That evening there was to be a reception at the Palais Kaunitz and Trump decided he was going to be there, whatever the others might think. If it was diplomats, well, he could teach them a thing or two. He thought with satisfaction of the dressing down that Nikki Haley had given the UN-she was definitely a bit of a schoolmarm, but effective. He was going to be taking names too. They might be diplomats, but they looked like a bunch of actors in their tight pants, colored waistcoats, and tailcoats. He wondered why they weren’t wearing nametags. There they stood, chatting among themselves and ignoring HIM-what a nerve. He wandered about the room. They gave him a wide berth.
A couple stood by one of the tall windows in the salon looking out on the street below. Quietly yet elegantly dressed, they were talking and watching the crowds go by as the evening darkened.
“Who are they?” he asked a passing footman.
“That is the Earl of Clancarty, of the English delegation, and his wife Henrietta, the Countess, a most charming lady, very intelligent and much admired by the Tsar of Russia”.
English!! Finally! He approached. “Hi, Earl of Clancarty!! I’m Donald Trump President of the United States.” Lord Clancarty, who was dressed in black, of medium height, with dark hair, strongly marked eyebrows, and an intelligent, serious face, made a moue at this faux pas and turned his back. Clearly a career diplomat, thought Trump-it wouldn’t be much use getting anything out of him.
However, Lady Clancarty was something else entirely. Trump checked her out. She had light brown hair, cut short, a trim figure, and wore a long white dress, high-waisted, with a short train embroidered in silver at the borders, an ostrich feather boa, pearls in her ears, and a small diamond tiara with 2 ostrich feathers in her hair. Long white gloves to the elbow, with rings and bracelets over them, completed her outfit. An odd fashion, he thought, but still, very cute. While Lady Clancarty was not strictly beautiful-well, she was nothing really, compared to his wife-her face was vivacious and pleasing, especially at first glance, with high cheekbones and bright blue eyes, wide set. The more he looked at her, however, the more disturbing he found her. Her expression was one of disconcerting intelligence, as if she knew exactly who and what he was. He hated smart, uppity women. This place seemed to be full of them. She smiled slightly and held out her gloved right hand. Looking round, he saw other gentlemen kissing the hands of the ladies present, so he did the same. She looked as if she was about to burst out laughing.
“Whom have I have the honor of meeting, Sir?”
“I am Donald Trump. Pleased to meet you, Countess.”
“Oh, are you with the English delegation? I thought I had met all of them, but there are several English delegates here at the Congress, Lord Castlereagh, Lord Stewart, and it is possible that Lord Clancarty has not yet introduced me to all their staffs.” “Staff?” exclaimed Trump in a shocked tone of voice. “I’m not staff! I’m the President of the United States. Everybody is MY staff!”
“I had not expected to meet any Americans here. After all, we are discussing the future of Europe at this Congress, are we not? And Americans are so quaint! Are you an observer? That must be it-since we have had so many revolutions, in France and in America, plus war, these talks must naturally be of interest to your nation.”
“America rules the world! Why would we care about your talks? It’s time you listened to us and stopped thinking Europe is the center of the world. Europe doesn’t matter much any more, if it ever did.”
“Why Sir, I am all surprise at your vehemence!” responded Her Ladyship, looking sidelong at Trump. “Do you not know that Europe has been at war for nearly twenty-five years? Everyone has had enough. It is time to make an end and set in place a structure, a pattern for the future, one that will ensure stability and peace. It is why we are here!”
“You mean like the EU, and those jokers Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel?”
Lady Clancarty smiled enigmatically. Looking round, she bowed slightly and excused herself. “I see that Lord Clancarty waits to take me in to dinner. Toujours enchantée de vous voir, M. Trump, invité ou pas invité”…
A Grand Reception and Ball
Dorothea, Comtesse Edmond de Périgord, lay on her chaise longue nursing a headache, her fine black eyes clouded by a slight frown. It had been a difficult, but also puzzling evening. She thought with a certain longing of her lover, Count Clam-Martinic, also in Vienna for the Congress. She hoped to see him soon. The great house was now quiet but only a few hours ago it had been humming as the distinguished guests, delegates, and their wives arrived for the grand dinner and ball she had organized, the first of the Congress. Her uncle Talleyrand had been the center of attention, as it should be, since the purpose of the dinner was to provide an informal opportunity for the delegates to meet and discuss the details of the great peace they were crafting for the stability of Europe. It was ironic that the Germans thought she was too French, and the French, too German. After the Congress, perhaps she could say she was a “European”. Whatever that was. She was grateful to Talleyrand for giving her this opportunity to show what she could do, young as she was, but he was always appreciative of the efforts of the ladies, whom he knew could traverse diplomatic borders with impunity. Several of the ladies here were passing information to him. For example, that slightly mysterious Countess of Clancarty… she made a mental note to invite her over for tea and a quiet chat. She had noticed that Lady C seemed to be very “in” with Metternich.
