Inside was all familiar to Eleanor, but Chrissie’s eyes seemed overwhelmed as she tried to take everything in: there was dark wood everywhere; the floorboards, covered by rugs; the wood panelling on the walls leading up to the old-fashioned wallpaper; the frames around the painted miniatures – there were no prints here; the case of the imposing grandfather clock, whose ticking reverberated around the hallway; even the gramophone, which didn’t have a turntable as it relied upon more modern technology inside, was made of dark wood. Though Eleanor knew the lights were electric, at first glance they would seem to be candles, flickering.
Eleanor winced at the sound of Chrissie’s heels on the floor; she didn’t want to spend her time polishing and waxing the floor to remove any scuff marks. Everything in here had its precise place, and woe betide anyone that messes anything up even the slightest bit.
Eleanor led Chrissie into his study, where a large dark wooded desk sat imposingly. Behind it, a wooden chair that sat more like a throne, and he sat there, crouched over some papers, his spectacles perched on his nose, inspecting them carefully. But he also took the same care and attention over his charges, and Eleanor wanted, craved his full and undivided attention.
“Hello,” Chrissie said brightly.
He continued with his deliberations, not even acknowledging their presence.
Chrissie cleared her throat, and began again.
He raised his hand to quiet Chrissie, without shifting his eyes from the papers. The sound of the clock ticking away seemed to get louder and slower to Eleanor, which she usually experienced when she was in some kind of trouble.
Eleanor stood, waiting, for what seemed to be minutes, before he stood, and slowly raised his head to look at them.
“Good evening, ladies,” he said, slowly and deliberately.
“Hi, I’m Chrissie,” she said stepping forward, holding out her hand. “Pleased to meet you.”
He walked around the desk and stood in front of her, looking down at her hand.
“Yes. I’m sure you are,” he said, before turning, and returning to his seat behind the desk.
In front of the desk were two leather chairs; Eleanor, knowing the drill, remained standing, but Chrissie sat. He gave her an icy stare over his spectacles.
“Did I give you permission to sit?” he said.
“Isn’t it polite to offer your guests a seat?”
He leant forward and arched his fingers, all the while keeping intense eye contact with Chrissie; Eleanor thought the room temperature might have dropped by ten degrees.
“Guests are invited. You…” he emphasised the word, “…requested audience.”
Chrissie regarded him for a moment, before standing.
“I’m very sorry, sir,” she replied, meekly, lowering her eyes.
Eleanor gave Chrissie a puzzled look. She was normally pushy; bubbly; exuberant. She had never seen her submit to someone like this. But then again, this was Him, and despite his looks, he did seem to have an unquestionable air of authority about Him.
“I do believe you are in need of learning some manners,” he said, eventually, enunciating every word.
“Yes, sir,” Chrissie replied.
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Image taken from Antiquites Robine’s site.