By my fourth story on this writing adventure, I decided it was time to break the sad trend of the previous two and write something funny again. With the prompt, “an intermission, a chateau, mistaken identity,” I wound up with a P.G. Wodehouse-inspired story of a conwoman, with a lot of absurdity and a touch of romance, with a happier ending than Story #3!
Here’s the opening scene of the story.
It all began during a production of Gounod’s Faust. A quite bad production, or so the gentleman with the pince nez told me. I happen to be tone deaf.
“Egad, but this is shockingly bad, isn’t it?” he said to me on the interval, as we milled about in the grand entry hall, chandeliers glimmering overhead and the crowd glittering around us.
“Oh yes, shocking,” I agreed, sipping my champagne and studying this new conversation partner. He was at least forty years my senior, hair gray, evening coat gray, eyes gray, skin with the grayish pallor of a man who has never worked outside in all his life. He was the most elegant, most obviously rich person I had ever seen, and I was surprised that he was speaking to me.
“That Marguerite couldn’t carry a tune if her life depended on it, and Faust looked no more like a man capable of demonic involvement than a choir boy,” he derided in a stentorian voice.
“I don’t imagine you’ve met many choir boys,” I murmured.
He stared at me through his pince nez for a moment, then erupted in a roar of laughter heard around the room. “I have always loved your sense of humor!” he informed me, then clapped one hand to his forehead. “By jove, I nearly forgot!” He reached into his jacket pocket and drew out a folded square of paper. “Here is your invitation to my château, for my Friday to Monday shooting party. You mustn’t disappoint me.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” I said smoothly, accepting the paper.
“Capital, simply capital!” he said, just as the bell sounded for five minutes to curtain. “Ah, back to the wars.” He turned towards the entrance to the theater. “I look forward to seeing you again, Cousin Mabel,” he tossed over his shoulder, and disappeared into the crowd.
I wondered who Cousin Mabel was.