Monday, July 01, 2013
Bath Follies, Episode One
It was a remarkably fine day for our heroine, Lady Angela Rosecroft, to stroll about the park for her daily morning constitutional. There was a religion of determination etched on her forehead as if she had commanded herself to enjoy the purity of air with a breeze so gentle it would feign caress the colour of red onto her cheeks; with a sun so bright as to crown a halo above the Beautiful bonnet she wore; that is to say, until her bonnet was crooked sideways by a gust of wind which occurred with such suddenness that even the fair Lady Angela herself was quite knocked about! And in our heroine's desperate attempts to keep the Horrible bonnet from flying across the verdant greenery, she was interrupted by a Lord Byron Devilyn galloping through the most Beauteous park in Bath, on a horse so uncommonly Grand, that Lady Angela's mouth—in a most unladylike set of manners—dropped precipitously, and, some would say— particularly the ladies of her social set—with a shocking degree of indelicacy, no matter how perfectly straight, or how perfectly commodious her teeth shone!
What folly then, that it was a horse of the blackest nights, who would dare put poor Lady Angela on the road to ruination if by chance the societal harpies of the day been present to gaze with Horrified eyes at our heroine's Disastrous outing; and! no less so for being helped into this unfortunate incident by a horse with a mane so perfectly styled as would be the envy of all raven-haired Beauties in Bath; with a broad chest, and a back so perfectly proportioned the rider could not fail to keep his seat; and with legs so elegantly long the smoothness of his gallop was as soothing to watch as a veil of cirrus cloud gliding toward the moon!
It was love at first sight for our dainty Lady Angela; but only dainty in a sense, due to the young woman having a resolve so stubborn as to put her quite at odds on a regular basis with her Aunt and Uncle, leading the aforementioned Lady Angela to take many strolls of which the purpose was most often to clear her head—of such was the extreme passion she indelicately displayed when vexed or crossed. 'No' was a singularly obstructive word to which our dear heroine did herself not like to hear, nor did she use, unless of urgent necessity, and only when her patience was attacked by the strictest of provocations—such as one might find under the arbor of love, in the which the party of the first part says yes, and the party of the second part says no—would it be known that patience was not one of our heroine's greatest virtues! If Lady Angela were to describe herself in one word, it would be loving; where love is freely expressed, and politely extended, not expected, nor demanded. In this, she was absolutely, resolvedly firm. If, dear reader, you are wont to wonder why no man, be he single or married, has yet to test this iron of will, then you must rightly understand how remarkable it is, how shining a testament it is, that Lady Angela's degree of willingness to remain unattached at the ripe old age of 21, despite the unseemly risk of being caught dead to rights as a bluestocking, is deliriously impressive!
Whilst Lady Angela desperately, and with the most intense deliberation held on to her Horrible bonnet, an importunate happenstance occurred; a tree limb of some significance fell across her path whilst her admiring gaze was yet wholly afixed on the Grand horse. With nothing to sustain her, and with both hands still holding onto the Horrible bonnet, Lady Angela was sent sprawling to the ground—in a most decidedly unfeminine contortion, such as might be seen in a circus, or some other form of low brow entertainment —with the Infamous bonnet flying right out of her hand! And the dear Lady of whom I now write, could only watch with sorely distressed eyes as the misbehaving objet' d'fashion hopped, skipped, and flew with such direction and purpose as if to convince the surprised Lady Angela that it was truly possessed by some mischievous sprite with so devious a nature as to cause even the most patient of women a moment of extreme vexation!
It was entirely (un)fortunate, that the Black Beauty upon whose fine looks Lady Angela was most taken with, should appear abruptly in front of her, about twenty paces away, at almost the exact same time as the Infamous bonnet flew down the road, though the Grand horse was being ridden with such elegance of carriage, such condescension of form, that Lady Angela's attention was momentarily diverted from the plight of her Infamous bonnet, to the splendid dress of the young Lord who rode him. Dazzled she was, to the point where, pray yet once again, our brave heroine's mouth did drop most indelicately, whereupon, at the sight of such an intriguing and rare feminine occurrence, the young Lord did rein in his horse, the timing of which, however, was most decidedly unfortunate for the survival of Lady Angela's Infamous bonnet. "Sir, if you please, be good enough to move your Grand horse," requested our heroine rather imperiously. "My bonnet lies under its hoof."
