Romance Fiction posted October 2, 2022

This work has reached the exceptional level
A Dinner Party With a Difference

Madame Requests the Pleasure of

by Cass Carlton

Madame had always longed to put on a dinner party for all her "special" friends. 
They were the ones who either didn't like to be seen in public or were just afraid of normal light.
Like "The Count" for instance. Nearly seven feet tall, his 600 year old body would simply dissolve . Like every vampire he had a dread of daylight. But, Madame decided on an evening dinner party. He would accept her invitation to a function held out of daylight hours, surely. 
He would be seated at the head of the table. Yes, that would be most appropriate.
She wrote his name at the top of her list. This was going to be a soiree to remember.
The next name she wrote was Mata Hari.
She, foolish girl, had become a double agent during the first World War and the English shot her as a spy.
Madame was certain this invitation would be accepted. Mata would come, dressed in her temple maiden finery and wait to be asked to dance for them.
Mata Hari was a wonderfully talented dancer and she would get her chance to show off to her heart's content.
Madame placed her at the centre of the table, reminding herself to watch where she put the candleabra. Not too close to Mata's floating diaphanous draperies.
The next name Madame wrote was written in ancient Cymric script. This man had never accepted an invitation from her before, but she kept hoping that one day (or night) he'd relent and  spend an hour or more at her table.
Carefully she wrote the name "Merlin" in his native Welsh language, well aware that just her thinking of him was enough for his senses  to be aroused. She sat for a moment, feeling out the ether.  There was no sense of rejection that came her way so she let her optimism rise.  Merlin would be seated at the other end of the table. Nearest to the door.
She knew that would please him, without quite knowing why.
Marcus Aurelius's  writings and sayings had been a staying point for Madame her whole long life through. Many times she had sought the wisdom of this gracious, silver-tongued Roman emperor and found it to be appropriate for the problem set before her.
She tarried a moment ,pen in hand, her mind full of the tender things she would put in his invitation. Yes,he would be a wonderful guest. She would place him on The Count's left 
and sit opposite to him on the Count's right side.
Then Madame thought of someone else who had also been murdered by the German High Command.
Sister Edith Cavell. She had assisted hundreds of Allied soldiers to escape capture and return to their native shores to continue the fight against "The Hun".  When the "Boche" officials questioned her about her supposed illegal activities, she told them of the numbers of German wounded she'd helped as well as the Allied troops she'd rescued. It stopped them in their tracks for a while, but they had made their decision long before the trial.
Sister Edith Cavell would be shot as a spy.They couldn't have done worse for their cause. Within weeks enlistments throughout the USA had gone "through the roof" and her name was venerated as almost saint-like. She wouldn't say much about herself, but she would be an avid listener.  Yes Sister Cavell was definitely on the growing list of dinner candidates.  Madame hesitated before marking a place on the table plan with EC. She chose a place at Merlin's right side thinking of how their shared interest in healing would give them something to talk about.
The image of Edith's serene countenance  reminded Madame of another lady very similar in nature although far distant in time and cicumstance. This new thought of Madame's was a priestess of Isis, who lived and died some years before Jesus came to earth.
Her name was Renpit Nefert.She had been a healer of great skill and renown. Her name meant (As lovely as) An Olive Grove. Renpit Nefert had been alive when Queen Cleopatra had died  She had been at the temple when the Queen's mortal remains were brought in. It was none other than she Renpit Nefert who had overseen the royal body prepared for the Afterlife. It was she who had hidden the body after preparation and later had it interred in a secret place far from the grasp of the malicious. The Egyptian lady's name was clearly printed and added to the list.
Delivery of the invitation and an answer were very easy to procure. All Madame had to do was to leave her request somewhere in the Egyptian Room in the Adelaide Museum and Hey Presto an answer presented itself before nightfall the next day.
The next name to suggest itself was that of Niccolo Machiavelli, an old adversary. Although she professed to dislike his rapier-like wit, she loved his voice. It was said that when he spoke, the sound of his voice was enough to silence nightingales. Now, if she could get him to sing as he had done on previous occasions. It was rarely that he declined.      Madame wrote his name and drew a rose alongside it.   She would seat him next to Mata Hari. They would have some very intriguing conversations, indeed.
 Leonardo da Vinci had promised to come "last time" but hadn't arrived until the other guests were leaving.
He had seemed surprised to discover the late hour and offered a charming apology to Madame.    He promised, yes he'd sworn on his life that "the next time Madame asks me to dine I shall attend."
Then Madame had an idea. Alongside his name she wrote "and a lady".
There was one lady in particular Madame had in mind. The beautiful creature that had sat for Leonardo's treasured masterpiece "The Mona Lisa"
No-one knew who she was. Except Madame.
Madame knew the young woman to be the daughter of some old friends from her early youth and planned to reveal her connection at the dinner party.  It would be a wonderful reunion to be sure.
Madame decided not to assign a seat to Leonardo, as he had a habit of springing up from his seat to walk around the room, or strum his lute, or recite some verses of poetry he'd composed that day. Better to let him seat himself and his partner from the remaining chairs.
As Madame completed her list several other names came to her and she hesitated for a moment. No, the list was complete.Time enough to seek other names if these didn't accept.
Madame smiled to herself.
Something told her these invitations would be accepted and the dinner party would be a brilliant success.   
 And do you know what? She was absolutely right.

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