Very little was left to be said, at least what could be said in mixed company, but she felt like she had to keep trying.
They’d been over the same ground a dozen times; Alastair remaining insufferingly noble and Priss becoming more and more despondent as his mule headed inclination towards self-sacrifice seemed insurmountable. if they’d been alone she could have leveraged his sister’s child against him, but Alastair had kept Bethy and Vernon trapped in the sitting room, like a cat corralling mice.
Priss’s temper finally snapped when Alastair tried to physically stop Vernon from leaving. Vernon was too much of a pushover to actually fight back, so Priss intervened on his behalf with the fireplace ash shovel.
That quickly disintegrated into an all-out brawl between the two, with Vernon and Bethy taking refuge behind Grandmother’s couch.
There were, perhaps, better ways to break the news to their cousins that Alastair had been bitten by the were-leopard on loan from the Indian National Zoo, but it was quite effective.
When the ash had settled, Alastair had retreated behind Great-grandfather’s stuffed chair, snarling to himself and threatening -via half-hearted swipes- to claw the furniture.
Priss took the opportunity to fill Vernon and Bethy in on the whole incident, Alastair’s sister’s daughter included, thus bringing an end to the whole charade.
Sadly, their cousins were not made of firmer stuff and had to be revived several times with smelling salts during Priss’s explanation.