Hurricane-force gales rattle the doors of the Ballroom, but inside the Ballroom Masquerade Ball is in full swing.
We’re having the ball tonight instead on Halloween proper because (a) Lady B claims that nobody who’s anybody goes to a ball on a Wednesday, and (b) she doesn’t believe in Halloween— much the same way she refuses to believe in Whig politicians, woolly socks, and most of Scotland. She is willing to acknowledge that they might, theoretically, exist, but she prefers to pretend they don’t.
Right now, I’m lurking next to a potted palm, trying to pretend I don’t exist. It’s not just me. All the authoresses are attempting to hide behind the same batch of fronds. You see, in order to persuade Lady B to let us have a Halloween masquerade, we had to… well, we had to let her pick our costumes.
I know. Trust me, I know.
Lady B has decided to relive the fashion triumph of her youth and appear as a Slutty Shepherdess, complete with clocked stockings, red heels, panniers that could knock out a fop at ten paces (and tend to get wedged in even the double doors of the ballroom, which we know from experience, having had to unwedge her at least three times already) and a ribbon-bedecked crook, which appears to be a multi-functional tool. She uses the hooked end to snag interesting parties and the blunt end to thwap them when they cease to be intriguing.
Hook and thwap, hook and thwap. It’s the theme song of the evening.
Sadly, the crook is not Lady B’s only accessory. Do you know what else every shepherdess needs?
Yes, that’s right. Sheep.
Kate, naturally, has the most lustrous fleece. Sarah has gone all urban on us and is wearing a black fleece. It’s very stylish. For a sheep.
We all have the same adorable furry ears and tails. And when I say adorable, I mean “Calgon, take me away!”
Lady B tried to put Albert into a sheep costume, too, but he was too fast for her. He’s currently roosting on one of the chandeliers, pelting the assemblage with marzipan in the shape of candy corn.
Lord B has, as usual, decamped to the card room, taking with him the assorted Ballroom spouses, which is a relief, since the sheep jokes were getting old. Fast.
“Monty, my boy!” Lady B calls out, bowling over Tessa and Miranda with her panniers as she swings towards the entrance, where a six foot tall parrot is posing debonairly for the society portrait painter who is hastily sketching the Who’s Who of the event that will appear in Tuesday’s gossip column, fondly known as Page 1806.
Gaelen tugs on Lady B’s crook. “Lady B, I don’t think that’s Monty.” She points towards a knight complete with visor, riding a horse with wooden wheels. “Isn’t that Monty?”
“No, no,” says Katharine with authority. She shakes a hoof in the direction of a rather well-muscled Poseidon, with a trident at least as long as Lady B’s crook, wearing a mask composed of stylized waves and—wait, are those live goldfish?
Sabrina swipes the wool out of her eyes. “But I thought that was Monty….”
“Um, isn’t that a statue?” says Sarah, just as the statue detaches itself from its plinth and strolls towards the refreshment tables. For a statue, it’s surprisingly mobile. Also, rather nude. “Or not.”
Dodging Lady B’s crook, we form a furry huddle and agree: we’re stumped. Unless…. No. Monty wouldn’t come disguised as Lady B. That would be too weird.
Or would it?
Help us find the real Monty! What do you think Lady B’s heir would wear?