Six weeks prior to this date I was harassed by an unruly messenger who made it his mission in life to create the most awkward of situations betweens us, all the while promoting his master's intentions to meet with me. I'm sure it will come of no surprise to hear that I acted somewhat discourteously despite my intrigue, and my responses held thinly veiled threats. But the day came when I was unceremoniously summoned to meet the author of the indigestible letters and this is where my courage has faltered somewhat and I have been wrestling with what to write ever since.
The evening darkened as the October sun dipped behind the castle and still I was pacing the floor of my humble abode. I had heard nothing to confirm the appearance of the messenger who had been a thorn in my side for the last month, but I would not and could not believe it had all been a hoax. It was at this moment, as I raised my voice to summon Jeeves to remove me from my tower of humiliation that I heard an overzealous fanfare in the distance.
Before I even had the time to argue, a retinue of handmaids and footmen bundled into my chambers and collected various hats, dresses, gloves and shoes. Quite taken aback, and looking earnestly for the familiar face of the messenger, I gave permission for the strangers to take me as their hostage, nay, guest, as was expected. I never had the chance to put up a fight, though I did request for the company of Jeeves in my carriage.
We pulled up to this gorgeous palace in what felt like no time at all, and I was quickly bustled into my own private chambers. My clothes were already hanging in various closets, waiting expectantly, each vying for my attention, and at last I was alone. There was a single letter folded on the chair in the room, the seal easily recognisable as my 'most courteous servant's'. Despite the adrenaline coursing through my body I remained calm, sliding a fingernail underneath the blood red wax and read what I hoped would be an explanation.
I had no idea how to respond and fortunately I had little time to dwell on the letter as a handmaid soon returned, and with a a little bob of a curtsey she helped choose me a dress of green muslin and pink lace; an acknowledgement to the summer just gone.
Even through the corridors that I had to traipse to make my way to the ballroom I could hear the agreeable laughter of firm friends. I was nervous; for once I would be the outsider, and completely caught off guard. My steps slowed the louder the raucous ballroom became, and I knew I could outrun the slight handmaid if I needed to. Jeeves was no where to be found, but I was duly informed he was waiting for me in the ballroom.
Though I hate to admit it, I was relieved when I saw the messenger lurking in the corridor ahead of me. I would recognise him anywhere after the few incidents that we'd shared. I wished I had asked him more questions about his master, or indeed given myself more preparation time before throwing myself head first into this social gathering. The messenger turned to leave through another door, but gave me a reassuring wink as he left me once again to my own devices.
The handmaid had slowed to a halt, explaining that she was unable to enter the ballroom with me, but through the door I would arrive at the top of some stairs and a herald would announce my arrival. I felt like one of those princesses I had read about as a child, but rather than excited to meet prince charming, I was nervous.
As the doors opened and I heard my name read out to the throngs of people below, I scanned the room for Jeeves and the messenger, the only two people I had as allies in the roomful of strangers. I wondered who it was I was supposed to meet and hoped he would not leave me to flounder for too long. Step by step I lowered myself to the spider's nest, and noted the beautiful drapes and delightful chandeliers that lit up the room.
I blame my inability to guess what would happen next on the intoxication of my surroundings. I'm sure by now it might be possible for you to imagine who it was who had personally been sending me the letters, but I was enraptured with the situation and completely put at ease by my Bohemian courtiers. I had enjoyed several dances with both ladies and gentlemen, and laughed gallantly at our miscommunication due to the difficulty in language, but when I felt a calloused hand on my shoulder, I too sensed that the answer to my impending question was near.
The messenger's blue eyes met mine with a grin, and he bowed sarcastically as my mouth formed an astonished 'O'. We danced without uttering a single word, neither of us wanting to admit the emotions hidden beneath our conventional façades.