Hello, Lady B? Anybody? He – lloooo!!!
No one replies. The ballroom is empty as yet. No surprise. It’s barely dawn, which gives me plenty of time to bring my guests in without trouble.
Some of them are inappropriately large.
No, I’m not bringing in a ship like Kate did once. But I did find inspiration to invite this group of guests from Kate’s most recent Salon about Regency “things” we like. When she asked that question, I pondered… What do I like most among Regency-era “things”?
I like the manners and dancing and big houses in the country and parties and notions of honor and nobility and that gentlemen learned how to fight with swords (even though most of them rarely actually did, except in play) and–
“Miss Ashe, are you talking to yourself again?”
“Oh! Good morning, Lady B. Why are you awake so early?”
“Albert woke me. He claims there is a line of carriages waiting in front of the house already. But it isn’t yet the hour for the ball so I intend to prove him wrong.”
<squawk!> Carriages galore! <squawk!>
“We shall see.” She moves toward the door, resplendent in a dressing gown of brocaded peacock silk over a ruffly linen nightrail. (Really, who would’ve thought Lady B and ruffles?)
“Um, Lady B, it’s possible that Albert is–”
But it’s too late. The first carriage is already barreling through the doors which have magically expanded to allow its breadth. We are met first with the noses of a matched team, two black, muscular creatures, harnesses shining in the new day’s light. Behind them comes the Briska de Voyage, a splendid little French vehicle I saw in the carriage house at Vaux le Vicomte when I visited this summer. Its yellow wheels and panels are perfectly suited to a lady.
“Good heavens, not again.” Lady B rolls her eyes.
“I took a trip to France last summer and visited a fabulous estate. There’s a whole carriage house there filled with vehicles.”
“We are in the middle of a war with France, are we not, Miss Ashe?”
“Not this year. Oh, look, there’s the phaeton. I love phaetons. So sporty.”
“How many carriages do you intend to bring into my ballroom, Miss Ashe?”
“As many as will fit. And look at that one. The Berlin de Ville. Wouldn’t that be a comfy ride for a long journey?”
“I am not fond of long journeys.”
“Which of course is why you usually live in London.”
“Miss Ashe, why have you done this?”
“Oh, because the other day Kate asked what our favorite ‘things’ from this era are and I realized that of all historical items I like vehicles the best–ships, carriages, horses–you know. So I brought some carriages and horses today as an example. Also, I wanted to introduce some edifying, educational material before I post the blatant eye candy.” A Chaises à Mule drives slowly by. “You should get one of those.”
“I already have one.”
“Can I borrow it? I’d love to meander about the streets of London, sending the footmen off to the shops we pass to pick up whatever nifty thing I see in the windows. Quel decadent fun!”
“For the eye candy? But do you think we have enough carriages here yet? I don’t want to disappoint my readers who expect Serious Stuff from me, you know.”
“You needn’t have brought even one.”
“I know. But alas, it’s my way.”
She doesn’t even bother with that one. But it doesn’t matter. For at the door now stands a magnificent white stallion, all muscles and milky white coat and dark eyes, a single powerful hoof pawing the threshold. It lifts its noble head and whinnies to the horses (and mules) clustered about the ballroom as if to say “I am here now and I am quite obviously in charge.”
“Miss Ashe, while I appreciate a fine specimen of equine quality as much as the next person, I question your categorization of that beast as ‘eye candy’.”
“Thirty-five years ago, Lady B, that beast was my eye candy of choice. But now…” I imagine a man atop the white stallion. His hair is golden, his coat sapphire velvet, his breeches stretched over very fine thighs, and his smile disarming.
And then there he is.
Astride the magnificent white horse (named Saladin, if anybody was wondering).
In the center of the ballroom.
He looks a little surprised to have been abruptly called forth from the ether, but he accepts it readily enough. He is confidence and panache to the bone.
“Bedwyr!” Lady B exclaims. “Dismount this very moment or I shan’t allow you entrance into my ballroom ever again.” She adds in an aside to me, “Handsome scoundrel. Remarkably fine legs.”
“Mm.” I agree. So does the young lady in the Briska. She’s peering over at the Earl of Bedwyr with the most wistful longing in her eyes. He turns his gaze upon her and in an instant she adopts a sublimely poised nonchalance. He doffs his hat. She nods regally. Only I know that she’s all sorts of mush inside. He, of course, has no clue. A girl’s got to protect herself, after all.
Lady B catches the direction of my attention. “Is that–”
“Princess Jacqueline of Sensaire.”
“I thought she wasn’t due in my ballroom until Christmastime. Miss Ashe, you’ve done it again.”
“Been impatient to throw a hero and heroine meant for each other together? Yes, I have.” I sigh dreamily. Beside me I hear a similar release of breath. I turn to our hostess, mouth agape. “Lady B, did you just sigh?”
“Well, what of it, gel? I enjoy seeing a rake get his comeuppance as much as the next woman.”
Perhaps it’s because I’m a medievalist and knights are part of my everyday, but I really like to mount my heroes — Regency or otherwise — upon
pedestals worthy steeds. Who is your favorite mounted hero from film or TV? Bonus points for posting an image of him in your comment.
~ ~ ~
Kisses, She Wrote, my Christmas novella starring the rakish Earl of Bedwyr and wallflower Princess of Sensaire, is coming December 3rd. It’s available now for pre-order for 99¢ for Kindle, Nook, iTunes, and Google Play.