Oh yes, we’re having lots of fun this week.
Because I do amazing things when I’m bored. Like write short stories where my anti-hero gangster character is a Jane-Austen-esque, rude, English gentleman.
Needless to say, this is a rather odd Blank Mastermind Thursday.
I actually wrote this back in January or so, before I’d even finished writing the book itself. But I dug it up last weekend and it made me laugh so here we are.
If you haven’t read the story Wolfgang is from, you can read it here. But honestly, this has none of his story context whatsoever so you don’t need much background.
And honestly, it would be pretty funny for new readers to see him as an English gentleman first… XD
-curtsies- I do hope you enjoy. ❤
“So many charming gentlemen here tonight, Kitty,” whispered Violet, leaning over to her friend. A smile played about her bright red lips. “Wonder you haven’t found a dance yet.” She tipped her head teasingly and the two dark curls by her ears bounced a little.
Kitty kept her white-gloved hands clasped in front of her soft green dress and kept looking straight ahead. Her eyes watched the couples dancing with the constant weaving in between the two lines. This looked like an easy enough dance . . . She shook her head as if to clear the thought. I’ll look like a fool. I could never dance.
“That would be because charming gentlemen know to move on when I tell them ‘no, thank you’,” she responded quietly.
Violet rolled her eyes, swirling her punch glass a little and taking a sip. “You’ll never learn how if you don’t try, you goose.” She tipped her head back, seeming to scan the room for a dancing partner for Kitty. “There has to be someone here . . . what about the Earl?” she flashed another smile. “Handsome young man . . .”
Kitty seemed to shrink. Yes, the young Earl was handsome . . . handsome enough that Kitty’s hands started shaking when he talked to her and she almost spilled her punch all over his front.
“I really don’t want to dance. I’ll be fine to just stand here and watch.” She kept her blonde head ducked and her voice low.
“I expect you to dance at least once when I bring you to parties,” Violet insisted, still looking around the room. Her eyes went towards the other corner and lit up. “Now there’s a gentleman that hasn’t had a dance yet.”
“Violet . . . really . . .” Kitty’s voice was pained.
“Oh Mister Holloway!” Violet called in her musical voice. “Would you bring your friend over here? I do believe I’ve found a partner for him.”
The lively violin and piano music that played the last dance was just coming to an end and the chatter got a little louder in the lull. Voices going back and forth as to what dance to do next. What dance Kitty would loose all dignity in.
Mister Holloway’s good-humored baritone came back in reply to Violet’s. “Oh, have you, now?” It came a bit closer. “The impossible has been done, then?”
He was right next to them in a moment, but Kitty didn’t look up, keeping her eyes fixed on the two gentlemen’s shiny, black shoes.
Violet laughed lightly, “Far from impossible, sir. I can find a dance for anyone.”
Even if they don’t want you to, Kitty silently added.
“So, introduce your friend,” Violet insisted, taking Kitty’s arm and pulling her forward a few steps. She still refused to look at the men’s faces. Her cheeks felt hot.
“Certainly,” she heard a smile in Mister Holloway’s voice. “Ladies, this is my good friend, Mister Wolfgang Dankworth.”
Violet pinched Kitty’s arm and Kitty forced her eyes up and a smile onto her lips as she met the man’s eyes.
Mister Dankworth looked about as enthusiastic as she did about this whole affair. His hands were clasped stiffly behind his back and he was obviously being nearly strangled by his cravat. His light brown hair stuck up awfully in the front, though it looked as if he had tried to comb it down.
Violet flashed him a winning smile and curtsied. “So nice to meet you, sir. I’m Lady Violet Loughty of Manchestershire and this . . .” She forced Kitty to take another step forward as she spoke, but didn’t make it look rough. “ . . . Is my good friend, Kitty Culpepper.”
Kitty did a shaky curtsy. “H-how do you do?”
“Pleasure to meet you both,” Mister Dankworth bowed awkwardly, still not smiling and not looking like it was anything but a pleasure to meet them.
“See, Wolfgang is actually not of noble blood, like many of the others here,” Mister Holloway confided, his voice low. “Grew up on a farm, actually. But made a pretty penny from serving in his majesty’s navy.”