With eyes that shone with calculated wanderings, that is to say, with eyes that roved over our heroine's most shapely, even damsel-in-distress deshabille figger — in particular where the hem of her fanciful muslin gown had lifted to such a degree, and in such a shocking manner as to reveal white silk stockings up to the knee —our Lord Devilyn's satin black eyebrows rose with exceeding amusement, after which did his thinly fine lips draw back in reply, revealing perfectly square teeth in a perfectly formed jaw. A snort preceded the reply. "My dear young lady, a bonnet which settles itself under the hoof of Lucifer, is a bonnet not worth saving." One eyebrow fell as he awaited a reply; and a disdainful air of ennui began to seep from the young Lord's countenance. Exactly what his thoughts were could not be determined by a look, but most assuredly can be examined by supposition; that, reading through his incredulous gaze at the young Lady Angela, whose mouth, so lovingly framed with all the degree of earnestness and romantic sincerity of a Keats poem—though to be fair and balanced, a mouth also inclined more to argue than be put to good use in any romantical adventure of the day—now formed a perfectly round O in extreme vexation even at the most handsome presentiment of a man she had not heretofore encountered! Therefore, it would not be outside the common for us to believe that the handsome Lord Devilyn's thoughts now trended toward the indomitable, however insupportable fact that our moon-draggled heroine lacked sorely in the ways of propriety!
Still, Lady Angela kept her wits about her, and waited to reply until she was satisfied that the odious Lord Devilyn had finished his scrutiny of her person; which, if he were a normal man, would he not be most impressed by her lovely countenance and the tumbling of auburn-haired ringlets escaping their netting in a most rebellious way, to the point where even Lady Angela deigned to recognize her follicle shortcomings without the Infamous bonnet to hide their deficiences? For she hastily picked herself off the ground and with both hands, smoothed the ringlets from their perch on her forehead and cheek bones. It was then she deigned to speak again.
"Sir, you are prodigiously ill-mannered! Truly, if you had been any sort of gentleman, you would have immediately upon my request, removed the offending hoof from my bonnet!" Now, it must be mentioned at this time, that our Beauteous heroine could angrily blush as prettily as any female her age; for blushing is, after all, an artful deceit, practiced down through the ages by a type of woman such as our heroine, and to such an extent as to befuddle the most gentlemanly of gentleman in the most normal of circumstances. However, Lord Devilyn was not prey to such artful manipulations, his being of a nature not inclined to pamper even the most superior Beauty of the Season.
He, once again, drew his lips back, and with a twinkle in his eyes, being pleasantly surprised by the independent spirit of Lady Angela, said drolly and with mild rebuke, "Pray, madam, wherever did you get the idea that I was a gentleman? Furthermore, it is not my lot in life to retrieve ruined bonnets for addle-pated females, at least to the extent I would encourage my horse to move in a manner such as to render him lame. And even supposing I were forced to choose between the two, whom would it be? The ruined bonnet, with no more use now than a quagmire under the well-shorn feet of vexatious females, or an Arabian stallion who has fathered many a quality mare, and whose Beauty, I must commend to you, equals, if not exceeds, yours." A strange light then appeared in Lord Devilyn's eyes; a rapacious light that a young Lady of Quality might do well to heed, since it very likely portends a man's intent to seduce her, to dominate her into submission, such as one might tame an Arabian stallion. And should the lady be so mutton-headed as to disregard this light and mistake it for a trifle, she would do well to run away at the first hint of abnormality of feeling, for virtue is best retained when virtue is on the run! But Lady Angela had so singular a nature, that she was not one to back down—being inclined more to argue than to concede, no matter to whom she might be addressing. This recklessness of thought, this lack of purity from the senses, and most certainly, this lack humility in attitude, would cause Lady Angela much distress in the coming weeks!
