“It was one of the most beautiful moments of my stay here in New York. Another conundrum has been resolved!”
Madison and Madame LaPeine de Mort were long gone, their priorities united at last. This left me serene and content with Cousin Andrew and Ypres. We were having lemonade on a terrace by the Conservatory Water in Central Park. I was as ebullient as the children manoeuvring their model sail boats on the water amid the gentle early summer breeze. In this bucolic moment, all was finally well with the world. I shared my sentiment.
“All is finally well with the world.”
“I can see that plunging your tongue down Michael’s throat has left you with an aura of contentment, dear Cousin.”
I laughed off Cousin Andrew’s remark as would a Riviera debutante.
“My dear Cousin Andrew, that was all part of Ypres’s plan! She told me to respond in the affirmative to any statement she was to make in the five minutes after we returned to the booth from the bar. She called it the role of a lifetime, and I am sure the Broadway theatre critics, had they been present instead of wasting their time at various matinees, would have wholeheartedly agreed. That I made it all look so natural is a testament to my insane talent.”
“Innate talent, would, I think, be more appropriate.”
“Thank you, Ypres, but I think that in this case it is I (or me) who is correct. I definitely have an insane talent. One might even say I have a talent for insanity.”
Cousin Andrew blew bubbles through the straw of his lemonade. Grande mademoiselle of the stage that I am, I resumed my monologue as would the greatest of actors. I adjusted myself in my seat to ensure the lighting was appropriate, and that Cousin Andrew and Ypres were facing my best side. I set my voice to the tone of the enchanting raconteuse, as I believe it is said in the posher parts of Geneva.
“I knew Beaconsfield-Outremont would reveal Ypres’s ruse, that assertion of hers that we were having an affair. In our tête-à-tête, Ypres had said that she would say that I had taken a stripper as a lover, but I had not thought she meant Beaconsfield-Outremont. The show had to go on. It is one of those maxims of the trade. A talent such a mine can easily face such impromptu hiccoughs. I was not to disappoint my fans, who are numerous, and who will undoubtedly hear about my exploit, as I bravely undertook the role of a lifetime. So I did the one thing necessary, no matter how distasteful to me personally. I kissed him. It is a display of my agility as an actor that the gesture was convincing enough. So convincing, that it pushed Madame LaPeine de Mort over the edge into demanding an end to the engagement and accepting Madison’s love.”
Of course, usually after a brilliant monologue, it is polite to applause. I was not expecting a standing ovation, at least not from the neighbouring tables, but a few bravas, shouted with conviction, would have been a minimum, given the situation. With no flower bouquets imminent, I decided that in true British fashion, Ypres and Cousin Andrew were restraining their sentiment and enthusiasm. It was the only reason they failed to acclaim me: they did not want to make spectacles out of themselves.
Ypres was staring into the distance as would a mournful beluga, while Cousin Andrew was still at it with his straw.
“I have to admit that I was a bit surprised when Ypres said she had a secret to reveal. And then mine eyes saw that she was not the only one who couldn’t hold her tongue. Funny how you had never mentioned this Michael before.”
“I have but the briefest acquaintanceship with Beaconsfield-Outremont. He happens to be from Montreal. Yet, despite the Commonwealth connection, we are not close.”
“Madison appeared genuinely concerned when you said that you were having an affair with Michael.”
“I noticed that as well, Mr. Vasa,” Ypres added, still staring into the distance. Still like a beluga, but perhaps slightly less mournful. I do not know what belugas eat, but it looked as if she were scanning the horizon in deliberate detached preparation for her next meal.
“It was no doubt because of my stellar performance,” I added. Still there was no applause.
“She seemed rather involved for someone, who, I assume, she had not met before, and whose legs she had just prodded.” Cousin Andrew had finally finished his lemonade. There were no more bubbles to blow.
“As I said, it was no doubt because of my performance. I fail to see any other reason why Madison would regard Beaconsfield-Outremont with anything but a passing interest. In fact…”
I interrupted myself midstream of thought. The Vasa mind, that fine piece of engineering, went into overdrive. Pistons were blazing, gears were in full swing. Was it a coincidence? Could it be? I got up from my seat, and readied for the declaration. I was prepared, as Washington no doubt was, when he crossed the Delaware (although I am sure the oarsmen did most of the crossing for him). I shared my deduction.
“Beaconsfield-Outremont must be Madison’s lover!”
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