A Silver Lining in Paris
By Sally Madison
The butler knocked gently at Elizabeth’s door. “Entre” she called out.
“There is a gentleman to see you, Mademoiselle,” he announced, as he averted his eyes from her, lying in bed, surrounded by pillows. He lowered the silver tray, so she could reach the calling card.
‘Lord Duncan? Why would he be calling at this hour? He should be sleeping, like everyone else who went to the masquerade ball last night. Oh, but he would have news of the events of the evening.’ She thought.
“Hand me my blue dressing gown, take my tray, send for my maid, help me up, hand me the cane.” The butler took two steps towards the wardrobe, stopped, took two steps towards the breakfast tray, stopped, and took two steps toward the door, then two steps toward her ladyship. Elizabeth giggled, as she watched his confusion. Embarrassed, the butler looked at her for direction. He smiled when he saw that she was smiling again, even if it was at his expense.
Elizabeth began again, “First, hand me my gown.” He brought it to her. “Now, please, help me to my dressing table.” He did as he was requested. “Now, please take the tray, send for my maid and show Lord Duncan to the upstairs drawing room.” The butler replied, “As you wish, mademoiselle,” as he bowed and retreated to the door.
“Lord Duncan, how good of you to visit this morning. I would have expected you to be resting after the ball,” Elizabeth greeted him.
“Mademoiselle, allow me to be frank with you. When I saw that you were not at the ball, I was concerned. Only illness or injury would prevent your attendance. Since I see you are in good spirits, I presume it was neither.”
“Oh, contraire, I am embarrassed to admit that you were right, it was injury that prevented my attendance. I shall be confined, recovering for some time. Tell me the news of the ball.” They chatted for awhile, before she finally came to her point. “Did Pierre introduce his fiancé?”
“He did,” Lord Duncan replied. She quickly averted her eyes. “My dear mademoiselle, did you have intentions?”
“You read me so quickly,” she admitted.
With great conviction, he bellowed, “Pierre is a cad! not worthy of you!” Surprised, she looked inquisitively at him. “Forgive me, I spoke rashly. Please, allow me to make it up to you. Since you are confined, perhaps I could come to visit, perhaps read to you?” he inquired hopefully.
“Yes, that would be pleasant,” she confessed.
Very excited, he began to take his leave, before she changed her mind. “Then I will see you on the morrow,” he said, as he backed away. “Drama, comedy, or Poetry?” he asked.
“Poetry”, was her response.
“Vigil or Shakespeare?”
While escorting the gentleman out of the room, the butler noticed the sweet smile on her ladyship’s face. He, also, recognized that same smile on the gentleman’s face, which made him smile, also.