“No, no, my dear. I meant to imply the play to which I am being dragged.”
“Oh, I like that. As if I could drag you anywhere. You’re twice my size.”
Conall gave her the look of a man who knows when to hold his tongue.
“Ivy has assured me that this is a brilliant rendition of a truly moving story and that the troupe is in top form after their continental tour. The Death Rains of Swansea, I believe it is called. It’s one of Tunstell’s own pieces, very artistic and performed in the new sentimental interpretive style.”
“Wife, you are taking me unto certain doom.” He put his hand to his head and fell back against the cushioned wall of the cab in a fair imitation of theatricality.
“Oh, hush your nonsense. It will be perfectly fine.”
Her husband’s expression hinted strongly at a preference for, perhaps, death or at least battle, rather than endure the next few hours.
The Maccons arrived, displaying the type of elegance expected from members of the ton. Lady Alexia Maccon was resplendent, some might even have said handsome, in her new French gown. Lord Maccon looked like an earl for once, his hair almost under control and his evening dress almost impeccable. It was generally thought that the move to London had resulted in quite an improvement in the appearance and manners of the former Woolsey Pack. Some blamed living so close to Lord Akeldama, others the taming effect of an urban environment, and several stalwart holdouts thought it might be Lady Maccon’s fault. In truth, it was probably all three, but it was the iron fist of Lord Akeldama’s drones that truly enacted the change—or should one say, iron curling tongs? One of Lord Maccon’s pack merely had to enter their purview with hair askew and handfuls of clucking pinks descended upon him like so many mallard ducks upon a hapless piece of untidy bread.
Alexia led her husband firmly to their private box. The whites of his eyes were showing in fear.
The Death Rains of Swansea featured a lovelorn werewolf enamored of a vampire queen and a dastardly villain with evil intent trying to tear them apart. The stage vampires were depicted with particularly striking fake fangs and a messy sort of red paint smeared about their chins. The werewolves sported proper dress except for large shaggy ears tied about their heads with pink tulle bows—Ivy’s influence, no doubt.
Ivy Tunstell, Alexia’s dear friend, played the vampire queen. She did so with much sweeping about the stage and fainting, her own fangs larger than anyone else’s, which made it so difficult for her to articulate that many of her speeches were reduced to mere spitting hisses. She wore a hat that was part bonnet, part crown, driving home the queen theme, in colors of yellow, red, and gold. Her husband, playing the enamored werewolf, pranced about in a comic interpretation of lupine leaps, barked a lot, and got into several splendid stage fights.
The oddest moment, Alexia felt, was a dreamlike sequence just prior to the break, wherein Tunstell wore bumblebee-striped drawers with attached vest and performed a small ballet before his vampire queen. The queen was dressed in a voluminous black chiffon gown with a high Shakespearian collar and an exterior corset of green with matching fan. Her hair was done up on either side of her head in round puffs, looking like bear ears, and her arms were bare. Bare!
Conall, at this juncture, began to shake uncontrollably.
“I believe this is meant to symbolize the absurdity of their improbable affection,” explained Alexia to her husband in severe tones. “Deeply philosophical. The bee represents the circularity of life and the unending buzz of immortality. Ivy’s dress, so like that of an opera girl, suggests at the frivolousness of dancing through existence without love.”
Conall continued to vibrate silently, as though trembling in pain.
“I’m not certain about the fan or the ears.” Alexia tapped her cheek thoughtfully with her own fan.
The curtain dropped on the first act with the bumblebee-clad hero left prostrate at the feet of his vampire love. The audience erupted into wild cheers. Lord Conall Maccon began to guffaw in loud rumbling tones that carried beautifully throughout the theater. Many people turned to look up at him in disapproval.
Well, thought his wife, at least he managed to hold it in until the break.
Eventually, her husband controlled his mirth. “Brilliant! I apologize, wife, for objecting to this jaunt. It is immeasurably entertaining.”
“Well, do be certain to say nothing of the kind to poor Tunstell. You are meant to be profoundly moved, not amused.”
A timid knock came at their box.
“Enter,” yodeled his lordship, still chuckling.
The curtain was pushed aside, and in came one of the people Alexia would have said was least likely to visit the theater, Madame Genevieve Lefoux.
“Good evening, Lord Maccon, Alexia.”
“Genevieve, how unexpected.”
Madame Lefoux was dressed impeccably. Fraternization with the Woolsey Hive had neither a deleterious nor improving effect on her attire. If Countess Nadasdy had tried to get her newest drone to dress appropriately, she had failed. Madame Lefoux dressed to the height of style, for a man. Her taste was still subtle and elegant with no vampiric flamboyances in the manner of cravat ties or cuff links. True she sported cravat pins and pocket watches, but Alexia would lay good money that not a one solely functioned as a cravat pin or a pocket watch.
“Are you enjoying the show?” inquired the Frenchwoman.
“I am finding it diverting. Conall is not taking it seriously.”
Lord Maccon puffed out his cheeks.