Title: Oh Dainty Duck
Word Count 480
This is for the Christmas challenge thing.
Oh Dainty Duck
“He doesn't look like a lion.” Horatio said.
“He's the only cat we've got. All he has to do is cross the stage.”
Archie's remonstrations were a brandy sodden whisper. Archie was a little bit drunk, Horatio realized. Horatio himself had had quite a lot of brandy flip. His head was making a sort of friendly humming noise, on the inside. But Archie had had more flip, and then whiskey, (which he liked when he could get it,) and also wine which he drank while he beat the Captain at billiards. He had done this on Christmas eve, and in the Captain's own home. Somehow, Horatio thought, that had to be bad manners.
Horatio was not at all sure about the idea of amateur theatricals either. But someone had suggested it in within Archie's hearing, and then all hope was lost. Archie had an accomplice in Mr Bracegirdle too. Suddenly everyone was sewing frantically, and making donkey heads out of wet paper. Everyone was muttering Shakespeare in corners, nobody wanted to play whist, and nobody listened to Horatio at all.
“It's crooked, that's why. His mane is coming loose.”
“I did tell you to bend it on securely, Horatio.”
“If I affixed it any more tightly it would strangle him.”
Horatio pulled at the collar. Jeoffrey Mittens glared, and raised a paw in threat
“Ow-- he scratched me! I don't think he wants to go onstage tonight.”
“Well, he has no choice, and neither do you. Lift up your skirt when you walk, -- you are going to step right through it.”
“I am lifting.”
“No, Horatio, on the side, the side! You are not reefing a topsail” Archie's mouth curved up into a sweet curve of laughter, his nose did that wrinkly thing. He was fussing with the skirt. Horatio had to look away a moment.
“Dear God, Horatio, do it gracefully. Have you never watched a woman when she--”
“No. I suppose you have not.” And with these words the belligerent firmness left Archie's jaw. He drew Horatio close.
“Here, let me fix your bonnet now. You've got it all ahoo.”
The kiss was soft and swift and promising. There was no one to see, the others were already speaking their parts.
“There. there you are, that is your entrance line, go, go! Oh Christ, you forgot Jeoffrey--”
“Take him by the back of the neck, so.” The warbling growl increased in volume.
“I don't think I can--”
“Of course you can. You are going to be splendid. You already are splendid.”
Archie gave him a firm shove, and watched him go.