Well, this is an interesting setup: We are introduced in vignettes to several individuals who are all preparing to attend the Chelsea Arts Ball, the titular fancy dress ball.
I'm not sure yet whether this will be a mystery or a political thriller or dark and atmospheric crime plot. This story could develop into any of these.
It's certainly suspenseful.
And as with all of Farjeon's stories I have read, it is very charming.
"How’s the Prime Minister?”
“Very nicely, thank you.”
“Good! And where’s the next war going to break out?”
“Near East, I should say. Cheerful news for your father, anyway.”
Conrad frowned. War meant munitions, and munitions meant business, and business meant motor cars. Might even mean a motor car for himself, Conrad Shannon. A racer! But . . . oh, well, the world was a mad hat, anyway. Conrad decided to talk about the weather.
Instead he found himself saying: “Look here, you don’t mean it, do you?”
Lankester shrugged his shoulders.
“Probably not. But who knows? War will go on till the world’s temperature cools—and till every man can contemplate his own extinction.”
Conrad stared at the speaker. This wasn’t exactly ballroom talk! But it fascinated him. People didn’t often trouble to talk to him seriously. Out of nowhere he shot the question: “And till father’s munition factory goes bust?”
“No, munitions don’t make war any more than peace conferences stop ’em. It’s all a personal matter—and the moment you and I hear the drum, off we’ll pop to the recruiting office.” He laughed. “But meanwhile, Conrad, we are a Russian dancer and a golden cherub. Where’s Dorothy?”
“Still adoring herself in her mirror,” he answered, “but I admit she’s got a case.”