“Of course, of course!” they all cried unanimously, while Zara’s eyes went black. “Tristram and Isolt! How splendid!”
“And I shall be Brangaine, and give the love potion,” Lady Anningford went on. “Although it does not come into the ‘Idylls of the King,’ it should do so. It is just because Tennyson was so fearfully, respectably Early Victorian! I have been looking all the real thing up in the ’Morte d’ Arthur’ in the library, and in the beautiful edition of ’Tristram and Yseult’ in Ethelrida’s room.”
“How perfectly enchanting!” cried Lady Betty. “I must be the Lady of the Lake—it is much the most dramatic part. And let us get the big sword out of the armory for Excalibur! I can have it, and brandish it as I enter the room.”
“Oh, nonsense, Betty darling!” Ethelrida said. “You are the very picture of Lynette, with your enchanting nose ’tiptilted like the tender petal of a flower,’ and your shameful treatment of poor Jimmy!”
And Lady Betty, after bridling a little, consented.
Then the other parts were cast. Emily should be Enid and Mary, Elaine, while Lady Melton, Lady Thornby and Mrs. Harcourt should be the Three Fair Queens.
“I shall be Ettarre,” said Lily Opie. “The others are all good and dull; and I prefer her, because I am sure she wasn’t! And certainly Lady Highford must be Vivien! She is exactly the type, in one of her tea gowns!”
Laura rather liked the idea of Vivien. It had cachet, she thought. She was very fond of posing as a mysterious enchantress, the mystic touch pleased her vanity.
So, of the whole party, only Zara did not feel content. Tristram might think she had chosen this herself, as an advance towards him.
Then the discussion, as to the garments to be worn, began. Numbers of ornaments and bits of tea-gowns would do. But with her usual practical forethought, Lady Anningford had already taken time by the forelock, and asked that one of the motors, going in to Tilling Green on a message, should bring back all the bales of bright and light-colored merinos and nunscloths the one large general shop boasted of.
And, amidst screams of delighted excitement from the girls, the immense parcel was presently unpacked.
It contained marvels of white and creams, and one which was declared the exact thing for Isolt. It was a merino of that brilliant violent shade of azure, the tone which is advertised as “Rickett’s Paris blue” for washing clothes. It had been in the shop for years, and was unearthed for this occasion—a perfect relic of later Victorian aniline dye.
“It will be simply too gorgeously wonderful, with just a fillet of gold round her head, and all her adorable red hair hanging down,” Lady Anningford said to Ethelrida.