One of Mister Dankworth’s eyebrows went up and he sighed softly. Kitty could guess he didn’t appreciate having his life’s story doled out like some juicy piece of gossip. She sympathized, feeling a little bit more of a connection to him.
Violet put a hand to her mouth in surprise, “That is an intriguing story indeed!” She turned to Wolfgang, the curls by her ears bouncing again. “If you ask me, those who go out and make their fortune are so much more . . . interesting . . . than those of us just born with it.” She gave another high, tinkling laugh.
“Don’t believe anyone was asking you, Miss Loughty,” Mister Dankworth said softly, as though simply making an observation.
Violet’s smile began to look plastered-on. “Well.”
Kitty wanted to laugh, but bit her lip and ducked her head.
Mister Holloway cleared his throat, shifting on his feet. “Wolfgang is quite an excellent dancer. Hasn’t had a partner tonight yet, though.”
Mister Dankworth gave his friend a sideways look that clearly disapproved of that information being shared. “Some things aren’t by accident . . .” he drawled.
Violet ignored his clear hint, quickly gaining back her easy social confidence and looking genuinely surprised. “Well, what a coincidence! Kitty here hasn’t had a dance yet, either. Poor thing.” She patted her friend’s arm as though she was something to be pitied.
“I . . . I really am h-happy to stand here,” Kitty stuttered quietly.
Wolfgang observed Kitty with about as much interest as he might a lady’s glove dropped in the mud. She shrank under his gaze.
“Nonsense!” boomed Mister Holloway. “No girl should be left off to the side to simply watch the gaiety around her. Wolfgang, you’ll take her for a dance, won’t you?”
Mister Holloway and Mister Dankworth met eyes and exchanged a long look that made Kitty feel very small.
The music struck up behind them and Mister Holloway raised an eyebrow, tipping his head. Mister Dankworth forced a smile that didn’t go to his eyes as he turned to Kitty.
“Yes, of course.” He held out his arm for her to take. “Come along, Miss Culpepper.”
Kitty could feel the patronization practically oozing out of him. Hesitantly and with a quiet prayer under her breath, she stepped forward and took his arm. It felt stiff under her shaking hand.
The two of them walked towards the dance floor together, Kitty keeping her eyes on her feet and trying to control her nervous shivering.
Mister Dankworth stopped before they reached the rest of the ladies and gentlemen lining up to dance and glanced down at her. “You’ve danced before, I would presume, Miss Culpepper?” The words sounded strange the way he said them and she guessed it wasn’t his normal way of talking.
“I . . . I . . .” Kitty swallowed, trying to stop stuttering. “I actually haven’t, sir. Aside from a bit of . . . made up dances my sister and I have done . . . I haven’t d-danced at all.”
Wolfgang raised an eyebrow and glanced back over in the direction of Mister Holloway and Violet. He looked back down at Kitty, his eyes a little less cold. “Both victims of our friends’ social crusades, eh?”
Kitty forced a bit of a smile, dropping her gaze. “You could say that, sir.”
Mister Dankworth stood there for another minute, frowning. He nodded to Kitty, “Well, the obligation for both of us seems to be one dance. Let’s try and survive that best we can.” He started forwards, taking her with him.
There was a line of ladies forming on one side of the dance hall and a line of men on the other. All looked relaxed . . . smiling . . . like they knew what they were doing.
Kitty swallowed, shivering tensely.
Wolfgang leaned over to her. “Take your place across from me. We’ll be dancing with each other and I can tell you what to do next.” Giving her a nudge towards the ladies’ line, he added one more thing. “Oh, and smile. It makes you look like you know what you’re doing.”
He didn’t seem to be following his own advice on the last part; his face was still straight and indifferent.
Still, Kitty made an effort. She took her place between a couple of other girls and tried to slow her breathing, smiling a small smile that felt more like a grimace.
The music got louder and the couples looked at each other for a few seconds. Kitty met Mister Dankworth’s strangely colored eyes and her stomach flipped.
I’ll step on his feet . . . I’ll trip over my dress and fall over . . .
