A Letter for Orpha

The wretched servant girl, Orpha, was filled with glee when this arrived for her in the post-box morning last:

"A postal card? For me?" We were all of us shocked and gathered in the foyer to examine the mysterious arrival.

I simply could'n't help myself: I burst into laughter! "Why, whoever would want to correspond with an illiterate scullery maid?"

"I'm afraid I don't know, madam," she replied in her lower-class brogue. "Mail has never arrived for me before. Please, tell me what it says."

My sister Marguerite quickly snatched the thing and began to peruse it. She tittered, then announced, "I'm so terribly sorry, Orpha, but they seem to have reached you in error. They were looking for one Orpha O'Callaghan, to be sure, but certainly not you. Your name must be common enough amongst the race of Irish-Iberians to which you belong."

Orpha looked crestfallen. Meekly, she stammered, "Well -- may I ask, Miss Marguerite, what the letter says?"

"Er...I shall read it verbatim. Dear Mrs. O'Callaghan -- you are certainly not married, are you, Orpha?" Marguerite teased.

Again, my laughter could not be contained. "The very idea!" said I, "A suitor willing to offer a hand in marriage to Orpha? Why, he would have to be a Scotsman!"

"Quiet down, Katharina. You are such an impetuous sort!" Marguerite continued: "We had occasion to visit Galway Inn and Stables in May and are writing to extend our thanks anew for your gracious hosting of us in your fine inn whilst we journeyed in America. The next time we find occasion to cross the sea, we shall certainly remember your establishment, and we shall recommend it to all our acquaintances. Sincerely, Lord Ashby Clive Mortimer Hollingberry and Lady Philippa Hallybone Hollingberry. Why, Miss Orpha!" Marguerite feigned shock, "You didn't inform us that you were both an equestrienne and a proprietress! And that you are hosting the British nobility at your inn!"

Miss Orpha! Imagine! Marguerite has always played the rôle of the clown, and her reversal of the polite address system in this instance made me nearly fall to the hand-woven Constantinople carpet in hysterics!

Orpha, in her simple Gaelic mind-set, was unable to grasp the nuanced humour. She continued to look dejected. "I ... I s'pose they had in mind a different Orpha O'Callaghan..." She shuffled off, the limp in her left foot taking on a pronounced stagger. (The limp is a relic of a childhood injury; Mamá, furious with Orpha for not properly curling my ringlets, pushed her out of a briskly paced buggy.) Poor wretched Orpha!

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