Isabel Allende

Tuesday, March 13, 2012



The band started playing at seven pm sharp, just as guests began to filter into the main foyer. Wesley stood at the drinks table with his cousin, Henley, both with dry martinis in hand. Henley's sister, Margaret, who stood across from Proberta at the entryway to the grand hall, seemed to take a special interest in the older generation, of which there were few, ensuring each was comfortably seated and were served their cocktail. It was a party primarily for the younger set, however, Margaret knew their elders found great pleasure in attending such events, to watch the dancing, eager to see who interacted with whom.
    Proberta hung by the doorway greeting each and every one of their guests with her flirty charm. She lingered unabashedly around the few bachelors who had been invited, annoying all the single women who had hoped for free and easy access to these fine, young prospects. Sadly, they knew that once Proberta made her self known to any man, they would have eyes only for her. Proberta, of course, relished in the attention, ignoring the glares and snide remarks from her peers. She seemed to find a particularly handsome gentleman by the name of Dorrington Bromberg, most alluring. He was new to the area, visiting his Aunt from Cornwall. After chatting briefly, Proberta took his arm and led him onto the dance floor. The two cousins looked on with amusement.
    "Well, it appears that the lady you, or I, are to be bequeathed to has engaged the attentions of someone more..."
    "More handsome than us?" Wesley said, and laughed. However, his eyes were glued to the couple twirling around the room.

    Randolph came by with a platter of shrimp set atop a crumpet in a bed of creme fresh and watercress, which they both refused. Then Tilly passed by with a tray of salted wild boar skewers, and they each took two. The party had very quickly taken on a lively tempo, the room bustling with chatter, music, laughter, and the sound of feet upon floorboards. Proberta was enthralled with Dorrington, giggling and batting her big, brown eyes at him, when Wesley ventured onto the dance floor and cut in. Henley laughed out loud as Wesley and the handsome stranger shook hands and began talking right in the middle of the whirl of people, much to the the chagrin of Proberta. Finally they bowed politely to one another, and Wesley took Proberta in his arms and joined the others spinning around and around in wide circular movements, while glancing over his shoulder at a smiling Dorrington, who didn't seem the least perturbed at having his beautiful partner swept out from under him.
    "She's quite the belle of the ball, wouldn't you say..." Dorrington started, but was interrupted.
    "Henley's the name, Henley Hornbrook. And you are?"
    "Dorrington Bromberg at your service." he extended his hand. "Very nice to make your acquaintance, Henley. Lovely place you have here. Aunt Jean has spoken so highly of your family, it is my absolute pleasure to finally be here to see what all the fuss is about."
    "Ah, I see, Madam Jean Fitzsimmons is your aunt. Very good, mate. Welcome to the Hornbrook estate." The two shook hands heartily.
    "I see you are quite taken with our local beauty, Miss Proberta Gerber." Henley said, noticing that Dorrington could not take his eyes off of Proberta and Wesley.
    "Well, yes, she is charming to be sure," he replied, and took a flute of champaign from a passing tray. "And I am well aware she is to be your wife, Henley. You needn't worry about me." he tossed back his bubbly. "Although she is rather forward." Henley smiled.
    "Yes, that's our Proberta. By the way," Henley paused. "It's not public knowledge yet, but I'm not to marry Proberta after all." Dorrington looked surprised. "We would have never worked out," Henley continued. "We both know that. I hate to be the one to break family tradition, but I won't marry for any other reason but love."
    "Well aren't you the romantic?" Dorrington held up his glass in toast. "I salute you." The two men drank while the din continued to swirl around them.
    "So tell me, have you found it?" Dorrington asked.
    "Found what?" Henley looked confused.
    Henley grinned and looked away.
    "I'll take that as a yes," Dorrington grinned. "But don't worry, I won't delve any further, at least not now." He said, and winked. "So what about your friend over there, where do his love interests lie?" Dorrington glanced over at the charming couple twirling around the dance floor.
    "Who, cousin Wesley? I'm not entirely sure, actually." Henley stared out at them, considering their situation. "He seems slightly interested in her, but since they began their fling, she seems to have cooled off, hence reverting to her usual flirty behavior. So, it's anyone's guess."
    "I see," Dorrington replied.
    "I'd say the door's wide open if you're interested, mate." Henley polished off his drink. Dorrington kept his gaze riveted to the dance floor.
    Soon Wesley guided Proberta away from the throngs and over to where Henley and Dorrington stood.
    "I'm parched," Proberta cried, fanning herself.
    "Allow me, madam," Dorrington offered, snatching a flute of champagne off another passing tray. Both Wesley and Henley shared a wry smile.
    "Wesley had me spinning about so, I didn't know which way was up anymore." Proberta sighed loudly, taking a sip and spilling some of the bubbly drink down her chin. Blood rushed to her cheeks in a moment of embarrassment, but Dorrington was quick to come to her rescue. He reached up and patted her face with his napkin, then placed the cloth in her hand. Her cheeks flushed hotter. Dorrington caught Wesley watching, and the two exchanged glances.
    The four young people chatted breezily for a while, exchanging stories about hunting, riding, and poetry. Dorrington told them a little about Cornwall, and his parents. His father, Sir William Bromwell, was fourth generation royalty, coming from a long bloodline of Earls and Dukes, so it came as no surprise to them that he was well versed in Shakespeare, poetry, and the strict rules of the hunt. Meanwhile, Edith had come down from her room, dressed lavishly in a finely beaded chemise, wearing a plumed hat perched on the side of her curled up do. Although she wandered around the room politely greeting all of her guests, she had her eyes set on the particular group of young people gathered around her son talking, and was growing more and more displeased with what she saw. Finally she made her way over to where they stood.
    "Oh, Mother, let me introduce our new friend, Dorrington Bromwell. He's come all the way from Cornwall just for our party. Wasn't that kind of him?" Henley winked at Dorrington, who stepped forward with an extended hand. With a visible scowl, Edith accepted his warm greeting.
    "How delightful to meet the woman of such a fine house," Dorrington said. "My aunt has told me so much about you, Madam Hornbrook. You certainly have a reputation not to be exceeded in this community," Edith looked alarmed. "Truly, Madam, I say that with the utmost kindness and sincerity." Edith's shoulders relaxed at this.
    "Well, you young people certainly seem to have hit it off. That's just lovely." She turned to Proberta. "I hate to intrude, dear, but why don't you and Henley come say hello to Mr. and Mrs. Crofton. They've been asking about you both. And Wesley, I'm sure they would be delighted to see you too." She turned to Dorrington. "You won't mind if I steal them for a while, will you?"     As usual, Edith behaved smugly, as if she'd won a contest. Proberta rolled her eyes and followed an equally annoyed Henley toward the drawing room.  
    "Very nice to have met you, Mr. Bromwell. Perhaps we'll meet again sometime. Oh, and do give my best to your aunt, will you?"
    "I will indeed, Madam." Dorrington bowed politely.
    Wesley begrudgingly followed the others, but shrugged to their new friend as if to say, sorry, mate. Dorrington watched them go, but it wasn't Proberta his eyes followed. Just before the group was about to disappear around the corner of the main hall and head into the drawing room, Wesley turned around one more time, and as hoped, the handsome Dorrington was looking back at him, smiling. Their eyes locked, in what one might consider a warm embrace.

...Stay tuned...Chapter Eleven will be posted next Tuesday, March 20th...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, the plot thickens!! So many possibilities...

Dorrington Bromwell from Cornwall - must be a limerick in there somewhere! Can't wait to read more!




Thank you, GB, King of collaboration!


click on the tab GUEST #33 at the top of the page to read the full episode.