Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Magic Lantern by Sasha Soren

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Sasha Soren
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Having been apprised in a brief note that the delightful R.V.B. would be, in fact, late as usual, Georgiana Darcy took the time to enjoy another round of dancing, in anticipation that this charming guest would arrive by midnight. (See: The Fortune-Teller's Gift)

Midnight has very nearly arrived, and there's still not a word from- oh, but look! Another gilt-edged envelope, this time enclosing a note written in even greater haste.

Dearest Georgie:

Was very nearly going to arrive just in time for the final quadrille, but the most extraordinary thing has happened.

Having already informed you about the quaint and odd little curiosities shop, you of course know that some unusual personages flock there, for tea and music boxes and assortments of all manner of fanciful things.

You've had a diverting time with the fortune-telling cards, no doubt, but your present was meant to be a marvelous little shadow lantern, as it occurred to me that a phantasmagoria might be the very thing to delight the company, or, indeed, an able means of frightening some of them into departing, if they hadn't had the tact to realize that it's quite all right to arrive late, but quite another to keep one from one's beauty sleep at the appointed hour.

And so, in all respects, this seemed a most diverting gift, and in conversation with the proprietor of said shop, inquired if he'd had occasion to acquire by chance anything of the sort that might be equal to providing an eerie and fantastic show such as that by the enterprising gentleman, Paul Philidor, or Paul de Philipsthal, as he's known in London.

The reponse being in the affirmative, I wasted no time in having the cunning little instrument bundled up at once, and had just stopped in at home after the exciting events of last evening, to have the parcel taken along with us on the way to your delightful assembly.

Oh, but alas for curiosity, as had to have one glance at the lantern on the way, and in glancing at the lens, noticed that something unusual was taking place in the shifting shadows on the walls of the carriage.

Anyone sensible might have stopped the carriage and had the thing disposed of at once - but, to be frank, it had been an exceptionally tedious drive through the dark, and any diversion was welcome, even of the supernatural kind, as long as it were a wraith with some gift for conversation and a droll sense of humor. Such a companion, even of the incorporeal kind, must make any journey infinitely more agreeable.

A piece the lantern had unloosed itself, by accident, it seemed, and soon put it to rights with a flick of the wrist.

After the gear had been secured, happened upon a previously obscured dial with an engraving at the top, in appearance something like the four points of a compass.

Of course, as curiosity is the mysterious force that it is, in inquisitive people and cats...

No sooner had I peered through the lens to ascertain that all was well, but had the overriding desire to investigate the engraving at once. Well, wouldn't you? Anyone cursed with even moderate curiosity - and I was given more than a proportionate share of such at birth, directly - would find it impossible to resist pursuing an answer for an intriguing little mystery such as this. Of course you would. And so I did.

And, to report, now have the secret of the thing - why, it's not only a magic lantern in name, but in effect.

It has several little carved panels on the exterior, and have discovered a combination for at least half a dozen; all doorways into charming places, and with such parties as you yourself might very well know.

My dear, it's a sort of combination pretty thing and time machine and other things besides, as you will soon apprehend.

Oh, I think it will be very late before I arrive, and do hope there might be a few candied violets laid aside in case of emergency for a quick nibble, or chestnuts in cognac, or even a bit of gin-soaked tart - even if it's that Lady Mimsey, the one with such outlandish ideas on politics, religion and suitable evening attire. Transparent! Transparent as her frank and good-natured soul, it must be said, in all fairness.

...Has she arrived? We love her dearly, all the same, scandalous continental frocks and all. We have to be thrilled by a bit of excitment, somehow; bless her merry exhibitionist heart. Or - perhaps you've not met. Maybe later. In a few years. During the winter might be best.

Oh, but I haven't told you where I've been in the meantime. You'll be delighted with this marvelous toy. Only think, I've been to all manner of fanciful places and you shall enjoy them all. Have just included a few sketches for your perusal, but you'll see them all soon enough.

And R.V.B. was as good as his word, for contained in the packet were five little sketches, although of a somewhat unusual nature, for by the light of the flickering candles, they seemed to...come alive.

Just then, there were the sounds of a carriage approaching. A few moments later, R.V.B. arrived in leisurely fashion, fetchingly attired in a charming velvet tailcoat in a lovely dark blue and silk vest embroidered in citron and gold. A veritable waterfall of a silk cravat spilled over the lush colors, arranged just so.

