As I enter the Ballroom today, it’s clear that something is going on. Something big.
Thump. Thump. BANG. Squawk.
“Lady B?” I cautiously advance to the center of the ballroom and have a look around. No signs of our hostess. ”Lady B? Albert? What’s that strange creaking sound?”
I dive to the parquet floor, scrambling to seek shelter amongst the potted palms as an entire section of the ballroom’s south wall crumbles. My new emerald green gown is instantly coated in a fine plaster dust.
“Lady B?” I call, truly panicked now. ”What’s happening?”
Surely this can’t be the end, I think. Not now, when we’re having so much fun.
Then from far away, a familiar voice…. “Miss Dare, is that you? Have you been indulging in too much ratafia again?”
“Lady B, what is it? Is it the French? Are we being invaded?”
“No, no, Miss Dare. Not at all.” Lady B emerges from the rubble, dressed in a peacock-printed muslin work smock. She claps the dust from her hands. ”I’m merely expanding.”
Albert swoops in and out through the new hole in the wall, delightedly squawking, More room! More room!
“Expanding?” I ask. ”What do you mean? You look the same size as always.”
“No, no. We’re enlarging the Ballroom, of course. To make room for the new authoresses.”
I know I was sick for much of the past few weeks, but I seem to have missed more than I suspected.
“We’re increasing our number, Miss Dare. Didn’t you hear? The more, the merrier, I always say. I sent invitations last week, and I’m delighted to say I’ve just received two charming replies.” Lady B removes a few papers from her pocket and unfolds them. ”You may read the good news for yourself.”
As always, I do as Lady B suggests and read with great excitement.
Dear Lady Beaufetheringstone –
It is with great delight that I accept your lovely invitation to join you and the other authoresses of the Ballroom. I look forward to many charming and involved discussions of these marvelous lives and times.
P.S. This may seem an odd question, since of course, it is a Ballroom, but… is there dancing? And if so, is it necessary to participate?
Dear Lady Beaufetheringstone –
Please accept this bouquet of carnations (pink) in earnest gratitude for your kind invitation. I would be delighted to join your band of merry novelists.
I must, however, warn you that I seem to be having a bit of a spot of bother with, er, well, spies. They do tend to get into everything– especially ratafia. Being French, though, they generally can be routed rather rapidly, leaving plenty of time for port and cheer for all. I trust they shan’t be too much bother….
With the warmest and most effusive expressions of esteem,
“Oh, my dear Lady B! This is such delightful news. We all adore both Miss Noble and Miss Willig, and their wonderful books. I can’t wait to welcome them both.”
“You won’t have to wait long, Miss Dare.” Lady B waves to a pair of workmen with stunningly well-defined calves. “Miss Noble will be joining us on Thursday, and Miss Willig will make her first personal appearance on Monday next. So if you’ll excuse me, I have a great deal to do to make ready.”
“Of course, of course. So must we all.” I smile to myself. ”I do hope they like their ratafia strong.”
While Lady B is playing Extreme Makeover: Regency Edition and I’m working up a new punch recipe, how about the rest of you? What can we all do to make our new authoresses welcome?
And isn’t this exciting?