Jeeves in the Offing

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I’ve noticed a lot of people down on this novel because of a lack of Jeeves, I guess I’ll find out if there is truly a lack of humor, as well.

Bertie begins with breakies with his ole juvie chum, Reggie “Kipper” Herring, Jeeves serving, and Bertie grabbing the phone when ear-balling it. His aunt Dahlia was calling, apparently in London to meet Roderick Glossop, Bertie at first surprised until being told it was for a free meal, and she was picking up her replacement butler whilst Seppings was on vacay. Bertie then relates of Jeeves also going off for R&R the same morning, so Dahlia invites him to Brinkley, this making Jeeves’ departure more palatable, Anatole’s cooking to fortify him. Dahlia already had 5 other guests, Unc. Tom off to be a buddy to an American called Cream, wanting to do some business, which’d save him income tax…

Anywho, Dahlia was keeping Willie and Adela, the man’s son and wife, Bertie thinking the son sounded familiar. Upon hearing Bobbie Wickham was also in stock startled him a tad, a pretty girl, but whilst Bertie’d offered his hand for once, she blessedly refused, and he not wanting to get into why o-t-p. Bobbie apparently was too much of a fireball, which made Bertie wonder what this visit could throw at him. Dahlia throws Aubrey Upjohn at him along with his step-kid, Phyllis, Bertie knowing Upjohn to be the sort one wished not to meet again, as Kipper had warned him years ago, but he insisting on tagging with her god-child, Phyllis. Dahlia planned to use him to give prizes at the local grammar school, she bidding him farewell soon after. (I’ve already come across a short-pip of an entertaining conversation with Dahlia which begins the delightfulness for me, so lets see if it continues!)

Bertie absorbs all the pills to come, returning to Kipper to catch him up, they on Upjohn for a bit, and Kipper meeting Phyllis, a “goofy” girl. After Bertie requires Jeeves to pack for him, Kipper is quietly giggling with jam and toast-filled mouth about how envious he was of Bertie being able to see Upjohn’s face when he read a review of his work, having written about the same school the 2 had been punished to go with Upjohn and eat his crap meals, Kipper having the opp. to review his work and not sparing his feelings Before Jeeves leaves, Bertie was reminded of whom Willie was, his name popular in NY for making scenes in clubs, like a college frat. Jeeves biffs off, and Bertie considers canceling, 3 problem kids too much for the Bertie constitution, but Ana’s food reviving his resolve, even if his hand did shake whilst lighting a ciggy. He’s then disturbed by the phone, Bobbie’s ma on the line, bawling, and asking if it was true what she’d reading the Times, Bertie confused, but then Ma Wickham laughing unstably and making a large thump, her butler coming on to announce her passing out and ending the call. Bertie grabs the copy Jeeves subscribed him to and searches, locating the offensive material in the Engagements column, seeing his name was a part of the same sentence as Bobbie.

Bertie was definitely at a loss for when he’d gotten Bobbie to agree to marry him, so when he arrives at Brinkley next day at noon, he was quite ready to hear more from his affianced. Since no tea was being had outside, he decides to take a wander in the sun, first hearing poetreh being read, then getting greeted by yappy dachshund, Bertie deducing he’d rooted out Willie and Phyllis, she seeming like the type to baby speak, which she did in regards to her pup and Kipper when she received Bertie relaying his best, WIllie impatient for a departing Bertie, so asks if there was someone in particular he was after, not caring where he left as long as he’d done so, but Phyllis providing Bobbie’s location, so Willie offering direct instructions to the lake, Bertie ready to give the boy a lashing of words, but refrains for the auntie, off and view hallooing Bobbie fishing on the pier in no time, she ready for Bertie’s puzzlement and confessing it was a part of a plan to make Reggie sound wonderful.

Apparently, she wanted her ma to be ready for her “real” marriage wants to Kipper. All this takes them til 5 pm, Bobbie guest-hosting for Dahlia, since her son, Bonzo was sick at school, she off like a flash, and Bertie left to wonder how it was Kipper whom’d tamed her wild heart, his boi not a looker by any means, what with his boxing leftover injuries. He considers how she must’ve actually looked deeper, since Kipper was a golden-spirited fella, she usually after the high society sportos. So, Bertie was plodding his way back when he quite unexpectedly body checks Upjohn, the 2 awkwardly close and practically dancing to stay upright. Bertie calls him out and Upjohn required a reminder of whom he’d partnered with a mo. ago, he uncaring and the 2 walking to tea, the only other attendees, being Bobbie and Glossop dressed and acting like a butler.

Bertie begins by stating normally he’d be well-nerved, but everyone’s got their leak, and mental doc’s wearing butler gear was the one. Bertie jumps like a bean and throws his tea upon Upjohn’s trou, he refraining from cussing, but Bertie able to fill in the blanks with the dirty look given. He then shares with Bobbie how much of a klutz Bertie’d always been, Upjohn getting an apology of which he didn’t accept, since his white flannel most likely were stained forever. Bobbie takes a crack at Bertie which leads to him instead countering with his q about Glossop, she gathering her thoughts on how to explain why he’d wished to do this taking as long as it took Bertie to gobble a cake. She starts with Upjohn wanting Phyl to marry Willie, and she obliging for being dedicated to him. Dahlia didn’t wish for this though, believing him a “screwball”, she inviting Glossop to watch for signs of nuts. Bobbie wants to help Dahlia, so suggests Glossop, Dahlia then having proof if crazy, this allowing Willie to get closer to mental health and away from marrying Phyl. This all takes place under “buttling” cover to save Ma Cream’s feelings. So, when Bertie mentions how he’d found Willie and Phyl lounging with poetry, Bobbie mistakes haste to share of Bertie’s purpose of staying was to make sure Willie didn’t get the chance to propose, Bertie disliking this role, but must swallow for dear ole Dahlia.

Bertie could detect at a “g.”-lance upon his arrival, of Willie regarding him as a “buttinki”, but when Phyl learns she’s late, hops to it. Bertie and she finds Bobbie alone, she relating Upjohn’s plan to go to London, Phyl checking if he’d left yet, and Bobbie deducing Upjohn had most likely read Kipper’s article. As they’re chatting, Ma Cream turns up, she having wrote a chapter and felt breaky time was due. Bertie gives stellar desc. of she looking like Sherlock Holmes (pff, haha!) Bobbie throwing Bertie under the bus by confessing Bertie’s fandom and he killing time for an answer, when Bobbie receives message, most likely from mama. Glossop has delivered it, and as retreating, Ma Cream mentions her suspicion of the man not actually being actual staff, the worry upon Bertie, so he speaks on Glossop’s behalf, Bobbie rallying round, as well. Ma Cream isn’t buying though, she reminding of Unc. Tom’s silver collection, Bertie harking to when he’d stolen the cow creamer for him, then mentioning the gem was in the (Ganymede?) “archives”. Then, when Bertie declares wishing to leave, Bobbie states requiring to see her ma and some host-like structure must be present til Dahlia is come. Bertie then gets Dahlia’s addy off her, so he could update the aged r.

Bertie wasn’t feeling Jeeves’ advice regarding seeing a situation brighter upon new day, it darker, and Willie seeming more hostile every time he runs into Bertie. So, when Phyl announces going off to type papa’s speech, Willie walks the pup, and Bertie grabs one of Ma Cream’s novels, lifted from Dahlia’s library, and is lulled into nap by 2nd chapter. Fortunately, upon waking, is required at the phone, Dahlia calling. She updates on Bonzo’s health, and in return Bertie reveals Ma Cream’s paranoia, Dahlia unconcerned, but not okay with Bertie possibly requiring to defend himself against Willie if Bertie’s presence constantly around him gets his gander, so when suggesting Kipper come tag Bertie out, everyone’d be covered and Unc. Tom’s deal wouldn’t be put in danger. Dahlia giving her blessing to write him on her behalf, Bertie heading toward relief and upon ringing for a shot, gets Glossop. The man doesn’t seem upset with him though, instead confirming Bertie knew the reason for his presence and job title, also divulging not having decided the state of the young man. In any case, he gets to the point of the ring and Bertie embarrassedly puts in his order, Glossop obliging and also returning with a letter from Jeeves regarding WIllie, he sharing with Glossop, which has them haster to the Unc’s collection room, cow creamer the missing link.

Glossop acts bowled over by the realization, Bobbie coming in and overhearing, she brings up Glossop now having a reason for Willie being a nutter. Bobbie discovers the snowball of a scheme she creates with Bertie unshaken by her decision he would look in Willie’s room, Bertie stalking away with what he believed was ice-cold. Upon noting the loveliness of the day and being too chivalrous, since inside readying to snoop, he surprises and is surprised by a maid inside talking of mice being about, the cat she’d brought to catch them being noticed to sleepy state, and Bertie getting the room to himself. He aims straight for the armoire, and as he’s reaching atop it after climbing a chair, hears Bobbie, quite close, asking status, he so overcome, sits upon a chair, and when senses return, Bobbie’d biffed, and Ma Cream comes in, Bertie using the mice excuse and being passive-aggressively made to exit.

Bertie locates Bobbie in his chair with his Cream book outside, she offerring to help him this time by warning of anyone outside by singing, which then gave him a chance to go out the balcony and shimmy down a water pipe, a specialty of Bertie’s, making him more comfy, and not wanting to have his Unc. Tom upset. They go back, and Bertie gets caught again by Ma Cream, he leaving with the advice to sleep, what with his mouse hunt obsession getting persistent. Upon detecting Bobbie at her car, she explains of her ma calling to bad mouth him, and she going off to have a detailed chat with her, now. So, Bertie returns to his book and falls asleep for a couple hours, when waking, sends the telegram for Kipper, and he then seeing him through the front door, getting out from his car.

Bertie greets him with confusion and upon seeing the wrought look upon his face, he relates having seen the engagements column, Bertie allowing Kipper to stay hooked before bringing him in to the fold, the chap not wanting to lose their old buddy-hood, and then cursing Bobbie, name-calling style. Finally, after he suggests he’d propose to Phyl, Bertie lays out his hand, Kipper well impressed with his chick, and getting better news of invitation to dinner and staying awhile, he at first worrying he’d be asked to pull a Gussie and hand prizes out, he quite willing to be the puncher, if WIllie deemed it necessary. Once cleaning up a bit, he’d be ready to keep the lovebirds apart, thinking of Anatole’s goodness.

Bertie rang for Glossop, since he didn’t know which rooms were free, “conspiratorial” looks getting thrown around merrily between the 2, and Bertie having a talk with him later, upon meeting in “his” pantry, he’s praising Glossop’s style and again unshockingly learns Bobbie’d been behind his name. After, he updates him of what’d taken place, receiving criticism on his excuse and Glossop unprepared to supply a better one, the man going forward with how perhaps Bertie was right to try and decline this task, believing now, himself a better choice. Bertie comes round when Glossop muses on stealing biscuits in his school, Bertie also having the feels of brohood.

The 2 then compare the types which they preferred and what was available to them upon nicking some, Bertie the one one to have been caught a single time. He wishes Glossop well on his hunt, then goes to replace Ma Cream’s book back, but instead decides to read a bit more before din din, interrupted by a parroting Kipper until Glossop comes in with drinks, relating of bad tidings. Bertie then listens to what Kipper’d sent by letter to Bobbie before knowing about her plan, and whilst he’d spoken with her in order to keep her from opening it, she does anyways, and gives him a good ole fashioned girl-talk whipping, she now after Bertie and he deciding Jeeves was needed on the case, off to Herne Bay. He doesn’t catch him and leaves a message for a return call, getting it at the Drones, and once finished, Jeeves stating he’d drop all to come to Brinkley and assist. They plan to meet at his apartment and drive up together, Bertie conversing about Poppet the dog’s temperament, and Jeeves confirming he hadn’t come up with a plan, yet, soon spotting Bobbie’s vehicle outside an inn, he deciding to sweetly chat t’were in order Jeeves waiting outside with his Spinoza.

Bobbie is surprised, but listens as Bertie is led to his point, taking a gentle path, so as not to anger her. When he’d finished, she shocks him with an empathetic response, she saying she hadn’t actually meant what she’d berated Kipper with, and was only feeling this for a handful of minutes, Bertie being sure to get the clearest answer, the 2 then moving to how Kipper’d been like every other boy as a youth and their time in Upjohn’s reign. After this Bertie walks her out and he returns to Jeeves in much higher spirits, he relating the now single issue of Willie and cow creamer. Bertie’s parking of his car reveals his Aunt’s return, as well, upon greeting updating her on why he’d picked up Jeeves being useless, now and the story of Bobbie and Kipper. When Bertie asks where Kipper was off hiding, Dahlia confides he was performing his duty, Willie and Phyl. out, so he with them. Bertie then mentions Willie’s thievery compulsion, Dahlia confessing she knew about the cow creamer, since Tom’d sold it to him.

Bertie is quite gutted with the thought of how much he’d gone through all for it to be unnecessary, Dahlia thoroughly amused. Bobbie then arrives, not looking chipper to Bertie, a hooded look about the eyes, she wanting to read Ma Cream’s book, Dahlia consenting heartily. Upon Bertie referring to Kipper, she says something so puzzling to them both, it takes a couple sentences to realize the tide had changed, Bertie considering ringing Jeeves and instead wants to locate Kipper, he making it easy and showing up. Bertie and Dahlia have him share the deets, he hedging a little, til letting out with getting engaged to Phyl, but this non-bindingly discussed between them and solely to turn off the Cream, Bobbie coming by as he locked lips with her to make it look authentic. Bobbie was letting Kipper have it agian out of range for Phyl to hear, she not having appreciated the buddiness between them at a previous holiday, Dahlia about to share her opinion when Phyl pops up to join them.

She informs Dahlia of Step-Pop’s call and he’d be back in the evening, he having been seeing his attorney about suing Kipper’s job for their article. This gives ole Kipper a shock, what comes next being a convo filled with the book Upjohn wrote being themed “preparatory schools” and this being repeated by dear, simple Phyl like it explained it all, she then off to fee her puppers, Poppet. After clarifying why Kipper was acting so torn up to Dahlia, she goes off in search of a copy of the article for curiosity, Bertie not understanding this, but distracted by how screwed Kipper was if Upjohn’s suit won and how his career’d be over. Bobbie comes back in stating she’d picked the wrong novel, and when seeing Kipper freezes, Bertie describing it hilariously. Not knowing why, of everything, Lot’s wife’d get turnt to salt.

Bobbie was speaking with stank when interrupted by a haunted moan from Kipper, upon viewing his stricken f., bounded at him like a wild cat to her cub, and inquires what ailed him, with concern. She briefly accuses Bertie of woe-ing her boo, he denying, then Aunt Dahlia returning with results, quoting the entirety, which Bertie delighted in, but Dahlia knowing it to be a brutal account of Upjohn’s book. The conclusion of the article is detailed, but the last sentence Kipper denies writing. Bobbie soon confesses she’d done it, thinking he’d meant to keep it, and she liking the statement of the kind of pig turnt to sausages every Sunday.

Bobbie apologises profusely, Kipper taking it quite well, esp. after Bertie refrains to correct Kipper’s earlier words of he being known as trubs at any future companies. Bobbie then suggests upon Upjohn’s return, he’d be able to charisma-tize him, Kipper deciding a drink t’were the ticket, everyone seal-yelping at Glossop in his pantry, Kipper taking some me-time, Glossop gaining interest of the young man, and learning of Bobbie, Bertie, and his friendship/engagement, Bobbie getting annoyed and bowing out, as well, Glossop speaking with Bertie about noting Kipper’s “neurosis”, and Bertie explaining the reason being a good’n. But, upon stating their posish was stuck, Glossop relates a story which he believed put Bertie’s theory out.

Glossop describing a young couple at first not being consented to marry, until after the boy’d saved his girl’s pop. Glossop states how this was simply an extra idea, but Bertie gives him mad props, definitely spreading the word, he later remembering he forgot to update Gloss. on Willie’s purchase, then not caring to complete his mish. He first goes to spring the noggins of both Bobbie and Kipper’s bowed heads. They q Bertie on how he’d come across the plan, Kipper wondering the strangeness of Swordfish, Bertie maintaining his normalness as a butler.

Bertie was let down by Jeeves take on Gloss.’s plan, he at first thinking it Bobbie’s, Bertie making a date as to get the full Jeeves reasoning, inviting him to watch it go down in a few mins. Bertie still gets the gist of Jeeves’ not liking it for sensing failure, and lack of grace, Bertie becoming defensive and thinking Jeeves jelly. Kipper’d already had courage failure when seeing Upjohn’s shaved upper lip, this a trauma ages old. Bertie sees Upjohn first, he still early, since Bobbie wasn’t with him, yet. Bertie muses how comfy Upjohn’d be upon hitting the cool water, since the day was tropical, he soon interrupted by a sad-looking Willie (Haha!) and Poppet, Bertie hoped would biff off soonish for his part he must soon play. Willie was chatting of Ma Cream telling him about Bertie’s mice obsession, he keeping it cool, Willie coming to the part where his cow creamer’d gone missing, and Bertie thrumming a bit, but still chill, alas-ing not catching the Gloss. in time.

Bertie is smoking the most “nonchalant”-making ciggy, advising Willie he needn’t bother informing his Aunt, since items like these show up again, Upjohn and Bobbie coming by, and Bertie noting to definitely have Gloss stick the gem back. Upjohn currently was in a mood, Bobbie having brought him to see a big fish in the lake, Bertie confirming this, and Upjohn wanting to be near the phone for his attorney’s call. When Upjohn tells of wishing he’d stay’d in, he begins to retreat, but stays a mo. more at their request, Bobbie saying her line, but Phyl then announcing Upjohn’s lawyer was waiting. He biffs off quick, Phyl carrying, Augustus the cat for Poppet to meet. The pup acts excited as Augustus snoozes at Phyl’s feet, and when the pup approaches and gets spat at, he flies at Bertie, and the 2 go into the lake, Kipper grabbing Bertie and at first thinking him Upjohn, whilst Willie’d saved Poppet. Bertie relates how shit had gotten complicated.

Bertie, Kipper, and Bobbie arrive back looking wet to he gills, Dahlia making note and attesting to Willie having looked similar, Bertie changes costume quickly and is met by Kipper and Bobbie after, they not looking as broken as they should, and being told of Dahlia’s new/old plan to have Bertie berate insults at Upjohn, so Kipper can defend him, then allow the 2 speak of his suit against his job. Bertie couldn’t decline due to the Wooster code, but he did walk off silently, going to his rarely visited Unc. Tom’s room of silver. He greets Upjohn reading one of Ma Cream’s novels, Bertie overcome by Upjohn’s looks and the room reminding him of Upjohn’s office from years ago at school. Bertie notes Upjohn wanted him to leave, but he stays strong and is interrupted by Phyl after mentioning Kipper. This has Bertie leaving out the French windows and being met by Bobbie giving him shit for not getting to his part quickly enough, and now must reconnoiter. Bertie sees Dahlia again, she updating Phyl’s status of engagem. to Willie.

Bertie properly empathised with Dahlia as she describes the mo. Phyl’d been taken in being with Willie getting her puppers out of water. Dahlia laments how she now hadn’t been able to keep her promise to Phyl’s ma, and once learning Upjohn’s close quarters, bellows for him, he turns up, and Dahlia lets him have it with her righteous anger. Upjohn takes her abuse up to a point, but then clarifies which Cream bro she was attached to being the prof of romance lit, this being Wilfred and not Wilbert, the playboy, he then shooting off after hearing the phone.

Dahlia blasts off with her dislike of how both bros shared the same nickname, Bertie again mentioning she chuck Upjohn, the idiot out, after she’s noted not having invited him in the first. He comes back in looking much less smug, attempting to get words out. Apparently his lawyer’d rustled up Kipper’s identity and stated how it was either he or Kipper whom’d leave Dahlia’s party, so Dahlia again is given opp. to give him shade, Bertie being tasked with giving hima  ride and Jeeves, filling in for Glossop’s day off, would pack his bags.

Bertie gets Upjohn to the inn, and worries whether Dahlia had calmed. He learns she’d gone to her room for deep breathing of cologne, Bobbie in happiness over Jeeves having taken Upjohn’s speech, this ofc somehow keeping him from suing Kipper’s job. Apparently the idea was, he’d be unable to make his speech and he’d be willing to trade. Bobbie designates Bertie to the task just in time for the call, Bertie losing his nerve when hearing his voice. He goes through much yes and no-ing Mr. Upjohn until Bobbie takes the phone, lays on some honeying foundation to Bertie’s irritating nature. She shows his posish and he relents to her delight, Bertie discussing being in awe of the females with Jeeves.

Ma Cream comes in to tell Bertie of her suspicion of Gloss’d been confirmed, Berite sitting to hear the long tale. She gets to the bit of messaging lady Gloss about their employment of Swordfish, she not knowing the name, proving Ma Cream’s point, but Bertie throwing doubt upon wifey’s ability to remember the helps names, Ma Cream not ending there, but mentioning Swordfish currently in possession of Willie’s cow creamer. She also states of having rung for the cops and expected them soon, and would stand outside the door so no one could mess about inside. Bertie tells Dahlia and Bobbie when they come in, Dahlia bidding he head off Gloss’s return whilst Bobbie’d retrieve Jeeves.

Bertie looks for as long as his tummy’d allow, returning two apprise Bobbie, she updating he’d return’d long ago. Not only this, but also Jeeves figured it all out by having Gloss state his business, and then Ma Cream corroborates with her suspicions of Berite, Jeeves continually reminding this embarrassing status was only known to those at Brinkley, offerring him a drink. Upon reminding him, he takes the hit for his Uncle Tom’s happiness, Berite forgiving his rep again being sacrificed.

Bloody wonderful, I’m going to miss them once I’m finished. Continual reading in my future!

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Cucumber Quest (Vol. 3 Webcomic)

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The shortest one, yet; To pg. 519. 

So, Cuco interrupts the ghosts turning the castle into an easy lounge spot, since Legato wasn’t around. They also confide about how this Legato isn’t the REAL dude, he coming back to announce it was time to begin the show. Legato reveals to being Panpipe, in actuality and he gets his apology from the guy whom has been taunting him since school, both apologizing and moving forward. Cuco and co. find Noisemaster, Almond attempting to rationalize how tired he must be after going through this 99 times, but Noisemaster isn’t wearied and Nautilus had forgotten another important tidbit about how Noisemaster had a partner, Mutemaster, but this all being for nothing since it seems Noisemaster wins with a bomb, but he yields to them like they’d won, turning back into their Disaster stones, then the Oracle admits to helping them, for some ass backwards reason, she taking them all back to her H.Q,

Princess Parfait gives Tomato a fools errand by finding her necklace which she claimed she’d lost, then attempting escape, only to be found by Double Night and she talking to him about her concerns to the point of forgetting whom she’d been baring her soul to, he leaving her after she’d almost requested he deliver a love letter to Carrot for her. As the quartet get ready to leave, Nautilus is gifted with a cell upgrade for Liquus and then Cosmo almost fucks with them, but he de-pixelates and then they realize they’re progressing speedily toward the sun, Nautilus deciding it was a good time to try out her useless spell of ordering pizza when no one else wants it. They float away with delivered pizza, somehow.

A short little story which hopefully I’m following properly, but either way I’ll be going through the whole series, so it doesn’t truly matter since it’s so on point. Continuing on!

The Return of Jeeves

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Another humorous choice in the Jeeves collection, which was originally titled, “Ring for Jeeves”, but at no point do they actually ring for him, and this story contains no Bertie Wooster other than by honorable mention from his peers and Jeeves.

A waiter begins sharing with a lady American customer the news of a horse winning in the Oaks, sometimes following/preceding the Derby. This woman happens to be dripping riches, Rosalinda Banks, adept at free verse “vers libre”, had married and been widowed trice, this how she’d acquired her savings. As shed continued reading her mystic spiritualistic book, the waiter had returned with he refill and chatter about the winning horse still. Next, she’s shocked by the presence of one of her deceased hubbies friends, Biggar, he the type to be found in safari settings.

As they caught up, she informs of her meeting with Sir Roderick for the possible selling of his property, Rowcester Abbey, whilst it’s also learned Biggar was h.o.h. for Rosalinda. Biggar reminisces upon his first meeting with her, and references Simba the lion! When he returns to himself, he clarifies of being on the chase for a bookie and was waiting on a car repair. He was quite adamant to catching the bloody thief for his pay out, but then turns the subject back to her before he got too graphic, she expounding on her psychic ouija board interests, he being magnanimous to her comfort and dotingness. She insists she must continue her journey to Rowcester soon after and he stiffens the upper lip and focuses on his car.

“Roaster” phonetically, Abbey was being surveyed by Moke (Monica), Bill Roaster’s sis and her hubby, Rory, he deciding the place looked worse since their last visit. When she reveals the plan to attempt selling the property, he’s dubious of it’s interest level. Whilst the 2 make snarky remarks at each other, Rory also learns no one is about to answer the bell, Moke relating the bells hadn’t worked for many a year, but the door would allow them in nicely. Moke, upon reminiscing in the living room, is discovered by Jill, coming in by the window from the garden.

Jill was small, slightly freckled, and athletic, she catching up with Moke on her abrupt appearance being caused by low fundage. When Rory comes in, he doesn’t recognize Jill, since he’d last seen her at pubescence and she’d filled out since then, everyone then being caught up with Jill now engaged to Bill. Rory relates how Bill’s type seemed to have changed, since he’d usually be seen with curvy ladies. Rory moves onto his workplace’s “esprit de corps” = pride amongst group.

Once they get to the surprising news of Bill hiring help and one of them was Bertie’s Jeeves, whom had offered his services temporarily due to Bertie’s being off somewhere. Bill had a boring sounding, supposedly lucrative posish and couldn’t possibly be gambling again, he having Jeeves accompany him for being a numbers man. When Jill departs to help a pup in need, Rory brings up his suspicion on Bill’s job, then picks up a call from the fuzz about wanting to speak with Bill. Rory supports Moke’s desire to think there was innocent reasons for this and request she encourage him verbally and physically (perhaps cheerleader-style) as he got their luggage.

Bill finally makes it back, he not the sharpest knife int he set, a reference to Poirot’s “leetle grey cells” being stolen, most charmingly. The man was good-looking, but his moostosh minused this some. It’s shown later to have been a grooming stick-on of some sort. Bill proceeds to call for Jeeves, the dynamics perfect from the Jeeves perspective, I suspect. Upon learning they could be visited by the man they fled, Bill had to practice being at ease and oblivious.

The man happened to be Biggar, they owing him quite a few thou pounds and it paining him, esp. since their disguises would be more difficult to use at the Derby. Bill starts complaining about Jeeves’ plan on he becoming a bookie being complicated, this because he was engaged to Jill and couldn’t find a suitable posish from the Classifieds, but his choice also being a slight to his soon-to-be wifey. As Bill staves off Jeeves’ quotes, and orders a drink, he’s in mid-anxious relieving wheeze when Jill walks in

Jill thought he’d be relaxing after work, not hyperventilating. When Bill hears her voice, it snaps him into reality, he denying any issues. She even calls him out on bettering, but he’s able to deny less guiltily since she’s specific, but he still looks spooked, he making like he’s right as rain. She doesn’t believe him, he loses his temper and she suspects foul female play from him. Jeeves comes in with drink and announces Moke and Rory’s arrival, as well as Mrs. Spottsworth and her plans. This perks Bill up, Jill thinking of how they could buy a farm. When Jeeves saves his butt after mentioning the specific amount he owed and Jill had left for more housecalls, he explains Bertie’s school didn’t allow students to be butlerfied, he taking home-ec. in case he should fall on hard times.

So, Mrs. Spottsworth was speculating the importance of Biggar’s happening to see her, was ‘discussed’ with her deceased hubby, Alexis and the other dead hubs were wishing she’d remarry. N, lo! out the ether comes Biggar, with his massive crush. She’d learned this through seeing his reaction to her, etc. (FYI, metaphors have been on point from the first, and they’re still delightful!) So, the more she considered Biggar’s skills, and how golden of a protector he’d be, Spottsworth was warming to him and was contemplating her woo pitch face so he’d make a move, when she’s distracted with the view of Roaster Abbey, it apparently stunning only from the distance she was currently viewing. Meanwhile, Bill was getting advice and reminders for his goals and objectives from Moke. Then, they reveal how the cops were looking for him to question and another fella after his license plate #, Bill looking hella shaken. As Moke and Rory attempt to lure the info out of him, Jeeves announces Spottsworth’s arrival.

As Moke greets Rosie formally with hubby, Rory, shes interrupted with the unfortunate nickname she’d given Bill, but is pleased to learn their past acquaintanceship would give Bill an edge to making the sale. Bill is careful with what was said about their time in Cannes when Rosie becomes chatt. This is offset with Rory talking shit about the place and reminding of how he’d said more unfriendly to buyers statements earlier, catching her up and Moke looking like she’d throttle him. Rosie , though tops him fairly well with the idea of believing she was a resident in the past at the place, a “Rotationist”.

The trio mostly entertain this description of hers and she attempts to lead them to a specific spot instinctually. Jeeves is interrupted by Rory asking if he agreed Rosie had lost it with all her psychic nonsense, Jeeves then also impressing Rory with his horsey know-how. When Rosie returns with the others she’s told Biggar had turnt up. When she leaves, Rory brings up how Jill would understand the ‘relationship’ Bill had back when with Rosie, but Bill rankles at his term and agrees there’d never been anything between them. The news of Biggar’s arrival green’s Bill’s tinge a bit, making Moke confused and jogging Rory’s memory on a double entendre rhyme.

Some background on A.B. Spottsworth shows his appreciation for the conclusion of female co. at the end of din din, Bill esp. not sharing this view toward Biggar, regardless of he not mentioning his chasing him, and kismet-style, as soon as he hopes the subj. doesn’t come up, the question of whether Biggar appreciated racing is asked by Rory. This allows Biggar to relate his frustrating experience. Rory is properly disgusted when hearing Biggar had been snubbed his winnings, Bill feigning shock and empathy, barely, and Rory awaying after a lil to catch the pre-race chatter on telly, Biggar requiring Bill stay and chat, he having Jeeves make busy to stay nearby and not be left alone with the large fellow.

Finally, Biggar gets his chance to confront Bill on whether he knew Honest Patch Perkins, whom had taken or been lent his car, Bill playing dumb with Jeeves quite readily, which leads to Jeeves stating Biggar must’ve been memorizing the wrong number, Biggar insulted due to how long he’d had to get it. Biggar then describes what’d happen if he found the swindler after Bill suggests the bookie may only require time to pay off his winnings, the result not good for the culprit. When Bill makes a good getaway reason, Biggar asks to make a call, and after Jeeves shows him to the phone, Bill gives him props for the slightly slow delivered possibility of the lic. # being a coincidence which Honest Patch had happened upon.

Bill sees only Jill remaining in the room, Moke and Rory checking the Derby, and when Rosie is mentioned, Jill has her mo. to inquire why, and suggest how he could’ve broached the subj. of how he’d known her. Bill disagrees due to he not having known she’d changed her last name since he’d last seen her. When Jeeves walks in, their convo. ends there, Jill leaving to pack and stay with them for a night per Moke’s invite. Bill then thinks on whether there was a “tinkle” in Jill’s voice, he being in trubs if there had been, understandably paranoid. When he goes off on how “dotty” females were, esp. with the ESP– ;), Jeeves attempts to give anecdote about his Aunt no longer with them and Bill says how “…that’s something” (daaaang!), Jeeves biffing off after clearing the coffee cups.

Bill has no guilt since he’s sensing he was fucked with Jill. Moke reenters and inquires what’s up Bill’s butt, he getting snippy, apologizing, and Moke ordering him to start turtle-doving, as promised, since it was primetime to do so. Bill’s at first perplexed, then calms, knowing sis was right, he thinking of the money, he could pay up for Biggar. After he’s gone, Rory appears and asks his hubby about Bill’s stability and it having to do with Biggar, Moke unconvinced by Rory’s theory, she telling him to say more positive things thenceforth about her home, Rory promising to try, going back in for more Derby interviews.

Rosie was sitting outside for a smoke after her attempts to commune with the dead came up empty nearly a half hour in waiting. She was also regaining some starry eye from the pretty evening, thinking of Biggar and plans of marriage. The devil having been thought of, Biggar appears, clumsily and ready to serve her, esp. when she’d dropped a pendant worth nuttin (10k) and asked him to replace it drapingly upon her neck. To keep himself from throwing himself on her, reminds himself through the memory of 2 buddies of being “a white man”, this keeping him in check (raised eyebrow much higher than Trump’s “shitty wall”, much?).

As Rosie attempts to grind his lurv gears into life, Bill pops by and greets them nervously atwitter (quite entertaining(, this allowing Biggar to flee before losing himself and proposing to her. He’s close enough to overhear Bill’s well-crafted cooing and whilst he wanted nothing more than to end him, he followed his bro code, resisting. He instead returns to the house and unloads to Jill of Bill “making love” under the moon, the nutter. As the room fills with the main players, Moke opens a chest containing Bill’s bookie costume, Biggar recognizing it and when Rory and she go back to the Derby interviews, he interviews Bill further.

Bill isn’t calmed by the angry seeming state of Biggar, Jeeves staying quiet whilst wishing to whisper sweet Marcus Aurelius quotes at Bill. Biggar states his judgement of Bill being Honest Patch, Jeeves comin in to answer with quick stealth, but partial truths, Biggar ready to send both to prison and Jeeves acknowledging whilst Bill wanted to pay him in full, he currently lacked the fundage. So, Biggar resorts to sharing his predicament in desperation and threats to them if spread,

Bill offering to be able to start monthly payments in 2 months (“That(‘s) won’t do me any good”, doesn’t make sense, do it?), but this not being acceptable. Biggar threatens the reality he expected for them before taking a restful breath in the garden, Jeeves coming up with a sneaky plan of acquiring Biggar’s ticket and paying him back without threat when he could. Bill likes and okays the executing thereof, Biggar ruining it by reentering frontally rather than French window-y.

It’d barely been 5 mins. since Biggar’d been gone, but after a frustrated kick of a frog, he realizes Rosie lurved him back@ What was worrying him was his weak financial state and hers being kingly. He thought having his large would-be winnings in his picket would aid his ego enough to overlook her wealth enough to grow the balls to marry her. When Biggar remembers Rosie’s pendant, he enters to see Bill and Jeeves near the window, Bill startled with his entrance and Biggar jumping to his point, but swiftly interrupted by Bill’s nerves and confusion, Jeeves quoting Tennyson.

Biggar gets his mo. to share his plan for the pendant pick-up, and puts Bill to the task of lifting it, he ofc refusing like our Bertie would, not wanting to steal from another of his guests, Biggar reasoning how the pendant actually was his and was telling a roundabout story of why this was so, explaining of meeting with Tubby and the Subahdar, then Hobo Sycamore walking in and reuniting with Biggar, he having first been in possession of the pendant, wanting to sell, so his 2 buddies and he pitch in the cash for it, Bill winning it by dice and this being the ownership background, gifting it to Rosie upon acquisition. Bill’s fears are eased with this borrowing idea and Biggar leaves to perform his nightly yoga.

Bill has Jeeves come up with a plan using the “spider sequence”, the pendant being “found” next evening. Jeeves then offers a practice run for confidence, Jeeves doing an un-Jeeves-ly reaction, scaring Bill and all because he’d felt it worked with his performance as Rosie, but after, they do the scene properly for the lead-in to swat the “spider”. (Great scene, unlike Jeeves to say, “Ha, ha, m’lord…”, as well) After this, Jeeves insists Bill attempt this plan sooner than later, he off, and his fiancee’, Jill entering looking glum. She joins Rory and Moke, Biggar entering after, she upset more by the news of Bill having gone out and Rosie was in the garden with him. Biggar moves to where Jeeves was, Bill enters and looks worse for wear, the sequence working, but the locale of the pendant closer to Rosie than the grass.

Biggar comes up with a solution first, it involving Bill dance the Charleston, to his confusion. After another revealing story, though and Jeeves explains for Bill’s benefit, he’s ready to swing the girl free of her pendant once more, she coming through the French windows with her pup, Pomona. Jill puts doggy in her room, by request, and Bill invites Rosie to dance, she seeing it as good incentive to light a fire under Biggar’s ass, accepting. Biggar can’t stay and watch the spectacle, kicking more frogs in the garden. Jill is jealous and wants the justice system to punish Bill with the idea of this somehow being an illegal offense, Rory and Moke joining the dancers. Bil throws Rosie a good’n and she upsets her leg, she being sent off to rest after Rory points out her fallen pendant. Bill gives up by this time and goes to bed, sleep expected not to come with ease.