All had gone smoothly until their bizarre new guest-the American, had put his foot in it. Talleyrand had insisted he be invited, despite his mistrust and contempt, but as he pointed out so sensibly, that way, he and others, meaning Metternich, could keep an eye on him. The man was now slightly better dressed, but still bombastic, uncultivated, and ignorant. Was this how Americans were? A pity the British had lost the war.
The glittering salon had been all she could have wished: Talleyrand had been surrounded by delegates, sounding him out on the French position at the talks. Lady Clancarty had talked animatedly with Metternich while her husband had been occupied with the Prussians and Austrians. She herself, en grande tenue, glittering with the Courland and Talleyrand jewels, looking her distinguished best, had been surrounded by attractive men, mostly junior diplomatic attachés, which she much preferred, and she had flattered herself that they valued her opinions.
Dinner had started out well. She could still see the great dining room, brilliantly lit by several gorgeous lustres hanging from the ceiling, the polished table, set with silver and crystal, flowers in epergnes, and the even more brilliant guests. Talleyrand had been seated at the head, she at the foot of the table. The American had ruined it. After the fish course he had sulked, passed on the game, and loudly demanded something called a “cheeseburger”. Her Maitre d”Hôtel looked puzzled but after a discussion was able to bring him a crude looking meat sandwich that seemed to satisfy the American. Peasant food. Clearly “er hat keine Kinderstube” as her mother, the Duchess of Courland, had been wont to say. His conversation had been insulting and belligerent, but thankfully limited to those on either side of him. She wondered just how much more of this it would take to insult the delegates irretrievably. It could ruin everything they were trying to accomplish in Vienna.
The ball was where it had all fallen apart. The ballroom had been splendidly illuminated for this grand occasion-no expense had been spared. The musicians, the best in Vienna, played beautifully and Dorothea watched the dancers with satisfaction. Sprightly waltzes alternated with the more formal polonaises and quadrilles, the minuet having gone out of style after the French Revolution. The guests glittered indeed, the men with their various orders and medals, the ladies in all their diamonds. There was Lady Clancarty dancing with the Russian diplomat Count Nesselrode. Not surprising since the Tsar admired her. Undoubtedly this would be helpful to both the English and Russians. They swung by in a lively waltz and she heard a few words of their conversation, which appeared to be about Russia’s claim to Poland and the Duchy of Warsaw.
During a quiet moment between sets the American had come up to her and enounced incomprehensibly.
“Countess, I must say you’re looking cute tonight. Wanna dance? I’m the best dancer in the world.”
She had graciously assented, though she wasn’t sure now that she should have – a pity she hadn’t used her chilling hauteur, famous across Europe, on him. The fellow appeared to think he was the best in the world at everything.
Then he had grabbed her round the waist and attempted to kiss and grope her! She slapped his face.
“Monsieur!! Have you no shame!”
“Hey, I can grab anyone I want. I just kiss. I don’t even wait. I’m a star, so they let me do it. I can do anything”.
The entire assembly, to her shame, had turned and stared, but her Maitre D’Hotel loyal as always, had been right there, dragged the American, Trump, off her and punched him in the face. Then he had got him out of the room before he did any more damage, returned and attended to her, as she sat down on one of the couches ranged around the ballroom to recover. Talleyrand had come over at once, and had offered his help too, and his expression when he learned what had happened had been interesting. Afterwards, he had gone off to hobnob with Metternich and the Clancarties in the library. She wondered if there was more to this than met the eye.
Her Maitre D’Hotel , a good soul, had then attempted to eject Trump from the house but the latter refused to go out into the cold, rainy night, and he had continued to embarrass Dorothea with his poor conduct towards her staff, particularly her maids. Talleyrand had counseled patience and she supposed she must wait. So overall, the evening had been a success, though not as much as she had hoped.
However it was early days yet, and there would be many more receptions, dinners, and balls for her to organize and attend before the real business of the Congress concluded. At least they now knew where the problems were likely to be.