packed with more white people than I'd seen in years. There
weren't enough white women on the frontier to bother with. Most
were married to other fellow officers. But in London, women,
loose women, could be enjoyed for a mere pittance. So enjoy them
I did, and found much of my entertainment in the West End, and I
not referring to theatres. Drinking, gambling and women. That's
how it was, at least up until I the most incredible girl. It was
a charity ball, and many of my fellow officers were going and
suggested I go. Comrades in arms, and all that. I was hesitant at
first, but I was swept away by the obligations I'd given, and a
man's only as good as his word.
always looked good in uniform. It still fit like a glove. It was
one of those fund raisers where women of station would dance with
a man for a donation. I'd always aspired to marry an upper-crust
woman, but the places I frequented I never ran into any, you can
understand that. That night things changed.
The ball room
at the Savoy in Westminster was lit with electric lights and
filled with soldiers and sailors. The dancers moved as a body and
swung past me in circles as the band played, at one with the
hypnotic music. There were dozens of ladies in expensive ball
gowns, wearing ropes of lustrous pearls and white gloves, each
one with her hair up, each more alluring than the last. The
officers in their red uniforms wore glittering gold braid on
their shoulders. Enchanting, that's what it was.
I don't know
why but I felt out of place.
Just then a
magnificent creature appeared. Fair, but with dark hair, ringed
with luxuriant curls. It fell in black cascades over her pale
shoulders. She was the sole woman with her hair down. Her cheeks
blushed like a budding pink rose, and her lips were coral.
When the music
stopped I struck like a viper. I outranked the subaltern that was
"I'm next on
your card," I said. He gave me a look and noticed my rank, and
retreated in good order.
"Which one are
I glanced at
her card. There were quite a few names, so I did what I do best,
I improvised, and picked one at random.
I said. "Reginald Frobisher, that's me, at your service."
I bowed. The
band started again. Taking her gloved hand in mine, I placed my
other hand around her waist, and before she could say more, we
marvelously. Not too close, not too far. She was light as a
proverbial feather. Her green eyes reflected the sparkle of the
chandeliers like a hundred glittering stars. We danced faster and
faster and she laughed an incomparable laugh. I've seen nothing
like her before or since. A wild extravagant creature. When we
were dancing I felt a part of her, and because of that, as if I
belonged. The crowd lost its meaning. The extravagance of the
room no longer intimidated me. I felt free.
stopped playing we danced out through the tall French doors that
led to the veranda. Then we gazed at the moon like two lovers and
talked the rest of the night away. I realized that although I was
supposed to have a dance card, I didn't. I hadn't bothered to
pick mine up, and didn't know her name, and for all I know, she
wasn't even on it. I fumbled in my pocket saying,
"I believe I've
lost my card! And I don't really know your name."
Carnarvon's daughter? Lord Carnarvon, the one that's financing
Carter in his expedition to Egypt to find the tomb of
she said, smiling demurely. "What's yours?"
stumbled. Damn I couldn't remember. "It's…"
Frobisher, isn't it, Captain?"
stopped and the ball was over. Time flew by like a comet. The
hours had been nothing. She started to leave, but when she
hesitated, I took the opportunity to ask,
"Will I see you
"I'm going the
Tate Gallery this weekend on Sunday at three, try there."
I was pleased
no end, like a kid watching fireworks explode. Right before she
crossed through the French windows she turned one last time and
"By the by,
Captain, Reginald Frobisher was the man you took me away from.
Next time guess farther down on the card!"
I was stunned.
She was a remarkable woman indeed and just ravishing.
I couldn't wait
to get at her.