Everyone was nicely warm in bed, Jill and Bill struggling for lullness. Jeeves interrupts Bill’s sheep count to update of having come up with a plan to get him the pendant. Temporarily distracted by Bill’s pj color, Jeeves remarking the distasteful nature of it on Bill, but getting shushed like Bertie would and also gifting the destruction if his plan succeeded. Jeeves begins using “the psychology of the individual”, which Bill was familiar, since he’d heard stories from Bertie at the Drones. Once Bill saw where Jeeves was heading, he took issue with the psychic-side of his plan; until he heard the whole of it, since he wasn’t expected to take the role of the ghost, but to seen unconscious for having seen one, Rosie ofc wanting to see one, too, which’d get her out of her room. The plan works, but for Bill’s escape punctuated by shrieking dog, Jill seeing him and upon Jeeves returning, getting Bill’s engagement ring back.

Jill’s father was currently getting annoyed by his young butler of 16 yrs and his 15 y/o cook, wishing for the old school quality. Which was mostly the reason he approved of Jill’s marriage to Bill, he having Jeeves, but then she comes in to reveal she’d canceled their nuptials. Once he’d heard the part about exiting Rosie’s room so late and in mauve, no less, he discovers he didn’t have a horsewhip available, so he’d have to ask to borrow Bill’s so he could hwhip him; haha! Meanwhile, the guests of Roaster were enjoying their gourmet meals, whilst Colonel Wyvern suffered with his teen bumpkin cook. Bill was in too much of a state to marvel at the flavors given, and when Rosie was about to bring up the source of his nerves again, Rory in his way, gegan speaking a bit ill of Biggar, Jeeves interrupting before a spat developed further. This new possibility of Biggar being a liar, freaked Bill out, Rory and Moke finalizing their research over what horse they’d bet on, then off to locate Jeeves for his informed opinion of their choices. Bill asking Rosie about where she’d gotten her pendant, her answer doing the opposite of quelling fear, Bill excusing himself to go to the pantry for restorative, and hopefully Jeeves.

Jeeves is found by Moke and Rory first, they getting their advice and learning of Bill’s ex-engagement, giving opportunity for Rory to exude empathy and the support of BIll now having the better “single” life. Moke leaves, ROry sensing issue with his words and decides to pick the ole bouquet to r this w. After his exit, Bill shares his concern and Jeeves reasons it was more likely Biggar’d seem like the suspect due to his absence, and Bill’d be able to pay her the value of it upon the house sale, he much more comforted and needing a drink. Jill then enters via everyone’s fave, French window.

Whilst being peeves with Bill, she didn’t want him hwhipped, her plan involving having Jeeves warn Bill, so he could defend himself by fleeing or hiding. This prompts Jeeves to reveal where Rosie’d been at  the hour Jill’d mentioned, this bringing her hopes round, she giving Jeeves chance to explain the situation, including the truth of BIll’s shady ex-profession, as well as the deets behind what it all looked like, after which Bill is called in, and Jill forgives him with a snuggle hug. As Moke, Rory, and Rosie come in, the latter was ready to sign a deposit after being assured the place was dry, Rory coming in and blathering about its dampness, Rosie then receiving news her pendant was stolen. Bill immediately inquires of Jeeves on whether he sported a plan, the only supply being if the right horse won, Biggar’d come back with the pendant.

Rosie was resistant to believe Biggar’d gotten off with her pendant, Moke calling the po, and as Bill remembers and shares with Jeeves before he went to claim the jewel-case, he forgetting to wear gloves and hadn’t wiped his prints, Colonel Wyvern coming through the French windows. He was halted by seeing his daughter all over Bill, but Moke’s confusion about thinking Colonel Wyvern had come because she’d phoned the cops, he taking a report, the Chief COnstable arriving, as Rory scrambles for a radio, since the tv stopped working, and for awhile the convo with Jeeves and the Constable with Colonel Wyvern taking notes, the radio announcers is spouting names and the race so close they had to wait for the pic, everyone disappointed it wasn’t Ballymore. (Editor missed a name misspelling “Subahdah(r)”) When Biggar confessed his always love and going off into the sunset, alone, Rosie reasons how she knew one of his buddies, Tubby, this fella having married a lady richer than she was, and Jeeves had detected a way to get Rosie to buy, he also giving his resignation notice, Bertie having been expelled. Rory gets last joke about Biggar’s name with Mrs. Biggar being bigger. Fun, quick, and funny as usually, even if it did lack Bertie, the old chap!

The Golden Days (The Story of the Stone, Vol. 1)

Image result for the story of the stone vol 1 book cover

Due to how long it took to complete and my own inability to motivate a full edit, what follows are my straight notes as I read.

The reader is presented by a question which may arise during the book’s beginnings, it possibly seeming to cross the line of odd, but more happening under the surface. Years previously, Nü-wa, a goddess, fixes the sky, she using a mountain to make “building blocks” and using all, but one which is left near Green-sickness Peak in the Great Fable Mountains. The block, or Stone contains powers, due to having been constructed by the goddess, it able to move and change its size.

The Stone is also self-aware, knowing it hadn’t been wanted in the reparations of the sky and feeling left out. During this bad mood, it notices a monk and Taoist walking quite a ways away, but are approaching the peak the Stone is on, the two chatting whilst resting. The monk sees and picks up the Stone, it having made itself smaller, and speaks to it of knowing it was special and planned on etching on it to show others the same who wouldn’t be able to travel there; the Stone was quite pleased. The monk stows the Stone away, and wouldn’t reveal the destination he planned for it, the Narrator not knowing, either.

An unknown amount of time later, another monk passes the same area and sees a rock with a length of text written on it. Vanitas the monk reads about the rock’s origins and how after he’d been brought to society, he’d lived as a human and achieved nirvana, then came back. The history of his life follows, the one piece of information not shared is the era this occurred, a little poem following, which wonders whom would go about sharing its story.

Vanitas replies to the rock directly of his feelings on how the story would be perceived without certain details and not making much of a hit, the Stone stating how its story put many perspectives uniquely which would separate its story from those already out. Vanitas breaks it down for it, the risque escapades and depravity of females only supplying interest to a certain sort. Most of its stories involved an assortment of differently themed “romances”, Vanitas continuing to explain why the genre wasn’t a strong one, the Stone defending the possibility it had some redeeming qualities, also speaking of how no part was exaggerated.

Vanitas gives in upon a second reading when seeing the Stone’s words were true. Upon returning, Vanitas had begun “in the Void (which is Truth)”, and returns there, deciding to be called “Brother Amor, or the Passionate Monk”, since he’d regained the Truth through Passion, as well as giving the book the new title of “The Tale of Brother Amor”. The book from there receives four more titles through the years, Cao also being mentioned titling it, “The Twelve Beauties of Jinling“, and the title eventually being given its original one back. Regardless of this, the details within, all being based in reality (which is apparently true after having skimmed the introduction), but the characters and occurrences not being vouched for, at the same time.

Many years before, the world angled differently, the city of Soochow had a certain section which was among the richest. Near this area lived a man, Zhen Shi-Yen with his wife, Feng-Shi, the two not high in financial standing, but had respect from those living in the area. Shi-Yen was an unassuming personality with only a daughter, Ying-lian. One day, Shi-Yen falls asleep whilst reading and views a Taoist and monk strolling and chatting. They discuss where the monk planned on placing the Stone to experience life alongside everyone else.

The monk explains how the Stone had gotten as far as it had by chance, and had located a fairy. This fairy housed the Stone temporarily and bequeathed it “the honorary title of Divine Luminescent Stone-in-Waiting in the Court of Sunset Glow” (a mouthful, which is why I’m being picky about what to share). The Stone spent its time near Magic River where he began giving water to Crimson Pearl Flower, she partially heavenly, so with this additive, transforms into a girl (the more I read makes me see how Madeline Bassett would adore this story). Crimson Pearl is soon plagued by how she’d return the favor to the Stone, believing the only way would be to live a life together as humans. So, for this reason, the monk was bringing the Stone to where the fairy planned to send the assortment of entities to experience human living.

Shi-Yen believes he is overhearing a crazy rant, then hears the monk say some words which worry him, Ying-lian being grasped more tightly by him, the Taoist and monk then decide to meet up again later, Shi-Yen wishing he’d spoken up to inquire about the monk’s words, but is interrupted by a student – Jia Yu-cun, as Shi-Yen was now near his own door, some background then given on the young man’s hard times. Yu-cun greets him warmly, Shi-Yen explaining his being outside was to calm Ying-lian from being upset, he then offers Yu-cun to sit inside and chat with him, due to the slowness of the day.

A servant leads the girl inside as Shi-Yen heads for his office with Yu-cun for tea, soon after, having to rush out for a Mr. Yan having dropped in, Yu-cun entertains himself with looking through some of Shi-Yen’s books, until seeing a girl outside picking flowers, she fetching somehow, then by chance, catching sight of him, she also pleased with his looks. When she turns to leave, then glances back twice at him, Yu-cun takes this as a sign of interest, he waiting only a little longer after learning from a servant boy this guest may be staying for supper, he deciding to go, and when Shi-Yen eventually gets his guest out, decides he wouldn’t be asking him to return when noticing Yu-cun had left.

Later, Shi-Yen goes to offer dinner to the young man after the Mid Autumn festival and supper with his family had been finished. Yu-cun was still thinking of Shi-Yen’s servant girl, Shi-Yen walking in on Yu-cun spouting poetry in relation to her, the two reconvening in his office for wine and food. As they drank and ate, the two become more comfortable with each other until Yu-cun bursts out with more poetry, Shi-Yen congratulating his talent with more wine.

Yu-cun then gets serious about his means of acquiring a lucrative career due to travel costs (I feels ya, buddy). Shi-Yen had been hoping this subject would be broached, since he hadn’t wanted to insult him by offering, but now he’s confided in him, he insisted on fronting all cost for his journey and immediately takes care of everything. Yu-cun didn’t make a big deal out of Shi-Yen’s charity, the two having fun until after twelve at night. When they parted, Shi-Yen sleeps in until noon, and upon waking, plans to set up a place for Yu-cun to stay, but learns he’d decided to leave before dawn, so the issue was let go.

Fifteenth Night brought bad tidings when Shi-Yen has a servant take out Ying-lian to look at the lights, and when the man leaves her on a step whilst relieving himself, the child goes missing, the servant searching until dawn and when not recovering her, leaves town in shame without informing Shi-Yen. He and his wife send out a search party, but Ying-lian isn’t found, the two becoming sick after a month or so, doctors looking after them until a monk living in the Temple next door, has an accident with oil and many houses are destroyed, including of course, the Zhens.

Shi-Yen is distraught over this misfortune, and had planned for them to move to their farm in the country, but the area had become dangerous, so Shi-Yen sells his land and they hole up with his wife’s father-in-law, Feng Su, whom whilst not happy with how they’d turned up, was comforted by his finances from his farm, he supposed to locate them a comfortable new place, but taking half and setting them up with a crap hut and unhealthy land. Not knowing how to recover his bad luck, Feng Su didn’t make his life easier by offering crap advice and then talking shit about Shi-Yen behind his back, he hearing of it later, and this helping his health get worse, his older age not aiding his recovery.

At some point in the future, Shi-Yen is taking a walk and hears a Taoist repeating some words, as he approaches closer, he asks for the man to clarify, since only hearing two words repeated, the monk declaring the words to be important ones and so had understood enough, Shi-Yen then offers more verses, the Taoist pleased, and Shi-Yen deciding then to accompany the mad man and informing no one. Well after this, his wife hears by rumor and is broken by the information, Shi-Yen not found when she’d sent for updates of him. She moves in with her parents and contributes by quilting, and one of her two maids was shopping when a bureaucrat is brought past, she recognizing him, but not recalling where. In the night, Feng Su is dumbfounded when learning someone from his house was wanted at the bureaucrat’s headquarters.

Yamen runners outside inform a smiling Feng Su, Shi-Yen was being summoned and when Feng Su shares how Shi-Yen had left a year previously to become a Taoist, the runners take him instead, his family and servants in fear of what could be happening. It was well into the night before Feng Su had gotten back home, everyone having questions, so Feng Su describes how this new mandarin, a Hu-zhou named Jia used to know Shi-Yen way back when, and had deduced he’d moved and was tipped off they would know where he was because of the woman, Lucky selling quilts in the doorway, and when Feng Su explains where Shi-Yen had gone, was unhappy to learn of this, then upon discovering what had occurred to Ying-lian, decides to send his own search party, expecting better results, and after speaking with each other a little more, Feng Su readies to leave, and Jia gives him silver pieces, his wife stunned by his story and the night passing calmly. Early in the day a package from Yu-cun is delivered to Feng-shi, as well as a letter to Feng Su to inquire if Feng-shi would allow him to take Lucky as his second wife (how sweet…), Feng Su pressing how significant it was she should comply, so they immediately ship Lucky off, and Yu-cun is so happy, he showers them with gifts, especially Feng-shi, to keep her occupied until Ying-lian was found.

Lucky apparently caught a good turn, since she bore Yu-cun a son fairly quickly, and was upgraded when Yu-cun’s first wife dies. Yu-cun’s progress after finishing school is followed, he getting the position of magistrate of the district fairly fast, but unfortunately, had a bad habit of out-thinking the higher-ups and making them seem foolish, so he was soon given a bad report of conduct, getting fired, but takes the news well, settling his family in his hometown with the riches he’d accrued and beginning to travel.

Yu-cun was in Yangchow when learning a Lin Ru-hai was also staying in the area, the man’s background being related to royalty, but his family line dying off and his only son having been lost the previous year. He had a daughter though, Dai-yu, she showing promise and so was educated a bit to take their minds off their son dying. Yu-cun had been ill recently and upon recovering for the most part, realized he needed to replenish his funds, so upon running into some buddies who knew the Salt Commissioner, Lin Ru-hai he was able to secure the position as tutor.

Due to it seeming the little girl dictated when she’d be taught, Yu-cun had plenty more time to recuperate, then Dai-yu’s mother falls ill and dies, the young girl’s lessons falling to the wayside in her grief, she also now becoming periodically sick, Yu-cun beginning to take strolls more often to ease his idleness. One day he walks out of town and sees a temple going to ruin, he reading the name of the place and the gate which had a poem written upon it, curious to learn the history of the place, but upon entering, only finding a deaf and half blind monk, whom wasn’t able to answer his inquiries.

So, Yu-cun leaves and heads for a neighboring village inn for some wine, there meeting an acquaintance, Leng Zi-xing, he having a good sense of business and the two admiring the other. Yu-cun asks how he’d come to be there, Zi-xing having been visiting a buddy by chance, the two then sitting and catching up on their lives since they’d last spoken, Yu-cun asking about anything notable happening in the area, Zi-xing recalling a small event in regard to a distant relative of Yu-cun, his family not normally considering themselves a part of the others family, due to their high class. Zi-xing describes how apparently their houses had fallen a bit, the time in which it occurred surprising Yu-cun.

Zi-xing states how the relation of how it happened would take some time, he clarifying how they hadn’t lost everything, but there having been the cinching of the belt, inwardly, the main problem stemming from the male progeny not living up to standards. Yu-cun is shocked to learn the families wouldn’t have continued the degree of education they’d been known for, Zi-xing giving background of the two heads of households, the men being brothers, one, Ning’s grandson becoming a Taoist and uninterested in any other matters, he having a son, whom in turn had a son, whom was currently a teenager, his father not taking responsibility and living a life of debauchery and no one willing to snap the man into shape.

The other side, Rong’s eldest, marrying into a well known family and having two sons, after he passed away, his wife surviving him, and his eldest taking over responsibility in title but not doing what was necessary for the household, his younger brother being urged to continue his education and going up the ranks in his field, he marrying and having a son, this son dying young, but also having a son, his wife then having a daughter after, and another son born with a piece of jade in his mouth twelve years later, this being the odd part Zi-xing was referring, Yu-cun unable to argue.

This youngest son, Bao-yu had been tested with objects of the family mixed in with different sorts of trinkets, he drawn to the items which were female in nature, his father displeased, but his grandmother doting on the boy. It didn’t end there though, Bao-yu now ten and naughtily clever, the boy precocious, Yu-cun saw this boy’s heritage in a certain light, Zi-xing wishing for him to clarify, so Yu-cun lists good men verses the bad ones, and stating their circumstances, as well as how it related to their current state of living in the world, the state of the world currently on the upswing of good tidings, and how pure humor over “perverse humours” tended to dissipate in certain environments, and on the off-chance the two should meet, being in constant opposition, they sometimes made their way into a human host, then upon this person’s upbringing, excelled in certain areas, which regardless of status, showed itself in some way, he again listing good and bad men.

Yu-cun then relates an experience with a small boy he’d been tutoring whom would also be among the bad, and Zi-xing mentions how like the little boy’s female counterparts, the girls in the Jia family were also good and clever. They then discussed how this family named their girls like the boys, which was unusual, Yu-cun learning his current employer’s late wife was named similarly, Zi-xing offering he research his words, but Yu-cun realizing it must be true with how her daughter, Dai-yu wrote and spoke, she also a part of the Jia family on the Rong’s side. They then wonder who the younger generation would be married off to, Sir Zheng having another son after Bao-yu, from one of his concubines.

After which they discuss Sir She’s having a son, as well, and also how this son had already gotten married within the family, to a cousin through marriage, and whilst he helped manage the family estate, his wife overshadowed him in more ways than one. Zi-xing then decides they should continue to drink after their hearty chat, Yu-cun noticing how the hour was getting on and they should walk and talk, so they made it to the city gates before they shut for the night, and right when they’re readying to leave, Yu-cun is recognized and given commendation, as well as being told of this person having fortuitous information for him.

Yu-cun recognizes an associate of his, Zhang Ru-gui, he also having been let go, and this area being his hometown, he sharing how he learned of ex-officials getting rehired, so there being a possibility for himself to get set up with a new position, he sharing this information with Yu-cun and then hastening onward, Zi-xing believing Yu-cun should use his connection to Ru-hai so he could do the same, Yu-cun agreeing, and the two going their separate ways.

When Yu-cun returns he makes certain the news was authentic before asking Ru-hai, but when he does inquire, the man was eager to do him this favor, then sharing with Yu-cun of having written a letter to his brothers-in law, Yu-cun’s distant relatives, Jia She and having addressed it to the younger brother, Jia Zheng. Ru-hai then states how much easier it’d be if Yu-cun accompanied Dai-yu to the capital, she not wanting to leave, but her grandmother and father convincing her what with having more female role-models by moving, she reluctantly going, and when Yu-cun arrives, he gets seen by Jia Zheng in good time, Ru-hai’s recommendation on top of his being impressed by Yu-cun’s scholarly nature, helping him get his job back as magistrate in another city.

Dai-yu, along with her maids are greeted by covered chairs from the mansion when stepping on land, they having traveled by barge. She notices the odd quality of servants and watched herself in case she made a wrong move. They were brought to the Rong Guo House, her maids helping her out of the curtained chair and walk through the grounds until meeting some loitering ladies who mention of Lady Jia having recently inquired about her, the attendant announcing she’d arrived and her grandmother greeting her with emotion, Dai-yu kotowing after they’d calmed. Her grandmother then introduced their female members of the family and sending for the children, two out of three of the girls each having a distinct virtue, the youngest only seeming still a child.

When tea was readied, the subject of choice turned to the events surrounding Dai-yu’s mother’s illness and death, refreshing her grandmother’s upset, she declaring how Dai-yu’s mother had been her favorite, so was understandably broken up. They then ask about Dai-yu’s obvious health issue, she stating no doctor had been able to cure her, so she only taking ginseng, they then hearing someone loudly pleasant approaching and announcing of being late, a lady entering whom was breathtaking and dressed like royalty, Lady Jia introducing her by a nickname of Peppercorn Feng, but a cousin revealing this was Jia Lian’s wife, Wang Xi-feng, Dai-yu using her given name when greeting her, and after Xi-feng gives her a once over, is quite candid about her beauty and she taking after the Jias, she then offering Dai-yu any comfort she desired and to let her know if someone was mean to her, she also commanding servants to be sure rooms were readied for her servants, she also making certain where the platters of food coming in were set.

Meanwhile, Dai-yu overhears her Aunt Wang discuss with Xi-feng there being silks brought so they could make some clothes for her, Xi-feng having taken care of it, and when her grandmother was ordering servants to take Dai-yu to her uncles, Xi-feng offers to accompany her, she taking Dai-yu by the hand and leading her out, they being driven to Xi-feng and She’s residence. Xi-feng has him called when they enter, but he wasn’t feeling well at the moment, but wanting Dai-yu to feel comfortable enough to tell her family if she needed anything to feel even more at ease and at home, Xi-feng then invites her to dine with her, but Dai-yu knew she was still expected by her other uncle, Zheng, she being escorted by the servants, back to the Rong mansion, Dai-yu seeing an ornate side of the home she had yet experienced, the hall within resplendent with beautiful furniture and scripts on the walls.

Dai-yu is brought to her Aunt Wang, in a side room, she sitting in a chair and brought tea, but is requested to move to where Wang was in another part of the room on some cushions, Dai-yu again refused to sit in her uncle’s place of honor, opposite Wang, but she coaxing Dai-yu to sit near her, explaining her uncle wouldn’t be able to see her today, but having to speak with her of the three girls they for the most part being well-behaved, but her son a major nuisance and of whom should be ignored.

Dai-yu then realizes this must be Bai-yu she referred, Wang explaining how due to his grandmother spoiling him, he continued to stay with the girls, so she shouldn’t trust what he says due to his chaotic nature. Wang then receives word it was time for supper, so leads Dai-yu across the grounds, also showing her where Xi-feng lived in case she had any requests, they then going to her grandmother’s quarters, where she resisted the place of honor, but learned it was her because her elder cousins wives wouldn’t be joining them, so Dai-yu goes through the proper etiquette before sitting.

The custom between dishes was certainly new to Dai-yu, they having tea for rinsing their mouths and different tea for drinking. Grandmother Jia then requests to speak to the children alone, everyone leaving, Grandmother Jia inquiring what books Dai-yu was studying (the four books, I presume), the girl asking about what her cousins were reading in return, and Grandmother Jia stating they could barely read and write, Bai-yu then being heard, and when entering, his appearance given (the poetic parts of this story isn’t cumbersome or hard to understand like some, and brings a nice airy description which is pleasant), Dai-yu somehow recognizing him and wondering why, he greeting Grandmother Jia, and she instructing him to visit his mother and return, he off to do as she bid and coming back quickly in different clothes, the boy even getting a song to go with his appearance (Moon on West River as background) and personality, it made quite clear he was a brat.

When his grandmother instructs he say hello to his cousin, he assesses her for some time before voicing her thought of having met her before, he then asking her questions about study and giving her a school name, he then asking if she had a jade, she stating it wasn’t common, which Bai-yu has a fit over, his grandmother attempting to calm him as he explains how his cousin, whom was so angelic didn’t have one and questioned it being of good value, quite upset.

Grandmother Jia comes up with the story of Dai-yu having used to have one, but buried it with her mother, this calming the boy, two servants then asking Grandmother Jia where she wanted Dai-yu to sleep, she deciding Bai-yu would bunk with her and Dai-yu would have his place, but Bai-yu convinces she let him stay with the girls. One of Bai-yu’s nurses hears Dai-yu still up after they’d all settled in the tent and asks what was wrong, her nurse explaining how terribly she felt for setting Bai-yu off and would’ve been responsible if he’d broken the jade.

Aroma, as Bai-yu named her, or Pearl, makes Dai-yu aware of how this was pittance to what Bai-yu could be like, so she should calm herself and sleep, Dai-yu grateful to hear this and doing so. Early next morning, after greeting Grandmother Jia, Dai-yu goes to her Aunt Wang’s and learns from another family member, Xue Pan had killed someone and need the help of the family, it already under investigation and they discussing whether to have him stay with them.

So, Dai-yu walked in to hear Aunt Wang speak with the messengers of her eldest brother and wife about their Aunt’s family in Nanking being a part of this manslaughter case, and due to Wang being busy with this, Dai-yu and the other girls go see Li Wan, her husband, Jia Zhu having died at a young age, but giving her a son, Jia Lan, now five and already starting his education. Li Wan was the daughter of Li Shou-zhong, whom when becoming head of the family, decided the females wouldn’t continue to receive a higher level of education and focus on needlework, what with a big believer of a dumb woman being virtuous or some shit.

Dai-yu is able to easily adjust to life among these ladies, though due to their mild natures. Now, Jia Yu-cun had begun his position as yamen in Ying-tian-fu, the manslaughter case soon becoming a part of his workload, it involving two sides fighting over the payment of a slave, one side getting fatally injured. Yu-cun hears first from the murdered man’s side, a worker of this man, whom relays how his “master” hadn’t known the slave he’d bought had been stolen goods, and the seller supposed to have deposited the slave to him three days later, but the seller instead turning around and selling her to Xue Pan. This man and his master going off to retrieve the slave, and Xue Pan sicking his bodyguards on them, beating his master to death, and Xue Pan along with the other guilty parties going to ground, this man waiting a year for justice, pleading with Yu-cun to locate the guilty parties.

Yu-cun is outraged by nothing being done, but catches the eye of a door-keeper before issuing a summons, he instead clearing the room, save this man, whom speaks of having known Yu-cun for over ten years, and after a hint of having met at the Temple, remembered him as a young monk, this man deciding to change his career after the fire. Yu-cun then asks why he’d halted his duties, the man informing Yu-cun how officials usually had a manual which listed the most powerful people of their district one would be better off not touching toes with.

Yu-cun hadn’t heard of this, and so the man continues why Xue Pan hadn’t been brought in being because of this, the man then showing the pamphlet, after which they hear a ring indicating Mr. Wang had come, Yu-cun dealing with the man, then returning, the door-keeper finishing his chat by stating how many influential people Xue Pan had to help him, Yu-cun confessing how he obviously had to deal with the case somehow, he then presuming this man must know more, which he doesn’t deny and even offers to detail.

The murdered man was called Feng Yuan, and he had no relatives when his parents died, he having been surviving off his minuscule inheritance, only eighteen or nineteen years old and gay, but apparently saw this slave and was ready to make an honest woman of her, which is why he’d decided to wait three days to give the impression it was similar to a wedding, so when both sides discovered what had happened, they caught him before he could get away and beat the crap out of him, but the issue stemming from both sides wanting the slave and not wanting what they’d paid returned to them, so Xue Pan had Feng Yuan assaulted and brought home, he expiring three days later.

Before all of this had occurred, Xue Pan was already planning to go to the capital, so he still left with the slave and his family, acting like a pampered rich man would, and leaving the clean up to his help. The clincher, though is whom the slave was, Yu-cun learning it was Ying-lian, which this door-keeper knew, since he’d been a playmate of hers way back, and also knew the kidnapper had a system of raising girls until old enough to sell them, he also recognizing her birthmark.

The door-keeper had gotten wind of her presence because the kidnapper rented one of his rooms, Ying-lian staying quiet when he confronted her out of fear of repercussions, then breaking down and admitting she recalled nothing, but this young man being certain of her origins. The night the kidnapper had been paid, Ying-lian started talking with him and felt like she would finally have some peace, until she learned of the three day wait, this young man’s wife seeing her to instill optimism, she stating how the future date meant she’d be living like a woman rather than a worker, and how much he paid showing the amount he cared, and not to worry about the time-frame, and her words seeming to have worked, but then Xue Pan getting involved, and he not having considerate intentions for her, beating her until she willingly came with him, this young man not knowing whether she still lived, so the fact Feng Yuan had gone through all of this with plans to settle only to be killed was a terrible fate. Yu-cun thought Feng Yuan’s sudden change of sexual interest must mean it was kismet, and poor Ying-lian, so close to being pardoned by her lot in life, only to have her suffering prolonged intimated the same.

On top of this, Xue Pan is a man whom divided his time with other women, and it being a terrible situation which Yu-cun now had to decide how to handle the next move, legally, the young man reminding him how Xue Pan may be related to the Jias through marriage, but Yu-cun already being on good terms with one of the family, so perhaps he should make himself even more esteemed to them. Yu-cun noted his newly appointed position being in a delicate area, since it was still so new, but the young man making the point of he not doing his job properly, and how would he could show he’s truly grateful for it, but no matter what he decided, it dictated careful consideration.

Yu-cun takes a moment before inquiring the young man’s opinion, he having thought the next day, Yu-cun should go about business as usual, but with a firm hand, bringing in Xue Pan’s family and workers to be questioned, and the young man would be getting Xue Pan’s people to claim he’d died of a sickness which would then be corroborated by their neighbors, Yu-cun would then get a special table to speak with the afterlife and offer anyone being allowed to come, and proceed by stating Feng Yuan had unfinished business with Xue Pan from a previous life, which he dealt with after death by making Xue Pan ill, and due to this whole debacle being started by the kidnapper, he alone would from there on be held accountable and all others free of guilt.

The young man would then get the kidnapper to agree to confession, and then the people would have no reason to question Yu-cun’s claims. He then would give the Fengs reparations for cost of the funeral, and Xue Pan already being rich, wouldn’t bat an eye about the cost. Yu-cun was entertained by the young man’s idea, but would give it a bit more of a ponder to ensure the public wouldn’t gossip. Yu-cun speaks with the Fengs the following day, the young man correct about they only wanting money and bringing the case to court because Xue Pan had denied them, so he had the Fengs agree to an amount and then wrote a couple letters detailing the issue had been handled. Yu-cun then became paranoid by how much the young man knew, and so waited until he caught him in a minor crime and had him sent to the military, this easing his mind.

Next, Xue Pan is followed, his father dying whilst Xue Pan was a boy and his mother spoiling him to the point of damaging his character. Due to his family’s wealth, he loved expensive things and spoke in a snotty manner, and regardless of education, was practically illiterate. He loved gambling and the sights, he also being technically employed by way of his father and grandfather, but only collected a paycheck without doing any work.

Xue Pan’s mother was the younger half sister of Wang Zi-teng and younger sister of Lady Wang, she over fifty years old now, and as for Xue Pan’s sibling, she called Bao-chai, younger and beautiful, was favored by their father, so was educated and smarter than Xue Pan, but upon their father’s death, she gave up continuing her education in order to help her mother.

The “upside” to this was the females of important officials getting the chance to be chosen as educational partners for the younger female royals. Due to this, and Xue Pan wanting to experience the grander life in the capital, he had a few reasons to go, which included having his sister available to be chosen and replenish his allowance. So, all of this had been in motion well before meeting Ying-lian and second-hand murdering her seller. Hence, he going on his merry way, expecting to only need to pay a fine which his servants would handle in his absence. Whilst they were traveling, they learn his Uncle Wang wouldn’t be present due to a promotion, which Xue Pan didn’t share he was happy about, since he felt he could now truly let his freak flag fly.

Xue Pan proceeds in convincing his mother they should have somebody make certain the servants of the houses hadn’t let their friends stay, due to how long they’d been unoccupied, his mother not seeing the point of rushing, since they had plenty of time and room. Xue Pan considers how busy everyone will be in helping his uncle get ready to go as they turn up, but his mother reminds him, this was what the Jias were for, but she sensing what his problem was, and even suggesting he go off to pick a place for himself, whilst she and Bao-chai continued to his Aunt Jia’s, Xue Pan acquiescing to her wishes, since he knew he’d be required to stay regardless of her words.

Meanwhile, Lady Wang was calmed upon learning Xue Pan’s case was being handled by Yu-cun, but was apprehensive by her older brother, Wang Zi-teng leaving. So, the news of her sister having arrived with her kids and servants put her back in high spirits, they reuniting with emotion, visiting Grandmother Jia, giving their presents, and then having a grand family get-together during which Jia Zheng sends a note to Lady Wang offering to have her sister stay in the secluded house with her kids, Wang having wanted to invite them to stay with her, Grandmother Jia wanting the same, so Xue Pan could have an eye kept on him, believing if he had complete freedom, he’d get into more trouble, Xue accepting the offer and beginning to move them all in.

The home was located next to Lady Wang’s, the two sisters chatting daily along with Grandmother Jia, Bao-chai happy to mingle with Dai-yu and the other girls, Xue Pan the only one dissatisfied, to start with at any rate. He still planned on moving elsewhere, but had to agree to stay temporarily whilst his servants prepared another home. Xue Pan’s opinion soon changed upon hanging out with his male family members, they sinking him into worse depths, the patriarch of the family, Zheng too busy to keep everyone in check, he having become the go-to for Zhen, whom was supposed to be the one in charge. So, upon Xue Pan realizing he was in no danger of being reeled in, he and his newfound best buddies came and left when they pleased, their adventures to follow.

Dai-yu had become another favorite of Grandmother Jia, she receiving the same attentiveness as Bao-yu, the other girls holding each other in high esteem and much closer, since they were treated differently. Now Bao-chai had joined them, Dai-yu feeling put off by her beauty and how well-liked she’d become with everyone, due to being unaware how personable she was, and Dai-yu setting herself apart because of how serious she acted about being proper. Bao-yu, on the other hand still maintained the attitudes of a child, so had no differentiation between family members unless living more closely to them, like with Dai-yu, he speaking too roughly with her and attempting to make up for it, which she was big enough, or gullible enough to accept.

As this occurs, Zhen’s wife, You-shi invites Grandmother Jia, Lady Xing and Wang to a party, her son, Jia Rong accompanying her, they having an uneventful time, up until Bao-yu decides he’d like a nap, Grandmother Jia preparing the servants to attend to him when Qin-shi, Jia Rong’s wife volunteers to take care of him, Grandmother Jia acquiescing, but Bao-yu immediately offended by the art on the walls of the room she’d led him to, and the phrases on the wall clinching his desire to leave, Qin-shi then offering her own bedroom, which he agrees to, but the servants shocked by the idea of an uncle sleeping in a nephew’s wife’s bed, she believing he was too young for the sort of thoughts the servants had in mind, speaking of her brother being around the same age as Bao-yu, he then wishing to meet him, but the boy currently away, and upon getting to her room, is overcome with sleepiness as a pleasant smell assaults his nose, and this room’s art and scripts more to his acceptance.

Qin-shi then having some noisy cats on the roof outside attended to as Bao-yu sinks into unconsciousness and feels like Qin-shi is still with him, leading him to a stream near some trees, it looking as if humans had yet set foot there, and Bao-yu completely taken with the place. Then he hears a lady singing out of view, she heading in his direction, a poem which follows showing she was otherworldly. Bao-yu knew she was a fairy and smiles warmly at her, requesting she show him around for not knowing where he was, she introducing herself as Disenchantment and she living in the Sea of Sadness, her home being in the Land of Illusion. She also describes her relation to the human world by connection of varying romantic dealings and had gone to this spot for sensing karmic love in the area and was gauging if her services could be given, Bao-yu a candidate. She then invites him to tea at her home, nearby and how she’d written a musical composition called “A Dream of Golden Days”, Bao-yu so overcome by the offer, he’d forgotten to wonder where Qin-shi had gone, he following Disenchantment to her home. Bao-yu was curious about the details of her job, which unbeknownst to him, had given access to his body to a demon of Lust.

They walk through an area with buildings designated by certain themes, Bao-yu wishing to see inside them, but Disenchantment relaying it wouldn’t be right to have him see the females’ files regarding their future, but Bao-yu nags her until she allows him a moment to view inside the Department of the Ill-Fated Fair, it lined with cabinets labeled by city, Bao-yu seeing his and inquiring what else the label meant, he learning it contained the twelve best ladies in his area, two more cabinets detailing two dozen more, and all other females remaining unlisted. Bao-yu takes a look at one of the other two, and opens a hard-case folder with a picture and verse on the two pages he viewed before looking at a different cabinet, still confused by the album he chose, and looking at the main cabinet, and unable to understand the words, and knowing Disenchantment wouldn’t explain it, but he continuing looking through the book, filled with pictures on one side and an accompanying poem, which warned and spoke of love, loss, and possibly even danger.

As it goes on, the fate of women Bao-yu may know is spoken of in riddles. When Disenchantment believes he was becoming too wise on the information he was reading, she takes the book and decides they should move along, Bao-yu hearing Disenchantment hurriedly coax other fairies out to meet him, but they being unimpressed, having been expecting a reunion with Crimson Pearl, Bao-yu now uncomfortable, and Disenchantment explaining how she’d been going to retrieve Crimson Pearl, but was waylaid by two Dukes asking for her services of which she couldn’t pass, involving Bao-yu and their request to have his virginity taken on the chance it would sober his nature and aid him to navigate life with a clear mind. Disenchantment decided to fulfill their wish, his look at the records not doing the trick, so leading him there so he could experience a good party, she bringing him inside. Bao-yu then inquires the scent he smelled, she sharing it was nothing he’d be able to discover on his world, and giving the name.

