Story and sketches from an animated short film in progress. Illustrations from Anna Rankin.

The Count

&

Lady Marjorie

by Luther Clement

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Marjorie Wilcott stepped out of the carriage and instead of exchanging pleasantries or even looking at the few servants and maids that stood at the entrance of Havenshire Mansion she ducked her head to run as quickly as she could through the door and into the foyer.

There she found Elisabeth Debbins, “Is the Count in? Please!” she pleaded, visibly flushed.

“Why, I believe he should be in his study, but we soon will begin supper with the Demonteauxs if you would care to join us?,” came the reply as Marjorie rushed past, hearing only the location within of her beloved. That he was returned, that he was hers again, to live in her embrace and she in his, this was her only consideration and all other imaginings were superfluous and lacking in purpose. She then came to the study doors and burst through their heavy weight. The Count stood up immediately, startled by the sound.

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“Marjorie? Oh Marjorie, my love you have come!”

“Yes, oh yes,” she replied, “And you, we have come together.”

They swiftly met each other’s approach with speed and set upon each other with kisses, grasping, and hot, rapid breaths.

“Oh my love, how I have lay awake dreaming a waking dream of this moment when I would smell your sweetness and...” he purred until being caught on a pin of her bodice.

“Ouch! I’m sorry but you will have to help me with your attire for I have not the experience nor the expertise of such haberdashery.”

“Be still my wonderful William, I will lead you,” she responded, removing and tossing her overcoat and cape to a nearby chair. “Now first pull that string and my Brunswick will loosen so that you can untie it and I can slip it off.”

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“Delightful,” William said as he worked his fingers stiffly through a series of loops, “and as for this line of buttons?”

“I shall attend to those as I...(She inhaled deeply and pulled her arms through.) Very good, now you must release the sack back.”

“What?” asked William.

“The billowy attachment below where you were just working, my love,” Marjorie instructed, “and after that is released, would you be a doll and unbutton my sleeves?”

“Certainly, my one and only. I cannot envisage a more enchanting task in all the world.”

William unbuttoned and threw aside two outer sleeves, then two secondary ruffled accent sleeves, then unlaced two more undersleeves and finally one more vestigial counterform sleeve.

“What is this one for?” he asked.

“Umm, it helps to serve the looking of...just please assist me with the stomacher right here,” Marjorie was beginning to be impatient for she felt the moment of their reuniting was being lost as seeds floating past that most fertile ground where they yearned to rest, be anchored, and grow.

“Ahh, not so hard, easy now!” It was obvious that this was an undertaking which required more hands, and more proficient hands at that.

“My sweet, I think you should call Beatrice,” she offered.

“Truly my dear, I have been waiting for you to suggest such a thing. I think it would be brilliantly novel and delicious, the two of you and me, together...”

“What an idea William, come now! I mean for Beatrice to undo my stays and stitching but now that you have intimated such beastly things I am not sure there is any point!”

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“No no please, my dear. It was only a joke you see, I was practicing my humour for the upcoming banquet when I shall give a toast, yes. You know how Monsieurs Demonteaux and Gaspar are quite ribald. Umm, I shall fetch Beatrice, just to help you with your dress, of course.”

He hurried off, calling out “Beatrice!” at the top of his lungs, hoping that he would succeed before the feeling left Marjorie. In but a mere moment he returned with Beatrice and she carrying a large silver implement not unlike a scythe but prongs of various shapes and sizes adorning its length.

“What is your intention for that?” Marjorie asked incredulously.

“It is a stay unfastener, an unstitcher, and a button sewing device all in one!” Beatrice presented with a giggle and a bounce, “it also has another extra special function,” she said as she made a scissor pantomime with her fingers.

“Carry on but be quite careful,” Marjorie spoke to Beatrice as she lost herself in the eyes of Count William De Lupin Commefesaujourdhui.

He returned her warm gaze with his own impassioned expression of longing, “Yes, do be so very careful not to damage a single inch on my dulcet darling.”

“Oh, William.”

“Oh, Marjorie.”

They attempted to hold and kiss each other but found only the limits imposed by Beatrice’s toiling with the second layer of stitching on Marjorie’s lower petticoat. Beatrice jerked a tight stitch loose, causing Marjorie’s brow to bump William in the mouth. Without pause, Beatrice continued on to the corset.

“Uch, you’re strangling me.” Marjorie’s pronouncement came from behind her throat.

“A spot of assistance if you would, sir,” Beatrice asked, and the two began to struggle in concert to pry the whalebone reinforced stays of Marjorie’s corset.

“I see you have the new strapless corset my lady, how modern,” Beatrice ventured, attempting unsuccessfully to break the awkward atmosphere. “Now sir, you must pull in this direction on my word, ready? One, two, three, go!”

They fell about the room in all directions as Marjorie was rendered all but naked in nothing but her bedroom gown, robe francaise, and shift. Seeing Marjorie thusly, William leapt upon her with immense arousal. She answered his embrace accordingly and on the other side of the room Beatrice lifted her head slowly, dazed from having struck it against a polished silver goblet on the nearby bookshelf.

“Is the corset off? Ah, I guess that would be a yes,” she paused for a moment, reveling in the beauty of young love.

“Oh, William.”

“Oh, Marjorie.”

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They paused only long enough to utter each other’s names before returning to each other’s lips. They groped about each other desperately, both overwhelmed by the sensation of their long awaited love’s presence, now only separated by a few thin layers of lace, cotton, and silk. Such passion, they felt they could burst.

“Oh.”

“Beatrice, would you kindly fetch the Count some clean hose, girdle...knickers, and...shirt?,” said Marjorie.

William nodded sheepishly.