Master Plumm is the loyal, hard-working solicitor (often also looked down upon by certain folk as a "dogsbody") of our reluctant hero in The Peculiar Pink Toes of Lady Flora. He is also a partial narrator of the story, a man of many secrets and machinations. And a bit of a romantic, which nobody would ever guess by looking at him.
"For a man who looked as if he might be falling apart, his stuffing oozing out at the seams and his clothing possibly rescued from a house fire in a less elegant part of town, Halfpenny Plumm possessed a remarkably strong sense of self-preservation and a whip-smart cunning. He knew how to work the slyest of contrivances to benefit himself and keep his master contented, all while he seemed— in the eyes of an unfamiliar observer— to be a patient that wandered by accident from the nearest asylum.
He had the sort of mulligrubs demeanor that really only looked at home in London drizzle; might have been created by it, all the lines formed in his face by the constant drip of rainwater..."
Born in poverty to a woman who preferred raising her gin bottle to raising her many children, Halfpenny Plumm started out with very little in his favor, and at one time seemed destined for a life of crime. And a brief one, at that. But as a young boy his fortunes took a turn for the better, when his plight came to the attention of a benevolent and wealthy gentleman of the nobility. Plucked out of the Marshalsea Prison and saved from the gallows, Plumm was granted the opportunity of an education and, with it, a second chance. He has never forgotten that kindness and now seeks to repay it in any way that he can.
"For five years Halfpenny Plumm had faithfully served the sixth Duke of Malgrave, and for twelve years before that he had served the young man's father. He had a reputation for getting things done the way his masters wanted them, enforcing their every will and fancy — not that there had been many "fancies" on the young duke's part..."
When Plumm is given the task of getting the young duke a bride, he quickly realizes that this will be his greatest challenge to date. His master, you see, having already chosen the woman he wants, anticipates no problem whatsoever. The sixth duke has never been refused anything in his one and twenty years, so why would he expect that to change? But Plumm fears the worst, for this chosen young lady is the very opposite of his stern and somber master. Everything about this proposal shouts disaster, apparently, to everybody but the duke himself.
"Plumm and his master had only known her for a matter of weeks and yet it was already patently clear— to one of them at least— that Lady Flora Chelmsworth grabbed life for herself with both hands, after she'd run over it, traveling at speed, forward or backward; that she did not wait for anything to be acquired for her, and she enjoyed a very lively perspective that was seldom upright and steady, but taken from all manner of precarious views. Furthermore, she appeared to have formed opinions of the world and a woman's place in it, that had no foundation in real life.
And her fiery collision was now imminent with that sturdy, immoveable, brick-lined icehouse known as the Duke of Malgrave. Plumm rather suspected the icehouse would come out of this with the greater injury and yet it was his responsibility to keep that structure free from scrapes of any kind..."
When the inevitable failure strikes, it grieves Plumm greatly. He decides to do all in his power to reverse calamity and get the duke exactly what he wants. One way or another. However long it might take.
After all, having known the benefit himself, he is a great believer in second chances.
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READ MORE in The Peculiar Pink Toes of Lady Flora - Coming May 23rd!
Image: The painting Le Discret by Joseph Ducreux c.1791