After they sit, Bao-yu tastes the tea given him and is again desirous to know what it was called, Disenchantment telling where it came from, as well as the name, Maiden’s Tears. He surveys the room they were in before asking the names of the other fairies, they all having odd monikers like Disenchantment. When they sit at the table for wine and food, Bao-yu asks about the wine, it coming from flowers and tree extracts. Twelve dancers then enter, Disenchantment requesting they perform her musical. She then informs Bao-yu may want to read about the piece so he could better understand it, the poems of the performance, following. The description has each songs lyrics, telling of past lovers, in twelve songs not including the prelude and epilogue, and by the conclusion, Disenchantment could see Bao-yu had lost interest, he requesting to be allowed to nap.

Disenchantment leads him to a little bedroom where a fairy girl sat, she exuding similarities to both Bao-chai and Dai-yu (this apparently significant symbolism), Disenchantment stating how lust played into all attraction, regardless of men saying it was beauty they were attracted by, she confessing his lust was the strongest she’d seen which her affection for him stemmed, Bao-yu intimidated. He confides how he didn’t truly understand the meaning and believed he was still too young to be listed as such. Disenchantment clarifies her meaning by defining how many sorts of lust there were, his type being listed as “lust of the mind”, which couldn’t be described. She goes on to confide this is why she’d shared tea and wine with him, as well as the musical, and would also be paired with her sister, Two-in-one or Ke-qing to marry, they being bid to hook up this evening, so he could learn the construct of love and obtain an understanding and following of philosophy for everyone’s benefit.

Before Disenchantment leaves them to it, she advises Bao-yu on some techniques, he implementing them stupefied and baffled, but getting the deed done, Bao-yu by morning, is in pure contentment, and the two walk out holding hands and somehow discover themselves surrounded by perils, Disenchantment yelling after them to return the way they’d come, Bao-yu inquiring where they were, and she explaining it was a place which could only be crossed by way of two ferrymen, demons then reaching for him to pull him into the water, he crying for Ke-qing’s help, his servants returning to him in fear, and consoling him, Qin-shi outside and taking care of the noisy cats and dogs, surprised to hear him call out her childhood name, and curious how he could know.

Qin-shi doesn’t look into it, though and Bao-yu is getting helped by Aroma to straighten his pants, she feeling something like jizz, Bao-yu looking embarrassed, and after being returned to looking properly, finishes his meal with Grandmother Jia and then has a moment with Aroma when she supplies him with clean undies, he pleading she not say anything and then coaxed into sharing how it had happened, but she laughing at him when he was about to share the sex part of his dream, Bao-yu then makes advances on Aroma, she allowing this after some playful denial, this being part of the reason she had been given to him, and from then on Bao-yu gives her extra regard, she more loyal to him, as well, and his story now being left.

The next area to be covered is decided on with the arrival of this person happening on the day this was being recorded. The Rong mansion is visited by a local called Wang, this person unknown by most of the family, other than Lady Wang and her brother, Wang Xi-feng’s father. The grandfather, whom had known Xi-feng’s grandfather, the father of Lady Wang, dies and has his son carry on, Wang Chang, he leading a farmer’s life, and when he died, his son, Gou-er continuing this work with his wife and their two kids, Ban-er and Qing-er, Gou-er inviting his wife’s mother, Grannie Liu to live with them and help with the kids. She readily accepts his invitation, but soon has to put her food down when Gou-er is seen to be drunkenly making trouble for her daughter, due to his own stresses of the farm and winter closing in.

Grannie Liu reasons with him to take his stupidity to the city, since he couldn’t stop spending the little money he made, she believing they could still think of a remedy, and leave the details to God, she then remembering his relation to Lady Wang, Gou-er’s wife worried they’d get turned away and look ridiculous for the trip, Gou-er buoyed by the possibility, suggesting Grannie Liu go first to survey for them, but she stating how they wouldn’t know her, until Gou-er suggests she take Ban-er with her and call on Zhou, whom knew his father, Grannie Liu seeing the logic behind his idea and having herself and Ban-er ready in the morning, the four to five year old boy gladly learning some phrases Grannie Liu taught him for the ladies at the mansion. They soon arrive and she leads them through a side entrance and speaks with some men loitering on the grounds, eventually being told to hang about at a certain gate where she’d be met by someone from the house, but an older man advising she see Zhou’s wife, since he was currently away on business, then directing her to where she could be located.

Grannie Liu asks a young boy where Mrs. Zhou lived upon following the directions, he showing them and calling out to her, Zhou Rui coming out and soon recognizing Grannie Liu and inviting her inside. Grannie Liu doesn’t share the true reason she’d come, instead stating how they’d come to see her and see “Her Ladyship”, Zhou Rui’s wife fairly able to deduce Grannie Liu’s real reasons for visiting, but knowing her son-in-law’s father had helped her husband when he’d required and was wanting an excuse to show off her own power, so responds with great charity, explaining her usual job and willing to go against protocol to relay a message to Her Ladyship, she sharing how her niece, Wang Xi-feng managed the place now, Grannie Liu thanking her for her kindness and she dismissing it for it not being an issue. She sends a maid to see how far along Lady Jia’s lunch was, and upon hearing what part they were in, gets Grannie Liu to join her before Mrs. Lian became to busy, she having the two wait whilst she spoke with Xi-feng’s closest servant, Patience whom decided the two could wait inside with her.

Grannie Liu first is overcome by the perfumed room and then its grandeur, Patience deciding to be polite once viewing the old woman and invites her to sit, everyone getting comfortable before proceeding with tea, Grannie Liu noticing a loud ticking and then being surprised by a loud bell sounding, all servants and Mrs. Zhou readying for Xi-feng to appear, the two going to the next room whilst Grannie Liu waited to be called, Zhou Rui’s wife coming in for her and Xi-feng not realizing she’d brought her in already, Grannie Liu showing her respect and Xi-feng requesting she stop for not knowing how they were related, yet and after, Ban-er too intimidated to give respect to his “Auntie”. Xi-feng then has Zhou Rui’s wife see if Her Ladyship, presumably Grandmother Jia, was busy, Zhou Rui’s wife returning to relay Grandmother Jia wouldn’t be seeing them, but to share any message with Xi-feng.

Grannie Liu declines and Zhou Rui’s wife giving a look which spoke of she getting a final chance to confess her thoughts, and so was about to do so when interrupted by the arrival of Xi-feng’s nephew, Jia Rong, whom had come to inquire on the behalf of his father to borrow a little glass screen which she at first pretended had already been borrowed, but soon has Patience get the key, Jia Rong so happy he goes off to gather his own servants to carry the load rather than have hers be put out, but Xi-feng asks he return, so later she could share something with him, and when he leaves once more, Grannie Liu gets into how destitute they were and food being scarce, then attempting to get Ban-er to say his little phrases, but he being too busy eating sweets, Xi-feng mercifully allowing this to pass and states she didn’t have to continue, ordering a guest-sized meal to be brought to them, Zhou Riu’s wife doing so, and the speaking with Xi-feng in private of what Grandmother Jia had said in more detail, it about how Grannie Liu wasn’t a blood relative, but was quite close to the family, so would leave it up to Xi-feng as to how much she chose to help them, Xi-feng then returning to relay how she knew they must be living in hard times and would give them some silver to return home with, Grannie Liu relaying how grateful she was before following Zhou Riu’s wife out, she speaking with her for some time after, before leaving the home.

Zhou Riu’s wife goes to Lady Wang, but discovers she’d gone to see Aunt Xue, so she goes after her, she waiting with Bao-chai, since she’d found her speaking with her sister, Zhou Riu’s wife asking if she’d been well the last few days, since she hadn’t come by, she admitting she’d been ill and explains how it wasn’t dangerous, but also had no cure, a monk relaying it was only an overheating problem and supplied a home remedy which surprisingly worked. Bao-chai then explains why she couldn’t describe the powders used, due to when it’s administered affecting how it worked, and as they speak, Lady Wang calls out to them and Zhou Riu’s wife goes in to share the happenings with Grannie Liu, after which Aunt Xue invites her to stick around and hands off a box of fake flowers for the Jia girls to wear. When Lady Wang suggests she keep them for Bao-chai, Aunt Xue shares how the girl was picky about accouterments to her attire, Zhou Riu’s wife then going back out and speaks with Golden about the young lady Caltrop, learning she was the one involved with the murder trial, and when seeing her up close, notes how her features reminded her of Master Rong’s wife, Golden thinking the same, and upon questioning Caltrop, learns nothing due to the girl’s blocked memories.

Zhou Riu’s wife continues to the girls quarters and delivers the flowers, she staying and speaks with a nun about whether the Mother Superior had gotten the monthly donation and where she was, currently. The nun didn’t know, but relays the woman’s whereabouts, and after a little more conversation, moves along to Xi-feng’s, Patience helping her complete her task and then plans on going to Grandmother Jia’s when she runs into her daughter, whom is full of questions, which Zhou Riu’s wife takes lightly, instead inquiring if she also had any issues, since she sensed it was one of those days, her daughter admitting to this and had hoped she’d be able to help her husband. Zhou Riu’s wife agrees to see to it after delivering the remainder of the flowers, going to Dai-yu’s, whom was with Bao-yu, the girl not pleased with the idea of receiving the leftovers of the flowers, and as Bao-yu sends a maid to deliver a message to Bao-chai, Zhou Riu’s wife exits, it being told her daughter’s husband was Yu-cun’s old friend, Zi-xing, he in trouble over some issues with some ancient items bought, Zhou Riu’s wife certain when she brought it to Xi-feng’s attention the issue would be handled.

As evening came, Xi-feng updates Lady Wang on the day’s events, beginning with gifts sent by the Zhen family and having shipped them gifts in return, also informing of gifts also being ready for the Earl of Lian’s mother, and continuing about how she had been invited by Cousin Zhen’s wife to come over the next day, making sure she was allowed to attend, the night then ending. Bao-yu decides he wants to accompany Xi-feng to visit Cousin Zhen’s wife, You-shi, her son and daughter also present. They sit down for tea, Qin-shi then informing Bao-yu to go see her brother, he quickly doing so, but Xi-feng deciding she also wanted to meet Qin Zhong, the boy arriving and awkwardly greeting her, then having the usual inquiries answered of his studies, etc.

When the ladies move on to a card game, the boys leave to chat, the two each having similar thoughts of envy of the other and how they hated they weren’t the other’s equal, so they could be close buddies, and once initializing conversation, become familiar with each other, Bao-yu learning Qin Zhong was currently tutor-less and waiting to get a new one, Bao-yu offerring a school situation his family had set up and suggesting Qin Zhong ask permission to go with him, the two boys agreeing the idea was a good one, they returning to discover Xi-feng had won the card game and a show would be set up as her winnings in a couple days time, Xi-feng then giving her opinion about an old belligerent worker, Big Jao, whom had been asked to accompany Jia Rong home, but was insulting everyone, the man needing to be sent away, she then leaves with Bao-yu, Jia Rong commanding the servants to restrain Big Jao, since he continued prattling on with his threats, Bao-yu making the mistake of inquiring about one he’d heard and Xi-feng threatening to inform his mother, he pleading for her not to and apologizing. Xi-feng changes her anger to comfort and shares how she’ll be speaking with Grandmother Jia about Qin Zhong joining his school.

When they get back, Bao-yu shares with Grandmother Jia his wishes and why it was a positive choice to allow Qin Zhong to join him in class, Xi-feng also supplying her agreement which Grandmother Jia is affected in a good way, Xi-feng then inviting her to the play which was being set up for her, and Grandmother Jia tagging along on the day with Lady Wang, Dai-yu, and Bao-yu, but Lady Wang and Grandmother Jia leave early, Xi-feng having so much fun, she stays much later. Meanwhile, Bao-yu had wanted to watch more of the plays, but had left with Grandmother Jia and then decided to call on Bao-chai, but is held up by some men his father had belittled, and when they release him, a nurse learns they’d left Sir Zheng before he’d taken his afternoon snooze, Bao-yu glad he didn’t have to avoid his father, now and goes straight to Bao-chai’s, but not before being stopped once more by some men who ask about getting some calligraphy by him due to having seen some of his about town, then finally being greeted with familiarity by Aunt Xue, she sending him in to see Bao-chai, he finding her sewing and when Bao-yu speaks, greets him respectfully, the two sitting over tea and speaking of their other cousins.

Bao-chai then states of how she’d been wanting to see his jade more closely for quite some time, he handing it to her, the Narrator reminding this was the same as the stone mentioned at the start of the tale at the Greensickness Peak, listing a poem about it along with the words the monk scraped onto it. When Bao-chai’s maid notes how she had a similarly written message on her necklace, Bao-yu is intrigued to see it, she agreeing and Bao-yu gleefully agreeing the two sounded like two parts of the same script. Bao-yu then smells something on her clothes, she believing it was the pill she’d taken, Dai-yu then entering and making a joke of having come at the wrong time, since Bao-yu was there, talk then turning to retrieving his cape due to it having begun to snow, after which a Nannie Li tells of how she’d gotten flack for Bao-yu drinking wine a time before, since he’d requested a cup this time to go with some goose-foot preserve.

Aunt Xue eases the woman’s mind by assuring she’d take the blame if it came to it, so Bao-yu gets his wine as Dai-yu gives her maid a hard time when she brings her a hand-warmer, Bao-yu having to plead for more wine and Nannie Li warning him to watch himself, since his father may call him later, this sobering Bao-yu’s good mood, but Dai-yu speaking up for him which in turn amuses Bao-chai, Aunt Xue then supporting Bao-yu’s drinking, he feeling better upon her invitation to dinner. When his Nannie goes off to change with instructions to watch Bao-yu closely, the other maids ignore this and go about their business, Aunt Xue discreetly removing the wine when necessary, and replacing it with tasty soups, along with strong tea, believing this would recover him, Dai-yu then mentioning it was time to go, so Bao-yu tags along, the two greeting Grandmother Jia, whom hadn’t dined, yet, she instructing Bao-yu go sleep it off, but when he returns, he’s told by Skybright to use up the ink she’d mixed for him, he inspecting her job of pasting his characters outside, Dai-yu joining them and praising Bao-yu’s work, he then inquiring whether Skybright had received the dumplings he’d sent her, she agreeing and had planned to save them when Nannie Li had taken them for her grandchildren, and also had drank all of the tea being saved for him, this pissing him off, but Aroma stating how if he got rid of her, all the other maids would go, so he stops complaining as they undress him, he falling to sleep almost immediately.

In the morning, Bao-yu overhears Jia Rong come with Qin Zhong to speak with Grandmother Jia, whom was impressed with him and has the other ladies in the family meet him, the visit keeping them into the evening, she also offerring he stay with them if ever his studies kept him too late. When Qin Zhong returns home, he informs his father, Qin Bang-ye of the day he had, it being told of the position he held and his adoption of two children, the boy dying, and Qin Zhong being his progeny late in his life, he happy to know he now needn’t worry about a tutor. The only issue was in thinking of what he’d have to spend to keep Qin Zhong properly started and supplied, but knew it was for the best, so he gives the teacher his raised tuition, whilst paying respect with his son, they then only waiting for Bao-yu to decide when they’d start, the day they go being an eventful one.

Bao-yu wishes to begin their schooling immediately, so sends word they would go in two days. Bao-yu then gets some advice from Aroma about what she’d packed for him on the morning he’d be going, and for him to stay on top of designating someone keeping the place warm, Bao-yu assuring her he’d be all right, and for the maids to keep themselves busy by staying with his cousin Lin, he then going to see Grandmother Jia, Lady Wang, and his father, Jia Zheng, the last being candid about what he believed his son capable of, and wishing he’d go away, his literary guests attempting to keep the mood light and hurry him on to breakfast, but Jia Zheng calls in Bao-yu’s pages as he waits outside, he asking them to inform him of what Bao-yu was actually doing in class, he choosing Nannie Lin’s son to speak, whom honestly informs how far into a book of poetry he was reading, in fear of repercussion. Jia Zheng instructs they tell the teacher to begin him on the Four Books, his attendants agreeing and walking out, they making certain Bao-yu had heard and instead of making it up to them if he disappointed his father and one of them received a beating, they implored him to obey the rules from time to time. By the time he gets back to Grandmother Jia’s quarters, Qin Zhong was waiting with her, the two then walking out, Bao-yu saying goodbye to Dai-yu and then going off to school.

Description of how the Jia school stayed funded and its location are given, then Bao-yu and Qin Zhong are introduced to their fellows upon arrival and get straight to their assignments. The two boys were joined together from then on, Grandmother Jia even looking after Qin Zhong for her gathered affections bringing about getting him clothes and having him stay for multiple nights. Bao-yu soon decides their formalities of being nephew and uncle would be forgotten and they’d from then on treat each other like buddies and siblings, which at first Qin Zhong hesitated to agree to, until Bao-yu kept insisting and led by example, Qin Zhong eventually complying. Like in any school, there was a variety of personalities and classes within the school, their commonality coming from the relations to the Jias, and due to the two boys being close friends, it gave the other students room to start rumors. Xue Pan took advantage of the school by seemingly using it as a sex service. Xue Pan soon had two ‘regulars’ and Bao-yu and Qin Zhong also were taken in by the pairs charm, which Bao-yu and Qin Zhong were unaware was so obvious. Then, Qin Zhong gets a moment with one of the boys and is rudely interrupted by another student, whom threatens to spread lies and speak with the Jia Rui about this boy harassing then, but due to Xue Pan paying him off, he was biased, and since Xue Pan was currently off of Jia Rui and Darling, the boy Qin Zhong was speaking with, he decides to put Darling down which also shames Qin Zhong by association. Jokey Jin, the bully takes advantage of this by furthering the rumors of the two boys taking the time alone to make out etc.

Jia Qiang, related to Jia Rong was being raised by Cousin Zhen, and the sixteen-year-old stood up for the under-dogs. Jia Qiang, thinks strategically the best way to handle the situation since both sides had an in with his relative, so gets the help of Tealeaf, the youngest and most impressionable of Ba0-yu’s pages, Jia Qiang describing the terror Jokey Jin would be if not taught a lesson, so Tealeaf confronts him, Jokey Jin gets permission to ditch class, since Jia Rui is a pussy, Tealeaf gives him crap and Jia Rui notes Tealeaf’s foul language. Jokey Jin is about to have Bao-yu deal with his servant, when Qin Zhong notes something flying by him from the table of Jia Lan and Jun, related to a second Lan, whom was the son of Li Wan and was Bao-yu’s nephew, and whilst Jia Jun was at first indifferent, he gets hooked in by a water bottle hitting his desk, his buddy, Jia Lan keeping his rage from manifesting to more damage. Jokey Jin though, is furious by this, Jia Lan holding him back from returning fire, but Jokey Jin too incensed, throwing a bag of books instead of the inkwell, but his aim not catching the culprit and instead hits Bao-yu and Qin Zhong’s table, Jokey Jin then launching himself at the original thrower. Jokey Jin, meanwhile had picked up a bamboo pole and was whipping it around, hitting Tealeaf, whom then calls in three more pages to assist.

Some students took cover whilst others joined the fight or hooted and urged others on as they stood on desks, Li Gui entering the hubbub and giving the pages the most crap for not keeping their cool, but Bao-yu having final word as he aids Qin Zhong after sustaining a head wound, he declaring they were leaving and would be informing his great-uncle Dai-ru of the unprofessional behavior they’d suffered. Li Gui suggests he leave Dai-ru out of it and blames Jia Rui for not stepping in, he defending himself, but Li Gui stating plainly why the boys had stopped respecting him, and if he didn’t stop Bao-yu from outing them, he’d go down with the rest. Bao-yu declares nothing would sway his decision to speak with his great-uncle, Qin Zhong speaking for justice in the expelling of Jokey Jin, Bao-yu reasoning it would be in Jokey Jin’s future once he told their story and when Jia Rui asks whom Jokey Jin was, Li Gui decides to refrain sharing so as to spare Jia Rui of the pain. As they hear Tealeaf through the window bad mouthing Jokey Jin’s aunt and her bad conduct, which has Li Gui yelling at him to be quiet and Bao-yu deciding now he knew whom Jokey Jin’s aunt was, he’d instead speak with her, Tealeaf then stating proudly, how he’d bring Lady Jia to him, Li Gui pissed off by this and threatening Tealeaf, finally getting the young man to shut up, and hoping his discretions wouldn’t be brought to light and had fixed the problem by pleading with Bao-yu and Qin Zhong separately, Bao-yu eventually deciding the matter would rest pending Jokey Jin admitting he was sorry, he refusing until Jia Rui and Li Gui convince him to relent, he doing so, and Bao-yu changing the condition to have Jokey Jin kotow to them, which would be shared in the next chapter.

Jokey Jin kotows to Qin Zhong, Bao-yu then agreeing the issue was resolved, but Jokey Jin grudging Qin Zhong his closeness to Bao-yu, but his mother hearing him as he spoke to himself, reminding him how lucky he was to be in this school. So, he does as he’s told and continues with his classes next day. Jokey Jin’s aunt was wife to Jia Huang, they living a humble lifestyle, receiving help from Xi-feng and You-shi when close to inability to pay their bills, His aunt decides to visit her sister-in-law about Jokey Jin’s run-in with Qin Zhong, thinking he was responsible for the negative outcome and see if she could get permission to speak with Qin Zhong’s sister. Her fire subsides though, as she sits with You-shi, the lady explaining how Qin-shi was feeling ill and her little brother, Qin Zhong had informed her of the school fight, You-shi then sending him to Bao-yu’s whilst she calmed Qin-shi and had her eat breakfast. She then inquires of Mrs. Huang if she knew a decent doctor, of which she had no information and decided against mentioning her true reasons for coming by, agreeing she should make certain Qin-shi wasn’t pregnant before giving her any definitive remedies.

After a pleasant visit, she leaves, You-shi then describing to Cousin Zhen of the uneventful visit, and then moving on to what they needed to do for Qin-shi. Fortunately, Zhen knows someone they can contact, believing Zhang will definitely visit them the next day, You-shi pacified, and then inquiring what they should do for their father’s birthday the day after, he revealing how their father wanted no part in any family parties for himself, so You-shi plans a two-day party for the family on his behalf. They receive a message from the doctor, promising to drop by next day and put down his own abilities as a practitioner before agreeing, due to respect, to visit Qin-shi. As promised, Dr. Zhang comes by, Zhen greeting him, the doc again explaining his lack of practice as a medical doctor, Zhen believing him humble, and then sends him to Qin-shi where he takes her pulse for some time before going outside with her husband, Jia Rong. The doctor explains his theory not being the conclusion of pregnancy, and he would prescribe her a treatment which if was responded to positively would give her a better chance of living. The list of herbs are given with how much to include and the doctor states she could make it if surviving the Spring, then leaves, Jia Rong relaying to his parents what he’d been told. The chapter after this supplying Qin-shi’s reaction to the medicine.

On the day of Jia Jing’s birthday, Zhen sent some gifts and instructions for the deliverer to note the man’s pleasure, and received the message of Grandfather would lead the prostration of the family from his home. Then, they learn Grandmother Jia wouldn’t be attending due to some dietary issue, they then touching on Qin-shi’s illness before Zhen goes to greet the recently arrived men-folk. You-shi continues to explain how they’d begun the doctor’s prescription, but nothing much had changed. Xi-feng is touched with emotion when learning Qin-shi had forced herself to get up the last time they’d met because of how much they’d bonded. Jia Rong then comes back with the news of their grandfather being happy with how they were conducting the celebration and would now continue looking after the men, but stating Xi-feng would be able to deduce how unwell Qin-shi was upon seeing her soon. You-shi then states how they should decide whether they’d dine inside or out, what with the show being prepared in the yard.

The decision was made to remain indoors and the table was set quickly. After they’d finished, Jia Rong gives a message to his mother of the men who had left and those who they would see at the show, as well as where all the presents were being stowed and the thank you notes and how the guests were treated before being sent off. Xi-feng then decides to visit Qin-shi before joining the rest, Bao-yu becoming affected by her words and Xi-feng turning it around light-heartedly, the reason they’d come, she then deciding to send Bao-yu back with Jia Rong, whilst she spoke a bit longer to Qin-shi. Xi-feng stayed as long as she could ignore messages from You-shi to come out, but finally readying to go, and still attempting to maintain Qin-shi’s positivity level, she then getting emotional as she agreed to visit as frequently as possible, and as she walked, is startled by Cousin Jia Rui, he obviously eye-balling her, she aware and pretending to enjoy his “charm”, they tentatively setting up some time to chat, she allowing him ample distance to move back toward the family, and thinking how she’d set him straight when the timing was right.

Xi-feng is then approached by one of You-shi’s servants, she informing Xi-feng she was now being sent for, You-shi makes clear how dedicated she was to Qin-shi, she then having her sit and drink with the other ladies, Xi-feng then instructed to choose a couple plays from the bill, since the two aunts had already done so, after which Xi-feng states how those two choices would be the final bit of the program for the players, but You-shi insisting she’d like the company, Xi-feng then seeing the men had left, a servant supplying they’d gone off to drink, and when the play was done, the party ended after the ladies had another course and tea, everyone beginning to leave. Cousin Zhen offers the ladies return the next day, but they choose to decline in favor of a day of rest. The day after brought another celebration, and this point onward, Qin-shi got steady visits from Xi-feng, her state of health fluctuating, Cousin Zhen, You-shi, and Jia Rong stressing more with her instability.

Whenever Xi-feng came over for Qin-shi, Jia Rui inexplicably turns up, and at the start of the final month to mark Qin-shi’s having begun the doctor’s treatment for almost a year, Grandmother Jia and ladies were consistently wanting updates of her health, it still not having normalized. Grandmother Jia decides Xi-feng should see how she was the next day, and to make certain her favorite food was in constant replenishment. Xi-feng saw Qin-shi’s lack of appetite having affected the skin on her face, but she still tried to keep her spirits up, and when she spoke with You-shi after, they wonder about Qin-shi’s surviving, You-shi tentatively having planned for the worst, she then reports to Grandmother Jia, being dismissed, and going home. She is then updated on her home’s calls, Jia Rui one of them, and after informing her servant why she was ready to take him on, the woman agrees with her, Jia Rui’s visit spoken of in the next chapter.

Whilst the two were still discussing Jia Rui, they were told he was now about to enter, and when he arrived, Xi-feng could see the pleasure in his face by her non-formal attire, he wondering why Cousin Lian wasn’t in attendance, hinting it could be due to a lady, he then declaring he wasn’t the sort whom flitted from one love to the next when Xi-feng comments all males were like this. He felt even more special when she’d commented how rare an attribute it was, the conversation progressing until Jia Rui states how he’d wile away the hours with her daily, if allowed. Xi-feng then shows how she believed him by comparing how two other men had proven themselves barbaric. Jia Rui became even more smitten, Xi-feng politely warning his movements were being surveyed by the help, he adjusting his body language accordingly. Xi-feng then decides he should ready to leave, but says he can meet her later in the evening when he protests, she quelling his worry of being noticed by anyone near their appointed meeting place.

Later, he arrives to the total darkness behind the side gate, but as he waits he hears the gate he came through being shut, the realization he was stuck there for the night his only company. He was properly chilled by morning and got lucky when an old woman came to be let in, he sneaking out without any trouble and making it home. His grandfather, Jia Dai-ru, whom had raised him, was certain Jia Rui had gone out carousing, since he’d kept him on a tight leash from the start, so Jia Rui decided to say he’d spent the night at his uncle’s house. His grandfather not buying this, whipping him good, then making him do extra homework all night, and not being allowed to have food, but this foo doesn’t learn.

A couple days go by, and he again goes to Xi-feng, she realizing his stubborn efforts hadn’t diminished, so she offers another task for him. Jia Rui falls for it, hard, he leaving her, as requested, and she informing those necessary to expect the berk later in the evening. Jia Rui had the misfortune of being waylaid by relatives joining his grandfather and he for dinner, then must wait for his grandfather to retire for the night, so when Jia Rui makes it to the agreed spot and sees no one, he wonders if he’d been stood up again. Someone does arrive though, and Jia Rui is so filled with lust he immediately goes after the figure and readies to do some poking, when Jia Qiang walks in with light. Jia Rui gets a glimpse of whom he was about to nail, it Jia Rong, Jia Qiang informing him of being expected by Lady Wang, whom was furious to learn Jia Rui’s obsession. He then decides a bribe was in order, Jia Qiang not needing much convincing, and when Jia Rong feigns a more difficult customer, Jia Rui ups his price and writes them an IOU, Jia Qiang then deducing Jia Rui must wait elsewhere until he located the route which would which would keep him “unnoticed”. Jia Qiang deposits him underneath a stair, the two leaving him, and during his short wait, is drenched in human feces,

Image result for 8 crazy nights whitey and porta potty Jia Qiang then returning to let Jia Rui know he could go through the gate now, he not wasting anymore time, getting a servant to let him in and wash. He thought how whilst Xi-feng had betrayed him, he was still overcome by her beauty, these thoughts not allowing him to drift to sleepy-land.

From then on, Jia Rui stayed away from her home, but Jia Qiang and Jia Rong dropped by often for their agreed upon moolah. Due to this stress, his grandfather’s strict homework assignments, and only the company of his hand, since Xi-feng was out of reach, he was stricken ill before the year was done, no remedies showing relief. By Spring, he’d gotten no better, his grandfather Dai-ru in a state, since no one could cure him. Dai-ru, in the end goes to Lady Wang, whom speaks with Xi-feng about acquiring pure ginseng for him, Xi-feng not going out of her way to comply though, she instead sending a crappy package-worth to Dai-ru, Jia Rui desperate to get better, so takes everything, and one day overhears a Taoist saying he could cure certain illnesses from the door, and when the Taoist states he wouldn’t be able to, but had a trinket which would keep him alive, he handing him an inscribed mirror. The Taoist shares how the fairy Disenchantment made it, and as long as Jia Rui resisted looking at the front, he’d be cure in a few days, the Taoist states he’d return for it then.

The Taoist then quickly exits despite those who’d heard, asked him to tarry. Jia Rui then looks at the mirror, seeing a skull, he covering it, and deciding to look at the front to spite the Taoist giving him a fright, he seeing Xi-feng enticing him to come, and boy does he, going through the mirror a few times before the last one, he getting pulled away before being allowed to reenter the real world once more, and everyone who watched this, seeing Jia Rui picking up and putting down the mirror until he stopped breathing, and as Jia Rui’s grandparents mourned, are ready to chuck the mirror in a bonfire and blamed the Taoist, they hearing a disembodied voice remind of Jia Rui having had a choice to obey the instructions. The mirror biffs off without help from anyone, and Dai-ru sees the Taoist outside catch it, and vanishes. Dai-ru is given contributions so Jia Rui’s funeral would be of good quality. Whilst Jia Rui had been dealing with his issues at the end of the year, Lin Ru-hai was also severely sick and requests a visit from Dai-yu. Grandmother Jia didn’t want to allow the girl to go, but makes the proper reservations for her to go to her father’s bedside. Bao-yu also was stricken, but accepted the girl’s departure, Grandmother Jia also had Jia Lian join her on the journey to Yangchow.

Xi-feng was affected with restlessness when Jia Lian had left with only Patience to converse with, the two considering how far into the trip he could be, Win-shi coming in as Xi-feng was close to sleep and Patience already asleep, she wishing to confide in her, since she also would be leaving soon. Qin-shi begins by speaking of some foretelling sayings about how whilst their family was currently respected, how it could fall from its perch easily. She continues about how Xi-feng could stave off too far a fall for them by preparing whilst they were still stable enough, and how there were a couple areas which Xi-feng could focus to make life easier if trouble should strike. Qin-shi explains the family cemetery and school both needed tending, which could be funded with the purchasing of property around the cemetery and the school moved on to said property to be paid for with the new purchases. The family would then share responsibility of tending to the school, which would keep everyone from complaining of having sole charge of the duties. So, in this way, the property would be safe from being taken to its charitable status, and would allow the young people to continue their education and be useful agriculturally.

Qin-shi then professes of a positive occurrence in the near future which could make them all spend in celebration and to be way of the excess extravagance. Qin-shi reveals a riddle before the hour of death is heard by chiming. When Xi-feng awakes, a servant announces Qin-shi had died, Xi-feng then getting ready to go to Lady Wang’s, and family and servants alike mourning her. Meanwhile, during Dai-yu’s absence, Bao-yu kept to himself and began retiring early in the evening, his reaction to Qin-shi’s death worrying his servants, since he’d thrown up blood, but he refused having a doctor called, believing it had been caused by the surprising news. He prepares to see Grandmother Jia and insists being allowed to go to Qin-shi, she setting up transport and entourage for him, and after seeing her body and grieving, looks in on You-shi, whom was ill with a stomach issue, then goes in search of Cousin Zhen, whom was speaking to other family members who had arrived and were mourning. He lost hope for the family name ending because of Qin-shi’s death, then speaks of plans for the funeral. Arrangements are made for her body before the ceremony and moved to a shrine.

Meanwhile, Cousin Zhen gets a deal for the making of the coffin from Xue Pan, they soon hearing of Qin-shi’s young servant committing suicide upon hearing of her passing, they burying the girl next to her. Cousin Zhen then has the good luck of speaking with a well-respected servant whom would be able to help him get his son, Jia Rong considered for a better position so he’d be able to add it to the needed banner for for Qin-shi’s funeral. The servant makes the arrangements with his secretary, and after he’d left, Cousin Zhen plays host to new arrivals to mourn Qin-shi. The next day, Jia Rong’s rank was promoted and the coffin stated as such. So, whilst most everything was progressing easily, Cousin Zhen still stressed over You-shi still being ill and this reflecting the family badly if it damaged some sort of rule regarding the “female head of household”, his answer coming from Bao-yu, Cousin Zhen completely agreeing with him and setting about the temporary head being Cousin Feng (Xi-feng), so brings Bao-yu to his room where only Xi-feng remained, since the other ladies disappeared for embarrassment, and Xi-feng notes how Cousin Zhen had been over-extending himself, he ignoring this and asking for her assistance on receiving her aid, she instructing him to ask Lady Wang, whom enters, but also puts her opinion of herself being too young, Cousin Zhen maintaining she was the only option and becoming upset, Lady Wang and she eventually consenting, so she accepts (I’m getting annoyed by the formalities basically referring to the same person to different ways, it’s confusing). After Cousin Zhen leaves, Xi-feng puts in order the tasks which she need focus on most once Lady Wang also leaves, she narrowing down how best to deal with the servants, especially.

Chief Steward of the Ning-guo mansions, Lai Sheng gives directions to his men to do as Xi-feng asks, their work hours guaranteed to be a bit longer now. So, as long as they put up with her bitchy, stubborn ways for the month, they could kick back after, she being known to go after anyone who disobeyed. Sunshine, Xi-feng’s servant then turns up for the household list of names, everyone snapping to work accordingly. After recieving said list, Xi-feng goes home. Xi-feng arrives back at Cousin Zhen’s early next morning to discuss Lai Sheng’s wife of almost the same topic of discussion Lai Sheng was going over, and then saw all servants before giving out their duties, she then making plain how everything would now be run. Her hold was immediately felt and order returned after many years of nonsense. After seven times seven days before the funeral, the monks had made it to a serious part of their prayers, as were the Taoists and other holy people all doing their parts to prepare Qin-shi’s journey through the afterlife.

Xi-feng had a late start next morning, and upon arriving, has the servants begin the procedures for their mourning. Xi-feng leads by example, Cousin Zhen and You-shi ending the display and Xi-feng starting the task of meeting with the servants, one woman later today, found and begging forgiveness whilst Xi-feng handled an order for silk-cord, which soon turned into other diverted attention for servants and wives of “important” men. Xi-feng continued her tracking of funds and deciding what would be handled according to her logic. Then, she returns her attention to the lady, informing her how she would normally have her conduct qualify dismissal, but instead would make an example of her, and ordered her whipped by bamboo, the servants taking her look of anger seriously and following orders. Xi-feng afterward, notes the new rules for how tardiness would be handled would be double the whipping number the woman endured, along with some other dissuasive fines, she then allows all to get to work. Xi-feng makes her leadership clear, and no one dared slack off. Bao-yu is then followed, using Xi-feng’s office to speak with Qin Zhong, she greeting them and finishing lunch as she took care of restocking orders and chatting to the boys about their school work, Bao-yu realizing Xi-feng hadn’t put through the request for materials necessary to finish his homework space, she revealing the materials had already been supplied and was only teasing him.

