Charity’s Ball
By Daisy Jones
Date: May 16, 2016
Ch. 11The Transformation


October’s final days were sustained with haunted musings flying piggyback on gargoyle wings through spider-webbed trails. Proctor’s citizens perfected secret costumes that would redefine their identities for six magical hours. Ogres, fairies, demons and ghouls busied themselves with fantasy’s details ‘til the final moments leading up to the ball. Charity decided to wear her mother’s vintage black velvet cape and her father’s sacred headpiece, featuring authentic owl eyes for wise foresight, and eagle feathers for fearless nobility.

Finally, the day of magic arrived. Uncharacteristic mayhem filled Main Street as the town hall was readied with carved jack-o-lanterns, craft paper skeletons and bed-sheeted ghosts. Caught by the silvery moon’s spell, the sun dropped compliantly behind the mountainside landscape, shadowing the town’s haughty activities. The air was thick with the scent of torched flints, shimmering amber smoke in captivating hues.

Citizens poured from their homes with rare abandon to exchange tricks and treats while converging on the town hall. Apple-bobs and Pin the Tail on the Donkey entertained the youngsters in the south hall as costumed adults indulged in two-step Dose`-Does, kept in time by a lone fiddle. The refreshment table was relished and detailed with fried chicken, roasted mutton, potato hash, roasted nuts, string bean casseroles, and curried chowder. Generous servings of pumpkin bread, fruit filled pies and plum pudding covered the dessert table and encircled the punch bowl, brimmed with Charity’s own thirst-quenching cider.

Charity hoped to catch up with Jesse and his new bride early in the evening to get their first-hand reaction to the cider, but was uncertain of what costumes to look for.

James, the town’s blacksmith, snuck up from behind and startled Charity momentarily. This was one of the few times that he didn’t have soot marks smeared across his otherwise attractive face. Charity considered James to be one of the least compliant citizens of Proctor, making him tolerable company. “May I have this dance, Miss Charity? “

She accepted his invitation while keeping a watchful eye on the punch bowl and making mental tallies of every serving. She had performed numerous tests on field mice and tree squirrels with no adversity and was confident the human condition would benefit from her special ingredients.

James was particularly attentive in his Robin Hood attire. His handsome feathered suede cap and flowing cape anointed him with spontaneous chivalry and charm she fought hard to resist. Three dances later, and with no signs of stopping, the fiddler quickened the pace to the point of distraction. Charity temporarily lost sight of the dessert table, swept up by James’ undeniable charisma. “Oh my, I need a moment to recover!” she exclaimed while fanning her flushed cheeks.

“Okay, but only for a moment! Then I‘m going to steal you away for more dances.” he winked at her suggestively before suddenly disappearing in Robin Hood fashion. Although charmed by his advances, Charity was puzzled by James’ sudden change in behavior and tried to compose herself while approaching the refreshment area, swarmed by anxious patrons. The food table was still brimming with platters of untouched items, while the cider bowl required continuous refills by the attending hostess.
“Is this what you want, Charity?” James re-appeared before her with two cups filled to the brim with her sweet caramel colored cider.

“How did you get those ciders so quickly?” Charity exclaimed, while scanning the still-crowded refreshment table in puzzlement.

“I took the liberty of reserving one of your jugs for private consumption. This makes my fourth serving. I remembered how delicious it was last year and wanted to make sure we didn’t run out of your wonderful cider. After all, I am Robin Hood; remember - I rob from the rich and give to the poor, err, or in this case, the thirsty,” he smirked at her while gulping all the cider in his cup with one large gulp.

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