The butler cleared his throat.
“Begging pardon, Sir Thomas -- at this late hour, the Lady Bertram sends to inform -- there are -- baboons in the ballroom.”
Sir Thomas was somewhat weary of interruptions but duly unperturbed. “Baddeley -- be so kind as to remind Her Ladyship, every ballroom has its share of baboons. There is nothing one can do, when those of inferior breeding are allowed to mingle with the better set. One need but revise the regular invitation list to omit the undesirables next time. Do remind me on the morrow --”
“Begging pardon again, but one does not mean to speak in metaphor. There are actual baboons in the grand ballroom. Flesh and blood, simian. As early as this noon, perfectly inanimate and on display in this household, together with the other fruits of the Nile, as mummified objets d'art. At present, actively consuming the supper buffet spread. And tossing their own excrement at the serving staff.”
Sir Thomas became rather still.
“In addition,” Baddeley informed his master, “I am told there is a crocodile. A decidedly non-metaphorical one. Also initially mummified and hailing from the African Continent. Last seen in the drawing room, gnawing -- apparently something one would rather not venture to guess. But, I am told, the divan is in shambles.”
“What of -- the guests?”
Monster Mayhem, Matrimony, Ancient Curses,
True Love, and Other Dire Delights
by Jane Austen and Vera Nazarian
Read additional excerpts here...
Forthcoming November 10, 2009 from the Curiosities imprint of Norilana Books.