A servant traveling with Dai-yu then comes in to report the news of her father’s death and how long they’d be away for the burial. Later in the evening, she gathers requested coats and gives the servant more tasks whilst he looked after Jia Lian. As the funeral day drew nearer, Cousin Zhen picked out Qin-shi’s plot and the number of monks wanted for the ceremony. Cousin Zhen also stayed over at the head monk’s room overnight so he could finish the readying of the plot and whatnot before the funeral, Xi-feng also finalizing her reservations before and after the funeral, she also dealing with other family-related matters throughout, everyone becoming impressed with her multi-tasking and superb handling of all situations. Then, the night no one was to sleep was upon them, Xi-feng surrounded by shy family members, but she not perturbed and giving assignments to all as people came and left throughout the night, morning bringing the funeral. It beginning with the tradition breaking of the bowl by honorary daughter/servant, Jewel, showing her sadness appropriately. One official, the Prince of Beijing had also attended, asking about wanting to meet Bao-yu to Jia Zheng, his father. He retrieves the boy, Bao-y excited to have been asked for, he admiring the Prince, and their conversation forthcoming.

Bao-yu admired Shui Rong, the Prince of Beijing’s mourning accessories and outfit before attempting to greet him formally, but was prevented by the man, he instead asking about Bao-yu’s jade, and being handed the corded stone immediately for inspection. After, the Prince inquires about Bao-yu’s studies, etc and then states how Bao-yu was sure to surpass his elders, Jia Zheng replying how lucky they’d be if Bao-yu lived up to the affirmation. The Prince then offers Bao-yu an invitation to his home to speak with the cultured writers the Prince had been known to host, this allowing Bao-yu another way to be taught different sorts of intellect. He then gives Bao-yu a bracelet he wore, Bao-yu and his father both thanking him traditionally before Jia She and Cousin Zhen offer he go before the coffin’s procession, but the Prince decides the hearse’s presence to importance, so the funeral party was temporarily separated whilst the Prince left. Bao-yu was preparing to join the other men to go by horseback, when Xi-feng invites him to accompany her by carriage, he accepting and then taking a moment to stop at the midway of their travels.

They get out at a farm, one of Bao-yu’s pages describing the farm tools whilst Xi-feng changed her outfit, they eating and taking tea before continuing their ride and catching up at the Temple, and after staying the day, is offered to return home in the evening, but decides to stay, Xi-feng taking responsibility for him. The two, along with Qin Zhong, since his father was unable to remain, retire at her arranged rooms, she speaking with the lady of the house, Euergesia, whilst Bao-yu and Qin Zhong are met by one of Euergesia’s “disciples”, Sapientia, Bao-yu giving Qin Zhong a hard time for supposedly hugging her privately, he denying knowing anything about it. Sapientia couldn’t deny Bao-yu’s claims though, the two having fallen for each other, but their affections innocent, so far. They had tea, then leave Sapientia for other pastimes.

Meanwhile, back with Xi-feng, Euergesia relates a story where a family wished for her assistance, but she not interested in getting involved, Euergesia warning it would give the wrong impression, so Xi-feng decides to quote a price she’d agree to help, if paid, Euergesia immediately assuming they would and whether she’d be prepared to begin the next day, she not saying yet, but the two chatting on. Qin Zhong soon locates Sapientia, he vowing his love, she wanting him to prove it through getting her out of her servant status, and his agreement, but forcing his unbridled passion upon her, Bao-yu cock-blocking him in a odd way, and he deciding what Qin Zhong would do to keep his secret for him, but the details unknown. Now, Qin Zhong is attempting to figure a reason for them to remain longer, Xi-feng weighing the reasonability, deciding it’d suit her for the task she agreed to do. Xi-feng has a servant send a message to a general Yun Guang, and when they were set to leave the next day, Xi-feng makes sure Euergesia will contact her with Yun Guang’s answer. Qin Zhong and Sapientia’s parting was full of sadness and the details of the departure are to follow.

Everyone’s return home is uneventful, Bao-yu had every intention of using his finished work space, but Qin Zhong became sick, and woe he is made to wait longer before he could study with him. Xi-feng received Guang’s response in affirming his readiness to help her which had him receiving his gifts back and a young lady and man committing suicide in the process, Xi-feng looking like she was content with money made and Lady Wang remaining in the dark, this seemingly the start to her new hobby. Soon, Jia Zheng’s birthday has come, a message from the Emperor coming by Head Eunuch of the Bedchamber, they learning Jia Zheng had been summoned to see the Emperor right then, this having the rest of the family wondering what reason there could be as Zheng readies to leave. A few hours later, Grandmother Jia receives message of she and her female family members were now also being asked to go meet Zheng so they could show gratitude, Grandmother Jia learning privately one of the ladies had been chosen as Imperial Concubine.

When the women found out, they were quite pleased and dressed according to title of power. Bao-yu was the only one whom wasn’t bothered by this good news, Sapientia having followed Qin Zhong and he getting punished when Qin Bang-ye found her, he getting so incensed, an illness which he periodically fought, finally claimed him a few days later, so due to the physical stresses and mental anguish from losing his father, he struggled to get better. This is why Bao-yu’s sister, Yuan chun’s “promotion” didn’t brighten his mood, the family putting it off to being one of his crazy ways. Although, the knowledge of Dai-yu finally returning helped him defrost a bit, and when she arrived, she became swept up with locating space for the new books she’d brought back (I feel that). Meanwhile, Xi-feng and Jia Lian were jokingly speaking formally with each other, and as they had tea, spoke of Xi-feng’s duties and she down-playing her competence at managing households. As she’s inquiring Jia Lian to have Cousin Zhen forgive her terrible management of his home, Jia Lian is reminded of hearing news about Xue getting Caltrop as he’d been wanting. Jia Lian notes how Xue wasn’t suitable for her, so Xi-feng offers to exchange her maid for Caltrop.

When Jia Lian goes to see Zhen, whom had dropped by, Patience admits the reason Caltrop was mentioned was because Brightie’s wife had come to deliver money. Later on, as Xi-feng and Jia Lian have wine, his old nurse comes by to ask about possible work for her sons, Xi-feng willing to take the matter into her own hands. The conversation then moves on to the Emperor’s project of having a place for the concubines to visit with their parents, Jia Lian helping with this. Nannie Zhao speaks of the old Emperor’s ways and is soon interrupted by Jia Rong and Jia Qiang who were delivering the message of where the Visitation spot would be placed and to give comment the next day. Jia Qiang then relays a message about his own task of hiring entertainers and was to accept advice, Jia Lian wonders whether he was experienced enough to choose appropriately, Xi-feng defending Zhen’s choice to have Jia Qiang handle it.

After Jia Lian learns how the money for this task would be handled, he approves of Jia Qiang’s plan so far, and Xi-feng offers a couple helpers to aid him, which he’d been hoping to request. Jia Qiang offers to pick up anything Jia Lian needed in appreciation for his help, and after this, heard a few general household matters before retiring for the night, Xi-feng joining him by midnight. Jia Lian plays a large role in choosing the builders to undertake the project which began the next day, after which they started purchasing supplies and moving a garden to attend to the landscape before building. Due to the family focused on this, Bao-yu wasn’t hassled about his school work, but soon discovers Tealeaf, Qin Zhong’s state turning into a deathly illness. Bao-yu relays this to Grandmother Jia, whom allows he go to him until he passed, but must return directly after. Bao-yu leaves and quickly takes a carriage to Qin Zhong’s where he was being looked after by female relatives.

When Bao-yu sees his friend lying on a bed instead of his kang, he becomes upset, Li Gui reminding Bao-yu the reason behind this could be due to Qin Zhong’s sensitivity to certain levels of hardness of cushion rather than it being about the custom of not being allowed to expire on a kang, hoping this possibility would calm Bao-yu so as not to upset Qin Zhong, but he needn’t have worried, since Qin Zhong was currently dealing with beings ready to drag him into the afterlife, but upon hearing Bao-yu calling, the “demon” leader and bunch put them atwitter as to how to proceed. The lead demon decides to relent in letting Qin Zhong a few more moments to say goodbye to Bao-yu, since he wore his demon repelling jade. Unfortunately, Qin Zhong was unable to speak and could only awake to look at Bao-yu before descending into blackness.

Bao-yu was terribly distraught from this day until quite some time after the funeral. Later still, Cousin Zhen informed Jia Zheng of the garden being done and he would be last to decide if they needed to add anything else, as well as the opinion for certain points of the space to be named, the two agreeing with an idea from a man of words about putting their ideas on lanterns and have Grandmother Jia decide later which would be best. Bao-yu had been prompted by her Ladyship only moments before to go in the garden, so hadn’t been quick enough to retreat before his father approached, Jia Zheng then deciding he’d see how gifted Bao-yu’s couplet skills truly were, since receiving good notes regarding this from his instructor.

Jia Zheng leads them all to the first spot needing to be named, everyone suggesting something, Jia Zheng not disappointed after Bao-yu makes his suggestion, but the area ultimately going to receive a different name. They move to another area and the group again gives opinions, Bao-yu doing well and this time his father acknowledging this in the usual minimalist way, they moving on. this time, the little enclosed area bringing to mind the idea of studying within to Jia Zheng’s attention and Bao-yu showing a look of guilt. After hearing the other men first, Jia Zheng speaks deprecatingly about Bao-yu to Cousin Zhen, since he’d suggested hearing from Bao-yu once more, he again giving a more suitable idea and stating why the others didn’t seem fitting. Jia Zheng hadn’t been impressed with the couplet Bao-yu offered thought, getting the report of what deliveries had been made for the structure thus far. They move on to the next area as they listened, Jia Zheng happy to have reached this particular rest-spot.

Bao-yu doesn’t wait to be asked this time and his father responds heatedly about they only having been inquiring to test him, so when they moved to another building he had Bao-yu attempt a name, Jia Zheng not pleased and putting down both name and couplet before moving on, this time traveling to another area with a stream, Bao-yu still unable to impress his father, the group then climbing to another area over a hill. Jia Zheng’s first impression of another building turned from negative to calm due to the view from the door, plants all about within, Bao-yu mistakenly offering his opinion on the smell form the plants coming from a particularly named rare plant.

When Bao-yu stays silent at the next building as the literary men suggested couplets, Jia Zheng calls on his son again, goading him for his opinion, and again acting surprised when the other men praise Bao-yu, but inwardly agreeable, at the least to the positive feedback. The next place they went was the entrance hall, this place giving Bao-yu deja-vu, the other men having Jia Zheng allow Bao-yu to give his opinion in a day’s time, since he looked so preoccupied with attempting to remember. Jia Zheng does only allow these terms if Bao-yu gives him a perfect suggestion, they then being interrupted by a servant with information Yu-cun having sent a message. They leave with Jia Zheng leading, he again shooting down a suggestion from Bao-yu when they crossed a dam, after which they walk past many other quaint rest areas, Jia Zheng only stopping when he became tired.

Bao-yu still attempts naming the place they were in after his father had the others speak. The idea wasn’t accepted, though and they continued on until reaching where they’d begun, Jia Zheng allows Bao-yu to depart, the boy being stopped by his father’s pages, who took all of his valuables they could see as payment for supplying him with his poems, they then take him to Grandmother Jia, after which he goes back to his quarters, Aroma and then Dai-yu seeing his missing articles, the latter annoyed he’d given away a gift of hers, she collecting and cutting up a bag Bao-yu had requested she make, he showing her how the gift she’d thought had been re-gifted was actually saved, she upset by his reaction of returning it to her and then calming her down when he saw she was going to destroy this purse, as well. When he didn’t let her alone, though, she attempts arguing why he’d insist keeping the little purse when he’d tried to reattach it, the two eventually making peace enough to go to Jia Qiang’s where they learned of a twelve girl act he’d acquired, also 24 nuns also being employed by Lin Zhi-xiao’s wife, the lady informing how they may get an extra nun, Adamantina, whom would fit well and came from a good family, but the young lady having not been convinced, yet. Lady Wang suggests a formal invite of which the results continue presently.

As Xi-feng became busier, Bao-yu decides to move their group to Ying-chun’s quarters. Meanwhile, Lady Wang would be occupied with work for the garden for the next ten months straight. Finally, after Grandmother Jia had given her okay, Jia Zheng puts in request and receives answer for a “Visitation”, in a month’s time. A eunuch made last minute rules and requests on behalf of the concubine and the night before the visit brought rest to no one. The important members of the family were all ready by five next morning and waiting at the entrance until hearing how the concubine wouldn’t be arriving until early evening. Xi-feng prepares small assignments in the meantime, and when night finally falls, the eunuchs soon get wind of the concubine’s approach, the Jia family also reclaim their spots of welcome, and then two sets of ten eunuchs stand in a line before they hear the concubine reaching their estate. First her servants carry her belongings, she bringing up the rear. Yuan-chun descends only for a moment to “‘changing her clothes'” before being brought to the freshly pimped garden, she overwhelmed by the lengths obviously gone to in order to show the excessive make-over. As Yuan-chun was brought further into the garden, it’s explained why Jia Zheng had chosen to use his son’s suggestions being to do with Yuan-chun having been so close with him when he was a small boy. Yuan-chun, not knowing this it seems, spoke her mind, and one title for the entrance to an area was shortened whilst another changed completely. Yuan-chun then sat to be greeted by the family, her lady-in-waiting dismissing each group as they paid respects.

Yuan-chun’s lady-in-waiting went about excusing each group as they paid respects. After this, she again, “changes her clothes” and is carried to her family’s home. Grandmother Jia and Lady Wang both waiting, and Yuan-chun becoming emotional from seeing them after so long. Six other ladies were standing around and watching the scene with tears in their eyes. After everyone calmed, others were brought forward to greet her, and after learning Aunt Xue, Bao-chai, and Dai-yu weren’t present, she had them called on to attend the reunion. Then, when most of the high-positioned servants were led out, Yuan-chun was comfortable enough to lose diplomatic formality, unfortunately, it making certain trouble when wanting to chat with her father, Jia Zheng, they having to speak with a curtain hiding one from the other. He spoke of advising her, and also stating of his wife and he were honored by her royal position and she shouldn’t feel upset for her good fortune including this stipulation of her visit.

Yuan-chun then wonders aloud where Bao-yu was, after which Jia Zheng shared his son’s contribution for the titles in the garden. She calls for him and is overcome with joy once more, until being led to a feast elsewhere, getting the chance to explore the grounds further, and afterward, she and the family sitting down for their meals and she writing down her choice for titles of the lovely garden and changes to the names of some, but not Bao-yu’s inscriptions. After doing a bit more writing, Yuan-chun requests the ladies of the family to attempt writing some poetry, as well as Bao-yu expanding on his inscriptions of her four top favorites. Everyone immediately begins, the ladies poems being read first. Yuan-chun praises two out of the four young ladies, and then Bao-chai helps Bao-yu with his last requested poem. After this, the twelves little girl performers got their chances to show their talents, one girl, Charmante being noticed considerably more. Then, Yuan-chun makes an inspection of the list of gifts which would be given to the family and servants, she agreeing, the time for her visit ending. Grandmother Jia with Lady Wang were both visibly upset, Yuan-chun attempting to reassure them everything would be fine before steeping back into her carriage.

The emperor hears of Yuan-chun’s visit a day later, and Xue-feng along with the rest of the family, were taxed physically and mentally by all the planning they’d done, she continuing to oversee the cleanup of the garden which lasted for the next few days. Bao-yu though, was among those being completely sedentary with his time, he accepting an invitation to attend some plays at the other house. The productions were so loud, people on the streets could hear the cacophony. Bao-yu becomes tired of it fairly quickly and decides to move along, chatting with You-shi first, but leaves her and the maids and concubines shortly after, his attendants all having let him be for believing he’d only mill about until evening. Bao-yu was on his way to see a portrait of a lady hanging in one of Cousin Zhen’s studies, and upon approaching closer, hears questionable sounds from within. He makes a tear in the paper window and witnesses Tealeaf getting off with another girl. Bao-yu was shocked into a yelp and busted in on the two, allowing the one girl to leave and inquiring of Tealeaf to share the girl’s name, which was Swastika (the story behind this, shared), the two then decide to visit Aroma where they are also greeted by her family and before being escorted back home, sits a little while.

Meanwhile, his maids were also taking advantage of Bao-yu being out, Nannie Li dropping in and not being impressed with their behavior. She helps herself to Bao-yu’s gift to Aroma, though and becomes peeved and feels guilty when hearing why the koumiss had been saved. Another maid attempts to make light of Nannie Li’s egotistic perspective by agreeing with her, but she didn’t believe the maid’s genuineness, and after leaving, Bao-yu returns to notice the maid, Skybright lying down, Ripple relating the events with Nannie Li and how Skybright started losing when the old woman arrived. Aroma then comes in, Bao-yu asking for the koumiss and the maids naming the drinker, Aroma stating how Nannie Li would’ve been welcome to it anyways, since she’d made herself sick of the drink before Bao-yu could react.

When Aroma requests Bao-yu peel some chestnuts for her, this distracts him from thinking anymore of Nannie Li and he drifted to the topic of one of Aroma’s younger relatives, the girl catching his interest and confiding his opinion of liking the girl to reside with them, Aroma taking offense over how her family shouldn’t all have to work for his, Bao-yu claiming the possibility he could’ve meant as a bride rather than a maid, Aroma not buying this due to her family’s lower status. She then shares how the girl was already betrothed, Bao-yu showing disappointment, and then shocked and surprised when hearing her family’s plans of buying her freedom to move back home. Bao-yu’s reaction to state how he could keep her there when she’d confessed her wish to return to them, and explaining how his family couldn’t deny her freedom if purchased, Bao-yu distressed over this, but seeing how possible it was, regardless of his hypothetical scenarios to make her stay, he then sharing how he’d rather have not had her employed for him if she’d told him sooner she’d eventually leave, readying for bed.

Then the conversation between Aroma’s mother, brother, and herself is related, she not wanting  them to buy her out, due to how well she was treated and they not having need of the money to sell her off again, they also agreeing with her after seeing Bao-yu. So, Aroma confessing the opposite to him was part one in a complicated plan (maybe?), she’d successfully gotten Bao-yu off his high horse and discovered his true feelings. She then goes to Bao-yu to see he’d been crying, she confiding her change of heart to stay and Bao-yu asking her to think of a way to prove to her how much he truly wanted her to remain with him. Aroma wants him to perform three tasks for her, one being to not go on and on with long drawn out responses, the second to at least pretend to enjoy studying, especially around his father and associates, Bao-yu claiming to already having stopped doing this, the third was to resist taking lipstick and eating it, he agreeing fully, and Aroma stating if he could keep it up and only be careful how reckless he was, she wouldn’t ever leave. Another maid then walks in to share the hour being late, so Bao-yu again goes through his bedtime rituals.

Next morning, Aroma becomes ill, so had to take most of the day off, Bao-yu going to see Dai-yu, whom was attempting to nap, but he insisting her napping after a meal was unhealthy, so she relented staying up and chatting with him. Bao-yu becomes distracted by Dai-yu’s perfume scent as she advised him to be careful being seen helping to make rouge, since the news could read his father. Dai-yu confesses it wasn’t perfume, but perhaps came from her closet, Bao-yu denying this for the smell being different. After some time sniffer her cuff, he attempts to make idle conversation, Dai-yu not participating until Bao-yu pretends hearing of a story about Yangchow and some magic mice, she then relenting to listen. When Dai-yu finally realizes this story involved a character with connotations to herself entering the story, she punishes Bao-yu with a lip-pinch, Bao-chai coming in and asking what had happened, Dai-yu explaining and happy to know Bao-chai could now whip Bao-yu at his own game, they then hearing an angry outburst from the vicinity of Bao-yu’s room.

So, as they’d been having a grand ole time, Bao-yu feels better now Dai-yu wouldn’t get indigestion, she identifying the yelling coming from Nannie Li arguing at Aroma, Bao-chai keeping Bao-yu from breaking it up for Nannie Li’s outburst being small potatoes. Bao-yu agrees with her words before going off and hearing Nannie Li’s insults to Aroma having to do with her not having at least acknowledged her presence when she’d arrived. Aroma kept her cool, but became upset when Nannie Li began suggesting how better off they’d all be with her getting married and leaving, Bao-yu attempts to support Aroma with the allowance of she having been sick, but Nannie Li continues her rampage by believing Aroma had turned all of them against her, she then becoming upset, Bao-chai and Dai-yu attempting to ease her emotion.

Xi-feng’s attention is caught in the front room, she entering and stating to Nannie Li of needing to be quiet, Grandmother Jia was in good spirits and didn’t need to hear her petty b.s. (seriously; It was said in kinder terminology, though). Xi-feng also states how if Nannie Li was being upset by anyone she should report them to her for punishment, she then insisting the old bag come have some stew and drink in her quarters, Nannie Li begrudgingly following, but quietly bitching about how she didn’t regret her actions. Bao-chai and Dai-yu were properly amused by this, Bao-yu wondering why Nannie Li had truly gone off on everyone, Skybright defending the girls due to the culprit should’ve willingly come forward if circumstances warranted, Aroma then stating how Bao-yu shouldn’t have turned the quarrel into a group affair, since she always received the backlash, stopping herself from becoming further distressed for Bao-yu’s sake, he also staying reserved, since he could see she was truly ill.

As a proper lie-down is set up for her, she suggests he sit with Xi-feng and Grandmother Jia for awhile, she assuring him she’d be alright, Bao-yu agreeing with her idea and so joins his grandmother once Aroma was settled, he returning afterward to find all his maids gone except Musk, whom had decided to keep an eye on Aroma and Bao-yu’s quarters. So, before retiring himself, he brushes her hair when he remembers she’d been talking about it earlier, another maid coming in, teasing Bao-yu, he making light of it, fortunately, and then returning to her game. By the following morning Aroma had recovered, so Bao-yu goes to Aunt Xue’s home. Some of his other closely-aged relatives were also there playing games, Bao-yu’s half-brother, Jia Huan playing against Bao-chai, she treating the two brothers equally, so when Jia Huan starts losing the game and attempts to cheat, Bao-chai has the other girl give up her winnings, she annoyed, but Jia Huan breaking down, which Bao-yu then comes in to inquire the reason, but the other too ashamed to confess.

Besides this, there was an odd relationship between the two due to Jia Huan being a concubine’s son and the younger. Bao-yu didn’t bully him, since people were already speaking about him enough as it was, and he also was ruled by his religion teaching respect of blood being of utmost importance, so Bao-yu dealt with Jia Huan as this and the fact he’d grown up with females coloring his reasoning. He made it clear if the game was upsetting him, he should go find something else he’d enjoy. Jia Huan ends up back in his own quarters where his actual mother, “‘Aunt Zhou'” wondered aloud what had happened (Lady Wang was known as his mother only by title). When Jia Huan shares his story of what had occurred, Aunt Zhou bursts with how he shouldn’t have been mixing with them anyways. Xi-feng hears her as she passes by, telling her off through the window and having the boy come with her. She proceeds to berate him about his choice of bad company and being too weak-minded, she then sending him off with more cash for betting with and would make him regret any similar behavior in the future if she heard about it again. Meanwhile Bao-yu and Bao-chai go to visit with Miss Shi when she comes to call.

When arriving at Grandmother Jia’s room, Dai-yu was there giving Bao-yu a hard time about spending time with Bao-chai. She exits, and Bao-yu goes after her wondering why she was mad, she stubborn and Bao-yu getting pulled away by Bao-chai on behalf of Cousin Shi, the two leaving Dai-yu upset, and when Bao-yu returns later, she is more distressed and so he attempts calming her with how close they were compared to Bao-chai, whom was too new to be considered more of a closer cousin. Cousin Shi then comes to say how perfect it was they deserting her the one time she’s actually available to them, the two laughing at her lisp and she quickly exiting after a joke about Dai-yu marrying a lisper. Bao-yu blocks Dai-yu’s attempts at chasing her and Bao-chai tries to diffuse the situation by waving the white flag, Dai-yu having a Nannie Li moment when she sticks to her pursuit and belief there was collusion against her. Bao-yu makes her realize how this nonsense began due to her own tom-foolery, a servant interrupting with news of Grandmother Jia starting supper, after which Bao-yu hangs around with Dai-yu and Xiang-yun until quite late, Aroma asking for him periodically.

The next morning, Bao-yu is up with the light and fussing at Xiang-yun’s blankie, Dai-yu having him leave temporarily whilst they dressed, and after finishing cleaning their faces, Bao-yu requests Xiang-yun style his hair, Aroma sees this and returns to Bao-yu’s room where Bao-chai comes looking for him, she taking a moment to speak with Aroma about herself, liking the girl. When Bao-yu returns, he notes how quickly Bao-chai leaves, Aroma not in a good humor and Bao-yu stating as much, she confessing she’d like to work for Grandmother Jia once more. This worries Bao-yu, but he doesn’t get anything more from her, and when he receives similar attitude from Musk, he lets it go and lays down for a nap. When Aroma covers him and he takes the blanket off, they begin speaking, he stating how she wouldn’t even let him in on why she was mad, and she maintaining he should know already and when he finishes lunch and returns, she has fallen asleep. He goes to his room and reads for awhile until seeing one of his maids, Citronella, standing in the room awaiting instruction, he changing her nickname given to her by Aroma to Number Four due to the number of girls in her family and she being the baby, he growing tired of the flower and fragrance theme.

Aroma and Musk quietly find this amusing, Bao-yu now bored with his uneventful day, Number Four wanting to make a favorable impression on him, and after dinner, Bao-yu now a bit inebriated, he considered how best to bide his time from Aroma, reading and becoming inspired by a passage and adding his own thoughts in the book regarding Aroma, Musk, Dai-yu, and Bao-chai, then retiring. Aroma is asleep next to him when he wakes in the morning, he rousing her so she could go sleep comfortably on her own kang (which everyone seems to lounge and sleep on, so I presumed). When Bao-yu attempts to get her more comfortable, she resists, still playing her game of having him see his wrongful ways. Instead, it seems to be left alone once Bao-yu breaks a hair-pin, they both washing up. Bao-yu leaves and Dai-yu comes looking for him, seeing his open book, and ads her own lines to his. She then goes to Grandmother Jia’s, and after to Lady Wang’s, the doctor having seen her daughter, she being sick with smallpox. The doctor advises the potential for recovery and how to treat it for the little girl’s comfort. A room was then prepared for the girl, doctors, and parents, since it would be a 12 day process.

Jia Lian was affected by this set up because of the forced abstinence it entailed, which would be satiated by a lady known as “the mattress”, the wife of a cook called “Droopy Duo”. Jia Lian soon had her brought to him, she delighted, they meeting in the evening, and upon getting down, her nickname explained as coming from an affectation her body took, and once finished, the two ‘come’ (wink) to an agreement. When the baby’s illness had passed and everything was normal, Patience discovers a lock of hair under Jia Lian’s pillow, she confronting him about what it could be, and when he makes a lunge for it and fails to retrieve it before Xi-feng was heard heading towards them and requesting an item for Grandmother Jia, asks whether anything was found or missing from Jia Lian’s temporary quarters, she knowing the possibility of her hubby’s naughtiness.

Patience keeps his secret and when they’re alone again, was about to negotiate terms when he tricks her into releasing the hair, and her frustration making him ask for her to let him lay her, she leaving whilst the getting was good. He then vows to make Xi-feng realize whom was actually in power in their relationship, it sounding murderous, he claiming she was using the double-standard on him (rightly), Patience defending Xi-feng for not being a cheat. When she mentions how trustworthy she thought of him, he widens his threat to include anyone who thought his conduct unsavory, Xi-feng then happening to return to see Patience conversing through an open window, she giving Xi-feng some attitude when she mentions why she was outside to speak with Jia Lian inside, then exiting, Jia Lian also trying to excuse himself, but Xi-feng having a topic to discuss.

Xi-feng inquires about their plans for Bao-chai’s birthday, since she’d be turning fifteen and Grandmother Jia wanted a nice party for her, so Jia Lian comes up with a simple solution, Xi-feng only making certain he had final say, he not caring as long as she eased up her surveillance of him. Shi Xiang Yun is then followed, she preparing to end her stay, but Grandmother Jia insisting she wait til after the party, she agreeing and sending word back home. Meanwhile, Xi-feng speaks with Grandmother Jia about what her thoughts were for entertainment, she going off on her in a burst when she was offered a meager sum to obtain said festivities, fortunately everyone taking it lightly. Grandmother Jia had caught on to the situation being for her benefit, she enjoying these set up digs on her.

On the day of the party, a different child acting troupe is scheduled. The party stayed a private affair, and Dai-yu was still acting aloof toward Bao-yu, as he’d come to her room to offer choosing her favorite plays for her, she not impressed, but still allowing him to lead her out. After the family had eaten, Bao-chai chooses the first play to be from a piece of Journey to the West, Grandmother Jia happy with her decision. The others also get a choice and everyone sits to watch the set, Bao-yu asking Bao-chai why she kept requesting similarly themed plays, her answer having to do with the music and lyrics, Bao-yu having her share which part she particularly liked, she obliging by quietly singing the section.

Bao-yu agrees with her assessment, Dai-yu voicing her annoyance at his talking, and after everyone had watched the plays into the evening, Grandmother Jia gave extra gifts to two of the girls who stood out, afterward. As the troupe was packing it in, some noted how one of them looking like one of their party, Xiang-yu naming the person, then becoming angry when receiving a look from Bao-yu, which she mistakenly perceived to be a look of insult, and she not caring for his explanation, he then getting pushed out of a room by Dai-yu when he was looking for her. He waits her out and when she opens the door once more to find him still waiting, she allows him entry, alluding to how he seemed to support her being teased, he declaring the statement hadn’t been made by him, and she concluding with a baffling answer, since she supported everyone’s reaction, whilst wasn’t ideal, she thought his staying straight-faced made it worse, like she couldn’t take the joke. Besides this, how he’d reacted to Xiang-yu confused her into thinking it was due to she being on a lower rung-of-importance to Xiang-yu and shouldn’t have been joining with her, for risking a comeback, and so believed his excuse of she being sensitive was to distract from this, Dai-yu not liking he’d stuck in nose in. Bao-yu realizes how his actions had received negative results from both ends and his book reading reminded him of the philosophies saying how unfulfilling the task he’d put on himself was, making him feel worse, so he ditches her in favor of his quarters.

Dai-yu took this even more insulting and declared he stay away from her and not speak with her again. Bao-yu doesn’t respond, and when Aroma sees him, lets it be and talks of different subjects, her attempts being met with indifference. Bao-yu was determined to keep out of any suggestion referring to the ladies and so stayed aloof with all of Aroma’s ideas regarding good spirits toward the women. After quoting a line describing how he felt, he became upset and began writing some verses. When he was satisfied, he goes to bed, Dai-yu wandering in later and Aroma detaining her before she withdrew, after learning Bao-yu had retired, but was amused by Bao-yu’s writing which Aroma gives her, she showing Xiang-yu and Bao-chai, the latter disposing of it, since believing Bao-yu had written it because of what she’d told him of the play, Dai-yu finding her reaction amusing. She states how destroying the paper was unnecessary and could reverse Bao-yu’s reaction by posing a specific question to him, which when he heard, could not find a reply, all who watched on amused and suggesting alternatives to his torn up thoughts, he then realizing his Enlightened moment was false, taking the three’s ribbing lightly, since they also hadn’t obtained Enlightenment, regardless of knowing more than he.

Meanwhile, Yuan-chun had sent a riddle for the family to decipher and return a riddle of their own to her. Everyone took part in answering the riddle and supplying one of their own and the answers along with the riddles were delivered and returned in kind. So, whilst some of Yuan-chun’s guesses were incorrect, those who’d stumped her pretended she’d succeeded in solving them. Jia Huan was the only one whom had given a riddle Yuan-chun admitted she couldn’t solve, the answer being sent to her, Grandmother Jia so taken with the game, she sets up one of her own for everyone, Jia Zheng also taking part, and after Grandmother Jia had Li Wan join them, also noting Bao-yu staying monosyllabic due to his father’s presence, the other ladies were also lacking in conversation, Bao-chai the least affected by whatever was putting the others off, Grandmother Jia considering the cause to be Jia Zheng, she attempting to convince him to turn in, but he wanting to be a part of the fun, Grandmother Jia relenting by offerring him a riddle, the two soon trading riddles, Jia Zheng giving presents when Grandmother Jia’s answers were correct.

After, she suggest he has a go at the kids riddles, getting them with one guess, but becoming depressed by how dark they were. Grandmother Jia could tell something had darkened his mood and didn’t want him bringing down the party anymore and again brings up of he readying to retire for the night, he agreeing this time and doing so after a couple more drinks and conversation with her before making his exit, his mood not improving. At the table, upon Grandmother Jia stating they loosen up, Bao-yu immediately begins critiquing the riddles, Dai-yu and Xi-feng making fun of how animated he’d become and realizing Jia Zheng should stick close to him more often if they wanted peace, he retaliating against Xi-feng’s comment by play-wrestling with her. After some little time, Grandmother Jia becomes tired and breaks up the party so all could settle for bed.

A bit after Yuan-chun’s visit, she has a copy of the poems made about the garden and has the best ones engraved in the family’s honor. Jia Zheng goes about passing the responsibility to have her wishes met and was considering how to proceed with transplanting the nuns and monks elsewhere (this being mentioned way back…), Zhou-shi turning up thinking a job for her son, Jia Qin could be acquired, since the family needed the money, she getting the opportunity to chat with Xi-feng, whom liked her, and after hearing her idea of how to keep the nuns and monks with no problems of separating them, Xi-feng has Jia Zheng informed because it was so clever, she being reminded by her hubby Jia Lian they had to think of Jia Yun first, she already having plans for him, Jia Lian agreeing and asking about a little romp they had the night before, she giving a small laugh and not answering. Later, when Jia Lian relays all of their plans for the boys to Jia Zheng, he allows this quickly for indifference in these matters, Jia Qin being hired and he stating his gratitude to them, Xi-feng also having Jia Lian supply him with an advance, he immediately starting his work after speaking with his mother.

Meanwhile, Yuan-chun was reminiscing  about the beauty of the garden as she worked on the poems it had inspired and thinking how terrible it was knowing they wouldn’t be using it in her absence, so she decides to have the girls and Bao-yu move in there. She writes her wish of this and has it sent to Jia Zheng and Xi-feng, and when Grandmother Jia is informed, they begin setting up for this to happen, Bao-yu quite ready to move in and chatting to Grandmother Jia of his plans of what he wished put there, he then being called by Jia Zheng, his attitude changing obviously, Grandmother Jia comforting him and telling him how to respond to his father during this visit, and when she sends him off with some nannies as “protection”, he makes his way to his father slowly, the nannies awaiting outside the area his father was enjoying seeing him take his time, one making light of his apprehension and letting him know his father was in a decent mood, so he should take advantage whilst he could.

Jia Zheng states what he expected from Boa-yu once he’d moved and the consequences if he got out of line, his mother then reminding him to have Aroma give him his pill each night, Jia Zheng becoming irritated upon hearing the maids nicknames, the two then dismissing him. When he returns to Grandmother Jia’s and sees Dai-yu, they decide which part of the garden they wanted, the two being neighbors and a date set for them all to move in, Bao-yu’s life becoming a thing of idyllic freedom. He’d composed for poems indicated by season of how he fest and had become popular as a source for knocking them out, pleased with the attention: what with being thirteen and liking having people refer to him for his work. One day, though he’d grown unfulfilled and couldn’t get comfortable. Tealeaf realizes Bao-yu had yet to try one thing, he gifting some books the boy hadn’t seen before, and Tealeaf asking he keep them secret.

Bao-yu attempts to, but one day as he’s reading under a tree, Dai-yu walks in on him, explaining what she’d been doing with the fallen tree blossoms, as Bao-yu had been dumping them in the water, she then mentioning the book he’d been reading and disbelieving his reply, so he promises her to secrecy and praises its absorption capacity. Dai-yu soon realizes the truth in his claim she agreeing after reading a bit. When Bao-yu quotes a couplet which Dai-yu takes personally, he quickly apologizes, she brightening and the two burying petals when Aroma announces Uncle She was sick and the two were summoned by Grandmother Jia to attend. After, Dai-yu was walking by herself and heard the girl troupe practicing a song, she concluding how a song could have wonderful pietry and is soon brought to her knees and tears as she listened, someone interrupting.

Caltrop explains why she’d been wandering and then walks Dai-yu back to Naiad’s House. They see a gift sent to Dai-yu, hang out, and after, Caltrop leaves her. Meanwhile, Bao-yu was expected by Grandmother Jia to check on his Uncle She, and as he wait for his change of clothes, essentially wraps himself around Faithful, Grandmother Jia’s servant and wanting to eat her lipstick, Aroma walks in and states how he was becoming a lost cause. Then, before he away’s to She’s, he’s greeted by Jia Lian, the two interrupted by Jia Yun, Bao-yu and Jia Lian’s nephew, a joke being made about Jia Yun not minding if Bao-yu wished to be his father, even though Jia Yun was years older. As they all part ways, Bao-yu invites Jia Yun to visit him the next day, he then riding (by horse) to She’s. After seeing him, and noting he only had a chill, he relates Grandmother Jia’s message, he’s then brought to Lady Xing’s room where they chat, being briefly interrupted by Jia Cong, Jia Huan, and Jia Lan, Lady Xing making an excuse to have them leave, Bao-yu then being invited for dinner with she, Ying-chun, and her nieces before returning to Grandmother Jia, then his quarters.