The gentlemen bowed, the ladies curtsied and the dance began.
They started by walking towards each other, their steps almost at the exact same beat. Kitty scampered the first couple steps trying to keep up. She got close enough to Mister Dankworth and he hissed his first command.
“We put our hands together here and turn around. Then hold hands and walk that way,” he nodded faintly to the right. Kitty managed to follow his quiet instructions and, to her surprise, they actually moved along smoothly with the group.
It was hard to keep from just watching her feet the whole time, but she managed and got through the whole routine of the dance with only stumbling a couple of times. They got back to the starting position and Kitty looked up to see Wolfgang smiling at her. A small smile, but a smile, nonetheless.
He nodded, “Right, you’re getting it.”
They went through the dance again as the music kept bouncing along. Kitty actually began to partly enjoy herself. Her feet weren’t tripping over each other and she enjoyed moving to the fiddle music. The smile didn’t become quite as forced.
Mister Dankworth still seemed to take it as a serious duty most of the time, but about the third time through, Kitty saw a wide, somewhat crooked smile cross his face. His cheeks dimpled and he looked about to laugh for a second, then he bit his lip and subdued it to simply a twinkle in his eyes.
The couples went in to spin around each other and he leaned towards her. “Seems someone has had a bit too much punch, eh, Miss Culpepper?”
Kitty looked down the line and stifled a laugh at one of the gentlemen’s exaggerated movements and his bewildered dance partner. The flow of the dance stuttered every time it passed over his section.
Kitty smothered a bit of a cough, trying to hide her laughter. Wolfgang kept his mouth forced into a tight line, but it was easy to see his amusement.
They weren’t the only ones who noticed and on the next cycle around, the tipsy gentleman and his humiliated partner were removed from the dance.
Mister Dankworth gave Kitty a look and imitated the man’s movements with a silly expression for about half a second before gliding back into his normal dancing. A giggle escaped Kitty’s lips and she missed the next step.
The music suddenly came to an end and the couples reformed their lines to bow to each other.
To Kitty’s surprise, she was actually sad that the dance had ended. She gave her best curtsy and Wolfgang gave a not-quite-as-stiff bow. He straightened back up and gave her a genuine smile. “Pleasure dancing with you, Miss Culpepper.”
“The pleasure was mine, Mister Dankworth.”
He held out his arm and she took it as they made their way off the dance floor. Kitty looked over towards the place where Violet and Mister Holloway were. It looked like they’d pulled the Earl over and were having a lively conversation with him.
Violet made a few gestures as she talked and Kitty saw her nod over in her direction. Her heart sank as her friend looked up and smiled, gesturing for Kitty to come over.
She wants me to dance with the Earl next . . . and I won’t know this dance . . .
Mister Dankworth stopped, noticing Violet’s gesturing, and raised an eyebrow. He looked down at Kitty. “Another dance partner for you?”
Kitty swallowed and gave a small nod, feeling shy again.
Wolfgang turned their course away from going back to meet their friends. “Well,” he began, keeping his voice low, “Because of my non-noble blood and raising, I don’t know all of the rules of etiquette, but I do believe it is impolite for Miss Loughty to take you away from one gentleman to give you to another. And one might take advantage of those rules of etiquette for the comfort of a certain lady.”
Kitty looked back over her shoulder to see Violet’s mouth open indignantly to say something and she turned back quickly.
“That being said,” Wolfgang continued. “Would you like to go for a walk in the gardens, Miss Culpepper?”
Kitty smiled. “I’d be delighted, Mister Dankworth.”
Okay, I know. It’s ridiculous.
But sometimes you just need a break to write ridiculous things.
Aaand that’s all for today, folks.
Did you like the story? What would your character look like in a Jane Austen setting?
See ya next time (or, you know, in the comments section,)
P.S. aaaalso on the front of BM, you know how I reblogged a friend’s post a few days ago where she used Blank Mastermind as an example for humor? Well, she’s got another post on how it relates to subtext here: Blank Mastermind- The Power of Subtext
It’s really awesome and definitely go check it out. -shoos you-