Screams … shrieks … Lady B’s shrill cries of horror echo from the Ballroom.
This is terrible! They’ve got her!
Heaven help me, this is all my fault. That diabolical pair decided to strike while everyone else was away in Anaheim.
Shhh! Don’t let them hear you!
Admittedly I am not proud of myself at the moment, cowering behind this curtain instead of going to our dear Patroness’s aid.
A bead of sweat rolls down my cheek as I flatten myself back against the wall. Don’t make a sound. Don’t move a muscle, Ballroom friends. You mustn’t let them notice we are here.
What’s that? Me go and save her? Are you daft? I’m not going out there.
My kenpo skills are not that good. Where’s an Inferno Club gentleman spy when you need one? Or even a Knight brother?
Not a one in sight. Totally different genre, my arse. You’d think they’d have some gratitude–but never mind that. Maybe Lord B will come home soon and save his good lady wife. Or even that feckless Monte?
You: Gaelen, DO SOMETHING! They are torturing poor Lady B!
Me: Shh, I tell you! Get back here! What do you think you’re doing? (Grabbing you by the arm and pulling you safely back behind the curtain.) Don’t even think about going out there!
You: This is disgraceful. We are being cowards.
Me: No, we are merely being intelligent. Believe me, I love Lady B. as much as you do. But in this instance, prudence is the better part of valor.
You: How bad can these villains of your really be? Come on, they’re from a children’s novel. I think we can take them!
Me: Well, don’t blame me if you go out there and get turned into a sea anenome. I know what those are capable of – you don’t.
You: Who are they?
The tall, well-dressed gentleman with hair like a crusted helmet of Macassar oil and a look in his eyes as though some mad waltz is forever playing in his head, that’s Waldrick Everton, young Jake’s treacherous uncle.You know how dangerous Evil Uncles in Victorian stories can be.
Worse by far is the lady he’s got with him. That raven-haired beauty in the scarlet gown, well, don’t be fooled by her appearance. She’d like the world to think she’s a diva of the Royal Opera House, but in reality, that’s just her disguise, wrought by a powerful magic—and temporary.
If you could see her in her true form… :::shudder:::: Let’s hope you never have to. For that, my friend, is Fionnula Coralbroom, the sea-witch… A fugitive from justice! Banished to live on the land for trying to overthrow King Oceanus and the mermaid royal family. Beware. She may be a fish out of water, but she is still deadly. Those who cross the sea-witch rarely live to tell the tale.
In fact, they usually end up getting turned into unpleasant things… like sea anemones. Or newts.
What she may do to our dear Lady B, I can hardly fathom.
A dread peek past the curtain into the Ballroom reveals the alarming sight of Lady B. magically levitating several feet over the Ballroom floor, whimpering in fright and wearing a most unfortunate outfit…
Fionnula is holding her in midair by the magic of her wand while Waldrick plays the bully, an all-too-comfortable role for him, I’m afraid.
Waldrick: WHERE IS HE? The boy? We know you’ve seen him. We have it on good information the brat invaded your Ballroom weeks ago! Now, tell us what you know, or trust me, things will get much worse for you, my dear.
Fionnula: This one thinks she’s clever.
Lady B: No, please, no more! I can’t bear it!
Fionnula: Take that! …
With a wave of her petrified starfish wand, Fionnula causes another instant, magical change in Lady B’s apparel. Our poor hostess looks down at herself and shrieks. For once more she finds herself dressed in yet another of the ugliest costumes from Miranda Neville’s Regency Project Runway. This time, the hideous yellow one. It’s a dreadful sight.
Fionnula laughs heartily while poor Lady B squirms in despair, as if the sheer ugliness of those dresses is a torment in itself against her elegant skin.
“No, no, no! Make it stop! It’s too horrible!”
<Squawk! I’ll save you milady! Squawk—ack!>
Lady B: “No, Albert, stay back!”
As the valiant parrot flaps across The Ballroom cawing madly to try to alert the servants of the grave sartorial danger Her Ladyship is in (to no avail, sadly, for the servants have all been transmogrified into silverware–a temporary condition, we hope) Fionnula turns and waves her wand at the angry bird.
Albert swoops and dodges left and right to escape the zigzagging flashes of lightning that fly from the sea-witch’s wand. But then, disaster!
Our noble parrot is suddenly enveloped in a blue bubble of strange magical energy, which paralyzes him in mid-flight. He floats in the blue bubble, unable to flap or fly or move or anything.
<What the Squawk?>
Lady B (enraged now): You monster! Do what you must to me! But for the love of heaven, have pity on my parrot!