As this is going on, Jia Yun was after a job from Jia Lian, he conveying an opening when the planting was to be started, then going to his uncle, Bu Shi-ren for a loan of goods, but he hard up not only for the products, but the money from someone else already being owed. Jia Yun puts perspective to his Uncle’s words, noting he could be more trouble, his Uncle mentioning Jia Yun’s other cousin whom had gotten the priests and nuns position (to transport them to different temples), Jia Yun having enough of hearing about why he couldn’t acquire a job like him was ready to leave when his Uncle offered he stay for dinner, but declines. As he’s walking away moodily,he walks into a drunk man, whom turns out being his neighbor, Ni Er, a dirty businessman, he about to knock his clock off until realizing who him was, then telling he’d help him out if need be, Jia Yun accepting if only to keep the man friendly. They part ways after he’s given a message to pass to his wife.

Jia Yun begins his plan the next morning, back to the Rong-guo House and sees Xi-feng, he giving her his purchase of oil scents, pleasing her with his surprise, but not getting anymore information about a job, he remembering his invitation from Bao-yu, and the boy’s pages leaving him to wait, Jia Yun hearing a girl from outside, and Tealeaf returning by then and having her take a message to Bao-yu, Jia Yun fascinated by the maid and taking her advice to return next day. He again speaks with Xi-feng, she having learned his reasoning for his gift, she playing hard to get, but he making clear he’d take whatever she could give, they scheduling a meeting so he could start. After recieving payment, he gives Ni Er his money back, then goes to buy the trees after sharing the news with his mother.

As for Bao-yu, it’s clarified he’d invited Jia Yun flippantly, and so had been away a couple days with the Prince of Beijing, and then returning to note his maids were detained someway or another and when he called, turned away the older maids who answered. A young lady, then comes in to pour his for him, she able to relay Jia Yun having come by, Ripple and Emerald then return and confront Crimson outside, she explaining her presence and Ripple insulting her, they interrupted by an old lady delivering the information about how they conducted themselves when the trees were planted the next day. Crimson soon realizes she had more information then the two bitches. She had been resident in the House of Green Delights before Bao-yu and girls had moved, she retreats to her room, then hears her name being called, discovering it was Jia Yun, and when he attempts to pull her closer, she falls in her attempt to run off. She awakes realizing she’d dreamt it, beginning her chores when dawn comes.

Bao-yu had been thinking of Crimson and wanted to invite her to become a closer attendant, but doesn’t get a chance before his washing. Then, Aroma speaks with Crimson to have her borrow a spittoon from the Naiad’s House, Crimson seeing the tree workers with Jia Yun, but not up to speaking with him, feeling sorry for herself, and instead lies down after she completes her mission. The following day brought Wang Zi-teng’s “lady”‘s birthday, Lady Wang wishing to go, but not since Grandmother Jia wasn’t up for it, but Aunt Xue, Xi-feng, Bao-chai, Bao-yu, and a few other girls accepted the invitation. Jia Huan had returned from school recently and was getting to work on some copying, delegating tasks as he did, Sunset decided to advise him to speak more kindly, since the other maids thought he was a schmuck, he not taking her helpful criticism well, but being interrupted by Bao-yu’s return, his mother suggesting he rest for awhile, since he’d been drinking. So, whilst he lay, Sunset massaged his legs, but not giving her undivided attention, she warning he’d tell on him, since he’d captured her hand, Jia Huan, Sunset’s master, deciding to punish him anyways, dropping a candle brimming with melted wax on his face, Lady Wang and Xi-feng both talking harshly about Jia Huan’s thick-motioned ways, then Lady Wang turning to Jia Huan’s mother, Aunt Zhao (Why must there be a Zhou and Zhao?!), she taking the put-downs and making certain she was seen helping Bao-yu.

Lady Wang knew she’d be hearing about this from Grandmother Jia, and begins applying lotion on her son, Bao-yu. He was prepared to take the blame, but Xi-feng knew there’d be hell, regardless. Bao-yu was returned to his room, Dai-yu visiting once learning of what happened, and he expected to see Grandmother Jia the next day, she blaming his care-takers. Bao-yu’s “Wise Woman”, Mother Ma also visited and did her magic lady words to make certain he healed properly, Grandmother Jia also learning of an incense-related ritual to keep him safe. Mother Ma explains how her other customers would purchase various amounts of oil to keep a light burning of which she herself would upkeep at her home (Bloo), Grandmother Jia considering carefully, so Mother Ma presents a suitable possibility for her in the case of Bao-yu, which she agrees, also making certain his attendants had extra cash for giving to good karmic charitable cases, like monks or various poor they meet on their way with Bao-yu.

After, Mother Ma visits Aunt Zhao for some silk and discusses Jia Huan and her contribution for him, she sharing her frustration about how Bao-yu would always overshadow him, even whilst understanding the reason. Mother Ma then deduces Aunt Zhao’s true problem being with Mrs. Lian, Aunt Zhao checking to be certain there weren’t any prying ears before agreeing and feeling she had to put up with the woman’s will. Mother Ma sees the potential for more money and plays hard-to-get when Aunt Zhao shows interest in the idea of investing in an underhanded way of dealing with the woman whom seemed to be in line to claiming all property and goods leftover in the Jia name, Mother Ma taking her more seriously when Aunt Zhao brings her attention to how she’d be able to name her price if her idea worked.

So, Aunt Zhao bargains with her by giving her a bundle of goods and a little extra cash, as well as an IOU, Mother Ma giving her paper cut-outs of people and demons, she explaining how to use them and placement of them under the targets beds, she then leaving after being summoned by Lady Wang. Meanwhile, Bao-yu had become a homebody since his burn, so Dai-yu would chat with him most of the time in his room, and one day, after getting bored of reading and sewing, walked to Bao-yu’s and found Li Wan, Xi-feng, and Bao-chai having a blast, Xi-feng inquiring about the tea she’d sent her, Bao-yu piping in with his opinion of them being nasty flavored. When Dai-yu states the opposite, Xi-feng gifts her the rest of her supply and would have someone speak of a favor she had in mind for her upon its delivery.

Dai-yu remarks how the gift seemed to be attached to strings and Xi-feng retorts with a phrase which alluded to she being a bride which would attach her to the family, this embarrassing her and she stating how it wasn’t funny, Xi-feng not resisting her jabs and speaks of Bao-yu and she, which had her running out, Bao-chai going after her as Aunts Zhou and Zhao enter, Xi-feng and Dai-yu actively not conversing with them. Then a summons is given for the younger ladies to visit Wang Zi-teng’s wife, so Li Wan and Xi-feng leave, as well as the Z’s, Bao-yu calling for Dai-yu, whom hadn’t gotten very far outside. When she returns, he holds her hand and only smiles at her, making her self-conscious, then he complains of his head before having a fit and scaring the maids and herself, he attempting suicide multiple times before Lady Wang and Grandmother Jia arrive, they soon distraught, many other family members hearing and milling about in bewilderment outside. Xi-feng’s reaction was to start gutting dogs and chickens with a knife and was looking at the crowd with blood-lust until some servants overpowered her and put her in her quarters. Many began suggesting what should be done metaphysically and otherwise, and by sunset Zi-teng’s lady leaves for home and visits again to ask after everyone the following day. Others visited with well-wishing and help from doctors, and the family had resorted to moving “the cousins” into Lady Wang’s room, Jia Yun and pages tasked with watching them at night due to their conditions still on the raving side.

The search for a cure continues and the fourth day Bao-yu requests Grandmother Jia to prepare his belongings and himself to be expelled from the family, Aunt Zhao gleeful, but acting sad, she attempting to convince Grandmother Jia to bide his words so he could die peacefully, her response being to hock a loogie in her face. She berates her and declares she wouldn’t gain anything from his death, along with anyone else, a servant then informing of the coffins having been finished, this putting Grandmother Jia over the edge and ordering the wood-smith to be whipped to death, and then hearing a chanting monk outside. Upon seeing him and his companion, they being a scraggly sight, they are invited in, the monk requesting to pray over Bao-yu’s jade to aid its ability to ward off the evil. When the monk holds it, he speaks familiarly to it of the time they’d met 13 years before on Green-sickness Peak, and once finishing his prayers, instructs Jia Zheng where to place it and the cousins recovery to be expected in 33 days. The two then leave before he could offer sustenance, and his instructions are followed diligently, Bao-yu and cousin regaining sanity and appetite by evening, Dai-yu relieved along with the others.

When Bao-yu’s month of rest is up, his face has healed, as well. This time also allows Jia Yun and Crimson to be around each other more, she noticing, but not remarking on the handkerchief he carried looking like her missing one. Later, a young maid, Melilot comes to her for the favor of looking after some money for her, she advising Crimson to go home and see a doctor, Crimson acting emo and declaring she would be better to die, Melilot warning her to not speak in such a way. They are interrupted by a quite young maid giving Crimson the task of copying patters for Mackerel, but she needing to retrieve a tool from Oriole and meeting Grannie Li, whom had told Jia Yun Bao-yu wished to see him.

Crimson loiters and soon the two eye each other as she speaks with his guide, Trinket. Jia Yun and she continue to Bao-yu’s, he impressed with his uncle’s home. Bao-yu asks after him when he invites him in his bedroom to sit, Bao-yu remarking how long it’d taken for him to remember his long ago invitation, but Jia Yun only glad he’d recovered. Bao-yu makes idle chat and when Jia Yun notes he was growing tired, decides to take his leave, Bao-yu wishing he return sometime. On his way back, Jia Yun asks Trinket a variety of questions about herself and the other maids, soon landing on the handkerchief, she mentioning how Crimson had even offered her a reward if found. Jia Yun had a plan for the item and gives Trinket a different hankie, he having her promise to let him know what she did.

Meanwhile, Bao-yu was being awoken by Aroma to go have a walk, he reluctantly relenting, soon running into Jia Lan, whom was after some deer to shoot with bow, and after allowing the young boy to continue, headed unconsciously to  Naiad’s House. As he approaches closer to the window, he hears a quote from a book he knew, Dai-yu speaking, and when he enters and startles her, she denies having said anything, she dismissing her “guardians of morality”, Bao-yu quoting a line, himself and upsetting her, she walking out and he following in distress, but they being interrupted by Tealeaf with a summons from his father, and so Bao-yu rushes off and is led outside the gate, where he’s met by Xue Pan, he laughing and apologizing, and Bao-yu taking his jest lightly, but readying to return the favor.

Xue Pan then gets to his point, which was in celebration of his birthday next month, some buddies had put together a feast and he wished Bao-yu to join them, the with a singer already in attendance. When they sit, Xue Pan brings up how Bao-yu could draw him something for his birthday present, he seeing some good erotic ones recently. Then another buddy comes in, Feng Zi-ying, Xue Pan asking after his family and how his black eye had come from a hawk’s wing during a hunting trip with his pops. As he finishes with it being good fortune he’d gone rather than stayed home in comfort, he attempts to bow out, but the group refuses him, wanting more deets, he playing at being annoyed, but after agreeing as long as they supplied him with a couple decent-sized drinks, he still keeps his news to himself, but hits it would be shared at a get-together of his own in under two weeks, he then driving his horse away (yes, drive).

The group sticks around for awhile longer and when Bao-yu returns to a worried Aroma and clarifies what had become of him, due to his toasty state, she was a bit perplexed he hadn’t at lease sent word, but Feng Zi-ying was a distracting fellow. Bao-chai joins them, she relating how she’d refused the invitation, taking her tea and speaking of unimportant topics. Before Bao-chai had dropped by, Dai-yu had also planned to visit Bao-yu once learning he’d returned, she even seeing Bao-chai ahead of her, but distracted herself with some beautiful fish, so when she did finally get to his home, she had to knock to be let in the gate. Unfortunately for her, Skybright was in a bad mood and not recognizing her voice, turns her away, Dai-yu debating what to do and feeling bad for herself, she then hearing Bao-yu and Bao-chai inside, her mind going to even further paranoia of what reason could make Bao-yu turn her away, she becoming distraught and sits under a tree, someone eventually exiting from the house, but only to be known upon continuation of the second volume.

Regardless, though, I am hooked, and I’ll be quite happy to continue In the Appendix we learn who Bao-yu had seen the fates for in the fairy’s library, beginning with Skybright’s terrible fate by slanderers. Aroma does marry, Caltrop/Ying-lian is murdered by Xue Pan’s horrible wife, Xin Jin-gui. As for Bao-chai and Dai-yu, they are represented as two halves of a perfect woman and the meaning behind their songs are up for debate as to whether the first or second refer to one or the other, or the first to both, or the first and second about Bao-yu, alone. There are other characters explained, but I’ll only list those I remember, the last being Xi-feng, whom will have an unfulfilled life which may end in divorce.

I’m hooked, I’ll be quite happy to continue the series (with time). In the Appendix we learn who Bao-yu had seen the fates for in the fairy’s library, beginning with Skybright’s terrible fate by slanderers. Aroma does marry, Caltrop/Ying-lian is murdered by Xue Pan’s horrible wife, Xin Jin-gui. As for Bao-chai and Dai-yu, they are represented as two halves of a perfect woman and the meaning behind their songs are up for debate as to whether the first or second refer to one or the other, or the first two both, or the first and second about Bao-yu. There are other characters explained, but I’ll only list those I remember, the last being Xi-feng, whom will have an unfulfilled life which may end in divorce.

The Mating Season

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Bertie states his overall pep had plummeted upon beginning his sentence at Deverill Hall, he having been summoned by Agatha to look after Thos for a few days. Jeeves admits his circumstances could’ve been better, Bertie attempting optimism of at least this being preferred to other options. He then backtracks to allow explanation of what had happened, Agatha coming to him to state of he putting Thos up in his flat whilst he went to doctors and shows before Bertie was sent to Deverill Hall where buddies of hers would house him whilst he pitched in at a village concert, he having gotten a good word from a vicar’s niece. So, he knowing his fate was sealed, was in no way comforted to learn Gussie would also be at Deverill Hall, as well. Bertie then mentions being calmed if he knew more about those who would be surrounding him, Jeeves supplying his host called Esmond Haddock, Bertie recognizing the handle and Jeeves informing him it was because he was related to the owner of a popular morning-after remedy, his father marrying a Deverill, their marriage thought of as a mésalliance – inferior social class marrying above their station, Deverill having needed the dough. Bertie mentions how well informed Jeeves was, he confessing to having a family member working for Deverill Hall, his Uncle Charlie Silversmith. Bertie then learning Esmond was single and lived with five aunts, Bertie considering Gussie’s presence may be a blessing with so many females about.

Bertie inquires why Gussie was also attending, Jeeves having heard from the man himself, whom had dropped in whilst Bertie was oot and aboot. Bertie asks how he’d been, and Jeeves noting of his seeming down, since he’d decided to go to Deverill Hall when Madeline had been going, but she having changed her plans to support a friend whom had love trouble. Bertie gets a bit colorfully mean when describing how Madeline’s idea of pepping up wouldn’t help any soul due to she being the one “God forgot”, but understood why Gussie’d be miffed. Also, Gussie confessed to Jeeves of their relationship currently simmering, this prospect putting Bertie on understandable edge. His attitude clearly showed his worry wouldn’t ease until ‘proof-of-purchase’ between the two was official. Bertie attempts feeling the bright-side by down-playing the chill between the two as temporary, and when hearing the doorbell, presumes it’s Thos, instructing Jeeves as to when the boy was expected to be ready to attend a show at the Old Vic, but Jeeves revealing it was more likely Pirbright, or Catsmeat, as Bertie likes to say, whom currently awaited entry. Jeeves relays of he and his sis, Corky also having called earlier, Bertie surprised since he expected Corky would be in Hollywood, Jeeves relaying she was currently vacationing, and earlier went to a film with Thos after they’d had tea. Bertie then inquires after the two sibs: Corky doing fine, but Catsmeat on the rocky side. Bertie decides to have Jeeves let the man in, and confirms Catsmeat’s look of woe.

Bertie mentions how uncommon Catsmeat being a negative sort was, then mentions his fam having an entertainment background, Corky also in the biz since teenage-dom, she having dynamism and (espièglerie – roguishness). Catsmeat, usually the best friend player on stage, keeps his temperament the same as when not working, friends at the Drones who have done his play, saying he’s a “Groucho Marx” type. Currently, Catsmeat was looking so down as to be as depressed as a character from “a Russian drama”, Bertie then apologizing for having missed he and Corky earlier. Catsmeat explains Corky was the niece whom had spoken on Bertie’s behalf, he telling of their religious relation. Bertie thinks the country life would drive her nuts, but Catsmeat relates how she was in her element, then informs him of doing a two-man act from his play, Bertie now warming to the idea of having to perform, but wondering and learning why Catsmeat hadn’t gotten the part, it being due to his bad standing with the females at Deverill Hall, Bertie wanting his opinion of what he was in for, but Catsmeat revealing he didn’t know them, they only disliking him because he was getting hitched to their niece, which brought him to his purpose of coming, Bertie supplying restorative which did its duty.

Catsmeat begins by declaring his pure affection for Gertrude, the two head-over-heels, but of course, upon her mother and aunts hearing of this, it going terribly, since they had a discriminative view of actors, and Gertrude unable to go against her mother. On top of this, Catsmeat would soon be on his way to Hollywood for a job and didn’t want to leave before attaching the ole ball and chain (like Joy in the Morning), this because of Esmond, Gertrude’s fam preferring she marry Moneybags, he also a charmer whom had already attempted to go after Corky. Catsmeat then comes to how he planned for Bertie to help, which was to Siamese twin himself to Gertrude to dissuade any alone romantic time with Esmond, Bertie allowing he must rally round due to their vast school history, Catsmeat quite pleased, and offering his services to any favor Bertie may have, which made him recall Gussie (poulet rôti au cresson – roast chicken with watercress– yum) and didn’t want him talking himself out of his union with Madeline, Bertie believing Catsmeat could charm the gloom away. He at first hesitates, but agrees when learning Bertie’s plans tied him, the latter now calmed and unknowing how the next day would find him.

Apparently, the next day brought positive attitudes, Bertie sending Thos off to Borstal, and he in grand ole mood, going through his day with ease, his suspicions perking when coming home to certain noises of dog and lady, Bertie curious what this could mean, and walking in to be brought down by a mixed breed dog as Corky watched with affection. Bertie describes her looks being finer than before, but they being great at the start, as well. He tells how she’d be high on the list of beauties if considered for the cast in a desert island role. She then introduces her pup, and inquires after Bertie’s health, etc and vice versa, they going through the motions, and catching up on the deets of missing each other the day before, as well as being certain he’d gotten the Pat and Mike script, and Bertie confirming he’d been studying it, then inquiring whom had gotten the opposite role, Corky sharing it was a Constable Dobbs. She makes clear when Bertie is to whack Dobbs with the umbrella in the play, he was to do so with gusto, she defending her uncle on his behalf, since Dobbs was an atheist, he shoving it in her uncle’s face whenever he could.

Bertie steps up to the challenge proudly, Corky thanking him. She then shares how the town expected his comic stylings to be top billing, the rest of the show-runners being residents of the area, and Esmond even singing a ditty, her tone changing upon voicing the name. Bertie catches on, and broaches the subj. sensitively, Corky confiding what had occurred when Bertie relayed what he’d heard. After stating of dropping Esmond due to being a coward at standing up to his aunts, Bertie defends the act, but notes of Corky ignoring his words, a common act for the females in regard to Bertie. Corky confesses how despite calling off their wedding due to he not having the courage to share their plans with his aunts, she was still gaga for him. Bertie was aware of the emotion this brought up in her, but doesn’t get too mushy with sentiments, he moving on to the aunts and Corky believing he’d dislike them, calling them “bitches”, Bertie gladly distracted by her dog again, since knowing Corky’s family had difficulty in solidifying their plans of marriage, she stating similarly in Catsmeat’s regard with Gertrude, the man himself interrupting them as they start to speak of his best options. The two greet him and note his deflated manner wordlessly. Bertie senses Catsmeat was also dealing with the aftermath of a night of drinking so has Jeeves respond in kind by a request for his elixir. When Bertie sees Catsmeat’s attempt to nod off, he’d been readying to allow it, but Corky shakes him up to inquire why he’d broken his promise to stay sober, Catsmeat blaming Gussie’s company made it impossible. He then proceeds to relate of Gussie getting sentenced to fourteen days for being threatened by Catsmeat to swim in the Trafalgar fountain and a cop catching him, Jeeves then returning with drink.

Bertie recalls a memory of his twelfth year whilst at Malvern House, a private educational institution where a Reverend Upjohn relayed a story about a soldier, whom did an unselfish act, and upon completing the moral of the story, getting on Bertie’s case for having an absent-minded look on his face. Bertie resists taking Jeeves’ remedy himself, Catsmeat’s health looking much restored, he then peeved about Jeeves’ reaction to his remembering when Gussie was expected at Deverill, and his current jail-birdery. The only fortunate part so far was Catsmeat revealing Gussie had been quick enough to not give his real name, Jeeves then decides to deposit the currently teething mutt in the kitchen, he unable to focus on Bertie’s important issues. Corky then inquires why Bertie was so invested, he confessing he and Madeline’s difficult history, going through where it’d begun with Gussie being too shy to begin the pourparlers (preliminary discussion) and Bertie offering to relay Gussie’s feelings, and Madeline keeping him as back-up fiancé if needs arise, Corky seeing his point.

Bertie then describes his worst fear would be realized if he had to attend his own wedding, revealing his middle name: B.W.W. (only initials will I supply). Corky had seen a picture of Madeline and hadn’t met her, not knowing her looks, whilst having much, didn’t compensate for her personality, which she had daisies and fairies filling the mold. She also admits to not knowing Gussie, Bertie suggesting she ask around to confirm his thoughts on the couple being two peas, etc. She then confirms Bertie’s worry on flapping in the wind if Madeline decided to look elsewhere for marriage, he making clear his only option, if Madeline changed her plans in order to become his little wife, he’d have no option other than to agree, she then wondering how Bertie would be able to leave Madeline ignorant to Gussie’s current whereabouts, Bertie relying on Jeeves. The man himself walks in and determines there is a way out, but questioned whether Bertie would accept it, he describing someone would need to pretend to be Gussie, and if Bertie couldn’t get a buddy to do it, would need to take on the personality himself.

Bertie definitely soured on the idea, and then recalls Catsmeat, he yelling for him, waking him, and then has Jeeves repeat his plan to him, Catsmeat agreeing it was a great idea when thinking Bertie would be playing the role (Bertie’s gentle coaxing being a hilarious moment), but Bertie sharing of they preferring he did it, Catsmeat backing out immediately. Bertie empathizes with Catsmeat’s negative memory of the fellow, he resorting to the same go-to as his buddies do on his behalf, he beginning with Catsmeat being within range of Gertrude, Corky supporting this, but Catsmeat piling on reasons for Gussie being characteristically at odds with himself, he being a schmo of maximum degree whilst Catsmeat was seen as a prized specimen, concluding how no one would be fooled, but Bertie being able to pull off the deception in spades.

Bertie immediately is taken aback, Corky giving Catsmeat a hard time, since he was giving up the opportunity to sway Esmond’s interest, but Catsmeat content to let Bertie handle the situation the way they agreed. Bertie then steps up to the dirty job with grace, Catsmeat satisfied, bows out to Bertie’s room for more uninterrupted z’s, Corky also leaving due to other plans, she informing how devastated the townsfolk would be when updated Bertie would be subbed with Gussie. Bertie stops her before she leaves without her dog, she detailing how she hoped to have Bertie bring him with him to Deverill in order to warm her Uncle to the idea, Bertie having reservations on how a canine like him would make him look. Corky reminds him it’d be Gussie whom they all would believe had brought the pup and would most likely be happier it was a mutt than lizards. After she’d hastened out, Jeeves lets on how he understood Bertie’s unfair circumstance, then quotes Marcus Aurelius, Bertie unimpressed and ready to get a move on before it became too late.

Bertie notes how whilst he hadn’t arrived at the witching hour, he had been terribly late, his car not helping his timing, and once he’d gotten to the doorbell, it was twenty after eight. On a previous occasion, Bertie is reminded of a moment with Jeeves where he’d quoted something from the Middle Ages which gave impression to being suspicious of the surroundings (Roland going to the Dark Tower, which I had been unaware was something before Stephen King, but now I’ve researched further, it makes more sense), Bertie understanding this sentiment, since he admired the aesthetic greatness of the property, but also couldn’t ignore the aunts soon to be in his midst and Esmond’s eventual loathing for him due to his mission. When Bertie is greeted by an impressively large butler, he makes certain to correct his presumption of being himself and claims Gussie’s name. Charlie Silversmith made Bertie feel like a blushing young idler (flâneur), Jeeves’ Uncle Charlie an imposing fellow, the dog reacting with unrest, Bertie feeling for the pup, and Charlie stating he’d have the dog led to the stables, then pointing Bertie to a sink, since dinner had begun without him and he wouldn’t be able to change clothes, Bertie quite rattled by this, but hanging in there, he then thrown to the dogs, aunts all around him, he lastly noting Esmond and Gertrude at the end of the table.

Bertie understood Catsmeat’s point of view of the girl’s charm, he pondering the young lovers’ fates as the aunts continued their mystifying choice of discussion, but then another aunt brings conversation around to having met the vicar, and if Augustus could explain the nature of the “cross-talk act”, Bertie alright with this, since he hadn’t wanted to allow Gussie to get a bad rap for not joining the chat and then having Madeline learn of this. Bertie describes the skit, it getting an all around thumbs-down from the aunts, they supporting Gussie not being in the play and how Madeline would’ve disapproved, anyways. This news froze Bertie to the core, he not considering Madeline’s posish on the subj, he realizing he’d have to warn Corky she’d need to discover a new Pat. The aunts then move on to how they’d heard Bertie was the right sort for acts of this kind, wondering where he could be, the chap must being the eccentric sort. Dame Daphne, lead aunt, declares how Agatha had mentioned debating whether Bertie would be better off “in a home”, these words souring Bertie a bit, he believing some kinder words should’ve been on the docket what with relenting to leading Thos about for the last few days; “a thankless aunt”, indeed. Bertie would’ve been glad for a proper drink, but was getting the Gussie treatment (definitely covered in the TV show). Then an aunt mentions Bertie’s escapade with cop helmet, Bertie sharing the actual story for them, but moving on when realizing it wasn’t helping his case for lightening the mood, he telling a tale of two deaf men on a train, one aunt stating and relaying this to the deaf aunt in their presence. Bertie, unfortunately now having to relate the not so nice joke, goes as expected, the deaf aunt getting a more friendly version, the aunts eventually bowing out and Bertie moving toward Esmond to have a chat and hopefully a nightcap.

As Bertie got a better view of Esmond, he again could relate why Catsmeat would be up in arms of a man of this caliber after his lady love. Esmond looks the sort to be a sensitive, handsome soul with the body of a broad fighter. Bertie waits patiently whilst Esmond took his time starting a conversation, Bertie drinking in the well-filled wine carafe, until Esmond spoke of not having quite understood his story, Bertie relaying it with confusion after Esmond spoke of hearing “Woking”, but he stating he got it before Bertie could correct himself. Esmond then notices Bertie’s bothered look when he refills his glass, Esmond offering him some, which Bertie snaps for with innocence of “trying it”. The two get on rather well as they continue their wining together, Esmond taking a leap at confiding his feelings to Gussie, Bertie having forgotten, but bedazzled by Esmond’s top-notch hosting skills, saying so, and the two side-tracking with compliments to each other, Esmond noting how he felt comfortable enough with Gussie to reveal why he was down, he head-over-heels for Corky.

Then Esmond explains how the nonsense of he loving his cousin, Gertrude had come from a film, he testing the idea in order to make Corky jealous after she’d ended their courting, Bertie properly lightened in knowing Catsmeat’s girl was safe, Bertie wanting to reassure Esmond of Corky still having loads of affection for him, but satisfies with moral support, Esmond allowing his will still being strong, especially after Corky had enlisted his singing talents for the concert, he only plagued by nerves, regardless of his being beloved by townsfolk, but betting on the good feedback to warm Corky further, he sharing the song he planned to sing being a little ditty written by two of his aunts. This worries Bertie a bit, Esmond offering to sing it for his opinion, and starting at the chorus, Bertie halting him for thinking it was he relaying being on a phone, Esmond clarifying it was a hunting tune (the next few beats had me laughing out loud for the absurdity, great stuff!), Bertie having to suggest he leave out adding Gussie’s name at the end of a line, Esmond taking it one more time, Bertie then suggesting he may want to flesh out the chorus due to the repeating words, he giving a fair substitute, and then laying on a few more adds for safety measures, Esmond properly thankful and in awe at his cleverness.

The two continue working on the lyrics, Bertie taking his gusto a bit too far, Dame Daphne walking in and huffing about the state of them, Bertie getting his first glimpse of a put-down Esmond, he losing respect for the fellow as he explained the need for practice. She informs and commands he join Gertrude for a game of backgammon, he leaving heavy-footed, and then turning her attention to Bertie and inquiring whether he was responsible for the pup in the stable, Bertie having forgotten the mutt, then relaying he’d been keeping him for Corky, her attitude darkening, as he shared of Corky’s reasons for this, Daphne then informing him, dog had broken out and was amongst those in “the drawing-room”.

Bertie finds himself sticking up for Sam Goldwyn, (Mr. dog-sir) he usually composed “compos.”, but his current mood stemming from his bond to Bertie, which he found sweet. Daphne told of seeing it in a more serious light, since Charlotte was currently overcoming her trauma of giving the animal a piggy-back ride, of which was forced upon her, Bertie seeing this as just desserts for writing such a sub-par tune. Daphne then informs how Charlie had sustained injury, but getting the dog into a closet, the next move being to ship him to the vicarage, which upon Bertie offering to take care of, is instead told to call it a night. Bertie was satisfied with this suggestion, since the going rate usually had a guest sitting through many dull entertainments, Bertie ready to contact Jeeves. Charlie appears out of nowhere when Daphne mentions his name, Bertie thinking the talent must be genetic, and before the man leaves him, Bertie asks him to send for his man, not expecting Catsmeat, but getting him.

Bertie considers how he’d have reacted in Childe Roland’s era where peeps were getting transformed left and right, the idea of Jeeves being turned into Catsmeat handled with ease and grace, but he having a shock making him look like the lovesick wolf, eyes a-pop (this being where I would normally supply an image, but nothing up to par, so for those who haven’t seen The Mask, watch it, laugh, and know to what I refer). Bertie mistakenly refers to Catsmeat by his name, he reminding him he was his butler, Meadowes, and informs him Jeeves wouldn’t be able to attend, Bertie looking to the wall and inquiring why he hadn’t joined him. Catsmeat explains it was due to his Uncle figuring something was amiss if he saw Jeeves was suddenly employed by Gussie. Whilst Bertie allowed this, he wondered why Jeeves hadn’t confided this to him, Catsmeat relaying how it had dawned on him after Bertie had gone and the idea of bringing Charlie in on the deets wouldn’t have worked due to the man’s strict morals.

Catsmeat then shares how he’d required fortification after meeting the man, he afterward going off on a tangent about the cooking sherry he’d tasted and the parlour maid whom gave it to him, she engaged to the local law enforcement, Dobbs, and when Bertie brings them back on topic about why Catsmeat had decided to come as his butler, he expands on how it would be his reason to shadow Gertrude, but when Bertie isn’t behind his cause, Catsmeat immediately gets chilly, then talking Bertie out of all of his ideas of any other place about town he could’ve stayed, moving on to whether he’d approached Gertrude, yet, she having received a moment to see him, and in complete shock when recognizing him. The two hadn’t spoken though, Bertie then sharing Esmond’s words, which were quite a comfort to Catsmeat, he then deciding to go, but Bertie informing him to relay to Corky of he having to decline the role of Pat, Catsmeat agreeing, Bertie’s good news for him not keeping his emotions on the high side. Bertie was able to remedy this with a good novel of “Murder at Greystone Grange“, this lulling him to unconsciousness, but right before nodding off, believing he’d heard the commotion of another guest downstairs, and upon the morn, his tea being brought by Charlie, whom still seemed frazzled about the dog, Bertie inquires if he’d heard rightly of a late guest, Charlie not denying this and stating it was Wooster, he then leaving him with the confusion of his name, Jeeves then coming in with his breakfast.

Bertie was in such a state, fresh off his reading about supernatural subjects, he at first believed Jeeves was an apparition, but when smelling the bacon, comes to his senses, Jeeves greeting him and stating how he’d rightly supposed Bertie would want to take breakfast solitarily. He comments on his Uncle Charlie’s seriousness, Jeeves agreeing to this and Bertie in awe he’d called the man Charlie, what with his personality not seeming friendly enough for it. He then gives opinion on the yumminess of the bacon, the two chatting of the goodness of kippers and ham also aiding the positivity in starting the day. Bertie then remembers a question needing asking, he wanting to learn the meaning of Jeeves’ presence, the man supplying he’d come with Gussie, Bertie quite shocked with the news. They then get to the thick of how Gussie had gotten released, a palm getting greased, and Esmond not knowing the meaning of trying times. Jeeves then explains how Gussie needed to be present at the Hall in order to write daily to Madeline, Bertie realizing this logic, and Jeeves then explaining on Gussie not being happy because of having to fill in for him in the stage act, as well as how Bertie had been handling Gussie’s doings at the Hall thus far, he knowing if Madeline was apprised he’d be in trouble.

Then, turning to Catsmeat’s matter of love, Jeeves reveals he having confided in him, Bertie marveling at how common it was, and Jeeves enjoying his ability to aid the lovesick, and this need having brought on the idea of he going in Jeeves’ place. Bertie shares how it would’ve been nice if they’d thought to warn him, he then making certain Jeeves had learned Catsmeat’s trouble was fairly fixed, but Esmond still having a time in front of him, Bertie catching Jeeves up on how Esmond planned to win Corky’s love publicly, but Corky not flipping for anything short of a rebellion against his aunts, Jeeves considering the request possible, since if Esmond did get good ratings from the crowd, he may well find the courage to stand up to aunts, Bertie reminded of Bingo’s situation being similar, he then giving Jeeves the task of getting those about town to lend their cheers to Esmond, also making certain Jeeves set up a meeting place for he and Gussie to catch up, the post office being decided on in an hour, Bertie then requesting the start for a dip in the tub.

Bertie gets caught up in his bathing due to a bout of crooning to himself, and so discovers Gussie waiting for him at the place of government shipping of products, he noticing his bad mood, and learning he would have preferred prison what with having to put up with being Bertie being quite a nuisance, also realizing how Deverill would forever relate his person to Gussie’s appearance. Gussie proceeds with how the aunts of Deverill Hall were treating him as if a leper and brought up how Bertie was bringing his name down, as well, what with his drunken singing. Bertie explains how Esmond had required this and he hadn’t actually been drunk, but toasty, suggesting Gussie deny everything should Madeline hear anything, elaborating how the scene could be open for interpretation, which Gussie allows, but hopes Bertie can be mindful of his actions moving forward, and when Bertie brings up Catsmeat as a segue, Gussie is fired up by the new subj., since Catsmeat had been the cause of his jail time. Gussie then inquires about the two-man act, Bertie proceeding with care, he handing the script over to him as explanation.

As Gussie reads, he has a look of non-acceptance, and once learning Catsmeat was the author, sextuple-snorts his derision and speaks of not being surprised, then continues how misinformed Catsmeat sounded when it came to his characterization of Irishmen, and then has to be told the play had jokes sprinkled throughout, of which he had been unaware, and on top of this, learns the other player would be a police officer, halting him completely, since he’d be expected to hit the man with an umbrella and he’d already done this in Trafalgar Square, outright refusing, even deciding to let Corky know his decision firsthand, but promptly shuts up on sight of her, she coming toward them, along with her pup, Bertie deciding Corky’s ability to sway was definitely in order, and once greeting her and introducing her to Gussie, informs her of his being on-the-fence, and left her to her abilities. Bertie gets to his room un-harassed by aunts, and some time later Gussie reappears at his door looking quite pleased, explaining how after speaking with Corky, she’d made everything seem much more palatable. Gussie goes on to state how Bertie not performing was most likely best, since he wasn’t right for the role, the former defending his abilities. Gussie goes on to tell what Corky had said on the matter, which had himself looking perfect for the act.

