Lady B is in her boudoir, along with her maid, several spinster cousins, and a case of ratafia, making hundreds of copies of her Christmas letter, which she sends every year to her friends and relations outside London. There’s a good deal of writers’ cramp and genteel cursing going on. I haven’t dared tell her about the future invention of the Xerox machine in case I incite a riot.
As I’m sure you know, these Christmas Round Robins can be a bit on the dull side. Everything is always marvelous and all the children are above average. Knowing how much Lady B hates to be boring, I looked forward to reading hers. She refused to give me an advance look but Albert filched a copy of an early draft from the wastepaper basket and sold it to me for half a dozen lobster mince pies.
<squawk> I love Christmas <squawk>
Me too, Albert. I made the most fascinating discovery. Every family story in her letter has several possible outcomes. I’m afraid our adored hostess is not above a little embellishment of the truth, just as long as the result is entertaining. I leave it to the Ballroom visitors to decide which version of each story will appear in the final version.
<squawk> only the truth! <squawk>
My Dear Friends and Relations (which are the same thing since I am related to Everyone)
My annual letter comes with the Greetings of the Season and my wish that you Unfortunate Souls who live in Rustic Simplicity and are unable to attend my Ballroom should not miss out on the year’s News and Gossip.
As you know, I like to keep an eye on the young. They eventually grow up and become interesting. My nephew Chas, the youngest son of Lord B’s sister Charlotte, is home from Eton.
With so many connections, it’s inevitable that each year brings its share of loss. Arthur Bostock died last January, from a seizure brought on by a Surfeit of Fruitcake. I almost hate to admit that Arthur was my cousin, given his Scandalous Behavior. He willed his fortune to his Mistress and left his daughter destitute. So the poor gel had to go as a governess. Since her name is Amaryllis and she always neglected to Practice her Instrument, her career in education has not been a success.
The Duke of Alverdiston (my fourth cousin, or perhaps third cousin once removed) was married four times. Much as I love gels, I have to count it a Misfortune that his series of Duchesses presented him with eleven Daughters and not a single Son. Dowering them has put a severe strain on the purse of his distant cousin, the new duke.
My sister’s sister-in-law’s husband’s second cousin, Clementina Postlethwaite is very poorly, poor dear.
My third cousin Alaric is a very charming young man with most excellent Lower Limbs. I am sorry to report that he engaged in a Duel over a matter related to a Wager and a Young Lady. Since his opponent’s future health remains doubtful, Alaric has had to Flee the Country.
Now there are several paragraphs so heavily scratched out and rewritten than I can only make out a few words and phrases. Post chaise. The Duke of Wellington. Identical twin footmen. Elopement. Innocent gaze. Syllabub. Garters. Potted Plant. She never saw him again. Oysters. Boots. Hm, very interesting. Then one final piece of news.
So, my dear friends, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and hope to see you in The Ballroom next year.
Yours very affectionately,
I suspect we’d all sometimes like to “improve” things that happen to us. Last week Lady Gaelen asked us for the highlights of our year. I’m asking the Ballroomies what you wish had happened in 2011. Don’t hold back! Tell us your most outrageous fantasy. You never know, Lady B may put it in her letter.