Oh, it all started so well. You will recall that I had accepted the kind invitation from Tess Kincaid to attend the 4th Annual Willow Manor Ball and, over the weekend, I had walked across the valley to the small West Yorkshire village of Haworth to invite a special girl to be my date. The Willow Manor Ball is, of course, a virtual event and therefore you are allowed to invite any companion you want - whether or not they are still drawing regular breaths on this mortal coil is neither here nor there nor anywhere else. Not wanting to intrude - and being of a shy and retiring nature - when I got to the parsonage I just dropped a note through the letterbox. Here is what it said :
"My Dear Miss Bronte, I have long been an admirer of your work and it would give me enormous pleasure if you would agree to accompany me to the Willow Manor Ball being organised by my friend Tess Kincaid on the 12th October. If you agree, I will have a carriage ready to collect you on Wednesday evening at 7.30 in the evening. With the greatest of respect and affection, your humble servant, Alan Burnett".
I thought the words captured the tone of the event and I sat back and awaited a reply. I did not have to wait long, and on Monday morning the following note was pushed through my door:
"Respected Sir, Thank you for you kind note. I am so glad that you find some satisfaction in my humble writing and that you wish for my company at the ball being held by the American Lady. I would be delighted to attend and I look forward to your carriage arriving at the parsonage on Wednesday. Your friend, Charlotte Bronte"
I was of course, delighted that my invitation had been accepted and stayed up all night re-reading "Jane Eyre" just so that I would have something to talk about on the long carriage ride to Ohio.
You can therefore imagine my shock and surprise when on Tuesday morning I found the following note behind my door. "Gallant Sir, Thank you so much for your kind note, I am both delighted and a little overawed that you have read my book and like my work. I would be overjoyed to accept your kind offer to take me to the Ball and I will be looking out of my window in anticipation of your arrival on Wednesday evening. Thank you once again for thinking of me kind sir, your soul-mate, Emily Bronte".
I have to confess a crude expletive passed my lips when I read this message and realised the mistake which must have been made. One sister had left my note lying around and the other had mistakenly thought it was for her. But what can't be mended must be endured so I immediately took to my library and started to read "Wuthering Heights".
By now you will have realised what awaited me when I got to the door this morning! Yes, you guessed right. "My Dear Sir, Thank you so much for your note. You can not understand what a delight it was for me to receive it as I often think that I hide away in the shadow of my two successful sisters. But you, kind sir, have invited me to the Ball and I ecstatically accept. See you on Wednesday my dear sir, Your Anne Bronte".
Well, what can I say. Well I am not going to say it because quite frankly I am exhausted from lack of sleep. Last night I had to stay up all night reading "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" and I can assure you that is no walk in the park. So here I am, in Haworth with a carriage full of Brontes. The female members of the party are all scowling at me and I can see from their eyes that as soon as they get me alone they will demand an explanation. But worst of all, I have also got their brother Branwell in the carriage with me. "He is a little melancholic and must come with us", said Charlotte. Melancholic! He is as drunk as a judge and singing rude songs in the back of the carriage. How on earth I am going to explain this disaster to Tess when we all arrive I can't imagine.
The only way for you to find out is for you to go on over to the Willow Manor Blog
and follow the events live, as they happen. Wish me luck.