Bertie sees the futility in arguing and lets him be, deciding to mention, regardless, Madeline would be opposed, so wouldn’t be able to prove himself anyways, then attempting to knock Gussie down by bringing up his issues with hitting Dobbs the cop, Gussie updating how Dobbs had been replaced, he arguing with Corky and then Sam Goldwyn biting him, the cop detaining the pup until learning whether he had a history of attacks, Gussie happy Catsmeat would be his new partner, and then gave Bertie the poems he needed to memorize for the performance, Madeline having requested this of Gussie, but he now quite happy to pass the task on, Bertie not feeling well with his new discomfiture.

Bertie’s V-shaped (possibly verse) melancholic days don’t become brighter, and when the second day of the week finds him, he’s ever closer to needing a variety of booze, his situation crying out for relief. What was truly bothering him most, though was how Gussie was acting, and the start stemming from their post-post office discussion, Gussie’s words tipping Bertie off and then laying its eggs in his brain until certainty of Gussie’s new love for Corky was plain, the aunts of Deverill Hall noticing the same and their comments not conducive to an Aunt Agatha report, Gussie practically Corky’s accessory since first meeting, and Bertie not wanting to fathom how Agatha would react. When he decides to share his woes with Jeeves, he learns Gussie had allowed him to go to a lecture back in London, so Bertie would have to seriously consider his problem, singly and deciding he’d have to press upon Corky how she could ease his mind by pushing Gussie away. So he biffs off to locate her when he’s called to by Dame Daphne, whom was poisoning some bugs in her rose garden, Bertie wary of her needle-carrying hand, what with the serious look on her face, he learning Gussie had apparently not sent a line to Madeline, she having sent a telegram, and Dame Daphne for-shaming Gussie on his insensitive conduct, Bertie wobbly with the news, he likening it to a Drones lad, Widgeon taking him by surprise on the street with an earful of horn.

Bertie again had bad imaginings of Madeline’s curiosity getting the best of her if Gussie didn’t write soon, he overcome by this for a little while before getting himself to walk again, and then ponders on how Corky, the fons et origo (origin) had doomed him. There was a time in their dancing days when Bertie had retaliated against Corky via wooden dumb-bell, which he’d regretted up to this point, but now hoped he’d get a second chance. As he practiced his lead-in to the conversation, he sees Corky in her car, but she busy about to attend to her uncle’s duties and having to rain-check his chat, she then sharing how Gussie was currently grabbing the soup required for her stop and after, the old lady she was visiting would keep her regaling Hollywood stories, she also sharing how handy Gussie had been for her lately, and also relating how Bertie’s cousin, Thos had gotten in touch with her about the autographed pictures she’d given him being a hit at his school, the boys normally not paying over 9p, but he getting 12p, she sharing how she’d also given him permission to visit on his mid-term break, then Gussie returns, puppy dog agog, until Corky drives off and Bertie pokes him between the ribs, and asks why he wasn’t writing Madeline, he giving the excuse of being booked solid for time because of the two-man act, Bertie demanding he drop her a line today, regardless, he looking put upon and then deciding he wouldn’t do it, to punish her for leaving him alone there, and when Bertie gives him ‘one last chance’, he sticks to his inaction and walks away, Bertie returning to see Catsmeat smoking one of his ciggies and looking like he was blissfully thinking of Gertrude.

Seeing Bertie helps him resurface, he having planned to discuss something in particular, Bertie replying with stink for having gotten tired of him, he believing Catsmeat had taken the job as his butler flippantly and hadn’t done anything to prove his loyalty to the position. Catsmeat updates how his letters via Jeeves to Gertrude was going quite well, and Bertie agrees it was bully for him, but Gussie was becoming an issue with his resistance in writing Madeline. Catsmeat sees the issue stemming from Gussie heart-ing Corky, and explaining why Corky was keeping Gussie strung being to do with proving to Esmond she was desired. Catsmeat then suggests Bertie confess to Corky Esmond’s true feelings, Bertie thinking the time may have passed what with Madeline’s last telegram, but Catsmeat holding out everything could be fixed. He gives the opinion Bertie should write Madeline in the guise of Gussie, he even supplying the note for him to copy, then informing him he had plans with Queenie, whom was having trouble with her fiance’ Dobbs, Queenie unable to get over his Atheism. So, Bertie writes out the letter, of which was to be envied for its perfect tone, and after dropping it off, hears Corky a-calling.

Bertie makes it so Corky can’t escape him like she’d done earlier, she making certain she wasn’t in for more Hollywood chat, then going off on how long-winded the old lady she’d visited had been, Bertie again having to wait until she remembered whom had started this conversation. When he mentions the subject of Gussie, and was explaining how he’d spoken with Catsmeat, she again interrupts to make sure they were both on the same page of knowledge regarding his plan to convince Gertrude to run off and marry him, Corky’s investment in this being how Esmond would handle the news. Bertie realizes her ploy in relation to Gussie was on point and jumps into setting Corky on the true path, she exceptionally pleased by the update, he then cluing her in on Jeeves contribution for when Esmond performed at the show, she realizing with the proper reception, he could grow some balls. Bertie then compares a similar scenario regarding Bingo Little, his wife, the novelist Rosie M. Banks, they now also with baby, and Bingo’s issue with acquiring a raise, and after his tot won a contest, had the courage to demand his raid, and receives it. Corky was readying to implement her part like Jeeves, getting an amenable crowd ready, but Bertie is adamant in finishing his request by making certain she was on-board with his Save Bertie’s Bachelorhood (WordPress gives me Bachelorhood, but so many other real words get the red-line?! Poppycock!), she agreeing without a fight. Bertie’s fresh relaxation was not to be kept, for upon returning to his room, Catsmeat places the news of Agatha soon to be in their midst, as an added bonus.

Bertie took the news soberly, he visibly stricken, but biding his time until Catsmeat had more information, he making the trip to London for Jeeves’ help. Catsmeat returns in the late afternoon to Bertie’s now supposedly masked anticipation, he retelling his experience thoroughly and ending with Jeeves’ idea involving Aunt Agatha leaving right quick when discovering ‘Young Thos’ was missing from school. The idea was to lure the boy into escape upon learning a favorite movie star was within meeting distance, a back up to the 5 quid also in reserve to sweeten the deal. Bertie believed the celeb would be plenty, though. Catsmeat thought he’d reward the lad regardless, since knowing Aunt Agatha would surely give him hell for bouncing out of school, Bertie commending him. As they discuss Corky and how easily she’d taken Catsmeat’s plan, they receive telegrams and Catsmeat urges Bertie to open them despite being addressed to Gussie. Catsmeat leaves Gussie to cheer up Queenie, Bertie’s resolve to wait for Real Gussie weakening. He submits, and opens one, it from Jeeves confirming all had gone accordingly, but instead of leaving the second letter alone, he learns it’s from Madeline and she on her way to Deverill Hall.

Bertie takes the news with grace, ‘hands holding head’. He waits for Catsmeat to return, waylaying him along with Queenie, whom had an unpleasant film-watching experience. Bertie didn’t have patience to ‘tut tut’ her misfortune, though, handing Catsmeat the note from Madeline. He makes a joke at Bertie’s expense for having caved on his morals and then admits they needed a plan, Bertie reminding him of how he’d helped this mess by getting Gussie into trouble in the first. Catsmeat makes valid claims of Bertie’s part in the matter, which in turn allows him to let sleeping dogs, etc. They then plan on discussing a new ruse to keep Madeline in the dark. The evening doesn’t end early, unfortunately, guests from around a 20 mile radius attending, so when Bertie saw his room it was nearly midnight, Catsmeat having left a note revealing he was off to implement his cracker jack of a plan the next day, with Bertie’s car to carry him. Knowing this partially eased Bertie’s anxiety, but knew it could be hit or miss with Catsmeat due to years before, seeing a comment written about him by their principal as he’d been questing for biscuits. Bertie prepares for sleep with a smoke when Gussie presents himself, complaining about the waste of time din din was, due to the guests and Corky not being present. Gussie then reveals he was there to borrow a tie from Bertie, whom hoped Gussie’s upcoming visit with Corky would knock him out of the sky with haste. Gussie then admits to finally having written to Madeline, Bertie realizing his earlier letter to her would now be suspicious. Gussie wasn’t pleased he’d gone rogue, but also not sweating it, since he’d broken off their engagement.

The Larches is described with the locals receiving the company’s ‘h’ and ‘c’ water (pff). Bertie was off to retrieve the letter of Doom before Madeline got hold of it and was considering the repercussions for his actions if the Constabulary found him out, but believed the felony justified his reasons. So, Bertie secreted himself in a bush at the address expecting the letter, including the pacing being mot juste to strolling. He then muses on how Nature turns her back on lurv as he’s accosted by the bright and warm weather along with a friendly multi-legged creature walking upon his person. As he deals with this, more worrisome is whether the proper requirements for his plan to work will be given to him. As he’s surprised by a ginger cat, someone opens a window nearby and a maid pops out the front door to dust a mat. Bertie sees to the dining room and thinks Madeline could very well come down for breakies when the mailman arrives and Bertie’s hopes are dropped, since Mr. Mailman was a young flirt and would be taking his time. Bertie readies himself to pounce when postman biffs off and the maid does as he thought and sets the mail at the table. This doesn’t gladden Bertie for long, since now the maid didn’t leave as he’d hoped, taking a smoke until scurrying off upon hearing something (Madeline). Bertie gets his dash of luck though, since she heads for the garden. The moment is of course marred by Bertie’s flowering cowardice, but also someone walking in with a dog which would’ve effected Bertie’s mission, as well, this being Madeline’s buddy. Bertie realizes this pup would definitely blow his cover, but kitty then took the opportunity to flee, the dog going after, and Madeline’s friend bringing up the tail-end. When he saw the trio turn the corner, Bertie fetches the letter. Unfortunately, he sees the girl and dog heading back toward him as he was in mid-getaway, so he multiple “nipped” his way to a room across the hall.

Bertie discovers he may have located Madeline’s buddy, Hilda’s room, due to the feminine quality and sports equipment strewn about. Bertie leaves this be in preference to the window of Freedom, but a red-faced gardener blocks his want of an unnoticed escape. So, like Bertie’s ill will to the lazy maid, he loathed this stand-about man. As he saves a framed photo of Madeline from falling as he was pacing, he had a light bulb mo. Gussie needed to have  a reminder of whom he was dumping, in Bertie’s fevered brain, so swiping the picture for Gussie as a possibility for his love to rekindle seemed like a good bet (supporting his optimism with other unlikely scenarios). Then, he is interrupted by an approaching maid, so thinking a bit less slowly, he ends up behind a sofa. The maid is called away from her hovering by Hilda, Madeline soon joining her. Whilst listening to them, Bertie felt empathy for her, believing she was emo about lurv. Madeline talks to her chum about the “happy flowers”, then shares her worry over Gussie’s lack of letters and wanting to see him sooner, Hilda not giving a toss.

As they talk, Bertie is brought up in regards to his yearning love for Madeline and how difficult for him it must be to write dictated letters to sweet, sweet Madeline. Hilda then becomes suicidally dark when admitting to having a firearm secreted away in her room, but backhandedly assures she wasn’t in danger of going through with it. She then puts her 2 cents in on how Madeline should handle Gussie, thinking Bertie a better option, since he had money. Madeline wasn’t amused and neither was Bertie, she then starts, seeing her picture wasn’t where it used to be, on the table. Hilda suggests she ask the maid and as Madeline checks, Hilda allows her big pup to wander off the couch, where he immediately snuffles around Bertie, surprised by what his nose leads him to, backing off and sound the doggy alarm. Madeline returns, shocked to see Hilda with her pistol and leaving Bertie with questions as to Hilda’s plan of action. As Hilda explains to Madeline what she had in mind, she speaks at the mystery man to reveal himself.  Madeline screams upon seeing Bertie as Hilda contemplates a good frisking to see if Bertie had more stolen goods on him. Madeline shares Bertie’s identity with Hilda, she leaving them to talk out Bertie’s issue of obv. love with Madeline. Bertie meanwhile, wasn’t looking forward to the experience.

Bertie attempts to relieve the silence with a general statement about the weather and his reason for being there only to pop by and update Madeline of Gussie’s health, as well as why he had Madeline’s portrait being for Gussie’s use, ofc! Bertie doesn’t receive the calming response his words deserved, though. Instead Madeline looks saddened, asking Bertie if he’d read a particular Rosie Banks novel, she giving him the plot, and he commenting as she goes (hilariously). When she finishes, Bertie couldn’t believe the reason Banks’ crap was so popular. Madeline then likens Bertie to the protagonist who’s love was spurned and dies before getting a happily ever after. Madeline shares why Hilda was being emo was caused by a man called Harold hogging the tennis ball they were on the same team to swat. She ended their engagement because of this turd thinking he was more talented and should shoulder the game. Madeline finished by how torn up she was, when Hilda reenters with a tune on her lips, she having received a letter from the oaf and would forgive him in a couple of days.

Hilda then relays how Claude Pirbright had dropped by to see Madeline and before she goes, gives Bertie a kind word about the “predicament of unrequited nonsense” she found the two of them in and how they’d laugh about it in their grey years, perhaps a bit mistily. Hilda returns back inside after an encouraging word for the gardener outside, she learning how Bertie also knew “Beefy” Harold Anstruther and her plans to return Bertie where he belonged, beside Madeline. She invites him to breakies, but he declines since he wanted to catch Catsmeat for any news, he withering at the thought of her influence on Madeline as he goes. When he sees Catsmeat coming though, he was speed-racing to the point of missing Bertie’s attempts at flagging him down, so returns for nourishment and then Deverill Hall.

So, the ride back wasn’t the most convenient and the first person Bertie recognizes is his cuz, “young Thos”, whom immediately calls attention to Bertie’s drabness, he swatting him as he passed. Corky then greets him from her car, mentioning how Sidney, her unc. had taken to Thos and she thought of him fondly, Bertie of course surprised by any sort of goodwill in relation to his cousin seeming out of place. She explains how Thos offered to bludgeon the local cop for nicking Sam Goldwyn and saw his invitation as sweet. As Bertie struggled with this news, Corky goes on to speak of Catsmeat whom received news from his love, Gertrude about her eagerness to run off with him. Bertie’s response makes her realize he was distrait and had taken a side-trip to hell before getting back to Deverill. Corky listens to his tale attentively, Bertie quite pleased she didn’t interrupt and even gasped at appropriate deets. After which, Bertie couldn’t help but think, due to all his vibrant living, Death coming a-knocking didn’t sound terrible.

Corky did supply some decent information in return, though; Catsmeat had been able to redirect the Bassett away from Deverill, Bertie responding with praise to the above. Corky though, hadn’t shared his uplifted feeling quite as much, she expounding how Bertie’s news about the portrait and Mervyn Keene made her wonder if perhaps more should’ve been done. This stops Bertie cold, metaphor of what Catsmeat’s attempt to help looked like being closer to inadvertent torture ensuing. Upon hearing what he had said of Bertie to dissuade Madeline distressed him to his core. Madeline’s reaction of course, containing the flowery response one expects. Corky supported the idea of seeing the bright side and at how the knowledge had stopped Madeline for now. Bertie made use of this supportive realization, minimizing the fear, she supportive of he seeing the ‘correct’ view. Bertie learns she planned on working on Gussie upon finishing a job for her. Bertie catches the implication immediately and wasn’t detoured by Thos tipping him as he entered the car, Corky avoiding providing any more information about this ‘job’, to Bertie’s animal instinctive fear, but learned Esmond Haddock had found his way to Deverill upon returning from his walkabout.

Dame Daphne had made a new rule about port not concluding supper anymore and Bertie had yet to find time to speak with Esmond, since his arrival. His chance is given, though when meeting him in some area of the estate, the two starting with pleasantries until Bertie mentions seeing Corky outside. Esmond attempts to inquire more, but has a swallowing attack (similar to ‘whatting’), before asking Wooster if ‘Wooster’ was with her, Bertie confirming her solo ‘flying’ and Esmond showing heat over how often Gussie (Wooster) did seem to hang about her as of late. Bertie doesn’t help his emotion by supplying how long he/Gussie had known Corky since childhood and leaving thoughts of youthful dance class and passing time together wasn’t leaving Esmond with a soothing head-space.

Esmond asks about Bertie and Gussie’s history, as well, he relating how popular he’d been as a school boy and his general likability, Esmond focusing on perceived character flaws and not having gotten good vibes from Gussie’s Wooster persona, giving the metaphor of Gorgonzola cheese being his home of origin. Bertie attempts to soften Esmond’s view, but is rebuffed by how Aunt Daphne had only just mentioned Bertie’s bad behavior with the policeman helmet snatching. When Bertie explains the reasoning for said transgression, Esmond regards Bertie’s view with distaste. He states how this tom foolery wasn’t an isolated incident. Bertie this time letting this be and Esmond continuing about how they’d be ready for any Wooster mischief since the local fuzz was on board to capturing him for any misstep and Esmond would be able to throw the 30 day book at him. Bertie felt the possible heat as he and Esmond split off, talking aloud of Jeeves being handy, now. The man himself appears looking quite rejuvenated, his usual mysterious poofing out of nowhere, alive and well.

Jeeves begins cordially, asking if allowed to provide an opinion, Bertie eager to hear his wisdom. Even after clarifying, it was on the topic of attire, Bertie welcoming the dig and even supplies one to Jeeves to see if he determined the issue correctly. Jeeves believed he overshot a bit, but decided he’d certainly been better put together before (soine), Bertie immediately word relation-popping a half thought through song involving ‘Swanee River’, but leaves it be. As Jeeves states his intention of cleaning Bertie’s suit, it is noticed the not-so-foolish young sir was preoccupied with anxiety. Jeeves put forth how he’d thought how Thos was in place and Aunt Agatha not being, was going accordingly. Bertie agrees, but clarifies the main course of issues sprung from Gussie because of he being targeted by fuzz, as well of course the mysterious errand Corky had in store for Gussie. Which reminds Jeeves how Esmond would be set for a friendly audience, Bertie continuing on the topic of Corky and how she required revenge for her dog’s arrest and knew she’d be planning something for fuzz Dobbs. Which meant, if she planned on using Gussie in relation to illegal activities, he’d definitely be clinked. Before Jeeves can reply, Bertie concludes with a statement which he notes was Jeeves-like and had expected his reply to cover the range mentioned, being Gussie wouldn’t intentionally break the law due to his upbringing and nature, but also knew how impressionable he was, especially with Corky involved. So all of this was putting Bertie on edge, but was buoyed by Jeeves offering to speak to him in order to provide reason. The topic turns to Catsmeat’s happiness and back to Esmond’s warm public, before Bertie mentions Gussie’s possible whereabouts and to acquire Thos’ bludgeon. They end their conversation to begin their tasks for the day, when Bertie sees Gussie exiting a cottage, this being the Police HQ, and he being accompanied by Dobbs.

Bertie marveled at the officer and his particular body type: Robust, but petite horizontally. He was noted to also look quite steely in strength. Currently, he seemed to be experiencing a trying situation what with the look he was sporting. Gussie greets the officer as he passes to enter the office and as soon as he’s out of sight, Bertie accosts Gussie with need for explanation. Officer Dobbs comes back out with a shovel before Gussie can answer, scattering frogs which had been sitting upon it, Gussie then suggests Bertie and he move along, afterward wasting time with declaring whom Dobbs was, the two confirming this for a moment. Gussie repeats his agreement several times as he gathered his thoughts, then he relates to Bertie’s single run-in with the law and how unpleasant it is. Bertie asks the obvious question then, what had Gussie done, the man stating he’d been “strewing frogs” about. Specifically, in Dobbs’ boudoir, our Vicar Catsmeat having thought of the ruse.

Corky was whom had put the idea to action though, she becoming irate over Dobbs’ dislike of her pooch, she thinking one of God’s plagues may lighten his heart toward Sam Goldwyn, she enlisting Gussie’s help, since he was so willing. Bertie was in shrieking agony within at how Gussie had gone so far in life without a stint in a mental institution. Upon hearing how Gussie had been caught, he’d only just been able to make out like a proper bandit, since Dobbs hadn’t caught him in the act and there wasn’t any proof, Gussie having straight up lied when Dobbs asked if he’d brought them in, he then announcing abruptly how he’d best let Corky know Sam Goldwyn would be stuck, what with the ole boy now having a history as a snapper, this being when Gussie was making his way out, being trailed by Dobbs, Bertie hoping nothing and no one worse would cross his path.

Bertie stealthily continued on, believing he could hear Aunts echoing voices in the distance, and thinking he’d bypassed them successfully, then sees the one Aunt he’d wanted to avoid: Dame Daphne. Unlike some who had the power to acknowledge monsters and retreat quickly, Bertie became stuck there, he responding to her inquiry as to whether he’d written Madeline and he also supplying carefully why he looked frumpy being due to going to visit Madeline, Dame Daphne horrifyingly pleased and sending for some OJ. Uncle Charlie, finally turns up after a couple jangles from the bell, explaining his delay was caused by his daughter becoming engaged. Bertie was surprised because Silversmith was related to the girl, Queenie and then trying to remember why he recognized the fiance’s name of Meadowes. Silversmith admits Meadowes was Fink-Nottle’s ‘personal attendant’, his look implying to Bertie, the man saw him as a family style equal. Bertie is now worried, Dame Daphne orders OJ for Bertie and insists he change. Bertie requests Meadowes bring his drink so he could congratulate him. When Catsmeat finally appears, Bertie gauges he looked a bit cloudy-eyed from his new status.

The first thing to pass Catsmeat’s lips is his misfortune. Bertie immediately enlisting Jeeves’ help when Catsmeat asks for his suggestion on how to fix his upcoming event. Catsmeat is led into describing how he’d gotten to this point. He begins with how he’d been in such a dreamy mood from Gussie’s message, he’d found himself in the servant’s hall where he came across Queenie crying. In an attempt to comfort her, he’d cooed encouraging words and then began kissing her better; like a sibling, according to him. Which is how Silversmith found them, she setting upon his knee, his arm about her waist and Silversmith, accompanied by Gussie, (Dun, Dun, DUN!). Silversmith’s reaction was at first potentially damaging for Catsmeat, Queenie deciding their engagement was the simplest solution. This being cause for Gussie to send a new message for their plans being open once more, with the exception of Catsmeat still having to do his cross-talk act, Bertie countering with he being stuck with a Christopher Robin poem, Catsmeat shooting back at least it wasn’t Pooh poems, Bertie relenting.

The show was to begin at 8:15 pm, Bertie sitting among the crowd for the start, he now understanding why Corky had been annoyed with the talent, but the audience, of course not being concerned with the quality. These talents were the Kegley-Bassington brood. As Bertie peered at the unyielding faces of the men about him regarding the show thus far, Bertie didn’t feel hopeful of his chances, and to top it off with Reverend Pirbright opening the show with a speech, gave Bertie insight as to the type of host he was, it not being the high energy jokester sort, but Bertie listing his collection of reasons for being somber having to do with Corky, Gussie, and young Thos staying in the spare room. Pirbright focuses his introduction on the Church Organ he then introducing the first act, an unimpressive violinist, before Kegley-Bassingtons began, the first of them escaping jabs, Bertie thinking he may survive, each girl getting fair enough reaction.

George K-B was up next, he reciting a poem which didn’t suit his nature and his family from the wings starting the poem for him when they thought he’d forgotten, he begrudgingly and quickly saying the words and the masses being acceptant, Bertie hoping this boded well for his odds. The act after got the crowd in a decent mood, but then Catsmeat and Gussie fuck it up with their lackluster performance, the two each looking and sounding foully sad and moody. This makes the dialogue sound darker and the punch lines failing to hit. Then Gussie stops speaking his responses and Catsmeat does both sides of the conversation, which by the end, the two retreat with bowed heads, Esmond up next and singing a-hunting, etc. The young man had prepared properly with booze, he getting the wildest response, and giving 4 encores and the crowd still staying receptive. The next act was an odd dance, the crowd after she’d finished, began chanting for Esmond’s return to stage. They winning their wish, Intermission dropping after, Bertie going out for a smoke quite pleased and then chilled with the realization Christopher Robin was no longer available in his brain, he reminded of the idea of drink, immediately awaying to the bar.

As he has a look-see about the place, he spots Jeeves at a table, having a “meditative” beer. Jeeves greets him per his usual way and confirms his mission was a success, regarding retrieval of the cosh from Master Thomas, but Bertie must attempt twice to steer Jeeves toward the subject of his being quite up the hole. Jeeves listens as he describes the depths of his being through the wood, Jeeves probing over Bertie’s used memory methods, he relaying the bar was the attempt, Jeeves immediately suggesting a double brandy, which Bertie doubles. As he begins, he only vaguely recalls the poem included a “hoppity hoppity hop”, but completely recalled ‘”Ben Battle”‘ Jeeves being of the opinion George Kegley-Bassington “barely” performed well enough to pass. Bertie clarifies his reason for mentioning it was because he no longer had any leftover space for Christopher Robin, the liquid memory booster not boosting. Jeeves suggests they hand over the responsibility to Esmond, whom should welcome another chance to impress his fans, he having a book which would’ve been to prompt Bertie with the lines if need be. He contemplates whether to allow Jeeves to ask, reasoning how well-liked Esmond currently was, which was his deciding factor.

As he awaits outside the bar looking at the stars, he’s interrupted by Gussie in costume inquiring if he’d acquire some brandy for him. Bertie provides without a third-degree to his buddy’s non-milky request and watches as he gulps half and describes the flavor as appalling which then gives Bertie the chance to ask why he’d wanted it, since he’d already finished his performance shittily. Gussie acknowledges how most would be if they had the task of breaking out a dog from the clink, as well. Bertie now wished for brandy and confesses how Gussie should reconsider what with Esmond wanting a reason to put Gussie away and Dobbs was waiting for his chance, too. Gussie gains confidence with the fact of Dobbs being busy watching the show, Bertie feeling slightly better for him, and Gussie not caring since he was all about impressing Corky, biffing off thusly. Jeeves then arrives stating his success, Bertie noting he must’ve needed some buttering what with the length of time passing. Jeeves informs it was actually caused by Dobbs, whom had mentioned having decided to skip the remainder of the concert in preference of a good book at his cottage. Bertie’s face shows his shock, he revealing why he was frazzled. Jeeves inquires if Bertie would want to attempt in helping Gussie escape. Bertie didn’t see hope in this, but agrees, and as they make their way to Dobbs, Bertie wonders what would make Jeeves exclaim with a “coo!” or “crumbs!” and learns Jeeves hope doesn’t waiver if there be breath left (decent rule of thumb). Bertie disagrees with his philosophy and fantasizes Gussie has already been caught by Dobbs.

As Jeeves disagrees, they are overcome by Corky, whom had seen Gussie pass not long before. As Bertie is unloading the most recent information regarding Dobbs’ whereabouts, they hear a barking increase in volume as it approaches closer, Corky berating Bertie for almost scaring her, Sam Goldwyn belting his way at them happily. After Corky secures pup in car, she mentions crashing the Hall later, then leaves hastily. Not long do the two stand before hearing a tapping noise, Jeeves veering Bertie to darkness before they see Gussie and Dobbs running by, Bertie impressed with Gussie’s green be-bearded skill. It wasn’t long before Gussie’s instincts fail him though, since if he’d kept running, he’d have been free as a bird, but instead, like a bird, shimmies up a tree, instead.

Dobbs, now caught up, suggests he climb down, Jeeves saving the simpleton with his recently acquired cosher. Jeeves also offers to remove the green gummed-on beard for Gussie, whom is quite dazed himself at this point. Bertie aways back to the bar for another restorative before going back to the Hall for snacks and a change of wardrobe. Bertie also gave fancy to the ease with which Jeeves seemed to have comfortably resorted to violence and whether it could ever be turnt upon himself, but settled with knowing Jeeves would have to forget etiquette completely. He is encompassed by stray thoughts as Gussie appears without beard and cleaned up, reminding Bertie of his need to change, what with buffet snacks downstairs to look forward to, he also noticing Gussie’s nervous energy.

Bertie focused on dressing until a groan escapes Gussie’s throat as he stares at a picture of a woman being stared at by a gentleman, Gussie inquiring if Bertie had ever had reality shine blatantly upon him, he describing his mo. had arrived when Dobbs had been standing under the tree reasoning for Gussie to give up, he realizing his lurv had been killed. Corky was a solid gal, but brought too much liveliness to Gussie’s existence. Bertie was so happy, his delayed reaction of whoopying scared Gussie into biting his tongue, Bertie apologizing, but also explaining how the news deserved it, since Madeline was so obviously his boo, and he would sing gustily with everyone for the newlyweds upon their wedding day.

It’s by this point Bertie notices Gussie’s visible discomfort, since he was in a new mess and he wished Bertie would end the love story he imagined for him with Madeline, since he was still operating under the notion of his final letter to her having been to end things. Bertie sets him straight, Gussie still believing Bertie to be a dumb ass, but belied his nature when succeeding with this, Gussie planning to visit Madeline immediately. Bertie, in the mo. of “bien être”  = well being, reminds himself to slow down with his congratulatory whimsy, since other lovers were still pending. As he was preparing to leave for his sammie, Esmond comes in, but like a horse “curvetting”: a series of jumps on the ‘hind legs’.

After Bertie greets and invites him to sit, he’s met with a look of disbelief. Esmond can’t imagine how he’d be able to sit and after “loo loo looing” awhile Bertie mentions how much he appreciated Esmond taking over the poems, which had gone fine for him. Bertie reminds Esmond he hadn’t shared why he was in such a good mood had been due to Corky, and as he was revving up his explanation, Bertie blew his bubble in the telling a of couple times, since he could sense where Esmond was heading, he getting him back by admitting Bertie didn’t look like he’d have been a deep thinker from the time of boyhood. Regardless, Bertie states what Esmond must’ve done to impress Corky, Esmond confirming, but one small thing still being in the way, he having to stand up to his aunts to prove he wasn’t being pushed over by them.

Bertie agrees this should be done, but Esmond is peeved by this, since he doesn’t know how he’d go about it, Bertie again suggesting the answer lies with Jeeves. Esmond takes his word and goes off in search of the man, Bertie having a celebratory ciggie, due to every lover being in order, minus Catsmeat. Bertie then sees Jeeves arrive, the two catching up in regards to Gussie’s most recent London plan, Corky’s tentative engagement and Esmond requesting his assistance. Jeeves accepts, but currently was helping his Uncle Charlie serve refreshment. Esmond then returns, Bertie mentioning where Jeeves had gone and Esmond replying, they need follow, due to being late themselves. Dame Daphne appears to ask where he’d been, he for once being a smart ass in reply. she heading upstairs and he leading Bertie to the drawing room, where it wasn’t long before Uncle Charlie announced Dobbs’ arrival.

The upper class guests and homeowners had varying displays of curiosity. Dobbs announces having a couple reasons for showing up, the first having to do with speaking with Reverend Sidney about being struck by a thunderbolt, and before Sidney could respond, Dobbs is body checked by Queenie, whom had forgiven him and obviously expected her engagement ring returned. Again, varying emotions are viewed, Uncle Charlie not drawn in, but drawing out Queenie from Dobbs’ arms, he coming back to himself and scheduling a talk with the Reverend for tomorrow. Bertie remembers the other task Dobbs had come about. Dobbs asks for Wooster, which upon hearing, Esmond becomes serious with the judgement of the Justice of the Peace. Dobbs goes through his story and Jeeves pipes up when Esmond inquires where he was now, and when learning he had gone to London and Jeeves was his attendant, he states wanting to speak with him in the near future, for previously discussed reasons. In the meantime, Jeeves gives Wooster an alibi so as to sully Dobbs’ story, also disappointing Esmond.

Then, Dobbs realizes Catsmeat was the only leftover culprit, which surprises everyone including Bertie, since he couldn’t believe Jeeves would overlook screwing Catsmeat over. Esmond calls for Meadowes to be brought, Jeeves obliging. Once presented, they catch him up to his predicament, and Gertrude overcome with the prospect of missing Catsmeat for 30 days, the two embrace and kiss with passion, disturbing the aunts. Once Esmond learns from Corky Meadowes was actually her brother, Catsmeat, he lightens his mood, especially when he reveals his plans to marry Gertrude once getting back to London. Esmond quiets the “banshee”-like aunts, and after setting the two on the path to using his car, suggests Dobbs go look in on Gertrude, Corky bringing Esmond’s attention to how his Aunts had been in uproar this whole time and Dame Daphne had been disturbed enough to come see what had occurred.

The four Aunts catch her up and she asks for confirmation in a way which would intimidate Bertie, but Esmond makes like he’s shooing flies, acting the most in charge of Aunts as Santa is of reindeer. Esmond states he’d approved of Gertrude and Catsmeat’s marriage, since he’d be marrying Corky, whom was starry-eyed with acceptance and adoration of he growing a pair. Esmond goes for a stroll with her and Bertie retires to his room. Upon doing so, he finds all of the troubled lovers had been handled, he readying for sleepy-time as Jeeves appears. Bertie gives him props and learns Thos had written his mother about how well he’d been getting on, leading to her arrival and knowing Bertie was there. Jeeves already had an escape plan ready for him, but Bertie at first shows his instinctual fear, and then takes a lesson from Esmond, deciding he’ll face Aunt Agatha, with the back up of the cosher being available, he strolling out with purpose.

I continue enthusiastically!

Kitchen

Image result for kitchen banana book cover

 

The Narrator, Mikage begins with her most favorite spot being a kitchen, the size, kind, or location not an issue, preferably well used. Even if they’re spattered with food, which Mikage hopes happens to the larger kitchens she may visit, currently though, she leaning on a large fridge, viewing through a window the evening stars. Only she and the kitchen present whilst considering how she would be content with dying in a kitchen. She remembers when her grandmother died and couldn’t sleep, sleeping near the fridge easing her mind. Mikage’s parents died at a young age, she then living with her grandparents, when starting junior high, her grandfather died, and the previous day, her grandmother died, she shocked to learn she was now the last one in her family, after attending the funeral, moving her futon to the kitchen. When she realizes she must move, the list of apartment options overwhelms her, she buckling with the task, but as the days passed by, she is visited by a young man, Yuichi, as she’s glancing disinterestedly at the apartment list, and binding up old magazines with strings. Mikage thanks him for helping her at the funeral, they having attended the same university, and she taking bereavement leave.

Yuichi inquires after her apartment hunt and she informs him of its stagnation, Yuichi then inviting her to stay, he having discussed this with his mother, and giving her directions, setting a time she could visit later. Mikage accepts without thinking too much about it, he then leaving, she recalling Yuichi’s reaction of sadness at the funeral, she thinking he must’ve had a relationship with her grandmother she wasn’t aware of, but after he’d offered her his help there, he’d continued helping her. Then she remembers her grandmother talking of the boy, Tanabe, whom worked at the flower shop she frequented, Mikage sensing he was the solitary sort, since even after knowing him for a bit, he seemed stand-offish. It began raining as she walked to his house, their homes separated by a park, she walking through, and when seeing how high their floor was, considering how wonderful their view must be, she not thinking past their invitation. She’s greeted by Yuichi at their front door, and is hit with the size of the couch before seeing the large kitchen behind it, and loving it from the first viewing. Normally, when confronted with people she didn’t know well, in a different home, she felt isolated, but knowing how alone she already was, put a spin on the situation, giving her new perspective.

Mikage gets straight to the question of why she was there, Yuichi plainly stating how nice her grandmother had been to him and they having plenty of space to spare, the two interrupted by Yuichi’s mother, Eriko rushing in, Mikage captivated by her stunning features. Whilst getting through pleasantries, Eriko quickly changes to return to work at a nightclub, she mentioning how she expected Yuichi to convince her to stay over, Yuichi walked her out and suggests Mikage watch TV for a moment as he rushed out to speak with his mother, Mikage finally understanding what being enchanted was. When Yuichi returns, he inquires whether she’d felt timid around Eriko, she being honest and remarking on her exquisite features, Yuichi confides how she’d had surgery, and had been a man, Mikage at first thinking he was messing with her, but then listens to how his parents met when they were young, his mother’s family giving Eriko a home, he then running away to get married with his mother. After his mother died, Eriko decided to get the surgeries to become a woman and started the nightclub. So whilst she still didn’t know whether to trust him fully, she gave them a shot because she did have faith in their kitchen, the two’s “Buddha” smiles being nice, as well.

When they end their night, Yuichi shows her how the shower worked and gets her set up with blankets, pajamas and what not, she again making certain her staying was fine, he then leaving her to get settled. When she lays down, she’s quite content with the silence, view, plants, and kitchen so close, she going to sleep, content. When she’s greeted by Eriko in the morning, she forgets for a moment of her male genetics, but then offers to make breakfast when Eriko decides takeout would be easier, she leaving Mikage to work the kitchen. Eriko shows her healthy appetite and by afternoon, Mikage is reveling in the slow, calm atmosphere. Eriko then mentions how Yuichi had described her as looking like a dog they used to have (17 Again), Eriko insisting on seeing the resemblance and how amused she was by it the night they met, Mikage hoping the dog wasn’t a Saint Bernard. Eriko then explains how she understood why Yuichi was so attached to her was for this reason, and she regretting not being a better mother for recognizing his aloofness, but he turning into a good person; she recognizing the same of Mikage, relating how hard life could be, but wanting her to be comfortable. When Mikage offers to pay rent, Eriko instead request she make the soupy rice once in awhile, hers surpassing Yuichi’s.