His hat was tucked under his arm, but his hair was mussed...not at all. He might as well have been a living statue of David, who'd decided to hop down off his pedestal for the evening to attend a party. Having put something on first, one presumes, unless it was a rather extraordinary sort of party.

Shown above: Illustration, Regency-era fashion

Ah, yes, but, back to R.V.B. and his interesting gift...

'Georgie,' he said at once, offering her his arm, then ushering her into a quiet room adjoining the main hall, 'you must try this. But first, a quick tour of my journey. How many marvels within? Any that you could imagine...'

And, with a genial smile, he unwrapped the charming gift and placed it on the table. He turned the magic lantern to face the wall, so she could just see light dancing across the sturdy shelves of books. And then...oh! Georgie could but watch, her eyes wide with astonishment.

- Based on Jane Austen's Emma
About: Chaos results after a wealthy woman decides to turn matchmaker for a naïve village belle. (IMDB)

R.V.B.: How very daring to go about in one's underclothes, must let Lady Mimsey know about this new style, as it's sure to be happy news that she can wander about London at last in naught but her underdrawers, with none to let fall a single scandalized syllable. There was an odd sort of storm near the end of my visit here, with all lightning and no thunder, or, indeed, any rain, and they had stairs that actually ran in place - a wonderful thing, however, as one is able to glide along all unrumpled with very little effort made at all, looking elegant all the while; am all for this marvelous invention and must make inquiries about acquiring one forthwith.

- Based on Jane Austen's Emma
About: Teen movie parody centered around Cher, a popular high school girl who spends her days playing match-maker. (IMDB)

R.V.B.: They're very au courant as well, as concerns underclothes; perhaps they're from the next county over. How nice to ride in a horseless carriage, and it was unusual to see a young lady at the reins, but bravo for the bold and we made astonishing progress in just under a few minutes. I believe, were she at the reins, we might have traversed half of England in under an hour.

Another fashion for the ladies in this region is to adopt tailcoats; it's certain to become the thing next season. Everyone seemed to have lost all their ribbons or other ways of maintaining their hair in an elegant style - for the young ladies, anyway - although did chance to see a marvelous hat.

From Prada to Nada
- Based on Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility
About: Modern spin on Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, where two spoiled sisters who have been left penniless after their father's sudden death are forced to move in with their estranged aunt in East Los Angeles, California. (IMDB)

R.V.B.: What a social whirl there was - and several romantic intrigues concerning the fellow who affects the style of a monk, which was an unusual choice but suited him quite well. All manner of horseless carriages, in many delightful styles. In dress, there is but the similarity of a pretty shawl for evening attire, but in all other manner of dress, it was largely a matter of individual taste.

Jane Austen in Manhattan
- Loosely based on fact that some of Jane Austen's early works still exist.
About: Two teachers vie for the right to stage a play written by Jane Austen when she was twelve years old. (IMDB)

R.V.B.: The theatre, what an enduring place of enchantment. Oh, and what drama to enjoy, on the stage - and offstage. Some of the attire agreeable and in this season's fashion, some of it exotic and unusual. What a delightful instrument they have in this particular county - a large box with a wire within, with which you can have a conversation with anyone, it seems, for the price of a small coin. They've also a sort of cooking stove, wherein the flint is struck with the turn of a handle, enabling a flame to be lit without means of matches.

Kandukondein Kandukondein
- Based on Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility
About: Adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, focusing on two sisters of opposing temperaments.

R.V.B.: Quite a forward and enterprising young fellow. No waiting about for him, waiting to be introduced. Well done, one must admire energy and dashing resoluteness in others who like that sort of thing. It wouldn't be for me, rushing about in the rain - in fact, for most of this particular journey, was at a nearby great house, resting by the fire with my feet on a comfortable ottoman, idly browsing a book of poetry. There are more effective means of making oneself agreeable to young ladies than flinging oneself into accommodating ponds - although, of course, variety is everything.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls
- Based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Satirical.
About: Trailer shown is a book trailer, although a movie based on the book is reportedly in development, slated for release in 2013.

R.V.B.: Only imagine what all that dreadful mess would do to my divine new waistcoat and silk cravat. Oh, dear. One did not wish to linger. And one did not.

