The Bukowski Agency - The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Excerpt
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

by Alan Bradley

EXCERPT

I SKIPPED DOWN the broad stone staircase into the hall, pausing at the door of the dining room just long enough to toss my pigtails back over my shoulders and into their regulation position.

Father still insisted on dinner being served and eaten at the massive oak refectory table, as it had been when mother was alive.

Ophelia and Daphne not down yet, Flavia?" he asked peevishly, looking up from the latest issue of The British Philatelist, which lay open beside his meat and potatoes.

"I haven't seen them in ages," I said.

Neatly put, Flave, I thought. It was true. I hadn't seen them: not since they had gagged and blindfolded me, then lugged me hogtied up the attic stairs and locked me in the closet.

Father glared at me over his glasses for the statutory four seconds, then went back to mumbling over his stampish gore.

I hoisted the lid of the Spode vegetable dish and, from the depths of its hand-painted butterflies and raspberries, spooned out a generous helping of peas. Using my knife as a ruler and my fork as a prod, I marshalled the peas so that they formed meticulous rows and columns across my plate: rank upon rank of little green spheres, spaced with a precision that would have delighted the heart of the most anal Swiss watchmaker.

It was all Ophelia's fault. She was, after all, seventeen, and therefore expected to possess at least a modicum of the maturity she would come into as an adult. That she would gang up with Daphne, who was thirteen, simply wasn't fair. Their combined ages totalled thrity years. Thirty years! – against my eleven. It was not only unsporting, it was downright rotten. And it simply screamed out for revenge.

I was busy among the flasks and flagons of my chemical laboratory when Ophelia barged in without so much as a lah-di-dah.

"Where's my pearl necklace?"

I shrugged. "I'm not the keeper of your trinkets."

"I know you took it. The Scotch mints that were in my lingerie drawer are gone, too, and I've observed that missing mints in this household seem always to wind up in the same grubby little mouth.

I adjusted the flame on a spirit lamp that was heating a beaker of red liquid. "If you're insinuating that my personal hygiene is not up to the same high standard as yours you can go suck my galoshes."

"Flavia!"

"Well you can. I'm sick and tired of being blamed for everything, Feely."

But my righteous indignation was cut short as Ophelia peered short-sightedly into the ruby flask, which was just coming to the boil.

"What's that sticky mass in the bottom?" Her long, manicured fingernail tapped at the glass.

"It's an experiment. Careful, Feely—it's acid!"

Ophelia's face went white. "Those are my pearls! They belonged to Mummy!"

I looked up slowly from my work so that the round lenses of my spectacles would flash blank white semaphores of light at her. I knew that whenever I did this, Ophelia always had the horrid impression that she was in the presence of some mad black-and-white German scientist in a film at the Gaumont.

"Beast!"

"Hag!" I retorted. But not until Ophelia had spun round on her heel—quite neatly, I thought—and stormed out the door.

Retribution was not long in coming. But then with Ophelia, it never was. She was not a long range planner—unlike myself, who believed in letting the soup of revenge simmer to perfection.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Japanese cover      The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Norwegian hardcover

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Taiwanese cover      The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Italian cover

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Portguese cover      The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Dutch cover

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Russian cover      The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Brazilian cover

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Arabic cover      The Sweetnes at the Bottom of the Pie - Norwegian paperback cover

 

 

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