Mikage then realizes upon review, how stressing living with the elderly could be, knowing they could die soon. She recalls how easy the relationship between she and her grandmother was and the times she may have mentioned Yuichi, but even during times Mikage was impaired by drink or love, she knew there was only one person left in her life, and while she was aware of having been loved, the loneliness of her life sobered her to how it was, so she didn’t take long to move in. She showed her appreciation with making food and tidying, still working her part-time job, the three of them working different hours so it feeling spacious, Mikage extremely grateful with how she’d gotten so lucky. When she’d gone to her old home for the remainder of her belongings, she already felt estranged, and as she cleaned the fridge, her house phone rang, she hearing her ex, whom was out of the picture when her grandmother got worse. He called to give condolences, having heard through classmates, they then making a time to see each other. Sotaro’s main interest is plants, he normally outside near parks and whatnot, but due to the winter season, they agree on a cafe near a park.

They have general chat until Sotaro brings up knowing she’d moved in with Yuichi, whom had been slapped by his now ex-girlfriend in school. As they walked through the park she was reminded why they weren’t good together, he not making her feel good about herself, but by nothing he outwardly said, only how he was, they then leave each other on good terms. As she’s watching TV later in the evening, Yuichi comes home with a word processor, Mikage noting Yuichi and his mother’s penchant for pricey electronics. When he questions her on when she would post her change-of-address forms and how she’d rather get it done when she moved for good, he reacts bluntly, but quickly lightens, Mikage again asking if her being there imposed on him, he acting oblivious. They get the forms ready to send out, she learning Yuichi wanted to help for despising spare time. As they continued, she asks about the issues her being there seemed to have for him, he finally catching on and as they worked, she sensed he was quite melancholy, she understanding the issue he’d had with his girlfriend, and if she stayed there, she’d only make his life more difficult, she also seeing how their intimate conversations could complicate her feelings toward him, so whilst making the new address forms, she attempted to convince herself of needing to move as soon as possible.

When Eriko comes in to drop off a newly bought juicer, she remembers a gift for Mikage upon seeing the address cards, Mikage overcome by the thoughtful banana glass (a nod to herself?). Mikage cleared out her stuff and finished cleaning the next day, she seeing the landlord and chatting amiably like she and her grandmother used to do. She was heading to her new home by nightfall and getting emotional about how she was truly done with her childhood home, but then getting cranky when riding a crowded bus, feeling better when seeing an airship. A grandmother and granddaughter sitting nearby, the girl seemingly in a bad mood is unphased when her grandmother points out the same airship to her. When the girl’s grandmother finally gets the girl to smile though, Mikage is overwhelmed by no longer getting to see her own grandmother, she rushing off the bus and crying violently, knowing it was because she hadn’t properly mourned, but she then noticing she had stopped at a kitchen, she immediately feeling better and continuing on her way. When she got back, she announced how tired she was to Yuichi and is almost fully asleep when he’d gone to the kitchen to make tea, she halfway aware of his commenting on how quickly she’d gone down. She dreamt about the kitchen in the old apartment, a floor color she once hated, now loving. She sees Yuichi cleaning the floor and she suggests they have a tea break.

They have an aimless chat, until Yuichi asks whether she was going to leave their apartment, and before she was able to answer, telling her not to, which confused her since he sounded like they’d already begun this topic. He explains how he’d considered carefully before inviting her, and believed being with them is what’s best for now, Mikage conveying her agreement and Yuichi returning to his task of cleaning the floor. They they begin singing together as they worked, Mikage believing she broke the dream-mode by requesting they stop in case her grandmother woke, he instead suggesting they go to a ramen noodle stand at the park when they were through. Mikage wakes up after this, it now two in the morning. Yuichi takes her by surprise whilst she’s in the kitchen pouring water for herself, he also having woken up and deciding to make ramen, Mikage offering to cook it for him and to sit on the couch. When she mentions in her dream he’d also wanted ramen, she notices his surprise, he then inquiring of the color of the kitchen floor, she confirming he was correct, and thanking him for mopping the floor, he then offering to get them both juice, Mikage letting the discussion about the dream lay, knowing they had plenty of time in the future to talk about the shared experience.

One night Eriko is watering the plants when she blurts how it isn’t simple being female, and learning one’s breaking points is healthy in truly having the ability to know happiness, she appreciating the hard times she’d gotten through. Mikage states how she believed she knew what Eriko meant, Eriko then complimenting Mikage’s grandmother for having been an extraordinary lady for having raised a truthful, good-hearted young woman, she loving Mikage for it and how she’d been fortunate. Mikage begins reading the magazine she had started before Eriko’s spontaneous chat, and also ponders how she’d have to move again at some point, she debating if she’d ever come back when she did or would only have her fond memories. She then decides to focus on ‘the now’ and enjoy them whilst she could, also considering how she planned on handling the tough times in the future. She then thinks about imagined and real kitchens she’d experience with many people or only one other, in every place she would live and knowing there would be plenty more.

Eriko was murdered by a crazed regular at her club after the man had seen her walking to work one night. Yuichi phones Mikage to let her know, waking her up and stating how Eriko had taken her murderer down with her, Mikage having difficulty allowing this to sink in due to grogginess. Another blow came when Yuichi confesses how long ago it had happened, he not able to let himself inform her before the funeral, begging her forgiveness. Mikage decides she’d rather have this talk in person and offers to come by (this being after she’d finished school and now worked in a cooking school as an assistant), she then remembering the last encounter she’d had with Eriko being at a store late one night, the two ending their passing with smiles. Mikage dashes through her apartment hurriedly to grab what she needed, finally getting her head together with the items she required and left. On her walk, she starts to get upset, her eyes blurring and making everything viewed in a pretty glaze. She was truly broken by the news though, life not seeming worth living, none of this showing . When she sees Yuichi, she’s quite happy since it’d been awhile, Yuichi surprised she wasn’t furious with him. Instead they sit on the couch drinking coffee, he at first asking about her job, she in the honeymoon phase, then relaying his state of mind being wildly out of sorts around the time of the funeral, he having her in his thoughts, but unable to confess for it becoming too real, regardless of Mikage and Eriko being so chummy.

Mikage handles his explanation by noting how they were a pair, having lost so many people already, she successfully lightening Yuichi’s mood and they proceeding with Eriko’s will, but Yuichi also giving her Eriko’s red sweater which one day she had guiltily admitted looked better on Mikage. She proceeds with reading the letter written to Yuichi by Eriko, she starting lightly, stating of the ridiculous possibility of her death by someone’s hand, but sensing the necessity, she glad Mikage had entered his life since Eriko was the last of Yuichi’s family, this before warning him to refrain communicating with his mother’s side. She then tells how she attempted writing as a man and failed, she then reminiscing about the good times throughout her life, Mikage living with them being one, then ending with what legal papers he would find and to phone the lawyer for further detail, everything but the club going to him. Mikage stayed up most of the night grieving, the two not getting up until after noon. Yuichi readies for school and inquires if Mikage planned on going home, she thoughtfully declaring she would wait until dinnertime, which lights the idea in Yuichi’s head she should make a fancy feast, she wholly into the idea and supplying a grocery list for him to retrieve for her, after he’d gone, she getting the empty-house feeling, prominent after a death.

Mikage treasured the six months she’d had with Eriko, she getting overcome with the empty feeling and sleepiness, but resisting for knowing nightmares would arise, she moving to the kitchen and upon inspection, cleans the place for not being used in awhile. As she made progress, the kitchen duties eased her mind, she realizing she had turned a corner. She remembers how the summer she was with Eriko and Yuichi had also been the one she’d learned to cook. She bought three books which covered all the necessary information to attempt the task. Yuichi and Eriko would tease her because of the flurry of excitement she’d display as she learned, she even finding how cooking made her feel when in negative moods. She realizes she had brought the family together due to how much she cooked, she looking back on those days fondly, then considering how the possibility of beginning the cooking process depended on if the heat was at the right temperature before cooking, believing this affected the taste and look of the dish, they certainly not looking like the pictures in her texts. Mikage then goes over how frustrated she had at first become upon failure of making a dish properly, but how she’d gotten through it, not changing her, but helping her discover her own process. The position of the celebrity cook she’d landed, she believed was acquired by the difference in temperament between herself and the other candidates, especially with only the three month study program (her three books) she’d given herself. The other women not living a life which would allow the same type of learning Mikage had gotten (those three months of heaven), enough to understand risks needed to be made for anything good to come from life.

All of Mikage’s cleaning had passed the day, Yuichi having her help him with two more bags of groceries in the car, he then seeing the moon looking nice, Mikage catching his attempt at changing the subject due to making her help him with bags having nothing to do with the dinner like he’d claimed. As they rode the elevator back up, Mikage came to the idea how Yuichi made her feel content, but unable to make sense of the emotion. Dinner took her two hours to finish, she mentioning how she wouldn’t be able to cope with Eriko’s death all at once, and noting how worn down Yuichi seemed, which is why neither brought up Eriko. After they had eaten all they could, Mikage saw an empty bottle of wine Yuichi must have drank by himself, he then conveying how it did help cause his putting off calling her about Eriko, being drunk for a month and his mind believing she’d hold his not confessing sooner against him. Yuichi then confides all the thoughts he’d built up about how he’d handled his mother’s death and not being brave enough to face Mikage, he then asking if she’d move back, she not knowing if he was too drunk to understand what he was saying, but stating of it on the table for debate. Yuichi brings down the mood with how he could end up becoming stuck in his gloom, she getting upset and deciding they should see how things would go. He passes out and Mikage cleans the dishes whilst she bawls over her isolation. When she is woken by the phone the next morning, she picks it up before remembering she wasn’t at home, the caller disconnecting after she says hello, she then going to work. After she learns she’d be let out early, she was also invited to a three-day research retreat for food, she immediately accepting, which answered her own question of whether she’d be staying with Yuichi. As she entered the prep area, she speaks with the two head assistants who couldn’t go to the three-day research retreat, due to golf lessons, the girls sweet, and Mikage pleased to work with them.

Then the three are visited by the defensive, know-it-all caller, a classmate of Yuichi whom is also in love with him, she attempting to demand Mikage leave him alone whilst also schooling her about how she’d gotten him in a rut, she mentioning how she’d comforted him after his mother had died, and before she could continue her selfish tirade, Mikage starts speaking about how the girl hadn’t even gotten her side of what happened, she feeling bad for the girl having wasted her time for a useless task. Once Mikage had said her peace, the girl left, the two assistants supporting Mikage’s side, she feeling worn down. When Yuichi returns home later, Mikage shares her news about work and planning on leaving to pack, but as he’d been driving her home, she craves some tea beforehand, and upon sitting, she mentions this being their first time out together. When he’d gotten her home, they discuss what he’d like for a souvenir, she burying her face in his arm when realizing how cold it was outside, then leaving and discovering her own jealousy, not knowing whom was “winning”. Mikage then relates a sad memory of Eriko when she was sharing a story about before she became a woman, his wife terribly ill and how he’d visit her before and after work every day. At one point, his wife asks for something alive to be with her in the hospital room, Eriko immediately out and buying a pineapple potted-plant, his wife extremely grateful. When she was about to get worse (Eriko not confessing to her the nature of her illness), she requests he take the plant home with him, his isolation shared with the pineapple, he also coming to his first realization of becoming a woman as he decided against hailing a taxi, after his wife’s death, planning on maintaining a bemused sunniness, he then transitions to become a lady. Mikage figures what she’d meant by sharing the story, she fighting her weaknesses as she tried to sleep.

The next morning Mikage gets a phone call from Chika, the head girl at Eriko’s club, whom now owned it by Eriko’s will. Chika was a transvestite, but quite pretty, he calling to speak with her about an important topic, mysteriously only giving the place they’d meet and hanging up. Upon meeting him at the noodle place, Mikage begins eating and then inquires what was so urgent, he usually exaggerating, but he talking about how Yuichi was acting oddly, usually so austere, but his emotions breaking through, he referring to Yuichi to an Inn since he’d not been sleeping well. Chika then confides his sense of they’re deep affection for each other and she should go after him, Mikage numbed with his deduction. He goes on to figure out what the hold up was besides Mikage’s trip, she relenting by deciding to give tracking him down some thought, Chika relaying how Yuichi’s state of mind needed changing what with his mother’s death affecting him in such a bad way. As Mikage walks Chika out, he breaking down loudly, he also gives her the information on the Inn. As he leaves, Mikage affected with his emotion, but still undecided about her next move, she end up doing nothing about it and begins her trip to Izu with Sensei, other staff, and a cameraman, Mikage reverting back to thinking this was best, the muddled feelings being too difficult to sort.

Later in the evening, Mikage goes to Sensei’s room to ask if she’d be allowed to go get a meal since the Inn served only veggies she didn’t like, she not minding, and once Mikage had gone out walking, she discovering she’d love to be on the road more often, but Yuichi having put too much of an impression on her. When reaching the first restaurant she still saw open with only one other patron, she goes in and gives her order. As she waits, she uses the phone sitting on the counter and dials Yuichi’s Inn, when he answers, he deduces how Mikage got the number, she asking about the food there, tofu being the answer, after they joking about not eating apart, together. Mikage asks about how long he’d stay, she not believing his reply of it not being long, the two hanging up soon after, Mikage’s sense of isolation returning, but once her katsudon was done and tasted, she abruptly deciding to order a second and both made to go, she remembering Sensei had mentioned this place and was disappointed they couldn’t hit it.

Mikage debated her next move, which is again made for her when a taxi pulls up, she getting him to agree to the longish fare, when they get there, the cabbie able to arrive in decent time, she then having to contemplate how she’d get into Yuichi’s room since no one at front desk was answering, it after midnight, and the lights in all the rooms being off, she then sensing which room it was and climbing to it, but getting stuck, and after a few moments, able to pull herself up, but sustaining an injury. Now bleeding and after take a rest, she knocks on the window, Yuichi answering after a minute, disbelieving he was seeing her at first, but once getting her inside, gives her tea whilst she insisted he eat the katsudon she’d gotten for him. Her original feeling of gloom permeated and dissipated with the memories they’d shared. Before leaving, she finally gets her thoughts out about wanting to be with him, but for him to think on it until he felt better, after the two joke about Yuichi wanting to exude masculinity when Mikage saw him, they part. Mikage is next awoken by footfalls outside her door, she viewing the snowstorm which moved in, and getting up when Sensei called. On their final day of the trip, they had a French menu, Mikage taking a walk on an unbearably cold day on the beach, only warmed by a can of coffee (I’ve had one before, heated with chemicals at the sealed bottom, not bad stuff), when returning and readying a hot shower and tea, Yuichi calls, she informing him of the foodstuffs she’d sent ahead, he declaring he’d be picking her up, and so giving him the information of when and where, contentedly.

This was a wonderful story, quite gripping and entertaining. The fact it didn’t really have chapters didn’t make it difficult to read due to the fascination the writing brought. I’m glad I decided to read this on a whim.

Moonlight Shadow

Hitoshi was given a bell which he carried with him on his case he used as a wallet, the Narrator giving this as a token of love, which he would keep close to him until the end (…of the story?). The two were in the same sophomore committee for a field trip, their time together brief since being in separate groups when arriving, they only spending time together on the train. When they’re about to join their groups, the Narrator, Satsuki (annoyingly not introduced until five pages later) gives Hitoshi a spur-of-the-moment gift of the bell left behind by her cat. She was impressed with his sensitivity in reacting to her present, all day the two thinking of the bell and their shared memory, upon returning, head-over-heels for each other. The bell had stayed with them for almost four years through all the poignant moments of their time together. Then Satsuki confesses to sensing Hitoshi’s fuzziness in reality to her, she considering if this thought was a bad omen of the future, it would be quite unfortunate.

Hitoshi was gone by the time Satsuki was twenty, she drastically changed by his death, feeling something terrible must now occur to her because of her instability. Her connection to him involved many major firsts in her life which they were able to learn together, but now she couldn’t stand living for not having Hitoshi. Satsuki takes up running for two months after Hitoshi’s death (Octopus Pie having a similar story when Hanna takes up running after splitting with Marek, more funny, but still sad), she getting terrible sleep with consistent dreams of Hitoshi. Her depression led to feeling nauseous and instead of becoming anxious for dawn to rise, she’d started jogging. During the day, she would distract herself with buddies, she awaiting the day she’d have her eureka moment. Even after Hitoshi’s death, Satsuki still enjoyed the river which he had lived on the other side of, they meeting on the bridge, frequently. She meditated how these times of rest helped her stay sane for the day.

The next morning she is woken with a nightmare, prepares to run, but finds when doing so, brought difficulty in breathing, deciding to push through it. When reaching the bridge and pouring some tea for herself, she’s snuck up on by a lady asking for a cup (presumptuous), Satsuki dropping her thermos over the ledge, the lady seeming friendly and light-spirited, so once taking a sip herself, offers the woman the rest, she offering to replace the thermos. The woman then states how she’d arrived recently from a fairly distant place to view a sight only seen once a century, she then inquiring if Satsuki knew of this, but when being told she hadn’t, agrees to share what the phenomenon was in some time. Satsuki doesn’t wait though, she realizing she needed to be heading back, then Urara introduces herself, she stating of hopefully seeing her again.

Satsuki thinks how strange Urara was, and when taking a second look at her, sees an expression which changed her features, but smiles and waves again when looking away from the river and sees her staring. She wonders about the type of person she could be as she continues on, then Hiiragi, Hitoshi’s brother is mentioned to stepping to the beat of his own drummer, his eighteenth birthday “this month”. When Satsuki meets him after his class, he was in full sailor girl uniform, Satsuki horrified, but able to act natural for his nonchalance. As they order tea, Satsuki notices a movement Hiiragi did, which reminded her of Hitoshi, the two now having a system of making light of it so as to throw away the sadness they felt. Then it’s elaborated on Hiiragi losing his girlfriend, Yumiko the same night Hitoshi had given her a ride to the train station, whilst Hitoshi not being at fault, both of their lives having been taken.

Hiiragi makes chit chat about her running, then suggests they go to a new spot with delicious tempura on rice, after how the running didn’t seem to help her getting chunky. Satsuki knew she’d been actually losing weight, but plays along, agreeing and then explains how the outfit was Yumiko’s, his late girlfriend, her parents attempting to have him stop, but he having a good laugh over it, Satsuki having asked about it and he explaining it made him hurt less. Satsuki realizes then they had a new expression for their faces which conveyed the attempt to bury the thought of their partners. Then Satsuki states of having to let her parents know she wasn’t coming home for dinner, Hiiragi planning on ordering out for delivery for his mother, she saying how nice the gesture was. When Satsuki had first been informed by Hitoshi of his younger brother, he’d specified how his weirdness made him worry whether it could affect Satsuki still liking him, also mentioning how adult-like he acted except around his family, but Hitoshi also stating it was most likely okay since Hiiragi enjoyed meeting “‘good people'”.

Then back to real time, they about to walk to the place across the river, Satsuki remembering she hadn’t seen Urara since the first morning they met, she getting another hit of pain when Hiiragi thought she’d hesitated and offering to drive her back, his kindness dripping of Hitoshi. Then Satsuki shares of meeting strange Urara, recalling the expression on her face seeming demonic and Satsuki thinking it was because she thought she shouldn’t have human feelings, then comparing how minor her melancholy seemed, wondering if she was in store for worse pain. As they neared the restaurant, they ended up having to go through the cross streets where Hitoshi and Yumiko had their accident, Satsuki and Hiiragi becoming solemn and trying to stay upbeat, she discovering how cells could get the feeling of people from the past, not comprehending the idea before, like when tour guides in castles would offer this possibility. She then begins to consider Hitoshi’s last thoughts and emotions, as well as how it would’ve looked at night and whether this night looked similarly. She noted how beautiful the moon was as Hiiragi nudged her to cross the street. They were eating when Satsuki regained a luster for life caused by the meal, she complimenting it so hard, the employee was embarrassed.

One afternoon, Satsuki had gotten sick, too ill to run, she realizing the phone was ringing and having to pick up for no one else at the house. She’s surprised to learn Urara was calling to see if she could meet up, Satsuki agreeing, but also asking how she’d discovered her number, Urara good-naturedly relating how she wanted it, so it came (synchronicity), Satsuki accepting this due to how she explained it. Urara then informs Satsuki to join her at a department store in the thermos area, Satsuki knowing she shouldn’t leave for her cold, but too intrigued, following her gut. Making sure to dress warmly, Satsuki rides her bicycle, noticing the weather promising spring, everyone outside seeming to go about their business pleasantly, whilst Satsuki remained insouciant, wanting her heart to finish the job of breaking already. When she sees Urara, she notes how she looked closer in age to herself this time, when Urara sees Satsuki, she notices immediately she was sick and getting straight down to showing the different sorts of thermoses available to choose from, she feeling much better for Urara’s exuberance.

After Satsuki detected one, they have tea, she then giving Satsuki a variety of tea to break in the new thermos with since a shop owner closing his shop gave away a bunch to her, Satsuki again grateful. She then asks once more about how Urara had come by her number, she divulging more information about how she’d become proficient in sensing them, allowing her finger to choose without thinking, Satsuki wanting to trust this since she felt like she’d known Urara a long time ago, and her nature made one susceptible to accepting her far-fetched explanations. Satsuki describes her gratitude in a strange way, she being as euphoric as a “lover”, Urara not missing a beat and advising Satsuki feel better by the day after next, Satsuki deducing the phenomenon must be the reason, which Urara admits, also relaying the hour to be at the bridge, she asking about what it could be and Urara finally confiding how if all progressed accordingly, Satsuki may see a kind of supernatural sight, she sensing Satsuki had a deep bond with the river making it more possible she’d succeed in seeing it, whatever it was being unique. Satsuki dazedly finalizes the meeting, she then flashing back to Hitoshi and her last time at the bridge being a fine one, he getting ready for a boys night, Satsuki a healthy amount plumper and much more content. When they say their goodnight’s, Satsuki hears the bell as he walks off. She then confesses how terrible their fights could be, the two also having affairs with others, they both wounding the other countless times, but overall their time together being happy.

Satsuki used to dream how she’d stop him from leaving, the memory consistently having the affect of upsetting her and bottling her pain in public hurting more. As Urara and she split later, she was wishing this something did happen, but also soothing herself with the thought of still being pleased by the both of them being at the river, regardless of the outcome. As she’s about to reach her bicycle, she spots Hiiragi, in normal-wear, she thinking he was playing hooky and instead of calling to him for weakness, walks in his direction, but he going off, fortunately in the direction she needed, unfortunately at a speed she couldn’t equal. Hiiragi soon stops in front of a tennis shop though, Yumiko having played, he blankly staring within, Satsuki not making herself known, she deciding she wouldn’t go up to him, seeing the look of a bird searching for its mother on his face, it being adorable, but also feeling down about how his presence soothed her because of reminding her of Hitoshi. When she had first met Yumiko, she couldn’t imagine the hold she had on Hiiragi, she seeming average in most ways, but for whatever reason, she complimenting him in her way. Hitoshi relays to her it was because of her tennis abilities, they watching a finals game, where the two realized Hiiragi was right, and her friendship to the girl budding, which made the events later even more terrible to think on. Satsuki leaves Hiiragi without saying hello and decides to not mention ever having seen him, her illness getting worse. She awakens from a dream again, still sick and debating her run, wanting dawn to break, instead making tea, returning to her room, and looking out her window to see Urara, whom mimes permission to pass their front gate, she nodding. Urara then explains being on her way home from work, noting how terrible Satsuki looked and offering a vitamin C candy and some comforting advice, afterwards closing her window for her, she feeling better enough to catch a few more z’s.

Satsuki gets much more rest, she awaking early in the evening, questioning whether she’d actually spoken with Urara, also wondering if more horrible nights were in her future, she then surprised by a visit from Hiiragi, whom had called, learned of the sickness from her mother and dropping by to see how she was feeling. He then shows her his get well gift of KFC, enough for them both so it being time to dig in. During this, Hiiragi opens up with letting her know of how concerned he’d been for her and to call him if she felt too alone, glad and surprised he’d said anything. Later, she sleeps better than she had been in a long time, the aid of medicine helping, she next waking at the right hour to prepare her meet up with Urara. She still goes for a run, and Urara is waiting for her at the designated spot, she greeting her warmly and warning her what to do as the time neared, she mentioning of their dimension about to change, and not to move or say anything when they viewed whatever they would see across the river. As the sky lightened, first Satsuki hears a bell, then notices Urara had disappeared, when looking back at the river, she sees Hitoshi at the other shore, breaking down, but not saying a word, he waving to her as his image faded with dawn, she again seeing Urara and telling her how worth the experience had been.

When Urara shares of the Weaver Festival Phenomenon whilst they drank tea in a shop, she explains how the vision was produced, she also having lost a significant other, she then mentioning of seeing Satsuki the first night and deciding to extend the invitation. Satsuki then wonders what plans Urara had next for herself, whom she’d seen, as well as still curious about the sort of person she truly was, unable to say anything to her. Urara states how the moment having allowed them to have a second chance with goodbye’s should ease their minds, Satsuki still in much agony over the memory, she finally inquiring after Urara’s next destination and she giving the vague answer of seeing each other again, as well as knowing Satsuki’s number, they parting, and she considering what Urara had done for her. Satsuki is next waiting at Hiiragi’s school to deliver his birthday present of a record to him, when he dashes out claiming to have seen Yumiko, he not wearing her uniform. He shares how one night he’d been woken up seeing Yumiko walk through his door (after opening it, of course) and taking the sailor suit, she then mouthing, “‘Bye-bye'”, waving, and he going back to sleep, the next morning unable to locate the outfit. When questioning his own sanity lightly, Satsuki suggests he start running when getting those emotions, he cracking up. Then from Hitoshi’s perspective, he states of having to be on the move, then giving an idea of Urara being a part of him and grateful of Satsuki waving goodbye to him.

This was an interesting and odd one, as well, but there’s something about Kitchen where the characters hold one’s attention more, connecting with Mikage, and the goodness of Eriko. Overall worth it, quite an easy read on top of everything, too.

Rose Madder

 https://2aughlikecrazy.wordpress.com/2016/08/28/rose-madder/

A woman, Rose, is having trouble breathing as she sees her husband, Norman after he gets home. She’s pregnant and not having felt a pain similar to this in her life, she hoping nothing is wrong, but feeling like there might be, since it is hinted of Norman having punched her a few times in the stomach. She’s close to miscarrying and he’s on the phone, she thinking of his status as a cop, and in the process of calling an ambulance. She wants to scream in pain, but Norman didn’t allow such noise, and when he ends the call, he regards the mess around them, she showing her bloody fingers in response as he picks up the shredded paperback she’d been reading and placing blame on his temper to it, she knowing he would’ve done the same with anything she could’ve been doing, he prickly because some woman was hassling him. As he dumps the trashed novel, she starts cramping and having thoughts of loathing of him without truly registering them.

When Norman returns, he has such a look and demeanor, she thinks he means to murder her, but instead, handsome Norman approaches to pick her up, after having told the emergency dispatcher he wouldn’t, but he needing the story he gave to stick, so places her at the foot of the stairs. She begins bleeding more profusely as he checks the spot in the corner for blood, then goes to the kitchen and comes out with a sandwich and rag, cleaning up the spot in the corner. When they hear the ambulance approach, he makes certain she knows the story and then has her say what would happen if she mentioned anything else. Before he walks away to get the door, she stops him to ask why he’d done it, he looking scared for a moment, then claiming it was an accident and she’d be able to have another baby. The EMT give her something to make her sleep and she drifts into a dream where she’s running away from something she knew would catch her (Rose doesn’t seem quite strong, she wanting a baby by this numbskull). It’s told she stays in Norman’s crazy world for nine more years.

Rose spends fourteen years with him, in all, she able to ignore most of it since she usually only received four beatings per year, but the Wendy Yarrow year brought twelve, Rose having to be taken to the hospital after the miscarriage for coughing up blood, learning her lung was being poked by a broken rib, and even though the staff didn’t seem to believe her “falling” story, they only patch her up and let her go, it being 1985. Norman knew he skirted getting in trouble though, so intended to be more tactful. It’s then shared of what Rose had gone through with Norman and what finally gets her attention being a spot of blood. She debates whether to change the sheets, she wanting to save some work by moving the pillow over it, most anything to do with how she kept house being under scrutiny for a physical reprimand, he normally careful not to clock her in the face, but when his temper flared, she still having to be careful not to make a mess or be loud in any way. After one of the unruly temper flares, he gauges the damage done to her nose, gets her an ice-filled wash cloth to minimize swelling and bleeding, she noting the next morning it had done the job for the most part, with the exception of this errant drop on the sheet. Rose didn’t look forward to remaking the entire bed since Norman’s favorite spot to punch her was her back, which after fourteen years had begun to leave noticeable signs of her kidney’s being hit. She considers how if she kept allowing this, Norman could kill her, but the worst thought being he may not.

To Rose’s surprise, she began to feel rage and considered leaving, but at the same time attempting to abate the feeling and talk herself out of it for Norman being a decent provider, regardless of being a smidgen temperamental. Rose couldn’t let it go though, since not being able to stop staring at the blood, considering how her life would be after fourteen more years, the damage she could live through, she then walking out of the bedroom, grabbing her bag and struggling to open the door, then deciding to grab their ATM card even whilst her beaten side begged her not to, but the drop of blood giving her drive, then hesitating no longer, walking outside, she ready to get the hell out of there. As she passes the store, she thought of how Norman claimed to have developed his sixth sense and whether she needed to be more careful in being seen, she then noticing his car coming down the street, she thinking of a believable reason for being out, but not needing to for having scared herself needlessly, she determined to turn onto the next street so as to avoid his driving route. She walks along a residential neighborhood, she desperately needing a bathroom and was lucky to choose a home of someone who had been away for a couple of days already, relieving herself in the backyard, she lightening physically and mentally by her actions.

Rosie, as she prefers to be called, walks for almost two hours before locating a pay phone and calling a cab, she buys sunglasses and a kerchief for her hair before it comes, she requesting an ATM and bus depot, meanwhile deciding she’d return to her maiden name, only when necessary using Norman’s. When getting to the ATM, she then struggles with the amount to withdraw, she ending up going for a few bills since she may as well, she in for trouble either way by now. She makes it to the bus depot, again having to work up her motivation to continue, she entering the building and trashing the card, it being noticed and fished, after she’d moved on, and once getting to the ticket window, contemplates a name to give, she flubbing up and saying the fake name rather than where she wanted to go, feeling quite out of place for not having socialized outdoors for fourteen years. She gets her ticket, though and once on the bus and out of sight of the police station, she relaxing to the point of dozing and seems to enter the Territories, at first sight tranquil, but then sensing wild creatures, and what ends up jerking her awake is the thought of Norman’s fist coming at her, and whilst relieved to be away from him, she knew she couldn’t slip up from covering her tracks, she not certain he wouldn’t still detect her whereabouts, but ready for whatever she found ahead.

Rosie’s first few weeks were tough, but she didn’t have second thoughts, regardless of being fear-stricken. When she’d gotten to the second bus terminal, she didn’t entertain the thought of walking outside so early in the morning, thinking the worst if she did, so heads for a seat as two cops pass, she hoping they’d leave her alone until dawn broke in a few hours. At four, she gets some cereal and coffee at the cafeteria, she then spotting a customer service desk, and debating whether to ask for assistance, she deciding to go for it, and the man attentive enough to ask about her vague plans, nothing coming of it, and she asking for his opinion, he offering her his card where he wrote the address of a battered women’s shelter on the back, then giving her directions so she could go at daylight. When she walks off the bus in the morning, to continue on foot, she loses her way and the people around didn’t look friendly to ask for directions, she walking in the wrong direction for three hours, then regaining some familiarity when recognizing where she’d started. The first person she asks about directions isn’t accommodating, but at least solidifies the truth of the place being known and when seeing a shop, is told how she was sixteen to eighteen blocks away. When she finally gets to the right street, her second encounter with a citizen in regards to whether she was close to the cross street she was looking for again began badly, she learning nothing, but does eventually get there, turning the wrong way, but righting herself, and reaching the house. When buzzing the door, she is instructed to show the business card given, she finally allowed inside.

As Norman contemplates his first move to locating Rosie, she was being led to Anna, the proprietress, when first arriving, given a meal, allowed to sleep, then another meal before seeing her, whom upon getting Rosie’s name, asks for the details of how she’d left. Anna then informs Rosie how long she could stay, if needed and how Providence had led her there like in a Charles Dickens novel, then she asks about Rosie’s skills which makes her break down for not knowing or able to do much, but Anna taking it lightly and offering her a job at a partnering hotel. She assigns her a counselor to shadow, then making clear Rosie is getting the chance to free herself from Norman, officially welcoming her. Three weeks later, Norman gets a lead from the guy, Ramon, whom Rosie passes in the bus station rummaging for the bank card, he now confronting Norman in the park as he relayed how he’d been instructed to meet him out there, the man having been arrested on a drug charge and the ATM card found on him.

The man was now sensing the trouble he was in with Norman, but getting offered being let go for his help, Norman doing a fairly odd thing after noting Ramon being gay, he feeling him up and talking about how he was going to be his good buddy since being laughed about by some cops he knew and then began squeezing Ramon’s boner in a vice grip. Ramon was glad he was able to answer Norman’s questions of what window and time she was in the station, not saving himself much pain. Norman then plans his next move of tracking her on weekends until he was free, he certain he’d detect her whereabouts easily enough and how he was going to teach her a severe lesson when he did. After being away for a month Rosie was noticing her physical changes for the better, working at the Whitestone Hotel. She liked how she knew what would happen throughout her day, she taking a banana break in the room she was finishing turning down, Pam sticking her head in and scaring Rosie, but asking if she wanted to join forces on the last two rooms, she taking her up on it and treating her to coffee and pie after. Rosie is content with her current set up, but expecting soon not having Norman around will be enough, she readying for the time it’ll be her turn to vacate the shelter as she drifts to sleep at night.

The next Wednesday, Pam leaves Rosie after work for not feeling well, she denying Rosie should accompany her in preference of she going to get coffee independently. Rosie then notices her wedding band, having forgotten she could get rid of it if she chose, but after seeing Pam off, walks to the cafe, but passing it as she became distracted by her memory of the pervert whilst she’d been lost her first day in the city. A young man stops her before she mindlessly walked into a busy street, she then aware how far past the cafe she’d gone, but as she approached the coffee shop, she decides to return home instead, then noticing the pawn shop, carefully deciding to see what her ring would fetch since she had no fond memories nor reservations holding her back, instead thinking about paying for her time at Daughters and Sisters hopefully having enough for herself after. When she guesses it actually wasn’t worth much, her thoughts confirmed by the young man behind the counter, she keeps it as a reminder to not be gullible again. As she makes her way out, a picture seems to grab her attention, of a woman on a hill, which she gravitated to for the new place she was going to get.

Rosie walks back with the painting and asks the young man if he’d be willing to trade for the ring as an older man watched, and when he agrees, Rosie is ecstatic, the two men discussing the odd qualities of the painting, she thinking about when she’d be able to hang it. Then, Rosie wished to complete the transaction so she could leave, the young man agreeable and wrapping it up. The older man follows her outside, introducing himself and asking she read a couple passages from a book, she at first guarded, but after the first paragraph, curious. When she had finished, Rob was delighted with her reading, she shocked when he gave her a job offer. Meanwhile, Norman had cleaned his desk of all unnecessary trash, he having specific thoughts on black people’s abilities when it came to work ethic, which he’d learned from his pappy. His home had switched roles, it looking bomb-blasted with trash whilst is desk at work was clean as a whistle. Norman had apparently been promoted, getting a real office, his bust going perfectly, he considering how his desk being this clean would have only come about if he’d been fired.

Norman then recalls how his assumption Rosie wouldn’t go far from her childhood town had set him back, he unable to know for certain which bus she’d taken, and whilst his job had taken a turn for the better, he was obsessed with the idea it canceled out with Rosie still missing, he having been blind by thinking she wouldn’t leave, the amount she took meaning nothing, only concerned with she having taken something of his, and he owing retribution. He also thought back to the women he’d had sex with since Rosie left, one in particular not living through it, he choking her when she resembled Rosie for a moment, but not being concerned after she’d died since he’d taken care of murders committed before. He then considered if Rosie knew of this, but shrugging it off, instead going through the meticulous process of tracking her down. He enlisted help from a neighboring city’s police station on false pretenses, nothing coming of it. As he readied to move his office belongings to his new office, he gets a call from the bus cashier, he remembering the odd way Rosie had asked for a ticket, Norman now feeling the upper hand returning, and easing him.