'Oh!,' Georgina cried suddenly, 'dearest R.V.B., that's most-'

She looked to the left, then the right. Where had he gone?

'Never fear,' came a voice from very far away. 'I've just discovered another gate combination - and a most diverting party.'

'Oh! Please do come back - you'll be late for the Scotch reel, and I've requested it especially, as I know it amuses you and you enjoy its liveliness so.'

'Scotch reel? Forgive the impertinence, but the Scotch reel might as well be a picture book on a shelf, in comparision to this.'

'But where are you?'

'I can hardly say,' came his voice, from somewhere within the floating motes of dust dancing between the light and the dark. 'But you simply must have this jaunty song at the close of the ball. You needn't be concerned,' he continued, slightly out of breath, 'I'll return just in time for a final quadrille or cotillion or waltz or anything you like - just as soon as I've a moment to restore my cravat, as it's come undone in a most spectacular manner. It would be discourteous not to enjoy some more of this excellent rum punch, as well. Hmmm, yes. And maybe a little rest on a divan, behind a pillar. I rather think there was one...'

The voice wavered as a breeze from the half-open windows swept through the room, disturbing the play of light, but R.V.B. was presently back again, this time sounding even more effervescent than usual.

'Georgie! Do take one dance, and we'll return to the ball and you can dance an entire night of Scotch reels. Only do hurry, as a new dance is about to begin, and this looks quite the most promising of all.'

And, without so much as one hesitant glance behind her, Georgie tapped upon the compass, peered into the lens and away she went.

Do not be concerned, gentle reader, for both will return safe and sound from their brief adventure, if a bit winded.

But who can say but that next season, there won't be a new dance introduced, one more lively than any of those formerly enjoyed at Pemberley.

We can say that it is the new fashion, and can call this new dance, if introduced next season...oh, anything you will.

And the steps? As your heart moves you. Cynical though he is, R.V.B. would surely approve the sentiment, even if only concurring based on the principle of frivolity and light-heartedness above all things.

For the guests who've assembled behind the French windows and imagine that their half-whispers of 'Shhhhh' and 'Do be quiet, Percival' have not been overheard by our two travelers - come, now.

As long as you're here, you're invited as well. Let us have one round of this new fashion of dancing, before we return to refresh ourselves with some ratafia, before enjoying the next English country dance or La Boulangère or someone fainting in a corner from all the excitement or a fit of nerves, having possibly seen that Lady Mimsey has been accidentally invited, after all, and gotten a glimpse of what she's (not) wearing.

And so the jolly round continues.

Ah. But, yes. First. A brief diversion. No pushing and crowding, please, and kindly elect but one person to tap upon the compass, for that's all that's required, as the party is evidently traveling ensemble. If anyone has forgotten to remember to take their fan with them, all we can say is that's what you get for spontaneous inquisitiveness and you'll just have to do without until you're able to return.

Ready? Even if not - one...two...and THREE!

Bride and Prejudice
- Based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
About: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice gets a Bollywood treatment. (IMDB)
Lyrics: English | Spanish

Notes on this feature: We hope you've gotten a smile out of some of the more offbeat or quirky takes on Jane Austen classics. There are, of course, dozens of film and TV productions based on Austen's works, so we thought we'd share some of the more unusual suspects - those that aren't period dramas or immediately identifiable as Austen stories or satires, until you realize - hey, now, just a second...

There are titles we haven't had room to cover here, such as A Modern Pride and Prejudice, Lost in Austen or even Jane Austen Handheld or any films speculating on various Austenian concerns such as her somewhat enigmatic romantic life, but please feel free to search for both offbeat or more traditional Jane Austen films here, here, and here.

If you're participating in character, please feel free to leave your own Regency-era observations on the strange new worlds depicted in some of the modern takes on Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Emma.

Or just feel free to leave a comment below, out of character, just sharing which of the seven alternate Austen worlds you'd be most likely to visit and why.


Guest post created for Pemberley Ball event by Sasha Soren, author of Random Magic
© 2011. All rights reserved.

Shown above: Trailer for Random Magic

More about Random Magic can be found below - feel free to browse.
Yes, you will meet R.V.B. in the pages of Random Magic, although he's only briefly seen. Perhaps he's busy slipping out of the pages to entertain our world. One never knows.

Find Random Magic: Print | Kindle
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~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Sasha Soren
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

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* image source: rvb

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