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The ball of surprises

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Marguerite looked at the clock once more. First Percy insisted on taking separate carriages and now he was half an hour late already. What could be keeping him so long?

The Prince of Wales was throwing a ball in honor of his own birthday. As he couldn’t exactly organize a surprise party for himself, he had insisted in his invitation that every guest would attend wearing an outfit that would surprise him.

Naturally, Percy had been ecstatic at the mere thought of dressing up and had refused to let Marguerite in on his plans for his outfit for the rest of the month leading up to the ball. And now he was late!

Marguerite adjusted her cloak a bit, making sure her own outfit wasn’t visible. She could hear another carriage arrive. She shot a brief look at the entrance once more, but it was just a trio of ladies in huge, rustling dresses.

Marguerite sighed and pouted. Just as she was wondering whether she should return home to see what was keeping Percy so long, a voice behind her said: “Are you waiting for someone, sweetheart?”

Marguerite turned around. One of the ladies had detached herself from the other two and had paced up to her. Marguerite looked the lady’s outfit up and down quickly. Although her scarlet red dress was covered in an abundance of ornamentations like bows and laces, Marguerite noticed nothing surprising about it.

“Are you alright, dear?” the lady said from behind her fan.

“Oh yes, thank you!” Marguerite quickly said. “I’m just waiting for my hus–“

Her voice trailed off as she took a better look at the lady’s twinkling eyes.

“Percy!?”

Percy burst into laughing and moved the fan away from his face.

“What are you wearing?” Marguerite asked in astonishment.

“Don’t you think I make a becoming woman?” Percy asked merrily and spun around in his enormous gown.

Marguerite looked at her husband in awe. He had surely put in a lot of work, from his ornate hairdo in the latest fashion down to his impeccable make-up and scarlet red heels on his feet.

“The invitation said to surprise people,” Percy said. “So Dewhurst, Ffoulkes and I decided to go all the way!”

Marguerite looked over Percy’s shoulder and spotted Dewhurst in a bright turquoise dress and Ffoulkes in a flashy apple green dress waving at her, huge grins on their faces.

“What do you think?” Percy asked, spreading out his arms. Finally, Marguerite burst into laughing. Percy’s face became disappointed.

“Do you dislike it?”

“Absolutely not!” Marguerite giggled. “We just suit one another so well, look.”

Marguerite undid the bow of her cloak and slid it off her shoulders, revealing her scarlet red men’s costume, perfectly matching Percy’s dress. Percy’s eyes lit up.

“Marguerite, you really are the perfect woman!” he exclaimed.

“My lady,” Marguerite said, offering Percy her arm.

“My lord,” Percy said, taking it.

Together they walked into the ballroom, followed by the ladies Dewhurst and Ffoulkes.