No one wears a mask at Christmas, especially when waltzing.
When Margaret Bayard’s father wants her to marry someone other than her longtime love, James Miller, he sends her to the Christmas Masquerade Ball at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. After James proposes to Margaret, she hides it from her father until the Ball is over, where her father insists that she marry the mysterious cadet that dances with her. Later in the evening, the cadet reveals that he was James all along—only behind a mask.
Margaret Bayard’s father wants to know if she has her dress for the Christmas Masquerade Ball. Mr. Bayard, a former United States Senator, has put marrying his daughter to an upstanding man on the top of his Christmas wish list. It is above a new, hand-woven stocking. After all, Christmas is more than just a stocking holiday. Margaret, 23, makes it very clear that she still has two weeks to buy a dress, and she’s already in love with her childhood friend James Miller. She doesn’t want to be presented to high society at Christmas by her father. If she has to attend, then at the very least she can wear a mask. James, a law student, was also in the marines, and Margaret is sure he could be a Senator one day. She picks up the golden invitation to the Christmas Masquerade Ball and puts it in her purse. Not only will the event be held in the Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria on Fifth Avenue, but there will also be a week of parties leading to the Christmas Eve Ball. She will be escorted by one military cadet and one civilian, but neither of her choice. Despite all, Margaret tells her father that she will go to the Ball—only to prove him wrong—and she’s not telling James a thing about it. Her father hopes that by the end of the evening that she is engaged to someone else.
When Margaret arrives in Central Park to meet James, she finds him as it starts to snow. He kisses her, and the couple climbs in a carriage for a ride. Jingle bells jostle as the stately brown horse pulls the carriage through the winding trails of Central Park. Then, James pulls a small red box from his pocket and asks her to marry him. The heart-shaped diamond glistens in the winter sunshine. After saying “yes,” Margaret slips the ring on her left hand and enjoys the rest of the journey. She asks James to not tell her father until after Christmas. When a large gust of wind blows, the invitation to the Christmas Masquerade Ball blows from her purse onto the sidewalk. James picks it up and glances at the details, realizing why Margaret didn’t want to tell her father until after Christmas. She is so enamored with her ring that she can hardly speak, but she hides it from her father.
As Margaret arrives in a limo at the Waldorf Astoria, the men turn their heads at her astonishing beauty. When she enters the Grand Ballroom, she is escorted by two masked gentlemen: one military cadet and one civilian. During the dance with the cadet, Margaret feels more alive than she ever has in her life. In fact, she dances the entire night with the cadet. Near the end of the Ball, the cadet kisses Margaret and bows, never revealing his true identity. Margaret takes off her mask, hoping the cadet will do the same. Margaret’s father steps from the shadows and insists that she marry him, not James, as the cadet runs off with her mask. Returning home, she finds James, sitting in a tuxedo on the bench at the front door, holding her music note mask from the Ball. He also holds the white and gold mask of the mysterious cadet that she had danced with during the evening. James explains the mysterious cadet as him all along. By Christmas next year, Margaret and James are married, and they dance the Waltz in every spare moment.
Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters