Amidst the backdrop of Napoleonic War raging across Europe, soldiers seek distraction from the horrors of the battle field. Major Grant is an officer of the British Army serving under Wellington in France. An officer, a gentleman and a connoisseur of female bottoms, Major Grant finds himself unusually captivated by a mysterious woman…..
Although the temperature outside was enough to lay a white carpet of ice across the lawns, and give the many stone statues an effect of silver inlay, the room was as hot as a ship’s cannon. And so it should have been that way with over 200 hundred guests seated and dressed for dinner in full military regalia and gowns of finest silk. The great expanse of the fire place was now full of flame with large logs that spat with venom to rid them of the ice that had formed on them before being brought inside. Hundreds of candles danced and cast puddles of light across the tables, and those that hung from the walls illuminated the house’s many portraits of military lineage.
The Lord General Grantham, our host, sat between his daughter and long life companion, Dr.Teak; A man, who if one were to look upon for the first time, would appear to have a raven for a father. The doctor had hair black as polished boots and a nose that was of such large proportions that he struggled when drinking from wine glasses. To attempt such a task would only to have caused amusement from those unaccustomed to his bird like appearance. My Lord’s daughter was a large girl with a good nature, popular with gentleman, however, she was rumoured to be more attracted to the horses in her father’s stable and on occasion, a willing stable boy.
The tables had been laid in a corral with each of the side legs 8 fathoms long with seating either side. The top table, from where I found myself that very evening afforded a good view of the evening’s proceedings. Our host had welcomed one and all to his house prior to grace being delivered and read aloud a letter that he had received that very morning from the Royal Palace.
“His Majesty King George III would like to thank The Lord General Grantham for his kind wishes on the occasion of his Coronation. My fond regards are extended to the guests and staff of Lord Grantham’s estate this evening. It is signed simply “George R.” My Lord Grantham remarked as though he were a close aquaintance of the new king.
Although this had been read aloud some 20 minutes before the hour, and received by rapturous applause, the large clock had struck nine and still many conversations hummed of the newly crowned King’s letter. It was at this moment I noticed her, seated beneath the clock that had only just struck. She was thin of face and her hair was dark. It had been fashioned into long curls that hung on bare shoulders that her blue dress revealed. The bones around her collar were clear to see and her neck looked longer than it should be. She looked tall judging by her height next to her immediate table companions, this giving her a rather stiff yet elegant appearance. I realised that I had been caught out, for I had been watching so intently at this living statue that the person to my left had enquired as to my welfare. Having made my apologies for being a disagreeable dining partner I engaged in conversation that took me through the entire meal and only stopped when a speech was to be made. It was during that very delivery I caught her eye. A candelabra had been moved to make way for the passage of the port decanter and I now had a clear line of sight, as did she. She had been laughing politely at a colourful encounter within our host’s speech. My heart stopped when she laughed although I could not hear her. She looked directly at me, I nodded, only slightly as not to draw attention from other eyes and smiled. In return she smiled too, which I must confess that I felt that the grand fire had been recharged and the main lamps in the hall re-lit for the briefest instance. She was, without question, beautiful.
I waited, almost unable to contain myself, knowing that the ladies would be excused at any moment to the drawing room. When the time came, my Lord stood and held his daughter’s chair and in unison all gentlemen stood, and I held my breath. As she arose, the entire world slowed down. She did not stand, rather she slowly elevated upwards in a smooth movement similar to an actor appearing from beneath the middle of a stage. The folds of blue material slipped back into position like water falling from jug, and there she stood. The shape of her body could not be disguised, she was as predicted, taller than the majority of ladies present yet she had a child like frame. As the women turned to leave the room, she looked once more in my direction, raised her fingers to touch her neck and slowly drew them down her skin. She was teasing me, and at that moment all I wanted was to see her strapped naked to a four poster bed. The need was all consuming. As the ladies left the room I watched her for as long as I dared without turning my head.
Still very distracted, now was the time I must enjoy my smoke, drink brandy and partake in tales of the battlefield, that although I had heard many times before, were warm to the ear and heart alike. My mind was in place that I could share with no one, least of all my dining partners. My desire to stand so close to her that I might feel the warmth of her skin or the smell of her perfume was all consuming. I had to know more about her as I knew she offered more than just beauty. This was a clever lady I assumed who I thought knew how to get what she wanted. She was dangerously exciting, for that I was sure. I was unlikely to discover this lady’s identity, as to ask after her would bring instant suspicion on both parties. My observant friend, sitting to my right playing with his glass of port, would be sure to read into even a discrete enquiry. However, he may be of use. As a parlour trick I challenged my nearest companions in a test of memory. I asked them to recall the names of those ladies sitting on the far leg of the great table that were now absent. “We will write them down, compare and declare the winner a gentlemen just for sport,” I said. My observant friend accepted the idea with great enthusiasm, and paper, ink and quill were called for. To my dismay, many others joined the game and soon all about us paper and opinions changed hands; even my Lord Grantham asked to join and was appointed judge and jury. After more than 30 minutes of anticipation, Dr.Teak was declared the winner by a long chalk and enquired as to a change of prize, as being a gentleman already he did not feel being remarked upon as twice a gentleman would be correct. My Lord declared that Dr.Teak should be given a single cigar, as it was true, he was a gentleman and a Doctor. By such a profession it was declared, (in good humour) he had most likely delivered the majority of the young ladies present that very evening and may inadvertently, have had an advantage. The good Doctor took this very well and three cheers were called for in his honour. As we stood to leave I took the opportunity to scan the papers with the highest scores. There before me, on 4 separate returns was the name of the woman who had taken my breath away, the woman who had sparked heat in my loins as if they were on fire, and the woman that that I would pursue until I discovered what it would be like to have her bend before me. Her name was Eleanor Black.