Change in a Moment of Time

Suck in. Laces pulled tight. A cloud of blue and gold silk falls over short, upstretched arms. All the real, thick, brown hair is hid under a modest three foot tall white wig, complete with bows, curls, and even strings of pearls. White powder, blush, and perfume create a mist around the Duchess de Lancret. There was a ball at the palace tonight!

“Something exciting is going to happen at the party tonight, Aggie. I can feel it in my bones,” she said to the tall, willowy maid.

“You always say that, my lady. And nothing out of the ordinary has happened yet,” Aggie replied.

“But this time I really feel it! I KNOW it! Besides, what about the time when the Marquis de Villeduval had that magic show at one of his parties? I had a feeling then and I was right,” retorted the Duchess.

“True, the magician did die rather suddenly and mysteriously, didn’t he? I’ll give you that one,” Aggie said to the younger woman. “But oh no! You’re late! It’s time for you to be on your way.”

As she alighted from her carriage to the steps of the ballroom entrance, Bishop Zachery the IX stopped her, saying, “Dear Countess de Lancret, I must warn you of something.” He pulled her to the side of the huge intricately carved wooden doors, into the shadows. “We are family and good friends, yes?”

“Oh, but of course, Bishop Zachery. What is it? Please tell me otherwise the suspense will kill me,” the Duchess whispered loudly, while trying not to bounce her little frame up and down with excitement.

Bishop Zachery the IV was a very tall, slim man so he was almost bent in half so he could whisper into the Duchess’s ear. “Napoleon Bonaparte is back! He may be here even tonight,” hissed the Bishop. “But if he does crash this ball, I am prepared for it. I brought seven weapons hidden on my person.” After Bishop Zachery the IX showed the Duchess de Lancret where exactly they all were, he escorted her into the large golden and glowing room bursting with dancing twosomes.

The Duchess had many eligible dancing partners throughout the night, and when there were none to be found, she danced the song away with a female friend. Many of her young and handsome male cousins teased her mercilessly about it though. Duchess de Lancret got her revenge when she caught them partnering with each other for the German waltz.

All of a sudden, there were trumpets trumpeting and drums drumming and the floor started to shake like there was an earthquake. People screamed and shouted, running around like herd of antelope with a lion in their midst.

 Napoleon was here! The preposterous imitator of Alexander the Great! The fascist! The womanizing military general. He was here to get back France after being exiled by the Sixth Coalition on last year!

Bishop Zachery the IX calmly climbed up onto the one of the gambling tables and shouted for everyone to lie down on the floor and be as still as they could be. Everyone stopped and just stood and stared at him with odd looks on their faces.

The Bishop raised his voice once more to the crowd of nobles, “Lay down, all of you! It is for your own safety that I ask this of you. If not for yourself, do it for the sake of France!” he was so passionate in speaking this that even his curly hair was bouncing underneath his cap.

Slowly people sank to the floor and stretched out onto their stomachs. The Duchess happened to be by her cousins and Bishop Zachery the IX, when she heard the hooves of the horses of Napoleon’s men pounding on the street. That started much whispering and murmuring going around.

“Silence! He and his army must not hear us!” shouted the Bishop once more.

“Why must we be silent now? They must have surely heard us with all the music, gossiping, and fireworks going on before they so nicely introduced themselves… Unless their all deaf, which I think not,” snickered one cousin to his neighbor.

Another one stood and pleaded, “Bishop Zachery, we must fight them back. We need to show them who the real might of France is. Let us men and gentlemen ride our armies out and make Napoleon’s puny forces retreat for once and for all!”

“Lay back down. If you want to fight, then use your prayers and guardian angels. Call upon God for our deliverance,” argued Bishop Zachery the IX.

“What can He do? Send a column of fire to scare them away?” the man next to Duchess de Lancret sarcastically muttered.

The very next minute, in swaggered the very man himself. Napoleon Bonaparte.

“How dare he looks like he already rules us once again,” thought the Duchess de Lancret. Many of his officers swaggered in behind him, trying to copy and construct as an intimidating figure as he. Napoleon scanned all the nobility laying on their stomachs and the Pope who was standing on a poker table. He smirked.

“Preaching about the evils of gambling, dear Bishop?” he asked. He strode in between all the shaking and embarrassed French aristocrats when he stopped right of front of the Duchess de Lancret.

“His boots are so shiny I could hang them up in my bedroom and use them as vanity mirrors,” she thought.

“Stand up and name yourself, beautiful lady,” commanded a deep voice.

 

© Georgia Bowser

Georgia Bowser lives in Minnesota, where she studies Creative Writing at Concordia University.