It’s unbearably hot and The Ballroom is almost empty. Our heroes are either enjoying blissful country honeymoons or off behaving badly in anticipation of being reformed. (Except the Duke of Castleton, who never behaved badly in his life until he wandered into the pages of my forthcoming book, The Importance of Being Wicked. I’m showing you the cover because it’s gorgeous and I smile every time I see it.)
Since we are in the dogs days of August, Sarah and Gaelen have smuggled in their dogs. Baxter and Bingley are sacked out under an Egyptian-style settee with crocodile feet. Katharine and Sabrina sit on top, exchanging animal-related furniture tips. The other authoresses chat languidly about nothing very much. I sneak over to the refreshment table, hoping Tessa spiked the ratafia with some twenty-first century American ice cubes.
Uh, Oh. Busted.
Lady B (for it is she): Miss Neville. I cannot understand a word anyone is saying this evening. Miss Noble keeps talking about rehearsing dinner. I’ve never required practice before sitting down to dine.
Miranda: Rehearsal dinner. It’s the tradition on the eve of a wedding.
Lady B: In America, I suppose. How quaint. Listen to Miss MacLean. She’s talking nonsense.
Sarah: I texted my husband and asked him to pick up take-out.
Miranda: Let me try and put it in terms you can understand. She sent a footman around to White’s with a note for Mr. MacLean that the cook is indisposed and he should dine at the club.
Lady B: That seems quite normal. Why can’t you gels speak English? And there’s no need to look smug, Miss Neville. You may sound like me, but I distinctly heard you saying that you missed a connection and the airline lost your bag. What did you mean?
Miranda: Hm. The mail coach had already departed and I had to hire a post chaise. Then [and I take great pleasure in saying this] I was held up by highwaymen who stole my valise.
Before Lady B can react, Lauren, who is not given to panic, raises her voice in near hysteria.
Lauren: My hard drive crashed and I thought I’d lost the back up.
Gasps of horror arise from the assembly.
Lady B: Now that sounds quite exciting. Tell me what happened, Miss Willig?
Lauren: Not exciting but potentially disastrous. My amanuensis passed out drunk and I couldn’t find the only copy of my manuscript. But it was all right because I’d also backed up in the cloud.
Lady B: I’m not even going to ask what that means. Any other exciting news?
Tessa: The Darelings went on strike and refused to load the dishwasher. Does that count?
Lady B: Only if I understand it.
Tessa: It’s as though you had a problem in your scullery.
Lady B: I am happy to say I have never seen my scullery.
I’m beginning to feel like a character in one of those Monty Python sketches that wander on too long without a punchline. So I offer an everyday scene from modern life.
Your task, dear Ballroomies, is turn it into a story that Lady B would understand. What other modern phrases can you translate into Regency terms? Google? Twitter? Lactose Intolerant?