Lord Haversby has arrived, Christie Donaldson repeated to herself. She loved England. At the age of six, she watched Pride & Prejudice and was enchanted by Mr. Darcy. His charming, suave demeanor melted more than her heart. This love affair branched out to all sorts of costume dramas PBS brought over. She shelled out stacks of money to the station, just so she could continue being swept away by the enchanted lords of England.
Although she loved Mr. Darcy more than anything, she never picked up the book. Lord Haversby has arrived, she repeated to herself again. Maybe it was the time, or maybe it was her own limitations, but Christie never actually read Pride & Prejudice. Or Wuthering Heights. Or Horatio Hornblower (her brother did though, for school). She once picked up Bridget Jones’ Diary at an airport, but lost it during the flight and never decided to pick it up again.
Lord Haversby has arrived. The light went on, signifying it was time for her to put on her seatbelt. She complied, pulling herself away from her laptop for only a moment.
The woman in the seat next to her grumbled in a posh accent, “Bloody hell…”
The accent enchanted Christie. A real, live British person. Was she a lady? Already, her mind was racing. Tell Madame Evelyn Lord Haversby has arrived. Or was it ‘have’? She struggled to find the words to initiate conversation. “I know, right?”
“Right! The entire flight: nothing, but when we’re about to touch down…”
Christie had no opinion on the matter, or at least any that agreed with that of the woman. All she knew was that the sign told her to buckle up, and she listened to the sign. That’s why signs exist. She tried to keep the conversation going. “So do you fly very often?”
“All the time. Thus is the life of an ambassador’s spouse. They’re always traveling, and you’re always going along.”
Ambassador, Christie loved the title. “I’m Christie. By the way.”
Evelyn, just like she envisioned.
The woman peered at the monitor in front of Christie. “So you’re a writer?”
Christie felt a bit nervous, but was more than enthusiastic to share her passion. “Well, I want to be.”
“What do you write about?”
“Oh, you know. Stuff like Pride & Prejudice. I love English lords and stuff like that.”
Evelyn gleaned the words on the screen. “Lord Haversby? So what county’s he from? Pembrokeshire? Worcestershire?”
Wusteshur, she thought. She recalled Mr. Darcy was from someplace similar, but in truth, she couldn’t place the name of it.
“Or you could always go the fictitious route, like Walpole’s Glebeshire. Though I’m partial towards Thackerey.”
“Thack…?” she was too confused to muster the strength to finish.
“M-man-” she gave up. “It’s nice to meet you Evelyn.”
“Oh, and you as well,” Evelyn responded with the utmost sincerity. So the stories were true. The English were just as polite as they were on PBS.
Christie gathered her things at baggage claim as she repeated the line. Tell Madame Evelyn Lord Haversby has arrived. It was the first time she entered the old country and was quite nervous. She finally collected enough money to make the trip over, but had little room for luxuries. She settled at the airport’s McDonald’s for lunch and couldn’t seem to find enough change to tip the cab driver. She profusely apologized despite the driver’s insistence that tips in England are a gratuity rather than an obligation or nicety.
All of this worry over expenses was a mere distraction though, for she was determined to carry out her main goal: to write. Long had she wanted to follow the footsteps of the likes of Helen Fielding and her kind. She set out to find a small café to continue her opus. Lord Haversby has arrived. But alas, she was unable to find that small, picturesque café and had to settle for a Starbuck’s. But, heck, if it’s good enough for J.K. Rowling, it was good enough for Christie Donaldson. She sat down at a counter by the window and cracked open her laptop. Her document was still open. Tell Madame Evelyn Lord Haversby has arrived.
Her thoughts swirled. Lord Haversby was a suave charmer, unparalleled throughout the country. What could he want with Evelyn? Perhaps he was love-struck. Evelyn’s sister only passed away a few months prior, but at the funeral there was a certain tension between her distraught sister and her widower.
Just as her fingers settled on the grooves of the keys, a man bumped into her. “Sorry, love.”
Love. How romantic. She caught a glimpse at the man. Love at first sight? Hardly. He was a ruddy old man with a poorly-trimmed white beard. From the cane in his hand, Christie decided he was, in fact, blind. “That’s alright,” she responded disappointedly.
The lunch rush started to turn up with a vengeance, and the wannabe writer could not concentrate. Her eyes shifted from the screen to across the road. A few men were pulling out chairs and tables from a quaint pub. A pub, she thought, that’s where I should be. So she packed up shop and made her way across the street.
Christie went to the bar and ordered a pint.
“Pint of what?” the bartender asked.
She always heard characters ask for a pint and assumed that the bartender would just hand something over. Her mind stuttered for a bit. “Bud- Budweiser.”
“Sorry, I don’t believe we serve that.”
Ultimately she just asked for a glass of water and found herself a small table to start working. …Haversby has arrived. Evelyn was a young ingénue, tutored by a professor from Cambridge… no, Oxford. Her beauty was only paralleled by her older sister who sadly passed away from a mental illness with no cure. She was still in mourning, donning black by day, and white by night. Christie loved the contrast, despite the inaccuracy when it came to proper mourning attire.
Just as she was getting wrapped up in her own machinations, a boorish man burst through the doors of the pub. “Evenin’ duckies.” He was bald at the top and spilling out on the sides, in tuffs of grey and white.
