The Culture Vultures are the first to arrive. They unload complex sound equipment and begin to arrange it carefully on the stage, with the onslaught of strange noises as they test it and then play the odd rhythmic phrase. The atmosphere tenses as the dancers arrive, flamboyantly garbed, daintily shod, and accompanied by the sweeping gestures that enhance their gorgeously masked personas.
The music begins and the dancing generates a distant style of intimacy, limited largely to the steps of the dance and the humour escaping from behind those masks. Mr. Smooth Red Satin bows low before a beauty whose heart he hopes to win, and Miss White Crinoline smiles coyly from behind her lemon stole before accepting this partnership. He wonders if she will enhance his business life with her engaging manner, while she hopes he will be a wonderful father to the many children she has planned. He waits to see if her face is as pretty as her waist, and she waits for the kind words that emanate from a generous spirit. Oh, here comes Mr. Green Frills, tapping Mr. Smooth Red Satin on the shoulder. He gives way reluctantly, planning another dance later. Mr. Green Frills sweeps Miss White Crinoline into his strong arms and livens up the pace, making her laugh as they swirl and twirl to the ever strengthening rhythms of the night.
Meanwhile Miss Hot Pink Streamlined fixes her eyes on Mr. Smooth Red Satin, who seems to evade her invitation – was it because Miss Dainty Flapper’s bouncing curls captivated him for the moment? As they dance those flapper feet quite flabberghast him, for he cannot match their lightening pace, and he is happy when the musicians break. Miss Hot Pink sidles up to him at supper and traps him momentarily until he can reasonably excuse himself and go find Miss White Crinoline, who is chatting to Mr. Blue Waistcoat and Tails most amiably. He interjects to invite her onto the verandah for some fresh air, at which suggestion she is delighted. She invites Mr. Blue Waistcoat and Tails to join them also, thus preventing further pressing moments with the ardent Mr. Smooth Red Satin, who cunningly asks whether Mr. Blue Waistcoat and Tails would go and bring them drinks. Mr. Blue Waistcoat and Tails agreeably raises his hand, a waiter appears flourishing his tray, and they are well satisfied.
And so the night passes in masked mystery and intrigue, each knowing they must reveal their faces at the midnight hour. To whom will they prefer to offer that revelation? With whom would they care to be discovered? What fate awaits?
Miss White Crinoline has discovered that Mr. Blue Waistcoat and Tails is no lover of the Culture Vultures, but constantly plays the music of the Glorious Angels, and will take her to hear them. She determines that she will be found with him at the midnight hour, because she loves his music, so she whispers her name to him.
“I am Verity” she says, “for I want to know the Truth.”
“I am Faithful and True,” He replies. My father is the king who gives the ball tonight. I have all the truth you could ever want, and much more besides. If you will love me, it is all yours, and I am yours, and you are mine, for my father and I have chosen you long before tonight.”
“How do you know me?” She was dumbfounded. ”Even now my mask is still in place.”
“I have X-ray vision!” the prince chuckled.
“I cannot help loving you.” Verity, enraptured, is made safe in the arms of her beloved.
Meanwhile, Seduction of the hot pink, streamlined gown, Violence fashioned in smooth red satin, Racy Materialism the flapper, and Academic Cynic of the green frills, along with other guests, argue. If they cannot find love, they will all turn into frogs.
It’s late. The music has become deafening. Violence wacks Racy Materialism, while Academic Cynicism makes a pass at Seduction, and look at that! He’s got Racy Materialism on the other arm! Seduction makes faces at Racy Materialism, while Academic Cynicism kicks ineffectively at Violence.
The clock strikes.
The king chuckles contentedly on his throne.
Oh dear. The place is full of sartorially elegant frogs all making their escape.
Look! Faithful and True and Verity are ever so tenderly removing each other’s masks. Midnight holds no fears for them.
The Glorious Angels take the stage.
The King orders dinner!
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