Anne woke up in a pretty and prettily furnished room in her Aunt Maria's house. Her sister lay next to her sleeping. They (Anne, her sister and parent's) had arrived at Colonel Fitzwilliam's house in London late the previous night, and Mrs.Collin's sister had attended them, feeding and settling them in adjoining rooms.
Anne was looking forward to seeing her cousin's, and even more so to speaking with her aunt about arrangement's. She thought it would be some day's before she could attend an evening party, so made plans to spend time with her cousin's and find out who was in town in the meanwhile.
She had donned a shawl and was sitting on a window seat overlooking the street. Lovely dark purple curtains shielded her from view of the people traveling the road and sidewalk, though she could see them through the fabric. Leaning her head on the wall, she wasn't aware of what a pretty picture she made in her white nightgown and brunette hair, with her blue eyes bright and shining.None the less, though, her sister greeted her with censure, of the playful kind.
"Charlotte Anne, what are you doing? Shouldn't we be dressing? My aunt will soon have breakfast on the table."
"Oh, Cathy, you startled me. I was merely giving myself time to fully awaken."
"Indeed- I've never seen you look so awake," Catherine said, with a smile and a little run to hug her sister.
"I shall take that as a complement. You look well yourself- oh, I wish you come to the balls too," she said with a sigh. Presently she added, "I find it hard to think of anything else- I am trying to be modest about it, as I am a clergyman's daughter, and should act accordingly- but, I am still so delighted!"
"You know very well I couldn't possibly, and besides, I don't know how to dance very well. Besides, should I attend balls merely because I look well this morning? I will be going to the evening parties, though."
"Oh, Of course I didn't mean that, you willful girl," Anne said laughing. "Yes, and I shall enjoy them all the more with you there. I think it will do you good to socialize-it will do us both good...I think I hear our cousins awake. Let us dress!"
The girls were soon descending the stairs of their cousin's house, and found their way to the breakfast room, which was fairly easy because of the noise coming from that place.As they entered, their cousins ran toward them.
"Oh! Cousin Anne, Cousin Cathy! We are so glad to see you!" exclaimed the oldest of the four children, Maria.
"Indeed we are," said a little boy, whose name was Charlie. He held up his 7 year old face for a kiss. Both girls pleasantly gave one to him, and to all the cousins, from Maria to the baby Ally. They then sat down to eat, and greeted their parent's and aunt and uncle.
"Did you sleep well, my dears? Its a lovely morning, which is a sign of a good sleep for beautiful young ladies," said their aunt smilingly.
"Thank you aunt. My sleep was very satisfactory. I have often found that sleep is a necessary remedy for tired travelers.Though an excited mind is a difficult obstacle to overcome- though I suffer from no such ailment."
Mr.Collins was roused at once from the silence he had until now been lost in- anything in the way of praise or observation of human life never failed to catch his attention.
"Indeed, indeed it is, my daughter," he agreed. Turning to his sister-in-law, he added, "Is she not a most wise and lovely specimen of those women who observe life?"
Mrs.Fitzwilliam looked confused, but nodded her head in agreement and smiled her small but charming smile.
"And what of you, Anne? Are you prepared to attend an evening party tonight? It will be a small one, given here, in honor of all of you. Do you not think that is capital?" asked their uncle.
"Oh, Uncle! You are too kind! Is he not mama? I shall be more than happy to attend!" exclaimed Anne.
"Yes, you are too kind, brother," Mrs.Collins said, thanking him with a smile. "Such an evening party will be most appropriate as a way of introducing Anne before she attends a ball."
"Indeed, too kind.We accept your invitation and the honor you bestow upon us, most humbly. May I ask, who is to be attending this most prestigious event?"
"Now now, William, it is to be small party, I assure you," replied Colonel Fitzwilliam calmly, "There is to be some of my friends from my days in the army, and their families. My wife has also invited one or two of her friends.I can vouch for their amiability, and we shall have a pleasant time. Now, if you will excuse me, I have some letters to attend to," he concluded by bowing to each of his guests,and exiting the room.
Anne spent the rest of the day speaking with her aunt and amusing her cousins, while Catherine perused her uncle's library. The party was not until 6 o'clock, and Mrs.Collins and her sister assisted Anne and her sister in choosing suitable dresses.
To be continued...