Perhaps the last party.......Tale 86 Perhaps the last party.......Tale 86 First to arrive, as always, were Vanessa and Duncan hotly followed by an eager and panting Henry. Standing out of sight, at the back of the entrance hall, Michelle rolled her eyes and pursed her lips as Marianne, festively crowned, greeted the guests at the front door. From then on, the line never faltered, and Marianne gracious in her negligee, greeted them all. She was relieved that it seemed that her bete noir had not attempted to gatecrash the great Grecon gathering. Until...... 204703377 Dave! How dare he darken her doors again! She had spurned his flowers, been shocked by his "buke" - how could he have the temerity to cause a shadow upon her life yet again. Muttering to Michelle to take over, she withdrew hastily to sup upon a glass of excellent vintage Champagne as she considered the situation...... 204703462 The older guests headed for the ground floor library/dining room So many less steps to cope with and two delightful maids, hired for the evening from no 12 to attend to their needs, Apart from Marianne's dilemma, things seemed to be progressing quite happily. 204705198 It was nice to see the Barton boys again, they had been conspicious with their absence over the summer months. Rose, their elderly mother, had declined to come - and perhaps it was as well, since Oriel was in attendance. One never quite knew if Nigel's spells had an expiry date! Or a Best Before.....It would be dreadful, if like Cinderella's Golden coach returning to being just a pumpkin drawn by mice, that at midnight Oriel suddenly saw his old love and recognised her. But that is NOT about to happen tonight, thank goodness. We still have raunchy little Dave to sort out..... 204705199 Oriel was enjoying himself! He was not to realise that Edith, cunning old Edith, was becoming bored with running her old folk's home and was looking for a new partner in life. And she was not to know that the now rather foxy Mrs Wings had taken to warming Oriel's splendid old English bed on these chilly nights, rather than donning her bulky camel hair coat and going home when the day's work was done! She was a proper woman at heart and had declined all Oriel's attempts for her to accompany him to the party. "They love a good scandal, sir" she said. She could not get out of the habit of addressing him as Sir - that "heathen"name that he bore would never pass her lips, so she said. No doubt this would be a minor problem and get ironed out over time. 204705247 Sir Thomas was greeting guests in the upper drawing room, Dave is not going to be able to sneak in unobserved....this is a most unfortunate and unexpected intrusion. 204706958 Binkie observed Duncan with great interest and wondered how much longer he would manage to stay upright. 204706957 Marianne considered the situation - she had fled up to the chapel and was surrounded by the silver and gold objects secreted there by the staff. Absentmindedly she took a golden goblet and poured herself a cheering glass of bubbly, Ways - and means....a loosened or cut brake cable (Oh, poor Vera!) But Dave didn't drive so that was off the list straight away. A soft sinking of long canine teeth into the jugular - but this was not the wild and rocky terrain such as surrounded the Schloss Von Velden, this was urban Greconville . Ach! She had never expected to encounter him again, something would have to be done! 204707192 Meanwhile the object of her thoughts had crept into her bedroom and was lying with his boots upon the clean white bedspread as he lay contemplating his reflection in the full-length mirror set in the canopy of the bed, He smiled at himself. The saucy little minx, who'd 'a thought it! He'd just wait here until she came in and......he closed his eyes and imagined scenes such as he wrote about in his "bukes" that were so censored and caused such scandal. 204707191 As the festivities grew more heated, the wind moaned strongly amongst the tall chimney pots. Vlad, who was never at ease at social gatherings, turned uneasily in his bed. The Count, his brother who was at the party, raised a glimmering, shimmering goblet of Champagne to his lips and at that moment a blood curdling eldritch screech rose from the dark and extensive parkland that surrounded the great mansion. Could it be Sadie, wild Sadie, like a reproving bank manager on the loose, with the intention of blocking Sir Thomas's bank account? 204707630 One of the household dogs was uneasy, he could hear a stranger snoring in his mistress's bedroom, Madeline came up to him, stroked his head and said"Mon petite chien, ques'ca qui (oops - sorry - my French is too rusty for this but you get the gist) and she and the big dog prepared to enter the bedroom..... 204707629 Madeline's shrill scream as she entered the room and found the sleeping beauty on the bed went unheard in the room below. The noise level was such that no-one could really hear what anyone was saying - especially at the advanced age of many. Edith was in hot pursuit of Oriel who was attempting to restrain Henry who was in full throttle..... 