The bartender responded cheerfully. “Oi, ‘Avvy! The usual?”
“Aye, the uj’.” He took a seat at the bar, right by Christie’s table. “Oh, a new face. Who’s the bird?”
Christie attempted to ignore him, but wasn’t having much luck.
“Oh, I don’t believe I caught your name, Miss,” the bartender said.
“Chr-Christie.” She hoped that would be the end of it.
“Christie… Christie… Do I sense an American accent?”
“Well they don’t think it’s an accent where I come from.”
“And where would that be?”
Why must he keep talking to me? I have important things to do, she thought, but didn’t say. “Concord.”
“Ah, is that Concord, New Hampshire or Concord, Massachusetts?”
There’s a Concord, Massachusetts? She was only aware of her home town of Concord, North Carolina, but she supposed Concord, the capital of New Hampshire, had to exist as well.
“Could always be Concord, New York. Or Michigan. I have a cousin in Michigan,” the bartender said.
“No, North Carolina.” All this talk of her home country by foreigners was making her feel weird and uneasy.
“I don’t believe I’ve ever been to North Carolina. I hear Asheville’s lovely though.” The boorish man was served his drink and he raised it in a toast. “Cheers.” He took a swig. “I’m David Haversby, by the way.” Him? Lord Haversby? Was this some sort of cosmic joke? How can this boar of a man share the name with the suave, charming Lord Haversby of Christie’s story? She couldn’t believe it.
“Are you picking up pubescent girls again?”
Where did Christie hear that voice before? She couldn’t tell. Maybe she didn’t at all. All the accents sounded similar. She looked up and sure enough, she did. Evelyn sat down next to David Haversby, planting a kiss on his liver spotted scalp.
She felt betrayed, even disillusioned. Frustrated, she returned to her laptop. But all Christie could see was David’s beet-red face laughing, spilling beer on poor demure Chris- Evelyn.
“Christie?” Evelyn recognized the girl. “Oh my God. Small world, isn’t it?”
The American was upset, but kept her composure. “Yeah.”
“She’s a writer,” Evelyn told the room, embarrassing the girl. “So how’s the writing coming along?”
Christie choked up a bit, trying very hard to mask her discomfort. “Good. It’s going good.”
“And how long have you been working on it?”
“It’s been in my head for years.” She wasn’t lying. She had written the name Lord Haversby in numerous diaries over the years. If only she knew then what she knew now.
“What was the name of the man? Lord Haversham?”
“Oh that’s right.”
“Oh my God, you’re right!” The light went on in Evelyn’s head, her mind thoroughly blown. “I should have picked up on that. It flew right by me.”
“So what does my namesake do for a living?”
Christie couldn’t resist sharing her world. “He’s a lord.”
“Lord of what?”
“Lord of little girls,” the bartender chimed in.
“Hey, it was only one, and we broke it off immediately. And in my defense, she had a mustache. Name me another teenage girl with one of those.”
“Can you give us a line?” Evelyn asked.
The writer cleared her throat, and attempted a posh, or at least upper-class, accent. “Tell Madame Evelyn Lord Haversby has arrived.” It came out a bit Cockney.
David offered his comments. “Not bad. Not bad.”
“So what’s the context of this line? Who’s saying it?”
“Well I reckon a maid or butler is,” said the always adept Evelyn. “Love the name by the way.”
Christie never actually thought this through. Who was saying the line?
“And what does Evelyn do?”
Christie didn’t know. Tell Madame Evelyn Lord Haversby has arrived. That’s all she wrote. ”Well she was tutored.”
“Yes, but what does she do now? Is she on season? Are lords practically giving themselves away to her?”
I guess, the girl thought. But to save face she didn’t respond. Lord Haversby has arrived.
“Should it be Madame?” the bartender inquired. “I mean unless she owns a brothel…”
“Yes!” Evelyn chimed in, excited. “I love that. The lord is in love with the owner of a brothel. Like the Crimson Petal.”
“Do you mean ‘Madame’, girl,” asked David. “Or do you mean ‘Lady’?”
Lady, she thought, of course. Christie felt ridiculously dense. She quickly deleted ‘Madame’ and typed ‘Lady’ instead.
Evelyn attempted to keep the ball rolling. “So what happens next?”
Next? Christie never thought about that. And with the spotlight shining on her, she couldn’t think of anything. Lord Haversby has arrived. The line was repeated ad nauseum, ingrained in her mind. “Well Lord Haversby arrives…”
“Yes, but what happens next?”
What the hell happens next? She couldn’t decide. In truth, she hadn’t decided for years and still couldn’t. That’s the only line she had. Lord Haversby has arrived. The spark of adding ‘Tell Madame Evelyn’ has since worn off.
An empty feeling began to settle in her. The glass of water cost her the last few pence to her name, the cab fare was exorbitant, and she thought she left her phone and room key at the Starbuck’s across the street. They were probably stolen by now. So here she was, penniless, alone, and in a strange land, all because of that stupid line. Lord Haversby has arrived.
“Is everything alright, Christie,” Evelyn asked, noticing the girl’s stoic expression. “So what happens next?”
“Lord Haversby arrives…” Christie continued, pausing for a while after. All she could muster was a grin, unsure of what else to do. Tell Lady Evelyn Lord Haversby has arrived.