Rosie saw Pam sitting whilst watching an overweight, but muscle-y Gert with a punk-looking Cynthia, Gert teaching her self-defense, which she did for anyone who wanted to learn, Rosie having been taught some moves she didn’t expect to use, but appreciating Gert’s kindness and interest in her mentoring. As Rosie sat with Pam and relayed her time after Pam had gone home, Gert flipped Cynthia, whom squealed upon the take-down giddily, bouncing back quickly, Pam wanting to hear more about the younger guy than giving her opinion on the painting Rosie tried to focus her on. Gert was encouraging Cynthia to help flip her in return, Cynthia exhilarated once succeeding, Anna then walking in and sobering her victory with how she had only aided Gert’s body to follow it’s own inertia. Rosie then asked her opinion of the picture when she’d shown interest, there now seven ladies staring and not saying a word until Rosie prompts a response, feeling awkward, receiving the similar opinion of it being strange. Soon, Cynthia is relating a story where she’d had a similar experience to Rosie’s in regards to a picture her mother owned, drawing her in, she not knowing what happened to the painting, but guessing her mother had trashed it. Anna then states Rosie needed to come to the office with her after she told them all about her new job offer, she admitting it may regard what Rosie had been waiting for.

Anna describes the studio Rosie would be getting being one of their better ones, Rosie overcome with happiness in moving forward. Anna then asks after how Rosie was feeling in regards to Norman attempting to locate her, Daughters and Sisters policy being to not discuss where anyone relocated to, with outsiders. Anna prompts Rosie to go through how she’d deal with the possibility he did find her, they moving on to her financial stability to maintain the apartment and her new job’s unknown stability as of yet, until she started, she not knowing, but believing it will pan out, she also knowing she had back ups on the off chance it fell through. Anna lets her know she could move in the next day if she chose and hoped she would attend the upcoming picnic, she continuing to study the painting and noting how the painter hadn’t signed it and the printing of ‘Rose Madder’ on the back seemed much newer than the picture, it looking 40 years or older.

Norman leaves by bus, the day before Rosie begins her new position, he ignoring how much her ditching him had affected him, and needing to infiltrate her mind once more, quickly. He allows himself to blind himself to the fact it was about how he hadn’t sensed her movements and less about the card theft. He attempts to track when she could’ve decided her escape and how long she planned it out. Once on the bus though, trying to sense which seat she’d have chosen, he then going over how much effort telepathy took in practice. As he traveled, he attempts to retrace her steps at the rest stops as well, he repeating his new mantra and eager in imagining he was underneath her bed so he could stab her. When arriving at the final stop, he gauges what her next step would’ve been, distracting himself for a moment with the thought some low-life could’ve killed her before he could, but then getting back on track and after doing a step-for-step of Rosie’s movements, learns the information desk man’s name, then goes to a cab where he’s taken to The Whitestone. Meanwhile, Rosie is slowly becoming overwhelmed by the actual doing of her new job, fear setting in when sitting in the recording booth. Thoughts breaking her self-worth returning as she starts talking herself out of succeeding, worse case scenarios in how she’d survive crashing on her, as well. Then, thought’s of her picture motivated her to sit down as asked, gaining courage by thinking of the woman in the picture, and once talking to allow the sound engineer to level the console, everyone looking pleased with Rosie’s speaking voice. She has one more thought of insecurity before action, but begins her lines like a champ.

When finished for the day, Rosie goes to Daughters and Sisters to update them of her day, she still riding the buzz and even agreeing to ask shop owners in her area  to post their fliers to sell tickets for the picnic and concert, also to remember to mention they weren’t gay and didn’t harbor underage runaways, a couple of the reasons sales were low. Rosie knew she wouldn’t be putting it in those terms, but would talk them up as best she could, she again reveling in being on her own.  She then thinks for a moment, in the painting, the woman’s toga’s creases had changed, but deciding she’d tricked herself, now talking aloud to her like she would a good buddy about how she sensed she had needed to prove to the director she could do the work. When she looked outside, the car she saw pull up didn’t bother her like it normally would, she then distracted by seeing more of one of the two “gods'” faces, thinking then the painting had expanded, but realizing it actually seemed more like she’d gotten a widescreen view and this helped her discovery of new statues in the picture. Rose froze when the light, rapid knocking began, she kicking herself for not locking the door and putting off buying a phone for a better deal, but does remember her groceries containing some cans, and after grabbing the largest, announces of coming.

Norman is then shown on his hotel bed smoking, back-story of when he’d started and how Rosie’s family had died, following. Norman not having felt bad for them since Rose’s father in particular had tended to ask probing questions Norman didn’t deem viable as he was no longer in charge of his daughter. Then it’s told of Norman picking up his two pack a day habit after eleven years, he planning on quelling his stress with smoke and control over his style of divorce. Norman then readied to leave, he feeling charmed in his chances of detecting Rosie, he taking the bus for anonymity and once getting out, uses his map to guide himself to Information desk man, Peter’s home. When he gets to the door, he thinks about how his plan involved the man not speaking to anyone after he was finished, so he not bothering with a face mask, and when Peter answers the door, he senses Norman was bad news, but couldn’t shut his door in time, Norman kicking it closed behind him and similarly threatening to assault him the way he had Ramon. He proceeds to locate oven mitts, then leads Peter to his cellar, Norman satisfied with his results, but needing to dispose of his shirt and mitts later.

Bill Steiner, from the pawn shop waited outside Rose’s door with flowers, she having made such an impression, he was unnerved by attempting to ask her out, and intrigued as well as smitten as he’d been before holding out the flowers as a peace-offering when she opened the door with her raised can of fruit in the air. Rosie ended up agreeing to the date out of relief for not needing to use the fruit-weapon, as he drove, she now paranoid of Norman catching her, but when seeing the warm atmosphere of the restaurant, it receding temporarily, flaring up again when her ‘Norman voice’ begins talking her out of staying, she then visualizing her picture and calming. Rosie confesses of being fine after Bill inquires, adding she was a bit afraid, which once Rosie elaborates of Bill being the second man she’s been out with, he announcing of feeling similarly, they then led to a booth. They first discussed how he’d gotten Rosie’s address, he automatically calling her Rosie to her delight, they then discussing some important topics about Rosie’s marital status and the two vowing to be up front with the other, Bill to Rosie, and the latter to herself in return to Bill. Their chat turns to lighter interests as their night progressed, thoughts of Norman only invading as Bill walked her to her door. She debates asking him in, but when doing so, is declined, he again mentioning how strongly he was affected by her. When he asks for a second date, Rosie is again flattered, but then remembers the picnic, she passing along this revelation, and he offering to drive her back before her t-shirt selling shift, which still made her first instinct to pass up the offer, but the Rose Madder picture making her want to match the imagined bravery of the figure, so instead consents and also has him agree to stay at the concert with her, Bill all for it and suggesting a coat due to chill in the morning, then leaving on a charged excitement.

After she secures the door, she notices another change in the painting, some trees now visible on one side with the statue and a pony with cart and possible other person on the other. As she readied for bed, she thought only of her date, then dreams between sleep and wakefulness about the little girl she doesn’t have and the man, Richie Bender whom had caused all the issues of 1985 in some way, then going deeper into unconsciousness. Norman was also going to sleep, only three miles from Rosie, he also thinking of Richie Bender, the reason being he the one accused of a shooting in Payless. A clerk pointed him out and gave detailed directions to his motel room where Norman and his partner found Wendy Yarrow, they physically and sexually assaulting her and Norman sustaining scratches the two claim she’d made. They close, but not locating Richie Bender’s room, their official reprimand in regards to the excessive force of her broken fingers. Norman then vows to deal with Rose and proceeds to fall asleep. As Rosie was drifting off (one thing I’m getting annoyed with being these overlapped time-frames, also happening in Firestarter), she thinks of the Wendy Yarrow case after she’d found a lawyer, on the course to making more trouble by filing a civil case. She’s discovered murdered in an obvious crime of passion, multiple stab wounds and cut bosom. When Rosie had heard the story, she puts together what had happened, she going deeper into sleep as her thoughts turn to Bill, smelling grass sleepily and thinking it was from the park, but then when thunder and crickets are heard, realizing she’d closed her window and had seen a clear night earlier.

In the late afternoon of a Wednesday, Rosie was on feeling grand as she got a cup of coffee at the cafe, a bit out of her way now, but comfortable with the spot, she reveling in knowing the fact they wanted her for the readings of the other novels in the series. Then she recalls how she’d been told by Rhoda, the director whilst she snuck a smoke in the bathroom, relaying to Rosie of Robbie planning on offering her a contract, but to watch out for herself and not sign only for gratitude, she attempting to make her realize how much talent she had, Rosie halfway believing, but also becoming annoyed by her attempt to instill caution. Rhoda then makes clear what Rosie should ask for, the number shocking her, Rhoda asking how she’d gotten such vocal control without being a singer, Rosie recalling the times she’d had to manager her breathing for pain. Rob calls to set up a lunch meeting with her, afterwards getting similar advice from Curtis, the sound guy, then thinking about her date and bright future as she finished her pastry. Meanwhile, Pam finished her shift and was heading toward the cafe, Norman waiting for the walk sign with her, she feeling an aversion due to his eyes, and Rosie promptly getting a second tea for no particular reason. Norman was looking at Pam’s butt, glancing inside the cafe she’d walked into, seeing Rosie without knowing, she resembling Rose Madder.

Pam doesn’t recognize her at first, either, but yelps when it hits her, and the two take their drinks to their old table, Rosie sharing her good news and accepting another pastry, even though she planned on keeping off the fifteen pounds she’d lost after getting to the city. Pam was still processing Rosie’s new look in shock, her face looking younger and the blonde hair apparently working on her, seeing how Rosie had copied Rose Madder’s style, and deducing Rosie having met someone, she bursting out laughing in reply. When Rosie’d walked home for her energized happiness, she remembered how she’d dreamed she and Bill were riding his bike in the scenery of the painting, she forgetting the magic word which had made them fly, but then undoing the French braid she’d given herself, she hearing a cricket, catching it, and rationalizing how this is the cricket she must’ve heard last night, her inner voice mentioning how it’d sounded like an orchestra of them, then before dumping it out the window, she realized the cricket couldn’t have hitched a ride on Bill, and when the cricket jumps, she discovers two dead ones along with a pink clover, slowly looking at the painting, the pony now seen grazing. It didn’t taker her long to start thinking the evidence she’d collected came from her picture, and whilst she knew it was a mad way to think, she believed it, the idea most likely receding if other people were present, but currently the fantastic supposition sticking.

Rosie examined the picture closely at her kitchen counter, the back where the paper had writing, crinkling more than before when she had touched it. She reached for a knife as her timid conscience urged her to stop, she hesitating a moment longer before carefully cutting it, some dead and one live cricket falling out with a dead leaf, some more clover flowers, and grass. She then continues to trace the outer edge of the backing with her knife, and with removing the paper, detects more dead insects and some gray hairs she deduced was from the pony. Rosie then thinks matter-of-factly to herself of her obvious loss of common sense once more. She decides to separate picture from frame, she probing the naked canvas until her phone’s ring scares the bejesus out of her. She picks up to hear Anna preparing to deliver some news which may or may not involve her. After hearing what she relays, Rosie hangs up before deciding whether she was going to spend her night at Daughters and Sisters, calling Bill to inform him of not being able to see him, not wanting to explain, and after hanging up, revealing her thoughts of belief it was Norman, and he’d murdered Anna’s ex, Peter. Norman was setting himself up with a mild disguise before heading to Daughters and Sisters. He remembered the aches he’d woken up with which stemmed from his fastly regretted time with Peter, it not in the paper yet, but knowing a man like Peter would be looked for soon enough, and then he seeing the paper a day later to note his thoughts  had been realized, the story covered on the front page. Norman also does his research about the Daughters and Sisters organization, learning Anna’s connection to Peter, he sensing the ladies would be quite careful now. Norman reaches the house, walking on the sidewalk across the street from it, getting a good eyeful in small doses, keeping his pace leisurely. He’s briefly noticed by Cynthia, he having to calm himself before returning her wave, he then moving along. He stays deep in thought as he walks away, soon stress-biting his finger until it bled, he then noticing a sign for fresh rolls, and the Daughters and Sisters flier.

Rosie wasn’t having a productive day at work due to her almost sleepless night, Rhoda calling an early lunch and Rosie attempting to make she and Curtis believe she’d do better at noon. When she gets to the lobby, Bill is waiting for her. She’s at first uncertain and scared, but when he confesses of being unable to do as she’d bid, she is overwhelmed with being in unknown territory, but when he gives her an opening for a hug, she takes it automatically. As they walk, she confides how happy she was he’d come to see her, she beginning to share the fear she’d had about Norman being close, but first has him buy them a couple hot dogs before getting down to the grit. After she had a bite, she has a moment to think he’d stop talking to her after this, but decides to dive in, starting with how they’d met. By the end, she’d shared Anna’s information, the police not having released the killer having bitten Peter over thirty six times, she expecting Bill to ask why she’d put up with him for so long, but instead inquiring whether she thought Norman had killed Wendy Yarrow, she thinking it possible, but then having to get back for being five minutes late. As they go, she explains her worry about Anna thinking Norman could be dealt with like any other abusive husband, and why Rosie wouldn’t go to the police like Bill had suggested, she also explaining how another women’s group had gathered intelligence on Norman, and Daughters and Sisters now knew what he looked like. The conversation winds down as they reach her building and are met by Rhoda and Curt outside. Rosie introduces them to Bill and he takes the opportunity to finalize their plans to go out Saturday, Rosie reluctantly agreeing and he walking off, Rhoda remarking on his charming looks.

On Thursday, Rosie calls Anna to make certain she hadn’t heard anything more about Norman, this being so, and relaying the remembrance for Peter happening on the same day as the picnic, then realistically explaining to Rosie about how common it was for battered women to believe their spouse capable of murder, the two moving on to other topics after. Rosie then attempts to sleep, but is distracted by the noise of a baby’s cry, thunder, crickets, and lightning, finally getting to sleep, but being woken by a bright flash and thunder, when looking at her window, seeing a real scene of the painting, her view of the street replaced. Rosie ignored her conscience as she steps into the picture-no-longer-picture. After stepping through and looking back for her bedroom, it wasn’t there, an easel and painting of Rosie in her outfit for the outing with Bill in front of her, she unnerved as she also sees the pony and a woman with it in front of her now, whilst Rose Madder still looked down at the temples. The young woman reassures the pony didn’t mean to startle her when he’d bumped his head into her, she recognizing the lady as Wendy Yarrow, now certain she was dreaming.

When she hears the baby cry for a moment again, Wendy warns Rosie not to look straight at Rose Madder after hearing her call to her, which Rosie then turns to approach, noting something odd about her hairline, Rosie unaware she was meeting her twinner, but getting the gist when she showed Rosie her scar, which she had on the opposite hand. Rose Madder then relates how she would return whatever Rosie did for her, then requesting she bring her baby to her. Rose Madder bids Rosie go to the temple, Wendy accompanying her only so far, since also having what Rose Madder had, only not as bad, yet. Wendy warns her of the bull, Erinyes whom guarded the temple which hurt Rosie’s eyes to look at, Wendy instructing her to rip two strips of her gown, using one to wrap a rock in as the rain began to fall. Wendy cuts herself and soaks a piece of cloth, then instructs Rosie on what she must do with it as she uses the second cloth to cover her wound.

Rosie is urged to walk through the temple and not to stop until through it, it unable to harm her for only containing spirits. She then relates how Rosie would get to the baby and return to Rose Madder, but to be careful of Erinyes. She walks, uncomfortably naked and cold to the temple, the statue’s face is of the perv outside the bar, when she enters, she’s still quite cold, recognizing the details inside to the church she used to attend and against Wendy’s advice, picks up a book, which smelled terrible upon opening. She walks through to the dead garden to the stream where the stepping stones lay, she considering drinking for the thirst and the possibly upside in forgetting all, but thinking of Bill keeping her moving and across, she entering a forest where the trees looked like they had shrieking faces on the trunks, finally seeing the tree in the clearing with the fruit. She collects quite a few as she’s overwhelmed by the wonderful aroma, saving herself in time, she almost licking her fingers. She then walks toward the tunnel with the word “Maze” above it, the baby’s cries now infrequent. After getting down the over 200 steps, she debates which of the four break-offs from the main tunnel she should take, bringing back her extremely loud cry she’d not used since childhood, the baby screaming and the bull hearing, moving as well, but Rosie deciding on which tunnel and starting through.

When Rosie reaches another spot where she must decide which passage to choose, it dawns on her why she had the seeds, she placing one at the next tunnel she tries, but it being a dead end, so replaces it at a different entrance. Rosie had been doing this for some time when she begins to see a heightened brightness, now having only three seeds left. Finally though, she sees the baby, she wondering whom she truly was and whom had left her there, but letting this go as she picks up the child and is readying to leave when Erinyes detects her, it taking Rosie a few moments to figure out what she must do, unwrapping the rock and tossing it away from the tunnel she needed, streaking for it (no pun intended) as Erinyes charged. Rosie makes it a bit away until Erinyes almost catches up, but Rosie continues on with no real trouble, only scaring herself when not seeing a seed she thought she’d put down at first, eventually locating it and going on. She reaches the steps and gets out with only minor aches, retracing her steps to the stones at the stream, what had previously drawn her to drink, not affecting her at all, then seeing what looked like many vultures perched on the temple, moving away as she stared and once out, being urged by Wendy to return the baby, she now hesitating, but reassured by Wendy to follow through, Rose Madder giving Rosie her armlet and stating of she and Norman divorcing, but to be careful outside her realm.

Rosie goes back to her world, sleeping and when awoken by her alarm, unable to remember why she was naked or where her terrible aches came from. She showers, only half remembering the warning of not to taste her red fingers, she thorough in cleaning them and when seeing the painting again, is surprised to see birds in the sky above the temple and the clouds gone, she not willing to pause on what else was missing and storing the painting, at least temporarily in the closet. When she’d met with Robbie, she gets her contract offer which she decides to think over, and as she goes to the studio, she realizes Rose Madder’s armlet had been missing. When she returns home, she discovers the armlet and the piece of her nightie which carried the seeds, with the three seeds still remaining within, under her bed, Rosie then reminded of Rose Madder’s promise. Before she had been transported to the supposed Territories, Norman had been lying in his bed as well, wondering how Rosie had found the balls to run, he then thinking how she was probably whoring herself out for not having experience doing anything else. When he’d woken from an odd dream-filled night, he sees Rosie walking through the temple (Rosie’s feeling of Norman watching her being closer to the truth than she wanted to admit), he thinks about what he’d do if he found her with a guy. After seeing her walk into the maze, he’s visited by Rose Madder and then wakes, thinking of how he’d keep eyes on the park and sensing Rosie wouldn’t be the only one watching out for him. As he’s in the lobby, Pam passes him again with two other maids, talking about the concert, he praising the luck he’d caught when confirming it was Pam whom knew.

Norman’s next move was in hot-wiring a car in the long-term parking of the airport, after getting the car washed, he stops at an army surplus store and purchases a taser, then goes to a barber to get his hair shaved off, afterwards having trouble recognizing himself. He then drives to a secondhand clothing shop, people staring at his head, which didn’t bother him since they wouldn’t remember his face. He buys a motorcycle jacket and plans on immediately returning to his room to sleep, before doing so though, hitting a gift shop at the Women’s Cultural Center and Museum. Once back at the hotel, he has no further motive then to get to his room for the migraine he’d built up. He falls unconscious, his headache following a ways, but then he getting deep enough to ditch the pain, and upon waking refreshed, thinks of Rosie needing to wake up to view the last sunrise she’ll ever witness. Rosie does as she’s told, waking a little after four A.M., scared Norman was in her room, she calming when seeing she was alone, looking at the armlet, not knowing where she’d come to possess it. Eventually, her thoughts turn to getting ready and once seeing Bill parked, goes down to meet him. He gives her his father’s riding jacket since her sweater was estimated not being warm enough, once getting set up with jacket and helmet, the two setting off.

Rosie gradually started with liking to loving the ride, and once getting to the lake, quite impressed with the deserted tranquility. They move the cooler, then Bill leads her to a spot where a vixen and cubs were resting, the two heading back after watching them for a bit. When Bill began setting out their spread, the amount of food brought, made Rosie giggle hysterically, he letting her know he’d wanted to be certain she’d enjoy her meal, he giving some history on his modest love life and how he’d fallen for her, then suggesting they dig in. Afterward, they sit on a rock and fool around for awhile, Bill insisting they walk it off, he not wanting to be interrupted or have it done in such an unromantic way (either a true gentleman or not having a rubber), then returning to the campsite after seeing some flowers and a woodpecker in a meadow. They get to the park on time, foreshadowing of Rosie looking back on her joy-filled moment upon seeing the sign turning into intense fear later, upon reminiscence.

Norman was currently parking the car a good distance away from any traffic which could effect his plans, then preparing the wheelchair he bought with female friendly bumper stickers and his new identity’s back story. He goes over his plan for discovering her and what he’d do when he did (some words not having been caught as the wrong one by a careless editor). Best case scenario, he’d get her after she’d arrived home, he following her, worst, if she spotted him and he ending her on the spot. When he paid his entrance fee and wheeled away, the ticket guy kept calling him back since he’d paid too much, Norman getting on himself for already bringing unwanted attention to himself. He does fairly well after, but gets nervous when not seeing Rosie at noon. Meanwhile, Gert had taken notice of him, but hadn’t placed him, yet. Norman had ridden through the grounds, making himself scarce as the women sat for lunch, his migraine returning with his continual paranoia, his knowledgeable inner voice keeping him calm and supplying a new tactic. Gert was talking herself out of thoughts of whom she’d seen being Norman, but decides to check so she didn’t continue to feel bothered. She attempts to have the ticket guy help her, but he wasn’t feeling particularly welcoming, only getting how the man he’d helped had forgotten what price to pay, she next wanting to locate the ladies she’d seen speaking with him, but none currently within sight.

Norman’s new plan involved staking out the restrooms, he letting himself out of his chair out of view of anyone. He waits for a lady to come to the bathroom by herself, it almost being one of the ladies he’d spoken with earlier, but Gert calling her back, Cynthia now being the target, he catching her before she walked in. Gert’s conversation with Lana shows how she was the first to identify Norman, whilst Cynthia was being sexually assaulted. Gert was then on her way to the restroom when she heard the threat from behind the building. She was readying to knock Norman out when he turned, she catching his face (Grendel being mentioned in regards to Norman’s look). Cynthia doesn’t move for being in shock, Norman now taunting Gert, she estimating her best move was to egg him on, and when she interrupted his constant insults and movement, he goes after her, she gets the upper hand until he is able to wriggle away after she peed on him after having needed to since confronting the ticket guy, Norman charging again, but Cynthia tripping him up. Gert goes after him once he retrieves his taser, she throwing the wheelchair at him to disarm him, Cynthia failing to warn her in time to save her from the taser’s bite, but after, he didn’t have enough time to do much more since security was approaching, he walking toward the rides. Rosie had made her way to the hospital, locating Gert where she updates her of Cynthia being tended to, unaware of the policemen’s presence until Gert introduces her to one. She’s overwhelmed for a moment, then resigns to confiding to the Lieutenant of what she knew.

Norman was struggling to get his head around what Gert had done to him as he walked, remembering his decision to flee having to do with his own pain more than the approach of people, he attempts to quiet his mind as he desperately thought about needing to end her. His mind flitted back and forth between sanity, he noticing the attention he was getting, but after turning between two amusement areas, gets a kid’s mask to cover his face with. After reaching the car again, he begins to hope Gert’s voice won’t be a fixture in his head, now. Once Norman had gotten out of the parking lot, he hears a voice from the mask confide of Rosie’s make out session, he then stating what he planned on doing to her when he found her. He remembers Pam after, and plans on getting the information he wanted this time. Rosie is accompanied by Gert as they are driven by the Lieutenant and his partner to the station, Bill following. Norman has made it back to the parking garage, he deciding on keeping the “lucky” bull mask, the next moment he’s aware, being of getting Pam back into the housekeeping room, but before he can succeed gaining any information, Pam has one helluva nasty accident, Norman finishing her off. After dropping her on a pile of sheets, he notices a key on her bracelet, takes it and looks for her locker, after searching through her purse and detecting her key card and code, he leaves.

Meanwhile, despite the detectives mellow attitudes, Rosie is scared and angry, they repeatedly having Gert go through the events, and once finished, focusing on Rosie. Norman had found himself down the street from Daughters and Sisters, he noticing he’d changed his clothes, still had the mask, but not his gun, then planning what he’d do if coming across residents (which he thinks of handling by shooting with his forgotten revolver…) or police, not thinking about the possibility of all being quiet, which it was. After speaking to Ferdinand the Bull (of whom is shown on the cover), he’s reassured, yet disappointed the ladies hadn’t been more affected by him. Once overcoming his hesitation of it possibly being a set up, he enters, no one bothering him. He looks around and discovers Anna’s office, then seeing a basket of outgoing mail, he sees a letter to Rosie, and whilst he’s reading it, hears the house alarm go off as someone comes in. Anna is then followed before she enters the house, she going over how painstaking the ceremony had been, she having only stayed for knowing her movements would be scrutinized, also not having answered her three pages, deciding to check her answering machine when she got in. She doesn’t notice anything wrong until seeing her door slightly open, and when trying the light and it doesn’t turn on, Norman catches her, biting her after closing the door.

Rosie finishes her interview and the Lieutenant again vows to get Norman, he also informing her of police cars being stationed at and around her home. As Gert was taken back to the park by a police car, Rosie and Bill planned on heading to her place. When they get there and she’s heading for the door, it doesn’t occur to her until she’d unlocked the lobby door, realizing the cop she heard coming up behind them wasn’t the one the Lieutenant had sent. Norman is shown washing off at Daughters and Sisters before his mind jumps ahead again to Rosie’s apartment, he wearing a new coat, and wondering what he’d do about the cops. Once receiving the idea from Ferdinand again, he tricks both cops by getting them to approach after faking a heart attack, taking out the elder one, then the younger, whilst the older cop stumbled off, no one having seen anything, yet. Norman manages to lead the older cop back to the car where he stuffs him in the trunk, then returns to the younger one to strangle him to death before depositing him into the passenger seat. Norman blacks out again and next notes he’d done something to the entrance light, the next time he blacks out, coming to as he’s grasping at Bill, he ready to choke him. As he’s proceeding, Rosie finds courage and strength with the armlet, throwing him off, then attempting to get Bill to her room, Norman stops them with gunshots, which helped him see where they were, then coming at them.

Rosie blocks his way temporarily, getting herself and Bill up the stairs, she even able to kick Norman back down once he’d grabbed her leg. When she gets to her door, Norman catches up and again tries strangling Bill, Rosie turning back to stop him, he biting her hand, but she breaking his jaw. When she gets them both into her apartment, she realizes she hadn’t been wearing the armlet which she thought had lent her strength, but their danger was still close, Norman ramming the door after she’d locked them inside, she pulling Bill to the closet when the painting opened up for them. Norman’s perspective is switched to during his hang up on the stairs with the “coat-tree”, all the way to when Rosie dislocated his jaw, of which he resets. When finally getting into Rosie’s room, he fires twice at the shower before seeing the way they exited. He looks to the other world, he feeling he was seeing through one eye-hole as he wore the mask, and after stepping through, still seeing through a single eye, he realizes he couldn’t remove the mask.

As Bill and she look around, he questions whether what he saw was real, but before being able to answer, Wendy calls to Rosie to bring Bill down to her, informing them how close Norman was and Rosie needing to participate in essential ways. After partially carrying Bill to her, Wendy shares of how much she’d gotten done, which Rosie only half understood, the two then helping Bill move toward the Temple, but around to the back where a similar looking tunic for Rosie hung, she hesitant in dressing, but as Norman closes in, she does as Wendy relays, Rose Madder having made the command for Rosie to fulfill. She knows the part she must play and calls for Norman, Wendy assuring them Rose Madder would handle the rest. Bill is quite confused by their knowing exchange, Rosie leaving him with Wendy as she readied to lure Norman, the two hearing her baiting statements to him, he and Wendy thinking for a moment Norman wouldn’t go through the Temple, but around it, their fears appeased when hearing sounds to prove he was inside. Next, Norman’s perspective shows his terror of being stuck with the mask on his face, but Rosie’s sweater and jacket distracting him from this, especially when hearing her call him. As he follows her voice, it’s shown he’s distracted by the statue outside looking like his father, which Bill and Wendy had been confused by his one-sided statements to, but again, Rosie distracts him, he getting the sensible voice suggesting he go back and await her return at her apartment, Norman ignoring this since anticipating the cops to come and how Rosie was speaking to him with such disrespect; His final decision made once reading the sign above the Temple.

As Norman goes through what looked like Rosie’s hometown church, he kills a bat which comes at him, and Rosie gets his attention by commenting on it, he charging at her as she stood in the dead garden. When Rosie sees him coming, she at first can’t move, but gets herself going by remembering a terrible memory, getting across the stream, but sliding back toward it after she’d made it across. When Norman sees this and her look of panic at getting near the water, he doesn’t think much of it, finding it amusing, but after seeing her make it to the crest of the incline and flip him off, he notes her concern and is careful upon crossing. He sees Rosie watching him and then is caught by the naked boy statue, Norman running to take advantage of his good luck, Rosie becomes angered by the boy’s rude questions and gets him off her by punching him, but now Norman is quite close, he brushing her tunic strap, but Rosie getting a good lead after a short while, and they again meeting at the dead tree, Norman giving her a chance to give in, but she continuing on and when next he hears her, Rosie’s voice sounds slightly different. When she reaches the entrance to the maze, Rose Madder instructs her to go partially down the steps so she didn’t have to witness what would come next, unless she truly wanted.

As Norman neared, he thought he’d heard Rosie speaking, which made him hope Gert were there to be slayed, as well. Rosie currently ached for Norman’s death to come quickly so she could move on with her life, and when Norman sets eyes on Rose Madder, he notices small differences in her body type and attitude, but considers it meant he’d have to refresh her memory of what she needed to act like, her back still turned from him. After he’d commented on the reason she’d dyed her hair and she’d stated of the brown color being the dye job, he is incensed for being opposed, but then wonders where the person she’d spoken to had gone (hopefully, not believing he’d get a rock “chunk”-ed at him). When he demands Rosie turn to him, his gun out, the mask doesn’t feel like a mask anymore and his vision is darkening as Rosie turns and he sees her blackened skin as she states of Erinyes breaking the rule of the bull having exited the maze meaning he’d be put to death. Rosie Madder turns to Norman and what he sees brings terror and shrieking, she biting him (reminding me of American Gods, a bit). Whilst this occurs, Rosie doesn’t watch, but is listening, she not moving until Rose Madder calls for her. She slowly notices the state of Norman’s body lying before her, Rose Madder planting seeds on him and then dumping his body in the maze. Rose Madder then directs her back out where Dorcas/Wendy and Bill waited, she advising Rosie to “Remember the tree”.

Rosie locates them at the top of the hill, Bill meets her to make certain she was okay, the two walking back to Dorcas, Rosie changing her clothes when prompted, then relaying Rose Madder’s message of she having something for her. Dorcas hands her a little corked bottle which Dorcas instructs Rosie to use for Bill when they returned. Afterwards, the three wait silently for Rose Madder, she walks to them in the light of the moon, Dorcas and Rosie instructing Bill to keep his gaze down and not to stop until told, Rosie going along with the idea they were dreaming when he inquires. When Rose Madder stops in front of them, Rosie states of receiving the bottle, Rose Madder then giving her Norman’s police academy ring, she commenting about if she watched Bill’s back, he would do the same for her, Rosie then looking at Rose Madder’s face, it not being the same as what Norman saw, but not wonderful either, she confiding to Rosie she should go back to her natural hair color. Rose Madder then offers her a hug and wishes they’d met sooner, as well as reminding her not to forget the tree, which Rosie asks for clarification to, but not getting an answer. She then inquires whether she was Rose Madder, but not getting confirmation of this either, Rose Madder instead urging them to return home.

Rosie takes Bill’s hands and leads him to the widening view of her apartment. Before they’d gotten through though, Rose Madder starts to lose it, wanting her armlet back, Rosie hastily throwing it near her and getting them both out. When they’d fallen back into reality, Bill noted how it must have all been real, Rosie not attesting this, but apologizing for losing the jacket he’d lent her. They then hear the injured neighbor yelling in pain, Bill off to tend to him, Rosie first calling for an ambulance, then uncorking the tiny bottle, realizing what she’d been given was a few drops of the stream at the Temple of the Bull. She puts one drop in some soda, then calls the police again so she could speak with Detective Hale, whom she informs of Norman having been there and was now gone, Hale planning on meeting her at her place, and she stating she’d wait for him, afterwards Bill coming back, and when coughing, getting him to drink the soda, Bill admitting after a few moments, of having forgotten his own and her name for a second.

As Hale got their stories, he wasn’t sure whether Rosie was withholding some detail, but after he goes over his notes of their confession, Rosie agrees with him. Later, Bill agrees to stay over and passes out quickly, Rosie taking a moment to look at her now, devoid-of-humans painting, this aiding her ability to fall asleep. She awoke them both with her nightmare, but the two moving on to a little fun-time, then much later, when Bill had gone for sustenance, Rosie put away the stream water and discovered Norman’s police academy ring, she ending up placing it with the rediscovered poison seeds, dumping all but one, which she then transfers to her purse. They learn of Anna, and Norman stays in the papers for a week, Rosie deciding to burn the picture in the incinerator and attempting to ignore her memories of Rose Madder’s words.

In October, Bill and she go to the picnic grounds again, and she accepts his proposal, she still wondering about the tree Rose Madder spoke about. After their wedding, Rosie has had to use the ‘forgetful water’ for Bill’s nightmares, the last being used on their honeymoon. In January, Rosie confirms she’s pregnant, she still remembering the tree, but Rose Madder also mentioning to add keeping her temper in check, Rosie unsettled with this thought and demanding Rose Madder leave her alone. When her little girl does arrive, she commemorates her friends instead of the wanted name, Caroline. So, Pamela Gertrude is born, Rosie wanting the middle name to be Anna, but being talked out of it by Bill. When Pamela is two, they move to the suburbs and during their finalizing what house they want, their opinions divert and they begin arguing. When Bill apologizes for raising his voice, Rosie is struggling to suppress her violent anger, which he takes as her not forgiving him, so he withdraws to the other room as she continues preparing dinner. She’s plagued by the disturbing thought of hurting Bill drastically, well into the night as she remembers Rose Madder’s words of, “I repay”.

The next few days bring obsessive awareness to her arms, face, and hands, the latter more so with the unknown idea of whatever she thought would develop would begin there. She takes up going to the batting cages where she develops her skills to the point of impressing all the men and boys with her form: both bodily and technique, who bat there; She even knocks one through the netting due to hitting the ball at such high velocity. A month after, Rosie doesn’t take Rhoda’s suggestion they end early due to Rosie’s voice losing inflection, calmly, she then having a terrible daydream of killing Rhoda, until she’s brought back to reality by Rhoda asking after her. Rosie reminds herself of the tree once more, and agrees to stop for the day, but her rage is masked with difficulty. When she dreams after falling to sleep later at night, she realizes she’d been remembering a different tree, but now knew her next move. She calls out of work the next morning and goes to the picnic grounds alone, to the fallen tree where the fox was, she burying the final seed and Norman’s ring. She dumps everything else out of her purse as well, and on her drive back, chucks the bag out her window. Years pass, Pamela is now a teenager, and Rosie no longer deals with bouts of anger, Bill having sold his bike since he felt he could no longer ride safely. Rosie and he don’t go to the picnic grounds anymore, but Rosie goes alone every year, where a new tree has grown, she believing it has quelled her rage. She worries over the day the tree will start bearing fruit, but doesn’t obsess over the thought, since no signs of people have revealed this spot to be popular, the vixen returns and watches her as she sits and sings Rosie Real.

The ending feels a bit rushed, and whilst I know Gert survived, it seemed odd she decided naming her daughter after those two women, rather than the name she wanted and the middle name to be Anna, it would still sound country, but it seemed like it would have been more true for herself. Otherwise the story moved along nicely, enough, and whilst I have read reviews not interested in the fantasy side of this story, it definitely suits King’s style, and wasn’t clunky compared to the others I’ve read of his, it only not being his strongest and could have done with a bit more fleshing out. Now I’ve read it though, I can continue on to his other Dark Tower-related books.