Tea Time

Amelia’s garden party did not go so well.

To begin with, the garden had gone unattended for so long the soil had grown hard and noncompliant. It was only after several days’ worth of tilling and hoeing beforehand that she had it prepared to accept as many new plantings as she had in mind. Her guests would find any reason to scorn her, she knew, but she would not give them such an easy one.

Then there was the matter of the furniture, a hodgepodge collection of mis-matched pieces that would only give the other girls yet another reason to mock her. Which, of course, they did, as soon as enough of them had arrived to do so, throwing harsh whispers between themselves when they thought Amelia wasn’t listening.

And lastly there was the matter of the tea itself. The herbalist had promised her the leaves contained the right quantity of ferrocyanide, but brewing diluted the potency, and instead of dying outright that prattling gaggle merely vomited and convulsed.

“She’s tried to poison us!” accused Connie Willis, always the nastiest and meanest of the bunch, her paroxysm passing. “Couldn’t even do that right!” She laughed and repeated the taunt, the other taking up the chorus, even as their dresses were stained with sick and dirt.

In the end Amelia was forced to do for them with the wood axe, which was terribly difficult, what with the screaming and panicked crawling about. But watching Connie Willis’s face as the blade descended wasn’t so bad. And oh, how the new rose bushes would flourish with such nutritious fertilizer!

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