The Stronghold Mansion Part 1- A Short Story

This is a short story set in 18th century England, it is based of a dream I had once. It is my very first attempt at writing a fictional story.

His eyes seemed to scorch every soul at that ball, his ears picked up all the petty bits of glamorous gossip and scandalizing secrets as he worked his way around the room, he was, indeed, awfully tired of these same, old pompous parties but where else could a thief hide in plain sight, the answer was easy, of course, among a group of self- obsessed aristocrats if you have the right clothes, the right attitude and you have got that charming smile with just the right amount of spunk, you would just blend right in. Although, Leo always caught side-glances when he circulated in these circles, he was counting on it.

He wasn’t the type of person you could call the life of the party nor was he one to sulk in a lonely, isolated, little corner. Yet, you wouldn’t doubt him, once, as you slipped into an easy-going conversation with him, as you become entrapped in an enigmatical story of his travels and when he cracks you up, unexpectedly, with his sly and sassy sense of humor.

Doubtlessly, he could walk up to people as a total stranger, and when he left, they would say, “Hey, you remember Leo? That goofy champ, he was there at Howard’s party?” And if someone would give them a blank look and shrug their shoulders in confusion, they would give them an appalled look and tell them all about “my buddy, Leo.”
That was the kind of amiable aura he had, but Leo’s skills didn’t limit to socializing. They say a magician’s secret to putting on a successful show is not about what he brings on stage, it is about what goes on backstage in his story.

While he left his audience spellbound as he elaborately described the time he visited the tombs of the great pharaohs of Egypt, his courtships with many a desert princess (though these things would sound absurd to our ears but the eighteenth century British folk easily fell for such barefaced lies- If you were convincing enough.) ,he would slyly pull off a gold watch here, a diamond bracelet there, without fumbling once or shedding a drop of cold sweat for he knew what was stake- one small mistake, and he would be thrown behind bars without so much as a second glance.

That fear of being captured is perhaps what made him more graceful than a ballerina, or why his hands moved more smoothly and steadily than the most practiced pianist or the most skillful sculptor. Don’t get me wrong, pickpocketing, itself, is an art that has to be mastered as Leo did for hours every day when he would be shut up in his tiny, bare apartment.

But for performing the right magic trick, you need the right audience (It’s a little like the way the French are about their wine and their cheese) and choosing his audience is not something, Leo, took lightly. Often times, if he didn’t find the person he’s looking for, he would pack up for the day and head home, wherever home would be.

This seemed likely to happen tonight, as it had been raining torrentially the entire day, many of the guests had trouble travelling as some of the roads were flooded, The Stronghold Mansion, was actually quite out of the way, but one of the most magnificent mansions in the whole of Britain.

There only a handful of guests were still hanging around, although Leo was trying to keep his cool, he felt like a stray dog sniffing around for leftovers. He was just about to give up hope when he saw a silhouette at the top of the staircase, the silhouette of a lady, a richly dressed lady.

How did you find this short story? Let me know in the comments section, catch the second part of Leo’s story here:The Stronghold Mansion Part 2- A Short Story


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