Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody of Zorro and The Scarlet Pimpernel and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws her annual society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet. Andy and friends try to stop villain Malcolm Tent. Cecelia falls for henchman Billy Doggerel.
Millicent returned to Andy and Eddie at the chaise lounge to continue their plans to snatch the packet from the chief inspector. Tent and Billy looked out the window as though they were entranced by the gas street lights.
“Is everything arranged for tonight?” Tent asked.
“Aye, boss,” Billy replied, nodding his head. “I pick up the packet in ‘alf an ‘our.”
“Good, then bring it back to me.”
Bedelia returned to library, wiping tears from her eyes and then cracking her crop against her pants, which, for some odd reason, which can only occur in a bunch of silliness like this, caused everyone else to freeze. This allowed her to go right into a full blown soliloquy.
I’ve had my cry. Now is the time to act. I must in fact
Discover the identity of that red under-wearing rat.
That will impress our properly dressed Lady Cecelia.
A deed the whole town will likely cheer, hip hip hoorah.
Let’s see who can this villain be, could he be in this room?
The suspects are before me now, it’s easy to assume.
The illegitimate daughter of the recently retired chief inspector of Scotland Yard
I’m on the job, I’m more than smart, I’ll never rest until that man’s behind jail bars.
Now who can I suspect? Old Malcolm Tent, oh no, not he.
He was so loyal to my dad, a villain he could never be.
I don’t know who this person is—
He’s so filthy I don’t even want to think about him.
And our dear host, what can I say—
Lady Cecelia loves to gossip and bray.
She would tell all that she’s the one in bright red underwear.
Of course I’m not the one I’m looking for, I know my underwear!
And Millicent wants Eddie’s body—
Too busy for red underwear.
Dear Eddie’s much too dumb—oh dear, he lost his shirt!
Which leaves the dandy, my sweet Andy—
He can’t be the man in red. He’s much too randy.
But never fear I know he’s near, that man in underweer—wear!
Bedelia turned to leave, paused to look back and then cracked her crop against her pants again which caused everyone to unfreeze. (Don’t try to figure it out. Go with the flow, so to speak.) She closed the door with an unexpected bang which caused Cecelia to lose her balance and stumble into Billy.
‘Ey, watch it, ducks,” Billy warned her.
Cecelia rubbed her hands up and down his thick arms. “You are a solid beast, aren’t you?”
I ain’t no cream puff, if that’s what ya thought.”
“If I fancied any notions that your bulk was anything but hard muscle I was mistaken.” A school-girl grin danced across her face.
Tent tried to wedge himself between Cecelia and Billy. “Lady Snob-Johnson, my associate and I are trying to carry on a private conversation.”
“Oh. Well. Carry on.” She broke out in giggles. “I wouldn’t mind carrying on with your associate myself.”
“Thanks. Yer kinda cute too, ducks.” Billy winked.
“You think so? I mean, I do have a grown daughter, you know.” Her hands went to her cheeks, as though trying to smooth away the wrinkles.
“Lady Snob-Johnson, given your propensity for gossip, I must ask you something.” Tent finally nudged Billy out of the way. “Did you just overhear anything?
“You mean you were talking? All I saw was that beautiful chest heaving up and down, up and—“
“Billy, get out of here before she starts to hyperventilate!” Tent ordered.
Before he took his leave, Billy clucked Cecelia under her chin. “Anything you say, boss. ‘Ey, ducks. I likes the ones that’s been around the block a few times. You know what I mean.”
Impulsively, she followed him as he walked to the door. “Will I see you again, soon?”
“If yer lucky.”
Before he could open the door, Billy found Andy blocking the way.
“Yoo hoo. Excuse, me, sir.” Andy tried fluttering his eyes, but his coquette skills were not up to par with those honed by Cecelia.
“Yeah, what do ya want?”
Andy tapped at the lapel of Billy’s coat. “I was just curious how you managed that divine shade of brown on your jacket.”
“It’s dirt.” Billy shoved Andy out of his way and left.
“How original.” Andy took out a lace hanky to wipe his hands.
Cecelia rushed up and spun Andy around. “Lay off of him. You hear me. He’s mine!”
“Anything you say, dearie.” Andy looked over at Millicent and Eddie to point at the retreating bulk of Billy Doggerel. He nodded at them and Millicent nodded back in agreement. Eddie was too busy picking his nose to notice anything important going on.
Cecelia rushed to the front door to wave at Billy as he went down the stairs. “Until later, mon amour.”
The orchestra members began tuning their instruments which brought Cecelia back to reality.