“Quick! We cannot be caught!”
I am standing guard at the door, keeping a watchful eye. Every time a footman passes, I jump. I am not used to keeping things from Lady B. But I suppose it had to happen eventually.
“The bunting, Tessa!” Katharine cries as Tessa tries to wrangle the heavy black and orange draping. “It has to hang just so.”
I will not comment on the look Tessa shoots Katharine.
“How many pumpkins are we supposed to carve?” Sarah asks Sabrina, as she spoons out a slimy handful. “I am not a fan of pumpkin guts.”
“No one is a fan of pumpkin guts,” Lauren sighs, gluing feathers to a plain black mask. “But they do set the scene. Some dripping candles, dominoes and cloaks…”
“Where are we supposed to get candy?” Miranda asks suddenly. “I cannot imagine that they have fun-size Snickers in this time period.”
“Marzipan!” I cry, taking two steps into the room. If there is one thing I know, it’s candy. “Surely we could have the cook make marzipan treats. Possibly in the shape of candy corn,” I muse.
“Kate!” Gael admonishes. “Get back to your post! It is imperative Lady B not find out about this.”
“Because she knows I would not approve,” came Lady B’s imperious voice from behind me.
Oops. Guess I should have kept better watch.
“Troublemakers!” Albert squawks.
“Yes indeed. What are you ladies doing to my ballroom!” Lady B demands, with Albert perched on her shoulder. “Why are there cobwebs everywhere? I ordered this room dusted every day! And skeletons, and… what is that thing? Is it smoking?”
“Er… that’s a cauldron,” Katharine admits sheepishly. “And that’s dry ice, not smoke.”
“I don’t care if it’s dry gin, what is it doing in my ballroom?”
On the balcony, Tessa shrugs at Katharine. Nothing to do now but come clean.
“We want to throw a Halloween Ball,” Katharine states boldly.
“All Hallow’s Eve!” Albert adds judiciously.
“Halloween?” Lady B scoffed. “That pagan pageant celebrated by the Irish and Scots? Heaven’s no, we will not have that foolishness here. We are British. Save your ghoulish decorations and your — dry ice, did you call it? — for Guy Fawkes Day. Plenty of smoke needed then.”
“But we celebrate it,” Tessa counters. “It’s a tradition in America…”
“That land of violent natives and transplanted upstarts who fought against our Sovereign?” Lady B replies, outraged. “Please tell me you do not take your cues from such an uncivilized land.”
“Er…” I try. “Well, there are more civilized parts of it…” Or more civilized times, I think, shaking my head at the continual conundrum of the space-time continuum we find ourselves in thrice weekly.
“Pleaaaaaassseeee, Lady B?” Lauren pipes up. “It will be ever so much fun. We’ll have games, and candy, and everyone will be in costumes, and –”
“Costumes?” Lady B interrupts. “You mean like a fancy dress ball? A masquerade?”
“Uh… yes,” we all murmur and nod.
“Well why on earth did not you simply say so!” she cries, clapping her hands together. “I love a masquerade! Lord B took me to Venice, Italy once, during Carnival. I even dressed up as a masked boy… I wore the most delicious peacock stockings… Lord B adored them.”
Lady B drifts off into memory. We exchange glances. Waiting.
“Er… so we can have the Halloween party?” Sabrina finally asks. “With our ghoulish decorations?”
“Yes, yes,” Lady B waves her hand. “A masquerade! We will invite absolutely everyone! Imagine the costume Monty will come up with!”
“Yes,” Miranda says slyly. “Imagine.”
Well, it seems like we will be having a Masquerade Ball next week for Halloween! What should our costumes be? Even better, what should Monty’s costume be?