Imperial Home Page -> Imperials by Year -> 1962 -> Ads -> First Showing Story
|The sun hangs low in the sky, blistering the slate-roofed
English manor. It is late summer. The quaking aspen shades the gas-lit
gate of the manse. Hundred year-old stone walls, topped by
hand-fashioned New Delhi bricks and the type of Prussian wrought iron
that pays homage to the permanence of the family within, help to shield
the lovers from the prying eyes of Naldo, the butler. Foliage,
everywhere, provides refuge that the walls would not give. Despite the
white-hot heat, Monica is wearing fur. The sable he gave her only hours
ago. Astute passersby would wonder, why the fur?, but then might notice
that Monica wore no jewelry. The fur was her fig leaf. It was not meant
today to provide warmth. Words were providing that.
She looked beyond him. She could not bear to both hear his words and look into his bedroom eyes, those eyes he used to undress her, the eyes she had given in to. Now she would pay the price. But what price? It had started the afternoon before, innocently enough. It seemed right at the Club Equestrienne. He arrived in the finest motorcar Monica had ever imagined. Gleaming and black, shimmering, it demanded respect, or at least attention which Americans often confused. What manner of man would buy such a motorcar? No Englishman could screw up enough courage even to arrange to inspect at agency such a thing as this. The styling was a throwback to her father's days--before the big war. In a happier time. How he would love to see this motorcar. If only his honor and courage had not cost him his bloody life. Damn Nazis. She invited this fascinating American, Reginald, to view her estate.
Monica entertained often when the Lord of the Manor was away. Earl never seemed to mind, trusting his Lady instinctively, correctly. Now she had betrayed that trust. A voice, Reginald's, broke through the storm clouds of her secret thoughts. What was he saying? Away? With Reginald? From the estate? And, Earl? This whole arrangement was reminiscent of a film she had taken in with Earl. Cary Grant and Robert Mitchum. Monica could not recall the deflowered Lady. But, oh!, she did recall it had ended in a duel.
Yes, she would go. The hurried ride to the front gate and beyond was engorged by the collision of emotions. What little that wasn't filled thereby was taken up by promises. And by the talk that only lovers know. The motorcar's glasses were lowered. Monica and Reginald were bigger still than the confines of this mighty LeBaron--the finest motorcar ever built. A symbol of the life they would build. Together. All out of doors was invited in to share in their moment.
Monica saw the wrought iron. It conjured thoughts of stolid rigidity, of honor, of duty. Monica had a change of heart. She begged to be let out here, beyond the protective walls, to go back to the manor, in shame, to pay the price. And there they stood. She, naked beneath the fur. He smartly arrayed in the latest sartorial splendor. Hidden from Naldo and the House. What had he seen? Would Earl learn from Naldo? How would she explain the sable? Monica smiled as she thought about a duel. Could she live without the LeBaron?