis the most beautiful thing I have ever seen."


Indeed Miss Fanny was wont to don that very garment that very instant, and would indeed have done so were it not for the interjection of her mother.


"Mr Pinkwick," interjected Lady Wideopen, "Perhaps you have a small gift for Miss Fanny."


"Indeed I do," Mr Pinkwick, gloating at the failure of continental underpantaloons to have captured the heart of Miss Fanny. He, having spent the morning falling through the ice in the pond, being pelted by snowballs and being mistaken for Mr Frostie the Snowman, spoke unclearly, for his nose was blocked as a result of his sundry adventures.


"It is at this moment being fired up by my colleague Mr Dangle in the courtyard of this very house!"


"Fired up!" Lady Wideopen looked aghast, "is it then some kind of rocket."


"Indeed not," said Mr Pinkwick, "although, like the locomotive of that name, it is indeed powered by steam."


"Let us then," announced Lady Wideopen, "proceed to the courtyard to observe this strange phenomenon."


In the courtyard the assembled party were witness to an extraordinary sight.


Mr Dangle, ably assisted by two underfootmen and an under-undergardener had fired up the boiler and Armstrong's Patented Steam Poss-tub and Mangle was ready to go.


"Extraordinary machine - very," said Mr Dangle.


"Mr Pinkwick," can you please explain this contraption," Lady Wideopen looked intrigued.


"This Ma'am," said Mr Pinkwick, "is a patented mechanical poss-tub and mangle. You place the clothes to be possed here," he indicated a large chute, "They descend into this tub here where the mechanical posser cleans them, they are then raised to the washboard here where they are soundly beaten by this mechanical clothes beater before being fed through the mangle and... Well mangled!"


"Let us then have a demonstration of its effectiveness. Do we have a garment suitable for possing and mangling."


"The apparel I received this morning," announced Miss Fanny, who perhaps was neither best enamoured of Fraulein Knickerbocker's underpantaloons nor of Herr Titsling's bust support, "James, be so good as to toss it down the chute!"


James, a lad sadly possessed of neither that beauty with which the dullard oft is blessed, nor indeed of the wit with which the he who is plain of visage is well endowed, took hold of Miss Fanny's furbelow bedizened bonnet and tossed it gaily down the chute.


Miss Fanny, horrified at the mangled fate awaiting her new-won bonnet, let out a shriek and leapt into the poss tub just as the bonnet was about to enter into the mouth of the steam powered mangle. Grasping vainly at the disappearing furbelows the sleeve of her muslin dress, an article of clothing cut so daringly short that her ankle could nigh on be glimpsed, caught in the fast rotating drums of the contraption and Miss Fanny was dragged ineluctably toward its gaping maw.


"Help!" shrieked the unfortunate maiden, and few and far between were the ungallant gentlemen who did not rush to her rescue, led of course by the rotund corpus of the redoubtable Mr Pinkwick.


So it was that Miss Fanny was saved from the mangle, otherwise however was the fate of her muslin dress which the inexorable power of steam pulled through the remorseless rollers ripping it clean off the body of the unfortunate Fanny.


Oh! With how much regret did Miss Fanny regret having eschewed the inventions of Herr Titsling and Fraulein Knickerbocker, for she wore beneath her muslin dress not a single item of clothing with which to disguise her maidenly charms. Furthermore, her discomfiture was enhanced by the fact that her arms were entrapped within the sleeves of her muslin dress so that she was inevitably to be pulled through the mangle dressed only in that with which nature had clothed her.


"Help!" It was a word which encapsulated all the feelings that a young lady paraded as naked as a painting by Leighton and about to be mangled could convey.


Mr Pinkwick, feeling himself the architect of this disaster was the first to react. Blaming Mr Dangle he fell upon him, ejaculating with some gusto.


"Stop the machine you blaggard!" he yelled, a vituperation which the assembled company had never heretofore heard emanate from the lips of the ebullient gentleman.


"Stop - machine - how?" asked Mr Dangle.


"This lever," yelled Mr Pinkwick.




But it was too late! Mr Pinkwick had activated Armstrong's patented clothes beater. The clothes beater, an instrument of traditional wicker design, descended rapidly and was applied, not as intended to some recalcitrant piece of clothing, but to the bare posterior of Miss Fanny, who, bent over the poss tub in a position which presented her posterior in a position ideal to be bear the blows of the clothes beater, arms held tight by the mangle, was unable to protect herself.


"Help," and then again, "Ow!" cried Miss Fanny again, but in a less dignified fashion; and then as, with each successive stroke of the clothes beater, the redness of her posterior approached that of her face, "can't someone stop the phukking thing."


(Miss Fanny having had a classical education believed the word to be a Greek expletive)


For the first occasion in his short but interesting life Mr Dangle looked nonplussed.


"Stop it - can't" he said.


Mr Pinkwick, as was his wont at all times of alarm and despondency, took charge.


"Would you be so kind as to pass me the manual of instructions," he enquired, maintaining as always that polite and dignified composure of which his renown was so renowned, of Mr Dangle.


He took the pamphlet and, as the yelps of Miss Fanny occasioned by the increasing redness of her posterior resounded in his ears, looked aghast at the pamphlet.


"This could be in Chinese for all the sense I can make of it," he ejaculated again.


Mr Dinkle, who had already ejaculated, grabbed the pamphlet.


"My dear Sir," he said, "It is in Chinese. It appears that the instrument was constructed for the export market."


"In that case," continued Mr Pinkwick, who had now completed his ejaculations, "there is nothing for it. We must drown our sorrows with mince pies and port wine!"


"Hear hear!" chorused the members of the Pinkwick Club and repaired to those haunts where cakes and ale abounded and the cries of Miss Fanny could no longer be heard.


For, as Mr Pinkwick, whose capacity for seeing in all clouds a lining of silver, admitted, the machine must run out of coal at some point.

Submitted: April 30, 2020

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