Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Seek a Refined Young Lady

I Seek a Refined Young Lady - 25 (Denver, LeFleur Manor)

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Date: 2009-03-19, 4:29PM MDT

Why hello, dear ladies. I am Henry LeFleur, of the Louisiana LeFleurs (not to be confused with the Quebec LeFleurs, whom we have long since disassociated ourselves with after many generations of ungentlemanly miscegeny on their branch of this defunct tree). Sometimes, I believe the creeping vines and Spanish moss that crack and strangle the rotting foundation of LeFleur manor have invaded the very bloodline of our clan. My brother Geoffrey, killed in the war, had political ambitions. He had hoped a spell in the army would give him the thrust to bring the Lefleur family back to the top of the political stage, though his dreams were cut down with a fusillade of German artillery. Mother always said, on that day, a mockingbird cried outside her window, and she knew her boy had passed on. My nephew Beauford was slain during our feud with the Denauve clan, may their bastard blood forever stain the earth. And my dear sister Ethel, to whom I owe for keeping my scandalous secret from father... well, we do not speak of her anymore. She has the attic all to herself and a nice window facing the weeping willows and cypresses of LeFleur Manor. Twice a week a negro woman comes to feed and clean her. We cannot bear to look at her anymore, you see, after father discovered her in a stolen tryst with the Creole boy who cleaned the stables. She had been driven mad when her forbidden love, William Denauve, was shot down by father during the blood-feud. From then on, it is my inclination to believe, she lived only to spite father, escaping her chambers at night to mix with all manner of low-blooded types in bayou grog-halls.

Oh, but how I go on! Allow me to explain the purpose of this here proposal I am extending. My father, at the ripe age of 172, has survived two Union musketballs from the War of Northern Aggression, twelve hurricanes, four duels, and integration. Yet, at last it seems the consumption that has hounded him since the winter of 1908 will finally claim him. It is his wish to see the LeFleur family line continued, a boon I am ashamed to say I am unable grant. For, you see, I have some of the... peculiarities that often accompany Southern men of great refinement. I first became aware of this on the Eve of Good Friday when I was a boy of fourteen. There was a negro boy with whom my father let me spend some time with, though always with a disapproving scowl, the son of one of the maids, I believe. As the manor was awash in revelry, while my family held a gala and the servants danced their jigs in kitchens and pantries, he kissed me beneath the gibbous April moon. Since then, I have never been able to lay eyes on woman for more than a moment, for besides my poor sister and dearly departed mother they fill me with a loathing fierce. So, I have become known as a bachelor and cad, though I suspect father knows the reason behind my refusals of the sundry marriage contracts presented to him by other high-bred families. After all, I am the parish's foremost critic of theatre and art, and my many affectations - from my velvet coat, to the cane swinging at my hip - certainly paint a clear picture of the peculiarities of which I speak.

Can you help me, before father passes into the great unknown, put his heart at ease? All I ask is that you accompany me once to dinner at the manor and help create the impression we are not repulsed by each other. Though the LeFleur fortune has dwindled (since a certain day we lost a great deal of our labor force) to a mere line of credit a name steeped in such veneration commands, we have many antiques and items of historical value I might be willing to part with once my dear father passes.

Location: Denver, LeFleur Manor
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