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It is hard for me to describe what I noticed first. Was it the forest of candles blazing magnificently overhead, or was it the crowds and crowds of people? Was it the magnificent garlands of autumnal greenery draped on the walls, or the red and yellow shimmery silk hangings over which they lay, hanging from ceiling to floor?
Word count: 20000 words ~ Approx 65 – 100 mins read
I slowly watched him disappear into the throngs of people, and found myself staring at the royal insignia embroidered in gold on his back. Of course, he was a footman! That is why he had been kneeling to me. It took me a while longer to realise what had been wrong with my drink order – no-one drinks lemonade at a ball! Actually, I could have worked that one out for myself, it’s just that everything was so overwhelming, and I hadn’t wanted to lose my head, on that of all nights. I then took the chance to look around, and I was utterly captivated by the sight before me. It is hard for me to describe what I noticed first. Was it the forest of candles blazing magnificently overhead, or was it the crowds and crowds of people? Was it the magnificent garlands of autumnal greenery draped on the walls, or the red and yellow shimmery silk hangings over which they lay, hanging from ceiling to floor?
Or perhaps it was not a sight that caught me first – perhaps it was the scent of roses perfuming the air, delicious, yet not overpowering – or aromas that I found even more welcoming – those of delicious freshly cooked meats, wafting through the air? Or could it have been the music of the full orchestra, intermittently striking up with majestic renditions, or the swish of rainbows of silks and satins, velvets, laces and jacquards against the floor, as jewels glowed and glinted in the candlelight? Either way, as I looked, (gawped might be a better word) – I knew that this was the most magnificent scene I had ever beheld in my life – or ever would behold.
The ceiling was so high overhead that I was sure that if I was able to stand on my own head fifty times over, I would not reach the top. From that great height, immense chandeliers – too many to count descended, dripping with fountains of what looked like, but surely could not be (surely not! – surely not?…) sparkling diamonds, and twinkling with so many candles that the whole ceiling seemed to be ablaze. And then there were so many people! Crowds and hordes and herds of people! More people than I could even have imagined could squeeze into this city all at one time. And they were all laughing, and talking, and drinking, and eating, and dancing, and altogether arrayed in every hue and combination that could possibly exist under the sun. Golds and greens and yellows and blues! And not just yellows, but ochres and lemons and primroses and buttercups. Not just reds but scarlets and crimsons and vermilions. Turquoises and teals and azures and aquamarines. Cerises overlaid on verdigris. Coppers interwoven with clementines. All dashed together and mixed together in a fastmoving dazzling life-size kaleidoscope. And just as many servants, or so it seemed, all fat, jolly and rosy cheeked, laden with burnished trays of bronze and pewter…