Friday, 23 December 1994

The Jamboree

Fiction ~ short story
First published in The Tatler, 1st December 1922
Collected in Fine Feathers and Other Stories, 1994
Approx. 3,100 words
(First read 23/12/1994)

In which arch-bitch-and-snob and Victorian-to-boot Caroline Lady Camber spars with her thoroughly-modern new American niece-in-law Margaret over a 'jamboree' to be held by the latter.  Caroline will not have it that her former home shall be the scene of young gels with bobbed hair, young chaps in their braces, the stars of the Ballet Russe, etc. sitting on cushions on the floor drinking cocktails and laughing, etc.  When her aunt (no relation to the new Lord Camber [Tony] and certainly none to Margaret) dies she insists that the jamboree be called off.  To keep the peace, Tony and Mags agree to this, but go ahead with it all the same, never imagining that the old dragon might actually show up in the middle of it.  It goes without saying that the dowager Camber ends up thoroughly bested. Quite a jolly jape.


Opening sentence:
Caroline Lady Camber took it almost as a personal insult when her nephew, who, on the death of her husband, had succeeded to the title and the house and the impoverished estates and the famous Camber pearls, succeeded to the pigs also by his marriage with Margaret Joicey, daughter and heiress of the Chicago millionaire.
More on our delightful 'heroine':
Caroline had an apt and acid wit and a soft, dreamy, meditative way of saying the nastiest things, which made them doubly telling, and her murmuring enunciation when she realized that the pearls would no longer be worn by her was peculiarly venomous.  "So suitable," she said, "that Margaret should have the pearls, for 'Margaret' means 'pearls', does it not?  And the pigs!  Isn't there some text about pearls and swine?"
A smidgeon of social commentary:
[...] while Margaret stood for the present in the society of today, Caroline Camber quite as typically stood for the past, and for the order of things that had vanished.


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