Toffee´s big chance came when she received an invitation to Sir Bellini´s pre-Christmas Party.
She had been itching to meet the world-famous violinist, Knavesborough´s only celebrity. Apart from herself, that was. She donned her best silk frock, pink with embroidered silver flowers, and a gorgeous hat with ostrich feathers that hid most of her hair. She was not quite certain the new hairdo had been such a good idea after all.
She had not expected quite so large a turnout at Netherdale Manor, and when it began to dawn upon her that all and sundry had received an invitation, she ground her teeth. Drinking eggnog with the hoi polloi of Yorkshire when she could have…
“In the pink, Miss Brown?” The officious nurse intercepted her arm just as she was about to approach her host.
“Now that I have you here, I have been meaning to ask you how a blind man can buy and sell antiques?” Toffee had wanted to know, but she had certainly not meant to ask such a rude question so where did those words come from? She squinted at the cup in her hand, wondering what they put in that tacky brew up here.
Miss Mistletoe laughed gaily. “Jim Partridge has a seventh sense, you might say. Just follow his nose and it will lead you to the good stuff.”
A Goth butler picked up her empty cup and put a new one between her fingers. “Exquisite hair, granny. Who´s your hairstylist if I may ask?”
Toffee was on the brink of tears, but she was on a mission. She had come to speak to Sir Bellini. She looked around her for some place to put down her cup, but all she saw was other people´s elbows. Well, down it would have to go. She drained it surreptitiously and let the cup slide down into someone´s very large tweed pocket.
With a determined hiccup, she squeezed through the throng and swooped down on her tanned host. “What a pleasure to have you on my own,” she flashed, conveniently ignoring two-three hundred villagers.
“Why, nice to meet you, Miss Brown. I hope you´re enjoying yourself. A Christmas cracker?” He handed her one end of a glossy twist of paper, and she had no options but pull at it though the bang always made her heart flutter.
“Hahahahaha,” Toffee laughed shrilly, sensing that this might be her one and only chance. She ignored the paper hat but rolled out the small strip of paper and cried out, “Someone in our midst is a famous writer!”
She heard a gasp behind her. “But how could you…?”
Sir Bellini had already switched his attention to those supercilious vicar´s daughters, and when Toffee turned around to see who was behind her, she stumbled over the wheelchair. She caught hold of the armrest and found herself eye to eye with the blind antique dealer.
Jim Partridge clenched his fists and drawled, “So you´re having a bit of fun, are you, Miss Brown?”
“Sorry to interrupt you two turtledoves, but it´s high time to get home and feed the cat, Jim.” Agatha Mistletoe released the brake of the chair and tore it away so swiftly that Toffee landed very inelegantly on her silken bum. Argh.
To be continued tomorrow.