Bessie’s Boys Chapter 18

Previously: England awaits the Spanish invasion. Elizabeth orders two of her young heros to Spain on a mission. Each one has a beautiful but jealous lover.

Ornate chandeliers spread sparkling light throughout the Alhambra dining hall.  Courtiers laughed with unleashed enthusiasm, trying to pretend Phillip didn’t have them all scared out of their wits.  In the middle of the room were Gypsy gentlemen in colorful garb and playing violins. Voluptuous Gypsy girls twirled around the room in wild abandon.  King Phillip dribbled wine from the corner of his mouth as he hooted and clapped his boney old hands.

“Minstrels!  More Minstrels!”

Maria, well aware her life depended on giving the appearance of having a good time, smiled and forced herself to giggle every few minutes.

Eventually the fiddlers and dancers finished their act, bowed to the King and trotted out of the room.  Entering next were Rodney and Alice.  He had smeared his face with a tree bark unguent to make him look swarthier and wore earrings to make him look Gypsier. Alice’s peasant blouse and short skirt looked luscious.  Rodney strummed a mandolin while Alice danced with more abandon than one would expect from an uptight English maiden.

Mon dieu!” Maria gasped as Rodney approached the King’s table.

Phillip’s head snapped towards her.  “I beg your pardon?”

“Oh.  Well.  I—I—yi, yi,“ Maria sputtered, returning to her Spanish accent.

“Perhaps the young lady is not accustomed to seeing men wearing earrings,” Rodney offered in mangled Slavic tones.  “But let me assure the young lady I mean her no harm.”

Trying to hide a smile, she replied, “Oh no, it isn’t that.  It’s just that—I’ve never seen such a lovely mandolin.  I have a special fondness for mandolins.”

“Oh really?”  Phillip’s eyebrows rose in anticipation.  “I must show you my private collection of mandolins.”

“When?” she asked.

“As soon as I can get one.”

“Dirty old man,” emanated from beneath Maria’s dress.

She firmly knocked her knees together.


“And now, minstrel, regale us with a tune.”  Phillip leaned over to whisper to Maria, “I hope it has dirty lyrics.”

Rodney’s face went blank for a moment until Alice bumped him with her hip.  “As you wish, your Majesty.”  He began strumming clumsily and sang in a mish-mash of a Slavic accent.  “Oh, love with a Spanish lady can be a dangerous thing….”

Alice resumed her twirling and bumped into the table right in front of Phillip who ogled her and licked his lips.  Frightened she spun toward the center of the room.

“They love you for a while and then toss you aside….”

Never having a keen sense of direction, Alice bumped into the head table again, this time in front of Maria.  Only a moment passed before they recognized each other, and their eyes blazed with indignation.

“You!” Alice hissed.

“What are you doing here?”  Maria slipped into her German accent.

Alice did not answer but rather chose to spin away.

“Their dancing black eyes can enthrall you, and their red lips can maul you….”

Losing her balance, Alice fell and slid under the royal table, winding up face to face with Clarence under Maria’s gown.


“I beg your pardon?  I don’t believe I’ve made the acquaintance of any maidens of the Gypsy persuasion.”

(Author’s note:  History correctly tells us the ethnic group generally labelled Gypsy has a long honorable cultural tradition.  We acknowledge that this group has been treated unfairly and cruelly under various despotic regimes.  Having given due respect, we remind readers this is a burlesque satire and not to be taken seriously.)

“Clarence!  It’s me!  “Alice!”


“What are you up to?”

Clarence glanced upward, formulating a reply, but before he could reply, Rodney grabbed Alice by her feet and yanked her back onto the open floor.  As he swished around here, Rodney finished his song.

“Yes, love with a Spanish lady can be a dangerous thing.”

Rodney bowed to the applause, but Alice stormed out of the banquet hall in a huff.

“What a sad song,” Maria commented with a sigh.

“Yeah, real sad,” Phillip added.  “No dirty lyrics.”

“Surely you don’t believe that of Spanish ladies, do you, minstrel?” Maria asked.

“I don’t know.”  Rodney’s large soulful eyes pleaded with her.

“Where did that little Gypsy dancer go?”  The King craned his head to look around the hall.  “She was a real looker.”

“Sometimes a person doesn’t know who to trust.”  Rodney’s face went puppy dog on her.

“You have nothing to fear from Spanish ladies,” she replied with an affectionate wink.

“Bah!  I never trust Spanish ladies!” Phillip announced.

Fluttering her black lace fan, she concentrated on Rodney and ignored the King. Maria added, “You have nothing to fear from this Spanish lady.”

“Of course,” the King continued, “I don’t trust any woman, no matter what country she’s from.”  

Maria extended her hand to Rodney and pursed her lips.  “Feel free to call on me for any assistance.”

“Come to think of it,” Phillip revealed, mostly to himself, “I don’t trust anyone, male or female.”

“Thank you.”  Grinning, Rodney bowed to kiss her pretty fingers.  “I will.”

“Oh hell, there are times I don’t even trust myself.” 

A familiar cough from the back of the hall broke his soliloquy.  When he looked up he saw Steppingstone peeking in the door, his hand covering his mouth. 

“I’d love to hear another song,” Maria purred.

“No!” Phillip erupted.

“Does my singing offend you, scum—I mean, Sire?” Rodney asked.

“No, no.  It’s just—just I’ve got affairs of state to attend to.  Excuse me.”  With that, the King scurried out of the hall, followed by a small crowd of sycophants.

Maria and Rodney did not notice, because they were too busy making love with their eyes.

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