It's in the Cards
I sat in front of the mirror on my vanity table touching up my make up as my maid, Mary, finished brushing my hair.
'Mum said to say thank you for turning the cards for her, the advice they gave her was spot on,' Mary said. I smiled.
'I'm glad about that, now she can get some peace,' I replied. Mary nodded. 'She said that she's had the first decent night's sleep for ages.'
I nodded as I finished off my makeup. I may be the daughter of a Duke, but people of all classes need my help and I'm not ashamed to take a bus to the East End of London if someone needs me.
I suppose I'd better introduce myself: my name is Lady Amethyst Richmond, only daughter of Douglas, 3rd Duke of Hampshire, and I'm what The Tatler calls a Society Clairvoyant.
My mother had the gift of seeing and she taught me to use my gifts well; her family came from New Orleans and all the women had the ability to see. My Grandmother and her sisters had a permanent invite into the best houses in the city and my mother kept up the tradition when she moved to London and married my father. She cut back her activities when she had me and then my brother Charlie, but still had her special clients in the house sometimes. I was fascinated about what she did; I used to watch through a slit in the door as she dealt her tarot cards, read palms and tea-leaves and drew up astronomical charts.
One day she caught me playing with her cards! I thought I was going to get such a spanking, but instead she asked me if I'd like to learn, and I couldn't say yes quickly enough. Therefore, over the next 10 years she taught me everything she'd learnt from her mother.
I still miss her now; she died in the influenza epidemic in 1918, but her death still hits me hard, even though we had both seen it coming.
Now I am society's favourite clairvoyant, carrying on where she left off.
I looked at my reflection in the glass; my short black hair shined in its fashionable bob style, and my pale, powdered face with black kholed eyes and bright red lipstick came straight off the pages of Vogue. I gave myself a quick spritz of perfume and stood up.
'How do I look?' I asked Mary, 'Very mystical, my lady,' she replied as she handed me my wrap.
'There is no need to wait up for me; I don't know when I'll be home' I said to her. 'Ok my lady, I'll see you in the morning then,' she replied with a curtsey and left.
I left my room and heard my brother's door open. 'Amy, what the hell have you told father! He's sold all his shares and sent all his money to Switzerland to stay in a high interest account! What do you think it's going to do to my reputation when my own father doesn't follow my advice' he yelled.
I sighed. 'You know I warned you that this get rich quick with stocks and shares business was not going to last. I told you that you need to get your money out as soon as possible; you may not have listened to me, but father has, and so has Nell's father, among others.'
Charlie tutted, 'You and your damn cards! So people would rather trust your cards than the advice of a broker.'
'When was the last time they were wrong?' I asked. Charlie opened and shut his mouth a couple of times, 'That's not the point; its 1928, Amy, life is for living and being adventurous. It's not like money is going to disappear overnight is it? Anyway, I'm off to the Savoy for dinner with my friends, then off to the clubs. I'll leave you to the sad matrons who need to be told their lives are boring, toodle-oo,' and he ran down the stairs.
I sighed again; it annoyed me that Charlie dismissed my cards' advice. He'd tried to persuade me to invest a large amount of money into stocks and shares his brokerage firm were pushing.
Of course, I consulted my cards and drew The Moon, The Wheel of Fortune, The Tower, the Five of Pentacles, and the Five of Cups. That was more than enough to make me keep my money exactly where it was, half in cash and half in gold bars, secure in a bank in Switzerland. The way I'd read the cards it looked like there was lots of movement behind the scenes and things not being what they appeared along with a downturn in luck that would cause the stocks and shares bubble to burst, causing chaos in the world as well as loss of money, health and faith.
There was going to be a lot of mourning this loss, I thought. I couldn't quell the feeling in my stomach that this was going to be worse than even the cards were predicting. I shook myself out of my reverie; I had a job to do, so a walked down the stairs, put my wrap around my shoulders and asked Thompson, the butler, to call me a taxi to take me to Chelsea, to read for the Bouquet Girls, so called because they're all named after flowers.
My taxi pulled up at a town house just off the Kings Road in Chelsea, not as swanky as Belgravia, where our town house was, but still smart enough. I paid the cabbie, ran up the steps of the house and knocked on the door, a maid opened the door and took my wrap, the butler announced me to the women assembled in the drawing room.
