"So as you can see, my great grandfather was very interested in acquiring fine art. He liked impressionism, I prefer surrealism but oh well, now I have both." Ms. Ruse said as she let out a booming laugh from her tiny body clothed in black silk and heavy diamonds. The grand clock in the corner suddenly came to life, gears grinding against each other signaling a new hour.
"Come now Elias, it's tea time."
Her sharp voice echoed around the hall, disturbing the tranquil scenes lining the walls. Elias followed Ms. Ruse out of the gallery into her tea room and participated in light conversation until the maid came with tea. He was seated in an old bare chair, the wood pressing on his tailbone. It was more elegant from a distance.
"Oh, finally Gertrude. Now come on, hurry up, I am feeling in such a daze right now." Ms. Ruse’s hand flew to her face in feigned lightheadedness. Behind her was a window hidden by dusty cotton curtains.
The maid poured tea from a burgundy teapot. It looked antiquated yet the paint didn’t have a single chip. A large green snake was coiled in the center of the lid.
"Do you like it?"
Ms. Ruse gestured to the teapot.
"Yes, it's very um, unique."
"Hmm, the serpent on the top really does have its charm. It was commissioned, it's been in the family for generations you know. And the recipe for the tea even longer."
"Recipe? You don't just use a bag?"
"Oh, good heavens no. Why wouldn't I have fresh if I can?"
Elias watched the tea come out but it poured thicker than he thought and whooshed into the cup like a waterfall, anxious to escape. The pot’s bright colour seemed to reflect in the liquid because it had a bloody hue. Ms. Ruse scooped a heaping of sugar and stirred her tea with great clinks not caring to preserve the fine china. The maid came over to pour Elias' cup full as he began to make conversation,
"So, how did your family originally come by its wealth."
Elias grabbed the cream and poured some in his cup, watching the swirls form into outstretched arms. He raised the tea to his mouth and ingested the murky flavoured water. Ms. Ruse looked up from her teacup to stare directly into his eyes. Her eyes looked less hazel and redder by the second,
"Where do you think old money in America comes from?"
She let out a tinkering laugh and returned to her slow, mechanical stirring.