Pink stilettos– check. Flowered sheath dress– check. Advil– check.
Lady B: Don’t tell me!
I’m not sure what I’m not supposed to tell her, so, for once, I obey orders and keep shoveling items into my little blue quilted overnight bag, or, as Lady B prefers to call it, my portmanteau.
Albert: Tell her! <<squawk>> Tell her!
I think I hear him mumble something about life being very uncomfortable in the parrot cage otherwise, but I can’t be entirely sure.
Lady B: (descending upon me, wagging her lorgnette) You are going to that assembly! The one with all the other authoresses!
Lauren: You mean the RWA Conference?
Lady B (impatiently): Yes, yes, isn’t that what I said? The assembly– wherever this “Ardway” may be.
Lauren: It’s in a place called Anaheim. Near Disney Land.
Lady B: Yes, I’m sure it’s very kind of Lord Disney to open his gates to you all, most generous of him [I hear her add as an aside, Although I have never heard of him. Must be one of those Irish peerages]. But what I really wish to know, Miss Willig– will Miss Austen be there? Lady B preens slightly. I have heard– although, you do understand, it is merely a rumor– that Miss Austen wrote me into one of her novels.
Lauren: [trying very hard not to choke on a miniature Altoid] Really? She did? Was the name of the character… Lady Catherine?
Lady B: [waving a hand] I’ve never read them myself, but I thought if you saw her there, you might make enquiries on my behalf. I have, after all, sheltered you in my ballroom for these many months now.
Lauren: I don’t believe Miss Austen will be there…. Not unless someone has a very good ouija board.
Lady B: [crossly] Whyever not? Miss Darby distinctly told me that everyone was going to be there.
I was fairly sure that Miss Darby had said nothing of the kind, but given that the conversations Lady B remembers are seldom the same as the conversations one actually has, that seemed like a futile argument.
Lauren: The conference– I mean, assembly– is in a different place every year. This year it’s rather far away for Miss Austen to travel.
As in two centuries too far away, but there’s no need to get into that.
Lady B: [imperiously] Tell Lord Disney to hold it closer by next time!
Lady B: [Struck by a sudden thought] Do you think the authoresses might like to gather in the Ballroom? I should be happy to serve as one of the patronesses…. Provided, of course, that I control the guest list. That nice Miss Burney, I think– you know, the one who was Mistress of the Wardrobe for Queen Charlotte and wrote that charming book about a young girl beset by rakes and seducers. Mr. Richardson, of course. But certainly not that nasty Mr. Fielding! If I had a daughter who behaved like that Sophia….
I slip out the back way while Lady B is still getting her guest list together for her own variant of the RWA conference. I do have a plane to catch, even if I am rather curious to see which authors Lady B intends to pointedly shun. Will Mrs. Radcliffe get an invite, or is Lady B boycotting gothics this year?
If you were planning a historical version of the RWA conference, who would you invite?