I scanned the room and mentally ticked off who was there, Peony Carmichael, we'd been at finishing school together, she was a sneak, wouldn't think twice about telling tales, Primrose Aston-Lacey, Peony's best friend at school and a spiteful cat, they suited each other. Rose Devonish, permanently on the lookout for a husband, it didn't matter if he was someone else's as long as he had a title. Jasmine Butler-Monkton was the most tolerable of the group, not spiteful just an unbearable snob. Finally, there was Rose's sister Lady Daisy Knellar, wife of the Duke of Guernsey.
I smiled as I spotted my best friend Nell Stockton-Ellis; we'd been friends since we were both shipped off to boarding school aged ten.
'What are you doing here?' I asked.
'Mama is here playing bridge with Mrs Carmichael so I hitched a lift, besides I want to hear what your cards have to say for this lot,' she said as she nodded at the Bouquet Girls. I smiled, Nell had no more love for the Bouquet Girls than I did, I don't like to speak ill of people but these girls thought of nothing more than clothes, money and marriage, to the right man, of course. Peony came over to us.
'So nice to see you again Amy and thank you agreeing to read for us, Nell, good to see you again' Peony glanced at our fingers 'still no sign of a husband, then,' she said cattily. Nell bristled.
'I wish to live my life before being shackled to a man; besides, I don't have the time at the moment, I'm too busy' she replied.
Nell is a very talented photographer; she has a studio in Kensington and is building up a large clientele, including the King and Queen. Peony looked at me.
'The cards say it's not time for me to marry yet, my King of Swords hasn't shown his hand yet,' I replied.
'I don't see a ring on your finger yet, either,' Nell remarked. Peony smiled.
'I can't marry until I'm twenty-five, it was father's wish, and long engagements are frowned on as you well know, so Simon is waiting for my birthday,' she said, with a smile.
'I think we should get this reading underway, don't you,' I said, I suspected this conversation would turn into a catty spitting match before long.
'Mama says we can use the parlour, if you would like to set up in there,' Peony said.
I grabbed my cards and indicated for Nell to follow me. We entered the parlour and I sat at the table and laid my silk cloth. Nell started pacing up and down.
'Bloody cheek of that woman, ‘Still no sign of a husband then' I enjoy my work, I know I don't have to work, but after your warning to Father I thought it may be prudent to get a little extra capital in the bank and I'm bloody good at what I do. Their Majesties and the Duke and Duchess are so pleased with the portraits of little Elizabeth, I've got better things to worry about than a husband' she raged.
'Nell please, I don't need anyone clouding the energies in this room,' I said. Nell took a deep breath and smiled.
'I'm calm, anyway we all know Simon's marrying her for her money, he has a certain lifestyle to maintain' she replied, I smiled.
'Can you ask them to come in now?' I said.
Nell left to get the Bouquet Girls and I shivered, it was suddenly very cold, bone-chillingly cold in fact. I'd felt this once before, just before my mother died, I knew this reading was not going to give good news.
The girls sat in front of me,
'What do you wish to know?' I asked,
'Oh, the usual, what will be happening to us in the next few months,' Rose replied.
I sighed and shuffled the cards; I dealt out, 3 of Cups, Death, Queen of Swords, 5 of Cups, The Moon, 7 of Swords, King of Swords, The High Priestess, Justice and The Hanged Man. I gasped as I looked over the cards, I knew why I felt so cold, I saw death in the cards for someone in this group, not just death but murder.
Peony instantly became alert at my gasp.
'What is it, what do you see?' she demanded; I sighed, I was hoping to fudge over the more alarming aspects of this reading.
'I see death, murder to be more specific, the death will be felt acutely by the group and mourned by many, but there is a lot of deceit, shadows and things not being what they should be. I also see theft, sneaky theft; the death will make this theft legitimate. I also see justice; the killer will get what they deserve,' I replied. I still felt deathly cold and rubbed my arms to get some warmth into them, I'd deliberately left out the last part of the reading, that I was going to assist the King of Swords, my King of Swords, the one I'd been looking for to bring the murderer to justice and watch them hang for their crime.
Nell could see I was troubled and immediately took charge,
'I don't think there is any more to say on this matter, this has come as a shock to us all and Amy is quite shaken, I think we should retire don't you. Peony could you ask your butler for some coffee for Amy and a snifter of brandy too' Nell said, Peony rose and nodded robotically, she seemed very ashen faced.
'Yes, yes of course, I think I'll get brandy for all of us, God knows I could do with it,' she said. She left the parlour and the other girls followed her, talking in low voices, I'm sure I'd heard a sob or two as well.