204709200 Madeline screamed again - and this time Marianne heard her and woke her from her revengeful reverie. She ran down the stairs and rushed into the upper room as Madeline screamed yet again "Au secours!" Consternation ensued - and as some of the men rushed into the bedroom and hauled out a struggling and swearing Dave,......... 204709207 Marianne fell into a dead faint! 204709218 At that moment, several things happened all at once! Virginia rushed forward to the recumbent Lady Chutney. "I am prepared to sacrifice the goose feather upon my hat - Lionel could set it alight and we could hold it beneath her nose. I am informed that it is an excellent remedy to bring a lady out of a swoon" Marianne's eyes shot open sharply! "Thank you, Virginia, but I am sure that won't be necessary - it would be a shame to wreck your stylish hat. I am sure that glass of ch...."here her voice faded away and someone swiftly brought her a glass of bubbly. 204709795 At the same time Dave was being hustled, protesting, down the stairs In the hall stood the tall and stern figure of P.C. 49 who had just happened "to be passing" Truth to tell, he had his eye on pretty Rachel Havant and was hoping to maybe get invited into the kitchen for a cup of tea - or something stronger, bearing in mind the season. !Well, we can't charge him for breaking and entering ", he said, "Since he was given admittance with the guests" "We can most certainly charge him for the laundering costs of what was previously a snow white bedspread!" said Michelle, very tartly. 204709796 "I'll see what I can do, Madam" said Archie. "Now you come along 'o me. sir," and taking Dave by the collar, they disappeared into the darkness. 204709797 Marianne came back to her senses with a snap! Where was Dave? Was her dreadful indiscretion of some years ago about to be revealed? A damp sweat clouded her beautiful brow. Was this the end? Was this Grexit? Only the Controller in Australia could answer this vital and pressing question; meanwhile the party seemed to be getting back into the cheerful swing around her. She must have a private word with Madeline and find out what had really happened so she did not put her foot in it with Thomas. 204713030 Meanwhile downstairs, the men clustered about Thomas. "Some lonely tramp - wandered in from the street and was found napping upon our bed" he said, swinging his umbrella nonchalantly from hand to hand. He found that he was talking in short bursts. "Evicted swiftly and now in the capable hands of the law - jolly good chaps, Gordon and Troy - gone - Police - all well" He was more shaken by the incident than anyone realised. Edith's eyes gleamed, there was more to this unexpected happening than just this glib explanation. Whatever was the truth of the matter, she would try to ferret it out! The past year had been fairly quiet and scandal free. More Grecons had arrived in the village, people of no great character and of less sturdy stature than some. Faulty standing ability too since many had inherited the Grecon deficiency - a common curse - that of One Leg Shorter than the Other. Often they arrived with no prior warning of this dreadful fault. Poor things, they had to constantly prop themselves up against sturdy pieces of furniture - if they didn't do this, one could fall against the next and then the whole lot of them fell like a house of cards. So many new faces though, for Edith to investigate. She licked her lips. 204713029 Marianne eyed the girls from the cottage at the base of the hill somewhat coldly. They - and their sister had a bad reputation, and there was still the mystery of the battered bridesmaid in the stable in the summer. Perhaps they would do better to advertise their services as"matrons"rather than "maids" On the other hand as she swiftly reminded herself, she had had a lucky escape this evening, if Dave blabbed rather than writing what everyone thought was fiction from his fetid mind, she would most certainly lose face as the top dog in the village. 204715490 She went over to Thomas and gave him a quick hug. "You coped with that nasty incident splendidly, my dear. Oh look, the Scottish group have started a reel" and they settled back to enjoy the rest of the evening. 204715489 To confirm her goodness and impeccable life style, Marianne hastily gathered together some of the Gut-Scraper family and their flock..... and put together an impromptu Nativity Scene in contrast to Some Grecon Communities carousing in their local public house whilst leaving tiny tots to sing their little socks off out in the cold outside. She had also realised - to her horror, that the Queen's Speech was more than nigh and she hoped that Greconville just might get a better rating than in previous years. Some hopes! 204722290