“That will not be necessary, Uncle,” came Linvin’s voice as he sauntered down the stairs to his relatives, relieved to be released from the tailors’ ministrations.
His long blonde locks flowed back to rest ever so slightly against the gold embroidery of his neckline. He was all at once gallant and sophisticated.
“Please forgive my tardiness, Mother. It would seem that my appearance was in more need of repair than I had realized.” He gave her a gentle kiss on the cheek in an effort not to smear her face. “You look radiant, Mother.”
As if on cue, the first carriage of the evening could be heard rolling across the quartz driveway.
Jelena, Linvin and Anvar formed a receiving line and began to welcome their guests. Each party entering the mansion was announced and then properly greeted.
Linvin had been among great people in their best attire many times before, yet now he felt uncommonly nervous. He traced its source to no longer attempting to simply meet his own expectations. Linvin felt the additional burden of meeting those of his mother, too.
His mind filled with more uncertainty with each guest they greeted and to whom he was introduced. “What if I say the wrong thing?” he thought, “What if I offend the wrong person? Come to think of it, is there a right person to offend? I cannot embarrass my family. Wait. What was that last person’s name? Was he a baron or a lord? And what is the difference anyway? Why does it seem so warm in here? Maybe the other sandals would have been more comfortable?”
Anvar tugged on his nephew’s arm so that he would bend down close enough to whisper, “I may not be able to actually read your mind, but I am a rather good guesser. Remember, they are guests in your house and they are far more concerned with impressing you than judging you. If that, my boy, does not put your mind at ease, then I suggest you concentrate your attention on the beautiful young ladies assembled here, who will line up to be Mrs. Linvin Grithinshield.”
As always, Anvar brought Linvin back to reality and his demeanor softened considerably. With each new guest, he became more of the charming host Jelena had envisioned.
True to his mother’s word, every family of status was there. Along with gifts, usually of fine wine, they brought every available daughter of childbearing age in their house.
At times, the scene was nearly comical to Linvin. He was eagerly introduced to every woman from 14 to 40. Most of the ladies were quite proper in their introductions. There were, however, those who did not use their fans to hide their bosom when they curtsied, as was the custom in society. Though the act always drew Linvin’s attention, his mother would wait until the guest had moved along before whispering, “Not that one!”
Once the greetings were done, the threesome mingled through the room as their guests indulged in drink and folly. The roll of guests was staggering. There were nobles, members of the Royal Family, army officials, legislators, vendors of every race and region, and even the mayor of Fraylic.
Linvin was charming, but his mother kept him close. It was not the time or place for conversations on any serious matters. She whispered to him, “Remember, this is an opportunity to introduce and celebrate you. It is not the time or place to discuss politics and business. This is our gala and we must control its direction. Everyone here wants something from you. Do not be cornered into serious conversations, even with the daughters. They are often subtle agents sent to sway you to their family’s point of view. Keep the conversations light and take no drastic positions.