Waldrick: Oh, be still, you yammering hen. The parrot’s just fine. Tell us what you know and we will let you both go.
<Um, squawk?> Albert’s bubble is now floating gently along the ceiling. He’s worried.
Lady B: I am the daughter of a Duke, sir, and I shall tell you nothing.
Waldrick crunches into a fresh cucumber sandwich to which he has helped himself from the sideboard. Then he elegantly dabs his fingers on his monogrammed handkerchief.
Waldrick: Fionnula, my dear, we are obviously wasting our time with this silly woman. I am beginning to think Lady Beaufeatheringstone truly knows nothing. It must have been one of those dashed authoresses who let my nephew in here that day. We’ll have to hunt them down, one by one, and see if we can’t make them talk I daresay Lady B. has too fine a sense of propriety ever to have knowingly admitted such a grubby little guest.
Waldrick: Besides, I’ve grown bored of this game. Pardon, madam, you must known it pains me to inconvenience another member of the Quality like myself. Fionnula, let us be on our way. I am bored of this game. And you are almost overdue for the next dose of your, er, medicine.
Fionnula: Yes. Very well. But I’m leaving her up there so her horrid author friends will find her like this. Let it be a warning to them, that we will not be trifled with!
Waldrick (wearily – for he says this a lot): Yes, dear.
As they head for the door, we flatten ourselves once more behind the curtains in dread of being seen. At any moment, they’ll be gone. Then we can rescue Lady B and Albert and without getting turned into newts.
Halfway to the door, Fionnula stops abruptly. “Oh, no.”
Waldrick: What’s wrong?
She looks at him in alarm.
Fionnula: It’s happening!
Waldrick: Not here?!
Fionnula, nodding with a panicked look: We’re too late! I didn’t time it well. Quickly, Waldrick! I need another one of those magic feathers!
Waldrick: But I didn’t bring any!
Fionnula: DIDN’T BRING ANY?
Waldrick: Please don’t do this to me in public. Can’t you make it stop?
Fionnula: No! Do this to YOU? I’m the one the mermaids cursed, you thankless worm! Oh, noooo!!!
She falls to the ground writhing in pain. Her slender form suddenly bulges; satin rips as her walrus-like bulk splits her gown. Her raven tresses go wild and gray; her milky skin turns greenish and warty.
Waldrick: Keep your voice down! I don’t want any of my Society friends to see the Earl of Griffon’s mistress looking like this! By Jove, I’ll never be able to show my face at White’s again!
Fionnula: This is your fault, you idiot! How could you leave the house without them when you know that I need– Ahhhh!
Her browbeating of him turns to a shout of pain as eight squiggling tentacles flop about where her feet used to be.
Behind the curtain, you and I glance at each other in wide-eyed alarm and no small measure of disgust. There is no sign left of the diva’s beauty; she is now pure sea-hag and in no mood for argument.
Fionnula: Get out of my way. I need to reach the river.
Waldrick quickly gets the door for her: Be my guest!
Dragging herself by her arms, Fionnula crawls / wriggles with surprising speed across the slick Ballroom floor. She passed out through the French doors, which Waldrick holds open, onto the terrace, and pulls herself thusly out through the garden, flopping into the Thames with a splash. She disappears under the water and quickly swims away.
(Oh, I don’t think Lady B’s house is actually on the Thames, come to think of it, but then again, this house has many amazing features not usually seen.) In any case.
Waldrick straightens his cravat after she is gone. He glances around to make sure no one saw them, then he rushes out of Beaufetheringstone House without a backward glance.
You and I run to Lady B’s rescue, pulling her back down to the floor. You steady her and help her to a chair while I run to get the library ladder and set it under the chandelier, then climb up and pop the magic blue bubble in which Albert was trapped.
He flaps away to freedom and lands on his miserable mama’s shoulder.
Me: Er, are you all right, Lady B?
Her Ladyship: Of course I’m not all right! I have guests arriving in half an hour and LOOK at what I’m wearing! Oh, lud! The trouble these authoresses get me into. (Huffing) I’ve got to go change.
You: I think she’s going to be all right.
Me: I hope so. In the meantime, you might all enjoy these pictures of our author friends gallivanting in Anaheim.
And while these lovely ladies are not villainesses of any kind, we all have a dark side (mua-ha-ha)…
If you were a famous book, tv, or movie villain or villainness, who would you be and why?
For myself, I think I’d go with the witch played by Bette Midler in Hocus Pocus.
PHOTOS FROM THE BALLROOM MEET-UP AT RWA IN ANAHEIM … Oooh, ahhh, everybody looks so beautiful!!! Lady B. definitely approves. Vouchers for all.