"Upon my word, sir, you are the most exasperating man—and I say 'man' with an excessive degree of disbelief—such as I have ever encountered. I shall be on my way." Oh! how excessively unfortunate was it that Lady Angela replied to Lord Devilyn with such fierceness of tone, and with such frankness of meaning, that she did most decisively and decidedly impugn the masculinity of his Lordship! To insult in such a way is to invite prodigious trouble, and indeed Lord Devilyn, instead of allowing the indignant woman to pass, immediately jumped off his horse with the aforementioned light still in his eye, and proceeded to approach Lady Angela in a very high-handed, purposeful, and overly-familiar manner, that most, if not all females intent on preserving their virtue would hasten away as fast their dainty feet would carry them, as I have stated before, and will again here, so that I might indelibly impress upon my readers the peculiar nature of Lady Angela, who did indeed, and to her utmost peril, stand her ground—much to her regret—thereby allowing the imposing figger of Lord Devilyn to usurp her path to freedom.
Lord Devilyn's height was of a height that ranged above the normal quality of most males, that is to say, he towered over the Lady Angela who had to coax her neck up quite at length to stare at the man with gross exasperation; an effect she was sure would put him off track, despite the indubitable fact that numerous others of the female persuasion, with the same advanced age and experience as our heroine, would most assuredly have seen Lord Devilyn's approach as any thing but a purity of motive! Nay! it was a most decidedly Villainous move, and I will say again to impress, that even the most level-headed bluestocking would have perceived the threat, as well as that type of excitable female who is inclined to indulge in the reading of the occasional gothic novel! But our Lady Angela had neither sense nor sensibility, and waited far too long to take action; for had she come to some commonsensical observation and taken heed of that nefarious light particular to when our Magnificent villain came within arms length, she would have reacted more wisely, even if it be in the most unfeminine of ways—that is to say, if she would have post-haste turn to flee down the lane with such lightness of foot as to bear much resemblance to a deer—though truth be told, it is a chancy thing to do, for there is always some unlucky Grand Dame of Society, who might herself be strolling down the path our heroine trod, and so innocently unaware of the danger that lie ahead, that once she dusted herself off, she might exclaim, how Unladylike! how Improper! how Unseemly! it is to be on the receiving end of such a Disastrous consequence by a Lady of Quality!—her virtue would not now stand the greatest peril of being compromised. But Lady Angela stood fast, convinced of her own superiority in such matters of the male ego, so that it must have come as the gravest shock to her, when Lord Devilyn pulled her into his arms, and with a high, most unseemly degree of passion, kissed away any protestations our sorely misguided heroine might have had.
And now, let it be simply and humanly noted, that the fair Lady Angela might have been able to pull away from the rather loose hold of Lord Devilyn, except for the most distressing fact that her Beautiful floral muslin gown—afternoon white with petit Fleur-de-Lis embroidered throughout, and somewhat mussed by suspicious green and brown smudges, the colours of which are commonly seen on the ground of a Beautiful park—was rather too lengthy by half, since the hem was mercilessly trampled on, and held down to the utmost by the polished hessian black boots of Lord Devilyn!
So, is it not to be wondered that our heroine did the only thing she could do when the ardent lips of Lord Devilyn abruptly left hers to travel further down her swan-like neck seeking what we know not, though we may suspicion, since it is the very thing that in our faintest of faintest female hearts we fear most obsessively?!
Author note: Ok, well I don't know about you, but I already despise to the max Lady Angela! She deserves what she gets, don't you think? Particularly as it took me days to try to sort through this character and find some reason to continue the episode. Well, since it ended up being so much sporting fun to write, even if a trifle/very difficult, I'm going to continue onward, and really let her have it!
I will say this, I admire the great writing of Jane Austen more than I ever have! She could write me right into writer's block. Oh wait! She almost did.