After introducing us to Mr. Milton, I quickly left when I saw my old friend, Cristy with her fine husband. We talked and talked. Then, the musicians started to play a different, more lively tune. Cristy and her husband bid me a good evening and made their way to the dance floor. I went in search of Lee, for he promised me the first dance.
"There you are!" I heard him yell and he quickly made his way towards me. "Time to dance?"
"Why certainly," I replied blushing. We glided along the dance floor and clapped and cheered, it was a lovely dance. When the music stopped playing I needed to look for Lizzy. I hadn't seen her since we were introduced to Mr. Milton, and I wondered if something went wrong. I hadn't been there for the rest of the conversation. "Lee, do you know where my sister is?"
He looked around, "No, but where ever she is, I can assure you it's far from Mr. Milton."
"What? What happened, Lee?" I asked.
"Look, there's Christy and her husband, shall we go say hello?"
"I already have. Lee, why are you avoiding my question?" Leland looked at me sheepishly.
"Well, do you promise to tell no one."
I shook my head, "Not a soul."
"Especially not Lizzy."
I repeated, "Especially not Lizzy."
Leland took my hand and led me away from the noise. "I had hoped that Lizzy would take a fancy to Mr. Milton and..."
"Are you saying, sir, that you're trying to be a matchmaker for my sister?" I said in surprise.
"No, no. I just had hoped they might, talk more this evening. You see, Mr. Milton is a very lonely, very prideful man and I had hoped Lizzy might be just the girl to-to carry on a decent conversation with him. That's all."
I stood up straight, "What exactly did he say to make Lizzy distraught?"
"He was just talking about how woman are a nuisance at sea." Leland hung his head.
"Uh! The nerve! Why would he choose such a subject to speak to a woman about?"
"It's my fault really. I brought it up."
I excused myself from Leland and went to look for Lizzy. I wondered if she had been emotionally hurt by Mr. Milton's remark. She is such a delicate soul. When I found her, she was gaily speaking to Christy.
"Liza, you didn't tell me you had seen Christy this evening," Liza said, taking my had and squeezing it.
"Well, I hadn't seen you since I talked with her," I said smiling at them both.
Lizzy giggled, "That's true."
"Lizzy, did you meet Mr. Milton?"
Her eyes got a bit sad, "Yes. He's a very outspoken gentleman."
I sighed, "Lee told me. Are you... okay?"
Christy was watching and listening, a little confused, yet interested.
"Yes, Liza, I'm fine." Lizzy squeezed my hand again and smiled, just to reassure me.
"Hi girls," Bekah said. "Are you ready to go? It's getting quite late."
I said yes and Lizzy shook her head. It was decided. I went to tell Leland good-bye and Bekah went to tell the coachman to get our carriage. Lizzy was saying her last minute good-bye's to Christy.
"Leland, we're going to take leave."
Leland looked worried, "Is Lizzy okay?"
"Yes, we're just tired and it's getting quite late. Papa will not be to happy if we stay out much longer."
Leland smiled, knowing that is was true. "I'll see you tomorrow. I'd like to come over, if it's alright."
I smiled and shook my head, "It's perfectly fine. Good-night!"
Leland waved his hand as I walked off towards the door.
"Ow!" I said, stumbling over someone's foot. "I'm so sorry, I didn't-" And there he was. The most handsome man I've ever met.
"No, it's quite alright. Are you okay?"
I was speechless.
"Do you talk, Mrs...."
"Oh, I'm sorry. Yes, I'm alright. The name is L-Elizabeth Bennett."
"Well, Mrs. Bennett, my apologies for stepping on you," he said, smiling.
"Oh, it's quite alright, Mr..."
"Bryant. Bryant Woods. Well, I can see you were making your way somewhere, so I will not deter you any longer."
I blushed as he took my hand and kissed it. "Good evening Mr. Woods."
"Please, it's Bryant."
"Bryant." I walked away, wanting to stay and get to know this wonderfully charming man, but Bekah and Lizzy were probably waiting for me at the carriage. I turned to get one more glance of Bryant. He was looking at me too. I blushed and scolded myself for looking.
"What took you so long, Liza?" Bekah asked while being helped into the carriage.
"I met the most wonderful man in my whole life," I said after we were all in the carriage and the door was shut.
The gasped, "What? Are you referring to Le-"
"No!" I quickly explained, "His name is Bryant Woods. He's tall, handsome and he is a very kind gentleman. I bumped into him on my way out."
"You know all that stuff about him just because you bumped into him?" Lizzy said, giggling a little.
"No, we talked for a while. Exchanged our names and... well, I just know he's a gentleman because something in his manner of speech. I can tell he was well brought-up." We all giggled together excitedly and talked about the evening. When we arrived at home Papa said we should get some rest and reminded us about the Garden Party the next day. I secretly hoped Bryant would be there.