[A masked party is being held for New Year’s Eve]
THE glass forest glittered very prettily, with lights among its branches, and by ten o’clock the upper floor of the Club was crowded with masked dancers. The only member to refuse disguise was the sombre McIntyre, who stood by the radiogram and changed the dance records. The women took the occasion more seriously than the men, who had mostly dressed up under protest and refused to disguise their voices…
“I wanna skate and I’m gonna skate,” said a cowboy to the Venetian lady with whom he danced, “and I’m gonna skate with you, baby.”
“Lasciate ogni speranza” said the lady severely.
“Ah, but I’m coming. Who’s the boyo in the blue coat?”
“How should I know? …Is that Mrs. Fothergill?”
“Sure it is. Didn’t you know she was coming as Nell Gwyn? Will ye stop turning to look at the man!” …
The tune changed to a lively gallop and all couples spun apart for a Paul Jones. The Venetian subsided into the arms of a cardinal. “I see you’ve brought Charles,” she said. “Where did he get those clothes?”
“They’re some Melissa has for a Regency charade she’s getting up. They fit very well, don’t they?”
McIntyre had removed the dance records and turned on the radio. The Westminster bells rang out through the clamour and exclamations as everybody took off their masks. Not much surprise was felt, for most disguises had been thin, but Charles was scrutinised with considerable curiosity and Captain Quinn had a bad moment when he realised that Nell Gwyn was not Mrs. Fothergill.
Ding-dong, ding-dong! went the bells, as husbands and wives drew together and a circle was formed. Charles, abandoned, looked round for Lucy and saw her at the other side of the room between Cobb and Brett. Ding-dong, ding-dong … the bells faded and the voices sank and silence fell upon the Club, as they waited for Big Ben. John took Melissa’s hand. They thought of what the new year would bring to them.
BOOM … BOOM …
A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL CLOTHES IN BOOKS READERS
There’ve been several earlier entries on this book, but I couldn’t resist one last one, to celebrate the New Year. I love any kind of fancy dress/ costume party anyway, and featured one for last New Year too. For other mentions and discussions, click on the labels below.
Sometimes I complain that an author doesn’t make enough of these events, but Margaret Kennedy certainly does, with genuine misapprehensions and tactless remarks. Above, some of the characters mention going skating: this will happen the next day, New Year’s Day, and all the plot strands will tie together nicely with a predictable but charming end. The skating scene is nearly as lovely as the one in Tom’s Midnight Garden, for which we found this excellent picture.
The top picture is a fashion illustration from Paris, from the NY Public Library. For previous New Year's Eve entries click on the label below.